Friday, December 21, 2012

Downward Spiral: Part 3

escalator at the end of a tunnel
Picture Credit

(During the Fall, my health was going in a downward spiral.  Start reading with Part 1 and Part 2.)

Thankfully, we got to the ER at the perfect time.  There was absolutely no one in the waiting room.  That never happens!  Within 25 minutes of being there I was in a room with an IV in my arm.  Rehydration!  Hallelujah!

But...I was still nauseous.  When they first put in the IV, they added Phenergen, which is a great anti-nausea drug.  But I was still nauseous.  So we tried Zofran, another ani-nausea drug.  But I was still nauseous.  So they gave me Phenergen again, then they tried Adivan.  And nothing was working.  By that time it was around noon.  I had been in the ER for 6 hours and had been sick for about 30 hours.  When you are sick for that long, it starts to feel like it will never stop.  I really thought I might be nauseous for the rest of my life.

At that point, the doctor decided that they needed to admit me for the night just to make sure that the nausea would go away.  Our fear (the doctor's and mine) was that if they discharged me, I would go home and this would just start again.

I got to my room around 3 PM and within 30 minutes, I knew that the pain medicine had finally left my body.  I was suddenly no longer nauseous and I was starting to be in a lot of pain.

In a hospital, you really only get to see the doctor about once a day and only when the doctor feels like coming.  The doctor had visited me in the ER at noon and was gone for the day.  And since nurses can't write prescriptions, there were no pain meds for me.  I had to rely on my best friend - ice.  And lots of it.

It was a very uneventful night in the hospital.  I got lot of fluids and a liquid diet.  My biggest issue was that I had an IV in the bend of my left arm and my right shoulder hurt so much I couldn't move it.  So getting a spoon to my mouth was interesting.  But I made it work.

Thankfully, I got to home after only one night in the hospital.

After my hospital stay, I found that I really had to take it easy.  I hadn't eaten for almost 3 days and had lost 6 pounds.  Tim and the kids took turns "babysitting" me.  He was not comfortable leaving me by myself for long.  I loved the thoughtfulness and attention they gave me.

That whole horrible week was followed by good news.  The MRI did not show a tear in my rotator cuff, so I did not need surgery.  While I was very happy about that, it's very hard to have someone say "We still don't know why you are in pain."

I took my diagnosis of "rotator cuff syndrome" to my physical therapist.  Found out that diagnosis really just means, "Your rotator cuff is inflamed and we don't know why but we'll give you some anti-inflammatory drugs and send you to PT and hope it gets better."  So kind of a non-diagnosis.

Throughout Oct, I worked with my PT and she did a great job of getting my arm moving again.  She recruited Tim and taught him how to stretch out my shoulder (he's a natural, by the way).  As of right now, my shoulder is not pain free, but it is so much better than it was.  I still take some anti-inflammatory meds but I am weaning off of them.  I also do stretches and strengthening exercises every day.  I feel like I'm improving all the time and have high hopes that my shoulder will be pain free soon.

Now comes the bad news.  The downward spiral was not done.

(More to continue later...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Booksneeze: Isle of Shadows

Isle of Shadows by Tracy Higley

The setting is ancient Rhodes, in Greece. Tessa, a high class prostitute has had her "contract" bought by a powerful politician, Glaucus, a man who is greedy and possessive. When Glaucus dies unexpectedly, Tessa realizes this is her chance to escape but she must pretend that he is alive long enough to plan her getaway.

Aided by fellow slave, Nikos, and opposed by political schemer, Spiro, Tessa must balance her role as a woman, a slave & a courtesan. Can she pull off the deception and escape Rhodes forever?

My Thoughts:

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it.  

The setting of Rhodes is very unique.  I have heard of the city before but I didn't know much about it or it's famous fallen statue.  According to ancient Greek historians, the Colossus of Helios at Rhodes was destroyed by an earthquake.  Higley uniquely used this in the story by setting the time of each chapter as so many days "before the Great Quake."  You knew it was coming and you felt urgency for the characters to complete their mission before the calamity comes.

