Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Review: Happy Birthday Winter by Justin Ogden and David Condry

Happy Birthday Winter

Words by Justin Ogden

Pictures by David Condry

Justin Ogden & David Condry, 2020

I was recently gifted a copy of Happy Birthday Winter from Sylvia Liu, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and KidLit411 at http://www.kidlit411.com/2020/12/the-weekly-411-121120.html. Thank you!

Have you ever imagined having a birthday party for Winter? This delightful picture book shares the story of a young girl and her father who celebrate a very special day with Winter-the very first snowfall of the year. This easy read is just what young children need as they prepare to enjoy winter snow.

Why I Liked This Book:

~ snow and winter!

~ simple text sharing the story of a special day between a daddy and daughter

~ beautiful, colorful illustrations that make me want to join the party!

~ winter activities are highlighted as the characters enjoy the birthday party

~ easy to hold size for young hands

~ fascinating “snowflake” backmatter

~ the evident love of nature and the outdoors seen in the book

Thank you, Justin and David!

Blurb from KidLit411:

About the Book:  Happy Birthday Winter aims to bring joy and curiosity to the changing of the seasons. As the world in which the characters live changes from Fall to Winter, the characters embark on a journey to continue a tradition of celebration to welcome the Winter Season. 

Read more about Happy Birthday Winter at https://happybdaywinter.wixsite.com/happybdaywinter


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Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord bless you and keep you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Thank YOU, Veterans! We LOVE YOU!

Once our son enlisted in the Army and spent a tour overseas in Iraq, we realized the depth of thankfulness and pride we had for our son and his fellow servicemen and women.

Thank you. To each and every branch, to every single troop, to all locations of service, and to every type of work, again, I say, “Thank you!”

Thank you for your selfless service and sacrifice for our country. We appreciate you and what you have done.

Thank you for being willing to leave behind your own family – wives, husbands, parents, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends – and travel to far flung destinations. You missed much. Thank you for being willing to miss the day-to-day life events – for us.

Thank you for staring danger and discomfort straight in the face.

Thank you. From the bottom (and top and middle) of my heart, I say thank you.

And families of servicemen and women. Thank you for your sacrifice. The waiting and the missing is never easy.

For those who did not return the way we prayed, my heart is with you. For those who came home draped with a flag, my heart breaks for you and your family.

Thank you.

May we never forget.

Reposted from: http://angiequantrell.blogspot.com/2015/11/thank-you-veterans.html


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Book Review: Bess the Barn Stands Strong by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Bess the Barn Stands Strong

Written by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia

Illustrated by Katie Hickey

Page Street Kids, 2020

Barns and me, we go way back. My family can probably still whip up perfect eye rolls if I mention a barn I saw or attempt I made to have the vehicle stop so I can take a few photos. Backseat eye rolls, accompanied by the driver eye roll, sideways glance, and scurry to find an appropriate place to pull over, filled many happy family road trips.

Barns are fabulous. Of course I was super interested in reading Bess the Barn Stands Strong. Fortunate for me, I received my own autographed copy from Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia via Vivian Kirkfield’s www.viviankirkfield.com site. WordPress has changed and I haven’t figured out how to add JUST the words I want in a link, but here is the specific link for Bess the Barn Stands Strong: https://viviankirkfield.com/2020/09/08/happy-book-birthday-bess-the-barn-stands-strong-plus-double-book-giveaway/#comment-202883

Thank you, Elizabeth and Vivan, for sharing this wonderful picture book!

Bess the Barn Stands Strong is a story about a barn. Bess is a sweet barn, strong, beautiful, and caring. As a main character, Bess is pretty awesome. But she ages, as we all do, and eventually becomes overlooked for the new fancy barn build just over the fields. And Bess is ignored. Until the storm.

And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because YOU need to read the story yourself and see what happens to Bess and all of her barnyard friends.

If you love farms and barns, you will enjoy Bess!

Why I LOVE This Book:

~ barns!

~ a barn as a main character – how often does that happen? This could be the first time ever. (Don’t quote me on that.)

