Use the Force

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In honor of Star Wars Day (you know, May the Fourth…get it?), I thought it was totally appropriate to review this book! I even dressed the part today.

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Have you ever wished that you could be a Jedi and harness the powers of The Force? Joshua P. Warren has uncovered the secret…and it’s probably something you already know about: The Law of Attraction. Warren says you can “improve your finances, health, and relationships by controlling the reality around you”. As a person who doesn’t read self-help books, this seems like a stretch to me. However, going into this with an open mind, I have indeed learned some things and am trying to apply them to my life.

I really loved the idea of weaving Star Wars references into a self-help book. Being a nerd myself, I thought this was a wonderfully creative idea. Also, it really makes me want to rewatch the series. Don’t judge me too harshly on not seeing Episode VII or Rogue One! I need a marathon first!

While I was reading, there was a particular quote that spoke to me:

If you want to attract good things to yourself, you must begin by believing that the universe is a friendly place.

I really like that idea. If you have a negative view of the world all the time, all you’re going to attract is negativity. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Warren talks about repeating a certain mantra throughout the day, everyday, to reaffirm that thought: I live in a friendly, supportive universe that loves me, and wants me to be happy and succeed. I took it to heart and I now have it pinned to my cube wall at work.

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Warren seamlessly used Star Wars references to enhance his points throughout the book. It didn’t feel as though  he was arbitrarily throwing Yoda quotes around; the references built upon his thoughts and ideas.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. For not being a self-help reader, I’m more inclined to try more books like this. I especially loved the nerdy twist. Give this book a try!

Spy on Your Children


Did I grab your attention with that title?

I bet when you read that, your gut reaction was, “That’s a terrible idea, why would you do that?”

Hear me out. I think there’s some wiggle room for this.

As a teacher, my job was not only to teach the younger generation about academics, but also about life. I also wanted to keep them safe at all cost. Physically I could do that, no problem. Mentally and emotionally…that’s a different story. As a parent, all I want to do is keep my son safe from harm. I know he’s not old enough to be affected by this yet, but it’s something to keep in the back of my mind for when the time comes. Technology has advanced so much over the years. We’ve become so immersed with it. Sometimes it’s hard to give it up. It’s our jobs as parents and teachers to show our kids the right ways to use technology.

So what does teaching our kids to be safe and healthy have to do with spying on them?

Turns out, a lot more than you might think.

As much as our children think that they know everything about social media and the Internet, they don’t know the half of it. What starts out as an innocent conversation on Facebook or Twitter might turn into 24/7 harassment. Liking a picture on Instagram could become a potential extortion situation. Posting a comment on Facebook can last forever. Keeping an open dialogue with your child and monitoring their phone use could prevent these things from happening.

I never realized how much of an impact phone use had on your health. There have been plenty of nights where I couldn’t sleep so I played with my phone. I never thought for a second that my phone was the reason I couldn’t fall asleep. It turns out the blue light phones emit delay the release of melatonin, which means you don’t fall asleep as fast. Around 87% of high schoolers don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night, which will affect their learning the next day. Prolonged phone use can also contribute to obesity and high blood pressure.

As a parent, what can you do to ensure that your child is using their phone safely?

Have an open discussion with them about why this is important to you. Tell them that this is about their safety. Show them the statistics about phone usage. Talking to them like adults and providing them legit reasons (as opposed to “Because I said so”) opens the door to more open dialogue about whatever’s going on in their lives.

They should be speaking and behaving appropriately at all times, no matter who they are talking to or how they are communicating.

There are third party apps that can help you monitor your child’s phone. KidGuard allows you to see your child’s text messages, track their phone using its GPS location, and check all their social media accounts. While you can use this app without your child’s knowledge, KidGuard recommends having a phone usage contract so that everyone knows when the phone can be used and what for. I like this idea because it allows your child to think more like an adult and make those decisions for themselves.

The end goal for this is to keep your child safe and healthy, no matter what.

Parents: would you consider using an app to track your child’s phone? Or do you have any other ideas?

If you’d like more information, check out this parent guide

KidGuard provided me with the reading material, but all views and comments are my own. 

Postpartum Depression in Literature

Postpartum Depression in Literature

After Noah was born, I was starting to feel not like myself. I would feel very detached from him, especially when he cried. I didn’t care about him; I just wanted it to stop. At the time, I didn’t know if it was because I was a brand-new mom or sleep deprivation or both. Now I’ve learned that it was both of those things combined with a mild (I think) case of postpartum depression. While I was in the throes of PPD, I tried looking for answers and examples in a variety of places. TV shows didn’t help. They always seem to show the extreme cases of postpartum psychosis, and that certainly wasn’t me. Naturally, I gravitated toward books. I didn’t just want clinical definitions of what I had; I wanted someone in a novel to describe it to me in ways that I could connect to it. The thing is…there really isn’t any out there.

