Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reading Challenge update.

In January, I made myself the challenge of reading one book from every section in the bookstore I work at. You can read about it here . I thought it was time to update, as June is quickly approaching, thus marking the half way point for 2014. And that right there is a scary thought. Time is a mystery, but one not for today. :) Today it a recording if you will of what I have read thus far, not including online readings including but not limited to various fan-fictions and such.  My own secret pleasure.  So here they are, plus reviews for your reading pleasure. 

Kid's Corner
          Board Books - My First Superman Book- touch and feel by David Bar Katz
                                There is a whole series of DC superhero board books. They are colorful and fun. And as far as I can tell attract the attention of all kids who love bright primary colors and superheros. This one is fun cause it's interactive. But watch out for the glitter, it gets everywhere. 

          Picture Book- I'm a Frog!  (Elephant and Piggie book) by Mo Willems 
                                I love Mo Willems. And I especially love Elephant and Piggie books. We just got this one in a few weeks ago. Piggie is pretending to be a frog. But Elephant doesn't know how to pretend. And doesn't believe he can. Join them while Piggie conveniences Elephant that he can indeed pretend to be anything. Favorite line "Grown ups pretend all the time" 

          Non-Fiction-  Real Ninja by Stephen Tumbull
                                This is a great picture book with lots of information and stories of real ninja from history. My boys loved it. Plus it was fun to learn what a ninja really was. 

          Early Reader- DK Readers: LEGO DC SuperHeros: Super-Villians
                                Early Reader are lots of fun, or just painful. DK has lots of good ones. Legos are popular. Thus Lego themed books. My boys love superheros. Batman for awhile was top of the list. You can guess what they thought of this one. :) It is a level 2. Meaning Ian (1st grade)  can read it but it is on the longer side. 

          Rookie Reader- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
                                  If you have seen the movie Hugo and not picked up this book, you really really should. The drawings are fantastic. Half the story is told through these alone. Follow an orphan  as he tries to put together a mechanical man left to him by his father and befriends a young girl who's uncle works at a toy store in the train station. It's a wonderful story and a great read. 

          Series- Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by  Suzanne Collins
                                  Suzanne Collins is the writer of The Hunger Games. This series she wrote before. It's about middle schooler Gregor who's father has disappeared. He stays home one summer to look after his grandmother and youngest sister Boots who is 2. Boot and Gregor wind up in the Underland where people fly on Bats. Rats, Cockroaches and Spiders are bigger than they are. Follow them as they go on an adventure to find his father and fulfill a prophesy. It's a fun book, full of adventure. And while I haven't read the rest of the series I'm sure they are just as fun. 

        General Fiction- The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 
                                  This is an awesome book. And very new. My boss handed it to me and I finished it the day it was released. The joys of  working for a books store and having access to prereaders. :) Anyway, this store is about a bookstore owner, who's wife died in a car crash. One night he finds an abanded child in his store. The next day the mother turns up dead, drowned. The story follows A.J. Fikry and his adopted daughter through the her life to adulthood. The fun part is each chapter starts with a book review. And while in the beginning it sounds like the review is meant for any customer, you get the feeling as the book goes on they are written for someone special. Trust me. Pick it up. Once I got started it only took me a weekend to read. Although I did have a sick kid who state on my lap all weekend while I read. 

        Suspense & Mystery- Naked Heat by Richard Castle - still reading
                                       If you watch the TV show Castle you'll enjoy this. I'm only about a 1/4 of the way in but already it's fun. This is the book Richard Castle is working on in the very beginning of the book. And the characters are clearly resemble all the shows characters. In fact that is the hardest part of reading this book. Reading about tv character by different names. :) 

        Fantasy/ SciFi/ Horror- Game of Thrones: Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire
                      by George R. R. Martin - still reading 
                                        So Mark and I started watching the HBO show Game of Thrones right after spring break. I quickly decided I needed to read it as well. The book is written with each chapter following through the eyes of a different character. I must admit after awhile I started just following my favorite character for awhile. I'll go back and read the rest but for now I want to see where she goes. :) 

        Young Adult-Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral                
                            This was a visually stunning book. The story if giving through newspaper articles, school letters, drawings, photographs, text messages and others. By the end I didn't know what was real and what was in the characters head. While not a happy ending this is a book I could ready a hundred times and still get something new out of it.  

         Science- The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson
                       This was an awesome book. Neil deGrasse Tyson writes like he talks. So it was fun, energetic and engaging. There was lots of sarcasm  and wit. Plus I found it fascinating to read about the history of Pluto and how it captured our love and loyalty. I highly recommend this one. 

        History- The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks- still reading
                     I will admit I'm having trouble getting into this one. I'm only about two chapters in. But I'm determined to finish. I'll let you know what I think once I finish or at least get father into it. 

