Monthly Archives: February 2011


Fight for your Right (to read)

“Em” has been reading (and comprehending what she reads) above her grade level since pre-school; she was an early reader and I and my family have never denied her requests for more books. Em had a huge list of books she wanted for this past Christmas and she wasn’t at all disappointed in the stack of paperbacks she received. So it was a shock to her to hear the librarian at school tell her that she cannot check out the book she wants. The first time this happened we let it slide since it was the end of the school year and it wasn’t worth fighting it with only a week left of Kindergarten.

But it’s happened again, this time at the beginning of the second semester of 1st grade. Em, whose favorite book is “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White and who is also tackling “The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis (I think she has a fascination with authors with mysterious first names), was told by the school librarian that she could not check out a “Ramona” (by Beverly Cleary) book, that she had to pick something in the 1st grade reading level. I called the school and spoke with the librarian who told me that the teacher is the one who decides what books the kids can and cannot pick out, so I’ve left a message for the teacher to discuss this with her before their next library visit tomorrow. If the teacher can’t seem to fix the problem, I’ll try to talk to the principal. I can’t imagine that a school would really want to hold back a student from reaching their potential and reading what they want. For goodness’ sake, it’s a Ramona book, not The Joy of Sex!

In the meantime, I want to do everything for my kid that I can to encourage her to keep reading what she wants to read, not just what she’s told to read. But I’m running into some roadblocks:

1. Public library is a tough one as my schedule (as well as my mother’s, who watches Em after school) is crazy enough that I can’t honestly guarantee that I’d return the books by their due dates. It sounds like a bad excuse, but it’s the truth. We’ll go occasionally to read books while there, but timing is just bad enough for us to check out and return books in a timely manner.

2. Books take up space. If I keep buying Em books, whether new or used), we have to put them somewhere. Our tiny apartment can only hold so much. I mean, we could just never get a couch and use that space for book storage…

3. E-readers are a great alternative; books cost less, they hardly weigh a thing, and you can store an  endless number of books in your archives on your account. However, the cost of an e-reader (new or used) is not in my budget right now. That and do I really want to send my kid to school with an e-reader to get lost, stolen or broken?

Then in occurred to me: I have the iPhone Kindle app! I could just buy books for her to read on those! Except I don’t really think she needs to read the Earth’s Children’s series (by Jean Auel) that I have on there… Neither the nook or the Kindle have the ability to password protect each book or library; once someone gets on your device, all of your books are visible and readable.

And then I had another “brilliant” idea: why not create an Amazon account for Em and just “gift” books to her there? She already has her own e-mail address which I manage, so I can just “gift” an ebook to her account, “accept” the book in her e-mail and the next time she turns on the app on my iPhone, her new book will be there waiting for her. AND she can read her books on ANY device. My mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law all have Kindles as well as iPhones or iPod Touches.  They can just “de-register” their Kindles or apps from their account, register the device to Em’s account and voila! Books for Em anywhere! I also created a “Wish List” of books Em wants on Amazon; friends and family can see what she wants and purchase them for her!

I called the Amazon Kindle customer service folk and double checked with them that de-registering and re-registering a device from an account doesn’t affect the account(s) or device(s) in any way; the books I’ve bought on my own account are still stored in my Amazon account. The next time Iwant to read one of my books, I just de-register Em’s account from my iPhone, re-register my account and all of my books are ready for me. This can be done an unlimited number of times on any device anywhere.

And because Em’s Amazon account doesn’t have a credit card associated with it, she can’t purchase books on her own. AND anyone that knows her e-mail address can “gift” her a book for her birthday or Christmas or whenever!

While this doesn’t solve the school library problem, it does solve the too-many-books-in-the-backpack problem and the did-you-remember-to-bring-your-book problem and the where-did-you-last-leave-the-book problem.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, but I am quite proud of myself for figuring out a solution to this problem.

Yes, I know I started many of my sentences with AND. Get over it. I did.

Update: Em’s teacher called me back this afternoon. She told me she had no idea that Em had been denied the opportunity to check out a Ramona book and that she would talk with the librarian during their visit to the library tomorrow about letting Em check out books above her grade level. Teacher also told me that Em will be one of a few kids in her class to take a reading comprehension test soon to evaluate her reading level and give her more opportunities to read “higher” books. Yay!

Musings on a neighbor

When I moved into my apartment in August, I had upstairs neighbors. I didn’t even know they’d moved out until I received a notice a few weeks ago from the management office that I needed to take care of the weeds in my backyard (hey, you guys gave me soil with weeds in it; now it’s my problem they’re there?) because prospective renters didn’t want to see weeds down in my yard (Um, STOP looking in my yard!).

Anyway, my previous neighbors were so quiet, I never heard them. No voices, no thuds of things being dropped on the floor. Peaceful folk, which is why I never knew they’d moved out!

