Friday, November 30, 2012

Celebrating One of the Greats

Today is Mr. Nuthall Day!  Last year I started the tradition of celebrating my favorite teacher, Mr. Nuthall.  He was my high school English and History teacher.  However, he was much more than that.  He was a mentor, a family friend, a source of inspiration, and someone who supported me at every turn I made.

Two years ago today, he passed away after a sudden heart attack. He left behind a wonderful family and a legacy that still holds strong...his Facebook page is proof of this!  Earlier this week I reminded my kids they would be celebrating and they showed up today with Hawaiian leis.  This was in honor of a tradition Mr. Nuthall started when I was a senior in high school.  To battle a gloomy year at our school, he hosted Senior Luau Day and we showed up with food and Hawaiian shirts.  The tradition held strong throughout the rest of his time at my high school, when he retired just a few short months before he passed away.

This year, I have fallen in love with my job in a way that I can't describe. A month ago when I was reading my students' memoirs, I remembered the memoirs I wrote in Mr. Nuthall's class.  I searched through some boxes and found my collection of memoirs, written by my classmates and I over 10 years ago, and sat down to read.  You see, Mr. Nuthall was the kind of teacher that made you want to keep your work for the rest of your life.  There is something to be said about reading your writing after you have lived life for a bit.  I actually shared some of the memoirs with my students.  As I was reading my students' final drafts I thought, man, I wish I could email these to Mr. Nuthall.

I read The Heart and the Bottle.
Today we read Mr. Nuthall's favorite, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.  I had a student read it and she was amazing.  Her tone matched perfectly with the silent journey the young girl goes on with her father.  I also read The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers.  Mr. Nuthall never read this one but I know he would love it.  I reviewed it here so you can see why it was perfect.

So, cheers to you, Jack Nuthall!  Thanks for looking out for me every day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Grinch Update!

I found this Reuters photo on many websites.  You can barely see me, in the front on the right side of Mr. Grinch. Click on the picture to get a bigger view!  Also! Click on this to see one more that I can't put up here!

Reuters/Phil McCarten

Happy Birthday Alice!

A new version of Alice, for the youngest readers!
I never miss this one...the birthday of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  It was published today, 147 years ago.  Today, check out Anita Silvey's Book-A-Day Almanac for some cool info! 

The Meg Who Stole the Grinch Who Stole Christmas

A dream come true is usually something we all have at the forefront of our minds.  Maybe it is to win the lottery, to get the perfect job, to find your soul mate, to buy a home, or to open the next best children's bookstore. (Or maybe all of those??)  If you asked me at any moment what my dream come true would be I could tell you.  However, I recently had a dream come true that I didn't know I even had.

I know, I know, that sounds preposterous.  However, I assure you, it is not.  Two weeks ago I got an email that our school had been invited to participate in the Hollywood Christmas Parade.  They needed 23 adults to become official "Balloon Wranglers" for the Grinch balloon.   WHAT?!  How I could I not say no!?  I didn't even know I wanted to wrangle balloons but when it was set in front of me I knew I was destined for this very moment.

The job seemed easy.  We would hold a rope attached to a ginormous balloon version of the Grinch.  We would stroll down the red carpet, flanked by celebrities and marching bands, be announced by B-List celebrities, have our pictures taken, and then march around "the block," aka Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, until returning back to the start.

So that is just what I did tonight.  I think my face hurts from smiling so much.  Little kids squealed to see the big guy floating up there.  We waved and smiled and shared our wishes for lovely holidays.  *Sigh.  Pinch me?  Here are my blurry phone camera pictures.  My apologies for the quality.  I will be scouring the interwebs in the next few days for better photos.  There were a bajillion photographers out there so I am bound to show up in a few.

Getting ready!

We LOVE being Balloon Wranglers!

Our next door neighbor while we waited

Sitting on the Grinch's lap

The Hollywood Christmas Parade involves
balloons AND palm trees  Although It would have
been nice to have the word "wrangler" on there

Oh!  If you want to see me strut my stuff on the red carpet, the parade will be aired on the Hallmark Channel on December 10 and December 21 from 6 to 8 pm.  You won't miss me.  I'm right in the front with a big ol' goofy grin on my face.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Words

In the past year I have read many amazing books.  Today, I am grateful for four that I read.  Not only was the writing superb but I can honestly say they changed my life.  Whether it was inspiration to do more, thinking about the world in a different way, or giving me the courage to keep on going when the going got tough, these books are carried in my thoughts every day.

