Archive for the 'This ‘n That' Category

Christmas Gifts for Young Children – BOOKS!

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

There is no better gift for a young child than a book.  It’s a gift that can provide many hours of lasting enjoyment. Recently, I’ve read two books that were just published this year, and they both would make WONDERFUL gifts for a young child – preschool through third grade.  I’ve read both to groups of preschool and elementary children, and they loved them!  Here they are:

Don't Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!
Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!

Move Over, Rover!
Move Over, Rover!

Here are some other children’s picture books that I highly recommend.  You can click on any of the books to get more information about them.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

Ruby the Copycat
Ruby the Copycat

No, David!
No, David!

Tops & Bottoms
Tops & Bottoms

Later I will post my recommendations for easy and more difficult chapter books for older children.

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Friday Feast – My First!

Friday, November 24th, 2006

I’ve seen the Friday Feast at other blogs, but this is the first week that I’ve tried it for myself.  It’s Feast One Hundred & Nineteen.

Appetizer: Have you ever changed a flat tire by yourself?

Yes, I think I did about 35 years ago as part of my crusade to be an INDEPENDENT WOMAN.  Since then I let the men handle it.  I can do it, but why?

Soup: Do you have an “innie” or an “outie” belly button?

It’s an innie.

Salad:Name a new paint color and describe it.

Sunlit leaf – a bright, yet soft, green reminiscent of a forest canopy kissed by the sun.

Main Course: What is your favorite holiday tradition?

There are lots of things I love about the holidays.  While this is probably not my very favorite, it’s close.  I love drawing names at Christmas and exchanging gifts.  It’s nice for the extended family (50+ people) to gather in one room, and one at a time open gifts.  It takes forever, but I love it.

Dessert: If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be, and why?

Chocolate chip – because there is no better coookie than a chocolate chip cookie – right out of the oven with a glass of cold milk.


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The Best Southern Pecan Pie

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

I’ve had this pecan pie recipe for probably 35 years.  It is so easy but so good.  I’ll be making several of these tomorrow to take to my mother’s and to mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving. 


1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

one unbaked pie crust

Beat the eggs.  Add the other ingredients (except pie crust – duh!)  Pour into the unbaked pie shell.  Bake 45 minutes at 300 degrees.  It is done when the center is firm.

You can add a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or some flaked coconut for a different twist.  However, in my opinion, plain pecan pie is the best.

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Going to work with Mom on Wednesdays

Monday, November 20th, 2006

A second grader came up to me as her reading group was leaving my classroom.

“I may not be here on Wednesdays from now on,”  she announced.
“Oh, why not? I asked

“My mommy and I made a deal.  If I be good on Mondays and Tuesdays I can go to work with her on Wednesdays.”

I really can’t imagine that mother-daughter conversation taking place, but what do I know?  We’ll see if she’s here next Wednesday.

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Sunday Seven – What I’m Looking Forward to this Thanksgiving Week

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and I’m looking forward to these seven things:

(1) Seeing and visiting with many of my family members at my mother’s on Thursday

(2) Seeing and visiting with my husband’s family at his mother’s on Friday – and that visit will also include walking over the property we own there - beautiful wooded countryside

(3) My mother’s cornbread dressing – NO one makes it quite as good – and also her yeast rolls

(4) My mother-in-law’s sweet potatoe souffle’ – and also her sweet tea

(5) Being with RT for five days 24/7 – flying in his plane, hiking in the woods, talking, taking photographs

(6) Seeing my granddaughters at my mother-in-law’s house (I’ve never had the opportunity of seeing them in that context, and I’m looking forward to it)

(7) Taking the time to be especially thankful for the many blessings that I have

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Thursday Thirteen – 35th Edition – Thirteen Recipes I’ve Posted

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006


Cooking is one of my hobbies. I enjoy trying out new recipes and preparing meals for family and friends. I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes. Here are thirteen of them.

1. Rice Bowls (Freeze for quick meals later)

2. Hoppin’ John (So easy – so good)

3. Easy (and MOIST) Coconut Cake (double the frosting, though, to have enough to cover the cake)

4. Pesto Dip (Fancy for entertaining)

5. Chicken Cobbler

6. Ricky and Lyn’s Sweet and Sour Chicken (Great to freeze for quick meal later)

7. Easy Fruit Cobbler

8. Chicken Noodle Soup (The ultimate comfort food)

9. Corn Salad (This is so good I plan to make it for Thanksgiving)

10. Chicken and Dumplings (My favorite!)

11. Chicken Enchiladas (Absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS!)

12. Blueberry-Orange Jam (great on bagels)

13. Orange-Feta-Walnut-Field Greens Salad (Light, elegant, EXTREMELY easy and delicious)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

I spent awhile at the bookstore yesterday, and ended up buying Kate DiCamillo’s newest book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  I read the entire book this afternoon, and what a wonderful book it is!  The story is about Edward Tulane, a 3-ft high rabbit made almost entirely of china.  It’s a tale of Edward’s life and adventures as he grows a heart capable of embracing love and all the hurts and joys that come with it. 

The story reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit who wanted to be “real.”  Initially Edward is content being self-involved and vain.  He learns to love, but he also learns that love isn’t always wonderful.  It involves pain and sadness, too. After many mishaps he decides not to open his heart again. The ending is predictable but still touching.

