Tag Archives: books

My Favorite Things

I got this idea from another slicer to make lists of my favorite things (the number for each list, 11 in this case, is the number of the date). I had so much fun the last time I did it, I thought it was time to do it again! 🙂

Everyday Things I Wouldn’t Want to Live Without:

  1. Books
  2. Internet
  3. My favorite water cup
  4. Go-Jek
  5. Music
  6. Good quality lip gloss
  7. Glasses
  8. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  9. A good quality writer’s notebook
  10. House plants
  11. Flipflops

Adventures to Have Before I Die:

  1. Another week in Nepal at the Little House in the Rice Fields, where I can connect with nature, relax, write, read, and rest.
  2. Visit Antarctica and South America before I’m 40
  3. A month in Inle Lake, Myanmar, riding my bike all around, taking boat trips out on the lake, eating my weight in Burmese tea leaf salad, volunteering at a local school, and getting regular massages
  4. Stay in a villa above the water in The Maldives
  5. Eat my way through India, traveling around to all the different areas to try all the flavors they have to offer
  6. At least a month in Bali, focusing on my health, eating smoothie bowls for breakfast and vegan food for lunch and dinner, swimming and exercising every day
  7. Learn how to skydive on my own
  8. Live in a small town in Italy, learning how to cook pasta, pizza, and desserts from scratch
  9. Fall in love again
  10. Scuba diving in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
  11. Ride the Trans-Siberian train

Pasttimes I Never Tire Of:

  1. Traveling
  2. Slicing
  3. Reading
  4. Trying out new restaurants
  5. Photography
  6. Jigsaw puzzles
  7. Cooking for others
  8. Spending time in the sun
  9. Dreaming about where I’ll travel to next
  10. Listening to music
  11. Learning new things

Treats I Could Eat/Drink Every Day:

  1. English Breakfast Tea
  2. Goat cheese (on almost anything!)
  3. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
  4. Smoothie bowls
  5. Bagel sandwiches
  6. Mango sticky rice
  7. Pavlova with fresh cream, passionfruit sauce, and luscious, ripe berries
  8. Freshly cut fruit
  9. Berries, yogurt, and granola
  10. Fresh lime or mango juice
  11. Pappadum with mango chutney and tamarind sauce

People I’d Be Lost Without:

  1. Mom & Dad
  2. Randi & Logan
  3. Michelle
  4. Linner
  5. Shaggers
  6. Callie
  7. Lisa
  8. Wayne
  9. Miriam
  10. Nicole
  11. Kathy

Places I Want to Visit:

  1. Perth, Australia
  2. The Maldives
  3. Topas Ecolodge in northern Vietman
  4. Luang Prabang, Laos
  5. Iceland to see the Northern Lights
  6. Barcelona, Spain
  7. Cape Town, South Africa
  8. Lisbon, Portugal
  9. Chile- Santiago, Easter Island, and the national parks
  10. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  11. Calgary, Canada to see Shaggers, Jeezy, and Marlowe

Words I Believe Hold Magic:

  1. Hope
  2. Serendipity
  3. Joy
  4. Wanderlust
  5. Wonder
  6. Love
  7. Authenticity
  8. Gratitude
  9. Enough
  10. Adventure
  11. Vulnerability

Gestures that Make Me Smile:

  1. Unexpected gifts, like a plant or a book they know I’ll love
  2. A thoughtful thank you note, preferably handwritten
  3. An invitation to dinner at someone’s house
  4. A hug when I most need it
  5. An offer of help when I’m sick or not feeling well
  6. An invitation to go on a spontaneous adventure in my city
  7. Being tagged in a funny meme
  8. A conversation where no one looks at their phone
  9. Spending quality time together
  10. A well-timed joke
  11. A text to say they’re thinking of me

Favorite Songs (as of this publication):

Click here to listen to my favorite songs

slice-of-life_individual

Literacy Week was a Success!

Last week was my favorite week of the school year, hands-down! Literacy Week is just one of those weeks that’s full of excitement and joy, all centered around the love of reading and writing. What’s not to love about that?!?

Just like last year, I decided to dress up as a different book character each week. I then read to classes as the character. It was so much fun! Here were my outfits and books for this year:

Monday: Rainbow Fish

Tuesday: Pirates Don’t Change Diapers!


Wednesday: Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus


Thursday: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse


Friday: Max from Where the Wild Things Are

I mean…seriously, how can you not have a blast at work when you’re dressed up like this? However, it was difficult for other people to take me seriously in meetings. 😂

In addition to the character read alouds that I did, there were a few other teachers that dressed in character throughout the week and read to classes, which was fun for the students. Here’s a run-down of the weekly events that we had. Let me know in the comments if you want more information about any of the specific events. I’d be happy to share!

