Tuesday, March 29, 2011

QBR...No Talking

I don't mean I'm not talking or that I mean you should not talk. What I mean is this book review is about the book by Andrew Clements, No Talking.
This was a fun middle grade book that I read for my FitG list, so if you want to read the full review click here.

I might be hit and miss the next few months as I am packing up the apartment, searching for a new apartment,moving to that new apartment and homeschooling....but I'm around. Just maybe not reading as many blogs as I'd like or writing as much as I'd like at this time. Marking it up as a season of life, which will pass on and a new season will begin. Hopefully, with more writing involved. =)

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WiP...and giving speeches with translators

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I gave a speech with my husband. I've given a few talks in the past, but never with my husband. Also, I've never needed to use a translator. My audience in the past has only been English speakers, so translators were never needed before. Yesterday's talk was with a handful of English speakers, but mainly Chinese speakers. I had a translator.  We talked about what God has taught us through Jie Jie's special needs. How he challenges us with our disappointments in life to look at those down points through His eyes and not our own.
Our speech wasn't perfect. It wasn't all that smooth. But, it was fun. More fun than I had expected.
I don't really like being in front of people. I actually thought I had an allergic reaction to microphones.  But, that was all mental allergic. Not reality. Nerves. They can really play with your mind, can't they?

I am no pro at giving speeches. In fact, I still have a lot to learn, but, here are a few tips that I did pick up from this experience with a translator.
1. Having a translator is wonderful! While they are translating, you can look at the next couple of sentences/ideas. It slows the speech down so you don't stumble over your notes.  These little breaks really helped my nerves.

2. When writing the speech mark breaks for translation.  This helped remind me to stop after a few sentences, so the translator could do her job. I actually put a colored mark at each place I needed to stop for translation. I know that if you are a pro at speeches with translators, you get the feel for it. But, if you are new at it, the marks are helpful reminders. You don't want to talk to long because your translator might have to ask you to repeat what you said because it was too much information.

3. Using notes vs. written out speech.  I think this really depends on the style of the person. Most speech givers will tell you to use notes to help you remember key points. And I think that is probably the best method.  But, with a translator, they may want to know more of what you are going to say than just notes. It depends on how comfortable your translator is. I used my written out speech because I was terrified and new to this.

4. Adjusting length.  If you do use a translator, then you have to remember to double the time you think your speech will be. If  you think your speech is a 30 min. speech. Then with a translator, it is probably closer to an hour.  So remember to adjust accordingly.

Like I said, I'm  not a pro. I don't think speech/talk giving is in my future. But, if God leads to me speak again than I will obey.

WiP (Work in Progress)
Hmm, sad to say but I've not edited one thing. I'm feeling the "bored out of my mind" disease that I have read about. It is time to just "get er done".  But, I'm not going to feel guilty about it. I did write a speech, so writing wasn't all lost, right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday's QBR...truly a book for boys

100 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne
I think the title pretty much sums up what the book is about. It looks at nature and "foods" that humans eat around the world.

My Take:
This book is for people who laugh at the gross and the disgusting. I imagine the boys at school will all be checking this book out. It isn't a long book, in fact it is quite thin. I couldn't read it in large chunks though, because of the details. But, I did find it very interesting and I learned a few things from the "Top Tips" bar on each item.
I love that each item also has a "Yuck Factor" rating.  It was fun to see if my rating was the same as the authors...sometimes they were the same and sometimes not. But, as she says many times over in the book, what may seem odd and repulsive to one person may seem a delicacy to a different person.  It all depends on the culture.

*I pre-read this book for the school library.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday's in Taiwan: Presidential Building

The Presidential Building is the White House of Taiwan. This is the place where the president of Taiwan works.  The Presidential Building was designed and built by the Japanese in the early 1900s.  Architecturally speaking, it is really a gem of the city.
Okay, honestly I don't know much about architecture. But, it really is something to walk through.

