Such a Cozy Summer…

June 13, 2016 at 6:26 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Cozy mysteries are where I go to find solace when I’m too tired for anything else… when my imagination is too exhausted to fly with dragons… my intellect burned out or otherwise occupied reading homeschool material to my daughter.  Cozies are for bubble baths, for “I’m so tired, I can’t sleep” nights (thanks, Sarah).  And right now, I’m hooked on a few new ones.

7457122.jpgManor House Mysteries

So far, I’ve read Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy.  The series stars Museum Curator (and mansion manager) Grace as she sleuths around a small town, helping the local police solve the murders that keep happening at her new job.  Naturally, there’s an unfortunate past relationship that didn’t go well, and a new budding one with the local landscaper to keep us involved in the character’s life as she manages to avoid looking like a serial killer – because in real life, how many people are tied to so many murders?  The touch of tourist seasons, southern drawls, and Civil War reenactments remind me of home.

Library Lighthouse Mysteries

ByBookorByCrook-1.jpgI’m now in my third installment (Reading Up a Storm) of the Library Lighthouse Mysteries by Eva Gates, which began with By Book or By Crook.  This series features a lighthouse that has been renovated into a library.  Book Nerds and Jane Austen references abound while the newest librarian and the library cat stumble across – yep, you guessed it – one murder after another.  Again, no one would dare think the Nancy Drew wanna-be is indeed a serial killer with no many murders suddenly happening right under her nose, and of course, she’s the heroine with a terrible romantic past and TWO attractive men vying for her attention. Brain candy indeed.  Each book in this series have occurred within weeks of the one previously and all during summer tourist months near the beach.  Southern drawls, check.  Meddling mothers, check. (Booked for Trouble) Food stuffs and baking references, check.  Also, weird guy who pretends to be British… this character confuses me, but I got used to him.

Next up, a Miranda James series that begins with a title called Bless Her Dead Little Heart. Seriously, how can I pass that up?

 

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Our Own Little Walden

June 1, 2016 at 4:01 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This spring has been all about chasing sunshine, growing green things, and avoiding floodwaters.  Since moving to Walden we’ve been attempting to create something closer to Thoreau’s version than the golf cart variety of Houston… But mostly we’ve been tackling our Classifications of Living Things, getting our kitchen garden going, learning to fish, and  dipping our toes into the world of museum membership at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Kiddo helped me plant teeny tiny tomato plants, acorn squash seeds, cucumbers, and green onions.  Marigolds galore, mints, parsley, basil, lemon balm.  We’ve got lots of blooms for the butterflies and the hummingbirds, a variety of lilies, roses, and snapdragons.  We’re in love with our little patch.

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All this, but we’re not yet living the heaven of the picture book we just discovered this week: On Meadowville Street by Henry Cole; because, frankly, I want my backyard to look like this:

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How cool would it be if everyone’s back yard looked a little bit more like this? Ponds, birds, trees, overgrown grass and wildflowers… yes, please.

We also fell in love a little with Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails.  Kiddo is pretty fascinated with bees, so even while surrounded by gorgeous butterflies around the world in the Cockrell Butterfly Center, she finds the bee hive and watches them the most.

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So now that spring has passed and summer is upon us, we’ve burned up all the vacation days I possibly could trekking around, established our garden, and purchased a fishing license for my days off.

Fishing mostly looks like kiddo playing with a pole, naming earth worms, sinking our toes in mud, and me lounging lazily in the sun, but we pretend we care about catching things – sometimes.

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A Cranberry Cove Summer

July 13, 2015 at 12:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Casey of Cranberry CoveAuthor: Susan KotchUnknown

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publisher: Hibernian Publishing

Length: 207 pages

Ice Cream Parlours, boogie boarding, kayaking, sail boat racing, pizza, high school parties, and hunky life guards… mix some teen angsty romance in and you’ve got a cute beach read that is perfect for summer.  Susan Kotch delivers the perfect one with surfer girl Casey Whitman playing the role of Gidget.

Casey of10473070_810968012059_3950441201297687075_n Cranberry Cove is a fun read and my only regret while reading is that I wasn’t doing it in the sand, baking on the beach.  I love reading on the beach and Casey is a girl after my own heart – a sun-baking reader and go-getter who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
I’m looking forward to future adventures of Casey’s, but I’m hoping she keeps her head on straight and doesn’t turn into a ninny.  I’m also hoping she doesn’t leave her beach life behind in all the excitement of growing up.  Casey reminds me a bit of the Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller series my older sister had on her shelf growing up, I think girls that like one series would enjoy the other.

Peaceful at Manhattan Beach

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The Snail and the Whale

January 19, 2015 at 12:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I used to do a Weekly Low Down on Kids Books.  Well, I used to pretend to do them, and really they were haphazard and sporadic at best, but sort of happened a few times a month at least.

I’m back.  I’m back with a mission to share all the marvelous books we’ve been reading.  Because, well, we have been reading more than we’ve let on.  I know, our silence is stifling.

P1000708Title: The Snail and the Whale

Author:Julia Donaldson

Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

I bought The Snail and the Whale on impulse.  I’ve been trying to do less of that lately, but it was too darn cute and the kiddo had been working on a snail painting.  Plus, I was feeling a little bit guilty over keeping Christmas as sparse as I was.

A few new picture books seemed a good addition to a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lego set (the third set to polish off the Jake collection); but we purposely are trying to keep Christmas gifting simple… “What you want, what you need, what you’ll wear, and what you’ll read.”  Accumulatively, we’d like for her to get no more than 4 presents from each category once all the grandparents have pitched in.  Ideally I’d keep it to four items total, but I’m practical and I know the family members won’t let that fly.

