Barnes and Noble

But other times, my heart is cool.  I bob along gently like a balloon on a string.  My heart feels lazy and slow, as quiet as a snowfall.  This is when my heart is calm.

I stand in Barnes and Noble, reading these words from In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek. I stand here holding my daughter, as my son wanders the store, and I realize that this is how my heart feels right now. This is how my heart always feels when we wander here.51TVUBh6fML._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Sometimes we come to Barnes and Noble on a mission to find a specific book, sometimes in search of something new, and most often just to wander. This store is a happy place for us.

Barnes and Noble was there when Troy was little and more interested in playing with the train than finding a new book.  It was there for us when he needed the next book in the A Tale Dark and Grimm series and he couldn’t wait even a day. It was there each time he finished a book and needed something new. It was there when he finally decided he was ready to read Harry Potter. And it was there last year when he was struggling and needed a safe place. It has always brought both of us a feeling of peace when we needed it most.

I stand here reading this book, holding my daughter in my arms as my son wanders. And I am filled with gratitude for this store full of books. This safe place. The calm we can always find regardless of the storms raging within.  And I am filled with gratitude for all the memories that have occurred within these walls, surrounded by stories.

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Monday Mornings

“Where’d he go?”  I mumble to myself as I walk up the stairs in search of my son.  “Troy, I’m leaving and I need a hug!”  I say through the bathroom door.

“Chill out,” he replies as he walks out of his bathroom to give me a hug.

“Love you!  Have a good day!”

I get an “Love you, too,” and then he walks back into the bathroom looking at his phone.

“And I am chill!  I’m chill as…ice cream.”  He mumbled something in response to that.  It could have been about my lame comparison or something about how I am never chill…probably better that I don’t know.

Back downstairs I go to say goodbye to the baby.

“Aww, she’s holding out her arms when I come close.  She wants me to pick her up,”  I say sort of to my husband, but mostly to myself.  I don’t know if that is actually what’s happening, but that’s what I’m going with this morning.  “Oh, I’m going to be late,” I say as I pick up my smiley baby girl and give her hugs and kisses.

Eventually, I put her down and leave, calling one last good bye to my husband.

I toss my bags onto the passenger seat and hop in the Jeep.  As I pull out of the drive, I turn on the audio book that has been on hold since getting home on Friday.  Leaving the house on Monday mornings isn’t easy, but at least I get to find out how this book ends today.

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Ooops!

****Spoiler Alert!  There is a spoiler for the Harry Potter book The Goblet of Fire in this slice!  I don’t want to be responsible for spoiling another person’s experience with Harry Potter.

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The Lego bag crinkled as he ripped it open, pulling out the pieces.  We were in the car – because the walk from the store to the car was about the longest he has ever been able to wait before opening a blind bag.  As he put the figure together, he noticed there were too faces…

“Huh…there are two faces.  I don’t know who this guy even is…”  my reader thought aloud.  At the time he had just started book four –The Goblet of Fire.

Without thinking, I replied, “Isn’t he the one that was pretending to be Moody?”

And then I realized what I had just said.  I was quiet, hoping this was one of those times he wasn’t listening to me talk.  The silence that followed confirmed that he did, in fact, hear me.

“Seriously?!”  He finally exclaimed after about thirty seconds.

It was one of those bad mom moments.  I tried to cover it up.  I refused to tell him anymore or confirm which book I was talking about.  It didn’t matter.  I had spoiled it.  Oops…

He’s never going to let me forget.

Be a Ms. Bixby.

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It may be classified as a children’s book.  The narrators may rotate between three sixth grade boys.  But, this book is for teachers.

The  main characters have created the following categories for teachers:

  1.  Zombies –  Teachers who have been teaching a long time and use worksheet after worksheet.
  2. Caff-Adds – Teachers who drink way too much caffeine and talk and move faster than is normal.
  3. Dungeon Masters – Very strict teachers who require complete silence at all times.
  4. Spielbergs – Teachers who show movies, often very loosely related to the current topic of study.
  5. Noobs – New teachers, high energy and very excited about everything.
  6. Good Ones – This description I’m going to quote straight from the book:

The ones who make the torture otherwise known as school somewhat bearable.  You know when you have one of the Good Ones because you find yourself actually paying attention in class, even if it’s not art class.  They’re the teachers you actually want to go back and say hi to the next year.  The ones you don’t want to disappoint.

Topher, Steve, and Brand have this teacher – Ms. Bixby.  She is what they classify as one of the Good Ones, but she announces she isn’t going to be able to finish the year with them.  So, they make it their mission to give her the perfect last day.   Throughout the book, the reader slowly finds out the ways in which Ms. Bixby influenced these three boys.

Read this book right before you go back to school. You may be going back to a position you didn’t want, administration that makes you feel unappreciated, and an occupation that is constantly under attack by the public.  However, we don’t teach for any of those reasons anyway.  Its about the kids- about being one of “the Good Ones” for each child that enters your room.

 

The Unwanteds

I sat at the table in Starbucks, sipping my coffee and reading.  I able to push the nerves aside because of the story.  I was immersed, occasionally drifting into the real world to check the time.   I was early.

The battle began to unfold in the book and in my mind.  Time.  Five minutes late.

Paint and spells flew.  Time.  Ten minutes late.  He’s not coming, but I can’t leave in the middle of this battle!

Clay balls flying.  Enemies locked in place. “Hi!  Jennifer?”

That’s how it happened.  That’s how a book is the reason I met my fiance.  He was late, something I despise, but I didn’t want to stop reading.  If not reading that book, I would have left at the five minutes late mark and maybe never met the man of my dreams.

P.S. He was late because he got lost, so I have forgiven it.  And we are both incredibly grateful that I was lost in the world of Artimé that day.

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Which texts have influenced you?

Textual Lineage Charts.  Ever heard of them?  I hadn’t until teaching the Fantasy Book Clubs unit of the 5th grade LC Reading Units.  (Session 7)  Your Textual Lineage includes the books that you have read that have influenced you.

I loved this idea and I needed more information than was in the curriculum.  The most helpful resource I found was from Teaching Tolerance.  So, I provided several of the prompts from the graphic organizer from Teaching Tolerance to my fifth graders.

I got mixed results…

From the very goofy, ready for summer responses…

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To the thoughtful responses I had hoped for…

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I’ve been thinking about my textual lineage ever since I first read about the concept and this is what I have come up with…

Top 10 Must-SeeTravel Destinations

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

This was not the first or favorite book of my childhood.  There were so many.  But this is the one I read over and over.  The one that I talked to other people about and that led me to Shel Silverstein’s other masterpieces.  Even though part of my love of books has always been the solitude, there is still enjoyment to be found in sharing them.  This is the text that solidified that books are fun.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

I’m not sure exactly when I first read this book, but I think it was sometime in middle school?  And then again in college.  I love this book and it helped me realize that there is no such thing as a “boy book” or a “girl book.”  And if we put these labels on our favorites, a whole group of young people will never read a book that may change their views of reading and life in general.

Furiously Happy:  A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

This is one I just read last year and posted about here.  It helped me see that I am not alone and there is nothing wrong with me.   Self-acceptance is a long road, one that I am still traveling down.  However, the message I found in this book sure helped with the journey.

Which texts have influenced you?