A Reading SummerΒ 

Summer has officially started for my three sons since Friday was the last day of school. We celebrated with them, but my husband and I also have been anxious to figure out what we will do to keep them busy and active and learning this summer. This is not always the simplest of tasks. πŸ™‚

One of the biggest things that we would like to focus on for our twins is reading since their school year was a challenge to meet the required minimum level. We would love to see them start off the new year without falling back on any levels, but our biggest hope is that with a good solid push over the summer, they may start the new year ahead. 

In addition to seeking out other activities to keep them physically active, one of our goals this weekend was to find some academically challenging workbooks and get them going on books to read. I was very happy to find this fantastic workbook that takes them week by week through the summer with ideas for learning activities, suggested reading, and then many pages of exercises in reading, writing and math. Included with the exercises is a rewards system of stickers and certificates, so we have a great way to offer incentives. 

For my gifted and talented oldest son, I skipped the workbook for his grade level and picked out a few logic and puzzle books. His teacher also gave her class a lovely Brain Teaser packet full of logic problems for the summer. He may not have been fired up for it, but his dad and I thought it was great! 

Speaking of great teachers who help over the summer, one of the twins’ teachers offers a bookmobile service over the summer where she will meet us at the school once a week on a designated day and at a specific time to bring some leveled reader books to kids that are needing a little extra help over the summer. What a gift! You gotta love teachers! 

We also have a fantastic library near us that works in conjunction with the schools to push a summer reading program, so we signed up the whole family for the summer reading challenge – me and my husband included! To get them started on it, I took my twins in today and they got their first library cards! We have been to the library there for years but I didn’t realize until recently that they could have their own cards. I thought they were excited, though one of them promptly set his down on the floor to pick something up and forgot all about it. So, maybe not. πŸ˜‰

Everyone got new books this weekend and everyone is signed up for the summer reading program and everyone is committing to read. This will be our Summer of Reading, and I must tell you I, at least, am very excited for it! 

How about you? Will you be reading this summer? Have kids you are working on reading with? What did you do to keep them reading? 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! 

~CJS

Memorial Day

  

My post today is short and sweet and dedicated to the men and women who have given their lives in service. I also want to honor the families they left behind. I have tremendous gratitude to all those who serve our country and a pride in the level of heroism so many have displayed. 

I saw this bumper sticker the other day and just loved it – seems about right. 

  

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day. See you next week. Hope it’s a great one for you! 

~CJS

Killer QueenΒ 

I used to think I had a pretty diverse taste in music. I used to think I had my own favorite songs. That was until my 9 year old and 7 year olds started teaching me about music. Yes, these little boys are teaching me about music!

Let me first say that there are lots of great classic rock songs in kid’s movies and superhero movies in case you haven’t watched them lately. Iron Man, of course, got my guys started on AC/DC, which I now have quite a few AC/DC songs on my iPhone now. MegaMind helped introduce them to Guns&Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”, Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. You gotta love when your 7 year old starts yelling out “Don’t turn the station mom!” when “Crazy Train” comes on. LOL

There’s also the greatness that is Jimmy Fallon and his Lip Sync Battles that you can watch on YouTube. One of my 7 year old twins impressed the lady who cut his hair when she asked if he had any favorite songs and he listed “Take On Me” because he saw Jimmy Fallon do a lip sync battle with it once. 

It’s thanks to the Jimmy Fallon Lip Sync Battle that my sons are now currently teaching me all about Queen. Jimmy and Paul Rudd do one of the best battles – one of Rudd’s being Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. It’s hilarious and I cannot hear the song now without seeing Rudd’s ridiculous and addictive performance in my head. And let me tell you we hear the song a lot.

I downloaded the Queen’s Greatest Hits to my iPhone and they are frequently the choice my boys will queue up when it’s their turn to play a song in the car. Each has their own favorite, but I have been surprised that I really enjoy them all. There are even a few I don’t have on the album that I’m probably gonna have to download as well. 

In addition to the songs on my phone, we frequently will watch the videos on YouTube on the television in the living room. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is such a classic, even if I always feel a twinge of guilt when the “Mama…just killed a man…” lyrics come on. Still, it’s classic. “We Will Rock You” gets them dancing everytime. And “Under Pressure” is my husband’s favorite Queen song, which instantly cemented it as one of my oldest’ favorites as well – because hey, anything Dad loves must be great, right? Right! 

