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Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Apr 01

April Love: My Morning View

by Stacey

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I love anything that Susannah Conway does from her journaling class to her August Break series to her Blogging from the Heart classes. When I read that she was kicking off a new series called April Love, I did a little happy dance. I can’t wait to see what she brings to us this month.

Today’s prompt is ‘My Morning View.’ I thought for this go round, I would give a try at photo and journal prompts like I did a long time back when I took Ali Edwards 31 Things class.

After reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, I have been thinking an awful lot about habits. Rubin’s premise is that people fit in to one of four tendencies and our tendency informs the way we make and break habits. I am very clearly an Obliger, a person who really needs external motivation to change and keep habits. Rob, however, is anUpholder, a person who succeeds with internal motivation alone.

The differences in habits is crystal clear in the morning. Rob rises and shines right when the alarm goes off. It doesn’t matter if he has a work meeting or is simply getting up to go for a run. He never, ever hits snooze. I, on the other hand, have a strong love/hate relationship with my snooze button. Each night, as I fall asleep, I promise myself that I will jump right out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. And each morning, I snooze and then snooze again. Eventually I make it downstairs to catch a few minutes of quiet before I wake the girls. More often than not, my ‘morning view’ involves a lot of coffee and a little bit of blog reading.

How about you? What do you see when your eyes are first opening?

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Mar 30

Picture Book Favorites: March Edition

by Stacey

I usually post about picture books at least once a month and often twice but somehow I haven’t written about our latest favorites since early February. I don’t know exactly what this winter did my productivity but it was nothing good I can tell you that!

I’m still not sure that spring is on it’s way but I seem to be coming out of my lull none the less. Here are our current picture book favorites.
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Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. What’s to come of a red crayon that will only color in blue? First a lot of disappointment but over time he comes to realize that he has his own set of strengths. This is a perfect book for anyone who is searching for the ‘real me.’

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The Storm Whale by Benji Davies. A little boy is very lonely during the day when his fisherman father is out on the water. Therefore, when he finds a beached baby whale, he is more than happy to bring his new friend home and plop him in the bathtub. When the family eventually brings the whale back to the ocean, the little boy learns what it means to have a friend.

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Goodnight Already by Jory John & Benji Davies. This book was laugh out loud funny for adults and children alike. And the best part was that the nagging duck reminded Katherine of the nagging mouse in A Visitor for Bear. I love it when she makes these connections!

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Smick written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Juana Medina. With no more than two words on each page, the author shows the power of few words as a full story is told. This book would make an awesome and engaging early reader!

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Bad Dog Flash by Ruth Paul. When Katherine was learning how to read, I wrote a lot about ‘read together’ books. We loved these type of books that allowed an early reader to experience a sense of independence while reading. In these books, the grown up reads most of the text but then there are repeated lines of text throughout the book that allow the new reader to feel a great sense of confidence. Bad Dog Flash is a perfect read together story of a sweet little dog who is quite bad until he isn’t.

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Special Delivery written by Phillip Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. These creators are two of my favorites so I was super exited to read this tale of a little girl on a mission to mail an elephant to her Great Aunt Josephine. The book was great although I still love Stead’s Sick Day for Amos McGee and Cordell’s Another Brother more.

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Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah OHora. This tale of a bunny family who welcomes in a baby wolf is a great alternative to the sappy new baby stories that are out there. It is even funny enough to read if there are no new babies in your house.

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Mar 23

Taking Stock: A ‘Borrowed’ Post

by Stacey

Last week, I read an awesome meme at Tamara’s wonderful spot. I’m going to copy her today. Flattery is the best compliment, right?

So here goes with “What I Am…”

Making- Thanks to an amazing on-line class called Embrace, taught by the super talented Beryl Ayn Young, I created a photo book of my favorite pictures from 2014. Last year, I began using the Project Life format to get my pictures printed but I found that I had a hard time keeping up with it. I think doing printed books may be the secret to getting  my pictures off of my computer and in to our hands…

Cooking- Roasted broccoli. I can’t seem to get enough of it.

Drinking- American Bulldog Coffee. For any local people reading this, if you haven’t tried this new coffee shop yet, you must go. It is delicious and the atmosphere is the best and this pooch hangs out there. Hard to beat that combo.

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Reading- Gretchen Rubin‘s Better than Before. I have already learned an awful lot about myself. I will have more to say about this read in a future blog post for sure.

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Wanting- I’m like a broken record on this one but if  we don’t get warm weather soon, I am going to have a temper tantrum.

Looking- I’m looking closely at the trees waiting for leaves to sprout and the ground waiting for flowers to bloom. I did see these guys last week which was very encouraging.

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Deciding- I’m deciding what to do next. In only a few months, I will no longer be president of our elementary school’s home and school association. I often feel a void when I finish a large volunteer position and trying to decide how to handle this void is tough for me.

