Thoughts of the 2020 Fiasco

Posted December 17, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , ,

2020 began as a promising year, but before we knew it – BAM!

COVID-19 burrowed into every part of our lives.

March of this year COVID rules separated us from family and friends. April: The Easter Bunny came, but the family didn’t. May:  Mother’s Day – another day of COVID rules. June:  Father’s Day – a repeat of Mother’s Day.

Then came a reality check. The pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Boredom took over as my husband and I settled into uninspiring daily tasks. Breakfast conversations revolved around what to have for dinner. Weekly grocery shopping shifted to early morning once every three weeks. COVID words slipped into our vocabulary – social distancing, herd immunity, super spreader, surge. Hairstyles and clothes morphed into “THE COVID LOOK” – not pretty!

Toward the end of June – cabin fever struck! We had to get out!

Wearing masks and carrying a cache of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, we ventured out to see our daughter and family. No hugs. No kisses. But a welcome sight!

By July we formed our family bubble. Hugs and kisses allowed. Masks and social distancing be damned!  In August, September, and October we were on a high with babysitting and family get-togethers. Then…

BAM! A second surge!

Back to stay-at-home rules with no travel between our respective states. In November, my husband and I ate our tiny turkey gobbler in our ultra-quiet dining room. And now it’s December and COVID-19 is once again interfering with our precious family gatherings. Yesterday we did a socially distanced stop & drop and exchanged Christmas gifts at the parking lot where my daughter works. Once again our holiday plans are dinner for two at home. Santa, where are you?

Maybe someday I will get a professional haircut, buy some new clothes, and break out of this house to celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors without all the COVID rules. Maybe someday that vaccine will be available for everyone. Maybe someday we can call our lives normal once again.

Don’t forget to wash your hands!

For those of you who have had to deal with COVID-19 or other illnesses during this year, I send you healing thoughts and prayers. May 2021 bring all of us joy, good health, and happiness – a Christmas miracle!

The last thought…

As some of you may have noticed, there was no post from me last Thursday. Blame it on a busy day and COVID-19 fatigue!

Happy Holidays!

PB Review: THE BOY and the GORILLA

Posted December 3, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Boy and the Gorilla written by Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrated by Cindy Derby, Candlewick, 2020.

The Boy and the Gorilla took me by surprise. This touching story written by Jackie Azúa Kramer with illustrations by Cindy Derby brought tears to my eyes. After the death of his mother, a young boy is consumed with grief. Not knowing who to turn to, he finds comfort in a gorilla that happens to appear. The gorilla stays with the boy and patiently answers questions about the loss of his mother. The gorilla offers friendship and empathy as the boy goes through the stages of mourning. When the boy sees his dad is sad, too, he finds the courage to reach out to his dad and tell him how he feels. The two come together to share their grief, and the gorilla fades into the distance. Cindy Derby’s use of soft muted colors with sprinkles of brighter colors perfectly capture the essence of the story. Derby’s art and the simplicity of Jackie Azúa Kramer’s heartrending story are perfect for a child who has loved and lost someone special in their life. This is a beautiful book to have when the need comes.

Home for the Holidays

Posted November 26, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , ,

COVID-19 is making itself a disastrous nuisance throughout the country as doctors and local officals plead with citizens to shelter in place during this holiday season. I guess the song, “Home for the Holidays” is very appropriate this year. Since many of us are stuck at home with no place to go, I thought I’d inject a bit of humor into this unusual Thanksgiving.  

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?” ~Erma Bombeck

“Thanksgiving—when the people who are the most thankful are the ones who didn’t have to cook.” ~Melanie White



“There’s always something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Even if it’s just not being a turkey.” ~Unkown

My good friend, Amelia Bedelia, gave me some tips on how to dress a turkey. She’s such a character!

“May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!”

~Anonymous

However you celebrate this Thanksgiving, I wish you happiness. Be safe, be thankful, and hope the COVID-19 vaccine comes soon.

The Festival of Diwali

Posted November 19, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , ,

Last Saturday, our neighbor sent an email to surrounding neighbors letting us know that his family would be celebrating the first night of Diwali, the festival of lights. They graciously invited us to come and enjoy their fireworks display. When we arrived, the entrance to their home was decorated with bright white lights. Neighbors stood, socially distanced, at the end of their driveway and watched as fireworks lit up the sky. It was an unexpected treat.

Not being familiar with the festival of Diwali, I did a little research. It happens to be India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. It’s a festival of lights that lasts for five days and is celebrated by the Hindu faith and others. The name comes from the clay lamps Indians use to light the outside of their homes. The lights celebrate the power of good over evil. Each day involves special tasks. Food, fireworks, dressing up in their finest clothes, colored sand, and special lights and candles are all a part of the festival.

Of course, there is much more to learn about Diwali, but I’ll leave that up to you. Here are a few books to introduce young readers to this joyful celebration.

Binny’s Diwali written by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, Scholastic Press, 2020.

Diwali: The Magical Diyas written by Anitha Rathod, Independently Published, 2019.

Baby’s First Diwali DK Children Board Book, 2019

Thank You for Your Service!

Posted November 12, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , ,

I realize yesterday was Veterans Day, but we can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they’ve made for our country.

Remembering my dad who served in the Army Air Corps as First Lieutenant, navigating B-29 bombers, and was a member of the 505th Bombardment Group that was based on Tinian Island.

