Update of an update...

Thank you all for continuing to send in your suggestions and recommendations! I have some great ideas to go on as far as novel studies. Whew....such a relief to know that I was on the right track.

Definitely going to do The Giver; it's a part of our 8th grade supplementary collection, so I take that to mean it's for the 8th graders to study.

I'm thinking I'm going to do The Lord of the Flies, and most definitely Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

If my grant will go through (you can help here: SPEAK - If 15 of you gave $10 each, my students could get a class set of this book!), I will be teaching Speak at the end of the school year.

I'm most definitely teaching The Hunger Games - got a class sest through Donors Choose (the same organization I went through for my Speak "grant.") I'd love to get more of this novel....at least 2 more class sets, so my kids can actually take them home and read them. One day..... Just thrilled to have gotten the class set I asked for!! Can't wait to teach this one!!

I know I'll be teaching The Diary of Anne Frank for sure. I love teaching about the Holocaust...can't wait to dive into that with them.

I think it's going to be a good year. :) I hope I can make them as excited about all of this as I am about teaching it!

Oh....and if any of you have resources....send away!! I'd love to take a look at what you have! :)

Thank You!!

Thank you to those of you who responded to my last post! You have been so helpful!! If anyone else has opinions/advice, I'd gladly welcome it all!

I agree that Hatchet seems too young....I picked up at Barnes and Noble after seeing it on the Summer Reading table. I tried to find middle school summer reading lists, but couldn't find any. I'm assuming some of these books were just taken from the Accelerated Reader/Battle of the Books lists for the county. Anyway, it looked like a "boy" book, so I thought I'd check it out. Maybe I'll just hold onto it for when Collen can enjoy it.

I was kind of happy to hear that The House of Dies Drear might not be the best choice. I'll save it for a desperate moment. I started reading and thought, "Who in the world wrote this?!" It was so hard to follow. Whew....probably taking that one off the list.

And for the reader who said her kids read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, you have no idea how incredibly happy you made me!!! I LOOOOOVE that book. Quick tidbit about me: This is one of my all time favorite books. I read it for the first time in the 5th grade. I fell in love with the characters, and I went on to read it at least once every year afterwards...through high school. I will definitely be adding this one to my list!

I'm also considering The Lord of the Flies. Have to check into that one a little more closely. If anyone else has any suggestions....I'm all ears!

Calling all middle school teachers!!

I'm working on putting together some novel units for my 8th graders. Since I have never taught 8th graders....and really don't have a clue as to their interests....I need some help!!

I know some of you out there are teachers....and you may happen to be middle school teachers!! I need some tips on some good novels/reading material for 8th graders. The text book I'm working with is....well...horrible. So, I'm trying to pull what I can from that, but it's torture for even me to flip through.

So far, I know I am going to teach The Hunger Games. Here are also some other possibilities for novel studies:

The Giver
The Secret Life of Bees
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Pearl
The Pigman
Many Waters
The House of Dies Drear
The Fire Next Time

I'm having a hard time determining whether or not these books are too young...too advanced...which I realize I can't really know until I meet my students and get an idea for myself. But...not being around 8th graders and just not knowing what will and will not work for them....it's making me nervous and leaving me feeling very unprepared.

So, if any of you out there have taught 8th grade....especially 8th grade Language Arts....I'd LOVE any advice/tips/resources you want to give me.

One thing I am learning is that I'm going to break my teaching down a lot more than I did while teaching high school. I have a whole year with this kids instead of working with semesters, so I'm going to have to work on breaking it all down....stretching it out....and I'm actually looking forward to this! I can actually spend time on poetry or drama....take my time explaining things instead of rushing on to the next unit.

I'm trying not to feel to overwhelmed. I just want to get as much done as I can now...so I don't have to come home with so much once school starts.....in a matter of weeks. (ugh)

Please pray for Tripp

I've been following Tripp's story for the past 2 years. I learned about Tripp through Jonah's mommy - Patrice. You can find her blog, here: http://patriceandmattwilliams.blogspot.com/

Jonah and Tripp have a rare skin disease known as EB. EB can take several forms....some not too severe and others, extremely severe. It can cause breathing problems, eating problems, and pain that no child should ever feel.

