Book Review– Commonwealth

I read the book Commonwealth by Ann Patchett earlier in the summer. (I actually purchased it at the same I purchased The Boys in the Boat that I reviewed earlier)

Image result for commonwealth book

Commonwealth is one of those books that you just have to give a bit of time. The story begins with the Keating’s family celebrating their youngest daughter, Franny’s christening. Bert Cousins arrives uninvited. He brings a bottle of gin, which then brings about drinking orange juice and gin. After lots of drinking Bert kisses Franny’s mother Beverly. This sets the world of both of these families into a spiral.

The meat of the story happens once they begin looking at how the two families dealt with being one “big happy family”. The Keating girls move away with their mother, while the Cousins kids stay in California with their mother. Summers meant a melding of the two worlds, when the Cousins kids came and stayed with their father.

There were many twists and turns that we unexpected. It is an interesting look into how mixed/blended families work to make like work for all involved.

I did find it difficult to follow at times because it kept jumping back and forth in time. But, this did add to the dramatic impact at times in the story.

If you enjoy a story about families that aren’t perfect, but try hard to keep life “normal” then this might be the story for you.

Sunday- Son Day: Colby edition 3

Hi everybody I will tell you a story I wrote it’s called “feast thief”  


One day the teachers were getting ready for a back to school feast. 1 teacher went over to get the pizza and salad but it was gone! “Lettuce teachers find it!” she said. Then her son came over and said “Mom, why is there a trail of salad dressing on the floor?” “Aha!”  she said, “This should help us find the food thief!” Then when they got outside at the end of the dressing trail was a cute little boy. He said “Sorry for stealing your food. I ran away from the orphanage and I smelled pizza. The doors were open, so I got it, Don’t call the police please!” The teacher, Ms. Calhoun said “You are cute and sweet,  so I will adopt you! ”    THE END


goodbye for now  

Looking for the beauty…

Today started out sunny and warm. We went on a bike ride. While there we took a break and I took these pictures.

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature

Colby needed to go the bathroom so we stopped and the boys decided to ride on an old tennis courts. They had a blast.

Image may contain: people riding bicycles, bicycle, outdoor and nature

We were waiting to hear from Richard before heading back to the truck. But, before that happened, a storm rolled in. After living in FL for over 17 years, I knew to take shelter. Some may have seen it as an end to a beautiful day.  But, it didn’t have to be. I saw the beauty in the storm. Even if I didn’t capture any lightning pictures, I did capture the beauty of the rain.

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Photo Friday– Reading

IMG_20170818_084836.jpgThere is something about reading that makes me smile. I always have at least one book on my nightstand. I can’t fall asleep without reading, even if I only read for 5 minutes. For me reading is an escape, it’s relaxation, it is…

I love finding new authors and then diving into their world. I especially enjoy series of books. I read mysteries, romance, historical fiction, contemporary novels, and so much more.

Both my sons have this same love. They read in bed, in the car, when they are bored, and anytime they get hold of a book. My oldest uses reading as an escape when he is concerned/anxious about something. The boys enjoy book series as well, but they also enjoy reading non-fiction books to learn new things.

If you need me, I’m curled up on the coach reading my books, or ordering new ones on Amazon….. just don’t take away my books!

 

Anticipation

Today we got to visit the boys new school. Blake will be entering 5th grade and Colby 4th. Now, they are kids who don’t hate school. For the most part they enjoy school. There are aspects of school that they don’t like, but that is expected.

When we walked around their new school this morning, they started getting an impression of the school and what it will be like. Tonight, we went to a new family orientation. This made them feel more comfortable. It’s often the little things that help kids find a reason to look forward to something.

They are excited to check out the library. They are excited to have PE, art, music, keyboarding and world languages. The last 30 minutes of every day is for enrichment activities such as learning an instrument, art club, chorus, Scratch-club, chess club and so many other fun activities.

They will have 2 teachers, they get lockers and the best… 30 minutes of recess a day.

When we left, Blake said “I’m excited to go to school” I was so happy to hear him excited. He said this is the most excited he’s been about school in a long time.

Can’t wait to see how next Thursday goes. There are still some paperwork issues to deal with to make sure everything is settled for them academically but, we will get there.

I’m so glad that the information they received tonight made them feel welcomed and excited.

