2015 Bookish Resolutions

[someone's getting faaaaancy]
I love New Year's Resolutions, whether I stick to them or not. I appreciate the idea of starting anew, the promise of possibility, and the endless material for list-making. I always make personal ones that are of the usual variety- lose weight, be nicer, spend my time better, blah boring blah. Then, for the sake of the blog and everyone's entertainment, I do some bookish ones as well. I try to be both realistic and challenging, and to try to specific. So, let's see what I probably won't do (but intend to):

1. Read to Sawyer five times a week- Most nights we read after his bath before we start settling down for the night, but sometimes I'm in a hurry, he's had enough or we're out for some reason.

2. Read 10,000 pages- I thought this would be a different way to go, since I usually go the "x amount of books" route. This calls for me to read between 25 and 30 pages a day, which I think is actually very attainable. 

3. Continue to blog regularly (13 times a month)- I've done a lot better that I thought I would after having Sawyer and want to keep it up. I need to be better about scheduling posts.

4. Got to one reading- This was the same as last year, and it's one I actually met. Readings are usually in LA, which ends up meaning I leave the house by 5 and am not home until 10, which is a little hard to do with a baby. Next fall he'll be older and it will hopefully be easier to do this.

5. Keep better track of where the books  read are set- I started a map for this last year, but didn't finish it (I'm stupidly thinking that I still might somehow). I want to either find a cool app or free site that will allow me to do this online, or I'll do a physical one. I just bought one I plan to put in my classroom for my students to do as well (or maybe I'll keep it for myself, who knows).

6. Interactive book recommending bulletin board- I want to create something awesome for my classroom. I've got the beginning of some ideas, so as soon as I execute them I'll share.

7. Find more high quality blogs- I read a lot of lackluster healthy living blogs, to put it mildly. Blogs that were decent a few years ago but have lost steam due, in my opinion, to burnout. The content is pathetic, but I just can't quit. I need to find some smarter, better written ones out there and start weeding the crap out of my reader.

8. Reorganize my bookshelves- It's time to do some massive rearrnanging.

9. Keep working on my personal writing- I have these detailed daydreams about getting a book deal and traveling the country wearing dresses from Anthropolgie talking to people about the novel I have not yet finished. I started doing my Diary of an Unmotivated Writer posts and I was actually inching along but stopped because of the holidays. Time to get back on the horse. 

10. Minimize review books- I've really slowed the rate at which I accept review copies and need to continue to do so.

*This was also done for The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday
What were yours? 

Pinned It [Subtitle: I'm Trying to Appear Interesting]

I'm not going to lie: I love Pinterest. I actually make a lot of recipes from it and have found some crafty sort of things to complete as well. Here are a few things I have my eye on right now:

I am going to make one of these for Sawyer's bedroom. The rug mat just arrived in the mail, so I'm ready to start cutting strips!


This is another project on my to-do list for this break: re-caulk the tile in our bathroom. I know this seems pretty simple to most DIYers, but considering my idea of hanging shelves includes the sticky velcro stuff, this is a big damn deal.


Always on the hunt for dinner recipes, or things for lunches, this Easy Cheesy Breakfast Casserole would make for a good brinner,  this Caprese Garlic Bread looks pretty delicious, and if I could get it together to prep these Gluten Free Instant Noodle Cups for lunch I'd be so happy. 

[the source leads me to a different etsy listing; hmmm]

This is beautiful. I'd love to say I'd make it, but let's face it- I'm not going it. But I want it.

 I read on some travel list of places we should be going on 2015 (since we all built international travel into our budgets this year, right?) that Faroe Islands in Denmark are pretty spectacular. Judging on the pinned pics I'd have to agree.

[this is small and impossible to read; click here to save your eyesight]

I generally think of Popsugar as the site where I used to get my 8-minutes arm exercise routine, but apparently they tell us what to read, too. I thought this challenge had some good suggestions. 


I'm all about archiving fun activities for toddlers- I hear they have pretty shitty attention spans. I'm not always a huge fan of this blog, but I do love her willingness to create hands-on experiences for her kid without schlepping him to five million places or sitting him in front of the TV. Oh, and there is nowhere in hell we'd do the one with catsup. Just no.

2014 Resolutions- Failure, Accomplished

I find it's always a good idea to humble yourself, on occasion. One way to do that? A December review of January's New Year's resolutions. Let's see how horribly I did this year.

Pre- Baby:

1. Read 40 books (FAIL)
Only 20! How lame.

2. Blog an average of 4.5 times per week (ALMOST)
I think it was closer to 4.

3. Become a better commenter (I HAVE NO IDEA)
I'm sure I had better weeks than others.

4. Read at least 5 nonfiction books (YES)
Victory is mine! I read 7.

5. Finish the rough draft for the writing project I am working on (HAHAHAHA)

6. Go to the Festival of Books (FAIL)
This was because no one there really impressed me.

1. Read 23 books (CLOSE)
I think I'll end up somewhere around 20, so not too bad.

2. Blog 3 times a week (YES)
I've gotten good at fitting in posts.

3. Go to one reading (YES)
I went to Rebecca Skloot last month.

4. Find some awesome, well-written kid's books (YES)
I'll do a post on some of our favorites soon.

Interestingly, I was more realistic of my life with a baby than life without. Or, more likely, I was just over-ambitious, per usual. 

Any resolutions you kept? Do you even make any (I love 'em)?


Test Yo Self

You're a bookish person, are you or are you not? You're probably not sticking around for my snottiness or subpar photography, so I'm going with yes. I thought, given my profession and all, I'd make a fun little quiz for you guys. Answers are at the bottom (no cheating):

20 Literary Terms You Should Know (Before Coming to My Class):

Directions: Answer the following questions- no notes, no books. Keep your eyes on your own paper, put your cell phones away, and make sure your writing is legible. Choose the BEST answer.

1. A brief or indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, or political significance. 

a. foil      b. allusion    c. parallelism   d. anecdote

2. A novel that focuses on the growth or maturation (generally on a psychological level) of the main character

a. allegory   b. archetype   c. stream of consciousness  d. bildungsroman

3. Sentence structure; how parts of speech are put together to form complete thoughts

a. diction    b. syntax   c. point-of-view  d. parallelism

4.  The attitude of a writer towards the subject or audience
a. tone   b. mood   c. theme  d. symbol

5. An element that evokes a certain feeling or "vibe" in the reader
a. tone   b. mood   c. theme   d. symbol 

6.  Contrary to expectations; self-contradictory, may have some truth, though
a. juxtaposition   b. connotation    c. paradox   d. foreshadowing

7. Main idea or underlying concept in a work
a. theme    b. imagery   c. metaphor   d. denotation 

8. Often a character that represents the typical expectation of that sort of person (example: "the jock")
a. allusion   b. symbol    c. archetype    d. simile 

9. A short or interesting story generally utilized to support a point
a. metaphor  b. anecdote  c. allusion   d. flashback

10. A character that points out contrasting qualities in another, therefore highlighting certain attributes
a. bildungroman   b. omniscient narrator   c. archetype    d. foil

11. This person "knows all":
a. foil   b. omniscient narrator   c. archetype   d. book blogger

12. Abstract ideas or principles are described as characters, figures, and events. Can be prose or poetry, and may be meant to teach a lesson.
a. allegory    b. satire  c. theme   d. allusion

13. Object or idea that repeats itself throughout a work
a. symbol    b. metaphor    c.  motif    d.  tone

14. Something used to represent something else
a. symbol    b. metaphor    c. motif     d. tone

15. When two or more contrasting things (characters, places, ideas, etc...) are placed side-by-side in order to compare and contrast
a. foil    b. paradox    c. flashback   d. juxtaposition 

16. Figurative language used to represent objects, actions, ideas, places, etc... that appeal to our physical senses:
a. metaphor    b. imagery    c. personification    d. anecdote 

17. Something inhuman is given human-like attributes
a. metaphor   b. personification   c. juxtaposition  d. foil

18. A series of comparisons between two unlike things that may continue on for a prolonged duration

b. Simile    b. theme    c. paradox  d. extended metaphor

19. The expression one's meaning with language that signifies the opposite; sometimes humorous
a. satire    b. comedy    c. wit    d. irony

20. "Smart humor;" criticizing or exposing a person, or society's, flaws with humor
a. satire   b. comedy      c. wit    d. irony

1. b
2. d
3. b
4. a
5. b
6. c
7. a
8. c
9. b
10. d
11. b
12. a
13. c
14. a
15. d
16. b
17. b
18. d
19. d
20. a

How did you do?

The Merriest of Days

[confession: he's playing with my phone]

Hoping you have a spectacular day with loved ones (or by yourself, if that's what you prefer)!

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy holidays! Link up below (if you have time to play)!

1. A teething monster has moved into my house. He only comes out at night, so I guess I'm thankful for that? I also decided that last night, since he's sleeping poorly anyway, that we'd move him from our bedroom to his crib. That was interesting...

2. I got this email from Loft and the cat's name cracked me up!

[hello, Potato]
3. I've been off for less than a week and have already seen so many friends and family members. We've been very busy, so it will be nice to have a few days at home. I enjoy taking the teething monster Sawyer out to visit, since I know he's approaching the stage where a lot of babies become wary of strangers. Maybe he's like a dog- meet 100 people in the first however many months and you're good to go?

4. I know that I've mentioned it before, but now that I'm done with Serial, are there any other good podcasts I should be listening to? Refresh my memory.

5. I still am listening to The Nerdist, though, and am in the process of listening to the Paul McCartney episode. He's so humble and interesting. I highly recommend a listen.

6. It seems that a few  people misconstrued/took personally my post on kids on the internet. And here I thought I went overboard on the disclaimers! It was about no one, and it was about everyone. It was an editorial, an opinion piece, a societal observation. That's what I get for linking on Facebook, I guess. On the other hand, I received a lot of thoughtful comments as well, which I appreciated. I really don't care if people disagree with me, but I do want them to understand me.

7. I'm currently reading an ARC of Nick Hornby's upcoming novel, Funny Girl. I was a little nervous going into it, since I thought his last few novels weren't as good as his previous ones. So far, though, at about half way in, I'm enjoy it. I think it's out in February.

8. The (very innapropriate) possibilities are endless:

[don't be an elitist douche waffle, okay? source]

9. I'm seriously considering another tattoo, but I can't really articulate why, which makes me wonder if I shouldn't do it. Interestingly, this is exactly how I felt about having a baby. I like the baby just fine, so I guess permanently marking my body again would work out too? 

10. Tomorrow it's just the three of us for Christmas and I wouldn't have it any other way (well, my brother may come over for dinner). My husband and I used to travel every year in order to avoid the "what side of the family do we see?" conundrum, but last year and this year a trip hasn't really been possible. Our solution? Stay in and celebrate alone. It's so nice to relax, not leave the house, not worry about cleaning for people coming over, and not feel rushed. We do see our respective families, just not on the actual day.  

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Lessons

Over the past several weeks my students have read and dissected Zora Neale Hurston's fabulous novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Given our Thanksgiving break, the end of the semester rush, and all the other fun stuff that comes up, I feel that we could have covered a few more things that we did, but I think that's always the way. Here are a few lessons* that went well, many of which could be adapted to other works:

Pastiche (50 minutes in class, a week at home)
My students were tasked with writing a pastiche for the text, something they found challenging, given Hurston's language. I gave them a few different scenarios to choose from and they had to write 700 words using the author's voice. They brought in drafts to share a week before they were due so that they could peer edit. They ended up being a lot of fun to grade- most kids got the basics and had fun with the creative writing element.

Skills: Literary analysis, creative writing, editing

Marriage Venn Diagram (50 minutes to create, 30 to present)
This is pretty basic, but I think incorporating graphic organizers with specific perimeters is really important. They had to analyze Janie's three marriages individually and in conjunction with each others, while providing textual support to back up their claims. They had to talk about the husbands, but also about what Janie learned from each situation. Students had to briefly present, as well, which is always good practice.

Skills: Literary analysis, utilizing textual support, public speaking

Language Activity (50 minutes)
Given the complexity of the language, we spent a decent amount of time analyzing what Neale was trying to say. For this activity I pulled ten rich passages from the text and copied them onto white paper. I broke the class into groups of ten(ish) and gave each student a passage. The timer was set for four minutes and within that time the student had to read their passage and write down one comment regarding the language or literary devices on the paper, along with their name. After four minutes the paper was passed and the next student had to read the new passage, the previous student comments, and then offer a new one of their own. The first few rounds are easy, but the final few are tough, since they can't be repetitive. 

Skills: Literary and language anaylsis 

*There weren't a lot of real world applications this time around, I must confess

Kids on the Internet: My Rules

[please, judge me for letting the dog babysit]

As a teacher, avid blog reader, and now mom, I think about minors on the internet often. Before having Sawyer my husband and I talked a lot about it and were on the same page with what we were comfortable with. I've been wanting to post about it for awhile but have had trouble organizing my thoughts, so I've decided to go with a list. Of rules. That have exceptions.

Isn't that always the way? I'm pretty flexible when it comes to most of these, and I know that there will be times when there are slip-ups, accidental and otherwise (on my part and the part of others). I also know that, like with most rules, there are many people that will disagree. In the short eight months that I've been a parent, I've learned that there are a lot of right ways and very few wrong ones. You have to do what works with what's best for you and your family.

Rule 1: Teachers May Not Post Pictures of Their Underage Students on Social Media

This is something I am not flexible with whatsoever- if your student is under eighteen-years-old and their parents have not given you permission to put their son's or daughter's picture online you need to leave it off. As a parent I don't want someone displaying my kid, no matter how cute, for a whole bunch of strangers to see. It's a violation of privacy and I have heard of court cases on the matter. In order to protect our students and our professional integrity, you simply can't post class pictures online. I've put up photos of a few students, but only those that are eighteen and graduated. I have a few friends that will take pictures from behind or have had kids hold up things in front of their faces- much better! But full on pictures are just asking for trouble.
I know most teachers are coming from a good place when they do this- they're proud of their students, they think their work is awesome, or are excited about a field trip or performance. But when your credential is on the line you have to play it safe.

Rule 2: No Face Pictures of Sawyer on the Blog or Twitter

I highly doubt there are any pedophiles reading my blog, but I do know that often images are taken and reposted, pinned, or whatever without permission, and I don't want my kid floating aimlessly about the interwebs. Plus, what if ends up being a really shy, private teenager who doesn't want things online? My husband is not on social media and is this way- Sawyer may be as well.

Rule 3: We Really, Really Prefer if Family Members and Friends Ask Before Posting Pictures of Sawyer on Facebook and Instagram

Over the past year I've done a lot cleanup on Facebook and Instagram- my rule tends to be that if I wouldn't say hello to you in passing or wish you happy birthday, then I'm going to unfriend you (unless you're super interesting or dramatic, then I might keep you around for shits and giggles). My point is that I pretty much know whose going to see the pictures I post. But I don't know your friends. I don't know if one of your friends is someone I know but don't want seeing my business or having access to comment on my kid. I don't feel comfortable seeing people I don't know judge my child, or start making comparisons. Plus, we didn't want excited family members annoying everyone with a flood of baby pictures, either (although I think the Sawyer novelty has worn off).

That being said, we're not completely opposed and it's not a firm "never." My mom texts me occasionally asking me to post a picture, and I always say yes. Why? Because she asked. That's the bottom line. I just want to be paid the courtesy of a request. And family members have posted pictures of him without permission and I haven't caused a fuss, I just know that if it continued I'd have to nicely say something. And I know I've slipped up in the past, but over the past few years I try to always ask the parent before I post (or I just keep the picture for my personal album). And I'd take down any picture in a heartbeat, with an apology, if asked.

And, just like with the first rule, we know that wanting to share pictures of our kid is coming from a good place. But he's our first kid and we're aware of the craziness of the internet so for now this is what feels right for us.

Plus, what if he's famous one day? Then we could sell these pictures for ca$h money, not let the tabloids get it off Facebook for free. Come on, now.

Rule 4: Accept the Judgement

One thing I've had to learn the past few months is that I have to accept the judgement that comes with posting pictures of your kid online. When I put a picture on Instagram of Sawyer eating solids for the first time I knew that some may balk at the age we decided to introduce them at. I'm sure some people think it's gross that we let him interact with the dogs as much as we do (how many times a day do I have to say "Sawyer stop eating the dog!" now?). Yes, his head tilts occasionally because he's still getting over his torticollis. People are judgmental, it's just the way life is. So when you post you have to accept that people may have some feedback. 

Rule 5: Consider the Future

Like I mentioned before, I don't know what future Sawyer is going to be like. While I definitely post pictures, I try to be mindful about what ones. No bath time or naked ones, and in the future nothing that may potentially humiliate him. I won't write posts that highlight his shortcomings or complain about his behavior (unless he drives my car through the living room or develops pyromaniac tendencies). I'll keep a sense of humor, but it will always be my intent to be kind. I know it's important to keep it real, but to me being respectful of my child is where the realness lies. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below!

I'm forehead-deep in essay grading, baby-wrangling, dinner-cooking right now, so my riveting factoids will have to wait for next week. Two pieces of good news, though: the semester ends in less than 48 hours AND I have the winner of The Novel Cure giveaway! Christine, blogger at Buckling Bookshelves, is our big winner! If you could leave a message with your email (I emailed you, but I'm not sure if it was the right email) we can get the ball rolling. 

Hope everyone is getting their shopping done and taking time to enjoy the season. I'll be back soon with lots of posts! Hooray for vacation!


The Best of 2014*

Hey there! Wait! Did you enter my giveaway yet? Super easy- leave a quick comment on this post and have a chance to win the awesome book The Novel Cure. Please and thank you!


Oh, 2014. You were quite the year. Before I get all nostalgic (and bitter), let's recap what book were best (of those I read this year, not necessarily published):

1. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got There by Amanda Ripley-  I don't generally read books about education, but I was fascinated by the international perspective. What are we doing wrong? What are they doing right?

2. The Snow Child be Eowyn Ivey- Simple, beautiful, and full of magical realism.

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood- I'm not usually a sci-fi reader, but Atwood wins me over every time.

4. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink- The ethical questions delivered by this fascinating nonfiction piece about a hospital post-Katrina are profound.

5. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp- I remember reading this book while very pregnant, walking up very steep hills, very slowly on the treadmill. There were a lot of really great tips in this book that helped me during the first few weeks with Sawyer.

6. The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen- This was a reread for book club, but I'll always love the quirkiness.

7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt- This book was so much better than I expected it to be! The story and the writing were both to-notch.

8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston- Another reread for work, it was still one of the best book I read this year.

9. The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez- I actually just finished this last month and appreciated the perspective on the struggles Latin American immigrants face in the US (plus, it reminded me of one of my favorites, The Tortilla Curtain).

10. The Round House by Louise Erdrich- Book club books are apparently popular with me (maybe because I've helped pick some of them, haha). This murder mystery is well-written and a page-turner.

*This may change, since there are two whole more weeks left. You never know. I just wanted to participate in The Broke and the Bookish's TTT this week

Giveaway: The Novel Cure

I don't have to tell book lovers that reading is often the best medicine for the body and soul. Getting lost between the pages of a good book can at least temporarily soothe a broken heart, distract from the throbs of a toothache, or stave off the urge to transgress. The writers behind The Novel Cure, Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, capitalize on just that.

Grieving the death of a loved one? Try Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer or Here is Where We Meet by John Berger. Have a speech impediment? Read Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. Experiencing some generic turmoil? Home by Marilyn Robinson. Plagued with an episode of vanity? Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is for you. Are you in a cult? Philip Roth's American Pastoral will help you out. Do you feel like an idiot? You guessed it- Fydor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot should be added to your list. Besides 751 book "prescriptions," there are also several lists that will help when you are "locked out," needing "audiobooks for road rage," or "trying to turn your partner onto fiction." There are also dedicated sections for reading ailments, including having too many books, losing those you lend out, and not being able to finish what you start. 

The book perfectly mixes the serious (miscarriage, cancer, death, unemployment) with the humorous (being too short, hemorrhoids, not having enough sex/having too much sex). There are also some great tongue-in-cheek jabs ("homophobia" is a in need of cure, and if you find being a traffic cop something that ails you then you can see also "nobody likes you"). Whether you sit down and read it front to back, use it for reference, or give it as a gift this book is perfect for book lovers. And if anything, it will most definitely increase the size of your book wish list. 

The nice folks at Penguin provided me with a copy and are also willing to send one lucky US resident (sorry!) a book of their own. I don't usually do giveaways, but I really love this book... and they're willing to do the mailing (I hate the post office, what can I say?). To enter this giveaway leave a comment below describing a book that you think can cure a particular ailment (or just tell me what you're reading right now if you can't think of anything). I'll pick a winner at random next Wednesday, so watch out. Good kharma points if you tweet the link or mention it in your post. Thanks for playing!

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[literary Christmas ornaments- a classroom tradition]

Link up below!

1. I hate it when people say things like "I'm not trying to make you feel guilty," "I'm not trying to insult you" or "I'm not trying to be rude." 

2. I'm doing a giveaway soon! I turn down ones all the time, but this one I'm excited about.

3. I'm I the only one that "saves" new clothes for "special occasions" and then realizes, eventually, that months and months have gone by and I'm wearing the same old shit and the new things have only been worn once or twice? No more. YOLO (--> said in an ironic, tongue in cheek sort of way in case you couldn't tell). 

4. Per usual, I'm way behind on the book club selection and the meeting is on Wednesday. Procrastination is motivation (I'm learning from my students, apparently).

5. I should have bought Frye boots last year when by big fat pregnant gut was telling me too. The must cheaper boots I bought are already falling apart.

6. I downloaded the stupid Timehop Ap- it's sort of embarrassing. I said what? Really? Shudder. But it's kind of neat, too.

7. Sawyer is starting to eat more solid foods- it's fun. Last night he tried some potato and we've also done bananas and refried beans. He also loves those stupid little Puff things too (which at 25 calories for 60 I think I'm going to make them my new favorite snack too).

8. I love the tack Christmas decorations that are popping up throughout the neighborhood. The blow up ones are getting even larger and are adding more and more movable parts. Not to mention how attractive they look during the day. I seriously do not understand the appeal.

9. The pins on Pinterest suggesting "gifts for teachers" kill me. Honestly? We do not want wreaths made of crayons, coffee mugs, or any sorts of crafts made by your kids. Instead? Gifts for Bevmo (since bringing bottles of wine on campus is illegal), gifts cards for pedicures or massages, snacks for our desks, and Costco sized bottles of Tylenol for the headaches your kids give us (kidding, kidding). Or nothing. Or even better? Tell your kid to be on his/her best behavior for a solid day.*

10. I am sitting down with every single student this week for six minutes of one-on-one time to talk about the books they read for their 700 page requirement. I went into it with dread, but am actually loving it. Some didn't finish the assignment, but we still talk about what they do read (and I'm not giving them too much grief so that the rest of the time goes well). I've been keeping a list a of books to add to my TBR list, so that part has been an added bonus. 

*This is of course all a joke. I would never, ever want a parent to spend a substantial amount of money on me. I actually prefer cards- in this digital age it's becoming a lost art. 

'Bout this Blogger

Notebook Sisters is rebranding as Paper Fury and came up with this fun little survey to help get the word out about their new site (and ourselves, since that why we blog... good old self-promotion). It's a slow Friday night over here (I'm literally laying on the ground, watching Sawyer roll around). So, here we go:

1. Why did you start blogging?

Honestly, I started the summer I received my first pink slip (several years ago California threatened to lay off teachers for a few years). I knew that I needed something to distract me and a project to focus on, so that I could maybe obsesses slightly less about potentially being unemployed. I was luckily rehired and didn't have any real lapse in employment, but did lean that I really enjoyed blogging. Choosing to have a book theme was a given.

2. What's the story behind your blog's name?

I just thought of it. I know, super interesting.

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging?

This is my second- I update maybe a year and a half or two years ago. The first one was a Blogger template, while this is one I paid to have customized for me (worth every penny). This one is much cleaner, sleeker, and more "me."

4. Have you ever switched blog platforms?

I have not, I've always been through Blogger. I say this with some embarrassment, honestly. I know it's the newbie platform, so I feel lazy. I tried Wordpress when I first started and quit after approximately twenty minutes. Someday I'd like to flip over, but for now I'm good. 

5. How long does it take you to write a post? What is your process like?

It depends on the post and how many times I'm interrupted! For Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts (play along with us Wednesday night) I keep a running list of things to add all week, so that one is less than an hour. I'd say most take between thirty minutes and an hour and a half. Part of the problem is finding, uploading, and crediting pictures. For posts that are a little more technical, sensitive, or involved, I may take longer.

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post?

I wrote one once defending "the smart kids" and initially linked it to my personal Facebook page and then took it down two minutes later because I didn't want to offend any of my fellow teachers (including ones that teach special ed). Long story short, I get frustrated that the kids that are motivated or naturally gifted often get pushed aside, in terms of money, time, and other important resources.

7. Do you have a blogging schedule?

Not really. I try to post three or four times a week. One post is always Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts, another has been my Diary of an Unmotivated Writer, and then I do a few more other ones. With the baby it just comes down to doing it when I have time.

8. Do you tell people in-real-life about your blog? What are their reactions?

I used to link posts on occasion to my personal Facebook page but have stopped doing that (maybe once every two months). I figure those that want to read do so anyway. Plus I've befriended more and more colleagues lately and I'm not in a huge rush for them to become readers. I despise talking about the blog with people, even if they know. And now some of my students know, which I'm less than thrilled about. But, it is the Internet. Nothing is sacred. 

Reactions range from positive to not caring. I don't think my mother has ever read it, while my younger brother surprised the hell out of me once by talking about some posts I had written. My husband doesn't read (so he says, anyway), but many friends do. My philosophy is basically that I won't post anything I wouldn't talk about in my classroom or the dinner table with family. 

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most:

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?

Where do I begin? I'd blog more consistently, with more posts of sustenance. I'd interact with the blogging community more. I'd respond to comments. I'd learn Wordpress. I'd take better/more pictures. I'd collaborate with other bloggers (I'd like to do guest posts on other sites!). I'd like to put on my big girl pants and do some vlogs (I'd be more likely if I didn't know any of my readers in real life). And this just scratching the surface.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below! And as always, thanks for playing along. 

1. I want so badly to love Lana Del Rey, but I don't. She has a great voice and I'm always looking for new music, but I'm just not feeling it.

2. I had to go to the doctor for the first time in years the other day (not counting pregnancy stuff). Sinus infection and double ear infection. I blame the baby for now allowing me to take care of myself like I used to. I hate taking antibiotics, but it was either that or dying.

3. I need ten hours in my classroom with no phone or internet so that I can catch up.

4. I just started The Round House Louise Erdich and am really enjoying it so far. I haven't read a lot of  Native American fiction, but what I have I always enjoy (Ceremony, The Indian Killer, etc...).

5. At what age do people get to stop blaming their parents/upbringing for how they act as adults? Someone brought that up in conversation recently and I had to chomp down on my tongue big time. I've talked about it with some of my students too, and they said as soon as you can start really telling between right and wrong, although some of them rightfully brought up the idea that your parents may have skewed your morals. Our upbringing obviously shapes us, I guess my point is that I'm just not okay with grown-ass adults using that as an excuse for bad behavior.

6. This made me laugh:


7. How much do we love love love Kate's list of year-end book lists? She's done this before and I'm so grateful for her leg work. Rumor has it she's going to compile a list of frequently-mentioned books.

8. I always appreciate students that prove me wrong, namely ones that maybe slack off a bit or show a "reluctance to grow" (either by choice or because English is a challenge for them) and then come back guns blazing and kick butt. Sure, I wish that fire would have been lit earlier in the semester, but I love a good underdog story. Or maybe their parents are just bribing them with Christmas gifts. Nonetheless, it makes me happy when kids come from behind and improve.

9. Last week I posted a picture of Sawyer and I going down the slide at the park on Facebook and someone from high school posted a link to an article condemning the practice, along with her own anecdote. Admittedly, my hackles went up immediately and my response went through several edits so that I was able to make my point (that there are many dangers in the world) with some humor and light-heartedness. But upon reflection, I really didn't have the right to get defensive. By putting my kid's picture on the freaking internet I'm opening up the world to judge him, and whatever parenting decision I have made in conjunction to the picture. It come with the media-age territory. I think this may deserve a full post....

10. We started watching Sons of Anarchy last night, finally. I love motorcycle gangs, so why we waited so long is beyond me. Anyway, I'm hooked. 

Play along!


A Holiday Bookish Wishlist- for Baby

I've been loving reading to Sawyer and enjoy finding books that are smartly written, well-illustrated, and all-the-while fun. Here are a few on his Christmas wishlist:

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Skippyjon Jones Class Action, Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble, Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Ole, and Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse by Judy Schachner

Iggy Peck, Architect by  Andrea Beatty and David Roberts

I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau and Serge Bloch

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl and Tom Lichtenheid 


November (and October) Reads

It's been two months since I've done my monthly review round-up, so it feels good to be back. October was a horrible reading month- Tana French's book took up most of the month because I really didn't enjoy it, therefore had trouble sitting down to read. I then started reading I Am Radar by Reif Larsen, and am really enjoying it, but I put it on pause to get through a few other things for work and review purposes. At least November proved to be a very productive month! 


The Secret Place by Tana French
464 pages
I had heard such good things about Into the Woods, that when Penguin offered me a copy of this book I decided to give it a try. I wrote about it more here, but I really didn't enjoy this mystery- it was horribly slow and just didn't didn't impress me in terms of writing or story.

Verdict: Guilty... of not being good

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
256 pages
This is a reread (for the third time, I think) for work. I am currently teaching it and love the writing, the plot, and the discussions it leads to with the students. The reader follows Janie throughout her  twenties, thirties, and forties as she marries, travels around the South, and learns about herself. I'll have lessons posted for this one later this month.

Verdict: While not for everyone, since the dialect can be a little bit of a challenge, it is definitely a beautiful read

Total: 720 pages


Animal Farm by George Orwell
126 pages
1984 by George Orwell
328 pages
A Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
288 pages
I wrote about all of these when I did by post on Dystopian Literature, so you can check out what I said here, if you're interested

Verdict: I'm happy I finally bit the bullet and read them. I feel so much more culturally literate now. Plus I can stop faking it, now.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
352 pages
I wasn't fully impressed by the first book, The Rosie Project, but did think it had a few fun quirks and turns. Plus I was a little curious about Don and Rosie, and the book was free. While some questions are answered and you do get to hear about the next chapter in their life (a pregnancy), it was contrived, thin, and almost a parody of itself at times. 

Verdict: Pass

The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez
304 pages
If you enjoyed TC Boyle's Tortilla Curtain, then you'll probably appreciate this book too. Henriquez follows a family that moves to the United States from Mexico so that their teenage daughter, who has a traumatic brain injury, can receive a better educaton. They must deal with the trials and tribulations of being poor, not knowing the language, and lonely. Henriquez also gives time to some of the other immigrants living in the apartment complex.

Verdict: I really thought this was an interesting book, albeit a tad over-dramatic (maybe? maybe not?) on an occasion or two. Those that are super conservative or have very strict policies on immigration might not enjoy this one.

Total: 1395 pages

Diary of An Unmotivated Writer (Week 5)

I've been off for the past week and it hasn't been quite what I imagined- I'm sure those of you who have worked or been in school feel so very sad for me. At least we've got two week and then finals, and then two more weeks off. A do over, I suppose. I did get quite a bit of reading and writing in this week, at least. Here's the update:

Week 5
Words: 25,078 (+770 words, -430 from goal)
Actions: several blog posts (some scheduled), two books finished
Plan: 400 words (I have a ton of grading to do!)

Congrats to those of you who met your NaNoWriMo goals!

A Holiday Bookish Wish List- For Me

I haven't bought many books for myself this year (although I have gotten some free to review, in the interest of full disclosure), so there are a few on my holiday wishlist. Here's what I'm wanting this year:

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward- I know it's from last year (or the year before?) but I just kept forgetting about it.

California: An Novel by Edan Lepucki- The first line of the snyopsis "what does a marriage look like after the world ends?" got me.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned'" by Lena Dunham- I'm intrigued, both because I love The Girls and because of the hefty advance she received.

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson- Set in West Africa, this one seems to be written well and a little different from what I usually read.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris- An athiest dentist. It all makes sense now.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabet Stout- For some reason I had always thought it was about something else, but then I read about it and was instantly interested.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan- I'll read anything by him...

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories by Alice Munro- I need to read her!

Zeitoun by Dave Eggars- After I read Five Days at Memorial one of you lovely people recommended this for me.

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney- I've been wanting this for months!

Simply Delish by Jessica Merhcant- I have made many things off her blog, so I've been anticipating her cookbook.

What's on your list?