November, Revisited, Plus December

The last few months I've set some goals and have recapped how I've done on them at the end of the month. I was having a bit of a hard time at the beginning of the school year for various reasons, and it helped give me some direction. Plus, I love a good list and respond well to public accountability. And, like I've said before, this is more for me than anyone, but oh well. 

What I had planned for November:

1. Read five books- Nope! I only read three, and I'm quite upset about this. Grading, life, and exhaustion have been cramping my style in a bad way. 

2. Eat an new restaurant- Yup! A friend and our kids went to a place called Afters in Chino Hills and I ate this lovely concoction that consisted of peanut butter s'mores ice cream shoved inside a hot donut.

3. Less Diet Coke, more water- Sorta! I have been drinking more water, lots of tea, fair amounts of coffee, but still quite a bit of Diet Coke. 

4. Make a new recipe a week- Yes! I made a chocolate cake in my Deep Covered Baker, a crock pot chicken and stuffing casserole, a few new things for Thanksgiving, and enchilada chicken soup last night. 

5. Start (lightly) training- Yes! I've been piling on the miles this month because of Fitbit competitions, both walking and running. Two weeks this month I averaged over ten miles a day- hey there, cardiovascular endurance! I've also started truly running- last Friday I did four miles straight, at a respectable speed, so I'm feeling motivated. I did 2.5 yesterday afternoon, as well, between grading and dinner. Unfortunately, I'm paying for it in extreme foot pain (they don't typically bother me too much while running, but later... wow).

6. Really try to finish NaNoWriMo- No! I'm really, really bitter about this. I wrote two short stories at the beginning of the month and nothing since. I'm not giving up, though.

7. Blog 17 times- Nope! Almost... Honestly, I'm surprised that I've posted as much as I have. 

8. Make a non-lame Christmas craft to make- Yes! Maybe it was a little lame, but I made this for Sawyer:

9. Reevaluate my fall/winter wardrobe- Sorta! I have definitely started buying things for colder weather... I still need to clean things out a bit, though.

10. Go out without Sawyer- Yes! My husband and I left Sawyer with a sitter and went to lunch for our anniversary. 

For December....

1. Not gain any weight- I bake a lot this month. A lot.

2. Go to yoga three times- This is pathetic, but it was more than last month. Once upon a time I went three times a week. 

3. Work on my 2015 book- I created a yearly book for 2013 (last year was Sawyer's baby book) and want to start doing it again. 

4. Read a graphic novel- I have read zero this year and it's an area I'd like to be better versed in.  

5. Pay more attention to the dogs- I used to walk my dogs for an hour a day... not so much now. While I can't commit to that, I'd like to walk them more, get Cordie groomed, and start brushing their teeth twice a week.

6. Salute the sun- I'd like to do some sort of sun salutation challenge, at home. The repetition is calming and it can be a really great work out. 

7. Make appointments- This one is SO boring (because the others are so terribly fascinating), but I need to get into the optometrist, dentist, podiatrist, and doctor in the new month or two.

8. Cards and thank you notes- I'd like to be good about actual paper correspondence this year, meaning holiday cards soon and thank you notes for gifts before New Year's.

9. Clean out every cabinet and drawer in the kitchen- There are thirty. This should obviously be great fun. 

10. Get out and have fun- I know this one is pretty generic, but I have high hopes for some outings planned with Sawyer, a quick getaway to Ojai with Scott, and seeing family and friends. 

Get Behind at Grading! A Guide.

[this was the start of vacation; it looks much better now]

I figured that there are a lot of teachers, or potential ones, out there, that might need a little help figuring out how to bury themselves in a grading hole. Imagine this: you're ten feet below ground, surrounded by dirt and your students just walk by and start tossing their papers in on you. You furiously grade as fast as you can, but the papers just float faster and faster. Soon, you're entire body is covered in essays, paragraph analysis writing, extra credit assignments, quizzes, explications, and tests. Who could not possibly enjoy this experience? What doesn't sound blissfully wonderful about slowly being smothered by copy paper? Well, lucky for you, my fellow educators, who I'm sure know nothing on the topic, I'm here to help. Let me be your guide.*

1. Assign projects, papers, and tests at the same time- Why space things out? Never! Next week assign your students an essay, a notebook of work, and a test. Fun for hours! Bonus points if you teach different courses and you seem to always assign things that take longer to assess at the same time.

