Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer Science: Mixing & Snow

Mixing and snow were two separate toddler/preK programs, but for the sake of getting the post done, I’m combining them. Well…that and mixing was somewhat of a flop (entirely my fault).

All of my toddler/preK programs were well attended, and we’ll finish off the summer with an “arty party” at the end of the month.


The idea for this program came from The Show Me Librarian’s ALSC blog post about Chemistry Science.

I started off by reading Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle. It was not my first book choice, but Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson didn’t arrive in time. I would not use the Eric Carle book again. The children were over the book before we hit the halfway mark.

For the activities, I only planned out two thinking they would take enough time (silly me).

1. Fireworks in a Glass – This activity bombed. It would have been fun if I had managed to tell everyone to gently pour the colors into the glass, instead of dumping them in.

2. Baking Soda Color Mixing – I placed two small heaps of baking soda on plates and gave each child two small cups of colored vinegar. They used pipettes to squirt the vinegar onto the piles of baking soda.


I started this program by reading Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker. This was followed by three activities (two science, one art).

1. Insta-Snow – I put a half a teaspoon of the powder in bowls, and poured around a tablespoon of water into small cups. The children dumped the water into the bowls, and the powder instantly expanded. I did not go into the concept of polymers. This was more a fun, tactile experience.

2. Snowstorm in a Jar (from Growing a Jeweled Rose) – I did not have enough supplies for each child to make their own snowstorm, so they gathered around the table to watch me put everything together. It was a good thing I had plenty of Alka Seltzer because they loved it!

snow jar3. Snow Paint – I’ve used this before under different names for other programs/storytimes. Shaving cream and glue make a fun paint. Glitter was added at the end. The last time I made this paint, I learned that glitter added during the mixing process disappears – unless you add an entire jar.

snow paint

Summer Science: Catapults

The first of three summer science programs for school-age kids (ages 6-12) was catapults. I got the idea from HERE, with supplemental ideas from HERE. I opened with a brief explanation about catapults and how they work, then we spent the rest of the time building catapults, giving them a go, and making modifications.

catapult 1

catapult 2

catapult 3

My son playing with my demo catapult.

2015 Books (First Half)

I can’t really say my reading slumped at all during the first half of 2015, even with graduate school and Girl Scout cookie sales. I was still reading at least six books/graphic novels per month. Compared to the first half of last year, there was marked increase – 38 books last year, 80 this year. You’d never know I had a life with obligations. Though in my defense, most of the reading was done in January, before the semester started, and May/June, after the semester ended. Escapist, much?

Given the number of books I read, I’m actually somewhat surprised that I only read seven straight romance novels (I could bump that number up if I included Outlander and all of the Alien books by Gini Koch, but I don’t really consider those romances).

2015 Manga/Graphic Novels (First Half) coming soon…

Adult Favorites

outlander my real chlidren koch 1 hausfrau

*Outlander – New to my perennial favorites, I can’t get enough of the characters and their interactions. I have yet to read any other book in this series, in part because I do not want to see the hell Claire and Jamie are forced to go through, and in part because I do not want the initial magic to end.
*My Real Children – An absolutely beautiful book. I love how the narrative splits into two different lives of Patricia, and how they come back together again (do a degree). The details of each world, neither the same and neither quite like ours, are wonderful.
*Touched by an Alien – I came across this book/series courtesy of Book Riot. It’s a bit campy, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Kitty has a great accompanying playlist.
*Hausfrau – Favorite isn’t the right word for Hausfrau, but I cannot get it out of my head. Most likely because aspects of Anna and her marriage reflect my life – passivity and complacency, feeling trapped, being overwhelmed by where your decisions have led you. It’s a book I will probably never read again in its entirety, but will take off the shelf to read random passages when I need to poke the bruise.

Adult Fiction
Say Yes to the Marquess
The Strange Library
Shades of Milk and Honey
Glamour in Glass
Without a Summer
Mermaids in Paradise
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Just City
The Bone Season

Rabbit Back Literature Society
Motherfucking Sharks
The Shambling Guide to New York City
Four Nights with the Duke
Emma: A Modern Retelling
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
The Accidental Duchess
Alien Tango
Alien in the Family
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart
Alien Proliferation
Alien Diplomacy
Universal Alien
Alien vs Alien
Alien in the House
Alien Research
When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas

Adult Non-Fiction
England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

YA Favorites

hellhole poisoned apples court thorns cruel beauty

*Hellhole – Sarcasm, snarkiness, and black humor are three of my favorite things in books. I loved how the characters played off of each other. The bickering reminded me of my sister and I when we’re on a roll (seriously, hang out with us sometime and you’ll either fall in with us or stare in abject horror).
*Poisoned Apples – Poetry focusing on women, girls, and body image that uses fairy tales as starting points. None of the poems are terribly long, but they all pack hard punch. Girls in high school need this book. I needed this book in high school. I read it in March and I’m still thinking about how powerful the poems are.
*The Court of Thorns and Roses – I’m a sucker for dark story lines, flawed heroines, and (anti)heroes who are probably a Bad Choice (see also Cruel Beauty and Sunshine). I love how the story flows.
*Cruel Beauty – One of my favorite books of 2014, see above for my dark story line love. Nyx is petty and bitter and she wields both well.

YA Fiction
When We Wake
Stitching Snow
Hush, Hush
172 Hours
Tin Star

The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Red Queen
The Glass Arrow
Throne of Glass
Crimson Bound
Gilded Ashes*
Little Peach
A Wicked Thing
The Tricksters


Children’s Favorites

flights chimes misty westing game

*Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – A lyrical story reminiscent of Neil Gaiman. I love that it assumes children can handle dark things, and that the writing/vocabulary isn’t shallow.
*Misty of Chinoteague – I included Misty because Bean freaking adored this book. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t the one grabbing blankets in suspense during parts of the book.
*The Westing Game – A favorite of mine since I read it in 6th grade. Every time I read it, I catch new clues. I love puzzle books.

