Monthly Archives

July 2015

    read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in August 2015)

    In addition to reading all of the back-to-school books I recently posted about, I’ll also be reading the books listed below to the kids.  Enjoy!

    I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn

    My daughter and I adore this book!  A young girl’s mother reinvents her daughter’s favorite dress into smaller pieces of clothing as she grows. From a new shirt to a tank top to a skirt to a scarf, to new socks and a hair bow, this young girl realizes that nothing lasts forever, but memories.

    I Had a Favorite Hat Boni Ashburn

    This is a cute follow-up book to the one listed above.  Equally as cute, but we like the one about the dress better.  At the end of summer, a girl’s mother wants to put away her favorite beach hat but the girl asks to keep it out, then decorates it for each holiday and season from autumn through spring.

    Don’t Spill the Milk by Stephen Davies

    After carrying a bowl of milk on her head across dunes and the River Niger, and even up a mountain, without spilling a drop despite many distractions, Penda gets a surprise when she arrives at the grasslands to give her father his lunch.

    The Disappearing Alphabet by Richard Wilbur

    The Disappearing Alphabet imagines what the world would be like if the letters of the alphabet vanished, in verses on subjects ranging from the ordinary to silly to sublime and existential.

    Alphabeasties by Sharon Werner


    This book turns letters into an artistic menagerie of animals—from Alligators to Zebra. It’s a dazzling package of language arts, design smarts, humor, and fascinating nonfiction content.

    Wait by Antoinette Portis


    As a boy and his mother move quickly through the city, they’re drawn to different things. The boy sees a dog, a butterfly, and a hungry duck while his mother rushes them toward the departing train. It’s push and pull, but in the end, they both find something to stop for.

    Tour America A Journey Through Poems and Art by Diane Siebert

    A lovely collection of poems on some famous American landmarks, accompanied by artwork.  The author takes us through almost every state and their famous landmarks. Additional facts about each landmark are provided, making it interesting and fun!

    Your turn:  What books are your kids reading this month?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in August 2015)

    August is officially here!  Only one more month until both of my munchkins start school on September 1st.  What a bittersweet day that will be for me…sigh!  They are seriously getting too big, too fast.

    Below are the books I’ve chosen for the month of August.  Enjoy!

    Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time with God by Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    When you talk to God, do you ever wonder if He really hears? Do your prayers start to feel rote or routine? Do you sometimes feel you don’t even know how to pray? Jesus is known for turning situations upside down . . . and He can do the same in your prayer life.

    A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer

    When this book recommendation appeared in my e-mail inbox earlier this week I just knew I had to get it!  Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King, raved about this book so I want to check it out for myself.

    A Curious Mind is a brilliantly entertaining, fascinating, and inspiring homage to the power of inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us. Whether you’re looking to improve your management style at work or you want to become a better romantic partner, this book—and its lessons on the power of curiosity—can change your life.

    The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty


    I read the book Big Little Lies in July and it was AMAZING!  If you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!  I enjoy this author’s writing style so much that I had to follow up with another one of her books for August.

    Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

    Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

    No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel


    The pioneering experts behind The Whole-Brain Child—Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J. Siegel, the author of Brainstorm—now explore the ultimate child-raising challenge: discipline. Highlighting the fascinating link between a child’s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior, No-Drama Discipline provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears—without causing a scene.

    Your turn:  Have you read any of these books?  What’s in your reading stack for the month of August?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's literacy

    Literacy Expert Spotlight: Saroj Ghoting

    Our literacy expert for the month of August is Saroj Ghoting.  Saroj Ghoting is an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and national trainer on early literacy. She presents early literacy training and information sessions at national, regional, and state conferences, and training for library staff and their partners.  Her newest book is STEP into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds and includes information on presenting storytimes for mixed-age groups, when newborn to five-year-olds are in the same storytime.


    Saroj, please tell us a little about yourself.
    I am a children’s librarian by profession and after working in Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries for 25 years, I became a consultant. I travel around the country presenting workshops on early literacy to public library staff so that they will, in turn, go out into their communities and help families help their children enter school ready to learn to read.

    What are some activities that promote literacy?
    Well, the most obvious is reading books with children from the time they are born (or even while you are pregnant). Equally important though is talking with your young children. HOW we talk and read with children is as important as that we talk and read with them.

