Top Ten Tuesday- New Additions

This week The Broke and Bookish ask us for ten books we've recently added to our TBR lists. If only books were added at the same point they were read...

1. Mary Roach books: I am currently reading Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal and find her work fascinating. She's written books about sex, the afterlife, death, and space as well. Anyone that can make science accessible and entertaining is worth the read. 

2. By the Book: Writers of Literature and the Literary Life from the New York Times Book Review- I spotted this as Barnes and Noble (shockingly) the other day and was immediately drawn in after reading the contributors (like Junot Diaz).

3. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine: I can honestly say I've never read a book about the Lebanese Civil War (plus I like the cover).

4. We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler: Honestly, I've never read the Lemony Snickett series (I'm sure I will with Sawyer eventually) and I have no idea if this will even be that great, but something about it seems like a quick, fun, summer read.

5. Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg: In accordance with my obsession with cooking memoirs.

6. The Harder They Come by TC Boyle: I have a few of his I still need to read, but I'm still a huge fan and will get everything he writes.

7. Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class by Scott Timberg: I saw a snippet on this through the LA Public Library and thought it sounded intriguiging.

8. Maus by Art Spiegelman: I feel like this is an important graphic novel, perhaps a bit overrated from what I hear, but still significant.

9. An Innocent Abroad- Life Changing Trips by 35 Great Writers: If you can't travel you might as well read about it.

10. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: I'm a fan of his other work but have not read this one.

Uysses or Bust

One of my students, a bright, articulate young man, has asked me to advise him on his IB Extended Essay (EE), a 4,000 word paper on the topic of the candidate's choice. After reading Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin he has decided to compare it to James Joyce's Ulysses. Ambitious, to say the least. He wants to focus on narrative structure and style, which, based on some quick Googling, seems like it may work. Given that I've never read Ulysses, I  can't give a definitive assurance, but I think it's an admirable endeavor even if he falls short (and if he doesn't? This will be awesome). The kid doesn't even intend on being an English major. Baffling.

I've always felt this nagging guilt about now tackling Ulysses, which is said to be one of the most important modern texts. I obviously haven't felt guilty enough, though, since up until a few days ago I didn't even own a copy. So not only am I reading this for myself, I'm reading it for my student, in case he has questions (because I'll be able to answer them? Ha!). It's a lot of literary responsibility.

Apprehensions aside, I'm excited to take on this challenge. I haven't really taken on any sort of heavy-lifting in this area for awhile, the last one being my quest to finish Don Delillos Underworld (which still confuses me). I met with the student the other day and here's the game plan (at least on my end):

Read the Book
I ordered the Gabler Edition, which is apparently the way to go. It's somewhere around seven hundred pages, which is pretty daunting. It's divided into eighteen sections, each after part of The Odyssey. I'm reading it on the same schedule as the student, as of right now we're trying to complete it by the end of the school year. 

Review The Odyssey
I've read this within the last few years, so just a little brush up will be needed (I read it for a Coursera class). I'll reread applicable summaries before each section so I can draw the appropriate parallels. The student isn't focusing on this, but the pairing is obviously unavoidable.

Use the Annotated Version
I am not Irish, nor have I (sadly) never been to Ireland. I bought Don Gifford's annotated version to helps navigate some of language and to provide some context. 

Reread Let the Great World Spin
This I'm basically excited about (I have mixed feelings about rereading, since I have so many books I haven't read). I haven't read this book for a few years and since it's the main point of comparison, I'll have to give it another go.

Do Some Research
I'm not planning on researching for the student, but I do want to make srue I'm handling his queries appropriately. 

A lot of people set out to read this book and fail. As long as my student perseveres, I will too.


A Day in the Life...

