Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Slice of Life - My Year in Review

I've been participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers. I love the challenge of composing a piece of writing at least once a week about life or teaching.
Facebook collects 20 of your biggest moments of the year and creates a review.  I actually love it, and it inspired me to write this slice today!
2013 came in very quietly.  We ALWAYS have a New Year's Eve party here, but for some reason 2012/2013 found us spending the evening by ourselves watching t.v. while both daughters were out on the town.  Sigh.  While it was nice, I don't want to do that again.  This year we're back to hosting a party!!
My word this year is JOURNEY, and what a journey 2013 was!
Katie turned 17 in February, and Libby turned 20 in March.  I posted these one-year-old photos on Facebook on their birthdays:
Photo: Happy Birthday to my awesome 17-yr-old, Katie Mueller. Where does the time go?  I love you! Photo: Libby Mueller leaves her teens behind and turn 20 today!  Wow!  Still remember the Irish jig played at your delivery and the  little green bow they put in your hair like it was yesterday! I love you and happy birthday!
For spring break, my husband and I went to Marco Island in Florida.  It was SO relaxing! 
In April, we said goodbye to our 14 1/2-year-old Labrador Retriever, Maddie.  She was such a sweet girl.
Photo: Farewell, sweet girl.  Bobby is going to be so glad to see you!  The house sure wasn't the same when I got home today.
Maddie: 1998-2013
In late April, Katie looked beautiful at her Junior Prom:
I also hosted a parent/student book club with my 4th graders over The One and Only Ivan at the Cincinnati Zoo!  It was a GREAT day!
At the end of May, I finished up an amazing year as a gifted intervention specialist for 4th grade reading at Kings Local and was moved to the intermediate building in the same district as the 5th/6th grade ELA gifted intervention specialist.  It was a wonderful move because I wouldn't have to travel every day among three elementary buildings, and I would get to have my 4th graders for two more years!  It's been an awesome year so far - a lot of work and adjustment to two grade levels and 105 kids, but I still love it and wouldn't trade it for anything!
My husband's company hosts an annual summer outing every year, and this year, we went to Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY for a weekend.  It was a great experience!  When we arrived, we were greeted by the official bugler at Churchill Downs, Steve Buttleman!
On July 1st, my husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary. Time flies when you're having fun!
nErDcampBC was a summer highlight!!  I love this picture from the first night because I went alone, and I was floored by how friendly and welcoming everybody was.  It was so fun to meet Nerdy Book Club friends for the first time!
Photo: Nerdy Book Club fun! Tomorrow is nErDcamp in Battle Creek, MI!
Summer also brought a fabulous trip to Las Vegas with friends!
I go on a girls' trip every summer with friends from high school/college.  We've been going to Niagara-on-the Lake for the last several years.  So fun!  We took a short trip to Lake Norris in August  with the family, and I also went on a Debbie Macomber Fan Retreat weekend with my mom.  We had a great time!
Megan and I attended the Choice Literacy Writing Retreat.  Wow - we were humbled and amazed at what an awesome experience it was to be surrounded by passionate educators and writers.  Thank you, Brenda Power!  It also started our journey to write a professional book together. 
Late August brought us the start of school.  Katie began her senior year in high school, and Libby started her junior year at Miami University.  I started my new job.  Yay!
 Over Labor Day weekend, I flew to Richmond, VA to celebrate my aunt's 80th birthday.  It was a fantastic trip!  This is the whole family wearing our "80" glasses!
 Fall brought Katie's Senior Homecoming, college visits, lots of activities at school, and Halloween:
Another fall highlight was starting the #ReadWalkWater project with my friend, David Etkin.  Our Nerdy Book Club post started our month-long efforts to raise money for clean water in Africa, inspired by the book A Long Walk to Water.  David and his students raised a whopping $12,000+!  My school is close to $5,000.  It was an incredible experience, and I hope we can do it every year!
 Two highlights in November was our 26th Friends' Thanksgiving weekend and my trip with Megan to NCTE BOSTON!! We met and spent time with so many wonderful people!
Libby brings friends from Miami U. to our Friends' Thanksgiving party now.  We love that!
In December, my fifth graders donated pajamas to the Scholastic Pajama Drive.  Scholastic will donate a book for every pair of pajamas donated to the Pajama Program.  We donated 45 pairs of pajamas.
Wow!  What a year!  That brings us to this holiday season.  Katie got accepted to OSU, my parents moved to Florida, and since it was just the four of us on Christmas morning, we went to Waffle House for breakfast!  We spent a lovely Christmas day at my sister-in-law's, and on the 26th, I celebrated my 47th birthday.  I know 2014 will bring a new journey full of adventures, challenges, and learning.  I pray that this year brings all of YOU many blessings!

