Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Daily Grind

Kyle is enjoying Kindergarten, and as expected, is getting a crash-course reminder of expected behavior in the classroom.

However, early into week three, he told me one morning, "I think that I'll just stay home from school. I like school, but I don't want to go every day."

I explained that he did go to school every day now, and guided him into his backpack and up the driveway to wait for the bus. As we waited, he continued to explain why today wasn't a good day for school. When the bus pulled up to our driveway and opened the doors, Kyle turned his back and walked down the driveway. The driver waited, I threatened (and they weren't just empty threats -- I did make good on them), and he still didn't get on.

After the bus pulled away without Kyle on it, I explained to him that it's just like disobeying not to get on the bus. It's also showing bad manners to keep the busdriver waiting for him. "I just want to walk to that other stop today," he explained, trying to simply excuse his behavior and cover his tracks.

On the second day of school, we missed the bus. It was completely my fault, as I had misjudged how early we should be out there. Fortunately, I had discovered when Amanda was riding that same bus, that if we missed it we could walk half a block to the corner and catch it when he came back around 7 or 8 minutes later. So, we did that.

I explained to Kyle that it was only okay to walk to that stop if it was my fault that we missed the bus -- that if we are there when the bus comes by our house to pick him up, he needs to get on.

This week it happened again. Again I explained to him what the consequences would be if he chose to disobey, to no avail. This morning thankfully everything was okay and he got right on the bus after we discussed that when I said "Goodbye Sweetie" (his suggestion) that he knew that it was really time to get on.

In other Kindergarten news, apparently Kyle is not heeding the warnings of single professionals nationwide who caution people from getting involved with people in the workplace. Yesterday he got off the bus with a huge grin on his face. "Guess what, Mom? I have two girlfriends, L. and K" (Names truncated to protect the other guilty parties).

I looked at the bus's windows where two Kindergarten cuties used to smile and wave and saw no one.

"They crouched down in the seat when I got off because I told them that I was going to tell you that they were my girlfriends, and they didn't want you to see them."

"You mean, girlfriends like girls who are your friends, right?" I asked, knowing better -- knowing that letting him watch tween shows with his big sister has finally come back to bite me.

"No. Girlfriends. I'm going to date them when I'm older."

So see -- those of you who might question if there's a deeper reason that he doesn't want to get on the bus some mornings can put your mind at ease. He loves his teacher (He is sad that he can't see her on the weekends), he loves center time (What Kindergartener doesn't?), he has some buddies, and apparently not one but two love interests.

The truth of the matter is that while he likes school, he knows that aimlessly hanging out at home is infinitely more exciting. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Amanda's Fall into Reading List

Amanda (age 11, 6th grade) wanted to join in the Fall into Reading Challenge as well. She has an even harder time than I do making a list, because she reads so much. How can she know what she will feel like reading 2 months from now? However, she made this list with some books in mind that she knows she wants to read.
  1. The Gregor the Overlander books 2-6 (by Suzanne Collins)
  2. Dear Pen Pal
  3. Daddy Long Legs (Mom just started reading this aloud to me)
  4. Love, Stargirl
  5. Harry Potter 5 (re-read)
  6. Harry Potter 6 (re-read)
  7. Harry Potter 7
  8. The Nobodies
  9. The Anybodies
  10. All the Nutmegs I haven't read yet
  11. Finish Peter and the Starcatchers
  12. Peter and the Shadow Thieves
  13. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall into Reading -- 2009

I always love participating in Callapidder Days' Fall into Reading Challenge, especially because it was this very challenge three years ago (four?) that got me back into serious reading -- little did I know then how much I would be reading now!

You can link your own post up tomorrow, but I had been thinking it started today, so I'll go ahead and post this (and allow it to serve as a reminder for you).

Lately I've sort of bemoaned that I don't always get to read what I want to read, but I'm changing my tune on that. I love my reviewing gig at 5 Minutes for Books, and my participation in the Amazon Vine program -- both of which provide me with more books than I know what to do with. And since I do get to accept or reject books that are offered to me, I really AM reading what I want to read. In fact, I've become pickier -- both in what I accept, and in what I choose to keep reading.

Because of the way I get books, it really is hard for me to make a list of the books that I expect to read in November or December, because I don't likely have them yet, but I will list the ones that I know about already.

So I will list off ones that I would like to read, predicting that I probably won't get to all of these exact titles, but within the three-month period I will likely read about 20 books (a fair amount of those middle grade or young adult, as you can see, which I do read faster).

