Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reading Challenge: Bingo Night At The Fire Hall

Title: Bingo Night at the Fire Hall: Rediscovering Life in an American Village
Author: Barbara Holland

This was a quick and fun read.  Barbara Holland inherits her mother's cabin in the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she spent summers growing up, and leaves her life in the city.  Along the way she fights the natural fauna, winters that bring enough snow to cover her door, loneliness, and lack of "necessities".  What she discovers is the hospitality and family that comes with living in a backwoods small farming community where everyone knows your name, life moves at a slower pace, and neighbors watch out for each other.  She struggles each spring with the decision to move on or stay to fight another winter.  Despite the hardships, Holland realizes that small towns are a dying breed and that should would rather stay and fight than return to the exhaustively busy hubbub of city life.
 "And after all my house is still here, and maybe I'm meant to stay in it. Maybe I"m supposed to watch what's happening; take notes. End my days as an eccentric holdout from forgotten times, the crazy old witch on the haunted mountain with a pet pig, a shotgun across my knees, and a plug of Red Man in my cheek, reminding strangers of something they don't remember. Maybe I will."

Parts I particularly loved:
"Last summer, a man in one of the villages up the road sold the house in which he'd been born and lived for eighty-one years, and bought and moved into the house next door.  A friend of mine asked him why. The fellow said, poker-faced, 'I reckon it's just the gypsy in me.'"

"Men and women are different. Men are stronger. No matter how many weights I lift, any man still actually warm and breathing will always be stronger than I am. When my car is axle deep in mud or snow, a man can lean his shoulder on the stranded bulk and make it move. Or, if it won't move, he probably knows how to take it apart and reassemble it out on the blacktop."

On local crime:
"It's considered almost as unseemly for a woman to live along on the mountain all year round as it is for her to sit on a barstool, but for her to live alone without a dog is simply preposterous. Workmen and deliverymen remind me, when they call for directions, to tie up my dogs before they arrive. When they do arrive and find no visible dog, they're shocked.
I have cats, I offer, and they look perplexed: What do cats have to do with it? Cats are for the barn, to keep down mice. Dogs are for the house, to keep down burglars."

"Last summer a tractor, complete with mower blade, was stolen overnight from a field, which seems like conspicuous loot. Did no late traveler wonder, swooping around the tractor on the highway as the miscreant made his getaway at eight miles an hour, what agricultural business it was pursuing after midnight? Apparently not."

and on local history:
"If, like me, you grew up and went to school among northerners, you think - when you think of it at all - that the Civil War was all about slavery and happened a long time ago. Then if, like me, you move to Virginia, you learn that it was all about Northern aggression and happened day before yesterday."

Reading Challenges:
State By State

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reading Challenge: A Trail of Fire

Title: A Trail of Fire
Author: Diana Gabaldon

I have long been a fan of Diana Gabaldon.  Her Outlander series has graced my bookshelves for more ten years and I have read (and reread) the adventures of Jamie and Clair many times.  Her stories weave tales of love, loss, history and time travel.  Her characters are memorable, their stories intertwining over centuries and continents.  A Trail Of Fire is a collection of short stories that weave in and out of the Outlander and Lord John Grey series.  While the stories could be read on their own, it would be difficult to follow the various characters without some background of Gabaldon's stories.  The book provides a chronological list of all of Gabaldon's stories which would be really helpful for someone just digging into this wonderful author, as well as a sneak peek at her newest novel expected to be released this summer (I already have a copy on order and I'm counting down the days!) 

Starz is premiering the Outlander series this summer, check out the trailer here.
A list of the Outlander series can be here on Gabaldon's official website, here.

Reading Challenges:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Reading Challenges: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Title: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Author: Lauren Willig

Eloise Kelly leaves the safe haven of Harvard and travels to England in the hopes of finding out the secret identity of the Pink Carnation in order to write her dissertation.  She thinks she has it all figured out when she tracks down Mrs. Selwick-Alderly who says that she has information and agrees to help Eloise.  What Mrs. Selwick-Alderly has, is in fact a trunk full of family papers including the diary of Amy Balcourt dated 1803.  The story of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation goes back and forth between Amy's diary and Eloise's search that lasts only two days before she finds a shocking twist that discounts everything she had previously believed.