Please, please say a prayer for Tripp and his mom, Courtney. EB parents live with the reality that they will likely outlive their child (unless their child has a less severe form of EB). I know we have experienced the unimaginable...the death of a child. And while that is the hardest, most painful thing I think anyone can go through, I think watching you child in pain, suffering, and not being able to doa whole lot to help is just as hard....I can't imagine it....and I find myself in tears reading the blogs of these moms....just hurting for them and their babies....wishing I could take it from them.

Here is a link to Courney's blog - http://randycourtneytripproth.blogspot.com/2011/07/i-think-hes-known-it-all-along.html?spref=fb

Please keep all the EB kids in your prayers.

It's really over....

My sister and I are 17 months apart in age. Growing up, you would have thought this would be so cool....sisters and best friends. Mmmm....not quite the scenario for us. Megan and I were very different growing up. We butted heads...a lot...and didn't have much in common. She was a cheerleader; I was a band nerd. She's tall, thin, blonde, gorgeous. I'm shorter, stocky, brunette, she says I'm pretty... The friendship part of being sisters wasn't so easy for us when we were younger. And if you had told me then that my sister would be my best friend when I was 28, we both would have laughed in your face.

NOW - she is my confidant...my best friend...my rock (I rely on her TOO much in tough times....but when I'm at my lowest, there are only 2 people I want - Jeremy and Megan)....I love her more than she will ever, ever know. We are still very different in a lot of ways, but I love our differences, and I love that she is true to herself and the things that make her unique. Like her sense of humor that can get her in trouble sometimes.....I have to step in and reign her in before she says the wrong thing! haha Then again, she serves as my translator at times when I'm not bold enough to speak up for myself, she'll step in and speak for me. (Love her for that!)

Anyway, before I get too mushy gushy....this post isn't about me and my sister and our wonderful relationship (I'll save that for another time). This is about one of the things we share a common LOVE for - Harry Potter. For the past few years, whenever the newest Harry Potter book or movie came out, we geared up....we were pumped...and we shared those moments together. We read the books together...compared ideas, revelations, and the moments that made us say, "What?!" When watched the movies and compared notes as we watched...whispering, "That didn't happen in the book!" or "I love how they did that!" or shared GASPS of anticipation at the moments we knew were coming.

Sunday, when we got back from the beach, I left Jeremy to do bed time, and I met up with my sister and her boyfriend for the final Harry Potter movie. We had been looking forward to this moment all year long. Seriously....we counted down the months and then days.... Normally, we'd be there on opening night or the night before for the midnight showing, but it just didn't work out this year.

The movie was beyond awesome!!! It had been a while since I read the book, but my sister just finished reading it again. I asked her several times during the movie, "Did that happen in the book?" So she would explain differences and we would quickly discuss the moments that were just amazing! (We're not those people who talk through the whole movie....just so you know :) We just like to be on the same wavelength)

In short....the movie was fantastic!! It brought the series to an end so perfectfly, and what I remember of the book....the parts that stood out as key....were all there. Jeremy picks on me because I have this "crush" of sorts on Snape....not really snape, but Alan Rickman. Believe me....it's not a physical attraction, "I think he's hot" kind of thing....haha....I just think he is a magnificent actor. I would say it's more of an admiration than a "crush." I have loved Snape's character from the beginning because I knew there was good in him.....I had a feeling he would play a large role up to the end, and I was not disappointed! I won't give anything away because I know some of you haven't seen it yet, but I'll say....Snape is even more my hero now! :)

It's so hard to believe I won't be going to see a new Harry Potter movie in the future. It's one of those series that has been so exciting to be a part of. No matter you age....you're never too old to enjoy Harry Potter. I've always been drawn to the science fiction/fantasy genres, and I love anything that piques my imagination and brings the story to life. I fell in love with this series because it was just magical (even aside from the literal magic of the story)! Unfortunately, I have not read ALL the books; I've read all but 2 of them. One day....I'll catch up on those.

I wonder if anything will ever top Harry Potter? I seriously doubt it. I have loved watching the story progress, the characters change and grow, and ultimately seeing how it all came together in the end. If you've never read the books -- uumm...what are you waiting for? And if you haven't seen the movies....at least see those!!

