Thursday, October 29, 2015

REVIEW--Made You Up

Yesterday I showed off my recent author visit with author Francesca Zappia.  The students and I had a blast with Chessie--she was down to earth, easy to talk to, and excited to share her feelings on the writing process. 

So today I thought I'd give you my review of the book!  I've said many times in videos before that Chessie was compared through our Indianapolis newspaper to John Green, so I had high expectations for this book.  And I was very pleasantly surprised!  Check out my review below:

  • Standalone novel
  • Realistic fiction
The Gist:
Starting at a new high school is difficult for students, but it is especially difficult for Alex.  She is a high school paranoid schizophrenic, and she's switching schools because of a graffiti incident at her last school.  But keeping schizophrenia a secret from new classmates is not easy when you aren't even sure what's real in the world.  Readers simply can't trust Alex, because she can't even trust herself.

What I Loved:
  • The premise of this is so fascinating--an unreliable narrator who literally doesn't know what is real or made up in her world.
  • This book was written so well!  It was an easy read for my students, yet not fluff material.  Zappia's writing style is advanced and engrossing.
  • I selfishly loved the Indiana setting--Meijer stores, highway students appreciated it, too!
  • There was a great depth to Zappia's characters.  I wanted to know more about each and every one of them.
  • Of course it wouldn't be a book about schizophrenia without a surprise ending! 
What I Didn't Love:
  • I did figure out a big spoiler before it was revealed.  However, I only discovered this based on some book artwork, and NONE of my students caught it.  So I think I'm in the minority on this one.
  • There were still a few questions in my mind when the book was over, especially involving Mr. McCoy and Celia.  I might have to go do some re-reading.
Overall a really enjoyable read for me!  My students loved it and it was a book to really get you thinking.  Four stars for me!

Tomorrow I'll feature an outfit based on Alex!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Author Visit--Francesca Zappia

This week I hosted author Francesca Zappia (of Made You Up) at my school to meet with my Library Media students.  I'll review Made You Up tomorrow here on the blog, but I wanted to give you a peek at our visit! 

I made a short video about the day, which you can check out here:

Made You Up has a Magic 8 Ball that appears sporadically throughout the book, so my students all wore T-shirts with 8 Ball phrases on them.

Notice that Francesca and a few students are wearing Converse?  Totally planned.

Francesca had a relaxed visit with the students, offering plenty of time for Q&A (which was perfect because they had questions after reading the book!).

We also had lunch together and played a game of "Real or Made Up."  Get it?  Made Up, Made You Up?

A huge thanks to Francesca for the visit!  She got RAVE reviews from the students!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Stylish Week

Take a look at what made last week so stylish for us!

On our way home from Nashville, we decided to make a spontaneous stop in Bowling Green, KY for an underground cave boat ride. The boys loved it and it was definitely a family fun adventure!
 Getting ready for our tour!  Little guy was very curious.

 Post-tour selfie.

With Halloween so close, we got into the holiday spirit with some family activities.
 Our oldest son wanted a traditional Jack O'Lantern look.  So that's what he got!

 We made some chocolate/candy corn popcorn.  Yummmm.

We started a new tradition--painting a pumpkin to match one of our Halloween costumes!  Our oldest is dressing like Baymax from Big Hero Six, so this was an easy pumpkin paint job!

Speaking of Halloween, our oldest is obsessed with his Baymax costume.  I found him like this in his bedroom and he said he was "getting ready for blastoff."

We made a batch of pumpkin pecan oatmeal muffins this week and it made for a healthy but yummy breakfast.  Recipe found here.

We took part of my Fall Break week to redesign our boys' room.  Which meant my lovely husband got to paint their room!

 We picked up supplies for a headboard project for the boys, and at one point I found that our kiddos had left Woody like this on our cart.  I totally felt the same way, Woody.

We ended the week with a Halloween party at one of Luke's co-worker's house.  He was Bob Ross and I was his happy tree :)  We had to explain our costume a lot (and then only half the guests understood it) but we still laugh at how much we love the costumes.

So what made your week stylish?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Reads for Preschoolers

I just love holidays!  Lately I've heard so many people talk about their annoyance with Halloween, but I just love it--the fall weather, candles, general spookiness, football...ahhh. 

I make a point to have my boys read seasonal books with me, so this year we once again read some great Halloween books together. 

You may remember this list of books that we read last year.  We brought back some of those books this year, like...

Wobble the Witch Cat by Mary Calhoun

My oldest son tends to get scared of new things easily (a.k.a. dogs!) and poor Wobble is scared of riding on a broom, so this was a good book to talk through.

Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

This one is just so fun to act out!  I started adding hand motions to it for my younger son and it is a hit!

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti

This one is by far the most loved by the boys.  So interactive and they love it when I do voices.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming 

Such a lovely poem book, and even though this isn't extremely entertaining for the boys, they always ask for it!

And here are some new ones that we loved this year:

Trick or Treat Countdown by Patricia Hubbard

Any book that encourages the boys to count is always a favorite! 

At the Old Haunted House by Helen Ketteman

Another countdown book with beautiful, fun pictures.  A fun ending to the book, too, with a Halloween party!

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

Not really a Halloween book, but a great book to talk about what happens to us when we let our emotions take over.  Our oldest kept laughing and calling us "Crankenstein" over the next few days.

Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi

A cute game of Halloween hide-and-seek and another good one to talk about our fears. 

What has your family been reading to get into the Halloween spirit?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Stylish Week

This week is Fall Break, ya'll!  And it has been so great already--but more about that next week since this post is all about LAST week.  And it was a great one!  Here's a look:

 I just love the colors of fall--the burgundies, the golds.  This was a fun, relaxing Sunday outfit.

And I still just can't get over this Baublebar necklace.

But my fashion last Sunday was completely overshadowed by this awesome moment--my husband saying "I'm all in" to following Christ and re-dedicating his life through baptism.  Such an emotional moment, and I still get choked up every time I watch it.

We're on an oatmeal kick in our house, but oatmeal doesn't have to be boring!  This is carrot cake oatmeal--but the healthy kind!  Get the recipe here.  And the best part of it is that you make it the night before and have a rush-free morning.

My students are gearing up for an author visit (Francesca Zappia, author of Made You Up), so we made some melted crayon art to replicate the cover of her book.

This is such a fun sweater to wear, and it got a lot of attention from my students.  And it even has a name--the "No Drama Llama" sweater!

Friday was Boss's Day (which I didn't even know!) but my assistant got me a lovely card.  Since her name is Julia, too, she addressed my envelope "Julia 1."

I made a fun (and yes, a little difficult) spider web for my front door.  It uses the himmeli technique of folding and wiring straws.

We drove to Nashville, TN to visit with my high school buddy Brooke.  Man I miss that girl!  She's my friend that I immediately fall into place with when I'm around her.  We just fit so well.  We took our kiddos to a pumpkin patch (with a pumpkin train!) and snuck off to a winery for a few hours by ourselves!
 I couldn't believe BOTH boys were big enough to sit on the pumpkin train all by themselves!

Me and Brooke--and her cute chubby baby!

The view from the winery was just breathtaking.

So what made your week stylish?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Martian-Inspired Outfit

Last week I reviewed The Martian and last night I saw the movie.  Verdict--I loved both!  And there were enough differences to keep my interest throughout the entire movie. 

Wardrobe in this book is pretty normal for an astronaut--you've got the standard spacesuit and then just comfortable work clothes.  All NASA-issued, of course. 

So for my outfit inspiration I decided to create a NASA-inspired outfit that would be perfect for a fall walk around the neighborhood.  So much of Mark Watney's story featured him walking around, fixing broken equipment, considering his survival plan.  So I wanted to design an outfit that was easy to work in, appropriate for outdoor weather, and representative of NASA's clean lines in design. 

