Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stitch Fix February 2015

I am so excited that today I got my first Stitch Fix box!! I had heard about it a while ago, but I didn't want to make the commitment. Then I found out that you can do it one time and schedule later shipments as your schedule and budget allow! So let's dive right in!
My box arrived this afternoon (in the middle of a ton of snow & ice, by the way) and I couldn't hardly wait to open it! When you get the box, it comes with a pre-paid return envelope for you to return the clothes you don't want. It also has a little envelope that includes cards with styling ideas as well as the list of how much your items cost. I chose to look at those cards and info after opening and trying on all my clothes so that I could get my unbiased opinion on the clothes before I looked at prices!
Liverpool Shania Stitched Detail Jeans
I had requested a new pair of jeans because I've been looking for another pair I love as much as my Express Stella Ankle Skinny jeans! They sent this pair of Liverpool Shania Stitched Detail Jeans. I have them on in every picture. I liked them a lot! They were stretchy and comfortable! My only issue was that they came up a little higher on my waist than I usually prefer to wear my jeans. I wore them around for a few minutes because I was hoping I would be okay with it, but I just wasn't once I saw the price. They were in the $50-75 range and while I'm not opposed to jeans at that price, I have to really love them and these I just didn't love enough.
Status: Returned 
Market & Spruce Yuna Chevron Pointelle Knit Sweater
Everything else in my box was from a brand called Market & Spruce and I honestly loved their products. They have great fabrics and they were really comfortable and fit really well! So I had to just decide how much I liked everything. First I tried on the Yuna Chevron Pointelle Knit Sweater. It was definitely really comfortable, but I just didn't love the fit of it. You can see in the picture that it was a little see-through at the top and I didn't like that I would have to be careful about what I wore under it. I also wished it was a little more loose and over-sized in cut. I knew I wasn't keeping it even before I checked the price.
Status: Returned

Market & Spruce Aleah Heathered V-Neck Dolman Top
This is the item that had me going back and forth. I loved the cut, style and fit. It was super comfortable and I could see myself wearing it a lot! I wanted to keep it! But at the $25-50 price range, I just didn't feel good about keeping it when I have several shirts that look very similar.
Status: Returned (Reluctantly)

Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top
This was a perfect example of why you should try everything on when it comes in your box! I wasn't sure I would love this one, but then when I put it on, it was just so comfortable and flattering! It's a really soft material and it fits a little more loose everywhere, which is how I prefer my shirts. I can see it going well with a lot of my jewelry and shoes, so it seemed perfect! I also don't really have anything in that color! It was in the $25-50 price range, but it seemed well worth it!
Status: Kept

Market & Spruce Carly Graphic Print Cardigan
This was my absolute favorite thing in the box!! It is so warm, comfortable & soft!! I knew as soon as I pulled it out of the box that if it fit me at all I would be keeping it. You just can't go wrong with a great cardigan! I love the tribal print and seriously, Market & Spruce is a new favorite brand! I was disappointed to see that this was in the $50-100 price range, but I loved it so much and I had already ruled out enough other things that my overall purchase still fit within the budget I had set for myself.
Status: Kept!

Overall I found the whole experience with Stitch Fix to be extremely fun, convenient & rewarding! I found some brands I never would've found otherwise. Everything was in my exact size, based on the specific measurements I gave them when I signed up. I felt like the stylist had definitely taken my style into account. She even mentioned having looked at my Pinterest page to get ideas! I will definitely be scheduling another box sometime soon!

If you are at all interested in trying out Stitch Fix, I would definitely check them out!

(This post includes referral links.)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Be healthy, Stay healthy

One of my goals for 2015 (and my life) is to develop some healthy habits that I can keep throughout the rest of my life. I am so awful about working out and I would like to make it a regular part of my routine, for both fitness benefits as well as overall energy and mental health. I want my children to see these healthy habits as just a normal part of the routine.

I decided to do Couch to 5K because it's an easy way to get out of the house and just run around my neighborhood without doing anything too stressful, but I also want to add some strength training in as well.