    When talking with babies, for instance, we should use that “parentese” voice, higher pitch, elongated vowels, clearer speech slowing down language, not baby talk, but using regular adult words in this higher pitch. Studies show that until about nine months of age babies listen longer when we speak this way and actually have a larger vocabulary than those who are not spoken to in parentese. And, we want to use all kinds of words, not just nouns like bottle, blanket, applesauce, dog.

    It is important to use rich language—use adjectives, talk about things they cannot see—we are going to visit grandma on Saturday even though they don’t see grandma in front of them. For older children, asking questions that cannot be answered with yes or no to encourage their language is key for later literacy.

    When reading, don’t worry if you can’t get through the whole book. Don’t turn reading into a power struggle. Have a few enjoyable minutes and the more enjoyable it is, the more your child will want to do it. Set aside the phone, turn off the tv, enjoy your few minutes together. Children who have enjoyable experiences around books and reading are more likely to stick with learning to read in school even if it is hard to learn at first.

    What were some of the favorite children’s picture books you’ve read this year?
    Mama’s Day with Little Gray by Aimee Reid
    I’m Not Reading! By Jonathan Allen
    The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
    Where’s Walrus by Stephen Savage
    Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

    What are some other books you like to share with young children?
    I like the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney, the If You Give . . . books by Laura Numeroff, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Jane Cabrera, Over in the Meadow and other titles by Marianne Berkes, Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Rosenthal, A Splendid Friend Indeed by Suzanne Bloom, A Mother for Choco and Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza, Thank You Bear by Greg Foley, Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, Angel Baby by Pat Cummings, Leo Loves Baby Time by Anna McQuinn, Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis, The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson, Mouse Shapes by Ellen Walsh, Blue Sea by Robert Kalan, Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler.

    Besides reading, what are some other things parents can do to set their children up for literacy success?
    I mentioned talking already. Remember talking TO your child is not the same as talking WITH your child and talking WITH your child elicits more language. And how about singing! Even if you can’t sing, sing with your child. There is a distinct note for each syllable which helps them hear the smaller sounds in words which will later help them sound out words when they learn to read.

    As you play with your children, follow their lead. You can add print to what they are doing. Playing restaurant, how about a sign with the name of the restaurant? Playing doctor, how about a sign in sheet, a prescription pad?

    If you could give parents one piece of advice about reading with children, what would it be?
    Whether parents can read well or not, share books with your children in enjoyable ways, relating what is in the book to the child’s experience. This is the basis for comprehension which is so crucial to later reading.  Remember to use factual books as well. Your public library is a great place to go for books and for advice on books you and your children can enjoy together.

    Name a book that:
    a) Inspired you: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
    Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America
    Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
    b) Made you laugh out loud: Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    c) You recommend to others often: Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony Wolf

    What books are on your nightstand or e-reader right now?
    Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

    How can people get in touch with you on social media or on your website?
    Twitter: @sghoting
    Facebook: Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant

    Your Turn:  Did you enjoy this post?  Are you interested in being featured?  Do you know someone who might want to be featured?  Feel free to let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail.

    book reviews, children's literacy, read aloud

    What Pet Should I Get?: A Book Review

    What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss

    In a recent blog post I rounded up a list of upcoming books for children and adults.  One of the books on my list was the long awaited release of What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss.

    Well, today is the official release date and I snagged my copy from a local book store.  I’m looking forward to reading it to the kids tonight during story time!  Of course I couldn’t wait and read it right away.

    Dr. Seuss whose real name was Theodor Geisel died in 1991.  It’s no secret he is known as one of the most beloved children’s book authors of all time. His long list of awards includes Caldecott Honors, the Pulitzer Prize, eight honorary doctorates and other awards.  Geisel wrote and illustrated 45 books during his lifetime, and his books have sold more than 650 million copies worldwide. Though Theodor Geisel died almost 25 years ago, Dr. Seuss still lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages.

    According to Random House, What Pet Should I Get? is believed to be written between 1958 and 1962. The book features the same brother and sister seen in Dr. Seuss’ 1960 classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

    What happens when a brother and sister visit a pet store to pick a pet? Naturally, they can’t choose just one! The tale captures a classic childhood moment—choosing a pet—and uses it to illuminate a life lesson: that it is hard to make up your mind, but sometimes you just have to do it!

