Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Summer Camp

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Alas, with the 4th of July and other extra activities, my guest bloggers were unable to contribute to the blog last week. Nana to the rescue!

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Summer Camp Theme of the Week: Gardening

Gardening is near and dear to my heart. Add outdoor and nature connections, and the setting and theme is just perfect.

Some activities we did during Gardening Week:

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~ We made dandelion play dough! Look on Pinterest for several different recipes. Tips from Nana: Use a LARGE blender or food processor for the boiling water and dandelions. Both of my prospects were too small and leaked. All over. Use MORE dandelions than you think you will need. We didn’t get as much yellow as we wanted, so added a bit of yellow gel food coloring. I doubled the recipe, since 5 gardeners wanted to explore.

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~ We watered. Of course. They are all quite adept at handling a variety of gardening watering implements. We also refilled the fountain numerous times. Like the grands, I’ve been enjoying the quick dip of a smaller watering can into the fountain to tend to tiny water needs. As a result, fountain water disappears much quicker than one would expect.

~ We dissected a sunflower from the Sunflower Forest. We have plenty! It was pretty neat to see baby seeds, petals, the pithy center, and other plant parts in their glory.

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~ After coloring cardboard egg carton sections, we went on a nature collecting hunt, looking for bits of nature that matched the colored sections. Rocks, flowers, petals, leaves, pine cones, bark, pottery shards, glass marbles . . . The grands did enjoy this activity even if all colors did not exactly match.

~ I’ve been wanting to have a nature loom for a long time. With freshly cut wood chunks from a recent trip to wood hunt, the oldest grand Hayden hammered in nails around the edges of one log. I looped jute around and back and forth to create a loom. I think Nana enjoyed this most, but I hope over time they will wander back and add to the nature weaving. I think next week I will have to allow them to hammer all the  nails they want into a sacrificial log. That seemed to be the biggest draw.

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~ The two girl grands, Khloe and Autumn, loved helping Papa transplant root-bound mint out in the pasture. Just for fun. Since it will be mowed with the pasture grass.

~ The youngest, Gage and Autumn, enjoyed giving hair cuts (mowing the hair) to paper plate faces.

~ Swimming! This involved puppy power and hogging of the big pool, but still, cooling fun was had by all.

~ Gardening books were read. Always books.

I had more plans, but the mid-week holiday took out a huge chunk of our Summer Camp time. Until the next week of Summer Camp (camping!), enjoy your July and the rest of this quickly evaporating summer vacation!

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Book Report: Remembering Joseph Chickadee by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

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Remembering Joseph Chickadee

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

Mascot Books, 2019

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I love bird watching and travel with my falling-apart bird identification book at the ready to help me name the birds I see out car windows.

What about the birds I read about in books? Love, love, love birds!

Remembering Joseph Chickadee is a delightfully illustrated picture book telling the story of a bunch of birdy friends saying goodbye and remembering their friend, Joseph Chickadee.

It sounds sad, but it really isn’t. Instead, I enjoyed the stories of friends sharing happy memories of their friend. A Remembering Celebration was held in the woods where Joseph was a leader, helper, and friend to many feathered community members. The different birds told of their encounters with Joseph and all the ways he had helped them. As I read, I thought this picture book would be a perfect way to gently help young mourners as they face the loss of a loved one. And, of course, readers will learn about birds.

Why I Enjoyed this Book:

~ I loved the imagination in the story. A Remembering Celebration for a beloved community leader-grief and celebration in the bird world. Young readers will be able to put their imaginations to good use as they read Remembering Joseph Chickadee.

~ The illustrations are wonderful! I love the collage, watercolor, cut paper look of the different books. This book is very nicely done.

~ The availability of this book for use with grieving children is perfect. Readers can see how others grieve and remember, and perhaps, with gentle discussion, can apply the ideas to their own lives. Not that this book needs to be read only with grieving children, but all young readers can learn empathy as they hear about Joseph.

~ Birds! I learned new information about different birds. Maybe this book will spark an interest in readers to learn more about birds or encourage them to go outside and go for a bird walk.

I thoroughly enjoyed Remembering Joseph Chickadee. Thank you to Nancy Peck Youngdahl for writing this book for readers. Thank you to Mascot Books for my review copy, which I now get to share with the young readers in my family (we just focused on birds last week, one of our summer weekly themes). Thank you!

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Book Blurb:

When wise and kind Joseph Chickadee passes away, other birds of the forest come together to remember him and celebrate all that he did as a leader and friend. Follow along in this story of love, loss, and grace and Joseph’s family and friends say goodbye.

