Sunday, December 31, 2017

My favorite books of 2017

My Goodreads info says I read 112, but there were a few that I didn't finish, so it's more like 107 or so. I read a lot of fiction. I think there were only about 15 non-fiction or so. It was hard to narrow it down to 5 because the ones I did read were very good. Several really made me reflect on what America is and what it was.


I did pick a couple classics that I hadn't read yet and I'm so glad I did. All Quiet on the Western Front is gorgeous and heartbreaking and real. It taught me about WWI, but also about the "other" side in a war. So good!

1. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front

Both A Head Full of Ghosts and Are You Sleeping are multimedia novels. There is the story as well as transcripts of podcasts, web comments, blogs, etc. It added a significant benefit to the story. And the story in both of these was great!

2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
A Head Full of Ghosts

3. Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
Are You Sleeping

I also sought out more thrillers than I normally read. I'm glad I did because these two were great! The female main characters were willing to do what was necessary to help people. The bad guy got justice and the truth came out. The truth is very different in each one of these though.

4. The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
The Marsh King's Daughter

5. I Found You by Lisa Jewell
I Found You


 Hillbilly Elegy along with White Trash: 400-Year Untold Story of Class In America really shine a light on a large group of people in America. It seems to me that they have felt they lost their voice and so they spoke up this year, but it wasn't good. I'm not saying all of the negative things this year and be tracked to these people, but some of it can be seen through the lens these books provide. And listening to someone's story is important. Hearing their voice helps us understand them and that will change the world.
1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

This is a tragic, painful, and horrific story of murder and theft. I'm glad this book was so popular this year. These people needed their stories told because they didn't get justice earlier. Not from the courts and not from society. It turns my stomach to think of how they were treated by white people.

2. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

This is not just a book of ghost stories. It is a look at a society that takes a story and makes it into a ghostly legend.

3, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

It is easy to think that people in prison are less than human. The idea of rehabilitation is nearly nonexistent. This book gave me a different view of people in prison and what could help them to become better people even if they don't ever get out of prison.

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

This was a comprehensive view of New York City in the early 20th century. The focus on Grace Humiston was cool I got to see a female in the early 20th century doing things I never expected. I feel like I now have a deep understanding of the city and of this woman.

5. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

Juvenile/Young Adult:

1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds This one is probably my number 1 overall for the whole year! This book is just so amazing. The story and the way he tells it is so powerful. I will be buying a copy of this for myself and I'd like to buy several more to hand out to people. Oh my goodness! READ this one NOW!

Long Way Down

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1)

2. The Penderwicks: ASummer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall  This one is a happy pleasant story about a family living life and being happy. There isn't enough of that in the world.

3.Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein This one is a fun puzzle story! It makes you think and helps you love books more. I can't wait to share this with my kids.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #1)

4. The League of Seven by Alan Gratz Steampunk, alternative history, and superheros! This book has it all. This is another to share with my kids.
The League of Seven (The League of Seven, #1)

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Gaiman is awesome and his books are awesome. This is no different. The setting of a graveyard could be creepy, but it isn't creepy at all. It actually seems homey.
The Graveyard Book

6. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen I have fallen in love with retelling of old stories. This one asks us what if Will Scarlet was a girl and a capable thief. She is a likable character in a really rough time. In 2018, I will probably get back to this series and see what happens next.
Scarlet (Scarlet, #1)

7. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro This one asks what if Sherlock and Watson had kids and a few generations later those kids find each other because someone out there wants to get rid of them. This book is a fun 'modern retelling' of Sherlock cases. I didn't like book 2 as much, but I will read book 3.
A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)

8. Splintered by A.G. Howard What if Alice from Wonderland had a family with a questionable mental state. Now Alyssa has to go back to Underland to try to help her mom and fix Underland. The rest of this series is on my TBR list on my audiobooks app. I loved the look at Underland, but some of the descriptions of the real people got annoying.
Splintered (Splintered, #1)

9. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill The history of this area is clouded and the people are suffering. Xan is trying to keep Luna safe, but Luna has a different destiny. I liked this one, but there is a lot of political stuff in it. I can see how some people wouldn't like that, but I liked it.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon

10 The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alendar I expected this to be a "kids ghost story." However, there was a twist to this ghost story that really made it stick with me. (And I'm a sucker for the ghost story where someone is uncovering family history and the history of a building, then ghosts happen and there is some good and some bad. At the end, the ghosts and people are happy.)

