It’s summer time… time for rebirth and renewal! Saturday, Jun 26 2010 

It’s been a full year since I’ve been here. Facebook and Twitter and foursquare have completely taken my attention span. I decided that I would attempt to revive the blog back in the manner that I gave life to it… as a blog about the three key things in my life…

The Kids:

  • Eldest Child is heading off to HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, it totally merited those caps. It is scaring the bazookas outta me. Does she care? I don’t think so. Me, terrified.
  • Only Son is finishing his last year of elementary school. Still the tiny little guy, same size as his baby sister, but willing to take her in a duel. This Middle Child perplexes me in how much he loves school but doesn’t want to show that he thinks school is “cool”. He is refusing to let me purchase the 5th grade class shirt. Sigh.
  • Mini Me has exploded onto the scene. She’s going into 1st grade and is ready for high school. She’ll be taking her formal talented drama screening this fall. If she doesn’t make it, there is something seriously wrong here.

The Cats

  • Hugo is the daddykins at 7. He doesn’t leave my bed unless I’ve come home and am sitting on the couch… then he comes to the front room to stare at me to inquire as to why I haven’t made it to bed yet.
  • Mouse is still white and still deaf and is now 3. He has the run of the house since Hugo isn’t going anywhere that doesn’t involve me. But, he mainly sticks to windowsills or sofa cushions above Eldest Child’s head (preferably ON her head).
  • Charlie, our Katrina wild child, has declared himself a wild child yet again. He’s five this year… a reminder of the storm and how much time and how much and how little has changed. He decided the outside life was no longer for him. He now protects the yard from the random cardinal or squirrel and if another cat should think of coming within a yard of ours… they’d better think again.

The Books:

  • Well, let’s just say they keep on coming and they get better and better. I hope to review more often. I am now working as an elementary librarian at the school where Only Son and Mini Me attend. Luckily, it’s an advanced school so we have a wide variety of books to read.

NOLA:

  • Lots to talk about, lots going on, lots still to do.

I hope you missed me. I hope you’ll be back.

NOLADawn

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Summertime… and the living ain’t so easy Tuesday, Jun 30 2009 

It’s been one hellacious summer; already.

My library had to be packed up to move to the new school site and I had to prepare my library for the new school.  (oodles of fun, I HIGHLY recommend it)

It’s hot as Hades out there, can’t even stand to walk outside, much less partake in any family events.  I only have one kiddo left in summer camp.  And, she’s raring to go to Kindergarten so she’s not really digging the whole summer camp scene. The eighth grader and fourth grader are itching to get at my last nerve, but I have locked it away and they can’t have it.

GNOWP has gone on without me, sadly.  I couldn’t participate this year, much to my dismay.  At least I still got to keep in touch with them via Twitter and facebook.

I’m gearing up for the new school opening this August.  I’ll likely be back to work on July 20th to get the ball rolling.  Luckily, my two youngest, have tested into the academic magnet school where I am, so they’ll be with me and get a great enriching education.  BUT, it means all new uniforms, new friends, new everything.  I have a feeling they’ll be OK.

As for me… I’ve been doing what else.. reading and watching TV.  I rewarded myself with a Kindle2 for lots of overtime work and I’m thoroughly addicted.  Keeping up with my favorite authors on Twitter has become a new fave pastime.  Check some of them out at my twitter page http://twitter.com/noladawn

I promise (ok, I’ll make an attempt) to keep my blog updated more often.  Life tends to get away with you when you work too many hours and have three active kids.

Missed y’all!