Monday:

  • Literacy Week Introduction
  • Poem in my Pocket began, where students wrote poems that they would carry around in their pockets all week to read to anyone who asked.
  • Cultural Storytellers from Australia
  • Treasure Hunt for lower primary
  • Door Decorating Contest began
  • DEAR Time daily

Tuesday:

  • Write Your Heart Out
  • Cultural Storyteller from Japan reading Kamishibai in both Japanese and English
  • Puppet show for upper primary
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily

Wednesday:

  • Pajama Day Read-in
  • Book Bites Bake Sale
  • Cultural Storyteller from Korea reading stories from Korea in both Korean and English
  • Indonesian Wayang Puppet Show (traditional shadow puppets) told in Bahasa Indonesia
  • Book Fair

Thursday:

  • Cultural Storyteller from Indonesia, who told a traditional Indonesian story in both English and Bahasa Indonesia
  • Puppet shows for lower primary, performed by Year 6 students
  • Spelling Bee for Years 3-6
  • Book Fair
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Door Decorating Contest Judging

Friday:

  • Book Character Dress Up Parade for the whole school
  • Cultural Storyteller from Pakistan who demonstrated oral storytelling of a Punjabi story, mostly told in English, with some Punjabi words mixed in
  • DEAR Time daily
  • Guess Who? Reveal, where students guessed who each teacher was based on the book they were holding in front of their face.
  • Battle of the Books, a book trivia game for Year 3-6 students

Coming back to reality this week has been hard, but the memories of last week are still with me. The students had so much fun, read lots of books, and enjoyed the variety of activities. I think the teachers did, too!

Do you do Literacy Week at your school? What is your favorite thing about Literacy Week?

My Last Ten Books

I’m a reader. Always have been, always will be. But just like anything, there are heavy seasons and there are light. I’m in a heavy season at the moment, devouring books quickly, picking up a new one as soon as (or before!) I finish the old one. Since January 1st, I’ve read 10 books.

Since this week is Literacy Week (My favorite week of the school year! More on that next week.), I figured I’d write about reading. I learned a unique strategy for a reader’s notebook entry from a colleague a while ago. It’s called “The Last Ten Books I’ve Read and What They Say About Me as a Reader.” Here we go.

This book was given to me by Michelle. Michelle and I always recommend books to one another, and any time I go home to visit, she always has a book or two to pass on to me. I really enjoyed this one due to the author’s voice; I loved the honest and quirky comments from Eleanor. Since realistic fiction is one of my go-to genres, this one fit in my wheelhouse. This book will be made into a movie soon, so I had to read it, as the book has to be read before watching the film. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an unconventional love story.

Working in an international school has opened my eyes to many cultures and broadened my views of how children from different cultures interact with one another. I ordered this book from Amazon since I thought students at my school would connect to it, as it explored an Indian child’s start at a school in America. I enjoy reading Young Adult literature so that I can keep current with what students are into, plus it’s easier to recommend books to students if I’ve read them. This book was a quick read; I liked the short chapters that alternated between the two boys’ perspectives. I would recommend this for students in fourth to sixth grade and upper primary teachers.

Okay, can I just start by saying…I LOVE THIS BOOK! This one is another recommendation from a friend. Over the Christmas holiday, Shags texted me to tell me she was in the middle of a book that she just knew I would love. And boy, was she right! I picked up a copy at Half Price Books, but since I was reading another book, I had to wait a bit to start it. I began this book on the plane ride to Bangkok, where I attended a job fair for 4 days. Despite my busy schedule, I found time for reading. I couldn’t put it down, and finished it by the end of the trip. I love a good coming of age story, and if you do too, you will love this book. I also enjoyed the way the story was told through a mix of narrative and emails.

Three Young Adult books in a row…I’m sensing a pattern. But I just can’t resist! And this one has won so many awards that I had to give it a go. I enjoyed the unique storytelling style, told through poetry. The intense topics addressed in the book are made more intense by the word choice, line breaks, and lack of text. As I read this book, I made many connections to The Hate U Give, a book I read a couple of months prior. If you liked THUG, you’ll enjoy this one.

