The Aftermath

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I’m posting a series articles that I wrote for the Alaska Association of School Librarian’s newsletter about a conference I attended in Minneapolis the week before Thanksgiving.

This the last in a three part series about my experience as a first-time attendee at the ALAN Workshop.

So now what?  Attending the ALAN workshop was a highlight of my professional career, but how could I ride that wave of energy back to my school and become a better librarian?

I came home with three ideas I cannot wait to implement.

The first is simple, and already done.  I nominated Between Shades of Gray as a future Anchorage Reads title.  It is a work of historical fiction that appeals to both adults and teens.  The discussion potential is endless, and Ruta Sepetys has visited other communities who chose this title for their One Community, One Read program.  A movie adaptation (which is being renamed Ashes in the Snow for obvious reasons) is currently in production.

The second is a collaborative project with my high school’s You Are Not Alone club.  They call themselves “YANA” and campaign for suicide prevention in our building.  Patrick Ness’ speech gave me the idea to work with this group to create a list of common reasons that drive teens to consider suicide, and then create a list of books that feature characters facing (and overcoming) the same struggles.  I would also like to share portions of Patrick Ness’ speech with this group during one of their weekly lunch meetings.  When I finish this title list, I will be sure to share it here.

The last idea is still in a fuzzy phase, and is going to take some time to create and implement.

For my breakout session, I attended “To Ban or Not to Ban:  Leveraging Conversations about Censorship” by Nicole Amato, a 10th grade English teacher from Chicago.  She shared her inspirational Banned Books unit.

A word to the unwise:
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
~from Ellen Hopkins’ poem Manifesto

The two essential questions of her unit are 1) who controls/influences language (and why), and 2) what happens to our education when an authority takes away our right to read?  Her unit is part research, part analysis, part argumentative.  Students start by exploring the history of censorship with the book 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature.  They also explore assumptions about teenagers (e.g., teenagers are easily influenced; as a result, teenagers will mimic what they read) through Socratic Seminar.  Next, the students choose a banned book to read.  At the end of the unit they present a paper that explores a history of the book’s censorship, an analysis of the contradictory/problematic reasons for banning the book, and an argument for (or against) keeping the book in the curriculum.

Fortunately for Amato, she has never had a parent or administrator challenge this unit.  She was inspired by a comment David Levithan made during NCTE:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]As an author, I’m in the back, sending the supplies up. You are on the front lines. You have the power. ~David Levithan[/pullquote]

I’m not sure our district’s curriculum will allow time for English teachers to collaborate with me on the full unit, but I have a rough idea for a schoolwide reading program that could be implemented during Banned Books week next year.  I’m inspired!

It’s impossible to predict what other ideas and inspirations will surface thanks to my ALAN experience.  I highly recommend that you consider joining ALAN.  I would also like to express my gratitude to AkASL for the travel grant that made it possible for me to attend this conference.


ALAN Workshop: Day 2

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I’m posting a series articles that I wrote for the Alaska Association of School Librarian’s newsletter about conference I attended in Minneapolis the week before Thanksgiving.

ALAN Day 2:  It’s Like Christmas for Librarians

This is the second in a three part series about my experience as a first time attendee at the ALAN conference.

We woke bright and early on Monday morning.  When we entered the convention hall there were boxes and boxes and boxes of FREE BOOKS!

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This year the publishers were so generous that the books couldn’t fit in the box, so we also received a tote bag full of books.  Before I knew it I could hardly see the stage over my giant piles of freebies.

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Here are some snapshots of Suzanne and I with our piles.  Some seasoned ALAN attendees immediately started sorting their books into three distinct stacks:  authors speaking today, tomorrow, or not at all.

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Others created spine poetry.  Here is some of Suzanne’s:

spine poetry

The format at ALAN is vastly different from any conference I have ever attended.  With the exception of one block of breakout sessions, all attendees and speakers stayed in the large ballroom the entire time.  The front half of the room was filled with tables of giddy teachers and librarians.

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Photo by Noah Schaffer

The back half of the room was set up for book signings, with tables for the authors and an open space for people to stand in line.  If you wanted a signature, it often meant listening to the next presenter while waiting in line.

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Photo by Noah Schaffer

There was also a trade table, where attendees were allowed to swap out books from their boxes.

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Photo by Noah Schaffer

Matt de la Pena, one of the first presenters, summed it up best:  “A room full of educators with giant stacks of books.  This is borderline pornographic for an author!”

