Friday, July 26, 2019

7/26

Spent the day at Canobie Lake park to celebrate a nephew's birthday with the boys! It was a beautiful, sunny day (which is bad for me, but great for everybody else.) It was a great day of fun before our road trip tomorrow.
 
This was supposed to be an action photo. That mist in the right corner was a splash from a water ride. When I realized I was going to get soaked too, I had to move my phone:
 
There's that nice, wet, sunny day I was talking about. Also, welcome to New Hampshire.
We got drenched on that ride and after that ride. It was fun.
 
Just chilling out. Tim was with us too but he met a friend of his cousin and the two played together for hours. This was a quick walk between lunch and heading back to the water park. 
Incoming mail:
NL-4429998 
A nice map of Netherlands from Anita. 

 
From Donna in Florida.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July 22/23/24

     This week has brought a lot of errands as we prepare for our trip. My least favorite of these errands was bringing my two cats to the veterinarian. Did you know I have 2 cats? Penny is 15 and Emmie is nuts. She's one and a half.  She was the one sleeping in the lunch bag in one of my other blog posts. This is Penny. She was not amused. She's had a cyst like thing in her mouth for a while and they think it might be cancerous. We'll wait and see.
 
   I have also finally sat down to write a letter. My friend Marianne sent this awesome envelope (with a great letter) a few months ago. I wanted to share since it was beautiful. 
 
     I hope I don't ruin her surprise but her birthday is coming up so I tried to send something cute. I kind of love it. Sorry for the post it note, I had written her address before I took a picture. Who knew I could draw little kawaii things?
 
      I received this postcard from Germany in yesterday's mail. I've always loved castles. ("Schloss" is "castle" in German. Sebastian, the Postcrosser who sent the card, wrote in German and I could clearly understand his message. I'm glad I'm taking the time to try to learn more this summer.

Monday, July 22, 2019

July 22

Incoming mail:
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    This is from David at Brown University. I am looking forward to the barrage of postcards that come in after my Postcrossing binge a while back. Unfortunately a ton of the cards went to Russia, so who knows if they'll ever get there. Postcrossers- I switched my preference to allow multiple cards to the same country. Have you noticed a difference in the time it takes to get cards back?
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     Also, I finished the book I gave myself until Friday to finish. It's about a girl named Sarah Hall who is an up and coming Wall Street Analyst/  Her story is alternated with the stories of other members of her previous co-workers who have been called to an emergency meeting at an abandoned building.  Once they arrive, they learn that the meeting is a team building escape room, with a bit of a twist.  I really liked the book. It was a quick read and I kept wanting to read to see what was going on with each character.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

July 14-18

    This summer I am taking any opportunity I can to grow as a person. I mentioned a few things I've been up to in a previous post- relaxing, eating well, brushing up on my German, reading, doing things that make me happy, etc. I've actually lost 5% of my body fat since the beginning of the summer. (You can't really tell, but the scale says I've gained lean muscle and lost fat. Eventually I'll be able to see that, right?)  When I got the opportunity to sign up for a conference for choral educators and saw that the clinicians were Andrea Ramsey and Rosephanye Powell, I knew I wanted to go.  If you don't know who Rosephanye and Andrea are, they're incredible composers. They are both charismatic, intelligent and very down to earth. I'm so grateful to have gotten to know them a bit.
       The conference was on the other side of Massachusetts, conveniently about an hour away from the Jason Robert Brown concert the week before. I booked a hotel room for the few days so I would have a place to work if I wanted, to relax and to even exercise. (I actually did one day, the other days went from 8am to 9:45 without much of a break.) The conference was on the campus of Smith College in Northampton. I hadn't ever been there before and it was beautiful. When I arrived at my normal "way earlier than you have to be here" time, I decided to take a walk. I explored the botanical garden.
 
 
That tree was massive! I think it was a ginko biloba.
 
 
 
My first cypress tree?
 
 
Apparently there's another garden inside but I didn't know I could just walk in.
 
If I lived here as a child this would've been my fort. The next 3 pictures are from within these leaves.
 
 
Looking up.
 
 
Don't often see cacti in the wilds of Massachusetts.
 