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

Honorable Mention:

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg I had to limit my choices, so I put this one down here. I liked what it taught me, but it got long in places.
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker This one asks you and kids, 'what if death is a gift?'. This draws in legends from many other places and then puts it into a Christian framework. I like that idea. I like the characters and the fact that some of them are flawed. I can't wait to see what is next!
The Day the Angels Fell

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson The verse is beautiful and tells the story in a different way. And it is a strong portrait of the author as well as the times in which she lived. It taught me as much as the other non-fiction books I read.
Brown Girl Dreaming

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Park Field Trip with the Best School Ever

I didn't intend for it to be this quiet around here. But I'm back for at least a couple weeks. Cross your fingers and let's hope it sticks.

The other day I was thinking about all the things going wrong in my life. Then I stopped myself and wondered 'why do we look at the negative of things?' When someone asks 'how are you?' and we automatically go to complain? We all have good things in life. Why do we let the negative drag us down? So when I recognize myself headed down the road of unending negativity, I stop and start thinking of something good. It has helped. So tonight when I could easily start beating myself up about a few things and I'm tired enough to give into it, I'm going to focus on some good.

I work at an amazing school and have the most amazing students! Today we had our school wide park field trip. And first of all, the students at my school are responsible enough that we can go on a school wide field trip. It provides a time for team work and bonding which is important for kids from so many different schools that come together for our high school. And sometimes I forget just how special that really is. Today I got a few good reminders of just how special they all are.

Discovery High School Facebook Page

Student Senate planned a few team building games, among them Tug-of-War (my team lost, but we didn't fall down) and Capture the Flag. My Capture the Flag team was awesome! I am not good at strategy or running, so I wasn't sure how this was going to go. I had a plan to defend the flag and absolutely no plan to go get others. But my team jumped right in and put everything they had into defending our flag, including sitting in a trash can. (The bag was removed, so it was clean. And we put the bag back in when we were done.) And we did it!! No one touched our flag. It was awesome.

Then after that a couple guys sought me out to chat. Mostly about their girl problems. Earlier in the week it was friend issues with a different student. They said I was the 2nd counselor in the school. It always makes me feel good that students feel comfortable enough to come to me and talk about what is bothering them. They consider what I have to say as pretty good advice.

Tonight I had a parent email me to tell me how much her daughter enjoyed my competitiveness for Capture the Flag.

Yesterday I had a student get me a coke because she found the name Ward on it and thought of me.

A couple former students visited this week, one of whom thanked me for helping to find his passion and see it through at university. I'm humbled beyond words that I could have any part of that.

We have several students with various medical issues. Sometimes these issues flare up at school or at events like today. I have never heard of a student derided in any way for any of their issues. On the contrary, the students at my school check on their friends often. They know what the triggers are. They know what the symptoms are. And they are right there every step of the way when something flares up. The other students are concerned even if it isn't their friend. I saw that today. I saw the concern and love on their faces. I saw a couple of my colleagues right there every step of the way. I saw students get creative to support us.

There have been many memorable moments in my teaching career and even a few pivotal moments. I think today was one of those moments. I will never forget today, but more importantly I will never forget these special people that I am honored to serve everyday.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Do I Do Now?

I don't normally talk about politics or even current events because everything in our society is so divisive. But tonight my heart is heavy I have to talk about it. The events in Charlottesville this weekend have been heartbreaking to say the least. I keep checking Twitter for the latest updates and in hopes that someone will say something that really makes a difference. I keep hoping for something more than words, some action that we can take to fix these broken hearts and misguided theologies.

But Twitter doesn't have solutions. It is ultimately 140 characters that are now known for their gentility and peacemaking.