I love historical fiction so it was easy to get lost in this book.  While the story is supposedly from the diary of Amy Balcourt, it is not written as actual diary entries.  There is little to learn about Eloise as the majority of the story focuses on Amy and her story, and while you do learn the end of Amy's tale, you never do find out what happens to Eloise or Mrs. Selwick-Alderly's nephew, Colin. I was curious if there was a sequal to the story and found out that there are in fact eleven books in the Pink Carnation series.  

Figures...I read one book on my to be read pile, and added ten more to my list!  The sorrows of a reader...

If you're interested, here is a link to Lauren Willig's site with all of the books listed

Reading Challenges:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Letter C Week

There are SO many fun C words that we actually spent a couple of weeks on C since we only do one or two letter of the week activities per day. I'll add links for printables at the bottom of the post in case you're interested. We happened to be studying knights and castles along with weather at the time so there is a pretty varied mix of activities.

Cloud in a jar experiment, this worked best in the dark using a flashlight. I came across several different versions of this, I've linked one up below.

C in for Caterpillar prewriting

small search and find C sensory bin

I made the pieces by laminating stickers

Candy corn C

How many caterpillars

Camping counting cards

Cottonball cloud experiment

Cowboy boot size sorting

C is for cactus and carrot dot painting

Cupcake C

Cowboy puzzle

Shaving cream cloud

C is for castle 3-part cards

C is for castle color shields

 C is for castle patterns

Letter C pancakes made using a squeeze bottle that I purchased in the candy making section at Joann Crafts

castle stamping using ink pads and pencil erasers (the link to this page doesn't appear to be working at the moment)

cookie baking

Shaving Cream Cloud
Rain Cloud Jar
Knights Preschool Pack
Camping Printable Pack
Cowboy Printable Pack
C is for Caterpillar
C is for Caterpillar - Confessions of a Homeschooler

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A's Quiet Time Box: Space

Since we are studying space right now, I put a lot of space related activities in A's quiet time box.

Space sensory bin with details here.

Small space puzzle and floor puzzle.

Quartered black construction paper and sparkle star stickers

Black construction paper and white crayons

Space related books (I know the picture is upside down, it will NOT turn around for me)

Space coloring pages found via Google

Pattern pages and foam cubes. The cubes came from Dollar Tree and the patterns can be found here.

Melissa and Doug See and Spell Puzzle

Space flashcards from Target Dollar Spot. 

This was the hit! Learning Resources Test Tubes with some blocks from our math manipulatives. A has mixed and sorted, made up experiments, played store and restaurant, and who knows what else with these. I definitely have to remember to break out the tubes more often.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Space Sensory Bin

Just before the holidays I put together a space sensory bin for A, he hasn't used it much and we'll be continuing our space studies over the next few weeks so I'll be leaving this one together for a while.  

 The base is made up of black beans. We have a huge box of plastic beads that came from a garage sale or something so I sorted out some of the yellow, gold, white, glow in the dark, and a few stars to mix in with the beans.  
A spent one quiet time sorting all of the beads from the beans and then sorting them by color. 
Buzz Lightyear action figure and spaceship. We actually have a smaller Buzz that fits in the spaceship, but I can't find him of course.

Space themed erasers from The Dollar Tree

Astronauts from the Space Toob  I buy all of our Toobs at Joann Crafts with 40% off coupons.

 Also from the Space Toob

 Star buttons from a larger set of shaped button math manipulatives

 Marbles to represent planets and asteroids and whatever else

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reading Challenges: Fallen

Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate

One of those random shelf grabs while visiting the used book store. This is the first of a series that shows some promise. The story takes place in a juvenile detention facility, where oddly enough, most of the students seem to be able to sneak on and off campus with little effort, skip class without much thought, and get around easily enough without being seen by the "reds" (security cameras). It was an easy read and one I completed in a couple of days, but had enough substance to make me curious about the rest of the series.

Reading Challenges:
New Author
State by State