Walk Down Memory Lane: Favorite Childhood Books

When I was a wee one, my Mom really, really wanted my sister and I to love reading. She has always been a huge reader and made it her mission as a parent to instill a love of literature in the two of us. While other kids were watching Spongebob Square Pants and Rugrats on T.V., my Mom had us plopped on the couch watching Reading Rainbow, Between the Lions, or some other educationally approved kids’ show that promoted literacy. Whenever I would tell my Mom about a friend saying that they “hated reading”, my Mom would be all like, “Well that’s to bad for blah, blah, blah [insert imaginary name here], because reading is amaze-balls (okay so maybe she didn’t say that, but something of the equivalency)!!” Besides watching book related television shows, my Mom introduced us to lots of great picture and beginning reader chapter books. She would often read these books to us out loud, which, we would then have passionate discussions about afterwards. I loved these read out louds! They were much better than the majority of my teachers and my Mom could do lots of funny voices :P. The trio of us loved read out louds so much that we did them up through the 8th grade (yes, we are a weird family, don’t judge). I am glad that my Mom put so much time and energy into evoking a love of reading in both my sister and I. Without the great books that I read when I was younger, I would not have the amount of background knowledge that I currently obtain, an extensive vocabulary, and probably would have had a more difficult time getting through some of the dry books I’ve been forced to read in high school (cough, cough…The Scarlet Letter, no offense to those who dig it or anything). However, most importantly, reading has helped me become the open-minded, compassionate, and sometimes skeptical/cynical person I am today. Books have exposed me to the many joys and horrors of life and I’m grateful for that because reading about various issues inspires me to make change in the world. I want to bring the joy that I’ve read about into other people’s lives; especially those who have so little of it. In this blog post, I’m going to share my some of my favorite books that I read as an elementary schooler. Whether you are a parent, educator, or someone who is just curious about and/or simply loves amazing children’s books, you’ve come to the right place (psssstt…I am seventeen years old and still ❤ children’s books)! This will more than likely be a series on my blog, as I don’t want to just give y’all a laundry list of books; I want to explain what I love about each and every one of these stories. Drum roll please………….or you can just scroll down if you wish ;).

                My Favorite Childhood Books

 Book #1: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannen

I remember my sister and I reading this beautifully illustrated book, with a wonderful message, multiple times. If you are not familiar with the book’s plot, it is about a young girl who is teased by her classmates for loving Lima beans. Therefore, she vows to never eat Lima beans again, but then, she comes down with a case of stripes. Her parents, however, force her to go to school regardless of being decorated with stripes, and is then subjected to even more teasing by her classmates. She eventually learns that the only cure for getting rid of her stripes are good ol’ Lima beans. Through this experience she learns not to care about what other people think. I believe that this is a vital theme for young children to learn that will carry with them through life. I know that the gorgeous pictures and carefully crafted sentences in this book has always served as a reminder to me!

Book #2: The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osbourne

I remember hearing one of these books for the first time as a read out loud in grade school and then becoming obsessed with them shortly there after. I didn’t read all of them, but every single book I did read I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of these books are that two siblings, Jack and Annie, find a tree house in their backyard and discover that it can make them go back in time. As a result, they go on some pretty immaculate adventures and go to many different places, witnessing famous historical events such as the American Revolution, The Olympics, The First Thanksgiving, and the Titanic sinking. These books really got me excited about history as a kid and made me eager to learn more about the colossal turning points that shaped our nation and world. I’d highly recommend these books to any kid in grade school, especially if they are not big fans of history, because Jack and Annie will for sure make the subject more enjoyable for them.

 Book #3: The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsberg

When I was young, I was so fascinated by summer sleep-away camps and desperately wanted to go for years. I would envision myself at sleep-away camp constantly, even going as far as dreaming up my own. Seriously guys, I would sometimes even open up a word document and make my own overnight camp brochures with snazzy backgrounds, slick fonts, pictures, everything. I would even make fake testimonials from kids with fake last names, such as Corington, Halifaxer, Roshien, Itrabide (for realzies, these were legit names that I made up. I went through my old journals today.) So, as you can imagine, the day my parents told me that I was allowed to go to sleep-away camp, I was uber stoked. However, when I actually attended an overnight camp located in Vermont, I wound up enjoying it a minuscule amount . I suffered from extreme homesickness, crying multiple times a day. I also really loathed the food and was mightily disappointed that the outdoor lunch buffet that was advertised on their website was really indoors and just leftovers from dinner. Damn liars.

