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1. Father of Nations – Terrible Babysitter

I like to think I was a good sitter for the kids when they were little. I mean, I’m dad, so I should be able to provide for their basic needs on occasion. I remember a particular Saturday when our first was a toddler. Instead of playing the usual dolls and house (which I was excellent at, by the way), I decided that her tummy, back, and arms made the perfect canvas for a jungle mural. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We drew and drew until elephants, lions, and zebras were marching all over her flesh. Great, giggly, tickly fun.

Great fun until Mom came home and the little fink sold me out. My lovely wife hadn’t gotten two steps into the kitchen before the scamp had pulled her shirt up to reveal the masterpiece. I don’t recall if it was the classic grocery bags hitting the floor or not, but her fury stretched across the room and melted part of my ear. Something about her perfect, beautiful baby looking like a tattooed Harley rider.

That was the day I received a fairly detailed list of appropriate activities for times when mommy was away. I also learned the difference between permanent and washable markers.

That was a “first child” thing. She’s mellowed about keeping them in pristine condition and maybe I’ve matured a little. Either way, I pale in comparison to the worst babysitter ever. Some of you look for deep meaning in Bible stories and I applaud you. My infantile mind reads some of the odd ones and starts playing Paul Harvey – looking for The Rest of the Story.

When I read Genesis 22, I am awed by Abraham’s obedience. To listen and follow God at the expense of the one thing he had waited a hundred years for, his baby boy, is incredible. For so long he had begged and schemed for a son, but couldn’t have one with Sarah until he completely gave up his own plans and got to a place where he put his utter reliance on God and not himself. Only God.

obras maestras de la pintura - juan carlos boveri

We know how the story goes. Just before he offers Isaac as the sacrifice, God shows him a ram to use as a substitute, sparing his son’s life. Can you imagine the sheer joy? Can you picture the relief of his heart? Do you think Isaac flinched when the knife went up? Do you wonder at what Sarah said when they got home?

Seriously, how do you relay that to your wife?

“Hi Honey, we’re home.”

“Oh, I missed you two so much. How was the camping trip?”

“It was fantastic. You’re never gonna believe what God did. First, he told me to sacrifice Isaac. So I built this altar and put him on it. Just as the knife was about to come down…”

“YOU DID WHAT???”

 

The Bible omits that part of the story. But I wonder sometimes.

 

I wonder what things I hold too dear to put on the altar. I certainly wouldn’t put my kids on there. (Heck, I won’t even draw on them anymore.) But there are other things too precious to me that I hold back. I know it – and so does God. Lord help me to have more faith and obedience like Old Abraham. I just pray I’m a better babysitter.

 

 Artwork Credit: Ferdinand von Olivier [Public domain]

 

 


10 Comments on Father of Nations – Terrible Babysitter, last added: 4/14/2014
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2. A conversation with Alberto Gallace

From Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR Inc. to the latest medical developments, technology is driving new explorations of the perception, reality, and neuroscience. How do we perceive reality through the sense of touch? Alberto Gallace is a researcher in touch and multisensory integration at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, and co-author of In touch with the future: The sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality. We recently spoke to him about touch, personal boundaries, and being human.

Out of all the human senses, touch is the one that is most often unappreciated, and undervalued. When did you first become interested in touch research?

I was in Oxford as a visiting PhD student and working on multisensory integration, in particular on the integration between tactile and visual signals in the brain. Soon I realized that, despite the fact that is a very important sensory modality, there was not much research on touch, and there were not even a lot of instruments to study such sensory modality. I started by working more with engineers and technical workshops then with psychologists and neuroscientists, just because I needed some device to test the sense of touch in a different way as compared to what was done in the past. Touch was mainly studied with reference to haptic object recognition, mostly on visually impaired individuals or in terms of its physiological mechanisms. Many of the most relevant aspects of touch were very little, if not at all, investigated.

HandsWe use touch for walking, talking, eating, nearly everything basically. It also plays a major role on our interpersonal relationships, it affects the release of hormones and it contributes to define the boundary of our self.

To my students I often say, where our touch begins, we are. I wanted to understand more of these topics. I wanted to compare touch with other sensory modalities. In doing that I was convinced that research on touch had to get away from the fingertips or hands and extend to the whole body surface. The more I studied this sense, the more I became interested in it. For every question answered there were many more without responses. I like touch a lot because there are many things that still need to be understood about it, and I am a rather curious person, particularly when it comes to science.

What do you think has been the most important development in touch research in the past 100 years?

I am not sure if it’s the most important development, but what I certainly consider important is the recent study of certain neural fibres specialized in transmitting socially-relevant information via the sense of touch. That is, the C tactile afferents in humans, that are strongly activated by ‘caress like’ stimuli, might play an important role in many of our most pleasant social experiences. However, I should also say that my personal way to think about science is much more ‘future oriented’. That is, I believe that the most important developments in touch research are the ones that we will see in the next years. I am really looking forward to reading (or possibly writing) about them.

Why did you decide to research this topic?

Most of the previously published books on touch — there aren’t many, to be honest — were focused on a single topic. Most of them were based on research on visually-impaired individuals, and the large majority of them were authored books, a collections of chapters written by different people, sometimes with a different view. Charles [Spence, University of Oxford] and myself wanted something different, something more comprehensive, something that could help people to understand that touch is involved in many different and relevant aspects of our life. We envisioned a book where the more neuroscientific aspects of touch were addressed together with a number of more applied topics. We wanted something where people could see touch ‘at work’. We talk about the neural bases of touch, tactile perception, tactile attention, tactile memory, tactile consciousness, but also about the role of touch in technology, marketing, virtual reality, food appreciation, and sexual behaviour. Many of these topics have never been considered in a book on touch before.

Philippe Mercier - The Sense of Touch

Philippe Mercier’s The Sense of Touch

What do you see as being the future of research in this field in the next decade?

I think that research in my field, pushed by technological advances, will grow rapidly in the coming years. One of the fields where I see a lot of potential is certainly related to the reproduction of tactile sensations in virtual reality environments. Virtual reality will likely become an important part of our life, maybe not in the next decade, but certainly in a not so distant future. However, if we want to create believable virtual environments we need to understand more of our sense of touch, and in particular how our brain processes tactile information, how different tactile stimulations can lead to certain emotions and behaviours, and how tactile sensations can be virtually reproduced. Following the idea that ‘where our touch begins, we are’, research will certainly invest a lot of resources in trying to better understand the neurocognitive mechanisms responsible for supporting our sense of ‘body ownership’ (the feeling that the body is our own) and how this sense can be transferred to virtual/artificial counterparts of our self. Here research on touch will certainly play a leading role.

If you weren’t doing touch research, what would you be doing?

I think I’d work as a scientist in a different field, but always as a scientist. I am too curious about how nature works to do something different. Since I was twelve I’ve always had a special interest in astronomy and astrophysics and I can easily picture myself working in that field too. Understanding the secrets of black cosmic matter or studying the mysteries of white brain matter? Not sure which would be better. What I am sure about is that I like my job a lot, and I won’t change it with anything else that is not based that much on creativity and curiosity.

