Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Nov 02

Makeup

by Stacey

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When I am in a creativity lull, I find that going straight to prompts is my only way out. I started back in with the #my_365 prompts on Instagram yesterday because my paltry collection of fall pictures was making me sad. And today, I thought I would go back to my 31 More Things Prompts to get my writing muscles moving again.

When I opened up the page, the prompt that jumped out at me was ‘makeup’. After Halloween weekend, there was material to be had.

On Saturday afternoon, a gaggle of tween girls fought for mirror space in our upstairs bathroom. They were transforming their fresh faces and needed makeup to do it. Some came equipped. The collection pictured above is still here. It’s not ours but it was perfect for this picture. You can see the new with the old. The samples next to the Rite Aid purchases. Some insisted on covering their perfect skin with foundation as I ran back and forth from the girl’s bathroom to mine collecting q-tips and cotton balls. Some expertly applied eye liner and mascara. The dancers and actresses, used to putting on the face of an adult before taking the stage. Some needed help and a more steady hand to create the change.

My mind flash backed as it often does now. I don’t think I wore make up in middle school and frankly have few memories of it until college. Even then, my memory is of my college room mate being terribly confused by my bare face. I struggle still to use make up. My eyes are sensitive and my hand shaky. Like so many other things, I want to tell these girls not to rush. I want to tell them how many years they will have of trying to change their faces. Of trying to cover blemishes that aren’t really there.

For this weekend though, it was all in fun. They came away looking grown up and beautiful. And then they took to the streets, pillow cases at the ready. They laughed and ran and collected candy for hours. Children still, playing the role of the grown up while doing childish things.

 

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Oct 19

Quick Lit: October 2015

by Stacey

I am a bit late for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit but I think this is a better late than never kind of thing, right?

Here are this month’s reads…

everything

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. Caroline read this one and insisted I read it so we could discuss the ending. Everything Everything is the story of a teenage girl forced to remain only within the walls of her house to protect her from a life threatening disease. And yes, the end was definitely worth discussing!

admissions

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore. I have become obsessed with Book Riot podcasts lately and as a result my to be read list has become enormous. I learned about The Admissions on one of the many podcasts I listen to although I must admit, I can’t remember which one. This book made me very glad we have a few years to go before the college application process begins. And it gave me a lot to think about along the way.

rosie

The Rosie Project by Graeme Samson. I have been wanting to read The Rosie Project forever but it has always slipped to the bottom of my to be read pile. I find that this happens with more light hearted books so I was thrilled that The Rosie Project was my book club book this month. If you haven’t a chance to get to know Don Tillman, I strongly suggest you do. This was a great book to read and discuss.

girls

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. I have heard so many good things about this book but found that I really wasn’t that excited about it. I am only half way through and I’m not sure I will continue. Has any one read it? If so, what do you think?

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Oct 15

Picture Book Favorites: Early Fall Edition

by Stacey

It feels like a really long time since I wrote a picture book posts. Here are some of our recent favorites. Enjoy!
sadie

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary & illustrated by Julie Morstad. Sadie is a little girl with a huge imagination. I am so glad we were able to share a day with her between the pages of this beautifully illustrated book.

bernice

Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison. This books starts out a bit like Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. Bernice is in a bad, bad mood and things just keep getting worse. Fortunately, by the end she realizes that being friendly and reaching out to others might just change her outlook.

pen

My Pen by Christopher Myers. Christopher Myers is Walter Dean Myers son which explains a lot about how wonderful this book is. A true love story of writing and the imagination, this book is a must read for any one who loves written language.

wild

Wild About Us written by Karen Beaumont & illustrated by Janet Stevens. The zoo, like life, would be pretty boring if we were all the same, wouldn’t it? Read alongside brightly colored illustrations to see if the animals agree.

funny

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School written by David Cali & illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. In case you are looking for good excuses, this book has plenty to keep you stocked with each excuse becoming more creative and imaginative than the one before it.

ask

Ask Me written by Bernard Waber & illustrated by Suzy Lee. This is a story full of thoughtful questions and answers between a father and daughter. I loved seeing how the two came to know the others’ thoughts as they strolled through the gorgeous fall illustrations that covered the pages.

