The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious of Parenting

Moved To Self-Hosting Site — whatsupyournose.com

I have had an amazing time learning how to blog at wordpress and have decided to continue with my blog but on a self-hosted site which will give me more control.  I do hope that you will visit my parenting blog at whatsupyournose.com

I would love your continued support, comments, ideas, and suggestions.  See you there!


Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Today I watched the movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.  K read this book last year and did a project on it for English class.  I had every intentions of reading the book because I firmly believe that books are always better than the movies, but as I waited for my hubby to get home with the supplies to put down our hardwood floors, I stumbled across the movie on Netflix which by the way I love!!  So, I just had to watch it.  It was only an hour and 30 minutes long, and it portrayed the life of Ben Carson a pediatric neurosurgeon who overcomes enormous obstacles to study medicine and save lives at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  It was a good movie.  I would encourage all parents to watch it, and if you have a child 12 or older, they should watch it as well.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I am not going to write about the amazing Ben Carson.  Instead, I want to write about his mother!  She was an amazing woman.  She grew up in foster care and only had a third grade education.  She often worked two or three jobs as a single mother to keep her family afloat and together.  She married at 13 and 10 years into the marriage she discovered that her husband had a second wife.  She also battled bouts of depression. Those are obstacles that could drag anyone down, but instead, she preserved and lived a positive life.

Yes, Mr. Carson had to overcome some obstacles, but without his mother pushing him I am not sure that he would have tried.  For example, she demanded that her boys always work beyond their potential!  She was a cleaning lady and noticed that the man she cleaned for had hundreds of books.  Books were even stacked in front of the TV.  Well, that night she went home and turned off the TV and told her boys that they had to read 2 books a week and write a book report which would be turned into her.  The boys were only allowed to watch 2 pre-selected shows a week.  I know this isn’t a novel idea limiting the amount of TV that children watch but seeing the direct impact it had on her children reminded me of the importance of providing structure and clear boundaries for our kids.

While Ben Carson is an inspiration to many, I found Sonya Carson very inspiring.  Mr. Carson clearly credits his mother for his success in this quote, “I not only saw and felt the difference my mother made in my life, I am still living out that difference as a man.”  What a tribute to his mother!  Throughout the movie, this woman was positive, strong, and focused.

It isn’t easy to provide that structure and boundaries that our kids need because we are tired or busy or don’t want to deal with them whining.  I know I give in all too often because I don’t want to fight with my oldest one or I don’t want to hear the youngest cry.  However, I realize what a disservice I am doing to them by caving!  To be honest, I don’t find it as hard with my youngest child as I do with my oldest child.  I think it is because I am not sure how to parent a teenager yet.  I want to respect her independence, but at the same time I have to maintain discipline because she still has more to learn.  It is hard to find that balance as a parent.

With Fa, I have already established an educational schedule that will carry her through the summer, but I know I need to limit her TV time and implement a chore  chart.  For K, I have already required her to find a job or volunteer opportunity for the rest of the summer, but I need to limit her TV time and implement some type of chore chart for her too.  Yes, they will get mad, but I owe it to them.  Thank you Sonya Carson for reminding my of my duties.



Hunger Games – The Movie

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I reviewed Hunger Games the books which I devoured over Spring Break.  I promised to review the movie which I went to watch Sunday April 15 with my oldest daughter.  K went to the midnight premier of the movie a few weeks ago, but she was willing to humor her old mom and go with me to see it.  Let me just say right off the bat the movie was close to the plot line which is quite unusual in my opinion when a book is made into the movie; yet, the movie was sorely lacking.

I have heard people give rave reviews of the movie — not so much my opinion though.  I was completely disappointed when I left the movie theater probably because I was emotionally invested in the books.  My first compliant was the jerky filming that occurred at the beginning of the movie.  I quietly whispered to K, “I think the jerkiness symbolizes the instability of the entire situation.”  K quietly nodded as if she was considering my point and was going to rebut when she leaned over and responded in the normal teenage wisdom, “I thought it represented the fact the cameraman was having a hard time holding on to the camera.”  Needless to say, it was all down hill after that.

My second compliant was that the characters were flat and dull.  I didn’t feel any of the passion that exuding from Katniss Everdeen in the book.  I expected a tomboyish girl that firmly stood her ground and lived with her heart on her sleeve.  Instead I got a young lady, that at all times seemed unsure of herself and very frightened.  I never even bought in to the relationship with Peeta or Gale.  She just kind of reminded me of a limp noodle!!