Fair not Equal

Since it is the beginning of the school year time, I thought I’d post about a topic I discuss at the beginning of the year with my students and their parents.

So often you hear people say it’s not fair. And when they say that they are expecting people to be treated equally. But, is that what we really need in life?  Here is how I explain it to the parents and students each year.

When I explain it to the parents I begin by talking about the fact that we do not expect every child to begin crawling when they are six months 1 day or walk at the age of 1 year 2 weeks. Children hit their mile stones at different times. If your child entered my kindergarten class and can read already, I’m going to focus on teaching that child their ABC’s. We are going to work on mastering writing and reading sight words and more complex sound combinations. We are going to work on reading to comprehend not just read to read. On the flip side if your child enters and hasn’t mastered their letters and sounds I’m not going to expect them to read me a book.

The same is said for behavior. I have a set of rules that every child must adhere to, the children actually write the rules and sign it as a contract. But, are there some kids who need different levels of reminders? Are there some children who I just have to give “the look” and they stop and others who need to have verbal reminders. Just because I deal with each child as an individual doesn’t mean that Johnny gets away with things that Bobby gets in trouble for, it may look like that, but trust me it’s not.

When I talk about this with children I typically start by having each child point to one part of their body where they have/have had a cut. I then go and put a small band aid on the back of every child’s hand and told them I fixed everyone cuts. Someone without fail will tell you that you put it in the wrong spot. Nope, I was “fair” I treated you all the same. You said you wanted to be treated equally… I did.  But, as you can see in this case equal wasn’t fair. You didn’t each get what you needed.

This is the way we work with our sons too. They are not the same child. They do not have the same needs. They do not deal with the same type of discipline. They understand that they have the same rules, but how we deal with consequences are different. Blake is very black and white. He does not see gray. When I deal with Blake I have to deal with him in these terms. Yes is yes and no is no. There is no fuzzy in Blake’s mind. On the flip side, Colby only sees gray. He doesn’t deal well with extremes. Colby is my outside the box thinker, he is also emotional. You can get him with a look. He is the one to try it one more time, but it will look just different enough to not be the same action.

Image result for fair doesn't mean equal

So what does fair mean? Fair means each person gets what they need to be successful. Sometimes kids need a bit more structure, a bit more explanation, a bit more understanding, a harder lesson, different resources… as a teacher it’s my job to figure out what each child needs. The goal of school is for the children to learn… how we get there should not be exactly the same for each child, or some will never go anywhere!

Tasty Tuesday– Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I’ve been on a “Let’s try to bake healthier” kick. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t. Now let me clarify before you make a decision on healthier… I’m still using flour, brown sugar, and other typical ingredients. I’m a purist. If I’m going to bake I’m using AP flour, real sugar and butter. It’s just me… Sort of like if I’m going to read I need a book.

So I’ve been making “breakfast cookies”.  This recipe was actually a super healthy recipe that I altered to make more my style of baking. You can see the original recipe with almond flour, coconut sugar and more healthy ingredients here.

If you don’t have those types of ingredients at home… here is my version!

P1060941

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup  flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup strawberry jam (or your favorite flavor!)

P1060930

directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. spray 9×9 pan with non-stick spray. Place the peanut butter in a bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds, or until melty. Let it cool for a few minutes. I added my banana to the hot peanut butter since I’d just pulled it out of the freezer. the PB and banana can be mixed together before being added to dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour,  sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.P1060931

 

Add the banana and peanut butter mixture to the bowl and use a spatula to mix and combine and dough. Take a few minutes to really mix it together – the mixture will moisten totally. I ended up mixing it with my hands once it was starting to pull together.

P1060933

P1060934

Press the dough into the prepared pan. Make sure to make it an even layer across the pan.

P1060935

Spread the jelly over the top of the mixture. You could also just do dollops if you don’t want as much jelly.

P1060936

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool completely.

P1060940

 

These turned out decent. They are really dense in my opinion. I did end up added a bit extra PB in my attempt to pull it all together. They have a good PB taste. It may work out better as cookies because they would be thinner, or you could make it in a 9×13 which would also make the bars not as thick. I haven’t moved it to the must make again category, but it’s not OMG never again either. It’s more like… that needs work.