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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Out of my comfort zone

Do you make friends easily? What's the oddest thing you've ever done in an attempt to connect with other human beings? Tonight I pushed myself way outside my comfort zone and I'm proud of myself.
Let me tell you about it.
     So, last week, a woman in a Facebook group that I'm in wrote a post about how happy she is that she lives in our town. I am too. She said that sometimes she feels disconnected because, as moms, we often put ourselves behind priorities like family, work, and our "to do" list. I agree there too. She mentioned that she owned a yoga studio and would like to meet some new people. So, as a gift to the local moms, she was going to invite them to meet and come to a free class. Now... I know some of you are thinking "How convenient, new people come in, try the business and she gains clients." I just didn't care. There are tons of members of this Facebook group and she could've just put an ad up rather than a personal invite where she also shared some personal information.
      I was grateful that a local business owner was reaching out so I posted something like "thanks for your generosity." This led to a few messages, one of mine saying that I wouldn't be going to the class because I teach during the day. She invited me to a class tonight.
      Here's the issue: Although I'd love to imagine myself looking like
Image result for public domain images yoga
I'm not even close to that shape. I'm overweight and out of shape. Just keepin' it real here. I thought to myself, "You should go. You might meet some nice people. Plus, it's exercise; even if you don't make any new friends, you're doing something good for your body." Then I thought, "Seriously, you're going to take up an invitation to a yoga class to meet someone when they are the TEACHER of the class?  Geez, that's going to be a great first impression that you give. What if it's one of those places where all the women show up in the same tiny shorts and a sports bra? How are you going to feel then?" I argued with myself a lot. (I always do.. and I'm pretty negative at times.)  Then I decided that I would push myself and accept the invite.
      I went tonight. I had a really nice time. Everybody was nice. I even made the shape of the image above (except my tree was thicker and a little wobbly.) I'm even considering going back. Ironically, I ran into a woman I had met while getting the boys' hair cuts a few weeks ago. She invited me to a yoga class at the library. I might even try going to that. I'm really proud of myself for pushing myself. The women I met were great too!
      What's the most recent thing that you've done outside of your comfort zone?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Key to Rondo


I had high hopes for this book.  It is about 2 children who discover that the painting on a music box that they inherited from their aunt is a real world that they can enter. The book itself wasn't bad, but compared to all of the other books I've read lately, it was just okay. It would be good for a younger child who is just starting to read fantasy.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Reading in August

Now that school has begun again, I have found less free time to update the blog. You know how sometimes when you have to do 1 thing (like update my reading- in the order I've read it because I'm OCD like that?) and you don't, it prevents you from doing other related tasks? Well, that's me right now. So, I have a little time to dedicate today. Here goes. Here are my most recently read books and what I thought:

     "The Mapmaker's Daughter" by Katherine Nouri Hughes, courtesy of NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media. This is a work of Historical Fiction. It is set in the 16th century and tells of the life of Nurbanu, wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, The story jumps back and forth between Nurbanu, on her deathbed, telling her life story and different episodes in her life. (Apparently there is, or will be, a television series about her that has come out recently or will be coming out soon. Since I don't watch a lot of tv, this doesn't mean a lot to me.) 
      This book was interesting but I just couldn't get into it. Many of the names of the sultan's family are very close (or even the same, if they were named after another relative). I found myself getting confused about who I was reading about and what time that part of the story was taking place. I will say that there was a guide to who the people were but I found that I didn't really check with that since I was reading a digital copy. If I had a paper copy, I think I would've frequently been flipping back to that page and maybe it would've helped. 
      If you are interested in the Ottoman Empire and have some experience with some of the events of this time period, you may really like this book. I just don't have much background information about those times and places and didn't find myself as interested as I thought I would. 

"Love and Other Consolation Prizes" by Jamie Ford- another book courtesy of NetGalley and Ballantine Books. I really liked this one. It's about a Chinese boy who was sold by his mother and brought to the United States. This is another book that switches between the present and the past. In the present time, Ernest's daughter has discovered that there was once a child who was raffled off at the World's Fair, 50 years ago. After some investigating, she thinks that this child may have been her father. She approaches him and asks him if she has permission to tell his story in an article.   The story in the past talks about his journey and experiences from China to the US, his time before the fair and the high class brothel he ends up at after the raffle.  I don't want to spoil any of this book (but if you had any specific questions, I would be willing to answer them privately.) This book was just released in the US on 9/12. Go get yourself a copy.

     This is another book I read with David over the summer. It's a Massachusetts Children's Book Award winner. This book is listed as a 4th grade level, but I felt the subject matter was pretty heavy. My kids are pretty innocent and possibly a bit naive, so I was a little surprised to be reading something that seemed so raw emotionally to one of them. Ada is a young girl, who was born with a clubfoot, growing up with her younger brother and her mom in a 1 room apartment. The relationship between Ada and her mom is bad. Ada has not been taken care of medically or emotionally and that is pretty firmly established right away. (It was the first time I've seen my  son genuinely sad for a character while reading a book.) 
    When war threatens London, Ada's younger brother is going to be sent to the countryside to avoid the bombs. The mother hadn't really thought to send Ada too. Ada overcomes quite a few challenges and basically sneaks out with her brother. The evacuees get sent to the countryside and chosen by all of the volunteers; all except Ada and Jamie. They are brought to a woman named Susan Smith, who hadn't been planning on taking in any children. As the story progresses, you learn how the war has affected the community, see relationships develop and begin to see Ada discover her own strength and worth. What happens when mom comes back into the picture? You're going to have to read it to find out.
      It is a very powerful book. Although there were parts that David was obviously upset by, it was a redemptive book and we both enjoyed it quite a bit. There is a second book, The War I Finally Won, that is coming out in October. (I applied for it on NetGalley. I hope we are chosen to review it). David and I are both looking forward to reading what happens next for each character. 

 This is a book that I began reading in March of last year and apparently put down for some reason. It relays the story of Michael Morton, who was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife in 1986. After serving 25 years prison, DNA testing proved his innocence. I appreciated the honesty of the author. Many of his emotions- his feelings when he realized his son didn't really remember the times that he lived at home, how it's easy to become hardened in prison, the struggle to keep hope when everything seems against you, how positive words can breathe life into someone, the curiosity of driving down the highway after not being outside for years, what you appreciate when you really pay attention to your senses when your freedom is not compromised. This is not a topic I regularly read about and it has made me more likely to read more books that are similar.

You're almost there. Told you I'd been reading a lot. 
  "As You Wish" is another ARC from NetGalley and Sourcebooks. It's about a town in Nevada where everybody in the town gets granted 1 wish on their 18th birthday. Some people wish for love, some money, others popularity or beauty.  The lead character, a boy named Eldon is stumped about what he should wish for. He has tons of ideas of what would be helpful to wish for- possibly money for his family or a solution for his sister Ebba who is brain-dead after being hit by a car. The problem is that he has observed how wishing has ruined the lives of many of the people he knows. With a little help from his friends and his principal, he examines some of the previous wishes that have been made in town and makes his decision. 
      I liked this book. It was creative and I liked Eldon. (He reminded me of some of my students.) This book will be released in January of 2018.