My review of “Learning not to drown” by Anna Shinoda

When I first got my hands on Anna Shinoda’s new book “Learning not to drown” on March 20, I was so happy. Mrs. Shinoda was kind to send me a sign copy of her book and I read it in 2 days. It was that good. And it was just the right amount of pages. Maybe even a bit too short, because I wanted to know what happened to Clare right after the book finished.

Of all the characters, Clare was the one that was my favorite. It was like I felt what she was going through, even though I don’t have anyone in my immediate family in jail like she did. ( I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll keep it sweet and short.)

Clare was just a victim, as well as her whole family, of her brother’s careless and destructive behavior, and I have felt something of her pain and disappointment one some of my family members. My sister, who is the only sister I have, has gotten in trouble (even with the law) and though she hasn’t been to jail; (or not that I know of) she promises to stay off drugs or away from bad company, but then she relapses and does not too good choices, which led to bad consequences. Then when my father tells me about all the troubles she is in, (which happen a lot because that’s usually all he has to talk about, it seems) and I response with: “Well dad, she makes her own choices, so she gets bad consequences.” my father gets upset with me and tells me: “Im heartless.”  or “She’s your only sister, you are supposed to be there for her.” 

So I can relate to Clare’s situation, and feel bad because yes they are family and very dear to you, and you would do almost anything for them, but then at the same time, when they make bad choices, you cant automatically just turn a blind eye and pretend they didn’t do anything wrong. They will have to suffer the consequences for their behavior, and the bad thing is that you yourself suffer along with them. You can try to help them, but sometimes they don’t want that help. That’s the reason why I can relate to Clare’s situation, and understand well why Anna chose to write about this family dilemma, because its so common yet its so painful for everyone.

I like the way Anna went back and forth, from the past to the present because it gave you an understanding of what was going on in the past and the reasons why the characters did/said certain things or felt a certain way. It was a unique twist. I really liked it; I couldn’t put the book down. I love when books get my attention like that, I just want to know what’s happening next. And the use of the skeleton was also a unique touch, because we all have skeletons in our families we wish we didn’t have. So that concept was really personal and interesting.  

I started to reread it again and I’m reading things that I didn’t remember reading the first time I read it. So now I’m taking my time with the book and savoring it. I recommend this book to everyone. Its that good. Plus check out Anna’s website/blog annashinoda.com and check out her list of young adult books, they are really good books by great authors.

Jared takes home his 1st Oscar award

Waiting for the Oscar awards to start yesterday was nerve-raking. I just wanted the award show to start already, the suspense was killing me. The reason was that Jared Leto was nominated for his role in Dallas Buyer Club. He was in the category of “Best supportive actor” and when the Oscar finally started, I was so nervous. The first category where Jared was nominated was first, so I was like “OMG I’m gonna puke” from the nerves and excitement. The presenters called out all the nominees and then the words that I have been dying to hear: “And the Oscar goes to… Jared Leto for Dallas Buyer Club.” I cried and felt so happy, so proud, and that’s that he isn’t related to me or is my friend in real life, just a musician in my favorite band ever. My husband was there as well as his friend Julio and half of his family, and Julio was all excited. He was like “He’s going to win it” and yes he did win. I couldn’t fall asleep last night from all the excitement (and food coma + alcohol I had consumed) and I couldn’t believe that Jared has an Oscar now. He is finally getting the recognition he deserves. He has already gotten at least 30 awards for his role in DBC. I’m so proud of Jared and all of his accomplishments, and regardless if he would have won or not, I’m still so proud of him and 30STM. I loved his speech, simple and to the point, and he covered all the important people in his life (his family), plus including other people from around the world that are having issues. Him thanking his mother and Shannon was just so heart-warming. A very short yet powerful speech. Every time I rewatch it, I cry.

What as happened to music nowadays?

As I watch channels on T.V like MTV, Fuse or VH1, I’m bombarded with different artists and bands and for some reason, their music isn’t really appealing to me. Is it because of the way they do music or more of the emphasis of the media with their private lives? Or the scandals the artist themselves make that makes their music less appealing to me?
I ask myself every time I see artists like Miley or Justin, and I think, why do I care if they are getting in trouble with the law or showing parts of their bodies that aren’t supposed to be flashed unnecessarily? I really don’t care about all the scandals these new artist make even though everyone has the right do whatever they want. I just think its unnecessary for them to be flaunting their naked bodies, or doing drugs or sleeping around,; its nothing I want to know about or keep reading/listening to because I SIMPLY DONT CARE! And at times its even annoying and gross.

I only care for the music, the lyrics of a song that make my emotions soar or touch me (emotionally) in a way that words can only do. Bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance or the Used, to name a few, have inspired me with their music, the lyrics that actually mean something, not because of scandals or what they do in their private time. That’s actually one of the reasons I love these bands and more because they focus their attention on the music and what their fans want to hear.
Sure, Jared acts and does other side projects, Mike Shinoda of LP has music and art related projects as well as charity works plus a family to take care of, but that’s it, you don’t hear much, if any gossip from them (well of Jared maybe a bit more because of him being an actor and being good-looking).

I understand that artists like Miley or Justin and many other younger artists have a lot of money, they are young and want to do everything they imagine, but it seems that that is their only focus. People want to know everything about them and what they do and it seems that’s what’s “in” nowadays. A lot of people don’t seem to care about the music itself, just about what their favorite artist is wearing or doing. I have a life to live, even if its boring compare to others, but I don’t need to be doing what my favorite artist(s) do. I just want to listen to something that inspires me, that motivates me to move forward in life, and what the heck, to dance and sing my heart out. Isn’t that what music is all about? To unite people, to cheer them up or move them to do something positive or even get over something/or someone. “Music saves lives” people say, but nowadays it seems it does the opposite, with the focus being only on scandals and being popular.

