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Latest Posts

Jul 22

A Backyard Photo Walk

by Stacey

The other day, we were at my in-laws house and my mother and Katherine went out in the backyard to take pictures. My mother-in-law has a gorgeous garden and I realized how silly it was that I had never thought to take pictures there.

Here’s a little bit of beauty that was lying right under our noses…

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Jul 16

Twitterature: July 2014 Edition

by Stacey

It’s my favorite time of the month. Twitterature, hosted by the lovely Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy. Below are short, Twitter-style reviews of books I have read this past month.

Until I pulled this all together I hadn’t realized that I have read nothing but middle grade and young adult this month. Seems I’m in a bit of a pattern…

16143347We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I am writing about We Were Liars for Great New Books in August so I’m going to stay quiet for now.

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. After I finished We Were Liars, Sally of my favorite Curious Reader told me that I really had to read E. Lockhart’s previous work. And yet again, she was right. Frankie was even better than We Were Liars and that’s saying a lot.

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The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. So I definitely have a reader crush on Sally because she recommended this one too. The Glass Sentence is middle grade fantasy which is not a genre that I tend to read but I’m glad I read this one. The middle got a bit long but the premise is so interesting that I read until the end.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry. I have been trying to get Caroline to read The Giver for a long time. It is one of my favorite middle grade books of all time. She has been hesitant to read it because of this scary looking man on the cover. I caved last week and bought the movie tie in edition of the book and Caroline devoured the book. We have talked and talked about it. She’s actually a bit disturbed by it and isn’t sure that she wants to read the rest of the series. My fingers are crossed and I am ready with non-scary covers of Gathering Blue, The Messenger and Son.

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Jul 14

Elizabeth Gilbert: Live and In Person

by Stacey

egilbertA few weeks ago, I had the most wonderful experience. Elizabeth Gilbert who I have loved since she published Eat, Pray, Love came to speak at our local library. My mother was in town for a visit, so I bought tickets, which also provided us with autographed copies of Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things, and we were off for a night at the library.

While Gilbert did begin our time together with a brief description and reading from her novel, the majority of our time together was spent with the author taking questions from the audience. If you have ever seen one of Gilbert’s TED talks, you won’t be surprised to hear that she was a funny, relaxed and casual speaker. I came away feeling like I had gone out for a glass of wine with her instead of sitting in an audience with one hundred other fans.

Here are some tidbits from our time together…

Gilbert holds a special place in her heart for libraries- especially seeing as her first kiss was in a library in her home town.

I loved the way Gilbert described the success of Eat, Pray, Love. She described the experience as a time when “a book accidentally intersected with the emotional lives of people.”

She said that her memoirs were written during times when she needed to answer a question about her own life while her novel was written in a place of joy. She was thrilled that because of the financial success of Eat, Pray, Love, she was given the freedom to research and travel in a way that most writers are not able to when she was writing The Signature of All Things. In speaking to the length of her novel she said, “with all the abundance, I didn’t want to go small.” Therefore she spent 4 to 6 hours a day for three years writing the book.

When an audience member asked for writing advice, Gilbert responded “there is nothing sexy about setting a kitchen timer and nothing that works better.” She said, as all authors do, you just have to ‘sit through the boring things’ to get to the good stuff.

Gilbert said that with each of her books, she imagined that she was writing the book to a certain person so she always had her audience in mind. The Signature of All Things was written to her 4th grade teacher, Sandy Carpenter, who she called her ‘most influential teacher.’

I’m sure there are many, many more words of wisdom that I heard that night. I wrote as quickly as I could to help me keep some of the wisdom in my memory so those are the pieces that I have shared with you here. I am so thrilled that I had the chance to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. It truly was a joy.

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Jul 09

A Photo Walk: Paterson Falls Style

by Stacey

This weekend, we went on a family adventure. Rob’s parents called to tell us that there were going to the Paterson Falls and invited us to join them. We didn’t have anything on our schedule (I love summer!), so we were happy to tag along. I am always amazed when we find a treasure in our own backyard and the Paterson Falls certainly fall in to this category.

If you are a local friend, please comment and tell me what else we might be missing right around our corner!