Children’s Fiction
Classic Starts: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Emma and the Blue Genie
Tuesdays at the Castle
The Celery Stalks at Midnight
Sea Star
Stormy, Misty’s Foal
SeeSaw Girl
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
The Bad Beginning
The Rainbow Fairies (all seven books)
Dinosaurs Before Dark

Husband’s Books

I realized that the last time I posted anything relating to my husband’s reading choices was at the beginning of January. We’re over halfway through 2015 and I have yet to share this year’s reads (other than what he’s done for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge).

Thinking about what he’s read over the past several years, I’ve noticed he has several reading trends and/or preferences: non-fiction (specifically history and science), science-fiction (with translations as a subcategory), and books that take place in North America during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Because you’ve been waiting with baited breath, here is the (mostly) complete list of what my lovely husband has read so far in 2015:

three body moor's acct fiasco gamble 451 brave new world amb brew craft brew station 11 interstellar age starlight or trail letter 44 v 2 canticle planet for rent subliminal orenda onward

July Books

stone in the sky sookie 3 sookie 4 sookie 5 sookie 6 crown of midnight heir of fire yes pleaseshining girlscupid psyche orendakiss at midnightonce upon a tower ready player one china rich gf fantasy lover wrath dawn enchanted everything leads

One thing a 36-hour round trip drive is good for is blasting through a bunch of novels. I listened to Yes Please for on the outbound drive (can’t read a book in the dark). Amy Poehler’s style of comedy is not my cup of tea, but when she wasn’t trying to be funny, she had some good things to say. A sprinkling of short insights throughout the book made it worth listening to. Stone in the Sky was a satisfying second book in a duology. The pacing isn’t fast, but it flows well. I also managed to get Sookie Stackhouse out of my system. I liked the books better when I read them six years ago.

Ready Player One was awesome. I love that both Oingo Boingo and Heathers were referenced within the first three pages. I also love the reference to MUDing*. Oh the days of DOS computers and Telnet. My roommate in high school took to hiding my keyboard from me because I had the tendency to MUDD* to the exclusion of all else – this experience is why I have never allowed my self to get into gaming. I would never resurface.

*MU(D)D – Multi-User (Dungeon) Dimensions. RPO referenced them as MUD, but I knew and loved them as MUDD. Don’t know if it makes a difference in the whole scheme of things.

Some quick mentions:
*The Shining Girls – I liked how everything that happened was caused by everything that happened (it’s all a loop, you see). My only complaint was that no explanation was given for why those specific girls were targeted.
*The Orenda – Another awesome book. The points of view of each main character fit with their experiences and frames of reference. It was beautiful and brutal.
*Everything Leads to You – One of the books in my Book Riot YA Quarterly Box. Not one I would have chosen on my own, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. I liked the importance given to small details.

laika rocket girl beautiful darkness skip beat 9 wayward alien vs parker low donald duck magus bride

I ended up making a dent in my graphic novel “to read” stack this month. Laika was hard to read, but worth it. I cried while reading the last several pages. Knowing what happens, and knowing how the scientists felt about it, didn’t make it any easier.

The only stand out GN was Low. The plot and set up for the next volume were great, though I found the illustrations to be a bit frenetic and hard to follow at times. Beautiful Darkness was interesting, but I much prefer Beauty. Donald Duck “Lost in the Andes” took me several months to read. I know it is a classic, but it wasn’t funny, and the racial stereotypes were painful. The only reason I slogged through it is because I read it for the Panels Read Harder Challenge.

dr libris cs swiss family

We didn’t get a lot of reading done in July, mainly because of summer camp and a vacation. That being said, we managed to read The Island of Dr. Libris (both Bean and I liked it, but I felt it wasn’t as strong as Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library). It served to get Bean interested in some of the stories that were referenced (Pollyanna and Tom Sawyer, specifically). The second book we read was the Classic Starts version of The Swiss Family Robinson. Both of us enjoyed it, but because it was heavily edited, it felt rushed. I want to read the original so of all the loose ends make sense. Bean and I also had issues with the how perfectly everything fell into place for the family, and the fact that a menagerie of geographically unrelated animals inhabited the island. When it comes to shipwreck books, I prefer Baby Island.

Read Harder – July Progress

July was a month of buckling down (for me, at least). Even my husband managed to finally read a book I could use towards one of the tasks. Sophia was the distracted one this month, focusing instead on the PopSugar Challenge (see her progress).

With only three books left, I should finish the whole shebang in August. Once said shebang is finished, I’ll move on to both Panels’ and PopSugar’s reading challenges. There will most likely be some overlapping because grad school will once again rear its ugly head at the end of the month sucking away prime personal reading time.

I’ve already started reading two of the books – The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh and The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. The latter book has been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year, and it took me until now to actually notice the National Book Award Winner medallion embossed on the cover.

We also managed to complete two more tasks – #12 Audiobook and #18 Recommendation. As a group, this puts us at a whopping 1/3 of the way through the entire challenge.

Without further ado, our stats and books, color-coded to make it easier to know who read what:

Me 21/24 (6 in June)
My Husband 10/24 (1 in June)
Sophia 20/24 (0 in June)

#5 – LGBTQ

everything leads

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

#8 – African author

shining girls

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

#9 – Indigenous culture


The Orenda by Joseph Boydes

#16 – Audiobook

yes please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

#18 – Recommendation

skip beat 1

Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura

#22 – Published before 1850

cupid psyche

Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius (Penguin Epics edition)

#24 – Self-improvement


Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow