2017/03/25

Habit Energy


If you are anything like me and have anxiety, sometimes I find myself doing things over and over for the comfort and the release from the anxiety that follows me everywhere. I clean, spend time on the treadmill, clean some more, homework, then clean some more... you can probably sense the pattern fairly quickly. I find the most relief when I am cleaning, on the treadmill or sleeping... and that's about it. Weekends are spent working on schoolwork or teaching classes and so I am sitting continuing to work on book analysis, lesson plans, and climate change discussions...... and I came upon this quote.

Trying to change our habits is hard...
Pick one thing to start...
Then do one more thing.


I have read this quote a few times in the last few weeks and I always find myself pondering it and really thinking about how I can apply in in my life. I have been trying to make small financial changes as well as conservation changes for the earth as well, but I would like to take this advice to try and change some of my personal compulsions.

When you read this quote, what comes immediately to your mind? What would you like to change? Where would you start?

2017/03/16

The Redwall Series- by Brian Jacques

Brian Jacques is a fairly prolific author and has written over twenty books in his 'Redwall' series. Bug and I have been reading them together and a world that is encompassed by animals and run by them is loads of fun. I can be challenging- this word contains the same problems or human world does and is filled with war, treachery, poverty, etc... On a positive notes, it contains all the positives that we also enjoy: love, family, friendship, bravery and more. This post will start by listing his titles in the Redwall series.


1. Redwall
2. Mossflower
3. Mattimeo
4. Mariel of Redwall
5. Salamandastron
6. Martin the Warrior
7. The Bellmaker
8. Outcast of Redwall
9. Pearls of Lutra
10. The Long Patrol
11. Marlfox
12. The Legend of Luke
13. Lord Brocktree
14. Taggerung
15. Triss
16. Loamhedge
17. Rakkety Tam
18. High Rhulain
19. Eulalia
20. Doomwyte
21. The Sable Queen
22. The Great Redwall Feast
23. A Redwall Winter’s tale
24. The Redwall Cookbook
25. Redwall: The Graphic Novel
26. The Legend of Redwall Abbey
27. Songs of Redwall

He also has a few other books that are members of smaller series or are stand alone novels. Here they are:

1. Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
2. The Angel’s Command
3. Voyage of Slaves

1. The Tale of Urso Brunov
2. Urso Brunov and the White Emperor

Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
The Ribbajack

What are your thoughts?


pictures from: http://redwall.wikia.com/wiki/Brian_Jacques, https://books.google.com/books?id=x_7D6k-224EC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false, https://books.google.com/books/about/Redwall.html?id=vKGPDAAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover&hl=en, http://www.somagames.com/redwall-and-some-ground-rules/

2017/03/14

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Review



Our protagonist, Christopher John Francis Boone, is our eyes and ears in this heart-rending tale of mystery, deceit and disability. Written in journal form, this novel tells the reader about Christopher as he attempts to solve a mysterious death of a dog and, through those investigations, discovers more about himself and the people in his life than he ever imagined.

This book begins with Christopher’s discovery of his neighbor’s poodle, who has been murdered; he discovers the dog bleeding on the ground with a pitchfork through its body. The reader then learns that Christopher lives alone with his father, that his mother is dead, that one of his neighbors has gone missing as well, and that he attends a special school where he does very well at math and is hoping to take A levels at some point. Determined to discover who killed his neighbor’s dog, he starts a journal to write down the clues he finds and to keep better track of the things he is thinking. While he is casually questioning the neighbors, one neighbor admits that Christopher’s mother had an affair with someone else from the neighborhood and, as Christopher continues to investigate, he learns that his father has lied to him- his father not only killed the dog, but he learns that his mother is actually still alive and is living in London with the missing neighbor. These discoveries are so hard on him that he runs away after a confrontation with his father and manages, with much luck and difficulty, to make it to his mother’s apartment. The story ends with Christopher’s father trying to regain lost trust and his mother single again with all parties trying to figure out how to live with and understand each other.

This novel is steeped in the challenges inherent in the lives of individuals with high functioning autism and/or Asperger’s syndrome: A pervasive developmental disorder in which the affected individual displays unusual nonverbal communication, difficulties with empathy and understanding the emotions of others, and other mental and physical symptoms. This particular book has many potential uses for a general education teacher. A teacher can use the texts to discuss different ways of thinking in general and autism in particular. Discussion of emotions, how they are expressed, and how we as individuals ‘read’ people’s emotions is also possible. As the protagonist writes the ‘story’ in journal form, creative writing about the students’ own lives could be encouraged as well. (One assignment could be for the student to write about how they would end the story after only reading the first two chapters. Another option could be writing about what metaphors are and why they can be confusing to someone with a logical mind.) Discussions of math and maps would also be relevant and assignments meant to enhance a student’s knowledge of these subjects would be worthwhile.

