Thursday, May 31, 2012

Good-bye, bad-bye

A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education. ~~Smiley Blanton

How did it get to be the last day of school already?  Where did the school year go? 

Friday is the first full day of summer vacation for my children.  No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks.  Except that there will still be pencils and books.  My children will probably get more dirty looks from their mother this summer than they did over the school year from their teachers.

My kids are fairly good students, but even they suffer from summer brain drain.  I'm going to try to make more of an effort to prevent that this year.  We're going to play yahtzee, monopoly, or any number of other games where you end up doing math.  The girls will continue to read without much influence from me.  We'll travel and explore new things.  We'll do our best to not slide back from where we are now.

Summer brain drain can be easily overcome.  It does take a little bit of effort, but it isn't impossible to prevent.  Probably the easiest way to prevent it is to limit the screen time for your child.  TV, video games, computer time, movies, iPhones, iPads, the list goes on and on.  If it has a screen, it needs to be included in screen time.  This is the easiest and most difficult thing to do.  Chances are that when the screen is removed, the complaining will start.  "I'm bored.  There's nothing to do."  Which eventually leads to no screen time for a day or two.  At all.  Which is as much a punishment for me as it is an eye-opening experience for my children.  It usually only takes a few days of no screen time to make them remember that there is more to life than a screen.

Go outside and explore.  Yes, it can be very boring.  Especially when your child is completely engrossed in an ant hill and wants you to join in the fun of watching it.  For hours.  Give it a few minutes, and talk about the things you see.  If your child has questions, find the answers.  Even better would be to help them find the answers for themselves.  If you have questions, ask them.  What kind of bug is that?  What kind of flower is that?  Where is the Big Dipper?  Find the answers to these questions and your child may not be the only one who walks away from summer with a broader knowledge than they started with.

Let the summer learning begin!

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer's Unofficial Start


Memorial Day Weekend is upon us.  I have heard repeated over and over by the weathermen that this marks the unofficial start of summer.  I'm tired of hearing that.  We live in northern Minnesota, if summer didn't start until the summer solstice on June 21st we'd miss a lot of summer days.  Summer may not technically end until September 22nd, but our northern Minnesota days and nights can get pretty chilly by then.  So, can we get the date of summer officially changed? 


What happens on the unofficial start of summer?  Here's a clue: grocery stores have hot dogs, buns, chips, marshmallows, and graham crackers on sale.  Home improvement stores have lawn furniture and gardening supplies on sale.  Sporting goods stores have tents and sleeping bags on sale.  You guessed it; it's outside time! 

Being that I live in northern Minnesota, I don't feel the need to get out to the campsite or lake this long weekend.  We don't live that far, so we can go any time.  Which is good, because this is the weekend that those in the metro area flock to the great outdoors.  I'll let them have this weekend and go camping when the rush has died down a bit.  I'm more of a fair weather camper anyway.  My parents went camping last weekend, and we went out and visited them for a day.  I was happy to get home that evening and sleep in my own bed instead of having to sleep under the rain clouds. 

I can wait until the official start of summer ends before I spend a weekend in the great outdoors.  After looking for pictures to go along with this posting, I don't think I can wait that long for a s'more.  It's currently pouring rain outside, so I'm not going to be able to make a fire and make an offical s'more this evening.  I suppose an unofficial one will have to do.  Just like the start of summer.

Now pass the marshmallows. 


Friday, May 18, 2012

The last chapter is not always the end of the story.

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.  ~Thomas Helm

A New, Expensive Habit

There are those of us who love a series.  Again, if you're new to this blog, I'm not talking about the World Series.  What was the first series you found yourself needing to complete?  Which did I read as a kid?  Little House on the Praire, Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables--more of the classics than the modern Sweet Valley High books of the time. 

The final book in the Sisters Grimm series came out on May first.  We were fortunate enough to get it the last week.  I'm waiting for my turn to read it, I think I'm next in line.  My oldest daughter read it and then asked if she could give it to her friend.  I said yes on the condition that we get it back, since that friend is also the daughter of my library director.  We will have the book for three weeks; and in that time, as many as four people will read it.  My middle child is also waiting for her turn.

There have been many kids turned into readers by the power of the series.  Read all of the 39 Clues books, and then you have to wait for the next once to be available for purchase or check-out.  So, you find something else to read while you wait.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid spawned a lot of readers.  Harry Potter was huge.  Before J.K. Rowling finished the series, there would be kids coming in to find something similar to help them pass the time until the next book came out.  

There are a lot of adult books written in a series.  The most talked about one right now is the Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James.  The Game of Thrones is another series people have been reading lately.  Twilight, anyone?  Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris?  How about Robert Ludlum's  Bourne series?    There are a lot of them if you start thinking about it.  If you are a serial series reader, how do you choose which group to start next?  Are you a strictly series reader?  Or do you shy away from one book that will lead into another or more?

I've read a variety of series in my time as a reader.  Among my favorites has been the Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire.  Wicked is the first--and I read it before it was a series (or a Tony-winning musical).  The final book in the series came out last winter and I hated for it to end.  I want to hear more about what happens to the Lion, the wicked witch's grand-daughter, and Dorothy.  But, that's not going to happen, at least with Gregory Maguire as the author.  I guess I'm going to have to go back to the original series by L. Frank Baum.  Maguire's books may be darker, but the same kind of surreal magic is there.  Many of the lands and people that didn't make it into the move, but made it into Gregory Maguire's books can be found in Baum's original series.  I just moved the Oz books from the old library into the new library a couple weeks ago.  I'm going to have to put reading them on my bucket list for the summer.   

Dorothy picked up the bucket of water

One of the advantages of reading books is that you get to play with someone else's imaginary friends, at all hours of the night.  ~Dr. Sun Wolf

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Everybody has something

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~World Health Organization, 1948

Syringes - Diabetes 365 Day 124 - February 06, 2008

Do you remember where you were thirty years ago?  Specifically, the opening of fishing weekend, 1982.  I remember where I was.  I was in the hospital after being diagnosed with Type I diabetes.  I was nine. 

Growing up in northern Minnesota, the opening of fishing is a pretty big deal.  At least it was for my family.  Every year we went out to Little Winnie and staked out a spot among all the other die-hard fishermen.  The moms and children would head out earlier on Friday to stake their place before the city-folk arrived, and the dads would come when they got done with work.  It was a great time of year to be a kid.

My third grade teacher noticed that I had been drinking a lot of water, and making a lot of trips to the bathroom.  By the time my mother was getting packed up to head out to spend the weekend camping, I really wasn't feeling very good.  I recall that I was sent over to my grandparents house instead of out to the lake.  I don't think I cared that much, I was feeling pretty sick.  I'm not sure what was happening with the adults in my life.  There was a doctor appointment in there somewhere.  Glucose to drink.  Vomiting.  Subsequent admission into the hospital.  My brothers and sisters sleeping in a tent, and me learning about insulin injections and my life without sugar.  Kool-Aid and cake were gone from my list of acceptable goodies.  Candy was a thing that could no longer be ingested.  All kids love sugar.  I was no exception.  I could no longer have it without facing some dire consequences.  Life as I knew it was over.

I'm not sure how long I was in the hospital.  I know I came back on my brother's birthday.  Days or a week after being home, and it was time for his birthday party.  This was the first true realization of what this disease meant for me.  No birthday cake.  I was very upset.  It was a beautiful May day, and my dad took me for a walk.  He got me away from the people celebrating the birthday.  He got me away from the cake that I could no longer have.  We went for a walk.  He did his best to get me through the devastation that was mine.  The devastation of no cake.  He pointed out that I could still have asparagus.  Yummy, delicious asparagus that was growing right there in the garden.  I could still have that!!  I would think most nine-year-olds would not find this a pleasant substitution.  Let's see, chocolate cake or asparagus?  The asparagus did not win that round.  But the suggestion that it was a bright side to things was so preposterous that it did make me laugh.  Laughing helps.  Every little bit helps.

I made it through my teens without much thought given to my disease.  I took my shots, I ate a fairly balanced diet.  Periodic doctor appointments.  Camp Needlepoint.  Diet Coke.  Semi-annual visits with a team from the Juvenile Diabetes Association.  (Or something like that.)  I'd visit with a nurse, doctor, dietitian, mental health worker--and they'd get my blood and run some standard tests to see how I was doing.  Never perfect, but never horrible.

After I got married at 25 things took a turn for the worse.  I took many trips to the hospital via ambulance.  My blood sugars were out of whack.  Dropping well beyond what they should, and they were so low so often that I wasn't able to tell until it was too late.  I remember testing my blood to find the reading 17; and thinking, wow, that's pretty close to dead zero and I feel pretty normal.  After six months (or more) of talking about it with my health care providers, and that 12th trip to the ER; I went on the pump.  I haven't taken an ambulance ride since.

Everybody deals with something.  I get to deal with diabetes.  Thirty years, and I haven't taken the greatest care with it during all of that time.  But, I haven't suffered from any of the complications that I read about in Diabetes Forecast when I was in my tweens.  I had three children.  I didn't think that would be part of my life.  I've traveled.  I've had ups and downs with my disease, but as long as I don't ignore it I should be able to live a fairly decent life. 

Everybody deals with something.  You may not know that the person next to you is taking medication for high blood pressure, heart burn, depression, or something else.  Chances are pretty good that everyone is dealing with some kind of health issue.  If they aren't, they are close to someone who is.  If they are one of the few not affected by health issues, and don't know anyone who is; they're leading a fairly solitary life.

There is a lot more information available than there was 30 years ago.  It's so much easier to access that information.  Not all websites are reliable for medical issues, but there are many that are.  There are message boards for people dealing with various issues.  In many ways we don't have the same personal connections that we once had as a society before we all got online, but in other ways we can connect with people we wouldn't have before.  It's a trade off. 

Treatments of diseases have come a long way.  When I was nine, there wasn't much by way of sugar-free foods.  My choices of soda pretty much consisted of Diet Coke, Tab, Diet 7-Up, or Diet Pepsi.  Nutrasweet hadn't come on the market yet.  Stevia was still decades off.  The insulin pump was pretty new in 1982.  It has come a long way in thirty years.  It has made life a lot easier for me.  It allows me to be much more flexible with my life.  It took a while for me to decide to make the change, but I wouldn't go back.   

Everybody deals with something.  Whether it's a chronic or passing condition, everyone gets a turn at something.  Don't let yourself think that you are the only one.  Ask around, everybody has something. 

Pump supplies

There's lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven't the time to enjoy it. ~Josh Billings      

Friday, May 4, 2012

In a timely manner

Always in motion is the future.
YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Remember a few weeks back when I promised to get these postings done in a more timely manner?  If you don't, good.  If you do, maybe I should explain a littlek about myself and how this blog gets done.

I normally work 5 hours a week at the Marble Public Library.  I also fill in as needed and do the summer reading program for the Coleraine Public Library.  Sometimes I also fill in at City Hall in Coleraine.  Yep, I've got a few jobs.  I'm fortunate that I don't have to work full time to make ends meet, and even more fortunate that I get to work with a great group of people no matter where I go.  I get to interact with the public, and it's fun to get to see some of the same people at various jobs.

Working at a small library, you get to do a little bit of everything: shelve books, pull books, get new books ready for check-out, research; the list goes on and on.  One of the main focuses of my job is story hour and library reading programs.  I get to plan what we're going to do and what we're going to read.  I get to look at incentives for the programs, and figure out the way they're going to be run.  There's probably more work involved than the average person is aware of.  You stop in and your child gets a book log, and some kind of logo-ed treat to entice your child to read.  Yep, library workers know that it doesn't just get thrown together without any forethought. 

So there's how my job works.  Now, how does this blog get done?  While I'm at work I find a topic, write for half an hour and publish it.  Hahaha.  I wish.  If I've got a good idea and don't need to do any research, it can happen like that.  It doesn't often work that way.  Coming up with an idea to pontificate about is the beginning.  Many of my Facebook friends will attest to me asking them for topics they'd like to see covered when I can't come up with something on my own.  Yes; readers, I take advantage of the fact that you are intelligent people with good ideas of your own.  I draw on that when I'm stumped.  Sometimes I get ideas and start typing only to find after an hour that it's going no where.  Sometimes I get ideas that just don't come together.  I've got a few in my drafts folder now.  A few more weeks of not coming up with anything substantial and I'll have as many drafts as I do published postings.  I'll keep them there because sometimes I can go back and turn them into something read-able. 

Start writing, then it's on to the fun stuff.  Quotes!  I love quotes.  Little bits of wisdom in bite sized pieces.  I use three sites to find them:,, and  Sometimes when I'm stumped, I just look for a quote to inspire me.  Then I move on to the pictures.  I use  Do I tell people I'm using their pictures in the blog.  No.  Not usually.  Is that wrong?  I'm not sure.  You can click on any of the pictures and it will take you over to flickr and you can tell on me.  I figure that I've got pictures on flickr that anyone else can use for anything, so what goes around comes around.  I've never taken credit for anyone else's picture, and the links are generally attatched to the photos.  There are pictures that don't come from flickr, but those generally have the link attatched.  I'm thinking the book people probably don't mind my posting a picture that may entice someone to read and perhaps purchase the title I'm talking about.  Sometimes I do use my own pictures.  A few times I've had to take pictures to go along with the blog. 

How often do I get all this done during my 5 hours of work?  It's pretty rare.  Usually I do it at home.  Mostly, I start at work and finish at home.  Do I get paid for it?  Hahaha, of course.  Everyone knows that public libraries are where the money is at.  If you want big bucks, go into public service.  No, I don't.  I'm a library lover and huge library advocate so I do it on my own time.  I enjoy it.  They say that if you can find your passion, that's where you'll find the big money.  To which I say, baaaaaa-logna.  Maybe it was just a passing fad, but I recall Oprah doing a show on it.  I've heard it said elsewhere before and since.  For some people it might be true, but I would guess not for everyone.  I suppose working at a job (or three) that you really enjoy is its own reward.  Or, this is often late because you get what you pay for.

White Rabbit Artist Trading Card

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It's passing, yet I'm the one who's doing all the moving. 
~Martin Amis, Money