We were all still abuzz about our books, but the workshop began promptly at 8:00 AM.  Jandy Nelson kicked things off, and her speech was a beautiful tribute to her former English teachers.  Afterwards she signed my book!

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It quickly became apparent that the the true gift of this conference was yet to come.  Sure, we’d received a virtual truckload of free books.  But listening to the authors speak, hearing the stories behind their stories, and the experiences that shaped them along the way… that was the true gift.  The Grinch could waltz in and steal every book from my pile, and I’d still leave as happy as those singing Whos down in Whoville.

Kwame Alexander stepped up to the podium next.  He recited a love poem he wrote for his wife, shared stories about his father, and read to us from his new title Booked.  It was so touching.

Kwame Alexander / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Photo by Noah Schaffer

Not all of the authors spoke individually.  Some spoke on panels, and others were paired up to have a public conversation.  During one of these In Conversation sessions, Matt de la Pena and Gene Luen Yang discussed race in young adult literature.  Matt de la Pena said he writes about class more than race.  He was having a hard time bringing  suburban white kids to the Mexican American neighborhoods in his books.  He decided the best solution was to bring his characters to neutral turf, and that’s how The Living and The Hunted were born.  I loved sharing this story with my high school Battle of the Books students, since The Living is on this year’s title list.

Photo by Noah Schaffer

Gene Luen Yang and Matt de la Pena / Photo by Noah Schaffer

I snagged an autographed copy of The Hunted for my high school Battle of the Books team:

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Here are some quotes that struck me as I listened to the conference speakers:

Jason Reynolds: “Boys don’t hate books.  They just hate boredom.”

Photo by Noah Schaffer

Jason Reynolds / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Jack Gantos:   “Adolescence is a constant revolution.  You become something, you destroy it, and you become something new.”

Jack Gantos / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Jack Gantos / Photo by Noah Schaffer

A.S. King: “Books are maps and teachers are compasses.  Thank you all for pointing north.”

Andrew Smith“Books don’t have genders.”

A.S. King: “All great books must take risks.”

Photo by Noah Schaffer

Andrew Smith & A.S. King / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Sharon Draper:  “Let kids write from their heart.”

Laurie Halse Anderson:  “Things come through us when our hearts are open, and usually when you’re not expecting it.”

Sharon Draper & Laurie Halse Anderson / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Sharon Draper & Laurie Halse Anderson / Photo by Noah Schaffer

Patrick Ness was so brilliant I pulled out my cell phone and recorded the last half of his speech.  He had so many profound statements that no pen could have kept up.

Patrick-Ness

Patrick Ness / Photo from patrickness.com

Ness believes every reader asks one question when they pick up a book:  “Am I alone?”  No one wants to be alone in their beliefs, or alone in their fears.  “I grew up not seeing myself in books, and I vow that will never happen again as long as I am able to write books.  There are kids who still kill themselves because they think they are the only ones feeling these things.  Because they think are the only ones going through these experiences.  That they are alone.”

Ness grew up as a gay teen in a small town and never expected to find himself in literature.  As a result, he puts great value on mirrors in young adult literature.  “People who claim mirrors aren’t important are the ones who always had one,” he said.  He tells kids, “If you don’t see yourself in books, it’s the book’s fault.  Not your own.  And if you are not seeing yourself in a book, maybe it’s a book you need to write.   Your story is valuable because you want to tell it. Period.”

He wrote The Rest of Us Just Live Here with a gay main character.  “It doesn’t revolve around him being gay.  It’s important, but it’s not the whole story.  And I truly would have felt that was revolutionary if I had been able to read that when I was 15.”

He ended his speech with some wonderful advice for kids.  He told them not to burn down the neighborhoods where they aren’t welcome.  Instead, they should realize there are “better places to live, thrive, grow, and make beautiful, mature, untold story.”  They should make these places so beautiful that “the original neighborhoods of the unloved turn out to be the places nobody wants to live.”  He encouraged them to create places where no one ever has to feel alone.

Ness closed his speech with these words:  “That phrase, those few remarkable words, ‘No, you are not alone‘ have been the start of every single revolution worth having.”

Wow.

Luckily Ness spoke at the end of Day One, so I had some time to let all that brilliance settle before my personal highlight of Day Two took the stage:  Ruta Sepetys.

