Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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Honestly, considering I have a five-day-old my only thoughts right now are pretty baby-centric. So, humor me this week!

1. Tonight was the big IB Celebration at work, and I was able to go! My husband stayed with Sawyer in my classroom so I could feed him before and after, which worked well. It went quite a bit over time, so I left early, which made me a little sad to miss all the kids afterwards. But still better than nothing!

2. Sawyer is much more alert and awake than I thought he would be (not bad thing). Today I was able to put him in the Pack n' Play for 45 minutes while I got ready and did some thing and he was totally content to stare out the window. Night time is a different story... last night he got eight hours in with only two wake-ups that were pretty short. Fingers crossed for a repeat tonight.

3. I hate discussing bodily functions with others. Giving birth and then having a newborn has forced me to, and, well, I still hate it. 

4. I cut Sawyer's umbilical cord- I'm unabashedly proud.

5. Delivering a baby is the best diet plan ever! Seventeen pounds in five days! I'll take it!

6. We didn't really name him after anyone, we were just... inspired.

7. Is it bad that I find his super loud, super sad cry during sponge baths a little funny?

8. It's weird to not really have any obligations right now. Nothing pressing, at least. Sometimes I love it, sometimes it's a little hard to swallow. I know maternity leave will go by fast, though, so I need to enjoy every second of the next fourteen or so weeks with this little guy.

9. I'm so amused when people try to figure out who he looks like. I'm horrible with that kind of stuff. He looks like.... a baby.

10. Without going into too much detail, my water broke between second and third period at work, but I didn't realize it was that, so I kept working. My Braxton Hicks were a bit more intense that normal, and then regular, but I just kept working... And then drove home. After work I called the doctor and she said I needed to go to the hospital. I was in some serious denial- we even stopped at Target on the way to the hospital. 

So I Had a Baby...

Sawyer Benjamin [last name] was born on April 25th at 7:33 am. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 19 inches long. 

The delivery wasn't exactly a walk in the park, but could have been a million times worse, so I'm thankful for the experience I had. The hospital was fairly dumpy, but our nurses were fantastic. 

We're back at home adjusting now. He's a pretty mellow kid, but isn't a fan of nighttime sleeping, as to be expected. The dogs are getting used to the hairless little puppy- Cordie loves him, but Chomsky is a little depressed. My husband has been nothing short of awesome and our "no visitors for the first two days" policy was both respected and exactly what we needed. 

I've read a few pages here and there (Lolita for me, Corduroy for Sawyer) and promise not to neglect things here (too much). I'll be back with Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts in a few days and my normal monthly reviews.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. On Easter Sunday my husband and I drove to Santa Monica and walked around for a bit (we don't generally do much for the holiday). I want a sailboat. 

2. As I was driving by John Wayne (the airport, not the cowboy) and seeing the planes come in I thought about that feeling I always get when we're about to land- disappointment. Not because I wanted to crash, but because I like the time up in the air. I like being able to read or sleep and to know that I can't do anything about anything back on land. The detachment and helplessness are welcomed breaks from reality.

3. Check out Army Amy's cool idea in this post.

4. Dear people of the world: if we have never talked about my reproductive system before, we're not now. Please don't ask about the state of my cervix. 

5. In Style says overalls are coming back in style. I really hope this is true.

6. I had a funnel cake sundae over the weekend- it was just as bit fantastic as I thought it would be. 

7. Saturday our neighborhood was swarmed with butterflies- it was beautiful. Apparently in a small canyon-type area near our house the Painted Lady variety burst forth from their cocoons and started flying north. As I walked last night I saw several caterpillars that didn't really get the message.

8. Do you ever get annoyed when there's nothing new on Instagram or Facebook? Do you ever get annoyed where there is?

9. I really love it when I get emails from my brother, who is deployed out in the Pacific somewhere. They're fairly consistent, but it's nice to hear from him.

10. Prepping for maternity leave was no joke- I finally finished today. At this point I could have the baby tonight (noooooooooo don't come!) and my sub would have everything he needed for the rest of the year. My room is trashed and I have a ton of grading left, but there would be stuff to keep everyone busy.


Happy Easter

I hope this finds everyone celebrating the day in which a tall bunny, dressed in pastel colors, brought Jesus back from the dead with his magical Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Eggs.

