Trick or TREAT!


How were your weekends?  Mine was lots of fun and I will be back tomorrow or Wednesday with weekend and Halloween updates!

Tonight, Bryce and I are going over to SC&BC's house to hand out candy and enjoy some chili.  SC is one of Bryce's best work friends, and BC, his wife, and I have become friends too.  I agreed to take a dessert.  I'm hoping to whip up something cute and Halloween-y, but may not have the time between school and when we have to get to their house.  If I do have time, however, I will use some of these cute ideas found on Pinterest as inspiration.

SO cute and easy to make!

OBSESSED with this!!

oreos and a witch hat?  YES, PLEASE!

Rice Krispies are one of my FAVORITE desserts and these are adorable!

Have a fun and safe Halloween!




This week has been a slow one and I am so thankful that Friday is here!

I got some really great feedback from y'all about the "Lately" link-up idea on Wednesday and am going to do the first link-up one week from today:  Friday, November4!  Have fun taking snapshots of your life lately over the next week!

Today is "Character Day" at school and students are allowed to dress up as a favorite literary character.  I jump on any chance to dress in costume and was thrilled for this Halloween inspired Spirit Day.

On the Sundresses and Smiles Facebook page (click here) I posted a poll yesterday asking readers to guess what character I was going to be, the choices were:

As you can tell from today's title I chose Pinkalicious!

Pinkalicious tells the story of Pinkalicious who absolutely adores pink everything, especially pink cupcakes.  After a few too many pretty pink cupcakes though, she finds herself in quite the predicament--she has turned...PINK!

I thought this was the perfect costume because my favorite color is pink and my mentor teacher's favorite is purple and Kann has written a sequel called Purplicious.

Creating the costume was no problem--I have just about pink everything and it was so fun putting it all together in one crazy outfit!

All pink outfit, courtesy of J. Crew
Vintage Matchstick Cords, Painter Tee, and Jackie Cardigan

Fancy Jewels!

GIANT Pink Sunglasses

And last, but certainly not least...

Fabulous, Sparkly Pink Shoes!

Here is the final product all put together:

Have a pretty, playful, pleasing, pinkalicious weekend!


Time Flies!

Happy Hump Day readers!

Wow, time sure does fly by!  I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted.  Since deciding to cut back on the blog, as many of y'all know, I am now posting twice a week.  I'm going to aim for Mondays and Wednesdays, but am going to adjust according to my schedule.  Therefore this week's posts are today and Friday!

I figured I'd take today to update you on what's been going on in my world.

Since I last posted I have been quite busy but also SO happy!  I really have seemed to find a balance between getting all my work done and also finding time for myself.

The end of my week last week revolved around school.  Thursday was "Back to School" night and Friday, we culminated our 3 week shapes unit with a fun Halloween-geometry activity I came up with for my students. It's now my fourth week of teaching full time (i.e. taking over the classroom completely) and I am really enjoying it and feel so inspired by the career path I've chosen.

The students designed their own Jack O'Lanterns made of shapes we've studied (square, circle, triangle, rectangle, rhombus, hexagon).  Each yellow shape is labeled with its name and on the back students glued a worksheet that had spots for them to record how many of each shape they used on their Jack O'Lantern.

After school Friday I drove straight to my old high school for the Homecoming parade.  This year, CJE, my cousin, was one of the princesses.  After the parade we had a family dinner at Melito's, a Richmond favorite.

Her Royal Highness

Saturday, I slept in and my parents and I went out to brunch followed by a surprise shopping excursion.  One of the items purchased was the Michael Kors Horn Jet Set Watch that I have been ogling over and posted about here and here!  It was an early graduation/Student Teaching present and I couldn't be more grateful!  I put it on before we even left the store and have barely taken it off since.  While we were at Nordstrom my parents also bought a few other things off of my Birthday/Christmas wishlist--any guesses what they might be? (see list here)  The other items are being put away for birthday and Christmas and I am so excited!

