Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Sundays with Gage – Learning about Artists

As a summer daily project I started doing themed mini-lessons with Gage.  We read a book about a particular subject and then he draws a picture from the book.  This, of course, serves two purposes and both have worked very well.  We hang up each day’s picture in the kitchen until the end of the week when we take them all down and put them in a folder with labels.  He is so proud of this book of his art and it’s nice to see the growth of his artistic abilities.

My favorite so far was the week and a half we spent reading about artists. I checked out the picture books about painters at the library and found seven that worked.  artbooks

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel.  Mary Cassatt by Mike Venezia. An Eye for Color: The Story of Joseph Albers by Natasha Wing.  Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg.  The Yellow House: Vincent van Gogh & Paul Gauguin Side by Side by Susan Goldman Rubin.  The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinksy’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock.  Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe.

Both The Noisy Paint Box and Radiant Child are Caldecott books and deservedly so. They were my favorites, along with An Eye for Color.

If you follow me on Facebook you saw what happened at the end of the week when I set him up with some paints and an easel.

IMG_0257He painted a portrait of me 🙂  I think playing with proportion might be his thing, lol.

As the grand finale I planned a trip with him to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  I checked to see which artists we would find in the museum and then printed all 9 paintings and told him what room to find them.  He had to find them on the museum map, only two rooms so it wasn’t hard, and then get us there and find the pieces.  I knew he would just race around so I told him beforehand that I had to take his picture with each one. That slowed the racing only marginally.

We did walk around a bit after and he loved the video art.  So much so that Friday after his camp at the Botanical Garden across the street he asked if we could go back and see it!

IMG_0385I’m feeling like our first art study was a success!

Other topics we’ve covered are feelings, Disney (the week before our trip to Disney), and jobs.  Next time I’ll show you his art book 🙂

If you have any good ideas for good themes please share!

 

July 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Heroes For My Son by Brad Meltzer

Heroes for My SonHeroes For My Son. Finished 6-19-17, rating 3.5/5, inspiring people, 108 pages, pub. 2010

When Brad Meltzer’s first son was born eight years ago, the bestselling writer and new father started compiling a list of heroes whose virtues and talents he wanted to share with his son: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Jim Henson, Amelia Earhart, Muhammad Ali . . . and so many more, each one an ordinary person who was able to achieve the extraordinary. The list grew to include the fifty-two amazing people now gathered in Heroes for My Son, a book that parents and their children—sons and daughters alike—can now enjoy together as they choose heroes of their own.

From the Wright Brothers, who brought extra building materials to every test flight, planning ahead for failure, to Miep Gies, who risked her life to protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II, Heroes for My Son brings well-known figures together with less famous ones, telling the inspiring, behind-the-scenes stories of the moment that made them great. They are a miraculous group with one thing in common: each is an example of the spectacular potential that can be found in all of us.

-from Goodreads

As a mom to a young child I appreciated the sentiment behind this book. When bestselling author Brad Meltzer and his wife had their first son he felt the need to impart his wisdom to his son through the written word. On the night of his birth he started a list of instructions on how to be a good man.  1. Love God and 2. Be nice to the fat kid in class.  Both great pieces of advice but the book didn’t turn out the way he wanted so he wrote this one instead.

In a square hardcover Meltzer devotes two pages to each to the inspirational people that he feels have something important to teach his children.  One page is a picture with caption and the other page he writes briefly about why they are included in the book with a quote. The Wright Brothers are here not because they invented an airplane but because every day when they went out to fly they brought extra materials because they knew they would fail.  They knew they would fail but every day they tried anyway.  That’s the lesson.  Thomas Jefferson was included not because he was President but because he wrote the Declaration of Independence but didn’t tell the public.  Humility is in short supply these days, especially in our elected officials so this was a nice story.

