Saturday, March 2, 2013

Teens Only | Pardon This Personal Question

What does your bedroom say about you? Are you a 15 year old living in a room with walls covered in pink fairies or blue and red trains? Is the floor of your room barely visible because it's covered in clothes, school stuff, and other collections from your day-to-day life? Do you share a room with a sibling? Do you avoid going into your room until it's time to go to bed because it's just not fun or relaxing?
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. It should be the place where you go to relax, think, read, dream, breathe, and feel inspired.
I know it can be tough to do a major makeover of your bedroom. How many of us have $5,000...or even $ really re-do our sleep space? But I've learned a few tricks that might help you make some changes in your bedroom that will make it a place you can really enjoy...and be proud of!
I check out decorating books from the library and write down ideas. A couple of my favorites are:

Super Suite: The Ultimate Bedroom Makeover Guide for Girls -- by Mark Montano -- has some cool ideas. And even though the title says it's for girls, I think guys wouldn't mind black and white poster headboard idea.

Another favorite is Nate Berkus' Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live Into a Place You'll Love. Nate's the famous designer guy who has made over rooms for tons of celebrities, including Oprah. And even though I can't afford many of the things he does, I still get great ideas from his books. Many of his ideas can be modified and done very economically (that means, on the cheap!).

I also check out websites like Pinterest for ideas. Basically, I'll take ideas wherever I can find them!
And then I get creative. I check out local thrift stores for prints, bed linens (wash them or have them professionally cleaned first), and I also rummage through my house to find things that might work better in my bedroom. (Just ask your parents first, of course.) Oh yes, I also go to garage sales! I save up my money if I need to purchase something new. I look for sales. I have a very specific idea in mind and then I wait until I find exactly what I want...on sale....and try not to get impatient when the room of my dreams doesn't come together in one day!
I shared a bedroom with my 2 sisters until I was 15. I know your pain if you're still sharing a room. Even if the only space that is yours is the few feet around your bed, you can still make it your own.
Of course you need to have a discussion with your parents. But even if all you can do is a good cleaning/organizing of your space, do it! You'll go to sleep each night in a much more relaxing place, and you'll wake up truly refreshed and ready to face each day.

So here's to restful sleep in your own little sanctuary!

Books On Film | The Host

How about a little March Alien Madness? 

This month the film adaptation of The Host, a science fiction/romance novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer, will be released. 

The novel is set in a future where Earth has been colonized by a parasitic alien race called Souls. The story focuses on one Soul and it's human host, who refuses to cooperative with the takeover of her body. The film stars Hanna actress Saoirse Ronan.

   Watch the trailer [youtube]:

 Cover courtesy of LibraryThing

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Teens Only | In Honor of Black History Month -- Revised

As promised, here are the answers to the questions posed in last Saturday's blog:

1. Who was the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues?
Jackie Robinson
2. Who was the first African American to go to the North Pole?
Matthew Henson
Note: I apologize for messing up this question earlier. But I'm sure you all knew the correct answer!!!
3. This famous musician learned to play the trumpet while living at the Colored Waif's Home for Boys. Who was he?
Louis Armstrong
4. Before growing up to be a famous neurosurgeon, this person was required -- by his mother -- to read two library books a week and prepare reports on them. And his mother couldn't read! Who was he?
Ben Carson

Read about these heroes of Black History -- and many more -- at any SSJCPL branch library!

Until Saturday,

The Wanderlust Librarian | 21st Century Memories *revised*

If there's anything I love more than my daughter and travel, it's taking pictures WHILE travelling with my daughter. I love the memories that are made with a quick push of my finger. Even when we're at home or at the store, there is always an opportunity to cement that moment.

Pictures have come a long way. A run of the mill digital camera can hold at LEAST 250 pictures per memory card. That's insane!  For me, the best of the best pictures get printed and displayed. If you decide to print your photos, there are many ways to manipulate the photos to make the perfect shot so you get the copy that you want. It's SO easy to take 20 pictures of the same thing and delete the bad photos that didn't make the grade.

Remember the agony of waiting for developed pictures? That hopefully the pictures you took on vacation came out looking decent? I spent many an hour with my dad at at the Photomat waiting for our photos. It was exciting to relive the trip and see the sights, but it was in the first few moments of looking through the pictures that you would see the real drama: people walking in the shot, blinking folks, blurry movers, a thumb. Those pictures were a bust.

