April Reads

Hello Friends!

We’ve reached the end of April and that means that I get to share with you the books that I have been reading this month.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson-

After reading (and loving) Wild last year, I specifically searched for other books about long distance hiking.  I had never heard of Bill Bryson until I found this book, but he is a travel writer and this is the story of his journey on the Appalachian Trail.  Bryson writes about countless challenges and hardships during his hike, while also managing to include plenty of humor.  I would love to hike the AT someday, and this book just fueled that desire.

Where Rainbows End (also called Love, Rosie) by Cecelia Ahern-

This is the story of Rosie and Alex, best friends forever.  The book tells the story of their friendship, from age five to age sixty.  We follow their story through relationships, marriages, children, divorces, moves, deaths, and much more.  The entire story is told through letters, instant messages, emails, and newspaper articles.  I enjoyed reading this (or actually, listening – thanks Audible!) because I felt like I truly got to know the characters.  My only criticism is that it felt slow at certain points, because, ultimately, the ending was fairly predictable.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio-

Is this a book written for children? Yup.  Is this a book that every single adult should read? Definitely.  Wonder tells the story of August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy who was born with a facial abnormality.  He has undergone several surgeries, but he knows he still looks different.  Not only that, but he’s about to start his first year of school ever, as a fifth grader.  The story takes place over the span of one school year and is narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he’s touched.  Wonder is a tale of kindness, acceptance, and the struggles of being in middle school.

The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio-

I’m not sure if I can really count this as a book – it’s really more of a short story.  It’s like a portion of Wonder that never was.  It’s part of the story, told from the perspective of Julian, one of Auggie’s fellow classmates, and also one of the most controversial characters in the book.  From day one, it was clear that Julian and Auggie were never going to be friends; Julian treated Auggie like he had the plague.  Julian’s side was never shared in Wonder, so reading this was like getting a behind-the-scenes look at the story.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham-

Not only was this written by the creator of Veronica Mars, but the Audible version I listened to was narrated by none other than Veronica herself (Kristen Bell).  I felt like I was listening to an extra-long episode of the fantastic tv show.  The story takes place just a couple of months after the movie left off.  Veronica is back home and working with her dad as a private investigator.  This particular case is brought to her attention when two college-aged girls go missing from the same party during their spring break.  It had all of the spunk and intrigue of the show, but without commercials.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai-

Beautiful. Gripping. Intimate. Those are the three words I would use to describe this book if I had to choose.  This is the story of Ha, a ten-year-old girl, during the year that her and her family escaped from Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon.  She writes about the trials and difficulties of war, new and different cultures, and life as a ten-year-old.  The entire book is written in powerful free-verse poetry, which makes the story ebb and flow in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  As soon as I was finished, I wanted to go back and read it again.

The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg-

This was not an easy book to read.  While it is technically historical fiction, most of the events in the book were based on truth.  That, coupled with memories of visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps five years ago, made for an incredibly vivid account of the atrocities that happened during the Holocaust.  I won’t go into detail (Rosenberg does that well enough), but the stories and events that take place in this book broke my heart and gave me a new perspective of what it was like for the prisoners of the Holocaust.

Small Steps by Louis Sachar-

“There’s a sequel to Holes?!?!” was what I said when I stumbled upon this gem at the library of the school I work at.  How did I not know about this?!  Holes has been one of my favorites ever since Mr. Collins read it to our class when I was in third or fourth grade.  As soon as I found out there was a sequel, I snatched it up and began reading it.  Definitely not as good as Holes (I mean, what sequel ever is), but still not bad, not bad at all.  The story follows Armpit and X-Ray and takes place a couple of years after their days at Camp Green Lake.  They’re both trying to get back into the groove of things – go back to school, get a job, be a member of society – but neither of them are really making much money.  Then, X-Ray has a plan for them to make a few bucks, and the rest of the story takes off from there.


Here’s to another month of life & books.

– Em

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January-March Reads

As some of you know, last year I set a goal to read twenty-five books in 2014 and then I wrote a massive blog post about all of them at the end of the year.  This year, that goal has increased to forty-five and I’ve decided to try to write a blog post each month about the books that I’ve been reading.  Obviously, I haven’t been doing a great job at blogging every month, so here are the books that I’ve read since January.