I liked the mix of famous and not-so-famous people, both men and women, and the new things I learned.  This would be a nice book to read with your child or grandchild. This isn’t for boys only and had plenty of women on the list.  I made a list of some of the people I’d like to know more about, so this would be a great shared reading experience but will also add to your wish list 🙂

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 5 Comments

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Title: The Farm, Author: Tom Rob SmithThe Farm. Finished 5-26-17, rating 3.5/5, suspense, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read by James Langton and Suzanne Toren. 8.5 hours.

If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow. 

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.

from Goodreads

Daniel lives in London with his boyfriend, a boyfriend his parents know nothing about.  After his parents moved to Sweden the closeness between the three of them widened and Daniel thought his secret was the reason.  A phone call from his mother helped him see the truth.  He was not the only one harboring a secret.  His mother had quite a story and Daniel wasn’t sure what to do and who to believe.  When he decided to do a little investigating himself he found out more than he really wanted to know.

I liked the suspense of his mother’s story and questionable sanity but was wishing that it might not have lasted as long.  I was growing weary of not knowing.  But I thought the payoff made it worth it.  This is my first Smith book but I look forward to reading more from him.  The narrators were excellent and I can recommend the audio.

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 6 Comments

Sundays with Gage – First plane ride and Disney!

I have resisted taking a long vacation with Gage, one that required an airplane and less access to food from home,  but when Jason had to go to Orlando for work last week I couldn’t not take advantage of the opportunity.  Gage is sensitive to loud sounds and I was afraid that the airplane might be too loud.  It wasn’t.  I was afraid of trusting restaurants to handle Gage’s diet.  I was right on that one.  But, in the end we had a fantastic family vacation and Gage gave Florida two thumbs up, which according to him means, “we’re coming back soon.”  We’ll see.

disney2We flew Frontier for the first time on the way there and except for the dirty snacks all over the floor, it was fine.  Gage loved the flight!

We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort in Animal Kingdom at Disney World and it was really nice.  I was under the impression from different people that Disney did a good job accommodating special diets and I guess they did, but to a bare minimum.

disney3We ordered at their restaurant and when they brought out his chicken, potatoes and grapes there was a big smear of melted cheese on the plate!  These are the things that keep moms like me on the crazy side when it comes to food.  He always found something to eat in the 2.5 days we were there, but I have no doubt there was gluten in there somewhere.  We saw behaviors that we haven’t seen in years, but better gluten than dairy since that would have sent us to the hospital.  So, the silver lining was that there were no hospital visits 🙂

Two tips that I had from people before we went.  One, we rented a stroller and it was a lifesaver.  Gage is 6 and I donated our strollers 2 summers ago, so I was a bit skeptical of this advice at first, but it came from mamas who had kids older than Gage. Without a doubt he would not have lasted 9 hours at the park had we not had the stroller.  It also saved us from having to drag or tell him to hurry all day.  The second tip was to get the fast pass.  We didn’t, BUT we did wait 20 minutes when we got there to get the disability pass, which they give to kids on the spectrum.  So, when we went to a ride and there was an hour wait, we signed in and came back in 50 minutes to ride.  Essentially, we still had to wait (minus 10 minutes) but we could go do other things instead of waiting in line.  It was free and we only had to sign up the first day and it was good for a month at all the Disney parks.  It’s a great feature.

disney4 disney1We spent our first day at Magic Kingdom and we all loved it.  It was hot and busy, but it was Memorial Day so that was to be expected.  The second day we spent at Animal Kingdom and I was miserable.  It was 95 and a worker there told me that because of the greenhouse effect of all the trees the park was often 10 degrees hotter.  I was dripping sweat within about 15 minutes. Gage barely made the height requirement for Expedition Everest, but he wanted to ride the big coaster and he did twice – with dad.

disney8

We then moved on to the Hyatt Regency where Jason had a conference.  Gage and I got to spend a few days hanging out together in Orlando.  We didn’t venture all that far, but had fun.  When Jason was finished on Friday we headed to Sea World and had a great time.  This was my favorite park.  The crowds weren’t too bad and the weather was more reasonable for this Ohio gal.  Gage insisted on riding this water ride four times, twice with Jason and twice with me.  He claimed he loved it.  But look a little closer at his face the third time he rode it…disney6  disney7Look at that face! He looks like he’s being tortured! Jason looks like he’s having fun at least 🙂 Makes me laugh a little every time because I know that he kept begging to ride it.  We had a fun day there, even if it got cut short by rain.