The entire story takes place in 7 days and is very fast moving.  There is mystery, romance, intrigue and repentance before God.  It sounds like a lot going on, but Higley does a good job of creating an intricate plot while still making it clear enough for the reader to follow what's going on.

The best part of the book is the character of Tessa.  She is a strong female character who is caught up in a life she doesn't want to lead.  She is smart and well-spoken but lacks the one thing she really wants - freedom.  As a reader, you are gunning for her the whole time, wanting her to find God and find love and find freedom.  Great read!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a complementary Kindle version of this book while participating in the Booksneeze program.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This momma's heart

It was incredibly difficult to drop my kids off at school this morning.

I've watched all the reports about Friday's tragedy & I've listened to the "experts" tell me that statistically speaking, school shootings are very rare.

Statistically speaking, school is the safest place for your child.

But I can guarantee you that parents in Newtown, Conn, don't care about statistics.  School was not the safest place for their children on Friday.  In fact, most likely none of the children that attended that school will ever feel safe in a school again.

Unless the statistic is zero murders and 100% safe children, then I will always worry.  Instead of wondering if my children are receiving the right education, I worry about how far they are from the front door.  I wonder how much time their teachers would have to lock the doors before a shooter could get in there.

I know in my head that God is Sovereign and that they are in His hands at school.  My head is how I was able to drop them off this morning.

But my heart?  It's a momma's heart.  It breaks every time I think of those mommas in Newtown who sent their kids to the "safest place" they could send them and they didn't come home.

This momma's heart is heavy today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Bragging Time

I love my kids.

I would love them if they possessed all the talent in the world and I would love them if they didn't have a talented bone in their body.

But when they do display an interest in something and work hard at it, then I am thrilled to brag to everyone.

 Julie works very hard at the piano, practicing up to an hour every day.  And better yet, she loves it.  And I love that she loves it. I always dreamed that at least one of my children would share my love for the piano.

I'm so proud of her and I'm proud to share her with you.

This is my talented 9 year old. (Note: You can't see her behind the piano, but you can hear her.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sept & Oct Reading List

I'm reading 24 books this year. See my book list reviews here.

Sadie's Song by Linda Hall

I really had no idea what this book was about when I started reading it. The back of the book made it sound like a mystery but that's not really what it was about. This book dealt with abuse, specifically domestic abuse in a Christian household. Sadie's husband, who is an elder at church, both verbally and physically abuses her. 

There are side stories about the effect the abuse has on her children and there is a mystery about a missing girl stuck in there as well. However these stories are very artfully mixed in there so it doesn't seem disconnected.

The book is written from Sadie's point of view which I think is brilliant. As a reader you really get inside the head of an abused woman. You see her struggle with believing her husband loves her and being upset with him beating her. You feel her transformation as she starts to realize that this is not what love is supposed to be.

This is not a feel good read but it was still an excellent book. It definitely gave me greater insight into the mind of a domestic violence victim. I highly recommend it.

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin

Abby is dying. After fighting cancer for 4 years, Doss, her husband, must accept that the cancer has won. But before it does, he is determined to float his wife down the river, crossing items off her bucket lost along the way.

I've read a lot of Charles martin's books and feel that this book was good but not his best. The hero seems a little too well versed in everything - outdoors man who can survive on a river with a sick wife even during a hurricane, an artist who paints beautiful portraits and a completely devoted husband.

It's a good book, don't get me wrong, just not wonderful. Oh and if you are going to read it, keep some tissues close by. Any book about dying is bound to be sad in the end.

Sickness really puts a wrench in all plans, including plans to read books in Nov and Dec. So this will be the last post in this year's reading list. I haven't decided if I'm going to do this next year or not. It was very stressful to me to keep up with my reading, at least with the books on this list. (I did read all these other books to, though.) I'm all about lessening stress, so this idea may have to go into the "save my sanity" box.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Still Lolo

Still Lolo by Lauren Scruggs and the Scruggs family with Marcus Brotherton

Book Description (From the back cover):

For fashion journalist Lauren ("LoLo") Scruggs, a short flight to look at Christmas lights turned into a nightmare when she was struck by the plane's spinning propeller blades.

