Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two FatesThe Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Believe it or not, a sixth grade student recommended this book and loaned me his copy that he had gotten from his mother. Some of the content is mature in nature, so it surprised me that he read it.

The tag line reads... "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his." There are two boys, both named Wes Moore, born the same year, both living in or near Baltimore, and both from fatherless homes, though different cirumstances left them that way. Both had trouble with school, both had trouble with the police, and both had difficult childhoods. How does one of them end up in prison for life and one becomes a Rhodes Scholar, a veteran, a White House Fellow, and a business leader?

The narrative is told in alternating points of view. This solidifies the similarities between the two Wes Moores, but it also serves to demonstrate the differences. It truly explores urban culture and the growth from boy to man. It's a story about struggle, family, education, drugs, street life. It is both shocking and inspiring.

If left me feeling like I need to do something, even though this is not the culture I live in. The inner-city culture is part of everyone's world, even though some would deny it exists or claim it is someone else's problem. If the youth of our country, particularly our inner-city youth, feel like the world has given up on them, what chance do they have? I don't have the answer, but I feel inspired and motivated to do something. I hope you will, too.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thursday 13 Holiday Edition II - Christmas Around the World

I am linking up with Thursday 13.  Click on a picture to enlarge it.  Image credits here.

1. Gl├Ždelig Jul...Denmark. Most families eat a special kind of rice pudding on Christmas. It has almonds in it. All the almonds are chopped into pieces except one. Whoever find the whole almond in his pudding gets a special "almond present' which is often a marzipan pig.

2. Buone Feste Natalizie...  Italy .The Nativity Scene is important in celebrating Christmas. St. Francis of Assisi made popular the use of the crib in a Nativity Scene. Having cribs in the home became commonplace in the 16th century. Before that, cribs were only found in churches and monasteries. Baby Jesus is placed in the crib on the night of December 24th.

 3. Feliz Natal...  Brazil. Christmas plays called Los Pastores, which means The Shepherds, are popular. Sometimes the plays include a woman who tries to steal the baby Jesus. Papai Noel and Bom Velhinho might leave gifts if your sock is placed by a window.

 4. Hyvaa joulua...  Finland.  Father Christmas lives in the northern part of Finland, and there is a theme park called Christmas Land that is visited by people from all over the world. It is a modern tradition to visit cemeteries at night (it gets dark early) to visit the graves of family members who leave candle-lit lanterns there. The lanterns shine in the snow creating a winter wonderland.

5. Joyeux Noel...  France.  The French use clay figures in their Nativity scenes instead of wooden ones. They burn Yule logs made from cherry wood and sprinkled with wine. Santa Claus is called Pere Noel (Father Christmas).

 6. Kala Christouyenna...  Greece.   Christmas trees are not traditional in Greece. On Christmas Eve, children go caroling. They often take model boats with them, which is a very old custom of the Greek Isles. If the carolers sing well, they are often given money or nuts, sweet, or figs to eat.

7. Feliz Navidad...  Mexico.   Christmas is celebrated from December 12 to January 6th. One tradition is called the Posada in which children go from house to house asking for lodging until they are finally told that, yes, there is lodging here. They enter the home, give thanks, then have a party with food, games, and fireworks. Christmas Eve mass is known as Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster). Christmas Day often includes fireworks.

 8. Feliz Navidad ...Argentina.  The Christmas season is warm in Argentina. Christmas trees are a popular decoration. People often put cotton balls on the tree to represent snow. Any type of tree can be a Christmas tree, not just a fir. On Christmas Eve, they have paper decorations with a light inside that are similar to Chinese lanterns.

 9. Vesele Vianoce...  Slovakia.   Baby Jesus brings the presents for Christmas in Slovakia. The children must leave the room so Baby Jesus can bring gifts, and when the gifts are there, a bell is rung. The children run to the Christmas tree trying to catch a glimpse of Baby Jesus, but they always narrowly miss seeing Him. The traditional Christmas meal is carp.

