from In Summer
by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872-1906
You can read the entire poem here.
p.s. giveaway for a copy of Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is still open!
Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book out this month and to celebrate the beginning of the school year, I'm giving two copies away!
But first, a little information: It is probably widely known that I am an Amy Krouse Rosenthal superfan; when she announced she was searching for some people to be part of her latest book promotion team I applied that same day. Her last book for grownups, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, is one of my all-time favorites (along with pretty much every single one of her children's books). There's something so... hygge about everything she writes. (I was reading this interview in the Chicago Tribune* about the book, where she references the Danish word "hygge" and I did some more reading about it, and that is absolutely how I would describe the experience of reading her books. Perfect!).
I read my advance copy on my flights from Denver to Montgomery in June—this was both perfect and problematic. Perfect because it is the right length of book to read on a flight. Problematic because of the format: this is a book to read when you actually have cell service or wifi, because it's interactive. I had no idea how impatient I would be to land so I could get my text sent to get started on the process of being able to submit things or request things, depending on the part of the book I was reading. I took paper notes on everything so I could start during my layover in Dallas. This format? Really, really fun, and completely different from anything I've ever read before. I think that was the point—this is the first interactive book of this kind published.
I did rip the page out as I was instructed to do so I could give it to the lady sitting next to me (after working up the nerve and waiting until the last minute before we deboarded). I may have startled her at first, but she seemed genuinely touched that I ripped a page out of my book to give to her. Heh. Related: don't tell the girls I ripped a page out of my book. They still haven't recovered from the projects I did for Ella Publishing Co.'s Book Crafting.
An important piece of magic to report: one of the things I did while waiting for my second flight from Dallas to Montgomery was the part about sharing messages of good luck for her safekeeping. It feels too private to tell you exactly what I texted, but I will tell you it had to do with Cleveland. Who went on to WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP A FEW DAYS LATER**. You be the judge.
Another favorite opportunity for interaction: submitting to the Live Rainbow Feed. I was anxious to spot a rainbow so I could do this one, and I finally spotted one a few weeks ago and immediately texted the photo.
I think this style of book appeals to me not because it's particularly challenging in length or content, but because it stays with me. Just like Encylopedia of an Ordinary Life, this book is all about the author's experiences—but not just the author's experiences, because it so seamlessly draws in the reader and his or her experiences, too. It is no secret that I also love things written into a familiar format: lists, the almanac format I used for The Scrapbooker's Almanac, an encylopedia, a textbook. And the fact that this one is participatory makes an already good reading experience into a shared one. Hygge for sure.
I want to share Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal with you, too! There is a pre-assessment in the introduction, and you can answer one of those questions as your official entry:
In Group Discussions
a.) I truly want to hear what others have to say and enjoy listening.
b.) I theoretically want to hear what others have to say, yet I find myself doing most of the talking.
c.) I want others to hear what I have to say, but I seem to have difficulty inserting/asserting myself.
d.) I want others to hear what I have to say and have no problem whatsoever making that happen.
You can just tell me which one, or you can elaborate : )
I will draw two winners based on the age-old blog giveaway rules here: giveaway will remain open until it's closed. So don't delay!
*Speaking of people I am on book promotion teams for that have recently appeared in The Chicago Tribune, here's another one. 🎉
**I have SO MUCH MORE TO SAY about the Cavs, and as I address the sad backlog of blog posts from this summer, I intend to do so. Obnoxiously. Hee.
This week marks the fourth first day of school in a row in a different school/state for these girls—but it's also the least "new kid" first day of school any of them have ever had. Between teachers that know them, friends they met during the summer, friends they're back in class with, or being the younger sibilings of older sibilngs who know each other, this has been a pretty easy transition back to school in Cheyenne. HALLELUJAH.
First up: Maddie!
Maddie who is starting HIGH SCHOOL. (For nostalgia's sake, I looked up first day of school posts in my archives and got all weepy from this one.) There are still teachers and one administrator who remember when I was teaching and pregnant with her at this school, and it freaked them all right out when she showed up. It also freaked out a whole bunch of Montana-born millennials when they had to come to terms with the fact that their old childless high school teacher now has a freshmen in high school. Maddie has a few old friends to spot in classes/lunch/hallways, which makes everything just a tiny bit less intimidating. She lucked out and gets to be in a morning carpool, and didn't have a single bad thing to say about any of her teachers after the first day. I think that's a victory.