I am typically drawn to young adult fiction - I think because that the age group I teach. I try to get into fiction that is more "my age" but I've always been young at heart....and I'm a sucker for adventure, action, and the battle between good and evil...all common themes in young adult fiction. If you would like some suggestions of good books to read...I've read the following and really liked them:

The Percy Jackson series
(a bit young for me, but I liked the link to Greek Mythology, so I kept reading, and it's a really good series)

The Hunger Games Trilogy
(Seriously, if you haven't read it, GO GET IT NOW!!! It is awesome!! I'm teaching it this year, and I can't wait! So rich in themes, symbolism, and inspiration. I've heard they are getting started on the movie.....CAN'T WAIT!!)

The Twilight Series
(I don't know many people who aren't familiar with it, but again...if you haven't read it....get out from under your rock and read it!!)

(I am reading this book right now, and I love it. I'm hoping to teach it, but I'm waiting on my grant to go through for the purchase of the books. If you would like to help with this, click here)

(This is a new book, coming out in September. It has been compared to The Hunger Games, and it seems very intriguing as far as the story line and idea goes)

So, if you haven't gotten by now that I am a complete nerd.....now you know. I didn't read much during my adolescent years, so I guess this is my way of making up for lost time. I'm glad that I'm drawn to this type of literature, though, because this is the kind of literature my students will find interesting, and if I can get them reading....and enjoying it....then I'm doing my job.

As far as books "my age" I love the classics.....definitely anything by Jane Austen. One of my goals for the summer was to read Frankenstein, but I'm not sure I'll get to that one. I also love historical fiction - namely british history. I always said I was born in the wrong country....I was meant to grow up in the English countryside. I am not big on romantic stuff at all, which is why I have never read anything by Nicholas Sparks. I know...crazy...but I just can't get into them. I don't do lovey, dovey, sappy romance. I love the movie, The Notebook, but I refuse to read the book because I'm afraid it'll make me hate the movie. I can't get into mysteries and thrillers because it's hard for me to read about murders....abuse...things of that nature (I say that, and I just recommended The Hunger Games to you....).

All in all, I am so sad to Harry Potter come to an end, but I'm excited about what is to come for kids (and adults) to enjoy and be inspired by!

Collen's first beach trip!

We took a short beach trip with Jeremy's family this week - from Thursday to Sunday. We went to Myrtle Beach in SC, and it was so nice to get away and call another place "home" for a few days. There's something so exciting and refreshing about going off and staying somewhere different.

We were looking forward to this because it was Collen's first time seeing the ocean and experiencing the beach! He absolutely loved it! His favorite part was the water. I would stand him up and walk him through the water, and normally, when I hold his hands and walk him, he immediately wants to sit down, but this time - he was walking so fast I couldn't keep up with him! I guess he loved the feel of the sand beneath his feet! Once he starts walking on his own, I'll have to stay ahead of him because he'll be running for the water!

He travelled well, but he's definitely a lot more antsy in the car than he used to be. He was able to sleep a bit in the car but would become very unhappy if he was woken up on the ride. I shared a bed with him while we were there, which is what we usually do when we go out of town. He hates the pac'n play, so we ended up pulling a matress into our room, and the plan was for him to sleep on it alone, but I got nervous about him being over there all alone without a monitor, so I slept with him. He's a mover...so I got smacked a few times and rolled into/on top of, but once he was deep in sleep, he slept fine. Fun times....

We'll be doing this again with my family next week. We were able to get a good preview of how he will handle the beach, being outside, how naps should work, how outings work, and just how a baby at the beach is over all!!

Enjoy some pictures of Collen's first beach trip!


Quickly approaching crashing...

The past few weeks have felt non-stop. Literally....every single minute of the day has felt consumed. Between chasing Collen around/playing with him, getting the new job squared away, doing everyday household stuff, tending our garden and canning/freezing what's coming out of it, visiting friends, packing for vacation (going to the beach Thurs - Sun.)....church...errands...bills...etc.

Time has just escaped me.

And I apologize to my faithful few readers....if you're still there...stick with me. Don't give up on me yet.

I can see a crash coming soon. If I don't get a break, soon....and just breathe....it could get ugly. I felt it today. Pressure...the busyness of getting "it all" done....it takes a toll and I found myself folding blankets and almost near tears. And I said to myself, "What in the world is wrong with you?! You're just going on vacation, and Collen is going with you!" I realize now that it was just because I was tired. I am tired. But, I keep pushing on. That's what mom's do right? And I do it with a smile on my face because there's nowhere else I'd rather be and nothing else I'd rather be doing.

