Summer Reading Goals

[this actually happened today]

This summer break will be the first time in years that I don't have something big going on (a newborn baby to take care of, a cruise, hiking Half Dome, summer school, etc....) and while I'm a tiny bit disappointed, I'm mostly thrilled. I have big plans in the tune of extensive categorized, typed, to do-lists that have been carefully crafted over the past few weeks. Basically, if everything goes according to plan, when summer is over my life will be perfect- my house will be immaculate, my body will be in tip-top shape, my child will have had fun and gotten to see new things, I will feel mentally restored, my dog exercised, my friends visited, my fall workload lighter and- well, you get the drift. And, like always, I will most likely to set myself up to fail, but I do know that I refuse to end the summer thinking "what did I do?" 

I'll spare you the fascinating tasks like "clean sliding door runners," and "organize garage," but I will share some of the more book/learning-related things I hope to accomplish this summer:

1. Read twelve books- I hope it's more, but this would still be more than a book a week

2. Finish Ulysses- I've read the first, and shortest, chapter and it was hard

3. Finish a rough draft of the novel I'm working on- Yup, it still feels douchey to say that

4. Comment at least xx times a week on other blogs

5. Blog at least three times a week

6. Watch at least three Ted Talks a week and a documentary every other week

7. Take some sort of lesson or class- archery? Sewing? 

8. Read a graphic novel

9. Write a short story or two

10. Finish Sawyer's baby book

Right now this all seems super reasonable, but that's how all of my to-do lists and resolutions start. Someone remind me to post an update so everyone can laugh at my failures before I go back to work. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back. Stop and say hi!

1. My husband told me to check out the GoGirl site for a good laugh (he saw it on Twitter, just to clarify). He was right. It's ridiculous. I guess useful if you do a lot of, like, biking? Or work at a construction site with disgusting porta-potties and men? But what do I know. Maybe this is a real thing that will catch on in thirty years sitting down will be seen as archaic. 


2. Someone once told me that when the jacaranda trees were blooming it was time for school to get out. Well, their abundance is spread throughout me neighborhood. A sign, indeed.

3. This week I'm conferencing with my students on their outside reading (700 pages of approved reading a semester) and it has been quite enjoyable. The periods go by very fast and it really is a pleasure to talk hear their opinions about books. It gives me an opportunity to sit with each student for a few minutes, which is a rarity.

4. Today I finally made it official- this was my last year as the yearbook adviser at our school. It's been in the works for some time, but the master schedule for next year came out, so I finally felt it was time to tell students. There was some scheduling difficulties for next year, so this was the best solution and allowed me to keep my IB kids together as seniors. Plus, I was planning on making next year my last. I found a willing, capable, replacement, so I feel pretty good about it.

[and that's a wrap!]
5. So Sawyer has one of those Sophie giraffes and  somehow he knows that when I say "break her neck!" he's supposed to bend her neck so she squeaks. I know we need to start being more careful about these sorts of things, and set a better example, but... maybe later. 

6. We're trying to put together some recommendations for next school year's English department book club and I recommended Still Alice by Lisa Genova, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, anything by TC Boyle, or Euphoria by Lily King. 

7. I've had to couple being both assertive and apologetic a few time lately at work and while I'm proud of myself to sticking to my guns on a few things, this has only heightened my need for a break. 

8. I have tracked all my expenditures for the last four weeks to make sure to stick to my weekly allotment (this is self-imposed, since my husband and I keep separate accounts). I budget a certain amount per month for gas, food, entertainment, and personal purchases, and then divide that by four. I came in right under budget and, predictably, my biggest expense is gas (about $130 a month) and then food/coffee. I've never done this before, but I've found that it keeps you on track in the same way as calorie counting does.

9. Last weekend was gloomy and drizzly, but this weekend is supposed to be sunny and in the nineties. I think it's time to brown up these white legs and get in some pool time. 

10. I'm reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd right now for book club and it's... okay. It's nothing that I feel hasn't been done before, and, as I've described it to a few people, it's "the Oscar bait of books." Granted I'm only about 100 pages in, so I could change my mind, but so far I just don't think it's anything innovative.

Fourth Annual "So You're Going to Be Reading By the Water, Eh?" List

[once upon a time I went places that required flying]

I took last year off, but I'm back with some "beach" reads. "Beach," of course, is a metaphor for "I'm mentally and or physically taking a break and need something lighter than normal." Whether you have your toes in the sand, an air-conditioned room, or in your normal uncomfortable work shoes, here are some books that will help you lighten your load. The sun makes it too hot to think (as does the fourth margarita you're chugging- don't deny it, I see you over there flirting with the bartender).

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
While a tad predictable (what mystery isn't, though, right?), still interesting and entertaining. 

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
This memoir about a couple that starts a restaurant might motivate you to tackle some of your own projects.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
All the talk about snow will cool you down, while the magical realism and charmingly simplistic prose will keep you reading. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
You know you're going to at least order the sequel, if not read it. Time to brush up!

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Everyone should read a Hornby, and this one is one of his best. Plus who doesn't like some good tunes during the summer?

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
Short stories are great for quick stretches between cannonballs off the diving board... or during your lunch break in the cubicle.  

And, for fun, here are a few easier reads that'll be in my metaphorical beach bag this summer:

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee- I'm a bit nervous about this one, considering the circumstances and the hype. 

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Ruxin- I just ordered a few restaurant memoirs and this is one I'm definitely looking forward to. 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson- Might as well once and for awhile get the series over with (after starting the first one years and years ago). 

An Innocent Abroad by the Lonely Planet- Since I'm not going to be doing much traveling my self I might as well live vicariously through others!

*This post is also be used for The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday. 

My Mac-n-Cheese Game

Once in awhile I concoct a recipe worthy of recommending people put their books down for a few minutes and cook. This summer as I'm able to spend more time in the kitchen I might stick a few more recipes up here- expect some ice cream ones for sure. 

I've spent several years working on my Mac-n-Cheese Game. I've tried different cheese, different ratios of milk, different recipes for rouxs, various spices, an assortment of toppings, etc... I've used recipes from old cook books, new cook books, and blogs. And this one is what I've landed on.

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 cups of cheese* (reserve 2 tbsp if you plan to do the topping)
2 cups of milk**
A box of pasta (a pound?? whatever they are)
2 tbsp of mild buffalo sauce (optional)

1/4 cup of green onions 
1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (seasoned is preferable) 
2 tbsp cup of cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put on water to boil pasta; I'll assume you can handle that process without instruction. Cook to al dente, or whatever you like. 

2. To create the roux turn the burner to medium and melt the butter. As the butter melts, whisk in the flour (don't wait until it's melted, add as it's melting). The mixture will get super thick- do not let it burn.

3. As your roux thickens, slowly whisk in your milk (you're making a bechamel sauce). Continue the process slowly, allowing the sauce to thicken. Once all the milk is in, continue to whisk and heat, but not boil.

4. While the bechamel is thickening, add in your spices. I like onion powder, but I've also used garlic, parsley, italian blends- whatever your preference is.

5. Once the sauce is hot and fairly thick, dump in all the cheese. Whisk. It might seem like the sauce will never come together, but after a few minute it will. If you like a thinner sauce, add some additional milk (this will also depend on the cheese you chose). After the cheese is basically melted I add some buffalo sauce for a little extra kick (and I hate wings, and I hate spicy things, but it works). If you choose, you can also add in chicken, sausage, etc...

6. Combine the drained pasta and sauce- stick the pot on low heat while you make the topping.

7. Melt the cube of butter until it's mostly melted. Mix together with cheese and bread crumbs. 

8. Put mac and cheese into an oven-safe casserole dish with lid or foil. Sprinkle topping on it and pop in the oven for twenty minutes. At the end broil for just a few minutes to get a crispy, brown finish on the topping. Sprinkle with green onions. 

*A note about cheese: I've used variations of all the big cheese, plus a few random ones. I advise against using mozzarella, personally, since it creates too think and stringy of a sauce and usually requires additional milk. If you plan on using a strong cheese, like blue, I'd use it in conjunction with something a bit more mild. My favorite tends to be colby or a super sharp cheddar. Whatever you do, do not use reduced fat, since it won't melt right. 