As Lauren was rushed to the hospital, fighting for her life, the world watched in shock and horror.  Several major surgeries and thousands of prayers later, Lauren was still alive.  But she had suffered brain trauma and lost her left hand and left eye.  Some thought that this would be the end of everything for her, a beautiful young woman working in an industry focused completely on appearance.

They were wrong.

In Still LoLo, Lauren reveals what really happened that night, how she survived against all odds, and what her life is like today.  She is unflinchingly honest in the face of difficult questions:  What kind of future will I have?  Will anyone be able to love me now?  Where is God in all this pain?  Through her story, Lauren calls us all to live a life without fear and to overcome whatever challenges threaten to limit us.

Containing never-before-published photos and personal stories from Lauren and her family, Still LoLo is a compelling and fiercely beautiful account of faith, determination, and staying true to who you are - no matter what.

My Thoughts:

This book was amazing!  I'm not a big non-fiction fan so for me to be captivated by this book is saying something.  The story of what Lauren endured is inspiring in and of itself, but the rest of the story - the story of her life before and after the accident - is just as incredible.  Her parents divorced when she was a toddler because of her mother's infidelity.  Seven years later, when she and her twin sister were 11, her parents got each other.  To me that is such an amazing story of redemption and reconciliation in a marriage.

The reliance on God that was started in her parents during their divorced years was later taught to both Lauren and her sister, Brittany.  The night of the accident, 100 people were at that hospital petitioning God and relying on him for Lauren's life.  They relied on God and he answered.

Reliance on God is one of the key elements in this book but even with that, the Scruggs family doesn't sugarcoat Lauren's pain or recovery.  The pain of recovery and the struggles with depression and anger are written in a very raw voice by Lauren.  I felt her honesty in her writing and I grieved with her over the loss of her eye and her hand.  I empathized with her mother as she wished she could take her daughter's place and hurt for her.  I really felt like I knew this family after reading this book.

One of the best features of Still LoLo is that the entire Scruggs family came together to write it.  Different chapters are written by different members of Lauren's family - Lauren, her father, her mother and her sister.  It gives great perspective on what each of them were feeling during the accident and how each had different emotions and reactions.

Since I, too, am struggling to live with a body that's broken and painful, Lauren's recovery and optimism are very encouraging to me.

I highly recommend this book!  In fact, you can get started on it right now by reading the first chapter here.

5 out of 5 stars

I was provided with a complementary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, who knows that true love sometimes means doing all the messy stuff.

I'm thankful for my two kids.  Sometimes they fight.  Sometimes they disobey.  But all the time they love me and snuggle me. They are so very patient when Mommy doesn't feel good.

I'm thankful for my sister who can tell when I'm in pain even when others can't and who knows when I need a girls' day out.

I'm thankful for my parents who are always there to take care of my kids or me when we need it.

I'm thankful that I get to spend Thanksgiving with all my family, especially with my big brother.

I'm thankful that even though I have had so many health problems that none of them are life threatening.

I'm thankful for my warm house and for space heaters and gas fireplaces.

Lastly, I'm thankful to my Jesus, who saved me and is always so patient with me.  Even when I cry out in anger and frustration, He loves me.  Even when I don't understand why, He loves me.  Even when my prayers aren't answered the way I want them to be, I know He loves me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Downward Spiral: Part 2

escalator at the end of a tunnel
Picture Credit

(Start the story out with part 1 here.)

It took a little while to get my MRI set up, because of - you guessed it - insurance.  It's always insurance.  "We have to get proof that you need this"... blah, blah, blah.

