30 Day Writing Challenge

30 day writing challenge

I haven’t done anything like this, so I thought it might be fun to try. 

Day 1: List Ten Things That Make You Really Happy

In no particular order:

  1. My son (he really makes my day brighter)
  2. Playing Dragon Age games (Origins, Awakening, DA2, or DA: Inquisition)
  3. Writing – blog posts, poetry, and Dragon Age fanfiction
  4. Reading during any spare minutes I have – esp if they’re ARCs (Advanced Readers Copy so I get to read and review them before anyone else)
  5. Talking to anyone who will listen about art and sharing my knowledge and appreciation of it – doubly so if I get to teach an art program like Art Explorers or the ones I used to do for Kids Cafe
  6. Having intellectual conversations with cute educated guys
  7. Nerding out/Fangirling while watching Star Wars/LOTR/Miraculous Ladybug/anything vaguely Anglophile (see my Pinterest page for more of what Nerdy/Geeky things I mean)
  8. Going to Comic-con in Phx – maybe one day I can do the big one in San Diego
  9. Traveling – last trip was to Alabama to visit my family so not sure that really counts but last trip before that was to Prescott/Sedona/Northern Arizona area which I hadn’t really explored since before I moved here to AZ so that counts. I haven’t been on a good trip since college, esp a “dropping me in the middle of a country where I don’t speak the language but still manage to have fun”, but here’s hoping for more in the future. 
  10. As corny as this sounds, doing my job at work. I got a Masters Degree in Youth Services in a Public Library and I really do love helping kids and their families, so anywhere I get to do that is awesome, i.e. during Preschool STEM storytime, during Baby Storytime, Kids Cafe, Reference Desk, Readers Advisory, or helping out with other programs. 

Moments of Zen: Sept 10 – 16

This week was pretty stressful, and I had a lot of things on my plate. My son had better behavior, so that I am very thankful for, as last week was very exasperating. 

Sat and Sun: Honestly, it was probably when I finally got alone time to play Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), the MMO game. It is the current game du jour for me, since I’m not playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (though I will be in November, yay!). I currently have 4 characters, 2 Rebels and 2 Imperials. My son likes watching, though I don’t let him sit for everything as it can get a little graphic. 

Mon: Reading my son I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems for his bedtime story. It was very silly but a lot of fun to read, as are most Elephant and Piggie books. I especially liked the multitude of colors Gerald turns after trying the slop, but explains to Piggie that it is good to try new things even if you don’t end up liking it. 

Tues: Having a girl talk moment with two co-workers during my lunch break and talking about my friend’s dates. It’s silly but it is nice sometimes to talk about fluffy stuff like that to take your mind off of other things. 

Wed: When my friend Joanna called me back yesterday b/c one of my FB messages sounded sad and was wondering how I was doing. Yesterday was a sad day for me, so to have someone thinking about me and wishing me well really meant a lot. Plus her phone call distracted me and got me laughing again. 

Thurs: Dancing to Pitbull’s song Fireball in my car. That song always makes me smile. Oh, and of course getting to go to ASU Gammage’s production of Cabaret for free, courtesy of my parents, which has great music and reminds me of my childhood (I was a bit obsessed with the movie version). I definitely plan on going to more live theater in the future. 

cabaret

Fri: I was a little surprised at how much the parents/kids loved my brand new Dinosaur DiscoveryTime! I would change a couple things with it, but overall a success. Also had a serious Moment of Zen where I disconnected from the world for about 1/2 hr during lunch at Blue Find and had a Panko Chicken Bowl and read Kamisama Kiss Vol 21.  

kamisama-kiss-vol-21

Moment of Zen: Aug 27 – Sept 2

This week has been pretty interesting, with the exception of Monday and Wednesday, which were just kind of a blah days. Tues was my last day at the branch library I’ve been helping out at for the last month and I was a bit sad to leave as it is nice to meet new people and work at a different place every now and then and see how other libraries work. The manager will still need help in the future, so I’ll keep my ear out for more opportunities and I’m on the substitute list for other branches, so if not there than someplace else I’m sure. 

Quote of the week, taken from Brian Selznick’s The Marvels pg 599, writing about Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: 

“Maybe the play wasn’t about miracles. No, maybe it was about the passage of time, and the need for patience, and the ability to forgive. Maybe Shakespeare was saying that even in a world where miracles can happen, there’s still going to be pain, and loss, and regret. Because sometimes people die and you can’t bring them back. That’s what life is, Joseph realized, miracles and sadness, side by side.”