* A note about milk: I tend to use 1 cup of something super heavy, like whole or even whipping cream, and then 1 cup of just the regular 1% I have on hand. I've done recipes with all 1% and they work fine, they just aren't as rich and creamy. 

No, I Will Not Get Lonely

Let me paraphrase a conversation I had with a well-meaning colleague (that I don't know super well) that I had yesterday while talking about our plans for the summer:

Me: ...yeah, I'm going to take Sawyer to take care two or so mornings a week, so I can get things done and go to yoga or whatever.

Colleague: Oh... my kids never went to daycare [explained why]...

Me: My husband is gone for like eleven hours a day, so sometimes I'll need a break. Plus it's good for him to keep up with her routines and ways of doing things. And it's not like it's more money, since we have to pay to hold our spot. 

Colleague [sounding a little... hopeful?]: But maybe you'll get lonely and pick him up early...?

Me: [laughter/scoffing] I will not get lonely. 

I keep replaying this in my head and chuckling.  Lonely? No. What I will get, during approximately eight hours of alone time a week, is a cleaner house, a slightly more toned/tanned/rested body, a slightly-restored social life, books read, and a greater sense of inner peace. Selfish, right?

Not so much. Even two mornings or afternoons a week of time where I'm "off duty" will be guaranteed to make me a better mom, because I'll be happier and less frustrated about why I don't get more time to myself. This reminds me of an article on the Huffington Post site (that I can't find) some time ago about comparing your children to cake; cake is awesome, but you don't always want to eat cake all the time.  What killed me, of course, were the comments. "I love my cake..." or, "if you don't want to eat cake everyday, you shouldn't have ordered it in the first place." If you are a mom and you have never wanted just a tiny bit of time to yourself you are a mother-effing saint. Or maybe someone that doesn't have any outside interests or hobbies that require kid-free time. 

I didn't leave the work room thinking my colleague was judging me at all- she has a few kids and just genuinely seems excited to spend as much time as posible with them. That's awesome and it works well for her family. But I feel like there are people, some in my life, that will be quick to judge my decision. I work all year and leave my kid for eight hours a day with another person, so shouldn't I want to spend the entire summer with him? Shouldn't my life revolve around him for at least nine weeks of the year? Can't I just do my stuff "when he naps" (those are the non-parents asking that one)? 

Listen. I'm not a "mom's mom" and I own it, accept it, and embrace it. Motherhood comes naturally to me, but motherhood on my own terms. I'm not making homemade chicken strips with bread crumbs from scratch, planning hands-on activities for every day of the week, or teaching my kid baby-sign language (the only sign language I know is probably not appropriate...). We have fun in our own way, and I'm sure he will survive, even if I don't have a plethora of Montessori-activities planned for him this summer (I let him play with a bottle brush, though, and I put dried pasta in an old Puffs container, once... does that count?). I will always have moments where I miss having the option to be spontaneous, slightly irresponsible, or ridiculously time-efficient. I wouldn't change what I have right now for a million bucks, but I'm not the type of mom that is going to refuse to admit that she had a life pre-baby. 

So, no, I will not "get lonely." I will continue to love my child more than ever and enjoy the extra time together, but I will take him to daycare for a few hours a week and be totally at peace with it (despite the slightly defensive undertones to this post). I will be alone, but I will not be lonely. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, stop and chat.

1. My grading at work is at an actual manageable level. As in I have less than one assignment outstanding to grade. This hasn't happened since the end of last semester. It's an end-of-the-school-year miracle.

2. This essay from the New Yorker is really great- it's Pinterest personified. I wish I wrote it.

[source Fiona Crawford Watson via The New Yorker]

3. And now, because of number two, I think I'm going to subscribe to the magazine... again. I received six months as a gift many years ago and I got behind really quickly. But now you can do twelve weeks for twelve bucks, and you get the digital and physical copies. Done deal. I can become more cultured at one in the morning when I'm rocking the crazy baby back to sleep.

4. Something happened at work yesterday that really bothered me (not related to my students, which I find amusing, because you'd think the majority of a high school teacher's workplace strife would come from the 100+ teenagers they're with all day) and now I'm really, really, really ready for summer. 