    I absolutely love this book!  It’s a charming story about a brother and sister who want to get a pet.  Their parents agree to let them get a pet, but they can only choose one and they must be home by noon.  In the pet store they encounter a few different animals (a dog, a cat, a fish and a rabbit), but they simply can’t make up their minds about which one to get.  Finally, the kids decide which pet to get, but you never actually find out which one they choose.

    As it states in the back of the book, “by ending the story the way he did, Dr. Seuss encourages readers to make up their own minds about how the story ends.”  Therefore, when you read this book with your children ask them which pet they think the kids chose.  I think it was a dog, but that’s because I’m a dog lover.

    The text of this book is typical rhyming text that Dr. Seuss is known for.  The illustrations are great too and really help the story come to life.

    What I love the most about this book is the section in the back that includes notes from the publisher.  You get to find out that Dr. Seuss was a huge animal lover himself, but he seemed to favor dogs the most.  You also get a glimpse into some of the pets Dr. Seuss owned and a behind-the-scenes look at his creative process for writing books.

    If you are a Dr. Seuss fan or collector, you’ll want to add this one to your home collection.  Especially since it may very well be his last published book.  Or who knows, they may find some additional lost manuscripts of other books he’s written.

    For all the animal rights activists and advocates who will argue the kids should have gone to a shelter to choose their pet, please keep in mind this book was written over 50 years ago.  I don’t believe shelters were a common place to find pets back then.  Besides, it’s just a children’s book so enjoy it!

    Now that the release date for this book is here, I can’t wait for the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss to open up next year.  Especially since it will be located in Springfield, Massachusetts which isn’t too far from me!

    Your turn:  Have you had a chance to read this book yet?  What are some of your favorite Dr. Seuss books to read?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    back to school books, children's literacy, read aloud

    My Favorite Back to School Toddler and Preschool Books

    Ah, back to school, the smell of new clothes, crayons, scented markers, and the excitement of a new school year. For some children, September means starting anew with a clean slate.  For others it’s a reunion of friends being united once again.

    Soon many parents will be scouting libraries, websites and bookstores for the perfect “going to school” books.  I think the most popular topics for these books fall into a few different categories:

    • Making new friends
    • Separation anxiety
    • Dealing with new situations, routines and schedules
    • Helping children (and some parents) cope with feelings of anticipation, excitement and nervousness

    Last year when my daughter started preschool in a program for two-year old toddlers, I discovered that starting a new school year is a big transition for the whole family.  Therefore, to help ease this transition for her I started reading books about school.  In addition, I took her to the school regularly to play in the playground so she became familiar with the outside environment.

    I think both of those things helped tremendously although like many of her other classmates she suffered from separation anxiety the most.  It took most of the kids in her class about two weeks to fully adjust.

    I believe reading a variety of books about school and school related topics can help children relate to various situations they might encounter.  And it may also help to spark conversations about their thoughts on a new school year.

    My “Back to School” list includes books for toddlers preschoolers since that is the age range of my own children.  I hope you’ll find these helpful and possibly a few to read to your little ones as well.  Enjoy! (Note: This post contains some affiliate links.)

    O U R   E S C A P E

    Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
    Reading this book to my daughter last year was by far the most helpful in helping with transitioning to school.

    It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes sure he’s ready. They meet the teachers. See the other children. Look at all the books and games. But then it’s time for Mama to leave. And suddenly Llama Llama isn’t so excited anymore. Will Mama Llama come back?  Of course she will. But before she does, the other children show Llama Llama how much fun school can be!

    Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Applet
    When Baby Bird says good-bye to his mama at school each morning, he feels sad. Mama Bird feels sad, too. Sometimes it’s hard to be apart. But as Mama Bird says, the love they share is with them always, keeping them close until the best part of the day–when they are together again.

    The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
    School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

    My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
    This book is similar to the book The Name Jar also featured below.  Such a great book for all children!

    Yoon’s name means “shining wisdom,” and when she writes it in Korean, it looks happy, like dancing figures. But her father tells her that she must learn to write it in English. In English, all the lines and circles stand alone, which is just how Yoon feels in the United States. Yoon isn’t sure that she wants to be YOON. At her new school, she tries out different names–maybe CAT or BIRD. Maybe CUPCAKE!