Well, I know I have a neighbor(s) now! While I’ve never met him, I hear him. Every night. Clearly the person living above me has never spent time in a travel trailer. See, in a travel trailer, you learn to walk differently, so you don’t shake the whole damn trailer or make huge clomping noises, since some of the floor is quasi-hollow with compartments underneath for storage. Anyway, these people (as I’m typing this, I’ve finally discerned there are two people occupying the apartment above me) would never qualify as a spy; you can hear everything they’re doing!

I hear their feet pounding the stairs outside as they make their way to their front door. I hear them walk from their living room to their kitchen to their bedroom to their bathroom to their other bedroom. These people never stop walking! And the moving of the furniture; oy! Every night with the relocation of heavy furniture! I’ve come up with some fanciful ideas as to who or what they are based on the lovely sounds I hear each night.

1. One works a night shift and the other a day shift. One of them has OCD and likes their furniture just where they want it. The other is a jackass and moves the furniture while the other is away so when OCD-man comes back, he gets pissed off and stomps all through the apartment as he puts everything back in its rightful place.

2. They are a pair of furniture dancers. Heck, anyone can lift a dance partner over their heads while doing a fancy Latin dance! These folks dance with their dressers and entertainment centers! And they are giving me a preview of their show, as it’s all based on sound! Scrape goes the kitchen table as he lifts it off the floor. He travels across the room with a Cumbia-style step, quick and slick. THUD goes the table before he drags it into position as his dance partner takes his turn with the solid oak masterpiece.

3. A friend suggested that perhaps they are preparing for the zombie apocalypse and every night before going to bed they barricade the front door with every piece of furniture they own.

And while I can hear their steps and the moving of furniture, I have to also assume they are hard of hearing. The lack of conversation between the two of them in conjunction with the very loud footsteps and furniture thumps makes me think this is a highly likely scenario.


A pair of hard-of-hearing furniture dancers who are afraid of zombies and more-or-less dealing with OCD.

Nice to meet you, neighbors. I’m the woman with no couch, a boxed up Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, a fish in half of a bowl hanging on the wall and a record player on a TV tray.

Hmm…and I think they’re strange?

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My New Love

I started dancing when I was 4 or 5 years old, taking ballet and eventually tap and jazz. In junior high both of my knees “went to pot,” thus ending my dancing “career.” I picked up dance again as an elective in high school after I learned which muscles I needed to keep in top shape to prevent my knees from sliding out as much. After I graduated high school, I’d go to an enlisted club on the local Marine Corps base and line dance. Since having Em, I haven’t done much dancing. I’ve gained weight (gee, really?) and my knees and thigh muscles have become more weak. But I love dancing. I mean love dancing. I was never a “great” dancer, but I learned quickly and enjoyed it.

I bought Dance Dance Revolution for my Wii after I moved into my apartment, as my ex-sister-in-law had lost a lot of weight using that game when I lived with my now-ex-in-laws 5 years ago. I remember it being a ton of fun, and it is. But it’s not what I call “dancing.” I looked into an adult class at my daughter’s studio, but they don’t have enough people interested in it, so I’d have to pay for a private class; not in my budget.

I’d heard about Zumba maybe 2 years ago from an older friend (30 years older) and I just assumed that if she enjoyed it that much, it must just be a great workout for folks who aren’t very active but want some sort of “jazzercize” type class. I dismissed it after a split-second thought.

Oh, boy. I’d probably be close to my pre-pregnancy weight if I’d actually looked into it back then!

One of my friends recently became a certified Zumba instructor and offered a free class last Saturday. I took her up on the offer for a couple of reasons: 1) free? Heck yeah! 2) I wanted to support her.

I dug out my old Bloch jazz shoes (they still fit!) and put on some almost-too-tight exercise pants and took the plunge. Wowee!! So much fun!! It was like my old dance classes: a bit of warm up and then the high-energy stuff! The choreography wasn’t that hard for me to pick up and the Latin beats really got my heart pumping! I was able to modify a few of the steps so as not to injure my knees, and I’ll probably put on some KT Tape the next time I do it, but I was hooked! The hour flew by like nothing! And unlike working out at the gym where I am tired by the time my hour is up, I actually had more energy! I definitely broke a sweat and emptied 2 water bottles, but I had such a great time, I hardly noticed.

I went onto Zumba’s website and found a bunch of local classes at different facilities. Most classes are around $5-$10 to drop in and join for a session, and there are a TON on weeknights and weekend mornings. And there’s even a Wii game for Zumba, too!

I woke up Sunday sore and stiff and today the soreness is still present, but tolerable. I’m actually going to a class tonight that’s FREE! I can hardly wait!

If you’ve never heard of or tried Zumba and you like to dance, I highly recommend checking it out.

I’m hoping that my enthusiasm for the first class continues and I keep up with it. What an inexpensive and fun way to get back into dancing and exercise!

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Michelle Stillson