Between Shades of Gray is one of my favorite historical fiction reads ever, and we were fortunate enough to receive an advanced reader copy of Sepetys’ third novel, Salt to the Sea.  (I devoured the book on the plane ride home and fully agree with its starred reviews!)  Sepetys loves the research process that goes into her novels, and strives to tell hidden stories of history.  She does it so well.  Salt to the Sea is about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustlaff off the coast of East Prussia during a 1945 refugee evacuation.  The novel is available for purchase in February 2016.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I wanted to share this story for the victims.  We know the villains’ names.  We teach the villains.”  ~Ruta Sepetys[/pullquote]

After her speech I was finally able to meet this amazing author.  Ruta Sepetys, you didn’t break my heart after all!

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All too soon the conference was done, and it was time to pack up our boxes of free books and ship them home.  A UPS Store was conveniently located in the convention center, and luckily they were willing to ship via USPS Media Mail to Alaska.  I crammed my suitcases as full as possible, and still needed to ship three boxes home.

A Merry Christmas indeed.  Thank you to the publishers who donated the books, the conference organizers who pulled it all together, and the authors who were so generous with their time and wisdom.  This conference was an absolute gift!

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It’s Like the Oscars for Librarians!

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I’m posting a series articles that I wrote for the Alaska Association of School Librarian’s newsletter about a conference I attended in Minneapolis the week before Thanksgiving.

ALAN Part 1:  It’s Like the Oscars for Librarians!

This is the first in a three part series about my experience as a first time attendee at the ALAN Workshop.

The ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE) Workshop is an annual event, but for some insane reason I have never attended until now.  Truly, there is no excuse.  My sincere hope is that this series of articles will motivate any librarians or English teachers out there to join ALAN and attend one of their life changing workshops!

The ALAN Workshop is traditionally held on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, right after NCTE’s annual convention.  (Are you checking your calendars now?   Because you should be.  Georgia.  2016.  Be there!)

There is an author reception the night before the ALAN Workshop officially begins.  It’s set up as a casual meet and greet, but to librarians it feels like the Oscars.  This was a night to honor the authors who walk us down a red carpet of adventure, suspense, drama, imagination, or history every time we crack the pages of their books.   A night to thank them, congratulate them, and let them know how their books have touched the lives of our students.

When I first walked past Jandy Nelson (The Sky is Everywhere &  I’ll Give You the Sun) I made an utter fool of myself.  I stopped, in awe, and mumbled something about it being a true honor to meet her.  She, being a regular human, wasn’t sure how to respond to this strange person who was treating her like the Dalai Lama.  I decided it would be best to get a drink, take a deep breath, and try again.

Luckily the amazing Suzanne Metcalfe, AkASL 2014 Librarian of the Year from Dimond High School in Anchorage, was attending the conference with me.  She has attended this conference for years, and generously showed me the ropes.

So try again I did.  Here we are with Jandy Nelson:

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This time I simply introduced myself, and told her a few stories about how her book has touched the patrons in our library.

I told her about the teacher who walked out the door with I’ll Give You the Sun on a Friday afternoon, and then on Sunday sent me this scathing email:  “The next time you recommend a book to me, can you make sure I don’t have anything to do all weekend first?”

At that, Jandy Nelson held her hand to her chest and seemed genuinely touched.  So I shared another story:  “After recommending your book to a student, she came back to the library, slammed the book on the circulation book, and exclaimed, ‘I NEED SOMETHING ELSE!  JUST LIKE THIS!'”

And then, perhaps against my better judgement, I told her one more true review:

ME to TEACHER:  “So what do you think of I’ll Give You the Sun?”
TEACHER to ME:  (whispering) “I’m obsessed with it.  I even read it when I pee.”

In some circles, that might have been strange.  But we’ve all been there:  so engrossed and touched by a book that we simply cannot put it down.  Even when we (ahem) pee.  Hey, as long as it’s not a library copy, who am I to judge?

Guess what?  Jandy Nelson absolutely *loved* reading The Snow Child by Wasilla author Eowyn Ivy.  And she would love to come to Alaska.  Let’s make it happen, people!

The star struck author visits continued throughout the reception.

Here we are with 2015 Newbery Winner (Crossover) Kwame Alexander:

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And can you believe it?  Sharon Draper, an icon!

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Here I am with A.S. King, who was honored for this year’s Walden Award winning title Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future.  (And did I mention that Suzanne is such an ALAN superstar that she is part of the Walden Award committee?!)

