Tag Archives: teenagers

Sentry Food’s Wings

Today my search for good wings (see my post about Pizza Hut) continued. This time, I went to Sentry Food’s grocery store and bought a selection of wings. Once again, I grabbed a couple of my teenage volunteers to help evaluate. Our conclusion? Better than Pizza Hut, still not good. 

The wings had been sitting out when we bought them and, while warm, were incredibly chewy and tough. They didn’t leave a nasty aftertaste like the Pizza Hut ones, but they also were not something we wanted to try again. Even eating them with the teenagers, there were wings left over.

Time to find Option C.

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In Search of a Shamrock Shake

Tonight I was driving a van full of teenagers home when I decided to take them out for a treat first. I took a roundabout route and we went into McDonalds for shamrock shakes. Not surprisingly, their shake machine was broken. I don’t think I have ever been into this particular McDonalds when their shake machine was working, but I’m eternally optimistic. Unfortunately, we now had ice cream on the brain and there was none to be had.

Instead of going to the Culvers one block away, or just giving up the plan, we decided to find another McDonalds…and we did! 20 minutes away and on the opposite side of town. Thankfully, their machine was working. Totally worth it! 


Today’s quote

I love working with teenage volunteers. You never know what is going to happen next. Sometimes that is a good thing. Other times…less so. 

Today I had 4 teenage boys sitting in the back of my van and they did not want to sit still. My sister Anna, who was riding shotgun, finally turned around and snapped:

“You are not Selena Gomez! You can keep your hands to yourself.” 

If that isn’t the most apropos use of that lyric ever, I don’t know what is. 

 


2015 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 3

The Silver Bowl and The Cup and Crown by Diane Stanley

I have mixed feelings mentioning these two. I loved them. The Silver Bowl was adorable, full of danger, wicked curses, a hint of romance, and evil family members. In short, everything a good fantasy novel should have. Its sequel, The Cup and Crown, only adds to the adventure. Our heroine has come of age and now stands out as a butt-kicking, name-taking, epic young lady of magical proportion. It concludes with an ending just bitter-sweet enough to give some emotional pull. And then…the third book happened. I hated it so much I gave it one star. (You will have to read my One Star post to find out why!) So I’m not really sure what to tell you to do with these. Either read just these two and miss one third of the story, or read two excellent fantasy novels and weep as you finish the third, or only read the first because it kind of can stand alone.

The Abolition of Man and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

I waited much too long to read these excellent books. Both are short and profound. They are philosophically challenging and will take many re-reads to fully grasp. The Abolition of Man masterfully summarize the importance of universal values for societies. The Great Divorce is an allegory of heaven and hell and the decisions people make when confronted with them.  I cannot praise Lewis adequately enough so I’ll leave this one short and sweet. Go read them.

5 To 1 by Holly Bodger

The plot takes place in 2054, where India is suffering from an immense gender gap. There are 5 boys to every 1 girl. Tired of being sold to the highest bidder, women in India split from the government and form their own country where boys must compete in a series of tests to “win” a wife. The plot flips between the poetry of Sudasa, the girl to be won, and the prose of Contestant 5, who only wants to escape. On the one hand, it is an emotionally appealing and brief (250 page) story that succeeds where most dystopian novels fail because it doesn’t try too hard. There is no insta-love or cliff-hanger ending leading to multiple, pointless sequels. On the other hand, it is also a serious message about elevating one gender over the other, and the danger of valuing sons over daughters or vice versa. Good truths wrapped in a beautiful little YA novel.

Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

The inspiring true story of Katie, an average American teenager who discovered a passion for Uganda. A single mission trip quickly became a life calling for 18-year-old Katie, who returned after graduating and ended up adopting 14 girls. This book is inspiring and encouraging. Katie’s passion and joy comes through the pages, and I found myself helplessly grinning as I read it! This is a woman who has found her calling and it is beautiful to behold.  

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

A brilliant addition to the world of well-told stories. I Am Princess X is a pink and purple book that tells the story Libby and May: the dynamic duo. Best friends since 5th grade, they were co-creators of Princess X, a katana-weilding, ghost defeating princess of their imagination. Libby drew the comics, May wrote the plots, and Princess X made them the perfect trio. Until Libby died in an accident at age 13. Three years later, only May is left. Until one day she sees a Princess X sticker on a building. Then graffitied on a wall. And again on a backpack. Princess X is everywhere, made popular by an online webcomic. Only two people knew about Princess X, and one of them is dead. Or is she? This book is full of convenient coincidences and implausible moments but it really is one of my favorites from this year. It is a fairy tale and a thriller and a story of friendship with a superhero feel. Bad Guys are Bad and Good Intentions save the day. What more could you want?

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth Is Missing is a riveting story with a double mystery and an unreliable narrator. Maud can’t remember. She knows her friend Elizabeth is missing, she wrote it down. However, no one believes her, not her daughter, her caretaker, or the police. But Elizabeth is missing. Or is it Maud’s sister, Sukey, who is gone? The years get mixed up for Maud – a woman with dementia – as she recalls the mysterious disappearance of her older sister. Except now it is her friend, Elizabeth, who has disappeared and no one will listen! A very well written mystery that simultaneously echoes the frustration of growing old and the hardship of caring for an aging parent.

Feeling Sorry For Cecelia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors. Feeling Sorry For Cecelia follows a teenage girl named Elizabeth and the struggle she feels losing her best friend, Cecelia. However it is not told in the usual way. The plot is laid out in notes between Elizabeth and her mother, letters with her pen-pal, postcards from her best friend, and occasional letters from her self-esteem. It is very well done. The book handles serious issues (divorced parents, changing friendships, relationships, etc.) but does so in a funny, wry style that kept the story bitter-sweet instead of just plain depressing. The book is peppered with a variety of wonderful, quirky characters. PG13 for content, but well worth it if you’re looking for a solid YA read.

 


2015 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 1

Based on the vast number of good books I read this year, I have broken this post into three parts to help readability. As usual, books are not laid out in any specific way, but in the random order ordained by Goodreads (and myself!) See any favorites?

Enjoy!

Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched A Hundred Years of Federalism by Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips

Rarely do you find biographies so readable and uniquely connected to everyday life. Contempt of Court covers the trial and lynching of Ed Johnson, an African American accused of raping a white woman in 1906. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, a judge found him guilty and sentenced him to death. The U.S. Supreme Court intervened and eventually went so far as to hold those connected to his lynching in contempt of court. This case was the only time the Supreme Court ever heard a criminal case. United States v. Shipp did more than decide one man’s guilt or innocence. It declared the Supreme Court had authority over a state criminal court case. This both reflected and launched a new age of federal involvement. Very worth reading.

Strong Poison (book 6), Gaudy Night (book 12), and Busman’s Honeymoon (book 13) by Dorothy L. Sayers

These are all books in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. To be honest, I love them all and if you haven’t discovered the brilliance that is Dorothy L. Sayers, you really need to. Her mysteries are intellectual and intriguing and Sir Peter Wimsey is wonderful. However, these three were my absolute favorites. (If you know the series, you’ll realize all these books involve Harriet Vane. She is fabulous.) What is great, though, is that they are all wonderful in equally different ways. Strong Poison involves a cold case, where the murder happened months earlier and now Sir Peter must piece together the clues. Gaudy Night takes place at Oxford and is very soul-searching and academic. Busman’s Honeymoon is everything a fangirl could want for the couple she’s been shipping for 6 books. Oh, so good. I want to go re-read them right now.

The Science of Success by Charles Koch

Easy to understand and filled with helpful principles, this is an “abbreviated” predecessor of Good Profit. It was designed for more internal use and that comes across. Certainly worth reading for a better understanding of Market Based Management and Koch Industries. There are lots of interesting stories and it really is a good grounding in MBM. However. Good Profit is now out. Go read that one.

The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

If you want to be technical, only The King of Attolia (book 3) and A Conspiracy of Kings (book 4) got 5 stars from me, but the entire series is totally worth it. While the first book, The Thief, feels a little slow, it has a terrific twist at the end. Plus, the series picks up and gets better and better and BETTER. It has adventure, battles, romance, plot twists. The series will break your heart a million different ways, every one of them worth it. I can’t really give plot descriptions without giving something away, so just go read it already. (There are some mature themes, so I recommended for high schoolers on up)

Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham

Chad Eastham’s book Guys Like Girls Who… played an influential role in my life in high school. It was great reading him again. Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti is aimed at teenagers and talks about the different ways guys and girl function. It covers a myriad of topics like brain development, emotions, and relationships. Funny, serious, and easy to read, the book is a mix of stories, facts, and zany quips.  Even “outside” of the intended age group, I found it very helpful. Highly recommended, especially for teenagers.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

A dark, twisted children’s book that breaks your heart but is eminently worth it. The story is very reminiscent of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. “Plain” Kate is a woodcarver, left on the streets to fend for herself after her parents die. Her woodwork is beautiful, but many whisper that she is a witch. In order to escape the accusations, Kate makes a bargain with a mysterious man: her shadow in exchange for her heart’s wish. Gypsies, magic, and love all come to play in this lyrical story.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend this book to just anyone, and certainly not the intended age group. Plain Kate involves witchcraft, raising the dead, and sacrifices. While many of these things are treated in a negative light, I know many of my readers will not like it.

 


Stop It With The Expectations Already!

The problems facing our nation go beyond one generation. For years as a young person involved in politics, I have received commendation from adults willing to say their generation “messed it up” but mine must “take back the country.” They tell me I am an inspiration and that because they have failed in their duty to preserve my future, I must do my best. My generation must right their wrongs. Readily adults of all ages confess their neglect to stand in the breach and inform me that the only hope rests in me…and my generation.

Over this past weekend I have seen adults idolize the young volunteers who work with me. They are the future. The true freedom fighters. The hope of an entire nation. While I fiercely admire the young people who take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer with Americans For Prosperity, I have come to realize such lauding and expectation do more harm than good for everyone involved.

