Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Chalk Man: The Book I Read in One Sitting

When talking about books, you always hear people say "I just couldn't put it down!" For The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor, it was true. I read the entire novel in one sitting because I absolutely had to find out what was going to happen.

This book flips between the narrator's life as a 12 year old and his current life as a middle aged man. There are mysteries in both settings, clues being slowly revealed until the end, where there are many twists and turns.

Most stories have one problem, one mystery to be solved. I'm not spoiling anything (you find out the first page) that one of the problems is a murder that happened when the narrator was 12 years old. I thought this would be the only mystery. Boy, was I wrong! There are mysteries involving almost everyone in the story.

There was only one that I figured out. The rest I was surprised with, and instantly going back and rereading to realize that the clues were right in front of me! Go into this book trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and you really might be able to!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Blogging for Books gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

To be honest, I selected How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas just based off of the cover. The titled intrigued me as well, although my fiancé thought I was reading a self-help book. 

This book is laced with humor and gives off a coming-of-age vibe. It reminds me a lot of the personal stories that David Sedaris writes. I yearned for this novel to be a true story of this boy's odd family, struggles, and triumphs. 

It was an enjoyable read, an easy read, yet for some reason it was hard to get through. Perhaps it was his awkward encounters and family a little bit too odd that made me not desire to read it. Or perhaps it was the fact that I couldn't relate well to a young boy as a narrator. I wanted to like it, and I did like it, I just didn't like reading it. 

As I mentioned, it was enjoyable, and perhaps I will give it another shot. Out of five stars, I think I'd give it three and a half. 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Human Acts by Han Kang: My First E-Book

My favorite hobby is going to thrift stores and buying frayed, well loved books with dog eared pages and bent spines. I love putting a book in my purse or in my car and reading anytime, anywhere.

I have been wanting to read Human Acts by Han Kang for a while, and I decided to try an e-book. I am very disappointed, and it's not Human Acts' fault! Because this was my first e-book, I had trouble getting into the change from a print book to an electronic copy. I like to cuddle up and read, and it felt like a hassle to download the book and get an electronic devise every time I wanted to read a few pages. With that said, I will not be getting another e-book anytime soon. But about the book...

This book is an emotional story, centered around protests in South Korea. I love learning about different cultures, and not just the fun outfits or traditional food, but the deep stuff. The pain, the beliefs, the morals, the wars. And that's what this book is about, as it follows stories of pains and losses, and how people heal.

It is so interested to me to read a book with a plot so near and dear to the author himself. Since the book is about Han Kang's hometown, it makes the book even more special, with a feeling of importance in every chapter. This book was clearly special to the author.

I would recommend (a hard copy of) this book!

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

When becoming a teacher, especially for younger grades (second grade over here!), you are expected to be positive, upbeat, and encouraging. I take it to a whole new level.

I’m so glad my only audience is a group of seven year olds. If any of my friends saw me, they would be so embarrassed. I literally jump up and down, clap my hands together, cheer, sing, and dance all so that my class has a good time learning. I actually kind of annoy myself. (But of course the kids love it.)

I was prepared to sing the alphabet song. I was not prepared to rap a Dr. Seuss book.

I was prepared to praise good students. I was not prepared to thank each student who raises his/her hand.

I was prepared to teach spelling. I was not prepared to stand on their desk and dance if they spelled the bonus word correctly.

I was prepared to deal with tough situations from their home life. I was not prepared to openly cry with students.

I was prepared to clean desks. I was not prepared to clean shoes, shirts, hair, faces, books, carpets, backpacks, water bottles, etc.

I was prepared to say beautiful, heartfelt, educational things that students will always remember. I was not prepared to say -

“Wow, I am SO proud of you for not getting pizza sauce on your pants!”

“No, there’s not a baby in my belly.”

“Tie your shoes before your mom sees.”

“Stop licking your desk.”

“No, I’m not your godmother. I’m just your teacher.”

“Only hold your breath for a few seconds, or you might pass out, and that would make me very sad.”

“Miss Lee needs coffee.”

“Get out from under the desk. I want to see your handsome face.”

“I don’t know if you’re adopted. Ask your parents.”

“No, no one in this class has dwarfism.”

“You’re not a fool. Who told you that?”

Teaching is such a blessing, with opportunities for prayers to be answered and miracles to happen every day.

I never thought it would be so hard, and I also never thought that I would leave every day feeling so happy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Thought I Was Going to Be a Teacher

I am a few months into my second year of teaching second grade. Including student teaching, I have taught well over fifty kids, so while I am still considered a new teacher, I have hundreds of stories to tell.

