Book Review: Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Stats:

  • Cost- $18.99
  • Category- Fiction
  • Page Count- 325
  • Star Rating- 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommend to a friend- Yes- An adult.

Synopsis: Eleanor has a troubled home life, is the new girl at school and stands out with her vibrant red curly hair and unusual way of dressing. She meets Park and in the classic high school style- they fall for each other. The book follows their journey to be together amongst criticism at school and hiding it from Eleanor’s family over the duration of their junior year.

Things I liked: The characters were wonderful and relatable! I was in high school during the 90s which is when this story takes place and the author looks about my age, which makes sense. Park’s father was one of my favorite characters. He has this style of being hard on Park but the amount of love he has for his family is so heart warming. Eleanor is also a wonderful character. She’s different and doesn’t hide it or try to conform even during some harsh high school moments. The ending was really, really great. I often get nervous about endings in love stories but this one left me satisfied.

Things I didn’t like: I started reading this on a whim because my 12 year old step-daughter wanted to read it and we read the same books as a way to bond- it’s lovely. This book I believe was too mature for her age. Sure, she probably watched things worse on television but reading it and being invested in this book is different in my eyes. The language is vulgar. The bullying is mean and there isn’t really a lesson within the bullying theme. But it’s not a book about bullying- it’s a love story. I also think the relationship is too mature for her to read. As I mentioned, Eleanor has a troubled home live and I found it a pretty serious issue in the book. The ending did elude to a happy conclusion for the family- but again was only eluded.

I think this book is more appropriate for high school readers not middle school, but that is just my opinion. I would recommend this book to an adult friend around my age because it’s like reliving our high school days in the 90s for the good or the bad.

Find out more of what I’m reading by connecting with me on GoodReads!

Toys to keep a preschooler girl busy.

My three-year-old daughter is a busy, busy preschooler. But I’ve noticed something about her. Typical toys loose her interest quickly. She needs something that is engaging and keeps her fingers and mind stimulated.

My five-year-old son is totally different. He will play with any toy, now that his imagination is kicked into high gear. But my daughter just isn’t there yet.

This past August when we celebrated her third birthday, I put a lot of thought into the gifts. Since she doesn’t really play with toys, we aimed for things that were more interactive. Here’s a few items that have been perfect!

*Note* These links are not affiliated. I do not have a degree in raising children, this is my own personal experience. Please pick and choose how to apply this advice to your own household.

Reusable Sticker Pads. 

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Oh my word. This toy is just great! Tons of releasable stickers and rooms in a house for preschoolers to decorate. We bought this at our local toy store and couldn’t be happier with this. The stickers are really good quality and are relatively difficult to tear. My son really likes it too, so we will probably pick him up one for Christmas. And seriously, this item is around $5!

 

Magnetic Dress Up Dolls

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I’m surprised how big of a hit this has been. While it has a stand for the mermaid to stand upright, my daughter usually plays with it how it’s shown in the picture. It works out since it keeps the pieces all together and I think it’s easier for her to see. They also have a ballerina one, but since we live at the beach, we are big mermaid fans. Again, we bought this at our local, family owned toy store and it was a deal at $12!

Barbie Grocery Store 

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My girl is a Barbie girl, which couldn’t make me happier because I was a big Barbie girl. This toys keeps her engaged because she loves shopping carts and now her Barbies have a shopping cart! The conveyer belt actually works and slides the items into the grocery bag. Things I don’t like about this toy, they over packaged it and once we opened it, I realized the price of $35 was a little expensive for what you get. They also don’t have produce in the store but offer a big bottle of orange soda. Really? And while the doll is cute with her dress and hair style- she’s on the cheap side. Her legs are hollow, which was new to me. But my daughter has spent hours setting up the store, having her Barbie shop and checking out the items so at least we got our money’s worth.

Little Inu

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This was a gift to the kids from one of my girlfriends, at the time we had no clue who Inu was. Now that we do I tell all my mom friends about him. He’s interactive and eats, sleeps, sings, laughs and is just darling! While it was a gift to my son, my daughter has taken it over claiming, “Inu is my baby.” This is a pricey toy, but my girlfriend bought it at an outlet. This would be a great Christmas present for the family! All the kids claim he is our pet and my daughter literally babies it all day long. She also gets very sad when her mama forgets to charge his battery at night. Whoops.

Bouncy Ball

bouncyballBoth of my kids received one of these for their birthdays and they have literally had a ball bouncing around the house with these. I love them because the noise and chaos caused by them doesn’t drive me crazy and it’s a workout for them. The balls aren’t too big either, which is nice for storage.

Hope these items make shopping for the little preschooler girl in your life a little easier!

Friday news round up

Happy Friday! Wondering what news stories have you missed this week? Use this post to catch up over the weekend.

This week’s round up has a theme. Food additives and how things are made. A very important issue to me because I’m the one who does the grocery shopping. Like many moms, I am the deciding factor to many of our family purchases. Except, vehicles, my husband handles those decisions greatly. I want to make sure that what I buy and bring home to my kitchen it the best quality it can be.

It seems that now more than ever, it’s hard as a consumer to trust manufacturers. We have to do our own research and know what companies are worthy of our dollar. Remember while you make think your voice is small, we vote with our buck.

1. The Diane Rehm show on NPR hosted a very informative program on food additives with some important guests that play major roles in what additives are found in our food. Listen to it here with your morning Saturday morning coffee.

2. Made to Matter. Have you seen the new promotions Target is running for their Made to Matter collection? Our favorite retailer has hit the nail on the head with highlighting merchandise that is created with love. Companies that care about their products and how they affect their consumers. Sure it might cost a dollar or so more- but isn’t it so worth it?