5. I'm supposed to go to see Pitch Perfect 2 this weekend and I can't wait, no matter what the reviews say (and I don't even know what they say, since I haven't looked, but how often is a sequel that well-received?). I was so pleasantly surprised with the first one, so I'm looking forward to catching up with the girls, taking a purse out instead of a diaper bag, and being entertained. 

6. I'm sort of in love with washi tape, and I have no idea why. I just covered a notebook in it. Why? I have no idea. But it's so... cute.

[the possibilities are endless; source]

7. I ordered the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marle Kondo, hoping it motivates me to organize the heck out of my house this summer.

8. Scott just gave me permission to watch the rest of Sons of Anarchy without him, since the last episode of the second season pissed him off. Whatever. Anyway, if I didn't have a child I'd be done with the who show in approximately one week. Because I love Jax. And motorcycle gangs. And when Jax hold his baby. 


9. We just started watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, with no knowledge whatsoever about what the premise was, except that everyone says it's funny. The pilot was funny and weird, but, in typical pilot fashion, it was a tiny bit... overdone. Or corny. We'll see what the next few are like.

10. If you've seen Easy A, you'll recall the scene where Olive hates the song "Pocket Full of Sunshine," but after listening to it several times she has a change of heart. This is me and "Uptown Funk." I want to hate it, and I tried to hate it, but I can't. Plus Sawyer always busts out his baby dance moves on, which pretty great. 

Top Ten Tuesday- Free Style

[time to learn to cook! and sew! and take care of the home! source]

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie, so I decided to go on a slightly different path. Traditionally I turn to books to teach me how to do things- cook, take care of a newborn, train for a half marathon, etc... But some things you need some more hands-on instruction for. So today my list is ten things that I'd like to be able to do, with lessons or classes or some sort of tutoring:

1. Sewing: I have a machine and some basic knowledge, but how awesome would it be to be able to sew my own, custom-made clothes? I'm envisioning vintage McCall's patterns that lead to dresses that look like they're from Anthro of Modcloth. 

2. Decorate cakes/cupcakes: I go the actual cake part down, but my decorating skills are pretty abysmal. 

3. Change a tire: I have AAA, but they can be slow. 

4. Archery: I'm concerned with my lack of upper-body strength on this one, but I think my brother and I might take a lesson this summer at a range right up the road. 

5. The piano: I'm pretty sure this would end badly, but I've always been told I have "piano fingers" and think it would be pretty cool to play some Elton John. Because Chopsticks is too basic. 

6. Calligraphy: This is probably pretty amusing to those that know me, because I have pretty shitty writing. Fact: a student thought I wrote "bullshit" on her paper when she got it back today, when it was in fact "bashing." Oops. I think it would be nice to be forced to slow down and be a little more aware of my penmanship. 

7. Makeup: I can do the basics, but I'd love to get better at everything past that. 

8. Basic house maintenance: Toilet fixing, shelf hanging, faucet leak fixing, etc... 

9. Dog grooming: Cordie is a furry beast that is scared of the (expensive groomer). 

10. Pure Barre: We have a knock-off studio nearby that I might try this summer, and if I like it I might get some of the DVDs to add to my at-home routines.

Your turn- what have you always wanted a chance to either learn to do or improve at? 

By the Book (NY Times Book Review Q & A)

Not long ago I picked up the New York Times Book Review's By the Book, a compilation of Q & A columns that some pretty hard hitting figures of our time have answered (David Sedaris, Anne Patchett, Dave Eggers, JK Rowling, John Irving, David Mitchell, etc...). I figured, since it's sort of a slow day at the office blog I 'd choose some of my favorite questions to answer (many of them are the same but they tweak some for relevancy purposes). 

What book is on your night stand right now?
CS Lewis' The Problem With Pain and Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelson. The first has been sitting there for like four years, when, during a dark time I asked my minister-uncle for a title that would help me grapple with the idea of why a God, if one exists, would be so darn cruel. Maybe God works at Amazon? As soon as they delivered the book life got better and I didn't read it. Last year when things were tough I seriously contemplated reading it, but preferred to escape when reading instead of dwelling. Yes, Chef is because 2015 is the year of my Restaurant Memoir Obsession. 

When, and where do you like to read?
On airplanes, in coffee shops, in parks, in doctor's offices, on beaches, on the couch, in bed, by the pool, in a rocking chair, or in the bathtub. Outside is always best, and preferably with an iced coffee or Diet Coke. When? Whenever I can.

What was the last truly great book you read?
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, in terms of fiction, and Sous Chef by Michael Gibney representing the nonfiction category. There was something about the tone and syntax that he used that really stuck with me. 

What was the best book you read as a student?
A toss up between House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky. I read both during junior year in high school and I remember putting in so much effort and time into the assignments that came with them. I felt like I truly understood them and connected with the content. It was probably during that time that in the back of my mind I started thinking I could be an English major if the whole "doctor thing" didn't work out. 

Do you prefer a book that makes you laugh or makes you cry? 
It depends on where I am in my life. Right now? I'd prefer to laugh. I think sometimes it's harder to write smart, effective humor. A tearjerker is easy- cancer, death, divorce, family strife, abused kids. But a true, out-loud laugh? I'm admittedly a tough audience. 

What's the book you wish someone [else] would write?
I super concise, high-interest, witty, maybe slightly humorous, summary of the top twenty world religions. Really break it down. Maybe have some pictures. 

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
I have a few by Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, and John Grisham, all from high school. I wouldn't read any of those now, but I'm not embarrassed of the process I've moved through as a reader. You have to read a lot of everything when you're young so you can develop a taste and learn to have a basis for your later criticism. It's like fast food- how can you appreciate fine dining if you've never eaten at McDonalds?

 What are you reading next?
After I finish Yes, Chef, I'm going to start our next book club book, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I keep bumping it for other things, but we meet in a few weeks so I'm going to have to bite the bullet. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back (and stop and say hi!)

1. Honorary degrees are such a bunch of shit. 

2. Confession: for years I used to use the wire whisk on my Kitchenaid to make cookies, having no idea that there was a much better option. 

3. Yesterday I was at the grocery store after physical therapy with Sawyer and there was a mom being such an asshole to her daughter, who was reminding her that they needed to take something store bought starting with the letter "g" to school the next day. The daughter wasn't whining, yelling, or crying and looked completely crestfallen when her head was publicly bitten off. I know there definitely couldn't have been extenuating circumstances; that could have been the seventeenth time she reminded her mom since they walked into the store or the mom could have gotten fired from her job just hours before. Nonetheless, it was a good reminder to me, as a mom, to make sure to remember that patience is something to strive for... especially in public.

4. I'm reading Toni Morrison's novella Home right now and had a little trouble finding my footwork at first, but I think I'm back in the groove. I will say that I have an inkling that her older work is better.

5. Back to physical therapy. Sawyer has been seeing a PT once or twice a month since he was three months old for a mild case of torticollis (one muscle in his neck was tighter than the other, so he had a slight tilt). After a few months of diligent stretching and exercises he was back to normal, and now at a year it's resolved. The physical therapist won't exit him until he can walk, though, because she wants to make sure his alignment is fine. Well, he's not walking- he's pulling himself up one things, starting to take really awkward steps when we hold his hands, and can crawl up both sets of stairs, though. Yet I feel like they're constantly nitpicking now- do I really need to work on him bending over to transfer weight from one side of his body to the other at home? Isn't that something he will developmentally pick up on his own? He also cried during most of the 45 minutes appointment yesterday because they were pushing him pretty hard. I'm feeling pretty conflicted about continuing.

6. This is the forecast and I couldn't be happier; rain, clouds, sunshine, mild temps

7. My students are working on big IB papers right now and I've been getting to spend some one-on-one time conferencing with them on their writing and it's a really nice change of pace. It's so much easier to articulate how to make improvements face to face.

8. I'm listening to Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg and am really enjoying it (although the narrator's voice is borderline acceptable- her pauses are very awkward). The truth is that I would love to start a restaurant or bakery. One summer I worked at a place that was just opening and got to be there from right before the soften opening until a few months post grand-opening. It was absolutely fascinating and terrifying. Given my tendency to be a task-master and a semi-decent problem solver (I have back-up plans for my back-up plans) I think I could at least make a go of it (with a financial backer, someone experienced to mentor me, and the ability to once again consume alcohol). There's this tiny, crappy, little restaurant space for sale right down the street from where I work that I pass by everyday and I always think about how I could turn it into a tiny little bakery that would possibly make money from all the high school kids that pass by it twice a day... It's not going to happen, but it's fun to dream.