Gracie lucked out because she gets to spend an extra year in elementary school, which was a big relief to her—the last three places we've lived have sixth graders in middle school. We made the difficult decision not to send her back to her old elementary school here, but instead to the school where Maddie went for four years; it's a good fit for her and will be just the thing she needs before starting 7th grade. She sits across from an old preschool classmate, which is funny to us. They are both alphas and haven't changed a bit. They were good friends back then with only occasional outbursts of annoyance with each other, and hopefully they'll strike a good balance again this year : )
Bridget has had the hardest time over the last three years of bouncing from school to school, with only 1/3 of those school years working well for her. But this year... this year she has our Fairy Godteacher, same as Maddie had in third and fourth grades and we couldn't be more excited. My mama has always said my third grade teacher was "good for me" (hmph)(my third grade teacher was a structured, organized, rigid woman) but without a doubt, Mrs. Dixon will be good for Bridget. It is possible that Bridget takes after her mama and needs some structure and organization... heh. Good thing Mrs. Dixon is also lovely, patient, and kind. Miss Payerle may have been many things, but I struggle to remember lovely, patient, and kind. I may have been too distracted by the effort it took me to be less flaky and scatter-brained, though : ) Aside: Bridget wins the award for Most Changed since last year.
Ellie was ready to go upon my return from the bus stop. The first day of school is Dog New Year to her, and she and her bad heart were very ready to go on the first proper long walk of the school year. She is the best dog.
I spent yesterday drawing up a list of All the Things That Will Be Done this school year and it is giant. Wish us all good luck!
This is Miss Vi.
She is an expert horsewoman and a true cowgirl.
She was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2013.
She is 81 years old, and had an elbow replacement not long ago so is taking the season off from barrel racing. She'll be back next year.
On July 3, she was assigned the task of teaching Matt how to ride a horse so he could survive a month of horseback riding (beginning on July 4 in the Greeley Stampede parade) without incident or injury. When he showed up for his first concentrated lesson, she told him she wasn't going to take any of his colonel #%*! and that he had better pay attention to her because she knew what she was talking about. Matt was all ears, obviously, and by the end of the lesson she gave him an A. I have seen her around many times through the years but had never met her until this weekend. She is awesome, is all one can say.
If you see her around say hi and thank you for her service to Cheyenne, the rodeo, and horse-ignorant military types everywhere.
Four years ago on this blog I wrote this: "the thing that is choking out my blog is ultimately going to revive it." [You can read that post here.]
Four years later, the exact same thing on the exact same date is true. It's such a long story, but somehow we've found our way back to Cheyenne Frontier Days (or rather, Cheyenne Frontier Days found us again). The bottom line is that Matt is once again serving as the chairman of the Military Committee, which means all the things we were doing four years ago are pretty much the exact same things we're doing now. Except we aren't really all the way moved in yet. And we know how much stuff is on the horizon vs. being vaguely oblivious like last time. Also, remember the laundry fairy? We know him by name now! He's the new chairman of the Parades Committee, and he is great—he even has a sense of humor about that laundry fairy story, which I decided I absolutely had to share after officially meeting him. HA.
I'm already sitting on a large amount of photos, and I'm going to make the same good faith effort to share the rodeo and all that goes with it : ) Just for fun, we still have a List of Things Currently In Our Posession That Do Not Belong To Us this year, too. It includes:
two sets of keys
20+ library books
four period costumes from the Frontier Closet
one Central High School marching band uniform
one Dodge Ram truck
one copy of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (not particularly CFD related but still)
So there you have it. With my pit pass as my witness....
I am behind on a hundred different stories related to leaving New Mexico, coming back to Wyoming, NBA basketball, general activities from the last month... but for now I'm going to jump back into blogging with a bat story. Because who doesn't love a good bat story? Ahem.
So. Tonight there was an extremely action-packed and exciting Cavs game, and it ended on the late side so the girls were still up and taking adrenaline-fueled showers in the 10-11 pm range. At exactly 11:06, I heard the strangest sound coming from... outside? I stopped to listen from the kitchen for a minute to try and tell if it was some sort of wild animal in distress, when I realized it was coming from inside the house. Note: isn't this where all horror stories originate, with noises coming from inside a house? I wouldn't really know since I avoid horror stories at all costs, but I'm pretty sure this is true. I ran up the stairs to find Bridget kind of hunched/squatting on the top bunk making gurgly-screamy shrieking sounds—at which point a bat flew across my field of vision in her bedroom. I was very afraid she was going to jump right off the top to escape, so in my very best panic calm voice I begged her to climb down the ladder safely and get out of there. After more gurgly-screamy shrieking sounds (possibly from both of us at this point) I got her out of the room but still had to close the door to shut the bat inside; Maddie pointed out that it was a darn good thing the transom window wasn't open above her door. Because that would have made this story even more awful.
Matt was very helpfully not home, by the way, as he is attending a class this week.
