Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy birthday, Mom!

Over last winter break, I spent some time going through our family recipes. I had just gotten a recipe book for Christmas, and wanted to make sure I got all our family's classics down -- the crumb cake we eat every Christmas, the cold Mexican dip that made me and Emily super popular with all the other camp counselors, and others that have led to many special memories.

My mom was so present in the overflowing box of recipes -- her handwriting on the recipe cards and the recipes she copied from friends, saved from newspapers or cream cheese packages, hoping to make someday -- did we ever make them?

Going through the recipes, I felt so much love for my wonderful mom -- my mom who had made all these recipes on so many occasions, working hard in the kitchen while the rest of us slept or lazed or fought. My mom who had created holiday traditions for us out of nothing, since we were so far from family and the traditions she had always known.

My mom who had purchased a million vegetarian cookbooks and saved a million veggie lasagna and veggie chilli and everything-veggie-recipes to try when I up and decided as a freshman in high school that I wasn't going to eat meat any more. My mom who patiently tried recipe after recipe that I turned down because I hadn't learned to like beans yet and because I am famously bad at trying new foods.

My mom who likes mushrooms and eggplant and has all but given up mushrooms and eggplant because she lives in a family that doesn't really like them.

I love my mom for these reasons and so many more. She is the most giving, self-sacrificing, amazing woman I know, and I'm so lucky to be her daughter.

Happy birthday, Mom. I hope it's wonderful!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy birthday future husband!

It has recently come to my attention that my favorite human reads my blog.  And today is his birthday!

My poor future husband has two midterms tomorrow and a girlfriend who failed to get him anything for his birthday. And he's also 23948723042398 miles away. Or so it feels. But maybe he'll see this and know I'm thinking of him.

There's lots of mushy things I could say here, but I'll save you and just say them straight to him. :)

Happy birthday, Pat! Miss you lots.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book review: January First

January First by Michael Schofield

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

A brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, January First is the extraordinary story of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity.

At six years old, Michael Schofield's daughter, January, was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors had ever seen. In January's case, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. January, "Jani" to her family, has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. They go by names like 400-the-Cat, 100 Degrees, and 24 Hours and live on an island called "Calalini," which she describes as existing "on the border of my world and your world." Some of these friends are good, and some of them, such as 400, are very bad. They tell her to jump off buildings, attack her brother, and scream at strangers.

In the middle of these never-ending delusions, hallucinations, and paroxysms of rage are Jani's parents, who have gone to the ends of the earth to keep both of their children alive and unharmed. They live in separate one-bedroom apartments in order to keep her little brother, Bohdi, safe from his big sister--and wage a daily war against a social system that has all but completely failed them. January First is the story of the daily struggles and challenges they face as they do everything they can to help their daughter while trying to keep their family together. It is the inspiring tale of their resolute determination and faith.

I have been intrigued by this book for a long time, but my old library didn’t have it. But my new one does!

January First is the story of the author’s struggles to figure out what is happening in his daughter’s mental health. January, his daughter, is anti social, shows violent tendencies, and is incredibly intelligent. She also has imaginary friends she insists are very real and changes her name daily. After the birth of Schofield’s second child, January’s behavior becomes exponentially worse.

This book was terrifying and fascinating. Schofield catalogs experiences with many mental health professionals, January’s reactions to the various drugs they prescribe, and their inability to find anything that works. It’s so scary to imagine someone you love behaving and suffering the way January does. I definitely got invested in this story, hoping for a happy ending for Schofield and his family.

One complaint/caution I have about this book is that it is only one man’s perspective. He has awful interactions with health professionals and I had to remind myself regularly that the way a person views a situation is not always the whole story. Schofield has a tendency to paint the health professionals as the bad guys. I like to hope they were acting in what they thought was January’s best interests.

Overall, I thought the book was terribly interesting and gave it four stars.

Have any of you read January First? What did you think?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book review: Roomies

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

If any of you lived in a residence hall in college -- do you remember the terror of meeting your roommate?

When I first went to college, Facebook was not a big thing yet. My roommate and I talked on the phone once before moving in together -- the night before I moved, actually -- and emailed a bit about fridges and microwaves. The emotions of walking into that room for the first time are still fresh in my mind, and living with my roommate was a huge factor in how I experienced my first year of college.

Roomies is about that -- about that first contact with your future college roommate, about figuring out if you’ll still be who you are once you move across the country or state or county and live on your own. Figuring out if you can live with this other person who you may not have a choice about living with.

There’s a lot more going on in Roomies too -- each of the girls are dealing with family issues and figuring out what it means to leave the people in their lives behind. There’s romance and friendship troubles and all the wonders of being a teenager.

I enjoyed Roomies! It was a fun story and a story I’d never read before. Full disclosure: I won this book fo free in a contest, but I honestly truly enjoyed it. Four stars!

Have any of you read Roomies? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The family came to visit!

Hello friends!

How is it Wednesday already?

My family came to visit me this weekend and I wanted to share a few pictures. :) They were such troopers. Mom, Dad and Anna drove from Springfield to Emily's in the Kansas City area Thursday night, then they all loaded into Em's SUV Friday morning and drove another NINE hours to come to Colorado.

Friday night we walked around the campus. My mom took pictures of EVERYTHING. This was my, "are you serious?" face.

Then we just hung out in my apartment.

Saturday morning, we went to a bridal shop and I tried on some wedding dresses :) No pictures to share yet. I found a dress I really liked, but thought I would look more to be sure before ordering anything. I'm hoping to look again over Thanksgiving break -- the next time I'll be with my family.

Later on Saturday, we drove up to Estes Park and checked out the Stanley hotel -- the hotel from The Shining. Although the movie wasn't filmed there, the story was set there. Several scenes from Dumb and Dumber were filmed there.

I hope to go back around this time next year for a ghost tour! The Stanley is supposed to be haunted, including a nursery. I'll have to wait till I'm not living alone for that :)

Saturday night we hung out in my apartment again and played Catchphrase. Then they left super early Sunday morning to spend another entire day in the car.

How lucky am I to have a family that would go through two solid days driving just to see me for a day and a half?

Very lucky is the answer.

Hope you're all having a wonderful Wednesday!


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