Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NEA and Read Across America, grab a book and join in!

Every March 2, the National Education Association (NEA) celebrates the joy of reading on Dr. Seuss' birthday, and the Cat in the Hat serves as the honorary spokescat of sorts. His image will always instantly bring to mind the silly rhymes and unmistakeable illustrative style of Dr. Seuss.

It all began back in 1997, when some folks at the NEA came up with the idea to create a day for the celebration of reading. Who better to honor with this holiday than Theodor Seuss Geisel, the beloved children's author whose books have entertained children all over the entire world? The first "Read Across America" day was celebrated on March 2, 1998, which just happened to be during the first year that I taught preschool!

Over the years since, I've celebrated this day with preschool classes and with my own children. Back in 2009, after bloggily declaring The Lorax as my favorite of all Dr. Seuss books, I shared my thoughts on another Dr. Seuss book that I love, though it does differ from his other works. In 2010, Red and I tried our hands at making a paper Cat in the Hat hat of our own (don't judge my lack-of-craftiness skills), and her gigantic smile perfectly depicts how much we love books in our family. Last year, I interviewed each child about why he or she loves reading, and their responses made me smile then, and now.

This year, we'll all be in school on March 2, and thankfully for all three kids and me, reading is definitely valued in our respective classrooms. I'll be sharing stories with my preschool class, as always, and I think we'll have to fit in at least one Dr. Seuss story to stay in the spirit of the day. Red, Pudge, and JAM will all spend time on Friday, like every day, hearing stories read aloud, and reading and looking at books independently.

I cannot imagine a life without reading for pleasure, for myself and for my children. I'm happy to place an even brighter spotlight on the joy of reading on March 2, and I encourage everyone to don those red and white striped hats and join the Cat, Things 1 and 2, the Lorax, the Once-ler, and even Marvin K. Mooney, along with all the other unforgettable characters in a day of reading dedicated to the memory of Dr. Seuss.

For activity ideas, head over to's Read Across America page!

Usually with a book in hand,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MTE reviews: The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!

It's day two of Dr. Seuss week, as I count down the days until the 108th birthday of the brilliant Theodor Seuss Geisel. As a mom and a preschool teacher, I can attest to the joy that Dr. Seuss's books bring to children's lives. Yesterday, I shamelessly promoted some pieces I wrote about the upcoming The Lorax movie, and there will be more to come about the movie before it opens on Friday.

In the meantime, though, there's more Dr. Seuss fun to be had every day over on the incomparable PBS KIDS. Featuring the instantly recognizable voice of Martin Short as the iconic red-and-white-striped hat wearing feline, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! has been on the air since September 2010 and has been a hit since the beginning. The emphasis with this show is on inquiry and exploration, as a young boy and girl, Nick and Sally, go, go, go, go on adventures with the lovable and curious Cat in the Hat.

I appreciate the basic concept of this show, for these are very important skills for young children to develop, and as an early childhood educator, they also form the basis of the constructivist curriculum with which I work every day. As a parent, I allow a certain amount of television in my children's lives, and I'm happy when they enjoy programming that encourages them to think about the world around them. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! is exactly that type of show.

In celebration of Dr. Seuss' 108th birthday on Friday, March 2, PBS stations across the nation will be airing a The Cat-in-the-Hat-a-Thon, a two-hour marathon of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!. This marathon will feature two previously aired episodes in addition to two brand new ones, and you should hop over to check your own local listings to find out the exact times.

I was recently sent a screener of the two brand new episodes-- "Seasons - Spring and Summer/ Seasons - Fall and Winter" and "When I Grow Up/ Doing Things Differently." Red (5) and Pudge (4) were my test audience, and as with other episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, they giggled and sang along the entire time. I have to say that of the four segments, the overwhelming favorite was "When I Grow Up," but if I tell you why, it'll give away the surprise ending! (Okay, I'm pretty sure you, the adult reading this, will be able to figure out the ending early on, so let me say that Red has a little bit of a fascination with the platypus, making this episode very, very appealing!)

Are you looking for a way to celebrate (the proclaimed-by-me) Dr. Seuss week like me and my crew? Tune in to PBS KIDS on Friday, March 2nd for the marathon of fun, curiosity-encouraging episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Feel free to sing a round of Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss himself after the marathon is finished!

**Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary screener DVD featuring the two new episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! All opinions expressed here are my own.

Always ready to go, go, go, go on an adventure,

Monday, February 27, 2012

happy 108, Dr. Seuss!

Happy Monday of Dr. Seuss week, folks! Yup, I'm declaring this week the perfect time to devote five consecutive days to celebrating the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Friday, March 2, will mark the 108th anniversary of his birth, and there is honestly so much going on all around now that is keeping his memory and spirit alive.

Each day this week, I'll share another fun tidbit about Dr. Seuss's books that I adore, and of course, I'll give you my thoughts about some of the new media that's being produced based on Seuss' classics. Though he's no longer with us, it's clear that the beauty of his legacy will never go away.

An easy way to start off the week is to send you in the direction of three posts I've already written about the movie The Lorax, releasing on Friday. I had the incredible opportunity to attend a parenting blogger event in which we watched the movie and even interviewed some of the "talent" involved in the film. (Listen to me sounding all LA, huh?) I really did love the movie, and that's not just the staying-at-the-Four-Seasons, getting-hugged-by-Betty-White part of the experience talking.

Wondering about how the classic book stands up in the film translation? Head over to my 5 Minutes for Books post Books on Screen: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Curious about how Ed Helms and Rob Riggle played off each other in our group interview? Yeah, they're really freaking funny, as I attest to in my 5 Minutes for Mom post Ed Helms and Rob Riggle Deliver Big Laughs in The Lorax.

Bet you could never guess what Danny DeVito likes to tweet about. And, in case you haven't heard, Betty White made me cry. Read all about it in my 5 Minutes for Mom piece Danny DeVito and Betty White, Perfectly Suited for The Lorax.

I promise you there will be more than just shameless self-promotion this week. I learned some new things about Dr. Seuss from the production notes we were given, as well as during our interview with the screenwriters of The Lorax. There are other fun things coming up for you parents of little ones, and I want to make sure you're prepared to celebrate Dr. Seuss week along with me!

Time for some Seussian smiles this week,

Monday, February 20, 2012

bus blogging, chapter seven

A bus with wi-fi! A bus ride sans children! It's a good turn of fate this afternoon, it would seem. After a morning spent play-acting teacher (not really teaching students, but meeting with next year's potential families and talking about being a teacher), and an afternoon spent preparing to be watched under a microscope tomorrow (when our school is visited for re-accreditation by the big organization that does such things), it would be truly cathartic to blog right about now.

But I can't. Sadly, I'm a bit too public to sometimes say what I really think on my little space of the Interwebs, so I cannot complain or bitch or speak my mind on some subjects. Others, I have no problem with (hello, politics and religion, there you are!), but work has to be off limits.

I can tell you that I have the most fabulously prepared classroom ever, and that I'm so damn ready to have tomorrow behind me. Just come, watch me if you're going to watch me, and get it done with.

In balancing my real life work and my online work, I'll have to start tapping away at my laptop keys in full force soon, as I still have so much to tell about the LA trip, and The Lorax. Of course, the posts you'll see me linking to over at 5 Minutes for Mom and 5 Minutes for Books will have a much more professional feel than the silliness I have planned for here. I have it all set in my head, and hopefully it will be as funny to anyone out there as it is to me!

For tonight, though, I'm ready to leave both real life work and online work behind me, to go pick up my kids who I'm just not accustomed to being away from all day!

Enjoying a quiet bus ride for once,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

week's end

The banter on Friday mornings at workplaces all across the country, I assume, is similar to what I experience on a weekly basis.

"Do you have any plans for the weekend?"

I don't really know how to answer this one usually. Is this asked at the same level as the perfunctory, "How are you?" that is socially expected and routinely answered with a friendly, yet vaguely meaningless, "I'm fine. You?" If it is, then should I respond with a simple, "Just family time, the usual."

I think that I throw some people off with my as-of-late response, "Oh, the fabulously exciting prospect of doing laundry, vacuuming, and scrubbing toilets awaits me on this two-day 'holiday' from the work week. And you?"

Let's be honest. An estimated 90% of the time, our weekends look the same. Our Friday nights are usually the lovely mix of hanging with our closest pals, trying to have adult conversation while our collective mass of children take individual turns trying to be the craziest. (Ours win. A lot.)

