“Action, mommy. A really good book has lots of action.”
If you are looking for books that the boy in your life will look forward to reading, take it from my seven year old. They love action.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan delivers exactly that. Beginning with The Lighning Thief and ending with The Last Olympian, even a fairly reluctant reader will be hard-pressed to put the books down. Not only do they move along briskly, with plenty of the aforementioned action, but there is quite a bit of humor, topped off with a nice dusting of Greek mythology. I should know, because I read all of them before my son did.
For, uh, research purposes, of course.
The books follow demigod Percy Jackson through five years of living out a prophecy foretold by the Oracle of Delphi. Who happens to be a mummy in an attic at the demigod summer camp. Percy must battle gods and monsters in order to save Mount Olympus, which is located at the top of the Empire State Building. Natch. Throw in some centaurs, labyrinths, Mist, and capricious Greek gods, and tell me how you can possibly resist.
I highly recommend the books for that certain someone who is bound to be whining about being half-dead from boredom in about two weeks from now.
*I bought all of these myself at Target. No freebies here. Now normally I don’t buy my books at Target, but I have a seven month old, so you’ve got to cut me some slack.
This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, but hopefully if you attend school or have kids in school, you already knew that.
I want to tell you about the teacher who had the biggest impact on me, and who remains a friend even to this day.
Her name was Sister Mary, and she was having none of my laziness. Or anyone else’s in my freshman AP English class, but I think I was probably the worst offender. Every day we came into class, she had a quote of some kind on the whiteboard, and we had one of those old-skool composition notebooks which we had to write a page worth’s of reaction to the quote. She gave us ten minutes, and let’s just say most of the time, I never made it to the half-page mark. And my writing was quite purposefully large. We didn’t have to turn in the notebook until the end of the quarter, so I breezed along thinking all was good.
When I got the notebook back, all was not good. The inside was dripping with red ink and sarcasm. Sister Mary must have taken an entire day to write snide remarks about my inability to form a cohesive sentence, and the fallacious nature of ninety percent of my reasoning. This along with her horrible temper made me quite dislike Sister Mary, although it certainly felt wrong to hate a nun. You know, being Jesus’ bride and all that. But dislike her I did, and I even wrote a note to my best friend describing my great dislike, which her parents promptly found and read, then banished me from being their daughter’s friend forever. True story.
But isn’t it always the teachers who constantly hound you to do better that you wind up respecting the most? Even as she glowered at me from behind her glasses, I knew that she was trying to make me a better writer and thinker. She had high expectations of me, and for the first time as a student, I rose to meet them. I think I learned more about the art of writing in her class than I did from any other class in my high school career.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day after school we began talking, and I found out a lot about Sister Mary. That she had been taking care of a terminally ill mother, and her famous (you would totally know who he was if I told you!) brother was of no help, thus her crabbiness. That she was truly one of the wittiest and most intelligent women I had ever met. That she had a plan to write her own book, she was just waiting for retirement. Sister Mary and I actually became friends, writing letters to each other for years after her retirement and relocation to another state. Every year she would send me a Mass Card, and I kept every one. And yes, she wrote and published her book.
Thank you, Sister Mary. You made a difference in my life, and I am forever grateful that you were my teacher.
God, I hope his name was James. He bought me lunch, you’d think I could make a point of remembering. At this point in Blogathon, however, 20 hours in, I’m lucky if I can remember how to use the alphabet.
In any case, James, while appreciating a good snark and laugh as much as the next man, specifically requested that I post something genuinely moving tonight, and as I was sifting through my Tumblr for blog fodder, I found this video, and played it.
And I started to cry.
So here, James. This aught to do it even if you HAVEN’T stayed up all night. Behold one of the living natural treasures of the West Coast, Shane Koyczan, performing his spoken word poetry on Beethoven.
I’ll just let him say it, since he does it so well.
From his speech to the NAACP’s annual meeting, via Gawker.
They might think they’ve got a pretty jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court justice. I want them aspiring to be president of the United States of America.
And what, you may ask, is a PANK, exactly?
A PANK is, according to Savvy Auntie founder Melanie Notkin, someone who is a Professional Aunt No Kids. According to some statistics on Savvy Auntie’s website, 45% of the women in the United States do not have children, for various reasons.
My son happens to have a PANK in his life, and I can say that since Day 1, my sister has been a wonderful and valuable presence in his life. I fully look forward to the days when he feels like “running away” from home and winds up at his Auntie’s house, where she will be ready to either kick the crap out of him or offer a sympathetic ear and some wisdom. It will probably depend on how frantic my phone call is to her after he leaves.
Even though the Munchkin has five aunties, it is the PANK who, since she has no children of her own, has devoted the most time and energy to him. His other aunties are perfectly lovely, but are busy taking care of their own kids, and rightly so. It is the PANK who has a toy room in her home just for him, and a yard full of outdoor kid toys.
And really, a PANK doesn’t have to be related by blood at all. It can just as easily be a co-worker or good friend. I’m thinking the criteria might be if they don’t fall asleep from boredom when you go on and on about your child, if they willingly hang out with them, if they buy them presents “just because,” and most importantly, if they can babysit in a pinch. I kid, I kid.
So let’s hear it for all the fantastic PANKS in our kids’ lives, shall we?
Although I’m guessing that the applicable term for the corresponding male position will never quite take off, will it?