So here's my recap from the first week...
Couch to 5K Week 1
Miles: 6.44
Routine: 90 seconds walking, 60 second jogging
Strength Training: None
Yoga: None
Number of Days I Worked Out: 3
Weight at end of week: 147.0

To the Newlyweds

A friend of mine asked me last night what marriage advice I had to offer if someone was getting married or new to marriage. It didn't take me long to come up with my answer because this is something I think about a lot and have thought about a lot over the years. I thought maybe I'd share my thoughts here.
My biggest piece of advice would be to allow love to look different at different stages. Love always starts with the romantic, giddy stage. But it grows and changes over time and I think we have to be willing to flow with that change. There will be days or even seasons where love looks more like friendship, more like partnership, even sometimes like roommates. Working to develop your relationship beyond the lovey-dovey, romanticized phase will prove beneficial over the course of your marriage. 

It's also important to allow yourself the freedom to not fear the sucky stages. And also to not deny them. As much as I didn't want them to come, the crappy stages came, just like everyone said they would. But with the commitment and relationship we had developed beyond the romantic, the crappy stages also went away. Life changes and people change and I think it is important to be prepared to allow those changes.

It's important to recognize that fighting or arguing doesn't mean a marriage is bad. And on the flip side, never fighting or arguing doesn't mean a marriage is good - in fact it could mean quite the opposite. There is no one-size-fits-all, other than the fact that the good and bad will come. Your good and bad and the way you choose to face it will just be different than others. 

I think the overall idea with marriage is that it's hard even on the best days. Because it's life. And life is hard. But I have also found that anything great in my life has always been hard and has always required work. Absolutely anything rewarding I have ever done has always come with seasons of difficulty or pain or questioning my purpose and my ability. Marriage is exactly the same.

So make the commitment to talk through the junk, to push through the difficulty, to allow each other to change. Communication is the thing that will allow changes in each other to not change the focus and commitment in your marriage. Prayer. Forgiveness. Service. I could go on and on, but it ultimately comes to this idea of allowing marriage to be imperfect and to be messy and to be wonderful and holy, but to also hurt sometimes. To know that committing to walk through life together means committing to continue even when you don't "feel" like you want to.

After 10+ years of marriage, yes it sounds like I just have the bad stuff to talk about, but that's because it's the bad times that make so many people question if they want to keep going. You'll love marriage when everything is wonderful, but you'll question it when everything hurts and everyone sucks and when you're angry and tired. I'm here to say that the bad have got nothing on the good, but you only get to the good if you continue walking through the bad.

So if you're at the beginning of your marriage and everything is romantic and full of joy, enjoy that. Love every minute of it! Know that there will be so many seasons of your life where you feel like that. And it's a wonderful, beautiful, God-ordained thing. But continue developing and communicating and building your relationship so that when life is hard and marriage feels more like work that you're prepared to keep going. Because there is beauty in that as well. 

Hard, even on the best days. And that's okay.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

To be nobody but yourself...

I have been thinking about this post for a while now, probably at least a month. Isis just turned 5 and seeing her growth and her personality beginning to develop, I just find myself with so many things to say and I want to save these thoughts somewhere so we can come back to this later when it is really relevant. 

As Isis' personality develops, I see so much of myself in her. Parenting is a truly brutal lens into your own life and insecurities. Suddenly there is this person with their own struggles and shortcomings & you find yourself going, "oh wow I recognize that struggle. That struggle is mine. That struggle came from me. I am intimately connected to the pain and fear that can come from that type of personality trait because it has been my struggle my entire life." What a humbling discovery.

Isis has such a sensitive soul. She is sensitive both in the sense that she loves and hurts with such a degree of depth and understanding, but also sensitive in the way that embarrassments and fears can quickly turn to tantrums and tears. Oh, how I have struggled with these same issues. I remember days where I felt so much that it all just turned into pain because I had no understanding of the depth of meaning in the spectrum of some of those feelings. I struggled for years to learn to tame and overcome my feelings and sensitivities, even to a fault at times where I thought the only solution was to completely tune out any real feelings.

This is still a very real and current struggle of mine today and while I recognize that I will always have these struggles to a certain degree, I have also realized that I struggle because I feel and when it comes down to it, to feel is not a bad thing. If I cannot accept and allow these and many other things about myself, then how can I expect her to accept and allow these same things in herself with any amount of grace or appreciation?