In the meantime, I was in major pain.  My doctor had given me a strong narcotic pain patch but at the lowest dose.  It wasn't cutting it for me.  I remember it was a Tuesday night when I put it on because it was the Tuesday night before my birthday.  By my birthday, the next Monday (Oct 1), I was beside myself in pain.  I decided to visit the pain doctor again and see if there was anything they could do.  I expected some sort of pill to take with my patch at times when I needed more pain control.  But instead, they decided to up my pain patch to the next strongest dose.  The nurse practitioner I saw that day asked if the 5 mcg patch had made me nauseous.  I said "Yes, but I'm able to control it with a mint or a piece of gum."  Her response was that it might get a little worse with the 10 mcg patch.  Boy, was she right.

I put the 10 mcg patch on Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning I woke up completely nauseous.  Tim was great and got the kids ready and drove them to school so I could stay in bed.  I called the doctor's office as soon as they were open, but in true doctor office fashion, I had to leave a message and wait for someone to call me back.

Which they did.
At 6:30 that night.

Only after an entire day of being nauseous and trying not to throw up.  Their response?  Take off the 10 mcg patch and put a 5 mcg one back on.  So I did that.  At 6:30 on Wed night.

But I was already over the edge.

At 4:30 AM Thursday morning, I started throwing up.  And I continued to throw up, off and on, all day (more off than on).  My gracious parents came over to take care of me and then to take care of my kids when they got home from school.  By evening, when Tim came home, I thought I was doing a little bit better.  He kept coming in our room making me drink sips of Gatorade.  Of course, I would end up vomiting those up 30 minutes later...but I would hold it down for 30 minutes.  One of Julie's pediatrician's had told me years ago that if you can keep drink down for at least 10 minutes, you can prevent dehydration.  That was my hope.

Tim's first words when he came home were "You have to keep drinking because I don't want to have to take you to the ER today."

I tried.
I really did.
But it just didn't happen.

At 4 AM on Friday, after 24 hours of being sick, I couldn't see any of the veins on the inside of my wrist.  I have very pale skin and, normally, you can see all my bright blue veins very clearly.  That day, they were gone.  My one thought was, "If I can't see my veins, then that means I don't have enough water in my blood, or in my whole system."

So I woke Tim up and told him that he needed to take me to the ER.

(Story to continue later...)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Downward Spiral: Part 1

escalator at the end of a tunnel
Picture Credit

I feel like I have been spiraling out of control lately, health-wise.  One thing always leads to another and I can't seem to get over the hump.

It was one year ago this week that my abdominal pain started.

One year.
Not a pain-free day in all that time.

I've been through 5 different types of specialists now, with recommendations to go to 2 other types.  I've had 2 different physical therapists and a massage therapist, all trying to get me out of pain.

Just when I felt like my new physical therapist was making headway on the ab pain, my right shoulder started hurting (beginning of August).  I had been faithfully doing all the stretches that my first PT had prescribed and one of those started making my shoulder hurt (feel free to see the stretch here).  Like a good little patient, I stopped doing that stretch.  But instead of getting better, I started getting worse.

By mid-September, I could barely move my arm.  I became very well adapted with using my left arm for things.  Obviously, there are things that I couldn't really do with my left arm, like writing and putting in my contacts.  But my right arm was in so much pain that I didn't have a choice.

I visited my pain doctor, which is the doctor that diagnosed my Myofascial Pain Syndrome.  He brushed it off as arthritis and said it would go away in 4-6 weeks.  He refused to write me a PT order (even though I was already going to a new PT for my ab pain and for leg numbness).

I was not sold on an arthritis diagnosis.  I am 34 and I don't think I am riddled with arthritis yet.  The day might come when this is true but I didn't think it was right now.

I knew this was something different and I knew it wouldn't go away on its own.  In the meantime, he thought it would be a great idea to give me a pain patch. (Note the sarcasm.)  I know I shouldn't be too hard on him.  His specialty is pain and he is focused on looking for chronic causes of pain, not acute ones.