This is one I listened to rather than read, and I’m so glad I did! Hearing the author read her own memoir is so much better than reading it on my own. You get so much more from the tone of voice, inflection, and pacing than simply reading the words. On Audible this book is 19 hours, so it took me a few weeks of listening as I got ready for school in the morning, on my morning commute, and before I fell asleep. Memoir is another favorite genre. I think memoir speaks to my soul since I value storytelling so much. I enjoy hearing a person’s story, seeing how experiences in their life have shaped who they are. And Michelle Obama is someone who has done so much for women and girls in America. I would highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook.

This one ticks a few boxes. Realistic fiction (well…sorta realistic)/mystery, it’s soon to be a movie, and it’s told in a unique way, through a mix of emails, texts, letters, documents, and narrative. Once I picked this one up, I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what happened to Bernadette! This one is now our Book Club book, thanks to my recommendation. I hope my friends like it as much as I did.

Something I struggle with is getting everything done on my to-do list. Spoiler alert- I never do! When I start working on a project, I can fly through it if I’m super into it, but if it’s something I’m not interested in, I can procrastinate and dread even starting it. I picked up this book to hopefully get some helpful tips for overcoming this issue. While some of the tips were things I already knew (and don’t do), many of them were new ideas to me and ones that I hope to put into practice soon. If you struggle with procrastination, I’d recommend reading this book.

I know what you’re thinking already. She totally jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon. Yeah, I admit it; I did. Michelle and Linner both recommended this book to me ages ago, so I downloaded it on Audible. I started it, but could never get into it. To be honest, I think it has more to do with the narrator than the content; she nearly put me to sleep anytime I listened. After a few failed attempts, I abandoned it. But after watching the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I tried out some of her lessons in my own house. I found that it made a big difference, so I gave the book another try. While I appreciate her methods and many of her tips, some of it is hokey to me. I don’t think I learned much more listening to the book than I did watching the show so I wouldn’t really recommend this book; just watch the series instead!

Yep, another Young Adult/Teen book. But in all fairness, I didn’t know it when I bought the book. I actually bought this one based on the cover. Once I started reading it, I fell in love with Finch and Violet, with their imperfect and complicated lives. It deals with heavy issues, such as suicide, so if you are looking for a light read, this isn’t it. But I really loved it, despite the heaviness.

After Milk and Honey, I was convinced that all Rupi Kaur’s other books would be a letdown. There’s no way she can write another book of poems as beautiful, I thought. Well, she proved me wrong! The Sun and her Flowers spoke to my soul in ways I didn’t know was possible. It’s definitely a book I’ll reread again and again. The passion, vulnerability, and honesty in her poems hits you in the face. If all poetry was like this, I’d read a lot more of it. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates good poetry that deals with real issues.

In addition to the books I’ve completed this year, I’m also in the middle of a few others- The Power of Inquiry by Kath Murdoch, Culture Map by Erin Meyer, and How to be a Travel Writer by Lonely Planet.

If you have any must-reads, please leave them in the comments.

Letter O #AtoZChallenge

Letter O has only one entry. Oh, well…it’s got sub-headings, so it’ll do.

Obsessions

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the kinda person who gets obsessed with things. As in fixated, can’t get enough, have to have it all, all the time. It’s a good thing I’m not a smoker and I never tried drugs; I’m afraid of what this personality trait would do if I got obsessed with the wrong thing. The deal with my obsessions is that they usually come on quick and stay a while, until they fade into oblivion, only to be replaced by the next one. Some are just a blip on the radar of life, while some make a lasting impression.

Daisies

When I was in high school, my parents finally let me redo my room, and I got to pick any paint color and decorations I wanted. I was stoked! I chose a bright, almost electric blue that made them raise an eyebrow or two, as they questioned me incessantly about whether this was really what I wanted. Of course it was! When the paint was spread across all four walls, and not just on a 2″ x 2″ paint square, I have to admit, I didn’t love it at first. It was way too loud, and I began to seriously doubt my choice. But being the teenager that I was, there was no way I was going to tell my parents I didn’t like it. When they asked, I gushed over the blue, painted a huge fake smile on my face, and told them I loved it. And I did, eventually. Like all things, it grew on me.

After the paint color was decided, I quickly settled on daisies for the decorations because, at the time, I was utterly obsessed with daisies, particularly the white and yellow variety. Nowadays, I would tastefully decorate with a pop of daisies, but my teenage self went full-blown daisy crazy and everything was daisies. I had a daisy comforter and pillows. I had all kinds of framed daisy artwork hanging on the walls. I hand-stenciled daisies around both of my windows. I had large fake daisies (that I bought and brought back from a trip to Germany) in a metal vase sitting on the floor in the corner, in addition to the smaller vases of fake daisies on my nightstand and dresser (Just for the record, I now cringe at the thought of fake flowers). I painted daisies on an IKEA mirror that hung on the wall, as well as on the lampshade of the lamp on my bedside table. It was over the top for sure, but I loved it.