night

Night Animals by Gianna Marino. The illustrations in this book are to die for and you can’t help but laugh out loud when you realize that all the night animals think they are meant to be scared of night animals. And wait for an extra big giggle at the end…

rufus

Rufus the Writer written by Elizabeth Bram & illustrated by Chuck Groenik. Rufus sets up the best kind of stand I can imagine. Not a lemonade stand, but a story stand. All his friends come for stories and we, as readers, get to read what he has written.

little

Little Bird’s Bad Word by Jacob Grant. This book presents the power of words in a really simple, easy for small people to understand kind of way. The title led me to think this book would be about cursing but it turns out it is more about words in general which makes it all the more appealing.

donkey

I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell. For some reason I have avoided this book and I am so glad that I finally read it. Somehow Cece Bell makes a book about a donkey, a yam and grammar laugh out loud funny. I highly recommend it.

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Oct 08

Lockdown

by Stacey

quotes

This post is inspired by my wise friend, Kathleen Harris. 

Around lunch time today, a friend came over because her washing machine had broken mid cycle. She borrowed ours to finish her wash. We sat at the kitchen table talking about, appliances, meetings and fundraisers, sports and girl drama. She peeked at her phone and quickly said, “BF is in lockdown.”

Benjamin Franklin Middle School is one of our town’s two middle schools and the one that Caroline attends. I scoured Facebook for signs that this was a drill or a mistake. We spent a very stressful half hour watching Facebook posts come in and listening to helicopters fly overhead. For close to half an hour, it was very unclear what was happening.

Finally, the lockdown was lifted and we received an e-mail from our superintendent. A young boy at the neighboring elementary school believed he saw a man with a gun. He did the right thing and told his teacher at which point all the years of drills became useful. The police were there in minutes and children and staff at two schools ‘sheltered in place’ for fifty minutes.

Fortunately, this was a false alarm. The little boy saw a dad with a cell phone and mistook him for a bad guy with a gun. Our children, teachers, administrators and police did all the right things. The system worked perfectly.

What is not working perfectly is our government. And our gun laws. And those of us who aren’t speaking loudly enough about the state of our country today. What is not working perfectly is the fact that our children are so on alert that a phone can look like a gun. And the fact that hundreds of children spent fifty minutes crouched in a corner or in a closet. And that they were able to do this easily because of the dozens of times they have practiced this to prepare for the worst case scenario.

What is not working is that this could have been so, so much worse. And it was still pretty terrifying.

What is not working is that I am a fixer but I have no idea how to fix this. This is a problem that feels too big. But I know there is something that must be done.

gunsI try to avoid getting too political in this space but we have to do something. I don’t know what but let’s think really hard when we vote the next time. Let’s think about ways to change this. There are gun owners in all the blue countries on the infographic above. And there are people with mental illness in the countries too. The difference between the red and the blue on this infographic lies in gun laws. Let’s change what we can.

Now. Before a very stressful false alarm becomes something much worse.

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Oct 05

The End of a Fall Tradition

by Stacey

This weekend we took our annual pumpkin picking trip to DePiero’s Farm. We actually began getting our pumpkins at DePiero’s before we even moved. According to the picture below, Rob’s parents brought DePiero’s pumpkins with them when they visited us in Richmond.

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Apparently, Caroline looked like this the first time we went to DePiero’s for Halloween in New Jersey.

IMG_1454And Katherine looked like this.

IMG_1469And somehow, these are the girls now.

IMG_0800I find that all sad enough but then add to it that this is the last year that DePiero’s will be open. DePiero’s opened in 1924 when 16 old Dante DePiero opened a small fruit and vegetable stand. Rumors of DePiero’s closing have circulated for as long as we have bought our pumpkins there. Every single year we have talked about it being our last Halloween at DePeiro’s.

This year though, the tradition really is coming to an end. Work on the incoming Wegman’s has already begun. There are fences separating the parking lots and construction equipment is lined up, ready to work.

We sat in the cafe for donuts and hot chocolate after we chose our pumpkin, feeling sad. Rob’s been going to DePiero’s for as long as he can remember. Katherine feels like trips to DePiero’s are among her earliest  memories.