Time Flies when you're having fun and wearing a gorgeous watch!

Saturday night, Bryce and I went on a double date with Claire, from Life in the Sweet Virginia Breeze, and her Mr. C.  It was so great to meet him and the four of us had a really fun time!  Sunday Bryce and I spent the day relaxing and running all sorts of errands.

Since the weekend, the start of this week has been great.  Monday night I had dinner with my Grandma "Jac Jac" and last night I surprised my mom by cooking dinner for the two of us!  

Finally, I wanted to introduce a new idea and hear what y'all think.  I've come up with an idea for a regular link-up called "Lately."  Over the last few days I've been snapping pictures of random things to compile for a post sharing little snippets of what's been going on in my life lately.  Then I thought, it might be a fun post to host as a link-up.  Everyone would post just snapshots they've taken lately with small captions as a photo tour of their recent life.  What do y'all think?  If I added this to the blog, how often would you want it?  Once a week?  Every other week?  Once a month?  Let me know and hopefully we can make this happen!

How have y'all's weeks been going?  What's been going on in your world?


Fall Bucket List

Happy Hump Day my friends!

It has been a great week thus far--as y'all know I've loved student teaching all along, but the last few weeks I had been struggling to manage stress and also find time for myself and sleep.  This week I've finally managed to find a groove and am feeling much more relaxed about things.

Also, I thought I would update you that I had my final Teach for America interview yesterday and think it went really well.  I still haven't decided if I want to do TFA or not, but I'll find out if I've been chosen November 8 and hopefully if the answer is yes, it will be an easy decision.

Finally, I'd like to thank you all for your sweet comments about my choosing to decrease blogging to twice a week during the remainder of student teaching.  It means a lot to me to have such a supportive blog network and have also decided I will try to do little (one line) life updates or thoughts on my Facebook page on the days I'm not posting.  To check out the Facebook page, click here and "Like" it!

For today's post, I bring you Student Teaching Guest Post #10 from sweet Addison from Carolina On My Mind.  Addison is an aspiring teacher just like me, as well as a lover of all things Southern and preppy just like me.  Be sure to check out her blog--she's recently engaged and it's so fun reading about this exciting time in her life.  So without further adieu, here's Addison!  Enjoy!

I cannot believe it is fall!  Fall has become my favorite season as I long for the vanilla and pumpkin smells of candles placed throughout my apartment, the smell of leaves and the chill in the air, the new outfits and favorites I get to dig out of my closet, and the fun activities that are associated with this time of year.  I have waited so long for these crisp temperatures, the changing leaves, and the crunch underneath my feet on the walk to class.  Now that it is finally here, there are lots of activities that I want to accomplish.  With the comfortable temperatures, I am wanting to spend as much time outside as possible! As I was brainstorming for my own fall bucket list, I ran across this cute fall to do-list:

I thought this to-do list was great start for fun ideas to do with your roommates, boyfriend/husband, or family! I love the suggestions on here, but wanted to add my own thoughts to it as well.  Because the weather seems to be so fabulous this time of year, I wanted to add more outdoorsy type activities.

Here are my additions:
Go to the pumpkin patch
Carve your pumpkin
Go to the park and have a picnic
Go to the mountains and hike
Have a bonfire and make s'mores
Go through a corn maze
Jump in a pile of leaves

So far, I can mark off my Fall Bucket List: Go to the mountains and hike, go for walks, take lots of pictures, and sit outside!

Stephen and I have already started to work on our list we made together.  Last weekend we were invited for a mountain trip getaway by another couple who we are great friends with! We had a ball! The temperature was perfect, requiring a light jacket, the leaves were changing and falling, and it made for a cozy atmosphere in the log cabin we stayed in.  We spent our time hiking to the top of one of the mountains, walking around the lake, taking a stroll through the neighborhood admiring all the beautiful homes, playing Apples-to-Apples after dinner each night, and curling up on the couch and talking for hours.  Here are a couple of pictures from our hike - it was the epitome of a fall day so I just had to capture our time together!