[hosted by Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity]

My everyday life is far from riveting, but I did one of these types of posts before I had Sawyer, so I thought I'd play along. It's always interesting to see how others spend their days and I think these sorts of personal time-studies can be great catalysts for reflection. Here's a day from last week (minus the things no one wants to hear about, like the plentiful pumping sessions and diaper changes. Because ew):

5:00-5:45 The silent alarm on my Fitbit goes off at 5 and I don't have the luxury of hitting the snooze button even once. I move the baby monitor to my husband's side of the bed and shove him a few time so that he'll at least acknowledge me leaving. I'm pretty sure he loves being woken up like this deep-down. I go downstairs and get ready in the small guest bathroom so that I don't wake anyone up. After I'm ready to go I drink my first cup of coffee and eat some cereal. 

5:45-6:20 Grab Sawyer from my husband (he had woken up at 5:30 and then went back to sleep in our bed), give him a bottle, play with him for a few minutes, change and dress him, load up the car, and refill my coffee. We're off!

6:20-6:45 Drive to daycare, listen to Wild by John Ratey (sometimes I listen to music; it depends on how awake I am).

6:45-6:50 Drop off at daycare, brief the childcare provider on how much he had already eaten and what sort of mood he was in (good, per the norm).

6:50-7:00 Drive to work, blasting my music since the little ears are gone. Finish my coffee, unload all my crap (I'll be so glad when I'm done pumping... the baggage gets old). 

7:00-7:30 Check my box in the office, pop in to say hi to my friend, make sure the agenda for the day is posted, etc...

7:30-8:25 First period (IB English, juniors)- Students did a sort of round-robin explication activity that involved color-blocking, a graphic organizer, partners, and later a longer writing piece. The period moved really fast and I had them switch to a new passage every six minutes, so things kept moving. I find that's one of the most important things to staying sane most days- don't let things lag too much. I'm able to grade a few essays while they're working.

8:25-8:32 Passing period! I run to the bathroom and then stand outside my room and talk to my friend and neighbors (I do this between every class period... I won't bore you every time!)

8:32-9:37 Second period (IB English)- Same as first period.

9:37-10:30 Third period (prep/planning aka no kids)- I typically spend the first few minutes making copies, dropping them off in my room, find a reason to go to my car or the office (1/2-ish of a mile round trip) so that I can rack up some steps on my Fitbit. After taking care of a few things back in my classroom I spent the remainder of the time changing out a bulletin board and straightening up my counter space.

10:46-11:41 Fourth period (yearbook)- Truth be told, these kids are driving my a tiny bit crazy right now (this is no secret, I tell them multiple times during each class period). This is the case every year- they finish the yearbook and feel entitled to a long break. They have a journalism project they're working on, but some are taking it more seriously than others.

11:41-12:11 Lunch!- Yup, we only get a half an hour. After taking care of a few things, I gulp down my lunch (string cheese, crackers, 1/2 a waffle with peanut butter, and some pineapple) while reading a few pages of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior. My friend comes by for the last few minutes to catch up.

12:18-1:13 Fifth period (IB English)- These kids do the same as the others, but require a bit more supervision, as they're a super social bunch (teacher code for "ohmygosh they won't shut up"). 

1:20-2:15 Sixth period (IB English)- I really enjoy this crazy little class, but they too require some monitoring.

2:15-2:30 Get ready for tomorrow and clean up.

2:30-3:15 Pick up Sawyer from daycare, drive home.

3:15-4:00 Snack for dogs and self. Feed Sawyer while reading some more. Some days he falls asleep and we nap for a little while on the couch, but today is not one of them. Sometimes when he naps I grade papers, but I generally do most of my grading at work on at home on the weekends. Weekdays are too busy.

4:00-5:00 I want to vacuum and now that he's a crawler, and hates his little Exersaucer, things like that can be a challenge. I load him into his crib with some toys and books and he entertains himself for twenty-five minutes while I race around trying to vacuum, switch over some laundry, text a friend about some upcoming plans, and change out of the dress I wore to work. When he starts complaining I take him out of his crib and we play in his room for a bit. He's obsessed with balls and has learned to throw them at us. He also throws them for himself and chases them. It's cute.