But I decided to get a second opinion.  One of our local orthopedic doctors' offices has a walk-in clinic, no referral or appointment necessary.  So I walked on in.  After an X-ray and an exam, I was reassured that there is absolutely no sign of arthritis in my shoulder.  There was, however, lots of inflammation and reason to order an MRI to look for a tear.

(Story to continue later...)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mobile posts

Just downloaded the blogger app to my phone so I can blog on the go. I know, I'm behind the times but I didn't there was a blogger app until today and I'm a little excited.

There's a picture of my laptop that I'm NOT using to write this post!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Woven Braided Bun

We did this hairstyle a while back.  We were going to do this one for a wedding last month but we ended up not being able to go to that wedding.  But here is our trial attempt at it.  I think it turned out pretty well.

You can find the tutorial we used here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Watauga Lake

This weekend my brother and his family were renting a cabin about an hour away at Lake Watauga.  They invited us up for the day and we jumped at the chance to spend some time with family.

You see, my big brother and his wife and two boys have decided to make a huge life change and become missionaries with the IMB (the Southern Baptist International Missionary Board).  Pretty soon they will be going off to orientation and large city immersion and then on to Asia to live in a foreign country with foreign ways and a completely different and hard-to-learn language.  I'm so proud of them but I'm going to miss them a lot.  Even though we only see each other a handful of times a year, it always been comforting to know that they were only a half a day's drive away.  In less than a year, they will be half a world away.

Needless to say, we want to spend as much time with them before they leave as we can.

David and his cousin, Micah, are 9 months apart in age and love playing Legos and ninjas and doing anything else their little boy minds can think of to do.  Normally around Grandma's house, David is the only boy with his sister and girl cousin, Kaylie, playing girlie things.  But when Micah is around, he gets to be a total boy.  At the lake, the boys were holding sticks in the water, trying to catch fish.  David asked Daddy to grab a stick and help because they weren't catching anything.  Because we all know the missing ingredient was a third stick.

Going out in the canoe was the highlight of the lake trip for the kids.  I didn't go out because I can't sit in seats without backs very well at the moment.  The other 3 adults took turns taking the kids out.  It didn't really matter that it was November and too cold to swim. They loved it!

And, of course, it was always safety first when we were down by the lake.  Life jackets for the kids at all times, and for adults when they were in the canoe.  My super cute hubby is modeling the look.

Tim and Julie are relaxing in the cabin after all the lake fun.  They were watching the Tennessee game and, luckily, UT pulled out a win, although it wasn't very pretty.

There's the gang - Grandma, Grandpa, Tim, Matt (my brother), Desha (my sis-in-law), Julie, Nathan, Micah, and David.

And we know what we need to buy the kids for Christmas - some sunglasses!

Thanks fam for the great November lake day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Blogging for Books: Not This Time

Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

Seagrove Village, Florida is rocked by another tragedy.  In what seems like a terrorist attack, guests at a local wedding are gassed and knocked unconscious by an unknown assailant.  And not everyone gets out alive.  But that's not all.

Small town business geniuses Sara and Beth have more to deal with than just a post wedding headache.  Sara's husband is missing and Beth is the key suspect in his disappearance.  Their computer company's tie-in with the FBI makes them and their families targets for an international terrorist group.  But this attack seems to be rooted closer to home.  Can Sara find her husband before its too late?  Will the whole town be destroyed by one of their own?

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Crossroads Crisis Center series.  And, I have to admit, not having read the first two, I was completely confused.  In the first chapter, you meet Jeff, Roxy, Nora, Harvey, Clyde, Beth, Sara, Robert, Kyle, Hank, Kelly, Lisa, Darla, and Nathara.  Talk about not being able to keep characters straight. I'm sure these were all key people in earlier books but throwing them all in there at once in the beginning of the book just didn't work for me.

After they weeded out the non-essential characters (several chapters and more characters later), I started to get into the plot.  The mystery was unusual and had some good twists.  I did figure out who the local terrorist was long before she was revealed in the story.  But, props to Hinze for creating a unique and detailed mystery.

