Saturday, June 8, 2013

Biggest Date

In about 12 hours I will be sitting in the midst of family and friends (ours and several thousand others) for my son's high school graduation ceremony. I have been touched by the congratulatory messages he / we have received over the past few weeks, whether they be on Facebook, phone calls, texts, or in the mountain of graduation cards. Each one has put a huge smile on my face.

Yes, I am a VERY proud mother!

Now, I will never be ungrateful to those providing the wonderful words of kindness, congratulations, or praise for the success my son has had, but to be honest, it is all about HIS determination. It was HIS decision to audition for his first theater production (High School Musical) when he was in sixth grade, to try out for the highly acclaimed and award winning NHS Academic Decathlon at the end of his sophomore year, and set the goal to be a National AP and National Merit Scholar. These are objectives he set for himself ~ and subsequently achieved! I can't take credit for this success. Yes, we provided him with some opportunities, encouragement, and support along the way, but this is HIS fault!

In all honesty we deserve no praise for the young man who will be giving the Salutatorian address this afternoon. God blessed us seventeen (and a half) years ago with this beautiful baby. He entrusted him to our care and He expected us to exceed His expectations in this baby boy's upbringing. Lord, I hope we have done the quality job (to this point) you envisioned.When we were blessed as parents in 1995, it became our responsibility to love, nurture, and protect this precious life. 

Responsibility ~ the quality or state of being responsible, moral, legal, or mental accountability.

I have been uncomfortable accepting congratulatory praise for my son's success. Again, this is HIS success. What I want to say is, "Thank you. I have (hopefully) met my responsibility as a parent, to this point." I know it sounds crass, but believe me that is not the intention. It goes back to the responsibility God placed in my (our) hands all those years ago when this frail ~ our son was born with Hyaline Membrane Disease, little life was born. 

I hear, "It's not MY fault" all the time from children and adults alike. I don't believe people take responsibility, of any kind, seriously. If you can pass with a 70, then let mediocrity reign, right? NO! Everyone needs to strive for excellence. One person's level of excellence can be vastly different from someone else's, but why not endeavor for YOUR very best, all the time! 

It seems when it comes to education so many students want to get by expending the least amount of effort possible. Is this what we want for the next generation of the work force? It is a matter of responsibility. As parents, not only are we responsible for our children, but we should also be held accountable for teaching them this very important quality.

I believe the proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child", but everyone needs to remember a parent is the child's first teacher! We must step up to the plate and teach our children, support the professionals in the classroom, and expect the very best from each and every individual. If we are accepting of the ordinary, then why try harder? I will tell you why, because it is deserved. Each child merits a parents very best. I know some days it is harder than others to strive for perfection, but don't our children deserve the attempt?

Okay, I will step down from my soap box and end with some of the things I will miss greatly in the next days, weeks, months, and years to come.

  • reciting the lines for each character, especially Sheldon, from the Big Bang Theory
  • singing in the car to some of our favorite songs from Wicked ("Because I Knew You"), Spamalot ("I'm Not Dead Yet!"), 1776 (I Have Come to the Conclusion ~ "Sit Down John"), Ragtime ("Wheels of a Dream"), etc.
  • running after the cats trying to catch them (hopefully not ever causing the cat to spill a fully melted candle of wax on itself EVER again!)
  • asking him to take out the garbage, empty the dishwasher, put his clothes down the laundry chute, etc. (over and over and over and over again)
  • driving from here to there, back here and then over there
  • whistling while working on the computer (okay, maybe not miss so much, as notice the silence)
  • talking about school - and his daily "quality educational experience"
  • the vast multitasking (listening to AcDec music, writing notes, reading study materials, and "watching" BBT ~ I'm sure there are  many other items to be added to this list, but these were the most evident when walking by)
  • being mocked (I don't have an accent!!!)
  • arguing (yes, I said it...I will miss it, but I remain the Queen!)
Congratulations, son, on all of your hard work. I have loved you from the moment I learned you were coming into this world and I could never have dreamed of the greatness you have achieved. You are my love, my life and today we honor you as you end this chapter in your life. Now, on to Part Two in this awesome book. I know the best is yet to come. 

I love you with all my heart ~ Moma

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Alphabet Parade

The Alphabet Parade
by Charles Ghigna
illustrated by Ag Jatkowska
Colorful illustrations grab the reader immediately with the cover.The Alphabet Parade is set to be released on September 2, 2013.  In a picture book format, this rhyming ABC book has a collection of typical circus / parade type characters, but also includes animals that will be new to young readers. A few examples that quickly come to mind  - jackal, kinka jou, and unicorn. 

I read this advanced reader edition of this title as an e-book. Unfortunately that means I don't know the size / dimensions of the final edition. I love the illustrations and recommend this title for any school or public library with a board book collection. It will also be a nice alphabet book for toddlers to add to their home libraries.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Capstone Press has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Peek-a-boo Monsters

Peek-a-boo Monsters
by Charles Reasoner

Peek-a-boo Monsters by Charles Reasoner will be released August 1st and is published by Capstone Young Readers.