I volunteered for my first campaign at the age of 9 in 2002. Throughout high school, I campaigned for various candidates, often mobilized by Generation Joshua to key races throughout the nation. I saw the difference young people made. Family friends and total strangers praised my efforts to “save” America (whatever that really means). They extolled my generation. We would fix their mistakes. Like my young volunteers now, my friends and I breathed in the air of expectation as the world around us crumbled.

In reality, all the commendation in the world means nothing when adults, that “generation that messed up,” continue to do nothing. When apologies become excuses for apathy, the problem worsens. I volunteered for my first campaign 12 years ago. Over those years I grew from 9 years old to 21.  From a girl to an adult. While happy to praise a teenager’s efforts to save her future, what legacy have those apologizing adults left me?

In 2002, the national debt totaled $6,228,235,965,597.16[1].  Roughly 6 trillion dollars. It now stands at $17,770,123,176,000 with the expectation of reaching 21.0 trillion dollars by the end of the fiscal year[2].

In 2002, gas cost $1.34 a gallon. In 2014, around $3.67[3].

Since 2002, over 12,982,740 babies were aborted[4].

ObamaCare. Must I say more?

Most recently during those 12 years, Americans have allowed an American ambassador in Libya to be murdered without anyone truly being held responsible. They have allowed the IRS to target groups based on their political affiliation. They paid attention too late to save the veterans forced to go without the healthcare promised them. Americans have allowed the sacrifices of hundreds of brave men and women in the Middle East to go to waste as a terrorist organization wreaks havoc on all we stand for.

While praising my generation as saviors and apologizing for their own failures, adults have allowed the government to devastate our futures. What a hoax.

Yet more than our futures fall prey to praise without action. What my young volunteers cannot understand as they stand in their moment of expectation is the extreme pressure to get it right. It is a glorious thing to be praised, but not to feel like everything depends on you. When adults tell young people the future of the nation rests on their shoulders, they burden a single generation with the mistakes of generations. What good is an interest in physics or a talent for drawing when everyone expects you to save the nation?  Time and time again I have seen my peers entirely drop out of political circles partially because there is no balance between total commitment to politics and participation in outside pursuits. In fact, I would say there cannot be as long as adults expect you to run for president in 20 years. Not every teenager with an opinion on political issues and a desire to make a difference plans on becoming leader of the free world someday! Such a presumption, though often well-meaning, is condescending and shows little understanding or value for something that ought to engage the interest of every American, not just a ‘nerdy few.’

What goes on in Washington or Madison or wherever your capital may be affects everyone. Doctors, entrepreneurs, burger flippers, and movie actresses.  Young and old. Those who can vote, and those who cannot. Putting the pressure on one generation to change the course of a nation not only unfairly burdens those individuals, it neglects the full scope of the problem. All generations must stand firm to make a difference. It is not enough to vote. Older generations must model for younger ones what true civic involvement means. Yes, young people represent the future in that they will someday be old people. That does not mean they should deal with all of America’s problems in the future. Following in their parents footsteps, there is no reason to believe they will act any different from previous generations.

When adults keep kicking the can down the street, they model a behavior for the next generation. Be inspired all you like by a few young people getting involved: they represent a minority. They will continue to represent a minority until the majority of Americans of all ages realize the direction of the country depends on them now, in the present, not some misty future.

Besides continual neglect disguised with apologies and undue pressure to ‘save the nation,’ adults offer one more disservice to teenage activist. They reinforce cultural expectations with their over-the-top praise. Yes, it is wonderful when a teenager shows interest, but what makes their involvement so unusual? Must we celebrate, cajole, and comment every time someone under the age of 50 realizes adults let the government mess up their future?  Culturally, young people get treated like children! Young people have the ability to accomplish incredible things. They have energy, enthusiasm, and understanding. Why do we assume the ability to vote magically represents the ability to engage? Don’t expect less out of young people because they cannot participate in a small portion of civic involvement. Instead, encourage those young people around you to discover their potential to directly affect the civic process. Be mentors, be leaders, and be fans, but don’t tell these kids the world revolves around them because they have an opinion and want to make a difference. Similarity, don’t allow other teenagers off the hook. As citizens, they too must play a role in America’s future.

So stop apologizing! Maybe even stop praising. Get involved. Apathy kills a nation. Somewhere in this country another 9 year old girl is discovering a passion for grassroots involvement. What will your legacy look like for her? Will the next 12 years witness more complaints and inaction, or will you take a stand for her future? For her present? I am indignant. You should be too. Stop exploiting a generation with your false expectations and inaction and recognize that you must make the difference.  That is what I ask of you.

Once again, I find Patrick Henry beautifully expresses what I hope to pass on in his speech “The War Inevitable”:

“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”

 

 

 

[1] http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

[2] http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/

[3] http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?f=W&n=PET&s=EMM_EPMR_PTE_NUS_DPG

[4] http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf