Monday, January 19, 2015

Time to Come Home

This past week while Bobby was in Japan, Emily and I  kept busy to keep our mind off of it. We made a snow woman. We went to cookbook club. And I canned some apple pie filling from the apples a friend gave me. I even sanded the top of an old cedar chest my mother-in-law gave me in preparation of giving it a new coat of urethane. All in all, a good week.

 
 

And half way across the world, Bobby was working, eating out with co-workers, and took a tour of Tokyo.







 
With all of this busyness, I still had time to read a book for review. The book I chose was How High Is The Sky by Anna Milbourne. It is the story of a curious little penguin who is always asking questions. HIs biggest question is how high is the sky. As he attempts to find out, he gets farther and farther away from home and his Mama. He decides to go back home and he also decides that the sky just doesn't end. This made me think of how far away Bobby is and how I can't wait until it is time for him to come home!

There is supposed to be a poster at the end of the book that shows his journey, but my library copy had been removed. This book was really enjoyable and I would recommend it for children five to eight.

 
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Damaged Luggage and A Winter Wonderland

The saga of Bobby's trip to Japan continues. I heard from him for a few minutes when he called to let me know he had arrived safely. After he had time to sleep, he called me again before he left for work (Our morning is their night and so forth). Unfortunately, when he arrived at Tokyo, he found that the suitcase he had borrowed for the trip had been damaged.

I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been to try and drag luggage about with an entire ripped side all while trying to keep belongings from spilling out. Hopefully he won't let this minor set back sap the joy out of this experience.

Meanwhile, here in Ohio we have that lovely deep blanket of winter snow that was missing during Christmas. With that in mind, along with Bobby's trip, I chose two books. One about snow, and one representing Asian twins and the beautiful way they share everything

The first book is actually called Snow and is by the wonderful Cynthia Rylant. Snow is an absolutely and astoundingly beautifully written and illustrated book. She describes snow in amazing ways like the snow that falls at night and the snow that causes school children to be sent home. The snow that helps make memories. I seriously recommend this book for children and adults alike.
 

The second book I read was Ling and Ting Share A Birthday by author/illustrator Grace Lin. Ling and Ting are identical twins and it's their birthday. They share birthday shoes, they share birthday cake, they share a birthday wish, they even share their birthday gifts. But when they share most is an appreciation of each other. this book is perfect for children between the ages of five and eight and shares a very positive message.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Remembering 2014 And Embracing 2015


It's hard to believe that 2014 is a thought of the past and this is my first post of the new year. I also can't believe that in a week's time, my husband will be heading to Japan for a three week business trip. I am both excited for him and anxious since we have never been apart more than three days since we were married eleven years ago. And if truth be told, I might even be a little bit envious since I am the lover of travel and he is the homebody.

But as I look forward to each new adventure that we will face in this 2015, I also wish to fondly look back one last time and list my top five reads of 2014 in no particular order.

Ruth And The Green Book
 
 
Ruth And The Green Book, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, is the story of a young girl named Ruth who is traveling with her parents from Chicago to Rural Alabama in the 1950's to visit her grandmother. Many times they stop for gas, food, or an overnight stay and are turned away because they are negroes. Finally they stop at a gas station where the kindly attendant sells them a Green Book. The Green Book shows them friendly gas stations, hotels, and restaurants that serve traveling persons of color.

Although fictional, this story is based on the actual Green Books created for African American travelers by a New York postal worker by the name of Wendell P. Alston.

Henry and the Incredibly incorrigible, Inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human
 
 
 
Once I started this book, I could hardly put it down. The story takes us to a world where robots are the predominate life force and humans are created to do the menial tasks robots do not want to perform. Robots have to be careful though, because sometimes the drooling zombie like humans go beserko. This is Henry's greatest fear until he gets to know his human and finds, much to his surprise, that he is quite intelligent.

The adventure that they embark on when they run away together is fraught full of the kind of danger that keeps you on the edge of your seat while reading, and the secrets they discover will amaze even the most skeptical of readers. Miss Messina has created a wonderful piece of fiction that is sure to keep both boys and girls between the ages of nine and thirteen intrigued from beginning to end.
 
Apples to Oregon: Being The (Slightly) True Narrative Of How A Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, And Cherries (And Children) Across The Plains
 
 
Apples to Oregon is a terribly funny story of the pioneers traveling there and the cargo they brought. Even the title is funny claiming to be slightly true. So if you want a bit of history told in a fun manner, you really need to check out this realistic fictional piece!
 
 
The Paint Box
 
 
 
The Paint Box is a beautifully told story of a young Venetian girl in the late 1500's who had to dress like a boy in order to accompany her artist father around Venice to galleries and workshops. Although this story is fictional, the main character, Marietta, really existed and was a fine painter.
 
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
 
 
 
This is a beautiful book by Amy Lee-Tai. It is the story of a Japanese family of artists who were taken from their happy California home and were forced to spend three years in an Internment camp in the Utah desert.

Based on actual events that Miss Lee-Tai's Grandmother experienced, this story is a beautiful testament of human courage and hope. The illustrations by Felicia Hoshino add dimension to this tale, but most interesting of all is the fact that it is written in both English and Japanese.

If you want children to have a real interest in history, a real interest in the plight of others, a real interest in what it would be like to be unfairly taken from everything you've ever known, then this book is a must add to your reading list.
 
It seems that my favorite reads of 2014 were mostly realistic fiction, but who knows what 2015 will hold as we take the journey.
 
 
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Little Late But Still Pretty Great!

My family's Christmas celebration was a little late this year due to illnesses, but it still turned out pretty great. Four days after Christmas we were all well enough to get together and though we had to change our menu form the planned hot sandwiches, chicken wings, and cheesy potato soup, the homemade chicken nuggets and Stromboli were acceptable replacements. The chocolate, chocolate chip cookies made everything more festive as well.

The highlight of our gift giving was watching my two year old nephew help my mom open her presents. He also had great joy using that ribbon to tie up his sister and Emily.



The only slight disappointment was the fact that our Christmas was green this year. But although we've had no snow as of yet, I know it will be on it's way any time now. So to prepare, I read Snow Dog, Go Dog. A great rhyming book for children five to eight, Snow Dog, Go Dog shows just how much fun a boy and his dog can have in the snow. The kind of fun that makes you tired and ready to sleep at the end of the day!


I also read a book called Sparrow Jack. It's an older book only available used, but well worth finding. It tells the story of how the English sparrow came to be in America. It was a lively and interesting tale of how Sparrow Jack brought the birds to Philadelphia to take care of an inchworm epidemic. I love mostly true historical children's books. They make learning so much fun and it's a pretty good way to wrap up the year.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Nice, Nicer, and Nicest of All...



To receive a package in the mail is nice a few days before Christmas is nice. To receive a package that contains two children's books is even nicer. But the nicest gift of all is to receive pre-release copies of children's books illustrated by a friend and one of my favorite illustrators, Mark Wayne Adams.

And although these books don't officially release until January, I couldn't wait to read these gems. Mildred begged to read them with me, so we enjoyed them together. The first one we read was the Parts of Speech Parade New York City written by Irina Conickberg. It is a beautiful book that explains nouns, verbs, and so forth in a very fun manner. Each page shows a beautiful scene as the parts of speech come alive and tell their story as they parade through New York City. This book would be a perfect addition to any homeschool curriculum or a wonderful help to children needing that little bit of extra help remembering what each part of speech does.


The second book we read was Frozen Floppies by John Hope. This story actually came about after Mark created a pattern for a frozen floppy, and a pattern is actually included in the book. A floppies are a cross between a donkey and a kangaroo and they live in distinct groups that never mingle. That is until a horrible storm causes two of the three floppy groups to work together to help the third group which has become frozen floppysicles.


Reading books was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon seeing that I was a bit under the weather. I also managed to watch two programs of interest. The first was a short called The Gruffalo and is an Academy Award Nominee  based on a book by Julia Donalson. This story of a mouse taking a walk through the dangerous forest is absolutely phenomenal and I can't wait to read the book and compare it to the movie version.

And to finish off the evening, Bobby, Emily, and I watched A Charlie Brown. We watch this classic every year and never tire of it's message to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Baking, Books, and Bedtime

I love December because it means lots and lots of baking. Every year I bake a tray of Christmas cookies for my husband to take to work. It's also my opportunity to try new recipes. This year I modified a recipe for a cake/cookie and a chocolate cookie. Both turned out quite well, as did my staple Christmas cookies the date nut pinwheels and the cream wafers.



The cake/cookie recipe was originally for lemon cookies, but I wasn't very fond of them. I thought I would make a different flavor. I found a pink velvet cake at the store and thought that it would make a lovely and colorful start. Next I added two eggs and a 1/3 cup of extra light olive oil. I blended the mix well and added an eight ounce container of raspberries. Once the raspberries were thoroughly incorporated, the mixture was thick and gooey. I dropped large soup spoon fulls of dough into a bowl with powdered sugar. The dough was a little to sticky to roll so I gently tossed it around in the bowl until it was coated and I could pick it up. Carefully I tossed it in the palm of one hand to create a ball shape and then I placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I baked them on 375 degrees for nine minutes.

While I was waiting for the each batch of cookies to bake I browsed Facebook where I happened to see an article on a new social media site, that is just getting started, called TSU. There was a very helpful article by Scott Buehler which told all about TSU and how to join. It looked quite interesting, so I decided to join and set up a profile. Since the site is so new you can only join through an existing member. I joined through Scott. If you are interested, you can join through my short link.

While searching for people to friend, I found a link to an adorable e-book by John Lancer called Bedtime Little Bear. The illustrations are so cute I almost went into sugar shock, and the story is quite adorable as well. It is bedtime for a little bear, but like most children, he does everything to avoid going to bed. Follow him on his journey as he discovers bedtime isn't so bad.



The best part about this wonderful e-book is that right now it is free on Amazon. So go check it out and see if you and your children love it as much as I did!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Is On It's Way...

Wow. Can you believe Christmas is just a few weeks away. Actually, this whole year just seems to have flown by quite rapidly. This past Sunday, Emily performed in her Christmas Pageant where she had a special part as one of the tap dancing wisemen. The show was spectacular and the only downside was that she wasn't feeling well that day. Blessedly, she didn't throw up until the very end of the program.





I simply cleaned up the floor in front of the bathroom, rinsed her off, and gave her a jacket to wear in lieu of her shirt. That's how we tough moms roll. We left immediately and missed the Christmas cookies, but I told her we would have plenty of cookies at our house once I started baking.

Now that her program is finished and I don't have to haul her to practices, I can actually relax for the next two weeks. Baking and reading will be the highlight of my weeks. And speaking of reading, my Monday post wouldn't be complete without a book review or two.

Since Christmas is quickly approaching and winter is setting in, I went with the Christmas/Winter theme when choosing my latest round of books. The first book I read was called One Mitten. The cover was so adorable, I just had to take this book home and find out what was inside. And, I wasn't disappointed. One Mitten is the story of a girl who has only one mitten who shares with us all of the things you can do with just one mitten until she accidentally finds the lost matching mitten. The story then continues by sharing what a girl can do with two mittens, and finally ends with more mittens and a friend. A perfect book for children five to eight and a reminder of what fun winter can be.


 

The second book I read was The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,. and I almost cried at the beauty of this story. Jonathan Toomey is know to all the town folk as gloomy Toomey. Unbeknownst to them, Jonathan has lived through a calamity that has caused him unbearable grief. That is until the widow McDowell and her son once again show him the joy of Christmas. I am definitely going to add this to my list of best ever Christmas stories!
 
 
 

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my sequel, Return To Fern Valley! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.