I am reviewing an e-book version of this title. I will tell you upon first examination I was not really impressed with this title. However, upon further readings, and a little research, I have found this to be a bright, colorful, and fun rhyming book that will have toddlers begging for more.

This title will be published in a board book format. Each page has a cutout area in order for the reader to get a preview of a monster on the next page. This was not evident while reading the e-book version. When the book was scanned the cut out areas were covered and thus came out white. I can tell by flipping back and forth through the digital pages which monsters will appear in the cut out areas. 

The rhyming text will encourage toddlers to read, or even sing along. I have to say page nine is my favorite from an educators point of view because the talking monsters (using speech bubbles) identify themselves as short and tall. I think it would have been nice to include this information on other pages. It would enhance this fun book that doesn't necessarily tell a story, but is whimsical and can be used to discuss opposites.

For an early childhood school or public library with a board book collection, I believe this would be a recommended purchase. It can also be a fun addition to a toddlers home library.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission,Capstone Press has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer Memories

As we approach the end of another school year I see posts on Facebook about favorite summer memories. In fact I was responding to my best friend, Lori's, status post when I began writing this entry. When it grew to such lengths I decided my "short" story was no longer a status comment, but a blog post! So I moved to this venue to continue running (as I used to do as a child on occasion) down memory lane.

For me the summer memories that stand out the most were of going to my Granny and PaPa's house in Port Lavaca, TX. My cousins, Charlotte and Cynthia were always there. They had the advantage of living in nearby Bloomington with my Uncle William and my Aunt Jenny. In my Granny and PaPa's backyard we had a really cool tree house built high up in a tree next to their huge garden. Their yard was surrounded by Purple Martin bird houses he would build in his garage workshop (I remember getting into BIG trouble one time for flipping a switch discovered at the end at the end of a table. Said switch turned on the circular saw and caused a big stink for some reason. I can't remember who was there at the time, but the punishment was multiplied by the fear of how bad it COULD have been!).

We had regular playmates whenever we went to Granny and PaPa's. I remember a Bradley and another boy. One lived next door and the other across the street. Granny would open the garage door (only the left one though - PaPa's workshop was on the right) and we could play outside running between the front and back yards by passing through the garage. I remember running around the house to the backyard through a gate on the left side of the house one time and stepping on a pitch fork. I can still picture my little foot, clad in a light green tennis shoe with dark green racing stripes, being impaled. That particular trip seemed to be one of many where blood was involved!

I can still picture our room at Granny and PaPa's house. We had two twin beds, very girl beds, with a chest of drawers in between. The closet held Granny's afghans and our toys. I always wanted to sleep in the bed right inside the door. This way I could see the large window over the other bed. I remember one time I had to sleep in the other bed and I was so scared something was going to get me. The shadows that were made on the wall by the passing cars frightened me terribly. I still remember being awake for the majority of that night. I don't think I ever slept in that bed again!

I remember sitting in the garage of my grandparents house. You had to walk out through the kitchen. There was a little concrete ramp leading from the door down toward PaPa's workshop. I remember sitting on the little ledge with Granny and talking. She would tell me stories about my Daddy and my Aunt Jenny that would make me laugh so hard I would wet my pants. This happened on MANY occasions. I always seemed to be changing my clothes when I was at their house.

As you opened the screen door leading from the kitchen into the garage, Granny's washing machine was to the right. She would place her bread on top of the washing machine to rise. I remember going by one time and plopping my hand down on top of the cloth covered bread asking, "What's this?" We had flattened bread for dinner that night and I learned never to touch the top of the washing machine when it had something cloth covered on top.

I loved going to the beach and picking up shells with Granny. We would walk barefoot along the water and pick up shells. I'm not really sure which beach we would go to, but I do remember walking a number of times with Granny and Daddy at Indianola. It was one of  Daddy's favorite places and still holds fond memories for me, especially the Oleander bushes. I remember swimming in the bay water, but one of the memories that is strongest in my mind when it comes to the water was the time a large wave came up and over took me. I was little and I remember being pulled under the water. I can still picture my Aunt Jenny grabbing me up from under the water. I don't think I would be here writing this blog entry today if it had not been for her quick reaction.

A huge part of my summer memories are about our annual family reunion. I remember watching the ladies, especially my Aunt June, Aunt Dorris, Aunt Jenny and Granny, lay out the food on the tables (ping pong and pool). My favorite dishes, Cousin Becky's shrimp salad, Aunt June's chocolate sheet cake, Granny's coconut cream and pecan pies, and Cousin Venice's Chicken & Noodles ~ NOT dumplings - there is a difference!!  I remember PaPa sitting either at one of the long tables in the back of the building or in one of the little rooms playing dominoes. There was always a large group of people sitting outside (smoking) on the picnic tables, not at them, but on them! I also remember everyone getting into position to take the large group picture outside on the slanted lawn of the facility, and the individual family shots taken at the picnic tables.

Our reunion was always the highlight of the summer because not only did I get to see Charlotte and Cynthia, but I got to see even more cousins! Our reunions were held in a large facility owned by Union Carbide. It was (and still is) located outside of Victoria, near Seadrift (we only recently stopped using this facility when the last of our family members retired from Carbide). We (Charlotte, Cynthia, Stoney, Scott, Angie, and myself) used to have a very special meeting place - the lounge of the women's restroom! It was an awesome meeting place, especially because not only did it have an entry from the hall of the building, but it also had a getaway door leading to the front of the building. We wouldn't get into as much trouble for running in and out of the building - with our water guns - because no one could see us! We had a blast with the water guns. I have to admit I was a bit devastated when we all grew out of the water gun stage.

I remember being scared to go down onto the deck built out from the waterway past the playground.  I think I might have only gone down there one time. Alligators lived int eh water and I was terrified of being caught! Others were much braver than I and would anxiously run down there to SEE if they could spot one! Still crazy to me to go looking for alligators.

I remember how sad I would be at the end of the reunion. It meant we would be leaving the coast and all of the fun we had playing together. I would cry myself to sleep in the backseat of the car on the six hour drive back to north Texas knowing it would be a long time until I got to see the two people (Charlotte and Cynthia) who were as close to sisters as I, an only child, would ever have while growing up. I still have these feelings of sadness when we part ways and I always loved seeing our children (when they were little) respond in the same manner at the end of the reunion.

I do have summer memories of family trips, mostly to courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries ~ you have to understand my dad is not only a librarian but a lifelong genealogist. We didn't spend summer vacations going to Disney because there was no one buried in California or Florida! Don't get me wrong. I had an awesome time as a child during those summer trips, it was just not what most people would call normal.While my dad would be working in the courthouse looking through birth / death records or reading microfilm, my mom and I would go on little adventures. I remember watching little town parades, going to circuses, visiting large businesses when they had factory tours, and even going to the Grand Opening of a Popeye's Chicken restaurant in one town.We would also spend a great deal of time in the children's section of the libraries. One  librarian even pulled a cart full of books for my mom to read to me one time because the children's section would close long before the rest of the library.

As I got older I would go on bus tours with my MorMor (Swedish for mother's mother). We traveled the east coast and the west coast together on these trips. I think the longest one we were on was three weeks. I went to Disneyland for the first (and actually only time) on one of these bus trips. I was enchanted by the Texas Show at Palo Duro Canyon and Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater, mesmerized by Las Vegas (still my ONLY trip to Sin City ~ I was 15!), and toured Graceland for the first time during these wonderful trips.

I also remember the excitement of going to the public library as soon as possible to register for the Summer Reading Program. I always wanted to see how many books I could read during the summer. I wanted to fill up the list as quickly as possible. I still keep a record of the books I read. I wish I had been as disciplined then as I am now during the entire year and not just during the summer. I guess it is so much easier now because we can keep track of our books through great sites like Goodreads and Shelfari. The Summer Reading Program helped me to become a lifelong reader. Now understand it is not the only reason I remain a reader to this day. My parents had a HUGE impact on my love of reading - remember, Daddy is a librarian and Moma a teacher. I remember a few years ago the library began having an Adult Summer Reading Program (not ADULT, but for adults!). You would have thought I was a kid again. I ran up there to sign up on the first day!

I have always been in school, first as a student and now as a professional educator (Librarian / Instructional Technology Specialist to be exact). So summer has always been to me what most people remember from childhood. The anticipation at the end of May for all of the exciting adventures to come during the months between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. This year, however, has been very different for me. I have actually been very ill for the past few weeks. The school year ended abruptly for me on May 13th. I haven't had the thrill of the anticipation for the summer. I have just been trying to get through each day. Now, don't feel sorry for me, that is not what I am asking for. I am just trying to convey that this is the first time in my 42 years that I have not felt the thrill and excitement (and sadness for friends, teachers, and students to which I have grown so close to each year) of the end of the school year.

Could it also be the fact that my only child will be graduating in four days? When my dad picked my son up yesterday from his last full day of high school I asked him to take a picture of  my son walking to the car. Another milestone to record in the ever growing stacks of pictures to include in his scrapbook. I guess, if I look back over the years, this is the one summer I have NOT been anticipating my entire life.

A new chapter will begin soon for all of us as my son goes off to freshman orientation (in SPAIN!) and then moves out of our home into his dorm in the coming months. My son will be experiencing wonderful adventures that can only be enjoyed through the college experience. My husband and I will be able to reconnect as a "couple" after being "parents" for 17 years. My parents, who will be going to breakfast on their own, all be it at whatever time they choose and always on time! We can look at this time in two very different ways. We can be sad, like when losing a loved one, or we can be excited for the new, wonderful things that are ahead for the young man that has blossomed from our nurturing all of these years. With tears running down my cheeks, I choose to be joyful. I see so such great potential in his life. Why should I be selfish and sad? I am not losing my little boy, merely allowing him to take flight on the wings we have helped him to grow.