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

These are memes started by Teach Mentor Texts and Book Journey, and I'm excited to participate, along with many other bloggers, in reviewing books I read the previous week. I'll be reviewing picture books through adult books.
Books I read this week (this was a light week- lots of Christmas activities):
The Sparkle Box: A Gift with the Power to Change Christmas

Last year, I did a Nerdy Book Club guest post on the tradition we have of giving Christmas books and pajamas to my daughters every Christmas Eve and featured my top ten. David Etkin mentioned The Sparkle Box, and I hadn't read it yet. I remembered that recommendation this year, so I bought it for Katie. I LOVE it! What a powerful message of giving and the real meaning of Christmas.
Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked
This opener to Krosoczka's new middle grade series will definitely be a hit in my classroom! It would be great for reluctant readers because of the illustrations, action, and humor. Middle graders will have fun trying to guess who dunnit and will love the animal characters. Great vocabulary!

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

 I CAN'T WAIT for Divergent to come out in the big theater!!
Wow. I'm stunned. I finished Champion last week, and now finished this series. I don't really know how to react or review without spoiling the ending, but both Lu and Roth made some tough choices on how to end these two amazing series!  That's all I'm going to say, but you need to read both series.  They were awesome!


Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--and Life


The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1) Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)


The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey, #1)

This is the last #IMWAYR of 2013!  Thank you so much for reading my Monday updates!  See you in 2014 for the next one!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Reading Life in 2013

It's not the last day of the year, but since I have Monday and Tuesday's posts slotted for something else, I'm going to take today to review my year in books.  I also reached my Goodreads goal this weekend, so I thought it was a good time to reflect.  Thanks goes to all the Twitter, blog, and Facebook friends that read as much or more than I do and provide a place to share books.  Thank you to my family who reads and likes to talk about books.  I love my book club who keeps me reading adult books when I could completely immerse myself in children's literature.  Thank you to those authors and illustrators who create the most amazing books - more than I could ever read in a year.  Most of all, though, the people who keep me reading the volume I read so I can "talk books" with them is my students.  They are the inspiration to read, read, and read.

- As of today, I read 301 books (my goal was 300).  This was 53 books above what I read last year.  Before you think that's a lot of books, consider Colby Sharp, who read 1007!!  This is the breakdown of what I read (as close as I can get since sometimes I forget to categorize something):

- 16 adult fiction titles (5%), 5 of which were audio.  These are mostly books I read for my book club.  It's a good thing I have to read adult titles for it!  Favorites published in 2013:

And the Mountains Echoed  Whistling Past the Graveyard 
- 7 adult nonfiction titles (2%) , 2 of which were audio. Favorite published in 2013:

The End of Your Life Book Club

- 34 young adult fiction titles (11%), 16 of which were audio.  Favorites published in 2013:

Eleanor & Park  Going Vintage Champion (Legend, #3)
- 51 middle grade fiction titles (17%), 17 of which were audio. Favorites published in 2013:

        Counting by 7s    Every Day After     Beholding Bee  
Mock Newbery Club             Favorite Read Aloud
  A Tangle of Knots                      Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

- 16 middle grade and young adult nonfiction (5%). Favorite published in 2013:

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers

- 83 fiction picture books (28%).  Favorites published in 2013:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild Journey Flora and the Flamingo Hank Finds an Egg The Story of Fish and Snail The Day the Crayons Quit

- 50 nonfiction picture books (17%). Favorites published in 2013:

Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard Locomotive Paul Thurlby's Wildlife Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth

- 17 graphic novels (6%). Favorites published in 2013:

 The Great American Dust Bowl Bluffton

- 23 poetry books/novels in verse (8%). Favorites published in 2013:

Dog Songs God Got a Dog Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

- 4 professional teaching books (1%).  Favorite published in 2013:

When I compare my reading  to last year, I love that I've increased my  graphic novel and nonfiction reading, which were my reading gaps in 2012.  Thanks to Alyson Beecher and her 2013 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, I met and exceeded my number goals for children's nonfiction by 31 books! I increased my graphic novels books by 14.  I did NOT meet my number goals in professional teaching books and adult titles and actually decreased those numbers..  I also have a gap in poetry even though I increased that by 11 books over 2012.

Goals for 2014:
- Keep Goodreads goal to 300 books.  This number was perfect for me.  It kept me challenged but didn't stress me out. 
- My reading gaps this year are adult fiction/nonfiction, middle grade/young adult nonfiction, poetry, and professional teaching books.  I'd like to step those up this year. 

I'd love to hear your 2013 reading reflections, favorite lists, and goals for 2014!