I was looking for books about this topic recently, and I found one. Just one (it happens to be Go To Sleep by Helen Walsh). That astounds me. I had figured this would be an interesting topic to discuss in literature. Please let me know if anyone else finds something!

Most depictions of motherhood show two kinds of women: the ones who have it all together and the ones who don’t. The put together women have their homes spotless, a gourmet dinner on the table every evening, and perfect angels for children. The not-so put together women look frazzled; their homes are a mess, they’ve burned dinner, and their kids are running around like crazy. Both of those are extreme archetypes of motherhood. What I want to see is the mom who is really confused about her feelings, the one who doesn’t really like her kids but will always love them, the one who needs to go to the doctor because she doesn’t know why she feels this heaviness in her soul about her kids, the one who cries on her husband’s shoulder because she wants to feel connected to her children but she doesn’t. If we see anything about PPD, it’s usually a crime story about a mother who kills her children. That’s not always the case with PPD.

Literature has come a long way in its descriptions of women. Stories are more believable and relatable now because women are depicted as having thoughts and feelings and ambitions. So why stop with that? Let’s show women at their strongest and most vulnerable. Let’s talk about women’s mental health. Let’s show that motherhood isn’t just rainbows and kisses. Sometimes motherhood is a dark and scary place.

Beastly

Meaning Beyond Words

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster. 

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell. 

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly…beastly. 

If you haven’t already seen Beauty and the Beast in theaters, I’m going to need you to do that ASAP. It was so good. Emma Watson did such a great job, and the whole movie was magical. *swoon*

I found this book through a great Instagram page, Quoth The Raven Bookshop. They find awesome books and post them so you can buy them! I’ve purchased a few books from them already, and they’re really nice to work with. I suggest you go check them out!

Since Beauty and the Beast is in theaters and is the best thing ever, I decided to read a spinoff of the story! Well, more like a modern retelling rather than a spinoff.

Beastly is a fairly accurate retelling of the classic BatB story. We follow Kyle Kingsbury (I really hate the name) and how he treats other students in his 9th-grade class. One student in particular, Kendra, receives the brunt of Kyle’s arrogance and attitude. After Kendra is jilted at prom, she curses Kyle and transforms him into a beast, with the caveat that the spell could be broken if he finds true love within two years. Kyle starts to believe that he won’t find anyone to talk to him, let alone love him…until Lindy comes along (or rather, until he kidnaps Lindy and forces her to live with him).

Overall, this version of the BatB story is ok. I wasn’t blown away with any of the modern updates. I did think that the use of chatrooms was pretty fun and interesting. Kyle is in the Unexpected Changes support group, which is run by a Mr. Anderson (see what author Alex Flinn did there?) and has participants with screennames like SilentMaid, Froggie, and Grizzlyguy. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, I think you can figure out where they’re from.

Something that I had an issue with was the age group of the characters. Granted, I know this is a YA novel and the characters are geared more toward those readers, but Kendra is expecting Kyle to find true love when he’s in 9th grade. I could barely figure out what to do during school…forget trying to find my one true love! I just feel that that aspect is really unbelievable (even though this story is about a witch transforming a boy into a beast).

In the end, I thought this was an ok book. This is the first in a series that follows Kendra. Will I go and get the rest of the books? Probably not. Do I regret reading this book? No. Flinn does a great job of hooking you from the beginning and I sped through this book. Now I really want to read other BatB books!

Health Check Up v.2

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I’ve neglected keeping you up to date about my health endeavor. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of making healthy decisions a priority.

Physical:

I’ve now lost a total of 5 pounds! I know it’s not much, but it means the world to me. It shows that my hard work is paying off, albeit in the slowest manner possible. Using my Fitbit has helped tremendously. I participate in challenges every week, and it tricks my brain into thinking that working out is a game. Sometimes I even win the challenges, and when that happens I feel like I’m on top of the world. While I’ve definitely stepped it up in the exercise department (no pun intended), I still need to work on eating better. It’s hard when it’s just me trying to eat better and I’m in a constant state of being broke. If anyone has suggestions on meal prepping, or where to find cheaper healthy food, please let me know!

Mental:

I feel like my postpartum depression issues have been getting better, but there are some days and weeks where it’s much worse. I suppose it might just be the ebb and flow of nature, but sometimes I feel like it hits me harder sometimes. I know that when I don’t exercise, I have a tendency to get in my head more. I’ve noticed that sometimes the Fitbit challenges don’t always work for me. If I’m not doing as well as someone else, it gets to me and I get in my head more. I know everyone is pushing themselves to be healthier too, but it doesn’t always work like that in my head.

The Plan:

I need to work on exercising more during the weekend. I’m great during the week. I feel like it’s hard to make time for myself when I have a baby to take care of. I also really need to work on my diet. I need to make healthier choices. I have to be a good example for Noah.

Again, any tips or tricks you guys have that you’d like to share would be greatly appreciated!

The Kingdom of Oceana

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Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. 

When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to descroy their tropical paradise.

As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerors that threatns to erupt – just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano.

With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki’s spell.

Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a huge Disney fan. I try to go see every Disney movie that comes out in theaters. When I heard that the newest one was Moana, I knew I wanted to see it. Typical me, though…I haven’t. However, when I saw this book, I knew it would fill the Moana void. I don’t want you to think that this is a straight-out Moana story. The Kingdom of Oceana is a totally great story. Right after I finished the first chapter, I knew I needed to read this as fast as possible; I needed to know what happened to everyone!

The Kingdom of Oceana is a sibling story at its core. I like reading about siblings because I like to imagine what’s it like to have them. I feel like Mitchell Charles did a great job creating that relationship. Ailani is always trying to measure up to his older brother Nahoa, and Nahoa likes to remind Ailani that he is the little brother. I really enjoyed the character development throughout the story. I feel that Ailani grew up not only because of necessity, but because he was starting to see his potential.

As a new mom, I feel like I pay more attention to parent-child relationships in stories. As I was reading, I found that I most wanted to be like Father and definitely not like Mother. Father tries to do right by his family and his people, even if that means making decisions that he might not think are great. He always tries to teach boys lessons, not just about how to become the next leaders of their people, but also about being good people in general. I hated how Mother played favorites. If I ever have more than one child, I want to be able to love them equally.

When I was in college, I took a Mythology course. When I first signed up for it, I thought it would be only about Greco-Roman mythology. Boy, was I wrong! I was learning about Celtic, Chinese, Native American…and Hawaiian. As I was reading, I was recognizing some of the terms used throughout the book (just in case, Charles includes footnotes, which I think is an added bonus to the story). I was trying to think of why things sounded familiar, and I remembered back to my Mythology class. If anyone wants to check out my textbook, I highly recommend it!

Speaking of class, since The Kingdom of Oceana is geared toward younger readers (think middle school age), there are educational materials that go along with it! As a former ELA teacher and new mom, I think it’s awesome that there are pre-made materials that enhance the reading experience. I can’t wait ’til my son is a little older and I can teach him about this book. There is a glossary of Hawaiian words and two study guides focused on earth science and humanities. If there are any ELA teachers out there who read my blog, contact me and I might be able to hook you up!

The Kingdom of Oceana is a fast-paced, fun read that gets you interested right from the beginning. I’m really hoping Charles is working on a sequel, because I need to know what happens next!

Go Google Yourself!

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Have you ever done an internet search and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I typed my own name into the search bar? What would I find?” If not, it might be time to do that, and not just for curiosity’s sake.

Let me tell you a story…

In high school, I had this friend, and she went through a breakup. Her ex showed interest in me, and I in him. I went to my friend and told her what was happening, and she gave her blessing for us to date. Years went by, and I had learned in college that searching yourself online might be beneficial because potential employers might look for your online profiles. I typed my name, and I was scrolling through the search results I found my name in someone’s Xanga post (yes, I’m dating myself here). Turns out it was this girl talking trash about me and calling me names. I was horrified. First off, because I thought she was my friend and didn’t think she would say those things about me. Second, because that information is out there on the Internet, and what happens online stays online.

Nowadays, people’s online identity is so important. You hear on the news all the time about people losing their jobs because they posted something that was deemed inappropriate by their employer. At my current job, someone lost their job because they took a selfie at work and posted it to Facebook…unaware that the picture included private client information. In a 2012 study, 92% of US companies look for new employees through social media.

When I was sending out job applications after graduation, I was also cleaning up my social media accounts. I made sure I didn’t have any pictures of myself in compromising positions. I deleted some potentially inappropriate posts and status updates. I tried to present myself as best as I could. Now, as a more regular blogger and mom, I want to make sure that my readers and my son will see the best (and more honest) side of me.

I know all of this might be scary, but there are some things you can do to help your online self.

  • Check your search results periodically. Make sure you search all names you’re known by. For example, if I were to search myself right now, I’d check my legal birth name, my married name, and both last names with my nickname. That’s 4 separate searches!
  • Don’t just use Google. There are other search engines, like Yahoo and Bing, that might have different results.
  • Check your social media accounts. Look at old posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and see if you posted any embarrassing or inappropriate. If you wouldn’t show your mom, you might want to take it down.
  • Look at how many results are about you. Just because you might only have a couple hits doesn’t always mean a good thing. Some people might think you have something to hide…plus something unsavory might creep up to the front of the results page.
  • Ask a friend. Have someone you trust take a look at your online persona. They will more than likely tell it to you like it is and be honest about those Spring Break pictures.

Online Reputation Management, a company that caters toward protecting your online identity, created this handy-dandy cheat sheet to help you search for yourself correctly. Take a look!

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Remember: if a problem ever goes viral or a situation arises that’s too much to handle on your own, there are crisis management services that can help!

Tell me: did you Google yourself already? What did you find?