Alberto Gallace is a researcher at Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, and co-author of In touch with the future: The sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality. His research interests include spatial representation, multisensory integration, tactile perception, tactile interfaces, body representation, virtual reality, sensory substitution systems, and neurological rehabilitation of spatial disorders.

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Image credits: (1) Via Catalana Barcelona Plaça Catalunya 37. Photo by Judesba. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) The Sense of Touch, painting by Philipe Mercier. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The post A conversation with Alberto Gallace appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on A conversation with Alberto Gallace as of 4/10/2014 5:59:00 AM
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3. #534 – You Are My Baby: Garden & You Are My Baby: Ocean By Lorena Siminovich

cover postYou Are My Baby: Garden

You Are My Baby: Ocean

By Lorena Siminovich

Chronicle Books     2014

Age up to 4     10 pages

.“Two books in one! Turn the pages of the little book nestled inside the bigger book to match the baby animals to their parents. La-la-chirp! Buzz-buzz! Swish! Splash! Perfect for learning and playtime fun.”

Openings

“You sing a happy song in our leafy tree. You are my baby little hatchling La-la-chirp!

“You crawl on the sandy ocean floor. You are my baby, little octopus. Fizz!

Review

You Are My Baby:  Garden includes animals you will find in your garden or backyard. Animals such as the answer to the opening line above top: a Blue bird and a baby blue bird. You will also find a spider, snail, squirrel, and a bumblebee, all with their baby.

yamb gardenYou Are My Baby:  Ocean includes animals from the sea. In this board book, you will find an octopus (the answer to its opening lines), a seahorse, goldfish, turtle, and a big wale with water spouting out of its blowhole.

yamb oceanBoth books have soft colors, many in a pattern, such as the bluebird made of blue with a white dotted body and a yellow beak with smaller white dots.Each book is also two books in one. The adult animals and the baby animals move independently giving any possible combination as you please. If you want the whale to raise the baby turtle, simply put the two together. Both are easy to handle. Made of thick cardboard, the books—all four—will withstand the toughest of little hands that grab, pull, and drop.

fish1

I really like the two books together. I like the mix and match of the two without carting out a second book. Kids like to match things up. As a kid, I matched up playing cards. One of these books would have been so much more fun. I could have sat in my grandpa’s lap instead of next to him; I could have practiced on my own. Plus, I know from experience, jelly wipes right off these pages.

Both the Garden, and the Ocean version of You Are My Baby series is adorable and will enchant children and peak their growing curiosity of the world around them. The series is a collection of four including, You Are My Baby: Farm and You Are My Baby: Safari. These You Are My Baby books are one other way of interesting your child in books and reading at an early age. Babies like other babies, making this perfect for the child recognizing his or herself in the world.

missing covers 2

YOU ARE MY BABY: GARDEN and YOU ARE MY BABY:  OCEAN. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lorena Siminovich. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Learn more about the You Are My Baby series go HERE.

To purchase any of the You Are My Baby books go to AmazonB&NChronicle Booksyour local bookstore.

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Meet the author/illustrator, Lorena Siminovich at her website:  http://www.lorenasiminovich.com/

Find more board books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

*all illustrations courtesy of Chronicle Books

Also by Lenora Siminovich

You Know What I Love?

You Know What I Love?

Monkey See, Look at Me!

Monkey See, Look at Me!

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New Chronicle Board Books

We're Going to the Farmers' Market

We’re Going to the Farmers’ Market

A Tree for All Seasons

A Tree for All Seasons

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you are my baby gardwen and ocean


Filed under: 5stars, Board Books, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Series Tagged: animals, baby animals, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Lorena Siminovich, matching, relationships

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4. #533 – The New Old Truck by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern

cover.

The New Old Truck

by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern, illustrator

Tales from the Farm Publications          2014

978-0-473-27125-1

Abe 4 to 8         38 pages

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“Old truck backfires, graunches gears, won’t start and often has to be towed. Retired, rejected and shut up in the shed, he feels old and useless. Is this the end for Old Truck? Then brother John comes home . . . “

Opening

“Old Truck loved to work. He was happy carting soil. He was excited carting hay. He loved carting children.”

The Story

Old Truck has worked the family farm for many years. Now, he is getting too old to work like it used to, often needing a tow from Blue Truck. Blue Truck was tired of rescuing Old Truck and Dad said it was time to retire Old Truck and get a new one. Despite much opposition from his children, Dad went out looking for a new truck. He came home with nothing new, having gien in to his children. Blue Truck would have to handle the load. Old Truck was retired to the shed, where it sat. One child had been missing. One John came home he asked about Old Truck. Would he be able to help the old, tired, out-of-date truck?

kids riding

Review

Based in a true story, The New Old Truck retells the story of a family’s beloved old-fashioned truck, about to be retired. Old Truck had been a useful truck, but needed replaced with a modern truck. All the kids objected. They loved to ride in Old Truck; one of the first trucks ever built. It had a hand crank, which is not always included in the illustrations. In general, the illustrations are smart, extremely detailed, and are nicely colored. The one-dimensional characters remind me of the thin magnetic “paper dolls” of old that stuck to a special board. Beyond this, the illustrations will entertain young children as the Old Truck goes from a tired, worn-out machine to a crisp sharp machine ready to beat any truck of any age.

Sentences are short and simply structured, making it easy for children to read. There is a lot of dialogue, mostly of the children protesting, which can be fun to read aloud. There is a little confusion with Old Truck’s savior. John is there, protesting with the others, when Old Truck is retired to the shed. An unspecified amount of time passes, Old Truck is a mess and,

“Then one day John came home.”

This sentence implies John had not been around; had not been home. Yet he was. John was around when all the kids, including himself, protested the retirement of Old Truck and the purchasing a new truck. I think this might confuse the children who notice John had been around. How can, “one day John came home?” When did he leave? Where did he go? Why didn’t he rescue the Old Truck earlier? Picky? Maybe, but continuity is important in a story, including knowing where your characters are at all times. If John was there when Old Truck was retired, and he was, then he should know where Old Truck is when he returns.

kidds told of new truck

Young boys will love the story of Old Truck. Old Truck likes carrying around kids, has a nice smile, and often farts, causing black smoke to trail behind it. What little boy wouldn’t love that? Blue Truck is actually rather boring in comparison, though much nicer looking truck. When restored, Old Truck is so beautiful everyone around wants a ride. This shows how much we like our histories and want them to live on. This simple truck spoke of a simpler time; many would like a return to that time.

Parents will appreciate the short history, after the story, including original pictures. Manufactured in Michigan, the 1921 Model 10 Republic truck journeyed to New Zealand, where the author and illustrator’s grandfather bought it in 1938. The truck worked on the family dairy farm until it was retired. The real John restored the truck several times, finally showing the 91-year-old truck at a vintage rally in 2012. There is beautiful photograph of the family farm, showing the snowy Ruahines Mountain Range (New Zealand), in the background. Also included is glossary of words special to Old Truck, such as chassis, crank handle, and graunch (the loud, grating noise of gears not smoothly moving).

old rretired to shed

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THE NEW OLD TRUCK. Text copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Somervell. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Margery Fern. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tales from the farm Publications, Oxford, NZ.

Learn more about The New Old Truck HERE.

.Buy at author / illustrator website.

