They’re All Just Big Kindergarteners

What are we doing in this country?

Recently my daughter’s kindergarten teacher debuted a new behavior management plan for the classroom. When a child receives three strikes, a fix-it ticket is sent home. The ticket lets parents know what happened and provides a space for the student to write how to fix her behavior (or, more specifically, how to could cope better in the future).

We’ve had two tickets come home. Without prompting, Claire knew what to do and her solution was simple: belly breaths. Yes, with five year olds it’s both necessary and important to remind them to take a deep breath before doing anything else when they’re upset. The deep breaths will give her time to relax, clear her mind and refocus her attention to appropriate behavior.

I was at once surprised and, really, not so surprised by this basic response. As a parent there have been many moments when I’ve witnessed this – things almost so basic we forget they need to be taught. (And let’s not even get into how many times I’ve said things I could have never imagined saying before.)

But, then it’s not really simple at all, is it? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to remind myself to take a deep breath to relax and respond in an appropriate manner. And there are many times I’ve forgotten to take a deep breath.

Here’s where we arrive at today.

I constantly see examples of others publicly forgetting to take their own belly breaths. As I see it, the Starbucks holiday cup fiasco is one of them. In past years, the cups were more designed or stylized but never have they been religious – no crosses, no Nativity scenes. Yet, when the cups go from a snowman to a whole-cup starburst pattern, it’s OK (both of which, by the way, are not Christmas but winter themed). But now Starbucks moves to red ombre, and they’ve crossed the line. What line? Where were the belly breaths? I can only assume that the outraged took a quick drink of their hot, fresh Starbucks and couldn’t take a deep breath lest they scald their horrified throats.

If they had been able to take a deep breath, they could have regained their perspective and realized that, yes, there are groups out there who want to eliminate Christianity. In fact, they’re kidnapping and beheading people right now. Perspective – Let’s keep it in mind.

Additionally, as many surveys are indicating, fewer people are identifying as Christian today. The vocal minority in situations like this are making Christians seem prejudiced, rigid and unaccepting. It’s turning people off from joining Churches, something most Christians can agree is not what we want.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Season’s Greetings! Happy Holidays!

Every Halloween Read

If the few books I’ve read this year weren’t enough recs, here are the gothic and horror books I’ve read in previous years.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Where it really began, (for me at least). Shelley’s masterpiece was the first book I reviewed here for my gothic series. Read my review here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Du Maurier used tight, concise language to weave her masterful tale of gothic suspense. Read my review here.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things…” The book that launched a thousand copycats (sort of). Read my review here.

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel

Not so much gothic or suspenseful, Hanel’s memoir is about her fascination with cemeteries that began with her gravedigger father. Read my review here.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Jackson is known for the creepy atmosphere of her books. This is a definite winner. Read my review here.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Creepy and imaginative, McMahon’s The Winter People is the perfect Halloween read. Read my review here.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

A 400 pager, but there isn’t a single unnecessary word here. So good. Read my review here.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Again, Jackson’s reputation proceeds her, and this is a great Halloween read. Read my review here.



What’s your favorite Halloween read?



Halloween Reads: Quick Reviews of Suspense & Gothic Books

Keeping with tradition, I read a few gothic books this month. However, breaking with tradition, I don’t plan to write separate reviews of every book I read. So, here’s a compilation of quick reviews of these books.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, gothic, graphic novel

Beautifully illustrated and hauntingly gothic, this graphic novel features stories about people entering the woods…and sometimes returning. The stories are imaginative and spooky. Carroll’s illustrations not only drive the stories forward but also add to the suspense. I highly recommend this for a quick and beautiful read.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb gothic novel

The gothic manse moves to the North Shore of Lake Superior in this novel. Suspenseful and imaginative,  I enjoyed going along for the ride as the tale twisted and unwove throughout the novel. An interesting concept that yielded a good read with enough surprises. While it emulates the idea of books like Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, it isn’t quite as strong but still very enjoyable and a quicker read than Waters’ works.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Peculiar indeed. Supernatural and gothic, this was an enjoyable read. I didn’t find it as intriguing and suspenseful as I’d hoped, but the visual and literary multimedia experience was well done.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

An unusual haunting tells the story of one mansion in New York through several generations of owners. An interesting novel but not one I’d highly recommend. Oliver’s language could at once be beautiful – I found many passages very quotable – but then it switched to be almost mundane.