What I love is how much I never realized I liked Queen until my kids got me on this kick. And watching videos and behind the scenes I have learned a lot about a history I never knew. I’ve also had the opportunity to have some great conversations with the kids about being different, about AIDS, and about suicide. Pretty intense huh, don’t worry I keep it as age appropriate as possible. The younger ones aren’t as inquisitive or as tuned in as the older one is most of the time. But there are always great opportunities to throw in a word or two here and there. And while I am always trying to teach my guys, I absolutely love it how they are teaching me, too! 

Do you like Queen? What is your favorite? I’m really torn but right now, “Somebody to Love” is one I have to sing along with, though Bohemian Rhapsody is just such a classic! Feel free to share your favorite in the comments! 
(PS – Sorry I missed last week’s post – I was suffering from blog fatigue after posting daily, but have also had some sick kiddos. Plus, you know, just …life! πŸ˜€) 

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! 
~CJS

Z is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.
 

This quote is from a book I read in college,  Their Eyes Were Watching Godthat really opened my eyes to the beauty and richness of a unique voice.

I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the language. Some assigned reading you read, do the report and just move on, but some stays with you. This one always comes to mind when I think of voice and language as a deep and emotional aspect of the overall piece. 

I love these lines for the feeling of something important that is coming. Which year are we going to hear about? The one that asks or the one that answers? What will the questions be? Will we like the answers? What are those answers? Such a very rich beginning with which to begin to spin a story! 

But with this beginning we also find an end -an end to the A to Z Challenge for me for 2015! Thanks so much for joining in this adventure! Hopefully you have enjoyed it as much as I have. On my next regular post, I plan to share some of my favorite new blogger finds & also recap the month for you. 

Thanks & I will see you Monday!

– CJS 

Y is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.
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I bet you will never guess where I took today’s quote? Ok I bet you will. Though there was a Yoko Ono quote in 365 Days of Wonder, I took this quote from The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne which was again very handy because Y can be almost as challenging as X in the A to Z. But tomorrow’s Z is by an author I actually thought of when brainstorming my A to Z, from a favorite book in college. Think you can guess it? Wait til tomorrow and see! πŸ˜€

I chose this one because it was humorous but also because I think there is a ton of potential for story ideas based on the complications of fame, including being misquoted or even reported to have said things you never said. 

Since I took this out of context, I don’t know if he was being funny or simply stating the facts, but my guess is that it’s a mix of both. But even if not famous, I think anyone can relate to having someone say you said something when you know you never did. Maybe someone credits you from being more clever than you actually are – great! Or maybe someone tells lies that are meant to harm. Uh oh, not so good. Maybe an accidental mid-quote leads to all sorts of problems. It’s an interesting start to a lot of story ideas. πŸ˜€

And by the way, I thought for half a second about finding a Yogi the Bear quote, but wasn’t sure what words of wisdom he would have to pass along. But I guess you never know. πŸ˜‰

Have a good Wednesday & I will see you around tomorrow for our last day of the A to Z! 

X is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.


 

I took this quote from the book, The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne which was handy because X is always a bit more challenging in this A to Z. πŸ˜€

The assertion that there are already masks in place that we wear every day is great for a writing prompt.  What kinds of masks might someone wear? Why would someone wear a “mask”? Do we have masks we wear just to function in society? Kick that up a notch and explore what type of masks another society might require. Or explore where we might go with no opportunity to wear any masks. There are tons of possibilities! 

I love that this challenge helps you find unexpected treasures you may not have otherwise have found. πŸ˜€

See you tomorrow for another challenging letter, Y! 

~CJS


  

W is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.
  

  
These are the first lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet LX (60) which I found on one of my favorite and most commonly visited websites, Shakespeare Online

Why might you ask do I visit Shakespeare online so frequently? Well, I will tell you I have fallen into a new relationship with the Bard in the last year or so. My interest began thanks in large part to my fangirl favorite, Tom Hiddleston, who is a great fan of Shakespeare, but has grown as I have gotten more into the works, including seeing several performed, which is truly the best way to find a love for Shakespeare. 