NOLADawn

Surviving Gustav (with kids, cats, and books) Friday, Sep 5 2008 

We decided to watch and wait.  Watch and wait.  Watch and leave.  We originally booked rooms “just in case” in Lafayette, LA.  Turns out that was right in the path of Gustav.  Scratch that plan.  We got rooms in Birmingham, AL.  Saturday I was still on the fence.  I really didn’t want to leave when G was still not even in the Gulf.  Ivan taught us about that.  I come from a family of “stayers.”  Ivan and Katrina are the only times I’ve ever left in my life.  Ivan… well that was a waste of 34 hours in a car with a 9 week old.  Katrina… well we all know how that turned out.  22 days in 2 states and 2 hotel rooms with 5 people, including a cat and a just-turned 1 year old.  So, call me stubborn, but unless I KNEW I had to leave I was a bit reticent to do so.

We woke up Sunday morning and decided we should go.  I convinced my sister-in-law, whom I love dearly, to call my brother-in-law, who…not so much, to see if we could just go to his house since he lives just outside of Baton Rouge.  It’s closer in case of an Ivan fiasco and cheaper in case of a Katrina ordeal.  He agreed and we cancelled the B’Ham reservations.  We left at noon on Sunday.  With contraflow in full effect we made great time (considering the 34 hours for Ivan and 28 for Katrina) of 2 1/2 hours!  We got to the house and immediately brought our five cats, in their kennels, into the house.  Our two choc. labs we brought into the fenced back yard.  SIL’s two dogs went to the back yard.  Our niece’s two lap dogs came inside in their kennel and her cat did likewise.  We were greeted with, “What’s that stench?”  Ummm, that would be a kitten that got sick on the car ride???  We’re going to clean the cage as soon as we get a chance to breathe.  Mind if we pee first?  Well, we brought the cats outside to clean out the cage and they were never allowed back in the house!  Nor any of the dogs, or my niece’s cat.  We were told where we could eat and drink and were told we were using too many of our OWN towels.

When power went out on day two… the generator was hooked up.  The tv and fridge were hooked to it, along with a couple of fans for the den and garage (for our poor indoor pets!)  Little did we know that they had a window unit cranked up in their bedroom!!

My kids were ridiculed for how much they ate (too much for the youngest, not enough for the boy, and just comments on how skinny my oldest was.)

I brought a book along for when the power went out.  Of course, that choice was questioned too, as it was a Katrina memoir.

I was even criticized (without even talking about it myself… I guess it was the bumper sticker on my car) for voting for a n*#%&!!!!  Well, let’s just say, I started drinking to keep my sanity then.  And of course, my Edge network went out about the same time, so my link to people with common sense, my Twitter folks, was gone.

The first they mentioned about coming home- we were on a mission.  Hubs and SIL went out at the crack of dawn and bought supplies for the trip home and we were off.  Home to find a house cold with a/c and my Direct TV working just fine.  Twittering non-stop now.  Boy, I missed NOLA.

People, remind me next time to head for Birmingham, please!

Pics from NYC Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

Here are the pics from NYC…

The only view I got of the Empire State Building…
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Both dark due to their strikes…
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Times Square
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And… the authors 😀

Me and Jerry Spinelli, the king of YA lit!  I got his newest book– not yet out 😀  Yay me!

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Ishmael Beah, his memoir still sits with me almost a year later.
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My friend Jess and Katherine Paterson… she told her about reading Bridge to Terabithia five times in 5th grade and leaving a pool of tears at her desk… and then she cried.
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I HEART James Howe!! He asked me for a hug when I told him that I introduce Totally Joe to my 4th graders. Wow! When I sat down later and read his inscriptions in my books, I cried.
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Definitely the best session of the whole conference… Authors’ Readers’ Theater.

Avi, Katherine Paterson, Sarah Weeks, and Brian Selznick…. ahhhh…
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I’m back…. Tuesday, Nov 20 2007 

Back from my trip to NYC, that is. It was super busy and I didn’t get to go to any of the fabulous places that Steven recommended. We didn’t get to our hotel until 2am thanks to delays in our flights. The rest of the trip was fully taken up by the conference, but I was so happy by that. I met and got to speak to some of my all time favorite children’s authors; Jerry Spinelli, James Howe, Linda Sue Park, Walter Dean Myers, Katherine Paterson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Avi, Sarah Weeks… Wow! what an amazing time it was. James Howe asked ME if he could give me a hug! Not the other way around!! So, all I really saw of NYC was the walk back and forth from the Convention Center to our hotel, but I saw Times Square, 7th Avenue, and Broadway. I guess that will do for now 😀 Plus, I got to eat some amazing Brownie Cheesecake at Lindy’s.

