30 March 2013

Children's Book Spotlight

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.

Isa picked the DVD of this story off the shelf and wanted it, and so I redirected that request into a hunt for the book version.  She went and asked the librarian if they had it (all by herself) and the two of them hunted it down on the shelves.  We read it there at the library and she enjoyed it.  I liked the character and expression in Stellaluna's face and body that the illustrations convey.  A popular selection, and deservedly so.

The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous.
Won the Caldecott Medal in 1951.  The unique illustrating style and use of bold primary colors are what caught my eye on this one.  And it was very timely as we read it only a couple weeks before Easter.  It is a Pennsylvania Dutch story about egg decorating, hunting and egg trees.  Isa enjoyed the story, especially the part where the girl (who thought she had found the most eggs and then finds out she had been pipped by her brother) unearths some very special eggs from the past in the attic. I enjoyed thinking about the egg decorating that we had done with homebase growing up, blowing out the yolks, using wax crayons, looping string through them and putting them on our own egg tree.  Thanks Mom!

The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart & illustrations by David Small.
This was one that I just picked up off the New Arrivals display to look at and the main character's name happens to be Isabel!  So at that point I knew I had to read it.  It is a great epistolary story, set in 1957, of a girl whose leaves Mexico and comes to America with her family and it is told through 12 letters from her to her Aunt Lupita back home.  The star of the story (in my mind) is the older brother.  It was nice to read a new book that had a storyline and wasn't just focused on crazy illustrations.

26 March 2013


One of the more fun things I've done for my job recently was to create a list of 25 names.  I was making a mock-up of a leaderboard and I didn't want to use real names, nor did I want to use Peter Pan, Mickey Mouse, etc which people always seem to think is a cute idea.  So I just had a little ten minute name-brainstorming session and wrote out pretty much whatever came to my head.  I tried to keep it diverse and I'm not ashamed to say a few of things had me chuckling at my seat.  I highly recommend this little creativity exercise if you need some open-ended thinking in your day.

1. Jamell Sturridge - 270
2. Amela Dzafic - 255
3. Charles Umbrage - 233
4. Theo Millner - 223
5. Eleni Cosperwitz - 219
6. Mateo Findley - 217
7. Judith Goldner - 189
8. Javier Sauza - 188
9. Jerry Gilchrist - 167
10. Todd Tippleton - 151
11. Ramelina Jones - 148
12. Raven Beaker - 137
13. Charlene Brondby - 129
14. Aoife Warrenby - 120
15. Maria Mendoza-Cruz - 120
16. Harry Christianson - 120
17. Brooke Truman - 106
18. Thao Nguyen - 93
19. Bashir Patel - 88
20. Roman Khan - 71
21. David Applebarn - 61
22. Belle Brighton - 55
23. Yolanda Banner - 54
24. James Thurgood - 50
25. Sonya Potterfield - 48

25 March 2013

Chicago Spring Break '13

Jellies! (#0171)Jellies! (#0173)Jellies! (#0170)Jellies! (#0169)Shedd Aquarium (#0167)4D Movie Fun (#0165)
Taxi Ride (#0148)Xoco (#0147)Torta at Xoco (#0146)Hot Chocolate Cheers (#0143)Early Morning at the Bean (#0142)Early Morning at the Bean (#0140)
Early Morning at the Bean (#0138)Giordano's (#0134)Lego Store (#0127)Children's Museum (#0120)Children's Museum (#0118)Waterways (#0117)
Waterways (#0115)Waterways (#0106)Waterways (#0105)Waterways (#0101)Waterways (#0099)Waterways (#0097)
Chicago Spring Break '13, a set on Flickr.
Now THAT was a fast spring break.
And this fun Chicago trip was only 2 days of it! More to come soon but it was a nice break full of fun, food, vacation, driving, moving, basketball and friends.