For me, that’s what music is all about; creating happiness and moving me with lyrics that express what I cant say with my own words. And I will continue to support artists and bands that inspire me to be my best, not because of what they do in their private lives or the scandals they constantly do. I don’t need that in my life; I want something positive instead. So to bands like 30STM or Linkin Park, two bands that are always inspiring me with their lyrics, keep doing just that. Keep making music that inspires, that motivates, creativity in its purest form. You will always have a fan in me. For people that admire the new artists, like Miley, Justin, or whoever they like, that’s fine as well, I’m not the one to judge you, but I just don’t agree with the artists way of life or how they make music. Simple as that.

What to post? :-)

I have been debating to start a blog, but every time I started one, I would freeze up, and I wouldn’t know what on earth to write about. Why would people read my blogs in the first place? I have nothing interesting to write about, much less anything interesting for other people to read about. But then I got thinking (sounds like I have multiple personalities, I may have some, you just don’t know these days he he) well why not? If people don’t like what I write about, that’s their right to do so; I just need another place to rant and write to my heart’s content (and for my own sanity as well as others).

I’ll start off with an easy subject, my job. I have been working in the same place for over, lets see, 9 years or so. Its a family day care, started off by Mrs. Petra. She started her day care almost 30 years ago and in 2011 she was diagnosed with cancer, again, and she passed away that same year, surrounded by her loved ones. I miss her a lot, for she wasn’t just my boss; she was my mentor and friend. Yes, she did have a strong personality (she was German he he) and she had a peculiar way of doing things (which drove me and my coworkers insane) but she taught me a lot. I appreciated her good sense of humor and her kindness with children, the way she taught and interacted with them, fascinated me. She wouldn’t have to raise her voice; she would just have this look that I have tried to master but I don’t think Ill ever learn.
Also, Mrs. Petra also motivated me (ok pushed me) to go to college and take Early Childhood classes, which did a great deal of teaching me different ways to interact and plan activities with the child in mind, but I actually feel I learned more about that working with Mrs. Petra. I learned first hand (and I’m still learning) how to deal with rude or uncontrollable children, tagged like that by other schools/preschools because of their behaviors there. She taught me to always have a song or activity in mind, to always be prepared for any emergency graciously, if possible. But most of all she taught me how to love what I do. This was her passion, to teach children and also parents, to be hands on and to try to do things on their own. She used the methods of Montessori, which I have tried to use along the way, not only in her memory, but because it helps children be responsible for their actions and feel proud of doing things on their own.

A day at work consists of this, though it may change a bit, of course. I arrive at work in the morning, do some activities with the children, usually some coloring, reading books, playing with some of them, and usually multitasking between that with other tasks like diaper changing, making snack or cleaning up after the kids. I feed the children, and its usually a good way to talk with them and plan out what we are doing to do later on. Then I do what we call “group time”, in which is where I read a book to the children, teach them the alphabet, numbers, shapes ect… and talk about what we are learning about that week. For instance, this week, we have been learning more about teeth and the dentist, and the children are fascinated with their teeth and how they work. I usually do a letter of the week, like this time is was the letters D and T, and we do fun hands on activities with them. I love using hands on approach, using technology like the internet, to show them videos on the particular subject or show them something they can touch and hold with their own hands. I enjoy looking at them learn something new and then share that information to their siblings or parents. The look in their faces when they remember something that they learn is priceless. It makes me realize how important my job is.

Yes, are days like today, that are stressful because of something unexpected happening, whether a guest comes unexpected, or children taking toys from one another, crying because its their first week at school or something else. There’s always something happening that keeps me and my new boss on our toes.

Some days are mellow, others leave me so emotionally and physically exhausted that I just go home, get a alcoholic drink and throw myself on the couch and pray for Friday to roll by quickly. But with every job comes days like that; that leave you tired and wanting the weekend to came by and there are days that you wish would last for a while longer or repeat themselves more often, if you will.

But in the end, I feel so proud when the children learn something new and share it, or when they sing Linkin Park songs (or even request them) and especially when they hug me and randomly tell me: “I love you, Ms. Areli.” Or when they accidently call me mommy and then they correct themselves or someone catches that and corrects them; I just tell me that its ok to call me that, I do take care of them like a mother would. Being a teacher is an important job that requires a lot of patience and dedication and love for what you do. It has its ups and downs, but that’s life. There’s always a positive and negative to everything in life, I’m just learning to take what comes at me and make it a positive thing. If anything, being a teacher as taught me to be ready for anything and do something big with almost nothing, to enjoy every little single thing you do and to give a child the joy of learning something through books or through nature.

My job is never done. I will continue teaching until I cant do it physically or I find something else to do, which might happen but you never know. Life is too short to just be doing one thing, but then if that one thing is making you happy (and making money too) then I’ll keep doing it. To those who read this and are contemplating on working with children, I encourage you to keep doing that, take as many classes as you can, and just learn from others with experience and just remember, it gets easier. Just take it one day at a time and practice being patient, like A LOT! Enjoy the children as much as possible and always remember to make time for yourself as well, for you own health and sanity.

It seems I did have a lot to write about. I don’t know what will be my next blog. Maybe something that I like to do. We’ll see. Till next time. Stay cool and don’t overthink everything.