Okay, I should probably stop ranting now and talk about how this experience is related to the book. Anyways, after my bad overnight camp experience, I found The Outcast of 19 Schuyler Place at Barnes and Noble and instantly knew that I would be able to relate to it from reading the back cover. The premise of this book is that a twelve-year-old named Margaret Rose attends sleep-away camp during the 70’s while her parents are trying to repair their marriage. However, the plot twist is that her cabin-mates are tormentors who play vicious pranks and therefore, she sends for her uncles to pick her up. After being rescued, Margaret Rose spends the rest of the summer with her uncles, trying to save two towers that are going to be taken down. I absolutely adored this book as a kid and read it multiple times (it is rare that I read a book more than once, even if I really love it). The love I had for this story is shown in its current physical condition, without a cover and pages falling out. I would recommend this book to anybody regardless of age, but especially for pre-teen ladies as I think that they will especially be able to relate to the main character, Margaret Rose, as someone that they could see themselves being friends with and take comfort in. Hopefully they will cherish this book, as I have, and take note of its wonderful messages of perseverance, unexpected friendship, and the fact that life just doesn’t work out all of the time. These themes have stayed with me throughout my teenage years.

Have any of you guys read these books before? What were your favorite books growing up?

Your Reading Buddy,

-Alexandra Spund

P.S. Here are the book links:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Case-Stripes-Scholastic-Bookshelf/dp/0439598389

http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Tree-House-Boxed-Books/dp/0375813659/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419050834&sr=1-2&keywords=the+magic+tree+house+set&pebp=1419050850610

http://www.amazon.com/The-Outcasts-19-Schuyler-Place/dp/0689866372

Deceptive Thanksgiving Dessert Advertising – Mary’s Gone Crackers Gone Wrong

Despite the snow, my Thanksgiving was not half bad. My clan was supposed to see extended family down in New York and it was very disenchanting when we learned we couldn’t go because of impossible road conditions. Obviously though, we made the best of the situation. I really can’t complain, heck, I got to see a 4-D version of the Polar Express. Anytime you can go beyond your normal dimensions, it’s a pretty cool experience :P. I mean, dude, I got to actually smell the hot co-co they were serving on Polar Express; if that’s not flipping amazing, I don’t know what is. Although I will say that getting punched in the back of our seats when the train came to a sudden halt wasn’t fun and unnecessary. My Mom was the lucky spared one who’s seat was defective.

While Thanksgiving 2014 was filled with joyful, 4-D memories, it also had its vexations. In particular, I am not very satisfied with the gluten-free company Mary’s Gone Crackers right now. What is Mary’s Gone Crackers, you might ask? They are the ones that make the seeded flax crackers that look wicked disgusting, but actually taste really delicious. Additionally, they also make desserts. Well, right before Turkey Day, my Mom found ginger snap cookies baked by Mary’s Gone Cracker’s that, supposedly, had a dairy-free cream in the middle. I was thrilled! I was so excited to finally have a cookie that had a filling as this is SO HARD to find being both gluten and dairy-free. I also have to limit the amount of soy I eat, which makes this conquest even more arduous. I just could not wait to crack the cookie open and find that ooey-gooey cream in the center as it looked like in the picture on the box. However, when it was time for dessert and the first bite was taken, I could only taste gingerbread. “Hmmm….this is quite peculiar, that cream has got to be in there somewhere“, I thought.  Therefore, I took the largest bite I could and still, …nothing. Could my cookie be the odd one of the bunch? Did they forget to put cream in my cookie? I then asked my Mom to take a bite of her’s to see if she had the same situation which she did. It then occurred to us that Mary the Cracker Lady was a LIAR! That cookie on the cover clearly had cream in it; or so we thought. After investigating the cover more closely, we both realized that what appeared to be cream in the middle were actually sprinklings of ginger. My Mom and I were astounded that both of us had missed this, as the two of us are usually overly observant people. *Sigh*, I guess that I still need to be on the hunt for gf/df cookies with a creamy filling. Or maybe I should try and make my own batter? Who knows?

Would you guys have been deceived by the cover?

Yours in a Current Agitated Spirit,

-Alexandra Spund

P.S. The cookies were absolutely delectable just to let you know. They tasted like actual, glutenous ginger snaps!! I was just mightily disappointed that there was no mouth-watering cream :(.

 

Sh*t Never To Say To Someone With Food Allergies

You want to know what amazes me? When people think that they are experts on things that they’ve never experienced first hand. Seriously dude, it’s like saying stay away from Indian food or don’t read Divergent because it’s just a rip off of the Hunger Games if you’ve never read/tried it before. Ludicrous! And do you want to know what really gets on my nerves? When people try to give me medical advice about my diet and what I should be eating, even though they are not a certified doctor or nutritionist. I have gotten this from people that are and are not related to (sans my immediate family of course) and it bugs me so much! Honestly, unless I seem unhealthy or unhappy, should you really be trying to toy with something that doesn’t even effect you? Do your research first before passing judgments. Since I’m in a ranting mood today, I’ve decided to compile a list of sh*it never to say to someone with food allergies:

Drum roll please…………………………..

🙂

SH*T YOU SHOULD JUST KEEP TO YA SELF!

1.) Don’t people go on the gluten-free diet to lose weight? You’re in such good shape!

While many people go on a gluten-free diet to lose weight, I did not eliminate gluten from my diet in order to lose weight. Throughout my teen years, I’ve never been slim, but I’ve most certainly never been overweight. I went gluten-free/dairy-free because my doctor discovered that I had an allergy after having medical problems that were chronic and would not go away. The long and the short of things is that it helped me and I’ve never been healthier than I’ve been now! Besides, if someone decides that they want to shed some pounds and think that going gluten-free might help, should you really be harassing them for eating a certain way that effects no one but themselves? As long as their diet is not turning into some type of eating disorder, is that really your business? Nope! 

2.) Those types of foods are expensive! Why would you spend so much money on that?

Yes, I am well aware that eating foods free of allergens is terrifyingly more expensive than the food you’d get at your grocery store and this is a problem that bothers me, but I can’t control it. Unfortunately, it’s the highly processed , pesticide infested crap-ola that is the cheapest because they are the least expensive to produce. But it’s costing us our health and environment, which affects our future and planet greatly! I could go on and on about this topic, but I will save this for another day. Anyways, I’m aware that my foods are more expensive, and yes, I hate that, but don’t imply that my family is being irresponsible for taking care of our health. We are not wealthy, like a lot of people who think that citizens who eat healthy are. Since we are middle class, we have to make certain cutbacks in order to afford to eat this way, but it’s totally worth it! Why? Because I’m feeling good y’all :). Oh and by the way, going natural and eating healthy doesn’t have to be ALL expensive. We do a lot of our shopping at Trader Joe’s, who’s prices are comparable with larger chain food markets. 

4.) What can you eat?

I eat dirt and grass. So pure and healthy! Just kidding, just kidding. But when people ask me this question in an insulting manner, that’s what it feel likes they’re implying at times. I eat lots of amazing foods! Ever tried quinoa? It is seriously the best thing ever, you can pretty much put anything in it (berries, nuts, etc.) and BAM, you have yourself a meal! It’s loaded with protein too! :P. In addition to using several different grain substitutes, I like to advantage of foods that are naturally gluten-free such as vegetables, fruit, and meat. There is more to food than just gluten and dairy peoplez!

5.) Your diet is such an inconvenience!

Well that makes me feel good! If my diet is such an inconvenience for you than don’t hang or eat out with me! Thanks! Also, if my diet is SUCH an inconvenience to you for one night, than I’d sure as hell love to put you in my shoes and see how inconvenienced you feel now!

6.) Gluten/Dairy-Free, your food must taste disgusting!

Yeah, I just love consuming gross food! The highlight of my day is when I get to eat my crumbly, cardboard tasting sandwich for lunch. Bland really is better! Nah dude, do you really think I’d put up with deplorable food 24/7? No way! Like I said before, gluten and dairy are not the only foods that taste palatable on this planet. Gosh!

7.) That looks disgusting!

Well you’re very rude Miss/Mr! Didn’t your mother ever teach you manners? But besides the obvious, do you want to know what I think is disgusting? The chemically drenched, genetically engineered meals you’re consuming that barely legally qualifies as food. 

8.) Weren’t you supposed to outgrow your food allergies?

Apparently, but I was not one of the lucky ones that suddenly discovered they could eat Mike’s Pastries again. Boo :(. I still have a reaction to when I eat gluten and/or dairy (especially dairy, the reaction is EXTREMELY STRONG), so yes I’m still an allergic person.

9.) Are you sure that you’re allergic to gluten and dairy?

Yes……why would I say that I have allergies when I don’t? And why do you care so much about me “double checking” when no one is shoving gluten-free/dairy-free foods down your throat? I’d like to know!

While not everyone is like this and don’t always mean to be rude, it can get soooo annoying and I’d appreciate if people would ask me about my diet in a more of an inquisitive manner rather than a judgmental one. Thanks y’all!

For all of you allergic folks out there, what is the most annoying sh*t you’ve gotten from someone about the foods you eat?

xoxo

Alexandra Spund

This Week in Sociology Class

One of my favorite classes that I’m taking this semester and probably of all time, would be my online introduction to sociology course. Currently, I am taking a couple of dual enrollments this semester and sociology is one of them. For those of you who don’t know what a dual enrollment is, it ‘s basically a college level course that I can take while I’m still in high school. The best part about taking dual enrollments is that I will be able to earn both high school and college credit for it. What does this mean for me? Well, in addition to taking challenging courses that intrigue me, I won’t have to take all my general education requirements at college and I’m saving money since e-start courses (a.k.a. the name of my state’s online dual enrollment college program) are much less expensive.  I’ll be frank here, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel about sociology at first, but I totally love it and I’m even now considering it as a minor during college!

For the next few months, I’m going to be doing a series on my blog having to do with sociology. During this series, I will be discussing the most fascinating highlights of what I l’m learning in this class each week. So with that being said, let’s start talking about what is standing out  to me right now!

-That bacon, eggs, and bread are considered breakfast foods because we socially construct them to be one of our morning-glory meals. In fact, what is considered “breakfast” is disparate in each country. For instance, in Korea, it is not unheard of to have vegetable soup for breakfast: YES! I am not alone in the world! For years I thought I was weird because I ate foods like lentil soup and frozen ethnic dishes from Trader Joe’s  for breakfast (and still do), but now I’m not!  It’s social construction that makes it odd :/! 

-That people have socially constructed fortune cookies to be considered Chinese Food, even though it’s origin is Japanese: This doesn’t really surprise me. However,  since quite a few cuisines have been Americanized,  I thought that fortune cookies were originally concocted in the United States . But apparently, I was wrong. Who knew? 

-Did you know that the rule “blue is for boys”, “pink is for girls” used to be transposed before the 1950’s?! Why is this? Because, “… The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”: Outrageous, right?!The irony of this situation makes me laugh out loud! Scientifically speaking, colors are not known to have any sort of gender nor gender preference. Also, might I add that my four year old cousin who is a boy told me that his favorite color was pink, SO THERE! 

Ugh, social construction can be so dumb at times, even though I know that in order to have a sense of community, it is vital for society.

Now I have three questions for y’all to answer in the comment box. I wanna know:

-Have you ever taken a sociology class before? What did you think of it?

-Have you ever taken dual enrollment courses before? How were they? Did you take them online or through a local community college/university?

-Have you ever been affected/fed up/amused by these social construction rules? If so, which ones?

Obviously, you don’t need to answer them all, but I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts!

xoxo

Alexandra Spund

Apple Picking Adventures

Everyone has their favorite fall traditions and for me, it’s apple picking. This past weekend, my family and I ventured up to an apple orchard, located in Maine, that we’ve been going to for about five years. Not only do we love their scenic location and ludicrously delectable apples, but also that they are a low spray orchard. You may or may not be aware of this, but apples are apart of the “dirty dozen group”, which means that pesticide usage is much higher for fruits and veggies that are members of this circle. My family is very health-conscious, so we prefer picking our apples at low-spray orchards. This apple orchard that we go to is further away from our house, but 100% worth it (especially for the best honey crisps I’ve ever had in my life) and the drive is super beautiful.

I have been taking pictures at this orchard for years, but I think that these are some of my best yet. I feel like I’ve really captured the vibrancy of the apples and unique trees shapes. Here are a few of my favorites!

xoxo

Alexandra Spund

Silloutted Leaves

ap ap apple

This totally looks like a gate made out of apples to me!

Doesn’t this look like a gate made out of apples?

Apples shapeee

appppplesssss

Thee most perfect triplet of apples I've ever seen!

Thee most perfect triplet of apples I’ve ever seen!

:P :P :P Talk about YUM!

😛 😛 😛 Talk about YUM!

Ten Year Photo Bucket List

So, instead of doing your traditional bucket list, I decided to put a little twist on it and create one about all of the photo related stuff I want to accomplish in life! Okay, I don’t think I can project that far, but maybe the next ten years? That sounds reasonable! Without further adieu, here is my ten year photo bucket list!

-Start my own photo business

-Win a major photography competition

-Have my work featured in a gallery

-Create a Photoshop tutorial

-Have an advanced knowledge of Photoshop

-Start a “Humans Of… Project”

-Take photos at a wedding

-Become decent at self-timed portraits

-Take photos abroad

-Regularly scrap-book my photos

-Take photos of a sitting President  (Check! I took photos of President Obama during his reelection period when he came to speak at a local high school in the state I live!)

-Take photos of a 2016 Presidential Candidate

-Get invited to take photographs at a major event

-Purchase a photo related fashion item

-Write a coffee table photo book

-Incorporate photography into my future career

-Take photos of a moose

-Dip my feet into astrophotography

Let’s see how many of these I can accomplish in the next ten years!

xoxo

Alexandra Spund

#GlutenFreeProbs

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Can you spot what’s wrong with this picture? I can! There is a gluten-free beer that’s name is Glutenberg! Wanna know what’s even funnier? My Dad speaks German and says that berg in German means mountain. So the brand of this gluten-free beer is named gluten mountain??? Say, whatttt?!?! Life is so ironic and plain silly sometimes!