Sat: Late night drink and talk with my dad about food, cooking and travel; apparently Guy Fieri makes the worst descriptions of food on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, according to my dad

The Japanese Lover

Sun: My friend Joanna and I started an adult bookclub called “A Novel Idea” in July and Sun was the second meeting and we doubled our attendance! We discussed Isabelle Allende’s The Japanese Lover, and had some very interesting discussions about race, prejudice, immigration, growing old and much more. It was cool because all but my mother had worked or was currently working in a library, and everyone was a reader and it is always awesome talking about books with educated ladies. I’m hoping we’ll get even more people the next one and for Sept we are reading the classic by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. This was the nicest time I’ve had in awhile and it was so much fun to be a part of the group. 

Tues: Going out with my friend Joanna and her friends and doing 90’s trivia night at a local market downtown. We came in 15th place but it was still a lot of fun, even though the questions were a little obscure. I would definitely do this again. 

Wed: Snuggle time with my son watching Hotel Transylvania 2

Thurs: Getting to talk to my new counselor about everything going on and setting up a plan to help sort me out in the future

Fri: I had an epiphany moment this morning during my DiscoveryTime storytime (storytime plus STEM) where I was reading the book Big-Mouth Frog by Keith Faulkner and the parents and kids were so into the story and I felt like “Wow, this is really what I’m meant to do (being a librarian).” So I need to keep that in mind when I’m having moments of professional self-doubt. 

Read Across America Day

Read Across America Logo

Today is Dr. Seuss’s 112th birthday! To celebrate it, the library celebrates Read Across America Day today as well. This event was created by the National Education Association in 1997 to “help build a nation of readers,” so it makes sense for them to use Dr. Seuss as a jumping off point for activities and getting kids to read because as President Obama said in his proclamation today:

“Through a prolific collection of stories, he [Dr. Seuss] made children see that reading is fun, and in the process, he emphasized respect for all; pushed us to accept ourselves for who we are; challenged preconceived notions and encouraged trying new things; and by example, taught us that we are limited by nothing but the range of our aspirations and the vibrancy of our imaginations.”

Plus if you are an adult reading to a child, it is just a lot of fun to read. As Dr. Seuss said “Or at least I think they are, but I might be partial to them as I’m a pretty huge fan and a Children’s Librarian at that. I have copies of Green Eggs and Ham (did you know there is a beat poem version of this?), There’s a Wocket in my Pocket (which I read to my son’s 3 yr old class last year on Dr. Seuss Day), and Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now? (which I learned today is apparently about Richard Nixon needing to leave office after the Watergate scandal) in my personal collection at home. Today the branch that I’m working at showed the movie The Lorax and did a craft about Truffula trees. The central library in our system has a Dr. Seuss event the weekend before his birthday and gives away 500 free books.

Theres a Wocket in My Pocket

Here are some cool things for parents/caregivers to do with their kids. Here is a booklist of Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children. I especially like this list of 50 Multicultural Books That Every Child Should Read.

Finally, here are some cool facts about Dr. Seuss, taken from here , here, and here:

  1. Dr. Seuss created Cat in the Hat because he was worried that children weren’t learning how to read. A publisher reportedly challenged him to “write a story that first-graders couldn’t put down.”
  2. Dr. Seuss won 2 Oscars, two Emmys, a Peabody award, and a Pulitzer Prize.
  3. He wrote Green Eggs and Ham after a publisher bet him he couldn’t write a book using only 50 different words.
  4. During World War II, Dr. Seuss created war propaganda cartoons. He also made animated films for soldiers.
  5. Dr. Seuss is credited as the first person to use the word “nerd”. He used it in his book If I Ran the Zoo from 1950.

Banned Books Week 2015

ala-facebook-cover-bbw-fd

Banned Books Week (BBW) for 2015 will be starting today Sept 27 – Oct 3rd. I’ve been writing about this week for the past three years, and I actually love doing it every year because it encourages me to read new books, plus I’m always curious why people would really like to ban reading [which is essentially what people are doing when they ban a particular book], something that is so important to everything we do. I say it best in this post I wrote about Censorship back in 2012. That year, I read and reviewed A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa. I didn’t have a chance to write about a particular book in 2013, but last year, I finally got the chance to read Truman Capote’s In Cold BloodI’m not sure what I’ll read this year, but it will be off one of this year’s lists or the Classics Challenged book list.