A Sweet Interlude

Alternate Titles:
I Eat My Emotions
This is Why I Work Out
I Like Big Butts (and I Cannot Lie)

If someone told me I had to choose between reading and dessert for the rest of my life I'd definitely have to think about it. I love baking. I love drowning my emotions (both the good ones and the bad) in food products with excessive amounts of sugar and carbs. It's what I do. If I could dip everything I ever ate in ganache life would be infinitely better. Sometimes I purposefully eat a smaller dinner just so I can eat more dessert. I vehemently refuse to "healthify" my desserts with such atrocities like applesauce and Greek yogurt. If you're going to do it, you go all the way.

In the spirit of my sweet tooth, made just a tiny bit more prominent since becoming pregnant, I thought I'd share with you some of my all-time favorite dessert recipes (with links).

Peanut Butter Balls

  Happy weekend!

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. My classes are still processing and mourning the tragic bus crash that happened last Thursday night. It's been a challenge to keep pushing them academically, with the IB test being in just a few short weeks. It makes me feel so guilty to talk about the Scarlet Letter when their friend just died a horrible death. But if we don't move forward they won't be prepared and dwelling isn't necessarily the healthiest thing for them. It's just a tough, tough situation.

2. Our school was in the media once again for a bogus bomb threat this morning- we had to wait outside the campus for over an hour to be let back in. Seriously, universe, just leave us alone.

3. Time to get a little less serious:

4. My husband and I went to the hospital orientation meeting tonight (I figured at 37.5 weeks it was probably time, I suppose) and while the hospital is a little more progressive than I thought, it's still dumpy. I went to give birth somewhere fresh and shiny and new.

5. I wish I went to Coachella a couple of years ago, back when I wasn't pregnant and it hadn't sold out yet.

6. Have you heard of oil pulling? I don't get it.

7. I started Lolita over the weekend and I must confess to having trouble getting into it. Granted I am a bit busy right now and have yet to sit down for a substantial block of time, so hopefully I can commit some time this weekend to it.

8. One of my friends and I are going to a restaurant dedicated to funnel cake this weekend. I can't believe I've gone so long not knowing it existed. The horror that would have been if I had never gotten that Groupon (that I didn't even buy). The best part if that I'm going after I FINALLY DYE MY HAIR AGAIN! God, I've been waiting for like 26 weeks to do this.


9. Poor Andre Johnson. Poor Andre Johnson's penis. Poor guy thought he wasn't going to need it in the place he was going next, but now, well, now he's in a bit of a conundrum. 

10. Those bastards at Target finally got me with their stupid Red Card ATM. I started doing the math on diapers and figured it was smart. Unless I buy them at Costco. Then I just caved in for no reason.

Simply, and Seriously, Horrible

Today I had a post scheduled about my favorite cookie recipes scheduled to go up, but given the events of the last two days I just didn't feel it was appropriate. I've debated about mentioning anything, since this event really is not about me, and I hate it when people take tragic events and weave themselves into the mix. But these people could desperately use any positive vibes put out into the atmosphere on their behalf, so I'm going for it.

Thursday morning a few buses full of high school seniors drove up from Southern California for a sort of preview weekend at CSU Humboldt (in Northern California, so quite the drive). Early evening a FedEx truck crossed the center divider and hit one of the buses head on, leading to an instant fire. Three of my IB English students were on the trip. Friday morning when I woke up there was an email about an emergency pre-work staff meeting and there was a news van parked outside our office. I didn't put two and two together until colleagues in the parking lot gave me the update. Of the three students on the trip one student wasn't on the bus that crashed, but her twin sister was, as was another girl. The twin sister was unaccounted for and the other girl was in stable condition  (this is an article that probably explains things better than I). I had all three of the kids last year and this current year- while I wasn't extremely close to them I knew them quite well. Nice, sweet, good kids who were on the college track. They were low-income and would be first-generation college students.

As the day went on (a minimum one, thank goodness, since last night was prom... I know) I watched my three classes of IB seniors fall apart. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen, but I was also beyond touched with the sympathy and compassion they showed one another. The program is very tight-knit and these kids have grown incredibly close over the years. Our district and site, as always, followed protocol and did a great job providing grief counselors for staff members and students. Our principal canceled our planned meetings and allowed people to go home early.