I keep checking anyway because I don't know how to fix this. There is a law that we can pass to change people's hearts. There are certainly laws that can protect others better, but how do we get laws that are useful for our whole society passed with our current government atmosphere? And how long will those laws take to pass?

It makes me feel so helpless. I don't want to be accused of doing nothing. I don't want to be silent and assent to the extremist views.

So what do I do now?

I have a few ideas. I don't know if it is enough though. Today I wore this shirt and I mean it. I got a couple compliments.

I make sure to get my daughter books of people that don't look like her. I talk to people around me and I listen. I try to hear them and express what I understand of the other side. I talk about these issues with my students. I listen to both sides. I remember that everyone on both sides of this issue and other issues are human. I try to use my words carefully and wisely. I am trying to be open minded and caring to all.

I'm not sure that it's enough. I don't think that anything I am doing right now will make any immediate differences. And I don't know if anything I am doing will make any long term differences. I know I am a privileged middle class white woman in the United States. I know I have it easy and I know others don't. There are citizens and people here in the United States that don't feel safe and valued. But even more, there were 24 people killed in rioting in Kenya because of the election results. There are 60 dead in India because the hospitals don't have enough oxygen.

I can't fix these things, but I wish I could. I don't know what to do, but I wish I did. I'm just so sorry.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thrillers Worth Reading

I normally don't read thrillers for a few reasons. I don't feel like I'm reading them fast enough. So sometimes I skip parts or skim sections to read faster. I don't like some of the tropes, like unreliable narrator due to addiction or mental illness. And sometimes the story is just too far fetched. I know it is ironic that someone who LOVES cozies thinks thrillers are too far fetched. I guess I just expect more out of those.

Even though I don't read them very often, I pick one up every so often and I like it! So here are a few thrillers that were worth my time to read them.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell
I Found You A man in London disappears on his way home and his young wife goes looking for him. A man mysteriously shows up on a beach elsewhere in the UK. But it isn't what you think. The multiple points of view worked really well. There were surprises. It was not overly graphic, which I really appreciated.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
A Head Full of Ghosts I think this one is technically termed horror. I would say it is more like supernatural thriller. An adult woman is reliving her traumatic childhood memories of her sister's exorcism through a series of blog posts which review the TV show about the exorcism. There are definitely lots of questions about what was supernatural and what was manipulation.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barbar
Are You Sleeping This is another family in crisis book similar to A Head Full of Ghosts. The story is interspersed with tweets, message board comments, and transcripts from a podcast. I really liked the exterior people commenting on what is going on as the family is working through what really happened.

In The Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell
In the Shadow of Lakecrest Kate is trying to hide her less than desirable family from her new wealthy and important in laws. As her family grows, she discovers many secrets that lead to a shocking ending. As you can tell by the cover, this one is not set in modern day. It is actually set in the 1920's, I think.

Do you have any thrillers that you have really enjoyed?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reasons for Troll Cake

A few months ago I scoured the cabinets and bought a couple things from the grocery store. I threw it all together and was fairly happy with the outcome of my experiment and so was the rest of the family. I have been wanting to revisit that experiment, but haven't had an occasion. Today I found the occasion!

There was a program at the library with a Borzoi therapy dog. We went as a whole family,  but my son was reluctant. We have a dog and he loves our dog,  but he is not so in love with other dogs.  So he went to the program, but didn't get too close to Russ, the dog.  As we were leaving, Lily wanted to give Russ one more pet goodbye. So I bribed Ben into petting him as well.

What did I bribe Ben with? 

My kitchen experiment....... Troll Cake!

Even though it is super hard to make,  I sacrificed to reward him for working on his fears.  I thought you all might like to know how I make Troll Cake. 

1 box funfetti cake mix 
1 jar of colored icing
Colored sugar
Food coloring  (optional)

Last time it was white cake with blue icing and pink sprinkles and pink colored sugar. This time there was no blue,  but orange was on closeout. So today we had DJ Suki cake. Pink cake, orange icing, and sprinkles in the shape of headphones. 

Before baking
After icing

I normally insist on baking from scratch. (My Mamaw trained me well.) But sometimes you use box cake mix and have a party for no particular reason.  

