Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: Head Over Heart by Colette Victor

Head Over HeartHead Over Heart by Colette Victor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book describes the challenges of a 13 years old British girl named Zeyneb, as she tries to balance her Muslim beliefs with the feelings she has for a Alex, a cute but non-muslim boy in her class. Zeyneb struggles to come to terms with her faith and her families expectations. To complicate matters, Zeyneb must decide if she wants to wear a traditional hijab, or head scarf. I enjoyed this young adult book and I would recommend it for teens, it is a fun new take on the trials of female adolescence and coming of age struggles, with a Turkish twist.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review: More Mothers by Scott Cramer

More MothersMore Mothers by Scott Cramer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun children's story that any child from a large family will relate to. Morley is frustrated at having to share his Mom's time and attention so he wishes for more moms and hilarity ensues. A fun lesson for kids to appreciate what you have. I enjoyed the story, but felt the illustrations were flat and did not add much to the story.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Say Yes to the Dress - Ginger style

Its that moment that little girls dream of, the real life version of Say Yes To The Dress.  My daughter and I spent the past weekend going to countless bridal stores trying on various wedding dresses, each one more beautiful than the last one.  It was a special weekend; full of laughs and those beautiful moments that moms dream about from the second we bring home that little pink bundle of joy. 
My little girl is all grown up and will soon become a stunning bride.  It was so incredible to see her smile as she stood there admiring and evaluating each dress.  Did it feel like her style?  Was it flattering to her figure?  Did it match her personality?  There were several dresses that came really close, but she wasn’t sure yet, so we kept looking.

Trying on wedding dresses in the Phoenix heat can be tough, my daughter provided lots of comic relief throughout the weekend as she lifted the dresses to get some cooling.  After looking at and trying on more tulle and lace than I have ever seen in one place, I am excited to announce that we found THE dress, the perfect one.  I am strictly forbidden from sharing any pictures of the dress, but thanks to a cropping tool and your imagination, you can picture the incredible beauty I had the amazing privilege to see. 
We also had the chance to talk this weekend, in between trying on all the dresses.   We talked about my daughter’s ideas for the wedding, as well as her hopes and dreams for the future.

There is nothing quite like shopping for a wedding dress; a wedding is one of the most special days in your life, but a wedding – no matter how beautiful and special, is only one day.  A marriage is for a lifetime – and finding someone you want to spend your life with is beautiful and special and worth celebrating, no matter which dress you choose. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautifully written story that follows two very different people who both face tremendous adversity. The visual imagery in this book is stunning, which seems slightly ironic given one of the main characters is blind, but she 'sees' much more than most people. While this book is set during the war torn years in Europe, the war seems to be part of the background, and the incredible story of the two main characters is the central focus. The minor characters add great depth. I was captivated by the story and the eventual intersection of the two main characters. It is a lengthy book, but it didn't feel long, as the chapters were so brief. I would highly recommend his book.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Jump by Julia Dweck

JumpJump by Julia Dweck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A bright and cheerful book, perfect for read aloud time with your children. Jump is a fun look at facing fears and the wonder of trying something new. The illustrations are colorful and and fun, adding to the entertaining story.  This is exactly what a children's book should be.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Always a playlady

Have you ever heard of Recreational therapy?  If you haven't, you are not alone.  I will be honest - I didn't know what it was either, until one day in college someone came into my classes to talk about it and I thought WOW that sounds really cool.  At the time, I wanted to become ‘Julie’ on The Loveboat, so other than taking a required therapeutic recreation class during my degree program, I didn’t pursue it.   After college ended, I couldn’t find work in my chosen field of tourism so I took a job in recreational therapy and I absolutely loved it.  I wound up taking some more classes and becoming a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (or CTRS).   

Working in recreational therapy for over 20 years, I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the board in our national association and to work with some of the most talented and caring individuals that you will ever meet.  Even though I changed professions after 20 years, I still very much consider myself a recreational therapist.  It’s part of me and such a big part of my story.  I still maintain my professional credential (after all I worked so hard to get it). 

Recreational therapists work in all kinds of healthcare and human service settings, helping people with illness and disabling conditions to learn the skills needed for rehabilitation & recovery in order to have a healthy and meaningful leisure lifestyle.  That might mean helping someone who was an avid golfer and had a stroke learn how to use adapted clubs or re-learn a functional golf swing.  Let’s face it – practicing a golf swing is a lot more fun than doing boring range-of-motion exercises with a physical therapist in a gym.  It might mean helping an elderly woman to use adapted recreation equipment so she can keep participating in the things she finds meaningful, like a hands free crochet pattern holder, with a magnifier to help with arthritic hands and declining vision.  It might mean helping individuals with mental illness to practice appropriate social skills so they can participate in leisure activities and enjoy life.  It might mean encouraging someone with developmental disabilities to participate in Special Olympics to enable a healthier and happier lifestyle.  It might mean helping an amputee to go skiing to show that there are options and adaptive equipment for many of the leisure pursuits they used to do prior to their injury.  

A fellow recreational therapist used to refer to herself as the playlady, but as you can tell - there is much more to recreational therapy than just play.  There are so many ways that recreational therapists help individuals with illnesses and disabilities. 