That's the building behind GeGe. 

Yep, me shaking the hand of President Ma.
Okay, it was a cutout.
It is not Asian looking at all. The one aspect that it is Asian is that the shape is two squares joined together. This may not sound "Asian", but this symbol looks like this:日, which is the first character for the country of Japan "ri ben".  Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too, which is why I think it is a gem.
Blueprints of the building.
You might not know this, but you can actually tour the Office.  They have "Partial Open House" which is Monday-Friday from 9am-12pm.  "Full Open House" tours are also available about once a month. The dates and times can be found here.  Oh, and the great thing is that both tours are FREE!

I went with my son's Cub Scout group a year ago or so.  It really was quite interesting and fun. Guides were posted around the small museum.  They were local Taipei students that told stories and facts about the construction of the building and the surrender of the Japanese during WWII.  Most of this is in Chinese, but there were a few that spoke English.  So, I advise you to take a Chinese speaking/reading friend along if you can't speak Chinese.  But, if you decide to go without a native speaker, I think it is still worth your time. Remember it is FREE! 

In one of the outer gardens.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WiP....Emergency Preparations

I know we've all been anxiously watching the news about Japan.  We've felt the terror of seeing the destruction of the earthquake and then later the tsunami's viscous waves racing through villages taking everything with it. It really is heart-wrenching to watch and hear about all the lives lost from this horrible disaster.  But, what can we do? A friend of mine wrote a great blog today about just that. Click here to read more.

馬口鐵罐頭食品涼粉 Category:Canned food Category:Grass ...Image via Wikipedia

Last night my husband asked me how our Emergency Supply was. Yep, we used to have one of those. It was on the top shelf, but about a year ago we started eating the food before the expiration date expired. And I didn't get it restocked. So, guess what I'm doing this week. Yep, restocking it. So, I thought I'd share with you our list of supplies that we put on our shelf.

1. Water:  3 days worth per person.
2. Canned food: I'll probably put some canned fruit and veges up there, tuna, spaghetti noodles and sauce
3. Fun snack food for the kids: Seaweed packs (yes, my kids LOVE these), bits of wrapped candy, etc.

Available and easy to get to:
4. First Aide Kit
5. Hot Pot Burner plus extra gas cans: This is like a camping stove that requires little gas cans to ignite. We use it for camping all the time.
6. Flashlights with extra batteries.
7. Passports and other identification/travel documents

If you don't have an Emergency Supply I highly recommend having at least some water stored. I'm not a paranoid person, but living on an island that has earthquakes quite often (like every few days) I feel I should be prepared for my family.
If you want more ideas of what to put on your shelf click here and here. These two sites are helpful.
If you are a fact nut, Taiwan has had 25 earthquakes this year so far. You can check them out here to see where they were and the magnitude of them. And for those of you worried about our family from that fact....I think I've only felt one of those 25 if any at all. So, no need to worry. =)

And remember: Pray for the Japanese and those living in Japan today!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday's QBR...Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

This book was on my Fill in the Gaps list, so to read the review, you will need to click here.

But, for a true QBR: I can't wait to read it to the kids. I really thought it was  a good book.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Homeschool Wrap Up....Gotta Love Dr. Seuss

This week we looked at some Dr. Seuss' books.  I was surprised how much Jie Jie liked them. She has been requesting me to read them, which is such a nice change from normal ones she requests. =)
1. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back:
We read this book and she laughed through the whole thing. It has become her favorite for sure.  The activity that we did with this book was make Cat in the Hat's Hat.  To start I had her cut strips of red paper and glue them onto white paper. Then we glued the white and red stripped paper to a toilet paper roll. Afterwards, I cut out a white circle and stapled it to the bottom of the TP roll to make the brim.
I held the paper and she cut the strips. No one got
cut. That is always a plus. =) Here she is gluing
the strips to the white paper.
Jie Jie with her book and hat. She was quite proud
of this creation of hers. 