5:00-6:00 I get Sawyer ready for a walk. We check with the neighbor and her little guy to see if they want to go, but they don't answer so we go home and I switch the wagon for the stroller, since I decide to try to get in three or so miles since it's just us. We make a stop at the playground so Sawyer can swing for a few minutes (yay time change!). I realize I dislike most little kids. There's something about the playground....

6:00-7:00 This part of the day is a little hectic. Sawyer goes into his highchair with some Cheerios and I prep his actual dinner (meatballs, mandarin oranges, and some puffs). He's pretty much over purees, so now I have to put all this effort into his food. While he's feeding himself I wash bottles and pump parts (loathe this) and the dishes (the repair man is coming for the dishwasher on Monday, thank goodness). I prep everything for my and Scott's dinner as well (paninis and baked potato salad).

7:00-7:30 Bath time! Sawyer loves his bath, so this is usually pretty fun for both of us. He hasn't been pitching a fit when I take him out anymore, so that's an added bonus. When we're finishing up Scott comes home and we sit down to eat.

7:30-8:00 We eat dinner while Sawyer plays on the ground. On the nights Scott leaves his office on time, at six, we usually push back bath time so Sawyer can sit at the table with us, but today is not one of those days. We clean up and get the dogs food too.

8:00-8:15 While Sawyer's bottle heats up we read a few books and he plays with his dad.

8:15-8:30 I give Sawyer his last bottle until morning while I catch up with my husband. Sawyer gets put down to sleep in his own room.

8:30-9:00- PiYo! I squeeze in some PiYo a few times a week right after bedtime (especially on the nights my husband plays videogames with his friends) and my body is starting to thank me. 

9:00-10:00- Typical end of night activities (shower, getting tomorrow's clothes ready, etc...) plus a few pages read before bed. Get into bed and hope that someone sleeps through the night.

Well that was a bit narcissistic. 

Mail Call

I've slowed the book-buying down during the last year or so, just because I have so many that are unread! That being said, I did order a few:

1. Clink by Kelly Dipucchio- I plan on using this as a sort of guest book for the small birthday party we're having for Sawyer next month.

2. Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder- I ordered this a few months ago but because of all the issues the small publishing house had with the popularity, I just got it now. It looks pretty intense!

3. & 4. Ulysses by James Joyce and  Ulysses Annotated- More on these beasts later.

5. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson-  I ordered this on a whim after reading Sous Chef by Michael Gibney when I ordered Harper Lee's newest so that I could get free shipping (the day sales opened up). Randomly, they included it in this order.

What should I buy next?  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[I couldn't find the original source! If it's yours please don't sue me]

 Link up and link back!

1. I just heard of the "selfie stick." No.

2. Has anyone used the Furminator? Is it as awesome as people say it is?

3. I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior for book club and thought it was okay. The pacing was off a bit and I thought there was a general distrust of the reader's intellect at many times. I also hated how eye-rolling obvious some of the character names were.

4. I can always tell when I'm starting to like a group of kids- I stop watching my mouth as much as I normally do. Yesterday I found myself saying the phrase "slutty Jesus" and asking a boy that complained of a stomach ache if we was pregnant. In all honesty, I'm relieved. It was hard bringing on a new bunch after my old one, but many of this batch have grown on me. Hell, I barely remember last year's graduates (--> comment made for the benefit of those that read and slyly try to reference things in conversation. I still love you).

5. I'm trying to "snack with a purpose." It really sucks, but my pants are already feeling better. I've really tried to trade carbs for protein, since Lord knows I get plenty of one and not nearly enough of the other.

6. Last weekend we ordered new patio furniture- finally! We've lived here for three and a half years and have never bothered with anything besides chaise lounges from Target and a dinky table. Now we'll be able to eat outside with guests and feel like adults. 

7. I took Sawyer swimming a week or two ago and he loved it. Because of how our backyard is, and the dog's needing to use their area, having an extra gate around the pool isn't very practical (we have super high locks and alarmed doors, though). I'm thinking of signing Sawyer and I up for -gulp- Mommy and Me swim classes this summer. The idea makes me cringe, but I want him to learn survival skills and to be comfortable putting his head in the water. I guess this means I will have to buy my first adult one piece. 

