The Family

The Family

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fossil Dig

I cannot tell you how many conversations start with: "Hey Jack, let me tell you something!" only to be followed by a reply like "Is it about dinosaurs?".

My answer is always no.

Until that one day about a month again when I said, "Hey Jack, let me tell you something!"

"Is it about dinosaurs?"


Well, come to find out, we didn't come across any dinosaur bones, but it was certainly in the realm of possibility.

On Saturday we went on a fossil dig outside of Birmingham, Ala., with a group called Fresh Air Family. While everyone in our group came away with fossils, they were more of the plant kind rather than animal kind.

That's not to say that animal fossils haven't been recovered at this site. It's just none of us found any that day.

No matter. My husband and kids were in paradise chipping away at the large stones and boulders.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Decorating Time

Today is Oct. 1. In this house that's a go for dragging out Halloween decorations and making this space dedicated to all things pumpkin and spooky for the next 31 days.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Discovering Audiobooks

When I was in graduate school I had to drive to a conference a few hours away. The weekend before the drive I came across an audiobook by mystery author Mary Higgins Clark and purchased it right there in the Cracker Barrel giftshop.

You remember those audiobooks, right? The ones that required four to six CDs in order to listen to the entire recording.

That's still the thought that came to mind anytime I heard the phrase "audiobook." Sure, I knew technology had advanced and streaming was now the way to go, but I never made the connection between my desire to read aloud to my children and audiobooks.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, I came across this wonderful podcast called "The Read Aloud Revival" and heard mention, on several episodes, of an app known as Audible. It was all over after that.

In the time since, we have become Audible aficionados. True, a lot of libraries offer recordings of many of the classics and some modern tales for free to their members, but what I found is that our library often didn't have all in a series I wanted. I also like when I purchase an audio recording of the book through Audible, it downloads and is stored forever on multiple devices and tablets we have.

Listening to books through Audible has in no way decreased the amount of read aloud time we have as a family. I still read novels, picture books and poems on a daily basis. The trick with Audible is that it's allowed us to get in even more great story time. We listen to a chapter or two of a downloaded book each morning before and during breakfast. We sometimes go longer if one of the children wants to keep going. 

Here's a list of all we've enjoyed through Audible so far:
1. The entire "Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events" series
2. Several classic "Hardy Boys" tales
3. All of the "Goosebumps" stories available on Audible (the entire series isn't available, and that's actually a relief because there are SO many Goosebumps titles.)
4. "The Railway Children"
5. The first three "Boxcar Children" books
6. Several "Winnie the Pooh" stories
7. 1-10 of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (I wasn't big on this series at first, but Jack thought it was hilarious and begged for me to keep going with these titles. Slowly, they grew on me. I'd go as far as saying I actually liked books 7-10.)
8. Mary Poppins (We are currently on Book 1 by P.L. Travers)

Our current want to "listen to" audio recording list:
1. "Mr. Poppers Penguins"
2. "The Trumpet of the Swan"
3. "The Ramona Quimby" series (Rumor has it that the recordings done by Stockard Channing are MUSTS. I haven't checked yet to see if Audible actually has these versions. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

When You Turn 9

It seems Minecraft, Legos and anything related to technology are all the rage these days for 9-year-old boys. At least, for my newly turned 9-year-old boy they are.

We celebrated his 9th birthday about two weeks ago and here are a few of his favorite things:

I think we are on Round 3 of DVD players. They come in handy on all our travels.

He still loves dinosaurs and never passes up a chance to let others know what dinosaur toys he does not have!

I can't even begin to fathom how many Lego pieces we have in our bonus room. This, and the 4 other Legos he got, only add to it.

The book that contains EVERYTHING Minecraft.

This cool toy/robot/coding-device was something I read about months ago and thought he'd get a kick out of.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reading Through These Dog Days

The dog days of summer are upon us. They have been for a few weeks now. Pictured above are my stack of books getting me through.

On top, "Headed for Home," was written by my former professor and boss Mary Helen Brown. She's a Texan at heart and her family-oriented-something-of-a-mystery debut novel deals with all things Texas.

I'm currently on "The Fellowship," which is the true tale of four Oxford compatriots, each name widely known and loved in the world of literature, and the time they spent each week encouraging and critiquing one another's work. It's a fascinating travel-back-in-time account that is probably my favorite summer read thus far.

Two of the books I read only about 50 pages into and set aside. "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" and "The Way We Never Were" are great books. It's just they feel like the kind of reading I did in graduate school. And since the reading I do now is all for pleasure, these weren't making the cut.

The last book, "The Opposite of Loneliness," was one on my list from last summer that I never got around to. It's comprised of the fictional and non-fictional short stories of a Yale graduate killed in a car accident shortly after her graduation. A promising career loomed bright, but was cut short due to her untimely death. This book impacted me in so many ways, not least of which were the thoughts of a former student of my own cut down in the prime of life at 23 when the world seemed his for the taking.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Auburn University Musuem of Natural History

Last week we did something really, really cool.

We visited the natural history museum at our local university. But it's not the kind of natural history museum where you walk around and see things on display. It's a lab with several rooms that contain thousands of examples of biodiversity.

In essence, this is the behind the scenes stuff.

We were lucky to go with some friends whose father is in charge of giving the tours. Don't think we got special treatment though. He gives these exact tours to any group that makes an appointment!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Weekend With the Girls

Last weekend I nourished my soul and refreshed my spirit by hanging out with some of my life-long friends for a three-night, four-day trip.

We traveled to Charleston, S.C., and stayed on the second floor of a two-story rental property. We wanted to all be together in the same house, not separate rooms like in a hotel, and we enjoyed our time together more than I can put into words.

Oh, the benefits of four days of laughter, games, late-night girl talk and a few cocktails here and there.

We all agreed this should become a yearly thing, and I SO hope it will.

Girlfriends are the best. Especially ones who know every part of you and love you for and despite it all.

One of life's many paradoxes hit me while we were together: Nothing has changed; only everything has changed.