BTT- The Cold, an Award and a Giveaway!

btt button

The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

When it’s really cold, I like get into my bed, snuggle up under my warm covers, and then read.  I’m not particular about the type of book, though I don’t think I’d read anything that required me to think.  The problem I have, however, is that I always fall asleep!

read other Booking Through Thursday answers here 🙂

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I’d like to say thank you to Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Reviews for my first award for 2010.  It’s quite a lovely award, don’t you think?

Prolific Blogger Award

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

There are a couple of rules for this award:

  1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
  2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
  3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
  4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

Miss Remmers’ Reviews is one of the blogs that I first visited during Bloggiesta as part of the comment mini-challenge, and I enjoy Reagan’s posts, especially the Thesis Statement Video, which has the Thesis Statement Rap in it.  LOL! Had to put it in there 🙂

Now for my magnificent seven nominees:

Care’s Online Book Club – While Care is currently UNPLUGGED, I enjoy reading her posts, particularly the Virginia Wolf ones (I argue I don’t like stream of conscious, and yet I loved Push.  Maybe I should give Ms. Wolf a shot, since it really was the movie The Hours that made me run from her.)  Looking forward to your return, Blogging Buddy 🙂

Wrighty Reads – Debbie has great reviews and I enjoy her “So I was just wondering…” posts.  AND she’s a fellow left-hander 😉  Lefties RULE!

Unfinished Rambler – Poor Unfinished.  He’s lost his favorite blog home, Humor-Blogs.com, and he’s been going through the various stages of grief about it.  I think he might be at acceptance now, but I’m not quite sure… He’s definitely still snarky about it, but he’s usually snarky anyway, which is one of the things I enjoy about his blogs.  Did you know Elvis is the janitor at his library?  He’s probably too cool for this award, but here it is all the same 🙂

Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom – This is a fairly new-to-me blog, but quite enjoyable.  I found it through my Google Alerts.  She had “Reading Challenge” and Welsh on the same page, so Google thought it was the same as “Welsh Reading Challenge”… erm, not quite, but I’m glad for GA’s loose extrapolation, because I would have missed this one.  It’s a lovely blog, playing chamber music while you read reviews of books about Tudors and other royal members behaving badly (and some not so bad, too;-) ), books by Sharon Kay Penman, and you can read about what happened on this day in history, as well.

Reading In Color – Ari is probably another one who is too cool for this award (really, she is, go check her blog out 🙂 ), but it’s what I’ve got to show my appreciation for what she’s doing, so here ya go.  She’s working with Doret and Laura on a project to find the most diverse YA/MG publishing company, so if you have any ideas, pass it along!

Debbie’s World of Books – This is another great blog I first visited during the Bloggiesta mini-challenge, and I’ve enjoyed ever since.  Great reviews, fun memes, and I love the blog theme (purple’s my favorite color 😉 )

In Spring is the Dawn – Also a Bloggiesta find, Tanabata focuses a lot on All Things Japanese, whether that be in book or movie form, or the traditional music of Japan.  It’s fascinating to learn about translations, and her blog’s layout is fun and beautiful.

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Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway!  I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire, and the more people sign up, the more prizes!  If 50 or more people enter to win, I’ll add $10 to spend on Amazon.com for the grand prize!

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PUSH Giveaway

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that really spoke to me, inspired me and that I could really get behind and believe in.  Yeah, this book probably doesn’t need my help boosting it, but I HAVE TO SHARE IT.  And it’s been a long while since I had a giveaway here, and I’m dying to do another one.  So, here we go!

I want more people to read this book, so I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire.

Push by Sapphire Giveaway

If I get over 20 entries, I’ll give away a second copy.  Over 50, and I’ll give away 3 copies, and a grand prize winner will also get a $10 gift certificate for Amazon.com.

Rules.. gotta have ’em.

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what book has inspired you for your official entry.
  2. Go and read my review of Push and leave a comment for an additional entry.
  3. Tweet about the giveaway using @thekoolaidmom for another entry.
  4. Blog about it for another entry.
  5. Do all four of these and get an extra entry, for a total of 5 chances to win.

The contest is open internationally, and ends at 11:59pm on February 17th.