There are some thing that my undergraduate classes didn't cover, that nothing prepared me for. Because it's easy to be a teacher - come up with fun games to teach math concepts or help the students to write daily in a journal. The hard part is all the other jobs that comes with teaching.

I am not just a teacher.

I am a hair stylist, washing candy that got stuck in a little girl's hair ten minutes before the class picture was taken.

I am a nurse, applying ice and bandages, inspecting bug bites and scratches.

I am a musician, singing silly songs over and over to help the class memorize grammar rules.

I am a police officer, blowing my whistle to stop kids who are trying to jump over the fence and leave school property.

I am an artist, drawing pictures of flowers, seahorses, hearts, and wild things.

I am a referee, listening to angry friends each tell their side of the story.

I am a judge, enforcing consequences and requiring apologies.

I am a fitness coach, teaching students how to do burpees.

I am a Oscar winning actress, pretending to be surprised at things I've known all along, or holding in laughter when a child is being unknowingly hilarious.

I am a speech therapist, making sure the students are saying "erosion" and not "erection".

I am a scientist, giving kids a chance to suggest theories and test them out.

I am a cleaner, scrubbing paint off of desks and glitter out of rugs.

I am a mother, cleaning the wrinkled shirt that is worn to school every day, sneaking them an extra snack, comforting them after a hard night.

I am a doctor, making sure the little boy with asthma has his inhaler, and knowing the details of a seven year old's antidepressant medication.

I am a reporter, taking notes, sending information home, asking questions, finding the truth.

I am a grief counselor, when a family member dies and the child feels lost.

I am a constant, always smiling even when I feel sick or distracted.

I am an improv actor, finding words to say to "Do storks really bring people babies?" and "Is the tooth fairy real?"

I am supernatural, somehow going the whole day barely eating and never going to the bathroom.

I am a friend, holding hands, swinging next to them, giving hugs.

And I thought I just signed up to be a teacher.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Three Weeks Adventuring through Paris - All the Spots You Have to Go to!

I have not blogged in months and months and months, but I decided that for my own memory's sake, I should do a re-cap of my three weeks in Paris. Instead of stories, this is a list of all our favorite spots, with links so that you can learn more about them (and someday go to them!) So if you're interested in Paris or are planning a trip there, definitely read on! There are several hidden gems!

First of all, Natalie and I stayed in Montmartre, which I personally think is the best place to stay. You really get to live like a local. Everything is SO close together that it's easy to walk to, and there are many metros in the neighborhood that will easily get you to the other side of Paris. We lived right by the Sacré-Coeur, which was beautiful, especially if you climb up it (only six euros!) Any day that we were bored, we would wander up to the Sacré-Coeur, at the summit of Butte Montmartre, and walk around the block to Place du Tertre, also known as the Artist's Square, for live music and the best cafes! We were there probably a dozen times.

Although we took some special trips to restaurants that were recommended to us, we ate mostly in Montmartre. Just picture it - bakeries on every corner, ice cream, éclairs, macarons, nutella everything, crêpes. We both gained like five pounds. (It was worth it!)

Because we were there for three weeks, we were able to go to almost everything on our wish list. Museums, gardens, cafes, famous streets. Now that I'm back, places will pop up on Pinterest and I'll think, "What! Why didn't we go there?" I guess it just gives us a reason to go back.

As much as I loved scheduling to see museums or taking a day trip, I really liked our lazy days, when we would just wake up and wander around Paris. We discovered so many cool streets, beautiful houses, and cute cafes. 

We went to the Notre Dame Cathedral for mass on our first Sunday. It was absolutely beautiful! Neither of us are Catholic, so we went to experience a whole other culture - different religion, different language, different customs. It was so overwhelming and definitely one of the highlights of our whole trip! I learned so much from just those few hours. And then we went home and watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame and ooed and awed over how realistic the drawings were! 

We took a day trip to the Palace of Versailles on the hottest day of our entire trip. We walked over 10 miles non-stop, but it was definitely worth it! The gardens were beautiful, and we even got to tour Marie Antoinette's cottages. We took a wrong turn (read: we got absolutely lost) and ended up on this beautiful path. I don't even know how to describe it. There were trees and fields with people biking and picnicking. Natalie sketched the scene while I read out loud, taking several breaks to coo over little toddlers walking by us (French kids are definitely cuter than American kids, no offense.) 