 
I feel like I'd seen these before but I don't know what they are.
 
 
 
 
 

 
    If you're one of my penpals, I'd love to see some flowers from your region of the world. After going through the botanical gardens, I walked down to the boathouse and explored the river. It was a great walk before settling in for dinner.
     Fun side fact- After I got home from the first night of activities  (dinner and a sing through of the Brahm's Requiem), I went to charge my phone and realized I was missing my charger wire. Although I am a person who is generally content to live "unplugged," I was planning on using my phone for my clock, my navigation back home, my way to communicate with home and my Duolingo German practice. lol. I was freaking a little bit when I "checked everywhere" and couldn't find it.  So, when I returned to Smith the next day, I retraced every step. It was a long walk. I didn't find my wire until later that night. 
     On Monday, I took a few interest sessions about a variety of subjects- non-classical singing, middle school chorus, the difference between gospel/spirituals/ethnic anthems, a discussion with the composers with questions submitted by the conference attendees and a reading session of music from composers who are less known. I was singing in a chorus that was made up of conference participants and community members. We had bought the music ahead of time but put the repertoire together over 2 days. Monday had 4 hours of rehearsal.
     Tuesday I learned some fascinating facts about singing/neuroscience/ singing in groups, how to program repertoire and rounds/canons for all levels. We rehearsed for 3.75 hours and had a concert at the end of the night.  I wish I had recordings of our performance, but they would be illegal to post without permission. We sang Non Nobis Pacem, written by Rosephanye. She's so fun to work with. In one of the reading sessions we read through a gospel piece and I've never enjoyed singing gospel music before that moment.  We sang Kuimba- Victor Johnson, 1941- Andrea Ramsey, No Time- Susan Brumfield (LOVED this one), Get Busy- Rosephanye Powell, Keep Me Fully Glad- Andrea Ramsey, written in dedication to a music teacher from MA who recently passed away. We sang the world premiere. We ended with Draw the Circle Wide and were joined by Worcester Children's Chorus. Look up some of those pieces. 1941 really grew on me and has been stuck in my head. Here are a few really (unflattering) pictures of me with the composers and the room we sang in.
 
 
 

     It's always good to learn new things and stretch yourself but this conference was also a reminder to myself that I do important work. What I do as a music director really has the power to change people's lives and to create community. Honestly, this world is just filled with grossness sometimes and anything I can do to create beauty, pass along kindness or teach people how to work collaboratively is a win. There is something kind of magical when strangers come together to learn and perform as a choir. If you're not a musician, you may not directly understand, but most people have been emotionally moved enough by music to feel an inkling of what sometimes happens. It was a good decision for me to surround myself with people who have the same passion that I do.
     The last day was bittersweet and short. I took 2 reading session and a terrifying class about preventing vocal damage. (Which prompted me to get a referral to an ENT this week.) Sorry, if you don't know what a reading session is- we get a packet of music and we sight read (sing it without hearing it first) all of the songs. It's a great way to find new music and to hear what it sounds like with everybody rather than 1 line at a time. 
       You may have noticed in the month of posts that I've left out the 18th. The 18th I just hung out with my family since I was away for a few days. 
       This next week will be spent doing errands, doing schoolwork, preparing a paper for grad school credit, writing and preparing for vacation. Woohoo!

July 20

       Today was sweltering! In general, I don't do well with hot, humid weather- especially if I'm stuck in sunlight. So, what does David want to do on the hottest day of the summer so far?

 
    He literally had 4 customers over the few hours that we were set up. The kid's lemonade stand is fascinating to watch. There were many people who rode by, but I think there were less than 5 who didn't smile or wave. One guy flashed a peace sign. His first customer was a fairly young guy who handed him a $20. David told him that it only cost 50 cents and the guy said, "I know. Keep the change." David told him that he was the first customer. The guys replied, "Hopefully the best customer!" Then he smiled and left. Every person gave him more than his fifty cents. Seriously, watching how these people brightened his day made me want to either ride around with an extra pile of money in my car to randomly give kids at lemonade stands or to set up a table of free treats one day just to be nice to people driving by.
     Other than that, today was pretty low key. I hid in the air conditioning for a while and read.  Emmie napped in a lunch bag.
 
