Friday, July 27, 2018

If My Moon Was Your Sun, book review (children's book)

Book review:

If My Moon Was Your Sun
by Andreas Steinhöfel | Nele Palmtag
Pub Date: 01 Nov 2017

This is one of those books your read to your child (or class) so they become more emotionally intelligent, while you, the adult, choke back tears. This book was touching because of the idea of a young boy loving his grandfather so deeply, but also in the way the character's voice was so distinctly 10 years old. Max is in that perfect stage between misunderstanding the way adults act because of his childishness and understanding the same scenarios more profoundly than even the adults. He was the perfect character to portray such a sweet story of love for someone he knows, deep down, isn't going to be around forever.

It's a longer book and would work well for teaching making inferences, voice, plot structure, and a few other elements. It's likely a story to which upper elementary to middle grade students might relate.

★★★★

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The Ageless Beauty Grail, a book review

Book review:

The Ageless Beauty Grailby Sandra Bloom
Pub Date: 08 May 2018

This book is for those women who are facing hair-loss or other unexplained (by their doctor) symptoms of what one might think is simply aging. This is for that woman with a lot of symptoms that she doesn't understand and who is willing to look into holistic treatments. This ideal reader is also in want of one introductory resource to explain to her in a somewhat narrative way the basics of what goes on in one's body and how changes in diet and environment can help.

The book was readable and pretty comprehensive. It didn't break ground, but if someone has never looked into holistic or food-based, anti-toxin lifestyle changes, this would be a good one to choose.

★★★

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Edison, book review (children's literature)

Book review:

Edison
by Torben Kuhlmann
Pub Date: 02 Oct 2018

Firstly, the illustrations in this book are gorgeous, of excellent quality, and highly detailed. Secondly, I love that there exists a passionate engineer-minded artist who wants to introduce these scientific ideas to kids in a children's book. The story is decent for a children's story, obviously enhanced by the illustrations. However, the word choice and lack of complexity in the syntax leaves something to be desired. It feels quite casual, as if the author didn't think a child could understand a higher level of vocabulary or less obvious conversation. I would rather a parent participate in the book with the child to help them understand (especially, again, with the help of those fantastic illustrations) than for the language and vocabulary to be dumbed down. I write this from the perspective of an elementary English learner teacher. Overall, I would like to have this book on my daughter's shelf because of the science and the illustrations, but I would probably ad lib some more interesting dialogue and vocab.

★★★

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Monday, May 7, 2018

The Yellow Envelope, book review (memoir/travelogue)

Book review:


The Yellow Envelope
by Kim Dinan
Pub Date: 01 Apr 2017

I wanted to like this because I have had fantasies of doing the same thing as the author: give up virtually of my stuff and travel with my husband. The trouble here was that it just wasn't a compelling read. She has a popular blog and I can see how that would be true. Pictures might have spiced things up a bit. But the voice she used felt like she was dragging her former self around by a rope, inching the story out a bit at a time. I think it could have been pieced together differently to draw me in, or, at the least, there could have been some kind of literary element (repetition, consistently inserted anecdotes from others' perspectives, or a more playful tone) to prevent the book from being a little boring.

It was interesting to see the adventures, I just didn't enjoy the presentation.

★★

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Music Box, book review (children's literature/graphic novel)

Book review:

The Music Box
by Script by Carbone / Art by Gijé
Pub Date: 20 Jun 2018

So many of my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students would devour this and the upcoming graphic novel series. Its reads as the kind of book a student wouldn't want to put down. These illustrations are delightful. They're full of life and the use of color is delicious. I love the imaginary world and how the quest is helping Nola during her time of pain. As a teacher, I always wish our standard for higher level vocabulary was taken up a notch in children/ya literature. While the story arc is solid and I look forward to more from this collaboration in the future, I wish they would push the figurative story elements a little harder and challenge their readers with their word choice.

★★★★

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The American Catholic Almanac, book review

Book review:


The American Catholic Almanac
by Brian Burch, Emily Stimpson
Pub Date: 30 Sep 2014

(I downloaded this sooooooo long ago and took this long to review it...)

Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson clearly worked hard to craft thoughtful reflections for each day of the year for American Catholics. The book is organized by months and days in which the reader digests reflections about Catholic Americans past and how they affected our present. I would love to try to become a part of our future!

★★★★

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

If, book review

Book review:

If
by David J. Smith
Pub Date: 01 Aug 2014

This teacher and art lover is elated that this book exists. Gorgeous illustrations match well with a creative display of scientific "what ifs" to make our world more relevant and exciting to young readers. This is an excellent book for your collection, especially for homeschoolers who are comfortable with the theory of evolution.

★★★★★

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Elizabeth's Tips for a Med-Free, Joyful Labor

This crazy person is writing this for other crazy people who want a pain-medication-free labor and delivery. I wanted to make sure to offer my experience and tips for how I managed the pain so that others might know that THEY CAN DO IT, too! I wrote about the birth of my first baby, which turned out to be many hundreds of words longer than I expected. Separate post, it is!  

I have read and watched dozens of tips and labor experiences from other women. Please be sure to look into others' experiences! I'm just going to list them in an annotated bullet list and I'd be happy to answer any questions left in the comments.

Mindset
  • Start positive and know your reasons for wanting a pain-med-free labor and delivery. Write it down.
  • Know that fear of pain is useless. You will be on the other side of the pain within 24 hours (most likely) of whenever you feel like you're hitting rock bottom. You'll survive!
  • Fear of pain makes pain worse. Start working on eradicating your fear of the pain right now. It's not in charge, God is.
  • Tell your support system what is important to you and be prepared to chuck them out if they aren't showing the support you need (for example, I forbade anyone from saying the word "epidural" while in the room with me)
  • Know that you only have to get through the first half of the contraction, then it's downhill. Don't panic.
  • Relax in the breaks. They really are breaks. You feel no pain during them (except during transition).
  • Know your limits. Leaving the door cracked to the possibility of pain meds may eventually empower you when you CHOOSE not to take them rather than refuse them.
  • Pace yourself. One of the hardest mental battles is that you will not know how long your labor is going to be. You will be tempted to ask someone how long you'll be feeling that pain and no one can tell you. For this reason, it's essential that you control that part of your brain and pace yourself as if you're going to have the longest labor on record. If you're an athlete, imagine what it's like to begin a workout when someone else is in control. You don't know how long they're going to make you swim, run, lift, play, etc. Control your pace.
  • Yes, it's possible to go pain-med-free on Pitocin. Yes, it's wicked, but mine was even faster than it's supposed to be (meaning, no chance for endorphin or natural Oxytocin to build up) and I managed.

Plan and research
  • Have a plan and give it to your husband with options. I suggest putting the faith in him, even if you're a little nervous about how he'll handle the medical stuff. It's unbearable for a husband to watch his wife go through the kind of pain you're facing, but having a task can help that.
  • Have a breathing plan with options. I drew a little bell curve represeting a contraction, plotting out how to breathe through it. I had to consult this when the simple slow breathing wasn't working as well anymore.
  • Study. YouTube, blogs, friends, articles, anything you can get your hands on to help you understand what the whole process is going to look like. Ask your physician everything you can think of to help yourself get acquainted with that future day. Surprises are better when they're few and far between.
  • Create a list of tools. Mine were a list of affirmations that Kevin read to me at appropriate times, music (didn't work for me by the time I got to it, but I'm glad I had it), massage (at some point, you want exactly NO ONE touching you), warm water tub (I had one in my room, but in trying to pace myself--I had no idea how quickly my labor was going--I never used it), watching a movie in early active labor, 
Physical
  • Water. All the time. Husbands, this is your job.
  • Focus on relaxing everything but your uterus. That's the only place where the contraction happens, so let it do what it's doing and prevent contractions in other muscles.
  • Watch videos of a flower opening beginning 2 or 3 days before your due date. I watched the same video during labor, right before I pushed. I was visualizing my body opening to help prevent tearing (and I didn't tear).-
  • Use every contraction to visualize moving that baby down. Imagine the movement and imagine that your body is working to open up. Let it do that.
  • Pace yourself. Again, this is physical, too. Don't start out using every tool you have to manage pain because you want to save some (like the tub) for later. However, DO walk in the early part of labor. Don't lay around.
  • Use multiple positions during labor and for pushing (if your physician will allow it). Hands and knees and a sit/squat position, using the bed as a chair, were helpful for me mentally and in a gravitational sense. 

Last, but certainly not least...
Spiritual
  • Give it to God. He's blessed you with this little person(s) and He will help you. I brought a crucifix on which to focus and prayed a lot during labor.
  • Offer it up for others or your baby. Suffering is redemptive. Cash in on that.
  • Look at the ultrasound pictures to focus on that little one!


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