Don’t Shy Away From This One…

I’ve recently read an awesome book that I think you should read too. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. The title is perfect, the entire book circles around two boys kissing. Honestly, when I first heard of it, it didn’t interest me at all. But then my library purchased it and put it out on the shelves. The cover clearly shows two boys kissing. In case you are new, I live in the Bible belt of Georgia. These kinds of things can cause a bit of a stir. So I thought I’d check it out. Boy, am I glad I did. Whatever causes you to pick this book up, please do so.

The book is narrated by the generation of men that were lost due to the AIDS epidemic. They tell their story as well as a variety others. The center of the story is an attempt by two 17-year old boys to break the Guinness World record for longest kiss. Their efforts go viral gathering attention of supporters and detractors. We learn their stories and experiences as well. Some other stories we learn are the gay teens who form their own prom, a young man who explores his sexuality with “hook up” sites, and a long time -by teen standards- gay couple who struggle with the changing dimensions of their relationship.

As with any outstanding writing, the story is powerful and thought provoking. No matter your personal beliefs, the identity struggles that occur are powerful and frequently painful. There are a few scenes that I carry with me now, weeks later. These are singled out due to my experience. With so much rich content, I’m certain there are so many others that will become part of who you are as well.

Many of the boys struggle with disclosing their sexuality to their families. Some become demanding, requiring them to say it and accept it immediately. The narrators point out the boys emphasis upon that moment. The moment that they reveal their true selves. They put so much emphasis upon their own experience in that moment, their emotion, their relief, their announcement. They own that moment. The experience of those to whom they reveal is secondary. In that moment only pure acceptance is what is desired.

Another teen explores his sexuality on internet hook up sites. Exploring in secret, through anonymous sites, drives this teen to undervalue himself and his body. The anger of his parents in this behavior only triggers a tragic series of events that is gritty and heart-wrenching. This is one example of the universal appeal of high quality writing. This family’s experience is one that any could fall into when teens of either sex undervalue themselves, believing that sexuality is just what you do with your body as an object.

Another scene that will stay with me occurs at an abandoned mini-golf course. The sub-characters stay with me. Levithan doesn’t blame the boys that hurl hate and bottles at the boys. He instead addresses their humanity. Boys acting out in accordance with expected behavior instead of an inner sense of right or wrong. As a parent of a teen, having your child fall on either side of this exchange would be painful.

Ugh! This book talk could go on literally forever and I would only scratch the surface. The book is rich with extraordinary thought provoking content. Read it. Allow your teens to read it. One scene, previously mentioned, is gritty and a bit graphic more in an emotional sense then in a physical one. For this reason I would recommend this for 15 or above – but others say 12. I was the last in the school to allow Hunger Games so use your judgement not mine.

And now for a recipe… PANCAKES!! Read the book, you’ll know why. We’re still homeless due to a relocation, so I won’t be cooking these up in our hotel room :( The underwriters for the buyers of our home are disorganized leaving us displaced – which I’ll leave that rant for them. Just pray they pull themselves together & eat pancakes. Click the link below for some great ones. I don’t think there’s anything better than an Amish pancake.

Amish Griddle Cakes {Tastes of Lizzy T}

 

Is it real or is it Life As We Knew It?

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I cannot think of a better time to review this book! #SnowedOutAtlanta has me home bound. If you’ve been under a rock, you might not know that Mother Nature delivered a whoop-butt to the Southeast in the form of snow and ice. The intersection of this life event and the book Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer left me with some very realistic dreams of rationing food and hoarding water! Thankfully, I left work at the first sight of snow flakes and made it home safely. For a brief moment I felt sheepish the Northerner running with my tail between my legs at the first sign of snow. But as I passed extreme weather tracker trucks and watched the news coverage on 11 Alive, I quickly became relieved. So on with the review:

Life as we knew it

Life As We Knew It starts with a huge astronomical event. An asteroid is going to crash into the moon. This is proceeded with huge celebrations and wonder. People gather to watch the impact and see the asteroid break apart like nature’s fireworks. Unfortunately, scientists have miscalculated the mass of the asteroid. Instead of breaking apart, it knocks the moon closer to the Earth like a giant pool cue ball.

The protagonist is a teen girl named Miranda. In diary form, we follow her families experience. Thank the heavens, she has a smart mother! Her mother has the forethought to prepare in ways many other families do not. Chaos and desperation creep into the town. Through this experience, we watch Miranda mature and changes in her family dynamic. These changes are brought about in a life lessons crash course which allows us to see the development in 337 pages. But they are changes that all families must go through. This universal theme creates a wonderful read for families as a unit.

I greatly enjoyed the book. The only criticism of the book that I have read is that it is structured as a diary of a teen girl. The content and story line seems to be universally enjoyed, only the delivery of this. I have to respectfully disagree. The following of this story through her eyes, in her words, is the best way to see her internal struggles and perspective. This creates the power of sharing this story with your teen girl.

Now on to the recipe -In the book, there is an incident. It’s not a major incident but it might be a pivotal moment. It involves a bag of chocolate. I will say no more. Enjoy:

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

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3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 16.5 oz packages of chocolate chip cookie dough

Preheat oven to 350° Whip together cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.

Crumble one tube of cookie dough into the bottom of the pan and push flat.

Top with cream cheese mixture.

Crumble remaining tube of cookie dough over the top of cream cheese mixture. Try to make the crumbles small so as to truly cover most of the cream cheese.

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes. Cookies will be browned and cream cheese set. Cool before cutting.

What Library Community Building is…

booksCommunity building is one of those buzz phrases in the library world. Everyone is saying it. Everyone wants it. Not everyone is doing it. Community building within the library is something that I feel quite passionate about – enough so that I’m hi-jacking my blog to talk about it. Community building was a considerable component of my MLIS degree. I employed the tactics at my previous position and saw fantastic results. I’m currently working my way through the same steps to test their effectiveness in a different system. Thus far, I find it quite exciting… but it will be a while before we have numerous proven, documented results to share with you. But I can confirm that we have seed partnerships, enthusiasm, and increased community involvement. But this isn’t magic. It’s something every library can have.

Since Community Building has developed some buzz, it has some different interpretations as to what it actually is. I’ll start with some basic concepts so we all have the same understanding.

Community Building is the act of the library being actively involved in the wider community around them, driving it towards full engagement and improvement.

Community Building is not walking through the streets of your community with your hand out. This is certainly something libraries need to do to provide some programs and activities. This activity does actively get the library out in the community. It is a very necessary and valid activity of Children’s, Young Adult, and Adult Services. It is not an activity that I consider as Community Building.

A driving force behind efforts to become a cornerstone to the community is to gather the support necessary for the library to move forward as well. HOWEVER, partnerships should be forged with the priority of being MUTUALLY beneficial. This means that yes, the library will receive something from the other organization BUT the library will provide something as well. Think the old time, I scratch your back, you scratch mine – except the benefit is your community members! Would you like an example? Fantastic, I have a bunch – but my most current project is the one I’m most excited about so we’ll use that one.

Currently my library is offering Food for Fines. We are accepting non-perishable food in payment of library fines. The food is then being donated to our local food bank. Wonderful right? Our patrons are able to pay off fines and regain access to their accounts with donations. What makes this special? Why is it community building? Because this isn’t the extent of the partnership. In addition to serving our patrons, the library has also provided promotional materials and coupons for free prints to the food bank families. The coupons will hopefully be used to print resumes, job applications, employment forms, etc. The families that receive these coupons are families that have already qualified for assistance so we know that this financial break is needed. In addition to providing a way to reach these families who need assistance, the director is sharing library services with all of the families who enter the door. We are sharing the opportunity to clear fines, library resources to help find employment, library mission, and food bank mission with numerous media outlets. Potentially in the future, there is consideration that families complete a tour of the library as a portion of orientation to assistance. This will introduce some families to resources they might not even be aware exist. Very exciting stuff.

Wow, as it turns out… I have a lot to say about this. Perhaps I should let this point sit a bit before continuing my thoughts, that is if you can tolerate a geeky-librarian series.

So does your library community build effectively given these parameters? I’d love to hear about it!

Julie & Julia love

Recently, I became one of the last people in the world to read Julie & Julia. Just in case you happen to be the one other person who hasn’t read the book, or seen the movie, I’ll give you a quick recap. Julie is a 29 yo government worker who has fallen short of her potential. She is frustrated and disgruntled. As a coping mechanism, she accepts the suggestion from her husband to start a blog. The blog will document her journey through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I picked this up from the library. We all know that I love a memoir. A memoir that involves food pretty much seals the deal. I wasn’t disappointed. I think we’ve all experienced that moment of self-actualization. Where are we in life? Is this where I was meant to be? Is this really as good as it gets? Some of us start grad school to become a librarian. Some sell their city home to build a mini-farm in the country. Others start a blog about inappropriate humor. No path to personal happiness is better than another. We’re all just seeking our own genuine experience. So yes, I enjoyed Julie’s adventure. I hated her language. She’s a potty mouth.

I’m not sure if I’ll make an attempt to see the movie though. Movies aren’t really my cup of tea. I can’t stand sitting still that long. Movies made from books I love – usually worse. Not only do I have to sit still through the whole thing, but the surprises are rarely pleasant. But I’m open you recommendations on this. If you’ve read the book and seen the movie, what were your thoughts? Should I see it?

One of the standards of Julie’s mother was Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon. This was something that she made when an important guest was expected for dinner. It was also something that Julie made at the beginning of her journey. I thought this sounds like a good recipe to have in your back pocket. Then I read the recipe. It’s an awful lot like Coq Au Vin. Well at least if you compare Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin recipe with her Beef Bourguignon. That endears it to me a bit more. Once in French class I had to make a dish to share. I chose Coq Au Vin because it had wine in it. I busted my hump on that dish. I’m not sure you could tell… but the wine didn’t seem like such a big deal or great idea, when the other kids brought in their Pillsbury crescent rolls wrapped around a square of Heshey’s chocolate or some other cheater item. Apparently, I haven’t matured much but another reason Beef Bourguignon seemed like a great idea is that someone would have to finish off that bottle of red wine needed to make it.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have the dedication or want-to that Julie has. Frequently throughout the book, she’s up until the wee hours creating culinary masterpieces. I’ve got stuff to do so my Beef Bourguignon is going to have to pull itself together in a crock pot. Is this going to rob me of the glorious-ness of Julia Child’s gift? Perhaps, but I still get the wine. I’ve opted to use the recipe Paleo Crockpot Beef Bourguignon over at My Paleo Crockpot. You can too.

 

Day of Food: lunch

We had to vacate the humble abode today for 4 hours while 2 groups of prospective buyers shop. Please Lord let one of them fall in love with it like we did!! So we headed out to lunch at Cracker Barrel. I selected grilled chicken tenderloins with green beans and carrots… Probably all bathed in butter but completely yummy.

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Just realized this is a horrible day for accountability! It’s bunco night!!!