– The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien –

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all the lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – Haldir the Elf

This book is the number one reason that I haven’t been doing monthly blogs.  I started reading this at the very beginning of January and I didn’t finish it until mid-March.  I don’t remember the last time it took me over three months to finish a single book, and it was a little discouraging, to be honest.  I liked the book (but not as much as The Hobbit), and I would love to finish the trilogy sometime.  There are just so many other books that I want to read, I’m not sure I can justify spending six months to finish the series.

– Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple –

Witty, sarcastic, satirical, and laugh-out-loud funny.  What more could you want?  This is the story of the ridiculous and agoraphobic Bernadette Fox, told through emails, letters, magazine articles, doctor bills, and several other types of written communication put together by Bee, Bernadette’s fifteen-year-old daughter.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn –

After going through the roller coaster ride that is Gone Girl last year, I knew I had to get my hands on anything else written by Gillian Flynn.  She definitely did not disappoint.  While I wasn’t quite as enthralled by Dark Places as I was with Gone Girl, it definitely still provides plenty twists and turns to keep you on your toes.  The story is about Libby Day, whose entire family was murdered when she was seven-years-old (a creepy story made all the more creepier by sharing a last name – I felt like I was reading about my own family).  Because of the testimony that seven-year-old Libby provided, her older brother, Ben, was convicted for the murders.  The novel is told through a combination of Libby’s present-day perspective (twenty-five years after the massacre) and flashbacks to the day of the murders, told from the perspectives of Ben and Patty, their mother.  Overall, I think I am officially a Gillian Flynn fan; be expecting a review on Sharp Objects sometime in the coming months.

Like I said, my plan is to write a blog each month, so hopefully you’ll be hearing from me again soon about my April books.


25 books

Towards the beginning of 2014, I made a goal for myself. It was probably somewhere in February or March, so it wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution, but definitely a goal.  I realized that I hadn’t been reading as much as I would have liked, so I set a goal to read 25 books in 2014.  I had never kept track of how many books I could read in a certain amount of time before, so I had no idea if this was a reasonable goal or not, but I needed a number and 25 sounded good, so I went for it.

Here are those books:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I really enjoy historical fiction as a genre, and this was perfect.  It takes place in Nazi Germany, and it is an intriguing story about a girl who will do whatever it takes to get her hands on a book.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I read this book based on a recommendation from a friend, and I am so very glad that I did.  John Green is a young adult novelist, and he writes brilliantly.  This particular story is about a young girl who has cancer, which was incredibly appropriate for the time that I read it.  I know what you’re all thinking, but this is not your typical “cancer story”.  It is poignant and extremely well-delivered.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I don’t think I need to tell you what this book is about, as I was incredibly behind in reading it.  Most of you have probably already read this book.  Anyway, I loved it.  It was full of adventure and mischief and humor, all things that I thoroughly enjoy.

4. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Another masterpiece by John Green (look closely, you’ll find a theme on this list).  This one is about friends at a bording school.  I can’t tell you too much more without giving away spoilers, but it’s a fantastic book.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Hilarity. As if I expected anything less.

6. Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

This is the sequel to The Devil Wears Prada.  I needed something to read on the beach on spring break, and this did the trick.  It was a little slower than the first one (as if sequels are ever as good as their predecessors), but still an interesting and easy read for lounging on the beach.

7. Paper Towns by John Green (find the theme yet?)

Clearly, I like John Green as an author.  However, I also just really like YA fiction, at which he is fantastic.  This novel is about a girl who leaves clues for a boy and his journey as he follows those clues.

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I’m not sure how I escaped high school without reading this, but somehow, I managed to.   This is a classic novel about a dystopian society and what life is like for a boy names Jonas.  I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but I will let you form your own opinions about that.

9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This was a book that I read to my fourth grade class.  It took a while for them to get into it, as it is a little bit slow in the beginning, but, after a while, they were begging me to keep going.  There are some great themes in the story that are applicable for children and adults alike.  I think my students particularly enjoyed the science fiction aspect of the story.

10.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This is the first installment  in a series of three.  I had a difficult time getting into this book.  It was pretty obviously supposed to be some sort of combination of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, but it’s not nearly as well-written as either of them (as if that would even be possible).  Maybe it was my own fault for trying to compare it to J.K Rowling’s masterpiece, but the storyline just seemed lacking to me.  Once I was about three-quarters of the way through the book, I realized that the problem was that there was no “bad guy”.  Even with all of the magical elements, the lack of a villain made for a rather boring story.  Towards the end, a villain appears, but it was too late.  The ending was pretty intriguing, but not enough for me to pick up the next two books in the series.  Maybe one day I’ll go back to them, but for now, I have other books that I would rather read.

11. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

This was an interesting book about a high school boy named Sutter Keely.  He’s always the life of the party and he thrives on “embracing the weird”.  One day, he meets Aimee, who is nothing like anybody he’s ever met before.  He sets out to transform her into a confident young woman, but before he knows it, he starts to change as well.  I, personally, was a little perplexed by the unresolved ending of this book, but I still enjoyed reading it.

12. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

If you have never read this book, please do so.  It’s over-500 pages may look daunting from the outside, but as soon as you open the cover, you will be transformed into a fantastical world by Selznik’s amazing artistry and illustrations.  Many of the pages contain only illustrations, so the pages turn quickly and the story rapidly unfolds.  It is a brilliant story about Georges Melies (the French filmmaker) and a small boy who helped him uncover a past that he had long forgotten.  The book has won The Caldecott Medal for its illustrations.

13. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

This was another one that I read to my class.  They loved this book from the beginning.   It takes place in the ’60s in America, during a time that is somewhat difficult for my kids to understand.  Being international students, they sometimes have trouble grasping the idea that race matters (or mattered) so very much to some people.  Hearing this book was a great learning experience for some of my students and it lead to some awesome class discussions.

14., 15., & 16. Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Honestly, I only read this out of pure curiosity.  I wanted to know what all of the hype was about.  I had enjoyed reading The Hunger Games, and I knew that this series was supposed to be similar, so I went for it – and I’m so glad that I did.  For those who are wondering, it is slightly similar to The Hunger Games, but still totally different.  It does take place in Dystopian America, but mostly just in Chicago.  The city is split up into different factions which represent the different ideals that the society believes its citizens should uphold.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed either The Hunger Games or The Giver.

17. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The main character of this novel is a high school boy named Colin.  He has only ever dated girls named Katherine – nineteen of them, in fact – and he has gotten dumped by every one of them.  After graduation, Colin and his best friend, Hassan, decide to go on a road trip.  During this trip, Colin hopes to prove a mathematical theorem that will predict the outcome of any relationship (and hopefully win the girl).

18. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

This is a young-adult fiction book about a teen couple who make a suicide pact.  However, something goes terribly wrong and the boy ends up on trial for the murder of the girl.  This was a very thrilling and intense book and I was completely hooked from the first page to the last.

19. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

This book consisted of three short stories, each written by a different author, that ultimately connected in the end.  I must’ve been really missing winter, because I read this in June.  Even if it was seasonally inappropriate, it made me laugh a lot. Each of these authors is brilliant at what they do, and each story was quite well-written.

20. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

What better to read on the beach during vacation than Nicholas Sparks? He’s not my favorite author, but this was a nice easy beach read.  It was about two childhood sweethearts (surprise, surprise) who have since lost touch and moved on in their lives.  When a mutual friend dies, they both make it back to their hometown where they meet again (shocker) and spend their time reminiscing about the past. I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story.

21. Divergent Series Short Stories (Four) by Veronica Roth

These stories were written in the perspective of the secondary character in the series, Four (yes, that’s his name).  The stories that were written were some of the same events that happened in the main series, but just from the opposite view, which I found very interesting and helpful in understanding this particular character.

22. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

This was probably one of the most interestingly-written books that I have read in a long time.  The main premise of the story is about this girl name Mia who is a senior in high school.  She is an amazing cellist and her whole live revolves around music.  Her dad used to be in a band, her little brother is learning the drums, and her boyfriend is the lead guitarist in an up-and-coming rock band.  In the very beginning of the story, her and her family are in a terrible car accident.  Both of her parents die on the scene, and Mia is unconscious.  However, even though she is unconscious, she is somehow still able to watch everything that is happening to her and her family.  So, while she is having this out-of-body experience, she has a major decision to make (hence the title).

23. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

As this is the sequel to If I Stay, I will also not be writing a summary of this book.  However, I will say this: the first book was way better.

24. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Unless he writes another book, this is the last book written by John Green that I will be writing about on this blog.  I’ve officially read every novel that he’s written.  This book is about two high school boys, both named Will Grayson.  They do not know each other and their lives are quite different.  However, one day, they meet and their lives start turning in new directions.

I thought the way that it was written was really interesting.  John Green wrote all of the odd-numbered chapters and David Levithan wrote all of the even-numbered chapters.  According to handy dandy Wikipedia, “The only plot they decided on together was the fact that the two characters would meet at some point in the novel and that their meeting would have a tremendous effect on their lives. After this decision, they separately wrote the first three chapters for their half and then shared them with each other. After sharing, they then “knew immediately it was going to work”, as stated by Levithan.”

25. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This was not the first time that I read this novel.  However, the first time that I read it was in 9th grade literature class and I probably didn’t even really read it then.  I love to read, but I strongly dislike being forced to read things; at least I did when I was in high school.  So, most of the time, I just didn’t read it. Lets just say I really liked SparkNotes.

So anyway, I decided to actually read it this time, and I really, really enjoyed it.  It makes me wonder how many of those books from high school I probably would’ve enjoyed if I had just read them.  But then again, post-college me has a very different taste in books than high school me did, so maybe I wouldn’t have liked it.  I guess I’ll never know.

If you’ve never read it, read it.  Even if you have read it, read it again. It’s brilliant.

—-I reached this point in August, but I wasn’t about to stop, so here’s what I read from August to December—-

26. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This was one of those books that keeps you on the edge of your seat (or bed/couch/wherever you may be reading) right from the beginning.  It is jam packed with unexpected twists and turns that continue to keep you guessing right up until the last page. I really enjoyed reading this book and found myself not wanting to put it down.

I also recently saw the movie and was quite impressed.  The movie does a pretty good job of following the events in the book, which could not have been an easy task because of the way the book is written.  Well done, Hollywood.

27. Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks (No, not Tony Hawk)

The title of this book pretty much gives you all the information you need.  This is the hilarious true story of a man who accepts a bet to travel around the circumference of Ireland with a refrigerator.  I probably looked quite insane on the bus/train while I was reading this book because I was constantly trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to stifle bursts of laughter.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a lighthearted read.

28., 29., & 30. Gathering BlueThe MessengerSon by Lois Lowry

I chose to write about all three of these books at the same time because that seemed to make the most sense to me.  These three books are the final three installments in The Giver Quartet.  I read The Giver earlier this year and I found myself pretty dissatisfied with the ending.  I knew that there were more books in the series, so I eventually bought those books and continued the journey.  This series (or “quartet” as Lowry calls it) is quite different from other series because the stories don’t really all connect until the final book.

All four books are fantastic and Lois Lowry is a brilliant author, but I think  Gathering Blue was my favorite.

31. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I started reading this after watching the first two seasons of The Mindy Project.  I realized that Mindy Kaling (writer and star of the tv show) was brilliantly hilarious and I wanted more.  I saw that she had written a book a couple of years ago and knew I had to get my hands on it, so I ordered it.  This was another book where I found myself trying to control my laughter on the quiet and subdued public transit of Singapore.

32. Fatherhood by Bill Cosby

Now I know what you’re thinking – I am not, nor will I ever be, a father, and therefore probably should not be reading a book with such a title.  I read this book after a recommendation from a friend (who will also never be a father), so I figured it was okay.  This book is a compilation of hilarious stories about Bill Cosby’s kids and his life as their father.  Again, a great book to read for a laugh or two.

33. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park is the story of two teenage outcasts as they explore the awkward territory that is dating in high school.  I’ve heard fantastic things about Rainbow Rowell, but this book was not a favorite of mine.  It was a bit slow until the very end, where things suddenly picked up and took a very exciting turn.

34. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

I really enjoyed this book.  It is written for middle-schoolers, but I think it is applicable to adults as well.

This is the story of Holling Hoodhood, who is a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High.  Holling, a Presbyterian, is forced to spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of his classmates, Catholic and Jewish, attend religious instruction.  During this time that he spends alone with Mrs. Baker, Holling is asked to do chores.  Eventually Mrs. Baker begins to use this time to teach Holling Shakespeare, which opens up Holling to a whole new world.

35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This was one of those books that kept popping up on my “Suggested Reads” list on Amazon, but for some reason, I kept putting it off.  Once I gave in and started reading it, I could not put it down.  Wild is the true story of Cheryl Strayed and her journey as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail.  Her story is heartbreaking and inspiring and terrifying all at the same time.  Cheryl is a brilliant writer and story-teller and I am so glad that she chose to share her journey.  I can’t wait to see the movie, but unfortunately, it doesn’t come out until February here in Singapore.

