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.


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.


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



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…



…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!

’tis the season…

26 Nov

[First of all, I’ll thank you in advance for ignoring the fact that I fell off the blog train many moons ago.]

I’m back because the holiday spirit has kicked in and I couldn’t resist bringing a little Christmas cheer to my blog.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving (more on that later this week, as sometimes I like to go out of order) and are ready to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year! I spent the last few days digging the decorations out of the basement and finding the best spots for display (that won’t tempt Tom and Lucy to touch the too much) so our house looks ready to celebrate. It was so nice just to hang around home for a few days and cross things off my to do list instead of rushing out the door for Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday is just not my thing.

Now I like a good deal as much as the next shopper (seriously I can’t resist coupons), but this year I will say I am not in the mindset to shop just yet. Maybe tomorrow when my email inbox is flooded with super, fantastic Cyber Monday deals I won’t be able to resist.

I will tell you that when I am ready there are two things I’m keeping in mind, that I’d like you to remember too…

1. Shop Local. Now don’t call me a hypocrite because I didn’t rush out on Small Business Saturday to snatch up all the great gifts I’ll be giving. Once I do start my shopping I’ll be supporting as many locally owned businesses as possible. They like my spending any day of the holiday season (and year for that matter!) You’ve probably heard all the statistics so I won’t spout them off. But shopping local just makes sense and is good for the community you live in. You don’t have to be exclusive…I love Target probably more than any other store out there and will surely be snagging some great finds there. I’m just saying that if you can shift a little of your spending this year to a great local restaurant, or independent bookstore, or cute retail boutique (those may or may not be shopping hints for me!) all those great shops will hopefully stick around for many Christmases to come.



2. Give back. It’s simple but so powerful! And this year I was excited to see that there is a movement starting to give giving back a place at the big shopping days table. #GivingTuesday is challenging consumers to take a break from consuming to share the love. Volunteer, make a donation or drop off some food at a food pantry. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be done. And let’s face it, you and I and most of the people we know already have more than enough stuff. So find a cause that you love or they’d love and be a part of #GivingTuesday. I can promise you I’ll be doing my part.

Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here. Or maybe you think I’m just plain bossy when it comes to how you spend your holiday dollars.

Either way, I do hope we all have a merry little Christmas!

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.

being a giver…

26 Apr

Monday night I had the distinct pleasure of being a “Book Giver” for World Book Night.

The idea was simple and powerful. I was given a box of 20 copies of The Hunger Games (yes, I was squealing like a teenage girl!) to give away to random people…reluctant readers, readers who might not necessarily be able to get their hands on a book, or whomever I thought might just need a random act of bookness as part of their Monday night.

First, let me tell you I love this book…OK, I’ll say it…I’m obsessed with this book and all things related to it. So how cool that I found myself  holding copies in my hand that would allow me to share something so exciting with others?!

(my box of books just before distribution...and look at the fun cover!)

What might be even cooler is that there were something like 50 people chosen to do this (with a wide variety of titles…check them all out on the website) all over Cedar Rapids. Think about that…1,000 books were given out on Monday night right here in my hometown. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Cedar Rapids was, in fact, one of the top twenty-five cities in the world participating in this event!

My dear friend Sara (whom I’ve gone on literary adventures with before) was also a giver (handing out The Book Thief…another of my favs and a must read). We decided to make a stop at Foundation 2, a local emergency shelter for youth between the ages of 11 and 17, who are experiencing a personal or family crisis, which makes it necessary to temporarily live away from home. I’ve known about this organization for quite some time and value the work they do in our community. We thought those kids just might like a new book on a random Monday night.

As soon as we set foot inside the door and mentioned free books the teens swarmed us like tracker jackers (oh but not venomous and out to kill us…bad analogy!) Let’s just say they were eager to get a copy and it was such fun handing the books out. But the best part was they’d take the book from us–very graciously I might add–then plop down on the couch, flip it open and start reading. Right then and there. Magical! And exactly the point.

Next Sara and I stopped to visit our old high school English teacher and surprise her with some books that she could then share with others. She was delighted. As we chatted it struck me that it was a very neat moment to be sharing with someone who helped shape and inspire my love of literature, especially young adult novels (with strong female protagonists I might add.)

As expected the whole thing was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for the official World Book Night to roll around again.

Maybe next year you’ll join me!

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.


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!