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Looking for a good book?? Sunday, Nov 4 2007 

My dear friend Dedra has published her first novel. She is being hailed as the Toni Morrison of our time. And to think, I sat next to her all summer!! Her book is now on sale at bookstores near you, check it out!

Here is the review from the Times-Picayune today: Sandrine’s Letter to Tomorrow.

Check it out on Amazon!

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If you’re a NOLA reader, join us tomorrow for a reading with author Preston Allen.

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New York City, here I come! Tuesday, Sep 25 2007 

I am so excited.  I never travel… ever.  The last real vacation I had was my honeymoon (and I’m about to celebrate my 13th anniversary!) and those Ivan and Katrina evacuations had hotel stays with pools… so I guess you can count those if you want.  So, my only form of travel ever comes in the way of conferences.  Now– most people would groan at the thought of going out of town for a conference and sitting in meetings all day.  But, you’re looking at a bonafide geek here.  C’mon, I have 117 graduate hours for what… it sure doesn’t increase my pay.  So, I’m ecstatic that I got selected to represent the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the National Writing Project at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in NYC.  Woot!

Just a small list of the authors and presenters that I will get to hear…. Johnathon Kozol, Jerry Spinelli, Allen Say, Dave Barry, Lucy Calkins, and Ishmael Beah.  Wow, I am such a lucky lady.  It’s the Wednesday through Sunday before Thanksgiving, so as a bonus I get an extended holiday break! 🙂

Book Review/Southern Reading Challenge: No Place, Louisiana Tuesday, Jul 24 2007 

This is the first book that I’ve read for the Southern Reading Challenge that Maggie concocted over at Maggie Reads. No Place, Louisiana is a first novel for author Martin Pousson. It gives a look at life in Louisiana’s Cajun country as seen through the eyes of Nita, who is looking for any way to escape her poor life. Unfortunately, Louis is it. Great voice, immaculate timing, and classic Southern drama set in the slow 60s and 70s of the lazy bayous of Louisiana.  You feel Nita’s yearning and want something more for her but know what the limitations that are placed on her are.  A new Southern classic for me.

The Publishers Weekly critique states:

From Publishers Weekly
Louisiana-born Pousson debuts with a tightly wound novel about a claustrophobic Cajun marriage. Life in Jennings, La., is no bowl of jambalaya for 16-year-old part-time waitress Nita Morrow when she meets Louis Toussaint on a blind date. Looking to escape her groping stepfather and dead-end existence, Nita marries crude, cheap, car-crazy Louis only to find that her ticket out of town leads to another small town. Nita and Louis make a life together, but not one where he can be the domestic king he imagines or she can even be satisfied. Over the years, Nita succumbs neither to her disapproving mother-in-law nor to her husband’s outbursts of machismo. Yearning for something more, she moves her family to successively bigger homes in better neighborhoods. Both husband and wife learn to focus their hopes for the future on their two children, while anger and disappointment with their own lives fester until the inevitable tragedy occurs. Southern family dysfunction is certainly not a new theme, nor is the failure of material wealth to make up for psychological deprivation. Pousson updates these situations with crisp technical adeptness by recounting his story both from Nita’s perspective and from Louis’s: the date, the wedding, the wedding night, the years that follow. Both husband and wife miss opportunities to deal effectively with feelings or the problems that undermine their happiness, and each injures the other intentionally and unintentionally. Pousson’s portrait of discontent is made up of piercing vignettes and Louisiana-inflected dialogue. Setting out to capture the modern South, the first-time novelist confidently eschews the style of a Faulkner or the charm of a McCullers to evoke the prejudices and limitations of Cajun culture in its unique, enriching and destructive complexity. (Mar. 18)Forecast: Fans of Richard Ford and Larry Brown will respond to Pousson’s dark perspective and adept prose.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Visit Maggie to hear of some other great Southern books being read.

