Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blood and Taxes?!

I can’t believe how long it has been since we went to visit our library. The weather for the last three weeks accounted for a good portion of it, but now we are dealing with taxes. Long before I reacquainted myself with children’s books and followed my dream of being a librarian there were the many years of bean counting. Some of that was making sure others counted correctly and some of it was counting the beans myself. Now, with the tax season upon us I have set up my tax sign again. With that comes extended family taxes, but no one else’s. I am strictly a part, part-time tax girl.

Unfortunately, taxes can be complicated when there is a death, inheritance, social security caps, or prior bad accountants creating the need for amended returns. And, yes several in the family ventured into all these areas this past year. So, between cleaning up blood spewing from the wee one's mouth (teeth through the bottom lip from a fall) this past weekend and being knee deep in taxes my brain has been deprived of new reading delights. Luckily we have a vast quantity of books to keep us re-reading here, but it is nice to interject some new pages of imagination from time to time especially with these past weeks and weekends of bitter cold, snow, and ice that have kept us in doors for most of the time. We were fortunate not to have any lost electricity, but still dealing with plumbing issues to add some spice to the mix. Here’s hoping you can get out and enjoy your library and all it has to offer.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Picture Books - Variety to Choose from

A little over a week ago we had a celebration for my wee one's 2nd birthday. Being from a family of avid readers and fans of books she received a number of them from just about everyone. She was delighted and enjoys them all (and so do I). The interesting thing about receiving books for gifts is that sometimes there will be duplicates. However, we still after all this time have not received one duplicate, which in itself is amazing. The wee one received over a dozen books so I'm only going to list a few here. (Did I mention we are looking to add a few more book shelves for the house?)

Anyway, the books ranged from old classics to new award winners and each with their own unique appeal. The first is the recent Not a Box by Antoinette Portis 2006, which was a 2007 honor Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner, and inspires the mind with the many fun things an imagination can find to do with a box. And, our wee one definitely loves boxes.

Another recent one Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace 2005 takes on the love of vegetables and the ick of eating candy a little pea has to deal with. Then there are also the tales that highlight cultural myths like Two Bear Cubs: A Miwok Legend from California's Yosemite Valley by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Daniel San Souci 1997 and Coyote in Love by Mindy Dwyer 1997. In some libraries these would be found in the folktale

Then there were some older classics like the Caldecott winner Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi 1948 and the good old Golden Books Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton and illustrated by Tibor Gergely 1946.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Cat in the Hat!

Wow! Who would have thought that Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat would be still such a sensation after all these years, 50 to be exact. In honor of this milestone there will be a nationwide read-aloud on Dr. Seuss' birthday of March 2. Interested in more information about this event check out the website for details.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year (lunar that is) again!

Hope you all are enjoying the Chinese New Year today. We celebrated with a take out Chinese dinner and remembered that my husband was also born in the Year of the Pig as is this New Year's animal. However, in the past we have seen this lunar year animal more often called the Year of the Boar rather then pig. We like the boar reference better as it seems a bit more of a masculine kind of rough and tumble animal than the image a simple farm pig conjures.

The newly released picture book The Year of the Pig: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin and illustrated by Jeremiah Alcorn (2007) offers the reader a humorous insight to the Chinese Zodiac and a fun little tale about Patty the pig. Check your library shelves for this amusing tale and enjoy a coming of age story and a bit of Chinese culture. I think this is the second in what looks to be a new series about the zodiac.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cold days and Warm hearts

What a lonely site this mailbox can be on Valentine's Day. Luckily for me I found a sweet and hand delivered Valentine from my favorite man on the kitchen counter after he shoveled the drifting snow from the driveway and sidewalks again this morning.

For others in our neighborhood I hope they have some one that hand delivers as well. Seems the postal service here had the option of "to deliver or not" yesterday and it looks to be the same here again today.

As you can see the road looks somewhat passable, but our mailman who is probably the least liked by me doesn't deliver when there is anything that may potential or even remotely looks like an obstacle from a mile away (I'm really not exaggerating too much). I have no idea why he took a job he so clearly doesn't like or doesn't do most of the time. We have only lived here a little over a year, but in that time he has found every reason possible not to deliver the mail.

Anyway, although it may be a bitter cold day and for the rest of this week, my heart warms at the thought of spending time with my husband and wee one this evening. The only thing that could make this day any better would have been to have the last Harry Potter book to read on a day like this instead of waiting until the hot days of July.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine's Day Board Books

Ah! Valentine's Day! Tomorrow we will celebrate loving others in generally and then also those that have an extra special place in our hearts. Here at our humble abode we have lots of love and lots to be thankful for on the romance day of the year that so many look forward to and so many dread.

We are celebrating simple as we have a winter snow storm in progress. The storm I am viewing almost like a layered cake. We received about 5 inches here so far at least that is what the say, but my husband shoveled about 12 inches out of the driveway and walkways this morning. Now, we are receiving several hours of the "icing", which will then be topped with another 5 or so inches of snow. Lucky for us, my sweetheart is able to work from home today in between the shoveling.

For the wee one, who turned the big "Two" over the weekend we found some special books to share with her tomorrow. The first two books are small little picture board books with sweet pictures of puppies and kittens with even cutier sayings. Kitty Love and Puppy Love were published by Dalmation Press in 2006 and we found them for $1.00 each in a large discount retailer's store a few weeks back. I haven't seen them elsewhere, but I'm sure will be well received by the wee one.

The other book we found for her is by Sarah Wilson and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. This particular version of Love and Kisses was released as a board book in 2002 and earlier as a picture book in 1999. The caption reads "Blow a kiss and let it go, You never know how love will grow!" The simple yet humorous short story follows a kiss as it is first shared between a girl and her cat and then amongst various other animals. So, to you and yours we wish you a day filled with more than normal amounts of love and fun.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Picture Books - Go To Sleep, Groundhog

We have read a number of Groundhog Day books around our house and Go to Sleep, Groundhog by Judy Cox and illustrated by Paul Meisel (2003) was by far one of the best. And, to my surprise there are a lot of picture books on the subject and many not so good. With this past Friday being Groundhog Day and supposedly we will have an early spring (ha ha ha) I thought I would bring this particular book up. The summary for it indicates: "When Groundhog is unable to sleep, he experiences autumn and winter holidays he never knew about, and then he finally falls asleep before Groundhog Day." However, it really doesn’t do it justice. The story is adorable and just makes you think how cute. Since Groundhog is unable to get to sleep he wonders about through the holidays and meets up with a kindly witch, a turkey, and Santa who all try to help him get back to sleep. One of my favorite parts of the book was the end where you get to learn the facts behind how Groundhog Day came about. With the weather outside being a bit fridged and snow covered (at least here) this one would be a good choice for reading during an indoor hot chocolate break.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Current score - Pipes 2 Homewner 0

Just call me Plumber PJ. It has been very, very cold here this last week and this week is even going to be colder. This type of weather isn’t unusual for this area, but we haven’t had it for a while. We moved last year to a new home and I am still not completely familiar with all its maintenance issues and quirks, yet. We did find out last year that our bathroom had pipes that ran in an outside wall, or did they? Our pipes froze last year when the outside temp was around 28 degrees. According to the plumber this is unusual as it takes around 22 or so before they freeze. But, what do I know last I checked water started to freeze at 32 degrees. Anyway the pipes last year worked themselves out with some strange method the plumber suggested, or did they?

Ah, where is she going with this? Well, turns out we woke up to frozen pipes on Saturday morning. After trying the last year’s plumber’s “method” for 8 hours I finally called a different plumber. And, yes we do have piping in an outside wall, but turns out not the water pipes the former plumber thought were there. When the kind and knowledge current plumber took my word based on the last guy and cut a large hole in the wall we learned the pipe in question was a drainpipe. So, based on the hunch I had last year, which the first plumber dismissed as just female nonsense this plumber looked and suddenly found the builder for this home did indeed run exposed water pipes in the attic above a non-insulated garage. Before yesterday the farthest I have ever been in our attic was standing on the ladder going “here Honey can you put this up there too?”

So, when I came back from one of the large do-it-yourself retail stores this afternoon with dry wall repair supplies (yes, I’m the handyman in the family) to repair the oversize hole in the wall, I was a little befuddled to learn yet again we had frozen pipes. Only this time it was the hot water not cold. #&*@! Excuse my swearing, but now I had to really buckle down and crawl around the attic into this creepy corner to try a hair dryer and hope the pipe wasn’t cracked. Fortunately for me I had asked the kindly plumber yesterday for tips to help if this happened again. Yes, I did let the water drip from every faucet as I had been doing for the last week. (I forgot one on Friday night, which is why our bath went dry as they say.)

Lesson learned is next time at home repair store get some insulation with the dry wall supplies. Will need sooner than you think. No, I am not going back to the store as it is the current high for the day of 14 degrees. Plus, I just can’t stand the thought of being in that attic again freezing my fingers and trying not to get any more splinters in them for today. So, I am going against my better judgment and running both the hot and cold all night until tomorrow.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Black History Month

Black History month is one of those times I have some really special memories of working with the elementary school kids. One of the things I miss the most in working with young minds everyday is when they had a project and needed to learn some skills in how to find information. Since Black History month falls into the second semester for most schools the kids would already have a pretty good idea about how to use the library. I also would have a sense of which students would try to cut as many corners as possible to get the project done. But, it was good to see how much of the first semester’s efforts were used during this time.

Most of the teachers of all the grades would do some sort of project or research for individuals and events during this special history month. The 4th grade teachers would have their kids pick a name from a list and prepare a research paper on a person who wasn’t quite a household name like Garrett Morgan or Benjamin Banneker. Our library had a really nice selection of biography books to find information, but we also had pathfinders for particularly useful websites and various reference books. The kids had such great fun or at least in the researching part of the paper. The writing of the paper is where many of the students did most of the grumbling.

Well, anyway this is a great month to discover more about American History and those that made significant strides not only in helping shape our nation, but bring different cultures together.

Soon it will be March and hopefully many schools will also celebrate Women’s History with the same spirit. The following are just a small, small number of sites that might be useful for those doing research.

Library of Congress- the African American Mosaic
Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide to Black History
Scholastic- Culture and Change, Black History in America
KidsClick!- African-Americans
Black History: Then to Now