PUSH by Sapphire

Push by SapphireTitle:  Push

Author:  Sapphire

Paperback:  192 pages

Published:  1996

Acquired:  bought new from Walmart

Challenges: New Author Challenge 2010, We Didn’t Start the Fire 2010 (AIDS), POC Reading Challenge

I don’t have nothing to write today – maybe never.  Hammer in my heart now, beating me, I feel like my blood a giant river swell up inside me and I’m drwoning.  My head all dark inside.  Feel like giant river I never cross in front me now.  Ms Rain say, You not writing Precious.  I say I drownin’ in river.  She don’t look me like I’m crazy but say, If you just sit there the river gonna rise up drown you!  Writing could be the boat carry you to the other side.  One time in your journal you told me you had never really told your story.  I think telling your story git you over that river Precious.

I still don’t move.  She say, “Write.”  I tell her, “I am tired.  Fuck you!”  I scream, “You don’t know nuffin’ what I been through!”  I scream at Ms Rain.  I never do that before.  Class look shock.  I feel embarrass, stupid; sit down, I’m made a fool of myself on top of everthing else.  “Open your notebook Precious.”  “I’m tired,” I says.  She says, “I know you are but you can’t stop now Preciuos, you gotta push.”  And I do.

Push by Sapphire, pages 96-97

wow.  I mean really, WOW.

Push by Sapphire is a book of truth.  It is raw, heart-breaking, and hard.  It is inspiring, hope-filled, naked and honest.  It is not the kind of book that will appeal to everyone, not that happy beach book many want, it is stark and dark and real and beautiful.  It could’ve been exploitative, could’ve been depressing and hopeless, could’ve so easily become an anti-white, anti-men rant, but Sapphire managed to weave the story together, as told by the main character, Precious Jones, into an emotional tale of how education can give hope for a chance at freedom and a better life.

I knew a bit about the story from the movie based on the book, Precious.  I haven’t yet seen the movie (are you kidding?  There’s no way the theater owner of our little 2-screener would’ve had THAT movie in HIS place!  Heck, he wouldn’t bring in a Tyler Perry movie, and they’re funny with a little “let’s get real” on the side), so I have to way until it comes out on DVD next month (already in my Netflix queue), but I have seen the trailers and watched the interviews and heard the awards buzz about it.  From the few scenes I’ve seen, and after reading the book, the movie should win every award it could qualify for, and if it doesn’t, I’ll be irate.  I also knew about this book from seeing it being checked out… always out and never in… at the library, and from reading Kathy at Bermudaonion’s review back in December.

So when I wandered (drifted mindlessly, to be more accurate) to the book section at Walmart the day before yesterday and saw it on the shelf, it was in my cart before Maggie could say, “No more books, MOM!”  Now, my policy for buying new books at full price is that it HAS to be a book I will read immediately.  Not next month or next year, but this week or sooner.  I was already several pages into Push before I left the store, and finished a little more than 24 hours after buying it.  Push is the kind of book that, as soon as you put it down, you pick it back up and start reading again, forgetting why you’d put it down in the first place.  The kind of book you forget to eat because it’s so engrossing.  I could barely go to the bathroom, and would worry and wonder what was going on with Precious while I was gone from her.  It will, without a doubt, be one of my top 10 books of 2010, and on my favorites list forever.

Okay, so enough gushing….  Let’s deal with the book itself.

One of the first things I got out of Push, was the realization of what it was, exactly, that I’d hated about The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine.  Both Precious and Batuk narrate their respective stories through writing in a journal.  Both books deal with the loss of innocence, sexual abuse, the sacrifice of the child by a parent, animosity between mother and daughter, and that education is the only hope and chance of escape.  But where they differ greatly is in the voice of the narrator.  Precious is pissed.  She’s upset, emotional, and expresses her sense of injustice at the terrible hand life has dealt her.  WHY? is her question over and over.  And understandably so; you expect these feelings.  Batuk, on the other hand, falls flat.  She’s accepting of her situation, barely registers emotion, occassionally expresses that she misses her father (the same man who sold her) and waxes nostalgic for the past.  Aarti of B O O K L U S T tweeted that she felt Batuk was a strong character, but I never saw any strength in her.  I do, however, agree that the overall voice of The Blue Notebook was despair and hoplessness, as Batuk knew she could never escape the situation.

Another thing I can tell you, with personal authority, is that the feelings and experiences Precious expresses from the standpoint of being an incest survivor is very real and very true.  There are things that Precious says about the sex with her father that are difficult for a child to wrap their own head around, let alone have the courage to say outloud, even in a journal.  Things like the shame you feel at feeling physical pleasure during this situation that you know in every fiber of your being is WRONG.  It’s one of the things that totally screws up the person’s ability to relate sexually for the rest of their life.  Also, Precious’s reference to genitals, hers as well as others, reflects how deeply incest survivors view their own objectification as a sex object.  “I am of no value nor worthy of love except through sex.”  is the personal worth statement of many, no matter how long it’s been since the last occurance (it’s been over 10 years for me, and he’s now dead, and yet it still that thought pervades), and the longer the abuse went on, the more pervasive and rooted that feeling becomes.

