2015- A Completely Un-Bookish Recap

It's practically obligatory to wax poetically about how quickly 2015 went by, right? I'll spare you. 2015 was both easier than 2014 and so much more difficult. I've alluded to 2014 being one of the worst years I've experienced, having nothing to do with Sawyer, his birth or existence (those were bright spots), so I'm fortunate enough to say past troubles did not accompany us into this year (and I'm also sorry about vague-blogging, but we have to have personal boundaries, am I right or am I right?). But I also spent a great deal of this year exhausted and frustrated, trying to find my way as a mom, an involved teacher, a wife, a friend, and an individual. I struggled, a lot. But, in retrospect, I've grown a lot. I became so much more patient. I'm learning to pick my battles. And I'm desperately trying to learn to cut myself a break. It's all a work in progress.

We started off 2015 with my husband accepting a new  writing job that would take his work out of the house once again and into a different city, meaning a commute and long hours away from Sawyer and I. I wouldn't change this for the world; his career makes him genuinely happy and I'm not one of those wives that has to deal with a husband who is pissy with work stress. It is hard on me, though, being the one home to take care of everything, but I am thankful for his employment.

My job has also continued to challenge me in many ways, most of which are rewarding at the end of the day. Going into a new semester and new year has provided me with ample opportunity to reflect on how I can be a better teacher both in terms of educating my students and in how I manage the workload, as well as other aspects.  I often say I'd like to cruise into work around nine and talk about books and writing with my students until about two. Because, honestly, that's what I love about my job- the kids and the subject (and a few of my colleagues). The grading, the planning, and some other trivial issues have royally kicked my ass this year, as is predictable given my obligations at home. It's hard to believe I'm in my tenth year of teaching; I am not longer the young one or the newbie. It's a relief and it's a little depressing. 

Personally, away from work, I've made an effort to accomplish some goals. I've made much more of an effort to "get back out there" in recent months, since Sawyer is older and easier to either leave or take with me, depending on what I want to do. I've gone to a reading, I've arranged for sitters to come so I can spend time with Scott, I've found ways to exercise, and I've tried to see friends once or twice a month. During the summer I took Sawyer to daycare two mornings a week so I could have time to myself, but I also took him on a lot of fun little outings in Southern California. I worked hard to add a decent amount to my savings and I did some adult things like take out life insurance, pay off a small student loan, start Sawyer's college fund, refinance our house, and get solar panels. 

Sawyer has gone from a baby to a toddler this year, which has been beyond fun to watch. I know I talk about how tired I am and how difficult adding a kid to my life has been, but I wouldn't give him back for anything, even if the return policy on offspring was more liberal (I kid, I kid). I've talked about him recently, so I won't dwell here, but this year has been about transitioning from a rollie-pollie little ball of chub with very little communication skills to a walking, playing, little creature that is trying so hard to talk. It's amazing to watch videos from New Year's Eve last year of him barely able to laugh, sit, and clap at once. 

I love the first of the year, and I know a lot of people turn their noses up at resolutions, but I do not, although I do prefer monthly ones. I made some book/blog/writing ones already, but I couldn't possibly go a year without making ones in the other spheres of my life. I want to run (and walk some, considering how training is going) the Surf City Half Marathon in February and entertain doing the Disney Half in September (but I also want to be honest with myself and if it's not doable then it's not doable). I desperately want to go to Yosemite; I haven't been since 2013, which is a  very long time for me. I'd like to increase my savings account by 20% and make sure to properly maintain my car and house (God, how boring). I also have some specific goals in terms of weight and fitness, but I'm still running the numbers, so to speak (translation: I'm afraid to step on the scale after eating like crap for the past week). 

There are a lot of things I'd like to work at that aren't really measurable. I'd like to be a more present wife and a better dog-walker. I'd like to continue to work at leaving my phone on the counter when I'm spending time with Sawyer (I give myself a B, right now). I need to eat and cook healthier again. I want to be a more thoughtful person- so often someone will do something for me or say something and I feel like  jerk because I'm not sure if I deserve their kindness. 

I'd like to say that I'm going into 2016 with optimism and hope for the future, but I'm way too cautious for that. I've seen, both in my life and those of others', that things can go from fantastic to horrible in mere seconds. I hope for the best and plan for the worst. 