I have so many amazing memories from working as a recreational therapist.  Clients and patients who touched my life in a special way over the years.  There is nothing quite like helping someone,  to empower a person not just to survive an illness or disability, but learn how to thrive.  I shared many funny and heartwarming stories with my friends and family about my years working as a recreational therapist.  Memories of helpful strangers who kept opening up the door for a patient who was trying to practice independent wheelchair skills, people were being so nice she had a hard time trying to learn how to do it by herself.  Memories of special patients who were brave enough to face their fears and go out into the community for the first time after a life changing accident.   Some of my favorite stories come from my work on psychiatric units.  Stories like a patient who colored his entire body with magic marker because he wanted to see what it would feel like to be black or the patient who believed he was a shark.   These individuals changed my life.  After working for 20 years as a recreational therapist, I knew it was time to make a change, but I also knew that I would always be a playlady.

When I became a teacher, I brought a great deal of recreational therapy into my middle school classrooms.  My background helped me to use fun and play as a learning tool and it also helped me to identify students who needed something beyond just learning the curriculum.  I will always be proud to say I am a recreational therapist – and even if I am not currently working in the field, it is always a big part of who I am. 

ps-Thanks to Google, I borrowed some awesome photos from various recreational therapy departments across the country, for more information about recreational therapy visit the American Therapeutic Recreation Association https://www.atra-online.com/ or the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification https://www.nctrc.org/

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There is no magic pill

My mother used to say she just wanted a magic pill to help her loose weight.  As much as we would all love a magic pill, the reality is – the only way to loose weight is through a balanced approach of diet and exercise.  This is not the news that so many of us long to hear. 

As I turned on the television today the morning talk shows were excitedly announcing the news headline, A Big break through….the next diet wonder pill! Really?

It turns out this huge news for dieters is the release of a new pill called Contrave.  The news report went on the say that Contrave is only for individuals with a BMI of 30 or over, and studies showed patients who took this drug only lost about 5% of total body weight.  Not only that, but there are serious side effects including high blood pressure and even heart attacks.  I don’t think a heart attack is worth it for a few pounds. 

According to ABC News, there are 100 million dieters spending over $20 Billion for the elusive prize of weight loss[1], sadly with all that money the results are dismal.  Forbes magazine reported that two-thirds of American dieters regained all the weight they had lost within a year, and 97 percent had gained it all back within five years[2].  It doesn’t take an economist to know that this is not a sound investment. 

One of the biggest problems is that we live in a fast-paced, fast food, microwave world.  We like shortcuts; we want everything instantly.  A healthy diet and exercise program will not work that quickly, the pounds won’t just drop off overnight, and our society does not like to wait around for anything. 

So we waste billions of dollars looking for the short cut.  The more we diet, the fatter we seem to get.  Some dieters even go to the extreme levels of intervention.  Over 200,000 morbidly obese individuals resorted to the extreme weight loss method of bariatric surgery in the last year alone.  Sadly even those folks have a high rate of regaining the weight.  The long-term results are dismal.

Unfortunately the only ones who are seeing results from the diet industry are the celebrities who endorse diet products, in some cases they have earned up to $3 million. 

If I had a magic Jeannie I would ask her to make all the extra fat go away, but I will NOT take dangerous diet pills – and neither should anyone else, they are NOT magic!  Eating right and exercising are the real magic, but it takes so darn long. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

History can show the cruel side of humanity. The story of Molly and Vivian, their unique bond, their unlikely friendship, and their challenging and similar life journeys was moving and kept me captivated. As each new event unfolds in their lives, the reader is appalled at the selfishness of the people they encounter, and we are in awe of their resilience. The author does such a great job of bringing out the worst in humanity without letting the reader lose hope. I highly recommend this book.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Longing to be a Grandma

Can I be honest?  I am a little jealous of my friends who are grandparents.  They post pictures of their grandchildren, just gushing with the kind of pride that only a grandma or grandpa could exude.  I look at those pictures and look at how much fun they seem to be having and I admit - I am jealous.  
I am not intending to put any pressure on my daughters, neither one of them feels like they are ready to have children yet and I agree.  Danielle still needs to finish school and Rachael is trying to get settled in Tennessee, buying a house, planning her wedding, she has more than enough to focus on without even thinking about having kids.  I understand all of that, but I do look forward to the day when I get to spoil a little boy or girl that will call me Grandma. 

My girls have always had such a fantastic relationship with their Grandma and Grandpa.  Ask either one of them and they will tell you about the special treats Grandpa used to make them, or the trips they went on with Grandma, or the times Grandma took them shopping...well you get the idea.  They have so many incredible childhood memories of their grandparents. I have some amazing role models to emulate when I do become a grandma.  It is so fun to watch my dad develop a relationship with his great-grandchildren too. 

Who wouldn’t want to be a grandparent after watching all that fun?  But for now I will just have to settle for being a great Aunt to some of the cutest nieces in the entire world, I  will practice my Grandma skills on them so that I am ready to spoil my own grandchildren when the time comes. 

Happy Grandparents Day to all the Grandmas and Grandpas out there – and to all the folks like me – who are looking forward to being a Grandparent.