Once Upon a Bookshelf – “I Love You, Michael Collins”

I Love You, Michael CollinsI Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I Love You, Michael Collins is not a true story, but I’m sure it hits home with a lot of people when it comes to the “celebrities” that they look up to.

In this story, Mamie, is directed to write a letter to one of the three Apollo 11 astronauts. With most students picking Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, Mamie takes a different route and writes to the main pilot, Michael Collins. Mr. Collins is almost never mentioned by anyone (most people don’t know who he even is) but Mamie takes it upon herself to let him know just how great he is.

A one time assignment to write a letter becomes a passion for Mamie. She writes him a letter almost everyday until the day he lands safely back on earth. She writes about her family problems, her best friend, Buster, her cat, Campbell, and asks him all sorts of questions about his life and family.

What I love most about this book is that she is rooting for the underdog. I’m sure there is a better way to say that, but I can’t think of one currently. Mamie learns everything she can about this man and comes to find out that it was a struggle for him to get to where he is. She also realizes that he may be the most important one on the Apollo 11 mission; without him, no one will get home.

The emotions that Mamie goes through during the story are vivid in her messages to Mr. Collins. Haven’t you ever just wanted to tell someone everything that’s on your mind? Although she had never met this man and he didn’t get most of her letters before his trip to space, she feels confident that he’s reading them and that he cares. Back when a time when there was no social media to connect with people that we admire, letter writing was the only way to go and there are no “read receipts” for snail mail.

I thought that some of the issues that Mamie had to deal with, like both of her parents more or less abandoning her and her sisters being unaware of how to take care of a ten year old were a little too much for this story. I understand she needed something to write to Mr. Collins about but it just seemed weird and out of place and something that wouldn’t actually happen, even in 1969 (but I could be wrong).

If you love space, diaries, the moon, and kids becoming friends with adults, then this is a book for you. It will make you smile, laugh, and even cry a little but it’s a story with heart.

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May 6th. I love it.

Yay, love.

First up this week, Movie Pass. I love it. Because of this handy-dandy little card, I went to the movies twice this week. On Friday, I saw “A Quiet Place” which was so so good but would have been better if everyone else in the theater would have been quiet. If we were all in “A Quiet Place,” I would have been the only one to survive. I wouldn’t even let myself cough during the movie. On Saturday, I saw “Ready Player One” which was good but very different from the book (which I loved) so I thought it could have been way better. They took out a lot of the dramatic scenes that were thrilling in the book!

I love it.

Next up, DIY projects. I love it. I’ve been looking for a way to display my medals for TKD and my belts and after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby, I came home with the supplies necessary to build my own. By buying a shelf (but turning it upside down) and some hooks that I could screw into the shelf by hand, easy-peasy no mess display.

I love it.

Finally, Music and Nosh. I love it. My school had an event this week that was kinda like dinner theater. You ate dinner and then several students sang. I didn’t make it in time for the dinner portion, but I did go and listen to the kids sing and as usual, I was blown away by how talented they are. I’ve always loved going to the theater and I’m glad that I don’t have to go far to see some real talent.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.


Design Thinking Challenge – Beach Obstacle Course

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with our fifth grade class to Ship Island in Gulfport, MS. We consider this their capstone adventure for the year and while there, they learn about Fort Massachusetts, tested the water, did an art project, and did a design challenge with me on the beach. The trip doesn’t always look this way and as this was my first time on the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect and I got to decide what I wanted my station to be.

Initially, I thought I would do a team building activity. Being a PE teacher, it’s something that I would naturally do. Beach Blanket Volleyball seemed like a fun idea, or even beach soccer, but I wanted my station to be a little more stimulating. I also thought about the “forts” that were being built on our playground by the students – they had asked a neighbor for his bamboo and they went to work building these forts with so much passion and energy – and then they had to take them down because wars were breaking out. I loved this because I was a kid that was always exploring and making forts and building things with legos, stuff I found in my shed, or pretending a tree was my home.

How could I let them build something to bring the thrill of creation back to them?

My idea for a Beach Obstacle Course actually came from my desire to not bring anything with me and also from recently doing an obstacle course for Tae Kwon Do. It worked out perfectly! The challenge was to find things on the beach like driftwood, shells, sand, water, and what-not and design an obstacle course with at least 8 elements.

I was blown away by the courses that the groups built. There were 4 groups using more or less the same things and they built 4 completely different courses. Some courses used balance beams, jumps, and crab walks. Others included crawling into a hole they dug and had elements that required throwing at a target. The things that my students came up with were amazing and I’m so proud of them.

I do challenges like this with my students in the gym from time to time. I give groups the same equipment and it’s up to them to create a brand new game using that equipment. The same thing happens – no group creates the exact same game. I call it Playmaker Day.

Seeing the way the students approached this challenge and worked together made my day on the beach getting eaten by sand fleas totally worth it!

Once Upon a Bookshelf – “Reflection”

Reflection (Twisted Tales, #4)Reflection by Elizabeth Lim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was already a huge fan of the Twisted Tales series before I read this book and what this book has done has made me an even bigger fan!

In this retelling of Disney’s “Mulan”, the story picks up right after Shan Yu has started to attack Mulan and her troop on the mountain side. With no more ammo and time running out, Mulan bravely takes their last cannon and shoots it at the mountain, creating an avalanche, covering the Huns in it’s path. Shan Yu, leader of the Huns, manages to get one blow in before he’s covered, aiming for Mulan but getting her leader and friend Li Shang instead.

Once the snow clears, Li Shang is on the verge of death and Mulan takes it upon herself to save him. Little did she know that praying to her ancestors would bring her Shang’s guardian, a lion named Shi Shi, that arrives to take her to Diyu, the underworld. There, she negotiates with the king of the underworld in an attempt to bring her friend back home – he’s not ready to die. He still has a lot to do for China.

Battling through 99 levels of the underworld proves to be difficult not only because of the trials the team faces but also because of the spirits that are there to misguide them along the way. It’s a thriller in every sense of the word.

You know what I love about this book? It was unpredictable. I thought I knew what was going to happen and found myself with my jaw dropped on several occasions. The twists and turns remind me a lot of one of my favorite TV shows, “Once Upon a Time”, which is also in the Disney franchise and intertwines stories and characters in such a way that is so impressive you could die.

I also loved that I learned more about the Chinese culture, especially their thoughts on honoring your ancestors and what happens in the afterlife. Learning that some spirits wait forever in a place, waiting for their turn to go to heaven, and some never making it there was sad but informative. I also learned that some people are reincarnated while others have debts to pay before they can move on.

If you are a fan of fairy tales, Disney princesses, or thrilling adventures, then this book is for you. I would recommend you check out the other Twisted Tales and be on the lookout for the newest one “Part of Your World” coming out in September.

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April 29th. I love it.

First up this week, field trips. I love it. This week alone I went on three field trips. The first one was the 6th grade day of service where we went to Second Harvest Food Bank. Then it was a trip to the zoo with the 7th and 8th grade Latin scholars. The week was rounded out with a trip to Gulfport, MS to Ship Island with the 5th grade. Nothing like a little quality time with the kids! I’m hoping that my schedule will be relatively normal for a little while at least.

I love it.

Next up, “Phenomenon.” I love it. Have you heard of this movie? It’s an oldie but a goodie. John Travolta basically becomes a superhero and learns all of these new things and helps all kinds of people. The ending is actually really sad but it’s been one of my favorites for a long time. It’s on Netflix so watch it!

I love it.

Finally, breakfast at Caffe Latte Da! I love it. I haven’t been there in forever and I have seriously be craving their strawberry pancakes so I went this morning. It was everything I hoped and dreamed. I’m sad that I don’t live as close to it as I used to – that’s one of the reasons I don’t go very often anymore. It’s my favorite breakfast stop in NOLA which is saying a lot because there are some excellent breakfast places.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.

April 22nd. I love it.


First up this week, getting my new belt. I love it. Last weekend I tested for my level 2 green belt and passed! I actually wasn’t expecting to because I messed up on my form but I guess no one noticed? Hey, I’ll take it. I even signed up for the World Championships for tae kwon do in July. I’ll be going to Birmingham (hopefully with my level 3 green belt) to show off my skills and maybe win some medals. We’ll see.

I love it.

Next up, Elizabeth Lim’s “Reflection.” I love it. This is the 4th installment of Disney’s A Twisted Tale series but the first one by this author. I absolutely loved all of the other books in the series (check out my book reviews) and this one did not disappoint. How did they twist the tale of Mulan? She travels to the underworld to save Li Shang! Twists and turns and craziness and I am so in love with this book. I can’t wait until “Part of Your World” by Liz Braswell comes out in September!

I love it.

Finally, finishing classes. I love it. This week I finished my current grad school class 10 days early. I loved that this class was at your own pace and I was able to figure out my time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Jealous? You should be.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.