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My students are going to think I’m the superstar when they see this picture of me with Ellen Hopkins!  They devour her books!

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And then for real and are you kidding me, I had a personal conversation with Laurie Halse Anderson.  Genuis!

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There we many more authors I admired from afar or stalked unsuccessfully (Ruta Sepetys you broke my heart).

It quickly became apparent that if these were the Oscars, I was the paparazzi.  But how could I help it?  These are the people who write books that change my students’ lives.  They are my heroes.  They make my job EASY!

And here’s the craziest part:  these authors treated *us* like the heroes.  They thanked us for getting the right book to the right reader at the right time.  They were genuinely honored and grateful that we were out there, championing their life’s work.

So my ALAN Day 1 experience was like the Oscars all right… except the Red Carpet was a two way street.

Whoa.

Thank you #ALAN2015


Retrospective Gratitude

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Today I am grateful for the scientific advancement of airline travel.  I really am.  Living in Alaska, it would be impossible to visit family (or tropical places :) )without it.

But when it goes wrong, it is so, so hard.  And this holiday season it went so, so wrong.

I dropped off Clark and the kids for their red eye flight on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  They were en route to Nebraska for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I planned to join them after a conference in Minneapolis.

Scheduled departure:  11:53 PM

When the pilot tried to fire up the engines, the big old jet airliner just said no.  Apparently someone had left a light on, and the battery was dead.

And so began the chronic series of delays.

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How long does it take to charge a battery, swap a battery, or find a new battery?  Apparently a long time.

Around 3:30 AM the gate agent told passengers to hustle onto the plane, because they needed to leave soon or the crew would be placed on a mandatory rest period.  People complied, and the plane pushed away from the gate around 4 AM.  Unfortunately, the de-icing process took too long.  The pilots taxied to the runway, but then turned around and rolled right back to the gate.  The crew’s minutes had expired.

Now I had been home since about 11 PM, but couldn’t sleep.  This was the first time the kids were flying without me, and the thought of my family hovering 30,000 feet in the air was nerve wracking.  Plus the house was too quiet.  Thank God for the dog.

So I lay in bed and stalked their progress.  Google said they had departed.  The United web site said they were still in “taxi to runway” status.  Clark had quit texting, so my only reliable source had probably fallen asleep.

Or not.

Around 5 AM he finally texted.  They were heading back to the gate, and all passengers were instructed to pick up luggage.  No United agents were available to rebook flights at the airport.

I should have immediately picked them up, but we decided he would deal with luggage while I called United’s customer service line about rebooking.  We still had a shred of hope they could get out of Anchorage on the next flight.  Silly us.

After nearly an hour on hold, Gladys @ United answered the phone.  And that, my friends, is when I entered the Twilight Zone.

Gladys spent the next 10 minutes trying to convince me that my family safely landed in Denver.  Their boarding passes were used and – wouldn’t you know it? – they actually arrived *early*!  As such, she could only assist in rebooking the Denver to Omaha portion of their flight.

I explained that I was in communication with my husband, who was still in Anchorage.  She insisted he was in Denver.

Wait. What if Gladys was right?  Google still said they departed at 3:15.  And doesn’t Google know everything?

What was going on?  I literally started shaking.  The roads in Anchorage were glare ice, and my drive home from the airport was terrifying.  Maybe I had actually crashed my car, died, and this was some alternate universe?

Or what if this was like Lost?  Clark and I loved that old show, where a bunch of people mysteriously survive a plane crash.

The mind works in mysterious ways when it is sleep deprived.

I reached out to Clark while I was on hold:

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As you can see, Clark is not prone to drama.  I calmed down, and finally Gladys returned from hold and apologized for her mistake.  She was ready to assist with the rebooking process.

Depart Twilight Zone.  Enter padded cell.

Would my family be interested in criss-crossing the country on multi stop flights for the next 48 hours?  Veto.  Would they like to fly “through” lovely Houston on their way to Omaha?  Veto, and hold my tongue on the geography lesson.

“Why can’t we stick to our original itinerary and route them through Denver?” I asked.

“Well, we don’t really like to send people through Denver.  There can be a lot of snow there,” replied Gladys.

“Isn’t Denver one of your %$#*!@& hubs??????” I thought.  (Note my maturity.  I thought it, but did not actually say it.  I did, however, later confirm it.)

