September Reviews

It was 93 degrees today, on September 30th. Every year it is this hot and every year we Southern Californians bitch and moan about how it's not fall weather and how we just wanna wear our hoodies. So there we are. Got that over with. 

This month was a weird one, reading wise (and maybe in terms of life, too, now that I think about it). I was reading multiple books at once for most of it and ended up coming to a conclusion that I already knew- I'm a serial monogamist in life and when it comes to reading. Four books at one time? No thanks. I did manage to finish three, though, all by female writers, all dealing with issues of race/ethnicity, but still very different. 

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
640 pages
Harriet is a smart, sullen, sassy little thing, but for good reason. She has lived under the black cloud of her older brother's tragic, unsolved death since she was tiny. Her parents are separated, her mother is an emotional wreck nearly a decade later, and her older sister's main hobby is sleeping. So, she decides to solve her brother's case, which leads to an exploration of class, race, and family bonds. There are several side plots as well, dealing with her aunts, grandmother, and the housekeeper, but in the end everything connects in it's own way. 

Verdict: This book felt very reminscent of To Kill a Mockingbird- there was a Boo Radley, there was a Scout, there was issues of morality, there was a Southern-gothic kinda of feel. Unlike Mockingbird, though, The Little Friend is much longer and much denser. I liked it, I really did, but you know that feeling you get after eating a Thanksgiving? Like you've had too much of a good thing and you just want to get out of the house into the fresh air and walk away from the turkey? That's kind of how I feel about this book right now. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
219 pages
I've read this two other times before as a teacher and have written about it before, so I'll spare everyone the summary (I am teaching it right now). 

Verdict: I love the book and I love teaching it. I know there are issues with her potential misrepresentation of race relations and she has been accused of pandering to a white audience, and I this does bother me. But she did do a lot for African American writers, and African American female writers. So, at the end of the day this book raises many of points through it's content and context.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christine Lamb
368 pages
Given the media attention paid to Malala over the past few years, I'm assuming every know her story of being shot while on a school bus by the Taliban in the Swat Valley. Malala was a political activist with her father prior to her attack, and has been a voice for educating all girls, in all countries.

Verdict: I found this book to be incredibly interesting, both in regards to Malala's story and the region's politics and history. I went into the book thinking that there would be more on her attack and recovery, but that actually only ended up being the last fifty or so pages. 

1,227 pages 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for linking up... and linking back (please? It makes me happy and helps me validate the small fee for the linky). Thanks!

1. I've had amazing earring karma the last few days. I was wearing a simple pair that I love yesterday, but somehow lost one at school. I figured it was pretty hopeless, but as I was walking to a meeting on the far side of campus I spotted it on the ground in one piece. Then, I found another pair at home that I thought I'd lost and this morning I dropped my pearl in the sink and somehow caught it before it went down the drain. I've probably used up all my good luck for the next decade.

2. Two of my friends and I were hypothetically throwing around the idea of a turn-around trip to Vegas in a few months and it was all I could do to not scream "YES DEAR GOD YES PLEASE IF YOU ARE MY FRIENDS YOU WILL GO WITH ME!" I used to go once or twice a year with friends or my husband and I would go with another couple and I miss it. I want to dress up, eat too much, drink over-priced drinks, people-watch, and all those other things we do in Vegas. 

3. I finally finished Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, 600+ pages later. Man it's hard to read book that are that long right now, at the start of the school year. I'm not sure where'd I'd place it on the Tartt hierarchy, but it was definitely good.

4. This weekend is the last mellow one for a few weeks.  We have plans to take Sawyer to this local thing with rescue and emergency vehicles and out to lunch, and then to see a friend and her son, but other than that I hope to get some extra sleeping, reading, exercising, and paper-grading done. 

5. We went to see the Giants play the Padres in San Diego last Saturday night and it was so much fun. Sawyer kept clapping and yelling "baseball" and he ate his body weight in junk food (me too). We did several laps around the stadium and the only snafu we hit was his brief breakdown when the Padres mascot headed towards him waving. My child is not down with costumed adults, apparently (or maybe just religious ones? Hmmm...). The Giants won and we almost stayed until the end, so it was a success.

