Blogmas | Annual Holiday DIY Project

Hello!

I love being able to do something creative around the holidays.

It’s become a bit of a tradition to do ornaments and now that I have been exploring the dot painting world, it has really opened a bunch of ideas in my mind and it’s fun to share them with my loved ones and of course blog about them. My only regret is that not every person will get one in the mail.

Sidenote: For the past month, I’ve had three bouts of stomach flu or whatever – I no longer believe it was stomach flu, but I’m also terrified to go down that road to find out what is exactly going on with my gut. Anyways, since I was down and out for several weeks, I was even more scared to do anything constructive because it would always come back to bite in the ass–literally! I know, TMI but you gotta laugh, right?


What you will need for this project:

  • Unfinished wooden ornaments – depending on which product you choose, sometimes you will be given string, multicolored beads, paint markers
  • Acrylic paint – I used two different brands of paint: Bunny Barn and DecoArt
  • 3 Paintbrushes – a large, medium and smaller brush
  • Palette container
  • Damp and dry wash cloth
  • Cup of water
  • Dotting tools

Last Christmas, I went back to the brand I used in my 2021 ornaments because they had two different collections, and I swore I had saved the others in one of the folders, but I guess I didn’t, which really bugged me in late October, so when I went looking for these characters days later, I had hoped I didn’t purchase the same designs! The ones I did find though, they had trees, bells, and snowflakes, but I really liked the others in the batch that I choose to overlook them and do my best to make every single ornament unique and I hope you (and their owners!) enjoy what I was able to do this time around.

The first day I only went in with eight characters and their base coats – for at least three of the ornaments were only painted in one color: the stars, snowflakes and hearts. Technically, the silver bells are only color, but they have a layer of glitter on top of them. I’d just like to point out the glitter wasn’t my idea; this was an addition made by my mother! For a woman who has panicked everytime I have paint out, she went all in with the glitter, I was actually very proud of her! Honestly, I didn’t know what I exactly wanted to do for these three and I went back and forth more on the hearts, but I do think keeping them as they are, is just as festive!

Once I had finished painting those guys, I moved onto the next few as i tried to do four at a time, but that really depended on the colors I still had available on my palette, so I did the baubles, snowmen, and angels, as they didn’t require much in the first layer. The snowmen were fairly simple as I just went to paint most of it in white and added the black on the arms, face and top hat. I had the thought of putting a neon orange nose of them but I figured all hell would break loose if I did so they went without their standard carrot nose. I just realized I didn’t even give them a scarf either. Oops!

The baubles were another easy-going ornament for me as I just used a color called “pure blue” and it is beautiful! I was tempted to use it everywhere but that was also part of the problem with it, since the shade was so vibrant, it was somewhat difficult for my mom to remove on the brushes, skin, …floor. It’s the same blue that reminds me of that scene in Harriet the Spy where her classmates “accidentally” pour a jug of blue paint on her. The last scene of her frantically scrubbing it off, is exactly how my mom had to remove it as well! Back to the baubles though, after they had dried, I grabbed my rustic gold and painted the section where you thread the string on top of it and it actually makes it look really good! I was worried I’d regret my decision there because when it dries, it tends to soak into the surface and instead of becoming lighter as acrylic paint normally does, it can look dark, but thankfully, the blue stands out just enough to balance out that dullness it can have at the end of the day.

311920491_645805607241209_2078713252452553379_n
This photo was taken before the wings of the angels (and the trees were decorated!) were taken.

The angel. I was somewhat thrilled to have a small stack of heavenly angels as a part of my holiday project. I was conflicted though because I wanted to keep them with a simple design, but also make them to be individuals as well; in the end I went with the latter as it just seemed better to go in this route in case, I got a little overzealous with making sure every angel was different from the other. So, they all received a sky-blue gown, white wings and light-yellow face/halo.

Next, I went to the reindeer, stocking, trees, and despite doing the Christmas trees last year, I was thoroughly excited to be a little more creative–sickness be damned at this point!

