Sunday, July 7, 2019

Rehoboth '19

I've been a little slow in writing these updates about our annual summer vacation. We've been back for about a week now, so I'll post these photos now.

Every year since John was a year old, we've gone to Rehoboth Beach for a day in the summer. I'm not a huge beach person, but this one is my favorite. I love seeing how much he's grown when I look at the pictures each year:

                           2016                                                     2017                                      2018

With his Hawaiian shirt, he was the coolest 4 year old on the boardwalk!

                                             We made a few discoveries

And had fun on the rides


Saturday, July 6, 2019


While we were in Delaware, we spent a day exploring Wilmington.

There were a couple of places on Atlas Obscura for the state that we hadn't made it to yet, so we decided to cross a few more off the list.

The first place we visited was a rare gem. Gibraltar Gardens is described as beautiful and well-kept, but it was downright magical! I thought we'd just go in and take a quick look, but we were there for a while because there was so much to see.

It's hidden behind a stone wall, so it's very reminiscent of The Secret Garden, and the decrepit mansion that overlooks it could easily be a stand-in for Misselthwaite.


I love watching YouTube channels about urban exploration, and I love the gothic beauty of abandoned buildings so I had to get as close as possible. (There is a small chain across the top of the staircase, that I ducked underneath. I just wanted to get some better photos up close.)

The gardens came to life before our very eyes. As we admired the small pond with all the lilypads, we spotted a frog. Before we knew it, there were several frogs, of different sizes, croaking and jumping around and splashing in the water. We also spotted some koi fish of different sizes.

I couldn't stop taking pictures because everywhere I looked was a cheeky frog, or a regal-looking statue, or a Victorian fountain, or a burst of color from the flowers growing in there.


We also made a quick stop at the sculpture garden at the art museum to see The Crying Giant. It is a memorial to the people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. This sculpture is actually one of three that the artist made; the others are in the Netherlands and the state of Missouri.

The original plan was for the statue to be a kind of fountain that cries an endless stream of tears into a pool, but that part never came to fruition, so it's just a sculpture. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Dinosaurs (Fist Pump!)

We recently returned from our annual trip to DelMarVa. I was fortunate enough to attend the ALA conference in Washington DC on June 24th, so we built our trip around it.
On our way home, we stopped in New Jersey so we could visit the site where the first partially complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered. Prior to this discovery, dinosaurs were known only from scattered bone fragments and teeth.

Amateur naturalist William Parker Foulke heard that local workmen digging in a nearby marl pit had unearthed several gigantic bones. Organizing his own team of diggers to investigate, he soon discovered the fossilized partial skeleton of a bipedal creature with features similar to both a bird and a reptile.

The strange prehistoric beast was later identified as a dinosaur by Joseph Leidy, a naturalist from the nearby Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Leidy gave the fossil the taxonomic name Hadrosaurus foulkii, after its discoverer.

We found out about this site from Atlas Obscura, and Johnny loves his dinosaurs!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Be Still, My Horror-Loving Heart!

So yesterday I was at ALA in Washington DC. I was glad to be there, and I picked up a lot of good stuff in the exhibit hall. I was a little bummed that some things had run out because yesterday was the last day, but I stumbled into a line. It was supposed to be a closed line, but then a woman came around the corner with a handful of ARCs, so I assumed she was letting a few more people join in.

I asked if this was the case, and she said yes. I looked at the book in her hands, and it was the newest RL Stine!

In case you live under a rock, RL Stine is a horror master. He creates the future Stephen King fans by thrilling us and enticing us back again and again. I spent my youth reading Goosebumps and Fear Street and watching Goosebumps every Friday afternoon and watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? every Saturday evening.

So I waited in line (maybe 30 mins total) to get a not-yet-published book signed by one of the authors that shaped my reading identity.

And when I finally got to meet him, I brought up the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Documentary, because he was interviewed in it. I told him I'm also interviewed in it, so we chatted for  a minute about how much work the creator put into it, and how good the animations in it look.  .  .