Besides the sensitive subject of molestation and the emotional affectation of the book, there is also the racial side of things.  This is where my brain spent more time, because it’s the only part I don’t share with Precious (well, that and I didn’t have children by my abuser).  I would say, “I hope I don’t offend anyone,” but then would holding back in an attempt to be non-offensive honor my Flavor of the Week, Amy, or create dialogue?  No, it would not.  So let the offense commence!

Push by Sapphire – on Race and racism

This review may become my longest ever (except The Book Thief, and may surpass that and the companion post), but I don’t care.  It deserves the length and the discussion.  Let’s get real, as Dr. Phil says.

Precious has a poster on her wall of the famous leader of The Nation of Islam, and often refers to him as the only real man she knows.  One of his sentiments that she echos more than once is, “problem is not crack but the cracker” (page 83).  I will heartily admit there are far more white people who have put their feet on the back of the neck of blacks throughout history than have helped, but maybe I’m naive in hoping things are better now than before.  I grew up in with a racist father who told offensive jokes and used the N word often, though he was not as bad as a lot of my friends parents.  It’s the way things were then.  It should NOT have been, and it was wrong, but it was what it was.  I’ve done my best to free myself from all that biggotry and to unlearn the prejudice, but it’s still something I’m aware of.  My hope is that my children will never think multiculturalism an oddity, but that it comes as natural to them as sunshine and breathing.

As the story progresses, Ms Rain, Precious’s teacher, shows her that not ALL Farrakhan’s ideas are right, like his anti-semitism and anti-homosexual beliefs, and Precious understands and sees her point.  She still hangs on to him as an inspiration and hero, citing him in her poem at the end of the book “Get up off your knees, Farrakhan say”, which I think is maturity in anyone.  As I’ve gotten older, read more, and learned more, there’s one thing I’ve come to understand about people.  We want a quick and easy, singular answer.  Life is anything but that, though, and no one person has the answers to everything, nor is he or she right all the time.  You have to sift and take away what’s worthy and leave the rest.  Most of the people you glean from aren’t good or bad, but a mixture of the two, and we must see their humanity and avoid the temptation to adulation or hate.

Other moments in the book that show the sense of distrust and dislike of whites are things like Precious’s feelings in the school counselor’s office, or the social worker’s office in the halfway house.  Precious, as well as the others in her class, express distrust, fear, and blame the white people in charge of her case.  This, I think, is the sentiment that sticks in my heart and throat as I try to wrap my head around it and put myself in her shoes.  Everywhere Precious would turn, there is a white wall blocking her escape.  No one stepped in to take her out of the situation after her first baby was born.  Who stood up to help her learn to read?  Where was the teacher when Precious was having such emotional problems (other kids in the class, her mother’s abuse at home, and the main start of the sexual abuse) in the second grade that she was wetting her pants?  Ugh!  I can understand the blame and anger she feels toward whites, and it breaks my heart to know I myself, my kids included, are judged the same, though we would NOT be like that.

And maybe it’s that that makes the racism in this book painful.  I’m being judged by the color of my skin, too, and it isn’t fair – it is never fair.  And with that thought, I have to bump Push by Sapphire up another notch, because reading it has given me a glimpse at what it feels like for African-Americans all the time, and they can’t close their book at “The End”.  They live it all the time, while I get to go back to being white in a white world.

I really love this book and, but for the explicit language and the mature subject matter, think it should be read by everyone.  Okay, so it’s not likely to be a classroom read for a high school, but definitely a college study.  I wish I’d known about it when I was in college, I could’ve had another 13 years of mulling it over and letting it work through me.  Of course, obviously, I give Push by Sapphire 5 out of 5 stars.

Here is the author Sapphire in an interview with Katie Couric discussing the journey of the book Push to the movie Precious

And, I couldn’t resist a trailer for the movie.. k, now I’m weepy.

