Friday, March 30, 2012

Deadlines for the perpetually late

21-06-10 Cause I'd Rather Pretend I'll Still Be There At The End ~ Explored #1

Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side. ~The Talmud

Time is what we want most, but... what we use worst. ~William Penn

I started reading Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child this morning.  And now it is 11:00 pm and I'm just starting to write this week's blog posting.  Nuts.  Usually I'm only a little bit late, today I'm running way behind.  I am perpetually late.  With just about everything. 

Just ask my mother.  I was late from the beginning.  I was a couple of weeks late.  I've gotten better, now I don't run much more than 15 minutes late.  Usually.  All the clocks in our house are set a bit fast.  I never know exactly what time it is.  I'm not sure I want to know.  I don't even trust the time given to me by my cell phone or iPod.  I'm pretty sure they are exactly set by some time-keeper, but it always seems as if they must be off a bit.  They never seem fast, always a bit slow.  The clocks in my house are fast, my electronics are slow, and I'm never entirely sure what time it is. 

Next week I start a two week stint opening up the library.  Scary, right?  Not really, I'm on time when I absolutely need to be.  Usually.  I allot myself extra time to get where I'm going.  Something usually comes up to foil my plans.  That something is usually me, but sometimes it's the four-year-old that I live with.  Just one more game, just one more page, just one more minute, and it turns into longer than I had intended.  The opening of the library is serious/fun business, so I'll be on time for that.  Next week I should have the blog rolling out on Wednesday.  I'll actually get it done at work instead of at home. 

Little Bee

I used to get this blog done on Wednesday nights.  Work was kind of busy this Wednesday, so I didn't get any of this writing done then.  Lots of people in and out, and then we had book club (Little Bee by Chris Cleave) and I spent some time trying to finish it.  I was 22 pages from the end when book club started.  Good thing not finishing the book won't get me kicked out of book club.

Gideon's Sword

This blog is particularly late this week because I was reading something good.  It's especially good because I've been doing a fair amount of deep reading lately.  I'll have more about that next week.  This is something thrilling, exciting, and page-turning.  I'm a huge Lincoln and Child fan.  Their books are a lot of fun for me.  Today was the perfect day to lay under a blanket, on the couch, with a cup of coffee and a good book.  A rain/snow mixed dreary day is exactly right for an easy read.

I work at a library, so I should be spending time reading.  Right?  I only work 5 hours a week, and sometimes you just can't get all the stuff done in that time.  Do I want to work more?  No, I'd rather sit home and read.  If I have to take my work home in the form of a blog that I need to write, so be it.  That's the price I pay for getting to work so little.  Does that make sense?  I suppose not.  It's after midnight now and I should really not be allowed to type anymore.  Time to go to bed.  I'll try to stick to my deadlines a bit better in the future.

Old Time, that greatest and longest established spinner of all!.... his factory is a secret place, his work is noiseless, and his hands are mutes. ~Charles Dickens

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Circle of Little Golden Books

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen
Book Week Image 2012

It was an odd feeling to see one of my first storyhour kids come in last night with his daughter.  I can't possibly have been working here that long, can I?  Well, I suppose so.  This wasn't the first child of a former storyhour attendee that I've met.  This is the first time I've had a conversation about books for babies/toddlers/children with a former kid.  Crazy. 

I vaguely remember being a new parent.  Books were always part of my life, but it amazed me to see the different books that were available for kids.  Who knew they had books specifically for babies?  It was only after my oldest child was about six months old that we really got into reading.  It was later that I went to a conference about early literacy and found out that I should have started reading to her at day one.  Oh well.  We made up for that in the years to come.  What I remembered from when I was a kid reading, had been updated for my own child.  Babies like black and white pictures, pictures of faces.  They don't completely understand the words, so the words you use don't have to match the words on the page.  You can read them anything!  If you read while feeding the baby, read aloud.  Books, magazines, newspapers, it really doesn't matter what.  Tell stories without printed words.  When they're babies they're just soaking it all up to be used later.  Those words and stories come back later as a neurological pathway that's more like a highway.

The books for children have changed from when I was a kid.  I don't really remember board books in my childhood.  It's possible my youngest siblings were given them, but I was too cool for that.  Books that are a bit more sturdy; books that will hold up to a child who is still exploring how things work and therefore throwing, eating, and standing on (among other things), books.  As babies you have control over what you read to them.  They get mobile, and chances are that you will be reading Goodnight, Gorilla over and over and over and over again.

There are books for kids that are not boring, that are funny, that don't rhyme, that are conversation starters, and the list goes on.  If you grew up reading the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss and haven't checked out the children's section since, you're in for a happy treat.  There are so many fun books.  Books that are as much fun for you to read as they are for your child to listen to, look at, and memorize. 