I put Bridget in Gracie's room with the order to calm her down while I raced down the stairs with the dog in hot pursuit to call the 24 hour maintenance phone line for base housing. Maddie was finishing up her shower afraid of what muffled catastrophe soundtrack was unfolding in the house. I explained the issue, and within a few minutes the night Bat Patrol Man called me to tell me it would be about a half an hour before he could get here—Bridget was thrilled! A bat flapping around all her worldly possessions for 30 whole minutes!
Gracie decided at some point that bat in the next room or not, she was going to sleep, so Bridget came downstairs to tremble in the living room. I set her up with some comfort picture books while we waited for the night Bat Patrol to arrive, then went back to try and finally finish the dinner dishes at 11:30 or so. A few minutes later, she came in giggling to show me the illustration that perfectly captured her initial bat reaction:
Here's a closer look at what she sounded like, too:
Maddie came down and Bridget was able to retell the bat discovery moment within the context of this most perfect illustration, and that got us laughing uncontrollably because Bridget is a ham, and she can do a pretty exact Melissa Sweet-illustrated dog-in-fright impression. The Bat Patrol man came as promised and spent two minutes in Bridget's bedroom before declaring his mission a success; because bats often carry disease, he put the itty-bitty bat (which seemed like two feet across when flying) in a ziploc bag so it could be tested. All fine and good, except for ziploc bags ARE CLEAR, and he was holding it in one hand while passing me forms to fill out with the other. I have no problems with bats as a concept, but I do not care to be within 100 feet of them when they're dead inside a ziploc bag less than a few feet from any part of me. He thinks it's a loner (meaning not part of a colony of 20-30 like the house down the street had in it last week), accidentally lured into our house by the promise of indoor living. The next few nights the full Bat Patrol will be on bat watch at our house at dusk to see if they can figure out if bats are coming and going freely. Awesome! They are really working to discourage bats from entering houses in the first place, though—building bat houses, scraping guano to relocate it away from housing areas (yuck!), etc.
This is not our first (bat) rodeo. It is the second; three or four years ago we had a bat in our house next door—we lost that one while we were tracking it and let me tell you what: that's the best argument for a ranch-style one story house I've ever heard. The Dillows were not their best selves that night.
Bridget is sleeping in my room tonight. I may never sleep again.
When I was working for Ella Publishing Co., I was invited to participate in a project to promote the release of a wonderful book titled Dear Photograph by Taylor Jones. I was looking for my submission last night since we're moving back to F.E. Warren AFB, and I wanted to remember what I had written back in 2012:
I stood here on the hotel steps on a house hunting trip to Cheyenne in April 2000, wishing like anything that I could live in one of these beautiful historic old houses (but knowing the two year waiting list made that impossible). I never could have imagined that 12 years later, my home would be the house with the side porch peeking out from behind the cottonwood trees on the most beautiful circle imaginable. Even though it's only temporary until the Air Force sends us somewhere else, I am grateful.
I now have a p.s. to add:
p.s. 16 years later, we're moving into that house next door. (!!)
Seriously—the odds of me taking a photo of not just one but TWO places we'd be living in the future? That's pretty far-fetched. And yet, there you have it.
You can check out the many wonderful submissions to Dear Photograph here, and follow along on Instagram, too. I am excited for the many opportunities to run around and take some new Dear Photograph photos since we'll be living in a place where we have an actual history again : )
I got into trouble with Maddie a few months ago because I bought some vanilla that was not McCormick brand—she saw it and was indignant about the fact that I was disrespecting her childhood by replacing it with something other than a red cap. (For the record, my childhood vanilla came from a ginormous, vaguely exotic, seemingly bottomless bottle straight from Mexico via my Aunt Dee Dee, but I digress). It's funny, the things that stop us in our tracks, yes?
So when Bridget and I were in guerilla-shopping mode at Target recently and I saw these Vintage Charm bowls, I screeched the cart to a halt like a cartoon character.
Important note: This is NOT actual Pyrex, even though it was on an endcap with Pyrex things and tries to fool you into thinking it's Pyrex... it's only "inspired by" Pyrex. But it's a cool counterfeit.
I got two. Even though we're moving, and we're on a strict possession-reduction regime once again. Because, sometimes you just have to respect your childhood.
(And yes, next time I buy vanilla it will be McCormick)
Exactly no one should be surprised that Maddie—sweet little Maddie—found herself playing La Llorona in her Language Arts final project (producing a short film from beginning to end). La Llorona is new to us, but not new to this part of the county: her story is ghastly, ghostly, and precautionary in Mexico and New Mexico, too—little children, be warned about wandering off at night.
It's like a natural progression to this:
Not to worry: her group had to film lots and lots of takes in order to get her with a straight face the whole time. (Some things never change)
As much fun as it was to get to know yet another creepy literary character, she is beyond done with this particular project and ready to get back to her regularly scheduled life—no more hanging out near creepy tunnels and the arroyo at dusk to turn Mexican myths into horror movies.