Meet the author, Jennifer Somervell and illustrator, Margery Fern at her website: Tales from the Farm Productions:   http://www.talesfromthefarm.co.nz/

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Also by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern

The Day Dad Blew up the Cowshed

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new old truck


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books Tagged: 1921 Model 10 Republic, farm life, Jennifer Smervell, Margery Fern, old trucks, relationships, Tales from the farm Publications

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5. #532 – Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson

evvil fariries kve hair.

Evil Fairies Love Hair

by Mary G. Thompson

Clarion Books       8/5/2014

978-0-547-85903-3

Age 8 to 12       320 pages

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“You could be gorgeous, brilliant, a star athlete, or great singer, or you could put a hex on your worst enemy. And all you have to do is raise a flock of two-inch-tall fairies. Easy, right? Wrong. Ali learns this the hard way when her flock-starter fairies get to work. Raising them means feeding them, and what they eat is hair. Lots and lots of human hair. Where to get the hair is Ali’s first challenge. What about the beauty salon? Easy, right? Before long, Ali’s friends, classmates, teachers, sister, and parents are entangled with the evil fairies, who have their own grandiose and sinister agenda. It’s up to Ali to overcome these magical troublemakers and set things right.”

Opening

“AGREEMENT 1. Alison E. B. Butler in exchange for one wish, hereby agree: . . .”

The Story

Alison is raising a flock of evil fairies in exchange for one wish. She wants to be smarter than her sister, who get s straight A’s and her parent’s attention. She has two problems right away. Michael gave her the two flock-starters and now he insists on checking up on her, constantly. It wouldn’t be so bad if he weren’t the second worst jerk in town. His brother is number one and dating Ali’s sister Hannah—the one who can do no wrong. Second problem, the baby fairies. All the babies want is to eat and they eat human hair, lots if it. Where is Ali going to get all that hair? She can’t use her own, and keeps her hair in a high bun to ensure the fairies don’t get to her hair. The boys shave their head.

Ali spots the beauty salon across from the middle school. They throw hair away every day. Ali tries to grab some of the discarded hair, but Mrs. Hopper, who has cut the Butler family’s hair since forever, catches her. Ali learns that Mrs. Hopper is not who she seems to be and wants to rescue Mrs. Hopper—the real Mrs. Hopper. Hopper is not the only one held captive. Molly and Tyler, who broke the rules while raising their flocks, are now suffering the penalty, and Mrs. Hopper—the fake one—is now holding them captive. Will Ali be able to free all three? Can she be able to get anyone else to help? Most importantly, will Ali raise her full flock and get her wish?

Review

I love Evil Fairies Love Hair. It has some normal teenage angst, a normal family, middle school casts, two flockstarters who may or may not help, and a good dash of magic. The good kids are not always as good as they seem and the bad kids are not as bad as everyone, including parents, believe. Then there are the little evil fairies, who may not be fairies at all. Evil Fairies Love Hair could be a confusing story, but events happen in good time and everything flows nicely from one plot point to the next. In fact, I had read half the book before I thought to check the time. I didn’t want to put the book down.

From the title, Evil Fairies Love Hair, I had no idea what to expect. The fairy on the cover is odd looking with large, bulging eyes that fill up half her face and a baldhead. She looks demanding and she and her fellow fairies are a demanding bunch. Their leader put the fairies in this position and was now trying to get them to where she wanted to be in the first place. Problem is, she easily makes mistakes, mainly due to her enormous ego. I love the humor and the middle school principal who never has a clue what his students are doing. He just wants them back to class. All the adults are clueless.

Middle grade kids will love this story. It will have them thinking about what they would wish for, if they had the opportunity. Kids will also wonder what getting their wish would cause to those around them. Would it be worth it to have everything you want? This is the author’s sophomore novel. (Escape from the Pipe Men! is her debut and will be reviewed here soon.) The writing is excellent. The story pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages. Kids looking for a magical tale with a few twists and turns will want to read Evil Fairies Love Hair. You may think you know what a fairy is and what a fairy does, but do you really? To find out, you need to read Evil Fairies Love Hair. Be careful what you wish for—you might just get it!.

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EVIL FAIRIES LOVE HAIR. Text copyright © 2014 by Mary G. Thompson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Blake Henry. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston MA.

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Learn about Evil Fairies Love Hair HERE.

Buy Evil Fairies Love Hair at AmazonB&NClarion Booksyour local bookstore.

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Meet author Mary G. Thompson at her website:  http://www.marygthompson.com/

Find more intriguing books at the Clarion Books website:  http://www.hmhco.com/

Clarion Books is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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Also by Mary G Thompson

Escape from the Pipe Men!

Escape from the Pipe Men!

Wuftoom

Wuftoom

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NEW from Clarion Books

The Twin Powers

The Twin Powers

 

The Perfect Place

The Perfect Place

evil fairies love hair


Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Middle Grade Tagged: children's book reviews, Clarion Books, ego, fairies, hexes, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, imps, Mary G. Thompson, middle grade novel, relationships, wishes

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6. Johnny Reb’s Revenge

Welcome to the South! But beware – we have some surprises for you. If you are just passing through on the way to the beach, leave your car parked in Chik-fil-A’s parking lot long enough to get a sandwich and you’ll find it. The yellow nightmare that welcomes spring here every year: pollen.

 

Halictus_ligatus,_F,_face,_Philidelphia,_PA_2013-01-04-14.44.36_ZS_PMax_(8354392738)

 

We are used to it. We don’t love it, but accept it as one of the few drawbacks of living in God’s Country. I wonder what the Union soldiers thought of the yellow cloud in April of 1864. Did it slow them down or just shock the troops and make them sick along the way? I can’t imagine muskets are easy to aim anyway, but I’m guessing more than a couple Southern soldiers escaped the bullet because of the itchy eyes and runny nose of the enemy.

Despite our ideological divide, the Confederacy was short lived and we are united. This unity allows many Yankees to set up residence here when they get sick of the cold weather and frosty attitudes up north. I’m told they were called ‘carpetbaggers’ back in the day. We have nicer names for them now (when they are in earshot). We sell them our cow pastures at over-inflated prices and say things like “Bless your Heart”, which they think is nice but is actually a veiled insult.

Just kidding (except about BYH) – everyone is welcome here.

I had a humorous run-in with pollen at our first home. It was a cute little starter home that had one issue – when it rained, the run-off from the street came down our driveway and off into the side yard to a retaining ditch. You can never see something like that unless you happen to be visiting in the rain before the purchase. We weren’t and the community real estate agent didn’t share that fact. He was from Connecticut. Anyway, the first time it rained in April, our entire driveway and yard was painted yellow with pollen run-off. Being an inexperienced home-owner and relatively dull anyway, I marched up the street in the rain to confront whoever was spilling yellow paint into my yard. I figured it out fairly soon.

Now I have a new boss moving from New Jersey. He seems like a really nice guy and I look forward to working with him. I wonder how he and his family will feel about Johnny Reb’s revenge. They will mostly likely wait to move until after school is out and will miss it this year. So the question is, should I warn him?  Or let him enjoy the surprise in 2015…

 

437103661_5f98b5227a_z

 

Photo credits: “I Heart Pollen !” by Brooke Novak & USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA

10 Comments on Johnny Reb’s Revenge, last added: 4/6/2014
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7. #522 – Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome by Bill Harley

charlie bumpers nice gnome.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

by Bill Harley & Adam Gustavson, illustrator

Peachtree Publishers     3/01/2014

978-1-56145-740-3

Age 7 to 10   167 pages

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“Charlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He’s even got the laugh down pat: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as the Nice Gnome! Determined to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.

“To make matters worse, his dad has assigned chores to all the kids in the family and Charlie’s job is walking Ginger – the diggiest, sniffiest, and poopiest dog in the universe. Can Charlie deal with these challenges without causing havoc all around him?”

Opening

“Are you ready, thespians?” Mrs. Burke asked. “Are your desks cleared?”

The Story

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome is the second book in this early reader series. The first was Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, who happened to be Mrs. Burke. This time around Mrs. Burke’s Empire—her term—will be acting out a play for parents and others . . . at night! Since Mrs. aaa use2Burke read The Sorcerer’s Castle t the class, Charlie has been set on playing Kragon, the evil sorcerer. Kragon has the best line in the whole play.

“You horrible people! My plans are ruined! My dreams are ruined! I am ruined!”

Mrs. Burke handed out the scripts. At the top was your role. Charlie couldn’t believe his eyes. Mrs. Burke gave him the role of The Nice Gnome. Charlie would rather be on the stage crew and move sets around than be The Nice Gnome. The problem, as Charlie saw it, The Nice Gnome was ridiculously nice and Charlie does not want to be a nice guy. He did not want anyone laughing at him. He had to get out of this role.

Review

Charlie has a dilemma. Playing The Nice Gnome in Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class play would be horrible. He tries to ask for a new part. Charlie even tries rewriting his role. Just as in book one, Charlie must somehow make it through Mrs. Burke. Last time he was afraid she would remember the shoe that almost hit her. Now, he must face her about a terrible part. Mrs. Burke is the perfect character to deal with Charlie’s angst. She is stern, maybe a little too s21tern, but tempers this with kindness that the kids rarely see. Mrs. Burke is a good teacher and a good role model. She also reminds me of most every elementary teacher I ever had. Except for maybe her exploding fingers that get everyone’s immediate attention.

Charlie also has some aggravation at home. Charlie thinks it is unfair that his job means walking Ginger first thing after school, while older brother Matt can read a video game magazine. Little sister Mabel—AKA Squid—wants to walk Ginger but is too young and unable to control the dog. Matt refuses to help or switch jobs with Charlie, but he does make a point of reminding him to walk the dog. The three siblings are realistic in their attitudes toward one another. They pick on and at each other, but run to the rescue if someone else picks on them.

The actual play is the best part of the story, as it should be. At times silly and then hilarious, Charlie comaaa use doges to an understanding about The Nice Gnome and Mrs. Burke. Charlie’s part has him on stage as Samantha Grunsky’s helper. Samantha is bossy and a know-it-all, and she sits in the chair behind Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Tommy, has the other fourth grade teacher.

I enjoyed Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome. The story is a fast read, due mainly to my refusing to stop turning pages. Getting to the play was worth the wait. Kids will enjoy Charlie and will be able to identify with him. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome has several scenes kids will find hilarious such as Charlie dealing with a neighbor woman whose lawn Ginger prefers to use for “his business.” The illustrations wonderfully capture Charlie’s fourth grade frustrations. Included are the first six pages to the next book in the series: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull.

.Learn more about Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome HERE.

Buy Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome orCharlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year at AmazonB&NPeachtreeyour local bookstore.

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Meet the author, Bill Harley at his website:  http://www.billharley.com/

Meet the illustrator, Adam Gustavson at his website:   http://www.adamgustavson.com/

Find other early readers at the Peachtree Publisher website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE REALLY NICE GNOME. Text copyright © 2014 by Bill Harley. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Adam Gustavson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.

COMING FALL 2014
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charlie bumpers nice gnome

 Peachtree Publisher’s Book Blog Tour

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

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Monday, 3/24 

Sally’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, 3/25

 The World of Peachtree Publishers
Wednesday, 3/26 

Shelf Media Group
Thursday, 3/27

 Kid Lit Reviews     YOU ARE HERE!
Friday, 3/28 

Geo Librarian


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Early Reader, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: Adam Gustavson, Bill Harley, children's book reviews, family, Fourth grade, gnomes, Peachtree Publishers, relationships, school plays

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8. #520 – Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe by Steve Wolfson & Heleen Brulot

EA Frnt Cover-1sm.

Elephants At The Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe

by Steve Wolfson & Heleen Brulot

Argami Productions     11/25/2013

978-0-9798324-5-1

Age 4 to 8   32 pages

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“Nicki is not so happy about having to move to Zimbabwe, Africa. She is not sure what to expect and is truly surprised when one of the first things she sees is an elephant at the airport.”

Opening

“Nikki thought she was waking up, but maybe it was a dream. Why else were her parents sleeping in her bedroom and why she was sleeping sitting up in a chair.”

The Story

Nikki’s mother gets a job that takes the family to Zimbabwe, Africa. Like most young kids, Nikki does not want to leave her home and her friends. She wonders how she will hang her posters on a mud wall. She is also fearful of all the wild animals that she believes will be everywhere. Nikki might be right. At the airport an elephant—a green elephant with red and yellow spots—takes her suitcase off the belt and walks away with it. Dad insists there are no elephants in the city.

In her new home, Nikki sees a menagerie of animals come through the bushes defining her backyard. Rhinos, lions, zebras, baboons, and an ostrich run and play in front of Nikki’s bedroom window. Dad sternly insists there are no wild animals in the city. Nikki spends all her time playing with the elephant from the airport, much to her parent’s dismay. They never see any of the animals that hide in the bushes until Nikki is alone.

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Review

The first reading of Elephants at the Airport was confusing. Why could only Nikki see the animals that were real enough to play with her? The title on the cover states, Elephants at the Airport and nothing more, not even the author and illustrator’s name (that is perfectly okay). A closer look at the credit and title pages shows a subtitle: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe. Now I get it. The story is a fable. Nikki has no desire to move to Africa and is terrified of the unknown. To make things worse, a green elephant—with red and yellow dots—grabs her suitcase. Dad refuses to believe his child.

Zimbabwe is not a place to fear, but a magical place for kids where the animals entertain Nikki in front of her bedroom window. The story lacks development. Mainly Nikki and her father are in a stalemate over wild animals in the city in which they live. Dad even takes Nikki to a game park—actually a mechanism to end the story. Nikki declares the elephants were great, but her favorite is still the airport elephant, which causes her dad to yell,

“There are NO elephants at the airport!”

Nikki replies that he is right; the elephant is now at their home. She then runs out to play with Airport. Nikki happily skips out of the house and her parents look out to see their daughter with something green and wonder . . . could it be? An acceptable ending I suppose. Kids will laugh and so might their parents.

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To me, the ending just tells me the inevitable. An easy ending that does not develop the protagonist. Nikki should change by story’s end, but she changes on the first morning. It seems the character that might change is dad, a secondary character. Does he now believe wild animals are in the city? Does he now believe a green elephant with red and yellow spots plays with his daughter? Nikki folded her fears and her lack of enthusiasm for living in a new country too soon in the story.