Giving this novel an overall rating is a bit challenging, but I finally settled on four stars. This book does several things very well: the protagonist is rather sweet and engaging and the reader finds themselves anxious to follow him through his life. We genuinely worry about him even though Christopher probably wouldn’t be able to acknowledge our concerns. The novel’s prose manages to let the characters express their emotions clearly even though the anger, fear, sadness, and frustration are never explicitly articulated. Through the actions and journal entries shared by Christopher, the reader is able to casually absorb information about Asperger’s syndrome and some of the challenges it can cause for individuals who live with this particular disability. The novel is well- written and the plot feels fairly flawless and begs us to understand and be patient with our protagonist as he navigates his challenges. However, while the written and sometimes strong language brings about positive reflection and understanding of the story, it also can turn off a reader and make it more challenging for some individuals to be willing to complete the book. The adult themes are appropriate- Christopher is 15 years old, after all- but these themes can also offend the reader or invite censorship. While this book is meant for young adults, its themes and plotline can be quite challenging for any reader including adults. This book has won awards for its storytelling including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, Costa Book of the Year, the Boeke Prize, and the Waverton Good Read Award. I highly recommend this well-written novel by Mark Haddon for mature young adults and older students for an entertaining and educational read.


pictures from: http://www.benjaminmadeira.com/2014/09/analysis-haddon-mark.html, https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/heads-up-the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-7856401.html, https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/find-your-next-read/reading-guides/2016/nov/23/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-mark-haddon/

2017/03/04

The Three Investigator Series - In Order


I loved this series when I was a young girl and I have been re-reading it as an adult for fun and still enjoy them today... even if they 'feel' more simplistic and formulaic to me. I recommend them for children ages 9-13. The series has been written by few different authors; the most prolific are Robert Arthur, William Arden and M.V. Carey. This series had a great appeal when it was originally being written and was translated into several languages and countries. These stories feature three male teenagers who form a club to investigate mysteries they discover in their communities. The boys- Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw each have different strengths and knowledge which compliment each other as they work together on the 'puzzles' they discover- their motto is "We Investigate Anything.". Alfred Hitchcock, the famous movie director was also a character in the books as a mentor to the boys in the first two dozen titles, but never actually have much to do with the books- he was simply paid to have his name and image put on them. However, I will admit that I love reading his dialogue with the boys... even if it really isn't his words at all. :)

1. The Secret of Terror Castle
2. The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
3. The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy
4. The Mystery of the Green Ghost
5. The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
6. The Secret of Skeleton Island
7. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
8. The Mystery of the Silver Spider
9. The Mystery of the Screaming Clock
10. The Mystery of the Moaning Cave
11. The Mystery of the Talking Skull
12. The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
13. The Secret of the Crooked Cat
14. The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
15. The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints
16. The Mystery of the Nervous Lion
17. The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
18 The Mystery of the Shrinking House
19. The Secret of Phantom Lake
20. The Mystery of Monster Mountain
21. The Secret of the Haunted Mirror
22. The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
23. The Mystery of the Invisible Dog
24. The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
25. The Mystery of the Dancing Devil
26. The Mystery of the Headless Horse
27. The Mystery of the Magic Circle
28. The Mystery of the Deadly Double
29. The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow
30. The Secret of Shark Reef
31. The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
32. The Mystery of the Blazing Cliffs
33. The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
34. The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man
35. The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale
36. The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid
37. The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon
38. The Mystery of the Smashing Glass
39. The Mystery of the Trail of Terror
40. The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
41. The Mystery of the Creep-Show Crooks
42. The Mystery of Wreckers' Rock
43. The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
Extra : The Three Investigators' Book of Mystery Puzzle

If you have also enjoyed this series, which book was your favorite? Any particular critique? I have started to collect the books again and have been introducing them to Bug and hoping he will start to explore them as well... he may not as they do not tend to have enough animals in them. So I'll have to enjoy them on my own. :)





pictures from: http://www.threeinvestigatorsbooks.com/index.html, http://www.threeinvestigatorsbooks.com/Greenghost.html


2017/02/27

Sabbath Musings...


Yesterday was the Sabbath and I found myself once again thinking about the different ways that I worship on the Sabbath in comparison to how so many of my spiritual friends do. I found myself thinking about why I have chosen to worship and study this in this manner and found myself wondering how the different choices and things that have happened to come about in my life have caused this breach... so that I have a very different environment but emotionally similar experience to those who formally attend I have come to recognize the stereotypes by which I am judged by my spiritual family- I can recognize and even acknowledge that some of the stereotypes are potentially true if looked at through a very rigid black and white lens. For other stereotypes, I cannot recognize how they fit in my life or experience and so I find myself forced to either ignore or combat them in conversation and every day life. In the way they frame myself my house so recognizes stereotypes it or not true and yet I'm must live them because I am judged by them whether they are true or not. For in the end, I will not stereotype myself but it is beyond my control how people form opinions. So I find myself rethinking and reliving and re-analyzing conversations over the last few years... conversations online or by phone in which I have used the words that sometimes "church is unsafe" and I am immediately and simply told that 'you are offended' and I should chose not to be... How can anyone adequately respond to this accusation to anyone who can confuse the ideas of safety and offense to be one and the same? If you haven't even explained what made the area unsafe to you, what can you say at that point... for the die is cast and the judgment is there and nothing you can say will change the mind of the other. It will simply become more evidence for the case of offense. In essence, the conversation is over with both sides feeling unheard and for the 'offended', the trust to try and engage in the conversation again with anyone may be gone as well.

