Friday, March 29, 2013

Still Alice - Final Discussion

Happy Friday!

I hope you all enjoyed this book as much as me! Thought provoking and great for discussing.

1. Alice decides she wants to spend her remaining time with her family and her books. Considering her devotion and passion for her work, why doesn't her research make the list of priorities? Does Alice most identify herself as a mother, wife, or scholar?

2. Alice's mother and sister died when she was only a freshman in college, and yet Alice has to keep reminding herself they're not about to walk through the door. As the symptoms worsen, why does Alice think more about her mother and sister? Is it because her older memories are more accessible, is she thinking of happier times, or is she worried about her own mortality?

3. Alice and the members of her support group, Mary, Cathy, and Dan, all discuss how their reputations suffered prior to their diagnoses because people thought they were being difficult or possibly had substance abuse problems. Is preserving their legacies one of the biggest obstacles to people suffering from Alzheimer's disease? What examples are there of people still respecting Alice's wishes, and at what times is she ignored?
4. One last sabbatical year together. She wouldn't trade that in for anything. Apparently, he would" (pg. 223). Why does John decide to keep working? Is it fair for him to seek the job in New York considering Alice probably won't know her whereabouts by the time they move? Is he correct when he tells the children she would not want him to sacrifice his work?

5. Why does Lisa Genova choose to end the novel with John reading that Amylix, the medicine that Alice was taking, failed to stabilize Alzheimer's patients? Why does this news cause John to cry?

6 Alice's doctor tells her, "You may not be the most reliable source of what's been going on" (pg. 54). Yet, Lisa Genova chose to tell the story from Alice's point of view. As Alice's disease worsens, her perceptions indeed get less reliable. Why would the author choose to stay in Alice's perspective? What do we gain, and what do we lose?

Have a good weekend! Next month we will be discussing The End of Your Life Book Club on the 12th and 26th!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

29 Things I Will Do This Year

29.  Ugh, how I hate odd years.  But this year will be a good fucking fantastic year.  Here, are 29 reasons why...

1. I will be seeing Kenny Chesney, Eric Church & Kasey Musgraves etc.. in concert!!

2. I will go camping.

3. I will run a 5k.

4. I will lose at least 29 pounds.

5. I will take my daughter to the zoo.

6.  I will enjoy late summer nights on my bff's back deck drinking Summer Shandy and swatting away mosquitos.

7.  I will take at least 2 graduate classes.

8. I will finish my second full year as a preschool teacher.

9. I will tailgate and attend a few of our minor league baseball teams.

10.  I will take a Zumba class again.

11.  I will walk/run 110 miles.

12. I will send out at least one letter a month to a friend who needs a pick em up / or a friend I've lost touch with.

13.  I will go to Fat Jacks and enjoy the pizza at least once.

14. I will go to an OSU football game.

15.  I will visit my grandparent's graves.

16.  I will buy flowers for a friend, just because.

17. I will read 50 books.

18. I will take my daughter to a music class.

19. I will go wine tasting.

20.  I will plan an epic 30th Birthday Celebration.

21. I will spend as many summer days out in our pool as possible.

22.  I will make a new friend.

23. I will do something that scares me.

24. I will get at least two pedicures.

25. I will clean out my office.

26. I will print out pictures.

27. I will be a better partner to my husband.

28. I will plan an awesome spring break for next year.

29.  I will make it my mission to have fun, live life to the fullest and enrich my daughter's life as much as I can.  I will not take this life for granted.

A flashback on past birthday's...

25th bday.. 80s party!
24th bday.. out for drinks
27th bday.. with my ice cream cake 7 months pregnant..

What year was your favorite? I think mine was 22.  So muchhh fun!

Monday, March 18, 2013

5k Training Week 1

Yep.  I'm going to do it again.  And before you get too excited, we are going to walk this one too.  My goal is to eventually run one, but I like walking them must as much with my partner in crime. ;)  Last time I planned on training and then it got away from me and I basically walked twice the week before and then the day of the 5k.  This time, I'm attempting to do some training.  So I looked up my pal Hal Higdon and decided to go for it.  Last week, was the first week I realllly got into it.  I've been off and on trying to get moving since February, but I made a plan last weekend and stuck to it!  It helped that the weather was amazing last weekend.

Sunday, March 10th --20 minutes , Walking
We did a family walk after dinner and it was probably about a mile that we did.  It was a late walk and it was getting dark/close to bed time but it was comfortable walking outside!

Monday, March 11th -- 40 minutes, Walking

I had planned on doing a walk outside in the morning but then remembered I had to work and was actually late, whoops, so by the afternoon when I had time it was pouring rain.  So we went to the mall and walked.  I did a couple laps around and walked through the stores.  More walking than stopping, so I'm counting it. ;)

Saturday, March 16th -- 2.04 miles, Walking

According to the training a 45 -50 minute walk should happen over the weekend, so I met up with my friend whom I am walking the 5k with and we did about 2.04 miles in around 45 minutes or so.  I wasn't quite sure about the time, but I measured out the distance.  It had JUST snowed and it was quite messy, apparently people aren't out shoveling early on Saturday mornings in March. ;)

 Sunday, March 17th---2.4 miles, Walking

I needed another longish walk in and persuaded the family to join me in walking to the corner store to get a newspaper.  It was freeeeeeeeeeeezing cold.  Last year, it was 80 on this day! Waaaaaaaah. We warmed up at the half-way point in the store and then on the way home planned an amazing breakfast idea and stopped by the farm on our road to buy farm fresh eggs.  It was a great walk with the fam, even though we were freeezing.

I'm pretty happy how this week turned out that I got the 4 times in that I wanted  Even if I'm counting two Sunday's in my weeks.  Whoops.  Oh well.  It's what I'm doing.  My plan for this coming week is to try to get middle of the week walks in.  Hopefully, we don't have as much rain/snow as we did this week and we can get after work outdoor walks in because by the time I have time for the treadmill/outdoor walks at night after the kiddo goes to bed I'm done for the day!

Have you walked or trained for a 5k before?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

April Group Read Suggestions

Wowsers..  Half-way through the month! Time to suggest what we shall read next in April. 

Here is what has already been discussed...

Still Alice
The Song Remains The Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

What do you want to read? Suggestions will be open until the 20th and then I will post a poll in the sidebar!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Still Alice - Discussion 1

I'll be honest, I read this in June and I just do not have time to reread it right now! So I'm hopefully, not posting any spoilers with these discussion questions! How's everyone doing with it?

1. Do you know anyone that suffers from Alzheimers or dementia? How does that affect your reading of this book?

2.  After first learning she has Alzheimer's disease, "the sound of her name penetrated her every cell and seemed to scatter her molecules beyond the boundaries of her own skin. She watched herself from the far corner of the room" (pg. 70). What do you think of Alice's reaction to the diagnosis? Why does she disassociate herself to the extent that she feels she's having an out-of-body experience?

3. Do you find irony in the fact that Alice, a Harvard professor and researcher, suffers from a disease that causes her brain to atrophy? Why do you think the author, Lisa Genova, chose this profession? How does her past academic success affect Alice's ability, and her family's, to cope with Alzheimer's?

4. "He refused to watch her take her medication. He could be mid-sentence, mid-conversation, but if she got out her plastic, days-of-the-week pill container, he left the room" (pg. 89). Is John's reaction understandable? What might be the significance of him frequently fiddling with his wedding ring when Alice's health is discussed?

5. When Alice's three children, Anna, Tom and Lydia, find out they can be tested for the genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer's, only Lydia decides she doesn't want to know. Why does she decline? Would you want to know if you had the gene?

6. Were you surprised at Alice's plan to overdose on sleeping pills once her disease progressed to an advanced stage? Is this decision in character? Why does she make this difficult choice? If they found out, would her family approve?

7. As the symptoms worsen, Alice begins to feel like she's living in one of Lydia's plays: "(Interior of Doctor's Office. The neurologist left the room. The husband spun his ring. The woman hoped for a cure.)" (pg. 141). Is this thought process a sign of the disease, or does pretending it's not happening to her make it easier for Alice to deal with reality?

This was a real emotional read for me.  My grandpa has dementia, my great-grandma had dementia, my great-uncle had dementia and well I'm sure it's only a matter of time before my aunts/uncles/mom gets it and eventually me.  Let me just tell you, it fucking sucks.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fine Motor Skills

As a preschool teacher, I deal daily with fine motor skills.  Fine motor skills are needed for writing, grasping small objects, and zipping up coats/buttoning up pants to name a few.  It seems more and more kids struggle with this and there a TON of fun ways that parents can help with developing fine motor skills from the beginning  I thought I'd share some ideas that I've done with my daughter or things I plan on doing to help others looking for ideas. Weakness in fine motor skills can affect eating, school, dressing, computer usage, and even reading!  Fine motor skills are super duper important.

Pasta Play! Put noodles/pasta whatever into a bowl, give them some spoons/measuring cups and let them go to town.  It does need to be supervised because they will want to put it in their mouth or they will learn the fun game of dump the pasta on the kitchen floor.  Sooo.. yeah watch it.  You can also talk about bigger, smaller, breaking into more pieces, counting the pasta noodles etc..

Puzzles!! Puzzles are great for lots of things, matching, learning animal/shape names but most importantly maneuvering all of those little pieces helps fine motor skills! We love Melissa & Doug puzzles!

Coloring and Stickers! However, I wouldn't recommend markers unless your kid is not dressed hahaha.  We love using different size crayons, jumbo or normal size.  Also, putting the crayons into and out of the crayon box is a great fine motor skill.  Stickers take patience too, peeling off and sticking them down. 

Tearing paper/opening presents Tearing is a super easy one that we do almost daily.  Also, you can sneak in magazine reading time while your kid works on fine motor skills.  As I flip through a magazine, I rip out a page for her and she tears it into smaller pieces.  We do this with old mail, wrapping paper, tissue paper, whatever.

Practice eating with utensils It is NEVER too young to start putting a spoon and or fork on your kids tray! I would advocate that you start doing it as soon as they are putting food into their mouth! And as someone who sees four year olds who have no idea how to use spoon or forks, trust me I do need to say this.  Please, let your child explore with a spoon or fork, they are smarter than you know.  Plus, this really helps with future pencil grip/holding on to pencils at school!

Looking at books! Not to mention all the literacy benefits (left - right correspondence, words, letters, memorization etc) turning those pages takes fine motor skills!

Sand/Water Play All that pouring/sifting, building is sooo good! And as your child gets older you can write their name or other letters in the sand, introduce bath paints into the bath tub and practice writing in there!

Other fun things..

- Playdough / silly putty (and you can make your own, it is super easy!)
- Scissors (PLEASE PRACTICE THIS! just supervise and I promise it won't be bad!!!)
- Beads (use a string and put beads on the string)
- Learn to dress dolls
- Blocks (all that putting together and taking apart)
- Finger paints
- Pencils, paint brushes, makers etc...
- Pegboards
- Fridge Magnets

and the list goes on and on and on!

Right now at 21.5 months my daughter's favorites are block playing, crayons, fridge magnets, stickers, feeding herself, pasta play, water play and playdough.

Seriously, fine motor skills are everywhere.  How do you think I typed this up? Thank you fine motor skills!

What are some fun ways you can think of to build up fine motor skills?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Meal Planning Lunch Style

I am super good about planning ahead for a weeks worth of dinners but breakfast and lunches sometimes go by the wayside and that leads to eating out or crappy food choices.  I had been doing salads but I didn't NEED to go to the store this week and in the sake of saving some money, I improvised.

This week on Monday morning, I whipped up the innards for my lunch.  My innards consisted of black beans, cumin, garlic powder, hot sauce, onions, parsnips, and celery.  I sauteed the veggies in olive oil before adding in the black beans and then I just cooked them until they were heated and mushed them around a bit.

Over the weekend, I had made a bag of steam fresh green beans and I have whole wheat tortillas, cheese, salsa and sour cream.  Put all of these things together and viola!

This is my lunch this week.  I added a Cutie.  Yum!

I was worried about portability but it works fine! In the morning I throw the tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds and then the black bean mixture in for 30 seconds.  Then I top with green beans, cheese, salsa and sour cream.  I roll it up and wrap it with foil, throw the cutie in my lunch bag along with my breast milk storage cooler thing and it holds nicely until lunch.  It's not freezing cold and it's not warm and everything holds together well.  I do not have a warming up option at work so my lunches have to get creative around that.

With one can of black beans and the veggies and stuff I added I have enough for 4 packed lunches.  Which works out fine since I am usually home on Friday's for lunch anyway and can make something at home.

Next week I think I am going to make up some lentils and do stuff with those.  I've never made lentils before.  Any tips?

What's in your lunch bag this week?

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Song Remains the Same - Final Discussion

Happy Friday!

I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't too flighty and it wasn't too deep.  It didn't move me as much as Still Alice did in regards to memory loss but it still made me think.

Excerpts from an interview with She Knows:

SheKnows: What books are you reading with your kids right now?

Allison Winn Scotch: My 5-year-old has just started reading independently, and that is truly the thrill of a lifetime. She and I read a lot of Pinkalicious books, as well as Arthur and D.W books. (She's a little sister, so she adores D.W.) My 7-year-old is a voracious reader, and I'm constantly on the hunt for books to keep him occupied. Right now, he is obsessed with sports, so he's actually reading The 100 Greatest Moments in Sports, which I think is a Sports Illustrated book. He also really loves all the Roald Dahl books, Pippi Longstocking (my favorite!) and the Roscoe Riley series. Oh, and I introduced him to Encyclopedia Brown, and he loves it as much as I did growing up.

SheKnows: What are you reading now? And or what books are you hoping to read when you find the time?

Allison Winn Scotch: My TBR list is unending. Literally... it may never end. But right now, I'm finishing up Nichole Bernier's debut novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, and it has been fantastic. Loved it. Up next for me is The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson.

1. Nell tries to use her memory loss to her advantage, to reinvent herself and her relationships with the people closest to her. To what extent are these reinventions successful? What obstacles does Nell face when attempting to make these changes?

2. Most of Nell’s memories are triggered by music. Are there any sounds, tastes, scents, or sensations that remind you of specific memories?

3. Nell decides not to reconnect with her father after coming to terms with his absence. Do you agree with her decision to bury “old ghosts”? What would you do if it were your decision? Why do you think the author allowed us to draw our own conclusions about Nell’s father’s silence, and how does that choice affect our reading experience?

4.  How did you feel about the ending?

5. How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to
"get into it"?

6.  What did you think of the character development? Believable or were there fails?

Can't wait to talk about another book next month with you all!