Archive for the ‘Life’ category

A Time for Hope

June 4, 2020

In times of despair, a bit of encouragement is helpful. Emily Dickinson’s poem of hope inspires and gives us strength to renew our faith in the world so we can move forward to make it a kinder and gentler place.

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Life During the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 9, 2020

During this COVID-19 crisis, many lives have been turned upside down. My husband and I are at home, sheltering in place. We have never been closer – maybe too close. For now, creativity is of utmost importance to keep a calm household.Oatmeal clipart cereal fruit, Oatmeal cereal fruit Transparent ... Our typical day begins with oatmeal, fruit, and coffee. On the weekends we spice it up with eggs, fruit, and coffee. The thought of it makes my mouth water. Yummy in the tummy? NO! I call it the Boring Breakfast Menu! As soon as our breakfast is finished, my husband wants to know, “What’s for dinner?” In the back of my mind I’m screaming, Really? We just had breakfast! I calmly look at him and say, “It’s a surprise .”

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In the middle of the day, we get some exercise walking around the neighborhood and keeping our allotted social distance from other walkers. Sometimes we go this way. Sometimes we go that way. Sometimes we walk in circles. If not walking, we’re washing our hands and sanitizing the house from top to bottom so it smells like industrial-strength Clorox.® Then we’re on our computers. I’m writing or blogging with ultra-clean hands, and my husband is watching our investments go up and down like a yo-yo. Best Television Clip Art #537 - Clipartion.com

After our surprise gourmet dinner, we settle on the couch to take in some television entertainment. Even though we have endless channels available, we can’t decide what to watch.

Our conversation goes something like this as we pass the remote between us.

“You choose.”

“No, you choose.”

“You choose.”

My choice is always the Hallmark channel, but that was recently banned in our household. For the past few years, my husband has patiently watched every new Hallmark movie. So, if I click on a rerun, he groans and, miraculously, a new channel appears on the screen. Our tastes are a bit different. Documentaries about flying insects are not at the top of my list. Sigh!

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The next day is the same as the last one. I feel like I have the starring role in the movie Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over. Or I’m a member of the crew from Muppet Treasure Island, and I’ve got… “Cabin Fever.”  

Cabin Fever Clipart

How long this seclusion will last is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, my husband and I take the best medicine available  —- no, not alcohol — laughter. It’s the love that binds up together!

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Coronavirus is serious. Take care of one another and follow the rules of shelter-in-place. We are strong. We will get through this. Lift up your spirits — laugh and hold your loved ones close. (I hope you have six-foot arms!)

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A Tribute to Tomie dePaola

April 2, 2020

On Monday of this week, Tomie dePaola, winner of numerous awards and accolades, passed away. He had an enormous talent for writing and using his artistic skills for illustrating books that have entertained young and old readers over the years. Most of all, Tomie was a kind and generous man who put you at ease the moment you met him. He was a treasure!

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In October of 2018, I had the opportunity to interview Tomie at his home in New London, New Hampshire for the Catholic Library Association Conference. To say the least, I was extremely nervous. When my husband and I walked through the door of Tomie’s studio, we were welcomed by Tomie and his assistant, Bob Hechtel. My nervousness melted away. After a short video rehearsal with the Catholic Library Association, we took a tour of Tomie’s studio, and then he invited us into his home for a tour. (See the tour here.) Afterward, Tomie and Bob extended an invitation to join them for a delightful lunch. A week later, my husband and I were back in New London for the scheduled interview. On the evening before, we joined Tomie and Bob for a delicious dinner with laughter and conversation. Life doesn’t get any better than that!

There was a special aura surrounding Tomie. He made you feel like you were his best friend. He was charming, a good listener, and told stories that made you burst into laughter. To know him was to love him!

Some of my treasures from my visit with Tomie.

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An advance copy of QuietA New York Times bestselling picture book.

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One of my favorite books.

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Tomie’s Christmas card that year.