Happy New Year! 

Best Reads of 2015

This year I read 52 books, which was 12 more than the previous year. Considering the demands emotionally, mentally, professionally, domestically, and even physically that 2015 put on me, I'm pretty proud of of myself! Before I get to my top ten favorites, and a few that disappointed, here are a few stats:

17 were nonfiction
28 were written by women
6 were short stories, essays, or collections 
16 primarily took place in a country other than the US
0 were graphic novels
5 were about chefs or the restaurant industry
11 books were read in July; the most of any month
6 were books I taught at work, or ones related to the profession
44 were written since 2000
270 my very rough estimate of how many hours I was able to read this year

When determining my favorites I don't strictly base my decision on the quality of writing; of course this important, but the impact the books has on me emotionally does as well. Am I still thinking about it today, months later? Would I recommend it to others? Did I grow from the reading experience or did it make me see things in a new perspective? Did I want to keep reading, or was I relieved when it was over?  

And, in no particular order, here are my ten favorite books from 2015 (rereads for the books I taught were not considered):

1. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney- I'm a sucker for chef memoirs and I thought what he did syntactically with the day-in-a-life approach was unique. I've worked in a few restaurants and I think that the back-of-the-house culture is fascinating. 

2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt- I was a big fan of The Goldfinch and thought this was was also extremely well-written and smart. I also appreciated the academic, collegiate angle. 

3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng- This beautiful book broke my heart into a million pieces; the relationships between parents and their children are so very complex. And experiencing the death of your child? I pray to God I'll never experience that. It was heavy, but fantastic. 

4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova- This books was important to me on the perspective front, as my grandmother has dementia/Alzheimer's. While it is important to remember that this is fiction, it did provide me with better insight into what the patient and their caregiver must feel. 

5. The Martian by Andy Weir- This is not necessarily a well-written book in terms of style and prose. But the story? The main character? I was in love. I rooted for Mark from page one and was hooked. Was it realistic? Nope. A bit predictable? Yup. But something about it felt good- I was on Mark's team and felt what he did during his battle. 

6. The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson- I think one of the most compelling aspects of this book, besides the dynamic, magnetic prose, was the setting, in Africa. It was very reminiscent to Heart of Darkness, but not too much so. The ending got a little strange, but as a whole I knew after reading it that it would end up on this list. 

7. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers- While it turns out the man this is based off of, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, has gotten himself into some trouble with the law and his ex-wife, after the writing of this book, I still really loved it. Hurricane Katrina's aftermath is such a stain on our country's history and I think Egger's description of the city and the treatment of Zeitoun demonstrate this. It also reads like a novel, which is typically the type of non-fiction I most enjoy. 

8. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay- While there are of course flaws and issues to raise, this book exemplified so many of the arguments I have made about feminism over the years. Like Gay, I too am a "bad feminist." She points out that we can want equality but still shave our legs and wear lipstick. Gay also brings up some interesting points about race and class in America, but not in such a way that I, as an upperish-middle class white woman felt attacked. She's incredibly smart, witty, and refuses to take shit from anyone (just check out her twitter account).

9. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill- We read this recently for our department book club at work and I really enjoyed the narrative style and her commentary on the challenges ambitious, creative women face as moms and wives. I've had my own struggles in this area and much of what she said was very timely. Her treatment of anxiety and depression are also important. 

10. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout- I am such a sucker for short story collections that tie together, like this one did. The beauty of these stories is that while the writing is anything but ordinary the people and their stories are. Because that's real life.

And a few that either disappointed me, based on the hype, or I just didn't like:

1. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris- This was my first Ferris book, and, frankly, I loathed it. It started off funny and quirky (how could it not be when an atheist dentist's website is hacked by someone religious?), but it just jumped ship and ended up boring me. 

2. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd- We read this for book club and I simply did not connect. I thought it was a pretty typical, average period piece that had some undertones of white-guilt. 

3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo- Ha! Oh, Marie, this book made me laugh, which apparently it was not supposed to do. It did make me more motivated to get a little more organized, but how it supposedly has sparked some sort of revolution is beyond me. 

