Monday, April 30, 2018

This Weekend I...

 ...completed the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon.

This is the second time I've completed this race; the first was in 2009 when I was nearly a decade younger. That half marathon experience was...  miserable.  Yes, I'll go ahead and say it - it was down right miserable. You see, my quest to complete the 13.1 mile race actually started in January of the previous year and the 16 months between the start and completion of my quest was plagued with injuries and obstacles and frustration galore.  What started out as a fun, personal challenge turned into an all-encompassing, all-consuming obsession.  Plantar fasciitis be damned!  Shin splints be damned!  Soft tissue damage/whiplash from an unrelated accident be damned!  Come hell or high water, I was going to cross that damn finish line.

And I did...  in pain and in tears - tears of pain, tears of joy, and tears of relief that the whole ordeal was finally over.  

When asked in the following days when I planned to do my next half marathon my reply was, "Never," and for nearly 9 years, I meant it. 

That all changed about a year ago when a good friend, a breast cancer survivor, asked me to do the KDF miniMarathon with her and raise some money for Hope Scarves in the process.  How in the world could I say no?

So, on Saturday I found myself doing something I said I'd never do again, something I didn't enjoy the first time and don't have good memories of.

But, I'm glad to say that my overall miniMarathon experience this time was much different and I think it can be attributed to many factors - me being in better shape, having better luck, dealing with fewer obstacles, and having a different mindset towards the experience.  Instead of obsessively focusing on the attainment of the goal, I chose to focus on enjoying the experience.  All I could think about back in 2009 was crossing the finish line - Nothing. Else. Mattered.  This time, since beginning my training in late January, I have purposely focused on enjoying every step of the journey to the finish line.  

I had a great winter and spring preparing for this race.  I enjoyed all the hours I spent in my beloved park watching the woods slowly wake from its long winter slumber and usher in the beautiful, fresh colors of spring.  I enjoyed all the audiobooks I listened to while increasing my mileage each week.  

On the day of the race, I was so thankful that I was able to do something that required so much endurance in the first place.  During those 3 1/2 hours Saturday morning, as I walked through the downtown area, historic old Louisville, through the campus of U of L, and through the infield of Churchill Downs, I enjoyed the warm sun, the cool breeze, and the abundant people watching all around me.  When I crossed the finish line, I accomplished my goal of finishing injury free and with a smile of gratitude on my face.

To sum up what I learned through this experience, I think Oprah said it best:

I hope this finds you having a great Monday!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday Topics - Four (Most Unusual) Setting Locales for Books, TV Shows, and/or Movies

The virtual reality world of the OASIS
- from the novel and movie, Ready Player One

- from the novel and movie, The Martian by Andy Weir

The shed (a.k.a the room)
- from the novel (and movie), Room by Emma Donoghue

The alternate North America that never experienced the American Revolution 
- from the novel, Rewinder by Brett Battles

What are some unusual settings that come to your mind?

Linking up with Jenn:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meme Monday (Vol. 16)

If you have no idea about this one, check out the Eagles Greatest Hits

Have a great Monday and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Topics - Five (Most Unusual) Book Characters I Can Think Of

Effie Trinket

Effie Trinket is a fictional character who was assigned to escort Katniss and Peta in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  As a citizen of the Capitol, she is very interested in flamboyant fashion trends.  She often wears clothing in very bright colors and her hair is either dyed very bright colors as well or she wears colorful wigs.

Clinton Tyree

Clinton Tyree, aka Skink, is a fictional character who has made several appearances in Carl Hiaasen books.  Skink, who first appeared in Double Whammy, is a former Florida governor turned recluse who detests sprawl and development, partakes of roadkill regularly, and often wears an orange rain poncho and flowered shower cap on his head.  To say that Skink is unusual truly is a bit of an understatement.


Britt-Marie is the main character in the book, Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman.  Britt-Marie loves lists, bicarbonate of soda, and precision.  In Britt-Marie's world, things must be just so.  She dislikes writing things in ink and soccer.  She has many quirks that make her very interesting and quite funny. 

Idgie Threadgood

Idgie Threadgood is a main character in Fannie Flag's novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Idgie is one of my all-time favorite characters and my main reason is because she's a tomboy and I could identify with her.   Tomboys in that time period did exist, but were very uncommon and even more uncommon in literature.  Idgie's ability to tell it like it is in a day and age when women were expected to be quiet in the kitchen also makes her unusual.  I love that she marches to the beat of her own drum.


Death is the narrator in Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief.  That in itself should be enough information as to why I think he/she/it is an unusual book character.  Death is fascinated with humans and he/she/it struggles with how we (humans) are capable of so much hatefulness and beauty.

Can you think of any unusual book characters? Feel free to share.

Linking up with Jenn:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Mind Dump - Bevin, Teachers, and Disrespect

This has been a hard year for educators in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, the latter being the state where I live and work (I am a public school speech pathologist).  Over the past several weeks, teachers in these states have protested in various ways ranging from "sickouts" to rallies to flat out strikes over issues such as low pay, health insurance, school budgets, and pensions.  

Here in Kentucky, our protests were about preserving our pensions, preserving retirees' health care, and to voice our disagreement and concerns over the deep cuts to public education that the legislature proposed, cuts that would make many school systems insolvent within 2-3 years.  Kentucky educators have not been protesting over pay raises like many in the media have claimed; our protests have never been about salaries.  Instead, we've been protesting to secure the pensions that we were promised, the pensions that we pay 13% of our paychecks to every payday whether we like it or not.  We've also been protesting to secure the educational futures of the children in Kentucky who need and rely on public education.  

Over the past several weeks, we've received a lot of public support, something we've been extremely appreciative of.  We've also received a lot of criticism and disrespect from parents all the way up to the leaders of the state.  

We've been accused by our governor, Matt Bevin, as being "sick day hoarding" employees (because a percentage of the cash value of unused sick days have been a part of the equation when determining one's retirement).  Obviously he has no idea that the reason educators accumulate so many sick days is not because we're hoarders or healthier than average people, but rather because it's usually easier for a teacher to come to work sick than to jump through all the hurdles of finding an adequate substitute and preparing sub plans.  Shouldn't he be proud that teachers take their job this seriously as to not abuse this benefit?

He's also called protesting teachers "selfish and short sighted" and stated that some have a "thug mentality,"  thus spawning the adoption and use of #thuglife by Kentucky educators on Facebook and Twitter.  What's interesting, though, is that many of these selfish individuals with thug mentalities organized ways to get food to their students on days when school was cancelled.  That kind of behavior doesn't sound selfish to me.

On Friday, after teachers participated in another statewide protest in which many districts closed either voluntarily so their teachers could protest or because teachers organized "sick outs," Bevin said that he "guaranteed" that somewhere in Kentucky a child had been physically and/or sexually abused, ingested poison, or tried drugs for the first time because their district cancelled school.  I, along with thousands of others across the state, are absolutely appalled by his comments and by his suggestion that teachers are responsible for whatever happens to students once they leave school.  Bevin has since apologized, but only after the Kentucky House of Representatives publicly condemned his comments in two separate resolutions on the last day of the legislative session and after he received a barrage of emails and phone calls from those in the education community blasting him for his comments.  And, most people who have watched his video apology agree that his apology was more like a "sorry, not sorry."

Bevin claims to have the utmost respect for teachers, but his words as of late do not support this claim. Here's my question - if the governor, the leader of the Commonwealth, and many of Kentucky's legislators (based on comments they, too, have made) don't respect teachers, then why would parents and citizens?

