Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book forty: Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger

An unexpected and slightly disturbing love story about a girl.

40 down plus 12 to go.

I'm slipping with age

Hen: Why are there squiggly lines on the circle?

Me: What?

Hen: Squiggly lines. Why did you do that?

Me: I was tracing the picture. I'm not perfect.

<insert pause here while Hen thinks this over>

Hen: Well, you were when you were forty.


Book thirty-nine: No One Like You (Barefoot William Beach) by Kate Angnell

I nabbed this book off the library's website because it was listed as one of the "popular" reads. I would have probably really liked it if I was, say, fifteen, but it was too…predictable (you know the two main characters are going to end up together) and formulaic (the girl has suffered a trauma, she meets a guy, guy helps her open up to get past the old wounds, etc.).

I know a few people who would have a good time reading this book. I wasn't one of them but that doesn't mean it's a bad book, it just means I am not their target audience. It should be noted, I don't mind pulp fiction and I'm not opposed to romance but give me either really great writing (Bel Canto is a love story, right?) or a fresh approach so that the unexpected turns aren't something you've been anticipating since page one.

39 down plus 13 to go.

Book thirty-eight: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket

Book 11 is a nail biter for sure. Dang. Those poor kids can't catch a break hardly ever! Hen and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The book begins with Sunny in Olaf's clutches and Violet and Klaus working desperately to rescue her. [SPOILER ALERT] They do manage to get her back but that doesn't mean Sunny isn't in danger.

This submarine adventure has the children looking for a sugar bowl. Yeah, you read that right. A sugar bowl. Alas, it is something else they pick up while down in the grotto. Something fungal in nature. Yikes.

With the introduction of the third Quagmire (yeah, not dead it turns out), the kids work to overcome the series of unfortunate events they face. I will be sad when this series is over.

38 done plus 14 to go.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book thirty-seven: The Unforgettable Photograph by George Lange with Scott Mowbray

Play music, shoot often, try a variety of places and poses, look for light, be goofy sometimes, be serious other times, change your perspective, get in close, etc. These are the types of tips Lange shares in his book. What I like is that with almost every photo in the book he provides the settings. You know what the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture was at the time the shot was taken, and he also tells you the focal length of the lens used.

I've taken a couple of classes from Zeb Andrews and he has a considered approach to shooting so the repeated message of Lange's to keep shooting repeatedly didn't resonate with me. Sure, there are times when blind shooting will likely render something of interest, but that is leaving too much to chance. Whereas if you are more thoughtful with how you set up a shot, you're more likely to get the type of shot you were hoping for.

I'm sure I'll continue to use this book as a reference and for inspiration. Hen is going to like me telling him to jump on the hotel bed, for sure.

37 down plus 15 to go.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book thirty-six: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

What a fantastic read! So much fun. This is going on our list for when we finish the Snicket Series and Harry Potter. (I didn't read it to Henry this time.)

Chap's grandpa passed away, leaving Chap as the man of the family. The raccoons know there is trouble is coming. The wild hogs are loose. And the swamp is in danger over being paved over.

I don't want to give more away so I'll leave it at that. Just know this story is wildly inventive and full of characters you'll grow to love and be rooting for. Well, except for those troublesome pigs.

36 down plus 16 to go.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Supporting the Arts

We went to a production at the Multnomah Arts Center last night to see two of Hen's classmates in a play. It was a most excellent way to spend our evening. The girls were so awesome! Sunny was Little Red Riding Hood and Amelia played Cinderella. We were happy to see a handful of other classmates there to enjoy the show as well. It was a late(ish) night for Hen but well worth it. He says he'd like to try out for a play in the fall. He's now our little thespian in the making just like his mama and papa. Of course, there were pictures...

Scholastic Warehouse Sale: Prep volunteering means books for me!