So, Fridays are the usual highlight of the weekend. Especially if there are fried wonton from the good Chinese restaurant near their house involved. After that, the weekend is usually a flurry of the housekeeping tasks that pile up in need over the course of the week. This weekend has been no different.

But, I did think (like a blogger) to take some snapshots of the great fun that awaited me on Saturday. Let's go to the images, shall we?

I'm assuming this is normal for a child's bathroom, right? Clearly, there is a high-level threat that these guys are aware of and the kids' bathroom is in need of serious protection.

What's this? Mount Laundry looks insanely small this week due to Hubby's thoughtful mid-week laundering skills in action. SCORE!

Oh wait. There you are. There's never a shortage of dirty clothes 'round these parts.

 I get to hang out with my friends, though, so there is that. See, they're all very close.

 And, my brain gets a work out all weekend long, trying to figure out life's big questions, like this one: Why the hell do they NEVER CLOSE THE FREAKING DRAWERS?

And then there's this. Hubby and I have the great, huge responsibilities of making sure the couch doesn't run off and clearing the DVR for another week of comedic recordings. And Facebook. Don't ever forget the Facebook.

So, weekends are gloriously predictable and full of routine and responsibility. Just not sure if all of this is appropriate fare for responses to those Friday morning queries. 

Six more days until the joy starts again,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

mum's the word

An entire week has passed since I was lounging and living the high life in L.A. I have vivid pictures running through my head, for all the times that we were not allowed to have a camera with us, I tried my damnedest to capture the images in my head, closing my eyes in the moment to sear it into my brain.

The tricky part? Well, I can't really talk about any of it. Not just yet. I think it's kosher for me to say that I truly enjoyed the movie The Lorax, and I have lots of interesting tidbits to share with you from our roundtable interviews with some of the stars.

And I have a Betty White story that I will be telling until the day I head to the grave.

(Seriously, you will probably get sick of hearing it, but I will tell you again and again. And then again. You know why? Because it's BETTY FREAKING WHITE, that's why.)

But, I can't tell you quite yet. I can tell you that my enthusiasm for the story has been reinvigorated, and I've read the book to my class this past week. I hope to do the same in both Pudge and Red's classes, too, for as much as I think the movie is wonderful, I really don't want anyone-- child or adult-- to forget about the incredible original that Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss himself) created a few years before I was born.

So while I cannot talk about the incredible experience that is still at the forefront of my thoughts a week later, life has been going on as regularly scheduled. But I'm fairly certain that you don't want to hear too much about our laundry, or my lesson planning, or the constant struggle that parenting seems to be these days. Maybe next time.

Soon, though. Soon you will hear more than you may want to about the otherworldliness that is L.A., in my opinion, and the great fun I had with my own Lorax experience. Soon.

Biting my tongue something fierce,

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

reality check

Tuesday morning, I will wake early on the West Coast. Insanely early, in fact. I will tell my body that it is actually 6:30 in the morning and that it best get prepared for an entire day of sitting. I will tell my stomach that it will have to say goodbye to crazy delicious food that costs more than a few days' groceries. I will tell my mind that it is leaving a world of unusual wonders to return to the land of familiarity.

I will say goodbye to sunny Los Angeles, goodbye to the swanky Four Seasons Hotel, goodbye to conversations with celebrities. Goodbye.

I'm leaving California with a few more ounces of confidence and a tiny bit of hope that someday this whole social media / blogging / freelance writing thing will be a bigger part of my life. I think I'd do a decent job at it, and if I could only find a way to make it contribute to our family's financial needs, then I'd be on it in a heartbeat. Maybe someday.

I'm returning to a life that is pretty damn good, so I have no room to complain. I'm honestly really proud of the juggling that I've been able to do over the last few months of full time teaching, book reviewing, and freelancing for a few sites. This silly little blog hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves, but it's always been around just to serve as a record of my own life and thoughts, and I've done what I can.

So, the reality check is setting in. I'll soon be able to talk more about the interview experiences and the delightful movie The Lorax, and it will be grand to pull together all the thoughts rambling around in my head to share. It's been an unbelievable time, seriously.

Leaving on a jet plane,