2. My Many Colored Days
This was the other book that we looked at this week and did an activity with.  Mei Mei joined in on this activity. I read the story to them and we talked about what makes us feel happy, sad, mad, quiet, etc. It was insightful to hear Mei Mei's responses.  Afterwards we started their own book of colored days. One page says "On (insert color) days I feel like....   They glued a pre-cut colored footprints to this page.  Then on the other page they drew pictures to show what made them feel that color. I then finished the sentence with what they drew. We used the book to look at for inspiration. 
They will finish those on Saturday and I will insert the pages into a binder that has plastic pages to protect their work. Pictures below are some sample work that they did. On both pictures, the top two pages are Jie Jie's and the bottom two are Mei Mei's. 
Note: I wrote what they told me to write....

I also played some online Dr. Seuss games with Jie Jie.  PBS has a great kids online site for games and coloring. Click here for the Dr. Suess site.
In the past Jie Jie has been afraid of online games because the noise, the sudden pop-ups, etc. But, this time she loved it. I'm now looking into buying her a one-click mouse so that she can play the games by herself.

Just wanted to let you all know that we were not affected by the tsunami that hit Japan. No damage to our little island. Please pray with us though, for those who are in Japan. I am still in shock from the pictures they are showing.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday's in Taiwan: Riverside Bikepath

Taipei has been working on making green space throughout the city. I'm loving that you can find pocket parks in small neighborhoods that have grass and trees.  But, I love this bike path and the parks that are along it. This section is just about a ten minute bike ride from our apartment.  Depending on where you want to go, you can bike to Danshui or to Xindian.  And the path is paved the entire way! But, take note that on the weekends it has heavy traffic, so the best time is during the week when everyone else is at work and school.
But if you are thinking..."I don't own a bike!" No worries, you can rent them.  There is a place at the entrance near the waterpark (just under the bridge!). They also have an air pressure tank, so if you need to put air in those tires, also, no problem. 
One day during this Chinese New Year we hit the bike path. It was great. The weather was perfect. We didn't go all the way to Danshui,  but stopped at a little park just past Qing Nian Gong Yuan. Sorry, I've forgotten the name, but great little zip line and small sand pit. Bonus points was that there was NOT that many other kids there, so no long lines to wait in for the zip line. 
Notice the short sleeves. We actual wish we had put on shorts.
It was that warm!
Lots of green space to run and roll around in!
Okay, maybe not that green, but remember winter
is just ending at this time. 

Or to take a nap break in.
Local guy taking a break. Notice no shoes!
Quite a few were fishing.
And the view that we had...Taipei 101!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WiP...and Retreats

A photo of The Thinker by Rodin located at the...Image via Wikipedia

L-WiP (Life Work in Progress):
This past weekend I went on a ladies retreat. It was great, but I came away thinking this, "Why do we call it a retreat? It felt more like a girl slumber party with tissue boxes!" I say that because I was wiped out from staying up late and getting up early.
So I looked up the definition of retreat here.
Here's what I found(italicized): My humorous thoughts in normal print.

1. a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable (2) : the process of receding from a position or state attained (1) : the usually forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or from an advanced position (2) : a signal for retreating(1) : a signal given by bugle at the beginning of a military flag-lowering ceremony (2) : a military flag-lowering ceremony
My thoughts: Hmm, living with young children can sometimes be disagreeable and difficult. So, a retreat from that helps to get a new perspective. Yeah, I can relate. 
I didn't feel like I was in a military situation, but again sometimes the apartment feels like a battle..."fighting" for the hearts of the young, training them up to be godly adults...but, with God no retreating is necessary for this. Prayer is the answer for that. But, then again maybe a mini retreat of prayer to refocus with God isn't a bad idea.
: a place of privacy or safety : refuge
My thoughts: Privacy...well, I shared a room with two other ladies. But, they were wonderful so not complaining, just saying that privacy wasn't there. But, because I'm a processor I need to take an extra day to just process. Because coming home to the family isn't the place to process...know what I mean?
: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
My thoughts: Yep, this is what we did. The speaker shared from her heart what God has been teaching her this past year. Valleys: Doubt, Decision, and Delay.  I related. I cried. I'm still processing. God has us in the Valley of Delay, and boy does He have me on my toes. Can anyone relate with me? Just waiting on some answers....but the best quote from the weekend was this: "There is no waste in the waiting."  

