Archive for January, 2011

Downton Abbey Open Thread

January 31, 2011 @ 4:29 pm | Filed under:

It’s that time again…and the last time for a while, sadly. What did you think of the season finale? Lots of cliffhanger plotlines. Suspense makes me grumpy.

Spoilers in the comments.

Recently Read to Rilla

January 30, 2011 @ 6:55 pm | Filed under: ,

The Mole Sisters and the Rainy Day by Roslyn Schwartz

I heard about the Mole Sisters at the Greenwillow blog a while back and thought it sounded like something Rilla would love. I was right. What a sweet little book: lovely small trim size, so appealing to preschoolers; soft, charming illustrations; and a simple storyline with minimal text—this can double as an early reader—that has delighted my young miss. We’ll have to look for more Mole Sisters adventures.

The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling

This isn’t the edition we read—I’m reading out of an illustrated Just So Stories—but each story gets lingered over and talked about so thoroughly that each one seems to warrant its own entry here. This one was a particular hit with Rilla: all those unfathomable spankings, and the satisfying turnabout at the end. We also read “How the Leopard Got Its Spots” but she talked all the way through that one, more interested in questions (which is fine!) than the story itself.

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Cybils fiction picture book finalist. Jiminy crickets, what art! Amazing expressions on the kids, especially when they’re running in terror from the T Rex…Rilla and Wonderboy were transfixed by this one. The magic of chalk that brings drawings to life, the dramatic turn of events, the clever solution. A wordless story, which is something Rilla always enjoys.

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

Cybils fiction picture book finalist. Silly, funny, sweet. Very satisfying for Rilla and Wonderboy. A rollicking rhymed text that isn’t torture to read, and the joke at the end went over big.

The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang

All my little ones have been attached to this book at a certain age. Rilla’s turn now, it seems. Had to ‘read’ it to her three times today. Well, the third time she was telling it to me. Always makes me crave berries and cream.

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren

A taste of icy northern winter for my little California girl. The tone of this book, as the tomten makes his rounds of the farm at night, is as hushed and glittering as its own snowy fields.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw

As funny now as when I read it to Jane fourteen years ago. Rilla is at the point where she can read this one to me, which makes it even better.

Sunday Links

January 30, 2011 @ 2:31 pm | Filed under:

Meyer Lemon Bundt with Lemon Curd Filling – Tasty Kitchen

Via A Quiet Spot—jiminy crickets, I shall have no peace until I try this.

Ultraviolet light reveals how ancient Greek statues really looked

librarians are awesome – WWdN: In Exile

“On that day, the library was transformed from a confusing and intimidating collection of books into a thousand different portals through time and space to fantastic worlds for me to explore. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember that she was in her fifties, wore epic 1970s polyester pantsuits, huge glasses that hung from a long gold chain around her neck, and had a hairdo that was ten miles high. She was friendly and helpful, and when she reached out to that nerdy little kid, she changed his life. If you’re a librarian today, you probably don’t hear this very often, but thank you. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives.”

Carolrhoda Books Blog: Publishers sell ice . . .

Andrew Karre is right: this is well worth the time to watch. Fascinating & thought-provoking look at the future of libraries & ebooks.

GeekMom » Blog Archive » Katherine Ellison’s Latest: A Must-Read for Parents Dealing With Attention Issues

The Bookworm: Space Walk

An app recommendation; sounds like one to check out.

pages turned: A progression for newbies to Rebecca West

In the Schoolroom – as cozy as spring

Valentine craft to maybe try?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

January in San Diego

January 27, 2011 @ 6:31 pm | Filed under:

January in San Diego is still, after four years, messing with my head.

Hang on, five years! Our fifth January here, that is. We moved here in October of 2006. So that’s five winters, right? 2007, 8, 9, 10, 11?

