Quick learning notes on Monday

December 5, 2016 @ 2:48 pm | Filed under: Books, Fun Learning Stuff, Homeschooling

My old books. Beanie's old comforter. The college girl's bed.

My old books. Beanie’s old comforter. The college girl’s bed.

Lots of Schoolhouse Rock videos this morning. Rose made pumpkin bread.

We’re nearing the end of Understood Betsy. One of my favorite read-alouds of all time, ever. I think “what would Cousin Ann do?” (which Betsy off asks herself) is a pretty good guiding principle.

Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art — we continue to enjoy this so very much! Skipping around a bit now, rabbit-trail style. Today we read the Hokusai chapter—one of my favorites. Which naturally led to watching videos on the making of Japanese woodblock prints. Man, I love homeschoogling.

Speaking of Vincent’s Starry Night—I’m going to be hosting a giveaway for a copy soon! Stay tuned for details.

 

Enter Title Here

December 2, 2016 @ 11:45 am | Filed under: Bloggity

Y’all, I miss posting here SO MUCH! It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. It’s that I’m crunched for time. I keep starting posts that I can’t finish. My drafts folder is comical.

draftslist

That’s right, FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE posts in drafts. That’s just silly. I start posts and never get back to finish them. This is when blog becomes more like scratchpad.

That “family album” was a solid idea: I had a plan to collect all my Instagram pics and funny kid comments into one big roundup post each month. Guess I didn’t finish the September roundup and never got back to it.

A lot of drafts languish for want of links and images (like the skincare/sunscreen one in that list, which I do hope to finish soon and will probably publish on Glittersquid). Other, like the Weird School post, are waiting for a reasonable chunk of time so I can put some brain into the writing. (Huck loves those books, is the summary. Subplot: when I asked him what was weird about the school, he said, “Actually, I’m not sure, since I’ve never been to school.” At the time, he had the book open to a page featuring a flying teacher in a superhero cape.)

I know I have a repeated theme here where I talk about how I’m getting hampered by the process of polishing up my posts, adding nice images, etc etc etc. I’ll vow to blog freehand but then when I sit down to write, I’ll think: this would be so much more useful for people if I added links…and that, friends, is how you wind up with a drafts pile nearly 500 posts deep. I mean, I’m even doing it here! Took the extra two minutes to look up and link to that old post—which contains a resolution to “blog lightly, without the sense of pressure and polish that rules the rest of my writing life.” I wrote that in 2014. Some lessons come dropping slow.

Well, I know better than to make resolutions. But I do mean to try to finish up some of those drafts. And the advice I gave myself in 2014—blog first, blog fresh, blog lightly—is really quite sound. One of these days I should start listening to me. 😉

Heads Up: CreativeBug Special

November 22, 2016 @ 9:29 am | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff, Links

You’ve heard me rave about Creativebug plenty of times in the past. Regular price is $4.95/month for access to dozens hundreds of art and craft classes. Rilla and I have taken many, many of these classes during our Saturday Night Art Dates. Highly recommended! (Especially the Lisa Congdon and Jennifer Orkin Lewis classes.)

They’re running a special right now: three months of access for $1. Can’t beat that deal!

3 Months of Creativity for Just $1

(Affiliate links)

poetry friday: “America, why are your libraries full of tears?”

November 11, 2016 @ 8:51 am | Filed under: Poetry

America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

—from “America” by Allen Ginsberg

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

—from “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

Why Poetry Is Viral in the Aftermath

And poetry keeps the intensity and the passion of a point of view, but in a forum where people aren’t hurting each other. It says, “Here’s what it’s like from my point of view.” All you have to do is listen to the poet.

And, in that, you don’t have to be anything other than what you are. The poem is a catalyst where you’re bringing two different kinds of people together. And at its best, when it works, there’s a kind of spark, and everyone comes away illuminated by what the spark has ignited.

Poems to visit today:

Differences of Opinion” by Wendy Cope

Tenacious” by Tanita Davis.

And here’s one from me.

Fall
by Melissa Wiley

I have quit romanticizing
small towns. Don’t tell me

somewhere Miss Daisy and the Colonel
sip sweet tea from green glasses.

Don’t say Dog Monday pats its patient
tail on the swept platform.

You know Doc Gibbs is no longer
in network. Behind trim doors fixed eyes

watch what all of us are watching.
Some of the mothers smoke still.

Their strong son the quarterback
snaps his frame: splayed limbs,

fanned hair, the blue dolphin vaulting
off the tanned swell. His swell friends

retweet. Here the wagons are circling.
There is plenty of posterboard.

Six fine pumpkins up the porch steps,
and artful corn husks: pin this. Touchdown

at Grover Cleveland High. Hear the roar
shivering the bruised leaves of the Bradford pears

on Elm Street above the patter of talk
radio. The limp girl among the red cups

under the butternut tree cannot
hear what they are saying in the cities.

leafmotif

This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Big Brave Writer News!