Kids will pick books you hate, books you don't enjoy, and books you'd rather they didn't.  But that will come later.  During the toddler years, you still have some control over the books in your house.  Some.  Bring a toddler to the library and chances are that you will come home with a book you aren't crazy about.  Oh well, you can return it earlier than the due date.  Books you hate might come into your house.  It's okay if you tell your child that you don't really care for the book.  At least, that's my opinion.  You can have a little discussion about why you don't like it and let them respond with what they do like about it and emphasize that it's okay to have differing ideas.  It's a good thing to let them pick out their own stories.  The book may be pure torture to you; but if your kid likes it, read it at least once.  Surround yourself with books you like, and chances are that your kids will bring you books you like.

Eventually they will be picking their own books without any help from you.  If you read a lot of fun books, it won't be hard for them to do.  It's a fun experience to watch your child's literary development.  It's fun to see them select their own books.  You just never know what they'll pick.  For all the books they pick out for themselves, it's good to pick one out for you to read to them.  Then you'll know that there is at least one choice in the house that doesn't make you cringe.  While you're at it, pick one out for yourself.  Then you can reward yourself for having had to read Clifford's Big Adventure again.

If you want some suggestions, stop in.  We're full of them.  I'd love to share some of my favorites with anyone who is willing to take them.  I have a lot of favorites. 

My creation

The story - from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace - is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. ~~Ursula K. LeGuin

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Squirrels, squirrels, squirrels

Squirrelly Kid

Tarry a moment to watch the chaos of a playground, crayola-colored shirts of running children, all trying out their wings. ~Dr. SunWolf

It's that time of year again.  Snow has melted, things are starting to green up, and the children have turned into squirrels.  Maybe not all of them, but some of our young patrons have been doing some pretty good imitations.  My children have turned into squirrels.  It's excess energy.  They're bouncing off the walls, talking in louder voices; and in the case of my children, cart-wheeling across the living room. 

In the past week there has been a lot of squirrel activity at my bird feeder.  It must be time for them to come out of hibernation.  It's time for the kids to come out of hibernation as well.  Up and down the tree those squirrels run, up and down the walls the kids climb.  I suppose that's why I spent so much time playing in the puddles as a kid.  I'm sure my siblings and I also acted like squirrels until my mother told us to "Go outside!"  I think she was smarter than that though, I don't remember her saying that in the spring.  She probably got us to find the delight in spring long before the squirrel problem started.

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

Back when I was a kid, we didn't have much to lure us to stay indoors.  Computers weren't what they are now.  There was no online gaming for us.  We only got about four TV channels on a good day, and those channels didn't play shows marketed specifically to kids.  Skip an episode of Hogan's Heros to go play outside, not a big deal.  We'd probably get the chance to see the same episode again at a later time.  We were country kids.  Our friends lived down the county road and once we were old enough, we could bike and meet up with each other.  We burned off some excess energy on the ride.  Did we have more recess time than kids do now?  I don't know for sure, but it certainly sounds like it.  Spending time outside in the spring makes for good sleeping at night.  And less rammy behavior indoors.

Scaredy Squirrel at Night

Apparently I need to send my kids outside more.  The kids who come into the library on these brilliantly beautiful days to do some online gaming need to take a break every half hour and run around outside.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin--

Energy and persistence alter all things.  

In my words--

These kids are driving me bananas with their excessive exuberance.


As long as the sun is shining, go outside.  When the rain starts falling they can grab their umbrellas, raincoats, and mud boots and head outside.  After they get soaked, they can come back inside.  Still squirrelly?  Of course they are.  But, it's toned down a little.  This spring-time frenzy is not a bad thing.  It's fun.  It's noisy, it's energetic, it's humorous.  It's letting loose of those constraints that winter seems to envelop us with.  It's happiness in its truest form.  Squirrel form.

Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. ~~Iris Murdoch  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is it summer yet?

No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky. ~Llewelyn Powys

It may not be summer, but it's time for me to start thinking about the summer reading program.  The beginning of March, and I'm fast forwarding to June. 

It's all about creatures of the night this year.  Or dreams.  Or space.  Or something.  The only thing I know at this point in time is that it's going to be fun.  I love bats, owls, stars, dreams, and reading.  I've got to come up with a project for six weeks of summer fun.  I already know one of the weeks.  Owls.  We actually made some last week for story hour, and again this week, since it was a different group of kids.  It occurred to me after we finished them last week that they could be made again this summer for the DREAM BIG READ program. 