~ great story with just the right amount of tension

~ reading that there is purpose to old things, and old things can still be useful (I’m working on the older part as my birthday comes this month)

~ barnyards and animals are very popular with young readers

~ old versus new; I’m definitely of the older is better school

~ beautiful illustrations enrich and fill out the story

~ barns!

Amazon Blurb:

A steadfast old barn shows she’s sturdy enough to save the day.

Beam by beam and board by board, Bess the barn is built by able hands to keep the farm’s animals safe and sound. Through many seasons and celebrations, that’s just what she does, until she starts to sag…and creak…and slump. Then new everything comes along: a new farmer and a shiny new barn. A mean storm arrives not far behind, putting both barns to a dangerous test―can old Bess weather this threat to the farm?

Bess opens her doors wide, welcoming all to celebrate the year-round ups and downs of farm life and admire the enduring strength and importance of something made to last.

“There’s a marvelous mix of peppy text and bone-deep comfort at work within the language of this story . . . [and] visual treasures abound in the corners of the art . . . Seasons come and seasons go, but cozy concepts like barns on farms will never die.” – Kirkus Reviews


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Book Report: The Science of Defying Gravity by L.G. Reed

The Science of Defying Gravity

Written by L.G. Reed

Illustrated by Basia Tran

Keyes Canyon Press, 2020

Does your child have a science fair coming up? Or perhaps your middle grade student loves things that fly. This book is for both of you!

Cassie is not interested in science class, and therefore, her grades suffer. But she REALLY wants to go to Space Camp. After her family experiences financial difficulties, Cassie has to take Space Camp attendance into her own hands and figure out how to be able to attend. Setting the goal to make it to camp is just the right fuel to blast her rocket into space.

Thank you, KidLit411 www.kidlit411.com and L. G. Reed for sending me a copy of The Science of Defying Gravity! This chapter book is a very engaging read, and I couldn’t stop-just one more chapter, oops, two more chapters . . . and suddenly I was done reading it.

What I Liked About This Book:

~ Cassie and her best friend Wylie are great characters; flawed yet lovable

~ Excellent premise of a student having no interest in science class transforming into a driven young tween who worked her tail off to implement a stellar science fair project and presentation

~ Family issues were on target and added to the build-up towards the story climax

~ Cassie continued marching forward despite hitting numerous obstacles

~ Cassie and her feelings of being overlooked by her parents, which led to her striving to gain their attention

~ Cassie’s best friend, Wylie, is on the spectrum; this adds an extra layer of interest and learning about others who may be differently abled

~ Budding romance, just barely, but adorable

~ Science-I learned quite a bit about science fairs, gravity, what makes things fly, how to plan a winning science fair project, how they are organized, and even specifics about scientists in the real world

~ Cassie is a strong female main character, and will surely inspire other young girls to follow their interests in STEM fields

~ Helpful backmatter

~ The usefulness of this book to help students prepare for an actual science fair (lots of examples)

Amazon Blurb:

“Useful, entertaining, and encouraging; will inspire confidence and an appreciation of science.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Tweens who enjoy making, building, and learning will get the most from this book about what it takes to become a scientist.” — Booklife Reviews

In this mashup of STEM education and fiction, 11 yr old Cassie films her life. She loves movies and dreams of becoming a movie director in SPACE. *Her plans to go to Space Camp are derailed when her dad loses his job and she must win a SCIENCE FAIR to earn a scholarship to attend. Spunk, a caring teacher, an engineering mentor and her friends keep her dream on track.* Contained within THE SCIENCE OF DEFYING GRAVITY is an actual science fair project, including tables and charts for kids to see. The project covers the four forces of flight—lift, thrust, gravity and drag—which are embedded in the fictional story but are factually accurate.


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Throwback Thursday: The ’74 #TBT

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Check out this cute guy. Turns out he was giving me a ride in a shiny green ’74 Chevy.

The curls, the swagger, the adorable guy hauling around his honey. The guy would be my honey, Kevin. The girl would be me.

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Back in the early days of our relationship, we traveled far and wide. Most of that was back and forth to college, Seattle, Tacoma, the mountains, the beach. This trip was over Chinook Pass where we stopped near an overlook featuring Mt. Rainier. Beautiful mountain and cute guy. My mom used to roll her eyes. Yes! She did. Because all I would say was, “He’s so cute!” I think she got tired of hearing those words.