The trip was a success, but the food was a problem, so I’ll be planning a little better next time.  I’m so glad that we were able to do it.  And I got to be the parent that told his kid’s teachers that he was missing the last two days of kindergarten to go to Disney World 🙂

 

 

 

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

May’s movies & $ for charity

How as your movie month?  Anything I need to see?

Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $55.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

Snow White 1937 poster.pngSnow White & the Seven Dwarfs, 1937    Grade B

Original Show White sweetness.

Grumpy is my favorite – married him!  (Kay)

A much loved childhood favorite.  (Michelle)

Good first effort for animation.  (Heather)


Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon with Felicity Jones as Sienna Brooks running together, with the film's title is written vertically in the middle between them, the film's director's name above and the billing and credits underneath them.Inferno, 2016 (Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones)   Grade B-

Langdon in Florence, read the book.

Good. Need to read book.  (Michelle)


Smurfs The Lost Village poster.jpgSmurfs:The Lost Village, 2017 (Voices-Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer)    Grade C-/D+

I liked them as a kid?!!?!?!?


A black-and-white poster of a mass of people being surrounded/tortured by the aliens, not unlike the Renaissance depictions of Hell, with one alien at the center highlighted by a shaft of light from the upper-left.Alien:Covenant, 2017 (Michael Fassbender. Billy Crudup, Katherine Waterson, Danny McBride, the alien(s))    Grade D

Good grief! Stupidest humans ever!

What? OMG, I loved it!  (Michelle)

Never ever go off course…..  (Heather)


May 27, 2017 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | 10 Comments

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give, Author: Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give. Finished 5-16-17, rating 5/5, fiction, 444 pages, pub. 2017

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.                      from Goodreads

This is one fantastic debut!  Thomas has taken a very important problem in America today and thrown back the curtains in a way that allows us all in on the experience.  That’s not to say that from a storytelling standpoint I didn’t have a few issues, but I think that’s pretty typical in most debut books. I can only imagine the bright future ahead of Thomas after this.

Starr has witnessed not one, but two, of her best friends get shot, one by a gang drive-by and one by a police officer.  It’s the one by the police officer that has turned into a national story and a powder keg for the community. Starr and her family live in the ghetto, as she likes to say, her father owns the local food shop and her mother is a nurse at the local hospital.  She has one half brother and one brother, but the five of them mostly live together as a close-knit family.  You will fall in love with Big Mav and Uncle Carlos.

Starr lives in a poor neighborhood but every day spends an hour in the car to go to a prep school, where she has white boyfriend and is one of the few black students.  As she tries to come to terms with the shooting and aftermath she tries to keep her involvement a secret from both areas of her life for different reasons.

It’s a powerful read told from the perspective of a 16 year-old girl who lives two lives and how a horrific tragedy forced the two to collide.  Starr acts like an adult most of the time, but her decisions show that she is also still a kid trying to figure out the crazy world we live in.  I loved her.  I wanted to shake her sometimes, but found her true to the teenager spirit.

I live in Cleveland, not so far from where 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot by police for playing with a toy gun at a park.  That story broke my heart.  Still does.  Even if you tend to choose a side in these true horror stories, this book will probably challenge some of your assumptions.  This book is powerful and should be a must read. 

My book group, save one, really liked the book and it led to great discussion.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | 5 Star Books | 10 Comments

The Quiet Game by Greg Iles

Title: The Quiet Game (Penn Cage Series #1), Author: Greg IlesThe Quiet Game. Finished 5-6-17, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 624 pages, pub. 2000

Penn Cage #1

Penn Cage is no stranger to death. As a Houston prosecutor he sent sixteen men to death row, and watched seven of them die. But now, in the aftermath of his wife’s death, the grief-stricken father packs up his four-year-old daughter, Annie, and returns to his hometown in search of healing. But peace is not what he finds there.