Humor- How to tell if you cat is plotting to kill you  by The Oatmeal 
             My dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend by The Oatmeal
                           Got to love the Oatmeal. Both of these are funny. And very quick to pick up and read.  I particularly love How to tell if you cat is plotting to kill you. But it's probably cause I have three cats. And I'm convinced they are all out to get me. Not sure I can say more. Just pick them up and read them. Trust me. 
 Okay so that's it thus far. Sadly half my list is kids books. But hey what can I say. I'm a mom. In fact I've read many more kids books than this but I listed only one from each category. What to know what else we are reading to the boys? Me I've read Snot Stew by by Bill Wallace to Aiden and Cai. We are also in the middle of Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. Mark and Ian have been reading Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. They recently finished book 2. 

What good books have you read lately? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Menu Plan Monday March 10, 2014

Despise the lack of posts, I have been menu planning. In fact in the last month alot has happened that I really ought to record here on the blog. We'll see if I find the motivation. For those not in connection to me on Facebook, I have recently moved from a part time position at the local bookstore to full time Assistant Manager. :) I'm very excited about it and really enjoying my work. However this has meant lots of shifting and changing at home, and we are still working out the kinks. One shift has been more use of my crockpot. As I don't come home till after 6pm, dinner needs to be done when I come home. As let's be honest, Mark IS NOT going to cook unless it's maybe spaghetti. While I like spaghetti I don't want it every night. So slow cooker meals has become our saving grace. The internet is a life saver in the area. But I have also recently bought a new cookbook. Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. So far I'm pretty pleased, Although there are recipes I can't used because they only require a few hours cooking time or require you to add ingredients half way through. For someone else I"m sure that's not a problem but I just can't do that. So here is this weeks menu. I'm off Monday so that meal I'll cook without the use of my crockpot. The rest... well just look

Monday: Black bean and sweet potato taco salad (uses the Simple in Season Burrito filling)
Tuesday: Chicken with Onions and Cheese (Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker) potatoes and peas
Wednesday:  Corn Chowder (Not Your Mother's Slower Cooker)
Thursday: Breakfast Casserole
Friday: Sloppy Joes
Saturday: Left overs or simple meal
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and Apples

For more menus be sure to visit Organizing Junkie. Happy Meal Planning!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Menu Plan Monday- Feb 10th, 2014

Anybody else sick of cold weather? Despite the fact that I should be excited about all the snow and cold weather (we are going skiing this weekend) I find myself just wanting spring to be here already. What I won't give to see dirt and brown grass, anything other than white and grey. Not to mention that I would love temps to get above freezing. Or even just stay in the mid to high 20s. Anything more than the single digit and neg numbers we been having. On the up side, we are going up to Boyne Highlands, MI this weekend. Hopefully I'll have a renewed love of winter, since it doesn't seem to be leaving anytime fast. That makes this meal plan a short one, as we leave Thursday morning and won't return till Saturday night. But in order to hopefully be prepared and not have too many things in the fridge while we're away here is the menu.

Monday: One Pot Wonder: Thai Style Peanut Pasta- made with Asian style Rice Noodles
Tuesday: Sweet Potato Curry
Wednesday: Leftovers!!!
Thursday- Sunday: Skiing
I am in charge of Saturday's supper- I'll be making Green Spaghetti, roasted carrots and garlic bread YUMMY!!

For more menus go check out Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thoughts from a Night Owl Parent

So I have been thinking alot about sleep habits in relation to kids lately. Now I am a night owl. Always have been. When I was probably nine or so I got a nightshirt for Christmas that said "I may rise, but I refuse to shine." The statement was true then and still true today. But somehow I feel pressure from society to be an early riser as a parent. I hear about moms who wake up an hour before their kids, to have time to center, time to get chores done, time to exercise, time to be. Sounds great. But while my kids will sleep till 7 or even 8am depending on the morning that puts me getting up at 6am at the latest NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I am convinced that not even God gets up that early. Really! And I am not motivated to get up that early if I don't have to. Let me sleep. I'll get my quite, kid free space at 10pm when the boys are fast asleep.

Now part of my problem is that I'm friends with alot of early risers. And as such I compare my days to their. Not fair to any of us but it's reality. But here is the thing. The advise we give to new parents is sleep when the baby sleeps. Great advise for a newborn who naps during the day yes. But the sentiment then becomes that as parents we change our sleep habit to fit our kids rather than help our kids learn our patterns. For the most part I'm pretty against the idea of sleep training babies. I was always one that let my kids sleep when they slept. But as I look back, I did sleep train my kids. By simply being myself, following my own sleep patterns my kids have learned to adapt to my schedule, just as I have had to adapt to theirs.

 As a college student with an infant, I would often shut myself in a kid safe room, lie down on a mattress, put on some music and let Ian play while I napped. It wasn't deep sleep by any means, but it was rest and Ian learned to play by himself while Mommy got some much needed shut eye. As he got older, we always had quite toys and books around for the mornings. He would get up play on his own and I would get at least another hour if not more of rest. The same thing happens today. The boys know they can crawl in with Mark and I and cuddle. But once they are done they go off and play while Mark and I continue to sleep till either they boys start fighting and need us to intervene or we absolutely have to get up. It's perfect. And works for us night owls.