As a Librarian, one of my biggest jobs is to encourage parents to read to their kids, as well as encouraging kids and teens to come to the library, not only to use the facilities for homework but also reading for pleasure. So it is sad for me to see books being taken away from kids, especially if the child is a reluctant reader. Young Adult (YA) and Children’s books are usually the biggest targets for Book Banning/Censorship.  I liked the way that YA author Laurie Halse Anderson put it: “Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.” As the article where I found that quote says about censorship and in particular Young Adult Literature, “The reality is that censorship is still a problem in this country, and most of the victims are kids. Sometimes books are literally taken out of their hands…YA literature would deserve defending even it helped only a handful of kids. But YA authors like Anderson, Alexie, Crutcher, Lauren Myracle, Lois Lowry, Robert Cormier, and Judy Blume receive thousands of letters from grateful teens every year.”

This year the focus is on YA Literature (books specifically created for kids ages 11 or 12 – 18), and this is a list of books from the American Library Association or ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom for the most frequently challenged books of 2014-15:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
  • Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
  • Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

Here is another booklist of Frequently Challenged or Banned Books from May 2014-March 2015. I was really shocked to find Dr. Seuss books on this list, as well as nearly all of John Green’s books. If you are interested in learning more about fighting censorship, check out the Freedom to Read website, one of the long-time sponsors of BBW.

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Leonardo Da Vinci

Only two weeks till my Tween Book Club (Page Turners) meets for the first time! I have finished my re-read of Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins and enjoyed the quick read, though it really makes me want to re-read the whole series as the first book was so short. I’ve done my best to promote it, giving out the flyers to an entire school of 4th-8th graders, a homeschool writers group, posting the flyer in the Children’s area, and telling any kid I think is around that age about it. We shall see soon.

I’ve not been doing a whole lot of these kind (i.e. art lecture) of Kids Cafe because of the new system they want us to use (kids have to kill out membership forms once, but with our kid population being a bit odd -we don’t have a steady population since we’re the big downtown branch, we can have up to 15 new kids a time). It is useful I guess for statistical purposes, but is annoying because it takes so long to fill out the forms that by the time they hand them in and get their food, half the time has gone. Anyways, on to this week’s topic, Leonardo Da Vinci. I have been fascinated by Da Vinci ever since I took a class on Renaissance art while I was doing a study abroad there and got the opportunity to see the Da Vinci museum in Vinci (outside of Florence) and see some of his inventions, along with his beautiful original works in Florence and Rome. He was a genius in art, science, architecture and many other fields, so it was fun to share his genius with others. This is one of the best presentations in my opinion. It was rather hard to squish Leonardo’s life into eighteen slides, but I think the kids/adults got a good understanding of the man. I found out about his inventing robots after I did a DiscoveryTime (storytime + science for 3-5 yr olds) on the subject. I had a lot of fun with the activity, though it wasn’t my original choice.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Biography
    • Born April 15, 1452
    • Leonardo was part of the Italian Renaissance, which lasted from about 1330-1550. Leonardo is referred to as a “Renaissance Man,” not because he lived through the period, but because he was good at everything.
    • Da Vinci refers to the place of his birth, the town of Vinci outside of Florence, Italy
    • Italy Region Map
  • Early Art Career
    • At age 14, Leonardo is apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio (an important Renaissance artist in Florence, whose patrons were the ruling family, the Medici’s) , which is how he improved his drawing and learned how to paint and sculpt
      • Verocchio – The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
    • Verrocchio - The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
      • Verocchio – David, c. 1475
      • Verrocchio - David, c. 1475
      • First work attributed to Leonardo – The Annunciation, 1472-75
      • Leonardo - The Annunciation, 1472-75
  • Famous Paintings
    • His most famous paintings are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Only 15 of his paintings remain. He was very famous and known for his paintings while he was still alive.
    • The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most well-known painting in the world. It is believed that Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa around 1503. It is also known as “La Gioconda”, the last name of the woman who is believed to be the subject of the painting.
      • It has been on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris for over 200 years. Because of numerous thefts and attempts at defacing the painting, it has been put under bulletproof glass.
      • Researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Illinois used face-recognition software to determine that the Mona Lisa is “83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, and 2% angry.”
      • Mona Lisa, 1504-19
      • Mona Lisa - large
  • Mona Lisa Parodies
      • A parody is an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration
      • Squidward Mona Lisa Miss Piggy as Mona Lisa Minecraft Mona Lisa
  • Leonardo’s Time in Milan (1482-99)
    • The Last Supper is a frescoed painting located in the dining room of a church/convent in Milan, Italy called Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) and is huge (15 x 29 ft)
    • Painted while Leonardo was under the patronage of Duke Ludivico Sforza of Milan
    • His version of this painting was the first to depict real people acting like real people and was the best example of one-point perspective – everything radiates from the head of Jesus.
    • Instead of using tempera paint on wet plaster (the preferred method of fresco painting), Leonardo thought he’d use dry plaster. His experiment resulted in a more varied palette, but this method wasn’t at all durable. The painted plaster began to flake off the wall almost immediately, and people have been attempting to restore it ever since. Last restoration was in 1999.
    • Leonardo’s The Last Supper, 1495-98
    • The Last Supper, c. 1495-98
    • Giampetrino’s The Last Supper, copy of the original from 1520
    • Giampietrino - The Last Supper, c 1520
  • Leonardo’s Notebooks (1482-1519)
    • Leonardo was also an architect, writer, natural/biological scientist, cartographer, and mathematician. He is famous for his notebooks where he kept over 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which were both art and science-related. In fact, he was the first one to explain in the year 1500 why the sky was blue.
    • The notebooks are written in mirror-image cursive with his left hand (i.e. backwards and right to left). And he was ambidextrous – could write with both hands
    • His conceptual drawings included plans for musical instruments, war machines, calculators, submarine, an automobile driven by springs, multi-barreled missiles (machine guns) and many more ideas. Many of these plans were limited by the level of technology at the time.
    • He was interested in civil engineering projects and designed a single span bridge, a way to divert the Arno River, and moveable barricades which would help protect a city in the case of attack.
    • Leonardo’s Inventions: Robots, Tank, and Single-Span Bridge
      • Robots
      • Tank
      • Single Span Bridge
    • Inventions: The Orinthopter
      • He was particularly interested in flight and studied birds to understand how they flew. The Orinthopter was a human-powered flying machine but he also created a design for a helicopter.

