Friday, February 16, 2018

2/15/18- Winter Blues (but really Winter Grays)

It's been raining the past couple of days in Phoenix; what we call winter.  It's still 63 degrees out, but the overcast skies and pattering of rain definitely give the winter vibe. It also makes things gloomy (said captain obvious), and this sense of gloom, it's hard for me to shake right now.

There's been medical issues ailing my mother, which I think in the end will be okay.  It's just a lot of unknowns for her right now.  Jack had a cold that induced asthma, and the poor guy had an inhaler for the past five days.  He's doing a lot better now, and the cold seems to be almost gone.  The rain always causes swelling and inflammation for my joints and sinuses, so yet another reminder that my body isn't in tip top shape.

All these things accumulate as a reminder that I'm doing a job that is just a job; my job brings no satisfaction or career path.   If I only have a finite number of days left on this realm, then I want my work to be somewhat enjoyable to me.  I know it's such a US privileged way of looking at work, that we should be doing something we like, but I am too sad about my job to think of it in any other way.  I'm ready to move on from the work job blues, and have my winter blues be only about the weather.

If you didn't know, I one thing I really enjoy is writing, so much so, that last year I published my first children's book, Annie Aardvark, Mathematician.  The book publishing date was January 19, 2017, and to celebrate the book's "birthday," I've set up a giveaway on Amazon!  Just following the link below for a chance to win 1 of 2 books that I'm giving away.  A celebration among the dreary winter is a good pick me up.

I do hope to follow up Annie with a sequel later this year (probably much later this year), and that next book will temporarily stop the unhappiness I feel about my job.  I am much fulfilled outside of my day job with Jack and Bobby, friends and family, and my writing.  These blues are temporary, much like most things in winter (snow storms, dead trees, gray skies, etc).  Until the second book is out, I do wish you all a good winter, and that the spring breezes sweep away the blues, but really the grays, of winter.

Now for the celebration--

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2/6/18- Reading List 5: Women of Color STEM Picture Books

Another author recently tweeted about moving past "'Here's a list of diverse books!' and progress to a day where ALL of our lists- about science books, mysteries, romance, etc. - are diverse."  But I think to get to subconscious diversity and inclusion in books, you have to take deliberate and conscious action.  A list purposely showcasing kick-shark Women of Color (WoC) in STEM is needed-- it is what facilitates the discussion of diversity and inclusion in books and gets authors writing diverse characters into their stories.  And it's the same with engineering.  Our industry has to deliberately take action to increase the number of women and people of color because honestly, I don't think diversity and inclusion would happen in engineering without conscious action.

Alright, enough philosophizing and more showcasing.  Here's my list of picture books featuring kick-shark women in STEM in honor of Black History Month.  And if I missed one of your favorites WoC in STEM picture books, please call me out on it.  I want to know; I want to add that book to my list!  Thanks in advance!

1) Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race 
Written by Margot Lee Shetterly and Illustrated by Laura Freeman
The story of NASA mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden and their contributions to America's first journeys into space.

2) The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath 

Written by Julia Finley Mosca and Illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Dr. Bath is responsible for a game-changing treatment for blindness.

3) Mae Among the Stars
Written by Roda Ahmed and Illustrated by Stasia Burrington
The story of young Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space.

4) Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman 
Written by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroeger and Illustrated by Teresa Flavin
Bessie became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license.

5) Shirley Ann Jackson (part of the My Itty-Bitty Bio series)
Written by Virginia Loh-Hagan
This book examines the life of physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, a National Medal of Science recipient for Physical Science.

6) Sweet Dreams Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor 
Written by Vivian Kirkfield and Illustrated by Chris Ewald
The story of Sarah B. Goode, one of the first African-American women to get a US patent.

7) The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague (coming Fall 2018)
Written by Julia Finely Mosca and Illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Raye Montague worked as a mathematician for the US Navy and forever changed the design of ships.

More books that mention WoC in STEM:

1) Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison
Although this book covers women in professions outside of STEM,  Alice Ball, a chemist who performed research on Leprosy, a well as Bessie Coleman and Katherine Johnson, are highlighted in the book.

2) Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Written by Rachel Ignotofsky
And although this book covers white women and women of color in various STEM fields, NASA mathematician and computer scientist Annie Easley and psychologist Mamie Phillips Clark, who performed the Doll Experiment (which lead to proof that segregation damaged children), are featured in the book.

I wonder without Mamie Phillips Clark's research if authors today would even be thinking about representing children of color in their books. And speaking of books that represent children of color, 2 fiction picture books that have girls of color as the main character are How to Code a Sand Castle and Ada Twist, Scientist.  Both are great fiction picture books to check out in addition to the non-fiction books listed above.  Happy reading everybody!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1/24/18- Multicultural Children's Book Day

So, one of the cool things about being a part of the Kid Lit (Children's Literature) community is that occasionally I get free books.  Sometimes I win the books, sometimes I swap books with fellow authors, and then sometimes I get books to review as part of raising awareness for an awesome cause.  One such awesome cause is Multicultural Children's Book Day, which will be January 27 this year. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  

As a female engineer, supporting diversity in my profession is close to my heart and supporting diversity in children's book is an extension of that.  It's why I'm excited to be participating in MCBD and to have received books from Real MVP Kids that feature children from all kinds of cultural backgrounds.  The books in the Real MVP Kids catalog are the perfect books for reading on MCBD with your children.

About the books:
I received 5 books from Real MVP Kids to review for MCBDCelebrate! Our Difference, Celebrate! The Way I'm Made, Celebrate! Bedtime, Celebrate! Mommies and Daddies, and Celebrate! Grandmas and Grandpas.  

Celebrate! Our Differences guides children in becoming friends with others who are different than themselves, realizing that “we’re more alike than different” while celebrating those things which make an individual unique.  Celebrate! The Way I’m Made helps children appreciate their own unique qualities, from physical traits to skills and strengths, affirming that they are good.  

Celebrate! Bedtime walks through a comforting bedtime routine while teaching gratefulness, obedience and calming strategies and features each of the MVP Kids families saying “goodnight” in their heritage language.  Celebrate! Mommies and Daddies strengthens parent-child bonds as children describe the ways their parent(s) love and care for them.  The MVP Kids families express “I love you” in their heritage languages.   In Celebrate! Grandmas and Grandpas, grandparents help children apply proverbs and cultural wise sayings to everyday situations, teaching young people to value elders and encouraging grandparents to strengthen their bonds with the younger generation.

Here's a link to MVP Kids and the books:

Review of books: 
All five books are great to read with toddlers (and babies and older kids too!).  Jack, my toddler, enjoyed reading them with me, but his favorite book (of the series) seemed to be Celebrate! The Way I’m Made.  He liked the rhyme of that book the best and enjoyed pointing out the different body parts when I'd read them (eyes! hair! hands!).  He also really liked the illustration of the kids and balloons on the cover, always asking for the balloons book.

Of course what I liked about the series was a little different from what my toddler preferred.  The themes in each book are familiar, like body positive in Celebrate! The Way I’m Made, and comforting, like the love of parents in  Celebrate! Mommies and Daddies, making the stories good to share with young children.  But what make these books stand out from other books that  have similar themes is the cast of children-- every illustration in the books has children of different colors, genders, ethnicity, and shapes and sizes.  A child should be able to self-identify with at least one character in the series, which is important to me as a female engineer and mother.   The illustrations are colorful and pleasant, invoking the celebration in each book.  There is also "Helpful Teaching Tips" at the end of each book that will help parents/guardians and educators in navigating difficult subjects, like low self-esteem (related to the body positive theme in Celebrate! The Way I’m Made).  

Using the Goodreads, Amazon, B+N, etc. 5 star review format, I give these books 4 out of 5 stars.  These books will not only be the perfect read for MCBD, but for any time you want to talk about diversity, love, positive body image, multicultural awareness, and so on.  Happy reading everyone! 

Now for some FREE stuff!

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

And now a thank you to sponsors!