    First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
    Everyone knows that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach just before diving into a new situation. Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn’t want to start over at a new school. She doesn’t know anybody, and nobody knows her. It will be awful. She just knows it. With much prodding from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane reluctantly pulls herself together and goes to school. She is quickly befriended by Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. This charming and familiar story will delight readers with its surprise ending.

    Dad’s First Day by Mike Wohnoutka
    All summer Oliver and his dad played together, laughed together, sang together, and read together.  Now it’s time for Oliver to start school!  On the first day, Oliver’s dad isn’t quite ready. . . . Suddenly he feels nervous. His tummy hurts, and he would rather stay home.  But Oliver isn’t convinced. What if the first day is really fun? What if it’s the start of an exciting year?

    My Preschool by Anne Rockwell
    Join a happy little boy during a day at preschool, from cheerful hellos in circle time, to painting colorful pictures and playing at the water table before snack time. The best part of saying good-bye at the end of the day is that the little boy knows he will come back tomorrow.

    Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
    This wonderfully warm and humorous book will put any preschooler’s jitters to rest. “The first four months of school for eight first graders are chronicled in wonderful watercolor detail.

    Pete the Cat: Too Cool for School by Kimberly and James Dean
    In this funny My First I Can Read Book, Pete just can’t decide which outfit to wear to school! He has so many options to choose from. Fans of Pete the Cat will enjoy Pete’s creativity in choosing the coolest outfit.

    The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
    I recently wrote a review for this wonderful book.  You can read it here.

    Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious that American kids will like her. So instead of introducing herself on the first day of school, she tells the class that she will choose a name by the following week. Her new classmates are fascinated by this no-name girl and decide to help out by filling a glass jar with names for her to pick from.

    Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
    Ok, who else remembers reading this book as a child?  I used to love this one!

    The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school.  So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value.

    Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins
    Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There’s painting and snack time, stories and nap time (and a bathroom break in between). Soon everyone is ready to haul out the instruments and make some noise, then head outside for a turn at the sandbox or slide.

    Pete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus by James Dean
    Join Pete as he rides on the bus to school with his friends and hears all the different sounds a bus makes as it drives. Fans of Pete the Cat will sing along with Pete in this rendition of a classic favorite children’s song.

    Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London
    Froggy’s mother knows that everyone’s nervous on the first day of school. “Not me!” says Froggy, and together they leapfrog to the bus stop — flop flop flop. Froggy’s exuberant antics, complete with sound effects, will delight his many fans and reassure them that school can be fun.

    The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing
    It’s the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can’t fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he’s too excited about going back! The book’s simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child’s fears about the first day of school.

    Curious George’s First Day of School by H.A. Rey
    It’s the first day of school, and Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple’s class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job—until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue makes green . . . and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess!

    Your turn: What are your favorite “going to school” books to read with your children?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's literacy, read aloud, subscription boxes

    Bookroo: A Children’s Book Subscription

    Have you heard of Bookroo yet?  If not, please allow me to introduce you to this fabulous new children’s book subscription box.

    When Jane from Bookroo contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in writing a review for their subscription box I was so excited and I couldn’t wait for our box to arrive in the mail!  Thank you for this wonderful opportunity, Jane and the rest of the Bookroo crew!


    What is Bookroo?
    Bookroo offers three different subscription types: month-by-month, three-month or six-month. Each month you receive either three board books (if you sign up for board books) or two picture books (if you sign up for picture books).  You are not allowed to select the books you receive, but you can be assured the books will be good quality.

    I know you may be thinking, what makes this subscription box different from all the others out there?  I asked Jane this same question.  What makes Bookroo stand out is the experience they create and the value at which it is offered. While there are other book subscription boxes, by wrapping each book in quality and cute wrapping paper, and including a hand written note, Bookroo brings the excitement of unwrapping and gift giving to books! Also, in every box the retail of the books exceeds the subscription price, so Bookroo customers get the books plus the experience at a discount, rather than at a premium.  Oh yeah, they offer FREE shipping too.  Score!

    In the event you receive books you already own simply take a picture of yourself or your child giving the book(s) to someone else and you’ll get $5 off of your next subscription.  This is great for kids who already have lots of books in their home library collection.