John Green signing my copy of The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Although this is technically a young adult book, it was a book I read for a book club with my friends.  John Green, author and vlogbrother, wrote this tale of an unexpected romance.  Hazel is a 16 year old girl with terminal cancer.  She joins a support group for kids with cancer and meets Augustus, a 17 year old boy who is in remission.  Through Augustus, she also meets Issac, Augustus's best friend, who suffers from eye cancer. (Issac is not a part of the romance, I just freakin' loved him.) I know, it doesn't seem too uplifting.  However, the perspectives these young people offer, in the face of most of our greatest fears, is inspiring.  Hazel and Augustus start a relationship that is honest, real, and romantic.  It wasn't cliched with descriptions of his sparkling eyes and the way she felt when she looked in them.  Their teenage-love made me smile as it reminded me of all the times my heart leapt when twitter-pated. The truth and tragedy surrounding The Fault in Our Stars made me grateful for the big and little things in life.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This goes on my top ten list of best books ever, probably even top 3.  I posted about The Book Thief this summer.  Definitely a young adult novel, although a good friend of mine thinks it is written for adults. I stand by my original sentiment to not give away too much, simply because that is how I read it and I was blown away.  Read it and you will have so much more to be thankful for.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I read this book over the summer and then chose it as the first read aloud of the school year.  Wonder is the story of a 5th grade boy, Auggie, with a facial-deformity who wants to be ordinary.  The narrators switch within different sections of the book.   We walk with Auggie and listen in as he notices people looking away from him.  We sit on his sister Via's bed as she feels guilty for wanting attention from her parents.  We go home with Auggie's best friend Jack and learn that he too, wants to be just a normal kid.  Never before have I read a book to my students that was so loved.  They begged me to read it (even asked for a silent snack time to hear more), they tweeted all about it on our class twitter board, one student wrote and published her own tribute book, and many of them went out and bought their own copies. We finished a couple of weeks ago and the entire class stood and clapped!  It was my first read-aloud standing ovation. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Yes! I finished this!  It took me 3 months and I loved every minute of it.  It was nice to take a break from all the children's/young adult literature I read for a few minutes every night.  I also loved that wherever I went, people stopped me to tell me they loved the book.  If you, like me, somehow missed this classic, it is definitely worth the time to read the 600 pages.  Especially with our country pulling itself out of a recession, it was eye-opening to read about how people react when their basic needs of survival are at risk.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Maybe that’s what life is… a wink of the eye and winking stars.”
Jack Kerouac.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fo' Drizzle

Today, LA is enjoying the rarity of a "cold" and drizzly day.  Galoshes and rain coats are out in full force.  Umbrellas have been dug out and dusted off.  Me?  I'm about to hunker.  Yes, hunker.  I did it a lot during my east coast days because there was a lot of hunkering to do.  Snow storms, windy, freezing temperatures, and lots of rain meant a lot of days inside.  Here in LA, I love these days because I get to bust out my leg warmers and sweatpants and snuggle up.  (It also helps knowing it will probably be back to 70 degrees and sunny in two days.)

Today, my hunkering will be a combination of cooking one of my favorite comfort food recipes from my Grandma, lots of grading, lots of laundry, and terrible movies that I will never admit to watching.  Sometimes I like to read a favorite children's book too, just to keep up with things that feel like snuggling.

For today, I picked up an old copy of Leo Leonni book.  It's worn pages and simple, yet charming torn paper art, make the perfect companion to a rainy day.  In this story, Alexander is a normal house mouse.  One day he happens in to the room of a little girl at the house and meets Willy, her wind-up mouse and favorite toy.  He and Willy hit it off and become best friends.  However, Willy can't leave unless he is wound up so he and Alexander can never be together.  Then, Alexander hears about a lizard who can help them.  It seems to answer that age old question, a fish may love a bird, but where will they live?  Well, Willy and Alexander are determined to find a solution!

Here's a little bit in case you haven't read it.  What are your favorite rainy day books?

Alexander meets the magical lizard

Monday, November 5, 2012


THIS happened!  Thanks everyone!  Time to celebrate with another shot of Emergen-C!

A Sick Day for Meg

No voice, sore throat...sick day!  As I was catching up on reading and sleeping today I came upon this link for Children's Literature-themed bedrooms.

Photo taken from The Toledo Blade/Jetta Fraser

Hmm, maybe I should recreate Amos McGee's bedroom.  Now, if only I had room for some zoo animals and enough energy to start rearranging...

In A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead,
Amos's friends come over to take care of him.

Now, for some tea and rest.