Young children will like the imaginary playmate aspect of the story. They will like Airport, maybe even more so because of his coloring. They will most likely not care that the story is poorly constructed and in need of a good edit. Though they might want to know where the other elephants are at the airport.
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I love the cover and really like the elephant. The artist draws a nice, realistic elephant. The illustrations are good. A few have what looks like paint smeared across the paper, making the image difficult to see. I think this is supposed to indicate speed—of the animals as they play. A few other images are mostly shades of brown with a bit of color, making it difficult to see what the image represents. That very well could be a printing problem, but in the end, whatever the problem, these spreads are not good. It really is a shame because the illustrations are extremely good.

[After watching the trailer, it is clear that the problem is with printing. The illustrations, every one of them, are gorgeous and detailed clearly in the trailer, but muddled on the page.]

Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe takes a young girl out of her familiar surroundings and places her into a strange land of wild animals. Nikki quickly recovers from her fears and plays with the elephant from the airport. Dad is not happy, thinking his girl is isolating herself. She has a great time playing with what might or might not be an imaginary friendly elephant. I like the premise of the story. Elephants at the Airport has wonderful story potential but it needs work before I would purchase this adorable green elephant.

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Learn more about Elephants at the Airport: Once Upon a Time in Zimbabwe HERE.

Get a copy of Elephants at the Airport at AmazonB&Nbook’s websiteask for it at your neighborhood bookstore.

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Meet the author, Steve Wolfson at his website: http://www.wolfsonsworld.com/ 

Meet the illustrator, Heleen Brulot at her website:  http://www.brulot.net/

Check out other books by Argami Productions at its website:  http://www.argamiproductions.com/

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ELEPHANTS AT THE AIRPORT: ONCE UPON A TIME IN ZIMBABWE, Text copyright © 2013 by Steve Wolfson. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Heleen Brulot. Reproduced by permission of Argami Productions, Weston, FL.

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elephant at airport


Filed under: Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Africa, Argami Productions, children's book reviews, creativity, elephants, family, Heleen Brulot, imagination, relationships, Steve Wolfson, wild animals, Zimbabwe

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9. The Bickering Sisters

There once were two lovely young girls, sisters in fact, who lived in a spacious abode that seemed, too often, to close in around them. They were two of four daughters, not the golden-brown edge ones, but the soft, fair-haired, middlest sisters, mixed and squeezed together so much that they couldn’t get along. In fact, they bickered constantly.

Kou-Kou_by_Georgios_Iakovidis

They bickered near, they bickered far

They argued things trivial, humdrum, and bizarre.

“I’m sick of your manners,” one would often yell.

“I don’t like your meddling or dubious smell”

The other undaunted, her resentments would list

And sometimes erupt in a tirade of fists

Finally the lady of the manor (the loveliest, fairest maiden in the land) had had quite enough. She threatened, cajoled, and punished the two sisters. In frustration, she assigned them chores in the hopes of building teamwork. The clever mother’s schemes worked…but only for a season. For the enmity between the two sisters had grown as great and thick as their noble father’s ample chest hair.

He, the master of the house, was wise on his own account and took action to solve the embarrassing bickering once and for all. He tied the legs of the two sisters together with red silky ribbon, telling them to write down ten things each admired in the other. Only then would the ribbon be removed and their freedom attained.

He congratulated himself on his shrewdness and saw to the other important tasks of the manor, little knowing that the two cunning sisters conspired against him. Each composed a flowery list detailing their own most praiseworthy virtues, swapped scrolls, and beckoned their father back to their dungeon. So pleased was he that he released the two fair girls immediately with a tender kiss on each brow.

He boasted to his lovely wife in their bedchamber that night and wondered at how she could possibly resist his dashing charm. While choruses singing praise echoed inside his swollen head, the lady heard the familiar bicker, bicker, bicker from the other side of the door. The master and fine lady gave up! Would the two sisters ever be confidants or were they doomed to dwell in the moat of antipathy ever after?

Alas, one fine day, something came into their hands that brought the two together better than any silk ribbon ever could. It was warm, imaginative, and likable to both parties. They loved this thing, pondered it, and discussed it non-stop. Oft in the evenings, side by side they could be found on a blue, fluffy throne doing nothing but soak up the enjoyment of this thing…together. Yes, together.

An amazing light shone over the humble manor – the light of peace.

What was this wonderful thing of harmony, you ask? What could it possibly be? It was a book, then another, and another. It was literature that bound their squabbling hearts and imaginations together.

The lord of the manor, a brilliant novelist in his own mind, felt it important to pay tribute to one of the tomes that brought reconciliation to his home. To celebrate Divergent’s theatrical debut, I give you Virgil’s take on one of the wonderful works that put hatred asunder.

Not coming to a theater near you….

image

Artwork By Georgios Iakovidis (1853-1932)
Imitation Artwork yet unclaimed

10 Comments on The Bickering Sisters, last added: 3/21/2014
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10. #513 – Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard

destructosaurus.

Here Comes Destructosaurus!

by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard

Chronicle Books    4/01/2014

978-1-4521-2454-4

Age 4 to 8     32 pages

“Watch the unstoppable force of a temper tantrum! Tremble at the enormous mess and disrespectful roaring! Despair as no amount of scolding can stem the heedless fury! Someone is heading for a time-out, Mister!”

Opening

“Watch what you’re doing, Destructosaurus! Do you have to barrel into every city like a bull in a china shop?”

The Story

Destructosaurus walks out of the water. He is knocking things about; building after building falls over. A loud voice yells at him,

“WATCH WHAT YOU’RE DOING, DESTRUCTOSAURUS!”

Destructosaurus stomps through the lake. Fish fly about the city and lake water drenches the people now walking in his path. Oh, no! Flames shoot out of Destructosaurus’s mouth and burns down the harbor. Now Destructosaurus is back stomping the city streets and pushing down buildings.

“WIPE YOUR FEET, DESTRUCTOSAURUS! We just cleaned this street. Now look at the mess you’ve made!”

Destructosaurus tosses buildings out of his way. They fall apart as if made of Lego’s not bricks and mortar. What is Destructosaurus looking for? In anger, Destructosaurus stomps down the city streets swatting at the helicopters, roaring with each swipe.

“DON’T YOU TAKE THAT TONE WITH ME, DESTRUCTOSAURUS!”

Destructosaurus picks up a train station and immediately the voice tells him to put it back down. Wait, what is that in his other hand? Is that what Destructosaurus has been looking for? After a quick hug, Destructosaurus takes his prize back into the sea, temper tantrum over.

Review

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Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! tells the tale of a little boy’s temper tantrum and his mother’s response to all that goes with it. He is tossing things about and roaring all the while his mother tosses out typical parental admonitions: Watch what you’re doing; wipe your feet; watch your manners; get control of yourself. Destructosaurus, um, the little boy does not listen. He continues his raging, tossing buildings, no, no, toys, about the city, I mean house.

With toy in hand, Destructosaurus gives mom a big hug. But, instead of Destructosaurus saying he is sorry, mom says,

“You could have used your words. But, still. Sorry I yelled.”