So here I am, laying myself bare, allowing myself to share me - both the good and the bad. Because again when it comes down to it, for better for worse, this is what I have to offer and while I definitely have areas that I will continue to focus on growth and improvement, I have to stop focusing on what needs to be changed and start allowing myself to appreciate what might be ok to leave alone.

So here goes...

I am awkward. I don’t know how to handle most social situations.

My humor is very awkward and sarcastic. Such a strange combo when you’re with new people.

I say the wrong thing half the time, but it comes from a place of honesty. What I am thinking will ultimately always come out.

I don't do well in situations with new people or people I don't know well. There is an element of trust in terms of sharing my personality that is very much earned. This doesn't mean I can't make new friends or won't eventually stop being as awkward or uncomfortable around someone, but it will usually come after a period of awkwardness, so bear with me.

I hate to be late. It gives me major anxiety. If you want me there at 5:00, tell me something starts at 5:15. I will be there early. Unless it's a situation where I don't know anyone, and then see above. I'll be there when I'm sure people I know will be there.

I am a fiercely loyal & dedicated friend. If we make it through the awkward stage to a point where there is trust and mutual respect, just be prepared for me to stick around for the long haul. I am that person you can pick up with after a year or 2 and we will fall right back into our old routine. This is probably why I have maintained friendships with so many people from high school. I don't need to see them all the time to stay connected in some fashion, although Facebook helps.

I love to read. A lot. I love to crawl into someone else's world for a little while & experience elements of life that I either won't, can't or don't want to ever experience. The quote that a reader lives a thousand lives is so true and the ultimate definition of why I read. 

I have a very obsessive personality. If I find something I like, I really like it. No, really. There are so many examples of this. Just ask literally anyone I know or who has ever been on my Instagram or Facebook feed. This also goes back to the fiercely loyal & dedicated friend element. It comes from this part of my personality.

I am absolutely sensitive. This is the thing about Isis that I see and relate to most often. I think it comes from this deep down ability to relate to people or things that are going on around you. I can find myself completely gutted by a YouTube video, commercial or music video. Don't even get me started on books or tv shows. Book hangovers are real, people.

If I feel like I have said the wrong thing & in any way hurt someone else or made them disappointed in me, it will Tear. Me. Apart. Yes, this goes to an issue with being a perfectionist, but it also goes hand in hand with the part of my personality that is sensitive and identifies with the hurt of others & feels real pain if I had a hand in causing it. Combine sensitivity with being a perfectionist and it is absolutely something I have to keep boundaries on, but something I'm learning is not always a negative aspect of who I am.

I get excited. About pretty much anything. I feel like this has gotten me into so many situations of embarrassment and is the number one reason why people think I’m 12, but when it comes down to it, this all goes back to that part of me that is a feeler. I feel. Everything. I don’t often have in-betweens. If I’m happy, I’m really happy. If I’m sad, I’m really sad. If I’m excited, I’m really excited. There is just no in between. And if you find me just sort-of sitting and seeming like I am in between – you may want to ask me what’s up because it probably means I’m shutting some feeling down, which in my experience never turns out good for me. Because again, go back to the beginning of this post, all my feelings and thoughts will eventually come out. And the longer I wait to get them out, the more forced and unkempt they will appear.

I stress eat. And I happy eat. And I eat when I’m bored. I love food. Chips & salsa at a Mexican restaurant are my favorite. I’m trying to get control of this because I do want my children to see healthy habits and I have definitely maintained a healthy weight and physique by some miracle of God because I hate to work out, too (another thing I do find value in trying to get better at), but I think I have a little fat kid that lives inside me and is always whispering things to me about how good that doughnut looks or how awesome it would feel to eat the entire container of spinach artichoke dip. It’s going to be a lifelong problem.

I think more than I talk, which is crazy because I talk a lot. And I talk fast. We can accomplish a lot of conversation in a short amount of time if needed. But I also think about everything and I think all the time. I dwell. I ponder. And sometimes I just go absolutely out in left field. I sat in a planning meeting last week at school and halfway through the meeting I couldn’t stop thinking about how bad I wanted some chili. So I said that out loud. Because I think and then I speak. I am Cameron.