Instead, I slightly-less-than-calmly replied, “Well, we have snow here and that is not the problem.  The problem, in this case, is one of the employees LEFT A DOOR OPEN, which LEFT A LIGHT ON, which DRAINED THE BATTERY!  I’m not too worried about a winter airport like Denver handling a little snow!”

And maybe then she started to hear my frustration.

In the end, I drove to the airport and picked up my weary family, who had stayed awake all night for nothing.

Gladys rebooked them through Denver two days later.

It was frustrating at the time, but it worked out fine after all.  Clark and the kids ended up on a giant new jet airliner with a mere 30 other passengers.  Solo rows for everyone!

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The fact is, even the worst airlines almost always get us there safely.

It’s too easy to lose that perspective.  Most delays are all about safety:  airline maintenance, crew health, inclement weather.

So while I can’t say I’m thankful for United Airlines (0-2) just yet , I am thankful for Gladys.  She has a thankless job dealing with tired, cranky, delayed customers who are at the height of frustration.

And most of all, I’m grateful to live in a country where plane tickets are affordable, safety standards are rigorous, and – most of all – airline travel is still safe.


Another Husker Win!

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Today I’m grateful for a Husker win that didn’t spike my heart rate too much.

The next time they take the field, we will be there to cheer them on in person!!  I have fond memories of attending games at Memorial Stadium back in the college days, and can’t wait to share the experience with the kids.  Clark’s cousin sold us four tickets at face value, so we all get to sit together without breaking into the kids’ piggy banks.  It will be a tough game, but after two straight wins maybe they can make it three in a row and become bowl eligible!

huskersrutgers


Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin pie is an anomaly to me:  it smells like heaven in the oven, but I never, ever want to eat it.

There’s no confusion for Clark or Sam:  they’re all about the pumpkin pie, all the time.  They love both the smell and the taste, as long as Cool Whip is involved.

Because I’m (occasionally) a good wife and mother, I try my best to replicate Clark’s grandma’s recipe.  It’s a classic mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves that makes our house smell oh-so-good.

What doesn’t smell good are my failed attempts at pie crusts.  Even the best pumpkin spice blend can’t mask the awful odor of a burned crust.  Trust me, I speak from experience.

For the past few years I’ve avoided this complication thanks to the help of a kind woman named Marie Callander.  I met her in the frozen food section of the local grocery store, and she makes a mean crust.  It even comes in a cute little oven-ready tin.  So thoughtful.

Despite Marie’s fame, I decided to try a homemade crust again.  I used a recipe from Pioneer Woman, who is famous for step-by-step instructions with pictures on her blog.  The photos are hugely helpful if terms like “pastry cutter” are not part of your daily vernacular.

I was so thrilled when my crust hit the freezer.  I swear, it looked just like the pictures!!!!!!!

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I got a little nervous when I started rolling out the dough.  The darn crust wouldn’t stay in a circle.  Eventually I decided to piece it together in the pie dish and hope for the best.  I also skipped the part where you make pretty fork indentions around the rim of the crust.  Clearly that was not happening.

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The crust recipe didn’t mention baking instructions, but our pumpkin pie takes nearly 90 minutes to cook.  I was worried the crust would be crisp and inedible after that much oven time, but crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Clark and Sam dished up their plates the second the pie was cool enough to cut.  They pretended to be Food Network judges as they sampled their first bites, and dramatically moved to a different room to discuss the results.  Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

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They returned with empty plates and big smiles.  They drew out the drama as they revealed their scores in three categories:

Whooping cream:  100%.  Duh.  It’s Cool Whip.
Filling:  93%.  Delicious flavor, but a little “thick” for some reason.  Hmph.
Crust:  95%.  Fabulously flaky, and it made all the difference.

All this scoring stuff was in jest, but I still couldn’t believe it.  They gave me an “A” on the crust!!  The crust!!

“It’s the best pie you’ve ever made,” Clark declared.  With sincerity.

And then I cried.

That stupid pie has me grateful for so much:  a kitchen to cook in, a family to cook for, recipes that are passed down, and family who loves me whether the crust turns out or not.


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Our Little Entrepreneurs

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Today I’m grateful for our little entrepreneurs.  Not only do I love hearing about their business ventures, but the vast amount of time it takes to draw up a business plan usually means I get to cook dinner in peace.

“Mom, we’re starting a plow business!” the kids declared tonight.  I was chopping veggies, but of course listened intently as they told me about their plans to shovel neighborhood driveways for half the cost of local plow services, which apparently run at $40 a pop.