I do have more complaints than compliments, though.  I found it very hard to believe that an international terrorist organization would spend it's time and energy targeting a small, Florida town, even if they did have ties to the FBI.  I also thought all the terrorists' code names were cheesy.  Yes, I know that's being overly picky, but if that distracts me so much that I can't think about the plot, then I'm going to mention it.  Lastly, there was never a good explanation about what the Crossroads Crisis Center was or what service they performed for the community.  Once again, this was probably covered in an earlier novel in the series, but not having read them, I had no clue.

The good things - intricate mystery, good plot twists
The not-so-good things - too many characters, unbelievable terrorists tie-ins, cheesy bad guy names

I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

I was provided with a complementary Kindle version of this book for review while participating in the Blogging for Books program.  All honest opinions are my own.

Friday, November 2, 2012

When the Avengers meet Harry Potter

We had a fun Halloween this year.  Our little Hulk carried around Spiderman's head with his Batman gloves. Think maybe he likes Super Heroes?

And he informed us that since he had muscles, he didn't need a coat.  The muscles kept him warm.

I guess they did, because he never complained about being cold.

Julie's Hermione costume was a little bit harder to create.  Originally she was going to buy "official" Hogwarts robes at Universal Studios.  But we had to cancel our trip to Harry Potter World and had to come up with Plan B.  Luckily someone suggested using an old graduation gown.  Great suggestion!!  So my mom hemmed it up for her.  We added a wand and made her hair wavy and bushy.  And Ta-da! Hermione was created.

However, she is not complete without her prefect badge to let her officially boss everyone else around.  (Found that online, printed it and stuck it on there with a safety pin.)

And the best part about Halloween?


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Tangled Ashes

Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

Hard-nosed and hard drinking Marshall Becker is good at his job as a general contractor and has built a profitable business in Boston.  He is not, however, good at relationships.  So when his business partner and friend decides to expand their ventures overseas, Marshall reluctantly agrees to go to Lamorlaye, France and oversee restoration on an ancient castle.

Amid extensive renovations, the castle is suddenly plagued with nighttime disturbances and random vandalism.  These acts seem to be linked to events that happened during the Nazi occupation of the chateau 50 years before.  Add to that, the presence of the owner's two children and their fiesty nanny, Jade, and Marshall Becker has a lot on his hands.  Living on site, Becker tries to uncover who the midnight intruder all while keeping his heart sealed off from love.

My Thoughts:

There are many stories and movies out there about Nazi atrocities during the 1940's but this story is truly unique.  Interwoven throughout the modern story of Marshall's renovation is the story of Marie and Elise, two French teenagers hired on as maids in the manor during the Nazi occupation.  During that time, the manor changes from a command headquarters to a hospital for pregnant, young blonde women.  What the Nazi's have planned for these women and babies will rattle the girls' worlds.  Both girls must choose which side they are loyal to.

I thought this was a wonderful story.  I loved the 1940's part of the story and I loved Marshall.  He is completely real and completely flawed.  He is not your typical hero who is handsome and resolves all his problems in the course of the story.  He is a rough, alcoholic who is just trying to find a way out of his pain.  Likewise, Marie and Elise are both well-rounded characters who have to endure authentic problems - problems that don't always turn out well in the end. 

Tangled Ashes is well written and engaging.  The plot is unique and the author does a great job of intertwining two seemingly separate stories and making them all come together in the end. I highly recommend this book.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

I was provided a complementary copy of this book by Handlebar Publishing for review.  The honest opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Awesome weekend links

For all of you out there who need something to browse through this weekend...

Check out my favorite links from this week:

If you are looking for some great, unique Christmas gift ideas, browse the comments of this Hip2Save small business post.

For all you moms who are weary and caught up with keeping everyone in your household happy, We are THAT family helps you remember that Moms are People Too.

Wondering how to teach your kids about money?  Check out Jill Savage's Blog Hop.

