September 9, 2015

That Time Of Year

My household has been very sick the last couple of weeks. There was some *wonderful* change in our weather that kicked up the allergens in the air, and that has basically done a lot of damage. Between Little Monkey getting sick with immense congestion coupled with a new little fever, and me dealing with my own horrible congestion and asthma-like symptoms from allergies we've been pretty low-key around here. (Seriously, it's felt like someone wrapped something tightly around my ribs so I can't breathe comfortably.)

For us, and where we live, our allergies are not seasonal. We have them every day of the year. We don't get a break from them. If anything we actually have times of the year where allergies are just worse then normal, and lands us in the doctor's office.

I'm also definitely not a mom that is able to get a whole done during M's down time especially when we or he is sick. He's never been much of a sleeper or napper. When he's asleep I'm usually asking myself, "Does it need to get done?" and "If it doesn't can I take a nap, too?"

Add into that a fussy, feverish toddler, and, well, let's just say we're getting the minimum of the housework done. I'm so sad that Monkey has gotten my allergies. I remember dealing with them, but not until I was at least in middle school. My poor son isn't even two and already his nose is almost constantly drippy.

So here are a few ways we try to make things more comfy for him:

1. Saline and Aspirators. Take it from someone who has purchased almost every aspirator out on the market, the NoseFrida is the best one out there. Yes, our son hates it. I'm basically put a plastic tube in his nose and sucking out the air and boogers, but it works. A clear nose with saline to help moisten the nasal passages goes a long way to keeping the congestion from settling in his chest.

2. Boogie Wipes. Yes, these are expensive and are basically moist wipes with saline. They are also the only things I can use to wipe his nose when he's really, really sick without him pushing me away. Ever tried to wipe a kids nose and have them yell, scream, and throw himself as far away from you as he can? Not fun. When I can I use a regular baby wipe, but when he's really sick and fussy I'll bust out the Boogey Wipes.

3. Claritian. On our doctor's suggestion we give M a dose of Children's Claritian every morning to help manage his allergies. We go based on the doctor's dosage and when he changes the doseage we will. We can only give it to him once a day, but it does go a long way to help manage Monkey's allergies.

4. Humidifier. When the allergies are really bad and Monkey is having a hard time we use our cold air humidifier to help keep the air in the bedroom moist. It's supposed to help with congestion, and I'm not really sure how much it helps, but we still use it. He does sleep better at night with it on.

Alleriges are no fun, and if anyone has any more ideas I'm all ears.

September 7, 2015

Little Monkey Reads: Bedtime Favorites

Our night time routine is as much the same as it was when Little Monkey was just itty bitty. Sadly the bedtime reading has only recently become more consistent. Even now our little guy doesn't sleep through the night, and weaning hasn't magically cured him of not waking up at least once at night. This coupled with work meant I was always more tired then not and getting M to sleep, more often than not, wouldn't include a bedtime story.

Over the last three or four months bedtime reading has returned as apart of our routine, and I'm loving seeing how M reacts to the books. He's just three months away from turning two, and he's showing attachment and understanding when prompted during story time.

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton (Amazon)

One day Little Owl falls out of his tree while he's sleeping! A squirrel decides to help Little Owl find his Mama Owl in the best way he knows how, through trial and error. The minimalist illustrations and silly misunderstandings between Squirrel and Little Owl make this book Monkey's first pick for bedtime reading. The very first page is Monkey's favorite since he gets to flip it back and forth to see Little Owl accidentally fall from his cosy nest. The first page says, 'Uh oh!' and it's his absolute favorite part. He'll say "Uh! Oh!" and flip the page back and forth over and over before he'll let me continue. On every page he'll point to Little Owl and say "Owl!" When I ask him which characters are which (considering I've read the book to him 100,000 times) he's to the point where he'll say "Bear!" or "Mama!" He absolutely loves this book, and every night I'll tell M, "Let's read the owl story." He gets so happy and will repeatedly say "Owl! Owl!" I plan on buying him Haughton's two other books Shhh! and Oh No, George! just because M likes Little Owl Lost so much. (Shhh! is the winner of the Irma S and James H Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature Award.)

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (Amazon)

In this sweetly illustrated story Llama Llama becomes worried just as soon as his Mama Llama walks out his bedroom door after their goodnight story. He calls out to her, and she says she'll be up soon. But soon is just not soon enough for Llama Llama! Obviously Llama Llama is already a pretty beloved character with many more books about him. I started introducing Llama Llama books to M pretty early on. This story is just one he seems to enjoy the most. When the book says that Llama Llama gets a kiss from his Llama Mama, M leans over and waits for me to give HIM a kiss! (We've also added that Llama Llama gets a kiss from Dada so Daddy can get in on the goodnight kisses, too. M always waits for me to say "And the Dada." before crawling over to his Dada for a goodnight kiss!) This is another book I can tell he loves because he can't wait to turn the pages, and knows exactly when they should be turned based on where we are in the story. He also always knows just when to lean in a get his baby kisses! I love it! I had to give this book a little break though so M doesn't get too tired of hearing it over and over. 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and illustrator Jill McElmurry (Amazon)

In is very cute story a little truck's loving sweet friendliness causes even a big and 'important' truck to recognize and appreciate the 'small' people in his life. This was one of the books that Little Monkey didn't originally have much interest in. I don't know if it's because it was a little too long for his attention span. But, one day I read it with him and he suddenly enjoyed it. He started pointing to the little blue truck and saying, "Blue", in the most adorable way possible. Really it was one of the first books he started to point and interact with even though it was not one of his favorites.