Five winters here. I’m reading all your posts and Facebook updates and tweets about the snow, snow, snow, and it’s almost surreal. I have this cherry tomato plant leftover from last summer, baked brown and crispy by the October heat, that sprang back to life after our freakish December rains. It is loaded with fruit now, green arms bent low to the ground, hung all over with orange-red globes. A southern California Christmas tree of sorts. Huck and Rilla don’t even like tomatoes—juice? seeds? are you trying to poison them??—but they can’t wait to run outside at lunchtime and fill a bowl for me.

Scott and I go out walking in the mornings now. It’s jacket weather until the sun is high, or maybe only sweater weather. Chilly on the shady side of the street, warm on the sunny side. When the kids go out bike-riding in the afternoons, they complain of the heat.

The hibiscus bushes are blooming in all the neighbors’ yards, giant hedges of them. Ice plant with its many-skinny-petaled flowers, a brash magenta. Cape honeysuckle—there’s a big one in our backyard, a tree really—thick with orange trumpet flowers the hummingbirds love.

I haven’t heard the parrots this week. Last week they were racketing from tree to tree all over the neighborhood.

My poppy seedlings are going to perish if I don’t get around to watering soon. Watering the garden in January! Five winters is not enough to normalize that for me.

In the schoolyard behind us, the sunflowers are tall. I forgot to plant any in our yard until last week—Rilla helped me. We just grabbed a handful from the birdseed bin. We’ve got nasturtiums coming up all over the place. I love their leaves almost as much as their flowers—like lily pads for our ladybugs.

My dear friend Eileen has been posting the most gorgeous photos (and words too, achingly beautiful) on her blog—pictures of her snowy rural Virginia landscape with soft, contoured mountains in the background. They make me miss Virginia like crazy, miss Eileen’s homey kitchen with the big mixing bowl always ready for cookie dough. I read her blog and I’m filled with longing, almost envy…I, who love snow to look at but am generally miserable in cold, having, as I do, the circulation of an octogenarian.

Then I have to laugh at myself—I told Eileen this in her comments today—for coveting her snowy landscape. I know many of you are suffering from all these repeated dumpings of snow. This photo someone linked to on Facebook today, taken in Huntington, Long Island, made me laugh and wince all at once. I know we’re in the climate people dream of fleeing to in the winter. I’d be dreaming of it myself if I lived in the East.

But much as my blood appreciates the sun, the warm, my brain can’t quite get a handle on it.

January in Southern California. It’s just so totally trippy, dude.

Journey North Mystery Class

January 24, 2011 @ 7:40 pm | Filed under: ,

...starts next week! Are you ready?

Here’s a post I wrote three years ago about the project. We’ve done it every year since, gosh, 2006 I think? Every year it has been a blast. Always so exciting when you start figuring out where the ten mystery cities are…

We’ve done the project by ourselves as a family, with a group of online friends, with a group of local friends—all sorts of arrangements. The last couple of years have been immensely fun, each year culminating in a big feast where each group brings a dish representative of its assigned Mystery Location.

Can’t wait!

Downton Abbey Open Thread

January 22, 2011 @ 7:56 pm | Filed under:

I forgot to post this after we watched Episode 2. New ep tomorrow night!

Bound to be spoilers in the comments below. Episode 2 certainly gave us lots to talk about…

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: We watched Episode 3 last night so that may be part of the combox discussion—consider yourself spoiler-warned. 🙂

Deep Thoughts, by Rilla

January 21, 2011 @ 7:31 am | Filed under:

A poem by Rilla, age 4 1/2.



That is to say, “Cup can drink out of itself.” Got a bit of a zen-riddle quality, doesn’t it? Even more so, in the multicolor crayoned original.

Today is Poetry Friday. Rilla was inspired to write a poem (this was one day last week) after Rose and Beanie and I had made one of our frequent visits to The Poem Farm. Amy’s funny, fresh, thoughtful verses make you want to start playing with words yourself.

Today is also the Feast of St. Agnes—which, falling on a Friday, kind of begs a reading of Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes,” doesn’t it?

This week’s Poetry Friday roundup an be found at A Teaching Life.