I’m not sure when the daisy obsession faded, but it did, and while I still enjoy having fresh daisies in my house from time to time, they no longer hold the same appeal as they once did.

Books

Ever since I was little, books have held a type of magic for me. They take me to faraway places and allow me to befriend interesting people. My nose was always stuck in a book, and the best extrinsic motivation for me was the promise of a trip to the bookstore to pick out a new book. Books were all around me, and continue to be.

I started to amass a huge collection when I began teaching, knowing that in order for kids to become readers, they needed to be surrounded by all types of books, and not just in the school or public libraries, but in our classroom library as well. When I picked up and moved to China after six years of teaching, my classroom library contained over 1,000 books. I wanted to take them all with me, because knowing them inside and out meant that I could always match a reader to a book, but shipping costs are prohibitive, and I had to part with some. Whittling my collection down to about 500, I gave some away and stored the rest.

I began in China with roughly 500 books, and just added more during my five years there. When it came time to move again, I again sorted and sifted, once again parting with a huge chunk of my collection. It’s always so sad to part with beloved books, isn’t it? I left Albania abruptly, therefore, my book collection is still there. I hope to have friends ship some over to me, but again, I can’t take them all. The life of an international educator means, for me, leaving a trail of books around the world. I guess there are worse things to leave behind, right?

Glasses

As an exclusive glasses wearer for about 15 years, glasses have become part of my look. I don’t really like myself without them, as I feel naked and like something is missing when I don’t have them on. When I lived stateside, my glasses were pretty boring…just your everyday pair. Once I moved to China, however, I discovered the wonder that is the glasses market, where I could get a pair of prescription glasses for about 20 bucks. Let the obsession commence! I went a bit overboard, as I tend to do, and ended up with over 20 pairs of glasses and sunglasses. My favorite thing is matching my glasses to my outfits. I only brought 3 pair to Thailand, and it’s killing me…I need variety! Here are a few of my favorite pairs…

Notebooks

I cannot resist a good notebook. It’s like a compulsion. If I come across a perfect notebook…one where the spine allows it to lie flat when opened…I have to buy it. I also prefer ones with an elastic band on the side to keep it closed. Oh, and it has to be lined, none of that blank page nonsense. Pages with a tinge of color, ones that look a bit aged, are definitely preferred over stark white. I have loads of notebooks, some completed, others partially filled, and some awaiting words. And I always have to have a notebook around just in case words need to be written. If you come across a perfect notebook, my birthday’s next month. 😉

Neon

I went through a phase a couple of years where I was completely obsessed with neon and brightly colored clothing. My wardrobe was a rainbow of color, and opening it made me smile. Wearing bright colors makes me happy, and I think it just makes life a little more fun, you know? I’ve moved on from my neon-filled closet, but I have kept a few of my favorite pieces. I still enjoy a pop of color, but my current style is a little more understated.

Food & Drink Obsessions

One of the things I really get hooked on is food. I get a taste of something I love, and I have to have it all the time. The typical arch is a gradual obsession that quickly builds to a climax, followed by a decline, sometimes tapering off and sometimes stopping completely. A few of my past and current food and drink obsessions include goat cheese (one of the longest-running obsessions), chai tea lattes (preferably iced ones from Starbucks), mango sticky rice, the ricotta and house-made jam appetizer from Mercato in Shanghai, Pizza Express (in general, but the dough balls with garlic butter are pretty dope), pavlova (my fave dessert from Oz), Starbucks (again, generally speaking, but mainly an iced tea and an apple turnover does the trick), iced sweet tea (I’m from the South, you know!), and good queso and chips (I know all the best places to go in my hometown, and which ones are subpar and best avoided).

Lush

Have you ever tried Lush handmade cosmetic products? They’re totally my jam…I love that they are all natural and vegan/vegetarian, and that they are an eco-friendly company. I have been obsessed for a number of years, and many products are my go-to’s now. Faves include the Let the Good Times Roll face wash. It has a mild exfoliant that’s safe for everyday use, plus it smells amazing and even has popped popcorn in it! 🙂 My newest find is the Daddy-O shampoo designed for blondies. It was a little scary to try at first, considering it’s a deep purple color, but it really works to take the brassiness out of my blonde tresses. A bonus is that a 500 mL bottle lasts me about 6 months with almost daily use. When I travel, I always take one of their solid shampoos. It’s great for both hair and body, so it’s a good all-in-one. I’ve tried lots of their products, and I highly recommend them!