36. Wish by Jake Smith

I spotted this book in a bookstore over the summer, and after reading the back, promptly added it to my ever-growing “books to read” list.  I didn’t read it until December, which was perfect, because I ended up buying it for my dad for Christmas.  I originally read this book because it was about baseball, the Tigers were in off-season, and I was needing a baseball fix.  What I didn’t know until I started reading was that the story takes place in Michigan and deals heavily with the Tigers and Comerica Park.  The story is fictional, so the players are made up, but it was still a nice surprise.

The story is about a man whose son has Leukemia.  During their stay in the hospital, they are visited by a Tigers player.  The young boy’s biggest wish is to see his dad play in a major league baseball game.  The boy shares this wish with the Tigers player (unbeknownst to his father) and the plan starts unraveling.

37. Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

This is the book on which the movie Field of Dreams is based.  I’ve never seen the movie, but I really didn’t like this book, so I’m not sure if I will see it.  I found this book to be quite slow and a little boring, which is unfortunate, since this was my last book of 2014.

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Well friends, we’ve reached the end of 2014 and the end of this blog post (bravo to those of you that read all the way to the end). 2014 definitely had its ups and downs, but these 37 books helped me to get through the best and the worst of it.   Here’s to another year of life and books.

Spring Travels

Again, I realize that it’s been awhile since I last posted, and I apologize.  With the end of the school year quickly approaching, life has been increasingly hectic. It’s hard to believe that my first year here is almost finished, but more about that in a later post.  For now, I want to update you on the two trips I’ve been able to take this spring.

The first trip was to Tioman Island, Malaysia for spring break with Marisa, the elementary art teacher here at ICS.  Our plan for this trip was to lay on the beach, snorkel, and read books for five days, which seemed perfect after a looonnnggg stretch of no school breaks.  And, while it was definitely relaxing, there were some bumps along the way.  To start off with, we had some minor issues with customs and immigration. In the end, we were able to get into the country, but there was a moment where we weren’t sure if they were going to let us in.  After that, we got to the island alright, and started right in on our relaxation.  Our first day was spent laying on the beach doing nothing but reading and soaking up the rays (through plentiful sunscreen, of course).  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do much more laying on the beach after that because the rest of our time there, it rained on and off.  We were able to go out snorkeling once, but it was pretty cloudy and we couldn’t see much.  However, even though it was raining, we were still able to chill in our chalet and read and relax, which was still lovely…until I started to feel sick.  It started with a fever and aches, and then a sore throat.  Nothing major, but still a huge bummer to be sick on vacation.  Eventually Marisa started to also not feel well, and we decided to head home a day early.  Even with the bumps, this trip was still the perfect break from grading and lesson planning.

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The view from our porch

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The sunset our first night in Tioman. Taken from our porch.

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The epitome of relaxation

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Tioman Island

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High tide would come right up to our chalet. This is taken from our couch.

The second trip was a much shorter trip to Batam, Indonesia.  This is island is about a forty-five minute ferry ride from Singapore. Last week, Chelsie and I had a couple of friends staying with us that we had met at PFO (Pre-Field Orientation – the two week training all employees have to go to before working at a NICS school).  Heather and Jordan were visiting from the two NICS schools in Africa.  Heather from Ghana, and Jordan from Kenya.   Chelsie and I had spent the week showing them all Singapore had to offer (especially in the food department) and we were ending the week with a couple of days on the beach in Indonesia.  We arrived in Batam a little later than originally planned due to the holiday weekend and the busy ferries.  When we got there, we explored a little bit, had dinner, and then called it a night.  The next day, we laid by the pool until we started to notice the storm rolling in.  Once it started raining, we took cover under a pool umbrella and then a little tiki hut near the pool.  After the rain stopped, we went snorkeling, which was a much more exciting expedition than the one in Malaysia.  We saw lots of fish, and at one point, an entire school of little silver fish swam right underneath us.  We also were able to see some coral and other various sea creatures.  At the very end of our time at the beach, I made a last minute decision to go parasailing.  We had been watching people do it all day and it’s something that has been on my bucket list since I was a kid, so I figured I might as well try it while I had the chance.  It was so cool!  It was just so peaceful and exhilarating.   It’s hard to explain, but it was an awesome experience.

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Mid-flight. If you look really hard you can see Singapore in the background.

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My friend Heather went on the boat while I parasailed.

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Jordan, Heather, me, and Chelsie on the beach

 

Having the opportunities to go on these two trips this spring has definitely made me appreciate living where I do and having these options available to me.

Six more weeks and then I’m home (in Michigan) for the summer! I would appreciate your prayers during these next six weeks, as they are going to be insanely busy with trying to get everything wrapped up for the end of the year.