2. Have a child!- Of course you will love and adore your little time suck, but he or she will constantly need or want you. Child is in a good mood? Awesome, let's play! You are so cute and fun! Child is hungry/tired/teething/has a cold? Fabulous, please, whine at me some more. Sure, latch on to my legs as a I walk, it's cool.   

3. Give students in-class essays or tests so you can get things graded- Oh what, they work faster than you can grade? You can't grade five sets of essays while, in a day, your five periods produce five more sets of essays? It sounds so logical... in theory. BUT IT'S NOT AND YOU WILL END UP WORSE OFF. And you will never learn. 

4. Overestimate your abilities- Absolutely, you can totally grade fifteen stacks of papers tonight! Who cares that it's Thursday and it's been a long week. You can do it! Oh, what? It's ten and you're exhausted and you want to go to bed? Oh wait, your work is still in the car? You have to be up at five and will probably be woken up a few times in between? What a loser. 

5. Try to have a social life- Those pesky friends and your desire to, you know, see them, can be such an issue. Friends over for dinner on Saturday? Brunch on Sunday? Are your friend smart? Have they read Running in the Family? Are they good at analyzing rhetorically? Yes? Give them a rubric and party! 

6. Marry someone who wants to hang out with you- Apparently, those men exist. Guys who want to spend time with their wives. Pre-married me thought that was a myth. It's not. My husband loves me and thinks I'm super fascinating and fun and wants to do more than just eat dinner together (maybe I'm exaggerating, a smidge). 

7. Have hobbies- Hobbes are an amazing way to get behind at grading (unless your hobby is grading, hardyharhar). Can you run and grade? Can you read a novel and grade? Can you do twenty sun salutations and grade? Can you write blog posts and grade? Can you bake cookies and grade? Can you spend hours contemplating what to buy online and grade?  The answer? No. No. No. No. Maybe. No. 

8. Sleep- You need to drive, form coherent sentences, and remember to match your shoes to your outfit. Plus, if you're sleepy you can't really grade well, because you'll find yourself either getting a little snotty with the comments (well, more than normal) or reading the same page seventeen times with no clue what the kid was saying. 

*Obviously, this is tongue-in-cheek, and typical of the end of the semester (three more weeks!), And while I know some teachers "forget" to grade things or "misplace" assignments, that's not something I do. Being behind as an English teacher (who is also a wife, mother, friend, and person who has actual interests) is pretty much the norm. It's stressful, absolutely, but it comes with the territory. I can also joke around about it now that I've made a solid dent in my stacks,  not to say I'm caught up. 

Three more weeks! Three more weeks! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! Link up, link back, say hi!

Time to fess up.

1. I am so, so happy with our Thanksgiving plans this year, which I feel like is a confession since I'm not hosting and we're not going to anyone's house. It's just my husband, my kid, and my brother. I can wear sweats. I'll run the vacuum over the downstairs carpet at some point instead of the marathon cleaning session that's usually required. I'll make pies tomorrow, rather than today since I won't be rushing around. I won't have to worry about extra chairs, tablecloths, how to politely tell people they can't have drinks over our couch, or whether or not I'll botch the gravy. I'm sure at some point I'll have a moment of regret, but right now? I'm so good.

2. I don't care if stores are open on Thanksgiving and that people ditch their families to go shopping. So what? I don't want to, so I don't. And I am genuinely sorry that the employees have to work, but as callous as this sounds, when you accept a job in retail in one of the most materialistic, capitalistic nations in the world it's a risk you kind of take.

3. I went to a place the other day with a friend that sells ice cream sealed up in warm donuts. I hate the entire thing without looking back. Actually, that's not true. I do keep looking back, thinking about when I can return for another one.

4. Yesterday I was at Starbucks and the stupid barista filled my drink up too full and some spilled on my white shirt, in the upper chest region. I was faced with a dilemma- either go to Target (in the same parking lot) as planned, with this horrible stain, or go home. I am embarrassed to admit that I went for it. The old me, the one that wouldn't have to load and unload a squirming toddler in a car seat, would have just gone back later, but nope. I was that mom, in the store with a coffee stain on her boob. Never again. Once, when I was fifteen, I got pizza sauce on my shirt at the mall and I was so horrified I begged my mom to go buy me a new short so I could change. Shockingly, she did. 