My third complaint was that the background information was vital to the movie.  In the books, I felt I had enough information to make the jump from our current world to a world where the land mass is smaller and food is scarce,  and there is a powerful crushing central government that harvests the remaining resources through slave tactics to prop up their good life.  As I watched the movie, I kept wanting to know more about each of the districts that the tributes represented and how they reached this point in time.  I understand that the video they showed in the reaping was suppose to provide that information, but I wanted to see it from the prospective of one of the young characters — Katniss, Peeta, Gale.  Of course, in the book, there was narration that painted those pictures for me, but when I left the movie theater, I told K, “If you had not read the books, you completely wouldn’t understand the meaning of some of the other parts.”

Finally, I didn’t like the few changes they made from the book to the movie such as Sennaca being left with night lock or the elimination of Madge.  Madge was important considering she was the only female friend that Katniss had.  Madge added another dimension to Katniss.  All I can say is that a man most of made the movie and totally didn’t understand the importance of our “girlfriends” and how they complete us!

There were a few things I liked: I liked the wolf things!!  They scared the pee out of me literally.  I liked how cute Gale was!  I liked how Cinna was portrayed very true to character.  I liked Effie Trinket!  I liked the selection at the reaping (this was the only part of the movie that made me cry)!   I liked that I got to go with K.

Overall, it was entertaining.  If I would have known now what I knew then, I would have waited to see this movie on DVD from Redbox or on Netflix.  Note to self — make sure to see the next two movies from the series on Netflix.

One final note — I still firmly believe that the books are always better than the movie!!

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”


The Hunger Games – The Books

Music of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Music of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a big fan of most trilogies.  I feel that the middle book is always weak, and they are only written to capitalize on the money-making opportunity instead of the development of the story.  I did enjoy The Lord Of The Ring trilogy which I studied in college; however, I have never been able to watch the movies though I have heard that they were nicely done.  The next trilogy I read was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I also watched the movies, but I have to say that I don’t find the books very high in literary value, but the movies were well done.  I think I was drawn into this trilogy because of the perverseness and just had to see what happened next which some will say is a sign of a good book, but I am not so sure…. it might be a sign of my warpped mind!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My latest trilogy endeavor is the popular Hunger Games.  I read the first book with one of my English classes the two weeks before Spring Break.  I was sucked in immediately!  I felt the characters were very well developed and the setting was realistic.  I have heard complaints that there wasn’t enough background information, but I disagree.  I could easily make the jump from our current world to a world where the land mass is smaller and food is scarce,  and there is a powerful crushing central government that harvests the remaining resources through slave tactics to prop up their good life.

Another part of the book that I could relate to was Katniss Everdeen’s, the female protagonist, internal conflict.  She feels very confident in who she is before the “reaping,” but after the reaping, she becomes aware that her confidence is an illusion, and she is not sure of who she is, how she fits into this world, and who she actually loves (Peeta or Gale).  This is very typical of most teenage girls as they transition from the safe world of home to a life of their own.  Just as in my review of Mirror, Mirror , this book down plays the “damsel in distress” archetype, and it is up to Katniss Everdeen to save the world – literally.

I quickly devoured the remaining two books over Spring Break Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. As expected, the middle book was slow, but necessary to complete the last book.  Again the strength of these two books lies in the development Katniss and her relationship with the world around her!

After reading the entire series, I realize that the author was driven by irony.  I am not going to spoil it for you — if you have read it, think about the reason Katniss ends up in the Hunger Games and then think of the irony of what happens near the end of the last book with Prim.  Needless to say, the odds were never in Katniss’ favor!!

I will review the movie in comparison to the books next post!


Mirror, Mirror: A Tale of Snow White

Last week was Spring Break week for us, and I have really used this time to catch up on my sleep reading and some movies I have wanted to see.  The other day I went to see The Lorax with some amazing family.  The day before that I took my niece and my youngest daughter to see Mirror, Mirror which was a “version” of Snow White. I have to say that I was really interested in seeing Julie Roberts play the part of the evil stepmother, but didn’t expect too much as far as the plot.  Well, I thought Julie Roberts did a great job, but there was enough of a plot twist that held my attention too.

I have to say that I like how the newer movies have started to down play the “damsel in distress” archetype.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want my girls to be ladies, but at the same time, being a lady doesn’t mean being helpless.  In this movie, Snow White goes out to save her kingdom and becomes a SOLDIER.  She cares about the “common” people and stands up to what is wrong.  Yet, she is still beautiful and smart and still gets the hot prince, and she doesn’t need a kiss to awaken her!  She even comes across a bit more “with it” than her accident proned prince.  She actually rescues the prince in this version!