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Jul 08

Happy Eleven Caroline!

by Stacey

Dear Caroline,

Eleven years ago today, you looked like this.

IMG_0171.JPGAnd this is you now.

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Whenever I sit down to write birthday letters, I think about my writing teacher Lisa Garrigues and I can feel her shiver. The cliches are coming. I just can’t help it. Time flies. It really and truly does. And I am worried because everyone that I talk to with older children tells me that their children’s first eleven years crept by in comparison to the next eleven. They say that once their children entered middle school, they blinked and they had graduated from college.

I truly don’t understand where the time went but I know that I am so proud of who you have become in these first eleven years.

You are an amazing friend. Just recently, you were with a friend who was sad. I encouraged you to check in with her when you got home and later that night when I read the text exchange between the two of you (Yes- I do that. Remember our deal?), I cried. The caring and maturity that those texts showed was truly amazing. You and your friends are lucky to have each other.

You are a wonderful daughter. We are finding our way through the newness of these tween years. You can love me and hate me in equal measure in the course of a few minutes. I am often reminded of your toddler years when I just never knew what would happen next. That said, when you get angry, you apologize. When you don’t listen, you explain why. When you question, you do so respectfully. I don’t think that we can ask much more than that.

You are a loving sister. You and Katherine both wish the other away at times. You want to be the youngest while Katherine wants to be the oldest. You fight in a way that as an only child, I will never understand. But sometimes, when the doors are closed, I hear Katherine asking you questions about friends and school and life and I hear you answer her with patience and care and love. And when the end of each day comes, you snuggle in bed with her and read and end the day with a hug and a kiss.

You are an intelligent student. You get embarrassed when we talk about your intelligence. This is not a part of you that you want broadcasted to the world but it is something to be proud of. You write and disucss books with a maturity I know I lacked when I was your age. I can not wait to see where you go as a reader and as a writer.

You are a determined athlete. A few years ago you joined our local travel team because one of the teams was short a player. We are quiet certain if you had tried out, you wouldn’t have made the team. And after years of commitment, dedication and hard work, you are joy to watch on the field and a true compliment to your team.

You are a person that I love to be with. This summer, we had a hard time finding a camp that sounded appealing to you so we’ve been spending a lot of one on one time together. At first I was nervous. You’ve always been pretty scheduled during the summer as both you and I need do better when we know what is coming next. But I think we have surprised each other. We’ve gone on errands, read and watched a fair amount of What Not to Wear and Love It or List It. We’ve talked and laughed and I’m feeling sad that you have some scheduled time coming up soon.

Here’s to another eleven years as wonderful as the first (with perhaps a bit more sleep thrown in for good measure!).

Happy Birthday baby girl. I love you with all my heart.

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Jul 07

The Weekend Papers: Fourth Edition

by Stacey

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Every so often, I write a post about the pieces that struck me in the Sunday papers.

Here are a few articles that I thought were worth discussing this weekend…

The Summer’s Most Unread Book Is… by Jordan Ellenberg really got me thinking about what Kindle reading can reveal. Turns out that every Kindle page lists the five passages most highlighted by readers. Therefore, if most readers are reading the entire book then the passages will be scattered throughout the book. On the contrary, books that are abandoned early will have most highlighted passages at the beginning of the book. The article revealed some pretty interesting discoveries about best sellers like The Goldfinch and Lean In.

Social Media’s Vampires: They Text by Night by Laura M. Holson tells of the late night social media habits of teens. I have heard and read a lot about what goes on with teens into the wee hours of the morning and this article gives me yet another reason to make sure the girl’s phones stay out of their rooms at night. And another reason to be glad that I am such a light sleeper that I’m fairly certain I will hear them when they try to tip toe down stairs to get them back.

I have been thinking a lot about reading rewards this summer. I always worry about children who ‘have’ to read books over the summer and what that ‘requirement’ does to help or hurt student’s loves of books. Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz write The Secret of Effective Motivation and do a lot to support my beliefs on this subject.

Now I am camp lover. I spent many, many happy summers at sleep away camp and wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. That said, when I read Ladies of the Lanyards by Alexandra Jacobs, I couldn’t help but cringe. I don’t think I will be going to grown up sleep away camp anytime soon.