Determined to save his father from a ruthless blackmailer, Penn stumbles over a link to the town’s darkest secret: the thirty-year-old unsolved murder of a black Korean War veteran. But what drives him to act is the revelation that this haunting mystery is inextricably bound up with his own past. Under a blaze of national media attention, Penn reopens the case, only to find local records destroyed, the FBI file sealed, and the town closing ranks against him.     from Goodreads

Penn Cage’s sixth book was released this year and I was able to hear author Greg Iles as he came to a local library to promote, Mississippi Burning, but I decided to start back at the beginning.  Penn lives in Natchez, Mississippi and much of this 2000 book was about race.  A race crime took place when Penn was a child and the FBI, under Hoover, closed and sealed the case without ever solving it.  When he finds out someone is blackmailing his daddy, he runs smack dab into this old powder keg of a case.

I liked Penn and his family.  Penn, prosecutor turned bestselling author, lost his wife to cancer but little Annie was the apple of his eye.  His parents were both pillars of strength and good in Natchez.  Penn himself was just trying to do what was right.  He managed to have a few romantic entanglements as the bullets were flying around him, but I won’t hold that against him.

It was a long book, but I found ways to sneak reading time in here and there, a certain sign of a great book.  I already have the second Penn Cage book and am looking forward to reading it soon.  If you like southern stories, mysteries, and great writing I think this may be the book for you!

 

May 22, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 4 Comments

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Title: Whiskey Beach, Author: Nora RobertsWhiskey Beach. Finished 5-14-17, rating 3/5, romance?, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio performed by Peter Berkrot. 15 hours 33 minutes.

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He needs sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli’s beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has cared for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say overbearing, brand of nurturing—including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim—and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House’s many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach….  from Goodreads

Nora Roberts is an easy listen.  You don’t need to be 100% glued to the audio to follow the story.  That’s a good thing in this case, because I thought this one was just meh.  I thought Eli’s backstory and what he went through as a suspect in his wife’s murder was interesting, but the rest of it, not as much.

Roberts is hit or miss with me and this one is a miss, but I will still give her a listen when I’m cleaning or driving 🙂

Do you have a favorite Nora Roberts novel?  I really liked The Witness.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 8 Comments

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Title: The Forgetting Time: A Novel, Author: Sharon GuskinThe Forgetting Time. Finished 5-2-17, 3/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Susan Bennett and David Pittu.  I liked the dual narration.

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.  from Goodreads

This showed up on a list of page turners so I was excited to give this debut author a try.  I didn’t know (because I didn’t read the description) that the main theme of this novel was reincarnation and that’s a good thing because I probably would have avoided it altogether.  We all need to read, or in this case listen, outside of our comfort zone or interests once in a while.  How else would we grow?

Anyway, the Goodreads description is a good one that reveals just the right amount of info and I don’t want to spoil more of the story. If you are looking to learn a little bit more about reincarnation and the history of it or like stories about the strength of a mother’s love then this one fits the bill.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 4 Comments

Reboot with Joe Juice Diet by Joe Cross

The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel AmazingReboot with Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel Amazing. Finished 4-30-17, 3.5/5 stars, health/diet, 240 pages, pub. 2014

In January, Jason and I watched 30 documentaries in 30 days, where we ‘met’ author Joe Cross in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.   During the Read-a-Thon last month I read this book where Joe outlines different ways to try his juicing challenge.  In the movie Joe went 60 days drinking nothing but freshly made fruit and veggie juices, but this book outlines different choices depending on your specific needs.

I am trying my own version of this diet this month for my 30 day challenge, closer to Joe’s original diet than the ones he talks about here.  You can follow my progress here.  I’ve lost 9 pounds in 11 days and feel really good.

The book has recipes and I tried a few at the beginning, but it’s easier just to make your own concoction with whatever you like and have on hand.  There are also inspiring stories and photos from people who have tried the diet.  This is a good place to start after seeing the documentary.

 

May 11, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 1 Comment