Life is hard. Find something to celebrate!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Multi-cultural kids books

When I get books from the library for Lily, I always make sure to get at least one book with characters that look different than her. These are some of her favorites.

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie LoAuntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic This is a story of a Chinese American family that discovered a farmer near them growing soybeans and that started a huge picnic. Lily calls the book "Mao dou (mao doe)" which is the Chinese word for soybeans.

Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl This is the story of a girl and a boy working and practicing hard and finding success at their respective schools. Lily calls this one Kunoichi, but she also uses the word shugyo, which I think is the idea of lots of practice to make yourself better.

The Water Princess by Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel, and Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator)
The Water PrincessThis is based on the childhood of Georgie Badiel in Africa. There is an information page in the book with more details. Princess Gie Gie has to walk to get water and that takes most of the day. Lily likes Princess Gie Gie, but doesn't yet understand that this still happens today. It did offer an opportunity for discussion.

Momma, Where Are You From? by Marie Bradby and Chris K. Soentpiet
Momma, Where Are You From?This is Momma's story of her childhood including segregation. Even though there were things she didn't understand, like segregation, there was a lot of love and happiness. So you can have a discussion about segregation and you can see that "they" are a lot like you with family, friends, fun, and love. There are also events like buying blocks of ice and heating irons on the stove. Lily calls this one Momma and says she would like to dance in the shadows like they did.

Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey C. Kyle
Gazpacho for Nacho Nacho only likes to eat Gazpacho until Mami teaches him how to cook. There are so many Spanish words in this book! And a bit of magical realism when the vegetables they shop for are bigger than the people. The whole thing rhymes in both English and Spanish. Kids not only get to learn Spanish words, but also Spanish dishes like gazpacho and Spanish tortilla. This one is a lot of fun. Lily calls this one Nacho and loves to see the tortilla under the silla.

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ying Hwa Hu (illustrator), Cornelius Van Wright (illustrator)

Jingle DancerJenna wants to dance at the next powwow, but doesn't have enough jingles. She finds jingles and dances for several special women in her life. The book mentions fry bread, Indian tacos, powwows, and a few other things. There is also a note that briefly discusses Jenna's heritage as Muskogee and Ojibwa. It talks a little about jingle dances. Lily likes Jenna's dress and the dance.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My House and My Heart

In my last post,  I shared how overwhelmed I felt by summer stretched out before me.  Now that the end of summer is in sight, I am pleased with what I have accomplished, but I don't want to get lazy.

I can see clearly down the road!!!

So far Lily has a good start on potty training and some great swimming practice. Ben has done lots of reading, some building, a museum visit, and had started learning ASL. He has been great at ASL! I'm super proud of him. And Lily has mostly stopped fussing about potty training. Yay!
I have managed to clean, sort, and get rid of things.  I have not pulled weeds like I need to,  but I have been stung by 3 yellow jackets, Ben has been stung by 3 wasps, and I have seen lots more scary bugs. So I am hesitant to get out there like I need to. I did get the trees trimmed because I hired a former student who did amazing work!
Things are slowly coming together.  I often feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work to do in and around my house that I don't do it. I know it won't be perfect, so I don't start.  I know I can't get it done in a day,  so I don't start. I know some things won't get fixed until much later, so I don't make small changes. This summer I have begun to overcome that. I am awaking from a paralyzing fear of not being good enough. I am slowly putting things together and I'm proud of myself. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Sucker for Settings

Recently it occurred to me that there are a couple settings that I always enjoy. I am definitely a reader who counts on a sense of place to really submerse myself in the book.  Some settings just don't interest me, but others will draw me in even if the story stinks.  I have mentioned this before, but this is a different kind of setting. (Although I am very into the Southeastern US now! Maybe that will be a post for next week.)

If the characters live in these places,  I am in love.

1. A seaside cottage, especially when it is raining or snowing and there is a fire going.  I'm sure that seems really specific, but that is just about the coziest fictional scene I can imagine. The book I am currently reading, I Found You, is that cozy, which is good because the suspense is creeping me out. This is also the reason I love the Josie Prescott cozy mystery series.

