Five Minute Friday: Define

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Define. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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With only a few days left in Spring Break I look back and define these days at home with two words: productive and adventurous. Each day I’ve made progress in my writing projects involving revisions and a beta read. We’ve also planned some sort of family activity each day. So far, my favorite has been our urban geocaching adventure (post to come next week.)

It’s been a perfect time to push pause on the school year and look ahead toward the summer that will be here before we know it.

Once spring hits it is hard to keep my focus at school. The weather is nice. State testing tends to take precedence. All the end-of-the-year breaks in routine. Having Spring Break in the middle of all that gives me a chance to refuel for the final weeks of the school year.

Spring break has brought me time to redefine who I am. The winter was a busy time and I struggled to keep my head above water. Over break, I have owned my time and chosen to allocate it according to what is really important. The sun has been shining. The temperatures are warmer. It’s a perfect time to redefine your purpose.

Welcome to my favorite time of the year!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

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Dressing and Educating: Days 134-138

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Day 134: March 13, 2017

After a week of testing, it was nice to return to the usual schedule and routine in the classroom. In English we read through and interpreted the prologue to Romeo and Juliet and in Honors World History we spent time summarizing major events from the Russian Revolution.

I wore a black sweater and tights from Old Navy, a turquoise scarf and a skirt from The Limited.

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Day 135: March 14, 2017

We finally began reading Romeo and Juliet today. Students were assigned parts and we acted out the first two scenes of the play. One of my students has a peacock at home and brought in several feathers so that we could act out the sword fight of the opening scene. I’ve never done that before in my classes, but it was very fun and memorable. In Honors World History we compared the NEP of Lenin to Stalin’s Five Year Plans through readings and videos.

It was a frigid day so I wore Lula Roe leggings, a long sweater from Target, and my navy puffer vest from J.Crew.

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Day 136: March 15, 2017

Another wet and frigid Ohio day. In English we finished reading through the remainder of Act I from Romeo and Juliet. At this point every student has had an opportunity to read a part. In Honors World History we worked on a study guide for the Russian Revolution test next week.

I wore my Jessika Cowl Neck Poncho by RD Style from my Stitch Fix #10, a maroon layering top from Maurices, black slacks from The Limited and black boots.

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Day 137: March 16, 2017

Today was my husband’s birthday!

We woke up early and I made breakfast/tea in bed. He opened presents and we spent time cuddling as a family before school. It was another really cold day so it made it even harder to leave the warmth of my house this morning.

In English, we watched the first twenty-four minutes of the Romeo and Juliet movie on Netflix and then spent the remainder of the class comparing that to what we have read thus far in the play. In Honors World History, the students are working on an ongoing project about World War II so I gave them a class period with the computers to get some research and writing done.

I wore my Annaway Cable Knit Sweater by RD Style from my Stitch Fix #8, olive jeggings and ankle boots.

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Day 138: March 17, 2017

Saint Patrick’s Day and guess who forgot to wear green!?! This lady! It seems like every year I’m so caught up on planning my husband’s birthday on the 16th that Saint Patrick’s Day creeps up on me. I was nearly at school in the morning when I remembered the holiday, and of course I didn’t have any green on.

So despite my students complaining that I was not dressed appropriately for the holiday today I did get some productive work accomplished. In English, the students read for half the period from their own independent books. Following that they took a quiz over the first act of Romeo and Juliet. In Honors World History, we spent the period reviewing the Russian Revolution for the quiz next week.

Which look was your favorite this week?

The Ameri Brit Mom

March Updates (Bullet Journal)

Three months into my bullet journal and I’m feeling more organized and productive. I’ve nailed down a weekly spread that works for me and I’ve added all sorts of collections that have allowed me to dump my mind. I used to carry around these lists in my brain and now I have a place where they belong. It’s been very freeing and allowed me the chance to relax in ways I hadn’t before.

There are times I have to jot something down while it’s on my mind, but there are no more worries about whether or not I will forget it. Every list has a place in my bullet journal. It is a customized book that I am filling constantly. No more wasted space in a planner created by someone else! I am utilizing every page and making it work for who I am and the types of lists I incur.

Here is a look at some of my newest pages in my bujo:

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Road Trip to Pittsburgh

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My husband closed out his Upward Celebrations season with a trip to Bridgeville, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a family, we loaded up the car for the final time this winter and made the most of the four hour drive over two state borders and through several mountains. The landscape was beautiful throughout our entire drive.

I’m going to miss the traveling to new cities over the next couple of months, but I’m also in need of some rest. We are eager to return to our everyday rhythms and routines, but that doesn’t make us any less sad that our travel time is over.

On the trip, we stopped at a Chuck-E-Cheese so our daughter could experience the childhood equivalent to heaven on earth.

While Sam set up for the event I took our daughter exploring in the suburb. It was a beautiful little town, and of course we had to visit the local cafe. A four hour drive warranted a giant cup of coffee.

The travels may be over for a few months, but the memories we made as a family will continue long after his final bow. We are so blessed to get to travel together to support my husband in his shows. He is so passionate about using his gifts and talents to glorify God and he had almost a dozen opportunities to do just that over the past two months.

It is very fitting that as the shows wrapped up our school district began Spring Break. We are in need of some time at home as a family, although I’m sure you will hear that we took some time for adventure over the coming week. I’m looking forward to updating you next week on how we spent our break.