Technology has now given everyone the power to share our lives with a few clicks. Friends and family can now live a moment with you within minutes of it happening. My cell phone takes amazing pictures and I can share funny things I see on the street or the food I'm eating.

Caramel Corn in North Beach
Ashland, Oregon has humor! 

I find some of the best pictures I've taken of my daughter have been spur of the moment. It doesn't have to be dignified... just fun!

2011 In front of Pixar Animation in Emeryville
Feb 2013 :My kid and Mulan

There are many picture sharing applications for smartphones out there. These applications have filters which change the way the pictures look. The ones that I use most on my Android phone are Instagram and PhotoGrid. These apps push my vision beyond one picture. It's a great way to theme out pictures that would otherwise be a little boring on their own.

She's Batman....

Glasses have gone beyond the Groucho Marx look! 

Mimicking the musical poster!

Disneyland Delectables!

Oakland Airport glass

The pictures you take can be saved on a memory card and brought to your local photo printing place. This will allow you to frame the amazing photos you take.

I take pictures that are visually interesting to me. There are times that I think, "what a beautiful sunset" or "I just want to remember this moment forever.". Those are the times to take those pictures. Don't hold back because you think the pictures you take won't be interesting to others. Your vision is what's meaningful to you and the memories from those photos will last forever.

For those of you that have pets and children... cherish them. I think I have more pictures of and with my child than my parents have for the duration OF my life. She's an easy subject to photograph and just as silly for those fun, candid pictures. I'll enjoy these pictures far after she decides she's too cool for me.

There is never a bad time to take a good picture. Embrace the moment and share your life!

Until next week, have some amazing adventures and take some amazing photos!

Book Bucket List | The Fault in Our Stars

When I was thinking about what books to talk about here on the blog, I realized that I rarely mention any books for teens.  I only realized this after I finished a really, really good book by young adult fiction author John Green.  In a world where "teen paranormal romance" is one of the more popular genres for teens, (I couldn't believe the size of the shelf space for it at Barnes and Noble!) Green's The Fault in Our Stars is a romance firmly based in reality.

Hazel, a sixteen year old girl miraculously surviving terminal lung cancer, is utterly bored and hates feeling like she is a "professional sick person."  However, at a teen cancer survivor support group meeting, she meets Augustus Waters, a seventeen year old survivor of osteosarcoma. The incredibly good looking, charismatic, and intellectually stimulating boy takes Hazel on an adventure of which she never thought she'd be capable.

Obviously, as both main characters have cancer, this is not always a happy tale. "The world is not a wish making factory" is a common theme and quote throughout the book.  It is however, the best teen book I've read in awhile, so if you're in the mood for some young adult fiction, (though this book could really be loved by teens and former teens alike) definitely check this one out. 


John Green, the author, is a good time:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | The Temper Tamer

Temper tantrums are no fun.  They are no fun for the people having them.  They are no fun for the people dealing with them.  They are no fun for the people watching them.

This week, I had planned on tackling a skill that I run into often: dealing with a child's temper tantrum.  As I started my research, I kept running into the same issue: children with recurring temper tantrums and anger issues often learn their behavior from adults.  Okay, I get it.  So "anger begets anger".  Parents set the example for the children.  
First off, before we get too into this, temper tantrums in preschoolers are normal.  Most kids will have one from time to time.  It isn't because they are undisciplined or hostile, but because they are not mature enough to know how to properly express and define their anger.  However, a grouchy parent doesn't help.  I try and do my best as a parent and as a person in general, but on occasion, I am tested.  I have been known in the past to get a bit upset when something throws me for a loop.  I envy the guy on the Subaru commercial who walks out and sees his kids washing his open car (including scrubbing the vents with toothpaste), stops a moment, and says, "Hey, you missed a spot".  Granted, those kids probably shouldn't have been washing that car with the windows open, but flying off the handle (as most people probably would have done) wouldn't have taught them much.  There are so many moments, in parenting and life, when taking a second, letting out a breath, and just thinking about things works better than getting upset.

The Challenge
So that is the skill I learned this week.  It's a skill many people find challenging.  No, not washing the car (although I might do that later), but learning how to stop, breathe, and manage anger.  Taming one's temper tantrum.
Courtesy of

The Process
This challenge was a lot of research and reading, unlike some of the challenges from previous weeks, but I found this subject useful for so many different situations.

According to many of the books I read (although I seemed to refer back to this one most) anger is an absolutely normal and healthy emotion.  In fact, there is nothing wrong with feeling anger, but what can be concerning is expressing anger in an unhealthy way such as: yelling, sarcasm, dismissal, insults, threats, aggression, intimidation, etc.  Biologically, humans react to anger in the same way that we react to fear, our heart rates go up, our neck and muscles get tense.  We experience a physiological change.  It is meant to protect us, a "fight or flight" reaction (Although wouldn't it be better if it was reversed? Flight before fight?).  The emotion is a sign that something is not right.  Something needs to change.
Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to avoid expressing anger in a problematic way, but there are ways to do it.  As stated above, anger creates anger.  The more angry you are to others, the more you will get back.  This works the same way for kids.  The more you express your anger in an unhealthy way (raising your voice, perhaps, or getting tense), the more likely they will express their anger similarly.  It does no one any favors.  The best way to deal with anger is to stay calm, address the issue, and find a solution.  It can be difficult sometimes.
So, how do you stay calm?
  • Relax, everyday for a specified amount of time  The book suggested 20 minutes.  The more relaxed you are all the time, the farther you are from a temper tantrum.  Find a quiet place, sit, and breathe. (By the way, the only time I can do this is after everyone in my house has gone to bed, but I'll try it anyway.)
  • Muscle Relaxation.  Either through massage (I forced myself to try this, just for you, readers!), or muscle meditation (concentrate on tensing and relaxing specific muscles one at a time).
  • Meditation quiets your mind.  According to Svitil, it reduces anxiety, stress, and lowers blood pressure.  See my friend Panteha's positive meditating experience.
  • Just breathing can help as well.  Breathing deeply, using the diaphragm sends oxygen through your body.
  • Speaking of breathing, Yoga (which I will tackle here in a couple weeks) helps by exercising breathing techniques, improving posture, increasing strength, and releasing tension.  Similar to meditation!
  • Exercising helps by helping you let go of stress and energy.  Plus, for anyone who has seen this movie, they know, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." FYI, it is also a book.
Let's say you haven't been doing any of these things and you feel yourself beginning to have a temper tantrum.  What do you do then?  According to my book..
Angry Gollum from Lord of the Rings
  • Repeat coping thoughts.."I won't lose control", "I am calm", something to that effect.
  • Slow down the conversation by pausing a few seconds.  Some people count to ten. Or take a break from the conversation and come back later.  Maybe, go for a walk.
  • Take a drink of water.
  • Sit down and talk.  Do not stand up.
  • Imagine what your angry face looks like ("Eek, I'm ugly when I'm mad!").
  • Think of a quiet soothing place.
  • Imagine how someone who isn't mad would handle the situation.
  • Get an anger partner, someone you can call when you are mad and you need to talk it out.

Sometimes, we need more help than a book can give us.  There could be reasons people have tantrums that might stem back to childhood or past traumas. In some cases, therapy may be needed.

The Result
I discovered some wonderful tools to help me set a positive example for my child and some new ways to deal with and express my own frustration and anger.  This week, my preschooler and I had a few moments that tested both of our anger management skills, and by using the above skills, we turned some negative and grouchy moments into positive and educational opportunities.

Learning | Young 'Uns, on Being Young and Growing

My best friend's son said something hilarious shortly after he turned four. He just didn't expect it to cause peals of laughter when he began to tell a story with the phrase, "A long time ago, when I was three...."

Clearly "a long time ago" is a relative concept.

I was reminded of that incident last week. A young customer, about five years old, told me,"When I was a baby, I didn't know ANYTHING."  He and I marveled about all the things he knows now. He can walk, jump, run, talk, sing, write his name, and so much more. I have a feeling that bright guy will be able to examine his accomplishments many times in the future, and be amazed at how much more he knows.

Several months ago, I was checking a big pile of books out to a family. The tiniest, a girl, passed me the book called Becoming Butterflies. It's a lovely picture book by Anne F. Rockwell, about metamorphosis. 

As I scanned the bar code, I mentioned that it looked very interesting.  Her older brother (who was perhaps six years old, at the most) rolled his eyes and sighed, "Oh, I already know all about THAT."

