Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Jumble and my Mom - #SOL 12/20/16

It's Tuesday and time for Slice of Life! Thanks so much to the entire crew at Two Writing Teachers for  hosting this group every Tuesday!

My mom loved to do the Jumble in the newspaper. Every day when she lived at her home, she would cut the Jumble out of the paper, and put it on the end table between her chair and my dad's chair. This prevented her from cheating and looking at the answers when words got difficult, and it was easy for her to hold as well.

During the year of her 3 hip replacements, when she spent a great deal of time near us in Columbus either at a surgery center, or at a rehab facility, the Jumble became "our" thing - I would bring the Life and Arts section of our local paper to the rehab facility each night, and if it was just the two of us, we would settle in, and try to figure out the words, and then answer the riddle as well.

I initially started doing it with her to help keep her mind sharp; she wasn't as active as she used to be, and the three surgeries and the anesthesia required for each took away some of her mental acuity. But then the Jumble became so much more than that - it became an opportunity for mother/daughter bonding over words. It was "our" ritual - sometimes when we both got stuck, we'd ask for help; but we really tried to figure it out between the two of us.

As can happen, the adult daughter became a caregiver, and that was true when we worked the Jumble as well. After a few weeks, I began to easily see patterns in letters and words that Mom, who had been successful at the Jumble her entire life, could not. But Mom was a competitive person, so I never let her know I figured it out first; I would just guide her to finding it out by giving her different sequences of letters that more closely approximated what the real word was.

I so cherished those moments we had together, puzzling over words and talking about the days' events at the same time.

She died two years ago last week, and you want to know what section I still look at first when the paper comes? That's right - the Life and Arts section so that I can cut out the Jumble for later. On the days the answers come really easy for me, I know my mom is sitting over my shoulder helping me out even now. It's still a time each day we get to spend together.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Books - #IMWAYR - 12/19/16

A huge thanks to Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye at Unleashing Readers for hosting the kid lit version of "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"!!

One of my favorite posts all year is the one I do for the Nerdy Book Club to announce the Nerdy Awards for the Nonfiction Picture Book categories. I volunteered to do it again this year, but at NCTE in November, I realized I was woefully behind in my reading in this genre/format. So, I started checking in with friends, reading blog posts about nonfiction picture books that people loved this year, and then began to reserve a HUGE pile of books at my local public library.

While it would take forever to share everything I've read in the past 2 weeks in detail, I thought I would give you a glimpse of some of my favorites. And I also want to remind you that tomorrow, Tuesday, December 20, is the last day to nominate your favorite books of the year for a Nerdy award in several categories - check out the Nerdy nomination link here.

A quick disclaimer - I am not privy to the voting tally until the nominations are closed; this post just reflects what I am really loving right now. And a second disclaimer - I am not done reading my piles yet, so there may be other favorites I haven't found yet! :)

My absolute favorite of what I have read so far is Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. Making a better life for yourself, perseverance, and the ability of music to transcend even the most difficult of situations - these are just a few of the reasons I love this book:

For lovers of the musical, Hamilton, here's a great book for you:

Inventors and perseverance and high interest inventions for students:

Strong females who made a difference in so many ways:

Gorgeous nature books (and in addition, I ordered my own copy of Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics!!):

Building for a Sustainable Future (and I loved Drummond's previous book, Energy Island):

So what are the nonfiction picture books you are loving from 2016? Please share those titles here, and then head on over to Nerdy to nominate your favorites by tomorrow night!!!