8. Tomorrow is parent-teacher conferences. Despite the fact that it's a 3.5 hour marathon of sitting a table in the gym talking to 50-60 sets of families, I actually enjoy it to some degree and definitely value it. That being said, tomorrow will be a total logistical nightmare. I'll teach until 12:15, go to the department book club for lunch, pick Sawyer up from daycare, drive home, feed him and get myself ready, and then pass him off to my mother-in-law (who hasn't watched him in a few months- since then he has learned to move around like a crazy boy and isn't the compliant little baby-food-eater that he used to be) so I can drive back to work. I'm tired already. Seriously. 

9. The light at the tunnel: spring break starts Friday at 12:15.

10. Unfortunately, I have to reread Antigone during this time off. At least it's short. 

Part of the Process...

[sometimes you have to put on your Batman hat and just accept life]

I hate the word "mantra." It's too Earth Mama or something for me, I guess. That being said, I find myself repeating the phrase "it's part of the process" to myself constantly these days.

Baby teething and waking up every few hours? It's part of the process... of raising the kid I willingly signed up for.

Hand-washing dishes every night, despite the expensive, brand-new dishwasher in the kitchen? It's part of the process... of being fortunate to own a home to buy appliances for. 

Trying to be understanding of changing social dynamics? It's part of the process... of getting older and deciding what, and who, is worth accommodating.

Student plagiarizes on an essay? It's part of the process... of teaching teenagers what's academically acceptable.

Have a (hopefully) great idea for a novel but no time to write? It's part of the process... of having a full life.

Capt'n Crunch Donut Cereal tearing up the mother-effing roof of your mouth? It's part of the process... of being a legit cereal connoisseur.

lnterestingly, this has been partnered with a recent feeling of contentedness that I'm most definitely embracing, since it's probably a fleeting emotion surely catalyzed by the beautiful weather, a perfect sleep/caffeine ratio, and the anticipation of spring break. Nonetheless, I'll take it.

I've been running through life a million miles an hour the last few months, trying to get everything done yesterday. And while I'm not a fan of complaining, my inner monologue has been doing that on repeat (and sometimes the outer one, too). This need to rush and accomplish has pushed me since I was small, which has had it's positive and negatives. But after a stressful month or two, I've realized I need to change my perspective. All this shit? The cleaning, the grading, the house maintenance, the bill paying, the laundry, the paperwork attached to work? It can wait an extra day. Or maybe even two. And despite it being a nuisance, it's part of the big picture. Necessary evils that are part of the process leading up to contentedness, or, dare I say, happiness. Not that I've going to let my house go to crap, the essays remain ungraded, or the utilities shut off. Instead I've both simultaneously embraced the day-to-day rigamarole and learned to manage it a bit better, knowing that everything is a means to an end. So, sometimes I buy frozen, pre-cooked chicken for dinner and once in awhile laundry sits for a day. I laugh at the fact my kid is starting to develop some true food preferences instead of getting frustrated. I suck it up and work out at night instead of sitting on the cozy couch, happy that I have a little window. Where I'm at right now is never going to happen again (just ask the fortune cookie I'm sure that is written on somewhere).

Last March we received an unfortunate blow that wasn't the fault of anyone, but inevitably rocked our world for the "better" part of a year.* When I look back at the last twelve months I've realized that things tend to correct themselves over time, like the stock market. Things were very low for awhile, and now they're pretty high, relatively speaking; a market correction will happen soon and we'll end up somewhere in the middle. My point? We have to keep chugging along, realizing that most things, big and small, are just "part of the process." All of those things that keep you up half the night planning contingency plan upon contingency plan? Chances are a week, a month, a year, or even five years from now there will be a market correction of your own and things will be okay. Maybe the ideal will have changed to accommodate life, but that's okay. 

And please don't worry. The dishwasher is under warranty and I'm switched to Kix this week.

*I know, I know, "vague-blogging." I hate it, but I will say that it was not related to health or in anyway my kid (he's been the best thing ever).

Modcloth Loves the Literary

Are you off to book club? A book fair? An upcoming author? Feeling like swimming literary style? Unsure to wear? You've come to the right place. As promised yesterday, here are some of Modcloth's literary wardrobe solutions for you (all are from their site and can be found there for purchase):

For the record, I adore Modcloth and have given them quite a bit of, uh, support, lately. I have never had any issues with quality and their site and app are both great. Their customer service is also top-notch. And no, they're not paying me to say any of this. 

Five Seconds of Amusement

I love Modcloth- probably a bit too much lately. But the name of these skin-tight pink pants made me actually laugh out loud at my son's physical therapy appointment today. What about these tight, light pants scream "wear me around dusty books in a cramped place where I probably have to move around a lot?"

This of course will be leading into a larger post about Modcloth literary-esque entitled clothing asap.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's almost Friday... right? RIGHT! Link up, link back!

1. I get these little cake pans for the smash cake I want to make Sawyer in the mail last week and decided to play around with the funfetti recipe I want to make for him. It turned out good! I had a piece and took the rest to work to pawn off on colleagues and students (who didn't seem to mind).

2. My copy of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder is apparently going to actually ship in the next week or soon. The super-small publisher didn't anticipate the popularity and ran a super small first run, so readers have been waiting for months to get their hands on this gem.

3. The students in  the IB program I teach have to do a really lengthy (I think like 20,000 words) research paper on whatever topic they choose (I did mine on xenotransplantation back in the day). It really is a cool premise, but unfortunately a lot of the kids procrastinate and don't do as good of a job as they could. Anyway, not many kids choose literature, but I have three kids that I'm advising this year and one wants to compare Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin to James Joyce's Ulysses. Very ambitious! I haven't read Ulysses, and am a little afraid of it, so I guess I'll have to. It's exciting but intimidiating. 

4. So, these are delicious:

5. Confession: the first fifteen minutes after walking in the door after work are pretty much my least-favorite of the day. Sawyer is usually complaining or in need of something, the dogs are barking their heads off, I'm carrying the day's five hundred bags I have to take with us, I usually need to pee, and I have to get the Golden a snack before her stomach revolts from being too empty. And all I really want? To sit on the couch for ten minutes with my feet up in silence. 

6. I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior for book club, and while enjoying it, I'm not really in love yet. I'm only 70 pages in, so there's time, but nothing is really hooking me in.

7. I was so proud of myself today- I downloaded the FedEx/Kinkos app, uploaded the pdf of Sawyer's birthday invitation and selected all the paper and whatnot so it would print at the nearest branch and I could just pick it up. A million times easier than putting it on a flash drive and stopping by between work and home like I had planned.

8. So I'm an avid iced-coffee drinker, but one with a pretty non-discerning palette. My method: brew a pot, let cool at room temperature for a few hours, pour into pitcher, put in fridge, use it until it's gone. I guess that's gross? Maybe I just use so much creamer I can't tell (side note: a serving size is 2 tbsp! Say what?). In my attempt to refine my taste buds, I'm searching for a good cold-brew system. Suggestions (besides going to Starbucks)?

9. The last two days we've had a modified testing schedule at work and I've spend 3.5 hours escorting teenagers to the restroom (security protocol) and watching classes while teachers have quick breaks. Today I logged 5 miles before leaving school. 