Send me some ideas and you may find that we take you up on some.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Lesson From An Aspiring Author: Always Write

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This week at my SCBWI meeting in the Central South Ohio Regional Chapter we had an author visit from Jennifer Maschari, author of The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price.

Throughout her presentation, Jen focused a lot on publishing. It was really helpful to hear from someone who has gone through the process before and who is actively working through the publishing of another book. There is so much about the industry that I have yet to learn.

The photo from above is from her presentation and discusses the process of traditional publishing. As you can see, it is a daunting process, but her advice is to always be writing something new. Publishing takes a really long time and if you are only working on that piece you may go years without writing something new. Exercise your mind and creativity and always always always work on that next big story. It will also help pass the time between stages in the publishing process.

I’ve found that setting routines for writing have helped me to always write. I have several projects I’m working on. I have revisions of my first book, short stories, a book I am beta reading for a fellow SCBWI member, articles for my church magazine, and I’m plowing my way through the first draft of a new story. I have to plan out how to get all these things done. If it seems like I’m blogging a little less than usual it is because I have been progressing in some of my projects. I’ve rearranged routines to fit the needs of my project list.

I can’t say I’ve mastered the routine yet. Right now I have days set aside for new writing, days for revision, and days for blogging. I am looking for new routine ideas to use my time efficiently. The writing life is a busy life especially when you tack on the fact that I also teach full-time and I have a family and friends that need my attention as well.

The most important thing, though, is that I’m writing. To be a writer isn’t to finish draft 1 and call it “done.” In fact, all of my first drafts have been pretty terrible. The journey is in revision and rewriting. We should always be working on the next big story.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Photos from: jenmaschari.com

A Madness So Discreet: A Book Review

Title: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Copyright Date: 2015

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(photo credit: Good Reads)

Set in the 1800s in a famous insane asylum in Ohio, this thriller explores insanity and the patients who find themselves exiled to the depths of asylum halls. Grace Mae is the oldest daughter of a senator. When her father’s secrets become a danger to his reputation he sends her away to an asylum in Boston where she is mistreated. During her stay in Boston she meets a young doctor named Thornhollow who specializes in the practice of performing lobotomies to cure the insane.

The doctor sees that Grace is no less sane than himself, but rather she has become the victim of a dark man. He devises a plan to get her out of the Boston asylum and brings her to Ohio with him where she will be cared for and will serve alongside him in the study of criminal minds.

In her new home, Grace hides under the alias of insanity. She trades her voice for a chance to catch criminals like her father and becomes protege to the doctor.

A letter from her younger sister, Alice, changes her focus and forces Grace to take much more drastic action.

A Madness So Discreet was one of my favorite books I’ve read in the past couple of years. It was brilliantly written and had me hooked from page one. The dramatic themes of the book kept me on the edge of my seat as I hoped to find justice for all the wrongs done to Grace by people she should have been able to trust. Her desire to protect her sister from the harm she faced also pulled on heart strings. This book is a cross between historical fiction and criminal investigation with a large dose of family drama.

The author, Mindy McGinnis, is an Ohioan whom I have met on several occasions. Her first book, Not a Drop to Drink, is one that my students read and she came and spoke at my school last spring after we finished reading that book. Also, she spoke to my SCBWI group a few weeks ago about character development. Next month she is releasing a new book, Given to the Sea, that I am excited about. Mindy’s YA books are among my favorites and A Madness So Discreet is my favorite one yet. If you are looking for a book to hook you from the very onset this is a great book for you!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

A Lesson in Spontaneity

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I’m not a spontaneous person. Creating lists and plans are part of my coping mechanisms. When I’m stressed I rely on my bullet journal to get me through. I start each day knowing what needs to be accomplished and I develop plans for getting it all done.

This weekend, our family was on the way to another basketball show for my husband. I was talking about school and rambling on as I always do during long car rides. Somewhere between a classroom anecdote and my daughter asking to stop so she could go to the bathroom, my husband made the outlandish suggestion that, “Maybe we should get a hotel for the night and stay in this town.”

My first reaction was a knee jerk response. “But we don’t have any of our stuff.”

I thought the conversation was over and it was on to another discussion. In my mind, there was no way we could just get a hotel room on the spot and stay in a city two hours from home. It wasn’t that bad of a drive and we could probably make it home before dark.

“We’ve been doing a lot of driving lately, and it might just be nice to slow down and relax for the night,” was his very reasonable reply.

I knew as soon as he dropped the “R” word that I had been hooked.

It’s no secret that the past few weeks have been hectic in our house. My husband has had several shows a week as we’ve hit the climax of his travel season. We had a guest stay with us for a week. School is entering the insanity of standardized testing periods. Relaxation has become a foreign word, which is how I was enticed.

I handed my husband excuse after excuse as to why it was a ludicrous idea. A lot of it came down to my fear of spontaneity.

After the promise of a stop at the mall to pick up essentials, we decided to spend Saturday night in St. Clairsville, Ohio. My husband had two shows and once they finished we found a hotel with a vacancy and we relaxed.

A few years ago this type of weekend would have sent me into a full fledged panic attack. Doing something that wasn’t pre-planned was outside of my comfort zone. Showing up to a hotel with nothing but a plastic bag containing a toothbrush and undergarments would have made me cry. But I felt freedom this weekend from all of the chains of anxiety that used to bind me. I realized that life doesn’t fall apart when we make last minute plans, and actually it was a lot of fun. We made many memories on the trip and we enjoyed the power of relaxation as a family.

The Ameri Brit Mom