This year I didn’t enjoy my books nearly as much as I did last year. I read some great books, but there wasn’t the level of gothic suspense that I’d hoped for. In previous years I spent more time researching and picking my books. This year, I picked them all out last minute. Serves me right not to plan ahead!

Have you read anything great this month?

Books & Such | October

I’ve been MIA. There’s no way around that. As you know, life can easily get in the way, even if it’s things we love. But after a while I really felt something was missing. I’ve hardly read, and I definitely haven’t done any personal writing. I’ve thought long and hard about this space. I’ve considered stopping blogging. (For all intents and purposes, I’m sure it’s seemed like I’ve stopped.) But at the end of the day, I’ve always concluded that, while I’m not certain what I want to do here, I know I want to be here. So here I am…

Over the next month or so, I plan to spend some time thinking through my goals – for my life and this blog. Then spend some more time determining what I’ll post about here.

In the meantime, I wanted to just chat about some book-related things.

Mission: Book Buying Binge 2.0

Over the last couple of months I’ve gone on a massive book buying binge. It started over the summer with books from a few random places and has continued through September with a large haul from my local Friends of the Library sale.

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Bird statue will not look you in the eye!

Books from misc. sources (from the top): Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston; How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen; The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels; Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond; The Last Kind Words by Tom Piccirilli; The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey D. Sachs; Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty by John M. Barry and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

201509_Book Haul_Kids_text

Oh, so happy with these new kids’ books!

Kids’ books from various places (from the top): A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr, Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Peter Pan, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Story of Jonah

201509_Book Haul_Library Sale_text

Put a purple pumpkin on it!

From my $5 bag at the library book sale (from the top): May Your Days be Merry a Bright: Christmas Stories by Women, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan, Checklist for Life for Moms, Accordion Crimes by E. Annie Proulx, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride, Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, The Midwest, Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian by Stephen E. Ambrose and 2013 Writer’s Market

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A little easel love for this lovely book for the lovely Claire!

Butterflies in the Garden
by Carol Lerner

Checked Out & Checking Out

Now, to books I’m only borrowing.

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Touched by the fall berry bush!

From the top: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Rooms by Lauren Oliver


Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Just a straight-up beautiful cover!

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

I’m reading The Vanishing first. It’s a great book that seems to be resetting my reading rut. I’m not certain what I’ll read next, but, based on cover alone, it might have to be Through the Woods. 

What books have you bought recently? What are you currently reading?

An Outdoorsy Book List

Well, National Great Outdoors Month is over. I spent my free time last month outdoors (where else) and reading (trying to find spare moments).

I’ve decided that maybe the entire summer should be devoted to celebrating the wonders of the great outdoors. Here, then, are my favorite outdoorsy books:

John Krakauer, Gretel Ehrlich, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, The Solace of Open Spaces

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet buy Gary Paulson

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

They run the gamut from young adult to adult, fiction to nonfiction. I hope you enjoy them!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have book recs about or featuring the great outdoors?

Weekly Reads: 6.1.15

Oh, goodness! It’s like I forgot the password to login here!

I can honestly say that life has gotten the better of me these past few months. But, let’s not dwell because I’m here today.

June is National Great Outdoors Month. In honor of that, I’m finally reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Like, finally. It’s been on my to read list for quite some time. I suppose I was just waiting for the perfect time to pull it out.

I have a few fun posts planned this month to connect reading to the great outdoors. I hope you’ll return and join me!

What are you reading this week?

Joan: A Statement on Her Legacy

As 2014 ended, one couldn’t shake a stick without hitting at least a couple annual recaps in the media. (If one is in the habit of shaking sticks.) Every one of these included a list of celebrities lost. I’ve already shared my thoughts on one celebrity – Robin Williams. But I’ve lately pondered the legacy of another: Joan Rivers.

I feel I should begin by stating that I wasn’t a fan. While mean isn’t the most appropriate term to describe her comedy in my opinion, without getting wordy it’s the best I can do. I say that not to attempt to distance myself from Rivers in case others who dislike her read this. I share that fact only to further clarify my next statements.

In my mind, more than her comedy, her lasting legacy will be her determination, dedication and good old-fashioned hard work. It would be tough to deny these things.

Not only that her career began when it did at a time when just women weren’t allowed to be what she became,  but also because she carved out her own life and career and seemed to be who
she wanted to be despite active discouragement.

Joan’s life, her work ethic – these are the lasting and most inspiring pieces of her legacy.