It was the highlight of the conference.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Just Hacking a Greeting Card

I'm gearing up to bring my dollhouses to the NH Children's Museum Mini Maker Faire again.

I've been trying to work on them whenever I have the chance because I want to bring some that have never been displayed before.

I've been wanting to add some sound to my Beetlejuice dollhouse for a while now. I was looking at some micro sound systems that utilize bluetooth, but I wasn't sold on the one I found.

Then yesterday I was in Hobby Lobby with my son and he pointed out a funny greeting card. I looked at the cards that come with sound, and I found one that plays "Day-O" by Harry Belafonte. It was much cheaper than the the other option, so I bought the card, and took it apart at home, hiding the sound mechanism behind the fridge in the kitchen:

I love it when I'm able to be innovative with this hobby.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A DINO Mite Month!

The theme of the spring Scholastic Book Fair is DINO-Mite. Dinosaurs are such a fun theme, and so many students are already interested in the topic. In the library, we planned dinosaur themed activities and read dinosaur books this whole month in order to get pumped up for the book fair.

Some of the books we read:

We also made a display of picture books and dinosaur fact books that students were able to check out.

The Kindergartners and 1st graders went on a Dinosaur Hunt in the library. It was alot of work to set it up for each class, but they all enjoyed it. We turned the lights off and made the library as dark as we could. I put a YouTube clip of Jurassic Jungle sounds on the smartboard, which gave us some light (so the kids wouldn't be scared) and added to the atmosphere:

We cut out dinosaur footprints and made a path through the shelves, which the students had to follow. Along the way, they were looking for dinosaur eggs. We used plastic Easter eggs (on clearance at Hobby Lobby after the holiday), and inside each each was a tiny glowstick, which made them glow in the dark. They had to crawl through a cave at the end (really, the tables all lined up) and then they got to meet Bob the Dinosaur (graciously loaned by my son), who had some eggs, too, in case a student didn't find one along the way:

We let them open their eggs once they were seated on the carpet together, and they got to adopt the baby dinosaurs inside the eggs. For the Read Together, we chose Can I Have a Stegosaurus, Mom? by  Lois Grambling.

The 2nd graders did an entry in their art journals, making little dinosaur skeletons out of cotton swabs on dinosaur silhouettes that I printed out:

And the 3rd graders made dinosaur skeletons on the ground, using paper towel tubes, following our reading of Barnum's Bones by Tracey Fern, which recounts the discovery of the T-rex by Barnum Brown.

Even though each class did the same activity, all the dinosaur skeletons turned out different, and I enjoyed  seeing the students have so much fun with something as simple as cardboard tubes.


We have a few other things up our sleeves for the DINO-Mite book fair, so you haven't heard the last of this!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Good Old Days poem

My school was fortunate today to host author Ralph Fletcher. He did several presentations for the students, and our faculty meeting was a workshop on teaching writing.

One technique he spoke about was introducing students to a poem, and letting them use the opening and closing lines as a guide, and then creating the middle content themselves.

He read us his own poem "The Good Old Days" and projected it on the screen, and invited us to try doing this at some point ourselves.

Well, I couldn't wait. I found a piece of paper and a pencil right away, and tried to match the mood of his poem with my own nostalgic memories of cozy, quiet childhood moments.

This is what I came up with:

Sometimes I remember the good old days.  .  .

The soft darkness in my room on winter mornings-

The clunk of the furnace kicking on and
the smell of my flannel pillow case,
fabric softener and familiarity

Car headlights dancing on my walls as mom's car pulls out of the driveway

The low steady breathing of my faithful mutt,
lying on the floor next to my bed.

I let my arm fall over the side of my bed,
to find her shape and feel the fur,
and we share the quietness a moment longer.

I still can't imagine anything better than that.

If you're interested in reading his original poem, you can read it here.

I'm hoping to plan some poetry units for next April using this technique.