Six Months of Reading

In January, I made a goal to read fifty books in 2017.

Well, it’s the end of June and with twenty-five books completed, I’m on track with my goal. I’m exploring all kinds of genres and topics, both fiction and non-fiction. My reading is all over the place, and I’ve made some really amazing discoveries.

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Tools for Wisdom—Goal Setting and an Old-Fashioned Pen and Paper Planner

I know it seems like January is supposed to be the time for New Year’s resolutions and goal setting, but having spent my entire life (first as a student and then as a teacher) with my life revolving around the academic calendar, for me a new year begins when school starts.

But then again, I’m so in the habit of setting goals, planning strategies, stopping to reflect and analyze my progress, and pivoting when things aren’t working well, that I am constantly reflecting on goals—whether it’s January, August, or October, doesn’t really matter.

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Asia with Kids–A Family Trip to Sri Lanka

On The BeachSri Lanka never really crossed my mind as a destination, but my husband happened to get a bug in his brain and started doing a ton of research, discovered that it was a direct flight from Beijing, found decent-priced airfare, and ended up planning a trip there during our spring break. I went not really knowing what to expect—just willing go along for the ride and see what we would find.

It ended up being a spectacular break. We loved it so much we could see ourselves going back.

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The Great Wall Marathon

[For runners who are interested in a description of the course, a review of the event organization, or logistics about registering for the marathon, feel free to skip my musings about pre-race jitters and race agony and scroll down to below the slideshow.]

I consider myself a reasonable person. Yes, I have my prideful whimsical moments when I overestimate my abilities by just a tad, but I think I’m usually I’m a pretty conservative judge at how much I can manage at any given time, and I’m not afraid to say no when I’ve reached my limit.

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The Key to High Productivity

I’ve always loved exercising, but with other goals and pressures on my time, it’s often the first thing to get pushed aside. My to-do list is filled with the essentials to keep my household running smoothly, to finish my online classes, and to pursue my writing goals. By the time I check those items off my to-do list, it’s fairly easy to convince myself to save the exercise for another day.

And then I decided to register for a marathon in mid-May, and this forced me to be more consistent in my exercise regimen. My other commitments didn’t go away, which meant that I either needed to start getting up at 5:00 in the morning and exercising before my kids wake up or be completely unprepared for my marathon.

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China with Kids: A Week in Hong Kong

View of Hong Kong from Ocean Park Tower

View of Hong Kong from Ocean Park Tower

Hong Kong is a popular destination among many of my Beijing friends, and for good reason. It’s an inexpensive flight, and once you’re there, it’s an easy city to travel within. The public transportation system is extensive and easy to use. There aren’t any language barriers because so many people speak English. Hong Kong is a beautiful city. It’s clean. And there is a lot to do.

There is so much information out there already about what to do in Hong Kong and how to get around, I feel a bit silly writing about it myself, and yet, we had such a good time visiting during the Chinese New Year holiday, I can’t help but chime in and add my two cents.

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China With Kids: A Roadtrip to Hohhot in Inner Mongolia

When we returned to China in August this year, my family decided to be committed to exploring China rather than remaining in our expat bubble here in Beijing. I really did have good intentions of recording and sharing our adventures, but intentions are one thing . . . and (clearly) our actions might not match them in the long run. But now, here I am, remembering my commitment to record our adventures. The most significant one we took this year I absolutely loved, but it was ages ago, and I have yet to talk about it.

During the China National Holiday in October (yes . . . it’s taken me that long!), my children were released from school for a week and we decided to try something totally new and go on our first road trip in China to the city of Hohhot in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia. We really enjoyed our time there. It was nice to see parts of China outside of Beijing where we live, and it was a trip that I would definitely recommend to other expat families here.

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You Should Read These Books

Several months ago I reviewed a couple books that I loved so much I couldn’t wait until the end of the year to talk about them. You can read what I have to say about The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin in the reviews I wrote earlier this year. I read them back in February and they brought new perspective when remembering the role my Uncle Lonney played in my own family history. These two books continue to be among my favorite reads of 2016.

I always hesitate to write reviews. When I find books that I love, I feel like I can never say enough to really encompass the many things that make them great. Writing is complex and incredibly difficult and even with the books that I don’t enjoy all that much, I usually put the book down thinking that, even if not my favorite, the author still did better than I could have done myself.

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On Drowning, Breath, and Baptism

The summer I turned eight years old I spent a day at the beach. It was supposed to be fun—a family day with my sister, mom, dad, cousins, aunt, and uncle.

I want to say there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sand was clean and white, and it flicked up behind our heels as we ran. I wish I could tell you that grit stuck to our legs, and we had enough sand throughout our shoes and clothes to build our own beach when we got back home. But I don’t remember any of that.

Maybe I was sweating and sticky and eager to cool off in the water. Maybe I lingered on the beach like I usually do now—only dipping in when my body can’t take the heat, and only long enough to take the edge off before getting out and sitting on the sidelines again.

I don’t remember that, either.

I remember the moments immediately leading up to what happened.

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