For many of us, the definition of safety is clear. If you are in an unsafe place, you must leave. If you find yourself standing in the middle of a busy highway, you shouldn't stay. If you are in a place where you are being hit or knocked down, emotionally abused or neglected... well, this is unacceptable. You must leave, you must try to find a way to leave if it is possible. And if it is possible you must 'MUST' try to take others with you if the situation is unsafe for them. You having a moral imperative... you owe your Heavenly parents and your spiritual siblings that much... to try not to leave them in the same situation. How many mothers who are experiencing partner abuse and then find a way to leave do not take their children with them (very few). And in the legal sense, taking their children with them when they run can cause courts to give custody over to the abusive parent (even with clear evidence that the parent is abusive) under the excuse of 'parental alienation'... the word alienation seems appropos to this conversation as well.

As I lay awake this morning, I found myself thinking about a discussion I had almost a year ago about safety and offense. The conversation was initiated by me and was clearly focused on safety... that I didn't necessarily feel safe at church. Within seconds, I noticed that, instead of trying to find out why I felt that way, the conversations very quickly boiled down the idea that I was offended. Only when I suggested that it was 'interesting' that safety and offense were being confused as having the same meanings did the individual step back and then ask the important question- "What is happening, going on that makes you feel unsafe?" By time the conversation moved to that point and due to the forum it was in I didn't answer that question even though the answer sat on the tip of my tongue begging to be spilled out and hopeful of being comforted and even having the situation changed. Over the last year, I have listened to many others talk about the same situations in their lives and watched how only in safe areas they are able to talk and feel comfort, to get suggestions on change and to feel validated and recognized as a person of value. Outside of these safe places, I have rarely seen that- not in my life or in the lives of others that I can participate in. Safety is immediately equated with offense and the cycle of pain continues. I have even seen family members encourage other family members to stay in abusive situations because of this exact problem and only the release of fairly damning and devastating pictures of the physical abuse has been able to change their minds. If you are unable or unwilling to 'blast' these pictures into the world, you are stuck in this impasse in which so many forms of abuse can still continue unchecked. Over the last year, only one thing has become more focuses and clear- that the general unreligious population that surrounds me as well as some other religious populations do not immediately equate safety and offense. What I have seen is that only Mormons and evangelicals too. It goes without saying that this is not a formal study- simply an observation... but it has made me curious. Like a child with a scab half removed, I find myself aching to rip it off and discover why this is so... what is happening under the rough surface and why. I wish I had a quick answer but I am still chewing on this thought and would love more imput on it. What I did discover as I thought of this is that there is some initial evidence that LDS leaders can confuse the two terms as well... or at least use them in the same conversation which can confuse the issue. A three minute search turned up these quotes:

Elder Bednar - "When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."

Elder Morrison - "Unfortunately, racism—the abhorrent and morally destructive theory that claims superiority of one person over another by reason of race, color, ethnicity, or cultural background—remains one of the abiding sins of societies the world over. The cause of much of the strife and conflict in the world, racism is an offense against God and a tool in the devil’s hands. In common with other Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regret the actions and statements of individuals who have been insensitive to the pain suffered by the victims of racism and ask God’s forgiveness for those guilty of this grievous sin. The sin of racism will be eliminated only when every human being treats all others with the dignity and respect each deserves as a beloved child of our Heavenly Father."

LDS.org - "Abuse is the treatment of others or self in a way that causes injury or offense. It harms the mind and the spirit and often injures the body as well. It can cause confusion, doubt, mistrust, and fear. It is a violation of the laws of society and is in total opposition to the teachings of the Savior. The Lord condemns abusive behavior in any form—physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional. Abusive behavior may lead to Church discipline."

Matthew 18:6 - "But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

President Joseph F. Smith - "We hold that sexual sin is second only to the shedding of innocent blood in the category of personal crimes. … We proclaim as the word of the Lord: “Thou shalt not commit adultery."....It is a deplorable fact that society persists in holding women to stricter account than men in the matter of sexual offense. What shadow of excuse, not to speak of justification, can be found for this outrageous and cowardly discrimination?"

Elder Packer - "But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably—defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back. There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refused your penance. Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to."

D&C 54:5 - "And woe to him by whom this offense cometh, for it had been better for him that he had been drowned in the depth of the sea."