Apparently I’m the Great Pretender… Thursday, Jul 12 2007 

While visiting Chris (He does the Dine for Life in Seattle) over at My 2 Cents I found this neat little quiz,

Which book are you? So, my results are one of the only Vonnegut books I haven’t read… hmmm, need to get this one:


You’re Mother Night!

by Kurt Vonnegut

Nobody knows what to believe about you, and you know least of all. You
spent most of your time convinced that the ends justify the means, but your means were,
well, downright mean! And the end is nigh. Meanwhile all you want is to travel back in
time, if not to change, then to just delight in the way it used to be. You are who you
pretend to be. Oh yes, you’re the great pretender.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday Thirteen #17- 13 things I want to do before school starts Wednesday, Jul 11 2007 

School starts back up for teachers on August 8th… that means I have less than a month to do everything I want to do. Chances are looking slim, but anyway….

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  1. Read the massive stack of books in my To Be Read pile.
  2. Start eating healthy. :snicker: …yeah even I had to laugh at that one…
  3. Watch the massive pile up of movies I have on my Tivo.
  4. Finally get these four movies that I have at home from Netflix watched and sent back so I’m not paying all summer for four movies.
  5. Learn to build a nice website for my school so the hubby doesn’t say one more time, “Oh, I can do that for you.”
  6. Maybe teach my children to stop talking at decibels only my ears and dogs can hear.
  7. Put the wainscoting up in the little one’s bedroom. Not so much for the decor purposes, but more for the easy cleaning purposes.
  8. Actually crack open the six new cookbooks I got when I joined The Good Cook book club…
  9. Start looking at the curriculum for the new grade level.
  10. Go out to eat for the NO Aids Dine For Life Event. (If anyone wants to send in a donation it’s July 19th, go here for info!)
  11. Blog more!
  12. Drink more!
  13. Sleep more!

Get the TT information here.

THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE THURSDAY THIRTEEN:
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. What do you do? Write Thirteen things about yourself, summarize your week in one entry, make it easy for other bloggers to get to know you on a weekly basis. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well!

See more TT particpants.

Book Review: Eggs Saturday, Jul 7 2007 

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

I was lucky enough to get an advanced edition of Eggs to enjoy last week.  As a Jerry Spinelli fan, I was looking for a nice, pleasant read and I wasn’t surprised.  It was charming and thought-provoking.  This story of two unlikely friends who have a common bond of a person lost that they both long for is a touching one.  Read in a couple sittings and it was worth it.

Booklist review:

From Booklist
Nine-year-old David has been living with his grandmother since his mother’s accidental death. Still in pain, he’s determined not to make friends in his new town and not to make nice with his grandmother. Slowly, though, he forms a close albeit abrasive relationship with 13-year-old Primrose, whose single parent barely seems to notice when she moves into a nearby abandoned van. More kinship than friendship, the kids’ bond draws them together and thrusts timid David into adventures from late-night treasure hunts in the neighbors’ trash, to a highly competitive search for night crawlers, to an overnight hike to (or at least toward) Philadelphia. Funny, startling, and touching in turn, Spinelli’s novel portrays two children, bereft and secretive, hurt and angry, who manage to give each other things that they need and cannot get–or won’t accept–from the adults in their lives. The occasional reflections of adult characters seem out of place, but readers will find some of the scenes between David and Primrose vivid and memorable. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Book Review: Case Histories Thursday, Jun 21 2007 

This is one of the most interesting mysteries I think I’ve ever read. At first, I thought it was just a set of short stories, because the reprint only comes with acclaims in the covers, not a “flap” to read. But, as I read further along I was delighted to find that all the tales were interwoven in the most intriguing ways. Just the mere fact that Stephen King’s review of the book states “Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade. I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement.” was enough to get me to buy it and should be enough to get you to read it 🙂 Enjoy.