KID KANDY:

Play Dough Nest

Materials: play dough, sticks, leaves, rocks

1. Go for a bird walk. Watch for birds and peek at their nests in trees and shrubs. If you don’t find any nests, look in picture books or online for pictures of nests.

2. Warm up the play dough by playing with it. Form a nest shape on a plate.

3. Decorate the nest with sticks, leaves, or rocks. Birds often add soft materials to the bottom of the nests to protect the eggs and new hatchlings. Find something soft to place in the bottom of the nests. Let your nest dry.

4. Keep watching for birds!

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Khloe and her play dough bird nest (the rocks are eggs).

 


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Book Report: Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon by Kim Chaffee

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Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon

Written by Kim Chaffee

Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Page Street Kids, 2019

 

Blurb from the book:

“Girls weren’t supposed to sweat. Girls weren’t supposed to compete. They were too weak, too fragile, to run distances like the Boston Marathon. That’s what most people thought.

Kathrine Switzer changed their minds.”

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Thanks to Writers’ Rumpus, I received a gift copy of Kim Chaffee’s Her Fearless Run, just born this year! Thank you so much, Kim, Ellen, Carol, and Writers’ Rumpus!

 

I’ve always envied women who have the desire, drive, and determination to run long distances. I do not have those qualities, and would rather hike or walk long distances.

“I didn’t set out to make history; I was just a girl who wanted to run.” – Kathrine Switzer

Her Fearless Run is the fascinating story of Kathrine Switzer, a woman committed to opening the doors for women to run long distances during a time when it was frowned upon and not allowed. At all.

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What I love about Her Fearless Run:

~ I love how skillfully Kim Chaffee wove together real life information with the story of Kathrine standing up to the expectations of a male-dominated sport. I love that Kathrine kept plodding along, facing each obstacle with grit, just as she would in marathons and long distance running.

~ I love the vibrant and informative illustrations and how they lend the air of the past to the story.

~ I love the messages of Her Fearless Run. Girls can do anything! Hard work and perseverance pays off. Individuals can make a difference and impact others. You can do things you enjoy.

~ I love the ease of reading and interesting story that kept me glued to the pages of Her Fearless Run.

~ I love that I can share this book with other young readers and inspire them to go after their dreams and passions.

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Amazon Blurb:

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.

The compelling collage art adds to the kinetic action of the story. With tension and heart, this biography has the influential power to get readers into running. An excellent choice for sports fans, New Englanders, young dreamers, and competitive girls and boys alike.

 

KID KANDY:

Go for a Run!

Materials: chalk, running journal, drawing supplies (crayons, pencils, markers), snack

1. Read Her Fearless Run. How did Kathrine start out as a runner? Can you follow the steps she took?

2. Invite someone to run with you. Use chalk marks to count your laps.

3. Relax after your run by searching online for information about Kathrine Switzer and the Boston Marathon. Are there any marathons hosted near your home? Perhaps you could go and watch one. Our city has a race with adults and younger age groups.

4. Eat a healthy snack, drink cool water, and record your laps in a running journal. Draw a picture of yourself running.

5. Repeat!

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Book Report: The Broken Bees’ Nest by Lydia Lukidis

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The Broken Bees’ Nest

Beekeeping, Makers Make It Work

By Lydia Lukidis

Illustrated by Andre Ceolin

Kane Press, Inc., 2019

 

I won a copy of Lydia’s book, The Broken Bees’ Nest, through Kathy Temean and her blog, Writing and Illustrating. Thanks to Lydia for the delightful copy and to Kathy for introducing me to The Broken Bees’ Nest.

What I like about this book:

I love bees, so this picture book is perfect for me. My current dream is to capture a swarm and put a hive out in our pasture. Guess what The Broken Bees’ Nest is about? Capturing a swarm from a broken hive!

This book is about a beekeeper and how she helps two children rescue bees from a broken hive. It’s also about family and being outdoors and engaging in fun play while enjoying nature. I loved learning more about bees-from the story, the sidebars, and the back matter pages.

This book is easy to read, includes vibrant illustrations, and provides lots of bee information in a fun, engaging way. As my granddaughter said the first time we read it, “Again!”

We’ll keep reading The Broken Bees’ Nest! I think this will help her overcome her fear of bees.

