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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: moving, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Moving? New library job? Some helpful hints

moving-truck-300pxWhether you’re a new librarian moving to take your first job, or an experienced librarian moving to greener pastures, here are some suggestions that might help.

I’m not saying I followed them all, but I should have! :)

Before you move:

  • Make sure you leave your previous job in good stead.  Give adequate notice, file paperwork, clean your desk, get your checkups in before your insurance runs out, return all your library books. :)
  • If you can, give yourself some time open roadbetween jobs – especially if you’re moving out-of-state.  Acquiring a new, license, registration, cell service, cable, electricity, etc., can be daunting if you’re working full-time.

At your new location:

  • Be a team player. It’s easy to think of yourself as the “outsider,” but work is more fun when you work together.  Be interested, be helpful, be approachable.
  • Know what’s going on. It’s your  home now. Who’s your mayor, your congressman, your baseball team? Subscribe to the local news in print, feed, or online.
  • Join your union – or at least hear them out.  They’re the folks working to earn better wages and benefits for you and they’re a good source of job-related information that you might not receive elsewhere.
  • Figure out who doesn’t mind answering questions, who doesn’t like to be pestered, who likes to joke around.  Work with that.
  • When you get that mountain of papers about insurance options – read it! And don’t miss the deadlines.
  • If you’re offered the chance to sign up for deferred compensation of some kind, do it right away before you ever have a chance to  miss the money.  Later, you’ll be glad you did.

A few don’ts:

  • Don’t get discouraged. If your new library is like every other library – there’s too much to do and not enough people to do it.  Relax; do the best you can do.
  • If you’re in a position of authority, don’t make  drastic changes right away.  First, find out what works and what doesn’t, and why things are done the way they are.  Be respectful.library icon
  • Don’t eat the boiled peanuts.  I hear they’re terrible! 😉

 

 

Image credit: Openclipart.org

The post Moving? New library job? Some helpful hints appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Hilo - The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, by Judd Winick

There are never enough graphic novels for kids.  This is a simple truth. When I look to our circulation at school, out of the top 50 circulating titles during the school year 44 were graphic novels.  88%!  So I was pretty delighted when my colleague Karyn told me there was a graphic novel for kids I needed to check out.  I finally got my hands on the arc and sat down to give it a go.

DJ is just an average kid in the middle of an above average family.  The one thing he was really good at was being a good friend to Gina, but Gina moved away 3 years ago.

DJ is sitting on the roof of his club house when he sees something crash out of the sky.  Imagine his surprise when a blond boy in silver undies climbs out of the newly formed crater in the earth.  This kid has a lot of energy and even more questions since his "memory is a busted book" and he's not quite sure where he's from or what he's doing on earth.  DJ takes Hilo in without much of a plan, and quickly finds himself with his hands full.

DJ is surprised when Gina ends up back in town, and notices that she's changed quite a bit in the 3 years she's been out of Berke County which makes DJ notice that he hasn't really changed. At all.

As Hilo's past is revealed to him in his dreams bit by bit, it soon becomes apparent that danger is on the way.  And now maybe DJ will realize he's not so ordinary after all.

This outstanding graphic novel needs to be purchased in multiples.  Winick has created lovable, funny and real characters that readers will laugh with and cheer for.  The movement in the art is reminiscent of both Watterson and Gownley and I defy anyone to read Hilo without feeling moments of joy.  While reviewers have pegged this as a 9-12 title, I'm saying all ages.  I know we will have kids from 6 to 14 eager to check this one out.

I heart Hilo.

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3. The Book Review Club - Anna Was Here

Anna was Here
Jane Kutz
middle grade

I'm stretching ye olde reviewing skills again with my first review after the summer siesta of the Book Review Club. Fortunately, Jane Kurtz makes my work so much easier. Anna was Here was a fun, entertaining, timeless story. Dare I say, it's a meat and potatoes book cloaked in chocolate pudding. They don't get any better than that!

Plot synopsis: Anna, daughter of a minister and university professor, must move to Kansas when her father accepts a temporary post as pastor to an ailing church in a small town. Catch: the small town is filled with relatives and uneasy family history.

This story is as much about mending broken ties in a community and family as it is about the change and discomfort that comes from a big move and new start. What struck me is how evenly balanced this story is. All of the parts - character, plot, setting - work in harmony. None is louder than the others. They each take center stage for appropriate but not prolonged solos.

While there is a religious element to this story, Kurtz does an excellent job of, again, balancing. Religion doesn't take over. The story doesn't become about religion, or faith, or belief, or what one person believes in lieu of another. Rather, it remains another story element, nicely blended, fulfilling the role Kurtz sets out for it, which is, interestingly, both dividing and unifying. 

All of that got me to thinking about voice. I've heard the term described as so many different things, not the least of which is the tone of a piece, or an author's style. Anna was Here made me rethink those. After all, they already have their own iconic terminology. But voice is still missing its fundamental definition (at least for me, it was). So I came up with my own: voice is the result of a writer's blend of style, tone, character, setting, plot, and the various other parts of story. In other words, voice isn't any one thing. It's what is created when all of the parts are blended and create something greater than the sum of those parts = voice.

I'm pretty sure I haven't reinvented the definitional wheel on voice, but it finally makes sense to me. Thanks Jane Kurtz!

Other fall delights, are a finger's stretch away at Barrie Summy's blog. Happy reading!

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4. The Map Trap - a review

Move over, Frindle. A new classic has arrived!

Below is my review of The Map Trap by Andrew Clements, as it appeared in the October, 2014, edition of School Library Journal.

CLEMENTS, Andrew. The Map Trap. 2 CDs. 2:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781442357013. digital download.

Gr 3-6 -- Alton Ziegler is crazy about maps. He particularly loves the way they can visually display any manner of information in a variety of ways. Surreptitiously, he collects data and creates humorous maps detailing such trivia as the popularity of lunchroom tables (depicted as a topographical map of the cafeteria) or a weather map of a teacher's clothes. Striped tie today? Look out -- the probability of a pop quiz is high. He never meant for anyone to see his collection, but when it's "mapnapped," there's no telling where the road might lead. Keith Nobbs is perfectly cast as the narrator. He creates a pensive Alton that fits the mood of the story. Clements's (In Harm's Way) use of subjective third-person narration is interesting in that the listener is privy to the inner concerns not only of Alton but of his teacher Miss Wheeling as well. Rarely is a teacher's perspective presented with such honesty and clarity in a middle grade novel. Though Nobbs's voice sometimes cracks when portraying female characters, his delivery, nonetheless, is still pleasing and believable. The Map Trap is a thoughtful, holistic look at the middle school environment that will have wide appeal. 

Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.


The publisher's website contains an audio and a printed excerpt from The Map Trap, as well as a video with author, Andrew Clements.

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5. Jack & Louisa Act 1, by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Weterhead

Jack can't believe that he is moving from New York City to a suburb of Cleveland!  He knows that it's where his dad is from, and that work is bringing him there, but for a kid city born and raised, the suburb and its stand alone houses aren't exactly familiar territory for him.  His parents know he's feeling down when an offer of listening to the Into The Woods soundtrack is turned down.

Louisa is just coming down from being at Camp Curtain Up (theater camp if you can't tell) with the other MTNs (musical theater nerds).  As she and her parents pull into their driveway, they notice that the new family is moving in two doors down.  Louisa notices that the kid looks about her age, and then suddenly she notices his tshirt.  It's from the musical Mary Poppins! This is a very interesting development. After all, up until now, Louisa was the only MTN in her grade!

If Louisa only knew! Jack's dad's job wasn't the only reason they were moving to Cleveland.  Jack had lost a job himself. He is a theater kid, and not too long ago he was cast in the musical The Big Apple.  And not in a bit part either.  He was super excited to be part of the cast...until the first rehearsal.  Jack is going into 7th grade, and his voice was changing. The notes no longer came easily...and sometimes they didn't come at all.  So Jack was no longer first choice for the role.  Which obviously made leaving NYC a heck of a lot easier.

In this age of google, Louisa finds out about Jack pretty quickly.  And seeing as they are in the same class at school, she figures they are pretty much meant to be friends since they have so much in common.  But Jack is thinking about reinvention.  It's pretty easy to be a theater kid and be a boy in NYC, but in Cleveland he figures his soccer skills will make his life easier than his singing and dancing skills.