I’ve written before about the power of tradition and I was reminded of it again this weekend. There is such beauty for all us of us but for children especially in the repeated actions of our years. We talked about where we would get our pumpkins next year. I mentioned Demarest Farm where I go each week of the spring, summer and fall for our produce. No one seemed exited by that idea. I have a feeling that without DePeiro’s there may be no more family trips to choose pumpkins. If the girls were younger, we would certainly find a place. But now? I’m not sure.

So goodbye DePiero’s. Thanks for helping us to create one of favorite family traditions.

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Sep 15

Quick Lit: September 2015

by Stacey

Today I’m linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, for her monthly post, Quick Lit.

Here is a quick look at what I have been reading this month.

11:22:63

 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I keep going back and forth about the value of reading super long books that take me forever to read. I started and stopped 11/22/63 about three times before finishing it on this go round. I am really glad that I stuck with it. This is a unique story that I really enjoyed. I do think I have discovered something really important about long books and it is counterintuitive. While I like the ease of reading a long book on my Kindle, it ends up frustrating me. I can’t really see my progress because the percentages go up so slowly and if I need to look back on something, it is really hard. I finally gave in and read 11/22/63 in paperback even though it was so big it was almost uncomfortable to read. I hurt my back during the time I was reading it and Rob joked that it might have been because I was carrying around such a heavy book!

z

Z is for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brian. Z is for Zachariah is an upcoming movie so there’s been lots of talk about this book lately. As soon as I heard the title I was transported back to fifth grade. This is one of the books that I remember reading when I switched schools and realized there were many, many important books to be read. This is the story of a young girl who believes she is the only person left after nuclear war. I put it in the same thoughtful-ness category as Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia.

window

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Eagen. I have so much to say about this book that I’m pretty sure I will write a separate post about it soon. Elisabeth Eagen is signing books at Words in Maplewood next month and I am going to my best to get there. I will have a lot more to say on this must read to come soon. For now, let’s just say  I felt like Eagen must have snuck in to our town and spent time with us all as she wrote this book- in an almost creepy but still super interesting way.

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Sep 14

Quotes & The State of Blogging

by Stacey

quotes

Quotes, the recent prompt from Ali Edwards 31 More Things came at a great time.

There is a lot of talk about the state of the blogging world. Many of my favorite bloggers (Lindsey, Nina and Kristen) have all written about it lately. I am in my own season of questioning what I am doing here. Do I focus on literacy or write widely? Do I schedule my posts or write only when inspiration strikes? Do I promote on social media or let readers find their way organically? I could go on and on.

But what I always come back to is that this is a place that makes me happy. This is where I put my words out in to the wide world. This is a place where I connect with people I only know in this world. This is a place that helps me to organize my thinking and be creative at the same time.

And blogs are where I often stumble upon new words that I rush to write down in my notebook before I forget their wisdom. Just yesterday I found my new favorite quote at Katrina Kenison’s blog.

So here it is. A quote that speaks to the power of the blogging world and why I am not leaving it any time soon. It is this virtual space that makes me pay more attention to the world outside of my computer. Go figure but it is true.

“Paying attention changes everything. Gratitude transforms a day, a life, the world. Choosing to see beauty creates more beauty. Nothing is on hold. Nothing lasts. Nothing is wasted. And so this really is it: the mystery, the miracle, the pain, the joy, the whole human catastrophe. And we get to be here, now.”

-Katrina Kenison

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Sep 08

31 More Things: Home

by Stacey

A few years back I took a great class called 31 Things with the amazing memory keeper, Ali Edwards. The class is meant to generate material to be included in a scrap book but seeing as I don’t scrap book, I used the class to inspire blog posts.

I was thrilled to discover that Ali is now offering 31 More Things. I was a bit late to the party as the class started last week, but I jumped in and will be going there for inspiration over the next few weeks.

The first prompt that caught my eye was ‘Home.’

