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Should I insist my children learn to write cursive?

Should I insist my children learns to write?

With today’s modern technology, it’s natural to wonder just how important it is for a child to learn to write. The founding parents of our educational system were correct when they created the cornerstone for our school’s teachings; Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. By taking writing from our schools, we are literally taking out a third of what the student needs to be successful in their education.

Although there are devices that will more quickly and accurately communicate, the act of handwriting is brain development and doesn’t have much to do with the hand at all. Handwriting is in fact, brain writing. If a person were to lose their hands in an accident, and subsequently learned to write with their feet or mouth, once the coordination of controlling the pen or pencil was mastered, the writing would look similar if not exactly like if they were using their hands. The reason for this is that a person’s handwriting is nothing more than body language on paper. (Which is why it changes with our moods.)

It’s Brain Writing

Writing develops our children’s brains in more ways than just hand/eye coordination. It develops communication skills as well as empathy and compassion. The children of today are often so attuned to communicating with their phones when in a face-to-face social situation, they often are uncomfortable and awkward. This can be directly linked to the lack of writing in their lives.

Analyzing a child’s writing should wait until they are over eighteen for several reasons, the biggest is the rapid way they are developing, learning and changing. Since children are constantly growing into their future selves, it’s encouraged for them to explore through the written word as well as drawings. In fact, a better way to analyze a child’s state of mind is to have them draw a house, a tree, a flower, a snake and a heart. These items can demonstrate the way the child is feeling at the moment the doodles are created. Each indicates a different part of the child’s life from their self-image to their home life, their friendships and attitudes towards sex. Like with writing, it needs to be understood, the drawing is the way they feel at the moment in time they drew it, those things can change with moods, outer influences and over-all situations in their lives.

What can a parent do?

It’s never too early to introduce children into writing and doodling. As soon as a toddler can hold a pencil, they can put it to paper and begin a brain work-out. Here are a few suggestions to get your child writing and enjoying the process of it.

  1. Unlined paper – When getting a journal for your child, invest in a sketch pad instead. Lines on paper tend to restrict the creativity and expression of their penmanship. If a child wants to write big, little, uphill, down-hill or all over the place, let them. There is no right or wrong way for them to get started.
  2. Age for cursive writing – Keep in mind, when cursive is introduced, girls have the fine-motor skills by third or fourth grade whereas boys aren’t ready for that type of writing until sixth or seventh. This explains why women tend to enjoy cursive writing more than men, they were introduced to it when their brains were ready and able to process the act. (It also explains why most women are more compassionate and empathetic.)
  3. The only red-flags are extremes – If your child is writing so hard it puts dents in your table, that is an extreme that needs to be addressed (there will be other emotional signs from your child, but intense heavy writing can be interpreted as anger). These red-flags need to be consistent or most likely would be considered a mood or phase. Other extremes that are noteworthy are very tiny writing or writing that is so perfect it looks like a font from a computer.
  4. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation – Unless your student it doing a homework assignment that will be graded, don’t stress out about the spelling or punctuation. When a child can be free to express themselves without the pressure of dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s they will have a better overall experience. If the experience is good, they will be more likely to want to write again and again.

Don’t forget to write

Unlike algebra, handwriting may never be used in everyday life for your child (lol). That being said, the benefits of teaching your child to write will never be a waste of time. Writing hones in hand/eye coordination, encourages creativity and develops compassion and empathy more than we realize. To ensure your child has all the advantages they need in today’s competitive world, writing may be the easiest tool to give them. To maximize their success, regardless of their passions and talents, don’t forget to write.

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Bitcoin Guide for Beginners (Blog and Book Review)

Bitcoin Guide for Beginners is just that, a great, quick book that lays down the basics of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The title is a bit misleading, however; specifically the way cryptocurrency has been (not) performing this year. Making money in an hour could have been the way it was when the  book was published, but in today’s market, it’s a long term game.

This book was an easy way to support an independent author, it’s only twenty-eight pages.  Personally, it took me about a year of listening to my husband, reading blogs, posts and comments plus (the most important) watching our retirement account grow for me to actually, “get it”. Jonathan P. Worderth talks in basic, simple language that anyone can understand and he gives great comparison examples in his book, Bitcoin Guide for Beginners.