But my other problem is that we live in a society that works on the early risers schedule. I would be perfectly happy to start my day at 10am. But most other people start at 8am if not earlier. So we adapt. I guess that's my point too. Not being an early riser never has made me a bad parent. I have created routines that work for me and for my kids. And that mean the I'm still laying in bed while my sister-in-law and nephews are already out sledding. Or that I don't realize that school was actually canceled till almost 9am because I went back to bed after finding out that there was a 2 hour delay. From my stand point it's wonderful. You early risers go ahead and wake up at the crack of dawn. I'll enjoy my beauty sleep. With cuddly boys by my side. Or at least the background music of kids at play.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Reading Challenge for 2014

Being surrounded by books at least 3 times a week has made me think about all the wonderful books I have yet to read. Shelving books and organizing books at work at the books store has allowed me to glace at books I might normally look at simply because they are not in sections/genres I normally am drawn to. So this year I am giving myself a reading challenge for the year. To read a book from each section of our store. Now I'll be upfront. I'm giving myself a few passes. I see no reason to read something from Large Print when they are elsewhere throughout the store. Nor do I figure I should force myself to ready something from foreign language or Kids foreign language since the only foreign language I know is German and it's been so long I probably don't even have a kindergarten reading level anymore. Our $1 bin/ Mass Market paperback I feel I can also overlook as again some of these will be found elsewhere. Although if I get through the rest of the sections I'll take a took to see what I can find :) Finally I feel no big need to read through one of the bibles or hymnals. I own 4 hymnals and at least 6 bibles, and the point of this is to read books that I might not have originally thought to pick up.
I guess I should outline some other thoughts I have about this challenge. I am a avid believer that reading is and should be fun. I did the whole reading for the sake of learning in school. And I know I'll do it again when I start my graduate work. But for right now I have no need to read for the sake of knowledge. If I learn something great. But for me at this moment in time, in this stage of my life, reading is pleasure. If I don't like what I'm reading then I won't continue reading it. So that means I plan on picking books I'm drawn to. Books I hope to enjoy. I'm not going to force myself to read a book from every section of the store just to say I did. But because I think there are some great books I will enjoy in sections of the store I normally do not browse for myself. When in the store for myself (outside of work) I tend to stay near fantasy/sci fi, graphic novels or the children's sections. There are so many more sections to browse and that's what this challenge is for.
The other thing I hope this does is show the boys all the different kinds of books there are out there. As a 1st Grader Ian is starting to really read on his own. He still needs some help but I often find him on this bed with a book in his hands. Cai at 5 can read simple sentences. And Aiden is starting to learn what sounds the letters make. Lately I have come across reading and friends facebook posts or pintrests pins to links about how to get you children to read. To be honest they all say the same thing. Read to your child. And read yourself so they see you read. Not to sound haughty, but I could have told you that years ago. That being said, I tend to keep to similar books. I am often scared to try a new book/genera for fear I won't enjoy it. So hopefully the boys will see me trying new books and that will encourage them to try new books as well.
Interested in some of our sections that I will be reading from? Here are only a few.
Memoirs/ Biographies
General Fiction
Political Science
and many more
So far here is what I have started
Yesterday while taking a break between sweeping and mopping the store I read "How to tell if you cat is plotting to kill you" from Humor- although due to it's popularity it is keep up on the front desk display. It is from the Oatmeal and of course very very funny. I think my cats are plotting to kill me based on the evidence in this book :)
I am currently in the middle of  Book #1 of the Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. This is from our Kids Series sections which is aimed towards late Elementary and  Middle School kids. Thus far it is very enjoyable.

So what are you reading for you pleasure???

Monday, January 13, 2014

Menu Plan Monday_ Jan 13, 2014

Hello to anyone and everyone who still checks up on this blog. It's been awhile. But a week and a half into 2014, I figured I might start again with a meal plan. My boys are becoming more picky. While that doesn't stop me from continuing to cook the way I have for the past 7 years, it still  makes menu planning interesting. On the one had I want good, healthy food. On the other I want my boys to eat it. And more importantly I just plain don't want to hear them whine.  For those that may hear from personally or on Facebook, I got a part time job at a bookstore, which I love. However since I work more evenings then mornings/afternoons, that means I have to plan meals even more than before. Cause if I'm going into work at 3pm than I need to make sure that dinner is either already put together on the stove/in the oven or everything is out and ready to be put together by Mark. I believe he can cook. But he doesn't, so I try to make it easy on both of us by having it planned or even cooked before I leave.  This week my goal it to have some meals with leftovers. I am getting tired of grilled cheese or pb&j for lunch. Not that my boys care. But Mark and I do :)
So here is our menu for this week.

Monday: Salsa chicken over rice, (using home-canned salsa) some side veggie, probably frozen peas
Tuesday: Crockpot black bean and corn soup
Wednesday: Midweek meal at church
Thursday: Curry over rice
Friday: Creamy Pesto Pasta (Simply in Season)
Saturday: The boys are on their own. I'm going with the Jr Youth to snow camp. Mark gets to decided what's for dinner :)
Sunday: Popcorn cheese and apples.

For more menus be sure to head over to Organizing Junkie. Hope everyone one has a Happy Monday! and Happy Menu Planning