Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scotland: Nessie, Books, and Dancing!

Before I visited Scotland last month, I grabbed two children's books about the fine country.  I wanted to be as prepared as possible for a Nessie sighting.  Alas, no monster was seen.  However, I discovered these two great books!

The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith

King-Smith is the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig.  That book, as well as The Water Horse, were both made in to feature films.  His real name was Ronald Gordon King-Smith and at the end of his life in 2011, he was one of the most prolific writers of children's literature in the UK, penning well over 100 books.  He was a farmer for over 20 years which may explain why a lot of his books center around animals.

The Water Horse, a short chapter book, tells the story of two children, Kirstie and Angus find a mysterious egg after a storm in March of 1930.  They bring it home where their grandfather explains that he knows just what it is...the mythical creature that is supposed to live in the depths of the lochs of Scotland.  They nurture the young water horse until he is too big to fit in their yard.  Eventually they move the water horse to Loch Ness, where the famous sightings start to take place.  It is a magical, brief, tale that explains a pretty normal beginning to a pretty extraordinary legend. 

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Tale of Picky Eating by A.W. Flaherty, illustrated by Scott Magoon

This twist on the legendary Nessie story, involves a young girl traveling from the US to Scotland in a great ship.  Along the way, Katerina-Elizabeth doesn't want to eat the oatmeal she is given every day.  So she does what every picky eater might do, she throws it overboard. However, as luck would have it, a tiny sea worm gobbles up the oatmeal and starts to grow.  He loves the oatmeal so much, he follows the ship and every morning when Katerina-Elizabeth throws her oatmeal over-board, he is waiting for a breakfast treat.

Eventually, he grows to a massive size and Katerina-Elizabeth is very much aware of his existence. When Katerina's trip ends as she arrives in Scotland, the "worm" looks all over Scotland for more oatmeal.  As the book says, "Luckily, oatmeal is the national breakfast of Scotland, as as many Scottish children hate it as American ones do." Landing in Loch Ness, the worm roams around the lake eating all the tossed oatmeal.  That is where he spends the rest of his days, helping the picky eaters of Scotland get rid of their breakfast.

Loch Nessie

Books Tomorrow...Double Dutch Tonight

My first ever double snapped by Sarah!
This week a coworker and I offered a challenge to our learn to double dutch with us!  There are many reasons for this.  One being my list of 60 new things I am trying to accomplish before the end of 2013. The other, neither one of us knew how to double dutch and we both have always wanted to learn!

Wednesday during our school assembly, we busted out some old school Double Dutch Bus by Frankie Smith on a big ol' boom box.  We put together a little skit to introduce our challenge.  Every Wednesday, we will bring the ropes, the music (a mix of Double Dutch Bus and Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll by Vaughan Mason & Crew), and the many attempts to jump.

The result of our first Wednesday?  About 30 kids jumping with us, 5 teachers, and lots of double dutch!  I got whacked in the head my first two tries but made it by the third.  This week's Dance Friday video?  Double Dutch Bus of course!  (Some of you may recognize samples of this from Missy Elliot's song Gossip Folk. )

Happy Dance Friday y'all!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Good

Today is the LA Times Festival of Books!  The lineup this year is unreal, as I mentioned before.  I won't be able to make it either day but if you get a chance, let me know!  If anyone gets to see Katherine Applegate tomorrow I would love an autographed book.  I still might try to squeeze that one in to an already busy weekend...we will see.

Peter H. Reynolds, one of my favorite authors/illustrators, published this picture yesterday on his Facebook account.  I have seen it pop up numerous times. I know after weeks like this week it is easy to ask how our world can be so cruel.

Then, after seeing this, I stopped to think about it. There are roughly 4 million folks in the Metro Boston area.  Friends, family, and sports teams across the country offer a thousands more to the "Boston Extended Family."  This week, those millions of people offered their homes, their voices, their money, their food.  The people of Boston stopped everything yesterday.  They closed businesses. (I read one statistic that their loses will accumulate to about $333 million.)  The first responders put their lives on the line to keep everyone safe.  All these people, all these millions, let their light shine.  I would say that outdoes the dark in this situation.

Yet, I know that there are places in this world where the kind of fear that gripped Boston happen every day.  I know there are places where bombings occur and innocent lives are taken.  Am I relieved for Boston?  Yes.  Do I think we have more to do?  Yes.  Do I think we can do it?  Yes.  It takes awareness, solidarity, and hope.

So, I say, keep it going, world.  I was proud of you this week.

Thank You

Can you hear them?  Chanting BPD at 1 min. It is because of you, the brave men and women, the first responders, the people of Boston.  We are forever grateful for what you did.  Tonight is a night to dance in the streets.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Boston

The first word that popped into my head when I woke up this morning, Boston. Boston. Boston. Boston.

I should be there, but I am not.  This fact does not escape me as I sit 3,000 miles away from the people I love most in the world.  I should be there.  I know that there is nothing I could do, nothing that would change what happened.  And yet I want to be there, to sit with my friends, to hug you all, to be a part of the healing, the helping, the hurting that is taking place right now.

I keep asking myself what I can do and I scour the news, Facebook, Twitter, I text friends, to see what there is to do.  Here is what I have found.  Maybe you can help too.

1. Pray.  I spoke with a friend who is a teacher where Martin Richard went to school.  She said they can all use your prayers, especially Martin's mother who was still in critical condition yesterday.

2.  Donate.  I found this link through that has a list of benefits happening. It also lists restaurants who are donating money.   Parlor Sports, a good friend's bar in the neighborhood where I used to live, gave 100% of its sales last night to the families and victims.  I sent friends on my behalf and they said it was packed. This link is for a wish list for kids at the Children's Hospital in Boston.

3. Grieve.  We all do it in our own way.  There is no right or wrong.  Be there for someone.  Talk about it, sit with it, attend a vigil, be mindful that we all take care of ourselves in different ways.  Healing together means making sure you take care of yourself.  A principal once told me that it is just like they say on airplanes, put the oxygen mask on yourself.  You can't help anyone else before you help yourself.  Make sure you are healing so you can be there for others.

4. Keep going.  There is nothing we can do to change what happened.  However, my soul has been lifted whenever I see the signs of solidarity in and for Boston. The Yankees played Sweet Caroline at a game.  Friends have already started training for next year's marathon.  At tonight's Boston Bruin's game, Rene Rancourt started the National Anthem as usual, and the fine, fine people of Boston finished it. (I also just noticed they are playing Buffalo...I'd like to think it is another piece of me, checking in on my city.) 

I mentioned to a friend that I couldn't stop thinking about what happened.  He said to stop, that that is exactly what the person who did this would want me to do.  And I agree.  Now, I am thinking of Boston, a place where people can and will do anything.  I am thinking about the strength, the courage, and the kindness I have seen and heard.

Stay strong Boston, I will be there as soon as I can.  I love you all, with all my heart, and I know we can do this.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Us!

In the past two weeks I have had tons of birthday celebrations!  Last week, I was in Scotland celebrating with my sister.  This week, my nephew and I celebrate our birthdays on the same day.  I also happen to share a birthday with Charlie Chaplin.  I always thought this was one of the coolest things ever.  I love Charlie!

Well, as I was scouring videos to find one of Mr. Chaplin dancing, I happened upon a video that someone made of Charlie Billy Jean by Michael Jackson!  Um....yeah, best. present. ever.

So here you go!  Happy birthday to all my fellow Aries!