For our Chicago trip we pretty much spent most of Tuesday at the Children's Museum on Navy Pier. It was a GREAT value. minovia and I got in free as teachers and so Isa was our only charge! And there are so many interactive displays and activities. Between the Skyline construction area and the Waterways water tables, we could have been entertained all day.
We got in a little shopping when we left. There was a ton of stuff 50% sale at the adidas store, so I scored some nice shoes for summer for $26. Then, after a considerable wait, we chowed down on some Giordano's pizza before collapsing in our beds at the Congress Hotel.
We didn't stay in them long as we were up in time to walk up to see the Bean around 7:15, (never been the only people there before!) and then caught a taxi over to Xoco for a delicious Rick Bayless breakfast.
Then we spent the rest of our time at the Shedd Aquarium. So much to see! Coral reef, penguins, whales, aquatic show, a short 4-D movie that was really great from Planet Earth, and a wonderful jellyfish display.
I was able to much a couple of Chicago dogs in my short time there, and they were delicious.
We headed out around 3:30 and then stopped on the way home to meet minovia's mom & sister and have a super tasty dinner of birria, rice, guacamole, key lime pie.  Unfortunately we couldn't stay long and have to shove off to get home with the impending move.  We got back home around 1 am, a whirl-wind trip for sure, but loads of fun!

18 March 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

In honor of Isa's 6th birthday, her and her mom carried out six random (although Isa wasn't convinced that they were "random") acts of kindness on their day of on Friday...

1. A note & treat for the mail carrier.
2. A happy note left on a stranger's car.
3. Buying flowers for a stranger.
4. Giving a box of toys to Goodwill

5. Buying coffee for someone in line behind you.
6. Taking out the trash for mom.

14 March 2013

Who's the Pope's team?

I saw this question posed in a live chat room I was watching on Wednesday (as Arsenal beat Bayern Munich but still went out on aggregate:() and then saw this article today outlining the new Holy Father's football fan-history.  San Lorenzo!

Celebrate! (part two)

Not only did we get introduced to Pope Francis, but it was also the sixth birthday of a certain girl I know.  I got to have lunch with her and her mom and then spent the evening with her.  We went to dance (rocking some great legwarmers), then spent quite a while at the dollar store picking out two items (some many things to choose from!).  She finally chose a pink stretchy, sticky hand to go with a pair of jiggly-eye glasses.  After that she and I dined at Hy-Vee, where she selected all her favorite things from the salad bar while I opted for a little Chinese food.  
We got home in time to watch a few minutes of the Muppet Movie and greet minovia when she got home from conferences.  Not a bad day at all.

13 March 2013


WHITE SMOKE!!! And this is what the Vatican's home page shows.

05 March 2013

Real Life "Make Way for Ducklings"!!!

Check out these great pictures from Buzzfeed of a mother and her ducklings making their way across our nation's capital!!   Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack!

Poetry Night

Last week we attended Poetry Night at Isa's school and it was a great time.
They had pizza for sale beforehand as a fundraiser (Domino's. I give it low marks, plus the quality suffers when you order 30 or 40 pizzas) and a storyteller in the library, a raffle for book give aways and then the main event...live poetry readings by the students!
Isa chose a great poem about popcorn which made me smile since that is what she is always begging for afterschool.  She LOVES the popcorn at Starbucks and can really mow through it.  She did a great job of reading in front of a crowd and the night was a big success.

by Helen Moore

Pop, pop, popcorn
popping in the pot.
Pop, pop, popcorn
eat it while it is hot.

Pop, pop, popcorn,
butter on the top.
When I eat popcorn,
I can't stop!

04 March 2013

Children's Book Spotlight

Since I get to pay a visit to our wonderful public library every Thursday with Isa, I thought I'd try out writing a little highlight column where I can share some of the good (and maybe the not so good) books that we've read there.
Here are three good ones from last week:

Mole and the Baby Bird by Marjorie Newman
This book, published in 2004, is a simple, sweet story of a young mole who takes in a baby bird.  The illustrations are fun and interesting and even though you know where the story is going all along, it still captivated me.  The story provides an opportunity to think about putting someone else's happiness ahead of your own.  As Amazon's review says, "a book that speaks to the delicate nature of love and freedom."
*This was an Isa pick.

The Umbrella by Jan Brett
Jan Brett takes her 'more and more animals coming into a defined space' theme from her wintery classic, "The Mitten" and relocates them to the cloudforest of Costa Rica.  There are some simple Spanish phrases worked in and it is a fun book to test our your different voices with the tropical cast of characters, the tree frog in particular.  Isa did not know that they were by the same author but  pointed out in the first few pages that each page has a small frame that foretells what is going to happen on the next page, just like in "The Mitten."  I was pretty impressed. 

The Three Horrid Little Pigs by Liz Pichon
I wasn't eager to read this one when, but it is a new twist is put on the timeless/tiresome classic tale.  It is fun to see the wolf in a new light, as someone who is kind and caring of others.  And it is nice to read a book where being nice, helpful and friendly is celebrated. 
*This was an Isa pick.