back in the saddle

28 Aug

Oh, well, hello there!

It’s been quite a long time…like an embarrassingly long time! Seriously, don’t look at the date of my last post. It’s ancient history!

But here we are, now. The kids just started the 2014-2015 school year (hooray!) and I’m now focused on full-time freelance writing (newspapers, magazine, websites…oh my!) and writing creatively for kids (fingers crossed that it eventually means a book contract!) It’s just me and our doggie sitting around in a quiet house for the better part of the day.

I did kick back and relax for a bit (when the new couch arrived!!!)

I’m only three days in to this “new normal” (honestly I’m still adjusting to the quiet and am glad I have the dog to talk to) so I don’t have it all figured out just yet. But I did realize–or was finally honest with myself–that I’ve ignored this blog for far too long. And that writing here needs to be a part of my new normal routine.

So today, I have no wisdom or nugget of interest to share (let’s be honest…I’m not sure that I ever do!) I just wanted to write and say that I’ll be back writing here…and writing with purpose…soon!

I pinky promise!

This summer’s adventures included a family trail ride by horseback. I rode a lovely and gentle horse named Ray. Here’s proof…

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous (as I don’t get to go horseback riding often and my kids were riding on their own!) but I climbed up into that saddle and enjoyed every minute (except for the aching tailbone the next day!)

So today I’m climbing back into the blogging saddle. I’m not necessarily nervous (at least not the same kind of nervous from being around large, beautiful horses) but it did take some convincing and it’s sure to be a much longer ride.

Giddy up!

 

let’s all unplug…

16 May

A long baseball game tonight didn’t leave us much time to read…or rather as much time as we’d all like to read. But we did manage to pick up a new picture book at the library today and couldn’t wait to dive in.

We read Dan Yaccarino’sDoug Unplugged“.

doug unplugged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story follows a bright little robot–named Doug (which was Tom’s favorite part about the story)–who is hooked up to a machine by his parents each morning so he can download all sorts of information and be a smart little robot. But one day, he notices a pigeon on his windowsill while downloading and wonders what he might learn about pigeons (and other things) if he unplugs and goes outside.

And so he does just that. A lovely little adventure unfolds and the kids and I had fun following Doug through his day as he learned, unplugged style. (Lucy noted her favorite part of the book was that he just kept learning…good answer!)

Not only are the story entertaining and the illustrations playfully, but in this super cyber-connected world we live in, this book also has a poignant message…one that kids and adults alike can take to heart.

So tomorrow, or this weekend make time to unplug and observe the world around you. You, like Doug, will be amazed at what you learn!

Godspeed!

doug really unplugged

and the winners are…

15 May

Part of the fun of Children’s Book Week is finding out the winners of the annual Children’s Choice Book Awards!

trophy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winners were announced on Monday…and they are…

KINDERGARTEN TO SECOND GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

THIRD GRADE TO FOURTH GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)

FIFTH GRADE TO SIXTH GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Dork Diaries 4: Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renée Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

TEEN BOOK OF THE YEAR
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton/Penguin)

AUTHOR OF THE YEAR
Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid 7: The Third Wheel (Amulet Books/Abrams)

ILLUSTRATOR OF THE YEAR
Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

More than 1,000,000 kids cast their vote this year. So take their word for it and pick up one (or all!) of these books. I know I will!

ps…You can read more about the Children’s Choice Book Awards on the Children’s Book Council website.

my kind of week…

14 May

[Cue slightly out of tune, jolly voice]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

No I’m not anticipating Christmas and snowy landscapes (it just finally warmed up here in Iowa for Pete’s sake!)

IT’S CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK!

CBW-champion-FINAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It just might be my favorite week of the year! I fully admit, I’m acting like a kid at Christmas. I can barely contain my excitement and want to spend part of my day bouncing up and down and squealing with delight…pausing now and then to read!

Clearly, I love books for children! I really do! I want to read them…all of them. I want to write them. I want my kids to want to read and write them.

So I am, of course, all for a week that celebrates all that is wonderful about the world of children’s literature.

Today I wanted to make sure you knew this important week was happening. I just want to get you excited! I’ll be spending the rest of the week sharing some book reviews on recent reads (or listens–have you discovered books on tape in your car with the kiddos yet?!) here at the Giorgio household.

But please don’t contain your excitement! Share what you are reading, loved to read as a kid or would like to read in the near future. For that matter, I would recommend that in honor of Children’s Book Week (which runs now through May 19th, by the way) that you pick up a copy of your favorite book from your childhood. Picture book, chapter book. young adult romance. Whatever it was. Pick it up and read it again. I PROMISE you’ll be as delighted this time through as you were the first time you read it.

See you tomorrow…

the importance of kindness…

5 Mar

I just finished reading “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.

wonder book cover

It tells the story of a young boy, August Pullman, who is about to enter the 5th grade and a mainstream school for the very first time. Now to most middle schoolers, the idea of starting a new school is intimidating enough. But for August, or Auggie, the idea is especially painful. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity that even he knows is hard to look at. The story unfolds as Auggie learns to manage the world of middle school. It is very interestingly told not only through the eyes of Auggie but also through the perspective of several of the other pre-teen and teenage characters that come into his life.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that Auggie’s English teacher Mr. Browne gives the students a new precept to consider each month. The first precept the students are introduced to is: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

It’s a simple but powerful phrase. The message is carried throughout the whole book–in a very middle school way–and leaves the reader thinking about the ways we treat and talk about others.

“Wonder” is one of those books that sticks with you after you are finished reading. Many books do of course, but this book had me thinking about how important it is that we remind our children day in and day out of the importance of kindness. The book couldn’t be more timely, as bullying is a hot topic is schools and in the media. For me, it’s one of the things I worry most about as a parent…that others aren’t unkind to my children and that my children always practice kindness.

If you have or know a 4th, 5th or 6th grader encourage them to read this book. In fact most all of us could learn a lot from Auggie Pullman and the other pre-teen and teenage characters this story revolves around. Our world needs to hear its message of kindness.

But we can’t just stop and acknowledge we need more kindness.  The author certainly didn’t stop with writing the book. She is challenging readers to commit to choosing kind at every opportunity.

Check it out and take the pledge here. And just choose kind!

on the move…

21 Feb

In case you hadn’t heard, the Cedar Rapids Public Library is making a big move this week…across the street from their temporary home at Westdale Mall into a newly renovated space now known as the Ladd Library.

This is exciting on a number of levels…from the fact that the library will now feature public restrooms (I know what you are thinking…really, that is important?! But trust me, if you go to the library with a 5-year-old regularly it’s important!) to the notion that this marks an exciting evolution for the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Not only will they open this fabulous new branch library in 2013, but the much-anticipated and long (but patiently) awaited new downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library will also open later this summer!

Now I am not just saying this because I love the library (and think the world of several key staff members) but the folks at the Cedar Rapids Public Library have a fun attitude and innovative approach to most everything they do. I mean what do you do when you are moving, but ask for help from friends and family. And that’s just what the Cedar Rapids Public Library did. They invited library card holders to come in and check out as many books as they could carry in an effort to help the library make the move.

Given the fact that I’ve moved more times in my life than I can count on my hands, I consider myself a semi-professional mover. So of course I wanted to do my part. It also helped that Tom and Lucy happened to think this was an awesome (and hysterical) idea.

So last Friday we rolled into the library (yes, I totally brought a rolling bag) and stocked up on as many picture books (Lucy) and nonfiction titles (Tom) as we could handle.

See!

moving the crpl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We came away with 35 books (which I might add is darn heavy even with wheels) and one movie.

Then once we got (heaved) the books home we decided we need to make a mini Cedar Rapids Public Library to house them all while in our care.  (We didn’t want any mix ups with the books we already have here at home!) Lucy was my enthusiastic helper.

See!

mini crpl

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were and are excited to be part of the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s big move. We’re even more excited to see the new  space! There’s a big party Friday night (you can still get tickets!) and the grand opening celebration continues on Saturday. So stop in and check it out!

ps…Can you just remind me that my stash of books is due back March 8th?!

reading new year…

2 Jan

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Happy 2013!

I’m a sucker for kicking off new months and years and I hope you find as much promise in the start of a new year as I do.

Every year I “make” a ton of resolutions…things I’d like to do a little better (not nag my family) or things I’d like to do a little more often (workout). I make lists…long ones…because I feel my optimism for the next 365 days can be sustained. (Whether this is actually true is a whole other blog post.) 

So far, I’ve not actually written anything down for 2013. All the ideas are just bouncing around in my head, competing for space. Cook more dinners…definitely work out…write more letters…stop drinking pop…watch Ellen more often. I could go on and on really.

But I stumbled upon this today…

Image

 

…and decided this resolution is going down on paper, er, this blog!

You see I do read…a lot…all year long…every year. Picture books to Lucy. Children’s nonfiction or chapter books with Tom. Magazines galore. (I’ve got about a dozen subscriptions and am always at least a month behind in reading them. Just ask my sister who gets them after I’m done.) Facebook posts. (I just can’t help myself!) My own notes and stories before I send them in to my magazine or newspaper editors.

But you see, I don’t often stop and read the kinds of books that only I want to read…for me. Last year I read ten…just TEN! But they were glorious and thinking back on them I loved being absorbed into them intensely for the few days I spent on each (and yes I admit for The Hunger Games trilogy it was more of an obsession than an absorption.) 

So this year, I resolve to make more time for books I choose to read…just for me. I’m shooting for 24 folks. I feel a little wimpy (I know someone that committed to reading one short story a day for 2013) with just 24, but it’s an improvement over last year’s performance and on December 31, 2013 I think it’s something I’ll be proud of.

I’ve got stacks and stacks of books around this house…obviously long neglected. I can’t wait to pick a few of them up. But I’m open to suggestions of course. If you’ve got a book I should definitely add to my list, please let me know. (Just keep in mind I’m a sucker for anything middle school kids would be reading!) 

And If you’d like to sign up too, just check out goodreads. Not only is it fun to keep track of what you’ve read or what you’d like to pick up next, but you too can decide how many books you’ll tackle this year. Then we can hold each other accountable!

So again, Happy New Year! And as always, happy reading!

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