Throughout the day various bits of misinformation spread like wildfire, both between good-intentioned kids and the media. It was frustrating. But without out any legitimate updates as the day went on many began to fear the worst for the twin that was missing. It was a good lesson on being cautious about believing news updates. The rush "to be first" leads to so much unreliability.

Last night, while chaperoning prom I arrived to see two or three news vans in front of the venue, there to get any snippet they could from our poor kids and staff members. It was despicable. Our administrators did their best to keep them away from the kids, but their presence was infuriating. My students were so conflicted about going anyway, but the counselors and teachers told them that they should, if they were up to it. The media had no business being there. During the dance confirmation was given via staff email that the unaccounted for student was confirmed dead- luckily most of the kids didn't hear.

This is not about me, this is about my poor students who lost a friend, parents who lost a child, and a twin who lost someone she shared a bond with that most of us can't even imagine. This is about the fact that sometimes horrific things happen to great people and that we never know when disaster will strike. This is about the sad truth that as teachers, working with as many kids as we do, probability mandates that at some point we're going to face student death. It's a horribly realistic fact.

It's all just really terrible. I know the family and community would appreciate any prayers/warm thoughts/positive vibes you can send out there, on the chance that sort of thing does work. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Prom is Friday night! Part of me is excited (I get to dress up, see my kids in a different setting, it's a minimum day), part of me is not at all looking forward to driving 45 miles to Orange County, and back, alone on a Friday night. I plan on using the tips from this article.

2. Reading a pastiche of your writing would be downright horrible. Sort of like watching or listening to yourself, but worse.

3. I kinda sorta fell down the stairs on Sunday (like maybe five or six steps). I'm fine, the baby's fine, but holy crap falling with that additional weight is no joke. I don't think I've ever made the sound that came out of my mouth before.

4. I'm really trying to enjoy the time left that I have with my students (hopefully 17 days of work, but two are training days and one is senior ditch day), but all the pressure to have them ready for the IB test on May 5 sort of puts a damper on things. 

5. I hate teenagers that aren't "my own." I was out the other day and overheard a group of them talking and they were so effing annoying. I actually sort of feel that way about random kids I don't know in general. Dogs, not at all. I'll pet anyone's dog.

6. After ordering the Fitbit Force forever ago, and then somehow missing the email that they were discontinuing them, my Flex arrived the other day and I'm obsessed. I'm totally a stats/numbers person, so the fact that I can now monitor my steps, sleep, and calories from one app is just too much. 

7. I started reading The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne the other day and am really enjoying it so far, granted I'm only twenty pages in. His humor, honesty, and love of books have won me over. I haven't gotten to the point were he's been diagnosed with Tourrette's quite yet, but I'm sure that will be fascinating as well.

8. Back in the day I really loved No Doubt (well, Tragic Kingdom, at least). Now, as an adult I can't stand them. I literally shutter when "I'm Just a Girl" comes on the radio. 

9. Let me get political for just a second. Today I saw an article on Facebook from Thought Catalog called "18 Things White People Seem to Not Understand (Because, White Privilege)" and was a little irritated after reading it. In fact, I hate the term "white privilege" in general. Sorry for having two parents that were white? Sorry because, history? Sure, I've never felt prejudice, but I've felt other negative emotions. My life has not been all rainbows and butterflies- my "white privilege" has not created a bubble that I get to reside it.  I get it, there are things I don't understand because I'm not of color, but it's not my fault. Isn't there something slightly hypocritical about demeaning one color (and being condescending) because the other colors have been demeaned? What else should I feel guilty about that I can't control? And in the area of Southern California where I live I am the minority, for the record. I understand that this may not exactly jive with my typical liberal-minded ways, but don't give me shit for something that I can't control.

10. I haven't colored my hair since a week before I got pregnant and am finally letting myself in a week. I may be slightly more excited about that then actually having my baby. Is that bad? My roots are ridiculous. 

A Bookish (Surprise) Baby Shower

I've always been pretty vocal about not wanting a baby shower- I've turned down family and well-intentioned friends over the last few months. Two of my very good friends decided they had other ideas, though, and threw me a surprise book-themed one over the weekend. It was incredibly thoughtful and they took great care to make it something that I would like (and I did)- there weren't any games, they tracked down friends they didn't know well, scouted out my Pinterest boards to see what foods I'd like, and consulted my husband on the logistics (it was a coed shower, but really just felt like a lot of great people hanging out with good food and baby gifts). And it was bookish! They had everyone sign a copy of Where the Wild Things Are and bring a book. There were book quotes printed and framed throughout the house and even the invitation and favors were book-related.