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your summer. I'm dreading the end of summer....and the first day of school....and of course it's on August 25th. Please, God, let them choose another day to start school on next year. I have no idea how the first day is going to go, and that scares me. But....I'll worry about that a little later.

I have a whole blog I want to write about the loss of a child....and just what it does to you and how it stays with you.....and just how the big picture is changed, forever. I have to get my thoughts together on that one, but it's been on my heart for a while now.

Ok....off to bed. Sorry I was all over the place on this one. Definitely feeling scattered and frazzled these days. :)

Busy, busy...

Such is my life these days. When Collen started crawling, he didn't stop! haha He started crawling one week; the next week - pulling up. Now, he's cruising around the furniture and standing - unassisted - for a few seconds at the time. And boy is he FAST! We have to baracade him into the living room or else we'll find him playing in the dog and cat's water bowl.....or headed for Sinatra's room (yuck...do NOT want to find him playing in kitty litter)

(Sidebar: Did I mention Sinatra (our cat) had to have a tooth extracted? I noticed he was not closing his mouth....and drooling quite a bit. Called the vet; he said it could be something very serious; took him in; had to pay an emergency fee (ugh); found out it was a rotten tooth; did a chest xray to be safe due to his wheezing (another fee); it was determined that he is a monster cat who, at 22.5 lbs, needs to get his lazy butt up and lose some weight, but he's going to be just fine.)

Anyway, I don't have much time to sit down and collect my thoughts these days because I'm having to make sure Collen isn't getting into anything he shouldn't. Most of his toys are in our living room, and on any given day you can find said toys strewn all over the living room (I love it!). We love getting down there and playing with him, chasing him, reading him books, and making him laugh.

It's so hard to believe he'll be a year old next month! A YEAR!!! I'm so, so excited to reach this milestone with him, and at the same time, I'm pleading with time to just sloooow down a little. He's getting so big, and so, so independent. But, he still needs his mommy and daddy....and can't get enough of that.

I'm not excited, though, about going back to work. I'm excited about a paycheck...but not so excited about having to spend my days away from Collen. I believe it is safe to say that I will be teaching at EB Aycock Middle School, here in Greenville. I will be teaching 8th grade Language Arts, and I'm really looking forward to something new. However, I will miss my AGHS family terribly. I can't begin to imagine starting over at a new school....with new people...new students...a new community. But, there's something really exciting about a new start. :) Teaching jobs around here have been few and far between, so I consider myself extremely blessed to have this opportunity! I have already been hard at work getting grants set up for books for my students. The library at our school has an okay collection, but some of the books aren't age appropriate, so I'm working on getting an updated selection. So far, I have gotten a class set of The Hunger Games (SO excited about teaching this book!). And I'm also working on getting a class set of the book Speak.

While we're at work, Collen will be staying with a wonderful lady we were introduced to by some good friends of ours. At first, we were going to put him in a daycare. He is very social, so we knew being around other kids would be great for him. However, the opportunity for one-on-one care became available, and the cost is much cheaper than the day care (although....NO price can be put on his care). We met with Ms. Anne and immediately felt at ease with Collen staying with her during the day. We plan to put him in daycare when he's 2, but in the meatime, this is going to be a great fit for all of us.

We have a couple of beach trips lined up in the coming weeks. Looking forward to that and just getting away. I'm terrified of how badly it's going to mess up Collen's schedule and routine, but we will adjust. He's very adaptable, so I'm sure he'll do fine....I hope.

Just wanted to give you a quick update to let you know i'm still here....just running around a little frazzled...but I'm here. :) Soaking up every last second of the time I have left staying home with Collen. I won't even go there today. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Here are some pictures of our mobile little boy:

Reading his favorite book - over, and over and over. :)

He likes to kiss EVERY picture

We've been teething this week, and I introduced whole milk just to see how he would handle it. I don't know if it was the teething or the milk, but later in the week he had some pretty bad diaper rash. After bath time tonight, he spent some naked time in his room to "air out."

The boy loves an IPad...and think it's his. We have to hide it from him if we want to use it, or else he's demanding that it be given to him.

Standing up, waiting for Grandma :)