Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Book Review: Goodbye Things

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I’ve always struggled with stuff. I like being surrounded by things that trigger a happy memory or thoughts of loved ones. Plus, I often think, “But I can’t throw this thing away because I might need it.”

Lately, though, I’ve been motivated to get rid of stuff. Our kids are getting older and don’t need all the toys they used to play with every day. Also, my dear hubby detests clutter, and I do enjoy the white space he creates when he removes piles of clutter from around the house. I always feel more peaceful, too, after I put the laundry away or file the piles of paper that accumulate during a week.

That’s why I’ve been learning about minimalism. I like the idea that less is more, and it’s time to figure out why I want to be surrounded by so much stuff and how to get rid of the objects that don’t bring me joy. I also want to leave my kids a legacy of peace and joy, not things.

I found this book on Amazon Prime Reading and decided to read it before the New Year. This book is actually one of the best I’ve read on the subject of downsizing. Fumio Sasaki gave me many new thoughts on the process of minimalizing, and my perspective on things has changed because of this book.

Here are some of the key takeaways I discovered.

1.Minimalism: keep only what’s truly necessary to live, not to gain approval or for the purpose of appearances.

2. Less stuff = more freedom, less brain clutter, improved energy, space to daydream and be creative, which is important to me.

3. Our things are like roommates that take up space but don’t provide any intrinsic value.

4. Holding onto old stuff also holds us in bondage to an old image of ourselves when we could be embracing the present and pursuing a fresh start and new adventures in the future.

5. It’s ok to toss mementos from the past because we remember the memories that are most important. Also, we can prioritize the people in our lives, not the objects they gave us.

6. Give important things space to be impactful.

I recommend this book to anyone who’s curious about minimalism or needs a jumpstart to begin downsizing. It’s packed with wisdom, easy to read and very insightful. I’m adding it to my “read again” list!

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Book Review: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

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Before reading this book, the only thing I knew about Sonia Sotomayor was that she is a Supreme Court judge. Her book “My Beloved World” gave me a new appreciation for her and her work, including her advocacy for Hispanics, diabetics, and women.

I did expect to hear a bit more about Judge Sotomayor’s beliefs and opinions, but she kept the primary focus of this book on her experiences as a human. Her stories, some of which wandered at times, discuss her childhood, college education at Princeton and Yale, and her law career.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The content is engaging and well-written. However, I think the book would have impacted me more if Judge Sotomayor had narrated it.

In general, I enjoyed reading about Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s life. She proves in this memoir that she’s a dedicated, talented and smart woman who shows that girls can indeed do anything.

 

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Review: The Unwinding of the Miracle

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I started reading “The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After” with the understanding that it would be published after the author Julie Yip-Williams died, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional journey the book took me on. As I read, I experienced wave after wave of emotions, including sadness, joy, surprise, and frustration. And I confess, I laughed and cried while reading this heartwarming and heartbreaking story.

In it, Julie Yip-Williams offers a balanced, well-rounded view of her experience with cancer and her preparation to die. She includes love, rage, despair, and triumphs and does not try to sugar-coat her experience in cancer treatment and choosing what will happen with her children after her death. 

I learned a lot about cancer treatment as I read. Also, I liked that she used initials to identify people. 

I recommend this book for anyone suffering from cancer, including their loved ones. It’s also helpful for people who are curious about what it’s like to prepare for death.

To enhance the reading experience, I suggest reading each chapter as a personal essay that’s independent of the other chapters. Also, Mrs Yip-Williams tells her cancer story and the story of her life in bits and pieces rather than chronological order, and she does repeat some information several times in the book as she adds more depth and details to her experiences.

Overall, this book is an interesting memoir. It gave me more compassion and understanding for friends who are suffering with terminal cancer, and it prompted me to think about what I would do if I knew I only had a year to live. It’s an important book, and I’m glad I took the emotional journey with Mrs Yip-Williams during her final days on earth.

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Review: “Merry And Bright”

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This is the first Debbie Macomber book I’ve ever read, and I’m honestly surprised that I liked it so much!

You see, I’m usually not a romance fan, and I knew this would be a romance story. For that reason, I almost put it back on the shelf. But I’ve watched several of the Hallmark movies based on Debbie Macomber books and figured I’d give this one a shot.

Primarily because of the romance, I thought I would hate this book. But it sucked me in from page one, and the story definitely surprised me! It’s cute and engaging.

I think it helped that I liked Merry instantly and appreciated her close relationship with her family. She loves her parents and her brother Patrick, and they love her. I found it refreshing to read about a young, professional and competent woman who is still dedicated to her family as she stretches her wings.

Jayson is another story. He’s a hard nut to crack, eager to please his uncle and to fulfill his professional obligations, even if he has to be rude to do so. But as he explores love, his heart softens. He also allows Mary/Merry to introduce him to the joys of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.

I definitely recommend “Merry and Bright” if you’re in the mood for a lighthearted and well-written holiday read. It’s a fun book that will help you escape from all the obligations of the holiday, get into the Christmas spirit and smile.

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Review: The Audacity Of Hope

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This is the first Barack Obama book I’ve read. While I don’t agree with many of his opinions, I did enjoy listening to him narrate the audiobook version.

In it, he shares insights into his political beginnings, passion for people, faith in God, and love for his family.