10. I downloaded Jenny Lewis' newest album and think I like it (I loved Rilo Kiley). It takes me approximately ten-twenty listens, generally, before being able to make I can usually decide. I'm in a music drought. What should I be listening to? Nothing sleepy. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Reading

[it sure ain't winter]

The last few days in my neck of the woods have been hovering around 90 degrees- it's almost as if we've bypassed spring completely and are gearing for summer. Hopefully not! Nonetheless, my tentative (ha!) spring reads, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish:

1. Flight Behavior- Barbara Kingsolver (book club)

2. Antigone- Sophocles (a reread for work)

3. The Invention of Wings- Sue Monk Kidd (book club)

4. Gulp- Mary Roach (nonfiction about the digestive system... I'm serious)

5. Maddadam- Margaret Atwood (time to complete the trilogy!)

6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larsson (another trilogy to finish)

7. Zeitoun- Dave Eggars (have been intrigued since it was recommended to me after reading Five Days at Memorial)

8. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey- Rachel Joyce (overdue ARC)

9. Why We Write- Meredith Maran (I'm getting ready to kick off a new project soon)

10. The Secret History- Donna Tartt (I've heard many say it's better than The Goldfinch

Sixty Things to Do in Ten Minutes or Less

So last week, when I was feeling overwhelmed and tired and like everything was going to shit, I sat down and made a list of things I can do to feel productive in ten minutes. Ten minutes, most of the time, is pretty easy to come by on an afternoon or early evening (sometimes more than once). For me that might mean when Sawyer is happily playing alone, when he's content in his highchair stuffing his face with Cheerios, or when my husband is home and they're spending some time together. I realized that doing a few small tasks during the day like that made me feel a ton better, as opposed to just wasting that time. The list grew and grew and grew and I decided that I might as well stick it up here just in case someone else can benefit or add to it. Rest assured, this is not going to become a Lifestyle/DYI/Martha Stewart-esque sort of blog. Please.

(I apologize if the formatting is weird; I copy and pasted from a word doc)

1.     Empty wastebaskets
2.     Toss five things from fridge, freezer, or pantry
3.     Fold a load of laundry
4.     Unload the dishwasher
5.     Unsubscribe from a few emails
6.     Use granite wipes on counters, stainless steel wipes on appliances
7.     Take an armload of things from downstairs and take upstairs (and put said things away)
8.     Scrub the three toilets
9.     Sort mail into file/toss bins
10.  Fold plastic bags (see link)
11.  Spot clean carpet in one room
12.  Clean out purse/work bag/diaper bag
13.  Delete pictures or unused apps from phone or tablet
14.  Drop off bag of junk at Goodwill
15.  Clean out one drawer of clothing
16.  Replace dead light bulbs
17.  Clean corners with duster (or whatever its called)
18.  Vacuum the stairs
19.  Hand wash a few items that need it
20.  Throw away expired medicines
21.  Straighten up a closet
22.  Throw away old makeup
23.  Wash baby bottles
24.  Read a book or two to the baby
25.  Buy stamps to keep on hand
26.  Play fetch with the dogs out back
27.  Plan meals for the next week
28.  Brush dogs
29.  Play a round or two of Mario Kart with husband
30.  Prep healthy snacks (hard boil eggs, chop some fruit, etc…)
31.  Write a quick card to an older relative
32.  Sit down and play with baby, totally uninterrupted
33.  Pay a bill
34.  Order a gift for someone’s upcoming birthday
35.  Pick up/drop off dry cleaning
36.  Get gas (and clean out any trash laying around in car)
37.  Skim family budget and accounts to verify everything is where it should be
38.  Accessorize (seriously- who doesn't feel better with some jewelry on?)
39.  Slap a coat of clean nail polish on pedicure
40.  Read and comment on a blog or two
41.  Schedule  an appointment that in the future, but not too far away
42.  Floss
43.  Planks
44.  Walk around the block
45.  Text an old friend hello to see how he/she is
46.  Make the next day’s lunch
47.  Drink a glass of water
48.  Skim news headlines and read an article of two
49.  Prep the next day’s clothes, items to take to work, etc…
50.  Sun salutations
51.  Make a $10 donation to a charity
52.  Read a few pages
53.  Make plans with a friend (or husband)
54.  Download a few podcasts or an audiobook for the commute
55.  Write in journal
56.  Back up phone or computer
Work (while at home)
57.  Grade three essays
58.  Reply to emails
59.  Review upcoming lesson plans
60.  Plan essay topics