Newbery | Jacob Have I Loved

Jacob Have I Loved

“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated . . .” With her grandmother’s taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved.

Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her friends, her mother, even her name. While everyone pampered Caroline, Wheeze (her sister’s name for her) began to learn the ways of the watermen and the secrets of the island, especially of old Captain Wallace, who had mysteriously returned after fifty years. The war unexpectedly gave this independent girl a chance to fulfill her childish dream to work as a watermen alongside her father. But the dream did not satisfy the woman she was becoming. Alone and unsure, Louise began to fight her way to a place where Caroline could not reach.

I did it! I read my first Newbery Gold Medal winner–Jacob Have I Loved, if the enormous image of the book didn’t tip you off. I posted a picture of the book on instagram and apparently gave someone traumatic middle school flashbacks. Hah! I have no such flashbacks because my librarian, Mrs. Green, wouldn’t let me read it because it “was not appropriate for a 6th grade girl.”

This book went along with me wherever I went the last couple of months, but I didn’t really start reading it until the other day, when I failed this fun BuzzFeed quiz on Newbery winners. How embarrassing. I’ve read ONE, The One and Only Ivan. I’ve read a ton of silver and honorable mention books, so I guess that’s something. You can see the list of gold medal winners in this post.

Jacobe Have I Loved, 2

There’s Mrs. Green’s infamous red pen! I have no idea who Emma is, but I know she wasn’t in 3rd grade. Not on Mrs. Green’s watch! That must stand for the number of “soiled pages” attributed to the slovenly Miss Emma. I told the 4th graders about Mrs. Green the other day, and how she wouldn’t allow us to say a word when we were in the library. She monitored what we read like hawks and and ran that thin-walled mobile trailer like a military base. Then, I told them how I walked to school in the snow uphill, both ways.

Jacob Have I Loved was good in a sad way, so of course I loved it. Nothing like sibling rivalry that never really gets resolved to warm the cockles of my cold, black heart. Toss is a 14 year old’s crush on a 70 year old man, an insane Methodist grandmother, loving but clueless parents, and the struggle to find your identity on an island off Maryland in 1945, and you’ve got the makings of a book you will never forget.

Books with Bullies


I received a couple of emails asking for book recommendations, which I love. I don’t have all the answers, but I do like researching, and I’m smart enough to know when I’m out of my depth or when more than one voice may be beneficial. One email, in particular, struck close to home. It’s about bullying. Or, maybe bullying isn’t the right word, because I think that word gets overused. Playground politics might be a better way to describe the weirdness that surrounds 4th – 6th grade boys.

This year has been challenging for Mikey. He’s sensitive to teasing, even when the teasing is harmless and comes from his best friends. He, however, has no problem teasing other kids. He’s also prone to bottling up his frustrations. Top this with his elephantine memory and grudge holding capabilities, and we have a boy who loses his temper over something small because he didn’t address weeks ago an issue that really bothered him.

Here’s part of the email I received the other day.

Hi Jules,

I have a favor to ask of you, my 11 year old grandson has been acting out a bit at school (who knows why). This week he said some very hurtful things to a classmate. My daughter has talked with him about how our words can be so hurtful and actually shape another’s personality and how they view themselves. Do you know of a good book dealing with bullying and is one that will help to drive home the emotional side of these kind of actions? A novel with emotional impact.

She goes on to say that her grandson is an impressionable reader. He is one of those readers who can immerse himself in the characters, so reading a story about the other side of bullying might open his eyes to a new perspective. It’s a technique I’ve used with Mikey in the past–and present–because he, too, is an impressionable reader.

My immediate thought was Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. This is such an incredible book. I’m reading it to 4th through 7th, and they all love it. August is a boy with Treacher-Collins syndrome who finds himself in middle school after a life of homeschooling. His frequent reconstructive surgeries made homeschooling the natural choice. He has issues with a mean boy. He struggles to make friends. A friend betrays him. It’s an amazing book, not just because it deals with “bullying,” but because it also deals with mistakes. August knows that most people don’t mean any harm. They’re curious. How R.J. Palacio came up with the story is also inspiring, even though it did make me cringe. This is important, though, because it proves good people screw up. Then they learn from their mistakes and do better next time.