I usually like to link to the books, because I know that I really like to click through links to see a little bit more about it. If you'd like to search, open a separate window by clicking here.

(I'm also going ahead and tagging this for 5 Minutes for Books 4th-Tuesday carnival What's on Your Nightstand, so that I can just link it up tomorrow, instead of repeating myself, since these books listed are the ones I will be digging into this month).


Thirsty by Tracey Bateman
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carole Oates
America, America
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon
The Hunger Mirror
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Gouge

Non-fiction (Most of these are very readable memoir-ish books):

Come Back Como
The Hidden Life of Deer
The Kids are All Right

With Amanda (aloud or alongside):

Dear Pen Pal (the third in the Mother-Daughter Book Club)
Daddy Long Legs (the classic that the books is based on)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- it's time to wrap up the series at last!

Other Middle Grade or YA fiction:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Reread a childhood favorite for the Children's Classics on 5 Minutes for Books on October 13. Won't you join us?)

Escape Under the Forever Sky
The Other Side of Blue
When the Whistle Blows
Troubling a Star
Callapidder readers -- Thanks for visiting! I blog about books (both mine and my kids -- age 11 and 5), along with parenting posts, food, NYC, some TV and movies -- it's a hodgepodge.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

I also manage 5 Minutes for Books, and I invite you to check out our current giveaways (we post one to three per week), subscribe to the 5 Minutes for Books feed, and follow us @5M4B on twitter.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday 2:02 p.m.

This afternoon I sat on the deck, reading.

It was 70 degrees -- a perfect sunshiny 70, neither cool nor hot.

I put down my book and dozed.

When I awoke a few minutes later, the dog and I stared at each other.

She was struggling to keep her eyes open. Like me, she succumbed to the soporific effects of the sun's rays.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pearl Girls

One of the secrets of life is using the grit that life gives us -- those unexpected and/or unfortunate circumstances of life. In fact, sometimes living life is enough to produce a little grit.

I've really enjoyed reading the essays from writers and other public Christian figures in the book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, edited by Margaret McSweeney.


Pearl Girls also has a website for readers to become involved by posting their own stories. For more information, click here.

Click through the link to read Melissa's review at 5 Minutes for Mom, and enter to win one of 4 copies! Hurry -- contest closes on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Blogger Meme

Today's assignment is to answer each question about your reading habits in 5 words or less. Read other book bloggers' answers (or link up your own) at the BBAW blog.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Ice Cream goes with anything.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I prefer notetaking in reader's notebook.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Long rests=bookmarks. Short releases=flat.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Different experiences, but love both

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
Easily stop at breaks within chapters

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

What are you currently reading?
The Secret of Zoom, Traveling with Pomegranates, Await Your Reply

What is the last book you bought?
These books for my kids.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
Usually 1 novel, 1 middle-grade or YA, 1 non-fiction (see above for current example)

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
Outside on deck in afternoon sunshine

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Prefer stand-alone but have enjoyed both

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Recently -- The Help

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
In stacks and piles :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Hunger Games -- What Next?

For Amanda it was all about Catching Fire** this month. She and I both read the sequel to Suzanne Collin's the Hunger Games (linked to our thoughts). and enjoyed it this month. She claims it's "even better than the last one!"

We thought that in addition to saying if you haven't read The Hunger Games just read it, already; we'd also make some recommendations for some of you who brought yourself right to the edge of the cliff with Catching Fire.

For younger Hunger Games fans (and for the record, The Hunger Games is a more mature book and very intense book -- I'd recommend it for 5th grade at the youngest): Suzanne Collins' Gregor the Overlander series, written for 9 - 12 year olds. Amanda read a few of these in 4th grade, but she didn't finish the series. She's listening to the audiobook of Book 1 right now, and is planning to read through the series as she bides her time for the third installment of this one that she loves.

For teen (and adult) Hunger Games fans looking for more, I couldn't help but make comparisons to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, especially as I was reading the second book.

Another distopian book that Amanda liked (and I am listening to on audiobook) is Life As We Knew It.

Do you have any other suggestions for those who are left hungering for the next installment in the Hunger Games series?

Find out what more kids enjoyed this month at 5 Minutes for Books Kids' Picks carnival -- join in the third Tuesday of each month!

**Enter our great Catching Fire Giveaway through TODAY only.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Bloggers I Enjoy

Well, the winners of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards are being announced right now -- as I type this, new ones are being posted (holding my breath to see if 5 Minutes for Books makes the cut in either Best Community Builder or Best Bookclub Blog).