Educators don't go into this profession to get rich; we do because we want to make a difference.  There's no other reason why those of us in public education would tolerate what we do - increased class sizes, increasing behavior issues, increased workload demands, and increased student performance expectations while dealing with decreased funding, decreased support, and decreasing respect - if we didn't want to make a positive impact on the lives of kids.  Honestly, no one in their right mind would go public  education if they didn't genuinely love kids.  

We're not asking for much - a livable wage, a secure retirement, the necessary funding needed to educate children, and...  well, I think this video says it all.

P.S.  Good luck to the educators in Colorado who organized a walkout for today.  Fight the good fight, ladies and gentlemen!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dragon Lights Lantern Festival

During my travels, one thing I've learned is that a wrong turn is nothing to freak out about because most can be easily corrected. Sometimes wrong turns turn out to be fortunate accidents in that they take you somewhere you might not have otherwise seen.  The latter is what happened to my husband and I while in Chicago last weekend.  

While driving into the city, R got off the expressway an exit too early and the GPS rerouted us up Lake Shore Drive right past Soldier Field.  As we passed, we saw the most colorful Chinese shapes and figures on the south parking lot. A quick Google search revealed that the shapes and figures are part of the traveling Dragon Lights Chinese Lantern Festival that is in the Windy City until May 6, 2018.

The festival is an exhibit that tours throughout the United States.  The lanterns are custom built for each venue on site by Chinese artisans.  According to the event's website, the exhibit in Chicago features 39 larger-than-life illuminated displays.  After the festival concludes its stay in the Windy City, the lanterns will be disassembled by the artisans and technicians and then packed and moved to the next venue where they will be refreshed and rebuilt.

As R and I walked among the brightly lit, colorful lanterns in the below freezing temperatures, I was completely in awe of the beauty and brilliance of the figures. It is hands down one of the coolest things I've seen and I definitely recommend seeing it in person.



South Parking Lot @ Soldier Field
1410 S. Museum Campus Drive
Chicago, IL


Tickets includes festival entry and viewing of all lanterns, performances, and craft demonstrations.
  • Adults $20
  • Children (ages 4-14) $13.00
  • Seniors (60+) $13

There are also group discounts.   Please see website for details.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online, but are also sold at the gate. The last ticket is sold at 9:00pm.


Sunday through Thursday, 5:30pm - 10:00pm
Friday and Saturday, 5:30pm - 11:00pm

The show goes on despite rain, snow, or shine, so dress accordingly.


Knoxville, TN - until April 22, 2018
Vallejo, CA - until April 29, 2018
Philadelphia, PA - May 1 through June 30, 2018 

Linking Up With:
The Weekly Postcard

Budget Travelers Sandbox
Budget Travelers Sandbox

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tuesday Topics (Not on Tuesday) - Six (Most Unusual) Film, Book, or TV Show Titles That I Can Think Of

For this week's Tuesday Topic, I chose unusual titles from all three of the options:


Black Snake Moan (2006)
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)



Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012-17)
The Flying Nun (1967-70)

What are some unusual movie, book, or television titles that come to your mind? Feel free to share.

Linking up with Jenn:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Recently Read - Vol. 27 (Mar. '18)

It's the second Tuesday of the month, so you know what that means - it's Show Us Your Books link-up day with Steph and Jana.  Alright people, without further ado, let's talk books!  Here's what I read last month:

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
March 4-10 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

Think: The story of a runner who loses part of her leg in an accident and how the experience opens her eyes to the experience of a classmate.

As far as YA books go, I thought this one was well written, poignant, and packed a punch in a short amount of time.  

FINAL VERDICT:  Recommend.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
March 10-18 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 3.5/5

Think:  A whodunnit about a missing baby.

Overall, I liked this book.  I wasn't "wowed" by it, but it was entertaining enough.  There are some definite plot twists, but, much to my surprise, I figured them both out.  I'm not sure if this indicates that my sleuth skills are improving or if the plot twists weren't that complicated or well crafted.

FINAL VERDICT:  Recommend if you are looking for something thriller-ish to help pass the time.

