Friday, November 20, 2015

In Defense of Teens

Photo Credit: Diverbo Idiomas

A common refrain throughout the ages is, "Kids these days." We are constantly concerned for the future because we doubt the ability of these kids. For those of you that feel this way, let me assure you that your fears are in vain. I work with teens professionally and personally, so I see a lot of them. These stories are what I have seen in the last two days.

Our church is packing a bunch of Operation Christmas Child boxes. Our teens were not only prepared to help sort and pack the hundreds of items collected this year into shoe boxes, they were also prepared to help teach the younger kids how to do it. My son came home telling me about the youth that he chose to help him. He told me a few more times about that youth as well. He was proud of himself and his 'friend' who helped him out. Ben and I were discussing it later and he mentioned that youth and a couple more who watch over him and make sure he knows how to do various things, that he knows where to be at what time, and that play with him. These youth watch out for the little ones and help them out. Watching out for the next generation and teaching them the right things to do sounds like a pretty good quality

We went to our local community college which is the home of our early college high school. The students were waiting on their bus as I was walking through the quad with my kids. A few of my former students called to me and we discussed their current school life and such. That was encouraging for me, but not the heart of the story. My son wasn't interested in the conversation. He wanted to find a wall, so he could play with his wrestling figures. He walked about 10 feet in front of me. There were several other teens gathered around the short wall that surrounded a tower in the center of the quad. He places himself between a few of them, introduced himself, and then narrated for them the match his figurines were performing. They asked him questions and feigned understanding of the match. They were interested in him and who he was even if they weren't interested in the topic of his conversation. They were conversing with him even though they had only met him a few moments before. Talking amiably with people of all ages about a range of topics sounds like a pretty good quality.  

After our visit to the local community college and a family dinner, we returned to my workplace for a womanless pageant. The money raised for this goes to a local battered women's shelter. There were a dozen young men who put on dresses, make-up, jewelry, and high heels. They strutted their stuff, shared their talent, and interviewed well in the name of protecting women. They donated their time, put aside their pride, and never doubted their masculinity. Those are generally things that can cause young men and old men some concern. There was no concern amongst these young men. They were putting themselves aside to do good for other people. Less self, more others sounds like a pretty good quality.

So there is no need to fear for the future. Our teens are good people. They might make some stupid decisions sometimes, but so do we. They might get lazy sometimes, but so do we. They might get an attitude from time to time, but so do we. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Teens are people and they are pretty good people. We will be okay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Jewish Grandma and a Coffeehouse

You think this the beginning of a joke. It is really the beginning of two book reviews.

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first, I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

I really wanted to give this book a 4.5! In good "snobby reader" conscious I can't give a cozy mystery 5 stars. But it probably is one of the best modern mystery novels I have read. I could guess part of the solution, but I certainly did not have it all together. So I loved the surprise at the end. I loved the characters and that surprises me. I'm not one that normally falls in love with mystery novel characters. I enjoyed the humor. I didn't laugh out loud, but as I said earlier I'm a book snob. I was also surprised that I liked the love triangle as much as I did. I am definitely Team Ryder! But I fear that we are supposed to be Team Pete. I never pick the winning guy. I can't wait for the next installment. I want to know what happens next with Juliet and Java Jive.
Well written, interesting characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a bit of humor, and some romance to top it all off. I really loved this one.

View all my reviews

A Pain in the Tuchis (A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery #2)A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

Having read and enjoyed Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, I thought I would pick this one up. I am SOOO glad I did. I enjoyed this one more than the first one. Reading about Mrs. Kaplan and Ida again was so much fun. It feels like I get to visit with my very own Jewish grandmother. I get to learn a new language and hear about their adventures. Mr. Reutlinger does a great job of making the language a natural part of the story and keep us in the loop. The solution to this mystery was not a complete surprise. I had suspicions about who was the culprit, but I can't say that I had it all figured out. I did enjoy the solution of the previous book more than this one. However, I enjoyed Mrs. K and Ida more in this one than in the previous one. So just go buy both of them and enjoy some time at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors!

View all my reviews

I really loved both of these and I look forward to reading the next installments of them. If you like mysteries without too much blood and guts and heartache, read these. They fit nicely into their genre, cozy mysteries.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This isn't failure.

November started 4 days ago and I started my NaNoWriMo journey all over again. Here on day 4, I find that I am already a day behind. I'm already dreading turning on my computer and trying to find words. I know writing is hard work. I know the sitting down to make yourself do it is so much of the battle. I know that is why there is a NaNoWriMo. But knowing all of this isn't helping me.

I already have so much going on, two kids, a husband, church work, a full time job that is extra busy this year, 2 in-laws fighting cancer. I have tried to add NaNoWriMo on top of that. I'm even somewhat excited about the story, but I just can't do it. For two days now, I've thought about quitting. I just don't think I can do it this year. More than can, I don't think I want to do it this year. It was kind of making me feel like a failure as a writer. How can I call myself a writer if I can't even sit down and write 1000 words a day? How can I call myself a writer when I can't develop characters or a plot?

Then I read this. NaNoReadMo! This I can do. This I want to do!

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

Sometimes I trap myself into these little boxes of 'success'.  If I can't finish this self imposed deadline that fits into a self imposed box of success, then I must be a failure. We all get that way from time to time and we all know that it isn't really true, but good luck convincing our heart of that. So even though this is my first blog post in a month. And even though I'm quitting NaNoWriMo on day 4. This is not failure. I am still a writer. I am still a blogger. I may not be producing a lot of posts or even a lot of stories, but I am a writer and a blogger. I'm also a reader. And that is what I'm going to celebrate this month.

If you would like to celebrate with me, check out details here.

You can check in on my progress, here on Instagram or here on Twitter.

And the last thing I posted, said to allow yourself to fail. So even if my heart wants to term this a failure, I'm okay with that too.