Vaughn Featherstone - "The teacher or leader must not only be first in knowledge, in prophecy, and in understanding the mysteries, but he must also be first in performance. I believe that it is not only an offense to the people but also an offense to God when priesthood leaders, teachers, and members of the Church never really get down and serve the people, do not do their duty, do not magnify their callings, and do not fill their stewardships. We ought to bend our backs in our callings in such a way that our words and teachings are always racing to keep up with our acts. In this way we will never become what the Savior referred to as “whited sepulchers”."

President Heber J. Grant - “We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility, all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment."

Sarah Miller - "Forgiveness is often difficult because offenders may deny their behavior or avoid acknowledging it. Regardless of how the offender responds—even if the perpetrator does not admit responsibility—the person who has been abused can choose to forgive. It is important to note that forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting the offense, trusting the offender, or even associating with him or her. However, it does mean letting go of self-destructive anger."

LDS.org - “No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to hold the priesthood of God. No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to be a member in good standing in this Church. The abuse of one’s spouse and children is a most serious offense before God, and any who indulge in it may expect to be disciplined by the Church”

I intentionally did not pick and choose- rather, I choose these quotes as they cropped up. Some suggest a definition of the word offense which feels more typical, while others do use the word in to describe behavior in situations that are clearly unsafe. In my mind, racism in many forms makes a congregation unsafe for people of color... and homophobic language and behavior can cause our congregations to be unsafe for it's LGBTQI members. Abuse is a safety issue to me... anything that causes real injury is a safety issue and if we admit that behavior has happened in which we 'cannot mend what has been broken', I think it is safe to say that isn't general offense in any use of the word. So, maybe I am splitting hairs or being too particular about how I think about these things, but this is how I think about things. I found out a while ago about a ward that had a convicted pedophile attending and it was decided to not tell anyone outside of a few people in the ward so that he wouldn't be 'judged'... but these same men who kept it quiet allowed other people to let this man spend time alone with their children... yet quickly removed their children from these situations. IS this a safety issue... Well, if you feel the need to remove your own children, but ignore the potential for other children... then yes it is a safety issue and you as the authority holder are complicit in any harm caused.

If you get physical sick going into a building almost every time, it is a safety issue and not offense.

If you are targeted by a member of the church who intentionally over a significant period of time does thinks to cause physical harm to you and your family, who will not quit when confronted and you are then told you need to forgive... while the same bullying behavior is being repeated and condoned... that is a safety issue- period.

If you have authority and use your authority to harm others even when shown evidence of the harm you are causing, that is a safety issue.

What this exercise has given me is a few thoughts. I am able to recognize that some things I am holding onto are because the 'offense' was pretty painful, but not necessarily a safety issue... in that sense, I will admit to being offended. However, in the end, safety is a priority and there is simply too much at risk for me at this point. I may be seen as offended... so I guess I will accept that. I will admit that this new realization brings no joy with it. More thought and prayer will be added to the equation, but I see no change ahead. Maybe that is a good thing as people who say they are friends also judge and disappear. The people who have been the most loyal to me in this life have rarely been found in spiritual communities, but have been found in the living of my daily life... through a stopped car on the road, a co-worker who is friendly, a letter from a distance challenged friend speaking of love and encouragement.... these are the friends and community best nurtured and kept close. Maybe spiritually is best kept between you and the Lord, with study and prayer and revelation... where safety is easily found and offense can be more appropriately wrestled with as a key to understanding yourself and not a judgement made in dismissal. Maybe...

2017/02/23

One Week In....


Well, I have been without an official job for about a week and I am so glad to say that many aspects of my health are starting to improve, but also a little annoyed that I haven't accomplished more in the time that I have had. Granted, I have accomplished alot including some cover letters, an unpaid internship for class, house cleaning, CBT's for re-certifications, a math exam, etc... it just doesn't feel like enough actually. So I think I need to accept that as long as I am trying I am really doing OK. Maybe, all of us need to recognize that we are doing the best we can and cut ourselves some slack... and just pet some kitties. Food for thought. :)

2017/02/21

The Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series (in order)


I am a pretty rabid fan of the two mystery series developed by M.C. Beaton aka Marion Chesney aka Marion Gibbons. This series features the unambitious and highly intuitive/observant character called Hamish Macbeth who lives in the small village of Lockduhb . If you haven't ever heard of this series before and you like mysteries, take some time to explore it as it is a fun explore! Here are the books in chronological order for the new reader. Also for fun, these characters have been turned into a TV series with three seasons so you can explore the characters in another format... the books are the best though!