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Jul 02

You: Second Edition

by Stacey

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A few months ago I wrote a post titled, “You”. It was a type of ‘right now, I am…’ or ‘currently, I love…’ As I re-read the post, I realized it would be a fun one to do again.

This week, Katherine has begun camp at her beloved Deerkill but Caroline has been with me. She keeps looking at me and saying, “Is this really all you do when I’m gone?” So far, we’ve gone to they gym, the dry cleaner, the grocery store (2 different stores, one twice) and a gift shop. We’ve walked the dog, talked on the phone, watched some tv, written and read. Add in a few meetings and yup- this is pretty much what I do when she is gone.

She keeps asking me if I am bored and if I should maybe get a job. Obviously there is a lot to say here but in the meantime if was helpful for me  stumble upon You which was written on February 9th of this year. It turns out that some things really do change and happen in this life that I have chosen.

So here goes…

Age: 41

Favorite Part of my Day: This one hasn’t changed. I wrote during the winter and I still agree that the time we all spend in Katherine’s bed reading before bedtime is my favorite part of the day. After devouring We Were Liars (more on this at Great New Books in August), Sally of my most favorite Curious Reader,  recommended that I read her favorite E.Lockheart book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  So far I am loving it too.

Loving: Our new found time. With school out and soccer practices over, we have so much more time. I can actually cook dinner at dinner time instead of in the middle of the day. So lovely…

Longing for: Ice cream that has no fat or calories. Haagen Dazs chocolate chip preferably.

Dreaming of: More time spent at the beach. We went for a day trip this weekend and I reminded yet again of how happy I am to sit with my toes in the sand and a book in my hand.

Needing: Some motivation to get cooking again. We have had really, really simple dinner lately and I think it is time to get back in to the kitchen.

Navigating: This crazy world of tweens; the push, the pull, the love, the hate. When I first heard the term I thought it was really gimmicky. I now know it is anything but. Tween are truly stuck in between and it feels like a pivotal moment in our parent-child relationship.

Knowing: That I am really lucky to have this slow, quiet time with Caroline during these hot summer weeks.

 

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Jun 30

Like a Girl

by Stacey

Recently, a great video has been traveling around Facebook. For some reason, I am unable to embed it on my blog so I’m going to direct you instead to a wonderful blog named Girl’s Gone Child written by the super talented Rebecca Woolf. Rebecca’s blog is a wonderful place to visit so do take a moment when you are there but then come back on over here to read a bit more. In case, you can also find the video by clicking #likeagirl.

The title of this video, produced by Lauren Greenfield is Like a Girl and it is part of a campaign sponsored by Always (don’t laugh- apparently they are doing really good things). In this video we see teenage girls and boys being asked to do various tasks like running and throwing, “like a girl.” You view them over and over again throwing and running weakly and in truth, foolishly. They all looked like Phoebe on my favorite episode of Friends. If you know what I am talking  you can see the visual, right?

Then the videographers ask young girls to do the same things. And over and over again, they run or throw fast with strength, power and confidence. These are children who have yet to internalize what it means to do something ‘like a girl.’

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but think of my own two girls. One still strong and confident and one slipping rather quickly in to the world of understanding exactly what it means to do something ‘like a girl.’ Over the past few months, I have watched Caroline’s confidence shrink as she goes from being the girl who posed for the picture below only a few short years ago

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to this girl who is beginning to cross her arms in pictures as if to cover all her wonderfulness.
DSCN0509I know that media and society get a bad reputation but in this case, I swear Rob and I haven’t done anything new or different. If anything, we work tirelessly to keep Caroline’s confidence high. What else then has changed? Obviously, Caroline has entered the age where we all suffer a bit from self-doubt. I can clearly remember walking in to the lunch room in my school imagining that ever single person seated there was looking at me and critiquing what I was wearing so I know she is not alone.

Our challenge then as parents is to constantly remind these girls of all their wonderfulness. It is to remind them that to run and throw like a girl is to run and throw with as much strength and confidence as they can muster because they are amazing. I’m so glad I took the three minutes to watch this video as I know I needed the encouragement to keep up with these reminders. Here’s to doing things #likeagirl, always and forever.

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