Anyways, I started with my trees, and I managed to remember the precise shade I had for my original tree project back in 2020, and it had a bluesy green color and I thought it made the trees more winter-y, which is what I really wanted to showcase a natural look with some decorations here and there. Every tree had the standard blue-green coat, brown trunk and yellow/red on top for the star. When I finished with the basic things, I moved on to create their overall look with yellow, red and blue dots everywhere; some trees had a design I enjoyed creating last Christmas and I definitely went for it on some of them, while the others have a couple or few smaller dots that make them seem cute and meek at the same time.

As for the reindeer, I knew they would appear this year, but since I thought, I was going to have that other collection, I figured I’d only have to focus my attention on the face of the reindeer themselves, whereas with the batch I ended up with, were made with the whole body intact, I was a little nervous on how to make them “believable” if that makes sense. Although I will admit, I did create a little Rudolph face on the bells last Christmas as an added bonus to the mix, and I absolutely loved that idea, but I was concerned on whether I’d feel comfortable making a harness over the chest and front legs like they were all a part and ready to carry Santa’s sleigh through the night sky. I didn’t use a pencil outline for any of my initial designs for when I started on the dot process, I just went with my gut and I’m happy to say it actually worked out in the end of the day.

To round off this cluster of ornaments, we have the innocent stocking. My mindset going into this one was to basically copy what my actual stocking looks like, it’s a ruby red with white topper or ruffle, I don’t really know what that part of the sock/stocking would be, but then again, I’ve never had to care of the correct term. Anywho, when I went into painting, I used this beautiful red shade that definitely captured the same color that of red-hot cinnamon candies, but that damn topper was difficult. My mom had thought of using the silver glitter again, and at one point I had agreed with it, but then I changed my mind when I suddenly found myself with two stockings with bright blue… Honestly, I don’t regret it. It’s really pretty! The other two were never painted actually painted; if I had the confidence to do it, they were going to have a textured fur look in that area but again, I still loved how they turned out too!

Here’s something funny for you, now that I’m officially done with these ornaments and they should be getting to their rightful places soon, I’ve already decided on what I’m doing next year. If I can find a bunch of them, my plain is to do gingerbread men and women. As much as I enjoy the variety packs, only having one character may be easier on me as I can just give my heart to my design process. What do you think about this idea?

Do you have any special Christmas crafts you do for or with your family? For those who do not have anything, but have your own ideas though, what is it? Share with me in the comments!

snowflake

Blogmas | Our Advent Calendars

Hello!

Even though I am an American, I thoroughly enjoy advent calendars! I like the fact that every day you get a little something to do or eat, depending on your preferred calendar!

What is an Advent Calendar?

An advent calendar is a special way to countdown to Christmas. It is originally celebrated and made with candles and wreaths in Germany, but as with everything in the modern world, it exploded into the mainstream, and we’ve added candy to the mix.

I think I was introduced to them around 2014. It would have been the first time I’d watch Zoe Sugg’s vlogmas on YouTube. Honestly, by that time I had been introduced to the bulk of the blogging community, so they could have helped me along the way as well. Anyways, I thought it was an interesting way to get ready for the holiday festivities.

Afterwards, my nana received a simple advent calendar from one of the charities she supports, and they sent a naked tree, and your job was to decorate the scene from the first of December to Christmas day. She would put it up on the refrigerator and anytime I came over to visit, it would be the first thing I’d do, but on the days when I didn’t, my nana would say papaw did it for me and that sounds like something he’d do. I think the longer we did it, he started to enjoy it just as much too!

The day I wrote this post, this picture popped up on my Facebook Memories and I’ve never been happier!

Fast forward to 2021, I wanted to get my own advent calendar. It had been some time since I did one and I thought it was time to bring it back. I had also hoped I could persuade my parents to do it with me, and within four days they became as excited as I was on what would be inside the little envelopes. I managed to find a very affordable Harry Potter calendar that opens up like a giant book and considering neither one of my parents know anything about Harry Potter, I think they enjoyed learning more about it through the various memorabilia. and they definitely understand my love for everything Harry Potter now.

Our 2022 Advent Calendar!