Of course, as with most movies, I believe this movie is another social commentary on consequences of a selfish greedy government.  But overall this is a kid-friendly movie. There is enough action for the boys and there are enough pretty dresses for the girls.  Most of the suggestive jokes go right over the kids heads just like the social commentary. I thought Snow White, played by Lilly Collins, and the evil step-mother, played by Julie Roberts, were well-done.  I felt the seven dwarves which don’t even have their typical names were a little lame though sometimes funny.

I know there is another Snow White movie coming out called Snow White and The Huntsman which looks more adult-like.

I will have to go see that one just to compare.  However, I feel Mirror,Mirror could be good for some simple basic entertainment, but it could also open up some discussion with older children.  Here are some ideas:

  • Families can talk about how this take on Snow White compares to other versions of the beloved fairy tale. In what ways is this Snow White more assertive than other representations of her? How are the dwarfs a bigger part of the story?
  • What does Mirror Mirror have to say about vanity? What are the literal and figurative costs of the queen’s vanity? Should it matter if you’re the most beautiful person around?
  • Why are princess tales so popular? Does this spin on the princess story have a more progressive message for girls than previous versions
There are several movies that seem to downplay the damsel in distress, but the newest one due out in June is Brave.  I have added that to my list as well!

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Lorax (film)

The Lorax (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday,  I went to see the movie The Lorax with my niece, nephew, sister-in-law, and my youngest daughter.  I was very excited for many reasons: 1) I love spending time with my daughter, 2) I love spending time with my niece and nephew, 3) I love spending time with my sister-in-law, and finally my fourth reason, I REEEAAALLLYY wanted to see this movie.  Not too long ago I posted about the late great Dr. Seuss.  I just think he is a genius that we can learn so much from.  I do have to say that I heard that you should read the book before you go see the movie!!

Of course, this movie was basically a social commentary on the importance of us protecting our environment which I think may have been lost on the younger children, but I got it, and to be perfectly honest, I was not very happy about it.  I know protecting the environment is important, and I know that almost everything that Dr. Seuss writes is a social commentary such as The Sneetches and Other Stories, but I think today I just wanted to enjoy the beauty of Dr. Seuss’ words and not think about the ugly consequences.  If I had to focus on the negative side of this movie, I would worry myself sick about recycling and polluting, and I would completely miss the enjoyment I wanted to share with my niece, nephew, sister-in-law, and daughter.

So, to take my mind off this very deep topic, I started pointing out to my sister-in-law which characters reminded me of members of our family.  Have you ever done that when you watch a tv show or movie?  Well, if not you should try it because it can be really funny.  Needless, to say, after I pointed out the character that reminded me of my husband, I thought they were going to have to remove us from the theater because we were laughing so hard!!  Let me share:

So, I felt that Ted, played by Zac Efron,  reminded me so much of my nephew because he is cute as a button, all boy, and gets a little silly around girls.  There was one part in the movie when the girl, Audrey, asked Ted to come in to her house to see something cool, and Ted turns around and sprays breath freshener in his mouth.  At the same time, my sister-in-law and I turned to each other and said, “That is Drew!”

My sister-in-law and I both agreed that Ted’s mom, played by Jenny Slate, fit me.  We came to that conclusion after she started disco dancing and shaking her booty.  My booty seems to draw a lot of attention.  I tried to find a video, but there were none.  I thought of making one and well, that might be the end of my blog!  LOL!  I do wear glasses too, and I think I got a perm one time that made my hair as curly as hers!!

We decided that Grammy Norma, played by Betty White, had to be my mom lovingly referred to as NaNa.  Nana and Grammy Norma love to encourage our children and get one over on us parents.   This video proves it and kinda shows the interactions I have with her on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of the girl I thought was my sister-in-law.  She wasn’t a main character (not implying in anyway that my sis-n-law isn’t a main character), but she was part of a commercial for O’hara Air — bottled air because the air was so bad.  She opened a can of the air, and it blew her beautiful blonde hair back, and she looked so cute and perky and perfect, and well, just like B.