View on top of the mountain - it is hard to see in the picture but the leaves were all changing! Lots of reds and yellows!

Stephen going all the way to the edge, typical.

At the top of the mountain. Our friends are in the background!

The matching was not intentional! We are walking around Lake Susan at Montreat!

Beautiful views where ever you looked at Lake Susan.

One thing I love about Fall is that you can find neat ideas and activities to do without breaking the bank, and is quite appropriate for a college girl's budget.

What are some of your favorite Fall activities? Do you make a bucket list of activities you'd like to do?

Have a great day friends--see you Monday!


Homecoming Weekend

Happy Monday readers!

I am happy to report that my sinus infection is 99% cured and that this weekend in Cville was lots of fun  and also provided some relaxation time that I desperately needed.

We got into Cville early Friday evening, got checked into our hotel, and ready for dinner with AMF and her boyfriend CKJ.  AMF is one of my very best friends from college so I was so happy for she and Bryce to meet. We ate at one of our favorite Cville spots:  The Local.

Friends since First Year Orientation!



After dinner we headed back to the hotel and to bed.  We had a busy day planned for Saturday and I knew that if we tried to go out Friday night, I would pay for it the rest of the weekend.

Saturday morning we headed to Bodo's Bagels for breakfast with some friends (loving Bodo's is pretty much a requirement for C'villians).  After Bodo's we stopped by to see some friends and I walked Bryce by the Alpha Phi house.  After that it was time to get ready for the football game.  We headed to Mellow Mushroom for lunch with friends (are you noticing that eating is a trend in Charlottesville?), stopped by a tailgate to see Cutie B and his dad, and then enjoyed the game, which turned out to be a surprising win against Georgia Tech!

Scott Stadium at half time!

After the game we quickly went home, changed, and grabbed a quick bite to eat.  We were headed downtown to see Trey Anastasio play.  Bryce has really broadened my taste in music and I had a blast at the concert (any excuse to wear glowsticks is a fun time in my book).  My favorite song was his rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

sporting my glowstick crown!

After the concert we did a little barhopping and got some late night food at Little John's.  Sunday was spent sleeping in, enjoying brunch at Hotcakes and doing a bit of shopping around C'ville.

My fun weekend definitely re-energized me for the week ahead!

What did you do this weekend?  


So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want...

TGIF my friends!

So glad that the weekend is here--it was quite the week.  My "cold" actually is a sinus infection and I stayed home from school yesterday and went to the doctor.  I'm glad to be on antibiotics.

This weekend Bryce and I are headed to Charlottesville for Homecoming.  I'm disappointed that I'll be sick for it, but we'll just take it easy and have more of a low key weekend.

I can't believe that my time as an undergraduate at UVA went by so quickly.  Below is a picture of my first football game as a UVA student!

Hallmates Tailgating on The Lawn

Now onto today's post--can anyone guess what song I'm quoting from?

It's the Spice Girls "Wannabe!"  I was a huge fan of the Spice Girls back in the day and went to one of their concerts with my dad in the 3rd grade--how fun!  

I'm quoting the Spice Girls because today I am looking for your input--I want to know what YOU, my readers want from Sundresses and Smiles during the next few months.

I've made the decision to cut my blogging down for a while, at least until I finish Student Teaching.  As much as I love it, it is just one more thing on my to-do list each night and what I really need to focus on now is my health (i.e. getting enough sleep at night) and finishing my Masters.

I am leaning towards posting twice a week:  Mondays and Wednesdays and am open to continuing to have guest posts (let me know if you'd be interested by emailing:  sundressesandsmiles@gmail.com).  

That being said--what would you like to see in those 2 posts a week?  I try to post on a lot of topics on this blog ranging from fashion to world issues.  What are your favorite posts?  I still will be using my own discretion at times, because, I think the fact that I do post on "serious matters" from time to time keeps the blog grounded.  But overall, I want to find a happy medium that pleases all of you!  

