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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!

 

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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!

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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.

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!

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…

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…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!

marc and arthur…

4 May

You know Arthur right? A cute, young aardvark (with an obnoxious little sister) who’s been on countless adventures both in books and on TV.

Well, we’re pretty familiar with this character here at our house.

That’s why last night my best boy Tom and I jumped at the chance to hear Marc Brown, prolific author and creator of Arthur, speak. He was visiting Cedar Rapids as part of the Metro Library Network’s Out Loud! author series. He shared insights on how and when he created Arthur (in a bedtime story for his son Tolon 35 years ago), where he works on the Arthur adventures (he lives on Martha’s Vineyard surrounded by lots of animals with entertaining names) and what he is working on now (illustrating a heart warming new book by author Judy Sierra). He even drew a few versions of Arthur…right before our very eyes!

He was very funny and honest and I could have listened to his stories all night. I decided Marc Brown is a kid at heart.

Perhaps that’s one of the keys to being successful in the world of Children’s Literature….for 35 years…and still going!

After he spoke Tom and I waited as patiently as possible for Mr. Brown to sign our Arthur books. Tom was anxious because earlier in the day he’d drawn a picture of Arthur he wanted to give to the Arthur master. He realized when creating his drawing he’d forgotten Arthur’s glasses…no problem, said Marc Brown….borrow my marker and add the glasses. Tom did and handed off the drawing. Marc Brown was genuinely touched. I was told later by another attendee that he saves all the drawings kids make for him. Add that fact to the growing list of reasons I heart Marc Brown.

We chatted with Mr. Brown for just a moment while he signed books. We chuckled at the fact that we have a D.W. at home (Lucy of course!) Marc Brown made the point to say that even though little sisters can be a little much when you are young (he would know…he has three!), that they grow up to be fun people. Again, bonus points for the author. He knows his stuff.

We snapped a cute picture…

Aren’t they cute? Marc Brown is saying “pizza!”

…thanked Marc Brown, and were on our way. And I am sure the memories will last, like Arthur, for at least 35 years.

oh how lucky we are…

16 Mar

I love St. Patrick’s Day…or rather I love being Irish. Here in the Giorgio household (despite the origins of our last name) we celebrate the spirit of good cheer all year along. And I’d like to wish you the same…from my little Irish lass and lad.

Sláinte!

read ALOUD!

2 Mar

You may or may not be aware that this coming Wednesday, March 7th has been deemed World Read Aloud Day, which may very well be my new favorite holiday. I mean it’s obvious that I love books, but I also happen to love to read them aloud to anyone who will listen. Usually it happens to be these two characters…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wait…here they are prepared to be better listeners…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love reading to my kiddos…it’s the best part of my day, every day. As part of our nighttime routine we read anywhere from two to six books…that we pick out from the St. Matthew School Library, the Cedar Rapids Public Library, or our own ever growing library here at home.

Today–because it’s snowing and frankly we thought we were done with the white stuff–we snuggled up and read Ponyella (Lucy’s pick and recommendation) by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, Stick (which Tom actually read to me and Lucy…LOVE!) by Steve Breen, and Dr. Seuss’s ABC (which my 60-year-old father-in-law still has memorized from reading to my husband when he was little) written by none other than Dr. Seuss (whose birthday is being celebrated in a big way today…he would have been 108!)

You see I think reading to your kids is a requirement of parenting. It is not only fun, quality time together, but it also helps you raise a child who loves to read (and boost their brain power, among other benefits while you do it.)

It will come as no surprise that I signed up in support of World Read Aloud Day…you can too! The best part is that you don’t have to jump through any hoops or make a huge commitment to be part of something so important. Just read to your kids…or with a friend…or to an elderly person. Heck, even your dog would enjoy a  good read aloud session. I plan to read to the kids at Tom and Lucy’s school…and to Tom and Lucy of course.

The way I see it, every day should be read aloud day!