One of the ways I have gotten more involved with his words is through the weekly Shakespeare lovefest that is #ShakespeareSunday on Twitter run by @HollowCrownFans. Each Sunday I search for the most fitting line to tweet within the theme and my day is always made when @HollowCrownFans retweet me. Hey, it’s the simple things in life, right? πŸ˜‰ 

I also picked up a really great iTunes download of a Shakespeare documentary called Muse of Fire where two actors go about trying to figure out what makes Shakespeare still so beloved after all this time. The two interview lots of everyday folk but also some big name actors, like Dame Judy Dench, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor and just the tiniest bit with Mr. Hiddleston. It’s a great exploration of why these works are so powerful even today. 

And just one more small mention of an absolute gem you should check out is PBS’s Shakespeare Uncovered. I watched the first season and am working on the second. Each episode focused on one play or a combination of related plays. Each episode is led by an actor who explores various parts of the history of the play as well as productions of it. I found these to be so helpful in understanding the works, but also just so fun to see the work in action. Definitely worth checking out! πŸ˜€

So given all of this I couldn’t pass up making W for William Shakespeare and I picked a favorite part of one of his sonnets that speaks to Time – which is a theme I am frequently drawn to. Not especially cheerful, but I love it.

Have a great week & make your minutes count! πŸ˜€

V is for…

 

  My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.


 

Of all the quotes I collected for this A to Z Challenge, this is one of my favorites. I found this one also in 365 Days of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

We have all had some difficult moments in life, times when everything seemed dark as night, so the idea of stars being left as a result is beautiful and comforting. 

When I was growing up, my family moved around a lot. We weren’t a military family, but you may have thought so. I went to 4 different high schools, graduating from high school in a state far from the one I’d spent most of my life in. Every time we moved people would say, “Oh, it will give you character!” My siblings and I joked that if we got any more character we’d be a cartoon. πŸ˜€ But for all the drama that may have caused during an already dramatic time, I do believe I was forced to grow because of the challenges of being the new kid. My family became very close and learned quickly that friends come and go, but family will always be there. I know that even though sometimes those times felt like night, stars were definitely left. 

This quote seems a very fertile ground for a writing prompt. It makes me think of a good character development tool. What will the character get from this trial? Or what happened to give him/her this strength? I’ll definitely be holding onto this one. 

What do you think? Does this one speak to you? I know some nights may be darker than others, and I didn’t share the darkest nights for me, but can you see stars left from your dark nights? Feel free to share — or not is okay too. 

Best wishes for a great weekend! 

U is for …

 

 My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.

 I will admit I thought of the author and not the quote so I had to search for a quote to get my U post in, but what a lovely one to stumble upon! This quote comes from Eco’s book, The Name of The Rose.

Some may say love can make us crazy, or makes us do stupid things, or that it hurts. All may be true in some cases, but love also opens our hearts and minds in unbelievable ways. Love can show us a truth we might not otherwise see.

“Love is wiser than wisdom” is a more poetic way of saying what I’ve always believed – that sometimes you have to just listen to your heart. Your head can only know so much and get you so far. Your heart has to get you the rest of the way. 

If you aren’t trusting your heart sometimes, what’s the point? It’s all about love, baby. πŸ˜€ As the Beatles would say, it’s all you need. 

T is for…

 
  My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.


The line above from Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles always really stood out to me, partially for the have/have not but mostly for the strength. 

One of my three sons said once, “Oh boys are way stronger than girls!” After pointing out that grown up ladies are not girls but women, I was quick to point out that women can be just as a strong as men – only in different ways. I told them women may not always be as muscle strong, though there are some mighty strong women who could lift more weights than big guys, but women have to be strong in lots of different ways. I then had to point out the obvious, “Women can grow and give birth to another human being – that’s pretty strong!” But we spent some time discussing ways girls are strong, too. 

There have definitely been times I haven’t felt very strong or even felt like giving up on being strong because it was just too hard. I love Hardy’s words as a reminder that the strength I do have shouldn’t be abandoned just because it’s hard. 

I’m far from perfect, but I know there are things I can look back on with pride for holding on and being strong. Times I could have thrown in the towel and given myself up to my weaker inclinations, but managed not to somehow. Times I can remember when I have doubts and can tell myself that I am indeed strong. 

What does this quote mean to you?  As a woman I think of being a strong woman but if you are a guy reading this, does it speak to you as well? It needn’t be just strong women throwing their strength away, but anyone. What do you say? Tell me in the comments if you’d like.

Thanks

~CJ