Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dance and Clap!

This past week I embarked on a two day camping trip with 80 children in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.  While I am not the biggest fan of camping,  the itinerary for the trip sounded pretty cool.  We were schedule to build rafts, complete a low ropes course, and try our hands at archery.

However, after our 2+ hour ride across our beautiful state, we arrived to a chilly 50 degrees and rain.  Raft building was cancelled so we canoed instead.  Archery was still on, and my Katniss-wannabe dreams came true when I actually hit the target!  We went to bed after a campfire with S'mores and night hike.  However, overnight it was 39 degrees and our rustic cabins had no heat.  Despite the sunny day on our second day, the trip has left me in bed this morning with a not-so-fun cold.

Canoeing in the cold!

My Katniss moment

Ending the evening with some S'mores
Woke up to this beautiful
view of our cabins

Bus trips with kids always involve hand clapping games.  So while I may be in my pjs all day, you can wake up and boogie to this song that will teach you just what my kids did on the bus, in the cabins at night, and around the campfire.  Everybody clap your hands!

Friday, May 30, 2014



No, for real, it is June. This means my Hammock Summer (unofficial-official title) is about to kick off soon.  My roomie hooked that bad boy up for me last week and I have already taken two naps in it.  It. Is. The. Best.  Summer reading lists will be posted soon.

June also means it is time for some new book events!  Check out these events and let me know if I missed anything!


June 4
* Jarrett J. Krosoczka presents his new book, Platypus Police Squad 2, at the Cambridge Public Library, 4 pm

June 7
* Sara St. Antoine presents her new book Three Bird Summer, Porter Square Books, 5 pm
June 14
* Author/illustrator Keri Smith presents her book Mess at the Eric Carle Museum, 1 pm

June 22
* The Eric Carle opens its new exhibit on The Phantom Tollbooth, with the man himself...Norton Juster! 1 pm

Los Angeles

June 14
* Drew Daywalt presents his best selling book, The Day the Crayons Quit, Vroman's, 10:30 am

June 18
* Newbery Award winning author Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan, presents her book at Once Upon a Time Bookstore, 7 pm
June 28
* Max Kornell presents and reads Me First!, Vroman's, 10:30 am
* Salina Yoon presents her new book Found, Children's Book World, 10:30 am
* Julia Marie Gibson reads from her YA book, Copper Magic, Children's Book World, 2:30 pm

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dancing Along the Border

The good news is I haven't posted as much bookish stuff recently because I have been reading up a storm.  The conclusion of a year's worth of grad work, the hour long subway ride to work, and the ever increasing sunshine-y days have led to a dreamy amount of reading.  What I love most about being immersed in so many books is that I feel like when I walk around I am constantly carrying new worlds and stories in my mind.  It's like Neverland is sitting on my shoulder as I walk through the city, reminding me of all that is possible through the life of a book.

So what have I been reading??  In the last month I have tackled two grown-up books and two YA books, which is pretty impressive for a teacher who has really only managed to read one grown-up book per school year in my last 10 years as an educator.  We'll go in order, for no other reason than it will help me keep track.

A Prayer for Owen Meany - by John Irving
Grown-up book

Owen Meany is the first Irving book I have ever read.  The lovely gentlemen at Porter Square Books who rang it up for me promised I would love it and told me to come back to him to get The World According to Garp as soon as I was done.  I read this with my co-teacher as a part of our own private book club.  I loved the character of Owen Meany.  He is absolutely ridiculous with his religiosity, his HIGH-PITCHED VOICE THAT ALWAYS SHOUTS AND IS ONLY WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS. I loved the relationship with his best friend, the narrator.  I enjoyed that the book takes place in New Hampshire because it felt sooo New England.  Cara, my co-teacher, however, hated the book.  She didn't like Owen Meany as a character and found him, and the book, annoying.  So, really, it is up to you to decide.  The funny thing is Cara and I have liked all the same books up until this one.  I think it came down to our own past with religion, which is very similar, and how we place it in our current lives.  Which, actually, is also similar.  I guess maybe it was more about the fact that I still enjoy reading about crazy religious people and she is over it?  Not sure.  Read it and let me know what you think!

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Grown-up book

The title of this blog post comes from a quote in Walls' soul-shaking memoir.  It is written as, "...dancing along the border between turbulence and order."  This sums up the life that Jeanette Walls lives with her family.  Her parents are dreamers, artists, believers in fate, and completely incapable of keeping it together.  As a result, the Walls family moves all over the west coast of the United States before they completely run out of everything and find their way back to the father's hometown in West Virginia.  Jeanette starts the story with a scene in which she is in a town car, traveling through the ever-lit streets of NYC and the car stops at a stoplight.  She looks out the window and sees a homeless woman searching through trash.  That homeless woman is her mother.  The rest of the memoir dances between the turbulence and order of Walls' life.  In it is her struggle with wanting to move beyond her life situation and not forget who she is and where she came from. As a reader, I was right there with her.  The resilience of a life of just-enough neglect is a story that I believe is only too common and not understood enough.  Having an early life that also danced along the same lines as Walls, I was moved to hear her story.  Obviously, it is not the same, but man-oh-man did it make me think.  Here's another quote that made me set the book down and *sigh. 

“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.”

eleanor & park by rainbow rowell
YA book

This book got a lot of attention in the YA world.  The cover is very, very appealing.  Obviously, this is not how we are supposed to judge books, but come on...we know a good cover just draws us in.  I went back and forth with this book as I read it, unsure if I liked it.  In the beginning I thought, "Meh, another teenage romance story."  Then I read this quote,

And then my heart started to flutter and my real, true, inner hopeless romantic self pined for all the long lost loves in my life.  About 30 seconds after that flutter I hated the book again, for suckering me into a cliched description of romance.  I was about to give up on the book but then the dance started - that dance between turbulence and order. Oddly enough, Eleanor has a very similar life to Jeanette Walls in The Glass Castle.  Once the depth of her situation started to become more of the story, the book sucked me back in.  Yes, I could forgive the necessary evil of love and relationships in YA.  In the end, eleanor & park won me over.  You really should give it a try, but be sure to read to the end.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
YA book

John Green had me at The Fault in Our Stars.  It was then that I discovered this guy had written a whole lot more than that one beautiful book so I just bought up a whole bunch more and set them on my shelves.  That was about 2 years ago and I never actually read those books.  My sister, who also has a beautiful subway commute, has been roaring through books just as fast as I have.  She picked An Abundance of Katherines off the shelf and when I finished The Glass Castle, we swapped.  I waited to read eleanor & park first so when I picked up Katherines, I was a little love-storied out.  However, because I had no other book to read, I decided to give it a whirl.  In this story, Colin is a child prodigy who has just graduated high school and has been dumped by Katherine, the 19th Katherine he has dated.  His best friend, Hassan, encourages him to take a road trip and they set out together in hopes of filling the hole in Colin's gut.  They end up in a small town called Gutshout and through a series of events, decide to stay there for a little while.  Colin tries to use his prodigiousness, and mathematical functions, to create a Theorem to determine the length of a relationship. I will say, after reading the complexity of Jeanette Walls and Eleanor's lives, Colin's problems were a little...well...base.  He wants to sooth his aching heart and somehow prove that he will get back together with his most recent Katherine.  However, life doesn't always work out the way it should.  Which is how it should be, otherwise we wouldn't have any good stories to tell.  I guess some people aren't thrown into lives that dance on turbulence and order, but their struggles are their own and just as important. Definitely worth a read, but maybe not right after another YA love story.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Never Felt So Good

Don't forget folks...Porchfest is tomorrow!  Come to my porch and hear good music!

Now, on to the dancing.  This past week, Michael Jackson released a new album.  Right, well, sort of.  An album of previously unreleased songs was put out. XSCAPE not only debuted, but Justin Timberlake released a music video to go along with one of the songs and it is perfect for Dance Friday!  Perhaps you are one of the 6 billion who have already viewed it?  If not, here ya go!

There is so much love coming from this video.  For those of you who are new to the blog or may have forgotten, Michael Jackson was my first true love.  I am reposting our wedding picture just for you.  It's no wonder I am still single...those are some big shoes to fill!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Once In a Lifetime Opportunity...for You!

Aren't they just precious?
This evening I saw my roommates (aka my lil' sis and her man) off on an 8-day romantic adventure to Barcelona, with a quick stop in Dublin for 2 days.  Before we moved in together last September, I had lived by myself for 3 whole years.  Within minutes of them leaving I could already tell a lot has changed for me in just a few short months.  I go back and forth between feelings of a sad parent saying goodbye to their grown up kids and rebellious teenager excited to see their parents leave on vacation.  The true story is...I'm gonna pretty damn lonely.  (But really, send food.  I don't know if I'll survive.)

The good news is, right after they return to my loving arms next Friday, we have a fantastic event happening right at our front door...literally!  Our hip neighborhood of Somerville, right on the outskirts of Boston and Cambridge, hosts a yearly Somerville Porchfest.  For this roaming festival, regular ol' folks sit out on their porches and play music all day so that regular ol' folks can walk around the neighborhood and hear all sorts of amazing music. This year's Porchfest is next Saturday, May 17th.

This year, the roomies and I decided that we wanted in on the fun!  The only barrier to that idea was that none of us are musically talented enough to play anything remotely close to being presentable to the public.  (Although I do have to say that NJP really enjoys my rendition of Sweet Child of Mine on the guitar.)  Praise the heavens, though, we quickly realized that we have friends who have bands and play music.

Musical friends + our front porch = killer Porchfest participation!

Walter and the Night Owls features Walter, Mas, (yes, the same Mas who posts here with me.  She rocks!) Afton, and Kristy.  We chatted with them recently and they have some pretty spectacular things planned so DO NOT miss this one.  You can check out a map of the entire event here and a link to their website here. They will perform between 2 and 4.

So what was that once in a lifetime opportunity you ask?  No, it is not to deliver me food while my roommates are away.  (But really, you still can if you want to.) Next Saturday, May 17, you can Wake Up & Boogie (Saturday) with me!  With a live band!  At my house!  For free!  !!!!!  (Are we excited yet!?!?!)

P.S.  I've learned some stealthy internet stalking skills from a person who will go unnamed.  However, it provided me with a particular set of skills and I was able to find this clip of Walter and Afton performing on some sort of TV show so you can get a glimpse of what is to come. Start the clip at 19:43 to just see Walter and Afton.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We Derbied...Did You?

My money was on Dance with Fate, obviously.  Did you Derby?

Lil' sister's horse won!

I like big hats...

Sibling reunion!  Lil' bro came all the way from Buffalo!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

A New Happy - Dance Friday!!!

On my recent trip to LA, I got a glimpse of summer.
Today, we got our first glimpse of spring in Boston.
Sunshine-y days in my hammock are coming soon!
Happy by Pharrell is sweeping the nation and starting to fall into the overplayed category.  Fear not, fellow dancers!  There is a new happy on the scenes.  My mom sent me this video she heard in an
NPR article and I loooove it!  (There are two videos that you can watch in the article here.)

Get your happy on, however you can!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Flowers

April certainly gave us its fair share of showers.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that May blesses us with rays of sunshine and plenty of flowers.  Find a local bookstore to celebrate Children's Book Week from May 12 - May 18!

Once again I am behind on my posting duties and updates for y'all but that will come in about two weeks when I finish up my last grad class of the year!!

In the meantime, here are some May events.


May 3
* Sara Hoagland Hunter reads her new book Every Turtle Counts, Wellesley Books, 3 pm
* Elizabeth Rose Stanton reads her book Henny at the Eric Carle, 2 pm

May 8
* Andrea Cremer reads from her new YA book The Inventor, Wellesley Books, 7 pm
* Louise Borden discusses her research that helped her write The Journey That Saved Curious George, Cambridge Public Library, Main Campus, 6:30 pm

May 18
* Paul Dubois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender will share their new counting book, Count on the Subway, at the Eric Carle, 2 pm

May 18
* Eric Carle will be signing books at the Eric Carle Museum, no advance tickets, signing only, 10 am
* Moira Young presents her latest YA book, Raging Star, Porter Square Books, 4 pm

Los Angeles

May 3
* Celebrate California Bookstore Day at Children's Book World with Barney Saltzburg, 10:30 am

May 4
* Tracy Holczer presents her new book The Secret Hum of a Daisy, a middle grade novel, Once Upon a Time Books, 2 pm

May 7
* Antoinette Portis, of Not a Box fame, reads her new book, Froodle, at Vroman's, 10:30 am

May 10
* Join Max Kornell as he reads from his latest, Me First, Children's Book World, 10:30 am

May 11
* Jenny Han and Morgan Matson, two YA authors, appear for a reading at Once Upon a Time bookstore, 2 pm

May 17
* Antoinette Portis, of Not a Box fame, reads her new book, Froodle, at Children's Book World, 10:30 am