Death of a Gossip (1985)
Death of a Cad (1987)
Death of an Outsider (1988)
Death of a Perfect Wife (1989)
Death of a Hussy (1990)
Death of a Snob (1992 )
Death of a Prankster (1992)
Death of a Glutton (1993) Also published under the title "Death of a Greedy Woman"
Death of a Travelling Man (1993)
Death of a Charming Man (1994)
Death of a Nag (1995)
Death of a Macho Man (1996)
Death of a Dentist (1997)
Death of a Scriptwriter (1998)
Death of an Addict (1999)
A Highland Christmas (1999)
Death of a Dustman (2001)
Death of a Celebrity (2002)
Death of a Village (2003)
Death of a Poison Pen (2004)
Death of a Bore (2005)
Death of a Dreamer (2006)
Death of a Maid (2007)
Death of a Gentle Lady (2008)
Death of a Witch (2009)
Death of a Valentine (2010)
Death of a Chimney Sweep (2011) Also published under the title "Death of a Sweep"
Death of a Kingfisher (2012)
Death of Yesterday (2013)
Death of a Policeman (2014)
Death of a Liar (2015)
Knock, Knock, You’re Dead (2016)
Death of a Nurse (2016)
Death of a Ghost (2017)

If you are exploring this series for the first time, please let me know how you liked it :)




pictures from: http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/author/, http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/books/hamish_macbeth_mysteries/death_of_a_ghost/

2017/02/19

The Agatha Raisin Mystery Series (in order)


I am a pretty rabid fan of the two mystery series developed by M.C. Beaton aka Marion Chesney aka Marion Gibbons. This series features the detective and public relation skills of a character called Agatha Raisin who lives in a small village in Carsley. If you haven't ever heard of this series before and you like mysteries, take some time to explore it as it is a fun explore! Here are the books in chronological order for the new reader. Also for fun, these characters have finally been turned into a TV series so you can explore the characters in another format... the books are the best though!



Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (1992)

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet (1993)

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener (1994)

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley (1995)

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage (1996)

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (1997)

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (1998)

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham (1999)

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden (1999)

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (2000)

Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell (2001)

Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came (2002)

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (2003)

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (2003)

Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance (2004)

Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon (2005)

Love, Lies and Liquor: An Agatha Raisin mystery (2006)

Kissing Christmas Goodbye: An Agatha Raisin mystery (2007)

Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison (2008)

Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride (2009)

Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body (2010)

Agatha Raisin: As the Pig Turns (October 2011)

Agatha Raisin: Hiss and Hers (2012)

Agatha Raisin: Something Borrowed, Someone Dead (2013)

Agatha Raisin: The Blood of an Englishman (2014)

Agatha Raisin: Dishing the Dirt (2015)

Agatha Raisin: Pushing Up Daisies (2016)

If you are exploring this series for the first time, please let me know how you liked

pictures from: http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/author/, http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/books/agatha_raisin_mysteries/pushing_up_daisies/

2017/02/18

Picture Book Analysis- "When Sheep Cannot Sleep: The Counting Book"


This is a book analysis I completed for a class this semester. This is one of Bug's favorite books so I was pleased to have an excuse to read it some more. I hope you enjoy. :)

In their quest to create and motivate young readers, both authors and publishing houses try to create a work of literature that can stand on its own and that, due to design, storyline and subject matter, can turn more people into readers. Different authors and publishing groups may value different topics and book designs based on past sales or perceived enthusiasm for a topic. This paper attempts to analyze the book “When Sheep Cannot Sleep- The Counting Book” and discuss its distinct place in enjoyable literature for young children.





This beginning reader / picture book was written and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura who lives in London, England as a Japanese expatriate. He is a prolific author who has won some awards for his varied works. “When Sheep Cannot Sleep” was nominated for a Mockingbird award and was awarded the New York Times Notable Book of the Year award in 1988. The distinctive designs that set the author apart from other illustrators and bold watercolor designs complement the simple storyline of a sheep named Woolly who finds himself unable to fall asleep and goes on an adventure instead. During his adventure he meets other animals and discovers lightning, an empty house, and things to do, draw, chase and eat. Finally he ends up in bed and falling asleep to his quiet thoughts and his images of counting the members of his family in his head.


The straightforwardly moving storyline keeps the book interesting for children ages three to eight years old. However, the author’s secondary purpose is to promote counting for the older preschool reader. They can not only follow the adventures of Woolly, but each page is also set up as a counting game. The reader can enjoy the story of Woolly trying to pick apples, having a conversation with squirrels about the apples, and then using a ladder to reach the apples, while also being able to count upward as the story progresses. His adventure moves from more squirrels than apples, more rungs on the ladder than squirrels and eventually to an empty house with a cozy bed just for him. At the end of the book, the author has made an index that tells the reader what images were meant to be counted in both visuals and words in a clear, easy to read format. By adding a second purpose to the book, the author has created a work that can be used for more than one age group. With bold colors but instructive illustrations that move the story line along, but also ask readers to pause and genuinely look at the pictures, this book invents more opportunities for the reader to interact with the story as they grow. The tension created between the detailed illustrations that ask readers to slow down and ‘look’ and the dialogue which suggests to the reader to speed up was perfect- by the time the reader is developmentally able to notice the tension between words and illustration, he or she is starting to interact by counting and the tension eases.

This book also capitalizes on a few characteristics common to many children’s books. Animals are something that children are highly motivated to learn about, so by creating a main character who is a sheep and several secondary characters that are also animals (squirrels, owls, bats, etc..) there is a strong impetus for the reader to continue on with the story. The illustrations are very colorful which draw the eye towards them and helps to create a sense of peace and lack of urgency in the reader, yet also enthusiasm to continue with the adventure. As a reader, we enjoy following in the path of this poor insomniac sheep because his adventures and environment are simply too interesting- in some ways we as readers no longer have any interest in sleeping either until, with luck, the story promotes in the reader the urge to tuck into bed like Woolly and start to count sheep themselves behind the dark of their own eye lids. The story flows from adventure to peaceful quiet and an urge to join our animal friends in blessed slumber. It also asks the reader to question some of the subtle details in the illustrations: Why are so many animals awake past their bedtime? Why are there so many doors in the house and why are all the doors in the home closed except for one? Why does Woolly feel comfortable entering what appears to be an empty, unknown house that he finds on his adventure and happily cooks some peas and tucks himself into bed? Why are we as readers comfortable with Woolly’s behavior in regards to the house and are not frightened? These questions are only able to be answered by the imagination of the reader.

There are a few themes that are covered in this particular text. The first and most obvious is the pattern of a child having a busy day and then following through the nightly bedtime rituals that put the child in bed and asleep. In some ways, this story reminds us of our lives; we get up, have an adventure, and finish the day in bed ready to begin again on the morrow. Another theme is the pattern of growth- as the story continues, more and more characters or things to count are added to the text, creating depth where there was simplicity. Counting and animals are also themes used in the text. The last theme that comes to mind that is expressed in this book is to simply enjoy the good aspects of life. Giving young children the ability to follow an animal in its evening rituals, to learn more about the world surrounding them, and to create early motivation toward understanding numbers and their uses in our lives is not something to be taken for granted. I highly recommend this particular picture book for any parent with young children for an enjoyable and comfortable read that also encourages fun and learning.



pictures from: http://us.macmillan.com/whensheepcannotsleep/satoshikitamura/9780374483593/, https://cuentoenlasnoches.blogspot.com/2015/03/fernando-furioso-hiawyn-oran-y-satoshi.html, http://us.macmillan.com/whensheepcannotsleep/satoshikitamura/9780374483593/, http://bokmal.com.ua/books/when-sheep-cannot-sleep-kitamura/

2017/02/16

A Short Film Review: Jean-Michel Basquiat "The Radiant Child"


Sometimes a title says more about a film after it is experienced than it expressed before you opened yourself to the knowledge within. Jean-Michel Basquiat was an artist of pure brilliance who not only instinctively seemed to recognize ‘art’ in the differing facets of the world around him, but also understood so much of the human and art history that came before him and allowed that “history (to) walk with me too.” He used many ‘styles’ in his artwork between drawing and painting, graffiti and collage technique, obscured language, and references to other artists in other fields, including biology, archeology, music, etc…

This artist also reminds me of the fact that how we describe people and their work really matters. Think of the images that you conjure in your mind from these descriptive words:

“…terribly young, very ambitious”
“difficult artist”
“sad but so sweet”
“…wild boy”
“Black Picasso”
“…primal expressionism”
“(Were they) in front of new stars… or about to get robbed?”


I find myself quite torn by these phrases for these sentences describe the man I watched painting, smiling… with heightened focus and an independence and creativity of thought that is remarkable. I find myself thinking of the energy and the expressionism of the man… yet these phrases are not commonly used to describe most adults. As the title symbolizes, each of us- his friends, critics and culture describe this vibrant man as a boy…”so sweet, difficult, wild…” These words jar against my ear and my soul and I find myself recognizing the barely veiled racism that Jean Michel dealt with in so much of his life… and the racism inherent in me as I struggle to find the words to describe his work and find my words focus more on the artist and my impressions of him rather than his work itself. Twenty years, later, our culture and each of us is still trying to understand and recognize the way we divide those around us and infantilize African American individuals and culture. As Basquiat found, he became a symbol or representation to the white culture around him of all Black individuals and culture… a stereotype that is fraught with inaccuracies and biases. He too, also recognized the difficulty of critics to critique his work on its own merits… and not his personality. He recognized that no one, including himself, could separate his skin color from his work and he created over 2000 paintings and drawings that covered a wide range of topics including slavery, Black History and racism, poverty, integration, and social commentary.

I found myself both repelled and attracted to his work and as I watched the videos of him painting I found myself drawn to his hand, watching the image change and come to life in front of my eyes. He was so quick and so focused that I found I rarely really understood the image he wanted to create until the completion of his piece. I found myself questioning my views on art creation – How is art defined in my mind and how much does timing and speed of creation factor into my opinions? Why did I want to dismiss his work in the beginning of the biography because it looked like ‘just graffiti’ to me? How did his understanding of history pull me more into his work and create the new admirer I have become? I found I finished this film with a very different image of the artist and his work than I started with only an hour or so previously.