9. I highly recommend What Pete from A to Z by Maira Kalman. It's like what Wes Anderson would write if he was doing an alphabet book for kids.

10. Ever need help with a defective product? Take to the company's Facebook page, apparently. The tray for Sawyer's highchair was loose, so much so that he was once able to push it off on his own (and cry hysterically because it scared him), so I posted a comment. A rep contacted me immediately and I received a replacement less than a week later. Hopefully it works! 

Hard Hitting News

My kid can read.

[the quality of this looks okay on Instagram, Facebook, and my phone, but appears to look horrible on here... thanks, blogger]

Top Ten Tuesday- Meet-n-Greet

[Foer: douchebag or so deep?]

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us what ten authors we'd like to meet*: 

1. Marisha Pessl- I enjoyed both of her books very much, but ever since learning she created a detailed Excel spreadsheet for her first book as a way to brainstorm I knew she was my kind of girl.

2. Jonathan Safran Foer- I've always had a bit of an author-crush on him, since college. I have a feeling he might be a little bit of a pretentious douchebag, but still. 

3. Colum McCann- I actually did, technically, meet him- one of the few authors I've ever stood in live for an autograph for. I'd love to sit down and pick his brain, though.

4. Salman Rushdie- One of the greats of our day.

5. Isabel Allende- The woman is such a firecracker!

6. Zadie Smith- I respect her writing immensely and have heard mixed things about how friendly she is in real life. I'd like to judge for myself.

7. TC Boyle- I've been to many of his readings and find his work fascinating. He has such a big personality and cares passionately about current events.

8.  Stephen Chbosky- So I could give him a stern talking to about ripping off The Catcher in the Rye.

9. Don Delillo- I need him to explain Underworld to me. Please, Don. Help. 

10. Jeffrey Eugenides- Is it possible to acquire talent through osmosis?

*I limited myself to living writers.

Reading Writing Watching Wanting

I just finished To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris. I was disappointed.

I'm trying to put on my big girl panties to review this year's yearbook, but, as always, I get super nervous. This is only made worse by the fact that last year a nearby school district accidentally handed out their book, only to find out that there was a picture with a soccer player who was... hanging out... of his shorts. 

I've been reading The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi to Sawyer lately and I can't wait until he's old enough to give a box and some crayons to. The possibilities are endless.

I also have a stack of timed writes my students wrote on an excerpt from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. The ones that I've read so far aren't bad, making me feel that maybe I've done a little good this year. Or maybe it was just easy.

I wrote a guest post over at We Are Book Punks about coercing kids of all ages to read. Their blog has such a cool design to it- check it out!

I started my next project ("novel" makes me feel presumptuous), the one I wrote about a few weeks ago, complaining about how I had no clue where it was going to go. I finally bit the bullet when I was home with my roseola-rashed out child and busted out five pages. It feels good. The file is entitled "kale" right now. 

I'm also putting together a resource guide for a committee I'm on at school, providing teachers with places to go when they teach Night, Farewell to Manzanar, and The Lord of the Flies. 

I've started watching more TED Talks lately, since I can always find one at a length I have time for. Plus they make me feel a little more educated. I think after I watch five or so I'll put up a quick post with links.

Don't tell my husband, but while I was working last night I watched/listened to the movie he was watching, Whiplash, and I really liked it. It's about this tyrannical music instructor and his student. I need to play some clips for my students so that they'll be more thankful for my tactics.

Despite my irritation with Lena Dunham's memoir, we're still plugging away at Girls. And I still like it.

We need to also catch up on Jane the Virgin on Hulu. It's such a smart, light-hearted watch.

I've had cabin fever lately (probably because Sawyer has been sick with his ears, fever, roseola for over a week), so I want to just go do something fun. Nothing crazy. Bowl? Go to the Huntington Library? See Pitch Perfect 2 in a few weeks? Things are in motion, the planning machine has been put in gear.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I want a set of wool dryer balls and some essential oil to take the place of our dryer sheets. I had no clue they existed until someone posted some of Instagram. They dry things faster and are better for the environment than dryer sheets.