Owls

Okay, so I know owls were/are trendy, but my obsession didn’t come about as a result of its trendiness. I became obsessed with owls when my school in China adopted the owls as their official mascot. As a new principal, I had to decorate my office, and what better to decorate it with than owls? It was our new mascot, they’re adorable, and the trend meant they were readily available. It started with just a few accents, but once it started, I just accumulated more and more of them. Many I received as gifts, but I also couldn’t resist an adorable owl pillow or figurine I’d see at the market. At one point, a pre-k student decided to count how many owl things I had in my office. He counted 64. So, yeah…I was officially obsessed.

Traveling

My biggest obsession has to be traveling. Traveling has profoundly changed me and opened my eyes to new perspectives, and I’m a better person for having traveled. I firmly believe that life isn’t meant to be lived in one place.

Traveling’s like a drug…I can’t get enough of it! If I’m not on a trip, I’m planning my next one (or three). We live on such an amazing planet, and I want to see all of it. With only 35 countries and 5 continents under my belt, I’ve just begun. I could write all day about this obsession, but I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that sum up how I feel about traveling:

“Travel has made me more aware of me. I learn more about myself while on the road than anywhere else. It’s given me the ‘I can make it happen’ attitude.” ~Jessica Johnson

“The ‘traveler’s rush’ that hits you upon arrival to a new place is like a drug. And like a drug, the more you expose yourself to it, the more you want it.” ~Clayton B. Cornell

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.” ~Gayle Foreman

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~G.K. Chesterton

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” ~Anthony Bourdain

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Letter B #AtoZChallenge

Continuing my memoir encyclopedia theme, here are my Letter B entries.

Babysitting

I’ve always loved kids, so it made sense that some of my first jobs were babysitting for family friends and neighbors. I began babysitting at age eleven, which I now find absurd. What does an 11-year-old know about babysitting? How can you leave someone that young alone with your kids? I guess the early 90’s were different times, but still. I wouldn’t trust an 11-year-old to babysit.

I babysat for many years, off and on, sometimes on a random night, and sometimes on the regular. I think I gained a lot of responsibility by looking after other kids. Most of the time I loved it, but there was that one time I caught two of the five siblings I was babysitting smoking up in the tree in their backyard. They were 10 and 12 years old. I quit that day.

Banana Pudding

My Mamaw was the best cook that ever lived. Because she grew up very poor during the Great Depression, she made everything from scratch. I spent a lot of time out in the country at her house, and much of that time was spent in the kitchen. My brother, Andrew, and I loved her banana pudding. Mamaw’s banana pudding was served hot, fresh from the oven. First, she’d make the pudding from scratch on the stovetop. As her official taste testers, she gave us each a spoon and waited for our approval, which we always gave because, like I said earlier, she was the best cook ever.

Andrew and I were always Mamaw’s special helpers, and she’d pull tall stools up to the counter top where we’d assist her. Our job was to cut the bananas into slices and help her layer the pudding. A layer of Nilla Wafers lined the bottom of the 13×9 glass baking dish, followed by a layer of bananas, and then a layer of pudding, which Mamaw poured because it was too hot for us. More Nilla Wafers, bananas, and pudding. The final piece was meringue, which she’d whip up in her mixer, stiff white peaks indicating it was ready. She always did that part. Then it went into the oven for what seemed like an eternity. Fresh out of the oven, she’d dish out four helpings, one each for Andrew and me and one each for her and Grandaddy. Each time we had it was better than the last. The taste of warm banana pudding will always bring me back to that kitchen and my Mamaw.

Bean Burrito

Kids are funny, and their idea of insults is even funnier. My first year as a camp director at iD Tech camps, we had an 11-year-old camper named Mitchell who came a few weeks in a row. He was a spitfire with a temper much bigger than him. His go-to insult whenever he was upset at a fellow camper or an instructor was, “Gawd! You’re a bean burrito!” Hurling that insult was always met with laughter or a smile, which only fueled his anger. But, how can you not smile when someone calls you a bean burrito? Is that supposed to hurt? 😉

Bees

I’m not afraid of a lot of things, but I’m deathly afraid of bees. Like, I completely freak out whenever one is flying anywhere near me. I have no idea how other people aren’t bothered by them. They have stingers, and it hurts like hell when they sting you! When I see a bee, I completely come out of my skin, running away, screaming, and sometimes crying.