I passed around an example of our owl creations at our Kick Off  For Summer Reading meeting last week.  With a little imagination and some inspiration from pinterest, we made some owls out of book parts.  When you're at a meeting with other people who are involved with children's literature, it isn't terribly surprising that attention was paid to the book that was used in our creation.  One copy of Little House On the Prairie was falling apart, and had to be taken out of circulation.  It's hard to throw out a book that looks lovely and holds so many good reading memories.  Good thing I found a use for it.   

One week done, five to go.  I need to find books to go along with my weekly theme.  I need to figure out what prizes would be most appealing.  We're a small library in a small community, so I average only about 14 participants.  That means that even with our tiny budget, we can get prizes for everyone. 

Prizes.  I can't remember what I did in the beginning.  For a lot of years I've had a prize store.  The kids enjoy it.  Me, not as much.  Every year it's a quest to get enough of the one thing they're all going to want.  I rarely hit the nail on the head.  As a parent, I don't want my kids to bring home all kinds of junk.  But, that's what kids like.  I order water bottles and T-shirts, and the kids pick out rubber balls and tiny stuffed animals. 

I've also been thinking about how I award prizes, and how I calculate who should get prizes. In the beginning, it was a list of books read. Well, that was kind of ridiculous. Kids would read books that were way below their reading level just so that they could rack up the number of titles on their list. Harry Potter? Forget it, that only takes up one line. I've done the time thing over the past few years. Color in the time you've spent reading. Except, that's kind of a pain as well. I don't keep track of how much my kids read. They read. I'm not going to get out the stopwatch every time they pick up a book. One children's librarian mentioned that for their summer reading program they just keep track of the days read. If you read at all during a day, you can check it off. I think that might be the way to go. It would certainly make my life; as the parent of a few participants of the summer reading program, easier. If it doesn't happen this year, I'll switch over to that next year. 

I've got some work to do.  Good thing I have a month and a half to figure it out.  I'm excited for this year's program.  It's a fun theme, and I think the kids will get a kick out of it.  Summer is a time to read whatever you want to read.  Lay under a tree with a glass of lemonade, and read.  Although, with the Dream Big-Read theme; it should be lay under the stars with your flashlight and read.  Sitting by the campfire, under a sky full of stars, mosquitoes buzzing around your head, the sound of waves crashing on the shore; book in one hand, flashlight in the other--aaahhhhhhh, summer reading!

Books - the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity. ~George Steiner

Thursday, March 1, 2012

For the love of mud.

March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.
-Hal Borland

Yay!  March is here.  I'm not a huge fan of February.  It seems to be the longest month for me.  By February I'm sick of winter, and ready for the mud puddles of spring.  This winter has been a bit odd.  I didn't have a problem with February because it hasn't been very wintery.  Although, with the lack of snow, I knew we wouldn't have the kind of spring I like.  The kind where you have to wear your mud boots and stomp through some puddles in the driveway.  I love mud puddles.

Mud Puddle
We finally got some snow last weekend.  We didn't get as much as they were predicting earlier this week.  The 12 inches fizzled down to about 3.  Bummer.  I would have liked a few more inches of snow.  Fresh snow at this time of year is beautiful.  You know it won't be around all that long; and if you're a puddle jumper, you you know it's going to melt.

MudI know that most people hate the mud.  There are a few of us who enjoy it.  We wait anxiously for those first warming winds that will turn the snow into spring.  Yes, it can be a bother.  Those kids covered in mud coming through the front door and bringing the muck with them.  The endless loads of heavily soiled laundry.  The difficulty getting to the house when driving through the sloppy mess of a driveway.  The vehicles coated in a thick layer of dried filth.  I can hardly wait!

Stuck in the MudWe're supposed to get warm temperatures next week, and that will get things going.  How long will we get to enjoy the puddles once they come?  One never really knows, so you have to take the enjoyment or put up with it one day at a time. 

Mud Tacos!Try to see the fun in mud.  If you were forbidden to play in the mud as a child, get yourself some mudboots and go outside.  As a kid, spring was a time for building boats out of whatever scraps of wood were available, among other things.  We'd take the boats out and float them in the puddle at the end of the driveway, or down the ditch.  I remember running through the puddle in the middle of the field and getting soaked.  We would walk across the biggest puddles to see how deep the water was, trying to go as deep as we could without the water getting into our boots.  Springs were great.  Finally to be outside without having to wear endless layers of clothing. 

Mud Pies and Other RecipesFind your inner kid.  Float things on the puddles, make rivers to drain the puddles off of the driveway.  Granted, you can only do that if you don't have a paved drive.  Find out how deep the puddles are.  If you got snow, there will be puddles somewhere even if they aren't in your yard.  Go to the park.  Find the mud.  It's fun.  Let yourself relax and enjoy the beginning of spring! 

The mind of the people is like mud, from which arise strange and beautiful things. -W. J. Turner