Please reply letting me know what ya think.

And, OF COURSE, have a fabulous, great, wonderful weekend!


Keeping Love Alive

Happy Thursday readers!  This has been one of those long, exhausting weeks, so  I'm very happy say that the weekend is almost here!

Today I bring you Student Teaching Guest Post #9 from Jane at In the Pink and Green.  She and her hubby have been married for a little over two years now and the instant connection she had with Cameron parallels a lot of this start to Bryce's and my relationship.  I thought an excellent post for her to write would be about ways to keep your love alive and what she has learned thus far about marriage.  I think she has put together a great list of lessons and tips, so enjoy!

Hello all you lovely Sundresses and Smiles readers! I'm so excited that sweet Allie asked me to write a guest post because I absolutely love her blog. I write a blog called In the Pink and Green, which is basically my story--I'm a Midwestern girl who met a boy from the Pacific Northwest, moved to the South, got a crazy (but adorable) dog, and am now trying to adapt to life in Colorado. I love to cook and bake, read, travel, shop, and I'm trying to become more eco-friendly, so my blog is my place to share it all with the world. But today I wanted to talk a little bit about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart--marriage! When Allie suggested that I write about what I've learned about marriage so far, it got me thinking...what have I learned? What makes a good marriage? Hmmm...

Let me just start out by saying, I am by NO means an expert on marriage, but I don't think anyone is really. Marriage is essentially a three-legged race; it takes two imperfect people with different personalities, faults, pet peeves, etc., and binds them together to move through life as one. Not an easy task. Without trust and communication, it can be very frustrating and painful. No matter what you do, there will inevitably be bumps along the way, but when both people are commited to working together, things can work pretty smoothly and it can be a lot of fun! (Sorry for the lame analogy, it was just the first thing that came to mind...)

Rooting for the same football team helps--GO BLUE!
To give you a little bit of background on my own marriage, my husband, Cameron, and I met in college when we were both juniors at the University of Michigan. His fraternity house was next to my sorority house, but we actually got to know each other because we were both a part of this entrepreneurship organization on campus. (Ironically, I was a communications major and I joined this group because I knew there were a lot of engineers and business students involved and I thought it would be a good way to meet guys...I'm so lame...but I guess it ended up working!) We started dating in January of 2008 and we got engaged in September of that same year. I know, fast right? Especially at a liberal school like U of M where no one thinks about getting married that young...ever. We just had a really strong connection right away, but we also both recognized very soon into the relationship that underneath all that initial infatuation we each had that the qualities the other wanted in a mate. We are both very close to our families and share similar values and beliefs. Both of our parents are still married and have great marriages; I think thanks to their examples we both viewed marriage as a great thing that we wanted, not something to be afraid of. So while we definitely weren't trying to rush into anything, it was just one of those things that we knew after a short time that this was it. We also kind of felt that it would be silly to put off something we knew we both wanted and date for another year after college before getting engaged.

Valentine's Day date party--our second date party we went to together! :)
Engagement Shot
Our wedding
After getting engaged in September 2008, we planned our wedding (during senior year of college!) and then got married in Ann Arbor, MI in June of 2009 right after we graduated. We just celebrated our second wedding anniversary this summer, and I'll be the first person to tell you that I love being married. It's awesome to have your best friend with you all the time and start building your life together. There are so many little moments of joy in everyday things just spending time together and I'm very thankful that I'm Cameron's wife. However, that doesn't mean everyday is easy. We are both extremely stubborn and butt heads more often than we probably should. I have a tendency to be fairly reactive and hot-tempered and Cam has his flaws too. But I feel like each disagreement we've had has been a learning lesson on how we can continue to understand one another better and strengthen our relationship. I mentioned that I was doing this blog post to Cam, and it spurred a discussion between us about what makes a good marriage and here's the list that we came up with:
  • Don't talk about your spouse: Seriously, it just makes you look trashy. When you cut your spouse down to other people, you're really just making yourself look bad and although you might think venting feels good, it really doesn't solve anything. I feel like women have a tendency to do this a lot, just really cut their husband down to other women, and I'll admit sometimes when Cam does something that irritates me, it's tempting to do that. However, I know that in order to have a healthy marriage you should try to build your spouse up with your words, not tear them down to others.
  • Understand each other's love language: I know some people many people have probably have heard of the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and while Cam and I haven't actually even read the book, I think that being concious of the concept that people show and want to be shown love in different ways can be very helpful in your marriage. For example, my love languages are words of affirmation and gifts, whereas Cam's is acts of service. So because his love language is acts of service, he'll do things like spend hours fixing my car which I don't necessarily think is a huge deal but in his mind, he's doing that to show love to me. However, he doesn't always realize that birthday presents and cards are a big deal to me, so if he doesn't come through with those things I get upset because that's my love language, whereas he doesn't necessarily get why they mean so much to me. And vice versa, if I get him some big present and write him a long note, he'll appreciate it, but it means a lot more to him if I pack his lunch and do his laundry because those acts of service is how he feels loved. We're definitely still learning at this, but I think just awareness of these differences can go a long way in making sure that you and your spouse both feel loved. (This link goes into more detail about the 5 Love Languages)
  • Have a variety of friends: Another important thing to balance in your marriage is friendships. Neglecting friendships when you get married is something that can be really easy to do, even if it's unintentional. First, I think it's great to have couple friends. What I mean is other couples where you and your spouse both genuinely like both people; however, this can be a tough thing to find. We're lucky to have quite a few different couples that fit this bill, and it's nice to be able to hang out with people who can relate to what you're going through in married life. However, chances are that you're also going to have friends where maybe your husband might not get along with your friend's husband, or vice versa and that's ok too. It's important to realize that you can still maintain a friendship even if your spouses aren't going to be best buds, and it's not something you need to force. Maintaining relationships with your single friends can be tough after you get married sometimes, but even though you might be at different points in your life, it's important not to let these relationships go by the wayside. I think that having girls' night where you can go out and laugh with your friends is really important to really maintain "you" in your marriage. Cameron is my best friend and I love to spend time with him, but do I want to spend every single second with him? No (and he doesn't with me either!) and that's ok, so not losing your friendships is crucial to your personal happiness and the health of your marriage.
  • Have a balance of staying out and going in: One of the great things about marriage is that some of the best nights are just chilling at home on the couch, rocking sweatpants and no makeup. (Love nights like that!) However, I think it's important to make sure that's not all that you do. Getting dressed up for each other and actually going out for a date night every once and while helps to keep things fun and exciting. It doesn't always have to be something super fancy, just something to get you and your spouse out of the house together to enjoy each other's company.
  • Create traditions: I think that it's really nice to have little rituals or special things you do with your spouse. Whether that's making pancakes on Saturdays or always going to the same restaurant on your anniversary or whatever, I think having special things you do on a regular basis really helps strengthen your connection and creates memories for the future. One thing that Cam and I do is we always get a Christmas ornament from places we travel. That way, every year when we're setting up the tree we can reminisce about trips we've taken together in the past.
  • Realize that working through issues takes time: There have been times when Cam and I have had disagreements and it's literally taken hours and hours of talking to come to some sort of resolution. As two different people, you are inevitably going to clash over certain things and you can't just expect that to magically work itself out. It takes significant time to talk, and more importantly, to listen to what the other person is saying in order to make progress. But you need to be willing to put in that time if your relationship is going to keep moving forward.
  •  Be willing to admit when you're wrong and apologize immediately, but also be willing to accept apologies and not hold a grudge when your spouse makes a mistake: This is probably the most important thing that we've learned to have a successful marriage in a nutshell, but it's much easier said than done.
  • Say I love you (often): And mean it!
Those are just a few of the things that we've learned in the first 2 1/2 years, and I'm excited to continue learning and growing in the years to come. Thanks again to Allie for letting me share this with y'all today, and I hope you'll stop over and visit me at In the Pink and Green! xoxo

A couple that climbs mountains together stays together ;)
Have a great day!


French Silk Pie

Happy Hump Day readers!

It's another one of those crazy weeks--I'm hitting my breaking point with exhaustion and am also fighting a bad cold.  I love my students but am looking forward to the end of the week!

For today's post, I bring you a DELICIOUS and EASY recipe!

Last weekend after our Pumpkin Patch adventures, Bryce and I had plans for dessert and wine with SEG and her main squeeze.  I knew that my French Silk Pie was just the right dessert for the evening.  I also make this every year for Thanksgiving and it is always a huge hit!

Thanksgiving 2009

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate Square
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Baked pie shell


1.  Cream butter and sugar with beater until light and fluffy

2.  Melt Baker's chocolate square and blend into creamed mix

3.  Add one teaspoon vanilla to mix

4.  Add one egg, beating it for five minutes

5.  Add second egg, beating it for five more minutes

6.  Put into baked pie shell and chill in fridge for 2 hours

7.  ENJOY!

Do you like French Silk Pie?  What are your favorite go-to desserts?



Happy Tuesday readers!

I couldn't be happier that fall weather seems to be around to stay.  We've had a warm spell these last few days, however mornings and nights are still nice and cool and the summer's humidity seems to be long gone.

During the fall and winter months, I tend to live in my Patagonia fleeces:

Sporting my (kids!) Patagonia vest during a shooting weekend last year on RLE's farm!
RLE and Allie

My pullover, Uggs, and long johns were crucial during the blizzard of 2009!
Allie and BSB (my closest guy friend)

I absolutely love my Patagonia products and find them to be a preppy wardrobe essential--especially on UVA's grounds!

Here are some of my favorite Patagonia picks:


As mentioned previously on the blog (see here), I've had my eye on this for 3 years now!

I wore mine at some point almost every day during the fall and winter during college!

And for the gentleman...

I got my dad one of these for Christmas a few years ago and it was a HUGE hit!

Bryce has quite a few of these and I always end up curling up in them at his house!

And of course, we can't forget the kiddos--


Are you a fan of Patagonia?  What are your favorite ways to stay warm in the fall and winter?

Have a great day!


Blog Book Discussion...FINALLY!

Happy Monday everyone!

Today, I FINALLY bring you the A Long Way Gone blog book discussion.  I know I announced it over two months ago, haven't done the best job of reminding you all about it, and also haven't been as on top of my reading, etc as I'd like.  But, nonetheless, it is now here.

Today's post is a wordy one, but I do think it is worth the read, even if you did not have the time to read the book.

Also--if any of you know how to set up a link up will you please email me directions:  sundressesandsmiles@gmail.com ?  I thought I had an html code to do it, but it is not working!!

I finished A Long Way Gone at the stroke of midnight last night and spent some time in bed reflecting on it all and how I'd like to structure this discussion.  So here's my plan--

The book brings up a lot of issues within our world and many powerful themes.  For my portion of the book review, I'm going to give a brief synopsis of the book and then focus on the issue that stood out most to me.  I then will also pose some other potential discussion questions I have thought of.  You, as readers, however, can frame your posts however you'd like.  You can write about one of the questions I suggest or you can write about what personally moved you in the story.

ALSO, because I know some of you may not have had time to read the book, I'm hoping to frame some of these questions in a way that they can be answered without having read.

Feel free to post your responses in a comment or by linking up (fingers crossed that the link up functions properly).

SO, here goes!

A Long Way Gone tells the story of Ishmael Beah, a young teenager living in war torn Sierra Leone.  At the age of twelve he is forced to flee from attacking rebels in his village and is separated from his family.  After months of running from rebel groups and fighting for survival, Beah and his companions are ultimately captured by the army.  Beah, who has since witnessed the murder of his family, finds solace in the army community.  They feed him and provide him with a brotherhood.  They also provide him with lots of drugs, a large gun, and brainwashing.  For three years he fought as a child soldier--performing horrible acts.  At sixteen, he is rescued and removed from the fighting by UNICEF, however his journey is not over.  It takes a long time to heal and rehabilitate.  Ultimately, however, he prevails and becomes a leader in the fight to end the cycle of killing and the use of child soldiers.

If you have not yet read this book, I encourage you to do so!  It is a quick read, and though it is very sad at times, it will open your eyes to a world that is so foreign to us and make you want to fight for change.

The question I'd like to focus on today for my portion of the book discussion is:
How does a book like this one (or horrible stories in the news) affect your view of humanity?
As I've mentioned on this blog, I often grapple with my faith and have not yet figured out what I believe.  When people ask about my religion, my response usually is that "I haven't quite figured out what I believe in, but I do know that I believe in people."  I believe that people are good.  This faith I have in humanity, however, can be challenged at times, especially when reading a book like this, watching the news, or even realizing how much disparity exists in the world.  Seeing these heartbreaking conditions that many people face makes it hard to remain true to my belief in people, and I know some peoples' beliefs in God, as well.  After reading a book like this, however, I work to keep my faith in humanity by focusing on those people in the story and world that are wonderful and inspiring.  Ishmael even says (in reference to Esther):  "She was wearing her white uniform and was on her way to take on other traumatized children.  It must be tough living with so many war storeis.  I was just living with one, mine, and it was difficult...Why does she do it?  Why do they all do it?"  Despite the atrocities in the world, there are people like Esther, like Laura, and even people like Ishmael who can overcome the worst possible conditions and still have faith in humankind.  

And now for some other questions you may want to consider:
At the start of Chapter Ten, Ishmael says:  "One of the unsettling things about my journey, mentally, physically, and emotionally, was that I wasn't sure when or where it was going to end.  I didn't know what I was going to do with my life.  I felt that I was starting over and over again."  Can you imagine constantly living in fear and not knowing what the next day, hour, or minute will bring?  

Ishmael's rap music and cassette tapes play a pivotal role throughout the story.  They are the one possession that he has to cling to his past life and ultimately the tool that Esther is able to use to befriend Ishmael and begin his healing process.  What role does music play in your life?  Do you have a possession that is particularly significant to you?

To me, my loved ones are everything and in many ways, are what make life the most worthwhile to me.  Do you think you would have the strength to go on without your family as Ishmael did?

How do you think issues within the army parallel issues in our own society?  For example, Ishmael finds a certain amount of solace in the family he forms within the army, similar to that of many gang members in our own country.

In Chapter 18, Ishmael says:  "I would always tell people that I believe children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance."  Do you believe this?  Why or why not?

For those of you that did have time to read, Ishmael ends the story by saying:  "I concluded to myself that if I were the hunter, I would shoot the monkey so that it would no longer have the chance to put other hunters in the same predicament."  What do you think he means by that?

And that's it for my questions!  Please, please respond whether it be in comment form or through a link-up.  This book was powerful and even those that may  not have been able to read can still share input.

Finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the memoir:

"It was the Atlantic Ocean.  The sounds we had heard were those of the waves hitting the shore.  I had seen parts of the ocean but had never stood at the shore of one this vat.  It spread out beyond the vision of my eyes.  The sky was at its bluest and seemed to curve down and join with the ocean in the distance.  My eyes widened, a smile forming on my face.  Even in the middle of the madness there remained that true and natural beauty, and it took my mind away from my current situation and marveled at this sight." (pg 59)

Have a great day!  I'll be back tomorrow with a weekend update and regular posting!

Because the link up is not quite up and running, feel free to copy and paste the link to your post in a comment!