Admittedly, I go through great lengths to not let people do things for me. I decline help, I refuse to ask for things, and I hate feeling like an imposition. The fact that these girls, and everyone else who took time out of their busy lives to attend, were willing to go through such trouble for me (I guess the planning started a few months ago!) meant so, so, so much. It was one of those days that I needed someone to do something nice for me... and boy did I get hit the jackpot! I had absolutely no idea that they had planned it, and the little comments they had made over the last few weeks totally threw my off course. I'm so incredibly lucky to have these people in my life! 

The snarky sarcasm will be back soon, I promise.  

Top Ten Tuesday- So Unique


This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us what the most unique books are that we've read. Here's my top ten, with a few bonus ones that I thought were just the opposite: 

1. The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen- I love the sketches in the marginalia and TS's character. In fact, I'm such a fan I pushed it on our work book club this month. I'm legitimately scared they won't love it.

2. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn- As letters drop off a sacred statue in this fictional island town the inhabitants are forbidden to use them in speech or writing. The ending chapters are quite interesting to decipher!

3. Composition No. 1 by Mark Saporta- Confession: I haven't read this yet. I ordered it from the amazing Visual Editions a year or three ago and have yet to devote the time it deserves. Basically, it's a box full of pages that can be read in any order- it's like a pseudo choose-your-own-adventure story. 

4. Building Stories by Chris Ware- Speaking of things I haven't read and books that come in boxes is this graphic novel of sorts that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, telling the story of those that live in an apartment complex.

5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl- I loved that this mystery was not only smartly written, but also included a ton of media in forms of articles, pictures, emails, etc...

6. Family Fang by Kevin Wilson- I know, like many of the others, that I've touted this before, but the family of performance artists that he creates is just so different!

7. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka- I suppose it's the existentialism, family dynamics, or the fact that he for some reason turns into an EFFING bug (or does he?) that makes this book so dang strange.

8. Habibi by Craig Thompson- While I know Thompson is impressive in his own right, I know part of my awe is the fact that I'm so poorly versed in graphic novels. Nonetheless, I found the story and illustrations fascinating.

9. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs- I honestly hate this book (like hate, hate), but it was definitely different from anything I have ever read before. 

10. Open Me by Sunshine O'Donnell- I will forever be intrigued by the idea of professional mourners because of this book (outlawed, by the way, but still happening here and abroad).

Fine to Be Inspired, but Still Not So Unique... (aka Sorry for Pissing You Off)

1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling- I love this series, I do, and I feel that there are components that are incredibly unique (like Hogwarts), but she did borrow heavily from other works of literature (like Lord of the Rings).

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky- Helllllllllllo Catcher in the Rye.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- Ever watched Survivor? Read the short story "The Lottery?" How about Lord of the Flies?

What made your list?

Things Students Should Never Say to Teachers

I'd like to apologize to all my old (English) teachers. 

Does spelling count?
Does my ability to read and understand your work count?

How long does it have to be?
1,543.2 words, please. Not one over. Or under. 

I was gone yesterday, did we do anything important?
No, we just stared at the ceiling, like normal. 

My mom wants to talk to you.
Crap, what did I do?

Is this going to be on the quiz/test/final?
No, we're just spending valuable time on it for no reason. 

Is this going to lower my grade?
If your score on the assignment is less than your current class percentage then yes, yes it will. And I'm not even a math teacher. 

Have you graded ____________ yet?
Is it in the online gradebook? Do you want a lecture about how long it takes me to grade a class set of essays? DO YOU? 

How much is this worth?
I have no idea yet. 

I should have gotten a 23 out of 25, but you only gave me 22.
I'll give the point to you, but just remember your dedication to precision when your final grade is 89.44% an you try to get me to round it up to an A-. 
You're chewing gum/eating/drinking in class, why can't we?
You don't have teaching credentials. Plus, I'm the boss... of the world.

All said with a smile on my face. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. How the hell is it already Wednesday night? Spring break is vanishing right before my eyes. I took Sunday "off" but have been on the go the last three days with no end in sight (friends... baby stuff... work stuff... house stuff....).