5. A few weeks ago I made the uncharacteristic decision to impulse buy a Clarisonic. I haven't quite decided if I like it yet, so now I'm worried that I wasted a lot of money. To be determined.

6. I swore up and down up until a few weeks ago that I'd never give Sawyer those stupid puree pouches. But then the babysitter said she had and he was eating things like spinach and kale and I started thinking about how, well, nutritious, they sounded. And easy. So I've been giving him one a day and feeling like a lazy parent. A friend made me feel better, though, pointing out that Sawyer knows how to eat with utensils and is getting a more well-rounded diet now. 

7. Whenever I am off I text my husband so much more often, most of it completely mundane things. Like how I really want Arby's. Or pictures of out child's bed head. Or expletives about my fellow Costco shoppers. And then I wonder why it takes him so long to reply. 

8. I think I have an unhealthy relationship with my Fitbit. I'm in two workweek challenges right now and it's taking over my life. I guess it's not the worst obsession to have, since I'm really active for a vacation week, but last night I finally had to make myself not check it so I could let myself sit down and watch a movie with Scott, instead of hopping on the treadmill. As a result, when I woke up I was 500 steps out of place in one, and only 6,000 steps ahead in first place in the other, as opposed to 10,000 like before. I'm a monster.

9. We watched Trainwreck last night and I can't decide if I like Amy Schumer. Everyone in in total love with her, except me, apparently. I don't dislike her, but I think she carries too much of her stand-up in her regular acting delivery that it bothers me (I hate stand-up; I'm the worst person to invite to an improv). The movie, though, as a whole, was funny.

10. I recently found out someone sort of never let me in on a joke they played on me (aka LIED) quite awhile ago. Definitely outside the appropriate "time to come clean" window. Who does that? Six-year-olds? We'll just file this under "things that make you go hmmmm" for now (as opposed to the elaborate plan for the good-natured, legal, revenge I was considering).

Sponsored Post: Like Family by Paolo Giordano

This books was kindly provided for review from Penguin.

A few years ago a book club I was in selected The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano for out selection. We all enjoyed it so much that we attempted to go to his reading, but someone didn't take my advice that we should leave far earlier than we did seriously, and we ended up at a bar instead of a reading. But anyway, I digress. Giordano's first impression was a good one.

His newest release, Like Family, is a novella based on factual events, detailing the impact a nanny/housekeeper named Mrs. A had on a young family. The narrator is an academic, a physicist, and his wife, Nora, is an interior decorator. The two find themselves on the verge of parenthood, needing someone to help steer their domestic ship while Nora struggles with a difficult pregnancy and then as they adjust to parenthood. 

The family becomes quite dependent on Mrs. A as their young son gets older, especially as they obviously struggle to adapt to having an "average" child. Unfortunately, their elderly caregiver becomes incredibly ill with cancer and they are left to their own devices. The impending loss brings to the surface a myriad of emotions that cause the couple to look inward and towards the future. 

Gioradano's writing is smooth, simple, and beautiful. He is a man of few words, but the ones he does offer us are deliberate and meaningful. Like Family resonates in the days to come and the smallest things, especially if you have a child, a significant other, or an elderly caregiver in your midst, will remind you of the story. 


Certain times of the year make me nostalgic. New Year's Day. The end of the school year. Sawyer's birthday. But mine? Not so much. The older I get, the less I care. 

That being said, the sweet texts, posts, gifts, and visits I received yesterday were touching. Time is such a valuable commodity, so whenever people are willing to share a little on my behalf I'm honored. 

The day itself was simple, but pleasant. I got to sleep in, which by itself would have been gift enough. I enjoyed a long walk with Sawyer around the duck pond, got coffee, and went grocery shopping (I honestly really enjoy doing this every week, which is probably crazy). I had a few visitors stop by and then read while Sawyer napped, as opposed to grade or clean, as I normally do. And then we had burritos for dinner and watched Jane the Virgin

I know. I party hard

I am admittedly excited about the books my husband got me. We don't mess around with guessing what each other wants for birthdays and Christmas. Again, time is limited. So, we set limits and give each other lists. It's super romantic. But it works really well and we generally throw in a surprise here and there. 

And that's it. I'm 32. I need to start using my eye ream more diligently.