Sometimes, however, it's hard to turn off what you really love.  And when the community theater announces it's putting on one of Jack's favorite shows of all time, will he be able to resist the call of the stage (let alone Louisa's influence)?

This is a pitch perfect middle school story that's not simply about theater, but drills down into issues of family, friendship and being true to oneself.  Keenan-Bolger and Wetherhead get the voices spot on without ever venturing into over-the-top Glee caricatures.  The alternating voices go back and forth in time, but are never confusing, rather a great device for giving the back story in pieces instead of one big chunk.  Fans of Federle will eat this up, as will fans of realistic fiction and musical theater.

Super fun.

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6. Yard Sale – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Yard Sale Written by: Eve Bunting Illustrated by: Lauren Castillo Published by: Candlewick Press, 2015 Themes/Topics: Downsizing, yard sales, change, moving Suitable for ages: 4-7 Opening: ALMOST EVERYTHING WE OWN is spread out in our front yard. It is all for sale. We are … Continue reading

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7. “The Sea Cat Dreams” has a Face Book Page

Muza Ulasowski, my wonderful collaborator, has created a fabulous FB page for our picture book, “The Sea Cat Dreams”! Muza’s wonderfully life like illustrations have perfectly captured  the story in a way I could never have envisaged! She has truly captured the story’s essence!  Here are some samples:

The story is about coping with life impacting change something that can happen planned [as in a house move] or completely unplanned [as with a natural disaster, accident, death etc]. Coping with change, as child/family psychologists and counselors all say, is something that has a profound impact, especially on the young. As with grief, adults are often too preoccupied with the change and its ramifications to be able to take in how the children, who are being impacted by change, are managing or not managing in the new setting/situation.

The cat in the story moves, accidently, from one environment & family on a farm, to another very different one, aboard a fishing boat.  He is then impacted further by the loss of a master he has come to love. But this is not the end. He moves through his life’s dramatic changes; firstly, by grieving, something we need to encourage each other and especially children, to do. He then reaches out to, shares with and cares for others also affected by loss, in this case, the fisherman’s widow. He gradually accepts his new life situation, not for a moment forgetting what has happened, but treasuring the wonderful memories he has.

The process of grieving must be acknowledged and the grieving child/adult be allowed to express their grief or sense of loss at the change in their lives and encouraged to do so.  Let them talk, let them share as much as they need to. Highlight the  constructive aspects, positive elements, e.g, wonderful memories of a dead friend, relative or pet. If the impacting change has involved a move – be it to a different school, to another suburb, another state, another country – encourage  the keeping of contacts where possible, assist with the making of new contacts and the sharing of the process of moving and resettling, especially any humorous incidents.

The hope in writing this book, was to help children talk about their own stories of life changing events and to recognise, that whilst change is not always pleasant, we can become stronger for it and be better able to reach out and empathise with others experiencing its many faceted impact on their own lives.

See it here: http://utales.com/books/the-sea-cat-dreams


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8. Studio Move Out

Production in the studio has been slow.
That's not to mention all of the cool stuff that's happening behind the scenes! 
So let me fill you in with one biggie.

We're moving into our first house at the end of March!!

Yep, my husband and I were finally given the gift of buying our first home, and that means packing it all up. The whole month of March has been preparing and packing, and now we're at the tail end called "crunch time".

This also means working in the studio towards art has been placed aside. Artist cap off, homemaker cap on. Although, picking out paint colors has rambled our design heads a bit. ;)

I'm very excited to be moving into our new home, and the new studio (eeee!!!), and I can't wait to show you! Until I can, here is the before and after of my current studio...the after being where it's at today. Just so you can get an idea.


I still have a mini work space for painting and basic office work since we're still in the apartment for two more weeks, but everything else is getting boxed up and ready to haul.

ETSY SHOP ANNOUNCEMENT
My wee shop is going on vacation Wednesday March 20th until April 15th, that's the longest time on vacation since I opened the shop 5 years ago.

Beginning April 15th thru April 19th everything in the shop will be 35% off to kick off the new studio! Mark your calenders for this sale!

More details will be on Facebook along with sneak peeks of the new studio as I get it all put together.

Want the first peek? The studio is through those doors...


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9. Anna Was Here, by Jane Kurtz

Anna is a worrier.  But she is also a planner, which helps to alleviate some of those worries.  Her weekly Safety Club meetings also help.  She doesn't let the fact that the only other member left is Jericho - Anna's Sunday school teacher and part of her minister father's college group.  But it is in one of these very meetings, that Jericho lets some news slip.  News that Anna hadn't heard.

Anna's family is moving to Kansas.

This unleashes a whole new set of worries for Anna.  She's prepared for weather emergencies in Colorado, not Kansas.  She is going to have to sleep in a house that belongs to a church!  She is going to have to deal with cousins.

Little does Anna know that there will be emergencies that will change her family and make her look at the big picture instead of focusing on her own private worries.

Anna Was Here is a charming book that explores family and faith in equal measure.  Anna's family is Christian and their faith truly does drive their actions and their interactions.  Even if readers are not religious they will be able to identify with the themes of moving, getting past oneself and shifting allegiances.  Anna's relationships with her cousins and her conflict with her dad are perfectly age appropriate and it's refreshing to see her grow out of behaviors and into herself.  A perfect read for those kids who are fighting the change of growing up, and for those families who are looking for Christian books for kids.

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10. 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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11. Our secret garden

(Thanks to Kitty for the name!)

During lunch break, Martha, Kitty, and I were walking around our new Fenway ‘hood and we came across the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden. After being called “girls” by two charming tourist ladies of a certain age who were looking for restaurant suggestions, we went in to the garden to explore. It’s beautiful roses as far as the eye can see — and a lovely spot to take a little break (or to take a book and read).

fountain Our secret garden

James P. Kelleher Rose Garden.

flower1sized Our secret garden

A view of downtown Boston from the rose garden.

MVP and KF Our secret garden

Martha and Kitty stay cool in the shade.

flower2sized Our secret garden

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The post Our secret garden appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. One Book Ends. Another Book Begins…


Out with the Old...
Well, time is ticking away until our big move from cottage country to a southern Ontario town far, far away. Part of me is sad, yet another part yearns for newer and fresher experiences. I thought I was living the dream, and never wanted to give up my home on the lake. Yet, like everything, we humans need change to grow into the next phase of our lives. Believe me, change isn’t easy. But it is worth it.

So, how did I know that I was ready to leave the past behind and move on to the future? It’s a feeling; a sense of readiness. There was something inside of me that knew I had to accept the next direction in my life for my highest good. It was also gut-wrenching; like I was sacrificing a big part of my life for the unknown. My writing suffered too. Perhaps because what I was writing about had to do with a very dark time in human history—World War Two. I bet if my characters from The Last Timekeepers series had a say, they’d probably wonder what the heck I was thinking going back to when the Nazis terrorized the world. Head slap!

Once I accepted that change is good and the only constant, then things started to fall into place. Our boats sold quickly. The tractor went within days. We gave away cottage-friendly items to our neighbors, and donated clothes to the Salvation Army. We found another home that suited us to the ‘tee’. We’re still packing, but it doesn’t seem like such a struggle anymore. I even went through a grieving period—like the death of an old friend you’d feel comfortable farting in front of. Stop laughing, it’s true. Finally, the tears became less and less, and my sights began to set on a brighter horizon. I now anticipate what the future holds, and it feels so exciting. Please excuse me while I grab my sunglasses.

What about you? Have you ever had to move when you felt you weren’t ready or didn’t want to? Love to
In with the New...
hear your comments. Thank you for reading my blog! Cheers!

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13. El Deafo, by Cece Bell

After an illness at age 4, Cece loses her hearing.  She is soon equipped with a hearing aid that involves wearing a pouch around her neck attached to some "ear globs".  Cece is happy to hear again, but now has to learn how to understand once more.  To top things off, Cece now has to go to a new school.

A good thing about the new school is the other kids are wearing hearing aids too, and Cece is learning some useful skills like lip reading and using visual, context and gestural clues to help in understanding.  Cece is just finding her way, when her family decides to leave the city and head to the country, where she will be going to a regular school.

Cece gets a brand-new-BIG-for-school-only-around-the-neck hearing aid (The Phonic Ear) that comes with a microphone for her teacher to wear and is superpowerful.  What nobody expects is that it comes with the added feature of having a super long range, allowing Cece to hear not only her teacher teaching, but whatever her teacher is doing when she is out of the room as well (yes...even *that*!).