Each day there's a new blogging topic for those of us who want to jump in. You can write your own answers and then link to the main post, and also visit others.

Today's assignment involves throwing out some recognition to blogs that didn't make the shortlist. I DID discover some great blogs via the shortlist, and am looking forward to finding more.

What book blogs mean something to you? Who are your most trusted sources for recommendations, your greatest help, the blogger you turn to for a laugh or to vent? Whose writing do you admire or who introduced you to a whole new genre you didn’t know about? We want to hear all about them…because we want to know them too! Please share about the blogs we haven’t had a chance to meet via BBAW and let the party begin!

A few blogs come to mind. There are a few that I discovered as a judge for BBAW. These are all blogs that I subscribed to, yet didn't make the shortlist.

Steph & Tony Investigate
(very fun observations on books and more)
Suko's Notebook

Pam's Perspective
Three Guys One Book
Vulpes Libres

The other set of bloggers that come to mind are those who are regular participants in the 5 Minutes for Books carnivals Kids' Picks or Children's Classics. I always get great ideas, and these are a few of the ones who tend to suggest books that I know my kids will love, month after month:

Dawn at my thoughts exactly
Carrie at Reading to Know
Amy at Hope is in the Word
Steph at Olive Tree
and Bookie Woogie is a riot!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This has been sort of a tough week. That "hit you hard in the face because everything is starting up including once a year type things such as Open Houses" season is upon us. Last week and this week each have several evening commitments and daily obligations.

Kyle has been a bit tired in the evenings as he's getting used to his new school schedule (tired is a nice way of saying that several times he was an emotional mess by 6:45 p.m.). Terry was out of town all week as well, and without my partner's support, it doesn't take long before I'm a little snippy, especially with a busy busy schedule.

Saturday morning I came home from my Bible study meeting to find the children not dressed (for the soccer game for which we were supposed to be leaving in 15 minutes). There were some impatient and unkind words spoken by both of us to the children, who had been reminded before Terry got in the shower that they needed to get ready. Let me add here that Terry has an awful case of poison ivy. Really horrid. And you know how you act when you don't feel well?

So at church today, our pastor taught on this passage:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2
Why couldn't we have read that last week? Unfortunately, my memory is short. Had I been reminded of my duty to be gentle, to be kind, to bear with my family in love last week, it probably would not have stuck. I would have put on my holy face and nodded, "Ah yes. Such truths." However this week after experiencing it all (and failing miserably to live up to the standard), the message hit the target.

I don't feel condemned, but I do feel convicted.

A little patience and gentleness goes a long way doesn't it? And if it's true that what comes around goes around, I am going to try to dish it out liberally.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back-to-School Books

I love the topics of the 5 Minutes for Books Children's Classics carnival. This month we are looking at Back-to-School books.

I have to say that sometimes I (and others), veer from the "classics" section, but perhaps not if we are simply talking about books which might be eligible for conclusion in that canon based on their quality, regardless of publishing date.

I could name several books right off the top of my head that are well known books that every child is supposed to read before going to school (and we haven't read many of them!). However, can I make a plug for my favorite little rodent Scaredy Squirrel once again? Without specifically addressing "back-to-school," Melanie Watt addresses the fear of the unknown, which is the hurdle that many children must face, whether starting school for the first time ever, or moving to a new building, or even a new classroom.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson is brand new -- just released this summer. Zoe F. is moving from the laid-back Kindergarten classroom, to the stricter first grade level. The problem is her hair. It's wild, unmanageable, and has a mind of it's own! It's unable to be contained with barrettes, headbands or bows, so how will it fall under the rule of the strict Ms. Trisk? It's a cute picture book that might open the door to discuss latent fears that kids might have about school, or they might just enjoy the silliness of a story centered around a little girl with a big unruly red mane of hair.

Then I was trying to think of some middle-grade novels, since so many of them center around school, and Harry Potter came right to mind. How cool to go back to school with the wizards who are always returning to Hogwarts at the beginning of each book to facce some new adventure and challenge.

If you'd like to share some of your favorite books dealing with Back-to-School, click over to 5 Minutes for Books' Children's Classics, or just read through the comments and links and get some new ideas to fill up your bookbag.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Really Great Mother-Daughter Day

Even though I poke fun at her expense, and frequently mention the dark side of living with a tween (hormones! mood fluctuations! grouchiness!), in reality I do love getting to know the little woman she's becoming.

Last weekend, we went into New York City, and had a GREAT day. I knew I was enjoying every little thing, but at the end, I asked her to rate the day on a scale of 1 - 10, and she gave it a 9.5.

Our first stop was Dylan's Candy Bar. The place is bright, cheery, and stocked with any type of sugary treat you can imagine.

Then we went to lunch at Serendipity 3 right around the corner. Terry and I had tried to go for dessert one time, and they weren't even adding names to the list. Amanda and I got there by noon to put our name on the list, and by the time we got back from Dylan's 15 minutes later, our table was ready.

This was a magical sort of place. I felt a little like the wrong-sized Alice in Wonderland. There were big menus, small cafe tables, and intriguing stuff all around the place.

Our lunch was just okay. She ordered black bean soup and was going to share my chicken pot pie. The pot pie was a little thyme-y for my tastes, but some of the other menu items looked better. I would definitely go again. But the reason people go there is for dessert, and we indulged in what the waiter said was the most popular: Forbidden Broadway Sundae. It was dark chocolate cake (chocolate cake that actually tasted as good as it looks), with ice cream and delicious hot fudge. Amanda was entranced by the hot fudge dripping down the sides.

FYI, I saw a lot of the frozen hot chocolate, for which they are really famous, being picked up half-drunk by the busboys (the frozen hot chocolate was half drunk, not the busboys), so I was glad that we skipped that in favor for the more-expensive sundae.

Then we made our way to Broadway to see Burn the Floor. We got tickets so that I could do a review/giveaway at 5 Minutes for Mom (if you will be in NYC before November 22, click over and try to win a pair, or tell your friends!). We loved this show, and while there's no way I was turning down free Broadway tickets, I wasn't sure how much we'd enjoy it. Even if you don't plan to enter to win, you should go read my review, and you can see a picture of Amanda getting an autograph at the stage door after the show from Pasha.

Then, to cap it all off, there was some sort of street vendor fair in Times Square, which I've never seen (in Times Square). Amanda loves that sort of thing, so we strolled a bit, and then drove home.

Have I said it before? I love New York.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This book has been on my to-be-read list for a while now. Everyone's talking about it, as you probably know. When a friend lent to it me in July, I thought it would be towards the top of the pile, but there were other books I had to read, and I devoted some personal time to Harry Potter last month.

When Melissa suggested that we use it for a 5 Minutes for Books bookclub, I thought that was a great idea, and would insure that I actually gave this little book some time. The official bookclub post was put up on Tuesday (feel free to click over and give your thoughts in the comments or link up your own review).

But I've just finished, so here we are. In a word, I did enjoy it. When I first started, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy the book of letters format. But within the first 20 pages, I was already delighted by Sophie and Juliet and Sidney.

I was quite sure that I was really enjoying the book when a piece of news was shared about one of the characters that took me offguard and made me feel more than I had thought I would. The same thing happened once again when I was suprised with a detail about one of the characters that the author had held back until this point, leading us all astray. The device of using the letters to tell the story allowed this type of withholding to occur and to let us truly discover things about the characters as the other did.

Right at the end of the book, instead of only reading letters as we have the whole time, the author puts in a few pages of Isola's notebook. I did not like this at first, but the story she unraveled was lovely and a perfectly acceptable "real-time" way to introduce it in context.

This is an oft-quoted book, and here are just a few of the nuggests I wrote down in my reader's notebook:

"I would never make fun of anyone who loved to read" (page 39).

"I sometimes think I prefer suitors in books rather than right in front of me. How awful, backward, cowardly, and mentally warped that will be if it turns out to be true" (page 121).

"Not being silent myself, I am wildly curious about people who are" (page 231).

And I noticed that they are all written by Juliet, so I suppose she's my favorite character -- the one with whom I can most identify.

So if you've been lolling around like me -- staying off the bandwagon -- I heartily recommend that you give The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a try.

If you have read it and love it and want to see what others love about it too, see what they had to say at our Bookclub post.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Read Together: The Mother-Daughter Bookclub

Last year sometime I read Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick (linked to my review). It's a tween/early teen novel, but I enjoyed it as a woman/reader and as the mother of a tween. Recently I was contacted by the publisher to let me know that the third book Dear Pen Pal was coming out later this month. When I told Amanda, she squealed, and when the first book arrived in the mail this week, Amanda asked me if I'd start reading it to her immediately. In spite of our enthusiasm over the book we read, we never did get around to reading the first one, The Mother-Daughter Bookclub.

