Monday, April 16, 2018

Review of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

This book was recommended to me by a tween, although I have read other books by Kate DiCamillo.  I really enjoyed this book!  The story has (unexpected) emotional depth, and a main character that you can identify with.  Flora lives with her mom and feels second best to a lamp (the little shepherdess) she believes her mother loves more.  She spends her time engrossed in a comic series about the Amazing Incadesto, which is something she used to do with her dad before her parents got divorced.  She calls herself a cynic because she wants to distance herself from hopes and beliefs where she might be disappointed, and instead tries to only focus on the facts.  But when her neighbor accidentally vacuums up a squirrel who--like in any good comic origin story--now has amazing powers, Flora's cynicism starts to fade because she WANTS to believe in something.  She wants to believe that Ulysses is a superhero who can fly and type poems on a typewriter.  During her interactions with her dad ("George Buckman.  How do you do?"), her neighbor (Tootie), her dad's neighbor ("the Dr. Meescham who is the doctor of philosophy"), and her neighbor's nephew (William Spiver), Flora has adventures with Ulysses, who vanquishes (twice!) Mr. Klaus, escapes from a villian who wants to kill him, and writes several poems.  Everyone (except the villian) believes in Ulysses and what he symbolizes--a hope that a squirrel can become extraordinary.

The plot itself is fairly simple, but there is a richness and quirkiness to all of the characters that I found interesting.  In keeping with the comic book theme that Flora has immersed herself in with Ulysses, woven into the pages are comic book panels that tell the story in a more visual way.  Overall, I found the story amusing, quirky, and touching as Flora allows herself to believe in something again.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook: Part 10

Here is another 2-page layout from the Boston Siblings Weekend scrapbook I had made for Mark.  This one features some of the yummy foods they ate.

The base paper on the left was actually a planner page.  I like the square designs and how it contrasts with the black dots on the right-hand base paper.

Jessica used the journalling tag (from a Smash notepad) to make some notes about what the actual food was that they ate.

The pictures of the food are bright and vibrant, so I used several different colors with the embellishments and base papers.

I cut out the photo of the coffee cup to fit it in with the other two photos, and placed a little embellishment of a coffee cup with steam rising out of it next to the photo of the coffee cup.

It was cold in Boston (January), so I thought the winter-esque embellishment fit.

More photos of yummy food!

I also used a little paper clip-type embellishment on one of the photos to reinforce the food-gasm quality of the photos.

More scrapbook pages to come!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Attack on DACA

I recently read an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed called DACA as a Teachable Moment.  The author teaches debate at community college, and he begins the article with a principle he says he teaches his students: when formulating an argument, seek out the strongest arguments for the opposing side.  This helps the students to think critically about their own argument because:
  1. they understand the opposing side's viewpoint and logic,
  2. they are prepared for what the opposing side will say during the debate, and can have counter-arguments ready, and
  3. they've really thought through the topic.
I like how this sets the article up for the author's discussion about DACA, and what is being said by those who are want to get rid of it.  The author attempts to come up with the opposing side's strongest arguments for deporting these children, and finds either racism or flawed logic at the heart of each of the arguments.  I found the example of his parents moving from Maine to New York when he was two years old striking; the author talks about how little control and understanding he would have had about the move at the time.  He says
If you substitute “Mexico” for “Maine,” the anti-DACA position holds that the erstwhile toddler should be held criminally responsible. That’s a tough position to defend.
I'm sure there are older children who might better understand what's happening when entering the United States, but that doesn't really change the situation much, as in most states you are not legally an adult until the age of 18, and therefore these children would still be considered dependent upon the adults who brought them into the country.  I've even read about children who entered this country alone, but in this case, where they are knowingly entering the United States illegally, think of what they must have left, what must have propelled them, as a child and all alone, to enter a new country where they would be facing all sorts of new challenges and dangers.

The author reminds the reader that the majority of Americans are immigrants, some of whom entered this country illegally (and in the case of slavery, were forced here).  And so, in that spirit, it seems that we should be more understanding and forgiving, at least in the case of the Dreamers.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook: Part 9

Here is another page from the Siblings Weekend Scrapbook.  Overall, the scrapbook is a 6x8, but some of the pages have different dimensions to add interest.  So this page is much shorter and features one photo with a journaling card.

I tied the frame for the photo and the journaling card with the color red.  My sister-in-law made a note on the journaling card about something that happened during the trip.