So, I guess by definition #3, I did attend a retreat. But, though it wasn't restful it was refreshing and SO much fun! 

WiP (Work in Progress):
I did take my laptop this weekend to the retreat. I wanted to work on some of my older manuscripts. I pulled them up and edited a few. It was good to look at some writing that I did a few years ago. To see that I have improved in the craft. Thank goodness!
As for the novel, I started editing it again. I'm only on chapter three, as I need to re-write a bit. I added a "girlfriend" in earlier, so there was some transition in the storyline. But, it was great to feel excited about this piece again.
For fun, I have a Flash Fiction piece stirring in my head that I might submit to WOW's Spring 2011 Contest.

?4U:  What are your thoughts on retreats?  Do you have a creative new name to give it?
And, for those of you who write, how's it going? Keeping up with those goals?

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday's QBR...A Boy at War Trilogy


Boy at War Trilogy by Harry Mazer
goodreads Description:
A Boy at War
While fishing with his friends off Honolulu on December 7, 1941, teenager Adam gets caught in the middle of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In the following days, Adam tries to find his father, a naval officer who was serving on the U.S.S. Arizona when the bombs fell.
A Boy No More
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adam and his family are evacuated from Hawaii to California. There he discovers that his Japanese-American friend's dad is being held at an internment camp. Can Adam help his friend find his father?
Heroes Don't Run
To honor his father, who died during the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor, 17-year-old Adam Pelko eagerly enlists in the Marines, survives boot camp, and faces combat on the tiny island of Okinawa. The thrilling conclusion of Harry Mazer's World War II saga proves once and for all that Adam is no longer a boy, and that at last he is truly worthy of the Pelko name.
Set against the backdrop of real wartime events, and packed with realistic detail, Harry Mazer's World War II odyssey is perfect for reluctant readers and fans of historical fiction. 

My Take:
I really thought these books were great. 
1. They are short and great for reluctant readers to read a bit about WWII from a teenagers perspective.  
2. Loved that the main character, Adam, was a TCK (third culture kid). He fit that description from book one all the way to book three.  In book one his new teacher asked the dreaded question, "Where are you from?"  Classic question for a TCK, ya think?
3. Language was clean. I've read some other war books that tended to be heavy on the bad language. I understand that sometimes it just goes with the setting and the times, but I appreciate that Mr. Mazer chose not to add it to his books. It helps the books stay on the bookshelves of the younger audience, which is a win for my son in the near future. He's not quite in the MG reading, but will be there soon!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday's in Taiwan: Welcome!

Welcome to Taiwan! Every Thursday I am inviting you to the island I call home these days. I'll post about places to visit, sites to see, foods you can find, and other tidbits from the beaches, the mountains, and the cities. So, to start off this new series, I offer you a refreshing drink!

Taiwan is known for their "Bubble Tea".  The most famous one is the Pearl Milk Tea. It is basically red tea with milk and sugar with glutenous rice balls.   

My favorite tea is the passion fruit green tea with coconut jellies. If you are curious about what passion fruit is, my blogging friend Sharon just returned from the Dominican Republic and she has a picture of one. Click here to see one, plus some great pictures from another exotic getaway. 

But, I can't just offer you a drink. Here is a little treat to go for ya as well. 
You just gotta love the creative flair!

Panda Bear Bread
So, what is your favorite exotic drink?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WiP...What kind of Home do I have?