We're getting fewer books for our own shelves and presenting books to Hen's first grade teacher, as part of her end-of-the-year gift, and to the library, because we love Safranit Molly. And, of course, we're sticking a couple books away as gifts because book gifts are some of the best, if you ask me. I only spent $12 because I volunteered to help with the sale setup and earned $90 in Scholastic dollars. Woot!
  1. A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
  2. This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall by Gordon Korman
  3. Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
  4. Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman
  5. Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
  6. The Garden of Eve by K. L. Going
  7. Baseball Triviology by Neal Shalin
  8. The Deadlies: Felix Takes the Stage by Kathryn Lasky
  9. Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner
  10. Who Was Theodore Roosevelt? by Michael Burgan
  11. Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop by J. E. Morris
  12. Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean
  13. Ugly Cute Animals by Melvin and Gilda Berger
  14. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
  15. The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni
  16. Pony Crazy by Catherine Hapka
  17. How to Speak Dolphin by Ginny Rorby
  18. Snoop Troop: It Came From Beneath the Playground by Kirk Scroggs
  19. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
  20. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
  21. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
  22. Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey by Timothy Roland
  23. Diary of a Wimpy by Jeff Kinney
  24. Ripley's Bureau of Investigation, Fact or Fiction: A Scaly Tale 
  25. Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
  26. Molecules by Theodore Gray
  27. Superstars of History: The Good, the Bad, and the Brainy by R. J. Grant
  28. Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble by Megan McDonald

Book thirty-five: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket

We're getting closer to the end of the series and still enjoying the troubles the Baudelaire children get into and out of each novel.

In this book, the Baudelaire's are divided, the youngest in Olaf's clutches, while the older Baudelaire's figure out how to rescue her. They must also decode what V.F.D. means. Excitement mounts, chaos ensues, and a waterfall thaws in this dramatic and suspenseful book. Another must-read by Mr. Snicket.

35 down plus 17 to go.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book thirty-four: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

I'm an Alice Hoffman fan so when I saw a book of hers in the children's section I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to read it. I'm glad I didn't. This book is an enchanting read. 200 years ago, a witch curses the family of the boy who broke her heart. Ever since, boys in the Fowler family have been born with wings.

Twig and her mom are nearly reclusive, never forging friendships or having people over. Twig's brother, James, is hidden from all human eyes. Until something happens that changes everything. Can the witch's curse be undone? Will the townsfolk learn of James' existence? Who has been stealing stuff from the townsfolk? Will the woods be saved?

34 down plus 18 to go.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book thirty-three: This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

If you listen to NPR, you've probably stumbled upon the This I Believe program. They select personal philosophies of men and women and put them on the air. When the idea began, it was going to feature famous people and the super successful, but a letter from one female listener made the producers realize that we all have philosophies and they are all worthy of being shared. Well, if you can manage to pare it down to the appropriate size for the radio segment.

"I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime." --Robert Heinlein, "Our Noble, Essential Decency" - as featured in the 1950s series

My favorite essay was written by Albert Einstein. You can read it here, if you're interested.
"Man's ethical behavior should be effectively grounded on compassion, nurture, and social bonds." (Who can argue with that thought from that man?)

There is another essay written by Jason Sheehan entitled There is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue, that I'm pretty sure is what my brother would write were he to write such an essay on his personal beliefs. "I believe–I know–there is no such thing as too much barbecue."

The award for scariest essay opening goes to Newt Gringrich. "I believe that the world is inherently a very dangerous place and that things that are now very good can go bad very quickly." Yikes.

There isn't a significant distinction found between the essays written in the 1950s and the contemporary pieces. Our current beliefs rest in the same realm as they most likely always have. What drives us? How do we become good people? Is there or isn't there a God? What does it mean to be ethical? How do we embrace and ensure our freedoms? I've always liked this series and this book, representing the voices of so many varied peoples, confirms why.

33 down plus 19 to go.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A little failure over roasted meat

Hen: What's pot roast?

Me: Hen, if you don't know what pot roast is, I'm failing you as a parent.

<insert pause here>

Hen: Well, you aren't failing me too much. Because you can't teach me everything all at once.

Good point, kid.