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Steve and Edie: 'Love Has Come For You'

You may remember the original Steve and Eydie. Now there's a new modern version, Steve and Edie. Two dynamite entertainers that come together making simple and beautiful melodies.

Steve Martin, 67, plays tinkling bluegrass sounds on his banjo mixed with Edie Brickell, 47, who has a delicate Texas folk sound. They compliment each other well. Their music is contemporary with an old-fashioned flavor. The new album (released last Tuesday) has Edie's whimsical, poetic lyrics and Martin's genius but understated style.

Edie Brickell was my first musical love. I was so excited to see that she partnered with the legendary Steve Martin (Renaissance man) on their new album, Love Has Come for You. I'm not so excited that they're NOT scheduled to perform in Texas on their concert tour (especially knowing that they were both born in Texas).

When you get to Asheville is one of my favorites but once I have the album playing, I don't stop it...I can play the whole album and love every song. Listen to Steve and Edie perform When you get to Asheville with The Steep Canyon Rangers on the Late Show with David Letterman and you'll be hooked too.

To Steve and Edie I say, "When you get to Dallas, send me an email!" xx

Make Your Earth Day, Emeraldalicious!

My daughter Zooey is a huge Pinkalicious fan. We've read all the Victoria Kann books and have even seen the play so when the new Pinkalicious book came out, Emeraldaicious, her green eyes flashed with eagerness to read it. 

You can see the Emeraldaicious book trailer here

Pinkalicious and her brother Peter are walking to their favorite park and while walking through the woods and she breaks her wand and tiara. She decides to make an extra-special wand out of a stick and flowers and finds out that the wand is magical. To their horror, they find their favorite park is a junkyard. To their delight, the find the magical wand makes beautiful things out of junk when Pinkalicious makes a rhyming wish.

The wand eventually loses it’s magic but Pinkalicious and Peter find that they can keep making the world Emeraldaicious by loving the Earth. This is the perfect book to read for Earth Day because it teaches recycling and reusing in an imaginative and happy way. I'm borrowing my daughter's copy to read to my second grade class.

The very best field trips are those that are outside with wide open spaces to explore. My love for the Dallas Arboretum continues to grow. Earth Day is the perfect time to talk about trees. The Dallas Arboretum offers a field trip called “Tree Works” that allows children to explore the connection to plants and people. Hands-on activities are always a hit with’s THE best way to learn. Digging in the dirt to make discoveries and looking at “treecookies” were some of my favorite activities during our most recent field trip that our second grade took to the Arboretum.  

The stars at night are big and are the lights! Here's a gorgeous photo of the United States in April...perfect for Earth Day! See more photos from NASA.

Read more on the Dallas Arboretum here and here.

Wishing you an "Emeraldalicious" Earth Day! xx 

Letters from three famous Americans that are out of the little sewing box

There’s a charming German phrase, “Aus dem nähkästchen redden.” It means “out of the little sewing box.” I imagine old ladies knitting and gossiping as they sip tea.
Looking at other people’s personal and intimate letters certainly gives us a reason to use that phrase. Ernest Hemingway, Georgia O’Keeffe and Eleanor Roosevelt were letter writers...the very best kind of letter writers. Their sewing box is open. Is it gossip if they’re dead? Are we snooping by reading the private letters of the three famous Americans? Well, they’re “out of the little sewing box” now so I suppose it’s alright...
Letters have always been something I’ve enjoyed writing and receiving. There is so much more of a person’s character and personality inside their letter versus an email, text…even a phone call. Through the letters of Ernest Hemingway, Georgia O’Keeffe and Eleanor Roosevelt, we get a glimpse of their relationships and inside their heads.
My son Quincy shares the same birthday as Hemingway. I’ve read that Hemingway’s parents taught their children the importance of letter writing at an early age. I hope my children will write to me just as Hemingway did to his parents.

Hemingway holds my attention through his novels like no other writer but reading his letters, I feel I know HIM…the real Hemingway…and he was so caring (and funny). Reading letters to his family takes you into his heart. 

Hemingway urged his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald to write to him in Pamplona: "Or dont you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something."

One letter to his mother made me laugh out loud written on September 8, 1914:

Dear Mother,
I got your card thanks very much. Our Train was 2.25 minutes late!! so no school.
The Program is all changed around lunch at a different time and alot of other changes. There was a report circulated around that I was drowned and some of my pals thot I was a ghost. May I PLEASE have SOME LONG PANTS. Every other Boy in our class has them, Lewie Clarahan Ignatz smith and every other little shrimp. My pants are so small every time I wiggle I think they are going to split. And I have about 8 or Ten inches of wrist below me cuffs thusly.
Please say I can have them long ones.
Your drowned son
Ernest Hemingway
P.S. My shirt buttons all fly off when I take a full Breath.