And my favorite?  Money Saving Mom's great new October Series - 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas.  A new idea is posted every day!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Booksneeze: The Choice

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

The year is 1974 and 17 year old cheerleader, Sandy Lincoln, finds herself pregnant after only one night of giving into to her football player boyfriend.  Abortion is touted by friends and family as the "cure" for her "problem."  Amid an overwhelming amount of well-meaning advice, Sandy must make a choice: abort the baby, keep the baby, or give the baby up for adoption.  Two of those options involve facing the world as a pregnant teenager and being forced to finish high school at the juvenile delinquent alternative school.

Fast forward 33 years...Sandy is a veteran English teacher in the same hometown that she grew up in.  Suddenly a shy, Spanish-speaking student comes to Sandy with the information that she is pregnant from the result of rape.  Following the rules, Sandy take the student to the school counselor who pushes the girl to abort her baby.  She exerts so much pressure in fact that she starts pressing charges against Sandy for interfering with the girl's life.  How best can Sandy help her innocent, young charge?  How does Sandy's past affect this girl's present situation?

My Thoughts

I think Robert Whitlow's book is brilliant.  The setting of the book is 1974, one year after Roe vs Wade made abortion legal in the US.  The long-term psychological effects of abortion are not known.  At that time high schools would not allow you to continue to attend if you were pregnant, so choosing to have the baby could also result in losing your chance at a high school diploma.  Our society today is a lot more tolerant of pregnant teenagers than it was in 1974.  I think that makes Sandy's choice that much more difficult.

Whitlow did a great job of describing Sandy's inner turmoil as well as her justifications for her final decision.  It was also interesting to remember a world where phones are attached to walls with a cord and a tank of gas can be bought for a $5 bill.  He did a good job of inserting those little tidbits to remind us of the setting without going overboard with them.

Without revealing too much about the plot, there were parts of the story that I thought were a little too coincidental, but I kind of expected them to come.  In general, I thought the story line was very well done, very unique and also very timely.

Whitlow does a great job of giving us lovable fully rounded characters, ones that have to make hard decisions.  In neither situation - Sandy's or her pregnant student's - is the choice easy.

As he mentions a little in the Author's Note at the end, Whitlow's choice of title was very purposeful.  The Pro-Choice movement leads us to believe that the word "choice" really means "the choice to abort."  But in this story, a young girl is about to be deprived of her choice not to abort.

This is a great, thought-provoking, easy-to-read story that everyone will enjoy.

I give The Choice 5 out of 5 stars.

I was provided with a complementary Kindle version of this book by Booksneeze.  The honest opinions are my own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Make Your First Science Project

Several weeks ago Julie was assigned her first science project - make a 3D replica of either a plant cell or an animal cell.  The plant cell was more complicated, so, of course, that's the one she chose.

You paint styrofoam ball cell nuclei in your bathing suit too, don't you?  Don't forget to add the playdoh center.

That nucleus was put inside a handy Amazon box because a plant cell has a rectangular shape (that was worth 10 points).  Julie lined the box inside and outside with yellow paper (cell wall - 10 points), then we lined it with saran wrap (the cell membrane, another 10 points).  Our goal was to make the box leak proof for the hair gel cytoplasm to be added later (10 points).

Unfortunately, as you can see, that plan didn't work.  It leaked.  But, thankfully, that didn't make a difference on her grade.

Cell wall - Amazon box
Cell membrane - Saran wrap
Chloroplasts - 2 shades of green playdoh
Nucleus - painted styrofoam ball with a fourth cut out. Center is orange playdoh.
Vacuole - shower puff thing with little piece of sponge inside (to be the waste in the vacuole)
Cytoplasm - very smelly, cheap hair gel (don't recommend that for future projects)

Including each of these parts was a total of 60 points.  Turning it in on time was another 20 points.  Correct cell shape was worth 10 points and labeling everything was the final 10.

All in all, it was a fun project.  We enjoyed working on it together and figuring out what to use for each part.  Julie was very proud of it and got 100!!