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

2018 Author Sponsors

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

1/12/18- Exercising When You Feel Like Shark

Yesterday I had a headache from about 4 am until 10 pm.  2 Advil and 2 Tylenol helped me power through work.  Bobby was able to pick up Jack from preschool, and they grabbed dinner. And while I laid, cuddling with Jack on the couch last night, I thought about how I should walk the dogs.  How I should get exercise.  And then I thought, why don't I allow myself just to rest tonight?  The answer is guilt.

I see my friends sharing on social media all the exercise they are getting, some of them with autoimmune diseases like me (props to them), and I feel guilty that all I want is rest.  I feel guilty when the doctor suggests that my health (and joints) will be better if I get a little exercise.  I feel guilty that Jack wants me to play and dance with him, but all I can do is watch him from the couch.  I feel guilty that dogs love taking their walks, but I tell them tomorrow.


But it's silly to feel guilty about exercise when you're sick.  If I had a cold or the flu, people would tell me to rest, and most likely I would. So if I have a headache, because of inflammation from the RA, then I should rest.  Rest is just as important as exercise when you have RA or other autoimmune diseases, so I should honor when my body is telling me to rest.

And the times I feel moderate to excellent, I will capitalize on that and exercise. The exercise might only be folding the laundry, dancing with Jack, or walking the dogs because  I'm not going to push myself and then inadvertently cause inflammation.  I want to find the right balance of exercise, so that I'm not resting all the time.  I do enjoy walking the dogs or playing with Jack.

The balance between exercise and rest is delicate when living with RA, and I don't want to feel guilty for those days when I need rest.  I want stop feeling guilty about what my body (and mind) needs.  If I need, or want, to rest, then I should rest.  I should not be worrying about exercising when I feel like shark (and I think neither should you).  Join me on the couch and say no to exercising when you feel like shark.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

1/2/18- New Year's Resolutions

2017 was a pretty good year for me.  I released a book, traveled twice to Disneyland, wrote about awesome engineers for STEMedia, enjoyed my work some days, and spent blissful time with my friends and family.  Although the past 2 weeks have been a bit busy and emotionally draining (there were some good times and some not good times this Christmas), 2017 was a good year for me on a personal level. I know some bat shark stuff happened in the US this year, shark you Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, but for me, I enjoyed 2017.

I believe 2018 will also be a good year (for me), and I'm not setting New Year's resolutions.  That's right no resolutions.  I have some writing goals and some personal goals, but if they don't happen this year, I'll get them done in 2019.  I've seen too often my parent friends stress out and feel time poor with all that is on their and their child's plates.  I've talked with my chronically ill friends about how some days the only energy you have is to eat and watch TV.  So this year I've decided to not sweat about my goals. Because goals are nice to have but are not a need to have.  

What are these goals that are nice to have but not a need to have?  I'll tell you:

1) Write every week-- If for some reason I don't write for one of the weeks, no big deal, I can do it some other time. Since my income to pay for food, shelter, etc doesn't come from writing, I've got the flexibility of when I write.  It's nice to write, but it's not a need. Gasp!  I'm sure other writers are horrified at this idea, but I don't want writing to be a chore. I want to write because I want to do it.  Writing started to feel mandatory at the end of 2017, and I want writing to stay fun and continue to make me feel happy. 

2) Submit queries to agents and publishers-- If for some reason I don't query an agent for the whole year, there will be agents to query in 2019.  A list of agents to query seems to be a pretty steady fact in the writing business, and as much as I'd love an agent sooner rather than later, I know that it takes time.  And if part of the reason it takes time is because of me, then so be it.

3) Take a vacation-- I'm like 99.9999999999999999999% sure that will happen this year, but it might not be some fancy vacation at a nice resort on a tropical island.  It might just be in the next city over at a Holiday Inn Express/Best Western/Comfort Inn/etc.  I don't really care where it, as long as it is time off from work and somewhat relaxing.   

That's it.  Those are my goals.  They're pretty achievable.  I asked a friend if she had any New Year's Resolutions, and she had a pretty good answer: sleep more and eat more.  Those are also very achievable goals.  So that's what I'm going to encourage us all to do this year-- set the bar low because you'll feel great when you easily trip over your goals.  In seriousness, I want to encourage you to set goals or resolutions, or whatever you want to call them, that you know you actually achieve.  Goals that you won't sweat about. Even if it's just eating more. 

Happy New Year's and best wishes! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

12/22/17- The First Kiss

December 22, 2017 marks the 12th anniversary of my first date, and consequentially, my first kiss with my husband Bobby!  For our wedding website (that we made in 2008!), we both wrote down our first kiss from our own perspective.  I'm so happy to still have the information from our website and happy that I get to share the story with you all.  Hopefully it's not too sickeningly sweet, but the right amount of sweet.  Happy 12th anniversary first date to my handsome husband!

*Bobby's Side*
On our first date, I had spent a lot of effort being a real gentleman. I opened her car door when I picked her up, when we got to the restaurant, and finally, when we left the restaurant.
The final activity we did at Zoo Lights was ride the carousel together. I was very happy to find a guy who'd look like a fool to ride the carousel with me. I mean we were in our mid-20s riding a carousel full of kids. Not too many guys would do that. I knew then that I wanted to end the night on a kiss good bye.

As we headed back to the car after a great time wandering through the zoo and talking, I didn't open her door. She jokingly reminded me and I rushed to open her door, apologizing the whole way. It seems she had thought about this and as I turned to her with the door open, she leaned in and kissed me.

Now I know the first kiss is a private moment, but there was something different about that kiss. It was different than any other first kiss I had. Of course, maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, but it

*Suzie's Side*
He had been opening the car door for me all night, even though I joked that I was a modern girl and could do it myself, but he had set that standard, so I fully expected him to open the car door one last time when we left the zoo. I mean, perfect opportunity for a kiss, right? He opens the door, I lean in and thank him with a kiss. Of course this one time, he decided to act on my critique of his macho, chivalry. We held hands all the way from the parking lot to the cars, so I thought he was in the same mentality as me, and this would be the big first kiss. As he headed for his own door (the driver's side), not even attempting to open mine, I cleared my throat, and then asked if he was going to open the door or not? I swear he actually ran all the way from drive side to the passenger side. He opened the door, and yeah, I leaned in to kiss him (as the white elephant had taught me, I couldn't expect him to kiss me). It was definitely a kiss I wouldn't forget. Wow is right.

Monday, December 18, 2017

12/18/17- Holiday Science Experiment: Make Your Own Snow

When you live in a warm weather place like Phoenix, you rarely receive snowfall (it has happened though). So if you don't get snow, then why not make some?  That's exactly what Jack, Bobby, our friend Colton, and some neighborhood kids did this weekend. It will make for a fun winter break and holiday science experiment.  And it's super easy to do!


3 cups of baking soda
1/2 cup of hair conditioner (suggest white in color so that it looks like snow)
glitter (optional)
large plastic container or large pan
"snow" tools: beads, toothpicks, cookie cutters or Play-Doh tools, ribbon and googling eyes for snow people


1. Pour baking soda into container.
2. Pour conditioner into container.
3. Stir together with a spoon (or your hands).  Snow should be like sand.
4. Let the play begin!

I will give you a word of caution: your child(ren) may want to make snowballs and then throw said snowball at you.  The good news is that this snow cleans up easily.  So I suggest wearing play clothes (or if you live in Phoenix, bathing suites to hose down the "snow" covered kids, haha) and doing the snow outside (just like real snow, haha).

Jack, Colton, and the neighborhood kids enjoyed the snow-- long after we ran out of baking soda and conditioner, they kept asking for more snowballs.  It makes me so happy when Jack and friends enjoy one of my science experiments. Parenting, and engineering, win! 😀

And for those who have children older than 3, you can explain how mixing the baking soda and conditioner together creates an exothermic reaction, which is the same type of reaction in the formation of real snow (exothermic is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of heat or light). And if you want an endothermic reaction, like the reaction that melting snow is, then pour some vinegar on top of your fake snow.  Below is a video to help your children learn more about exothermic and endothermic reactions.  Happy Snow-lidays! ⛄