I feel a bit guilty reading Hemingway’s letters after knowing that it was his wish that the letters NOT be published. Hemingway wrote to his executors: “I hereby request and direct you not to publish, or consent to publication by others, of any such letters.”

I’m sorry Hemingway but I’m so happy that your sewing box is open!
Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz exchanged over 5,000 letters. Each letter makes the reader feel like they should not be reading such private details of their romance. That’s what letters do…exude romance. 

One letter Georgia wrote to Alfred on July 11, 1916 shares how she feels about letters.

I think letters with so much humanness in them have never come to me before- I have wondered with everyone of them- what it is in them- how you put it in- or is it my imagination- seeing and feeling-finding what I want-
They seem to give me a great big quietness- that relieves the tension that I always seem to be feeling.
Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok (known as her “first friend” and referred to as Hick) became close in 1932 when Hickok, who was a reporter for The Associated Press, began covering Franklin D. Roosevelt's Presidential campaign. They wrote letters to each other for twenty-nine years and dearly, dearly loved each other…and their country. 

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Lorena Hickok from The White House on March 30, 1934:

Darling, I love you & I have just marked five days off the calendar. May seems so far away & yet I know I’m going to be busy & so are you & it will pass but dear one when I sit here just before dinner I wish the door might open & let you in. I wonder if always I’m not going to feel that a day is incomplete which we don’t start & end it to-gether? Well, I don’t on paper anyway. So much, much love & bless you dearest one.

Letters are treasures. I’m so glad these letters are Aus dem nähkästchen redden.”

Want more books with letters...look here. Inspiration for writing here

Battle of the Books...Make Way for Young Readers!

When I told my daughter Zooey that I was coaching her team for Battle of the Books she said, "Mommy, you HAVE to make it FUN!" I think that it was pretty easy to accomplish her wish because the books WERE so much fun. 

Battle of the Books is a school program that began in the 1930's to encourage excitement in reading while exposing children to quality literature. During the competition the children are asked eighty questions that all begin "In which book" and the team has twenty seconds to agree on one out of twelve books. 

The Battle of the Books is a silent competition. Do you know how hard it is to keep kids under seven silent? I had six wonderful children on my team (grades kindergarten through second grade) and we did not /could not practice silent the whole time. It was a challenge to practice silent even for a little while. This is how we practiced most of the time, but we also practiced silently like this.   

Out of the twelve books we read, these four were some of my daughter's favorites. 

A Bad Case of Stripes | David Shannon
A favorite book of many teachers to read at the beginning of the year to encourage their class to be happy with who they are and not follow the crowd. Poor Camilla must go through her "case of the stripes" as she worries about impressing her classmates. I think Camilla is a lot like my daughter...She loves lima beans but won't eat them because her friends don't like them. She tries on forty-two outfits before the first day of school. She doesn't want to be embarrassed. "Everyone at school laughed at Camilla. They called her "Camilla Crayon" and "Night of the Living Lollipop."

Gregory, the Terrible Eater | Mitchell Sharmat
Reading about Gregory had my team giggle like crazy. Gregory likes the kind of food you hope for your children to like...eggs, vegetables, fruit, and fish. Gregory's parents want him to eat like they do...tin cans, boxes, tires, and mostly garbage. His parents take Gregory to see Dr. Ram who advises them to compromise. Mother goat says, "We have your favorite today. Vegetable soup. But there is one condition. You also have to eat the can."

Make Way for Ducklings | Robert McCloskey
This beautiful book was given to me when I was a child. I used my 1979 copy for our team practices. This is one of those books that is a treasure to be passed down. The story continues to translate and be relevant to today's young readers even though it's more than seventy-two years old (written in 1941). I remember my mom reading it to's one of my favorite children's books. I have fond memories of visiting Boston's Public Garden and seeing the statue of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings created by Nancy Schön. Barbara Bush gave a copy of the sculpture to Raisa Gorbachev in 1991 that can be seen in Moscow's Novodevichy Park. 

Officer Buckle and Gloria | Peggy Rathmann
Poor Officer Buckle wouldn't have an audience without Gloria who could be on Saturday Night Live. Safety is not interesting, but with Gloria, the children learn while they laugh. This story is in second grade's basil reader and always brings lots of laughs. The children remember all the safety tips. Just the other week in my classroom, I stood on a swivel chair to reach for something in my cabinet and one of my students shouted out, "Mrs. Cooley, safety tip #77! NEVER stand on a swivel chair!" Oops!!

Here were the other eight books in the Battle of the Books K-2 competition:
Big Al | Andrew Clements
Click, Clack, Moo-Cows That Type | Doreen Cronin 
Ira Sleeps Over  | Bernard Waber
Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook  | Michael Garland
The Pain and the Great One  | Judy Blume
Zen Shorts  | Jon J. Muth
Zinnia and Dot  | Lisa Campbell Ernst
Leah's Pony  | Elizabeth Friedrich