Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I didn't realize just how much my daughter Mary and my niece Liz look alike until Mary sent me this pic. They even chose the darker rimmed glasses. I wish they lived closer together as I think they would be great friends if they did. Liz, like Mary, is very close to her mom.

Mary is holding McKinley and Liz is holding Kegan. Liz was born about 3 months before Mary and my Mic was born less than two months before Ben, Liz's brother. I spent time at my brother Bob and sister-in-law Lennie's home when our kids were little and my brown eyed, darker haired children looked more like Len's kids and her's like mine as Liz has my coloring. Who knows what the gene pool will do as far as our children are concerned. As they mature we see more of family in them and that makes me feel closer to the loved ones who are no longer with us. Mary looks like me but she is tall and willowy like her paternal aunt Marlene who I think is one of the most beautiful and kind women in the world. I smile to myself as I watch Mary mature into the same kind of woman as her aunt. I guess with the Holiday season approaching I am thinking about family. With both Mom and Dad playing Rummy with Mic in heaven I feel like the only "blood" family I have left is Mary as my brothers are not the kind to stay in touch, though I wish they would. But, not all mothers can say, as I can, that their daughters are not only the joy of their lives but also their best friend, so all things considered I feel blessed.

I just got home from the dentist and trying to sip a soda with half of my mouth numb is quite interesting. So far I haven't dribbled too much. At least this time it was just a filling and not another implant, root canal, or crown. We have spent a lot of money on my mouth in the last couple of years. Guess I inherited Mom's soft teeth. I never knew my mom without dentures as she had all of her teeth pulled years before I was born. No dental care when she grew up so she made sure, no matter how tight money was, that all four kids went to the dentist every year. As children we just don't realize how much our parents sacrificed for us. I am realizing it more and more as I let go of my grief over Mom's death just when we were becoming close and let myself remember what a wonderful, resilient woman she was.  Even though there wasn't much as far as "extras" in our home my mom made sure we always had a bountiful Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. All those hours baking and cooking on the wood stove made our kitchen cozy, or at times downright hot. You did not want to wear a big heavy wool sweater in Mom's kitchen during the Holidays as it was toasty and then some! Sadly, as a child and a teen I was so selfish I never thought to offer to help Mom with any of the preparations and she rarely ever asked for help. But, I knew I would be washing dishes for what seemed like hours after those meals while the boys and any guests for the holiday meal would be in the livingroom watching sports or chatting. The dishes were my job no matter how big or small the meal was.

I am feeling nostalgic all the way around today and listening to Rod Stewart's new CD Soulbook  It has so many of my old favorites on it with even a few duets, such as Tracks of My Tears with Smokey Robinson and My Cherie Amour with Stevie Wonder. Right now I'm singing along with Wonderful world. I only sing when I am alone as I can't carry a tune at all.

My students are responding to a set of 10 questions Richard Peck came up with instead of book reports when he was a HS English teacher many years ago. He was at the American Association of School Librarians conference in Charlotte, NC last week and many of my students attended. One of them told him how I use his questions in my YA lit course. I should email him and thank him for making my students think about the YA novels they read from different perspectives. The response essays are a delight to read. These questions could so easily be adapted for children. There are so many ways for a reader to respond to books rather than those awful electronic reading quizzes.

And, Susan Beth Pfeffer's dystopian novels Life as We Knew It and the dead & the gone the second book is the Life As We Knew It set of companion novels are frequently used to answer the Peck question about why a book is set where it is, location or time wise. I really hate to use the term series as to me this means the books are about the same set of characters, but B&N online notes the dead & the gone as Life as We Knew It #2. (I dislike when titles are all in lower case.) I checked the Library of Congress cataloging information on the verso and sure enough, even lower case here.