Apparently there was never a “flap” but the Publisher’s Weekly review states:

In this ambitious fourth novel from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum), private detective Jackson Brodie—ex-cop, ex-husband and weekend dad—takes on three cases involving past crimes that occurred in and around London. The first case introduces two middle-aged sisters who, after the death of their vile, distant father, look again into the disappearance of their beloved sister Olivia, last seen at three years old, while they were camping under the stars during an oppressive heat wave. A retired lawyer who lives only on the fumes of possible justice next enlists Jackson’s aid in solving the brutal killing of his grown daughter 10 years earlier. In the third dog-eared case file, the sibling of an infamous ax-bludgeoner seeks a reunion with her niece, who as a baby was a witness to murder. Jackson’s reluctant persistence heats up these cold cases and by happenstance leads him to reassess his own painful history. The humility of the extraordinary, unabashed characters is skillfully revealed with humor and surprise. Atkinson contrasts the inevitable results of family dysfunction with random fate, gracefully weaving the three stories into a denouement that taps into collective wishful thinking and suggests that warmth and safety may be found in the aftermath of blood and abandonment. Atkinson’s meaty, satisfying prose will attract many eager readers.

Some Southern Lit’ Tuesday, Jun 5 2007 

Ok, so I’m doing my first reading challenge. Of course I’m a Southerner, but I can’t say that I particularly read Southern Lit as a rule. If y’all feel like reading some Southern Lit while sippin’ on some iced tea; stop on over at Maggie Reads to get the info.

For my choices I’m going with:

Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

Kimberly Willis Holt’s My Louisiana Sky

Martin Pousson’s No Place, Louisiana

and, just because it’s been ages…

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Book Review: Looking For Alaska Tuesday, Jun 5 2007 

Looking for Alaska, a Printz Award winner for YA Literature was breathtaking. In one sitting I read the book, but now I wished I hadn’t because I wish I had savored the characters a bit more. The main character Miles Halter, aka Pudge is a modern day Holden Caulfield living in an Alabama boarding school. Alaska is everything he wishes for in his life. Read it- slowly- you’ll be glad you did. Green is also the author of An Abundance of Katherines, this year’s Printz Honor Award book.

I had this one on my library shelf in my math classroom because reading is “everywhere” because it was highly recommended by my favorite lit professor.  I passed it to a student, who gave it back to me a day later, deeming it “great.”  How’s that for a recommendation?  I knew that as soon as I had a moment I would have to read it and I’m so glad I did.

From the flap:

before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Francois Rabalais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

after. Nothing is ever the same.

Book Review: The Doctor’s Wife Tuesday, May 29 2007 

The Doctor's Wife

From the back cover:

The memory starts here, in my apron pocket, with the gun.

So begins The Doctor’s Wife, a stunning debut novel about four people and the cataclysmic intersection of their lives.  From the outside, the Knowles family has it all.  Michael is a rising OB/GYN at a prominent private practice in Albany, New York; he also moonlights at a local women’s health clinic, and they live in a rambling Federal farmhouse with their two kids.  But Annie has become tired of her husband’s absences, and her role as wife/mother/teacher has worn thin.  She begins a love affair with bad-boy celebrity painter Simon Haas, who is married to his muse and model, Lydia, upon whom he has built his career.  Simon reawakens Annie’s passion- but events soon take a dark turn for the Knowles family.  

Abortion, local evangelism, marital disenchantment, and the rifts of the social class: Brundage takes on the fault lines of our era with a deft hand.  The Doctor’s Wife is an accomplished, page-turning novel.

This was a quick read for me.  With the constant twists, turns, and intrigue I didn’t want to put it down.  It was a Bookmarked selection at Target.  Not bad for a first novel.

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