Bedtime reading is so good for children's development, but honestly I get so much out of just seeing M's reactions to the stories. I love seeing more of his personality shining through in what he likes and doesn't like. I'm sometimes very surprised what catches his attention.

September 4, 2015

Cybils 2015: Call for Judges

The 2015 call for judges has started for CYBILS, Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards! This year I threw my name in for the graphic novel, fiction picture books, and elementary/mid-grade speculative fiction.

If I did get picked for any of these categories I'd come out ahead. Graphic Novels? We all know I love reviewing graphic novels of all kinds, and that I tend to lean more towards the non-superhero stuff. I'd love to get a much better look at what's been published out there. My kids love graphic novels.

Fiction Picture Books? Yeah, more lovely books to read with not just my students but my Little Monkey as well? Win. Plus I'd get to see and hear how other people review picture books. I'd love to get a more rounded view on picture book reviews.

And, finally, elementary and mid-grade speculative fiction. Do you know what my kids are all asking for? They're asking for "scary books". "Miss do you have any scary books?" "Miss do you have any dragon books?" Yes, I definitely think there is a call and need for some speculative fiction in my library. I'd love to have some recommendations for my kids!

In the end, I can't wait for CYBILS. For the first time since the last time I participated in 2009 I'm pumped to possibly participate again.

September 3, 2015

The Difference

Let's face it. The beginning of the school year is busy. It's busy for teachers, students, and parents. It's busy for every single person involved in making a school run. I usually call this time of year "hitting the ground running." You jump into the flow of things and you don't really seem to stop. Even when you get home you're running.

This year is very different from every other year. This year was my first in a school, but not in the classroom. (Of course I count my library as a classroom. Hey, I still teach don't I?) So here are three differences (so far) from this year compared to any other year in the classroom.

1. I'm not surrounded by students. This isn't exactly true. I still teach classes, and have them Monday through Thursday. I also have breaks where there isn't a whole class in my library. I have moments when there will be two or three kids coming in to check out books, and, although to the outside eye I may seem not busy, I never run out of stuff to do. Those breaks make the huge difference in me actually getting things done. E-mail, announcements, planning, re-shelving, planning? All of it keeps me very busy.

2. You get to see everyone's personality. Pretty straight forward, right? In my school there are 650 students, and we have kids that range from Pre-K to 6th grade. Add into the mix the teachers, admin, and support staff and you see quite a range of people every day. This is very different from being in a classroom where the people that you see are all pretty much in that one room all day long.

3. I'm in charge. Granted I'm in charge of my little room and all that occurs in it, but it's an area of the school that I'm happy to be in charge of. Books, resources, and information. Couldn't be happier. There are times in my day that I'm in charge of students, and times in my day when I'm only in charge of myself. Obviously, I always feel like I get more done when I'm in charge of myself.

4. I'm not so exhausted. Being in the classroom exhausted me. Physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally. Every year I thought I'd get a handle on that exhaustion, but I never did seem to accomplish that. When I began to think I had I always ended up right back in square one, exhausted all over again. I'm not going to say that I don't feel exhausted now once in a while, but the simple the simple truth is that I'm not exhausted nearly as often as before. The big example of that is I survived the first week, and still felt pretty good when I got home.

5. I really, really enjoy what I do. Going to work isn't so hard when you actually really enjoy what you do. I'm actually at a place where I can say that, and I really hope that it stays that way.

August 24, 2015

Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

Title: Please Remain Calm

Author: Courtney Summers (Author Website)

Published: January 2015

Edition Read: Purchased eBook (Nook)

Level Recommended: Young Adult

Series: Sequel of This Is Not A Test (my review)

Overall: Please Remain Calm was a highly anticipated sequel for me. I devoured it's predecessor,   This is Not a Test, even in my sleep deprived state last summer. Please Remain Calm did not disappoint. I had so many feelings throughout this book that it's pretty much cemented Courtney Summers as my next go-to author. 

Summary: (From Amazon) IPlease Remain Calm, the gripping sequel to Courtney Summers' This is Not a Test, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find Sloane, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways...

Review:  This novella picks up right were This is Not a Test leaves off, with Sloane and Rhys in a car, trying to figure out what they are going to do next. The first plan is drive to the safe point that the radio keeps blaring on about. But, once they are attacked by zombies Sloane and Rhys are separated. Rhys finds himself alone, lost, in the woods. He's been saved by a man and his wife and daughter. Understandably, the man has little interest in keeping Rhys around, but something changes his mind, and the man lets Rhys in on a little secret.

There is no safe zone. There is only the dead, and over run cities. The man and his wife offer to walk with Rhys up to a certain point, since they are walking that way anyway, but after that Rhys is on his own.

Summers has a great way of making her books page turners. I'm not quite sure how she does it, but I find myself unable to out her novels down. When I should be sleeping I am not. I always seem to find myself at a point where my eyes are demanding to close and I tell myself 'All right, already, I'll go to sleep!'. Usually this how it ends.

I also always seem to find myself fighting with a character or two in her books. The way Summers gets me to care so darn much about characters in a book! I don't know. I just really, really wanted the happy ending. I really, really wanted Sloane and Rhys to find each other. I wanted the man and his wife and daughter to make it to their safe haven. I wanted everything to be tied up in a neat little bow, because I wanted that for everyone.

This is not Summer's style. No one gets happily ever after, and even though I didn't get what I wanted I still had to tell my husband all about it.

If you are looking for another great zombie read just before Walking Dead comes back on pick up Please Remain Calm. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed. 

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