Home

home

“…the house was perfect, whether you liked food or sleep or story-telling or singing or reading or just sitting and thinking best or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness…”

-J.R.R. Tolkein

Home is shoes overflowing from the cubbies in the mudroom and coats bursting from their hooks making it hard to walk through the halls. Home is hearing “Mom!” so many times you think you might scream but then when the girls aren’t there, wondering why it is so quiet. Home is the kitchen that we all sit in even though the light isn’t great because it’s the best place for talking. Home is the comfy sectional couch that makes the perfect spot for watching Gilmore Girl marathons or reading An Open Window on a holiday weekend. Home is the dining room table covered with notebooks and pens, with folders and binders and directories. There is a desk up stairs in the guest room but the dining room is where I work. The upstairs desk holds piles of paper and books. Home is the bright light that comes through the front door and creates the perfect napping spot for the dog and the cat, sometimes together but often not. Home is the awkward spot the front door opens on to. Not a foyer or a living room. The spot that is in limbo until we figure out exactly what it is. Home is Katherine’s bedroom, pinker than she wants it to be now. And Caroline’s room still a perfect turquoise. Pretty and bold just like she is. And the guest room with my desk overflowing with papers and books and Rob’s desk, perfectly ordered nothing out of place. Home is our bedroom. The spot where I go at the end of each day knowing that home is exactly where I most want to be.

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Aug 31

My Answer to the Question: “Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?”

by Stacey

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I often get blog posts ideas from the New York Times Review section. There are just so many thought provoking things going on in there. This week, I found a really interesting article and was drawn to it immediately because of it’s author.

Stephen King.

I am a few decades late to the whole Stephen King thing. I read Green Mile when it came out in serialized books years ago because I thought the concept was cool. And I’ve read On Writing a few times because it is awesome but I have never poured through his backlist as so many have. This summer, when a readerly friend learned this she was appalled and told me I had to get going. So I’ve been reading King in fits and starts (his books are long people!) over the summer.

His article today titled, “Can a Novelist Be Too Prolific?”, speaks to authors like himself who have written dozens of books. These are the authors that tend to get little critical acclaim as if the ability to write fast does not equal the ability to write well. King says, “No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”

While King sites a few authors whose works I have not read or have read very little like John D. McDonald or Agatha Christie, I would argue that there are some current authors that fall in to this same category.

In fact, I can attribute my initial love of reading and my continued love of reading to many of them. In my work with parents of reluctant readers, I often sing the praises of the series. Parents tend to think that series like The Magic Tree House and My Weird School ‘don’t count’ as reading. They are easy, they are repetitive, they aren’t challenging enough. And I wholeheartedly disagree. Series create a sense of familiar when reading is tough. They provide names and places and circumstances that don’t require sounding out so that young readers can simply enjoy the story.

And I too, as a grown up, avid reader, love series and more than that, love books by authors who write many, many books. These are the books that I turn to when I want an escape. When I am in a bit of a reading slump but want to keep reading or simply when an author I love has a new book. If I forced myself only to read the latest Pulitzer Prize winner, I might not be a reader. Do I read the more challenging stuff? Sure. But do I also read books that some critics might not love? I do. And I think it is most likely these books that I have to thank for making me a reader.

Here goes… Prolific authors that I have to thank for making (and keeping) me a reader.

Jodi Picoult. I haven’t read Picoult as much lately but there was a time when I read every single one of her books as soon as it was released.

Ann River Siddons. I read all Siddons’ books years ago. So many years ago that when I was writing this post I had to reach out to my college friend Elizabeth who I just knew could help. Here was my question: I need help remembering an author and I think you loved her books too. I am writing a blog post about authors who write a lot of books. We would have read them in our 20s. They are set in the south. Often at the beach? Family dramas. There are a lot of them. Female author. Easy reads but good? Anything? Within minutes she had responded and asked me to also include the author of the Sweet Valley High books which of course led me to a whole different post that will be coming soon.

Harlan Coben. I read Harlan Coben before I lived in his town and I must say his books are even more fun to read now.

Patricia Cornwell. I found Cornwell when we lived in Richmond and all her landmarks were familiar. I’ve read so many that I really feel like her characters are friends.

Lianne Moriarity. A few weeks ago, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote a post about authors to binge read and Moriarity and Moyes (see below) were on her list. I completely agree.

JoJo Moyes. As soon as I read Me Before You, I knew I had found a new author to read and read and read.

Jean M Auel. The Clan of the Cave Bear series was one of my favorites when I was young and I had completely forgotten about it before I wrote this post.

John Grisham. Sort of like Picoult, I don’t necessarily read all of Grisham’s books now but I certainly used to.

James Patterson. See above.

I’m sure more authors will come to me but that is all for now. I’d love to hear the authors that you could keep reading and reading reading.

 

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