The year I survived 3rd grade (again) and fell in love with Judy Moody

It’s official, I have survived 3rd grade for the 2nd time (only one more to go.) FCAT scores are back and Puddin’ exceeded our expectations. I wish I could call up Megan McDonald and personally thank her but she would wonder who the crazy lady blubbering on the phone was. Judy Moody changed our lives this year and we now officially have a “reader” who scored high and above what is required by the state to move on to 4th grade. Double Rare!

I know that every child does not start out loving to read the way I did, and the way FancyPants has. Most are probably more like Puddin’ and see it as something they are made to do at school – as work. Much to my dismay, one of the lessons of Motherhood for me has been that the love of books does not come to everyone naturally and for 4 years now we have struggled to get our 9-year-old to settle down and read each night as required by her teachers.

Week after week, night after night – the fights raged on. Books are boring, books are stupid, why do I have to read every night… it was heartbreaking for me. I tried everything I could think of but nothing sparked her interest and every page, every chapter was a battle. Until Judy …

On a whim I picked up a Judy Moody book at the book fair because – frankly it wasn’t that long and with one required chapter book a week, it seemed do-able. I had never heard of Judy or her brother Stink but they were about to become my favorite people on the planet. Puddin’ grudgingly started reading it one Monday evening and to my surprise kept reading it long past the required time limit that night. When I tucked her in she was excited to tell me all about what she had read. Judy, it seemed, was what my dear friend Anne would have called a kindred spirit. “She’s just like me Mama!”

I took the book with me out of her room that night and read it myself  – I too fell in love with Judy. She was indeed, kindred.  Puddin’ finished the book in record time and we celebrated by making our very own “I ate a Shark” t-shirt. We borrowed and checked out the next few and then bought the whole set at the next Scholastic Warehouse Sale.  We were officially hooked. The term “Rare” has become far too over-used in our house.

From the first JM book on, something clicked for her. Books were no longer boring, we did not fight about reading time. For the first time, her reading grades were better than her math grades (might have something to do with stinkin’ fractions but we won’t go there). For the first time, I heard those words that make a mother’s heart sing – “Reading Above Grade Level.”

And today, with two weeks left in this school year, she came flying in the back door from the bus – grinning ear to ear. “Mama’, I’m going to 4th grade! I passed the FCAT!” (Florida requires 3rd graders to have a minimum score on reading to advance to 4th grade) Then I pulled out her planner and saw that score – higher than I let myself even hope for and far above just passing. And I cried a little. Happy Happy Tears -  I told her. She earned it, she worked so hard, fought through all those frustrations but most of all found a friend I know she will have for life..

It has not been an easy school year, it has been full of shaky teachers, mean girls, and fractions but we have ended on a high note. We have a stack of books lined up just for summer. There are even special ones that have been ear marked for camp! She wants to take books with her to camp! 

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer comes out in theatres June 10 which is joyfully the last day of school here in our district. We will officially wrap up 3rd grade by putting on our I Ate a Shark t-shirts and being the first in line to see our new best friend in her very first movie. I cannot imagine a more perfect way to wrap up this year.  I love you Megan McDonald, I don’t know you – but prayers of thanks are in heaven for you tonight.


The New Precious Has Arrived – Concoction Anyone?

I’ve been eyeing these for awhile but it was the Amazon review that said “It’s not an appliance, it’s a lifestyle’” that pushed me over the edge to click the BUY button.

For the record Margaritaville Concoction Maker DM1000 but we just call it The Precious. Purchased from Amazon for $240.00 Something

Poor William and Sonoma – their summer catalogue is what planted the seed for this but alas their price for what is very close to the same product took them out the running. We did however try your Slow Cooked Chicken and Herbed Biscuit recipe while we waited for The Precious to arrive and it was wonderful. Maybe next time.

So back to the story at hand. The Precious has brought with it much joy. And then much pain. I’m talking college sized hangovers, back in the day hangovers. Ughh. But it only took one night to determine that we were pouring way way too much booze in. We are now pouring in moderation, and there is joy again.

Note: The kids LOVE it to. They are having a blast making smoothies, kid daiquiris, and the big surprise – shave ice -  in it. Yes you can just have it shave a pitcher of ice and then scope that out into bowls for Hawaiian Shave ice. So it’s been a treat for the whole family.

At this rate it will more than pay for itself in fun and entertainment as the summer progresses.


5-23-2011 9-27-34 AM

Disney Dream Day 3: Paradise Discovered

Okay so I got away from finishing up the Disney Dream cruise review so I need to get caught up before I forget it all. One thing that’s easy to remember though is how great the Castaway Cay island is. I had been on Royal Caribbean’s version of the “private island” so I had an idea what to expect but Disney I think kicks it up a notch, just because it’s so Disney in it’s perfect white sandy perfect-ness.

We were one of the first off the boat and grabbed a spot on the beach and then then I took the girls and hit several character shoots. There are several character shot ops lined up first thing and we hit them all.


  DSC_7677      DSC_7688

The spot we choose on the beach was right up from the play thing in the middle. The bathrooms were close behind us and the kids had lots of room to play on the beach.

Note: Notice both my girls are in boy’s swim trucks and long sleeve swim shirts – this is a trick we Florida moms use for long beach days. When you’re going to spend the whole day on the beach forget the cute little bathing suits  – you’ll save yourself the effort of piling on 10 tons of sunscreen and they do a better job of keep the sand out of those chafey places. With the right color combos you can create a look that’s plenty cute, allows for real beach play and sun protection for your daughter than a girl suit can provide. Grumpy sun burned, sand scratched raw kids are no fun

Note #2: Even as a Florida mom, I underestimated the strength of the Caribbean Sun. Our normal amount of day at the beach sun screen didn’t hack it and everyone started showing signs of pink after only a few hours. The sun down there is stronger than anything you have at home – even in the south. Bring extra sun screen, and no matter how strong it is apply hourly. Everywhere!

  DSC_7697      DSC_7708

Puddin’ tried her hand at snorkeling for the first time. Another thing to note for the inexperienced – if you’re going to snorkel, the backs of your legs and arms need a lot more sunscreen than you would ever put on them normally … just saying.


Just to prove the perfectness of the whole island they have even trained the fish to swim right up to you – joking! But seriously, I’ve spent years attempting to take pictures of fish while scuba diving and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten on so fully posed as this one! These guys are just so used to people they don’t have the normal “Swim Away!” instinct that fish on the reef normally do.


We spent most of the day in just our one little spot or snorkeling. Late in the day we did head over to the waterslide thing but even that late in the day it was 40 minutes for Puddin to swim out and wait in line to go down the dinky little slide. Totally NOT worth it.


Other than that there is really not a lot else to say, it after all a beach. How much can you go on. The food on the island was great though, and we had heard a lot of complaints that it felt a bit crowded and it was hard to find beach chairs but we did not experience that. There seemed to be plenty of room for everyone around the island and toward the end of the day all the pre-made specialty cocktails were put on 2 for 1 so they could rid of them! Score.

We headed back into the ship about 3 so we had plenty of time clean up and relax before dinner. Saw this interesting perspective of the AquaDuck from the dock.


Bonus .. after dinner we got to watch final 4 action on the the big screen on the deck!



Next I’m going to put together a post about the dining room and few other miscellaneous things.