I have experienced a pretty ultimate amount of self-loathing due to decisions I have made in my life. I spent some time in high school and early college with basically a better-than-thou attitude and approach to life, which ended up biting me in the butt when I made some choices that tore my world apart. While I hate that these things happened, I am who I am because of them and I have learned how to view the world with grace. If you need to make a confession or have someone walk you through a struggle, I’m your girl.

I love my job. I seriously cannot imagine doing anything else and while I hate student loan payments, every single one I pay tells me that I chose to go back and do something with my life that I love. And that’s a good thing.

One of my biggest struggles in life is not seeing the good in myself. I have spent the majority of my life thinking that almost everything in this list makes me somehow unlovable, unwanted, unattractive or unappealing. That may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but it is so true. And one of the reasons why I compiled this was because I wanted to find the good in these things. I also want to teach my children to find the good in those things as well because I see so many of these traits in them, and when I see it in them I see it as such a positive thing. I hope they do as well.

I asked 4 of my people – and by people I mean my closest people, my friends who know me best and have been there through the vast majority of my life, my husband who sees me good and bad through everything, and my mentor who seriously gives me more guidance than anyone else right now – but I asked them to give me 5 words they would use to describe me and not to think about it too hard. Here are the words they gave: Spunky, Hard-Working, Complex, Sensitive, Loyal, Friendly, Funny, Quirky, Passionate, Loving, Truthful, Sarcastic, Generous, Diligent, Eager, Speedy, Thinker, Intelligent, Friend, Mom. I find it so interesting how many of those speak to the things I’ve said above. And I am pretty sure they meant them all as a good thing…

I have tried to do away with New Year’s Resolutions for myself, so last year I focused on a word. That word was SIMPLIFY. I think it helped a lot to just think about one word to focus on, so this year I decided to do the same. My word for 2015 is GRATITUDE. When I start struggling and not seeing the good, I want to stop and actually name the things I’m thankful for. I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it’s helping me to get in this mindset. 

For my girls, for my husband, for my friends, and for myself, I want to learn to be able to name all the things above as things I am thankful for about myself. They aren’t perfect and they aren’t tied up in a pretty package and half the time I am just a serious hot mess. But I’m me. And I only have one life to do this and I need to not waste it with disappointment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

10 Years

10 years ago I was barely 20 years old. I see 20 year olds now and they seem like babies. I can’t imagine what people thought when I told them I was getting married. At the time, it felt so easy. I love him. He makes me want to be a better person. I feel grounded in the peace he brings to my life. To me, it wasn’t even a question. This was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

10 years is a blessing. You have a partner, a friend, a lover, a confidante. Walking through life together is an extraordinary gift. Through laughter, joy, passion and adventure, we have loved and loved deeply. We have gone from two fresh-faced kids who quit their jobs to tour with his band to become parents of two girls. Our days are filled with princess gowns, Pinkalicious and shoes of every color and style. I still love to curl up and talk about our day, our ideas, our future. Marriage is truly a blessing.

10 years is a challenge. We have cried as hard as we have laughed. There have been questions and fears, anxieties and misunderstandings. We have been through deaths, divorces and addictions with close friends or family members. Our home has been a safe haven for others at times. We have carried burdens both from within our family and from outside it. We have been through pregnancies and births, first months with a newborn, first feedings, excruciating nights of tears and trials. There have been harsh words. There have been periods of silence. There have been apologies. At times, it has felt like we were just those two kids again, in the middle of so many grown-up challenges, and we’ve had no choice but to cling to the Truth and each other and pray for a better day tomorrow. It has been a challenge.

10 years is a choice. It begins with “I love you because…” Because you are kind, because you are strong, because you are exciting. Life is fresh, life is fun, life is easy. It grows with “I love you although…” when the honeymoon phase is over and real life sets in. The layers peel back and the hurt and pain from throughout your life surfaces with this person who is now sharing a bed, a home and a life with you. There is a period of growth and change that is painful and raw. You come out on the other side with this partner who saw you at your worst and loves you still. It continues with “I love you through…” Through laughter, through tears, through pain, through questions, doubts, fears. Someone who chooses to walk with you and also allows you freedom to change. 

We are not who we were. We have grown. We have changed. We have stripped away pieces of each other and revealed new layers underneath. In some areas, we have developed completely new aspects of ourselves. It is no longer fresh and fun and easy all the time. Some days it is tough. Some days it is ordinary. Some days it is survival

I may be in the earliest of the decade anniversaries, but I have experienced enough to know that marriage is a blessing, and a challenge, and a choice. It can be all 3 within the course of 1 day, even 1 hour. But it is a choice I love making and a choice I would and do make again everyday.

Thank you for being a daily reminder that real love is attainable. Thank you for choosing me every day of our extraordinary, ordinary life.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

9 More Books

Seriously. Nine. I've been on a reading roll lately. Here are some brief recaps.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - This was my first book by Rainbow Rowell. I loved her writing style and should really probably bump this up to a 5 out of 5 because I've spent every library trip since reading this trying to find another book by her that is available at my library! It just stuck with me. It's definitely worth reading!
I gave it 4 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - This was just a cute young adult book. It's nothing heavy, just fluff really, but enjoyable enough! I went through a little young adult fluff phase here for a few books.
I gave it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I love the way Stephanie Perkins writes the setting into her story. The first book I read, Anna and the French Kiss, was set in Paris & left me really wanting to visit Paris ASAP. This one was set in San Francisco & again I felt myself wanting to find a flight immediately. She just makes the setting a part of her whole story. It's weaved into every aspect and I really enjoy that. There is another of her books coming out in May called Isla and the Happily Ever After. I'm definitely reserving a copy at my library!
I gave it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesay - This one I'm kind-of torn on. It's not a young adult book and it's a retelling of Jane Eyre, which I've always liked. I really enjoyed the book Jane by April Lindner, which is another retelling of Jane Eyre, but it's a young adult version and I liked it a lot better. I did like that this explored the idea of independence & not relying on those around you to make you complete, but I just didn't totally connect with Gemma Hardy and I got kind-of down about her whole situation.
I gave it a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

A Beautiful Wedding (Novella) by Jamie McGuire - I read Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster, which are the 2 actual books in this series. This is a novella that goes along with it and it's just as great as the other 2 books. It left me wanting to reread both books!! I just love this series. It was a quick read, but super fun.
I gave it a 5 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

The Perfect Game by J. Sterling - This was kind-of an "eh" book for me. It was fine, I read it quickly, but I don't think I'm interested in reading the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. It just didn't really grip me.
I gave it a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - I liked this one. It was a unique story and you're trying to figure out what's happening through the whole thing. I enjoyed the relationship between the 2 main characters and I liked seeing how the story develops & finding out what had really happened to Echo. It's a young adult book and not the best one I've read, but it's good enough!
I gave it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Okay this one...whew. This will go down as the year I discovered John Green. I had read Paper Towns before and I liked it fine, but it didn't knock my socks off or anything. I knew that I liked the way he wrote his characters and the uniqueness and quirkiness of them. I just relate to that, I guess. I was really nervous about reading this one because I just didn't know how well I'd handle a love story about 2 high school kids with cancer, but wow I LOVED it. I have talked about it with several people since reading it and I keep thinking about it. He has such great quotes that I have found myself wanting to find a copy of the book at Half Price Books so that I can own it and write in it and highlight all my favorite parts! And it's another one that left me trying to find any John Green books at my library.
I gave it a 5 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr - This was another interesting one. I really liked the exploration of a young girl who has made a tough decision and had to live with the social consequences. Man, it's a book I would love all high school girls to read when they are entering high school. It's another one where I'm trying to find more books by this author! Definitely worth picking up, but it's tough to get me to give a book a 5 out of 5 lately, so it didn't quite make that cut, but it's worth reading!
I gave it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads & Shelfari

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Young Adult and Children's Literature

I'm taking a Young Adult and Children's Literature class right now, which I've mentioned a couple of times already. I have read several books for this class that I'm counting toward my 50 because they're chapter books and I've really enjoyed them! I already talked about The One and Only Ivan and Paper Towns. 

Three Times Lucky
This was another of the books I read for class. It's about a little 6th grade girl who is an orphan in Tupelo Landing, NC. She lives with the 2 people who found her floating up the river as a baby. The first is the Colonel, who named her Moses because of how they found her, and the second is Miss Lana. The book features really colorful and interesting characters, a small town with lots of gossip and relationships, and then a murder mystery! It's great for kids 10 and up. I've recommended it to students in my class. It does have the murder mystery aspect, but very kid-appropriate. It's really adorable and I loved the characters! The second book has come out called The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing and I've ordered it on my Scholastic Book Order to have in my classroom! I definitely recommend this one to anyone with kids about that age!

Turtle in Paradise
This is also a great book for kids about 9-12 years old. It's about a little girl named Turtle who has to move and live with her aunt in Key West, FL during the Great Depression. It's a historical fiction piece and it definitely captures the feel of the Great Depression at that time. It also features the hurricane in Key West about that time. Turtle is a feisty kind of girl who speaks her mind and I like that a lot. In both Three Times Lucky and Turtle in Paradise, you find strong female characters in the lead who struggle through things and figure things out on their own and they're great little models for other girls reading the books. I enjoyed this one a lot as well!

Anna and the French Kiss
This is the last book I've had to read for my Young Adult and Children's Literature class, although there are several more I will be reading anyway that I've put on my list for the rest of the year! But this is the last one I'll be writing about in class. This book is about a girl named Anna, whose dad is a sort of Nicholas Sparks type of writer who sends her to an American boarding school in Paris to help her and himself look more "cultured." This book is aimed toward high school students and is more grown up that the other 2 mentioned in this post. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to high school girls because it's very different than the normal young adult books you find that are focused on relationships. For one thing, they stay friends for the majority of the book and their relationship grows and changes as they get to know each other - not that there isn't sexual tension, but it definitely wasn't one of those "we met and immediately we're in love" kind of things. I enjoyed that aspect of it. I also like that both the girl and guy in the story aren't the typical dreamy types. The guy is pretty short and the girl has a gap between her 2 front teeth. It's just an adorable, really real view of a high school relationship. Nothing really unrealistic or silly or far-fetched. I just thought it was a great, sweet story that adults as well as high school students would enjoy! The one thing I didn't like was the name. I hate when great books have silly names that make me feel stupid when I tell people what I'm reading...but oh well.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

On a side note, there is one book I started, but wasn't able to finish. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray was one that I got about 14 chapters into, but it took me 2 1/2 weeks and I just wasn't loving it. Maybe I wasn't really in the mood for something magic-related or maybe I just didn't get invested enough in the characters right off the bat, I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I put it down after 2 1/2 weeks and I picked up Anna and the French Kiss at 4:00pm one night....and I finished Anna and the French Kiss at 11:00pm the same night. Couldn't. Put. It. Down. So there ya go.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Paper Towns & The Rosie Project

I can't decide which one of these books to talk about first. The Rosie Project was by far my favorite of anything I've read in 2014, so I think I'll talk about that one first.

The Rosie Project is another book I read with a very different narrator than any other story I've read before! I'm reading a lot of those lately! See my post on The One and Only Ivan, where the narrator is a gorilla, and then I'm currently reading The Book Thief, where the narrator is Death. So this book is narrated by Don Tillman. The way he is described in the book's description is "a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics who has decided it's time he found a wife." It sounds kinda weird, but if you watch Big Bang Theory, you will immediately identify with him as someone similar to Sheldon Cooper, except with a little more flexibility and understanding of appropriate social cues, even if he doesn't always follow them. Maybe I loved this because I love Sheldon on Big Bang so much, I'm not sure, but I just found the whole story so endearing! He decided to take a wife and then created a questionnaire to use to eliminate people who just aren't compatible. The process of finding a wife and in the middle of developing this friendship with Rosie, who doesn't fit anything he's looking for in a wife, is just so fun and adorable. I really enjoyed it. I can't say enough about it. I loved seeing the world through Don's eyes for a while and I found him just really funny! I laughed out loud when Rosie takes him on an impromptu drive to the coast in a convertible and he just starts telling you that he's going to enter that pattern of thinking that he only uses when he's at the dentist. I just found all of his little quirks to be so funny. I really loved this and I think you will, too - whoever you are!!

Paper Towns is my first book I've ever read by John Green. It was on the NPR Best Young Adult Novels list, which is where I have to find several books for my annotated bibliography in my Young Adult and Children's Literature grad school class. So I have a couple more John Green novels on my list to read. I'm not sure what attracted me to this book as far as which one to start with of his, but I think it had something to do with the mystery aspect of it and the search to find someone who has disappeared. I did enjoy following all the clues and figuring out what had happened to Margo Roth Spiegelman, but more than anything, I enjoyed the idea that the book is about discovering who we really are and about discovering the truth about people who have maybe idealized in our minds. We all remember high school and having this perfect picture in our mind of our crush and what they are really like. This book just dove into what it looks like when that picture unravels and not because there is anything specifically wrong with them, but because there's something wrong with everybody. We're all flawed. Nobody is really perfect and learning to love and appreciate people is learning to see them for who they really are and accept them there. I loved that theme in this book. I enjoyed reading about the change in relationships between some of the characters and just about the discovery of who we all really are in general. It makes me excited to pick up another one of his books!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Paper Towns by John Green

50 Books in 2014: An Update

I've been reading quite a bit, but haven't had much time to post! I'm currently taking 2 grad school classes in an 8 week session. I'm about to start a second 8 week session with 2 classes. So to say I've been busy is an understatement. Here are the highlights and I've got 2 special books I'm saving for their own post!

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood
I have some pretty independent, sensitive and strong-willed children. I appreciate all these things about my kids, but I also know that without proper boundaries and discipline, these things can lead to some rather out of control kids. Enter Love and Logic. I had read the general Love and Logic book last year, but then I found out they had this one that is specifically aimed toward birth through age 6. I completely agree with and embrace everything they talk about in this book. I found myself at a difficult point with Isis were I wanted to encourage her independence, but I also wanted to help her make good choices and recognize the consequences of bad choices. I love his this book talks about helping children learn that their decisions have consequences, but doing it naturally and with love. Everything they do is focused around a calm, controlled and very loving parent. It encourages lots of choices for kids so that they feel ownership of their behavior. It increases their confidence because they feel that they are making decisions and learning how to work through bad choices. I have started implementing these things with Isis and I can already tell a huge difference!!! She has started going into our dining room by her own choice to sit down and calm herself down so that she doesn't yell or scream at us. She's learned that otherwise, she will have to go spend some time in her room for yelling at mom or dad. This is tip of the iceberg as far as how this has changed things for us and I just cannot recommend enough that parents look into the Love and Logic series. They have books all the way up through teenagers and they have them for teachers and for couples. We are currently reading their book on entitlement, which is another conversation for another day. I'll probably add that to my 50 in 2014 later.

Pathways to the Common Core
This is a book I had to read for my grad school class called Writing in the Content Areas. This book is written by several individuals who were close to the writers of the Common Core State Standards. As a teacher, I found the information in the book invaluable. I know that it's probably strange that I'm posting a book like this on my 50 in 2014, but I read the entire thing cover to cover. I loved it. It gave me a lot of insight into the purpose behind CCSS and the change it encourages as far as teaching and understanding for student benefit. I know there are a lot of debates about the implementation of the CCSS in the US and I encourage parents or those who are interested to also read this book. While I understand the argument against big government and standardizing curriculum, I do believe in what the CCSS emphasizes and the standards it holds our children to. After reading this book, I felt like I was more confident going into understanding how best to help my students rise to the levels required by the CCSS.

The One and Only Ivan
I am about to start a Young Adult and Children's Literature class for my Masters program and I have given myself a headstart on reading some of the books for this class. I emailed the professor and got a copy of the syllabus for the class and it includes an Annotated Bibliography with several different types of books. The One and Only Ivan was the 2013 Newberry Medal Winner. The Medal is given each year to the American Library Association's choice for the most distinguished American children's book published that year. I loved this book! It's told from the perspective of Ivan, who is a silver-backed gorilla living in a big top mall. I loved that the story was told from his perspective. It was just a really fun take on all of it. At the same time, the book raises some great issues and questions about the treatment of animals in captivity. It would raise some great conversations with students if read in a classroom or with your children at home. I definitely recommend it! According to Amazon, it's recommended for ages 8-12, grades 3-7, but I believe it was enjoyable for anybody older than that as well! I wouldn't read it to younger children just because some of the treatment of the animals could be upsetting. There is an elephant who deals with some pretty sad stuff. I don't want to give anything away, but I loved it!!!
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