There is a scene in the book where August’s friend Jack teases him about his face. August and Jack can’t stop laughing, and at that point I stopped reading and asked Mikey’s class why they thought it was okay for Jack to tease August about his face, but not Julian (the “bully”). Mikey shot his hand up in the air and said, “Because Jack is August’s friend, and August knows he’s not saying it to be mean.” Then we got into a discussion about different types of humor, and how some people have dry humor, some people are sarcastic, and some people just like regular jokes. Your job as a friend is to know what kind of humor your friends enjoy and act accordingly.

It’s a great, great book.


I think I forgot to recommend that book in my reply email, if you can believe it. I was so consumed with presenting more than one option that I forgot to include my first pick! Lame, but so completely me. Anyway! I found a few lists of books and thought I’d share them here. If you have more books to recommend, please do so! That’s the whole point of this post. :)

This list on Goodreads is good, though some of the books may be too mature. 13 Reasons Why, for example, is about a suicide.

13 Reasons Why

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

The book is for ages 12 and up, so it is a middle school book, but I haven’t read it so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the age range. I would like to read it, and I’ve heard great things about it, but it’s been almost a year and I still haven’t worked up the courage–and I’m a person who likes her books dark!

PBS has a list of books about bullies. It seems tamer, more appropriate for a younger crowd.

Finally, the state of Washington put together a comprehensive list of books called Recommended Children’s Books On Bullying/Friendship Issues. That link is to the .pdf file. I hope it doesn’t automatically download to your computer! On my end, it opens up to a new viewing window/page with the option to download or print.

Okay! Whew. Everyone still here? That’s all I’ve got, fiction-wise. I’m reading a book for adults and Mikey is reading this book on handling friendships. Again, suggestions welcome.

p.s. How do you like that 80s Blubber cover? I read that book in middle school, and it’s still in the library–or at least that same issue. I should check and see if my name is on the card! That would be something else.

Mikey and the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Preserve

My mother in-law is a nature person, a hiking/camping former Colorado girl. Several times a year she hikes the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Preserve with her grandchildren. It’s something she does with each of them once they turn 8 years of age. Last year was Mikey’s first time, and he loved it. This year, I thought it would be fun to send him with my old iphone. I told him to take all the pictures and videos he wanted.

The first few pictures were what I was expecting.

SR selfie Collage

Behold: Mikey’s first #selfie! Chin up? Check. Smirk? Check. He still needs to work on eye contact portion.

I once read that, despite wanting to minimize the gender differences in boys and girls, researchers found boys and girls had typical, ingrained actions and reactions to certain stimuli. Erik Erikson’s study on block play (boys build up and girls build enclosed/interior spaces) is probably the one I’m thinking of, but that’s a controversial study many researchers haven’t been able to replicate. Interesting fact: it took Lego years to figure out how to get girls to play Legos. They relied on Erikson’s research as well as their own to create a product that would sell, and it’s why the Lego Friends sets for girls focus on interiors and details.

Selfies are the new Legos, and boys will smirk while the girls duckface. Shhhhhh. We’ll ignore the fact that I’m a girl who almost exclusively smirks in selfies for the purpose of this post.

The rest of Mikey’s pictures shocked me. They were good. Some of them really good. These are unedited, straight out of the iphone.

SR Plateau, 2

SR Plateau, 3

SR Plateau, 6

SR Plateau, 8

SR Plateau, 9

SR Plateau, 10

SR Plateau, 7

These I edited, but only slightly. I increased the saturation just a bit because the sunshine washed out the colors. The second one is my favorite. I love it.

SR Plateau, 5

SR Plateau, 4

And now, the videos. You guys, the videos. It’s like The Blair Witch Project meets Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

This first one is mainly Mikey commenting on the scenery, my mother in-law warning him (several times) about poison oak, and Mikey not really caring about poison oak.