Although I love sharing reading with each of my kids by reading aloud together, reading the same books side by side, and recommending books that I think that they will like (thank you kid lit bloggers!), it takes a lot for Amanda and I to finish a book that we are reading aloud in a timely fashion (that's why there's no way I'm undertaking the hefty Mysterious Benedict Society as a read-aloud, even though Amanda's asked and you all have encouraged me).

But with this book, we are having success. Reading at bedtime -- a tween bedtime -- just doesn't work for us. By 8:30pm, I'm ready to throw off the Mommy hat and wear the Wife and Selfish Slouch hats instead. So, just as I reported last year when I resurrected Read Together, I am reading to her in the mornings as she eats breakfast and packs her lunch and also after school or in the early evening before dinner. In two days, we've read 65 pages. I know that's no giant feat, but it's nice progress for us.

I'm really enjoying reading it aloud with Amanda. She read the other book a few months after I did, so it's fun to share this one together simultaneously as we anticipate Dear Pen Pal. So far I still prefer Much Ado About Anne, but I think it's because that's where I was first introduced to the characters. They each stand alone completely, so the order doesn't really matter.

A lovely side-effect of these books is that it can help interest girls in the classics. Amanda read Anne of Green Gables and then immediately read Heather Vogel Frederick's novel at my recommendation (linked to her review of both). They dovetailed nicely together for her. When we looked up Dear Pen Pal, she asked me, "What book are they reading in this one?" I told her that it was Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (I haven't heard of it, but it is apparently a book of letters like The Guernsey One. Can anyone recommend it?).

"Do you think I should read it first?" she asked.

"Sure! Great idea," I affirmed, and made plans to pick it up at our library tomorrow.

Our other goal for this month is the hotly anticipated sequel to the Hunger Games, Catching Fire (Want to win a copy? Click through the link and enter!). I actually got a copy in the mail today, and gave it to Amanda with a little sticky note attached basically telling her that I loved her, and I'm proud of how she's growing up, and I trust her to read it first (The content of the first one was right on the edge of Mommy's comfort zone for her reading, so I had planned to sort of preview this one, but honestly at this point, it would be like torture NOT to let her read it, so I'm letting her go first). She told me that her friends would be "so jealous," and made sure that she knew that it couldn't be loaned out until I had a chance to read it.

There's no official sign-up, but I'll keep blogging monthly (around the first of the month) about what I am reading with my kids, and I invite you to do so as well. You can tell me about your plans in the comments, or link to a post on your blog where you make some goals or discuss your progress.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The First Day of School

Amanda went to sleep as a child and woke up as a middle-schooler. I suppose it's been happening all summer, but BAM, it hit me when she left for school yesterday. She didn't even change schools, since here 5 & 6 are at the Intermediate school, but there's still a big difference. I remember seeing the 6th graders last year thinking, "They're grown up!"

She had a wonderful day, especially after she found out that her best friend would have lunch with her (they had feared that they would not). Not only was her best friend in there, but most of the old crowd from last year as well will be able to share lunch.

She loves her teacher. "My teacher is awesome," were the exact words out of her mouth. "And my cluster teacher, too. She sings -- just randomly starts singing."

The mom in me (who if you will remember is never allowed to sing or dance), stuck up for myself. "I sing too!"

"No Mom, you aren't allowed to sing."

"Are they young like me?" I ask (and bless her heart she does NOT get the twinge of sarcasm).

"No, a little older. But not as old as my teachers last year," (empty-nesters).

"Now take a picture of the back!" he directed

An hour later, Kyle left -- not for the first day of school, but his first day of school. He's been so excited. When he was telling his sister about his day, he said something like, "I was almost smiling so hard my face would explode." Yeah, I don't know what that means either, but it's good, right?

Goofing off (he told me to take his picture)

Waiting. . . .

The same bus driver that Amanda had for 4 years and who saw Kyle grow up.
"C'mon in Kyle!" he invited (although he hasn't seen Kyle in over a year!).

Sitting in the driveway listening for the bus (reading The Guernsey Literary and 3P Society --
check out the bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books)

He's coming!

My new tradition was a hit. Amanda spirited her book away to her room, and when I put her to bed last night, she said, "I finished that book. It was really good." When Kyle opened his he said, "Oh good, now I have my own book, and I don't have to hide the library one under the covers."