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With Tomie’s passing, the world has lost a bit of its twinkle. Luckily, we still have the gift of Tomie’s books and art for which I am forever grateful!

 

 

 

Spending Time Together

March 26, 2020

In this time of uncertainty with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind, life has become more stressful than ever. Many parents are now working from home. With child care centers and schools closed, your children may be causing interruptions and demanding your attention as you try to work. It’s not an easy time for anyone. When possible, take a break from your work and spend some quality time with your kids. They, too, are trying to cope with a new way of family life.

Here are a few ideas that might help entertain your children. As an added plus of spending time together, these activities also complement the STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum in schools. You may find that these special moments spent with your family can be fun for everyone.

Craft Day – Choose a simple craft and create.

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Organize and Categorize Day – Organize toys and books. Set aside those that your children no longer want and donate them.

Theater Day – Have the family act out one of their favorite books or make up a play and perform it.

Game Board Day/Card Game Day – Have fun learning a new card game or playing a board game.

Puzzle Day – Grab a puzzle piece and see where it fits.

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Game Show Day – Ask questions dealing with math, books, nature, etc. Correct answers gain points. With the points collected, all participants can choose a little prize – a special snack, a sticker, a small toy you may have saved for an anytime prize, etc.

Family Movie/Popcorn Day – Vote on a movie and enjoy it with the family with a side of popcorn.

Cookie Baking Day – Choose a family favorite recipe and measure, mix, and bake.

Quiet Reading Day – Find a quiet place to read your favorite books.

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Hide and Seek Day – Take turns hiding an object and have others find it with hot/cold prompts.

Zoo Day – Gather stuffed animals and set up a zany zoo.

Dress-up Day – Dress up in old clothes you may have around the house and let your imagination go wild.

Build a Tent Day – Use Sheets and blankets to create a secret place.

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Sidewalk Chalk Day – Draw a town in your driveway with roads, flowers, houses.

Band Day – Use objects around the house to create instruments. Don’t forget your voice is an instrument, too. Sing it out!

Build a House Day – Do you have old boxes? Try making a mini house with your mini family members.

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Old MacDonald Farm Day – With a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there… Keep on singing, adding as many farm animals as you can. Draw your favorite farm animals and house them in an imaginary barn.

Take a Quiet Walk Day – Make sure to keep your distance from other walkers.

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This is an extraordinarily stressful time. We are strong. We will get through this. When we do, we may realize that this was the best of the worst of times — a time when families came together.

Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

A Time of Reflection

May 30, 2019

This past Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to see “The Moving Wall.” It was set up on the Village Green in our town. The wall is a half-size version of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and it tours the country. You can read more about it here.

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I was surprised by how I reacted when I saw the wall. It brought back memories of the late sixties when there were many protests going on – both peaceful and violent. It was a time when the Selective Service used lottery numbers to determine which men of draft age would be called to duty. My brother had a number, and we prayed he would never be called.

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Young men, many of whom had never been far from home, found themselves in a country filled with the unknown. Danger was everywhere. Besides the enemy, there were monsoon rains, insects, dense jungle foliage, heat, humidity, and the horrors of combat. It felt like an endless war – an unpopular war that did not end well.

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Looking at “The Moving Wall” brought sadness to my heart. It was a quiet, reflective time, as I thought of all those young people who left home to fulfill their duty to their country but never returned.

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“Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” –Colonel David Hackworth

What Is A Home?

March 21, 2019

In one week, my daughter and her family are moving.

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Big deal you may say. For them, it is a big deal. With many moves behind them in both their single and married lives, they are now moving to a permanent home. No one is more excited than my husband and I are. No more storing their stuff at our house.

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We can now reclaim our basement. Yipee!!

I’ve always believed a home is where your heart is and what you make of it. It can be a cozy reading corner with your favorite chair, a kitchen where you can pump out delicious smells, a spectacular view from a window, a bedroom of your own, but most of all a home, no matter how big or how small, is a place where family gathers together.

Click on the covers below to discover which picture books you connect with?

 

 

Resolved!