Yay! I Am Now a Microlender :-)

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I was really inspired by Dawn’s post about Kiva.  I was signed up, but wanted to loan to someone in Vietnam and none were available at that time.  Apparently, the site will email you if you’ve not been on for a while, because I got a “Please come back” email this morning and followed the link back.  I figured I’d check to see if there were any Vietnamese loans available, but I wasn’t holding my breath.  Lo and behold, there were about 8 or 10 this morning in various stages of financing.  I’ve been watching it all day, waiting until I’d put money on my card before selecting someone.  Let me tell you!  These loans go fast!  By the time I’d gotten back from Wal-mart (I load a prepaid card there), there were 5 loans left.  I want to do one more in Maggie’s name, but have to wait for her to come back from walking her friend home.

So here is who I’ve loaned to, and I’m so excited about it!

Dang Thi My's Group

Mỵ Đặng Thị operates a family member’s general store selling school products such as pencils, pen and notebooks in her community. Mỵ is a 52-year-old woman living in the town of Đông Anh – Hà nội. She is married and has three school-age children. Mỵ has been in her business for over 10 years and earns approximately 2.000.000 dong (VND) a month. (That’s $108.53 a MONTH, USD)

In 2006, Mỵ joined SEDA to gain access to financial services to help improve her living conditions and enable her to engage in business activities. Mỵ has successfully repaid a previous loan of 4.142.000 VND from SEDA which was used to invest in expanding the business. She is now requesting a new loan of 5.014.000 VND which will be used to invest in expanding the business. This will be her fifth loan from SEDA. Mỵ plans to use the additional revenue to pay for the tuition fees of her children.

Mỵ is the leader of a 5 member group accessing a loan offered by SEDA. While each member of the group receives an individual loan, they all are responsible for paying back the loans of their fellow group members if someone is delinquent or defaults. The official name of this borrowing group is Tiên Hội (2).

About the Other Borrowers in the Group:
1. Đỗ Thị Tân is a 47-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her clothing business.
2. Lê Thị Tý is a 42-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business in the services sector.
3. Trần Thị Vịnh is a 52-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business raising livestock.
4. Lương Thị Hải is a 45-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business running a food stall.

About SEDA:
The mission of SEDA (Center of Small Enterprise Development Assistance) is to provide microfinance services to low income and disadvantaged people in rural areas of Hanoi and the northern provinces of Vietnam.

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Silly me found out I could’ve just used my PayPal account and not had to wait for the credit card… der!  But then I might not have picked this group, so maybe this was the way it was meant to be.

After I checked out and everything, Kiva offered to email the following to my address book for me, hmm.. how nice?  a bit spammy…  I passed on this service.  I’ve already invited everyone in my address book to join Kiva.

I just made a loan to someone in Viet Nam using a revolutionary new website called Kiva (www.kiva.org).

You can go to Kiva’s website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks.  Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.
  
The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back – and Kiva’s loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group in Viet Nam.  They still need another $1,175.00 to complete their loan request of $1,375.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!).  Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group too:

http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=170125

It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they’re using it for.  And most of all, I know that I’m helping them build a
sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world – one loan at a time.

‘An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity…All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.’
— Entrepreneur Magazine   

Thanks!

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What others are saying about www.Kiva.org:

‘Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.’
— BBC

‘If you’ve got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you’ve now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.’
— CNN Money

‘Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by Kiva.org.’
— The Wall Street Journal

I did, however, paste that to my facebook… LOL.  So everyone THERE got spammed. 😀

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Mags just came back, I showed her Kiva, signed her up for her own account on it, and then showed her the Vietnamese loans available.  The funny little bugger picked the same group as me.  I told her the $25 loan was part of her birthday present, which is on February 11th. 

Question I asked Maggie, “How do you feel knowing that you’ve just loaned money to a family in Vietnam who are going to use that to expand their business and pay for their kids to go to school?”

Answer:  I feel kinda proud 🙂 

Question:  How do you feel that the family lives in Vietnam, as opposed to loaning to someone in South America?

Answer:  I like it because my daddy’s country.

Question:  What are you going to do when they pay the money back?

Answer:  I want to buy toys for their kids, and presents for them, but I don’t know where to send it.

Ooookay, not the answer I was expecting, exactly… lol… but she does understand that she can either re-invest her $25 into a new loan, or cash out.

Post-It Note Tuesday! GLEEk for It!

I saw this meme on someone’s blog last week (forget whose, but I’ll remember right after I click “Publish”), then was reminded of the meme by Rebecca’s post today, Lost in Books:  Post-It Note Tuesday #2.  As soon as I saw it last week, I ran over to SupahMommy and got the direction on how to play.  I remember, as a kid, when Post-Its became all the rage, and we used to write goofy stuff all over them, tag each others books, bags, lockers… bodies, even!  Those and the label gun were enough to see me through my teenage angst.