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The green truck has been in and around our family since it was brand new. My then future father–in-law bought it when it was about 6 months old, a dealer model. Love that avocado green! It’s been a favorite color for me since, well, forever. Kevin’s family took it to Ocean Shores each summer, hauling along the Prowler camper. I was so excited when they invited me to go along. Believe it or not, all 4 of us (Kevin, both of his parents, and me) road around Ocean Shores sitting on the long bench seat. Clam digging, crabbing, eating out, beach runs, yard sales, hot fudge sundaes. I have such wonderful memories of the old green ’74.

Let’s not forget one of our first dates. Kevin had just barely received his drivers’ license and asked dear old dad to borrow the lovely green pickup. So we were dragging the ave. Yakima Avenue. We stopped at a stop light, my honey. He was driving so careful. But the drunk lady behind us was not. On our first outing, we got rear-ended! Her car was pretty smashed up. But good old greeny had a tiny dent and bent bumper. The fear of telling dad what had happened was worse than the actual accident. But we all lived to tell the tale.

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After we were married, Kevin and I had it for several years. We also toted along the Prowler when we took our family to the beach. This truck went wood cutting, Christmas tree hunting, and moving people to and fro.

Later, my dad had the ’74 for quite a few years. He loved to tinker with it and keep it running. He managed to fix it up quite nice. After a certain number of years, one had to always carry a quart or two of oil behind the front seat and commit to regularly checking the dip stick during long trips.

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Eventually, my dad gave the ’74 to Bub, as he liked to call our son. Because old green ’74 was showing her age. Bub, a talented and gifted mechanic, a man after dad’s own heart, was nearly the only one besides dad who could keep the old gal running and on the road. And he didn’t mind constantly repairing this and that. Dad and Bub spent many happy hours puttering and repairing not just the ’74, but an entire fleet of old Chevy trucks and vehicles.

Today? The ’74 is still going strong. My honey recently remade the original wood racks that had graced the back for decades. (Literally.) Rust has worn holes in several sections of the fender. Green spray paint has been added to protect and keep additional rust from making holes. There is nearly a hole beneath the drivers’ side feet-rust, water, salt water, sand, dirt, many years of use.

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Ok, maybe she needs a bit more spray paint. But I do love my rust.

It’s alive and kicking. And we are all the more fonder because of the special memories each of us have surrounding this approaching classic truck. Chevy. Like a rock. The heartbeat of America.

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Kevin made this picture frame from the old wood rack rails. A very talented friend painted this picture for Taylor from a phone snapshot. This is the Chevy line-up, folks. Chevy.

What stories can you tell about your favorite Chevy? (I’m not allowed to name any other brands.)

 


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RV Living: Day (approximately) 1,339

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Creating fairy gardens

People.

This experimental RV living situation is really hanging on. At (approximately) day 1,339 of tiny living, far longer than we expected, life revolves around creativity, tiny-ness, storage woes, lost or in storage items, and a general lack of wardrobe.

For instance, last weekend we rearranged the furniture.

Don’t get excited. That only means we moved a rug, the cat tree, our box (end table), the couch, and chair. Those are basically the ONLY things that can be moved. Though Donavyn came in to see and suggested we move the stove over there and the table over there…(they are all built-ins). He was trying!

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The cat is discombobulated by the move. She is not comfortable. Her cat tree is not by daddy’s chair. She can’t figure out where to sleep. The scratching options have moved. But she does love being the in the slide and having 3 open windows at her beck and call.

The grands appreciate the long line of seating. Enough that the both boys fell asleep, tangled on the couch.

I love the evenings sitting on the one end of the couch in the slide, windows open, listening to the fountain right outside dripping and splashing. TV is off, book in hand. It’s quite like camping in the forest, but for the sounds of distant civilization.

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Hmmm. One of my computer keys is making a squeaking noise. That is not normal. Nor is it good.

We have baby goats next door! 4 adorable smaller-than-my-cat stiff-legged bundles of energy and cuteness.

Our neighbors pass on cool items. We take advantage!

Our medicine cabinet is a gallon ziplock bag.

The parking shelter is perfect for outdoor homeschool activities, especially those involving water and/or messes.

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The pasture. Swimming, biking, ball games, gardening, wildlife, throwing innumerable balls for the dog. That’s all summer (but winter? Sledding rules.).

We have nesting fly catchers! I’m excited about this. FLY catchers. Just imagine how many the mommy and daddy will catch for their hungry babies. Two adult males in my immediate vicinity can only imagine the bird droppings all over. Where is their sense of nature and adventure?
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The cat has been warned off of fly catchers, finches, and quail. She does not listen, but one can hope.

The hawks are nesting. I can hear them peeping and calling to each other. Soon it will be time for them to teach the young ones to fly. And then hunt.

The rabbits who nibbled off most of my spring flowers have moved on. We HOPE. (As opposed to ‘became someone’s lunch’). One wonders how 7 fluffy bunnies suddenly went missing.

Despite it being day (approximately) 1,339 of bumps and bruises from forgetting to look where one moves (we should learn, one would think), life is good in our RV tiny home.

As you can tell, we spent most of our time outdoors. The patio has become our evening resting place, sitting in camp chairs, watching the wildlife antics, calling the cat down from not-our-property, laughing at quail fighting over each other.

Here’s to day (approximately) 1,340.

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Book Report: Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore #BookBirthday #BeeAReader

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Grandpa Grumps

Written by Katrina Moore

Illustrated by Xindi Yan

little bee books, April 7, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday to Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore!

I enjoyed this book from the get-go. From front to back, Grandpa Grumps is full of adorable details, tells a perfect story, and bursts with fun colorful illustrations. My grands ask for this one over and over. They are drawn to the story! (I don’t think it’s because they have their own Grandpa Grumps. LOL) Thank you, little bee books, for sending a review copy. #BeeAReader

What I Love About This Book:

~ The adorableness. It’s a thing. Honest.

~ The story about a young girl meeting her grandfather from China for the first time

~ The learning and sharing that goes on between the generations

~ The way the relationships grows between Grandpa Grumps and Daisy

~ A recipe!

~ Perfect illustrations that complement and enhance the story (much adorableness)

~ The story is sweet, but Daisy does face a problem when Grumps doesn’t react the way she imagined. I love how she finally solves the problem.

~ A shining example of creativity and partnership between the author and illustrator

~ Anyone who has relatives from a different country could prepare the way for visits by reading Grandpa Grumps.

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Amazon Blurb:

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting from China, and try as she might, Daisy can’t get her grumpy grandpa to smile!

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?

Kids will love this funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations!

You can find Grandpa Grumps here.

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2020 Word of the Year: STEADFAST

happy 2020!(1)

Already, 2020 is here!

STEADFAST is my word for 2020. Last year, my word was treasure. The year before that, my word was roots.

As a wife, mother, and Nana, I realize that remaining steadfast in life is required to take care of what needs to be done. The work of this sort is repetitive. We all know this. Dishes, laundry, cleaning, driving, errands, cooking, loving, hugging, instructing. The list is the same for many tasks, but new in its application and settings (everyone grows and needs new interpretation of daily tasks). Facing each day with a steadfast heart will keep me moving in the right direction.

As a writer, I’ve read numerous times that the only writers who do not succeed are those who quit. Even when it seems nothing is happening, if I continue to be steadfast in my writing endeavors, seek to improve my craft, and be alert for opportunities to share, help, critique, improve, and submit my work, it’s going to happen. Every writing experience is a learning time. Nothing is wasted. Some things might be (okay, some things ARE) terrible, but learning takes place. Remaining steadfast and putting one step in front of the other will keep me from quitting.

As a believer, I’m happy to know that nothing I do is in vain, if I do it for the Lord. So my failures, successes, trials, errors, and general craziness of life done for the Lord are not a waste of time. I must be immovable, steadfast in my faith and purpose.

I’m looking forward to discovering more about my word of the year. STEADFAST.

What is your word or phrase of the year? I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for stopping by!