Hair

September 28, 2011

Oops. In all my excitement over homeschooling, I completely forgot to give the children haircuts. (We fixed that yesterday.)

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CATEGORIES: Eli, thirty second post

Cumberland County Fair

September 27, 2011

So it turns out that a super-nice perk of homeschooling is that you can finish your schoolwork at 11:30 on a beautiful Monday, get in the car, and go to the county fair. And you’re there with the best weather ever, and there’s essentially no one else there.

Here we are, feeding some goats. See how the place is pretty much deserted? So nice. (Um, let me amend to say that I’m sure it’s better for the vendors and all if the fair is packed, but for us, especially with our huge honkin’ stroller, it was great to have it be so quiet.)

Here’s Henry on the Bungee Jump. I told him he had to jump really high because it counted as gym.

She looks relatively happy, doesn’t she? This was 30 seconds before the carousel started and she started wailing and jumped into my arms. And can you see the look on Zuzu’s face in the background? Apparently that look means, “As soon as this carousel starts, I’m going to throw a tantrum. That should be fun.” If you look closely, you can see that there’s a stationary bench right behind us, but who knew that merry-go-rounds would be quite so dizzy-making? I found it completely impossible to carry one screaming girl under each arm, turn around, and make it to that bench. So we just stood there. Not my favorite part of the fair.

Here are the boys, about to go on this grownup hang glider ride. Henry had his eyes closed the whole time, and Eli’s face had a look of pure horror, and I could swear I saw him mouthing the word, “Help.” I was stricken. I was sure they were going to get off and either barf or burst into tears. I stood there at the gate, arms wide open, ready to tell them how proud I was that they went on such a scary ride. Instead, they ignored my waiting arms and said in unison, “That. Was. Awesome.” And then they went on again. Shows what I know.

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CATEGORIES: homeschool

Check me out on Katie Davis’s podcast this week!

September 21, 2011

That’s right, WoJ followers, I am on Brain Burps About Books again, this time reviewing Bear With Me by Max Kornell. You can check out info about this podcast episode by going to the blog post on Katie’s blog, or you can listen directly by clicking here. Enjoy!

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CATEGORIES: books

Nominate Brain Burps About Books for a Podcast Award

September 20, 2011

Yes, I know, I’m a very new contributor to Katie Davis’s Brain Burps About Books podcast, but how cool would it be if it won an award? Very cool. What? You want to help? Ok! You can help by nominating the podcast for an award. All you have to do is this:

Step 1: Click here to get to the podcast awards nomination page.
Step 2: In the 4th row down on the left, in the EDUCATION category, enter Brain Burps About Books where it says “Podcast name”.
Step 3: Under that, where it says “Podcast URL” enter http://BrainBurpsAboutbooks.com
Step 4: Enter your details at the bottom, hit submit and you’re done.

Deadline is September 30. Anything you can help me win an award would be great! (Ok, yeah, so it would really be Katie’s award, but I helped, right?)

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CATEGORIES: Julie

Children’s Book of the Week: The Sign of the Beaver

September 20, 2011

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

“This looks like a terrible book. This looks like the worst book in the world.” That’s what Eli said when I told him we were reading The Sign of the Beaver as our homeschool reading book* (which is a book I read in the morning, when we’re a bit more alert and can handle more challenging books than we might pick for bedtime chapter books). This is what Eli said after I read the first three pages: “Hey, actually, I kind of love this! This book is actually really great!”

And it is! I had read and loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond (also by Elizabeth George Speare) (and thank you, Emily, for the recommendation), but hadn’t read this. True, it’s frighteningly similar to Cabin on Trouble Creek but it’s, um (sorry, Jean Van Leeuwen, sorry) much better. In this story, Matt is left alone in the family’s new cabin while his father goes to get the rest of the family. He does a pretty good job of surviving, but does run into trouble, and is totally bailed out by the local Indians. The Indian chief ends up forcing his grandson, Attean, onto Matt, hoping Matt can teach Attean how to speak and read English. What starts as a fairly horrifying activity, as Attean is angry and taciturn, ends up, slowly, over time, growing into this amazing understanding and friendship. The months go by, and Matt’s family is very, very late, and the Indians come to him and say they’re going to leave, to go on a big moose hunt, and then they’re going to go farther west, since it’s time to get away from all the new white man settlements. They invite Matt to come with them, since he is like a brother to Attean, and they’re a bit worried about how he’ll survive the winter alone. And they say, as nicely as possible, “It doesn’t really seem like your family’s going to come.”

We had a long, long discussion about what we would do before we finished the book to see what Matt’s decision was. I was as excited to read this every morning as the kids were. I can’t wait to see what they think of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

*In Eli’s defense, our copy of the book doesn’t have the cool giant bear shadow graphic you see, here, but has the 80’s-era let’s-make-Matt-and-Attean-look-like-they-could-be-on-the-cover-of-Tiger-Beat cover.

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Children’s Book of the Week: Invisible Inkling

September 7, 2011

Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Harry Bliss

As someone with four kids between 1 and 8, it’s really, really hard to find a bedtime chapter book that pleases everyone. There really aren’t that many books out there that are simple enough to be understood by all, but complex and interesting enough so that when Dave reads it he doesn’t start sighing meaningfully in my direction. There should probably be pictures. There shouldn’t be a love interest. Funny books are a plus, but adventure works too.

Dick King-Smith has fit this pretty well for us, but honestly, I don’t love all his books. Beverly Cleary works, of course. (I’m just coming up with some other books, right now, in case others are also in this predicament.)  We recently read and LOVED Invisible Inkling. It’s perfect for our bedtime reading problem: exciting, funny, unpredictable, and with great illustrations (Harry Bliss!).

Hank (who refers to himself by his last name, Wolowitz — so you already know it’s funny) finds an invisible animal called a bandapat. The bandapat, Inkling, comes along just as Wolowitz is missing his best friend who moved away, and also as Wolowitz is dealing with an awful bully. Inkling helps him because Wolowitz saved him from a marauding French bulldog named Rootbeer. In the world of bandapats, Inkling must stick around to repay the debt, the Hetsnickle. This should all be enough for you. Wolowitz + Rootbeer + bandapat + Hetsnickle = Fun! Really. It could have no plot at all and I’d be tempted to read a book that revolved around those four words.

The other great thing about Invisible Inkling is the treatment of the bully situation. The grownups in Wolowitz’s life keep trying to tell him that he should empathize with his bully, he should be peaceful toward his bully, he should understand his bully’s problems, he should be friends with his bully. Inkling tells him to bite the bully on the ankle. Guess who’s right? Inkling. Sometimes you’ve just got to bite your bully on the ankle.

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Too Much Choclate Chips

September 6, 2011

I’m really trying to work on getting the kids to let me talk on the phone. I know, to them, it’s completely perplexing for me to walk around with a plastic thing held up to my face, shushing them. Still. It’s amazing how they’ll all be completely fine and then the minute I pick up the phone, they all start screaming and crying. I don’t even say, “Hello?” anymore, but just let the collective kid wail indicate that yes, I am here, and you can start talking, but I probably won’t be able to hear you. It’s amusing to the people I talk to on the phone the most (my mom and Dave), but not so much people calling to confirm dental appointments.

So, Henry, being the oldest, mostly understands what he’s supposed to do if I’m on the phone. But sometimes he feels like he really has an urgent message to convey, so he’ll bring me a note. This one is my favorite, not only for the content, but also for the fact that he clearly first just wrote “Eli’s eating chocolate chips” and then decided to make it more important by adding in “too much.”

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CATEGORIES: Henry

HUGE NEWS! I’m a reviewer on Katie Davis’s Podcast!

September 5, 2011

HUGE HUGE HUGE news, World of Julie fans! I am now a children’s book reviewer on the awesome Katie Davis’s amazing podcast, Brain Burps About Books! I am so humbled and excited to be part of this!

I highly recommend listening to Brain Burps About Books if you have any interest at all in children’s books (reading them or writing them). She has fantastic interviews, and the book reviews are great, even before yours truly became a contributor (although of course now they’re exemplary). Plus, I can now tell you the inside scoop on famous author/illustrators like Katie Davis: while you might expect the author of such classics as Who Hops? and Kindergarten Rocks! to be all snobby and full of herself, it turns out she’s super nice and hilarious and if she lived closer I already would have run over to her house with coffee and apple pie so we could talk in person.

This week is my debut (I review A Pet for Petunia), you can check out what’s on the podcast by going to Katie’s blog, or you can click here to listen. And please do!

CATEGORIES: Julie