“The Audacity Of Hope” also offers Obama’s insights into how Americans can get along better. I appreciated those insights and the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Overall, this book encouraged me to show more grace to others who disagree and to look for our common ground. We may have strong opinions about the best ways to help our country, but we all agree that we love America and want what’s best of its people and our future. Can we figure out a way to get along make that happen?

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Review: “I Have The Right To”

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I chose to read “I Have The Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope” out of curiosity. My daughter’s in high school, and I wanted insight into some of what she and her peers may experience.

The book surprised me in many ways. It’s actually incredibly empowering, and it’s an important book.

In it, Chessy Prout tells the story of her sexual assault, court experience and adjustment to advocate. She shares her heart for survivors with raw courage and honesty.

While the book could be triggering to survivors and includes graphic sexual details and adult language, it’s an important story to hear, especially for people who have not gone through such an experience. It has opened the doors for me to experience greater compassion and understanding as I support family members, friends and strangers who are survivors.

I’m going to share #IHaveTheRightTo with my family as we create our own bill of rights. Thank you Chessy, your family and Jenn for your dedication to advocacy and truth!

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Hidden Peril Book Review

If you’re a fan of mystery romance novels, give this one a try! Irene Hannon is a good writer. Unfortunately, I’m not into romances and didn’t finish the book. From the description, it sounds like a fast-paced, entertaining book with crime, mystery, and intrigue. While the prologue did grab my attention, the first chapter proceeded to introduce readers to a romance complete with a middle schoolish internal dialogue. For this reason, I didn’t finish the book, but the content minus the romance was interesting and well-written. hidden peril

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How Mr. Rogers Taught Me To Talk To Children

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Mr. Rogers was one of my favorite childhood TV friends. I appreciated his calm demeanor and special guests, especially Mr. Neely. Now, as a parent, I enjoy sharing Mr. Rogers reruns and YouTube videos with my kids. I also take lessons from Mr. Rogers and use his techniques for talking to kids in a way they understand and with kindness and compassion.

  1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street. ​​​​​​
  2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
  3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
  4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
  5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.
  6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.
  7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
  8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
  9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or childcare provider, Mr. Rogers can help you talk to children in a kind way they understand, too.

Read the full article here.
https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/mr-rogers-neighborhood-talking-to-kids/562352/

(Photo courtesy SnappyNewDay.com)

 

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Tackling a Big Project? Try the Pomodoro Technique

For over six years, I’ve worked from home. It can be challenging to stay on-task, especially with our newest addition, Idgy (see photo below). But I have deadlines to meet, and can’t afford to sit around and waste time.

That’s why I use the Pomodoro Technique.

I learned about it a year or so into my work-from-home venture, and it has become an incredibly helpful technique that has improved my productivity and work/life balance.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Work for 25 minutes.
  2. Take a five-minute break.
  3. Work for 25 minutes.
  4. Take a five-minute break.
  5. Work for 25 minutes.
  6. Take a 15-minute break.
  7. Repeat until your workday is over or your work is finished!

While this technique works for me, you may question the need to be tied to a timer. Feel free to modify the method to meet your needs! Some days – like when my kids are home or I don’t feel well – I work only 15 minutes before breaking or build longer breaks into my day.

The beauty of this time management technique is that it helps me stay on task, and it’s useful for any job from working to cleaning. During my breaks, I stretch, make coffee, fold laundry or do whatever task is calling my name. I love that I can get work done in small doses – no more feeling tied to my desk for an hour at a time or wasting my workday on social media. It’s a win-win!

What’s your favorite way to tackle big projects? I’d love other suggestions! 🙂

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13 Health Benefits of My New Obsession – Cinnamon

I discovered a new obsession:

Cinnamon!

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Two weeks ago, a friend and I shared coffee at Folklore, a coffee shop in Elizabethtown, PA. I decided to try the regular brew but added a little cinnamon and milk. Amazing!

I’m not sure what it is about cinnamon, but I can’t get enough. Every morning, I wake up craving my cinnamon coffee, and I want a cup before bed, too.

While researching online today, I discovered that my obsession isn’t all bad. Cinnamon actually has several health benefits!

  1. Delay cell decay or damage with antioxidant properties.
  2. Reduces inflammation.
  3. Fights infections.
  4. Boosts immunity.
  5. Repairs tissue damage.
  6. Lowers cholesterol and heart disease risk.
  7. Regulates insulin, which affects metabolism and energy.
  8. Lowers blood sugar with a dose as small as 1/2 to 2 teaspoons.
  9. Improves Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease potentially.
  10. May protect against cancer.
  11. Treats respiratory tract infections.
  12. Inhibits certain bacterial growth, including Listeria and Salmonella.
  13. Prevents tooth decay and reduces bad breath thanks to its microbial properties.

With so many health benefits, it’s easy to see why I can’t get enough cinnamon. But you don’t have to like cinnamon coffee to get the benefits of this wonder spice.

  • Sprinkle cinnamon on your fruit, ice cream or yogurt.
  • Add cinnamon to soups.
  • Cover meat with cinnamon before you roast or grill it.
  • Toast almonds in cinnamon for a quick snack.

How will you enjoy cinnamon today? If you want, come on over and join me for a cup of cinnamon coffee! : )

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