Five Things About... Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett

This book feels a lot like The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (although I enjoyed this one more) or even The Gilmore Girls. Quirky plot and characters, small town vibes, and a young smart (but floundering) protagonist. Also: a fox imported from Russia, a dying dad who does some pretty outrageous things as a result of his memory loss, a crazy community musical production, a private hunting compound for the filthy rich, and a sweet dog named Moses. 

Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, and this one has a magical healing touch and some ghosts. 

The narrator is this sort of omniscient cast of spirits at the local cemetery. It is a loose spin off of the Greek Chorus, but far less stuffy or preachy. They’re there, they know what’s best, and they’re very dead.

The main character spends quite a bit of the book substitute teaching and becoming involved with the small class of fifth graders. I love that Hartnett chose to go the endearing route with the students, and she spends a lot of time developing mutual growth in Emma and the kids. 

The opioid crisis was also addressed on the text, with the main character’s brother a recovering addict and the teacher she is subbing for involved with the issue. 

Summer TBR

{so, this has been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks and I totally forgot about it! I've already read several of these, but I didn't want a post to go to waste!)

Oh, summer break, so many of your activities lend themselves so nicely to reading. Travel? Yup, on the plane, in the hotel, on a balcony. Pool lounging? Of course. Hot temps that need to be avoided? Find my on the couch with a book in one hand and a tug-of-war rope for the dog in the other. Temporary SAHMing? Let's have "reading time" together at the park! Not to mention the fact that I don't have papers to grade, lessons to plan, concerns to stress about, time spent commuting, a grueling 5:08 am weekday alarm, time spent helping my kid with his homework and ALL the other time demands of the normal work year. 

Just, really, so much time to read.

So, what's on the docket? 

Here's the list of books I plan to get to over the next two glorious book-filled months:


Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartness 

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Tracy Flick Can't Win by Tom Perrotta

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley 


The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris 

Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

Black, White, and the Grey by Mashama Bailey and John Morisano  

From where I sit, fourteen books might be possible? 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[It's me and my wedding date!]

Hello from summer! I am taking a break from making sure we are set for our trip to the Grand Tetons (and maybe a day at Yellowstone, depending on if their reopening of the south entrance goes as planned). I haven't flown with Sawyer in four years (when we went to Banff), so I feel a little discombobulated. I keep reminding myself that 90% of what I need to pack can be picked up at a store in Wyoming if need be, so it's FINE. I am just thankful the weather looks good, we didn't end up with Covid after an EXTREMELY close contact scare at my sister's wedding, and that I am able to do this in terms of finances and time. Now about that 3 am alarm tomorrow morning... it's fineeeeeee.

We went to Modesto a week and a half ago for my sister's wedding and it was a blast. I hadn't seen my brother in two and a half years, so we spent a lot of time together, and there were other family members that it was good to see. We did a lot of "Modesto things"- bowling at the local bowling alley, eating at places unique to there, some mini golf next to the Blue Diamond Almond packing facility, and going to the American Graffiti Parade. The wedding itself was absolutely beautiful- it was at a lavender farm, the temperatures dropped from 104 a few days prior to 85, and Sawyer was a rock star junior groomsman. It was the first time my siblings and mom have all been together in three or so years, so it was nice. 

Circling back to the Covid thing- we are so, so, so lucky we didn't get it. But, I was super cautious, which I think some people were sort of rolling their eyes at, but HEY, I have a HUGE trip to go on and I wasn't going to let it get ruined. We avoided all inside gatherings at my mom's house where masking would have been weird, we wore our masks when we were bowling, elevators, or in stores, and we spent a lot of time outside. Sawyer wore his mask at the reception, since he was a social butterfly and on the dancefloor like a maniac (he is also recently boosted). There were actually a lot of other people masked, since there were many international guests, so it felt totally fine for him. Anyway, enough on that, except that precautions work! 

I have been reading like a fiend- I finished my seventh book of June yesterday and have a few more packed. This happens every summer and I love it.

I love my son so much, but I am trying to figure out how I can get away for a weekend with my husband. We haven't done that in a bajillion years and I'm thinking maybe I can make it happen this fall. There aren't many people I trust to stay with Sawyer, the dog, and house, though, so it does take some planning. 

I did a 10.6 mile hike over the weekend by myself at a local trail and I did a pretty solid job, despite the realization that my new hiking boots are just not... okay. I did it in a little over four hours and gained well over 2,000 feel in elevation. I covered well over that distance in Yosemite and Tahoe, but with Sawyer we take a lot more breaks and the incline was more intense here. I am hiking Half Dome in about a month with some friends, so I'm trying to make sure I'm ready! I definitely missed on the caloric front, though, so I need to adjust my nutrition a bit so that I'm not starving and have plenty of carbs. 

July is packed full of goodness- art camp for Sawyer, lots of plans with friends, a quick trip to the East Bay/SF, Yosemite, and maybe a museum or two. 

Five Things About... Groundskeeping by Lee Cole

As a whole, I really liked this book, but I must say I wasn’t enamored with any of the characters. I felt some slight empathy towards the narrator, Owen, as he seems to be struggling to get his life together, but he was definitely flawed (and not in a noble way, more so annoying). His sort-of girlfriend, Alma, I found pretentious, judgmental, and attention-seeking. Her only redeeming quality was the fact that she didn’t deny these attributes, but it wasn’t enough to win me over.

This was the first book I can remember reading that was set in Kentucky, and while I don’t want to necessarily book a flight, I have a feeling it would be pretty to drive through. The confederate flags and Trump groupies I could pass on, though. 

Speaking of Trump, I did appreciate how Cole brought politics into his text in a way where there were frequent, sometimes subtle, references but not pages of political musings (except a few that were relevant and well-placed, like after the election).

I’ve noticed how Iowa Writer’s Workshop Writers, like Cole, all have some sort of similarity I can’t  quite pinpoint but know exists. We discussed the at times excessive sensory description at book club, which might be it,  but I think there’s more. Some sort of general stylistic attribute- a polish that’s a little too forced, perhaps? I don’t want to criticize (although I guess is am a little bit), but there’s just something…. 

Without giving entering away, I thought the ending was fine. Considering alternative options, this was fine with me.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

t's officially summer in our house for Sawyer and I, since his last day was Friday! He's at a great age where we can hang out but then I can also tell him to go "find something to do," haha. For example, I played with him with LEGOs for an hour and then we watched the first episode of Obama's Our Great National Parks doc (I have to confess we're actually using this as part of our designated "mom school" time- more below). Now, I told him to go occupy himself so I can schedule some posts and I don't feel bad at all.

So, "Mom School" is a term Sawyer coined ever since I broke it to him that we were going to review skills for a bit each day we are home and not super busy this summer. Nothing crazy- I just got some Teacher's Pay Teachers resources that will help him review some of the math concepts his teacher was just introducing and to get a jump start on multiplication (and despite my desire to drill-and-kill, we are doing arrays, commutative property, etc.... since I know that's what Common Core require). He has to read a bit each day (he does this whether I tell him to or not, though) and we'll do some writing and whatever else. I'm talking low-stress thirty-forty minutes. Math is definitely something he has to work harder at, so that's really my main focus. 

Last week I totally utilized the four days Sawyer had school and I did not- I met up with two different groups of friends, got my hair done, and read in peace for hours. 

Over the weekend the three of us went to Vroman's in Pasadena for a reading by Minh Le, a children's author. This was Sawyer's first reading and Scott's first time at this book store, which is my favorite in Southern California, so it was a fun morning (plus ice cream at one of our favorite places). We also went on a hike the next morning, with the dog, to a local trail. I try to go once a month, but this was the first time the four of us have gone together!

Summer reading is in full swing! I just finished TC Boyle's Talk to Me and am currently (finally) reading Jesmyn Ward's Savage the Bones.  I have a big stack I ordered for summer (the final two are arriving tomorrow), but I wanted to try to squeeze in a few that I'd had before first. 

My passionate love for the show Yellowstone is still in full effect- we just started the third season the other day, which is marathon speed for me, since we started it just a few months ago (maybe now that it's summer we can watch more than 1-2 episodes a week, haha). I am glad my husband has finally warmed up to Beth, my favorite. 

I had no idea that I liked Harry Styles, but apparently I am, since I cannot stop listening to his new album. 

I have obviously put writing a book on the WAY back burner, but sometimes I do think about it. Recently, I started thinking about a short story collection focusing on people I don't like. I don't know what angle I'd really choose or whether it would be cathartic or not, but it just seems... interesting. I could write in a way of empathy or I could really go for it and showcase their flaws (probably much more fun, haha). The possibilities are endless. 

The next few days are going to be super slow, so I should get a ton of pages in, and then Thursday we have a beach day planned and Friday through Monday I will be out of town! The fun begins.

David Sedaris Reading

I couldn't not post about the David Sedaris reading I went to with one of my friends on Mother's Day, even thought it feels like ages ago. It was at UCLA and it was my first literary event since before the pandemic, so the whole thing just felt very serendipitous. Here are some of the highlights:

Back at my Alma Mater! Go Bruins! 

We ate ice cream sundaes for dinner. It was Mother's Day, okay?

Poetry Guild providing some custom work! 

Sedaris did not disappoint, and we had great seats!

Summer Breaks (Get) To-Dos

I love a good summer to-do list! I tried to stick to ten things I GET to do and ten things I HAVE/NEED to do:

The fun stuff:
1.  Three nights in Modesto for my sister's wedding- Sawyer is in it, all my siblings will be there, it's Graffiti Weekend (a local thing), and the wedding itself is at a lavender farm. It should be great!
2. Today we are taking Sawyer to his first reading- Dan Santat in Pasadena. He just finished up his graphic novel, so he is super excited to meet the author/illustrator. It's at my favorite socal bookstore, Vroomans, so it will be a great excuse to spend some money time there, too. 
3. Lots of beach days! At least three solid says throughout the next two months, I insist.
4. A science museum in Orange County has a cool new space exhibit I know Sawyer will love
5. Tetons and Yellowstone trip
6. Hiking Half Dome with my dear friend- Yosemite twice in one year!
7. A quick trip to San Luis Obispo to meet up with my brother and his wife so that we can meet his baby, finally
8. Hollywood Bowl tickets for the three of us
9. Sawyer's art camp- that will be five afternoons that I get to drop him off and have a few hours to myself 
10. Friend time, with and without kids
11. Bonus: park reading dates with Sawyer, hiking at new and old spots, and reading at least 12 books 

The stuff that has been put off and needs to get done:
1. Fix some shutters
2. Buy seven million bags of dirt and level out the flower beds (yes, I could pay the landscaper to do it, but this is in my wheelhouse of tasks I am capable of doing)
3. Steam clean the carpets
4. *Possibly* redo Sawyer's room 
5. Catch up on my year-in-review book
6. Help Sawyer review math, practice his handwriting, and obtain some life skills that he should probably already has but does not
7. Finding a babysitter (I have a lot of contenders, but I need to find someone I trust with my kid, house, and dog. I also want someone who is fully vaxxed and boosted, and isn't out on the weekends at crowded bars... so, yeah, a chore that I need to do because my husband and I have some events to go to without Sawyer)
8. Buy Sawyer a bigger bike and teach him to ride it- this has never been a priority for any of us, but I feel like it's something all kids should know how to do, so I guess this is it (at least he can swim?)
9. Plan the first week or two of school so I don't have to think about it when I go back and am trying to wrap my head around... being back
10. I've done a lot of organizing and cleaning so far this year, but I need to finish up the garage, a few things in the backyard, etc... 

Five Thing About... Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho

This is essentially a book about identity and coming-of-age. How do our relationships with others impact us? Are our decisions our own? How can we reconcile cultural pressures with individuality? 

The pacing of the book was a bit inconsistent- there were parts that had me captivated and others that were much slower. The narrative itself seems to have an identity crisis itself, between whether it was more character or plot driven, leaving me unable to really sink my teeth into it. 

I did appreciate the narrative structure- the author was clearly taking risks with having two different narrators (one third, one first) and the text moving around in time. 

Many of the conflicts lacked the depth they could have, and some felt a bit anticlimactic. The ending “twist,” if you want to call it that, also didn’t quite pack the punch I think the author intended it to have. 

I love books that take place near where I live- this one is set for a big chunk in Southern California, so I enjoyed being familiar with places they mentioned. There’s also quite a bit in NYC and some in Asia, as well. 

Five Things About... One More Thing and Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak

These are perfect for when you are super busy and can only read in small snippets. While there are a few longer stories, most are between 1-3 pages, and none require excessive brainpower (not that they’re fluff).

There was one story in particular that I earmarked to use with my students- a personification of the stock market. Novak’s comparison between the high and lows of a person versus Dow was perfect!

There were some issues in terms of consistent quality. In a way, though, thinking of how comedians write jokes, it sort of fit. Some of them hit… and some of them don’t. There were some that made me roll my eyes or just sort of inwardly groan, much how one does at an improv when a bit falls flat. 

If you are easily offended this may not be for you. They aren’t too obscene or vulgar, but there are a few stories that are ironically crass that might not be for everyone. 

There are reading group questions at the ends of some of the stories and the book as a whole that are pretty amusing (especially ad an English teacher who is always making up questions).

Books in Real Life

1. I got "survival is insufficient" from Station Eleven tattooed on my wrist this past weekend. I made the appointment last August and it was finally time! Daniel Winter  did it and my last one- if someone is permanently marking me up it's this guy (he did my tree on my neck, as well). This will probably be my third and final one, so I'm glad I'm going out with something I absolutely love.

2. Last weekend I went to La Jolla alone for two nights and it was absolutely magical. I drove down on Friday night and on Saturday I slept as long as I could (fine, until 7:30), got up and just started walking. I got coffee, walked around a museum of modern art for an hour, ate at Sugar and Scribe, and walked some more. All in all it was a 10+ mile day! I went back to the hotel and read for several hours, ate dinner without having to help anyone, went to bed, and went home to my family the next day. I think this needs to be a yearly tradition.

3. Before ending for the year I allowed my students to create their own "A" from The Scarlet Letter and I wanted to get in on the fun, too, so I embroidered one. It was so much fun! I didn't have any sort of plan, I just sat down for a little bit each day and did a variety of stitches in a few different shades. Ideally I'd love to do a hoop for each book I read with my kids, but we'll see. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I am spending the next ninety minutes (until I have to go pick up Sawyer from school) writing and scheduling posts- we'll see how many I get done. I know blogging in sort of dead, but I have to keep the one person who hate reads (hey, you! Hope you're well!), the three people who've been consistent through the years, and the two from Russia who spam me happy! What can I say... Google Analytics are cool? Kidding, kidding- I just enjoy rambling about books and life. What can I say?

I read seven books in May! March and April were really hectic at work, so I didn't get much reading done, but I set myself up to finish the school year a little less chaotically, so that was nice. Two short story collections, two memoirs, and three novels. The perfect mix!

This is my first week of summer break and Sawyer's last few days of second grade- I am SO thankful that I have a few days to run errands, see friends, take care of an appointment, and sit in solitude before it's me and my sidekick for two months. I am also super thankful my sister is letting us pay her to come help at the end of the summer when I'm the one going back to work before he has to start up again (we could take him to the place he goes before/after school, but this is better for us). 

If you haven't donated to one of the Uvalde victim's gofundme, supported Everytown's work or written/called your local representative it's not too late. Thoughts, prayers, and tears have statistically proven to do absolutely nothing to lower the rate at which mass shootings have occurred, so while it may make people feel better, please take action as well. 

I've wanted a rower for awhile, but I might have to hold out now that Peloton is coming out with one! I don't really love the idea of another monthly subscription cost, but I could see all those leaderboards and whatnot as being super motivating with this machine.

We had our first in-person English Department Book Club in person yesterday, lunch on a restaurant patio. We met virtually since the pandemic began and while we tried to coordinate in-person meetings the last few times we couldn't get schedules to align. I see these people all the time at work, but it was nice to get together off-site for a different reason. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

My seniors check out today! We still have until next Friday until the year is over, but for me, other than cleaning my classroom, I'm pretty much done. I coincidentally made a few appointments so I can take two days off, so I should ease out of this exhausting school year nicely. Graduation is next Tuesday, so then it will feel official. 

I ordered my annual "box-o-books" for the summer and I can't wait to dive in. I'm waiting for some new releases to arrive over the next few weeks and then I will share. 

I just started the Emma Straub episode of the Bad on Paper Podcast and she's a delight! I cannot wait to visit Books are Magic the next time I'm in New York, and her newest books is part of my summer TBR. 

In preparation for Half Dome this summer I've amped up my workouts a lot, but I'm trying to run less (other than in the morning with the dog). My favorite workout right now is to alternate between step aerobics (hello, yes, this is the 80s, right?), a steep incline on the treadmill, weights, and abs, each at five minutes and repeating however many times I can. 

This weekend I am going away ALL BY MYSELF. I was originally supposed to last March, but things were too stressful at the time (I know, weird, I couldn't go away to relax because I was too stressed, so I rescheduled for when work was easier. I am leaving tomorrow night after my husband is done working and I'll come back Sunday sometime. Two days of not having an alarm, walking around the beach, reading, and not having to do a dang thing. It's going to be magical (and maybe a yearly tradition?). 

Last week's to-dos:

Things I need to do soon:
1. Confirm drywaller (done, and he came and did the job!)
2. Finish book (yup)
3. Get grades in (yup)
4. Glue puzzle (don't ask) (yup)
5. Contact landscaper about sprinkler issue (yup)
6. Buy Hollywood Bowl tickets (yup)

Next week's to-dos:
1. Finish the school year
2. Really and truly try to relax this weekend
3.Gather everything for Sawyer's spirit week (YET ANOTHER)
4. Possibly bathe the dog- if not, a really good brushing 

Five Things About... Five Things About Loved and Wanted: A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood by Christa Parravani

While this is the story of a desperate mother who wanted an abortion, I think either “side” can learn from it. It’s not preachy or insulting, just simply Parravani’s story. 

This was such a good reminder that healthcare is so different in different states. I live in California and, while I’ve had to deal with the bureaucratic nature of a PPO insurance, I’ve never felt like I couldn’t get what I’ve needed or wanted or chosen, if so be. 

I think there’s this romantic notion attached to academia- professors in tweed, bumbling around their Victorians, hobnobbing with intellectuals at dinner parties on the weekends. This is sadly not true and we see how much Parravani struggles to make ends meet.

I am THE LAST person to criticize the complicated nature of a marriage, but she did put certain details of their financial nature out into the public with a published memoir. Her husband seemed to refuse to pull his economic weight in the marriage, intentionally, and I found that really, really  frustrating on her behalf. It’s one thing to be unemployed or whatever, but to be working and not really contributing is something else.

Abortion rights aside, the struggles she experienced with the medical staff at the hospital when her son was born was infuriating. He was severely jaundiced, tongue-tied to the point of practically starving, and had broken his clavicle during delivery (they didn’t even know!). And they sent them home! And then dismissed her concerns multiple times after that! The system that refused to help her terminate the (very, very early) pregnancy then refused the very baby she birthed proper care. Unacceptable.

A Day in the Life... 2021-22 School Year

Early morning run

I like to do these posts every year or when things change so as a way to look back and see how daily life was during certain "seasons" of life. So, really, they're for cataloging purposes, but I also know I love reading these sorts of voyeuristic (with permission) posts, so maybe I'll appease someone else's nosiness.

My schedule is different on some days, but this is a typical Monday!

5:08 AM- my alarm goes off every weekday at this time and I am up leaving the house to run with the dog by 5:18. I have this ten minute stretch planned and autopilot to the second (I have a second alarm that goes off at 5:18 so I know I need to be walking out the door then). There is never any snoozing, ever, ever, ever!

5:45 AM- 6:40- this is my absolute least favorite part of the day! YAY! Once I get back from running I get myself ready, supervise Sawyer's getting ready (no sense of urgency at all, that kid, but I also don't want to make him get up any earlier than he does), breakfast, feed the dog, etc... Oh, and coffee- my first of many caffeinated beverages of the day!

6:40-7:15- drop Sawyer off at his before/after school place and go to work

I immediately change into work-out gear when I get home

7:15-3:40- Work! Today we did an activity with excerpts from The Scarlet Letter, the kids taking turns reading them, annotating them for one device or literary concept, rotating to another student who does the same, and so on and so forth until they've all seen the five passages and read what their group members wrote. They then discuss, choose one, and do a brief explication on it for homework. For the other class I teach, IB Theory or Knowledge, we (I co teach, since it is a weird class that can be potentially large) worked on helping the kids review some sources for a big research project. 

3:45-4:10- It takes me almost a half an hour to go like ten miles, but that's what I get for living in Southern California! Pick Sawyer up.

4:10-4:30 More traffic on the way home. After giving me the low down on his day on the way home, Sawyer does his independent reading out loud to me (it was a book from The Dragon Master's Series) 

4:30-5:30- My husband commutes to LA on Mondays and Wednesday, so I rush to let the dog out and then Sawyer and I tackle his homework, which is generally about thirty to forty minutes if he does his reading in the car. I've complained about how excessive it is for a second grader before, so I'll spare the additional complaining. While he works (he usually just needs help with math), I keep an eye on him while unloading the dishwasher, prepping dinner, answering emails, etc...  

5:30-6:00 Sawyer and I walk Ellie

6:00-6:30 I put dinner in, Sawyer draws, and then I run around to skim the pool, take out the trash, do a load of laundry, and vacuum

6:30-7:15 dinner for the three of us, then I supervise Sawyer's shower. I usually try to lift weights, clean up the shower, work on a blog post, or grade a few papers 9instead of just sit aimlessly on my phone)

7:15-7:45 Sawyer watches Netflix while I grade (sometimes I read, but right now I am trying to push through the papers) and supervise the dog (she is corralled in the kitchen while we are gone all day, which is a pretty large space, and when she can't be watched... she's not quite two and is SO destructive still)

7:45-8:15 My husband calls from the road to say goodnight to Sawyer and then we do the whole bedtime routine, capped off with a chapter or two of whatever I am reading him (right now Katt vs Dogg, which is not my favorite, but I do appreciate the allegorical nature for race in America as a talking point)

This what walking and watching looks like, in case ya didn't know

8:15-8:45 Incline work on the treadmill while watching Cheer, a few half-assed planks at the end

8:45-9:20 shower and read

9:20-9:50 chat for a few minutes with my husband, take out the dog, set the alarm, get ready for bed

9:50-10:10 wait for my melatonin to kick in while stressing about whatever needs to get done the next day. I am not a good sleeper, so I will spare you the details about waking up 2-4 times a night.

My, what an exciting life I live. Ha! Weekends are much better. 

Five Things About... Push: A Climber's Search for the Path by Tommy Caldwell

Yosemite is one of my favorite places (we go once a year), so it gave me the warm fuzzies reading about it for a huge portion of the book.

Speaking of literal forces of nature, Patagonia is definitely on my list of dream destinations, so the fact he details two trips there was also awesome! There were many other destinations too, serving as a good reminder that there are so many beautiful spots to travel to.

I though his handling of his trip to Kyrgyzstan and all that happened there was well-done (his group was kidnapped by rebels and he had to push one off a cliff to save them). Clearly it was an incredibly dark time for him and his ex-wife, but he still discussed this without letting the tragedy overtake the entire text. This is the same in terms of the finger loss he experiences, as well.

I’m always motivated by fitness stories, whether it’s people who go from nothing to something or from something to substantial. Obviously rock climbers have to have a heightened level of fitness, but Caldwell’s journey is next level. If you need some inspiration look here!

Caldwell worked hard to discuss personal situations with care, like his divorce, his current wife’s religious priorities, his relationships with his dad, and the intricacies of his climbing partnership with Kevin. He also injects some subtle humor, my favorite being when he recalls Alex Honnold considering repelling down El Cap with Caldwell’s baby strapped to him. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I am so incredibly tired of my helping my son with his homework. His teacher gives out SO much- they have to silent read for 15-20 minutes, review vocabulary slides, a spelling activity, and a math activity EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. It takes us nearly an hour most days and I am so over it. I get that there is a need to make up for learning loss from last year, but for parents who work it's just insane. And they're moving SO fast in math- in the course of a week is homework went from identifying coins to making change after adding up several coins. Okay, rant over. Can you tell what I've been doing? Ha. 

One of my old students who graduated six years ago sent me a Milkbar cake and the sweetest card for Teacher Appreciation Week. In my opinion TAW is out of control in the elementary schools, but, on the other hand, secondary teachers basically get nothing (I don't want anything- cards at the most). Anyway, it was so generous and much-needed.

Mother's Day was the best yet- Sawyer, Ellie and I went on an early hike, then got donuts, Sawyer and Scott got/made me a few things, I did some things around the house, and then my friend and I went to UCLA to see David Sedaris (post coming soon!). 

My students are taking their IB test tomorrow, the one we've been working towards for two school years and they are so prepared. I have so much faith in them! 

I'm reading Loved and Wanted: A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood by Christa Parravani, about how the West Virginian health care system failed her, and it's so depressing. 

Weekly-ish to-do lists are back!

Things I need to do soon:
1. Confirm drywaller
2. Finish book
3. Get grades in 
4. Glue puzzle (don't ask)
5. Contact landscaper about sprinkler issue
6. Buy Hollywood Bowl tickets

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

April was not super productive in terms of reading, with just three books. It's fine though- I had to grade a TON and there were a lot of things going around the house to handle. I should definitely get more read the next few months, so no worries here. I've also decided that I'm not going to do back-reviews here on my bookstagram account, so at least I don't feel like I have to get to those. Joan is Okay was a delight, Fox and I  I reviewed already, and then everyone knows The Scarlet Letter! 

So many countdowns- 12 days until the IB test, 19 days until senior check out, 26 days until the last day with kids, and 27 days until the last contractual day of the school year! And then after that it's time to start looking forward to summer plans! In the mean time, I've been reading more essays than anything, so I sadly only finished three books this month. Par for the course! I'll coming roaring back next month, not too worry.

We had a leak in our living room ceiling this week, for the second time (a different spot). It's definitely not fun, but our plumber is AMAZING and had it fixed super fast and even called me at 9:30 at night to discuss. The drywall and paint will be fixed in the next few weeks and the area is already almost all the way dry. So, inconvenient, but not a crisis. 

The other day someone I know sorta made some pretty personal observations about me and, while there was definitely some truth to what the person was saying, it was also super unnecessary. So, there are two takeaways here. The first is a reminder for myself. If you engage in social media you have to be ready for the commentary, plain and simple. I've cut ties with people who I didn't want to interact with and I know (lololol) people have done the same to me. If you stay connected you have to be ready for opinions! I feel pretty good about my little virtual social circle, but, nonetheless, there are lots of different personalities (a good thing!). The second is that sometimes if you don't know a person super well you shouldn't vocalize assumptions you've made about them, since you might be off base or offensive. 

Our high school had our first prom since 2019 and my students were so excited! The girls were struggling so hard to type Thursday and Friday with their new long nails, which was more cute than it was annoying. They've sent some pictures and they all look so happy! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I could do A LOT of complaining right now about things that will soon be resolved, as they normally are, or I could focus on some quick good things. I'll go with that! Here are five great things as of late:

1. We took Sawyer to Universal Studios over the weekend for a birthday surprise and it was lots of fun! We had the pass that allowed the express lane for the rides, so we didn't have to wait for much at all, which was great, since it was incredibly crowded. Sawyer was chosen for the show at Olivander's in Hogsmeade's Village, which was super cool for him.

2. My mom was in town this weekend, so that was of course awesome! I took Friday off for an appointment in the morning and then when she got in we went to lunch just the two of us before I lost her to Sawyer when he got home that afternoon. No hard feelings, I love that they love each other.

3. We are having our IB Celebration in-person Tuesday night for the first time since 2019 and I can't wait. I love it more than graduation and my students are the seniors this year, which makes it even more special. Sawyer is going to join me and I'm excited for him to go to something at my work again. He used to come once in awhile after work so I could grade or to events, but it's been years. 

4. There are no major holidays or birthdays that I am responsible for making special for many many months. I cannot explain how happy this makes me (my son's birthday is actually tomorrow, but the brunt of it is over). 

5. Nineteen more school days with my seniors, twenty-four school days total, and only five Mondays left for the school year. I love my kids, but I have never had a more exhausting year and this last stretch has been particularly grueling (case in point: I have only finished two books so far this month. TWO. Atrocious). 

Fine Things About... Fox & I by Catherine Raven

This book is not for everyone- it’s very description-heavy for most of the text (plants and animals). There were definitely times where I wanted more information about the author and her life, but, nonetheless, I really enjoyed it.

The relationship between the author and the fox is realistic in terms of what would happen between a biologist and wild animal. The connection is gradual and she relies on her education and experience. There’s no petting, eating from hands, or collars- she isn’t trying to domesticate him.

Catherine Raven the woman is really fascinating- exceptionally intelligent, pragmatic, and introverted. She gives us hints of a troubled upbringing and how she became fiercely independent out of necessity. The Darwinian concept we all learn in the first week of a life sciences class clearly applies to her as well. She’s honest about her social struggles and the strategies she uses to help read people and build relationships.

The descriptions I mentioned above are packed with imagery, details, and objectivity. I actually used a passage with my students and while they may not all be running to pick up their own copies of the book, they quickly picked up on the vividness of the setting.

The ending was bittersweet and I found myself getting choked up- that’s all I’ll say. Despite my emotions I have to admit that the conclusion was true to the entire text.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Last week was a lot- work deadlines, Etsy deadlines, solar panel issues (thank goodness for warranties and me keeping an eye on the production data), poor sleep, prepping for painters, and it was too hot, too soon. 

I must have clicked on one too many sad-kid Instagram story because the algorithm is serving me the most depressive content ever. Thanks. 

I saw something recently that anxiety is one part uncertainty and one part doubting our ability to cope and my mind was blown. That's exactly what it is, which then made me so mad at myself. I have had to deal with so many bad things in my life and I've managed to survive everything. Such a great perspective. 

Speaking of anxiety, haha, I just added The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel to my wishlist. I have serious issues regarding money- if you know me personally or have been a reader here for awhile you know that. I'm not bad with money- quite the opposite, ifIdosaysomyself, but I have a lot of nerves tied up into it. I grew up in a household where we were always struggling and it's really impacted me as an adult. In a way it's great, because the only debt I have is related to our house and I have a health savings, but it also makes me scared to invest and to even spend (and the preoccupation when I do... ugh). 

We haven't watched Yellowstone in over two weeks and I'm sad. We had some painting done (for once! I was not the painter!) and our living room and kitchen were covered in plastic for a few days, so hopefully this weekend we can get crazy and watch, like, two episodes or something. 

It really bothers me that so many states are becoming lax about reporting Covid data to the CDC. Yes, it isn't reliable right now because people are testing at home, but at least hospitalizations! And percent positives! And it's not because I'm necessarily worried, I just think that if health officials want to be proactive and work to curb any hot spots they need data at all levels of outbreak. 

Looks like I'll be hiking Half Dome for the third time this summer! My friend and I both entered the lottery and she got in! It's going to be great motivation to really focus my work outs over the next three months. Hello incline! 

This weekend is shaping up to be busy and fun- I am meeting a friend Saturday morning, afterwards a few of Sawyer's friends are joining us for his art class, and then one of my least favorite holidays, Easter (I don't hate it, it just always sneaks up on me). We aren't doing anything big, since it's just the three of us, but I am going to make a big brunch and Sawyer and I will make your delightfully tacky bunny cake.