I think my fear stems back to two major incidents from my childhood. Once, when I was about four or five, I was playing at my cousin Katy’s house. We were in her front yard, and for some reason, we were playing under a bush. That’s when it happened. We had inadvertently messed with a wasp’s or hornet’s nest, and they were angry! I ended up getting stung four times in the head. I remember crying like crazy, and my parents running out to get me. Another time, I was around eight years old, and I was playing in my playhouse that my Grandaddy built for me. I was rearranging the furniture, as you do, and when I moved my pretend Kenmore refrigerator, I unknowingly disturbed the bee hive that had formed on the back of it, causing an angry crowd of bees to attack. The fact that I was in a confined space of about 12 square feet, with the door and windows closed, did not work to my advantage. I managed to escape and run around to the back of the house, where my parents’ room was, but not before I’d been stung a bunch of times, mainly in my knee. Ever since then, bees terrify the crap outta me!

About 6 months ago, a couple of friends and I took a trip to Morocco, and we were on a road trip from Chefchaoen to Casablanca, me riding shotgun. The weather was sunny and slightly cool, so I cracked the window, turned up the tunes, and settled in for a relaxing ride. Suddenly, I felt a leaf fly through the window and land in my hair, along my hairline. Reaching up to get it out, I felt a red hot pain shoot through my finger. Bringing my hand down to inspect it, I see a bee attached, which falls down beneath the seat. I begin screaming bloody murder, a combination of the pain and the fear of the bee, Celeste and Jen unaware of what is wrong with me. Celeste wants to help me, but she’s driving about 100km/hr down the highway. Jen, in the backseat, offers assistance. I shove my finger back to her, crying and shaking, begging her to remove the stinger. Miraculously, she has a pair of tweezers in her bag, and she’s able to remove it; I manage to calm down. I am so glad I wasn’t driving, or we would have certainly crashed. Also, what kind of luck is that where a bee is able to fly through a cracked window of no more than 2 inches wide, while we drive at a high speed down the highway, and land in my hair? Freaky things like this happen to me a lot.

Bikes

I’m a bike rider, although I don’t consider myself a cyclist. I’m more of a casual bike rider. In elementary school, my main thing was riding around the neighborhood on my yellow Huffy with white tires, speeding through the streets like I owned the place. When I needed a break, I’d throw it against the front porch steps, run in and get some water, only to get right back out there. I’m not certain when I stopped riding, but by high school, I was more concerned with driving than riding my bike.

I didn’t own a bike again until I moved to Shanghai, and faced with not having a car and not wanting to rely on taxis all the time, I braved the hectic, busy streets and got a bike. That first bike was sahweeet! It was a red and white Giant with a basket on the front. I loved that bike. About 8 months after I bought it, I stupidly left it overnight at the Metro station, and the next day it was gone. Sadness.

bike2

My next bike was so nice…vintage colors that made me smile. I had that bike a total of 6 days before it was stolen from inside my apartment building, locked up to the stairwell in the middle of the day, on my birthday no less! Lots of tears were shed for that one.

bike1

After another few bikes were bought and stolen, I decided to get a custom-made fixie. I got to choose the colors and being the neon lover I am, it was bright! I only stored it in my apartment, and I’m happy to say, I still have it. When I left China, I broke it down, packed it in pieces in a box, and brought it as checked luggage. It’s currently sitting in my parents’ garage.

IMG_2777

 

Bonfire

Aggie (see entry for Aggies under Letter A) bonfires were an annual tradition for as long as I can remember. Our biggest football rivalry was the University of Texas Longhorns, and they were always the last game of the regular season, right around Thanksgiving. In Aggie tradition, a huge bonfire made of whole tree trunks was constructed by a host of volunteers over a number of weeks leading up to the big game. The night before the big game, thousands upon thousands of people would gather as the bonfire went up in flames, whoops and gig’ems galore. As a kid growing up in Aggieland, I attended many bonfires, and looked forward to the days of attending them as an actual Aggie. But that never happened.

In 1999, during my freshman year in college, the bonfire fell in the early morning hours of November 18, killing twelve people. I remember being woken up for class by my radio alarm around 7:00 am and hearing news reports of the collapse. I thought, This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. But it was real. Much of the A&M campus was shut down that day and the town was in chaos. I heard the call for blood donations for the wounded, and I dutifully waited hours to donate blood at the local blood bank. A couple days later, my family and I flew to England for a week-long vacation to visit my aunt and uncle. I remember watching news footage of the Aggie bonfire collapse in London, surprised that it had made international headlines. There hasn’t been another official Aggie bonfire since.