 10. Gledileg Jol...  Iceland.   The Yule tree is decorated on December 23. Celebrations usually begin at 6PM on Yule Eve with children opening presents and a meal of roast lamb. They also make leaf bread which is thin sheets of dough cut into delicate designs and fried. Each family might have their own design.

 11. Meri Kirihimete...New Zealand.  Christmas comes in the middle of summer. They open their presents on Christmas Day followed by a lunch of ham, venison, shrimp, and/or fish. Many towns have Santa parades beginning in November and throughout the holiday season.

 12. Bara Din Mubarrak Ho...  Pakistan.  There is a small number of Christians in Pakistan, but December 25 is a public holiday in honor of the founder of Pakistan, Jinnah. Christians celebrate by decorating, singing carols, and exchanging Christmas cakes. Santa Claus is known as "Christmas Baba."

 13. Zalig Kerstfeast...  The Netherlands.  December 5 is the most important day for children in The Netherlands since that is when Sinterklaas brings presents. Children leave their clogs by the fireplace or by a window in hopes they will receive a present. Christmas Day is a quieter holiday with families attending church and having a family meal. But in some areas, they also receive presents from Kerstman (Christmas Man, not to be confused with Sinterklaas).

  Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Tuesday Random

I'm linking up with Stacy's Random Tuesday.

Oh, what a week!  I woke up Thursday morning, the day I needed to leave to drive to Abilene 6 1/2 hours away for my daughter's college graduation, and I had the worst sore throat I've ever had!  But I pushed through it.  Finally got home Saturday evening, and I was in bad shape.  I didn't get out of my pajamas all day Sunday.  Didn't go to work Monday.  But I am ready to tackle Tuesday!  Finally feeling a little better.

My baby graduated with her BBA in Management.  I'm so proud of her!  Her twin brother has finally decided what he wants to do, so he is about a year and a half or two behind her.  But he's at my alma mater, so I'm happy about that.

I've gotten very little Christmas shopping done this year.  Money has been so tight.  Paying for two college educations, two rents, and so on.  Besides, it doesn't even feel like Christmas because it's unseasonably warm, and we have to be in school until December 22.  And even though my daughter has graduated, she still isn't home yet.  She's helps me so much!

I've been watching a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies.  They are predictable, yes, but they also make me happy.  There's no shame in it, or shouldn't be, according to this article.  This was my favorite movie that I watched yesterday.
And this is one I watched last week that I really liked.
Of course I also like to watch Elf, White Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and It's a Wonderful Life.  Quite an eclectic group, I think!  What are your favorite holiday shows?

Have a great week!

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

The People vs. Alex Cross (Alex Cross #25)The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, things didn't feel quite right. New co-author, maybe?  But that feeling quickly went away, and it was pure James Patterson. The last time we saw Alex Cross, he was surrounded by multiple Gary Sonejis, three to be exact, and he shot them. Two died. The third was left paralyzed and wheelchair bound.

Now Cross is on trial for the crime. Evidence suggests he is a bad cop with a vendetta against anyone having to do with Gary Soneji, so much so that he would gun down three Soneji followers in cold blood.  This trial will determine his fate for the foreseeable future.

But that's not all. While Cross is suspended pending his trial, he decides to go into his previous career again as a psychologist/counselor.  He has some interesting new clients. Best friend Sampson is assigned a new partner that he just can't deal with, so he pulls Cross in on his investigation, hoping Bree doesn't find out. Someone is out there killing blondes for sport and broadcasting it on the dark Web.  One of the abductions hits very close to home, and Alex can't ignore the fact that he could save someone.

Meanwhile, the new evidence against him is pretty conclusive. Did Cross really kill unarmed people in a fit of rage? The jury will decide. Overall, this was a pretty thrilling ride.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday Thirteen Holiday Edition 1

Link up here for Thursday Thirteen! Spread the Word!

 I love the Christmas season! Have you ever wondered how some of our holiday traditions came about?

 1. Santa Claus - This holiday hero had his beginning in the 3rd century with a man named St. Nicholas who lived in Patara (present day Turkey). He made his debut in America in the 18th century. The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch nickname for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klass. There is actually a whole lot to the story of Santa Claus if you'd like to read it at the St. Nicholas Center website. 

2. Twas the Night Before Christmas - This poem was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to his three daughters. It was called "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas."
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 3. Rudolph - The most famous reindeer of them all! Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward (I remember that department store) wrote the story of Rudolph in 1939. The store sold over 2 1/2 million copies of the story. Years later, the story was written as a song recorded by Gene Autry and sold over 2 million copies. It has been translated into 25 languages.

 4. Christmas Trees - The Germans get the credit for the modern-day tradition of a decorated Christmas tree. It first became a popular thing to do in the 16th century among Christians.
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5. Wreaths - We have an evergreen wreath on our door right now. It provides a festive atmosphere at Christmas time. Long ago, people worshiped evergreen holly as a sign of eternal life.

 6. Stockings - In the days of the real St. Nicholas, it was said that he threw three coins down the chimney of three poor sisters. Each coin landed in a separate stocking that was hanging by the hearth to dry. Good fortune for everybody!
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7. Candy Canes - The first candy canes were actually sugar sticks that were bent to resemble the shape of a shepherd's crook. In 1670. the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral gave his young charges these sticks to keep them quiet during long ceremonies. What was he thinking? The red stripes and peppermint flavor weren't added until the early 1900's.

 8. Christmas Cards - The first Christmas greetings were written by boys who had to practice their writing skills, but Sir Henry Cole, director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is credited with the first actual Christmas card in 1843.
Image Credit
9. The 12 Days of Christmas song - Apparently, Roman Catholics in England were forbidden from openly practicing their religion during the years 1558 to 1829, so the song was created with hidden meanings in order to teach their faith without being discovered. Go to the Catholic News Agency website for the hidden meanings.

 10. Gift-Giving - This custom most likely originated in ancient Rome and Northern Europe when people gave gifts during year-end celebrations. The exchanging of elaborate gifts began in the late 1800's.
Image Credit
11. Red and Green Christmas Colors - Green symbolizes the hope for eternal life that Jesus brings. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for mankind.

 12. Christmas Carols - Victorian England is credited with the revival of caroling which, for a long time, was repressed since Christmas was not a widely accepted holiday in England until Victoria came to the throne.

Image Credit
13. The Nativity Scene - The story of Jesus' birth is recounted in the Bible in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. But when did people begin creating the visual Nativity Scenes you see during the Christmas holidays? St.Francis of Assisi is credited with creating this scene as a way to share the Christian faith with those who could not read.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.

Turns out, I have been using the wrong facial soap for YEARS!  The pharmacy/grocery store brand I started using, Neutrogena far exceeds the cleanliness of the  department store brand, which will not remain nameless (Clinique).  I've used the same facial soap forever it seems.  I always had to clean my face with toner after cleansing because there was so much dirt and makeup left on my skin.  I
recently switched to Neutrogena, and it removes virtually ALL of the dirt and makeup, including what the other soap was leaving behind.  My skin feels so clean now.  What took me so long to switch?  I'm glad I did!

New topic, because this is a random post:  My school is not releasing for the winter break until December 22nd.  You read that correctly!  I will have two whole days before Christmas to do all the things that normally take me about a week.  Augh!!!!!  I would rather have a few extra days on the front end of Christmas than all the days we get after Christmas.  They were dead set that we were going to finish the semester before Christmas.  We never did that when I was in school.  It's not as if students are going to forget everything they learned so that they can't pass semester exams after a two week break.  Rant over.