Cece has to negotiate the things that all kids go through at school - including navigating a friend who is not-so-nice, and getting her first crush.  Things unique to her situation include dealing with friends who TALK TOO LOUD AND TOO SLOW, and those who refer to her as their "deaf friend".

This is more than a graphic memoir - it is a school and family story for all kids.  Cece is an imaginative and emotional kid with whom readers will identify.  There is an accessibility to Bell's art that immediate draws you in and you can't help but cheer with her successes and cringe with her tears.  Fans of Telgemeier and Varon will readily scoop this up off of the shelves, and it *will* be passed hand to hand.  I am certain I will see many doodles of Cece and her friends in the margins of writer's notebooks this coming school year.  Do yourself a favor...get more than one!

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14. SDCC 14: Becky Cloonan, The Killjoys of Moving…

By David Nieves

Since 1999 Becky Cloonan has been breaking down doors; whether they be from moving to new places or the ones every creator has to go through to make comics for a living. I had the overwhelming  joy of sitting down with her on the SDCC show floor last week. To no one’s surprise, I found her to be every bit the –best in the world– her poignant art style suggest.

We talked a little bit about her recent move back south of the wall. Becky has a genuine zest for life that would terrify the average person thinking about uprooting themselves to new surroundings. While she deals with the same angst of “where the grocery store is, the post office… trying to figure out my place in this neighborhood,” she finds inspiration and new contributions to the projects she’s in the middle of during her journeys.

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Reflecting back on the dystopian opera that was True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys, a process that’s been over five years in the making. The original story inspired the My Chemical Romance album Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys which then turned back into the comic book.  Killjoy’s end result being a Mad Max story with so much heart that it makes the tears shed in the opening of Up seem like a prick from a rose throne. On the subject of if the group would ever come back to tell more stories in the Killjoy’s world, all Cloonan would say is, “never say never.” It does sound as though it will be quite sometime before that would ever happen due to Shaun Simon’s upcoming projects, Gerard Way’s new album, and her own recently announced Image book Southern Cross.

Our conversation steered towards the comic book industry in general. After starting by self publishing her own books in 1999, she’s excited by how viable self-publishing has become over the last ten years. Not only has this been a coo for creators, but she’s noticed how much its changed the readership of comics. Cloonan and Way recently signed at Meltdown Comics in L.A. she was thrilled by the fact that “the line was like 90% girls and they all had their comics to be signed.” Her thoughts about the on going hot topic women in comics; Cloonan takes a very humble approach on the matter. In her words, “As much as I feel like I don’t represent women in comics, I don’t feel like I can carry that flag cause it’s too heavy (laughs). I represent myself, but at the same time I love to encourage young girls to get into drawing comics, get into reading comics.”

Her outlook on the future of comics is as upbeat as the artist’s demeanor. Cloonan talked about how all the conversations and strides we take today will pay off ten years from now. The artist emphasized, “It’s going to be healthier, it’s going to be bigger and we’re going to see even more amazing comics.”

Listen to our entire conversation below to hear just how fabulous Becky is:

Becky Cloonan isn’t just the story of a female creator in comics. After spending some time with her you start to see that she’s the tale of a girl who wants to tell stories through a lens of her ever-evolving perspective while along the way encouraging those of us with the same fears and anxieties to pursue their passions. The industry is a much better place for having her and you just can’t say that about everyone.

If you’re one of the five people on earth who haven’t read True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys check it out in stores and through Dark Horse Comics. Becky’s new Image book Southern Cross will be available in stores this Winter.

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15. My first surprise

We moved into our tree house on 3/4 and moved out of butterfly town 3/11, the day of the Tsunami warning in California. Tomorrow all our stuff from LA arrives––a Tsunami of furniture, and belongings you might say. Moves are so incredibly dramatic. We really didn't need the backdrop of a major catastrophe. Our daughter lives in Santa Cruz. It's estimated that the harbor there suffered anywhere from 10M to 20M in damages. On the 11th, the day I was cleaning out our rental I thought what a bummer it would be to leave this world while cleaning out a refrigerator. Then I thought of all the devastation and I just can't get my head around it. It's so much. People here are talking about radiation and carrying Geiger counters and iodine pills and closing the two plants we have in Southern California. And I can't even find the lids to my pans.