November 7, 2016 @ 6:24 am | Filed under: Books

I’ve been a fan of Julie Bogart’s Brave Writer writing program and classes since the first launch of The Writer’s Jungle. In fact, that fabulous resource was one of the very first things I reviewed on this blog, way back in February 2005. I’ve used Writer’s Jungle and other Brave Writer materials such as The Arrow with my own kids, and I’ve pointed many friends toward the excellent online classes offered each term.

And now I’ll be joining the roster of Brave Writer teachers myself! After that incredible experience at the BW Retreat in July, Julie talked me into joining her team as an instructor. I’ll be taking on some of my favorite topics: comics and historical fiction. The new course line-up was announced this morning, abundant as always with enticing classes I know my own kids would enjoy.

bravewriterlogoWhat I’ll be teaching:

Comic Strip Capers — March 6-29, ages 9 and up

Penning the Past — May 8-June 2, ages 11-14

Please click the links to read more about my classes! Registration begins December 5.

I’ll plan to hop on Periscope on Wednesday afternoon (2:30 Pacific time) for some Q&A.

Planning ahead

November 2, 2016 @ 1:27 pm | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Scott: I got you a present.
(demonstrates opening a soda can with magical doohickey)
 
Me: That’s genius. You’re a genius.
 
Scott: See, that’s what you’ll think every time you use it. ‘He was a damn genius.’
 
Me: …why am I thinking of you in past tense?
 
Scott: Because I’ll be dead.
 
Me: WHY WILL YOU BE DEAD?
 
Scott: Because you won’t need to use it until after I’m gone. Until then you’ve got me to open your sodas.
 
Me: Are all geniuses this morbid?

Seal of Inevitable Fate

October 21, 2016 @ 4:30 pm | Filed under: These People Crack Me Up

I came home from the drugstore to find Huck in tears. His friends across the street have been away for a week, and just got late last night. He’d been eager to get through lunch so he could go play with them. Lunch, under the supervision of his big sisters, was what was happening while I ran to the store. Upon my return, he was waiting at the door, the picture of tragedy.

He poured out his tale of woe: something had gone wrong at lunch, and Rose had decreed that he wouldn’t be allowed to play with the friends today. This sounded…unlikely, so I sought out Rose for clarification.

She burst out laughing. “The boys were squabbling at the table,” she informed me. “So I told them if they couldn’t get along, they wouldn’t be able to play.”

Because, you know, if you’re a seven-year-old boy of tumultuous emotions, “if you can’t get along with your brother” is an injunction tantamount to “never.”

Prune

October 21, 2016 @ 2:50 pm | Filed under: Games

prunegame

Favorite new game: Prune. It’s on sale in the app store this week. Gorgeous graphics. You lop off branches to train your trees around obstacles and into rays of light, where they burst into bloom.

The soothing music and mellow gameplay were a peaceful way to pass the time during the boy’s MRI yesterday, after I’d gotten annoyed with my attempt to sketch the waiting room. (Scott can read during that kind of wait. Me…not so much. My attention goes sparking off in all directions.)

(The MRI is an annual event for our boy. Nothing to be alarmed about.) 🙂

Cybils YA Fiction Nominee Suggestions

October 13, 2016 @ 2:22 pm | Filed under: Books, Cybils

Cybils-Logo-2016-Web-Sm
Only two more days until the end of the public nomination period for the 2016 Cybils Awards! If you haven’t nominated your favorite books of the year yet, please consider doing so. And if your picks have already been submitted by someone else, here’s a roundup of “wish lists” shared on the Cybils blog. (See the comments of that post for more category lists.)

Eligibility criteria refresher: Books must be published in the U.S. or Canada for the children’s or YA markets between 10/16/15 and 10/15/16. Full list of rules here, as well as a link to the nomination form.

The YA Fiction candidates (so far) can be found here. (Just remember you have to use the nomination form to submit your pick—you can’t just leave a comment on the post.) I’m pretty excited by this list of nominees, but there are some other eligible titles that haven’t been submitted yet. Here are some suggestions compiled our panelists:

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
With Malice by Eileen Cook
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
Rodent by Lisa J. Lawrence
Fifteen Lanes by SJ Laidlaw
Dan Vs. Nature by Don Calame
Scar Girl by Len Vlahos
Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
Flannery by Lisa Moore
All the Feels by Danika Stone
Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely
My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
Thicker than Water by Kelly Fiore
Wanderlost by Jen Malone
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
Aftermath by Clara Kensie
The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
Something in Between by Melissa Cruz
City of Spies by Nina Berry
Look Past by Eric Devine

(Note: these are possibilities for the category I’m chairing, YA Fiction: realistic/historical. YA Speculative Fiction is a separate category, and you may nominate one book in each—and in all the other Cybils categories too.)