Books

I love books, like, really love them. I have amassed huge collections of books over the years. My favorite books to collect are children’s picture books, young adult novels, and professional development and self-help/psychology books. At present, I probably own upwards of 800 books, but I’ve had so many more. I’ve ended up donated many books when I’ve moved around the world, thus leaving a trail of books in my wake. Leaving books behind is very hard for me, as I become quite attached to them and have come to love the fact that I can pull out just the right book that someone may need, but books are heavy and lugging them around gets very expensive. I wish I was super rich and could take my books with me everywhere I went, and I wish that I could buy even more!

My most favorite books, in no particular order, are 1984, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Dot, The Great Gatsby, Angela’s Ashes, Fishing Sunday, Brown Girl Dreaming, Wonder, Out of My Mind, 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, The Book Whisperer, The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1964, The Fault in Our Stars, Walk Two Moons, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Giving Tree, Bridge to Terabithia, Start with Why, and Okay for Now.

Bows

Growing up in the land of big hair when you have fine, wispy hair means you need to create your own height. Enter hair bows. And I’m not talking little barrettes with dainty little bows made of thin ribbon. I’m talking gravity-defying bows that stick off the top of your head at least 3-4 inches. I went through a phase in late elementary school where I made bows. I would buy wide ribbon with wire built in to help it stand up, wire for wrapping, and plain silver barrettes. I’d use the wire to make bows with 4-6 big humps (imagine ‘mmm’) on top of the barrettes. I’d wear my hair in a half ponytail with the bow at the top of my head. I’d like to say I was fashionable, but that would be a lie. (See Exhibit A below.)

bow pic

Brother

Andrew, my younger, but certainly not little, brother and I had a typical brother/sister relationship growing up. We were thick as thieves one day and at each others’ throats the next. He’s nearly four years younger than me, which means that we weren’t really in the same place in our lives very often, if at all. The only time we went to the same school was in elementary, when he was in first grade and I was in fifth. He was entering middle school when I was in high school, and he was a freshman in high school when I was a freshman in college. I think that the four-year age gap is an awkward length, and we struggled to relate to one another’s experiences.

But growing up, there were definitely times when we banded together for the common good. One of my favorite memories of us working together was one Halloween when we were in elementary school. For some reason, our family didn’t go trick-or-treating, which really stank, especially since Andrew and I loved free candy! As the older sibling and brains of the operation, I hatched a plan. I had Andrew dress up in his tee-ball uniform, the closest thing either of us had to a costume, and I snagged a plastic grocery sack from under the sink, and we “went out to play.” As we were on our way out the door, my mom reminding us to be home for dinner, she asked, “Why are you wearing that, Andrew?” We pretended we didn’t hear her, as the door slammed behind us.

Running to the backyard, we schemed. I taught Andrew the basics in trick-or-treating etiquette, and instructed him to go to the neighbor’s house across the street, ring the doorbell, hold out his bag, and say “Trick or Treat!” when they opened the door. Then, when he had the candy, he was to bring it back to me. We would split the candy 50/50. The fact that it was 4:30 pm and still light out didn’t deter our mission. Hiding out in the backyard, watching him as he ran up to the door, my heart was beating a mile a minute. I didn’t want to get caught and have to explain what we were doing to my parents. After sending him to a few houses close to home, we dug into our candy, gladly ruining our dinner.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Everything, Everything

Today was day three of returning to work since the accident. Days one and two resulted in me leaving with an incredibly swollen foot and in intense pain, resulting in me crawling into bed to hoist my enlarged foot, wrapped in an ice pack, onto a mountain of pillows, while I took meds to stave off the pain. This weekend wasn’t much different. Other than my doctor’s visit and dinner with a friend on Saturday, I was either on the couch or in the bed, elevating my foot, wincing with pain whenever I hobbled around my tiny apartment on my crutches. Today, day three, was different. I was able to last for longer periods of time on my crutches, although I primarily used the wheelchair when I was in class, as it’s infinitely easier.

I had to leave at 1:00pm today to go pick up my work permit, and when I left I noticed my foot was swollen, but less than it was the other days. In the car, I asked how long it would take for us to get to the immigration office. One hour. Ugh…I should have brought my book. Oh, wait! I have the book Elissa gave me!

Earlier this morning, Elissa handed me a book she’d finished this weekend, saying she thought I’d like it. It’s a YA novel called Everything, Everything. Apparently they’re making it into a movie (Don’t they always?). I took it, but since I’m in the middle of another book, I wasn’t sure when I’d get to it. A two-hour round-trip ride downtown was the perfect time to dive into it. I was instantly sucked into the story. The fast-paced storyline and suspense kept me hooked.