Fiat currency vs. cryptocurrency

The first thing people need to wrap their heads around is the difference between fiat currency and cryptocurrency. Back in the day, our money was backed by gold or silver. A tangible metal worth whatever the purchasing power was for that time period. Our money now is backed by the U.S government. (Let that sink in.) Yes, we live in a country to be proud of, a wealthy, developed country. But fiat currency is an abstraction. A crisp hundred dollar is worth nothing on it’s own.

Human beings have traded as long as they have been on this earth. Trading everything from beads to tulips to things that are aren’t moral or legal. Trading one thing for another has been a way of life as long as life has been around.

Most recently, things have been traded for time. People make an hourly wage, the money is transferred from one bank account to another minus the taxes the government requires you to pay. People in turn pay their bills using electronic transfers or swiping a plastic card to exchange their time for their groceries. In most cases, folks don’t actually have cash anymore.

It all stays the same – but different

Cryptocurrency does everything cash can do but takes the middle man (the bank) out of the equation. It’s easy to pay for goods and services directly from one on-line wallet to another. Here’s the biggest difference and where the biggest challenge for Americans is going to be; YOU are responsible for all your money.

One advantage with a bank is if your account is hacked, if your credit card is stolen and used without your permission, if you lose your PIN #, etc… a bank usually has a customer service agent that can walk you through the steps to reset your lost PIN or an insurance of sorts to replace the money that was stolen.

With cryptocurrency, that’s not a thing. YOU and YOU alone are in charge of your money. This is good and bad. A friend of mine is over seventy and has a nice retirement ‘nest egg’. This year, the government forced her to withdraw over $2k or they were going to tax her and she would lose a percentage of the money. The deregulation of the cryptocurrency was a huge draw for her as there is no one telling what you can do our not do with YOUR money. (It’s a hefty responsibility we’ve never really had, the banks have always been there controlling our money.)

In summary, Bitcoin Guide for Beginners is a wonderful place to start with your investing. I wished the author had taken us a deeper into the mechanics of using cryptocurrency specifically out of the U.S plus delved a bit more into the multitude of cryptocurrencies that are popping up every day. (There’s a subject suggestion for volume two!) But if you’re interested and don’t know a thing about crypto, this is a great, affordable place to start.


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The Hate U Give (book review) #mustread

The Hate U Give was a difficult book to put down and a painful book to read.

This book is all about Starr Carter, a black girl living in a poor neighborhood that to some would be considered the ‘hood’. She goes to school at a swanky prep school where the majority of the students are white, including her boyfriend. The trick to her life is balance between the two worlds. Her dad doesn’t know she has a boyfriend, let alone that he’s white. Her white friends don’t know she witnessed a drive-by shooting when she was in elementary school resulting in the death of her best friend. And her black friends don’t know how difficult living in both worlds can be.

Everything seems to be going fine until Starr is the only witness to a police officer shooting an unarmed black teenager, Starr’s longtime friend, Khalil. This incident causes her worlds to collide in ways that are unimaginable but yet hauntingly familiar.

I love to read and when I rate a book, I look at the number of times the story brought me to an emotional state. The Hate U Give covered the spectrum, from tears of sadness to rage to fits of laughter. I recommend this book to every one of every color. This is exactly the type of book I’d love to write! Kudos to Angie Thomas for totally nailing it with her debut novel.  If you’ve not heard of this author or book, check it out. Angie was born and raised (and still) lives in Jackson, Mississippi. She has a passion for literature which led her to get a BFA in creative writing. I can’t help but feel happiness towards this young woman for writing her book and following her dream. The novel is under contract for a movie and what author doesn’t want that to happen. Bravo, bravo!

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My Hong Kong Adventure

While scrolling through a cheap-airfare google search, my husband asked, “Want to go to Hong Kong?” Is there any other answer to that but YES! Him and I set off for the other side of the world to ring in 2018 in style. Konger style!

Getting there is half the fun (JK)

We flew Alaskan to Seattle. From ABQ, we don’t have a lot of choices but I must say, I prefer Alaskan over Southwest. With some advance purchase, their prices aren’t too bad. SWA compatible. From Seattle, we went non-stop on Delta. Watched more movies on that flight than in all of 2017! (LOL! May I recommend Snatched with Amy Shumer and Goldie Hawn… Or if you need a good cry A Dog’s Purpose should do the trick.)

Our Airbnb was in Discovery Bay (fifth floor) across from the China Disneyland. Our hostess/host were pros and left us some snacks, local beer and easy directions to use the public transportation system. They were top-notch hosts all the way! Our flat was small, clean and just perfect for what we needed.

