The Five Cs: Summer Edition

Being that I’ve had an extended absence from my blog, I have a laundry list of topics to address in the coming days and weeks. Before I begin, I ought to address the reasons behind the gap in blog posts.  After all, my last entry dates back to May. Much of my silence ought to be attributed to, what I consider, the Five Cs. No, I don’t mean the 4 Cs of the sparkly diamond kind. Nor the 2013-2014 school year’s “buzz” words referring to the “Four Cs of 21st Century Learning:” Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Critical Thinking. Rather, my time and energies over the summer months revolved around Kids (not mine, as I’m childless), Cats, Cancer, Class and a Conference. Forgive me for the letter-sound based 5Cs as I’m clearly a first grade teacher.

(1) Kids: I spent about 7+ weeks traveling this summer.  The majority of time was spent at my best friend’s home in Dallas, Texas.  I helped her and her husband care for their 3 year old and newborn as well as alleviate some household demands.  The experience not only opened my eyes to new found appreciation of parenthood but also aided me in overcoming my fear of babies.  I honed my diaper changing, bottle-feeding and burping skills as well as my ability to soothe a crying 3 year old in the middle of the night. I’m grateful for opportunity to become part of her family for a month and help them adjust to becoming a family of four.

Baby love.

Baby love.

(2) Cats: Prior to my Texas visit, I drove my beloved cat, Scooter, to my parent’s home in Florida to be cared for and loved while on my extended travels.  For the first few days Scooter appeared contented while he enjoyed the flora and fauna, mainly geckos, that South Florida has to offer. But a week after my departure for Texas, Scooter’s health rapidly declined and he succumbed to cancer.

Scooter.

Scooter.

He had been my best buddy and cuddliest feline roommate for the past 12 years. From his endless game of fetch with Q-tips to his love of water manifested by his jumping in the shower or sink at impromptu times, Scooter was quite a character.  Missing him seemed daunting as was the probable loneliness that I’d experience in my quiet studio apartment back in Virginia.  Just as I began to consider adopting another cat, there ran a local news story on overcrowding of cats in local humane shelters.  Needless to say, a few days later, I welcomed home an adorable kitten, Gretel.  Named after the Brothers’ Grimm heroine, of course!

Gretel @ 3.5 months.

Gretel @ 3.5 months.

(3) Cancer: I planned to return to my parents home for a short visit in late July but that became an extended stay. My mom has cancer, again.  In 1999, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  After six months of chemo and radiation she was in remission and has remained status quo for over thirteen years.  Thankfully, modern science has tools to detect changes in tumor markers as such an elevation in conjunction with PET scans signaled metastatic breast cancer to her C5 vertebrae.  Much of my thoughts have been focused on her (and my dad) in the past few weeks as she heals from surgery removing and reconstructing the vertebrae. Radiation will soon follow in October. My mom is a warrior; she slayed this dragon once before and she’ll do it again!

Mom & Dad Visit Washington, DC (12/2011).

Mom & Dad Visit Washington, DC (12/2011).

(4) Class: Clearly grad schooling is my favorite pastime. From May to August, I completed a prerequisite course for my M.Ed–LL ED 568 Doing Research in Children’s Literature. I am amazed at the theoretical dialogue and collaborative research my classmates and I produced.  Certainly the caliber of critical analysis raised the bar for each of us in our weekly readings, discussion and online posts. Using a wikispace, we drafted a “keyword” entry on the topic of “intertextuality” to delineate how it is defined and relates to children’s literature. Of course, this entry is based on the formulaic presentation from Philip Nel and Lissa Paul’s Keywords for Children’s Literature (2011). In fact, I suggested the inclusion of this keyword to the editors, Nel and Paul at the IRSCL conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands in August. Which bring me to the final C.

Keywords for Children's Literature. Eds. Philip Nel and Lissa Paul. New York & London: New York UP, 2011.

Keywords for Children’s Literature. Eds. Philip Nel and Lissa Paul. New York & London: New York UP, 2011.

(5) Conference: In August I traveled to Brussels, Belgium and then onto Maastricht, The Netherlands to attend the biennial conference of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature.  Amazing!  This conference necessitates its own separate post. I met so many wonderful scholars in the field from all over the world and made new friends along the way.  The breadth of research presented that stems from the intersection of digital media and children’s literature has framed many future research questions for me to explore in the coming years. The hospitality of the University and the events planned around the conference sessions were delightful. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity for my attendance to this IRSCL conference confirmed my decision to pursue a doctorate in the field of children’s literature.

ID Badge from Conference.

ID Badge from Conference.

I suppose that there exists a touch of irony in the fact that I’m too busy to blog during summer vacation but have ample time to blog during the school year.  Regardless, I’m back, happily blogging about all things related to my foray into the field of children’s literature and related topics.

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