    We also received our Redditgifts Simple Pleasures gift. 
 
     As a family, we love games- especially me and David. Unfortunately we have Beat the Parents already, but it's the thought that counts. Maybe we will re-gift our original Beat the Parents since this one is from Canada and might be slightly different.  It's basically a trivia game that asks questions that the other generation should know. This swap was sent from Canada. Here's what I sent my giftee:
 
     The Pusheen mug is filled with tea. Then there are rabbit stickers (she likes bunnies) and a LUSH shampoo bar because I love them. The mug says "Catpusheeno" We were supposed to send something about appreciating life's simple pleasures. I'm also in an Arbitrary Day swap and a postcard exchange.  
       Last night we had the most incredible sunset. It was so beautiful that I jumped in the car and drove to the cornfields near me so I could see it better. People were stopping along the sides of the road to take pictures as the sunset changed.

      

Friday, July 19, 2019

July 19- reading

    Just a quick update today. I plan to write a little about the conference I attended earlier this week, but I'll get through this first. Today I realized that I am 8 books behind on my Goodreads challenge so I better start cranking out these books. Here's what I've read since the lat reading post.

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    I suggested The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell for my book club because I kept hearing about it. I'm not usually a crowd follower with my reading, but I hadn't really heard anything negative from the tons of people I saw writing about it. The book is about a boy named Sam Hall, who was born with ocular albinism. (His eyes are red in color.) It follows Sam from his adult life back into his childhood where you see how the events of his past kind of make him the man he grew up to be. It talks a lot about family, friendship, and overcoming your circumstances. I really enjoyed it. The end was a little, I don't know, simplified? but I still enjoyed it. 

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     I wanted to read this book to expand my horizons a bit. I didn't know anything about the Chinese poet Lin Zhao and I didn't know many specifics about Communist China. I was also interested in learning about Lin Zhao's faith as a Christian. I really didn't enjoy this book. Obviously, the story of someone who has been imprisoned by the Communist party is not going to be a happy story, but more so, I didn't have enough background knowledge to fully appreciate many parts of the book. I'm usually a fast reader but this took me a long time because I just wasn't invested. 
      Next up- another NetGalley ARC. I'm hoping to finish it by next Friday at the latest. (I also have book club next week so I will have a new book club book to read.)


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    What are you currently reading?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

July 13

     The highlight of today was a church barbecue. I took some pictures but don't want to add them since they include people other than my family. We had a lot of fun. One of my favorite things about our church potlucks is eating the family recipes brought by other people. I tried a nice salad, a Korean noodle dish, some doughy ball things, plus a few new desserts. In other words, I ate way too much but enjoyed it, at least for now. We set up a volleyball net. People played volleyball, badminton, soccer, frisbee, jumped rope and just hung out and talked.  We had a few visitors who were pretty cool too.
     Tomorrow I am traveling back to Western Ma for a conference. I'll write more about it in the next few days. There are some aspects I'm eager about and a few times where I'm sure to be stretched outside my comfort zone. I wanted to stretch myself this summer so here's another opportunity. Have a great week if I decide to write when I'm home instead of while I'm away. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

July 12

Good news, it seems that my writing mojo is back. (This may be bad news if you follow me on Twitter and have gotten my million notifications of sending a Postcrossing card. Sorry). I spent some time yesterday and this morning writing thank you notes and writing some Postcrossing cards. I look forward to tossing them all in the mail today and then attempting to tackle my overwhelming "respond" pile. Thanks to everybody who has been patiently waiting. Postcrossing cards are being sent to: Russia, Germany, Canada, Japan, Finland, USA (California),Portugal, Poland, France, Netherlands, and Romania. 
 