4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee- I knew this was going disappoint, but man, was it bad. It was sloppily written, lacked any sort of character depth, handled the flashback scenes poorly and was downright boring at times. I will say that it was more realistic, but the bottom line is that it was unnecessary to publish it. 

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- This is not a bad book, so calm down. But did I think it lived up to the hype? Not really. I am admittedly not necessarily the reader Doerr was chasing though, since I generally stay away from books set during wartime. I was very ready to be done when I reached the end. 

What did you read and love? Read and hate? 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[Ojai, CA]

Hello! Link up, link back, say hi!

1. I have quite a few posts lined up for the next few days, so I'm trying not to be too redundant with this post. Just a forewarning, since that's my style.

2. My husband and I spent about twenty-four hours away from Sawyer the other day to head up to Ojai for the night (about a half an hour east of Santa Barbara). It was really, really nice. It was nice to ride in the car as a passenger (I always drive because my car has the car seat), it was nice to walk around the town without pushing a stroller, it was nice to have uninterrupted adult conversation, it a was nice to sit around and do nothing (even just for an hour!), it was nice to get ready alone, it was nice to go to a nice restaurant that was definitely not child-friendly, and it was really nice to sleep in. Nice, nice, nice. You get the picture. I was really proud of myself for not freaking out about leaving Sawyer overnight for the first time; my mom, sister, and brother were all here with him. My mom is the person I call when I have a kid question, so it makes sense that I would be at ease with her in charge. And everything went great. (We stayed here and ate here, in case anyone heads up that way and needs recommendations!). 

2. I despise taking Christmas decorations down. And I despise having them up after Christmas.

3. I'm freaking out a little that we only have 4.5 days left of break, considering how much I have not gotten to (ain't that always the way?). I took it easy for the first part, just prepping for Christmas, and then my family was in town, meaning I put productivity on the back burner. They left this morning and I finally made a to-do list. It's scary.

4. I'm reading Margaret Atwood's newest, The Heart Goes Last, and while it's a good, interesting read, I just feel that it's too reminiscent of the MadAddam books. I know sort of near-future, post-apocalpytic-esque is her style, but it just feels really familiar.

5. I just finished listening to Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy today and it was quite enjoyable. She's zany and all over the place, but her message if a darn good one.

6. I feel like I need to carve away a few hours to scour the "best of 2015" lists on blogs and major publications to see what I missed last year.

7. I'm wearing a Jesse and the Rippers shirt right now. I just wanted everyone to know this.

8. You know what I'm doing, besides sitting here, blogging in my Full House shirt? Waiting for our amazing groomer that was supposed to be here over a half an hour ago and has yet to call or show up. These sorts of things irritate me to no damn end. 

9. Honesty break! One of the most frustrating things that I've had to deal with in pretty much every area of my life for several months, if not longer, is the nagging feeling that whatever I'm doing just isn't enough. For my students. For family members. For myself. For friends. For other people that don't fit neatly into categories. Some people are bold enough to basically say it, while others insinuate it and are charmingly passive aggressive ("you can't bullshit a bullshitter"). I just want to gather everyone up together, stand on a table or something and scream at them, "I'm trying! There are only twenty-four hours in a day and I am usually so tired that I will screw up accidentally! I am still a good person, please cut me some slack!" But, honestly, if I'm going to get everyone together we should probably just have a party and not experience the awkwardness of me having a shit fit.

10. Christmas! I almost forgot, it seems so long ago. We had such a great day. My husband put together Sawyer's big gift, the KidsCraft kitchen, the day before (quite the task), and he loved it on Christmas. We also got him some cooking accessories to go with it, some Duplos, and a book. We feel really strongly about not going crazy with gifts because we really want him to appreciate what he has and not be overwhelmed with "stuff." He's little but it starts now! Other than exchanging gifts, we hung out, took a walk to the park, and then ate homemade pizza with my brother that night. It was probably the best Christmas I've ever had.

Happy New Year! 

Bookish Resolutions: 2015 Check In, 2016 Set Up

I love goal setting and list making, so resolutions are right up my alley. I don't take them too seriously, but I think it's good to have some direction. This tiny window of optimism is just too good to pass up. Here's a quick check up on last year's bookish resolutions and a few for next year:

2015 resolutions revisited... 

1. Read to Sawyer five times a week: YES

2. Read 10,000 pages- YES 

3. Continue to blog regularly (average of 13 times a month)- YES

4. Go to one reading- YES

5. Keep better track of settings of books- NO

6. Interactive book recommendation board for classroom- YES

7. Find more high quality blogs- NO

8. Reorganize my book shelves- YES

9. Keep working on my personal writing- SORTA

10. Minimize review books- YES

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with what I've been able to accomplish in terms of my reading and blogging. Of course I wish I could do more and do better, but that's pretty much the story of my life. 

So, for 2016 I'd like keep up what I've been doing in terms of reading to Sawyer, reading myself, and blogging, but I don't really think that they need resolutions, since they're pretty habitual at this point. Here's what I want to work on during the upcoming year:

1. Track book settings on a map- I have the map, I have the pins, there's no excuse. 

2. 3,000 words of writing a month (tracked)- Whether short stories or work on larger projects, I'd like 2016 to be a bit more focused. If I don't write I'm never going to be a famous novelist who travels the country on a book tour wearing Anthro dresses (obviously practicing my fiction writing already). 

3. Read three graphic novels- I really appreciate the genre, I just haven't been able to get into it yet. 

4. Cross stitch something bookish- Lame, but rekindling this hobby (I used to do it a lot in high school, believe it or not, since it's very relaxing to me) has actually allowed me to watch more movies and TV shows with my husband, which is nice for him. So now, instead of two hours of watching a week I'm up to maybe four. Ha. 

5. Consistently stay caught up on our family photo book- In 2013 I did a sort of "yearbook" for the household. Last year I did Sawyer's monster baby book, so I didn't get around to a 2014 volume. I need to throw together a quick 2015 one with what I have, but next year I want to sit down at the end of every month and catch up on Mixbook.

What are your bookish (or not so bookish) resolutions for 2016? 
This post was also used for Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish.  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Hello! Link up, link back (please!), say hi!

Christmas Break Edition!

1. I really, really love wrapping gifts.

2. Sawyer has figured out that we can walk around the block together if he holds my hand the entire time and we both love it (if he refuses to hold my hand I scoop him and return home; it took a few tries but now he gets it).

3. Peanut butter balls for dayyyyyyys.

4. #ohtacknights2015 is about to come to a close, sadly. Oh neighbors, you really have some atrocious lawn decor.

5. I'm reading Margaret Atwood's newest book, The Heart Goes Last, and it's off to a good start, but I can't shake the fact that it feels very reminiscent of the MadAdam books.

6. Star Wars was so, so good. So good I'd go see it again, and I never say that. I may have gotten a little teary at one point that I won't talk about because I don't want to spoil anything.  This was also the longest we've left Sawyer with the sitter we've been using and he didn't traumatize her, so that was good too.

7. Our work email has been down since last Friday and I have to admit that it's been pretty awesome. I have another platform for interacting with my students, edmodo, if they need me, but this level of detachment hasn't existed since I got an iPhone long ago and it's been kind of nice.

8. Sawyer decorated Christmas cookies today and he started off, for approximately two minutes, being really serious about the whole thing. And then he figured out how delicious frosting is and it was all over.

9.  I saw The Martian last night, since it's available on Amazon streaming or something, and I really liked it. I thought it was a solid adaptation of the novel and that Matt Damon played the role perfectly. 

10. I'm excited for Christmas; we stay at home and celebrate with just the three of us (well, my brother will stop by later in the day). We can spend all day in our sweats, enjoy each other and our gifts, and make homemade pizza for dinner. 

Happy holidays, guys!

Top Ten Tuesday- Dear Santa (or Husband)

I've mentioned before that my husband and I, who both have birthdays (and the Christmas) in November and December, make lists of things we want, set limits and have it. I know some people love surprises and the anticipation of the big day, but, honestly, we are both busy, realistic people. Lists for the win. Of course most of what I want includes books, so, in conjunction with The Broke and the Bookish, here are ten books I'd love to find under the tree this year:

Run by Ann Patchett- I consider her one of my favorites but haven't read all of her books, so it's time to start adding to my collection.

Turn Right at Machu Pichu by Mark Adams- Someday, when I have a free month, ample energy, my asthma under solid control and the funds to direct this way, it's gonna happen.

Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by Travis Langley, Dennis O'Neil, and Michael Uslin- I don't know if you know this highly important fact, but Batman is my favorite superhero. His superpower: being born into a wealthy family. 

Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker- The premise is interesting and I've always liked her.

Maus by Art Spiegelman- I'd like to read more graphic novels and I feel like this is an important one. 

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Self-explanatory.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff- I enjoyed Arcadia very much and would love to give this one a try. 

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt- Left over from last year's books I never got around to getting!

Quicksand by Steve Toltz- I actually didn't put this on my list because I just saw it at the bookstore today. I loved Fraction of the Whole and have been eagerly awaiting his follow up and somehow this didn't pop up on my radar.

Happy holidays, all! 

On Mothering My Toddler: So Fun, So Tired

I haven't done an update on Sawyer or mothering in several months, so I thought today, on the Sunday morning where he woke me up at 5 am and then started "ho ho hoing" after I nicely allowed him the very rare treat of coming back to bed with me, would probably be the most appropriate. It is currently 5:56. On a Sunday morning. He is a playing with a train and just tried to plug the Christmas tree in by himself. Oh wait, now he's doing laps around our downstairs and yelling demonic gibberish that only a twenty-month-old can. It's 5:57. In the morning. Ohmygod.

I'm going to go pour myself a gallon of coffee. I'll be right back. 

Truth be told, I like this age the best so far, although I am well aware I say that at each stage. Everything is new, fun, and an opportunity to learn. A paper towel roll, a square of wrapping paper with animals on it, an old ice cube tray, you name it. He's starting to attempt talking more and more which is great. I will forever and always keep the video of him saying "banana" and watch it when I'm having a bad day. His array of animals sounds also float my boat. He loves to help me in the kitchen and when he sees that I'm bringing out the mixer he tries to drag his high chair over so he can watch (and I always let him and give him measuring cups to "help" with). His dance moves are pretty epic, his cautious walk has turned into a run, and he is desperately trying to figure out how to jump. The dogs are a constant source of joy for him, whether he's watching them play or trying to de-tail poor Cordie. He won't sit still to watch anything on TV for more than five minutes, but he will sit in front of this God-awful YouTube video that features fire engines pulling out the station one and after another for seventeen minutes (it's over forty... why? Who the hell was like "yeah, let's make a compilation video of freaking fire trucks? And why have 3.1 million views occurred? All toddler parents?). He loves to stroll around the neighborhood, holding my hand, and trying to walk on anything that resembles a balance beam. He charms strangers in Starbucks and still adores the book Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. And did I mention the joy that garbage trucks, airplanes, motorcycles, suburbans, bicycles, golf carts, the vacuum and basically anything else that might go "vroom vroom" brings? And when we're home on weekends he naps for at least two hours every afternoon. Thank you sir, thank you. His happiness is contagious and his giggle is out of control. 

But let's keep it real. It's not all high-pitched adorable meowing and afternoon slumbers. He's a toddler and does typical toddler things. He will not stop going and going and everything takes me twenty-three times longer to do because of it. Over the last year he has teethed three weeks out of every four, which has made for some really inconsistent sleep for the two of us. He is attempting to throw fits, although I think we've already made some progress at nipping them in the bud (or it's just the calm before the storm). He is fantastic at making messes, although I must give credit where credit is due and commend his enthusiasm for helping me clean up. Sometimes he smacks me in the face (although it's usually followed by a hug). He can be a really picky eater and sometimes throws his cup and fork on the floor which makes me irrationally angry (sometimes I have to step out of the room and take a deep breath because, for some reason, profanity in front of your child is discouraged). He isn't always a fan of riding in the car, but in his defense, he's still rear-facing and that shit has to be pretty boring. He gets frustrated quickly because his brain thinks his hands should be more capable than they are and that "ehhh! ehhh!" should be an all-telling form of communication that sometimes his parents just can't translate into sense. He will put himself on time out if it means he can play in the dog water for just ten seconds before getting caught. He'll even tell himself "no-no-no," but keep doing it. It's not that I want him to be devastated, I'd just like an effective way of reprimanding him.   

And for me? I'm tired, I'm in love, I'm challenged, and I'm always a contender in the FitBit challenges because I never get to sit the hell down. I feel like I'm one of the few that maybe doesn't really miss the baby stage; I loved his chubby cheeks, gummy smile, and go-with-the-flow attitude, but this toddler business is simply more fun. There are days where things go beautifully and days where I count the minutes to both of our bedtimes. There are many days where I'd consider having a second child, and probably more that I tend to think he might be our one and only (and even more where I'd wish people would stop asking and not offer veiled hints of judgement when I honestly say we're not sure). Truth be told, I miss having time to do what I love. Some may call that selfish, but I call it human. While a great deal of my identity is tied up in being a mom these days, that's not all of me and I sometimes resent the fact that I have to neglect those other, important, parts. A second child would set the clock back and I'd have to give up so much of of my body, mind, and sanity that that first year demands. Luckily it's a question that doesn't have to be answered for, realistically, years. 

So that's it, the good, the bad, and me. I know I'm forgetting a ton, but that's pretty par for the course these days. Now excuse me while I go have another cup of coffee and save my child from pulling the Christmas stockings and their extremely heavy metal hangers on his head. 

Belated... Thoughts

[From Dept. of Speculation]

Oh the light at the end of the tunnel! There you are. Please, wrap me in your warm embrace and shield me from the horrors of the outside world.

No, not death. Christmas Break. Day one is in the books and it feels good.

I have been admittedly MIA the last few weeks, so I'm back for a quick hello and then business as usual. I have a whole bunch of posts lined up, so we're ready to roll.

This semester was really, really hard. The hardest in my entire 10+ year career, I think. Time was my greatest enemy; because Sawyer is so mobile and active and my husband barely gets home in time for a quick dinner before putting him to bed at night, I really don't get much done during the week after work. Weekends can be hard too, but I'll quit the excuses. I did the math and I graded over 6,000 assignments this semester, which equates to over 300 a week. Some are lengthy essays, some are quick graphic organizers to check off. If each took me an average of three minutes (ha!) that's over sixteen hours a week grading alone (or just more at the end of the grading periods). This was on top of really crappy sleep and other life issues. Bottom line: we cut down too many trees as a result of my classroom and I need to get my shit together. The other day I took a deep breath and my brain said, "Christine, you haven't done that in a long time." 

Tonight I ran into the grocery store for a bottle of wine and I got really self-conscious and didn't want to be that lady who's buying wine by herself on a Saturday night. So, I grabbed chips and coffee. So now I'm the woman drinking wine, eating chips, and anticipating a need to caffeinate through a hangover in the morning (all of this is incorrect, by the way; I will have one glass, won't eat the chips until tomorrow, and will be up walking by eight, headache free). Seriously, why do I care?

I've made a million peanut butter balls this week and have eaten about half a million. I use this recipe and it's the best one I've ever tried. My husband claims it's because of the vanilla, but I just think it's the ratio of powder sugar to peanut butter. Speaking of recipes, I want to make this Cheesy Bucatini Pie with Mini Meatballs this week. If Jessica makes it, it has to be great (I love how I use her first name, like we actually know each other). 

Listening to... Serial! I love it already. Truth be told, I'm glad she didn't just continue last season. I'm also listening to Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy and it has seriously grown on me. The stigma of mental health is very sloooooowly fading away and I love her attitude. 

I also just finished Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, another book by a Jenny, and another book about a woman struggling with anxiety. I really enjoyed it but the consensus at book club was pretty split. 

Tomorrow we're going to see Star Wars, finally. I only say "finally" because I feel like everyone has already seen it, despite it still being opening weekend. 

This will probably make sense to four people, but I really wanted to steal a sign advertising the yoga place my friend and I go to (it's one the size the realtors use to advertise open houses). The owner, who neither of us are in love with, is on the sign flipping the dog. Not long ago this friend and I were joking about going out late at night to draw mustaches on her, so I thought it was be hilarious to steal one and put it in her yard or wrap it up for a Christmas gift. Brilliant, I know. But then the wind blew them all away and I told her about my plan and she agreed that it was pretty great. And then today they put more out! I could have done it! Damn it! 

Eff you, company that handled Adele's LA portion of her tour! I tried to get tickets the day they went on sale and was put in the virtual waiting room for THREE AND A HALF HOURS! When I was let in I was promptly told they were sold out. 

I got on the treadmill to run a few miles this morning and it was not good. Ten minutes in I needed my inhaler and then after that I just couldn't get into a comfortable pace. I forced myself to do 2.5 miles, but after that I was done. Considering a few weeks ago I felt that I was Speedy Gonzalez and was stupidly entertaining the notion of a PR at Surf City I was pretty discouraged. A few hours later someone else posted about a less-than-stellar run and I commented that at least she did it. Practice what you preach, Christine. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

My life is currently being consumed by:

- giving finals
- grades
- students
- holiday baking
- a toddler that is teething and won't eat and laughs in my face when I express profound distress and frustration regarding said food strike
- avoiding the Internet for fear of Star Wars spoilers (we're going Sunday! I'm so proud that we're going to see a movie opening weekend)
- losing Fitbit challenges
- wanting to sleep

Grades are due in less than forty-eight hours and I will be back. So back.

Until then, thanks for stopping by and once my sixteen days of sweet, sweet freedom kick in I will be stopping by your posts to say hi. Until then I will simultaneously be picking effing mandarin oranges off the floor, making peanut butter balls, and grading essays. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hi! 

1. I think this is the third year (or second?) I've done a "ohtackynights" hashtag on Instagram featuring the awful lawn decorations my neighbors insist on putting up. My account is private, so I don't feel bad, but here was today's gem (Camo Santa standing was the other day... the horror):

2. Our solar panels are up and running! Apparently there's an app I can get to track their... absorption? I'm a real lover of charts and data (and hater of math, go figure), so I'll probably become obsessed. 

3. I've been doing outside-reading interviews with my students this whole week and while I love the opportunity to meet with them one-on-one, it can make for a long day. So today was day three, and just so happened to also be a day where my one-nap-a-day toddler didn't really get the snooze he needed at day care. All I wanted when I got home was ten minutes to myself in absolute quiet. Spoiler alert: it's after six and I probably won't have it for at least two more hours. Patience. Patience. Patience. So many deep breaths. 

4. I'm going to donate blood for the first time since high school on Friday. I decided that with everything that happened at the local shooting, in San Bernardino, it's something I could actually do, as opposed to taking to social media to run my mouth (like everyone else). It really is something I should be doing regularly, since I'm the ever-rare B+. I'm pretty nervous that I'll pass out, but pretty excited to be able to lay in one spot and not do anything for like forty-five minutes.

5. This past weekend I accomplished every single item of my to-do list for the first time in months.

6. Yesterday I took Sawyer to see Santa at the mall and it went as expected. He seemed pretty willing, and even walked toward him, but once I plopped him down in the guy's lap he got pretty sad. He tried to fight it, but just couldn't hold back. I'm taking the money for the pictures out of his college fund.

7. Every night after Sawyer's bath we sit by the Christmas tree and I read him his story, and then we sit for another fifteen or twenty minutes and just hang out together. He LOVES it. In fact, if I take a small detour to throw in a load of laundry or something shit hits the fan. Most days it's the best part, so I'm a little scared of how sad he's going to be when the tree comes down (he's obsessed).

8. I made intentionally made dinner reservations at a place that was listed as not being good for children on Yelp when we go away for a quick night later this month. I also made it for like eight, which is way past when we're able to go to eat with Sawyer. It's also a place that has been actually written about in guides and reviews and isn't a chain. I'm way too excited about this.

9. 'Tis the season for way too many cardboard boxes and the need to make some room in the house for new gifts. This is the solution to both, while doing some good. I'm going to try it out this weekend.

10. Next Wednesday I'll be so excited I won't be able to contain myself. Next Thursday is our last day of finals. 

November Reviews (a little late)

It's the fourth? Already? Oops. The last few days have been a bit busy.. and slow... and fast... but still, better late than ever. I'm a bit disappointed with only having read three books, but considering the five billion student assignments I've gone through I guess it's not bad:

The Man Who Refused to Stand Up by Jacob Appel 
384 pages
I read this novel because I'm advising a student project that incorporates it and it sounded interesting. The premise is a man who wouldn't stand up during God Bless America at a baseball game and is roasted by the media. He subsequently finds himself in a troubled marriage and eventually on the run.

Verdict: While the man's reason for not standing up was misunderstood, I appreciated this because I think that pledging allegiance to a flag, singing song lyrics, and other empty professions of patriotism are incredibly automatic and obligatory. Personally, when The Pledge is said each morning on announcements I stand, along with my students, but I don't make them say, nor do I. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. As a whole I thought this book was only averagely written and got a bit ridiculous at the end. I do think that it is quite thought-provoking, though.

Like Family by Paolo Giordano
160 pages
I reviewed this book here.

Verdict: This novella cemented my appreciation for Giordano. Plus he's Italian and good looking. I didn't mention this in the review I did for Penguin, but I had to get it in now. 


This is You Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison
304 pages
Harriet Chance's husband has died and she decides to embark on the Alaskan cruise he had apparently arranged for the two of them before he lost his memories and control of his body. Meanwhile, he's back to sort of but not really, haunt her as she relives memories from the distant past. She learns a shocking secret and also must come to terms with her relationships with her middle-aged daughter.

Verdict: I was a big fan of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and while I think I still may like that book better, this one was still a great read and reminded me a bit of Where'd You Go Bernadette when it comes to quirkiness and fun. 

848 pages

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hello! Today will be brief... you're welcome? 

1. So I'd feel like a jackass if I didn't mention the shooting in San Bernardino this afternoon. This one was a little too close to home; the location was about thirty or forty miles away from where I live. There is a lot to be said on the issue, but I'll leave it simple tonight: my thoughts are with all victims, families of victims, law enforcement agents, and community. The whole thing is tragic, senseless, and infuriating.

2. I downloaded this Star Wars Christmas cross stitch patterns, because it was less than $4.00 and I need another thing to not get done and feel like a failure about:


3. Today my car charger for my phone was being a total jackass and I think fried the charger itself and possibly my cigarette lighter (TBD). Things like this are what it takes to motivate me to come home and back up my phone and computer. Done and done. I always say that I'm going to do it once a week, but, as it turns out, it hasn't been done since July. Oops.

4. I picked up my orthotics and have strict instructions to run in them a ton over the next three weeks to see if they help my feet. I don't want to get too optimistic, but I'm so desperate right now. Considering how much they cost, since I haven't met my deductible this year, they better be downright magical.

5. I'm reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which I've had my seniors do an end-of-year project on in the past, finally. I'm really enjoying it and it's actually making me want to do my own list for myself. I love the point she raises about how when we're young our go-to answer is "nothing" (how was your day?) to "busy" as an adult. 

6. I just downloaded two yoga apps on my phone the other day. The first is just a Sun Salutation cueing audio, with a log, and the other is called Down Dog and puts together "classes" for you, based on how much time you have, your level, and what music you want. I haven't tried it yet but am excited at the prospect. 

7. Someone shared or liked this picture on Facebook this morning and it irrationally made me angry. Excuse me? Did his wife keep tabs of every time he emptied the dishwasher? Made dinner? Went grocery shopping? Ran an errand? Made sure the sex was actually good? What an idiot. Disgusting. 

8. I think I'm over owning cookbooks, as sad as it is. They're so beautiful and fun to look at, but if I'm being honest most of my recipes come from the internet. Plus cookbooks take up a ton of room. I don't plan on getting rid of the ones I do have, I just don't plan on necessarily getting more (although I'm sure there will be exceptions). 

9. This morning when I weighed myself I was at an all-time-low (for me). I have also been eating a ridiculous amount of Dark Chocolate Stars from Trader Joe's since Sunday. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. I just found the best diet plan ever. Good thing I have two unopened boxes in the pantry. 

10. I feel like I've been (barely) fighting off a cold for three of four weeks. I religiously take vitamin C in the morning and at night, wash my hands, exercise, and whatever healthy things I can squeak in, but I think the lack of good sleep and stress is going to catch up with me and I'm going to be down for the count. Things to look forward to. Until then, I'll keep fighting the good fight.