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Amazon Blurb:

Arun and Keya find the perfect tree for a tree house. Too bad it comes with a battered bees’ nest! These bees need a new home―right away! Tying into the popular Makers Movement, Makers Make It Work is a series of fun easy-to-read stories that focus on problem-solving and hands-on action. This charming story explores the Makers theme of Beekeeping and includes explanatory sidebars and an insect-related activity for young makers to try themselves!

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Book Report: Freedom’s Highest Flight by Casey McCall Corbett

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Freedom’s Highest Flight

Written by Casey McCall Corbett

Illustrated by Patrick Powell

Mascot Books, 2019

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I received a review copy of Freedom’s Highest Flight from Mascot Books. Thank you!

Happy May 7, 2019, book birthday, Freedom’s Highest Flight!

I was attracted to Freedom’s Highest Flight because of the bald eagle and football connections. I’ve always been interested in birds of prey and football is on my list of favorite fall activities.

Written in rhyme, Freedom’s Highest Flight tells the tale of both Freedom, the bald eagle mascot for Georgia Southern, and Erk Russell, one of the most famous football coaches for that university.

I enjoyed the imaginative story telling by Erk as he shared Georgia Southern football history with Freedom. I learned more about football strategies, plays, and players. By the end of the book, I was proud of GSU and all of their championship accomplishments. Interesting backmatter is a great addition to the story. Freedom’s Highest Flight is a fun read!

For lovers of college football, team mascots, and football history, Freedom’s Highest Flight is the perfect book choice.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Mascot Books Publishes Freedom’s Highest Flight

By Casey McCall Corbett

Herndon, VA, May 7, 2019: Mascot Books announces the release of Freedom’s Highest Flight by Casey McCall Corbett; Illustrated by Patrick Powell.

Fans of Georgia Southern University will love this tale about one of the most famous football coaches in school history, Erk Russell. Join Freedom the eagle and his pal Erk on a high-flying journey through history to recount the rise of GSU’s football program to winning multiple championships.

Growing up with a father as a football coach immersed Casey into the world of football at an early age. Several of her father’s high school athletes went on to play with Georgia Southern during its infancy of Erk Russell football, when the school was just a college and the program itself had very little funding. Little did she realize she was watching the history and legacy of Georgia Southern football develop and where it would lead her later on in her life.

Her affection for the outdoors and wildlife led Casey to a career as the education coordinator at the Center for Wildlife Education at Georgia Southern University in 2009. It was in this position while being trained to fly Freedom, and the other raptors, that ideas of a book about Georgia Southern Football began to form. The memories of her football past and growing up with a connection to Erk Russell football made her realize she had come full circle with an exciting story to tell.

To set up an interview, reading, signing, or for information regarding Freedom’s Highest Flight, please contact Chris Baker at chris@mascotbooks.com.

Freedom’s Highest Flight is registered with the American Wholesale Book Company, Baker & Taylor, Follett Library Resources, and Ingram, and available online with the following retailers:

AMAZON

BAM! Books-a-Million

BARNES & NOBLE

MASCOT BOOKS

About Mascot Books

Mascot Books is a full-service, multi-genre, independent book publisher and distributor. It is a hybrid publishing company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. Co-founded in 2003 by Naren Aryal, Mascot has published more than 2,500 books in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, children’s, cookbooks, and coffee table books. Learn more at www.mascotbooks.com.

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Book Report: Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson

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Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact

Written by Jennifer Swanson

Published by National Geographic Partners, LLC; 2018

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I received two copies of Astronaut-Aquanaut by Jennifer Swanson, one to keep and one to give to my grandson’s school. We made the delivery in January, giving the book to his teacher. Thanks so much to Jennifer!

You can learn more about Jennifer and her books by visiting her web site.

 

AMAZON BLURB:

Journey from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the farthest humans have ventured into space and learn what it takes to explore the extremes. You might just be surprised by how similar the domains of ASTRONAUTS and AQUANAUTS really are.

Space and the ocean. If you don’t think they go together, think again! Both deep-sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.

With a strong tie into STEM topics–such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas–readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.

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WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK:

Astronaut-Aquanaut is a gorgeous book! Colorful illustrations, photos, graphs, and detailed information fill the pages. Despite ample pictures to look at, the text is skillfully written and explains so many space and ocean concepts! I learned many new ideas and information. I had no idea how similar deep sea science and deep space science are to each other.

This book really is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn about becoming an astronaut or an aquanaut. The pages are filled with so many cool tidbits, factoids, and real life experiences of those individuals who have pursued careers in both fields.