 

  It will be nice to start receiving so many cards back once these ones are registered. I hope to have the maximum amount of cards traveling as I am allowed to. I think I'm up to 19 now. I have a few more to send tomorrow and then I'll be at the maximum.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

July 11

     I have mentioned a few times that I am involved with genealogy research for my family. Recently, I went to visit my Aunt Diane (I have 2- this one is on my mom's side.) Every line of my family seems to have some mysteries that I would like to solve. Since I have some time during the summer, I decided to bring a project home. We went through a large Tupperware bin of old photos, many of which were unlabeled. Today I spent some time with a few photos, trying to figure them out with the help of a few relatives and a few genealogy groups I'm involved with on Facebook. Here's what I've been researching today.

 
 
 
    We didn't know who the 2 boys were off the top of our heads. We also didn't know what the uniforms were. My grandfather was in the Army, but these kids seemed too young and that didn't look like his Army uniform that I had seen in other photos. These photos were labeled with a stamp from Alves Photo Service in 1939. After way too many hours of working on this, I think I have figured out that:
1) The shorter boy was most likely my grandfather. He would've been 15. 
2) These pictures were most likely from the Hyde Park High Cadets. My grandfather graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1941. 
3) When you're researching Hyde Park, make sure you have the correct state. In other news, the Hyde Park Alumni Association's Facebook contact in Chicago is delightful.
4) Still trying to figure out who the second boy is and what my grandfather is holding in his hand.

      The next photos (Labeled Monosson Photo), I'm trying to figure out who these people are:
 
 
   My aunt thinks the top one is my great-grandmother holding one of her daughters. I thought the bottom 2 were my grandfather's sister Dottie or his sister Eva and one of their husbands. (Probably Eva and Fred)  What do you think? This next picture shows all of them:

 
    On the left side: my great uncle Joe, his wife Dotty, my great-grandmother Carlye and my great-aunt Eva.  On the right, from front to back, my grandfather Ed, his dad Lawrence and his brother-in law Fred (who was married to Eva.)
      Has anyone reading ever tried to figure out old pictures like this? I'm sure I'll have more once I am finished with this batch. Do you have any suggestions for me/ All of these people have passed away. I'm talking with relatives of the younger generations, but we want to make sure we're correct about our guesses.
      

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July 10

    I'm finding that I kind of wish the boys were home on some days instead of at park. I make a to do list in my head but then spend most of the time looking forward to them getting home. I know there are some people who are begging their kids to get out of the house all day, but I don't often have this much free time during the school year and I feel like I'm wasting it.
       Today I worked out, dropped the boys off and worked on some genealogy stuff. I learned a little more about my grandmother, who was one of my closest relatives but had a hard life growing up. I also connected with people who aren't directly related to me, but were definitely considered family by my nana.
       The farmer's market in town opened again today. It's in a new location, which seems better than the first location. Unfortunately, I'm not finding a lot of things I want to buy. I love that there are farms there with fresh, local vegetables and flowers. There were lots of jewelry vendors there, which I'd buy for a gift, but not on a weekly basis. Lularoe, Tupperware and Pampered Chef also made an appearance. There were a few food trucks, which was a fun addition. A few booths that caught my attention were:
- A local church, just saying hi, giving out coffee and cookies and collecting for Amirah.  Apparently they're coming every week and collecting for something different each week. I wish my church did something like this.
- A woman who made her own soaps. They smelled delicious. I may go get one next week. I have a friend who might enjoy a soap as well.
- A cute older couple who made birdhouses.
- A new shop selling mini-bundt cakes. They had samples and were delicious!

        David and I enjoyed walking around for a few minutes. I'll try to get back there a few times this summer. After a delicious dinner of chicken cutlets with spaghetti, I took a short walk around the block. I live in a suburban area but it's not really congested. Ironically, 1 block away I could be on a highway or in the middle of cornfields (not common for most of Ma.) I often see small animals in the yard- various birds, rabbits, groundhog, chipmunks, skunks,  and squirrels. We once had a deer, a coyote and a turkey- at different times. Today on our walk, we came across a gang of turkey youth. Luckily, they were happy to let us pass without coming after us.
 
 

    I need to plan better for tomorrow. I guess one positive thing is that I got back on track with logging my food. :/

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

July 9

    I spent a lot of the day driving home and just appreciating the opportunity I had last night. I feel very blessed for special things like being able to afford to give my children different experiences, but also blessed for things most people think are average- always having enough food for my family, a safe place to live, a (reliable) car, kids (also without any issues that we have no control over), etc.  I feel that it is so easy to spread negativity and I am often guilty of this. I like to try to pay just as much attention, if not more, to how lucky I really am. I'm sure it's a lot nicer to hear about too.

July 8

    So, today was kind of a dream come true for me. There's a composer I like named Jason Robert Brown. I have known about his music for about 20 years now. He's written my favorite musical and everything I've ever read about him/heard from him (both music and his personal thoughts)  has something I've enjoyed.  In addition to this, about 15 years ago, I asked him to help my choir at school by donating something to raffle. He asked if he could personally donate instead. Then he was extremely generous. I was just happy that he had taken the minute and a half to answer me, never mind to help a stranger. Honestly, I could go on for pages about things I respect about him.
      Well, last night he did a concert in Massachusetts and Matt insisted that I go. This was kind of a "bucket list" type dream of mine, so when Matt encouraged me, I didn't take much convincing. The concert was in a small theater and I splurged a little for tickets that were way closer than I would normally consider. Ironically, they were less expensive than what I would normally pay for some of the cheapest tickets for a musical in Boston. The concert was about 3 hours away so Matt suggested I stay there for the night. Since Tim is a musical theatre nerd too, and I didn't want to be alone, I invited him along.
     I was looking forward to this day since the day I ordered the tickets. I dropped David at the parks program and then Tim and I headed out. It was about a three hour drive. The area we stayed was really beautiful, right down the street from The Appalachian Trail. We rented a room on AirBnB. 
 
 
 

    On the side that I took the pictures from there was a nice sliding door and a wraparound porch. We were also to use the backyard, which was gorgeous. It had a tree house, a little sitting area and a hanging swing. The owner had a beautiful garden where she grew peas, broccoli, garlic, flowers, etc.  If Tim wasn't with me, I would've sat outside and read for hours. This place was perfect for us to have a quick stay in.
     Because I was overly excited, we left super early to explore, eat dinner and get to the concert. I wasn't sure if I would actually meet JRB, but I had always wanted to thank him- in a personal way- for helping me as a young teacher. I asked Matt if he would be willing to make a candy basket for him as a gift. He put together a basket with 2 types of fudge, a caramel pop, pecan patties, etc. It was awesome. In true Jen fashion, I wrote a quick note explaining who I was (We've connected a few times online.) and saying thanks. I dropped it at the theater 3 hours before the show in hopes that he would actually get it. 
       Then Tim and I walked around picturesque Pittsfield- which was not picturesque at all. It was pretty run down and a little scary. Actually, to be fair- there were some beautiful churches along the main street. Many of the stores were closed at the times we were walking around. There were many people who seemed to be mentally ill or possibly addicted to something that were walking around. (People walking around yelling at nobody or talking to themselves, people pushing carts that look like they held all of their possessions, some people that look like they've been through a lot of tough times.)  In addition to this, when we were eating dinner we saw "Breaking News" that someone had escaped from jail and was evading police in the same city. Eeek. Even JRB commented (in a not so subtle way) that the city was a bit sketchy.When I think of the Berskhires, this is not what I pictured. We did find a yummy Mexican restaurant, called Titos. It was delicious. Tim had 2 burritos, beans and rice. I had Pollo Feliz. It was chicken in some cheese sauce with spinach, Spanish mushrooms, onions and peppers. It was so good. I liked the decor there too.
 
 

    After dinner, we walked around town and tried not to get mugged. Ha ha. Just kidding, sort of. I noticed that I got a missed call from the theater. Wondering that was about, I called them back only to learn that the tickets I bought were considered VIP tickets (AKA- expensive ones.. lol) and included a meet and greet reception with JRB. My heart skipped a couple of beats while I thought, "Well, at least now I don't have to awkwardly come up with a way to greet him if I run into him." I really feel bad for well-known/famous people who have to live with people wanting to talk to, photograph, or record them whenever they're recognized. I have never had a desire for that in my own life. Anyway, we got back to the theater and learned that Row A was removed because the theatre company there was performing Into the Woods and had a stage extension. This was our view. I'm not zoomed in. Ah!!! So close. He had his band with him. It was him, his drummer, a bass guitarist, guitar and fiddle.
 
       This concert was the quickest, most musical 1.5 hours of my life. I LOVED every second of it. These guys are all legit musicians. It was nice to show Tim a group of musicians who perform sounding EXACTLY how they do in recordings, if not better. He was especially wowed by the fiddle player. I could not wipe the smile off my face the entire time. In addition to the music being awesome, JRB seems to be exactly what I thought he'd be like. He has a great sense of humor. He's super intelligent and is a real family guy. (His wife is also a composer by the way.) This was us after the concert and before feeling all panicky about being able to say hello. We actually talked to the guitar player behind us and then to the fiddler. They're also really nice guys.

 
     The reception was a meeting with champagne and some appetizers. I don't drink and didn't really fit in this crowd either, who I guess might be used to being the "VIP- I get this because I have enough to buy it" type. So, I patiently waited for the vultures to step away from the food and then away from JRB. When Tim said hello, he asked if he had gotten the basket and JRB said that he and the band really enjoyed devouring it before the show. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked Tim to take a pic. Last week, I mentioned that Tim had seen a picture of his dog and fell in love. He mentioned that his dog was downstairs and offered to let Tim meet him if we were willing to stick around for a few.
 
    Not wanting to hog his time, I thanked him again and stepped to the side.  Then I looked at the picture. Dang. I was really hoping to have a nice picture with him. Oh well, right? I look nice in this one, even though I'm blurry. Can you feel my joy radiating from me? (I think you could fairly call me a fangirl here, even though it's a total respect thing.)  
      True to his word, he signaled to Tim and I and asked if we wanted to say hello to Miles. While I was there I asked if I could get another pic since the first one was blurry. I think I actually like this one better. 
 
      This was seriously one of the happiest days of my life. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

July 7

     For someone who does so much genealogy research, I certainly do not host many family activities. I can't believe I forgot to take any pictures tonight. After church today, we hosted a cookout for my dad, my sister and my niece. It was a low key day. We just had hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, chips and dip, a yummy cornbread salad (a recipe I got from a friend years ago and is outside of my normal taste in food), chocolate cake and drinks. We had a firepit  in the yard and just relaxed for the afternoon. It was a really wonderful day.
       I'm also EXTREMELY excited about the Jason Robert Brown concert I'm going to tomorrow night. I have dreamed about hearing him perform in person some day.Those of you who know me personally might know that I "look forward to things" but I'm not super dramatic about my emotions. I'm surprised at myself. Last night I was so excited I could barely sleep. The funny thing is, if I got a chance to say hello and meet him, I don't know if I would feel too shy to, which is also kind of ironic. Ah, I just can't wait. Maybe I'll write after the concert tomorrow night. Have a great week!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

July 6

Posting the picture I have might just be a little mean, so I won't. The main event today was an urgent care for Tim . He was at a pool party and got hurt. He badly sprained his elbow. I'm grateful that he didn't fracture or break it, though the nurse said that would've been totally possible even though it was only involving the ligaments. Very weird. So, we're taking it easy for the rest of the day.

July 5

       Yesterday was a rewarding and busy day. In the morning I dropped the kids at the local parks program. This is a program run by the recreation department. All of the playgrounds in town are staffed with local high school and college kids. Kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade can be dropped off to play. The kids can come nd go as they'd like. My kids aren't allowed to leave without a call home. It's the old "Go out an play" that they really want. We also don't live in a neighborhood with other kids so they love the opportunity to play with random kids from town.
     After park, we came home to do some chores then ran out again to the library. My family are voracious readers, except Matt. After the library I went to a local cafe and tried a honey lavender latte. I let Tim take a sip and he said it "tasted like biting into a wildflower." Ha ha. When we got home, both kids headed for their rooms to read for a long time. I didn't ask them to, it's just something they enjoy as part of their library routine.
      We had a party to go to after Matt got out of work, but he had a cool day of his own. Adam Sandler is filming his new movie in town. If you don't know, my husband is a candy maker. The producer of the movie asked him to make a gift basket to welcome one of the lead characters, who is a 12 year old boy, to the set. Matt made the basket and they liked it so much that they asked him to do 2 more for 2 adult leads. This was good, but also made us late for the party. It was kind of amusing because Adam Sandler has also filmed at the school I teach at. I'm not a huge "fangirl" of many people, but I did briefly meet Josh Hutcherson, who also played Peeta in The Hunger Games. He seemed like a  nice guy. Regarding being a fangirl, I may take that back after something on Monday. I'll update you then but it might take a while since I'm going to be away.
     The party was hosted by some friends from church. It was a nice time. We ate (a lot), hung out with friends and played some games. Here's David basking in the sun.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