Text Me When You Get Home:  The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by  Kayleen Schaefer
March 19-28 | Format: Audiobook | My rating: 4/5

Think:  A look at female friendships over and how they have evolved.

If you are looking for a predominately research based book, this probably isn't the book for you.  Rather, Text Me When You Get Home is a brief overview of the evolution of female friendships that the author largely supports by the her own personal experiences.  That's not to imply it was bad, for it wasn't.  This book is just one woman's perspective on the topic with some history and pop culture sprinkled in.

Had it not been that I was searching for a book with "home" or "house" in the title for Erin's latest book challenge, a book shorter than the one I originally chose, I doubt I would've ever stumbled upon this one.  All and all, it was enjoyable enough and it made me think about the female friendships I have and how they have evolved over the decades.   Some parts were more fascinating than others, but overall it was an above average read in my opinion.

FINAL VERDICT:  Coin toss.  I know non-fiction isn't everyone's cup of tea, so that's a factor to consider.  My feelings on this book are neutral.  If you are interested, go for it; if you're not, skip it.

What I'm Currently Reading:

Up Next:

Have you read any of these books?  If so, what are your thoughts?  What have you read anything interesting lately?

Linking up with:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Currently... (Vol. 27)

Happy...  that the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which has long been a source of contention in my house, is over.  It's nice not to be a March Madness Widow any longer.  

Enjoying...  my spring break!  It's been fabulous!

Elated...  that my long time, most favorite band in the whole wide world, Bon Jovi, is being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame next weekend!

Walking...  13 miles today.  This is the longest distance I'll walk before the KDF Mini Marathon on the 28th.  After today, in terms of training, it's all downhill from here!

Looking...  forward to seeing Pretty Woman the Musical and Get on Your Feet in Chicago!

Not...  participating the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as I have the previous two years.

Loving...  the audiobook Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman.

Beginning...  to re-listen to the audiobook Ready Player One (before I see the movie).

Finished... with Erin's book challenge!!!  (See below)

Completing...  the third day of the Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge.  (See below)

Disbelieving...  that once I go back to work next week, I only have 34 days left in the school year!  

Shopping...  for hiking poles and a lightweight hiking backpack.  (Any hikers out there with recommendations?)

Proud...  of my fellow educators who stormed our state's capital on Monday to advocate for public school funding as well as funding for other public services such as fire departments and police.

Concerned...  about the possibility of future work stoppages and for what the future holds for education and educators in this country.

March in a snapshot:
1) View in my mirror one morning, my new walking shoes, last sunrise before daylight saving time.
2) Representing my alma mater, my busted bracket, snow on the first day of spring.
3) A rainy March for Our Lives in Louisville, Twin Falls State Park (WV), hiking the Endless Wall Trail (WV).

What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with:


Book Challenge by Erin 8.0 Progress To Date - COMPLETE!

• 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Master of the Mountain by Cherise Sinclair
Read Jan 22-25

• 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “L”
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Read Jan 21 - Feb 2

• 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) red cover
The Royal We by Harriet Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Read Jan 1-20

• 15 points: Read a book with a character’s name in the title 
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Read Feb 15-23

• 20 points: Read a book from this list: Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books with Plot Twists
The Couple Next Door by Star Lapena
Read March 10-18

• 20 points: Read a book with the words “house” or “home” in the title
The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer 
Read March 18-28

• 25 points: Read a book by an author whose first and last name begins with the same letter
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Read Feb 23 - March 3

• 30 points: Read a book that was originally published in a different language than your own 
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Bachman
Read March 28 - April 4

• 30 points: Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation i.e. bus, boat, car, plane, etc.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Read Feb 3-15

• 35 points: Read a book with a character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Read March 4-10

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge

Bev from Confuzzledom nominated me to participate in this challenge last week. I will gladly play along by adding the quotes to the bottom of the three posts I have scheduled for this week; I just won't nominate anyone.  Here is my quote for today (Day 3):

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