Here I Am, Stuck In the Winter With You - 2

The following is a continuation of last month's bonus article. Still wondering what to do when you're stuck inside this winter? Here are more great ideas to get you unstuck.

Enjoy the ultimate comfort meal
Why, it’s grilled cheese and tomato soup, of course!



Organize a video game marathon
Video game Olympics – family style! Players and observers alike will have the best time. Just make sure to include everyone in the fun.

Bake something
Warm chocolate chip cookies – need I say more?

Popcorn and movie night
Just pop up those kernels (maybe search the web for great flavorings to add to your treat) and get comfy with your family and enjoy your favorite movies – or catch up on some you’ve missed in the theater



Exercise that brain
Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, so many ways to relax while giving your brain a good workout.

Board games
Break out the Monopoly, chess, Scrabble, Settlers of Catan or any of the other fun board games you have on hand. Clear off the kitchen table and game day begins!

Try yoga
There are plenty of beginner yoga sites online to get you started. It’ll feel so great to stretch out those muscles.


Best Young Adult Books of 2017

Below find some of the best books for young adults published in 2017. You’ll note familiar names and some much anticipated returns. With a long winter on our doorstep, these are books that you might want to gather up to get you and your teen through the season’s inevitable cabin fever.

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

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Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of his groundbreaking novel The Golden Compass to expand on the story of Lyra, "one of fantasy's most indelible characters." (The New York Times Magazine)

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who noticed everything, but he himself was not noticed.  And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy….

Malcolm's parents run an inn called Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. 

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him. 

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra. 

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. Malcolm will brave any danger and make shocking sacrifices to bring her safely through the storm.

The Backstagers by James Tynion

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When Jory transfers to an all-boys' private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, he is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen.

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

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A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Being the middle child has its ups and downs. But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family including-

Maya, her loudmouthed younger biological sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

Joaquin, their stoic older biological brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

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In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. Together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. 

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

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When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she'd imagined won't be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather's estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family's employees is missing, and coincidentally he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital. 

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she witnesses firsthand some of the prejudices they've grown used to-a stark contrast to her own upbringing-and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation. 

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travelers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

Here I Am, Stuck In the Winter With You

Wondering what to do when you're stuck inside this winter? Here are 10 great ideas to get you unstuck.

Plan your Summer Vacation
This is the perfect time to daydream, surf the net, start making those plans!


Make Candy
There are many easy recipes online and videos to guide you, if needed. Pick an afternoon and create sweet treats along with sweet memories.

PJ Day
Put on your most comfy pjs, gather your cozy blankets, pick up that book you’ve been wanting to get to, or the stack of magazines just waiting for your free time. Do some serious lounging for a day!

Go all out and make an awesome breakfast
French toast, cocoa, omelets, pancakes, treat yourself to a special meal to start your day.

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Build a Fort
Gather together a few chairs, pillows, plenty of blankets or quilts and transform your living room into a fun fort!

Catch up with out-of-town friends and family
Skype, Facetime and other connection apps make it easy to stay in touch. Set aside some time and reconnect!

Rearrange the furniture, hang your pictures and posters in different places, make new curtains. It’s fun and will give you a fresh new space without having to spend a lot of money.

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Build an Indoor Obstacle Course
Use pillows, furniture, toys and burn off some of that pent-up energy.

Have a Dance Party
Enjoy those albums and playlists you’ve collected. Turn it up loud and dance away!

Get Creative and Make Something
Paper crafts, jewelry making, sewing and painting instructions can be found online to suit most any whim. You can also check out Joann’s, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or other craft stores for great ideas.

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So, You Have A High School Student: Tips for making it through the next four years successfully


So, you have a high school student. These years are going to fly by and even though your job as parent is different when you have a teen, you still play an important role in your child's life. Your teen will become more independent with each passing year. At this point he's beginning to really understand that his course selections, his grades, and extracurricular activities all count. He has to pay attention to graduation requirements and building a transcript.  Your job as a parent is to guide him, keep him on-course, to stay involved. What does that mean?

  • Be involved. Attend parent-teacher conferences, back-to-school events, and other parent meetings. Learn as much as you can about your teens' curriculum, homework assignments and classroom expectations. Stay on top of their performance in each class. Get in touch with teachers and school counselors if you have questions or concerns. Join the school’s PTA/PTO, attend events, volunteer. You want to be connected in order to really find out what is going on rather than relying on your children to tell you. You’ll learn an awful lot by spending time with school staff and other parents as well.
  • Work to understand course selection and take the advice of the experts. It’s important to make sure your teen is on track to complete state graduation requirements as well as signing up for classes that are appropriate for his ability level. Pay attention to teacher recommendations, be realistic and supportive. Your teen needs to be stretched and challenged, but overwhelming him with coursework that isn’t a good fit isn’t going to end well. On the flip side, you don’t want your child to be sitting in a class that isn’t challenging enough. The school staff will be able to advise and guide your teen so listen to what they have to say.
  • Maintain a healthy balance. Between academics, athletics, the after-school job, social life, and other activities, our teen have a lot on their plate. You want him to be successful, to be connected, to have activities and have fun, but there has to be a good balance. Help him to understand that school is his first priority and that class choices and grades will play a big part in determining what options he will have post-graduation.  Make sure that there is a quiet place to complete schoolwork at home and make sure to keep the use of smart phones and other technology in check during study time.  Additionally, seriously consider the time commitment required for outside-of-school activities and adjust schedules and patterns as needed in order to keep a healthy balance. Paying attention now will be a lot easier than dealing with problems when your teen finds himself in crisis mode.
  • Set reasonable expectations regarding curfews and going out on school nights. Know who your child’s friends are, who they are hanging out with and where they are spending their time. You’re not being over-protective, you are being a parent.
  • Seek information about post-secondary planning and guidance. You want your teen to be successful, to find a career that he loves, and to be financially independent one day. It’s important to be supportive of his dreams. It’s also important to be realistic. It’s a big world out there with countless options to pursue. Help your teen with that information search and decision making.  Meet with the school guidance counselor and gather enough information to lay out a road map that will include planning coursework, setting goals, staying motivated, ensuring that requirements are met, and include steps to evaluate and change things up as needed.
  • Encourage your teen to seek out job shadowing opportunities so he can spend a day (or more) with someone who is already working in their desired field. This will allow him to see what a particular job is like on a day-to-day basis, what the working conditions are like, what they like or dislike, and finally about what it takes to be successful from an expert in that field.  The experience will either be a great motivator or a reality check, but it’ll be a great opportunity to explore.  Attend the school’s college planning information events and don’t necessarily wait until junior or senior year to start gathering this knowledge. Give yourself plenty of time to learn, ask questions and explore. Guidance counselors can tell you about entrance requirements, testing requirements, financial expectations and assistance and can help guide you and your teen through that process.
  • Get help now if you find that your teen is struggling academically, socially, emotionally, or with substance abuse. High-schoolers have more independence than they’ve had before, but with that comes added temptations.  Keep track of academic progress, notice changes in behavior, be observant, stay connected and talk with your teen every day. Navigating the high school years is difficult but there are a lot of professionals in your area that can step in and help when it’s needed, including school counselors, private counselors and professional tutors.  A professional can be a good sounding board, offer suggestions and direction, and can think about the situation objectively and unemotionally during a trying time.  

I hope that these tips and this information will help you stay connected with your teen and his school, and will lead to a successful high school experience.