So... what is your favorite Christmas tradition?  I like to look at lights.  My kids outgrew that a while back until last year that my daughter asked if she and I could go, so we did.  Growing up in the late 60's and early 70's, one of my favorite things to do was to go Christmas Caroling.  Do people even do that anymore?  What tradition do you and your family have?

And I will leave you with a smile:

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.

Happy beginning-of-the-holiday season!  I love Christmas!  I love the songs, decorations, gifts, traditions, church service, and so on.  I like to put my tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year, it has taken longer.  We're using the artificial tree this year.  My son helped me put it up last Monday.  I did the lights two days later, and I did the ornaments this past weekend.  I'm waiting for my husband to put the treetop on.

We used to have an angel on top of the tree.  Well, actually, we still have it, but we started using a star two years ago.  I think the tree we used when I was growing up was a glass finial.  What do you use at the top of your tree, if you have one?

New topic... Friday as I was about to leave work, I felt something in my mouth.  Turns out a crown had fallen off.  Yep.  My luck.  Friday evening.  I tried to put it back in, but it's the very back tooth, and I couldn't do it, and I dropped it.  I spent about half an hour looking for it.  I went to the dentist Saturday, and of course, they have a huge treatment plan for me which I can't afford right now.  I had to ask them to please put the original one back on.  It fell out again before I was even out of the chair.  Finally, she did it right.  It's been 72 hours, and it's still there.  I hate going to the dentist!  Does anyone else?

My student intern will only be with me through the end of the week.  She's going to be a great teacher, and she has a job taking over for a teacher who is retiring in another district.  I'm going to miss her!

So, what's at the top of your wish list this year... or your child(ren)'s wish list? (Remember looking through the wish book when you were little?)  I'm having a hard time coming up with anything.  I just bought myself some new clothes and shoes.  I also had a birthday 3 months ago, so I really don't need anything.  Of course, there are a few little things I would like.  Some bubble bath, for example.

I sure am enjoying some of these Hallmark Christmas movies.  Are you watching any?

And to make you smile, here's a cat video you might like.  Be sure to watch number 3 (reverse order)!

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch, #22; Harry Bosch Universe, #30)Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book, I thought that Michael Connelly may have taken on a co-author. It just didn't seem like his writing style, but after a few chapters, I knew it was authentic Connelly. I can't really put my finger on why I thought that.

I love the character Harry Bosch, even more than the Lincoln Lawyer character. His character changes, but somehow stays the same. His personality is so well-defined. Then again, just when you think you know him, he does something surprising while staying in character to do so.

This book has two main plots. One of them is when Bosch responds to a call from a pharmacy and discovers that there are illegal clinics prescribing Oxycontin. Bosch has to go under cover to get to the bottom of the mystery. The other conflict involves a former case of his in which the defendant was found guilty, but new technology makes it seem as if he was wrongfully convicted. Is what's left of Bosch's career going to survive?

This was a pretty good page-turner after getting past the first few chapters. Everything had to be set up so that readers who have not read the entire series can till enjoy this title as a stand-alone.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What a Girl Wants

What a girl wants, what a girl needs... I bet you sang that!
This is my take, based on relationships I've been in and others that I've seen, of some things that makes girls happy, and things that don't.  These are not necessarily in order.

What a girl wants
1.  To be loved, wholly and completely.
2.  To be cherished.
3.  To be number one.
4.  To be hugged daily.
5.  To be kissed.
6.  To be publicly acknowledged with love.
7.  To hold hands.
8.  To have her opinion respected.
9.  To feel valued.
10. To matter.
11. To be included.
12. To be appreciated.
13. To have promises kept.

What a girl doesn't want
1.  To be ignored.
2.  To be made fun of.
3.  To be taken advantage of.
4.  To be demeaned.
5.  To be controlled.
6.  To be lied to.
7.  To be spoken down to.
8.  To feel unimportant.
9.  To be called negative.
10. To be treated like a child.
11. To feel like an obligation.
12. To be left out.
13. To be business partners only.

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