And here's what I came up with:

Let's break it down:
  • The puffy jacket of course is about as close as we get to a spacesuit.  I love the silver color; white coats aren't as practical and this still has a NASA feel to it.
  • A comfortable sweater and leggings are perfect for walking and working.  I love the clean lines of the sweater with just a touch of blue.  
  • Black combat boots are comfortable (yes, really) and good for all kinds of terrain.  Trendy right now, too.
  • Astronauts don't mess with dangly jewelry, so simple pearl earrings (these are only $12!) add some femininity but just a touch.
So what do you think?  Would you walk around your neighborhood in this outfit?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Stylish Week

Whew, this week was a whirlwind.  Busy at work, busy at home--we were constantly jumping from here to there!  But here's what made this week stylish to me:

Fall weather means evening backyard races.  This is a common occurrence for us, with the little guy always trailing a bit behind...

I decorated a pumpkin in 10 can find the tutorial here.

This week I hosted our 2nd annual Great Gatsby festival for our junior English teachers.  It was a blast!  And check out these ceiling tiles that our students painted for one of our English classes!

Our oldest son had a Walk-a-Thon at his preschool this week, with each class representing a different country.  Our little guy's class represented Spain--check out our little matador!  

Luke and I hung out with the camels in Africa while we watched the classes make laps.

This weekend was the annual Eliot Rosewater High School Book Award committee meeting.  Conversations got intense as we narrowed down our 2016-2017 list from 75 to 25.  Here everyone is making their final tallies.
Cardigan (Target)  Plaid shirt (Old Navy)  Necklace (J Crew Outlet)

It's the simple things in life that make our boys smile.  Like the racecar at the mall.  Brightens up this guy's face every time.

So what made your week stylish?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

REVIEW--The Martian

So I don't read adult books very often.  One, I work with teens and YA fiction, so that's naturally what I gravitate towards.  And two, I honestly just prefer YA books.  They get to the point faster and just flow well for my reading tastes.  But EVERYONE has been talking about The Martian.  And even devoted YA book fans have been proclaiming it to be their favorite book of the year.  So I had to read it.  And here's what I thought!

  • Standalone novel
  • Science Fiction
The Gist:
Mark Watney is on an astronaut crew to conduct research on Mars.  Six days after arriving on Mars, a massive storm hits the crew and almost knocks over their spaceship.  Mark is hit by a stray pole and can't be found in the crazy chaos of the dust storm.  His suit reads that he has died, and because of the urgency of the situation, the crew must leave his body behind on Mars.  Only Mark didn't die.  And now he's alone on Mars.  He has a 31-day supply of food and it will take NASA four years to get supplies to him.  Which means he has to grow food on a planet that doesn't grow anything.  And he has to make water.

What I Loved: 
  • Wow this book was exciting!  Just when you think things are going well, you find out that they aren't.  Highly engrossing!
  • I was worried at first that this book would be like the movie Castaway and that we would be following a solo Mark for the entirety.  But it wasn't--point of view switched to NASA, Mark's crewmates, Mark himself.  Each viewpoint was fascinating.
  • From what I've read, the science in this book was pretty spot-on.  The science was so interesting, and now I know that I would never survive on Mars alone.
What I Didn't Love:
  • As "correct" as the science was, it was dense.  Basically I mean that there was a lot of science with big terms in the book.  So I wasn't always following what was happening.  I'd think to myself, "Ok, I'm pretty sure this is what's happening but I don't totally understand it.  Just keep reading" at various times.  Definitely over my head (on a side note, my dad is a science whiz and the science in the book was his favorite part!). 
So I agree--this was a GREAT book.  Engrossing, exciting--I can't wait to see the movie!  But who gets to go to movies when you have two little ones at home?

Four stars for me!  Check back tomorrow for a Watney-inspired outfit!