For the 4th of July, we took another day trip to Deauville/Trouville. There's a video at the bottom of this post so you can experience more of this beach town. Rumor has it, this is where all the Parisians go on holiday. It is actually North of Paris, while most popular French beaches, such as Nice or Marseille, are on the Southern coast. I thought it was so interesting to see Parisians on vacation. They were touristy and laid back and relaxing - kind of just like us! Fun fact - Coco Chanel opened her first store in Deauville. 

Natalie's husband surprised us and gave us tickets to Disneyland Paris. I never in a million years would have thought I'd be going there. It was SO fun. It was nice to just get out of the city and all that was familiar to us. Because the EuroCup was going on, they knew that a lot of people would be there instead of Disneyland so they decided that this would be a great time to close down all the popular rides to do construction. We were super bummed because three of the coolest rides were closed, but we were able to go on almost every other ride! Our favorite by far was the Ratatouille ride - if I could have, I would have spent the whole time there. The It's a Small World ride was AMAZING. I almost cried - I love seeing the world come together and appreciate all cultures and all walks of life. Also, we got to meet a Mary Poppins who didn't speak English and a super friendly (let's be real - flirty) Bert. 

One of my favorite things about Paris was that there were gardens and parks EVERYWHERE. And there would always be couples wandering through, holding hands and kissing, or families picnicking, or groups of kids skateboarding and biking. The top picture is of Tuileries Garden and the bottom is right by Le Palais Royal. I recommend always bringing a book or a sketchpad with you because I guarantee you will often stumble upon beautiful gardens that will make you want to stop and enjoy the day.

My FAVORITE place of all - Musée Picasso. It is free the first Sunday of the month, and was filled with so much many of Picasso's works and the best gift shop. It inspired me so much, and if I could recommend anything, this would be the place. 

We also visited the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Hillsong Paris, the Seine, the Panthéon, Galeries Lafayette (free view of Paris from the rooftop), and more! I am so blessed to have been able to enjoy THREE WEEKS in Paris, and I can't wait to go back! 

Check out the video Natalie made of our day in Deauville - 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on the Terrorist Attacks from a 20-Something Year Old

I think, in my young American life, this is the first time that something "big" has ever hit me so hard. Yes, I was alive during 9/11 but it did not seem real to me. It was on the TV. And everything on the TV was fake, right?

It's not just Paris. There have been attacks all over the world recently. There have been so many natural disasters in just the past 6 months. There are thousands of victims of other circumstances - homelessness, domestic violence, bullying. And it's hitting me all at once.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes over me every time I think about the terrible recent events. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to take care of the millions of children who will sleep on the streets tonight? How am I supposed to raise the funds for new homes that hurricanes and earthquakes have destroyed? What am I supposed to say to those who have lost loved ones? What is expected of me?

Nothing. Nothing is expected of me. Actually no, I'm expected to change my profile picture to France's colors to show my support. And I understand why..but what about the mass shooting in Kenya? What about the earthquakes that happened over the summer in Nepal - where people are STILL struggling to survive day-to-day? There are too many disasters for me to change my profile picture to one country's colors and not feel guilty about it. I do support France, but I support everyone else, too. Changing my picture to France's colors feels like I'm brushing every other attack under the rug, and I don't feel comfortable doing that.

And even if I did change my profile picture, I know that I would not feel any better. The uneasiness and the fear that is inside my heart as I blindly scroll through dozens and dozens of articles about ISIS and bombings and terrorist attacks has not gone away since Friday. I scroll, I scroll, I scroll. Because all I have in front of me is my screen and since I can't do anything, I just want to know everything.

If you look at my recent internet history, it will show you that instead of sleeping, I am googling ISIS and instead of taking my lunch break, I am reading CNN articles. I scroll, I scroll, I scroll.

I had plans to go to the gym today. But my heavy heart screamed at me because there are thousands of people in this world who would give anything to have a "normal" day today. To have a day where they wake up early, go to work, and then hit the gym on the way home. This "normal" life that I have lived daily suddenly fills me with feelings of selfishness. Who am I to have this "perfect" life? Who am I to live life "normally" even after these attacks?

I am changed inside. Part of me wishes that I could go back to normal and absentmindedly go for a run and then shop at some thrift stores before going home to cook myself a vegan, gluten-free meal. I cringe at myself.

But the other part of me is thankful for this chance to grow up. For this opportunity for me to actually, literally, physically get down on my knees before God and PRAY. For those who are directly affected, for the countries who have some serious decisions to make, for the fear that is consuming so many people's lives. To repent for those who have made terrible comments, ignorant posts about how it's a certain religion's fault or it's a certain country's fault. To ask God to give me wisdom, because I don't know what to do. There is nothing I can do.

All I can do is pray. And scroll, and scroll, and scroll.