Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

August! It's over! I managed to read six books this month, but it has been really full life-wise (hence no posts here). Some of the highlights (and a few lows):

- Sawyer started school and all is well between his new teacher, the center that transports him before/after school, etc... He goes to art class a few times a month and is now doing weekly swim lessons, since we've talked about him joining a swim team someday (I have maxed out on what I can teach him, which is pretty limited, so now I need a professional)
- I am wrapping up my fifth week back, which is crazy. The days themselves can drag on and be really tiring, but as a whole the year is off to a quick start
- My husband is traveling A LOT for work, which is so weird, since he never has before. Luckily I am a very independent woman who has no problem holding down the fort (pats self on back) 
- We have to have a tree removed from our backyard tomorrow and I'm pretty sad about it. It's a huge eucalyptus, but the roots are doing some damage, so it's time to pull it out before anything becomes too expensive. I am pretty nervous about it all, since it's right next to pool equipment, but they're insured and I'll be at work the whole time. By the time I get home it should all be over 
- I went hiking last weekends with some friends and then we had brunch afterwards- my idea of a perfect friend date
- WE FOUND A BABYSITTER! She is an old student now in graduate school and I trust her completely. We did a trial run a few weeks ago and it went smoothly, so she's coming this weekend for a longer stretch. The prospect of all the future dinner's out with just my husband is so exciting (not that I don't love taking Sawyer places, but we are together A LOT)
- The three of us went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Back to the Future. It was so fun! 
- I renewed mine and Sawyer's Knott's Berry Farm passes, which we haven't had for awhile. I had gotten a little sick of it and probably will again, but it's fun for a few hours. We thought about getting Disneyland season passes for a minute, but we'd have to go like once a month to make them worth it and I'm more of a go-once-a-year kind of person, so we opted to not. 

And a few more things...

- I have gotten super in to the band Lord Huron this summer and I'm so bummed I missed my chance to see them in concert when they were touring 

- I am SO glad Sawyer's new teacher doesn't use Class Dojo (it's this app that connects the teacher to the parents and allows them to award points for things, take away points, post messages/pictures, etc...). I think it could be utilized well, like I have friends who just use it for messaging, but I think teachers should just handle their day-to-day classroom management in their room without a sort of tattle-tale big brother sort of app (and Sawyer only got one point taken away all year... I just don't like it). 

- I am so happy for the people that the student loan relief bill will help! I paid mine off last year, so I won't benefit, but I know people who will. It doesn't take away from the fact that their is a HUGE problem with the ridiculous college costs that exist now, but at least it's a little help

- Let me just tell you, the two minutes you're on hold with your kid's school secretary trying to figure out why they were marked absent after you are very sure you dropped them off at the daycare center that transports them is excruciating. Because there's this middleman taking him to school I check his attendance through an app every minute to make sure he made (and on time). One day last week he was marked absent, just a few days after a registered sec offender managed to get on a nearby elementary school campus. Luckily his teacher just made a mistake, which I know I've done, but I probably lost a year off of my life!

- I can't wait for this weekend! Despite it being 106-110 degrees, I have big plans. My friend's Roaring 20s costume party is this weekend and another friend is my date since my husband has a work trip, another friend is coming over to swim one day, and then Sawyer and I are taking Ellie to meet another friend's puppy (this will probably go poorly for the dogs, since Ellie is terrified of other animals). 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Hey! It's me! I'm back from an incredibly busy stretch of the summer. Since we last chatted, I have:
- taken Sawyer aquarium
- had two book clubs
- chauffeured Sawyer to and from art camp for a week
- drove to the Bay Area to pick up my sister and while there spent the day in San Francisco 
- spent a day in La Jolla with Sawyer and my sister
- had a park reading date with the above two
- did eight miles of hiking with friends in Big Bear (our Half Dome trip was canceled because of a fire, but we rallied and made the best out of it!)
- met family for the day in San Louis Obispo, which is four hours a day

I started back at work yesterday and was quickly reminded as to how much planning goes into being a working mom, if things need to run smoothly. Luckily this happens every single year and I rapidly acclimate to the rush of work days (Sawyer hasn't even started school again yet, nor do I have any grading! That's when the true craziness begins.

My husband and I got to go out to a non-child-friendly restaurant in a different city last night, since my sister is in town. And in a few weeks we get to go out again, since we finally found a babysitter. A miracle!

I am about 100 pages into Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and I love it so much. Don't be put off by the synopsis- it's really great and not about videogames.

I read seven books last month- all of them were really solid except Cult Classic. I definitely prefer Sloane Crosley's essays. 

I'm kind of at a standstill in terms of how I want to handle reviews here and on Instagram. I've tried doing quick little bullet points and monthly round ups, but nothing really sticks. Honestly, I think I'm probably just going to do whatever I feel like! Definitely a round-up picture/post, but maybe just mention the ones I really like or have time for. 

We finally caught up with Yellowstone and this is totally the fastest I have watched anything since Sawyer was born- I love the show so much I'll probably start re-watching episodes on the treadmill. All I know is that I wish there was a little more Beth in me, because there are have needed some of her sass. 

So, how did I do on the list of things I needed to finish up before ending the summer? 

- finish six books (YUP)
- finish current embroidery project (NOPE)
- embroider a necklace (I have these little sort of metal settings that are clearly hard to describe) (YES, but redoing) 
- have a fun weekend in the bay area/SF when driving up to get my sister (YUP)
- have loose ideas for the first week and a half with students (YUP)
- do some boring yard work (YUP)
- Half Dome ready (I need to go to REI, stay active, etc...) (YUP, but didn't actually go)

Bookish Banter: Middlesex

Hey! It's me! I'm alive! Until my next update, here's a conversation between Julz and I about a reread for both of us- Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. It's hard for me to reread things, since there are just sooooo many books to read as is, but I always walk away with a new, deeper understanding and appreciation that I should do it more often.

Christine: Obviously fate versus free will is a huge thematic component in the text, which is a nice tie back to the classical references and ancestry. Then there’s also the idea of nature versus nurture, which is an interesting extension of that concept. How much control did the characters have of their lives? Their futures?

Julz:  I think free will was more prevalent than fate.  Sure, there were things that were beyond the characters’ control, like civil unrest and the goings on of the wider world, but every decision they made shaped the lives of their family.  Like, um, marrying your brother! 

I could totally relate to Callie here:  “Gradually as most of the other girls in my grade began to undergo their own transformations, I began to worry less about possible accidents and more about being left behind, left out.”  That was so me until my junior year of high school.

Christine: Father Mike and Jimmy Zizmo both marry into the family and end up showing their corruption (although Zizmo is much more overt and immediate). Both are religious figures and are outsiders- what do you think Eugenides is saying about those not blood related to the family? Or even religion (I know Zizmo’s organization wasn’t exactly traditional)?

Julz: I think the way Eugenides addressed religion made it sound more like superstition and it felt like he was rolling his eyes at the concept of organized religion. Maybe that’s why he portrayed Mike and Jimmy as corrupt, as they were a reflection of those institutions.  Hmmm?

Christine: Agreed! Speaking of secondary male characters, what do you think of Dr. Luce? Part of me hated him for treating Cal as a mere specimen, but if I try to look at things objectively, he’s a scientist and this is a really, really different time period when it comes to sexuality and patient transparency. 

Julz: Well, that can circle back to the nature versus nurture concept.  Luce was convinced that despite her maleness, Cal could continue as female because that’s how she was nurtured.  I didn’t really feel strongly either way with how Luce handled Cal.  I think he expressed enough compassion toward her, and yet, there was a bit of detachment when studying her.  Hey, it was the 70’s they were all probably smoking cigarettes in his office.

Christine: I loved this book, despite forgetting a lot of it (I did read a really long time ago, in my defense), but I had one criticism, and that was of some of the symbolism being a bit too obvious, namely the spoon and the house address. Any nitpicky problems? 

Julz: I didn’t think Eugenides was hitting me over the head with symbolism any more than say, John Irving.  I read it probably 15 years ago, and it was pretty much like reading it for the first time again.  This book definitely cemented my love for multigenerational family epics (unabashed plug for Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill). 

My one irritation was that we didn’t get the punchline to Cal referring to her brother as Chapter Eleven until the very end.

And funny enough, the first time I read this book, I highlighted the following (about the house on Middlesex Boulevard): “…communism, better in theory than reality.”  I’m guessing I did that because it’s so similar to a quote from the Simpsons.

Christine: I will have to check that one out. I always say that I don’t like them and then end up eating my words, hah!