Friday, February 26, 2010

Where's She Been?

I've been away from my blog for a few weeks. So WHERE have I been? Here are a few clues . . .

Here's my son, doing what all 5 year old boys think they should do to retrieve the yummy goodness from the top of this tree when shaking it with all your might doesn't pan out.

Yes, this is REAL!

I DID manage to get my running shoes on for a sunny 2.25 mile run one afternoon.

You'll notice that my yellow running hat DOES go with me everywhere! I rarely run without it.
We took the kids (and my parents came along, too) to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Go ahead and post your guesses about where we were!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Because I'm Crazy . . .

I made 13 pillowcases instead of 12.
Yup, that's right - a baker's dozen.

My son's school has an annual auction, for which each family is required to procure something (or a combo of somethings) worth a minimum of $100. Last year we put together a basket of running-related items: a copy of my book, a gift certificate to a running store, & an entry for a local 5K. You know, one hundred bucks worth of good stuff. This year, in keeping with my pillowcase obsession from Christmas, I decided to create "A Year of Sweet Dreams," AKA 12 pillowcases to celebrate the year. For kicks I threw in an extra - everyone should have a special birthday pillowcase, right? What better way to celebrate the year! I think I've mentioned before that I'm Type A . . . and a little bit crazy.

The value of the pillowcases is $260. Why pay so much for pillowcases, you ask? Let me share:

1. They're one of a kind.
2. They're handmade.
3. They jazz up any old set of sheets.

4. They can be used to gift wrap a present, giving the recipient two gifts for the price of one!

5. They can be used for YEARS.
6. Your child's pillow won't get confused with another at a sleepover.
I already have one person who is willing to duke it out in a bidding war to win the set. Her favorite one is the orange one for November and she's already visualizing it on her bed and plotting which ones she'll use as gifts and which her family will keep. Best wishes to the bidders and to the school for raising money to support our children's education!
As for next year's auction contribution? I'll host a party to teach 4 people how to make their own!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting in Touch with my Inner Teacher

Every now and then I get hit with a case of writer's block. Even my Facebook status updates and tweets have been lacking flavor or intrigue. But secretly (or not so secretly now) I like having bouts of writer's block - they give me an excuse to do more of the other things I like. This time the block coincided with a case of tendinitis in my right hand, limiting my non-writing time choices. Reading was not only the most appealing activity, but it became the best for my hand healing, too . . . as long as I held the book with my left hand.

I read the entire Twilight series in 2 weeks. My husband caught me reading in the kitchen while "making dinner" - or rather, just hoping dinner would make itself while I devoured the book. Thankfully he's a voracious reader, too, so he just gave me the "I knew this would happen when you started those books" look and started getting out the ingredients while I oversaw the preheating of the oven. He also let me take charge of holding down the couch while he did dishes.

Thankfully I finished the series and my obsession with reading isn't quite as lustful. Now I'm pacing myself by heading to bed early to read The Art of Racing in the Rain. My college roommate (now a vet) warned me I'll need tissues for this one - hopefully not as many as when I read Merle's Door, but I'll have them handy, just in case.

The reading thing was catching for our kids. We always read several times throughout the day, but with a mom who is unwilling to put down a book at breakfast for conversation, my three year-old and kindergartner turned to books more frequently, too. Stacks of books started appearing around the house and various corners turned into book nooks with pillows and blankets and stuffed friends.

Mr. Music, as you've seen me call him, is a strong reader who could sit down and read The Magic Tree House series on his own. If I read with him, he's willing to read the entire thing in one sitting. If he tries it on his own, he gets frustrated 3 pages in. That was the case until yesterday when I channeled my inner teacher.

We've been reading Marvin Redpost Kidnapped at Birth together for the past 2 days and I noticed that he gets frustrated when his eyes pick up words from the line beneath the one he's reading. This doesn't happen with EVERY line, but often enough that it slows him down. This kid wants to know what comes next in the story, so any obstruction or distraction is upsetting. Following the line with his finger (or my finger) isn't enough to nip the problem, but I'm a former elementary school teacher, so I whipped out the good 'ol bookmark trick.

Holding the bookmark horizontally to underline, or isolate, one line of text at a time immediately improved his fluency. With the bookmark in place, the words from lower lines can no longer jump up into the line he's reading. Words from upper lines on the page were never distracting, so we don't have to worry about covering them. He glides smoothly through the sentences now, even adding inflection.

Initially I was worried that he might see this simple tool as babyish (his term, not mine), but when I asked what he thought about it, he remarked, "That's great! I LOVE bookmarks!" And so tonight he and I sat down to enjoy the conclusion of Marvin Redpost (4 chapters worth) without so much as a "Can we stop now?" or "Let's just read it tomorrow." Come to think of it, I believe his exact words were "Let's keep going so we can see how it ends!"

As I type this, our night owl daughter is "reading" to herself in her bedroom. We gave up fighting with her to go to bed at the same time as her early bird brother. Now she has a choice: read quietly in her room or go to sleep. She reads for a bit and then comes to get me to tuck her in when she's ready. This solution has made EVERYONE happier. Our bedtime routine is now struggle-free and she gets lots of book time. This is every author's dream, right?

My wrist is still in a brace (slowing me down considerably), but my writer's block is lifting. The new found consistency in my running (a steady 15 miles/week now) is also encouraging. Those things, combined with all of the reading happening in the house, make for a very content me. Let's see how long this period of balance lasts! Even if it doesn't last long, I can revel in the fact that it DID happen.

What are YOU reading now? Something good, I hope. Let me know!