I liked this photo of Mark and my sister-in-law.  I framed the photo kitty corner corners with striped paper from Simple Stories.

To embellish the opposite corners I used stars.

More pages to come!  :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Why International Women’s Day and Day without a Woman Is Important

Oddly enough, there seems to be some controversy over a Day without a Woman, or the Women’s Strike.  There is historical precedence for women strikes in the past, across the globe, but the argument for women striking in America today is that only privileged women have the ability to strike.  I acknowledge that there are many women out there who, if they did not go to their jobs today, find themselves without the much needed income from today’s wages, or worse, might find themselves without a job.  But as explained by Stephanie Kollgaard from the National Women's Liberation (, women can engage in this strike in many ways, including striking from the traditional women’s roles and activities, such as childcare, household chores, wearing make-up, and even always smiling or appearing happy.  To me, the goal of the day is to show the massive impact women have in our society, both in the workplace and in the home.

Another way to strike, is to limit shopping to only local women-owned businesses.  Women (in America, at least) control the majority of wealth (51%, according to Business Insider:, and thus can make a huge impact economically in the U.S. simply by not shopping today.

For women who are striking in some way, you can log in your strike hours (paid/unpaid/formal/informal) so that the measure of our impact on the U.S. economy can be determined! Link: 

Another way to strike is to wear red, which is being described as “signifying revolutionary love and sacrifice” (  Women and their allies can show their solidarity visually by the simple act of wearing something red (shirt, barrette, earrings, socks, arm band, etc.).

Finally, and how I’ve been spending my strike day, women can reach out to their representatives and voice their concerns over current issues, such as the proposal to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which will impact so many people who depend on it for their basic health needs.  As found on, which outlines practical steps for enacting political change at the local level:
“Begin with these five steps to gather intel. Before anything else, take the following five steps to arm yourself with information necessary for all future advocacy activities.
1. Find your three MoCs, their official websites, and their office contact info at
2. Sign up on your MoCs’ websites to receive regular email updates, invites to local events, and propaganda to understand what they’re saying. Every MoC has an e-newsletter.
3. Find out where your MoCs stand on the issues of the day — appointment of white supremacists, tax cuts for the rich, etc. Review their voting history at Research their biggest campaign contributors at
4. Set up a Google News Alert ( — for example for “Rep. Bob Smith” — to receive an email whenever your MoCs are in the news.
5. Research on Google News ( what local reporters have written about your MoCs. Find and follow those reporters on Twitter, and build relationships. Before you attend or plan an event, reach out and explain why your group is protesting, and provide them with background materials and a quote. Journalists on deadline — even those who might not agree with you — appreciate when you provide easy material for a story.”  (Chapter 4: FOUR LOCAL ADVOCACY TACTICS THAT ACTUALLY WORK from INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA, HTTPS://WWW.INDIVISIBLEGUIDE.COM/WEB)

If you are unsure of a topic to reach out to your representative about, just look at the reasons for today’s strike, as outlined by
“WE STRIKE FOR:An end to racist and sexual assaults, and all forms of bigotryReproductive freedom, full access, and no coercionNational Health Care for allA $15 minimum wage for all workers, no exceptionsProtection and expansion of Social SecurityChildcare, free like the public schools, and paid family leaveR-E-S-P-E-C-T”

Happy International Women’s Day!

#daywithoutawoman  #internationalwomensday  #resist  #wearetheresistance

Friday, October 21, 2016

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook: Part 8

Continuing with my Simple Stories mini album for the "Siblings Weekend" trip my husband and sister-in-law took.  This is a two-page spread of various yummy eats during the weekend:

On the left-hand page, I used a dark pink as the base page, with two yummy looking plates of food (makes me hungry just looking at it!).

My sister-in-law identified all of the foods in the pictures on the "food to remember" journalling card.

On the right-hand page, I used a black piece of paper with black dots on it.  I used two more photos, and then fussy cut the Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup.  The food in the photos and the two embellishments pop against the black background.

Because they were in Boston in January and it was fairly chilly, I used a little sticker of a coffee mug with steam with the Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup.

I also used a paperclip that said "oh, yeah!" to highlight the yummy food.

More pages from the Siblings Weekend scrapbook to come!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review of Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

A fanciful and fun book.  The dad's story is quite the journey, and proves that even buying buying the milk he can save the day, or even save the world!  A quick but delightful read that I think would make a fantastical movie.  :)