Three words I never thought I’d say

I miss winter.

There, I said it. I miss winter. No, wait, let me revise that. I miss snow.

Now, I realize that everybody in Michigan and the surrounding tundra-like states probably thinks that I’m crazy, but just let me tell you something. You would miss it too if you had just gone an entire winter without seeing a single flake of snow after spending the past 22 winters in Michigan or Indiana.  I totally get everybody’s current frustrations with the snow, being that it’s March and this winter seems to be never-ending, but there is just something beautiful about the snow.  It’s just so pure and white and sparkly. Oh, how it sparkles! One of my favorite things is waking up on a winter morning and looking out the window after a huge amount of snow has landed in our backyard. The way the sun shines on the freshly-fallen snow transforms our backyard into a sea of diamonds and it is simply entrancing. 

I think I also miss the quietness of the snow.  My life is rarely quiet (which I’m sure has something to do with the fact that I not only live in a major city, but I also spend the majority of my time with nineteen ten-year-olds), but falling snow always brings a certain quietness with it that I sometimes long for.

There is one way for me to satiate my longing for snow.  I have been told that there is an attraction here in Singapore called Snow City. Now, I have never visited this chilly metropolis, but this is what I have gathered about it so far.  It seems to be a man-made building with man-made coldness and man-made machines that shoot out man-made snow onto a man-made floor, which can then be played in and turned into snowmen and other things you would normally do in the real, God-made snow.  I see one huge flaw in this. MAN-MADE. I understand that this is the only possible way for there to be snow in Singapore, but it just seems so wrong. Maybe I will make it to Snow City sometime, but for now, I will just have to be satisfied with turning my aircon all the way down and looking at pictures on Facebook of the never-ending snowstorms in Michigan.

Also, I realize that it has been an eternity since I posted on here. Sorry for that.  My only excuse is…well…life. So, thanks for your patience & I’ll try to update more often.

Let it Snow

 

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I know what you’re thinking (well, if you know your geography). Doesn’t she live in Singapore? Isn’t Singapore an island in the tropics? And you would be correct.  I do, and it is.  However, the white flakes in the above photos aren’t snow – they’re soap. That’s right.  That is actually tiny little soap bubbles falling from the sky.  Well, actually they’re being shot  up into the air by really powerful blowers, and then they’re falling from the sky.  While some people think that this display is a little (or a lot) on the tacky side, I disagree.  Being from the tundra of Michigan, I thought it was beautiful and, in a weird way, it reminded me of home (I mean, once I got past the fact that it was soap).  I didn’t get a picture of the people enjoying this, but if I had, you would see the wide variety of people that this slightly tacky display attracts.  Most of the participants were children in their bathing suits playing in the suds, but there were a good amount of other people as well (including a newly-married couple all decked out in their wedding garb), and no one cared that they were getting covered in soap.  The really cool part about this is that, in Singapore, rarely do you see a large group of people gathering outside.  Usually, if there are people outside, they are in transit.  Walking to a bus stop.  Going from one store to another.  Leaving the job they worked at all day.  However, for fifteen minutes, people stopped their constant movement and gathered outside to enjoy soap falling from the sky.  Weird.  But cool.

Thanksgiving

This year, Thanksgiving was a little different for me.  Last Saturday, we gathered as a school community and celebrated the holiday with a huge, classic Thanksgiving dinner.  There was turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and everything else needed for a successful Thanksgiving dinner.  Even though I am 9,344 miles away from home (thank you Google), I was still surrounded by friends and people who are becoming so much like family.  It was a wonderful celebration of fellowship and thankfulness.

However, because we celebrated last Saturday, that gave people the chance to do some traveling during the actually holiday break.  So I and two other teachers decided to spend a couple of days on Bintan Island in Indonesia.  We were a little worried about the weather, being that we are in the midst of rainy season, and we were totally prepared to have to spend some of our time inside.  However, Indonesia completely pulled through for us and we had beautiful, sunny weather the entire time we were there.  It was so nice to just lay in the sun and do absolutely nothing for two whole days.  And when I say nothing, I really mean it.  We spent the entire two days either at the beach or at the pool.  We never left the resort, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  As much as I love the exciting life of living in a big city, it was so wonderful to get away from the craziness for a little while.

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Marisa, myself, and Chelsie thoroughly enjoyed our time at the beach

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Beautiful blue skies and blue water

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We spent the evenings at the pool, after the beach closed