We moved ourselves out of butterfly town, and left it to the professionals to move our stuff up from LA. It took us eight days to move everything. Every night I needed two Advil, a ton of water and lots of hand lotion. I can't get enough hand lotion.

And in the middle of all of this we had a gigantic surprise. My daughter flew in from FL and Joe's best friend flew in from LA to join his mom and Mx and we all had an amazing celebration of our new tree house and our 25th wedding anniversary. It was my first surprise ever and I absolutely loved it. The girls and I climbed one of our trees and our house really became a home that day.

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16. Meeting the neighbors and clicking our ruby slippers

We've all been asking the question. Where is publishing going next? In particular, I've been asking what an aspiring author should do in this day and age? Go traditional? Self-publish? This is a not-to-be-missed post about the future from A Newbie's Guide to Publishing entitled "Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath." Which makes me wonder if it's like Glenda the Good Witch said, you've had the power all along. Srsly thinking about clicking my ruby slippers together.

Today I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I really think that one shouldn't move AND have their teeth cleaned too. Moving isn't really fun. Neither is having your teeth cleaned. But...NO cavities:) We've had some powerful storms here. Hail this morning. Over the weekend, on Saturday night, the storm was so crazy it blew over a portion of our grape-stake fence, the one between us and a neighbor up the hill. We went out to get stakes to make repairs and when we got back our neighbors had already shored the fence up. Nice surprise. Made getting the repairs done much easier. And it was a cool way to meet the neighbors.


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17. On the Move

Our final moving date is just a little over a week away and there's still a lot to do. I need to put in change of addresses with various places, set up phone and internet service at our new home, and gather up a bunch more book boxes for our substantial library. But, I do, at least, have my painting all finished and ready to be made into postcards:
I think I'm probably going to post this one for sale on my Etsy shop, but I think it might be best to hang on to it until my postcards are finalized. So, if you're interested, check my shop in maybe three or four weeks. I'll update here with a direct link too when it's available.

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18. Stalled Out.... Again.

Now Playing -  Mr. Sandman by The Puppini Sisters Life -    Grrr. We were so looking forward to moving into a place of our own. The numbers looked good, the realtor... used trailer salesman...sales representative..?  Anyway, David said everything looked good. Then he calls us and asks if we have check stubs proving the rental of the house in Idaho. No, we do not. My mom pays the mortgage

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19. Deep Thinking

My friend Jenny is spending an entire year doing things she has never done and blogging about it. This has led to some deep thinking -- on MY part. Today her entry is about a friend of hers who is moving away, and Jenny thinks about what it is like for the person left behind. I am a person who has moved so many times I can't remember how many, and until today I don't remember giving a thought to how the people I left behind were feeling. Maybe I did. But I don't remember it. I do remember wondering why they would be angry at me, why they wouldn't be happy for me.
From the time I started reading books at age 4, and knew there were other places to be, I wanted to go to those places. And I didn't just want to see them, I wanted to live there. I wanted to live in faraway places. But in lots of places. Also, I love houses. Apparently, all houses. So, I always wanted to move. I like decorating, I like redecorating. I'm forever seeing another place I want to live in. Once I was away from home (at 15), I started changing houses. Once I was free to move out of town, I did. My second marriage was to a military man. After I divorced him, I was even freer to move around. I started in Missouri, but I've lived in Alaska, Texas, Kansas, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and in Oregon.
I've traveled to every state but Delaware and Rhode Island, and to 20 countries on 4 continents. I have friends in many places, friends I see fairly often. Two of my dearest friends live in other countries. I have as many close friends in NYC as I do in Portland.
Maybe. Maybe I feel that close to them because traveling is such a part of my nature. Maybe they don't feel that close to me. Maybe they only feel that close to people who ARE that close, literally. If I can't be there to wrap my arms around them, hold them when they need it, bring them something to read, make a pot of soup, am I really the friend I think I am? Or am I all just talk? Nice warm cozy words that no one can cuddle up to when pain is real and what they really want is a warm body, not a virtual hand.
These are the thoughts I am having today. I have no plans to move today or any time in the future. I'm happy in my 250 square feet. But if I ever do move again, I will have a different attitude about leaving people behind.

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20. Wednesday Wild: Shagbarks

We’re moving. If you have ever moved, you can probably relate to how I’m feeling these days: harried, overwhelmed, excited, and sad. The sad part has to do with saying goodbye to a place that has been Home to my family for a decade. For ten years, we’ve worked the soil here, and trampled the grass and climbed the trees and lived with the wildlife. We know this place in a way that no one else does, and it is very hard to let that go. Those trees up there, for example, are two of a dozen or so shagbark hickories that we have come to know. The new owners will surely love them as much, but when they wonder why the one on the right has no shag at the bottom, who will tell them?  Who will describe the little boys who grew up playing under that tree? Little boys who one day ran their chubby hands over those tags and strips of glorious hanging bark and couldn’t help but pull. And pull. And pull.  I’m sad that this story will come away with us, and that the lovely, generous, naked-at-the-bottom-shaggy-at-the-top hickory will not.


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21. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (MG)

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages.


Dolly Singh's fabulous face floats across the screen of the TV in the family room. Two happy sighs float off the couch, one from Dini and the other from her best friend, Maddie. Dini is a Dolly fan. She has been forever, from the time she discovered that Dolly's first movie, in which she was just a kid, came out the day--the very day!--that Dini was born. You can't be more closely connected than that. Maddie is a fan because best friends share everything.

If you like quirky books, then I'd definitely recommend Uma Krishnaswami's The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. There is something odd and playful about the storytelling in this middle grade novel. There are many, many books about moving for this age group. Though not all moves are such big moves--from America to India. There are books about the struggles of best friends staying best friends after the move, and about how bittersweet it is to start to make new friends. But how many 'moving' books are as quirky as this one?!

Dini is more than a little obsessed with the actress Dolly Singh. And the only thing keeping her spirits up after she learns the news that her family will be moving to India for several years is the dream that maybe just maybe she'll meet her favorite actress when they move to India. True they'll be staying in a very small town or village. True, that village isn't exactly near Bombay (yes, she knows it's not called Bombay anymore, but that's how she'll always think of it) where the star lives. But anything is possible, right? And with two girls wishing so very hard...it has to improve the chances, right?!

There are so many characters in this novel! So many intersecting stories or coincidences. It's a very silly, very playful, yet at the same time heartfelt story about life.

Read The Grand Plan to Fix Everything

  • If you're a fan of Indian movies or musicals
  • If you're a fan of multicultural stories
  • If you love quirky stories that are odd and delightful all at the same time
  • If you don't mind coincidences 
  • If you're looking for a book with playful monkeys

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 Comments on The Grand Plan to Fix Everything (MG), last added: 3/16/2012
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22. The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger

 5 Stars When circumstances necessitate starting over, a mother and daughter purchase a falling-down house, which the mother believes is perfect because they can afford it. But soon they find themselves feeling isolated and defeated. Longing for their old neighborhood and friends, and overwhelmed by the repairs their new house needs, they finally realize they [...]

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23. Living In Harbor Springs, Michigan - May 2012

It has been nearly 6 weeks since Mark and I moved from Athens, Ohio, to Harbor Springs, Michigan. So much has happened! I am going to let my photos do most of the talking! These are not in chronological order, but neither are the happy memories, visual experiences, and feelings that swirl around in my heart and mind as I become acclimated to this new hometown.

When spring finally arrived, Mark and I went down to the Marina after dinner and enjoyed seeing the first boats docked in the Harbor Springs marina on Lake Michigan.

This is the most recent photo, taken  May 24 at Petoskey State Park, about 10 miles from our home. I lived by the Gulf of Mexico for 17 years. It is good to live near water again!

I loved this plant, growing on the sand dunes.

We have become more active recyclers in our new town. These "friends" appear at the various recycling collection stations.

Here is my Hipstamatic pic of the marina in May. Soon, this place will be full of boats!


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24. Sorting and Stockpiling

We’re getting closer to our move date, and we’re going through our stuff but also thinking about (clinging to?) the things we’ll miss. I say “we” but maybe it’s just me doing the clinging.

I find it funny that when I left the U.S., I was stockpiling American things I feared I wouldn’t be able to get in Germany: Trader Joe’s salsa, children’s OTC medications, inexpensive winter gear. Now I have the same frantic hoarding tendencies but for German things, as if somehow I can take my memories with me only if I find enough items to hold them in.