July 4

 

     Today was a pretty chill day. We didn't really have any patriotic plans so we just hung out at home. Tonight I did something a little out of the ordinary. Matt and the boys wanted to go play tennis. I didn't have a racquet. As someone who is really overweight, exercise is not my first "go to" for a fun activity. I love playing some sports like volleyball, but just for fun. Honestly, there are a lot of times I say no to going on outings like this because I don't want to seem like I can't keep up or to be left behind, on something like a bike ride, when someone else wants to race ahead.  Tonight I decided to push myself and go.We had a lot of fun. I got some exercise and we were treated to some (illegal) fireworks in nearby neighborhoods.

July 3



    I have a goal to read a lot this month and a lot of free time, if I don't get sucked in to genealogy research.  Today I finished a book I received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Audio CD The Lost Letters of William Woolf Book  
     This book is about a man named William Woolf. He is an aspiring author who takes a job working at the Dead Letter Depot. The Dead Letter Depot is the place where lost mail is sent to. If an address label gets torn off or becomes unreadable, this is the place that tries to get your mail delivered. Of course, this aspect of the story piqued my interest immediately because I'm a snail mail nerd. William has a specific interest in letters that have been written to people they can never be delivered to- like God or Santa. 
      One day, William discovers a letter addressed to "My Great Love," written by a woman named Winter. The letter tells about how Winter is hoping to find her soulmate and, after finding a few of the letters at the Dead Letter Depot, William starts to wonder if he could be "the one."  Unfortunately, William is unhappily married. The other side of the story tells about William's relationship with his wife Clare- how the relationship felt when it started, where it was now and where he hoped for it to be in the future.
       In general, I liked the book, but wasn't really satisfied with the ending. There was one section of the book where Winter was writing about how communicating by letter, and how that is sometimes different than the way we communicate face to face. That really resonated with me. Although I try to be myself in all situations, there may be times where I am a little less reserved in my writing or times when I have the opportunity to think more before deciding what to write. I find that my letters are less shallow than chit chat I might have with people I don't know well. I also feel that I have come in contact with people that I might not have normally connected with through my letter writing.
       One of the struggles that both William and Clare seem to have is wondering "what if" or wishing things were different. They wonder if it worth just giving up their marriage or working hard to fix their issues. Sometimes the call of "what could be" pulls them in direction to end things, but other times receiving what they thought they wanted has a negative impact on them.  
       I'm not sorry that I read the book, but I was hoping for more importance on the dead letters William was working with. Do you know of any snail mail related books? I've read a few that I like. 
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 The Guernsey Literary& Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows. I still haven't seen the movie version of this. I always want to read the book first. 
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. 
     The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier- a woman inherits a trunk from a friend who dies unexpectedly. In that trunk, there are journals written by her friend.  Not going to lie, when I write, my letters are specifically written to that 1 person. I found a bunch of letters from sailors in WWII, written to their family. (They were 3 brothers.) Although there was nothing secretive in there, I questioned if it was wrong to read them. 
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     This one is actually not really about letters, but it just came out so I thought I'd put it here. I got this from Netgalley too. It's about a woman named Maddie who owns a community bookshop. She dies and her niece, Madeline, inherits the shop. It was a quick read and I enjoyed the characters a lot. If you like to read, this book has a lot of references to literature and the value of reading.
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     I really liked this one too, as I do anything by Nina Sankovitch. (We've exchanged a few letters.) 
  
Next up: The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. I've heard great things.

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