I can’t deny to you, I’ve been searching for this year’s advent calendar since May, and I feel absolutely no shame for it either.

Originally, I wanted to get either a calendar dedicated to puzzles or socks. I watched Alexandra Roselyn on YouTube last year and she had two different calendars, one for tea and the other was for jigsaw puzzles. I was kind of curious about whether I’d have enough patience to do a puzzle with my parents, and honestly, I doubt they’d last long with it. Now, about the socks, my mom has a lot of various socks and I point them out to her all of the time because they rarely go with her outfits or seasons, so I figured this would be a winner for us but the prices for these kinds of calendars can be expensive. When I looked through Amazon back in August, the prices stayed around $40 and as much as I knew we’d have fun and get use out of them, I just didn’t believe at the time it was worth it.

I actually told my mom about the sock advent calendar, and she was very stunned, and told me next year we need to get one together… I told you, she likes her socks!

Anyways, my mom ended up finding this year’s advent calendars. The first is a red box with little holiday scene and you have to look for whatever day(s) you are on and your job is to break the cardboard door to find a little treasure. A mini ornament. When my mom took these pictures below, we had missed the first two days, so we have a set of golden bells with a red bow in the middle of them, and a little snowman decorated with mittens, a scarf and Santa hat on top. We really love this calendar the most, it is absolutely adorable and since my Christmas tree is on a medium size, it is better to decorate it with mini ornaments so these prizes will be very well-loved with me once we are finished with it.

In each photo of the calendars, I’ve included the link, so if you’d like to purchase or put them in a folder for next year’s Christmas season you can.

For the second calendar, my mom thought this would be an interesting because we both enjoy watching crime dramas–she’s currently on a Scandal kick whereas I am watching FBI. The crimes you get to try and solve are based on Sir Arthur Cohen Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, it is all with a British theme, which isn’t quite ideal, I’ve had to help mom as she didn’t understand some of the names and phrases. The “crimes” themselves are mostly rated PG. This calendar is set up like one of those calendars you flip over to the next and it just sits on your desk. As you’ve might’ve guessed, this isn’t our favorite, but it’s still technically early so we’ll really see if we change our tune after Christmas.

Maybe next year I can do a little list of advent calendars that seem like they could be fun to do with your family. It would also be nice to give you something around a reasonable budget too! If this is something you would like to see in next year’s Blogmas content, please let me know down in the comments.

Are you and your family doing an advent calendar this year? If so, what is the theme behind it? If you’ve done an advent calendar since you were young, what do you look for when you go to purchase them?

snowflake

Top 8 Spooky Films!

Hello!

You can tell I haven’t done on these posts in a while, mainly because I had forgotten how to actually start it. Oops!

I’m also talking about a different subject too, I normally don’t talk about “spooky” things, especially in the month of October. I mentioned in my recent review for Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” last week that even though I love the occasional vampire, witch and werewolf subgenres, I am still very tame when it comes to anything in the “horror” category. To be perfectly honest with you, none of these films are too over the top, at least from my standpoint–you might have another point of view and that’s fine and dandy. We all have our limits for this time of the year and if you’re interested in boarding your horizons a bit, I think you should consider the list below.

Now, shall we?


Before we start, I wanted to give you a level to go with each movie in the hopes to help you see how “creepy” it is, so imagine that number one is the safest whereas 10 is not only the highest but frightening on the whole thing, but as you get to five, you’ve hit a good medium between those feelings, okay?

The Gift (2000)

One of the first movies I was suggested to watch was The Gift. When you have both of your parents telling you to check it out, that is usually a good candidate, especially in the psychological section. For the most part, that’s what I’d say about all of these films but this one was different because it still has some of my usual themes within it.

The Gift is about a woman who is known to be a little out there. She is more of a healer than a witch, but now she is starting to have visions of another woman who is mysteriously missing, and she is haunted by this girl and feels certain that she is dead. It stars Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, and Keanu Reeves in very strong roles. Despite for some intense scenes, I’d still give it a 6 1/2 on the “creepy” scale.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Now with this film, I was told to watch it for basically two years; at one point my mom was watching it in the living room, and I was slightly intrigued by the start of it. A few days later I decided to actually watch it and even though I thought it was really good, that doesn’t mean I’ll be watching it for a while. I would definitely put it at an eight, because of a scene that shows a Ouija board. I hate those things and that scene almost made me run for the hills!