    When our Bookroo package arrived I was thrilled!  I waited until the kids came home from daycare so they could open up the box.  We signed up for picture books so there were two books in our box.  Each booked was individually wrapped by hand with quality wrapping paper and even tied together with twine.  I just love it when companies go the extra mile to make you feel special!

    I wasted no time and read both books to the kids right away.  The book titles we received are: The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner and Dream Away by Julia Durango and Katie Belle Trupiano.  The kids seemed to enjoy both books, but if we had to choose a favorite between the two it would be the book Dream Away.  My kids seem to love books with rhyming text, plus it’s a good bedtime story.

    Ready to find out how you sign up for your Bookroo subscription?  Remember, there are 3 different subscription types to choose from:

    • 1 month – $19.99 with FREE shipping
    •  3 month – $55.99 with FREE shipping
    • 6 months – $104.99 with FREE shipping

    As a bonus: The Bookroo crew was gracious enough to provide an exclusive discount code to share with my readers.  This discount allows you to save $4 off your first order!  Get your Bookroo discount here!

    And it gets even better!  Right now they are also offering a buy one, give one promotion.  Sweet!  More details can be found here.

    Thanks again Bookroo for offering such a great, quality children’s book subscription box to get kids excited about reading!

    Want to connect with Bookroo?  Visit their website!
    You can also find them on Social Media: Facebook Instagram

    Disclaimer:  I did not receive financial compensation for this review.  I purchased the subscription box with my own money.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    family fun

    Reflection: Roses, Buds, and Thorns

    This blog post has been on my mind for a few weeks now.  While it’s not literacy related, I hope you will enjoy it.

    Several years ago shortly after President Obama took office, I remember reading an article about a dinnertime family tradition the Obamas had called Roses and Thorns.  I never forgot it and made a mental note to have that same tradition with my family some day.  We still haven’t put it into practice yet since my children are still young, but I’m going to introduce it to my husband so him and I can get into the habit of doing it.  Then the kids will eventually be included as they get older.  Our family will adopt the ‘Roses, Buds, and Thorns’ tradition rather than just ‘Roses and Thorns’.  Let me explain.

    roses and thorns

    So, what is Roses, Buds, and Thorns?
    This family activity works great around the dinner table or as part of your bedtime routine. Each member of the family takes turns describing their Roses, Thorns, and Buds.  Roses are the best part of your day.  Thorns are the worst part of your day, and Buds are what you are looking forward to tomorrow.

    Lately, life has been pretty hectic for me and I’ve been feeling like I’ve been experiencing more thorns than roses.  Between juggling projects at work, traveling, dealing with the kids, house work, blogging, and everything else that I manage to do, sometimes it all seems like too much.  But then when I look back in my gratitude journal it reminds me that life isn’t all roses or all thorns.  We all need a little bit of both thrown in with some buds to keep us inspired and motivated.

    I find that sometimes it’s hard to share our struggles (thorns) as none of us wants to be seen as weak or needy. Likewise, it can be difficult to say our wins (roses) out loud, too, for fear we seem boastful or even shallow.  But sharing those things, the ones that lodge in our throats and live in the center of our hearts? That is how we truly build trust, relationships and community.

    In an effort to be more transparent, today I thought we could share a little bit of ourselves here in this place.  I’ll start with my roses, buds and thorns, then you are free to share yours in the comments.  Sound good?

    Roses:  My daughter will be celebrating her 3rd birthday soon.  The kids are excited about starting preschool and pre-K3 in September.  This blog that started out as a space for me to keep track of the books I read to the kids has turned into much more than I expected (in a good way).  I met a new local mom friend!  We planned our first family vacation where all four of us will be traveling.  I’m teaching myself a new language.

    Thorns: I sometimes struggle with balancing my time and priorities since I work from home.  I get so caught up in work that I sometimes forget to take a break to eat or walk away from the computer to clear my head.  Lately, I’ve been dealing with different issues related to work projects putting in extra hours.  As a result, I’ve been falling behind on house work and blog posts I wanted to write over the past few weeks.

    Buds: Hoping to see my sister and some other family members in the coming months.  Finally wrapping up this work project in production.  Start making money from blogging online.  Potty training my son.  Finish writing my book.  Pray more, worry and stress less.

    Your turn:  What do the roses, buds and thorns in your life look like?  Where are you winning? Where are you struggling?  What things are you hoping for or looking forward to?