      • Orinthopter outline
      • Orinthopter, c 1490
      • Orinthopter
    • Understanding Human Anatomy
      • He became an expert in the anatomy of the human body, studying it in detail and creating hundreds of drawings to help explain his thoughts. Leonardo didn’t just study the human anatomy either. He also had a strong interest in horses as well as cows, frogs, monkeys, and other animals.
      • Anatomical study of the arm, c. 1510
      • The Lungs
    • Animal Studies
      • cats
      • Studies of Crabs
  • Sforza Horse Sculpture
    • In 1482, Duke Ludivico Sforza (Leonardo’s patron in Milan) challenged him to build the world’s largest equestrian bronze statue in honor of Ludivico’s father Francesco
    • Leonardo did a multitude of sketches for the sculpture, and he created a clay model of the horse in 1493, but it was never cast
    • It wasn’t until after Leonardo’s notebooks were re-discovered, and a wealthy American took on the project in 1977, that the sculpture was finally created in 1999.
    • It was installed in Milan (with a copy in Michigan) – it weighed 15 tons (33,069 lbs) and is 25 ft tall [you can see the scale to a human in the bottom picture]
    •  Sketches for Cavallo dello Sforza
    • Studies for an equestrian monument
    • American Horse, 2006
  • Codex Leicester (1506-13)
  • Activity: Invisible Ink using Lemon Juice
    • Let’s Be a Spy and Leave a Secret Message
    • Here’s a simple explanation of this
      • Send a secret message to a friend using invisible ink

        Small glass of lemon juice or milk
        Q-tip
        Piece of white paper
        Blow-dryer or light bulb

        Dip the end of the Q-tip into the lemon juice or milk, and use it to write a secret message on the piece of paper.

        Let dry completely. Your message should be invisible.

        To decode your message, heat the piece of paper by carefully blow-drying it (or holding it near a warm light bulb).

        As the paper heats up, your message will appear yellow or brown. That’s because milk and lemon juice are acidic and weaken the paper, Anderson says in her book. “When the heat source is put near the paper, the weaker part begins to brown before the rest of the paper does.”