It was ironic timing, because today a neighbor down the road sent an email asking if we knew of plow companies that serviced our area.  I told the kids they should leash up the dog and do a little recon on this lady’s driveway.

I chopped in peace, and 30 minutes later they returned with red cheeks and a panting dog.  They had scoped out every driveway up and down the street, and decided they could easily shovel them for $20 each.

I hated to be skeptical, but I’d seen them spend entire Saturday afternoons struggling to shovel our deck.  They’d done their research, but perhaps they were short on experience?  Or stamina?

“Maybe you should practice on our driveway right now,” I suggested.  “Do you think you could shovel it all before Dad gets home from work?”

They were so confident, they rushed right out to get started!

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As I finished cooking dinner, I couldn’t help but reflect upon their previous business ventures.

A few years ago it was SMAG’S CROCHET COMPANY.  Sam learned to crochet in school, and quickly taught Maggie.  They had a great flier but no inventory, or even samples.  At least they anticipated complaints.

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Next was the cookie baking business.  This was all talk and I don’t recall a flier.

Next was Pooper Scoopers, which specialized in pet waste removal.  That flier was hilarious, but I can’t find it anywhere.  I do recall asking why they wanted to create a business that capitalized on their least favorite chore?

This fall they tried to launch a dog walking service, but we put the kibosh on that endeavor.  Their first obligation is to their own dog, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to fully exercise that pup!

Which brings us to the snow removal service.  I’m not sure what they hope or plan to do with all this potential income, but I do admire their innovation.

We only received a few inches of snow, but they shoveled their little hearts out.  After 45 minutes they were halfway done:

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To their credit, our driveway also has two parking pads that were finished.  They made much more progress than this photo implies!

They wanted to keep working, but Clark told them that labor laws mandated a dinner break.

Sam lamented that not one of their businesses have yet made a profit.  (Or cent.)  We said give it time.  One of these ideas is sure to take off!

Now to get out there and finish shoveling that driveway…


Bonus Day

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We hardly e-v-e-r get snow days in Alaska.  Today was an exception.  The pattern of ice instead of snow in recent years really wreaks havoc on the roads, and today was one of those mornings.

The kids were sooooooo excited!  They love school, but clearly they love snow days more.  The neighborhood was alive with impromptu snowball fights and Capture the Flag matches all day long.

Another bonus:  Tess is exhausted!!

As for me… I’m heading to bed with some serious mental clarity.  A grant that is due tomorrow is polished and perfect.  My laundry is caught up, floors are mopped, and counters shining.  The residue from our craft weekend is vacuumed.

It’s been a bonus day for all… and I am grateful!

 

 


Huskers Win!

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Finally!

Saturdays have been rough this year.  Our team keeps almost* winning this season.

* = losing in the last minute of the game.  

Tonight, one finally went our way.  I couldn’t breathe until the very end, but we walked away with a W against an undefeated team.  How is that possible in this nightmare 2015 season?

Okay, maybe there was a little help from the refs at the end.  Pushed out, forced out… it’s all semantics, right?

I wish it had been without controversy, but I am so happy we finally have a win.  Sam ran the numbers, and if we win the rest of our games this year we might get to go bowling after all.

We will be in Nebraska for the Iowa game.  Anyone have tickets?]

Go Big Red!

\huskers


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Craft Night

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Today I’m grateful that we own a sewing machine, even though it’s the most frustrating piece of equipment in our home.  Last night I was reminded why we only sew once a year.

We decided to make hotpads for the upcoming holiday season.  What a great teacher gift, tied together with a wooden spoon and nice card.  How hard could it be to sew four straight seams?  After a lot of complicated math, we headed to the fabric store and picked out some designs.

The cutting phase was easy, so I felt optimistic that we’d finally found a simple sewing project.  But, as always, once the actual *sewing* started, things unraveled quickly.  Pun intended.

Most of my evening was spent reading the sewing machine manual, putting bobbin casings back together, removing broken needles, and trying to stuff 7 layers of fabric under a presser foot.  Oh, and it takes a lot longer to thread the needle these days.  I swear, they are making the eye smaller and smaller.

Luckily, when you sew with friends you can laugh about it and move on.  Stealing their machine helps too.

Right now we are averaging about an hour per hot pad, but I’m confident after a good night’s sleep we will become more efficient.

Sew on!

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