3. Fed Up is a new documentary about food and exercise in America. Katie Couric is behind this project and the trailer leaves you wanting to know more. It’s out on DVD and I can’t wait to view it! If you have older kids in the house, I would encourage you to have them watch it with you.

Hope your weekend is filled with fall fun!

Moms: What to look for in a workplace.

As a working mom, finding the right place to work is key. And honestly, it could take a while.

We can all agree job hunting is torture. You spend your evenings applying for jobs, taking time off work to attend interviews, rewriting your resume over and over- It’s just exhausting. But sometimes it takes trial and error to get things just right.

Working Mother Magazine (one of my personal favorites) debuts their 100 Best Companies for 2014 next week in their Oct/Nov issue. Follow their Facebook page for more information.

I’ve got some tips, I’ve learned from my own personal experience that I’d like to share with you if you find yourself as a mom and job hunting.

1. Wait until the end. Don’t ask about flexibility, vacation days, sick day until near the end of the interview. To me, I think it’s tacky and I think most employers would agree. They want to hear questions from you about the specific position, the company and what you could bring to the table. I usually slide a line in like, “I am a mom and I’m also curious about the flexibility within the position.” If you’re being interviewed by a woman she usually starts off with her personal story about how she works her job around her life. At that point you know you’re in good hands.

2. Google search. If I know the name of the person I’m being interviewed by, you can guarantee I’m Googling that person to find her Facebook page and LinkedIn profile. Hey! You’ve seen the news reports they do the same to us- so it’s totally fair game!

3. LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, most companies by now have a LinkedIn profile, search to see if you have any contacts that work there already or have worked there. If not, search to see their list of employees, do you see a lot of women or is it mainly men? Look for family photos or are they friends with women who have kids. This can tell you a lot about the person before you even meet them.

4. Mobile isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your job is offering you a company cell or computer, don’t be scared of it. I have friends who see this as their company requesting constant contact with them. I have a company computer and sure, sometimes I work late or I work once the kids are in bed, but it’s usually because I left work early to go to dance class, for a doctor’s appointment, etc. You have to look at your situation and realize it might not be a bad thing to connect when on your own time.

5. Assess the room. Once you land an interview now it’s time to put on that pretty smile and investigator’s eye sight. Try to up and down every room and hallway you are guided into. Steal a glance inside an office or cubicle, does the employee have photos of children displayed? I had one interview that was one-on-one in a woman’s personal office. She had her kids’ school photos and artwork on display and I knew it would be a good fit. On the contrary, I had one interview where the conference room had annual company photos on display, which I thought was a good sign. The bad sign, all the folks interviewing me were men and it was not a good fit. I learned that one the hard way.

In the end, I always recommend trusting your gut and like I said before. It can be trial and error. You may take a position and realize it’s an awful fit and that’s ok! Promise.

The trouble with multitasking.

“I’m a woman, I was born to be a multitasker!”

I just quoted myself. This is one my infamous feminist comments.

  • I say this, while I’m cooking dinner for my family while at the same time packing their lunches for tomorrow.
  • When I read my son a book, while changing my daughter’s diaper at the same time.
  • When chatting with my boss while driving my kids to daycare.
  • While listening to my husband about his day while browsing Facebook.
  • When a co-worker comes into my office to chat and I check emails while she’s there.

Sound familiar? And that was my short list. I took so much pride in the fact that I was a woman and can, indeed, do it all. And yes, I do believe, we women can do it all. But lately, I’ve been wondering if multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe it’s adding to my never-ending feeling of exhaustion. Maybe it’s the reason I feel like my brain can’t slow down. Possibly the reason I feel disconnected from human beings while being in the same room as them.

While reading Arriana Huffington’s new book Thrive it confirmed what I’ve been feeling. In the foreword to her book she speaks of multi-tasking and how her mother scolded her for talking to her children while reading her emails:

‘I abhor multitasking,’ she said, in a Green accent that puts mine to shame. In other words, being connected in a shallow way to the entire world can prevent us from being deeply connected to those closest to us- including ourselves.

{Insert wide-eye emoji here} Err, I was just trying to knock off several things off my to-do list in a short amount of time! What’s so wrong with that?

Maybe it could be my list. What things are more important than the others? Which things require more attention? Maybe my drive to school with my kids- couldn’t I be more involved in the situation? The alone time with my spouse once the kids are in bed? How about that quiet time while I pack lunches? This could be a zen moment spent with sandwich bags, a cup of tea and Nutella sandwiches. Instead of looking at this as a time to get more done, maybe it’s a time to slow down and savor the moment.

This life is a gift. It’s not a race. Let’s all slow down and take our time. 

#9to5shuffle

 

Book Review: The Rent Collector

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

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I read this book as part of my monthly book club. Here are the stats:

  • Cost- $15.99
  • Category- Fiction
  • Page Count- 271
  • Star Rating- 3.5 stars out of 5
  • Recommend to a friend- Yes

Synopsis: This book takes place in Cambodia current day and follows the story of a young family who lives in a dump with an infant son who is sick. They collect trash for income to pay the rent for the shack they live in. It is a story of hope, persistence and is a charming one.

Things I like: It was a real eye-opener to a situation I was unaware of. There were several relationships that had interesting dynamics which I enjoyed reading about. And overall, it was a an easy, fast read. I would recommend this to a friend, just to bring this issue to another person, like myself, who maybe unaware.

Things I didn’t like: This is a fiction novel but is based on a documentary the author’s son produced. This rubbed me the wrong way, because it blurred the lines between what was real and what was fiction. I also think the author lacked a true knowledge of the area and health issues. While it was well written, it did lack a sense of depth to their story and situation.

Remember if you are interested in purchasing this book, support your local book store and #shoplocal!