Mom says she is glad he found his toy, that she feels terrible for thinking him terrible. Maybe Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! is meant for parents. Whether Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! was written to enlighten toddlers or mothers, or simply for fun, it is hilarious. The illustrations show an oversized dinosaur destroying New York City. In a comic book style, the images are fun, brightly colored, and hilarious.

What an imaginative way of showing kids what they look like when they have a temper tantrum. I think kids will enjoy seeing themselves as dinosaurs, and what parent has not called their child a “little monster?” Both toddlers and mothers can laugh at the inevitable behavior all kids and parents go through. In the end, there is a hug and both dinosaur and mother calm down. Back to his happy self, Destructosaurus/toddler runs off to play. But wait, mom wants him to come back and clean up the mess he made. The ending has come full circle.
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Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! will entertain those who read it. Parents might start calling their child call “Destructosaurus” when the child has a temper tantrum; a word that could help the child rein in his or her behavior. Parents might lighten-up on themselves about the sometimes-anger they feel toward their child. And, most importantly, everyone will enjoy a brightly illustrated dinosaur story. Take note: at one point Destructosaurus sucks his thumb and it is absolutely adorable.

Activity Kit for Kids

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Learn more about Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! HERE.

Get your copy at AmazonB&NChronicle Booksyour local bookstore.

Meet the author, Aaron Reynolds:  http://www.aaron-reynolds.com/

Meet the illustrator, Jeremy Tankard:  http://www.jeremytankard.com/

Find more great books at Chronicle Books:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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HERE COMES DESTRUCTO-SAURUS! Text copyright C) 2014 by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Tankard. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

ALSO BY AARON REYNOLDS

destruco

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Read a review of Carnivores HERE!

destructosaurus


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Aaronn Reynolds, children's behavior, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, dinosaurs, Jeremy Tankard, relationships, temper tantrums

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11. Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg | Book Series Giveaway

Enter to win a set of all three books in Julie Sternberg's Eleanor series. Giveaway begins March 13, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 12, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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12. Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio

When our children were younger, I used to love taking them in the truck with me to run errands. With so many kids, the trips were a necessity and provided rare one-on-one time with whichever child agreed to go. I loved it right up until one unfortunate ride with my youngest. Here is text from that fateful trip.

Dad, drivers have all kinds of signs don’t they?

Yes, there are road signs to tell us when to stop and how fast to go.

No, that’s not what I mean. I mean drivers have signs they give…with their hands.

Sure, they wave to each other after one lets the other in front of them. That’s a kind thing to do.

Yes, but what does this mean? (giving me the perfect one finger salute)

Where did you see that? (Spoken calmly so she wouldn’t adopt this as a favorite gesture) 

That man over there did it. Did you let him in front of you?

No, that means I must have done something wrong and he was telling me about it.

What did you do?

I don’t know, maybe I cut him off or he thought I drove too close to him.

Do you use that sign?

No, honey, I don’t use that sign.

Does Mommy?

No, Mommy doesn’t use that sign.

What if Mommy does something wrong, would you do that to show her? (Once again, saluting me in the mirror)

No, we would never use that sign to Mommy. It isn’t a nice sign.

Oh. So we shouldn’t use that sign?

No, we shouldn’t use that sign. (she examines her finger wonderingly)

How about we listen to the radio?

Okay! I like the radio.

Radiomatic_DSC9599WP

(I fumble through the dial and settle on a station where the song quickly yields to a woman’s voice)

Women, do you suffer from low libido… (frantic push of the search button)

Daddy, what’s a libido?

Um, I think it’s an animal found in darkest Peru.

Like Paddington?

Exactly.

I’ve never heard of it in his books.

Maybe we haven’t gotten to that one yet.

Why is it low?

I don’t know, Sweety (how is this kid hearing every stinking thing? New station)

Men, listen to me. erectile disfunction is a serious problem… (FRANTIC PUSH as I fall victim to a conspiracy of the evil gods of radio)

Daddy…

…Er…How would you like to go to McDonalds for a chocolate milkshake?

YAY!!!!  McDonalds!!!! 

But it’s almost lunchtime. Will it be okay with Mommy?

Baby, if all Mommy hears about from this trip is the milkshake, I’m in great shape.

Photo Credit: By JPRoche (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

10 Comments on Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio, last added: 3/11/2014
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13. Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio

When our children were younger, I used to love taking them in the truck with me to run errands. With so many kids, the trips were a necessity and provided rare one-on-one time with whichever child agreed to go. I loved it right up until one unfortunate ride with my youngest. Here is text from that fateful trip.

Dad, drivers have all kinds of signs don’t they?

Yes, there are road signs to tell us when to stop and how fast to go.

No, that’s not what I mean. I mean drivers have signs they give…with their hands.

Sure, they wave to each other after one lets the other in front of them. That’s a kind thing to do.

Yes, but what does this mean? (giving me the perfect one finger salute)

Where did you see that? (Spoken calmly so she wouldn’t adopt this as a favorite gesture) 

That man over there did it. Did you let him in front of you?

No, that means I must have done something wrong and he was telling me about it.

What did you do?

I don’t know, maybe I cut him off or he thought I drove too close to him.

Do you use that sign?

No, honey, I don’t use that sign.

Does Mommy?

No, Mommy doesn’t use that sign.

What if Mommy does something wrong, would you do that to show her? (Once again, saluting me in the mirror)

No, we would never use that sign to Mommy. It isn’t a nice sign.

Oh. So we shouldn’t use that sign?

No, we shouldn’t use that sign. (she examines her finger wonderingly)

How about we listen to the radio?

Okay! I like the radio.

Radiomatic_DSC9599WP

(I fumble through the dial and settle on a station where the song quickly yields to a woman’s voice)

Women, do you suffer from low libido… (frantic push of the search button)

Daddy, what’s a libido?

Um, I think it’s an animal found in darkest Peru.

Like Paddington?

Exactly.

I’ve never heard of it in his books.

Maybe we haven’t gotten to that one yet.

Why is it low?

I don’t know, Sweety (how is this kid hearing every stinking thing? New station)

Men, listen to me. erectile disfunction is a serious problem… (FRANTIC PUSH as I fall victim to a conspiracy of the evil gods of radio)

Daddy…

…Er…How would you like to go to McDonalds for a chocolate milkshake?

YAY!!!!  McDonalds!!!! 

But it’s almost lunchtime. Will it be okay with Mommy?

Baby, if all Mommy hears about from this trip is the milkshake, I’m in great shape.

Photo Credit: By JPRoche (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

0 Comments on Innocence, Libido & the evil gods of Radio as of 3/12/2014 1:22:00 AM
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14. Quincy the Horse by Camille Matthews | Dedicated Review

Quincy and Buck is the third stand-alone story in the “Quincy the Horse” series. Quincy is a beautiful red American Quarter Horse with a long white blaze on his nose. He’s gentle and sweet, but a little on the nervous side—especially when his owner, Cam, takes him on his first trail ride in the desert where “ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!”

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15. The Sadistic Overlord of Technology

Although outwardly it may appear that I am in full possession of my life’s reigns, I’ve come to realize that I control very few things besides my attitude. Most events occur around me while I jab at the air to try to influence their outcome. Like a giant game of cornhole, I throw the bean bag in the air, lean left, hold my tongue just right, and hope it goes in the hole. To give my analogy an Olympic flair, I’m swishing a broom violently in the hopes of pushing the stone to the left. I think we are all very reactionary in how we approach life because the demands of family, creditors, employers, government (and the list goes on) dictate most of our schedule.