We’re really trying to get rid of things, not collect things, but if I could stockpile all I wanted, here’s a list of some favorites:

  • Alnatura dark chocolate from DM—best cheap chocolate ever
  • Ritter Sport dark chocolate with hazelnuts (yes, they do have it in the U.S. but I hear it’s not the same)
  • Weleda bath and beauty products
  • Alnatura lemongrass soap
  • Whole grain spelt (dinkel) bread
  • Ready-to-eat mango lassis from the refrigerator aisle
  • Fresh apricots (they just don’t grow these in the southeastern US, and the ones you can get from California are mushy by the time they get to you)
  • Fleur de sel—best salt ever—yeah, it’s French, but it’s easy to get here
  • Wine—goes without saying
  • Cheap vintage linens from the thrift store (okay, I may have collected a few of these, but reports have been widely exaggerated)
  • Nutella collectible football glasses
  • Wooden toys—any German toys, really
  • Absolutely everything from the Waldorf basar
  • Kids’ rain pants
  • Cheese—so cheap and delicious here—a mozza ball costs as little as, I kid you not, 50 cents!
  • Rooibos caramel tea
  • Burda Style magazine—the awesomest sewing mag ever
  • Homeopathic German medicine—oh yeah! It really works.
  • The unbelievably thick walls, high ceilings, and beautiful doors of our apartment
  • Chocolate croissants baked just a few steps from our flat

But most of all I’d like to stockpile the things that couldn’t be packed up, even if we had the space:

  • Bike rides through the forest
  • Coffee and running and lunch dates with friends
  • Sunny afternoons in the kindergarten garden
  • The smell of freshly baked bread from the downstairs bakery
  • Kind neighbors
  • My kids’ knowledge of German

For the last two plus years I’ve sought out English reading material wherever I could, and now suddenly I’m desperate to have some German books for the kids. I just got Richard Scarry’s Mein allerschönstes Wörterbuch (it’s similar to his other books but with German and English labels). Also ordered Das grosse Liederbuch (The Big Song Book, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer) on the advice of a friend, hoping we might be able to preserve some of the folk songs our son has learned in German kindergarten.

The probability of him losing his near-native accent is the thought that stings the most.

But I won’t dwell on that now.

10 Comments on Sorting and Stockpiling, last added: 6/19/2012
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25. Back in the Saddle Again…Almost

I’m back! I’m back! You know it. *bust a move*

Hey y’all. How are you? It’s been a long summer. After we left Hannover in early July, we spent time visiting family in the U.S. and then camped out in our house (yes, we kept the same house from before) with one bed and two kid mattresses on the floor. Our voices echoed through the rooms while we waited patiently (sort of) for our shipping container with our stuff to arrive.

After the ship arrived in Charleston Harbor after 4 or 5 weeks, our container was randomly chosen to be x-rayed, delaying it another few days. After that, it was randomly (really?) chosen to be hand-searched, delaying it another few days. After that, potting soil was discovered on some plant pots. I’m 98% certain this would’ve been residual American potting soil, since, sadly, I actually didn’t use my pots in Germany.

So a teaspoon of dirt was keeping us from getting our furniture. At this point, my patience was wearing very thin.

My friend Bettina helped me see the poetic side:

“I do like the notion of American soil being taken back and forth across the ocean and then being forbidden to re-enter… ” she wrote.

It’s almost enough to make me try writing poetry again. Maybe.

Our container finally arrived, and while you’d think this would be the high point of the transition, we found it to be the worst part, just as it had been on the other end in Hannover. It’s just so overwhelming to have to deal with the stuff all at once after having been free from it for so many weeks.

But we dug ourselves out of boxes fairly quickly, thanks to our kids being kept by their grandparents (thanks, parents!). We’re now putting the finishing touches on household organization. Not that a house is ever really finished, but, you know. We’re through the worst part.

The kids are in school, and I’m aaaallllmost ready to jump back into my work-in-progress, which I’m both super excited and also feeling chicken about. It’s a big leap to make after so many weeks away.

So glad to be back here with you! How was your summer? Are you glad to be getting back in the swing of things?


1 Comments on Back in the Saddle Again…Almost, last added: 9/6/2012
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