So naturally I HAVE to play 😀  You can visit Superstickies and make your own Post-It notes, which can give you hours of fun all on it’s own 🙂

First up, my Ode to GLEE Post-It:

Glee's balloon quote

After watching the first four episodes of GLEE, I ran out to Wal-Mart and bought season one.  Honestly, I might like this show more than Stargate, LOST, and Star Trek combined!

Other Post-Its I had fun making 🙂

don't go commando!

your real dad is a carnie!

I actually say this to my children, by the way. A for-real quote from The Kool-Aid Mom.

about as funny as a rubber crutch

Actually, my dad's favorite way of telling me my pranks and jokes had gone to far was, "You're about as funny as a rubber crutch"

shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the floor

This was a joke I heard when I was about Maggie's age. There were a whole bunch of Mommy! Mommy! jokes, but this is the only one I remember.

jealous of my voices

Okay, I actually stole this from my nephew's t-shirt collection 🙂

The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green ~ review

The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family GreenTitle:  The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green

Author:  Terra Wellington

Paperback:  322 pages

Published: 2009

ISBN:  9780312384739

Acquired:  won in the March 2009 LibraryThing ER batch

Challenges:  ARC Reading Challenge 2010New Author Challenge 2010

Because most parents have limited time and budgets, an understandable reaction is, “I have too much on my plate already.  How can I possibly add more to my to-do list?”  Have no fear.  All the how-to’s in this book are about raising your family green in a practical way– so that it becomes part of your lifestyle.  Trust me:  It is doable.

…This book is all about creating lifestyle changes.  Some of these changes don’t add more to your plate, they just change how you do things.  Other changes ask you to care more, and donate what time and resources you have available.  This is how you create meaningful change in your home, your community, and beyond – one person making a difference in a real way.

The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green by Terra Wellington, pages xi-xii

Terra Wellington has been around the green circuit for a few years now, guesting on The Montel Williams Show and other TV shows, as well as being a syndicated collumnist, ClubMom contributor, and has her own blog, MomsandthePlanet.com.  And I grant you she knows quite a lot about green living.  However, I found this particular book not my thing.

To be honest, I can’t fathom why the LibraryThing algorithm picked it for me, other than I am a mother who read and loved The World Without Us.  Quite frankly, I’m a very naughty polluter.  I’m bad at recycling, often throwing my cereal boxes, newspapers and aluminum cans in the garbage with everything else.  I do try to keep the plastic bags, though, because they make excellent trash bags for the smaller cans in the bedrooms and bathroom.  I have the CFL squiggly-looking light bulbs because some dude on the morning show I watch said they lasted 5 years, and I’m lazy and hate climbing ladders to change light bulbs, so I ran out and got a bunch.  After changing almost every bulb over now, I can tell you this:  The whole 5 years thing is a lie.  More like one year, maybe a year and a half.  BUT they do save on the electric bill, and they last 3 times as long as the cheap bulbs I was buying, so the cost is offset, I think.

Honestly, I do think about what I buy before I buy it and what impact it might have on the environment.  I’ve taught my kids that styrofoam is evil, and never breaks down.  I never buy the six packs because I’d hate to kill some bird or fish or dolphin because I forgot to tear the plastic rings.  I don’t leave the fridge door open, oven on, water running, and I keep my thermostat at around 70 degrees.  Frankly, I’m pretty much doing as much as I am willing to do.

Most of what Wellington offers in the book is either impractical (for me), expensive (I’m not running out and buying new appliances, hiring an energy guy to go over my house for leaks!), or not possible since I’m a rentor.  A lot of what she suggests I already do.  There were a couple things though that actually irritated me:

If it’s possible, have your pet stay outdoors to reduce pet dander.

Or better yet, give your pet to someone who will love it, dander and all.  HONESTLY!  It infuriates me when I see some dog tied up outside, year round, never see a person talk to it, pet it, and often see it’s bowls empty, and I wonder WHY on God’s green earth do these people even think they need an animal?  How ’bout we reverse that.  Let the pet stay inside, and have the owner stay outside to reduce his dandruff.  BTW, it’s about 16 degrees here right now, and I don’t let my cats out on the front porch right now, even.

Another one that made my eyes roll was the “reduce your showers (if you must take them) to 10-minutes”.  Maybe I could just shower ever three days, then I can have a nice long shower.  How ’bout if I just skip them altogether?  That’ll save even MORE water!  Also in this book is things for pool heaters and stuff, but how many 10-minute showers worth of water are in all these private pools?  Why not get rid of those, everyone swim at a community pool and enjoy more community? 