On Tuesday, a young fellow pulled the receipt out of the printer near D.I.Y.S.C.O., one of the Troke Branch's Express Check Out machines.  He glanced at the paper and read aloud, "Curious George!"

I high-fived him for being able to read, and he began boasting:

"I'm better than four; 
I'm better than three; 
I'm better than two; 
I'm better than one; 
I'M FIVE!"  

He sounded like he was rooting for a sports team. If I began to say such a cheer for my age, it would take me a long time. The kid would probably be able to say he was better than five, by the time I finished.

What do all of these anecdotes have in common?  These kids are all becoming butterflies, so to speak.  They are experiencing their own metamorphosis, and seem downright proud of growing and learning.  High fives to all of them!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

4 Kids | Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

March 2nd is the day, to Dr. Seuss we all say:
Happy Birthday, dear friend, and thanks for the stories.
You always teach a great lesson, and help with our worries.

I know, I know: I'm not a poet! But I sure do admire Dr. Seuss and his many, many books which children of all ages still want to read! And why not? His books are wonderful. They rhyme AND they have great messages...lessons that help us live better lives.
One of my favorite stories is Gertrude McFuzz. You'll find her story in Yertle the Turtle: and Other Stories. Poor Gertrude McFuzz has only one lone feather in her tail. And oh how she wants more feathers. She wants them so bad, she eats a whole bunch of berries guaranteed to make her grow lots and lots of beautiful feathers. And voila! She gets lots and lots of beautiful feathers. But then, guess what? She can't fly! In fact, she can barely walk! So in the end, Gertrude McFuzz gets rid of all those extra feathers and realizes she's just fine the way she is!
The lesson? Each and every one of us is unique and special. And we should -- each and every one of us -- be happy with ourselves...just the way we are!
And of course, there's always The Lorax, that wonderful message about how very important it is to treat the environment with care and respect! In fact, author Tish Rabe has a great book featuring the star of The Lorax. In How To Help the Earth, children can learn simple ways they can "go green" and live lives that respect the environment. The book can be found in the non-fiction collection at lots of SSJCPL branch libraries; check one out today!
So, in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, please join us at these SSJCPL branch libraries for some fun celebrations of this special author:

Friday, March 1 at 3:30 pm

Saturday, March 2 at 10:30 am
Linden Branch Library (featuring storyteller BZ Smith)

Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 am
Troke Branch Library (featuring University of the Pacific students)

Saturday, March 2 at 2 pm
Ripon Memorial Library (featuring storyteller BZ Smith)
By the way, for information on other great programs at a library near you, check out SSJCPL's online calendar!
Happy Reading!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Life & Style | Linen Closet Ghost

My linen closet is haunted.

That is my only semi-logical explanation about my timelessly messy closet.

Believe me, I have tried numerous times to clean this closet during the past few years, but it ends up getting messier than before in no time.

So I am sticking to the ghost story and declare my closet haunted.

I want my linen closet to look like this: 

But my closet, looks like this.
It is Sunday morning and the task of the day is to clean the haunted closet.

My sweet daughter, has made me sunny side up eggs to energize me for my epic battle.

I am arming myself with garlic water to ward off the ghost. (Hey it works for vampires. Didn't have access to any other type of water anyway)

I open my linen closet and I am immediately buried under the avalanche of towels, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, table cloths, etc...... 

I read somewhere that I should put all my bed set sheets inside a pillow case. I am doing it but the result is bulky and ugly.

I am telling you, this is no ordinary linen closet, this is a time capsule of past memories.

Here are some treasures that I have found in my linen closet.
  • Party favors that I had made for my daughter's baby shower 8 years ago.
  • MY baby blanket that my mom had saved for me.
  • My grandmother's prayer rug that she hasn't touched for the past two years.
  • I also found this beautiful hand written envelop with a beautiful card inside from my aunt's family congratulating me on my wedding.

In the end, cleaning this closet has brought back so many wonderful memories.

My baby blanket

 For sure, it was an unexpected trip down the memory lane.

My cleaner linen closet
Now it is your turn. I dare you to organize and clean a closet.

I guarantee you would come face to face with the ghost of your past memories.

Come to think of it, my linen closet was haunted after all.

It was haunted by my almost forgotten memories. 
Here are some library materials on this topic:
One year to an organized life 

Smart organizing : simple strategies for bringing order to your home 

Organizing from the inside out [DVD]  

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha