Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ROCKABET: Classic Edition

Are you ready to rock A to Z?
Let's roll through some music history!

Thank God for birthdays! If there is anything good about being a year older, it's getting gift cards for Amazon. Because of that, I was finally able to get Kelly Polark's fantastic picture book, ROCKABET: Classic Edition. Being the lover of all things red plaid, I fell in love with Kelly's book way before I ever got it just because of the cover. It was illustrated by Kelli Ann Little, who did an amazing job drawing all of the classic rock bands. Obviously, it's an alphabet book, so you know I loved that part right away. My favorite pages are E and W, but you'll have to read the book to find out why. If you follow Kelly, you might remember how she gave Pink a copy of her book at a concert not too long ago. How cool is that!

What makes this book so great—besides the fact it's an alphabet book—is that it's a book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I'm in my late 40s, so I loved seeing all the classic rock groups. This book is a fantastic way for younger generations to get to know these bands and possibly even start enjoying some of their music. As stated on Amazon, "ROCKABET: Classic Edition introduces classic artists of rock 'n' roll in catchy couplets. This fun book promotes the arts, literacy, and learning the ABC's. Cute illustrations depict musicians in a childlike manner. Reading rocks!"

As a music loving family, we totally love this book—a lot! I can't wait to see what Kelly comes out with next. Because this one is titled "Classic Edition", I'm hoping she has other books to come. I totally recommend this book to anyone who loves classic rock. It rocks!

ISBN: 09888462-0-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-9888462-03
Published by Big Smile Press, LLC

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Squirrely Scurry!

Squirrely Scurry ... say that three times fast! I take many pictures of squirrels—too many—I'm sure. The other day I was photographing one in the feeder and I mentioned it was a different one. Rick goes, "You can tell them apart?" I guess I can, especially now that I've taken so many photos. The squirrel pictured above is the one I photograph most often. I call her "Squirrely". She's pretty easy to distinguish by the straight line that goes up her nose.

This squirrel pictured above could very well be Squirrely's brother or sister. This one has a much darker, richer looking coat. I love the dark, chestnut color of his or her fur.

This is another squirrel in the scurry pictured above. This one looks a lot like Squirrely, but you can see it's a different one by the nose markings. When the second and third squirrels are in the feeder, Squirrely sits on the rock and chirps and chatters up a storm. She doesn't like sharing her seeds with these two.

I'm pretty sure this was their mother. I named her "Nips", and you can probably see why. She was the resident squirrel at my feeder for a very long time. Some of you might remember her. She was the one who got me interested in photographing squirrels.

Now I *think* these are the three squirrels who are hanging around right now—or the first three I posted above. I'm not positive, of course, but I'm thinking these are the same ones. I also think they might be the babies of Nips. One day I got a few pictures of them playing together in the tree. They must have just started coming out of their nest.

This last picture is bizarre. I've seen them do this only ONCE. They were both so young here, so I guess they weren't too possessive yet. Squirrels generally don't like to share food once they get older, so I consider myself fortunate to get some pictures of them together. Now if I see two in the feeder, it's always a massive battle. They usually fight so viciously, flinging themselves out and over the deck railing—tossing seeds everywhere in the process.

The three squirrels have been coming out at the same time lately, so there's been a lot of chattering going on ... and chasing, and fighting, and screeching. Now that I can tell them apart better, I need to come up with a name for the other two. After all, I can't call them all Squirrely!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

We finally watched Saving Mr. Banks for the first time last night. We had wanted to see it in the theater, but by the time we got around to being able to go, it had stopped playing. Fortunately, my mother-in-law sent it to us on DVD, so we got to see it finally. What a great movie. As a writer, it really gives you a lot to think about.

Ironically, we were at Disneyland the day they were filming this movie. Only a small part of the film takes place at Disneyland. We had just arrived to the park as they were filming the section on Main Street. We had to walk around the back of the buildings while they filmed. Everyone was great about the inconvenience, and pretty soon rumors started flying about Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson being there. We never spotted them, but I was able to take a few pictures.

Later in the day, they blocked off parts of Fantasyland. I think we were in line for Dumbo when I took the picture above. They were just getting ready to film the carousel scene. You can see the 10-cent admission signs that they put up for the movie. It was cool seeing people walking around in clothes from 1961. Unfortunately, we didn't see Tom and Emma get on the ride, but that would have been really cool. Now that I've seen the film, it's even neater to think we were there. It's a great film, and I highly recommend seeing it, especially if you're a writer.

Friday, March 28, 2014

RIP sweet Prince ...