STEM based, Astronaut-Aquanaut is primed for leading young explorers to delve far and wide and learn more about both areas.

This nonfiction picture book, geared for older readers, is an excellent example of a text that instructs, entertains and informs.

Way to go, Jennifer Swanson!


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Book Report: How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

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How to Walk an Ant

Written and illustrated by Cindy Derby

Roaring Brook Press, 2019

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Cindy Derby, Roaring Brook Press, and KidLit411 gifted me with a copy of How to Walk an Ant. Thank you for such a delightful book!

Opening lines:

“My name is Amariyah, and I am an Expert Walker.

No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,

I mean I walk things.”

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Amazon Blurb:

There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done.

This irreverent and quirky picture book, How to Walk an Ant, follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

In the end, this unique book from author-illustrator Cindy Derby shows that as long as you’re doing what you’re best at, you may find a like-minded friend to tag along.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book.

 

Why I Like This Book:

Quirky and irreverent is correct! I loved reading about Amariyah and her efforts to educate me in the best ways to walk ants (always carry plenty of thread, …). The illustrations perfectly match the story and I had to laugh loud and giggle to myself several times as I read. Seriously, which picture book do you know where FUNERAL plans are a part of the appendix?

The writing is clear and entertaining. Amariyah has a unique voice and I love her personality and adventures. A limited palette for the illustrations allows images to pop into life. Add diagrams and insets, and anyone who reads How to Walk an Ant will quickly reach expert level. This book is a fun read.

Spring is here, the best time to practice walking newly emerged ants. Read How to Walk an Ant and then head outside to practice walking ants.

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KID KANDY:

Ants on a Log

Ingredients: celery, peanut butter (or other nut butter if you can’t eat peanuts), raisins

4 Steps to Eating Ants

1. With an adult, wash and cut celery sticks into 3-4 inch pieces

2. Spread peanut butter in the celery (log) trough.

3. Plop ants (raisins) on the peanut butter.

4. Eat ants on a log. Now you are an expert eater of ants.

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Book Report: Borrowing Bunnies, A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits by Cynthia Lord

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Borrowing Bunnies, A Surprising True Tale of Fostering Rabbits

Written by Cynthia Lord

Photographs by John Bald

Illustrations by Hazel Mitchell

Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2019

 

“Come along on a surprising adventure with two very special bunnies as they find their forever families!” (back cover)

I send a special thanks hopping to Cynthia Lord, for gifting me with a beautiful copy of Borrowing Bunnies, complete with three autographs! Thank you for the bunny keepsake! Thanks also goes out to Kathy Halsey and Group Blog for offering the opportunity to win a copy of this adorable bunny tail. Tale. Hop on over to read about great books.

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Amazon Blurb:

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord likes fostering rabbits—or, as she fondly calls it, “borrowing bunnies.” This is the heartwarming true story of the author’s own journey with two very special rabbits.

In the spring of 2016, Peggotty and Benjamin were saved by Maine’s Cottontail Cottage Rabbit Rescue after their previous owners had neglected them. But before the two Netherland Dwarf rabbits could be adopted, Cynthia had to help them learn to trust people and feel safe inside a home. The bunnies slowly settled in, enjoying their clean pens, nibbling new foods, and playing with fun toys, while Cindy’s husband, John Bald, photographed Benjamin and Peggotty’s every step toward adoption. At that time, hundreds of viewers were drawn to Cindy’s Facebook page to watch their progress. Now, she has adapted the rabbits’ true story into a picture book that explores love, responsibility, empathy, and letting go—along with fostering’s many surprises, both big and small.

Young readers will delight in watching these bunnies thrive while also learning a few fun animal facts. With Cindy’s pitch-perfect blend of warmth and real-life experience, Borrowing Bunnies is a new classic in narrative nonfiction.

Things I Like About Borrowing Bunnies:

1. BUNNIES! At once glance, I was in love and wanted to run out and foster (to keep-ok, that is called adoption) a baby bunny! Fortunately, I live in an RV and there is no room for in indoor bunny. Outdoors will not work, as we have a hunting pair of hawks who return each spring to nest, raise their young, and teach them to hunt-right in our pasture.

But read on, friends. Be prepared to spend time and resources to care for, love, train, and snuggle with these cuties.

2. New information. I learned so much about rabbits and their habits. Wonderful illustrations and photographs merge on colorful pages, telling the story of fostering bunnies. I’m still wondering how to potty train a bunny though. Is it like a kitten where you just keep putting it back in the kitty box until it potties and makes the connection? One of my junior high friends had an indoor pet rabbit and it left a trail of bunny pellets everywhere it traveled.

3. Narrative. Cynthia Lord writes in a clean and captivating way, engaging me and explaining along the way. Young readers will love the bunny story and not even notice how much they are learning!

4. Illustrations and photos. Perfect combination of information, character profiles (bunnies), and adorableness.

5. Overall package. This book is just right. Spring, when we tend to think of baby bunnies and other assorted baby animals, is the optimum time to read Borrowing Bunnies. This book would fit right into an Easter basket or collection of spring animal books.

6. Emotions. Some sections of this book will make you cry, laugh, love, and experience loss. Readers are exposed to the emotions connected with fostering and caring for animals. Discussing these emotions will help young readers understand their feelings.

I hope you are encouraged to purchase or check-out Borrowing Bunnies and read all about real life bunnies. Maybe one day you will foster baby animals!

 

KID KANDY:

Here are a few fun things you can do after reading Borrowing Bunnies:

~ hop and leap like a bunny

~ use blankets to make a soft bunny nest for stuffed animals or yourself

~ curl up in your nest and read Borrowing Bunnies!

~ visit a zoo or farm to see and pet live bunnies

~ eat a bunny salad for lunch (carrots, lettuce, radishes, peas)

~ pick dandelions to make bunny bouquets (bunnies love dandelions)

~ use paper, markers, glue stick, and cotton balls to make a bunny picture; draw the bunny with long ears and whiskers; glue a cotton ball on for a tail

Hoppy Day!

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I’m in Love with My New Portable Standing Desk!

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Everyone who is anyone has read about the dangers of sitting long hours. Not that a numb backside, crinkled shoulders, and achy knees will kill you, but sitting and being sedentary just might steal your health and shorten the days you expect to be around to do anything.

As a writer, well, sitting at a computer desk, coffee table, work table, research desk, or any other writerly space is sort of a job requirement.

The challenge is how to stand and write but also be able to access (ergonomically) the keyboard or laptop, mouse, and assorted resources and supplies.

Living in an RV adds additional space challenges. Where would I store a standing desk? How could I use the tiny dining table if a portable standing desk were in place? What about the bump between the slide and the RV floor? Do I need to stand on the hump to work at a standing desk?

After literally spending years contemplating, researching, and giving up the idea of a table top desk, I finally threw up my hands after a particularly long (sitting) writing day. I did a quick Amazon search, found the perfect portable standing desk, checked for size for my 17″ laptop, and ordered it. All within 5 minutes.

I should have done that ages ago!

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This wonderful office accessory arrived a few days after placing my order. It took me a few minutes to figure out the legs, but after that, I realized what a treat it will be to use my new standing desk.

My 17″ laptop fits securely on top of the adjustable angle table, held in place by a shelf. My mouse and pad rest to the right of my laptop and are also held in place by a softened shelf. If you are looking for one for yourself, this is definitely for a right-handed person. Look to see if a left-handed version is available. Coloring is pretty nondescript, but I’m not in it for looks. Purpose is my main goal. It is neutral in color and is sturdy enough that I don’t worry for the safety of my laptop. It does wiggle as I type, but not the kind of wiggle that tells me it’s going to crash down. I love being able to angle the top of the tray, and my wrists appreciate the easy angle when working.

Storage is not an issue either. This tray folds flat. The two shelves that hold up the computer and mouse are a bit raised on one side, while the folded legs are raised on the back. But I found a perfect spot to rest my new work buddy.

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I now have the option to stand and work or sit and work. Hurray!

What took me so long???

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Details of my portable standing desk: [Large Size] Neetto TB101L Adjustable Laptop Bed Table, Portable Standing Desk, Foldable Sofa Breakfast Tray, Notebook Stand Reading Holder for Couch [Personal Computers]

You’re welcome.


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Poser, A Short Story

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“What are you praying for, dear?”

“Peace.”

“Your pose is truly beautiful.”

She glanced his way, insect eyes missing no detail.

“What are you thinking of, my love?”

“Appearances.”

“You look ferociously fit.”

She flexed her legs, wiggled her wings. Let him move close.

“How are you feeling, gorgeous?”

“Hungry.”

 

Poser by Angie Quantrell

 

I wrote this story in response to Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords Writing Contest (50 words total) and a Twitter conversation with @Realistic Poetry about favorite insects. Hop on over to  Vivian’s site to read more short stories.