L-WiP (Life Work in Progress):
Is my apartment a peaceful home or a home of destruction?
Is my apartment a fun-loving home or more of an angry home?

These are the questions that have been running through my head this week.  I know what I want my home to be ~ that's a duh answer.  But, do I have it?  Sad to admit, but not so much, lately.  A few days ago I was reminded that I choose to be joyful and fun-loving. Or I choose to be angry and, well, not so loving.

Do I choose to yell when my daughter spills milk out of the fridge, or do I choose to take a deep breath and smile, remembering that it is just spilled milk. An easy clean up.  If you have children you know what I'm talking about.....
So, how do you keep a peaceful home? Here's some tips that I've come up with that helps me.
1. Play uplifting music. Most of the time, it's Christian music for me. But, there are times when I crank up some tunes and dance with the kids. They love that just as much as I do.
2. Spend time daily in God's Word. I have found this to be my daily anchor.
3. Journal.  Another anchor for me. When I don't write, I'm not the best mom or wife...ask the family.
4. Laugh and get the camera.  Laughter really is good medicine. I've taken pictures of the messes that my kids have made. Great paybacks for when they are teenagers *evil laugh*
Example of taking pictures. I have many, but this one was easy to find and makes me giggle because she was so proud of herself. *sigh*
This is when I found Jie Jie in the bathtub with conditioner
everywhere...on her clothes, in her hair. What a mess to clean
up, but it makes for a great laugh!

WiP (Work in Progress):
I feel like I've not accomplished much in the area of writing. I've not edited anymore of my novel. I haven't felt the creative juices flowing, so I've been reading some. I read More Writer's First Aid by Kristi Holl this past week. You can read my review here.  In the middle of the book I really started to feel like I could get back into this writing gig.  I wrote a little snippet for a book of short stories and submitted it this week. Writing that piece was healing and pushed me to start writing again. Today I feel those creative juices starting to stir a bit more. So, I'm sitting here at a coffee shop. I'm writing part of this blog post and then I'm going to edit. I'm not going to worry about how many pages I edit, just how much productive time I use to do that editing.

Another good point this week is that I am starting to get my writing organized. I joined organizedwriters.com. I started my 3-ring binder of writer-ly forms to help keep track of my manuscripts and help push me  forward in this publishing world.

**Note, I have to confess. I didn't get any editing done. But, I did finish writing a survey for an article that I wrote on TCK's. I hope to get the survey out there, so I can finish up that article with some good quotes, then submit it. So, it wasn't wasted time. =)

Q4U: What do you do to make your home peaceful?
If you are a writer, what have you accomplished this week?
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday's QBR...More Writer's First Aid:Getting the Writing Done

I have been following Kristi Holl's blog, Writer's First Aid, for the past few months. She has a so many practical tips for writers.  So, when I heard that she was finishing up More Writer's First Aid, I was eager to get a copy.
Description from Amazon:
You won't actually find bandages or medicine in More Writer's First Aid. But in 48 short chapters, you will find cures for dealing with disappointment and jealousy, writing despite physical and emotional pain, and banishing procrastination once and for all, and combining writing with parenting (from infancy to adulthood.) "We're all in this together" has been Kristi's constant reminder to readers of her first book and her blog.

My Take:
I loved the short chapters. I have young children, so to be able to sit and read a chapter or two at random times of the day were great for me. I also loved that at the end of many of the chapters she has some "homework" to help push you towards better writing. All very practical.  The best part about this book is that she takes these tips not just from other articles or books, but from her own personal life. She gives examples, good ones, from her 30 years of writing and 25 years of teaching writing.  I felt encouraged by reading this book. I feel like I've gotten a kick-start back into writing again.  I needed some "first aid" and got it. I really believe that it doesn't matter what stage of life you are in or what stage of writing you are in, either way you will get so much out of this book.

Details on how to get your own copy:
Kindle version can be found here on Amazon.
Or if you don't want the Kindle version, you can order directly from Kristi here.