Yesterday, I did indulge in my own first-day-of-school tradition (read the hilarious take that Amanda wrote about it last year). But today my plan is to finish listening to a Playaway audiobook that needs to be returned to the library --yesterday, but there are no renewals -- while I do some heavy-duty cleaning and organizing (maybe I could just hide it under my covers).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A New Back-to-School Tradition

"I guess I'd better go make my tacos," my friend Andrea said before hanging up the phone. "I was telling my daughter's friend today that I wished I had made something more exciting for dinner seven years ago, but we can't change it now."

Every year on the first day of school, Andrea serves her family tacos for dinner. Though the menu is a common one in their home, not reserved solely for the first day of school, it's something comforting and also exciting in its routine. To me, that's what makes a tradition. The predictability of routine and knowing what to expect is comfortable. And yet, knowing what is coming is also somewhat exciting. I can imagine that as her kids left their bikes in the driveway and walked into the kitchen after their first day, they were excited to see the hamburger meat defrosting or the taco shells out on the counter.

It got me wishing that I had a first-day-of-school tradition (other than the big whoop of excitement I give as I welcome my freedom, but the kids don't get to experience that).

Last week I followed @MawBooks' tweet to her review of Dork Diaries. It sounded exactly like the kind of book Amanda would like, so I clicked through the amazon link on her blog, and stuck it in my shopping cart to think about it (This is the best way to show your appreciation to those who recommend books. If you like them, buy them via the link. Most of us have associates' accounts and get a slight little commission, and it tells us what we've blogged about that you liked).

It was sitting in my cart, and I realized that I had an amazon gift certificate to use (thanks to those of you who do click through and place orders through my links -- seriously -- thanks). I thought that a fun new book might be a nice welcome back-to-school treat to give her.

We have a rule that Kyle has to stay in bed until 7:00am. Since he's started reading, I occasionally see books on or beside his bed with which he's tried to occupy himself until the clock changed to the magic number. I thought of the library book that I've seen on Kyle's bed every single morning for the last couple of weeks. When it comes time to return this book, we might have a little meltdown, so I had been thinking that someone should buy it for him for Christmas.

Two books that I knew my children would love. An amazon certificate. The first day of school. It all equals a new first-day-of-school tradition!

When my kids get home on Wednesday, they'll each have a new book to enjoy. And although they don't know it yet, I think that I'll make it our new tradition.

Read my updated post about the first day of school for the results of my surprise.

A fun new tradition is what Works for Me. Visit We are THAT Family to get other tips from around the blogopshere. Although we are still invited to post any tip, this week's theme is organizing tips. I need help in that area, although I do feel a bit more together after reading Growing Up Organized (linked to my review).

And so it begins

School hasn't even started here, and yet the fall schedule is in full swing. What is it about Fall?? I don't know about the rest of you moms, but it always knocks me flat. I am no more over-scheduled in the Spring, but I guess by then I've just gotten used to it.

Tonight Amanda has her first soccer practice, and I say "tonight," because she practices until 7:30, which means we have to scramble to eat and digest dinner before we leave, and then scramble to get the little person ready for bed when return.

Then Thursday night is a parents' meeting at church for Junior High youth group. How could it be that my child is in youth group already?? So two nights of scrambling this week.

Last week we had a trial run for Kyle's first day of Kindergarten. The bus came to pick up the Kindergarteners-to-be and takes them to school where they spent an hour in their classroom with their teacher and their new friends (without Mommy). Then we picked them up in the cafeteria and took them home.

Big sister made sure Kyle followed the rules:
"Behind this line when a car is coming."

I love this school -- what a great idea! I didn't really worry that it would be a problem for Kyle, and as the bus came, he confirmed that by saying, "This is so exciting." But it's so much easier -- for me more than him I think -- to have it all behind us, and be able to face tomorrow morning, the real first day of school, with excitement and without the worry that always accompanies the unknown.

I tried to institute a trial run of sorts with the tween as well, but that wasn't quite as successful. Since she's been sleeping in a full hour and half or two hours longer than her school wake-up time, I thought that I should begin moving her closer this week before. One morning I woke her up, and told her that she could read in bed, but needed to practice waking up. When I went upstairs an hour later, she was lying in bed -- sleeping!

"I wasn't asleep," she insisted. "I was just closing my eyes. I do that all that time."

Yeah, all the time, like from 9:00pm until 8:00am each night.

So you win some, you lose some.

At any rate, they are both excited to get into school, and although I am not excited for that fall busy schedule, it has come to me anyway.