Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Gadgets For The Holidays

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season.  At this time of year, many new gadgets are unwrapped as gifts.  This year, three new gadgets arrived in my home just in time for the holidays and I thought I would share a little about each of them.

Santa did bring my son a Nintendo 3ds this year.  Santa found a pretty good deal at Best Buy, as a $50 gift card was thrown in with the purchase of the hand-held gaming system.  So far my son loves his new gadget.  Not only does he love playing the games, he loves having his own camera to snap pictures everywhere he takes his gaming device.  I love the parental controls, which allow me to disable the 3D features (I worry about his eyes at such a young age).  I try to limit how much he can play in 3D mode.  I am a little disappointed with battery life, especially compared to the battery life my daughter's Nintendo DSXL has.  I believe the 3D mode eats up a lot of battery life.  I have noticed a longer battery life once I shut down 3D mode.

My sister Katie sent my oldest child Chloe an an iPod touch for a combination birthday/Christmas gift this year.  My wife and I debated about whether our daughter was "old enough" for an iPod touch.  She did have a iPod shuffle from last year, but it is really not user friendly, especially for a young child.  She had a hard time pulling up specific songs without a screen.  Another reason we feel comfortable with her possessing an IPod touch are the available parental controls Apple has on their devices.  I am able to control nearly everything on the iPod Touch via a password restricted area on the device.  Chloe loves easily finding music on her device as well as playing games and shooting movies and pictures.  She also enjoys playing various games from the ap store.

The final gadget gift this holiday season was a gift to my wife, the T-Mobile myTouch 4gSlide smart phone.  For years my wife sat back with a normal phone while I jumped from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 4.  My wife did not want to leave T-Mobile so that meant no iPhone for her.  This was the first Android device in our house and so far my wife is really happy.  The camera is really amazing on this phone, probably better than some handheld digital cameras.  The phone includes an 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash.  It is still a learning process for my wife, but so far she loves her new gadget.

So, that is it for gadgets this year in the Pehote household.  Sadly I was "shut out" as far as gadgets are concerned, but I did get a lot of new clothes from my wife.  The two gadgets on my wish list continue to be a new, up-to-date television and a new Macbook Pro.  It is really time for me to update both of these devices in my home.  Did you receive any new gadgets this holiday season?  I have heard a lot of people receiving new tablets, mainly the Kindle Fire.  Are you enjoying your new "toys," or did you return them?  I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December Read of the Month Review

Earlier this month I selected Driving Home by Jerome Bettis as my December Read of the Month.  I was able to finish the book quickly, as it was a very easy read.  That may be my main complaint with the book.  It was almost too easy/simple of a read It was really not as "deep" as I would have liked.  I was looking forward to some deep insight into the amazing Superbowl season of 2005/2006.

The book did have some good information and some amazing photos, however it was just not enough for me.  My dad received the book for Christmas from my mom and he told me he felt the same today.  There is just really not that much information in the book.  I did not even watch the DVD that is included with the book (I prefer my DVD sets that cover the entire season and playoff run).  My dad told me that the DVD was not that good anyway.  Sorry Bus, the book was kind of a let-down.  I did pick up a read for January (thanks to a suggestion from a reader of the blog).  I will share the title with everyone shortly.   Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Carlson Literacy Team Seeking New Books

Earlier this week I wrote about the Carlson High School Literacy Team's visit to Chapman Elementary School to read to elementary students.  Reading to the younger students in the district is only one of many tasks the literacy team takes on throughout the school year.  Another important task of the Carlson High School Literacy Team is collecting new books for incoming Kindergartners.

Each year we collect new books aimed at young readers (ages 5 - 7) to provide each incoming kindergartner with a new book after their kindergarten screening in the spring.  The screening process can be overwhelming for a young child.  Students are put through academic, physical and social evaluations to determine if they are ready for the kindergarten curriculum.  I did not realize how much work was involved in the process until I witnessed it for myself when my daughter attended screening.  I really think it is nice that after such a stressful evaluation each student walks away with a new book.  I'm proud to report that Carlson High School Student Council has provided over 700 free books to incoming kindergarten/young 5 students over the past three years.  If you would like to donate some new books or make a monetary donation to purchase books, feel free to contact me at or at 734-379-7123.   Thanks for your support in helping spread the gift of reading.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Literacy Team Visit to Chapman Elementary is A Success

I am excited to write about the Carlson High School Literacy Team visit to Chapman Elementary School on Tuesday December 13th, 2011.  On Tuesday afternoon I traveled to Chapman Elementary School in Rockwood with eleven Carlson High School Student Council Members.  We were invited into seven different classrooms at Chapman, reading to classes ranging from Young 5's to third grade.  We arrived at Chapman to read to our first class at 12:30 and everything went very well.

Four to six readers would go into each room and read to a small group of students.  Some of the high school students brought their own books to read and also read books selected by the elementary students. The Chapman students also enjoyed asking the Carlson students questions about life at the high school.  Before moving onto the next classroom, Carlson's Celebrity readers provide each Chapman student with a bookmark and eraser.

I enjoyed walking between the classrooms to see the excitement on the faces of the elementary and high school students.  I was so impressed with the Carlson students.  They did an outstanding job interacting with each group from Chapman.  The group from Carlson was even willing to keep reading past our normal 2:30 dismissal time so we could visit each class that had asked for a visit.

One of Carlson's Finest Reading to Some Eager Chapman Students
The ride back to Carlson was short but filled with excitement.  The five students I drove back were going on about how much fun they had and how they can not wait to read for another group of students.  Nobody had a negative thing to say about the experience.  Within hours I had emails and Facebook comments from Chapman parents and staff members praising the readers from Carlson and thanking everyone involved with the visit.  Hopefully this visit is just a starting point, as we plan to visit each of the elementary schools within the Gibraltar School District.  Chapman already wants us to return and I have a number of additional readers that want to attend the next elementary visit.  The Carlson High School Literacy Team looks forward to reading to many more students in 2012.  Thank you Chapman Elementary School for the opportunity.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Carlson Literacy Team Is Off and Reading

After months of planning the Carlson High School Literacy team will be making our first visit to read to elementary students at Chapman Elementary School this week.  I will accompany a small group of Carlson High School Student Council Members to Chapman Elementary Tuesday afternoon.  We have been invited to read in six different classrooms.  The Carlson students are very excited about reading to students at Chapman.  If this event is a success the plan is to branch out to all four elementary schools within the Gibraltar School District.

I am also very excited about this project.  I look forward to seeing the excitement in the eyes of the high school and elementary students.  We are bringing gifts for every student we will be reading to.   I plan to bring my camera and snap some photographs.  Keep your eyes open for a blog post sharing the highlights of our visit later this week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking to The Bus For My December Read of the Month

I had an amazing weekend to start the month of December.  My father and I traveled back to his hometown of Pittsburgh to visit family and attend the Pittsburgh Steeler/Cincinnati Bengal NFL game on Sunday 12/4/2011.  This was my first trip to Heinz Field to see the Steelers and we had an amazing time.  It was a beautiful day on Sunday and the city of Pittsburgh was alive in black and yellow.  The Steelers dominated and my father and I had a blast enjoying downtown Pittsburgh. 

Savoring Another Steeler Victory

Upon returning home, I realized I needed to find a December Read of the Month.  After my Steeler filled weekend, I decided to pick Driving Home by Detroit's own Jerome Bettis.  This book has been on my "to read" list for a while, so this past weekend I finally pulled it from my library shelf.  This autobiography follows "The Bus" on his final NFL season which ended in storybook fashion in Ford Field for Superbowl XL.  I look forward to reading about one of the greats of the National Football League (and one of our local Detroit greats as well).

I also want to  include this sweet video from Heinz Field (not shot by me) of the traditional blasting of "Renegade" by Styx (a great Heinz Field tradition).

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Read of the Month Review

It took the entire month, but I did finish Libba Bray's Beauty Queens.  I enjoyed the book (4 out of 5 stars on my review).  The book is clearly aimed at teenage girls, since nearly all of the main characters are female teens.  The plot revolves around a group of teen pageant contestants that survive a plane crash on what they believe to be a deserted island.  Nearly the entire novel takes place on the island.  The reader follows along as the girls struggle to survive and get off the island.

The novel pokes fun at much of modern society (reality television, health and beauty products, pageants and even some political commentary).  I found myself laughing numerous times while reading the book.  The book is quite long for (close to 400 pages in hardcover) yet it was still a quick read.  I just had difficulty finding time in what is a busy month for me at home and at work.  One of the best qualities of the book was the character development by Libba Bray.  She spends a great deal of time introducing and developing each of the surviving pageant contestants.  The reader really gets to know each of the girls.  Mixed within the humor are a number of "life lessons" readers can take away, all while enjoying a laugh.

The book is clearly aimed at high school age or older (vulgar language, drug and sexual references appear in the book).  I think many teen girls would enjoy this read.  Now off to find a December read!