The book Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill has hopped in and out of my cart on Amazon the last few days.  

Some peace and quiet. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back.

1. I wore this on Monday:

2. My (male) friends the other day made a comment about how girls "cry to reset." I thought this was interesting. He, of course, as most males are, baffled by female tears. I'm not sure if it's always true, anyway, but I do think that this was an interesting way to describe catharsis.

3. My son has two ear infections, is teething, and a slight fever he can't quite shake. What does this mean? Twice daily antibiotics (for the first time in his little life- I guess we made it to a year!), frequent Tylenol, a few rough nights, and a tough of clingy-ness. Thank goodness his daycare provider has agreed to still take him, since he's in a good mood and isn't contagious. JUST GROW YOUR TEETH AND STOP GETTING SICK.

4. My good friend's baby shower was last weekend and I decided to get her something instead of the baby (well, I did get the baby some pajamas, since we all know how much I love those little footie sleepers). I'm not going to say what I stuffed the box with, but it's full of things a new, tired, hormonal, frustrated, lonely new mom might want. It came with strict instructions to not open until her first meltdown. Babies get enough presents.

5. Yesterday I played in the staff versus senior (as in those about to graduate high school, not geriatrics) softball game and had a blast. I had not-so-quietly tried to get my name off the roster, for fear of public humiliation (I played ball for nine years, but it's been well over a decade since I've picked up a bat or even played catch). It came back to me, although my throw was nothing to write home about. I hit two singles, flew out twice, and fielded a few balls. No strike outs, so face-plants, no being booed. I do have very sore legs today, since I'm not used to sprinting (and I didn't stretch... I never used to...). I wish we could play every month.

[we were between innings, I promise]

6. I'm slightly obsessed with making homemade ice cream maker. I have the attachment bowl for my Kitchenaid and am armed and ready with about a million flavor combos.

7. Today wasn't the best day. I had to make a judgement call that I partially regret but ultimately feel was for the best. I got some bad news about someone I don't want bad things to happen to. I had to fight a fire that I didn't feel was my fire to fight. Nothing catastrophic to me personally, but still. And it's only Wednesday. 

8. I'm currently reading To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and thought it was pretty hilarious for the first fifty or so pages, but not that I'm about 100 pages in I'm starting to get bogged down by some of the long religious-based passages (despite the main character being an atheist). I don't give up on books, but I do end up slowing down, which I see happening. This is disappointing, considering how much I read last month.

9. That moment of relief when you find your keys is deserves it's own word.

10. Sawyer had been really into "reading" in the car lately. He takes one of his board books and turns the pages and talks very quietly. I know this means absolutely nothing, besides he knows what books are for, but it's still very cute. 


Audiobook Checklist

I have a really hard time selecting audiobooks to read (I have an Audible membership for one book per month, and I usually listen on the thirty minute commute home). My requirements are simple:

1. Is it something I'd like to read (and therefore own the book?)
2. Is it too short? I hate spending a credit on something that is only a few hours.
3. Is it too long? I know myself well enough to know that anything longer than twelve or so hours is pushing it.
4. Is the reader's voice annoying?

The first one is the main problem. If I'm willing to listen to it, chances are I'd like to actually read it. I end up listening to a lot of non-fiction, since I tend to buy more novels that anything. When I do decide to listen to  fiction, it's something I'm on the fence about. 

I'm currently finishing up an audiobook on newborn-preschool neuroscience, so I'm trying to decide what my next download will be. Here are some contenders:

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi- A colleague mentioned this a few months ago- her book club read the books they mentioned, as well, which I thought was a cool idea. I'm not completely sold on wanting to read it, so a listen might be the way to go.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris- I have a hard time reading essays, so I might try listening to them instead. Plus I'm a big fan of the authors reading their own work, which is the case here.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe- This seems like a quick read sort of book, which often make good audiobooks. 

Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience by Michael Gazzaniga- I'm a science kick lately!

Batman and Psychology by Travis Langley and Dennis O'Neal- Batman is my favorite super hero and I've heard good things about this book. Something different!