I enjoyed my college philosophy classes, but remember nothing except my professor who had spindly legs supporting a massive belly. His poor knees creaked and cracked as he paced around the room. I’m sure he would say my theory is some type of classic Plato “–ism” where we are sitting back watching our lives on screens, only able to choose between limited outcomes.

Don’t overestimate my depth. I’m not philosophical at all. I only know that I have no choice in many things – even in my house. But at home, at least I am the Sadistic Overlord of Technology! Don’t you love the title? I gave it to myself. I should probably put it in bold. The Sadistic Overlord of Technology. If anything remotely technological doesn’t work the way one of my family hoped it would, I am to blame. I get blame, ergo, I get the title.

Take, for instance, our printer. It was one of the first wireless printers and worked perfectly for a long time. It still works fine…for some of us. Three of us have Windows 8 and it seems to like that OS. But it gave up trying for Windows 7. My wife and oldest daughter have Windows 7. I have updated the drivers and tried everything I know to do. But when they push print, it will print no more than one page before it dies. Usually it prints about half a page, violently spits the paper onto the floor, and goes into some form of cleaning mode that makes them scream in frustration. Since both are night owls, this nearly always occurs after the Overlord has gone to bed.

My attitude when awoken to fix the printer is where the word Sadistic got added to my title. I’m not much help after I’ve gone to sleep – part by mental capacity and part by groggy choice, I admit. The help desk is closed! I come out of the bedroom like Jack Nicholson poking his head through the door in The Shining – “Here’s Johnny!”

image

We’ve been dealing with this for a while and I’ve been dragging my heels on getting a new printer. I guess in some way, my sub-conscious sees this as one thing I can control. As you can imagine, there are ripple effects – mainly in attitude towards the overlord.

Come to think of it, control can be a dangerous thing…

Anyone have a recommendation for a wireless printer?

Photo credit: Jack & some cool app on my iPad

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16. I Know That Face!

Have you ever seen someone completely out of context, recognized their face, but it took some time to come up with the venue where you typically interact with them?

Maybe you know a policeman who you typically see in uniform. Then you run into him at your son’s baseball game. The face looks so familiar. “How do I know this person?” you ask yourself until it finally clicks.

Or possibly you are at your favorite Portuguese restaurant and a familiar-looking woman you positively should know is seated three tables away, only you can’t recall her name. Maybe she is an old girlfriend (you’ve had so many), maybe you worked together, or went to the same high school. Also escaping you is whether you knew her well enough that you are compelled to say hello. Through the appetizer, salad, and main course you glance so many times she is wondering if she should call the police or if you are going to buy her dinner. Finally during desert, it comes to you that she’s the teller at the bank, leaving you nothing to worry about except her surly husband whose eyes are riveted on you.

confused

All of that leads me to something that happened recently. For many years, I was an early morning gymrat.  I love going to the gym, but hate much of the meat-market style interaction that goes on there. I hate waiting for the lat press while Joey finishes texting. I loathe the flirting, that guy doing curls in the mirror hoping someone is watching, the girl who is wearing less fabric than my sock, and the people who sweat like they are being interrogated but don’t feel the need to wipe down a seat. So I started going to the gym at 5 am. At 5 am, the gym is full of people who are serious about working out. I made many friends over the years and joined a group of people who ran a few days a week as well.

One evening while at the store with my lovely wife, I saw a lady I knew I should know. While her husband didn’t look the least bit familiar, her face did. Across several aisles, I stared her down. I wracked my brain to come up with my association with this woman, but could not. Finally our paths met, she smiled when and said, “Hello Mark.” Upon hearing her voice, I knew immediately she was part of the running group from the gym.

I replied just like anyone would in the situation, “Hello Patty, I was having trouble placing you for a minute. I didn’t recognize you with clothes on.”

Those words hung there for a second while everyone besides me tried to make sense of them. Me? Oh, I didn’t really know what I’d said, I was just relieved to have the mystery solved. I stood there with a contented smile on my face until I noticed the shock on their faces. I did a mental recount of my statement and went directly to panic mode.

I’ll have that back, please!

Nope, no taking it back. I could only explain that I meant I was used to seeing her in very appropriate work-out clothes.

Yes, I’m still married and no, her husband and I did not tussle! (I could have taken him, though – with all of my bicep curls into the mirror.)


10 Comments on I Know That Face!, last added: 2/28/2014
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17. I Know That Face!

Have you ever seen someone completely out of context, recognized their face, but it took some time to come up with the venue where you typically interact with them?

Maybe you know a policeman who you typically see in uniform. Then you run into him at your son’s baseball game. The face looks so familiar. “How do I know this person?” you ask yourself until it finally clicks.

Or possibly you are at your favorite Portuguese restaurant and a familiar-looking woman you positively should know is seated three tables away, only you can’t recall her name. Maybe she is an old girlfriend (you’ve had so many), maybe you worked together, or went to the same high school. Also escaping you is whether you knew her well enough that you are compelled to say hello. Through the appetizer, salad, and main course you glance so many times she is wondering if she should call the police or if you are going to buy her dinner. Finally during desert, it comes to you that she’s the teller at the bank, leaving you nothing to worry about except her surly husband whose eyes are riveted on you.

confused

All of that leads me to something that happened recently. For many years, I was an early morning gymrat.  I love going to the gym, but hate much of the meat-market style interaction that goes on there. I hate waiting for the lat press while Joey finishes texting. I loathe the flirting, that guy doing curls in the mirror hoping someone is watching, the girl who is wearing less fabric than my sock, and the people who sweat like they are being interrogated but don’t feel the need to wipe down a seat. So I started going to the gym at 5 am. At 5 am, the gym is full of people who are serious about working out. I made many friends over the years and joined a group of people who ran a few days a week as well.

One evening while at the store with my lovely wife, I saw a lady I knew I should know. While her husband didn’t look the least bit familiar, her face did. Across several aisles, I stared her down. I wracked my brain to come up with my association with this woman, but could not. Finally our paths met, she smiled and said, “Hello Mark.” Upon hearing her voice, I knew immediately she was part of the running group from the gym.

I replied just like anyone would in the situation, “Hello Patty, I was having trouble placing you for a minute. I didn’t recognize you with clothes on.”

Those words hung there for a second while everyone besides me tried to make sense of them. Me? Oh, I didn’t really know what I’d said, I was just relieved to have the mystery solved. I stood there with a contented smile on my face until I noticed the shock on their faces. I did a mental recount of my statement and went directly to panic mode.

I’ll have that back, please!

Nope, no taking it back. I could only explain that I meant I was used to seeing her in very appropriate work-out clothes.

Yes, I’m still married and no, her husband and I did not tussle! (I could have taken him, though – with all of my bicep curls into the mirror.)