January 3, 2019

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

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If we all do and be the best we can every single day with kindness toward all, the heart of the world would beat with peace and happiness.

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Be sure not to miss next week’s blog post. I’ll be interviewing the talented author, Alexandria LaFaye, and she has a fabulous giveaway you’ll want to enter. 

 

 

 

 

It’s Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

November 15, 2018

Beware! This could happen to you.

You open your refrigerator and your olfactory sensory neurons are suddenly attacked by a horrendous smell. Your refrigerator stinks! It’s time to clean it out.

Pull out those veggie, fruit, and cheese drawers. Dump and examine the contents. Who knows what you may find – petrified peas, a hairy strawberry, moldy cheese. And what’s on those overcrowded refrigerator shelves? Leftover Chinese takeout from last month, a piece of not-so-fresh fish you forgot to fry, chunky milk? Take it out. Get rid of that grub and scrub-a-dub-dub! Warm soapy water and a fresh sponge will clean up those spills in no time. And don’t forget to replace that two-year-old box of baking soda that supposed to keep your refrigerator smelling clean. Now that your refrigerator sparkles and you have received the Good Housekeeping Award, give yourself a pat on the back, and quick – empty out the garbage!

 

Speaking of stinky refrigerators, check out these two books by Josh Funk. Smells like a good deal.

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The Case of the Stinky Stench written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017

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Mission Defrostable written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

Happy Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

 

Memories and Egg Magic

March 29, 2018

My grandmother came to America from what is now called Slovakia. She was a thrifty woman. She lived in a small bungalow in the city of Milwaukee. She never owned a car. Instead, she walked everywhere or took public transportation.  She made her own clothes and poo-pooed spending money on frivolous things. Her backyard was a garden filled with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. We ate them fresh in the summer and canned in the winter. The aroma from her kitchen was always inviting – especially during the holidays. Her breads and pastries were to die for. I was convinced my grandmother could do anything. She even made magic with Easter eggs. She used natural dyes – onion skins, cut beets, spinach … I was always amazed to see what color the eggs would be when they came out of the pot. Whether it be taking a special bus trip downtown, picking vegetables from the garden, or helping make apple strudel, being with my grandmother was always a magical and memorable experience.

Make a magical and memorable experience with your kids. Try using natural dyes to color your eggs. It’s a great science project!

https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/2012/03/28/day-4-egg-week-dying-easter-eggs-naturally/

Below are some other links to help you along the way to beautifully-colored eggs.

https://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally-with-everyday-ingredients/

http://www.kaleyann.com/naturally-dyed-easter-eggs/

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/EasterEggDye.htm

Speaking of memorable, here are some of my favorite classic books for this season.

golden

The Golden Egg Book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, Golden Books, 2004

country

The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes written by Du Bose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Flack, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1939

eggs

Rechenka’s Eggs written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1988

velvet

The Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1958

peter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, Warne Frederick & Company, 2009

 

The Relatives Came

February 8, 2018

“One of the things that binds us as a family is a shared sense of humor.” ~Ralph Finnes

We came from California, from Texas, from New Hampshire, from Massachusetts, from Florida, from Washington state, and from Washington D.C.  The core group: A brother and his wife. Three sisters and their husbands. Along with us came our daughters, their husbands, and their children. Three generations of the family were together again. We hugged. We kissed. We laughed. We cried. We’re a small family with big hearts. In all, there were nineteen of us plus one on the way. We were missing only two who were unable to attend. While the children played, the adults gabbed, ate, drank, and laughed some more. For one long weekend, we were a wild and crazy family again.

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Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss your family until you come together, and the love that surrounds you is magical.

 

“You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day it’s all about family.” ~ Rod Stewart

One of my favorite books is The Relatives Came written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.  It’s a Caldecott Honor book filled with charming illustrations and a story with heart.

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Embrace your family!

“I think the family is the place where the most ridiculous and least respectable things in the world go on.” ~ Ugo Betti

 

 

 

 

 


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