Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I think the absolute best part of the concert is that it is such a wholesome, enjoyable, and pure form of entertainment. In a world where obscenities fly, negativity gets the most attention, and being provocative and unpure is popular, it was refreshing to see actual singing talent on the stage without the usual junk that goes along with music these days. I don't know about you, but I have had enough of Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and all of the other popular artists who are only able to produce hits when their voices are enhanced with technology. I find myself craving music and entertainment that most people in mainstream culture would find unpopular.
It became clear as soon as the show started that the favorite was the violinist, Mairead. She was a small blonde who jumped ALL OVER the stage as she played her heart out. It has been a while since I have witnessed talent like hers.
The singing was beautiful and the instruments were so exotic and truly came alive when they were playing. Drums of every variety, bagpipes, and a whole host of other instruments that I won't even pretend to know.
True musical talent is hard to come by these days, but this group is absolutely one of the best.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This tree is in our front yard - it is so beautiful this time of year.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Katniss and Peeta came back for one more round in The Hunger Games when it is decided that for the Quarter Quell old victors would battle it out. Now, she is "safe" in District 13 where she begins to realize that they must fight an ever angry Capital that wants revenge. Katniss makes deals with Coin, the president of District 13 for a chance to kill her arch-nemesis, president of the Capital, Snow.
Throughout Mockingjay, we follow District 13 as they wage war with the Capital and it turns out to be a bloody, violent, and sometimes hard to stomach war. Despite many deaths of some of the main supporting characters, Katniss and Peeta come out of the war alive, but badly damaged mentally, emotionally, and physically.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I definitely think it was good to finalize the story and find out what happens in the war, and in Katniss's love life, but this book was downright confusing sometimes! I found myself wondering, "what the heck, how did that happen" many times while reading. There were so many characters with such similar sounding names, that added to the confusion as well.
For lack of a better way to describe it, I felt as though Suzanne Collins knew she had to write a third book to finish the story, but didn't really want to so she just threw something together. That may be harsh, but it definitely felt that way reading it. The plot was disjointed and simply hard to follow at times.
I did appreciate her in-depth descriptions of Peeta - his character in this novel was the most interesting because he was so damaged by the Capital and it was interesting to watch his transformation.
The ending is what gave this novel its best quality. In the last five pages and the epilogue, her writing was beautiful and it absolutely brought tears to my eyes to learn the fate of these characters that I have followed for three novels. I was touched to see that she didn't sugarcoat a happy ever after, and ended it with the realization that despite everlasting effect that The Hunger Games will have on Katniss and Peeta, they make the best of their situation and try to move on. And they do, in a big way.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
With their farm in Mica Creek, Washington facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to find a way to raise a lot of money in a short time--no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara, the oldest of the eight Estby children, favors a less showy approach. Though very different in personality, mother and daughter share a determination to save their family's home, so they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek to New York City--and if they can do it in only eight months, a New York City publisher has agreed to give them $10,000.
They set out with little more than ten dollars, two ponchos, and a gun. Along the way they go through sixteen pairs of shoes each, fend off snakes and highwaymen, and narrowly escape a flash flood. But they also meet the governor of every state they pass through and the wife of presidential-candidate, William Jennings Bryan, as well as shake hands with the new president himself, William McKinley. And with each new challenge they face, Clara and Helga come to rely on and respect one another for the very traits that make them so different.
Based on the true story of the author's great aunt and great-great grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical fiction adventure for 10-14 year-olds that sets the drama of Around the World In 80 Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of "a woman's place" in society.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Top Ten Genres of Literature (in my opinion of course)...
1. Historical Fiction (any time period, but especially Colonial America/Civil War)
2. Nonfiction (specifically relating to historical events is most interesting in my opinion)
3. Biographies (I love them on anyone, I read a biography about Charles Darwin this past summer that was fascinating and I didn't even think I was interested in him)
4. Realistic Fiction (this is the most popular genre of YA lit, so naturally I would love it)
5. Folklore - Myths/Legends/Fables (I teach these in my Native American unit each year, the kids love them)
6. Drama (I do like some drama, but not all - can't really stomach the Shakespeare stuff)
7. Short Story (I love short stories...and we read them so much in the classroom due to time constraints)
8. Narrative Nonfiction (informational but still tells a story)
9. Humor (It's good to laugh, right?)
10. Poetry (As I have gotten older poetry has grown on me, and now that I'm a mom, I find myself picking up poems for my kids that I think they'll love and pondering the deeper level ones for the meaning of life - haha!)
And then there are those that didn't even make the list...science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery. Y-U-C-K.
Friday, March 18, 2011
After a week of it, we are finally on the upswing but it has been a rough week to say the least. I was playing with the kids last night and captured some cute pics of our youngest, Boy #2.
This one is a cute one, if you can ignore all of the food on his face...
I guess after all of the exhaustion this week, a nap on the carpet was in order...
We die laughing each night because when he sits in his seat to eat, he pushes his toes up against his tray...it looks almost painful, but he doesn't seem to mind! Little feet are so cute...
Needless to say, I probably have just as many children's books on here as I do adult books, and Boy #1 is quite adept at navigating his way right to what he wants.Recently, we downloaded Jack and the Beanstalk, and the new game is to search for giants in the woods on the way to school in the mornings. Since our drive is before the sun comes up, and along a two lane back road, it makes it extra fun to see if we spot these elusive beings on the roadside.
We have downloaded so many other great reads, but Boy #1's favorites are the "Read to Me." These books will actually read out loud to him as he swipes the pages - too neat!
As awesome as the Nook is, it does not deter us from the library, where we still make weekly visits. There is nothing like a real library book to hold in your hands.
This device is such a great alternative to video games (which I loathe, and have sworn that my boys will NOT have). It has been a lifesaver in doctor's offices, in the car, and while I am trying to get dinner cooked.
My boy loves this Nook :-)
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Here are some of the highlights of the fun we had last month (and a few other random pictures that I found too cute not to include):
Can't believe I caught them both being still enough for this picture, but I can't explain the crouching quarterback position...
A day at the swingset...and yes, the leaves that litter the background of each picture are gone as of this last weekend :)
And a trip to the doughnut store...where Rylan picked out five doughnuts he wanted (only one of which he actually ate) and a bag of doughnut holes (which I devoured in the car)...I love that we do this so seldom that it is a huge treat for them!
Here's to an even better March...
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Below is my list of the top ten characters I love from young adult fiction novels...they are in no particular order, I love them all equally!
1) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Katniss is such a strong-willed character and she is always in survival mode.
9. Audrey from Little Audrey. Audrey the author's older sister, and the novel is through her viewpoint of their childhood, or what the author would deduce her version of the story to be. Hardship would not even begin to describe what Audrey and the family endure while living in a coal mining camp in Virginia, but how she tells the story makes you feel as if you are right there in their little clapboard house with them.
10. Brian from Hatchet (and the entire series). I love this character, this series, and the premise of having to survive when thrown into the wild. I think Brian's character is so well-developed and he goes into even more uncharted territory in the books following Hatchet.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
This book could be the basis for many lessons in the classroom – character study, a study on setting, and even an extension study of William Blake’s poems. The illustrations are beautiful and the pictures go right along with the text, and even enhance it. My three-year old could almost tell the story from looking at the pictures. This is a winner for any home or school library!