The first morning we explored downtown Hong Kong and found the famous ‘sneaker street’ where every name-brand of shoes has at least one shop. Beware though, they largest women size is an 8. With clothes too, sigh, good thing the guys shoes were cute too. We shopped an entire afternoon and had some local cuisine from a little cafe where we the only ones that spoke English. That night, the (impressive) New Years fireworks could be seen from our bedroom window. Which was a good thing as we were exhausted from the 20hours of traveling and the day’s worth of shopping.

New Year’s Day

We visited the Tian Tan Buddha and the Temple of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ngong Ping on New Year’s Day. We rode up the mountain in a glass-bottomed tram. The shops and restaurants weren’t quite open as we went extra early (yea, we were still on Mountain Time Zone, lol) The stillness and then awaking of the area was subtle and sweet, a blessing to welcome the new year. We went in and paid extra to do the self-guided tour. It was a sacred and special time to be in that specific spiritual place.

We hiked down through the Lantau North County park. It was approximately eight and a half miles straight down! (Hey HK, next time you make a trail down a mountain may I suggest switch-backs?)Everyone we passed wished us a Happy New Year. (there were a lot off people!) HK has approximately 7.5 million people and it seemed we bumped into a big part of the population. I’m out of shape AF and would ask the folks coming up, “How much further?” and inevitably they answered, “Oh, about two more hours.” This went on all day to the point I was afraid to ask!

Let’s see it all

We also visited Lautau island, rode bikes through Sha Tin’s Central Park and through the neighborhood, Tai Wa. There was a three story “wet market” we went to (oppose to a dry market, the difference being the floors-wet or dry). The first floor had live sea food, as well as freshly caught and many sides of beef, whole chickens and ducks. That’s where you pick your meat. The next floor you select your vegetables. Once you get to the third floor you pick your cook, the hostess seats you and takes your food and by the time you get your drinks, the food you just picked from the market is steaming in front of you! We had pan fried pumpkin, beef/potatoes, shrimp and garlic, and a veggie scramble. I heard a rumor Anthony Bourdain went there but the cook booth thought he was nothing more than an arrogant Canadian so no mention of it is anywhere… who knows?

The next day my calves and back were screaming so I talked my husband into a taxi up to the Pok Fu Lam County Park where we took a nice stroll along a relatively flat asphalt trail to Victoria Peak and then to a lovely restaurant with a fantastic bar! (the hostess hugged me as I came in the door, so sweet!)

The adventure the next day was shopping and eating in Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan and along Hollywood road to the Man Mo Temple. The public transportation is so easy and convenient, we really took advantage of seeing as much as we could. Still averaged 7-10 miles of walking day. I actually lost a few pounds on this vacation and it wasn’t from a lack of food! LOL!

Our Airbnb hosts had a swanky dinner party we were (fortunate enough to be) invited to. Many Hong Kong residents have domestic help and the party had a little crew cooking up everything from ostrich, to kangaroo, shrimp to squid and more. We met some really interesting people from GB, Australia and Alaska. Thanks Simon, the British Cathay pilot I met for inspiring my next historical fiction book, Pirate Queen about Cheng Shi. Watch for it spring of 2019.


A day in Macau was a must, so we headed there on a high speed ferry on Friday. Its the Vegas of China and INDEED IT IS!!! We took the Venetian bus to the end of the line and then wandered into an old village named Taipa. It was a Portuguese settled area so the food was a bit different, delicious but different. We went on a photo safari through the rain. It was so picturesque every where I looked I bet I took 500 photos that day alone. Normally we get a Harley Davidson shirt for my husband’s brother but the shop was closed. There were people in there so we knocked on the glass door. They didn’t open until the following Monday. “Cash?” they asked and once we confirmed our method of payment we were digging through their inventory that wasn’t actually for sale, yet.

We found a ,coffee cafe and drank some slow drip java then found a brew house and indulged in a local beer. They had French fries and gravy so we ordered up that too, YUM! All day we wandered, ate a little, drank a little and wandered more. There’s a large park area that is open space and beautiful for pictures and strolling.

Overall, I took almost a thousand pictures in eleven days. I met an ambitious young woman named Ashley whom I dare bet we keep in touch. We had quite the connection. Also, our Airbnb hostess/host were fun and I feel they are now titled ‘friends’ too. Want to go to Hong Kong? The answer to that is always a huge YES!

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Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (book review)

Sometimes its worth trudging through the slow parts of a novel to embrace the parts that shake you to your core, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is that type of book. It starts with the birth of the protagonist, Marion and his twin brother, Shiva. The well-written opening scene grips your soul and as you fall in love with the boys at that moment. Their mom is an Indian nun. Their dad, a British surgeon. The babies are left at the hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to be raised by their new guardians. Who, by the way, weren’t expecting two newborns to land in their laps anymore than they were expecting to embark on a romantic relationship.

As the boys’ life progresses, the reader gets glimpses of culture from all three geographical influences as well as the dismal reality of third world medicine and the good intentions of worldwide aid a. The political revolution of the time is also an interesting aspect of the story as well as, the twins’ coming-of-age which is all largely dosed with complex family drama. The relationship between the brothers is portrayed in a way I felt as if I now know how twins really are with each other, the good, bad and ugly of being that close to another human being.

The cast of characters doesn’t stop with the twins, Ghosh, Hema and Genet are also intriguing and important people to the story. Ghosh is everyone’s favorite for good reason. The world would be a better place if there were more people like Ghosh. Hema’s character shows the way a mother’s love has nothing to do with blood and everything to do with the innate ability to love. In every book I’ve ever read, there’s a character that disappoints and leaves me shaking my head. Genet is that person in this story.

Be sure to pick up Cutting for Stone. This true life novel is worth the read not only for the historical aspects, cultural introduction, medical knowledge but the tug of humanitarian heartstrings of life laid raw. Well done, Mr. Verghese!


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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford

Jamie Ford’s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is one of this years MustReads. Another historical fiction novel that makes a person stop and wonder how much is fiction and how much is history. The book takes place during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history. It’s hard to imagine a novel that sucks you in about the internment of American-Japanese families during World War II but this one does. Mr. Ford touches on part of American history we should all know more about, but my belief is this is part of the US’s dark history that schools tend to skip over. Heartbreaking and warm, light and heavy, hopeful and hopeless all at the same time. When rating a book, I look at the emotional gamete and this one runs them all.

It’s all about a tender friendship between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl who are both subject to prejudice and bullying. Their natural friendship, family and school life is meshed together in a great story. Jamie Ford does a fantastic job and weaving the past and present and bringing them together at the end. The story is set in Seattle, Washington, and is described in a way, I could almost smell the air.

My only disappointment was a bit of the timeline. There wasn’t really an internet support group to the local-everyday-people of America let alone home computers in 1986. (’96 maybe, the timeline could have been researched a bit more and I think pushing it ten years in the future wouldn’t have been a stretch.) I was a senior in high school in ’86 and there were things that the author portrayed that weren’t exactly spot on… Otherwise, this is a great read that leaves you scratching your head and wondering what we were thinking as Americans.

Although the book is a little slow to get going, I highly recommend it, push through the first few chapters and you’ll be hooked.

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Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen (BookReview)

Twain’s End was one of those books I picked up, put down, picked up, swore off, picked back up and couldn’t put down. My impression of Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain is forever skewed because of this novel. Its one of those situations I had to ask myself, how much of this is historical and how much is fiction. Apparently, Ms. Cullen’s did her homework, remember that old saying stranger than fiction? The documents and historical records show that much of this book could be exactly the way it happened.

The story is about Clemen’s secretary, Isabel; her devotion, love and relationship with him. It also highlights Mr. Clemen’s relationships with his his alter-ego, (Mark Twain) as well as his wife, daughters and other women in his life. Not to mention, their physical and mental ailments. The book is written well and gives the reader a sense of ‘being there’.

One thing a person doesn’t normally think about is the time period when the slaves throughout this country became free, the affect and impact it had on the families that had believed slavery to be nothing more than a way of life. Heartbreaking and tragic, the things Clemen saw from his father and the way those experiences shaped his life. How did children of this time period cope? Sam Clements didn’t fair well at all, his upbringing plagued his love and twisted him from the inside out. He really is a jerk, and the ending was all too real life. Painfully real.

Overall, this book has inspired me to start my own research for a historical fiction novel. It left me thinking of the stories that haven’t been told about this era, the way people had to cope and adjust. Lives like Mr. Twain’s all too often get sugar coated and turned heroic when the reality was right place at the right time (or wrong place at the wrong time), either way, Twain’s End is worth the read.

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver #bookreview

Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall brings back memories of the movie Groundhog’s Day plus my own horrible high school experience.

When I was a kid, my dad took me to see the Bill Murray’s blockbuster hit. On our way home, he told me every student in America should have to watch that movie over and over again until they could successfully write about underlying meaning of the story-line.

As I listed to Lauren’s debut novel on audio, I thought the same thing. Every teenager should have to read and understand this book. It delves deeper into the life of Samantha, the main character, than the Groundhog Day’s or maybe it’s just Sam is more relate-able than Phil. Either way, high school sucks and then you die. Really, that sums it up in seven words. But the self-discovery of the young woman’s repetitive week is worth the read. Its nice to know most people who bullied eventually know what they did, eventually know the hurt they caused.

As for the ending, I don’t want a spoiler alert, but really, it couldn’t have ended any other way. The reality of the book has to have the finality of the story (if that made sense…) Overall, a good read that delivers a classic lesson.

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Half the Sky; turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide

Women should read Half the Sky. (Men should too.) I don’t normally read non-fiction. This title was on a recommended reading list of my college-aged daughter. (Her degree is International Policy.) It intrigued me just reading the synopsis and to think these stories are REAL. Heart breaking, horrifying, intense and true life…

This book tackles the atrocities that women in developing countries face on the daily. Did you know the sex trade/trafficking of young women is a bigger problem today than the slave trade was of the nineteenth century? Did you know the mortality rate for young girls is significantly lower in developing countries? One’s got to stop and ask why don’t girls get taken to the hospital when they are sick? Why they don’t get immunized like their male siblings? Why is it rape victims in developing countries endure the wrath of their president, abductions from the government and dehumanization tactics? Again, this is not fiction, this is real life for many women all over the world.

More horrors for women of the world are prostitution, obstetric fistulas, genital mutilation, acid attacks and no means for fixing what gets broken, physically, mentally or psychologically. The sad truth in many of these places is laws ring hollow if they are not enforced. Traditions, rituals and customs are difficult if not impossible to change.

The second part of this book tackles the difficulty of just that; change. I’ve always been one of those people who want to save the world. This book poignantly points out, sometimes the world doesn’t want to be saved. In Half the Sky, the husband/wife authors describe their own attempts to buy prostitutes out of slavery, and the social conditions that make restoring these women to a normal life so difficult. Beyond that, they delve into the inadequacies of laws and who are (or aren’t) enforcing them.

When you get down to the root of the problem, it’s the invisibility of the oppression. The answer is to expose and educate those that are hidden and ignorant. These stories are more powerful than statistics, they bring to light what is happening to the women of these developing countries and what can be done about it. (donate here) Kristof and WuDunn make the moral arguments these ladies can’t, they speak truths that are hard to hear and almost impossible to believe. This is the start of making real change, real growth and real progress.




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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult #mustread

Small Great Things, possibly the most important read of the year!  Modern day American racism is the theme and Jodi Picoult portrays it brilliantly.

(The book…) In a nutshell, Ruth is a black labor and delivery nurse who has done her job well her entire (long) career. She’s also a single mom who’s raised an incredible son in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. In comes a couple of racist jerks (whom Jodi portrays PERFECTLY, in tone, description, etc.) and they have a baby boy. (You see where this is going right?) Of course, Ruth is their nurse. Turk, the baby’s father, forbids Ruth to have anything to do with his son. He makes quite a stink about it until Ruth is told not touch or interact with the newborn in any way. That’s all fine and dandy if nothing happens to the child, right? No spoiler alerts in my reviews-imagine the worst, the best and a twist you’ll never see coming-and that’s the book.

Like in other intensely written novels of this type, one should ask themselves (especially if they are white), what if it was reversed? What if the prejudice was the other way around? It’s unfathomable. Well, to most… To me, this book clearly turns the spot light on NOW. Not back in the 90’s, 60’s, 20’s or when slavery was still legal but RIGHT NOW in everyday life we are living. Jodi shows that this type of prejudice is still prevelent in today’s world.

If you don’t believe racism is alive and growing, ask yourself, would YOU want to be black in today’s society? In this country? I know I would not. On a personal note, I have two black nieces. As a white, middle-class married mom, I like to believe things are way, way better than they’ve been, but when I have my brother’s children, it is so blatantly obvious that there isn’t as much change as we think. Racism is alive and well. On a political note, it could be why we have the current administration in the White House. Could modern day racism be to blame? I agree with President Obama that is it not the love of the current president that put him in office but the hate of Barack that did. Anyway, no need to turn this book review into a political rant.

Five star story. Check out Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, you’ll be glad you did.