P1000654So she got the rest of her desired lego collection, a Frozen tiara and tambourine, socks, new boots, and a handful of new picture books.  There were some stocking stuffers and some other odds and ends – a geode science project for her school work, new paints, a painting apron, some canvases – and they were given to her in waves, not all at once on Christmas day.  It gave her time to enjoy each gift before getting overwhelmed with another.  We enjoyed it.  She was spoiled without being spoiled.  It felt like a nice simple holiday, yet kiddo managed to get everything she’d asked for.

Although The Snail and the Whale feels like a summer book – crossing oceans, travelling the world, visiting islands – we were excited to read it while cozied up in blankets and pjs.  I can’t wait to read it to her at the beach once it warms up, though.

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Working on her Snail painting, which has an actual shell glued to the canvas.

After reading this book for the second or third time, I finally asked kiddo, “So what are your thoughts?”

Kiddo, age four, says, “Other kids should read it, that’s my thought!  But how about we put it where people can’t find it. So no one can tear it up.”

I think she was missing the point of the conversation.  We started talking about the illustrations and what she thought.  She likes the pictures, but thinks they got the font “mixed up.”  I think the font is appropriately cute, but she’s learning to read and I think some of the swirly snail words were hard for her to recognize.

The book, however, is wonderful.  The rhymes are fun, the pictures are fun.  It’s all about adventure, having courage, and taking care of your friends.  It’s definitely a great gift book for any little one, no matter what season.

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How a Reader/ Texan/ Redneck Does 4th of July

July 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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No words needed.

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Sun-Burned Days

June 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm (Education, In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1020224We went to the beach yesterday.  It was amazing.  We played in the sun, splashed in the waves, built sand castles with moats and walls and invading armies.  We applied sunblock every 30 minutes to our fair-fair skin – spf 50.  And in between those moments sprayed another kind of sunblock over our whole body to ensure that I hadn’t missed any spots.

Nonetheless, today we are burnt.  Really burnt.  Ok, so kiddo is moderately burnt and my legs look like lobster legs.

These are the days when being a reader and quasi hermit come in handy… we are sitting in the cool of the house watching book-based movies (The Rise of the Guardians) and patting our body parts down with home remedies.

So far, it has been a steady application of vinegar water (to take the heat out), egg whites (to minimize the blistering), aloe vera (because everyone knows to use aloe!), and at some point today I plan to try out a black tea poultice but that will require me to go purchase some Earl Gray.  Frankly, neither one of us wants to leave the house.

Prior to all this excitement (or miserable post-beach adventurism) however, I was seriously looking into the idea of moving closer to the shoreline.  (I’m still thinking I want to add this to my bucket list.)  If only for a 6 month lease someday.

1900 flood statueGalveston in particular is full of a rich history that I was briefly introduced to in school, mostly surrounding the epic flood of 1900 and the statue memorializing that event.  I remember studying the great September 8th flood in both fourth grade and seventh grade.  I even wrote a fictional diary of a girl caught in the flood as part of a required creative writing exercise.  With 145 mile an hour winds, near total destruction, families lost and killed, I sort of believed it wasn’t a viable living option.  Despite it being a great place to visit for the day, when Ike hit, I was still surprised to learn that people actually live on the island year round.  I grew up believing it was a Houstonian’s day trip destination and nothing more.

Galveston statueOne in particular that amazed me this weekend was the statue regarding the Texas Revolution.  It’s huge, and gorgeous, and well worth a child’s research paper.  Despite all the intense Texas History a child is submitted to as a ward of the Texas public education system, I had completely been unaware (or merely forgot) that Galveston was the Republic of Texas’ capital city.

I definitely want to incorporate more beach trips into our lives – despite our fair skin and my current severe sun burn.  But if I were to ever live there for a few months or so with our kiddo, I have so many cool lessons plans already half built around what would become our daily schedule.  Just the architecture alone is worth a good week’s worth of study.

The whole day was a gentle reminder to be a tourist in your own city from time to time.  It can be highly educational.

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Until then, maybe we’ll check out some Books about Galveston Island.

 

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Summer Reading Programs – July 2012 Update

July 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Feed Your Brain display at Half Price Books in Humble

I’m proud to say that my little kiddo sat through all of her 500 minutes of reading time and then some, earning herself a certificate signed by the State Librarian and a free book from the library.  Harris County Public Libraries have a fun little system going, and it has been fun logging all our minutes read over the last few weeks for the Get a Clue program.

In addition to that, Half Price Books has a summer reading program as well called Feed Your Brain.  Reading time is supposed to be done during the months of June and July, but its not too late to get started now and earn prizes for both programs.

To help your kids earn their minutes, bring them along to Wednesday story time at Half Price Books Humble at 10:30 am.  Books are read until we get tired (usually around 11:00 am, but if we’ve got a good attention span out of the kids that day, we may stretch it to 11:15 or so).  Every now and then we are privileged enough to have children’s authors read their own book aloud and stay for a book signing.  Snacks are always provided.

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Story Time Party With M.G. King

June 22, 2012 at 3:55 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

With summer in full gear, story time at Half Price Books in Humble has become a force to be reckoned with, but mostly because M.G. King is quite possibly one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever met and she was kind enough to do a reading and book signing in place of the usual kid’s story time on Wednesday.

There was a fun little song, a reading of Librarian on the Roof! and literary activities like making your very own poof book.  King brought colored paper, markers, and all the knowledge, skill, and friendliness to manage excited children while chatting to their parents and signing copies of her book.  Everyone had loads of fun, and got to walk away with the experience of having met a real live author of a book no kid can forget.

Make your own poof book! http://www.vickiblackwell.com/makingbooks/poofbook.htm

Read my review of Librarian on the Roof! https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/weekly-low-down-on-kids-books-31312/

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