0 Comments on I Know That Face! as of 2/28/2014 12:14:00 PM
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18. review#405 – Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You! By Laurie B. Arnold

. Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You! By Laurie B. Arnold Prospecta Press 5 Stars . Back Cover When Madison McGee is orphaned and forced to live with her wacky grandmother in boring Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, she’s pretty sure nothing will ever be right again. Her grandmother is addicted to TV shopping …

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19. When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore

5 Stars When a Dragon Moves In Jodi Moore Howard McWilliam 23 Pages     Ages: 4 to 8 ........ .......... Inside Jacket:  If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in—and that’s exactly what happens to one very lucky boy on the beach. The boy and his dragon brave the waves, roast marshmallows, roam [...]

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20. Whoever Heard of a Fird? by Othello Bach

5 stars Whoever Heard Of A Fird? Othello Bach Shann Hurst 60 Pages     Ages: 7+ ………….. Back Cover: If you haven’t heard of a fird, part fish, part bird, you don’t know that he’s looking for a head of fird. He wants to find out if he’s “firding” right. You see, Fird was raised by [...]

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21. Don’t Feed The Boy by Irene Latham

5 Stars Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin Pages:  288     Ages: 8 to 12 ……………………. Back Cover:  No kid knows more about zoo life than Whit. That’s because he sleeps, eats and even attends home-school at the Meadowbrook Zoo. It’s one of the perks of having a mother who’s the [...]

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22.

I Couldn’t Love You More by Jason Ingram & Matt Hammitt illustrated by Polona Lovsin 4 stars ……….. Back Cover:  I couldn’t love you more is the message of a parent to a child. While it depicts the immense love a parent has or a child, it highlights on an even deeper level the unconditional [...]

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23. Victricia Malicia, Book-Loving Buccaneer by Carrie Clickard

…………………… Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving Buccaneer Carrie Clickard, author Mark Meyers, illustrator 4 Stars ………….. Inside Front Jacket:  Victricia Malicia Barrett may have been born on a pirate ship and raised in all the best pirate ways, but she sure is a wreck on deck. Her knots slip, she falls from the rigging, and rats abandon [...]

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24. I’m Too Busy to Pay Attention to You

I’m busy. Are you busy? It’s almost “cool” to admit we’re busy nowadays, don’t you think?

Case in point: Whenever I talk to my mother-in-law, her life is crazy busy. She never has time to read, or watch TV, or relax in any way. And okay, fine, maybe she doesn’t. But if she really wanted to do those things, then she would make the time. Something else would give in her life and she would make it happen.

Whenever I ask her if she’s read any good books, or has watched any movies lately, her response is always “I don’t have time for those things.” I get annoyed. Of course you have time for those things, she would just rather spend her time doing other things – she doesn’t WANT to do those things. I’m cool with that. It’s her time, she can do whatever she wants with that time. But be honest, why not just say, “I don’t really like to read or watch TV, I’d rather do X, Y, and Z.”

I’d have more respect for her answer if she were honest. Instead, it sounds cooler to simply say, “I don’t have time for that.”

And then, when I pin her down and make her break down her day to me, it astounds me how much time she actually wastes by mismanaging her day. For example: she wanted rocky road ice cream one day. Instead of going to the store and picking up a box of rocky road ice cream, she spent two hours driving around to different facilities looking for rocky road ice cream.

See what I mean?

Since my life is all about multi-tasking now, time is precious. I have learned to make the most of time and try very hard to make every second count. That’s why I’m utterly exhausted on the weekends – because I allow myself to relax and yet can’t, there are household chores that have to be tended to because there is no way in Hades they’re getting done during the week; I’m simply out of steam.

And then … there’s Kevin. He deserves attention. And I would rather give that time to him than to the house – the house can wait. This is not to say that we don’t ignore each other or we simply don’t have enough energy for each other, we don’t, but I think both of us are consciously aware that we don’t spend a lot of time with each other right now (Kevin is working seven days a week right now with this Intuit / Tax support gig. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to and though I’m not thrilled that he’s working himself to death, it’s his choice), so we make the moments count.

And being intimate is a hard … chore (because let’s be real, sometimes it IS a chore) to fit in sometimes.

But it’s necessary. Not for me. I could care less (which is part of the problem, quite frankly), but I know HE cares and he’s SO MUCH MORE LIKABLE to be around whenever his physical needs have been met. So I meet them. I make an effort. I drink an extra cup of coffee, or down a Monster drink late in the day and I meet those needs for him. Not for me, because I’m good with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, but I know he’s not – so I consciously keep that need in mind and plan accordingly.

You have to. If you’re married, you have to do this. It’s just the way men and women are programmed. Men need the physical – there’s no way around that fact. And women need the emotional. The challenge is to meet those needs. THAT’S LOVE. That’s what makes marriage work; it’s being aware, and respecting, what your partner needs.

And then making every effort to meet those needs – whether WE feel like it or not.

We’ll have been married 23 years this upcoming May. Things are good. At least, I THINK they’re good. And even though I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time, I’m assuming I’m doing something right.

Meeting the physical (and emotional) needs of my partner is definitely a step in the right direction.


Filed under: Relationships

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25. Throwback Thursday (book review): Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, ill. by Maira Kalman

Little Brown, 2011
Min is mad, but more than that, her heart is broken...

Min doesn't have a lot of friends, but the ones she does have are loyal and close, with Al being her closest friend.  Between him and the avant-garde movies she loves, her life is really good.  Until Ed Slaterton showed up....

She was "arty;" he was an athlete.  She had a free-spirit; his was defined by his friends.  Min was under the radar; Ed was the one girls wanted to be with and guys wanted to hang with.  Her lifestyle was nostalgic; his was trendy.  Both of them showed each other a new world.

It was a complete accident, their meeting.  She searched for him, he handed her a beer (which Min poured out discreetly).  They talked that night and soon, this led to another meeting, then another...and then they became a couple. 

And everyone wondered why they were together.  But Ed knew, with all of his heart, that Min was different and he loved the fact that she wasn't just another pretty face.  Min was secretly, than openly, thrilled about being Ed Slaterton's girlfriend, even if it meant she had to sacrifice some things, including her favorite coffee shop.


But today, she wants no part of Ed.  Nothing about him in her life is the cleansing she needs.  So she takes everything they ever shared, including a:
pinhole camera
toy truck
plant pod

oily kitchen towel....and so much, so many more.


They go in a box, along with her story of why they broke up. 

The premise of this book is simple.  Each chapter contains an item and the story that goes along with it in chronological order.  Told from Min's point of view, the reader becomes entangled in her story and the curiosity quotient is raised of how, not especially why, Min broke up with him.  But this book is unique in another very different way.  Daniel Handler writes with dangling participles galore.  It will take a reader to fine tune the voice in their head to follow the pattern his writing takes on, including the ever important comma pauses he uses.  It is also because of his stylized writing that Min's character truly comes out, filled with emotion and packed with meaning.  Handler also creates the town Min lives in and the world of film she loves, not with the branded names of coffee houses, Hollywood, and music, but with care, choosing imaginative names to convey the feeling each name evokes. 

Simple book, intricate writing....two very different styles that compliment and run alongside the two main characters in this book that reflect Handler's writing.  Interspersed throughout are deft, well-spaced illustrations of each item Min discards.  Recommended for high school (9-12).

Sidenote: it has been a long time since I've read a book that was actually sewn.  Also, this is a heavy book (literally, not figuratively) with glossy thick pages.  Not your typical YA book, and one that definitely stands out. 


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