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”- – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Halloween – Change of Plans

Posted November 5, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

Tags: , ,

Each year, our granddaughters come to our house to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood. This year, there was a change of plans due to COVID-19. Instead of trick-or-treating, we decided to go on a Halloween Hunt in our yard. With a list of clues and hidden treat bags, disappointment quickly changed to smiles and laughter.

Some sample clues. 

FACE THE HOUSE.

LOOK RIGHT.

GO TO THE FIRST BIG ROCK.

COUNT THREE MORE BIG ROCKS.

LOOK FOR A WITCH HAT.

PICK UP YOUR TREAT.

WE’RE GOING ON A HALLOWEEN HUNT!

READ THE NEXT CLUE.

TWEET LIKE A BIRD.

GO TO THE BIRDBATH IN THE BACKYARD.

 LOOK FOR THE GOURD.

PICK UP YOUR TREAT.

 WE’RE GOING ON A HALLOWEEN HUNT!

READ THE NEXT CLUE.

Distributor of the clues and treats in the snowy yard.

The Halloween Hunt Crew

LAST CLUE:

GO TO THE FRONT DOOR OF MIMI AND POPPY’S HOUSE.

RING THE DOORBELL.

SAY,

“TRICK-OR-TREAT!”

YOUR CHEESY MUMMY DINNER IS WAITING FOR YOU!

Dinner menu:  Mummy Hot Dogs, Mac and Cheese, Beastly Beans, Ghostly Treats

Pumpkin Gallery

Halloween jokes and trivia were part of our dinner conversation. Before the girls went to bed, we turned off  the lights. With glow sticks in hand, the girls danced their wild Halloween dance!

Halloween Success!

Double Your Pleasure with These Picture Books

Posted October 29, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books

Tags: , , , , , ,

Today, I have two books written about the same subject.

Both tell a true story.

Both have similar titles.

Julie Abery tells the story in perfect rhyming verse.

Alayne Kay Christian tells the story in lovely lyrical prose.

The story:  One day, an old man named João finds an oil-covered penguin as he’s walking along a Brazilian beach. He knows if he doesn’t help the penguin, the penguin will die. João carefully cleans the oil from the penguin, who he names Dindim. João helps Dindim regain his strength by feeding him fish. They swim together and walk along the beach together. A bond of friendship grows, but João knows that Dindim belongs in his own habitat. He takes Dindim out into the ocean and lets him go to where he belongs. Surprisingly, Dindim finds his way back to João’s house and returns at the same time each year to visit his friend.

Each book tells of a lasting friendship between João and Dindim. Each book will touch readers’ hearts. Both have illustrations that depict an ocean setting that is soft and colorful. With themes of compassion and a lasting friendship, these books are worth having on your bookshelf.

The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of Friendship written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Pierre Pratt, Kids Can Press, October 2020.

An Old Man and His Penguin: How Dindim Made João Pereira de Souza an Honorary Penguin written by Alayne Kay Christian and illustrated by Milanka Reardon, Blue Whale Press, August 2020.

For the Love of Autumn

Posted October 22, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , ,

“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

“How beautifully leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days!” ~ John Burroughs

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~ L. M. Montgomery

PB Review: WE WILL ROCK OUR CLASSMATES

Posted October 15, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

Tags: , , , , , ,

We Will Rock Our Classmates

Penelope T. rex tends to stand out in a group. Penelope is a dinosaur. Her classmates only see her as a dinosaur, but Penelope is much more than that. She loves all sorts of things, but most of all she loves to play rock ‘n’ roll music on her guitar. Penelope signs up for the school talent show, but she’s nervous. At rehearsal, Penelope freezes and thinks maybe dinosaurs can’t play rock ‘n’ roll. She crosses her name off the list and is resigned to being just a dinosaur. Daddy T. rex steps in and shows Penelope pictures of all the accomplishments by her family and encourages her “to be anything you want to be.” The next day at school, Penelope almost loses her courage to sign up again until a few of her friends ask if they can be in her band. On the night of the talent show, Penelope is as nervous as ever, but she remembers what Daddy T. rex told her and she becomes a rock star. We Will Rock Our Classmates is written and illustrated by the talented Ryan T. Higgins who also wrote the hysterical We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. His newest book doesn’t disappoint. Clever lines referring to dinosaurs and amusing illustrations will keep kids and adults laughing with each page turn.     

PB Review: SOAKED!

Posted October 8, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

Tags: , , , ,

Soaked!

It’s raining and Bear and his friends are not happy. Bear, a bit of a grump, finds nothing is fun in the rain. He and his friends retreat to Bear’s cave, but Hula-Hooping Moose is taking up too much room playing with his hula- hoop. Back outside in the rain, Bear wants his umbrella, but it’s missing so he grumps on his log. All the while, Hula-Hooping Moose entertains himself with his hula hoop until it lands in the branches of a tree. Bear, Badger, and Rabbit manage to build an animal tower to retrieve it, but they topple to the ground with the hula hoop. The friends encourage Bear to give it a try. He is surprised how much fun hula-hooping, splashing in rain puddles, and getting Soaked! with his friends can be. When the rain stops, what do you think happens? You’ll have to read this hilarious book written and illustrated by Abi Cushman. It’s sure to put a smile on your face.


%d bloggers like this: