Once Upon a Story
October 26, 2012

Alright, so I’m not sure if I’m any more organized than last Friday.  In fact, last night I was shampooing my carpet at 8pm because my t00-tall, shouldn’t-be-walking-but-is 11 month old managed to grab a placemat from the table, pulling the placemat and my (cold) coffee to the floor.  On my beige carpeting.

* le sigh*

But that’s not this week’s confession.  My true confession is that I’m about to be even more scattered because

I’m busting out of my comfort zone

A couple of things have happened this week.

First, a random tweet from led to my learning of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), which is essentially NaNoWriMo for those who are focused on the smaller people.

*raises hand*

That led me to the group’s Facebook page.

Where I took a giant leap out of my comfort zone and asked a question about how people found face-to-face writing groups for picture books.  Because there are a TON in my area for those writing The Great American Novel.  Which I am not.  But anybody want to hear my story for preschoolers?

And then there was lots of helpful chit chat about resources.  And then a comment from an individual, who lives not far from me, who is a member of a small writing book, specifically picture books, that might have an opening for a new member.

And suddenly I’m connected.

Amazing when that happens, isn’t it?

At the very least, I’m proud of me for taking a leap.

And also? Very happy to be starting the weekend with clean floors.

See you Monday!


October 19, 2012

You know what’s nice about maintaining your own blogging space?  It’s something that can be controlled.  Here, my space is clean and orderly.  My thoughts are (for the most part) complete and understandable.  I appear to be an organized, rational, individual.  I confess, though, this week:

I (and my actual living space) are a chaotic mess.

You know those weeks?  I overpaid the preschool tuition and underpaid the photographer.  The house is in desperate need of a cleaning, but why bother when sticky little hands will have every surface messy again within 30 seconds?  I’m trying to pin down our travel plans for the upcoming holiday season and can’t seem to make forward progress.  I had a small (no damage, no injuries) kitchen fire.  I have couple blogging deadlines to meet and the words are stuck. My daughter’s field trip, which I thought was next Wednesday is actually next Tuesday.


We’re fortunate to be enjoying beautiful fall weather.   And tomorrow is our annual pumpkin patch pilgrimage, where we will (maybe) get pictures of the kids looking all clean and cute and fall-like.

And maybe when I get back on Monday, I’ll have taken some time to get my stuff together.

Or maybe not.  What’s life without a little unpredictability?

Happy Friday!

October 12, 2012

I love fall.  I love when it finally cools off, when the leaves change, and when the opportunity for gorgeous pictures (that I make my husband take) abound.


I am not a huge fan of Halloween.

I don’t boycott it.  We celebrate it as a kids’ holiday.  Both my kids will dress up and go out into the neighborhood this year.  My older child will participate in the festivities at her school.  We carve pumpkins and make themed cookies.  But it really is one I celebrate for the kids’ sake.  I’m perfectly content to sit out on my front porch and pass out candy to all the costumed neighborhood kids who came up the walk.

We HAVE been  reading Halloween/fall books to get in the spirit of things.  There are some I definitely enjoy.  Others… eh.  On a recent trip to the library, I let Preschooler browse the holiday section and select a few Halloween books to bring home.  She’s chosen one that we’ve now read repeatedly.

Confession #2?

The book is driving me crazy.

I practice what I preach.  Unless it’s a book that has some sort of message I strongly disagree with, or one where the content is too mature for her age, I generally let her bring home anything she selects.  But sometimes, like this time,  that means some torturous reading for me.

The writing is poor.  The plot is all over the place.  The illustrations are just so-so.  The ending is weak.  And she loves it.  I’ve tried suggesting we return it in exchange for something else.  She says she wants to keep it for “more and more weeks!”

I do have some Halloween books to recommend, and I’ll share those next week.  Maybe, if I can convince Preschooler to read one of those, I can share her thoughts, too.

But anyone with a child this age knows that once they latch on to a story…it takes a Halloween miracle to make them let go.

October 5, 2012

Happy Friday, friends!

Today, I confess

I’m doing the happy dance.

For so many reasons.

First, I am sitting in sunny California (childless!!)  where I’m spending the long weekend and celebrating a new niece or nephew due to arrive in a few weeks.

Second, I am so very excited to share that, due to another blogger’s change in plans, I will be a second round Cybils judge for the Middle Grades Fiction category.  Which means, come January, I will be reading, chatting, and sharing some of the best of the best in that category over the past year.

So if you haven’t submitted your Cybils nominations (for middle grades or any other category), head over now!

Once you’ve done that, have a wonderful, fabulous weekend.  See you Monday!

September 7, 2012

This morning we went to Preschooler’s preschool orientation.  The preschool changed hands over the summer, and so I was a little nervous about how this was all going to play out.  But in our area, if you didn’t get your child into a preschool in February…it’s really hard to find a spot now (don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness of that…).  So we were “stuck” and I was nervous.

We went in to the brightly decorated classroom, met her three teachers, and then Preschooler was lured out from behind my legs by the big bin of oversized legos.

The lead teacher enthusiastically launched into her presentation, guiding us through the prepared folder of information.  And then she pulled out a project that she has asked the children to complete over the weekend.  A cutout of a small hand with a heart in the middle that she wants each child to decorate.  The project will be part of  the first bulletin board, and is dedicated to the reading of Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand.

I think I fell in love with her a little bit right then.

Way to go, Ms. Charlotte, for not only starting the year off with a fantastic book, but also affirming the important home-to-school connection.  I don’t know what the upcoming year will bring, but for this afternoon, anyway, I’m excited for Preschooler’s first year of “school” and for a teacher who pulls out her books on the very first day.

(Also, she sent home a Scholastic book club pamphlet.  Which is going to make my husband groan as I show him all the titles I already have picked out…)

Happy Friday, all.  I hope that this back to school transition has gone well for you!

August 17, 2012

Hello, my name is Maria and

I have a school supply addiction

I grew up in the era of Lisa Frank, Trapper Keepers, Yikes! pencils, and plastic lunchboxes with coordinating thermos.

Anybody else remember those?

I loved back-to-school shopping.  Really, I loved school.  And getting bright, new, shiny supplies to begin each year just added to the thrill.

When I graduated and moved on to college, I majored in elementary education.  My addiction continued.  Not only did I always have art supplies at the ready, but I still enjoyed organizing my notebooks for each class, gathering new pens, and yes, even buying the textbooks (though the paying for the textbooks part was a little rough).  As I began taking some of my more senior courses, I was even required to buy new BOOKS…picture books, middle grades, young adult… for my lit classes.

Then I went on to accept a teaching position, and I got to buy supplies with other people’s money.  Win!  After a few years, I went back to school for my library science degree, and once again, it was new notebooks, binders, textbooks, and tradebooks.

And then I stopped teaching.  And I finished my degree. And I stopped my school supply runs each fall.

Now, every Augustl, I get a little bit giddy walking through the stores.  I have to resist the temptation to buy the ridiculously  marked down items off the shelf and bring them home with me.

Thankfully, there are many backpack drives going on that help those with my condition.  We can satisfy our need without becoming hoarders.

I’m fully aware that in a few years, when I’m buying all these items for my children, the thrill may wear off.  Maybe.

On the other hand… Lisa Frank, people.  That never gets old, right?

July 27, 2012

Happy Friday, all!

We’ve spent about 1/3 of July away from home, and I’m still in the process of getting back to normal.  It seems that there is stuff piled all over the house (even more than usual) and I’m on a mission to organize/de-clutter/clean.

It’s going alright.

One of the areas that I’m trying to de-clutter is my nightstand.  While organizing the books there, it occurred to me:

It’s been a long time since I read a book targeted at my age group.

With the exception of a Sophie Kinsella book I read a few months ago, all of my recent reads have been middle grade or picture books.

Preschooler and I  go through a ridiculous number of picture books each week.  The library bag sits next to my nighstand, and it’s usually chock-full with our weekly picks.  I also currently have 5 books on the nightstand itself–3 middle grades, a young adult, and an adult novel.  The three middle grades are the ones I’m currently reading/just finished.

Then the other night, I picked up an ARC of an adult novel I had received from another blogger.  And I read a little.  But it wasn’t captivating me.  I put it down and went to bed.  The next night, I went back to Guys Read: The Sports Pages…and I read the first three stories.

Anybody else find themselves doing this?  Reading (and enjoying!) books for a younger target audience more often than the ones for your own age group?

Either way, I’m not really complaining.  I’ve read some wonderful books.

And I have a stack of more wonderful books ready for my attention.

Have a fabulous weekend!


July 7, 2012

Yep.  It’s Saturday.  So let’s not waste anymore time and get right to the confessing, okay?  I confess:

Yesterday was not my best parenting day

Which also explains the lack of posting.  It was just one of those days.  Baby is cutting both of his bottom teeth, simultaneously, and is fussy and not sleeping well.  Preschooler had a day where she challenged every directive, request, option, and idea.  It was a day of one battle after another after another.  And she didn’t nap yesterday, either.

So by 4:00, I was burned out.  I took advantage of a moment of relative calm to start prepping dinner.  While in the kitchen, I looked up and saw this:

Walking into the living, I interrupted them from their shared activity:

It probably would have been a better picture if you could see that Preschooler also had a book in her hand and was reading aloud to her brother.

I’d love to say that this was the turning point in our day and that we had a lovely, peaceful, family evening.  In reality, this moment was exactly that.  A moment.  It wasn’t long before chaos erupted again and continued right on through bedtime.

Even so, I’m thankful for these little moments of calm and for the sweetness my children have for each other.

Have a great weekend, friends!

June 29, 2012

See that little pun up there?  Pretty catchy for early on a Friday morning, right?

I thought so.

For several months now, the book blogging/literacy/teaching world has been buzzing about The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  I read review after review after review, all singing its praises.  But I confess:

I didn’t read the book.

There were a couple reasons.  First, the animal narrator is not typically my style.  Secondly, longer books in prose tend to feel disjointed to me.  Third, there aresomany books on my “I want to read” list that this one just didn’t make the cut.

And then 2 nights ago, my Twitter exploded with an online book club chat about this book.  And when I say “exploded”, I mean it literally took over my screen.  All enthusiastic, all passionate, all from individuals whose opinion I value.

I was obviously missing something.

So on our weekly trip to the library yesterday, I picked it up.  I started reading it during my “Mommy time” after dinner, then put it down to do bath/bed with the kids.  I picked it back up again once the house was quiet, and an hour and a half later… I was done.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book in one sitting like that.

It is, in a word, absorbing.  You quickly forget that the narrator is, in fact, an ape.  The writing is beautifully crafted, both touching and humorous.

I’m so glad I buckled to the masses.

June 15, 2012

This week?   Has been one of the most challenging my family has faced in a long time.  We’re exhausted.  And collectively relieved that the end of the week brought some bright spots.  And that we can regroup over the weekend.

It’s also meant that my attention has been shifted elsewhere, and so I confess that

 I’ve given up on a project. 

Which is fine.  It’s just not the right time.  There are currently too many balls in the air and this was by far the easiest one to let go.

On the other hand, thanks to Armchair BEA and the generosity of two wonderful publishers, I got some exciting book mail this week that I’m looking forward to sharing in the near future.

So here’s to the survival of the week, and the approach of the weekend.

See you all Monday!

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