2. We had three of our favorite couples over for dinner Saturday and it went really well. Everyone had at least met one of the other couples, and between teacher-talk, sports, and general weird shit, everyone had something to contribute (which is a concern, at least for me, when you bring together people who barely know each other). You know you have great friends when at the end of the night you're sober and still love them.

3. I need to read Huck Finn and The Scarlett Letter in the next four days. Obligation makes things so painful....

4. While out walking the dogs this morning, I saw these guys racing:

5. There has been a definite increase in seismic activity in Southern California lately (increase after years of decrease, though) and I really, really hate it. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but considering that I grew up in the very flat, very still Central Valley I'm not used to the earth moving underneath you. A 5.1 hit last weekend (in the same town where my grandparents live, about thirty or so miles away) and we got shook up little a bit (for like five seconds), coincidentally when we were on ladders and benches painting the nursery. Oh, and then everyone starts talking about the "big one." You know what? They can all go fuck themselves.

6. I highly recommend making these peanut butter cookies. The combination of the corn syrup (only a teaspoon or two, relax) and the cornstarch make for a smooth, soft texture. This is definitely in my top 10 cookies recipes.

7. Speaking of food, I feel like I've been talking to people about one of my greatest loves, cereal, a lot lately. In fact, I "joked" with my husband last night that I was going to start a new blog dedicated to cereal- reviews, recipes, interviews with cereal makers, odes, etc... Then maybe companies would start sending me free boxes? What more do you need in life besides books from publishers and cereal from food manufacturers? 

8. House is on Netflix, finally. I'm putting Nip/Tuck on hold and hopping aboard that train. I've watched the first season, a long time ago, and have been waiting not-so-patiently for this today.


9. As I listen to students and parents talk about college I've grown increasingly irritated at all the bitching and moaning about student loan debt. If you choose a viable degree and career path, taking out federal loans is fine. In fact, I think it can be incredibly motivating for graduates to enter the job market and for some it's the only tax deduction they'll get for awhile. I know all families do it differently, but eighteen-year-olds are adults and accepting at least some fiscal responsibility for their education is important. 

10. I started listening to Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential yesterday and am so far amused and intrigued. I love his unapologetic asshole-ness and brutal honesty about the restaurant business. He does the reading, which is always nice too. 


March Reviews

[it's spring break!]

Don't worry, I'm not going to try to BS you with some sort of April Fool's joke. I will, however, try to BS you with my opinions of what I read this month.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
576 pages
I already reviewed this more extensively here, but basically this non-fiction text chronicles the five days after Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. Doctors and nurses were faced with some serious ethical dilemmas that resulted with a tad bit of euthenasia. 

Verdict: I found this book incredibly interesting and read it within four or so days, despite it's length. Like any piece of non-fiction I think it's important to keep in mind it's objectivity, but for the most part I think Fink did a good job.

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
320 pages
I also reviewed this already here, summarizing the story of a woman who "finds" a house that will "help" her get her life on track after a relationship with a professor goes bad.

Verdict: I really didn't care for it much, thinking that it was a bit silly and the ending a disappointment.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
72 pages
I reread this for work, having read it back in high school as an IB student (some things never change...). I appreciated the story and language much more this time as we followed Marlow down the Congo. 

Verdict: This is a tough read, even as an adult. The language is dense, the plot moves a bit slowly and the description is plentiful. That being said, I think it's a rich text that I'm glad I had the opportunity to reread and change my mind on. 

4:09:32 by Hal Higdon
168 pages
Let's just call this month of the cop out- I also reviewed this book here.

Verdict: This is definitely a book for the running community, so despite my hiatus from the field, I was interested by the look back at what it took to prepare for Boston and how the bombings impacted them.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD
260 pages
Karp outlines his plan for getting your baby to shut up and sleep more with his 5 S's- swaddling, side-laying, shushing, swinging, and sucking. He provides practical reasoning, historical connections, and scientific evidence. His theories on colic are also pretty interesting.

Verdict: I obviously don't have much to go off of, considering I don't have a kid and Chomsky got really frustrated when I tried to swaddle him and rock him vigorously. It does seem to make some sense, though. 
1,396 pages
Read anything good this month? Or anything we should stay away from?