Do you know that if everyone parked their cars, took public transportation instead or EVEN BETTER, walked everywhere (OMG, I know… scary!) the carbon gases would be greatly reduced, and maybe so would the rising obesity rates.  AND, you would have much more time to stop and smell the roses, so maybe the heart disease rates would drop, too?

Okay, so what did I like about this book?  Wellington is trying.  She’s offering solutions.  She believes in what she’s doing and writing, and it shows.  There’s great cheat sheets and worksheets for readers to fill out.  Most of the sections are short and readable.  I think the book would work best as a reference book on someone’s shelf who actually is into that stuff.

I give The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green by Terra Wellington 3 out of 5 stars.

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Here’s a quick and funny video (Mom and Maggie approved) about recycling.  I enjoyed this vid a lot more than the book, and actually feel inspired to get a recycling tub after watching it.

My Friend Amy ~ The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week

Kool-Aid Mom's Award

My Friend Amy

Amy at My Friend Amy is this week’s Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week for stepping out of her comfort zone and saying what needed to be said, regardless of whether it offended readers.  It wasn’t something she wanted to do, offend people, but she felt she needed to say what was on her mind because it was the right thing to do.

Before I had read this post, I hadn’t known anything of the whitewashing of covers.   Amy’s post also made me aware of other bloggers out there that I hadn’t read like Susan of Color Online and Ari of Reading In Color, who led me to several other wonderful new blogs, as well.  My Google Reader has nearly doubled in subscriptions, and I’m better for the diversity it has brought.  Her post has also made me think about how I, a white person, have been fairly cacooned to a lot of the issues people of color face.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means for Maggie, especially, being half-Vietnamese in a community where there are few Asians.  There have been candid conversations with her recently in which she’s expressed how she sometimes wishes she was all of one or the other instead of biracial.  Recently, her classroom finally received a second Asian, but to her dismay, the new person is a boy.  Besides the fact he is a BOY, and icky by gender (she’s in 5th grade, lol), she’s not terribly fond of him as a person (he says “Man!” a lot, and is disgusting and ill-mannered, according to her) and she says he looks like her daddy.  I’ve not seen the boy yet, but since he’s on the basketball team and she’s a cheerleader, I will see him at their first home game.  One of the things that distresses her most about Day Day is that all of their classmates are trying to push them together as boyfriend and girlfriend, just because he’s Asian.  Honestly, I think she’d like him as a friend, she does shows occasional admiration for him and, apparently, he has the redeeming quality of standing up for others from stories she’s told.

All of that paragraph was to say that Amy’s post On Being Offended has made me think a lot about how can I help Mags navigate through growing up and try to be supportive and understanding.  I can understand to an extent what it’s like for her, but I can never fully understand.  I see her beauty, grace and athleticism, and intelligence and listen to her talk about being an 10-year-old girl, and I am perplexed by the mystery of it all.  I was an overweight, social misfit, and never understood the social play that went on between my peers until I was in my mid-twenties.  Add to that the fact that when people look at her, they see a person of color and have reactions to that, either involuntary or conscious.

Most who meet Mags for the first time think she’s Hispanic, partly because there is a lot more Latinos than Asians, but also because most of her close friends are Spanish.  She is already beginning to feel the pains of racism as one of her classmates is known to “hate Mexicans”, and another accuses Maggie of being racist because she’s interested in Asian things.  And I’m beginning to see it having an effect on her this year as she’s starting to become a bit more shy and reserved, and less of the outgoing little girl who knew, at 18-months-old, how to get strangers to help her do and get the things she wanted.  I don’t know what to do to help her, other than love her and encourage her and to remind her who she really is.  AND I know this will only get harder for her as she gets older.

Well, this post is NOT where I wanted it all to go, but it kept winding back that way all the same, and perhaps that is part of what Amy’s post has done.  Her post, along with Lenore’s International Book Bloggers Mentor Program and Dawn’s Kiva posts, has made me think and think a lot about my place among so many both in the blogosphere and in the world. They impressed me enough that I wanted to tell others how much so by started the Flavor of the Week.

And now I’m out of Flavors that I had in the can, so I want y’all to let me know who has inspired you to think?  What Blogger is your Flavor of the Week?  What posts have made you reach outside of yourself and do something community-wise? 

Don’t forget to check out On Being Offended at My Friend Amy, it’s an excellent post 🙂