There is a historic ranch adobe on the preserve. Mikey did a video tour of it for us and he is so confident, so excited, so completely full of it. I can’t stop laughing at his comments. It’s clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but heck if that’s going to stop him.

This last one, though, is our favorite. The Mister says it’s the kid’s version of Double Rainbow, but with bunnies and squirrels and a high speed chase.

Good job, Mikey. Maybe we’ll him a camera for his 10th birthday.

SR Plateau, 12

The William Morris Project: 2014 |I Love Boxes

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The William Morris Project

Spurred on by the success of my bill drawer re-do, I decided to revisit ” target=”_blank”>battery box and candle drawer, which took me two attempts to organize. More because it was boring more than anything else. Check out that original ‘before’ picture! What you don’t see in the last ‘after’ was the pile of candles (tapers, tea lights, etc.) that I squeezed into that small space on the right.

Drawers, 5

Having a battery box is an idea I took from my mom. She has always stored all her batteries in an old shoe box with BATTERIES spelled out in gold vinyl letters. It was so convenient to know exactly where to go for batteries because this was the age of Walkmans, “Ghetto” Blasters, and Nintendo Game & Watch. We used batteries. Hard. She still has the same box with the same letters, by the way.

Best thing I ever did was to implement the battery box. Everyone knows where to look if they need a battery. Even Nico! He knows where to go and he puts things back…most of the time. The only problem I had was with the loose batteries. Apparently, it completely and totally not safe? The jury is still out on this. Some people claim YOU CAN BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN, YOU FOOL! And other people are all, eh, just don’t store them loose next to other metal objects if you want to avoid a short.

Batteries Box, 1

I decided to take the cautious route (shocking) and store them in a plastic container from Michael’s. Everything I read on the internet aka “where everything is true,” said to top loose 9v batteries with electrical tape or duct tape. All other loose batteries should be taped loosely together to keep opposite ends from coming into contact. All batteries have the Cheese Touch.

If you think I’m opening up packages of new batteries and organizing them into slots and then wrapping them in tape, you are seriously high. This is for already opened battery packs only.

AV Box, 1

Candle Box, 1

I transferred all our AV cords and chargers into a smaller plastic box. I did the same with our telephone equipment, though I should revisit that box and see if it’s necessary to keep the contents.

Boxes, 1

So much more room! Much better.

Let’s Talk About Home Financial Management!

Book Keeping

I’m done! I finished the curriculum committee report yesterday and then promptly took a nap. When I woke up, I finished the last of our taxes. Once again, I feel like life might be worth living.

This is the latest I’ve ever been with our taxes, and that’s because this is also the most unorganized I’ve ever been. Back in my previous life, when I had careers that involved numbers and law, I balanced our accounts to the penny using QuickBooks. I had an enormous adding machine and special pens and pretty office supplies. These days, all I have is an accordion file and pencils that need sharpening.

Home financial management isn’t pretty, but its necessary. This post won’t give you anything worth pinning if you’re the type of person who likes pretty pictures. But, if you’re like me and covet information and advice, I have a feeling this is a post that will be worth bookmarking. I want to know how you organize your bills, keep paperwork handy for taxes, and stay financially organized.

For example: thermal receipts. They fade. Even when stored in a cool, dry environment, they last about 5 years. I keep all my tax-deductible items for 7 years. My tax preparer told me that a faded receipt will no longer serve as proof of a deductible item. That makes sense, of course, but I don’t want to photocopy every single receipt we bring into the house. I’ve heard good things about receipt scanners, but those cost between $150-$350 for boring in a box. The Mister says there is now a NeatApp, which looks promising, but there aren’t many reviews available.

Surely there’s a way to handle all your finances in one spot? Preferably a spot that isn’t putting you at risk for identity theft? Banking, bills, receipts…possibly the most boring post I have ever written.

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.