One could make a unit of study on quotes from the book. Some examples:

Whom the whiskers had belonged to initially – what unsavory animal – was a question that Edward could not bear to consider for too long.  And so he did not.  He preferred, as a rule, not to think of unpleasant thoughts.

Edward felt something damp in his ears. Abilene’s tears, he supposed.  He wished that she would not hold him so tight.  To be clutched so fiercely often resulted in wrinkled clothing.

Edward, for lack of anything better to do, began to think. He thought about the stars . . . . Never in my life, he thought, have I been farther away from the stars than I am now.

“Perhaps,” said the man, “you would like to be lost with us.  I have found it much more agreeable to be lost in the company of others.”

Edward knew what it was like to say over and over again the names of those you had left behind.  He knew what it was like to miss someone.  And so he lsitened. And in his listening, his heart opened wide and then wider still.

You are down there alone, the stars seemed to say to him.  And we are up here, in our constellations, together.

I have been loved, Edward told the stars.

So? said the stairs.  What difference does that make when you are all alone now?

Look at me, he said to her.  His arms and legs jerked.  Look at me.  You got your wish.  I have learned how to love.  And it’s a terrible thing.  I’m broken. My heart is broken.  Help me.

“Two options only,” he said.  “And your friend chose option two.  He gave you up so that you could be healed.  Extraordinary, really.”

“I have already been loved,” said Edward.  “I have been loved by a girl named Abilene.  I have been loved by a fisherman and his wife and a hobo and his dog.  I have been loved by a boy who played the harmonica and by a girl who died.  Don’t talk to me about love,” he said.  “I have known love.”

He prided himself on not hoping, on not allowing his heart to lift inside of him.  He prided himself on keeping his heart silent, immobile, closed tight.

I am done with hope, thought Edward Tulane.

The old doll said, “I wonder who will come for me this time. Someone will come.  Someone always comes.  Who will it be?”

“You disappoint me greatly.  If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

I got carried away with quotes.  There are so many good ones. If you want a book that will make you think, that will show both the good and bad of life, then this would be an excellent choice for you.

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Marrying an Ex-Spouse

Monday, November 6th, 2006

As my regular readers know, my ex-husband, RT, and I recently remarried after almost 9 years of being divorced.  It wasn’t an easy process to get to the point where we felt confident that remarrying would work.  During those nine divorced years we both had other serious relationships, but eventually we made our way back to each other.  Through many and varied tribulations, we rekindled our love, and we’re very happy together now.

I’m working on a piece about ex-spouses who remarry.  If you or someone you know is in that situation and you don’t mind telling me your story or answering a few questions, please let me know. 

I think it’s a fascinating topic – how people who are SO alienated that they divorce each other eventually work their way back to each other. 

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Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

Yesterday I wrote about reading a book entitled Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.  Last  night, after RT was asleep, Jake was still making noises and I couldn’t sleep.  So I dragged a warm blanket to the recliner in the guest bedroom, settled back and finished reading the book.  It took a couple of hours, and I wasn’t in bed until after 1:20 a.m.  However, the book was worth it.  First, let me provide a warning to parents and teachers:  There are a few damns and hells in the book.  And the storyline is one for older children.  The story takes place along the Maine coastline in the early 1900’s.  It’s about racism, meanness and greed in the guise of Christianity.  Good triumphs over evil . . . sometimes, but not always.  And because good doesn’t always triumph, there is destruction and death.  Several deaths.  What startled me when I read the information at the end of the book is that the book is based on a true story. 

I won’t tell you anymore about the storyline.  However, if you have a upper elementary or junior high student who can handle a little profanity and a disturbing storyline, it is an excellent book.  I understand why it is a Newbery Honor book.  The story will stay with me for a long time.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

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Your “Last Words” – What will they be?

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I read a lot of children’s literature – everything from picture books to middle school and high school fiction.  As long as I’m a children’s reading specialist, it is part of my job.  It is also something I enjoy immensely.  Oftentimes children’s literature is better than adult literature.

This afternoon I’m reading a novel by Gary D. Schmidt entitled Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.  It was a Newbery Honor Book in 2005.  It’s for upper elementary/junior high kids.  I’m just a couple chapters into the book, but I came across a conversation that fascinated me. 

In the story, Turner is a preacher’s son in the early 1900’s who has just moved to a new town.  Shortly after moving, he was skipping rocks one day, and one bounced off an elderly woman’s fence, and now he must read to her each day as penance.  This is part of their conversation during his first visit to read to her.

Suddenly, her eyes opened and she lifted her head.  “Have you thought about what your last words might be?  You’re never too young to know what your last words might be.  Death could come along at any moment and thrust his dart right through you.”  She jerked her arm out at him, and Turner shot back against the organ.

“I supposed,” he whispered, “something like, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.'”

“Too expected,” she said, shaking her head.  “nobody would care to remember that, and you’d have wasted your one opportunity.  You don’t get two chances to say your last words, you know.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get me wondering, but these few lines did it for me.  I can think (tongue in cheek) of a couple for myself:

Wow!  That was amazing!  Hope we didn’t disturb the neighbors.

Who would have guessed I’d live to be over 100!

Nah – those are lame.  It would be nice to impart words of wisdom for the ones left behind, but I don’t know what those words could be.

So, I ask you:  What would YOU like your last words to be?


Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

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