Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Club Day: Do you know your family????

This month, we read two books! I had the pleasure of reading a very well written book called The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. When Julia travels to Burma to search for her missing lawyer father, she discovers much more than she expected. Join us at From Left to Write on February 1 as we discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

As I read about the woman looking for the truth about her father, and realizing how much of him she didn't even know, I thought about my own family. My father passed away when I was four. I don't have many memories of him, but I do know I was a Daddy's girl. I have pictures of us laying in my crib (together!) and working on his car, a very special picture of him holding me and gazing at me lovingly. Those are treasures to me. My mom remarried and I was lucky enough to grow up with my step-dad as my father, but maybe because of this, I never learned much about my real father from my mom. I didn't even know his favorite color, his favorite food, what he wanted to be when he grew up...his family lived far from me as I grew up, and his mom spoke little English. When I moved to Southern California, it was wonderful to finally be near his family. I started learning some Hungarian, spending hours looking through family picture albums with my Grandma, and spending time with my uncle. My aunt, who was the closest to my father, came to visit several times. She was the one to finally write down and tell me about my father-stories of his youth, what he liked, etc. I keep those papers in a special place. Now I have a picture of what my father was like! I truly wish I knew him.

I hope and pray that I live a long, healthy life with my children, but I want to make sure they know me! I scrapbook (well...not so much anymore), but even when I feel like cleaning out my supplies and giving them away, I decide to keep it up-even if I only scrap a few pages a year-those are family memories and family stories that I want my children to know. A few years ago, I made an "all about me" album and an "all about us" (my husband and my love story)album. Both were kits that I basically had to just add pictures and words. I am so glad I have those. I hope my kids will be so glad, as well, someday. Even if you aren't interested in scrapbooking, keeping your family stories alive is important. Blogs, family journals (I have one and it's just a small spiral bound notebook that I jot down those cute sayings of our kids that we want to remember and think we will...but seriously, we don't!), videos, those fill in the blank "All About Grandma" books (I have one from my mom's mother and I am SO happy I have it. I made copies for the whole family after she passed away)...your family will thank you in the future!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Club Day: Don't be *Quiet* about books!

Are you an introvert or extrovert?.Author Susan Cain explores how introverts can be powerful in a world where being an extrovert is highly valued. Join From Left to Write on January 19 as we discuss Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. We'll also be chatting live with Susan Cain at 9PM Eastern on January 26. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Oooh, I am really enjoying this book! I'm not finished, but as I read, I keep thinking of more and more I could write about, but I have decided to talk about the power of books and talking. I've always been a big reader since the days I learned to read from the blue circus reader in kindergarten. Growing up, you could find me snuggled up somewhere, a book in hand. It wasn't until high school that I realized how wonderful it was to read the same books as others and share them. Of course, it was the requisite high school novels, but still....I discovered how powerful and meaningful it was to discover books together.
I joined a book club about 12 years ago and it really opened up my eyes to different genres. I never picked up a historical fiction novel before then. And I fell in love...We always got together for talk at a local restaurant, and after our "book talk", just enjoyed casual conversation. I have to admit, I always wanted the book talk to go on longer! I loved hearing what the others thought about a character's reasonings or why things worked out this way. I also admit, the girls helped me to understand things I missed, too. I read The Life of Pi, in a fog just weeks after the birth of my first child. It wasn't until our meeting when I heard Casey talking about the religious undertones she picked up on, that I realized how much I had missed! I had to go back a reread weeks later (when the fog began to lift!).
After moving to Northern California, I never got involved with a book club and really miss it. I have discovered Good Reads and scour the reviews that my friends post. I often write messages to my friends about books-what did you think about the ending? Why do you think the author did this? Luckily, my friends (mostly my old book club friends) enjoy responding back!
Reading this book, Quiet, with all of its interesting studies and ideas really intrigued me. My copy was soon dog eared. Daily, I have been bugging my husband, "Listen to this! What do you think about this?" I think he can safely say that he knows about as much as me about this book- without even reading it. I even find myself bringing up this book's topic to friends, starting a conversation of what they think about introverts and extroverts. I can't help it-I want to share and discuss with someone! Can't wait to read all the book club posts in the next few days!
As a teacher, I try my best to bring that book talk into the classroom. I think... no, I know, that it can help build a love of reading. And kids really say the most interesting things about books-they often have a different perspective on things-and I welcome it. (They also love it when a teacher remarks that they, the teacher, hadn't even realized or thought of that idea!) I put a lot of effort into book talks last year with my 3rd graders, and I saw the power, I saw the kids stacking books on their desks, and passing books to each other. I even had parents say that finally their kids were reading-and enjoying it! It's a little harder with my firsties this year-some of them can hardly read-but we enjoy talking about the books I read to them. I do think it's a teacher's job to help their students love to read, and I know the power of talking about books really builds that.
Can't wait to finish Quiet and see what other ideas I bother I mean share with my husband and lucky friends!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Blog lovin'

OK, so one of my New Year's Resolutions...or, well, just a life change, is that I want to dress better-more stylish. I've spent the last 8 years buying for my kiddos instead...I get so excited walking into Gymboree or baby Gap. However, for me, I just throw on whatever. I've been trying to add to my wardrobe, spice it up. I finally got on the boots bandwagon, thanks to my sweet Joe who bought me a pair of black, knee length boots. LOVE them. Now on the hunt for cute skirts to wear with them!!
Anyway, I stumbled onto this blog: The Tiny Twig, and she has a whole bunch of posts about building a "no brainer" wardrobe. Cute stuff. So, I purchased her ebook: The No Brainer Wardrobe. I've only flipped through it, but it looks good! Now, I think I may finally join Pinterest, so I can start "pinning" outfits and styles. I don't know much about Pinterest....so wish me luck!!! Anyone have any thing to tell me about it? Or things you've pinned that you can share???