2. A mansion/estate/big house with a long gravel driveway in the spring or summer with interesting gardens. Again that is specific, but there are so many stories you can tell there! Romance, horror, mystery, literary fiction, etc. A couple off the top of my head,  The Haunting of Hill House and Wuthering Heights.

There might be more places, but those are off the top of my head.  What books do you know of that have these settings?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Super Long Books I Want To Read

Some people love the really long books.  I am not one of those people.  However, every great now and then a book is just too good not to read. Several years ago I read the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. I think it was about 800 pages, but I flew through it because it was amazing.  I'm so glad I took the time to read it.  In the last few months,  a couple other really long books have made it on my radar. I don't know when I will brave enough to pick them up,  but I am really thinking about it.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1463 pages)

It by Stephen King (1116 pages)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (964 pages)

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (695 pages)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (786 pages)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (662 pages)

11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages)

Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky (671 pages)

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (536 pages)

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (876 pages)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book or Movie?: The Haunting of Hill House

This week I listened to The Haunting of Hill House on audiobook. I also watched The Haunting from both 1963 and 1999. Which one is better?

There is not one answer to that question.  So I will go through the things I liked about each one.

 Image result for the haunting of hill house

The book has a really distinct narrative voice for Eleanor. It is a close 3rd person narrative voice. You are not in her head, but someone who is in her head is telling us about it. That is a strength of the book. The 3rd person point of view keeps us wondering if Eleanor is insane or haunted. If we were just in her head, there would not be the tension that we get. Also the close 3rd person keeps us wondering if the others have the same haunting experience in the house. So we are again in the tension of sanity or haunting. There are also many scenes outside in the book. So we get an idea that the land itself and not simply the house is the problem. In the beginning, we here about Eleanor's experience with the rocks falling on her house and we wonder about her causing the poltergeist activity. However, this thought is not developed much. That was disappointing. The introduction of Mrs. Montague and Arthur seemed pointless to me. The movies did a good job of making the wife relevant. The ending is a bit anti-climactic. The ending is less horror movie and more a question of sanity or haunting. So it makes sense considering the focus of the previous parts of the book.

Image result for the haunting 1963

The 1963 movie starts out in Eleanor's head. So we get a glimpse of that, but it does not continue, which disappointed me. The beginning also shows us Eleanor fighting with her sister and what that relationship looks like. Luke is a member of the family in this version, which is closer to the book and I like that. Luke is rather spoiled and snotty in this version, which I didn't get in the book. The professor's wife is annoying just like in the book, but not for the same reasons. However, her change of opinion towards the ideas of haunting is really effective for the movie. I like this ending. It is not a big dramatic supernatural ending,which is closer to the book. However, the ending does not leave us wondering about Eleanor's sanity or haunting. The doctor is more academic and nicer, which is also closer to the book. There are no scenes exploring outside like they do in the book, which was disappointing. This movie does begin by showing us what happened to Hugh Crain's wife,which is the same story as the book. This one also has Eleanor dancing with Hugh Crain's statue like the book. So even though the ending is different and there are a few different motivations for some characters, it stays close to the book.
Image result for the haunting 1999
 The 1999 movie is almost never in Eleanor's head and is pretty far from the book. However, this is the one I saw as a teen when it first came out and it is still near and dear to my heart. This one is much more about the haunting. There are some indications of Eleanor's instability. However those are more about the others not believing what the audience knows to be true. Luke is not a member of the family that owns the house. The study in the house is not about the paranormal. It is supposedly about insomnia and the people don't know that it is really about group fear. This adds a layer of heartlessness to the doctor that was not in the book. This version also misses the mark in the exchange between Eleanor and the gardener at the beginning. It does get the crazy hallways part right. In the book, we hear about the disorienting angles and the crazy hallways. In the beginning when Eleanor first arrives and is looking for Mrs. Dudley, she wanders through a darkish crooked hallway. That was a great introduction to the house. The research assistants weren't in the book and didn't add anything to the movie. I understand what they were trying to do with those 2 characters, but I didn't think that was needed. In the book, Eleanor makes a big deal out of having a blue room. That is not the case in the movie. The change was made, so the room is more menacing. Again, I get why they did it, but I didn't love the decision. Instead of Eleanor wandering around the house at night, the house begins to attack her. It is much more dramatic and horror movie-esque. The story as to why the house is attacking her and why she is fighting it is taken from a small part of the book and greatly expanded. It makes for an interesting story and is a lot of fun to watch. However, it is far from the feel and direction that the book gives us.

So the 1999 movie is the best horror story. The 1963 movie follows the book with a more satisfying ending. The book is less horror and more tension between losing your mind without knowing it or an outside unseen force acting on you. They all have their high points and low points. I think you should check them all out.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer is Here...

Photo Credit: Dawn Ellner
Several people have asked me if I am glad that the school year is over. I answer yes because that is what is expected, but the answer is actually not quite that easy. I am glad that this year with my crazy schedule is over. I'm glad to wrap up some long standing things on my to do list. I'm glad to have some time off. But I'm not glad that summer is starting. I'm not glad that I am going to be home with my kids this summer. And not because of all the "funny meme" reasons you see out there. I don't feel prepared to keep them busy. I don't think I know to fill their summer days with fun and learning. I have ideas of things to practice and places to go, but will I actually do those things? When I don't have a schedule that says first period, second period, etc., can I keep a real schedule? Basically I'm asking, can I be a good mother this summer?

I don't think I can. I don't think I can keep up fun and learning. I'm feeling overwhelmed with an entire summer in front of me. I know how to teach Spanish to high school kids in chunks of 45 minute time or 90 minute time. An entire day with an 8 year old and a 3 year old? I don't know what I'm doing!

Summer is supposed to be this euphoric ideal full of fantastic adventures. That's a lot to live up to. Again, I guess we'll just do today.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Reading

So everyone out there is preparing for summer and summer reading, beach reads. Something light and breezy. I have started making my summer reading list. I don't think I want light and breezy. I think I want something a bit heavier. Something classical and a bit challenging. I haven't read any of that in a while.

So my top 3 reads are in no particular order.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front (The novel about World War I.)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (The story of what the Native Americans experienced.)

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis (A man turns into an insect and then what does his life look like?)

Maybe these also: (These will be my lighter reads in the middle of my dark heavy reads.)

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

Mark for Blood by Nick Thacker

Mark for Blood (Mason Dixon Thrillers #1)

I certainly have plenty of lighter fare on my Kindle and on my physical shelves, but I think I'm going to read something challenging and heavier. It's good to stretch my reading muscles every so often. Summer seems to be a good time to do that.

What are you reading this summer?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Just Do Today

My father in law passed away the day of my previous post. It has been an unusual few weeks of trying to find a new normal. And in some ways it felt like our world is falling apart. Not because of grief, but because so many things are changing. Things that are completely unrelated to my father in law are changing and I don't know what to think about it all. I don't know what direction God wants us to go. I don't see what the future will hold. Drew and I keep telling each other, "Just do today."

The books I was reading have gone to side. I'm playing the time wasting game on my phone and binge listening to 3 podcasts. I'm having trouble focusing on my books or writing long enough to get anything accomplished. So I haven't posted in a while. I will get back to a routine sometime. Maybe after the school year is over, I can get back to this.

One quick thought to leave you with ... you never know when it will be the last one. I have heard this idea more than once, but it didn't really hit home until recently. We often celebrate the first of something, first steps, first kiss, first day of school, etc. However it is the last of something that goes unnoticed, but probably means more. I was rocking Lily to sleep and thought I probably won't realize when it is the last time I do this. I certainly didn't realize Easter dinner would be the last one with Eddie. So take one day at a time. Stop and enjoy the day. I know it sounds cliché, but actually living this out every day is not easy. It is a challenge to not get caught up in the stresses of the day or the stresses of tomorrow that creep in. It is a challenge to not focus on the future and the problems that might be there.

So I challenge you to focus on today. Just do today. See if it makes things better.

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Photo Credit: Decals for the Wall