Learning about his life reminded me of a character in Greek mythology named Icarus who also was ambitious, motivated and desired to get the ‘respect he felt he deserved.’ He was always reaching to achieve more and as he reached the heights of youth, fame, and wealth too quickly, his mental wings began to fall apart and the earth lost an amazing thinker and creator too soon at 27 years old. His story is one that I am used to reading in musician or thespian circles (Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Heath Ledger come to mind), but not in the clean world I envision art culture to be. His world was uncomfortable so it also didn’t fit into the culture it asked us to look at and think about. I also relate to looking back and feeling embarrassed about my past- thinking about what I should have done differently, etc… In the end his life was so radiant that it encompassed even himself and we can now only look at and try to understand his work and how it speaks to the society around us.

These last two pictures I saw at the Tacoma Art museum recently: "Bird On Money" and "One Million Yen"



pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Michel_Basquiat, http://www.sankofasofa.com/content/art-and-culture-weapon-jean-michel-basquiat,

2017/02/15

Notice


I gave notice at work today. It felt very brave as I do not have another sure fire job lined up and in some ways quiting can be seen as a pretty stupid move without something else in the bag. I must confess the feeling of relief and peace I feel is pretty overwhelming. It's a mark of how bad things are when you tell your boss that you are leaving and his first words are "You can't do that - we love you! What did we do to you..." That is such an interesting way of responding- control, need, and then acknowledgment that the environment is so poor I must be leaving due to poor treatment. And he's not wrong... I am. It took a few hours to really sink in for him and at one point he asked if I was really serious I must be kidding (I'm not). In the end, I tentatively agreed to stay per diem for a few weeks and see how that goes, but I think my heart is already gone. I love Lily and Sara and Toni and Jane- I have some amazing co-workers- but the damaging culture is just too much. The peace I feel with making the decision even though this decision will create more trials for me is profound. I am so grateful for the ability and opportunity to kneel in prayer and discuss my concerns and to feel heard most of the time... even when I do not like the answers. I am not totally sure how I am going to move forward right now... or at least I haven't pinpointed a firm direction and focus. But I am content with my current choice so let's see where it leads me... and celebrate with french fries (doesn't everyone? :D )

On a silly note, I enjoyed my Valentine's day with my kitties very much and there was much love all around. There is much to be thankful for.

2017/02/13

“Out of My Comfort Zone”: Understanding the Impact of a Service-Learning Experience in Rural El Salvador: An Analysis


While the school age population has been becoming more diverse over time as minority students increase in numbers, the average teacher in the United States continues to be white, middle class and female. This disparity between the lives, cultures, experiences and even financial security of over 30% of the student population and their educators suggests a potentially deep divide between the two groups that can be very hard to recognize, understand and then overcome. There are many ideas about how to bridge this gap, to help create empathy and more understanding between educators and their students and to educate the educators themselves more fully in the areas of diversity. One way that has been attempted to achieve this ideal are short service-learning experiences in areas of direct need that cover many of the cultural, financial and challenging experiences of some of the students who are moving to America and entering our school systems. This paper describes a qualitative case study of a two week service immersion in a rural mountain village in El Salvador called La Secoya. This short term study was produced by Paula J. Beckman and Lea Ann Christenson and was populated with fifteen female students who were all in either pre-education or pre-med degree programs.

Funnily enough, as these two authors work to find ways to bring down barriers, they find themselves in the majority of educators as middle-class or higher white females. Paula J. Beckman is a Professor of Early Childhood: Special Education Program Counseling and counts among her research interests early support for Latino families, community development, the impact of poverty on development, and inclusion for exceptional children. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education and has written over eighty articles, edited two books and been involved in international research and training projects both in Europe and Central America. Lee Ann Christenson is an Assistant Professor at Towson University with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and focuses on early literary acquisition, ‘Study Abroad’ and English as a Second Language instruction. She also has several publications and presentations on these subjects under her belt. There present paper is intended to help express possible mental and behavioral changes that can happen when people are immersed in a culture for even short periods of time. Both authors fully admit that due to their small sample size and lack of other studies, this study is a suggestion and shows short term change pretty clearly in the participants.

This article covered its primary objectives very well. It covered how the two week immersion changed the perspective of the participants from their point of view, using quotes when necessary to help back up the premise that all student participants felt that the experience overall was a positive one for them and their perceptions of people they did not know even though in the case of half of the students, they didn’t understand the actual language being spoken by the villagers. How this experience affected them personally as well as their professional choices was also addressed, asking the students how they had changed or what decisions they were going to change or had changed after the event based on their experiences in El Salvador. Lastly, the authors tried to address how each student’s perspectives on global awareness, immigration, war and privilege were impacted or changed based on this single experience. My major disappointment was that the sample size was so small (and gendered as well) so that, while this was a fascinating article and I am very excited by its conclusions, my excitement is tempered knowing that there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that all student populations would have the same understanding or empathy after the study was complete. I would love for more research to be completed on this topic.