The Prodigy (2019)

This one is very interesting because it focuses on a reincarnation outlook with some creepy stuff involved as we follow a couple on the quest on having a baby and on the day their child is born, a serial killer is also taking his last breaths at the same hospital! When the killer realizes this, he gets to recreate his life in the eyes of this little boy.

In my defense, the first time I ever saw the trailer, I didn’t think it looked too bad, I thought in a way, it would be like The Gift in a more modern way, and I was so totally wrong! This freaked me out more than I thought it would, but I will also say that I thought it was really interesting too. I liked it for those moments, but that means it belongs higher on my scale, so I’d say it’s an eight or nine. However, I do have an alternative for you. If you are interested in reincarnation or a “Freaky Friday” kind of scare, I think “Freaky” with Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton would be a more comic and safer idea instead.

Fantasy Island (2019)

A little bit after I completed The Prodigy, I actually noticed a change in myself and I definitely wanted more psychological thrillers, nothing like Final Destination or Saw (although I do want to check out “Spiral” soon!) and I always seemed to watch their trailers first, but as we’ve found out with the last one, I don’t know if going about it this way is a good thing in general.

When I suggested this to my dad, he made it apparent to me that there could be an older version of this film, I know there is/was a TV show on FOX with Rosalyn Sanchez last year, but I was never able to check it out in time. Anyways, this movie was actually lighthearted in the beginning, but you knew shit was going to hit the fan sometime. It had a nice balance of “oh, this is fine” to “here we go” and ultimately “oh damn!” but I enjoyed myself all the same. I’d give it a solid six, mainly because of the events happening at the end.

Escape Room (2019)

I’ve heard about these damn escape rooms all the time. I first heard about them while watching an episode of Jeopardy! and I thought why in the world would anyone want to lock themselves with a bunch of random people in the hopes to finding a series of keys to get out of there. I mean, I barely wanted to work in groups with people I know because I can do things easier on my own!

And then I decided to watch this sucker and was sucked into it immediately, but since this was a movie, the rules can change, and your outcome can have some deadly consequences. I truly loved this movie, like I am patiently waiting for the day the second shows up on my guide for Starz (because that’s where the other premiered on!). If you would like another film like this, try to search for Play Or Die. This one has more British actors in it so the accents are heightened and the plot for the main character is more mysterious.

Crawl (2019)

I feel really bad for adding this to this list after the lower half of the States are recovering after the damage of Hurricane Ian in Florida, Puerto Rico and others as we speak, but this was a creepy but realistic take that most of us would not think about but probably should afterwards.

This film follows a father, daughter duo getting stuck in the midst of an intense hurricane and their home is infested with massive and hungry crocodiles. If you thought sharks were bad, this will show you to fear these beasts even more! As the characters are trying to escape, they try not to tempt monsters hiding in the water. As someone who hasn’t watched Jaws, I’d give this movie a big 10 because evetime you believe it’s done, all hell breaks loose for the characters.

Old (2020)

This year, I had decided on two movies I desperately wanted to see and luckily, they appeared on HBOMax. I was a happy camper, and the first was M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. I saw the trailer and knew from experience that when dealing with Shyamalan’s work, it would be slightly horrifying! However, it didn’t stop me from watching it.

Old is about a group of people who come to this resort, and they are each invited to visit a beach with beautiful views and relaxing atmosphere, which is true, but there is a bad side to it too. They get their first clue when they find a woman dead on the shore and it looks like she’d been there for a very, long time but hasn’t. In a matter of five hours, each of the residents become older and lose a number of things in the process, their eyesight, memory, beauty, and one of the children becomes an adult, gives birth right there in front of her parents.

This movie was right up my alley, but it also seemed too weird, and I didn’t particular enjoy the ending of it either. I would give it a good seven out of ten because there were a lot of freaky moments–obviously! Now if you’d ask me on general enjoyment, I’d tell you it was a four.

Last Night In Soho (2021)

After I had watched Old, I was a bit skeptic on how Last Night In Soho would turn out for me. The main reason why I had wanted to see it was because stars Thomasin McKenzie (who was also in Old!) and Anya Taylor-Johnson (who was in M. Night Shamalyan’s Split!) and Matt Smith. I had found it just before House of the Dragon would start and I wanted to get a sense of Matt’s work before it had premiered a couple of months later.

My thoughts on Last Night In Soho are completely different to Old; I actually loved it so much that I told my parents it was one of the best films I’d seen in a while. I would actually put it on the same list I put Murder On the Orient Express. It was that amazing!


Honestly, this is a pretty hefty list with a lot of different options. I’ve done other movies lists in the past, I’ve even done a few Halloween-y posts a couple of years ago, so it’s nice to update what I’ve enjoyed since then and let you test your waters in the near future.

Which film(s) are you thinking about checking out soon? Do you have any others that fit well with this list that I might enjoy too? Let me know in the comments below!

snowflake

Spinal Fusion | 20 Years Later

Hello!

In the last several years a lot has happened, I celebrated 10 years as a blogger in 2019, I hit two milestones in last year, starting with my blog turning 10 in October and I entered my “dirty thirties” a month later. For this year, there is a very different anniversary, and I’ve felt weird about it for months. I actually decided to allow myself to write about my thoughts months in advance because I couldn’t get it out of my mind of how it’s been this long since it happened, so I hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane today.

I was technically born with three conditions, as you may know I have Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congentia, but this can lead to other problems like babies born with club feet. scoliosis, etc. I happen to have a serve case of AMC with the addition of a club foot, rocker bottom, and scoliosis. I’ve had many, many physical therapies over the years, in the hopes of trying to help make life a little easier. I’ve had discussions about what could be done as far as surgeries go to “fix” my arms and feet, but the only I ever had been the full spinal fusion surgeries in 2002.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What is spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion surgery is usually the last option, if your back cannot be corrected after wearing braces for multiple years. The National Spine Health Foundations says, it is like trying to fix a broken bone(s), which is a great way on how to explain it, especially in my experience. What does one do in the hopes of repairing a deformed bone? You have two options: use a splint or form a brace/cast and hope time will heal all wounds… Nice pun action there, right?

I wasn’t a stranger to braces; we still have the itty-bitty braces doctors gave us for my hands. When I came out of the womb, my arms weren’t set in the position at my chest. According to my mother, they were somewhat flat, and the doctors tried to adjust them twice. The first was when I was in incubator, (I was a preemie, so I needed a little help breathing and then of course figuring what was going on with my body.) and the nurses made a makeshift log by folding a single wash cloth and propped me on top of it so my arms would stretched out and eventually my parents were given the braces for my forearms and they a little smaller compared to a standard remote for your TV!

Anyways, I was about five or six years when I was put into the first brace I actually remember. I don’t exactly remember the appointment itself but It had many crooks and crannies, plus it was very decorated with stickers, thanks to my fellow classmates adding a bit of fun to the whole thing! I wore it until the end of third grade and just before I turned 10, I was fitted with a brand-new brace and it was very bulky, this was as close to a corset as I could get, and thankfully I only had to wear it for less than a year because it wasn’t doing very much to help me at this point.

I remember the night before we drove up to Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis, my mom had my sister and I and we prayed together if it was decided by the doctors I would have surgery, I remembered our expressions being of fear and shock, I mean we were kids, despite the fact we’d go over there multiple times a year since I was about two years old, somehow I hadn’t heard that word “surgery” before, so it was no wonder why I can remember that scene so well because it was a new thing to me, and I didn’t fully understand that whole process until much later in life.

The actual appointment is still hilarious to me because after getting X-Rays done five minutes earlier, the four of us were called next and put into the standard size room with a very used chalk board and different toys attached to the wall next to the giant mirror. Our parents were wrecked with nerves, Blondie was playing, and I was on the cold floor slowly peeking out into the hallway, watching everybody walk around, which is something I still do at age 30, but I noticed there were a lot of doctors looking at a set of X-Rays and I saw my doctor among them. I knew at that moment they were inspecting my images and as I was told to scoot back in the room, I didn’t feel scared but curious of the language they were discussing–I knew something big was coming and it fascinated me!

As I made my way back over to my folks, they suspected the doctor would be coming soon, so one of them lifted me onto that damn bed thingy and I sat there for a short time before they came into the room. How do you know you’re going to have surgery? Well, in my case, about 7 doctors walked right in and they were the same 7 people busy talking in low tones about the process of my spine. There were tears and I cracked a couple of jokes, because that’s how I roll in life. The day we went up there for this appointment had to been in mid-April 2002, because by the start of August, and what would be the beginning of my 5th grade school year, we made another trip which would be even longer as I was now an inpatient on the second, B floor with a roommate by the name of Shelby.

My mom and I tend to argue about the exact date we went up and stayed at the hotel and eventually moved into the hospital to stay. The first night in that hospital was another hilarious experience! I couldn’t get to sleep, because the next day would start on my three-and-half-month journey. We got yelled at by one of the night nurses that the TV wasn’t allowed on at night. This is definitely something you don’t tell a new patient, but we followed the rules, and after my mom went to bed, I decided to play with the controls of my bed, and I had that thing folded up like a taco! I think my mom woke up in the middle of my fun and told me off, because I don’t remember much after that!

The next day, Dr. Lawrence Lenke only came to the hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays as he spent the majority of the time at the Children’s Hospital a few miles into the city, where I would end going for the second and third surgeries. The first was a smaller one but the one we can somewhat pinpoint the easiest, which is why I tend to celebrate them on this one date, as supposed to the day we left in early November. This surgery was just as important as the doctor and his nurses and techs fitted a half halo made of metal onto my skull. I had eight pins screwed into sections to keep it secured and I was attached to a pole in both my bed and wheelchair to keep myself alignment. I ended up having three surgeries altogether, but I wouldn’t have the actual spinal fusion surgery six days after my 11th birthday.

Over the years, I’ve finally figured out the timeline of everything that happened, both while I was in surgery and recovery, and what was going on at home and school too. My mom and I were separated from our support systems. My dad stayed home to work and stay with my younger sister, she actually doesn’t have a lot of memories of that time, whereas I remember almost everything. I had tons of distractions between school, friends that stayed in our section, the goofy nurses and field trips. I went on more field trips in three months than I did in one year!

A little after I had my first surgery, I got to meet some of St. Louis Cardinal baseball players. My dad was very excited, he thoroughly enjoyed this! I think this and the time a group of motorcyclists came to visit us and brought us goodies. Anyways, I’m not into baseball so I sort of felt silly meeting these guys, but the Cardinals team is a big supporter of Shriner’s Hospital, and visit the kids, and sometimes a group of kids, nurses and people in the RT (recreational therapy) go to watch a game and meet the entire team(s) and I am thrilled they do this. We met with a great bunch of guys, and it was really fun, but I highly doubt Woody Williams still has my autograph but hey you never know! He was very curious of my ability to write with my feet, so we did a trade, he signed my shirt, and I gave him my autograph.

From L to R we have Timo Martinez, Andy Benes (he retired later in the 2002 season!), Mike DiFelice and Woody Williams. Notice the metal halo on the top of my head, and the pole behind my wheelchair. Photo credit: Dona Glambert aka my nana!

It is absolutely crazy that it’s been over 20 years since I had my first surgery, the other two anniversaries will be at the end of October and first week of November.

I could sit here and tell you all of the things that happened, but it would be even longer than it is now, so I am going to stop here for now. If you would like to ask any question about my experiences; while I was staying at Shriner’s, recovering, or anything else, you can email me at gotmeghan.blog@gmail.com Be sure to get the dot in between “gotmeghan” and “blog” before you send your messages! I’d also like to say if you know someone who was a nurse at that hospital, worked in the B section, and remembers anything about the girl who drove her wheelchair with her feet, I’d also like to get in touch with you/them too!