After the immigration visit, I visited the massage parlor next to my apartment building, where they helped work out the kinks and knots that have taken up residence in my back and shoulders. From there, I walked home on my crutches…without getting winded! My foot was swollen, of course, but I wasn’t in pain. Nevertheless, I propped it up and continued to read more of my new book.

My stomach started grumbling around 5:30, and rather than ordering in again, I decided to venture out in a taxi to one of my favorite restaurants. Gingerly, I walked up the steps and across the uneven footpath. My dinner companion was none other than my new book. Between bites, I turned page after page, unable to stop. After dinner, I was surprisingly still not in pain, so I headed to Starbucks to get my favorite iced tea and continue reading. I ended up finishing my book! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in a day, and I loved the uninterrupted reading time.

Back at home now, I’ve elevated and iced my foot to reduce the incredible swelling, but I have to say there is minimal pain. I can even wiggle my toes and ankle a bit without it hurting, and there’s a hint of itchiness, which according to the doctor and my dad, means the road rash is starting to heal. Yay for small victories! I go back for another check-up tomorrow, so we’ll see how gnarly it looks under there. I’m hoping to see less red and more scabby bits. 🙂


Side Note: Everything, Everything reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars, and while I liked it, I would say The Fault in Our Stars is still much better. However, if you are into YA literature and looking for a quick, engaging read, I suggest this one.

9 Things on Day 9

As I was reading through some slices for some inspiration, I came across All Things Purple’s blog, where her slice was full of lists of her favorite things, 9 per list, in honor of the ninth day of slicing. I love lists, as anyone who follows my blog or knows me in real life knows, so this was right up my alley! 🙂

9 Everyday things I wouldn’t want to live without:

  1. Books! (actual books or ebooks)
  2. A device (laptop, iPad, or iPhone)
  3. Wifi connection
  4. Tea kettle
  5. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  6. Live plants
  7. Backpack
  8. Reusable water bottle (loving my Camelbak Eddy at the moment)
  9.  My writer’s notebook

9 Adventures I want to have before I die:

  1. Step on all 7 continents (before age 40!)…just 2 more (Antartica and South America)
  2. Take a year off and slow travel around the world
  3. Write a book…and publish it!
  4. Meet someone I want to share my life with
  5. See the Northern Lights and sleep in a glass igloo
  6. Spend at least one month living in Inle Lake, Myanmar, volunteering at a school or an orphanage, riding my bike every day
  7. Go on an African safari
  8. Take my parents to all my favorite places around the world
  9. Show up at the airport, buy a ticket, and fly some place I’ve never been, with absolutely no plans whatsoever

9 Pastimes I never tire of:

  1. Listening to music
  2. Writing
  3. Reading
  4. Talking about reading and writing
  5. Cooking
  6. Throwing parties
  7. Visiting new restaurants
  8. Planning for a new trip
  9. Talking to my friends and family

9 Treats I could eat everyday (if they weren’t unhealthy):

  1. Chai tea lattes, preferably iced and from Starbucks
  2. Goat cheese
  3. Mangos
  4. Homemade ravioli
  5. Brownies
  6. Chips & Queso
  7. Hot Shipley’s glazed donuts
  8. Mercato’s homemade ricotta and jam with buttery, toasted bread
  9. Pavlova

9 People I’d be lost without (Only 9?!?):

  1. My mom & dad (I know, this is more than one…)
  2. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, & nephew (this one, too…)
  3. Shaggers
  4. Michelle
  5. Linner
  6. Kathy
  7. Sarah
  8. Sally
  9. Callie

9 Places I want to visit:

  1. New Zealand
  2. South Africa
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. The Maldives
  6. Iceland
  7. Spain
  8. Bhutan
  9. Chile

9 Words I believe hold magic:

  1. Savor
  2. Love
  3. Vulnerable
  4. Change
  5. Play
  6. Serendipity
  7. Authenticity
  8. Gratitude
  9. Delicious

9 Gestures that make me smile:

  1. Receiving a gift from someone who knows me well
  2. Hand-written notes
  3. People who go out of their way when you’re sick/injured
  4. Quality time
  5. Playing a board game with me
  6. Hilarious texts, particularly ones accompanied by poignant GIFs 🙂
  7. A good book recommendation
  8. An engaging conversation where no one looks at their phone
  9. Little kid hugs

9 Favorite songs (as of this blog post) (How can I pick just 9?!?):

Click here to listen to my favorite songs

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What are your favorite things?