Then we have the Lorax, played by Danny Devito (I think Danny and my brother are the same height)  which we decided was my brother!!  Not that my brother is Mr. Right though he thinks he is (cough,cough) but because he is small and kinda grumpy and funny!  I mean just tatt – up the Lorax, shave his head, and give him some earrings, and you have my brother!!  And there was that one scene when the Lorax fell asleep next to the Once-ler who wakes up screaming which in turn wakes the Lorax up who screams and then reflexively punches the Once-ler in the face, and well, my bother has been known to do that!!

The one connection that sent us in to hysteria was that my husband was the biggest Barbaloot which is a teddy bear like animal in the Truffla forest!!  My husband is a big Teddy Bear that enjoys a good meal or two and doesn’t let life stress him.  He is just one of those guys you have to love and well, I do!!  The biggest barbaloot was caught inside of the Once-ler’s fridge eating butter and that did me and B in — We could not stop laughing!!

Please don’t let my family members prevent you from going to see this great movie!! Check it out and see if you can find any of your family members in it!!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The Lorax



Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday which is celebrated with Read Across America.  Earlier this week, I posted a few sites that might have given you some ideas to celebrate.  Hope you found it useful.

However, today is all about Dr. Seuss whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel.  He was born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts and lived to the ripe age of 87.  He was the cartoonist and author of over 60 children’s books.  Though most of his books are published under the name Dr. Seuss,  he did publish some under the name Theo Li Sieg and Rosetta Stone.  His first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was published in 1937.  What a great book that celebrates the wonderful imagination that our children possess.

After that book, Dr. Seuss faced 27 rejections before he would go on to publish some of the great books that we have grown to love such as The Cat In the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  At least 18 of Dr. Seuss’ books were adapted for TV and film including How The Grinch Stole Christmas. 

The film released today, fittingly so, based on  Dr. Seuss’ book, is The Lorax.  Today would have been Dr. Seuss’ 108th birthday.  The film follows Ted (Zac Efron), an idealistic young boy who lives in “Thneed-Ville”, a city that, aside from the citizens, is completely artificial. He sets out to find the one thing that will win him the affection of Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams, who wishes to see a real tree. While attempting to find a tree, he discovers that their city has been closed off from the outside world, and meets the reclusive Once-ler (Ed Helms), who recounts the story of how he met the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a grumpy yet charming creature who serves as guardian of the land. When the young businessman introduces a revolutionary invention from the native Truffula Tree‘s tufts, it tragically spirals into a mass overproduction leading to the depletion of the forest, and the creation and isolation of Ted’s town. With the Once-ler’s blessing, and the last Truffula Seed, Ted sets out to remind his town of the importance of nature. Unfortunately, he finds himself hounded by the wealthy mayor of Thneed-Ville, O’Hare (Rob Riggle), who has no intention of leaving any traces of the Lorax’s world (wikipedia).  Check out this clip.

This movie is high on my list of must sees.

But let’s not lose focus on the fact that today is Read Across America.  So, grab some of your favorite Dr. Seuss books, grab the family, and share some of the best stories of all time while sharing your love of reading!! 

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10 Reading Strategies To Encourage Your Child To Read

Tomorrow is Read Across America as well as Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  I have been focusing on reading this entire week in my blog.  Reading is vital to our success in all things.  Even if your children aren’t going to be librarians or English teachers, which are great career choices by the way, they still need to be able to read job applications, directions, and medicine bottles.  However, we know not everyone likes to read.  So, here are 10 fun ways to encourage your child to read.

  1. Read Everywhere — not all kids do their best reading in their bedrooms. The isolation of being alone in a room can be too distracting.  Try the kitchen table while you prepare dinner.  They can read to you while you cook.  Maybe the living room or create a reading nook with pillows and baskets of books. Experiment.
  2. Reward Reading –  Set a goal with your child to read a certain number of books a week or over the summer.  Draw a goal chart maybe in the form of a thermometer.  Track your child’s progress and then once they have reached the goal reward them.
  3. Label The HouseIf your child is a beginning reader, take a trip around the house and as they name items, you write the name on a sticky note and attach it.  Then everyday the child moves around the house they are surrounded by words.  A few times a week walk around the house and help them read the words.  It is a super simple way of increasing sight words.
  4. Family Reading Time — Set aside 20 minutes twice a week when the entire family reads.  Read anything mail, books, magazines, or catalogs — to show that reading is a necessary skill for everyone.
  5. Read Aloud To Your Child — Reading children’s books are great, but I would encourage you to read above the child’s level.  For example, FaFa is a beginning reader, but I am reading Charlotte’s Web to her.  Then I ask her questions about the text which develops her high-level thinking skills that she can apply to her own books.  Take this a step further and take turns reading to your child — mom one night, dad one night, and older sibling one night.  It brings a variety of perspectives to a text and shows that everyone needs to read.
  6. Explore The Library — The library in my town is a happening place.  They have wonderful books and magazines of course, but they also have the internet, books on tapes, movies, educational toys, and special events.  Let your child discover that the library isn’t a stuffy place where nerds hang out, but instead it is an exciting place full of options.
  7. Flashcards — This is a tried and true method.  I created 10 packs of 10 cards each with the most common sight words that children need to know.  Then we work on a pack for however long it takes Fa to memorize those word.  Then we add another pack of 10 to it.  She loves to see how many words she can do at a time.  We practice with flashcards 5 times a week.  Flashcards are also a great study tool for other subjects!!
  8. Music To Read By — I am in the process of writing a grant to use music in  my English classroom.  We all love music!  Some kids benefit from listening to music when reading such as jazz, classical, and even folk can provide consistent, rhythmic background noise that can enhance some children’s concentration skills.  Go a step further and have your child read the verses to their favorite popular songs.  They won’t even realize that they are reading!!
  9. Use Your TV — Sometimes it is hard to prey our children away from their favorite TV shows.  Instead, make them read their TV shows!!  Check your television controls for a “Closed Captioning” button.  If your set doesn’t have one, try pressing the “Mute” button; some sets defer to captioning when the mute function is on.  Once the captioning is scrolling across the bottom they can read!!
  10. Pen Pals — All kids love getting mail.  Recruit family members or friends near or far to write or email letters to your child on a regular basis.  Ask the letter writer to include lots of questins for your child to answer: what was the best thing that happened to you this week?  How is the family pet doing?  Have you read any good books lately –what were they about?  Ask your child to read the letter to you out loud and encourage them to respond within a week’s time.

Our schools can do a lot to educate our children, but it remains our responsibilities as parents to make sure that our child has all of the necessary skills to be successful in life.  Reading is vital and I hope you can put in use at least one of these suggestions.  Let me know how it goes or if you have other suggestions!!


Sneetches and Other Stories and Other Reasons to be Nice

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday!!!  Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss, and now we have a reason as adults to read Dr. Suess and eat birthday cake!!!  Life is good, and we should celebrate.

But besides that point, I had another point to make.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled “Life Is Too Short To Have An Empty Bucket“, and now I would like to expound on that topic by discussing an amazing little book that one of my colleagues brought to my attention after discussing the above post.

Watch this amazing video of the book (which is appropriate to watch with your kiddies) and then run out and buy a copy for yourself and your kids or your grandkids and one to donate to a local school or daycare so that we can continue to spread a very important message.  We need to fill everyone’s bucket daily with a kind word or a warm smile.

The Sneetches and Other Stories is a collection of stories by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). The four stories are:

  • The Sneetches
  • The Zax
  • Too Many Daves
  • What Was I Scared Of?

I am focusing on The Sneetches because it offers a very important lesson to love and care for people because of who they are not what they have or do.  Seems like a simple enough lesson, but all too often we fall into that trap of being human.  Yes, we can go in depth on how this book is an allegory for prejudice and discrimination, and also offers a lesson of materialism and entrepreneurship, but please for a moment focus on the great messge of loving each other simply because we can.

Interesting fact: The Sneetches and Other Stories, in 1998, was translated by NATO into Serbo-Croatian and distributed to 500,000 children in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of an information campaign to help encourage racial tolerance.



Dr. Seuss’ Birthday And Read Across America Activities

“You are never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Read Across America Day promotes reading, particularly for children and young adults.  Many schools, libraries, and community centers across the United States participate in the day by bringing people together to take part in reading books. Various reading activities and events are held across the country on this day. For example, some students take part in a Read Across America channel designed to showcase student and educator videos around the country. Others make reading pledges, organize book fairs, or read aloud to groups of people.  

Read Across America is an event sponsored by the National Education Association.  They purposefully paired it with Dr. Seuss’s birthday because Dr. Seuss, aka Dr. Theodor Geisel, one of the most loved author’s around the world, makes reading fun.

Reading is an amazing gift, and I would like to encourage everyone to take part in this great event.  Even if your child’s class has some fun events planned, help your child make a connection that reading just isn’t for school by reading at home as well. 

Here are some links to help you plan a reading party:

NEA Read Across America Day March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss’s Birthday

Activities to Celebrate

Book Ideas

It is always nice to have a reason to party!!


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