Have you ever had surgery before? What was the location and reason why you needed to have it in the first place? Leave your answers below!

snowflake

Book Review: “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Hello!

Last year, I was scrolling through Facebook and this meme had popped up from a library, stating mainly to those who are adults, that it is okay to enjoy reading YA (young adult) books. I took this to heart because I have heard of my favorite booktubers feeling uneasy about checking out books in this genre, and to see this slip all throughout my social media has influenced my own journey branching out from other genres that I feel weird reading like children’s literature. I wasn’t a lover of reading (of any kind) when I was little, so now I’m diving deep into classics I had pushed aside in the past.

This book isn’t part of that list, but it is middle grade, which is targeted for students in junior high or middle school, at least that’s what I believe is the meaning behind it. An example of what is considered middle grade are the Harry Potter books. Of course, they take a darker note after ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but for the most part they are always regarded for pre-teens around the ages of 10-15.

WARNING: there are some spoilers below. So, If you are planning on reading the book in the near future, you might want to skip this post!

ac22dcd2adef7d61bc1c64891e1ccd6c

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.


Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

taken from Goodreads.

This was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and a brilliant read for this month as it is Ramadan in the Muslim communities. As you may know, I love to learn, and a few years ago I was introduced to the holiday event Ramadan and Eid. This was one that I was not familiar with, but I was thrilled to learn what people do to celebrate the month of fasting, praying, and ultimately the renewal of life that comes with it. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, as I always read at least one book around Ramadan, and this year I chose “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga.

This story of a little girl who spent her early years in Syria, living with her family, going to school, and having the typical childhood, until the start of the violence there breaks every thing she is used to, and it immediately made me remember an old friend of mine, her name was Reem, and she lived in Syria. One of her last tweets was in 2014, and honestly, every time she came on with new updates about her and her outlook on the country as a whole was so heartbreaking for us. I haven’t talked about her much because it hurts to know how close she was to it. I don’t know if she made it out of Syria and I’ve checked her previous accounts on Twitter, but there’s nothing there. I always hope she is somewhere free of the chaos and that’s all I can really do.

For our main character Jude, you are able to see the innocence of this young girl navigating this new world in a way; I liked the way, we as the reader, were able to see the good and bad in Jude’s life. She goes to a school in America with her cousin, who was born here. It was interesting to see the differences between these little girls as they are part of the same blood but has been through different things. For Jude’s cousin Sarah, she wouldn’t be totally comfortable accepting a hijab after starting her period. You get the gist right away that she wasn’t raised like that and isn’t very accepting of Jude to being like that.

and I know I am not back home, but here, in this home.

Despite this, there was one girl that was a great addition to Jude’s life, and her name is Layla. She was born in the United States, but her family is from Lebanon and own a Middle Eastern restaurant that Jude visits to enjoy food and love of her native homeland. Layla is a great insight into what it is like for a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs and feels like she’s punished for it. I believe Sarah and Layla respect two sides of what it’s like being a girl in America. If people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. I heard this phrase a lot as a teenager, but it really spoke to me while reading about Jude in this book.

A way of getting acclimated to her new school was instantly being in an ESL class. ESL means “English Second Language” and I can remember seeing several students in school growing up, having to be hallways to learn English, because as far as I knew we didn’t have those at the time. Honestly, it wasn’t until high school we were allowed to choose between two languages to learn as an elective, and they were German and Spanish. In Jude’s case, she has three other students in her class, and they were from other parts of the world, and it was sweet to see them learn slang words like “bougie” (which I did not learn about until I was 28!) and phrases such as, “you know?”

There were so many things I truly adored about this book, but I did not enjoy how it ended. I felt like it should have given the reader more of what happens after that final scene, but instead we were left with a cliffhanger ending and it really angered me because I thought it could have continued on a little more, but I’ll get over it.

Have you read “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga yet? If so, what were your thoughts? What was your favorite scene(s) of the whole book?

snowflake