I was saddened to hear of the loss of Zoo Montana's only tiger, Prince. He passed away on March 10th, but I only found out about it earlier this week. I had just seen Prince last fall when my kids and I spent the day at zoo. Unlike my last visit when I didn't even see him, Prince was out this time and walked right by us a few times. He was absolutely beautiful.

Prince was an 18-year-old Amur tiger, which is also known as a Siberian tiger. Apparently, he developed a limp, and when medicine didn't treat it, they did x-rays and discovered he had bone cancer. After waking up from the anesthesia, Prince had trouble breathing and passed away a short time later.

I can only imagine how heartbroken the staff is at Zoo Montana. They said they hope to get a new tiger for their exhibit, but don't have any idea when that will happen.

This photograph below shows how close we got to this amazing animal. He walked right by us. I have seen a lot of tigers at zoos and such, but I had never been as close to a Siberian as I was this time. He was absolutely amazing, and I know I will certainly miss him.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The only thing that tells me spring is near are the birds. We've had a few birds come back that aren't normally found here during the winter. I'm not sure what to think of the Black-Eyed Juncos (pictured above) because I normally see them all winter, but I didn't this time. They came back from wherever they went just the other day. We had a big flock of them hanging around. Even so, this is northwestern Montana and it's still only 34 degrees out with a chance of snow tonight. That's normal for us this time of year, so I guess I can't complain. In addition to it being the first day of spring, it is also ...

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day
Alien Abduction Day
Atheist Pride Day
Bed-in For Peace Day
Companies That Care Day
Great American Meat Out Day
International Astrology Day
International Day of Happiness
French Language Day
Kiss Your Fiancée Day
National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Proposal Day
Now Ruz
Snowman Burning Day
Vernal Equinox (Spring)
World Storytelling Day
Won't You Be My Neighbor Day
World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People

Seriously! It's a good thing we're not required to keep track of all these crazy holidays.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I hope you all have a nice St. Patrick's Day, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. We will be doing our regular school schedule and don't have anything special planned. The boys do have a painting project today. Even though it's for a study on the illustrator Eric Carle, maybe we'll do it in different shades of green in light of the holiday. I didn't even buy corned beef or cabbage this year. I should have because I like it. Apparently, in Ireland they eat Irish bacon and cabbage on this day to celebrate St. Patrick's life. Check out this link for more.

Do you know what's really weird? I am forty-nine years old and this is the first St. Patrick's Day where I know I have Irish blood in me. Apparently, my grandmother's family (on my dad's side) came from Ireland. I found this out after my mom died last October. You would think I'd be happy to learn where I came from, especially since all my life I've done nothing but wonder. Now that I know though, it just makes me mad. Why didn't my mom tell me? The only thing she did tell me was that my dad named me after a little, old Irish woman he used to work with. That was my only Irish-connection I knew of—until now—if that's even true.

What I find strange is that when my mom worked as a nurse at one hospital, there was this little Irish lady that she adored. I think her name was Teresa. She wouldn't speak, but she hummed and mumbled. The one song she sang was "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". My mom loved her and they used to sing this song together. I remember being so impressed with how well my mom dealt with her patients, especially this one lady. However, my mom obviously knew there was an Irish connection with her family—she just chose not to tell me. That bothers me because I spent my whole life wondering. Now that things with the remaining family members I have left have fallen apart, it doesn't mean much to me. That's sad. I know I still have a lot of anger issues to deal with. Everyone told me to "let it go", which is what I'm trying to do.

Ironically, I named my youngest child, Neil Patrick. He absolutely hates his middle name because he only associates it with Patrick Star from SpongeBob. I've told him over and over about St. Patrick and all the other interesting Patricks there are, but he still grumbles over it. Maybe with time he'll learn to love his name. Now that I've written this post and made myself depressed, I'm even more bummed I didn't get any corned beef or cabbage. I should have gotten a six-pack of Guiness too, but oh well ...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring is coming!

UGH ... I've really sucked at blogging lately. It's been on my mind a lot, and I really do have a lot of things I want to blog about, including some books my friends have written. I need to get my act together. In the meantime, here are a few bird pictures I've taken recently. The top one is a Varied Thrush. We hadn't seen this bird before, but one started hanging around the house recently. It took me awhile to figure out what it was, but apparently they're only found in a tiny portion of my part of Montana. Then yesterday we started seeing American Robins at the house, so maybe that means spring is finally on its way. We also had a whole flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos show up, which was fun. They're hoppity little birds, so I didn't get any good photographs. Maybe I can try again today. 

Our water heater started leaking yesterday, so that pretty much took care of our Friday night. It wasn't that old either — about 5 years — but fortunately it had a lifetime warranty on it, so we were able to go up to town and get a new one. Rick got it installed last night, so we didn't have to go without hot water for very long, which was nice.