Wishing- I am wishing I had taken more photographs over the past few months. My hands were so cold all the time that I never took my hands out of my mittens to snap a shot.

Enjoying- I am watching and enjoying House of Cards Season 3. Interestingly, it is much slower than the first two seasons. I don’t really feel a need to rush straight in to the next episode when I finish one. Good for my productivity. Maybe not so good for the show.

Liking- I am liking the fact that it is still sunny out at dinner time.

Wondering- If I am ever going to beat my sweet tooth. After reading my latest book, I’m starting to wonder if I may be an abstainer not a moderator and I’m just going to have to cut sugar out completely for a bit. Sounds so boring but maybe so necessary.

Loving- I am loving these people..

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Pondering- I am pondering if I will ever look any better in a selfie. There must be some magical angle I just haven’t figured out yet.

Watching- As a family, we are all pretty in to America Idol this season and Shark Tank. How did we just learn about Shark Tank? It is so good!

Marveling- I’m marveling at the fact that everyone in my family took a walk today with out their winter coats. My fingers were white when we got home and  I was wearing a winter coat, a scarf and gloves. Brr!!

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Smelling- I have no idea. Katherine has an incredibly strong sense of smell. In fact, we think it’s part of why there are so few foods she is willing to eat. She smells every little thing. Me? Not so much. I have no idea what I am smelling right now.

Wearing- I keep saying I have the same feeling about the clothes I have worn this winter that I had about my maternity clothes. I’ve only had a few outfits that have kept me warm and I have worn them over and over again. When it finally get warm, I might just have to get rid of them all.

Following- I’m following a new to me blog called Family Sport Life and liking what I am learning so far.

Sorting Out- I am sorting out all the above. More to come…

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Mar 18

The Weekend Papers: Seventh Edition

by Stacey

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Every so often I like to write about what I have read in the weekend papers. In looking back, I haven’t written a Weekend Papers post since October. Either we’ve been busy or I haven’t been prioritizing the paper. Either way, here are my latest picks.

Sharing E-Grief, Made Personal by Katherine Rosman. This piece is written by a friend of Lisa Adams who died last week from metastatic breast cancer. The author writes about all the people that Adams touched through her on-line writing before and during her illness. Like the people mentioned in the article, I was deeply saddened to read about Lisa’s death although I have never met her. I feel like I knew her through her writing. I could certainly write a lot of this topic as I think about it often. I can’t tell you how many times I have been saddened to learn of a death of a distant acquaintance’s pet through Facebook. Is this a good thing or not? My jury is still out on that one.

Accepted? Rejected? Relax by Frank Bruni. I was so glad to read this and then to hear Bruni interviewed about his new book, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.” We are not facing college admissions yet, thank goodness, but I only hope books and articles like these proliferate between now and then.

What My Friends Mean to Me by Iris Smlyes. This article pokes fun at our modern definition of friendship. I cringed a few times seeing myself in some of it’s line. Being a friend is hard work and reading this reminded me that I could be working a bit harder at the whole thing.

The New New Math by Tina Rosenberg. This article explores the School of One concept in which math instruction is individualized to students via a computer program. There are obvious cons to this idea but also many perks. I wonder about the possibility of something like this going large scale. If the Common Core/PARCC conversations have taught me anything, it’s that we are raising our children to succeed in a world truly different from the one we were prepared for. Looking at all options seems important and perhaps this is one to consider.

Lessons From a Traffic Light by Hans R. Agrawal. Agrawal describes his fascination with watching pedestrians approach the traffic light outside of his office window. Time and again, people will approach the light when the walk sign is on and not cross. Yet as soon as the don’t walk sign is illuminated, they will proceed to walk across the street. The author compares this behavior to similar decisions made by people who prefer a known danger to an unknown one. This was certainly an interesting thing to think about especially as I become more and more of a procrastinator the older I get.

I’d love to hear what you all are reading and enjoying. Do share!

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Mar 16

Quick Lit: March 2015

by Stacey

Today I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit. When Anne wrote that Quick Lit was coming up this weekend, I couldn’t believe it. While this month felt long in a lot of ways, it seems like I just collected my reads for last month’s Quick Lit. Anyway, here goes…

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Blood Will Out by Walter Kim. When I read about titles that sound interesting, I record some of the titles on Goodreads. Others though I tend to get as samples on my Kindle. While scrolling through my samples, I stumbled upon Blood Will Out and liked it enough that I went on to purchase the book. The author tells the story of his unlikely friendship with a man who poses as Clark Rockefeller before finally being charged with murder. This is not the type of book that I usually read so it was fun to read it almost by mistake.

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My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh.  My Sunshine Away is told from the perspective of a teenage boy who must process what happened when a neighborhood crush is raped. The story is compelling but becomes a bit repetitive toward the end. I felt like the story had promise but I did not love it.

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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Many of the children’s lit blogger who I love raved about this book. They read advanced copies of this book and had such amazing things to say about it that I pre-ordered my copy. Somehow I missed the part about Bone Gap being magical realism which is too bad because I dislike magical realism nearly 100% of the time. The book had received such amazing reviews that I forged forward but Bone Gap is a not a title I will recommend very often.

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Mar 11

How to Keep Your Home Library Current

by Stacey

I love Good Night Moon and The Little Engine that could as much as the next guy but I love new books even more. While my girls read many of the books that I did growing up, I believe they are readers because of the current titles that I always keep in their hands. There are classics for sure but there are also many books that are now dated. And some children pick up on a dated title faster than you could believe possible. I have a theory that many kids who find books boring have just not been given the right book. Many children today are different than we were growing up and those kids should have different books.

Like many tasks that are important, keeping a home library current can be a lot of work. Thousands upon thousands of children’s books are published every year. There are many great titles out there but also a lot that are worth skipping. Finding the beauties takes time but I have a system that I have come to rely on that makes the process a bit easier.

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Follow…blogs and tweets written by experts in the field of children’s literacy. Some of these people are teachers or librarians but I find their recommendations work just as well for families. A few of my favorites include Erica at What Do We Do All DayJennifer Robinson, Betsy at a Fuse 8 Production, Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes, Mr. Schu at Watch, Connect, Read.

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Read…the two big children’s literacy journals, The Horn Book and School Library Journal. I receive hard copies of each of these but they both have great websites as well. They both recommend tons of great titles and the best of the best receive stars so you know they are going to be good.

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Use Goodreads…The only downside to collecting titles this way is that reviewers tend to talk about books that aren’t yet released. For a long time, I lost track of books that I was dying to read. I would write titles in notebooks or on scraps of paper and then loose track. I still struggle a bit with this but Goodreads has helped a lot. I now have a virtual book shelf title ‘To-Be-Read’ and I go there every few weeks to see which titles are now on the real shelves.

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Request…titles from your local library or visit your local bookstore. Our library system has an amazing interlibrary loan system. It is rare that I request a book that I am unable to get. By doing this, I am able to pick up a stack of quality books from the library each time I visit. When there are books that we love, I will visit our local bookstore so that we can own new and current favorites.

I’d love to hear how others keeps their home libraries alive. Please share tips and tricks!

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Mar 09

There Are Boy Books & Girl Books (and it’s going to be ok)

by Stacey

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I think about the idea of ‘boy books’ and ‘girl books’ a lot so when I saw the article, “When Boys Can’t Like ‘Girl Books'” I sat down to read right away. In the article, multiple authors report times when librarians or school administrators invite only girls or only boys to their author talks depending on the type of book the author writes.  This is clearly disturbing on a number of levels including the fact as Kate Messner says, it teaches boys to de-value the voice of a woman author. I couldn’t agree more and think that everyone should come to hear all authors speak and learn from their experiences.

All that said, I have come to realize something. There are, in fact, for better or worse, girl books and boy books. When friends and blog readers approach me for children’s book recommendations, I am able to give them a list a mile long if their child is a girl. If their child is a boy, I break in to a cold sweat. I know that I will have a hard time coming up with a great list.  As a female reader and the mother of two girls, the honest truth is that we read primarily girl books in our house. We read books with female protagonists and we read mostly realistic fiction. Over time, I have learned that I have a very hard time recommending books to boys.

Of course I believe that it’s important to expose kids to all types of books and let them make their own decision. It’s why we have Jake Drake sitting next to Clementine and Roscoe Riley along side Violet Mackerel. In our house though, the truth is that the girls choose girl books. Katherine does so by looking at the picture on the cover and Caroline reads the jacket flap to see which characters will be getting the most air time. And nearly 100% of the time, they choose the realistic fiction title with the female protagonist.

Fortunately there are books that seem to cross lines for boys and girls alike. We have loved and know many ‘boy’ families who have adored the Humprhey series and obviously everyone loves Ramona, right? So of course, there are books that break the rules. But I do think sometimes it’s ok to acknowledge that there are books that are inherently more pleasing to girls and others that are just more fun reads for boys.

My goal is always to grow a reader; to make reading what a family chooses to do on what feels like the seventeenth snow day (see above). If that means talking about girl books and boy books as things that do exist, then I think maybe that’s ok. If I forced Katherine to branch out a bit from books with pink covers, she might stop reading all together and it would then be much harder to bring her back. If I insisted that Caroline explore fantasy or non-fiction, she would chose almost any activity other than reading that book.

So when I put books in to the hands of children, I am going to stick with recommending girl books to girls and boy books to boys. When they are ready, they will branch out. Maybe. And if they don’t they will be readers and hopefully they will read books full of characters who appreciate everyone for being just who they are.

 

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