I think this information might be very valuable to a general education teacher. It is important for each of us to recognize and understand what we don’t have experience in. Being able to recognize that a child fluent in Spanish but not English should not be listed as nonverbal, to recognize and truly attempt to understand the varied experiences of those from other cultures or immigrants, to focus on what is needed for the child by understanding his full experience and not just using assumptions from your own perspective and stereotypes- what an amazing gift for a teacher! This information could help a general educator use their limited resources wisely and more appropriately to the situation and not to waste time and energy focusing on things that are not needed. This paper suggests that even short periods of time immersing yourself in the culture of your students can make a large difference in the way that an educator sees and potentially responds to some of their most challenged students. I would highly recommend this article to a teacher for that reason alone.

Here is a link to the article: link

2017/01/20

Cheering Competition in Brewer


I don't do it very often but sometimes I step out of my comfort zone. It's not always an easy thing to do and sometimes I have to be quite bullied into it... tonight was one of those times. Two beautiful ladies-Miss Kacie and Alyssa- that spend time with me in the evening sometimes when their parents are at work wanted me to come to a cheerleading competition and so I worked really hard on my homework and headed up to Brewer...

My initial impression was that there was lots of people and it was very loud -that said I had a great time! I've never been interested in cheerleading and even in high school and never went to any of the games or watch the other sporting events because it didn't interest me. Frankly, if it wasn't friends or theater, plays or musicals... I wasn't interested.

However, I had fun and overall was a great experience for me. I found myself wriggling in my seat to the music leaning forward and starting to move as I watched someone tumble and generally joined in the melee of music, cheering, energy, and sound. So congratulations for all the hard work and effort that our cheerleading team gave to the competition. Participants were: Jenna Arey, Haley Brown, Taylor Brown, Lily Chase-Hurd, Grace Debeck, Alyx Frazell, Alyssa Graychase, Katelynn Leighton, Alyss Maguire, Alexandra Pickering, Kacie Sealy, Kaylee Tozier, Victoria Watkins, Alexis Wardwell, Kaylee Whalen, Molly Wilson, and Abigail Coffin!

It was a fun night! Hope to do it again soon. :)

Here are some pictures of my friends in the Bucksport Middle School cheering group in their act for the competition:





2017/01/06

Good Thoughts


I've been struggling a bit for the last few days. I have stopped taking some of my abdominal medications and it is pretty amazing to me exactly how much the meds were helping. I had managed to take them for so long that I didn't really remember how much abdominal pain and nausea I tended to live with and now it is back... and wow, I don't like it much. That said I have so much good going on right now so I thought I would count some of my blessings so to speak. :)

1. It's school vacation and I am caught up in all my classes with all of them graded except for one; I got all A's and B's so I can't whine about that. One of the classes was a math class and it is the first time in my life that I have passed an Algebra class! For full disclosure, I had lots of help. I was tutored, used three different texts from outside of class as well as a Teaching Company/ Great Courses class and three smartphone algebra game apps. Not to mention friends and sometimes spending as much as two hours on one question. But I passed- one more math class and my degree will pretty much be mine- all my requirements will be completed. I'm getting there!

2. I am doing pretty well with not biting my nails. I've tried to stop a few times in my life and I am at the crucial point where the nails are long enough they are starting to break. This is where I usually break down and start biting them, but I have been doing well and trying to cut and file them instead.


3. I have a wonderful household of animal companions that keep me company, give me love and affection and even make me laugh. While I probably have too many, like children... I don't know who I would live without if I needed too. So, like family, they stay and I wouldn't have it any other way.


4. I have a fun home and I am warm in this pretty cold and icy weather. I have a few close friends that I adore and who genuinely care for me and while work is a challenge, I have a few co-workers that I really love and can't imagine my life without which is an amazing blessing as well. I have food and water... and even a little ice cream. :D

5. I spend a great deal of my free time with Bug or in service to others which is a gift and helps keep me busy as well.

6. Even though I do have some health complaints, I am doing pretty well. I wish that taking care of myself was easier, but it could be much worse and having a safe place with companions to recover in means the world.

7. I was recently able to visit with some family and that is a gift that I cherish everyday.

8. I live in Maine- it is so beautiful here. I love being rural and being able to have a little space of my own. Being able to not feel super crowded is precious.

9. I love reading and currently have many new books to choose from. I am taking advantage of my vacation to do some fun reading and I have pretty much finished every Nero Wolfe book I got! On to Hamish Macbeth!

10. Who can't smile with silly ferrets around :)

What do you have to be grateful for today?

2017/01/02

Today...


Things are going pretty well for me right now. I am so much to be grateful for and I love having the last few days of some rest with family. Bug is so tall and I enjoy spending my weekends with him laughing, cooking and just enjoying him grow. I'm looking forward... hoping for a much better year than the last for me and for so many others. Let's see what's in store for all of us. :)