6. I have Jonathan Safran Foer reading tomorrow night in LA with a friend! Yes!

7. I just realized today that I totally abandoned the second season of Serial in the middle. Do I care enough to go back? Sarah, I miss you and I love you, but I just don't know. I remember enjoying it, but I don't even recall what was happening when I accidentally jumped ship.

8. Okay, that's it. I'm going to watch This is Us. I don't know where I'll find the time, but the comparisons to Parenthood have convinced me. Now I just have to keep on it before Hulu deletes episodes (I know this sounds easy, but the fact that I watch .3 shows a week on my own makes it more challenging). 

9. Urban Decay finally came out with a matte eyeshadow palette, so all of my hopes and dreams in life have basically come true. 

Top Ten Tuesday- Fall TBR

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us what we will be reading this fall.  I honestly don't think I'll get through ten in two months (I consider December 1 the start of winter), but I guess one can wish. I'm horrible at predicting these things, but here are some guesses based on book club, what I'll be teaching, and totally unscientific hunches:

1. 'Master Harold'... and the boys by Athol Fugard- I'll be teaching this South African play (that I hate typing because of how it's punctuated and italicized) in about a month or so. 

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens- I am advising a student who is doing his IB Extended Essay on this and Great Expectations (which I am currently reading). I am not a huge Dickens fan, but I've never read it and probably should.

3. The Sellout by Paul Beatty- This is our book club selection for work next month. 

4. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer- I know this has received some harsh reviews, but I want to see for myself. Plus I am going to his reading later this week (!!!), so I'm sure I'll feel like I should.

5. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg- I have had this for awhile and it's always one I almost grab to read. It does seem pretty depressing, though, so I'll have to make sure I'm not already in a crappy mood. 

6. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett- I think I might try to do a sort of author study of all her works, so this would fit in nicely. 

7. 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley- I have had this book for FOREVER and I know I could pull some thing from it for work.

8. Big Girls Don't Cry- The Election that Changed Everything for the American Woman by Rebecca Traister- I need to read this before the election. I feel like if Clinton loses this book will lose something, somehow. 

9. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Mara- Short stories are great for busy times.

10. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy- Given current events this book seems timely and important. 

Bullet Journaling

I really, really like lists. And notebooks. And goals. And stationary supplies. And having hobbies. 

So, obviously, bullet journaling is probably for me. Well, at least... maybe? I think?

So, you ask, what is bullet journaling? Or maybe you know and I'm the last person around to figure it out. It's quite possible. 

I'm not really sure, actually. But from what I can gather, it's for people that like lists, notebooks, making goals, buying stationary supplies, and subjecting themselves to new hobbies. 

I also gather that is requires some creativity and possible artistic talent, which might be a problem, because I don't have a lot of that going on when it comes to visuals. I'm ignoring that project-terminating threat for now. 

I first heard of bullet journaling months ago and sort of added it my list if "figure out what this is later" list, but didn't get around to it in a timely fashion. The video I watched of it on the actual website confused me and I left it at that. But, then more and more bloggers I read started singing the praises of this mysterious bullet journaling, so I did what any other thirty-something-year-old woman would do: I searched it on Pinterest. 

So, from what I can gather, bullet journaling is basically the pretty way to get your shit together, whatever you consider your shit to be. Some people make it their end-all-be-all one-stop-shop organizational hub. It's every appointment, every grocery list, every fitness goal, and every last sock they plan on packing for their trip to Montreal. For some, it's more about inspiration and self-improvement. 

For me, I have no plans of abandoning my physical daily planner that I live and die by, nor my personal journal that I say mean things about people in or my to-do list pads. But instead I want to stop leaving this horribly unorganized trail of iPhone notes, piles of Post-Its, and brain clutter in my wake. I want a centralized location to plan projects, better map out blog posts, work on ideas for novels I may get around to writing one day, and whatever else my little heart desires. 

What I don't want this to be is something that takes up more time, frustrates me, or becomes a chore. I don't want to become a glorified doodle-pad or for the look of the bullet journal to become more important than the content, which I think some of the examples I've seen have had trouble with. 

I plan to organize it by month right now, which is perfect, since October is near. So, armed with the notebook itself, some fancy pens, and washi tape, I will go forth and bullet journal. We'll see how it goes! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[mom, what is happening?!?!?!]

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1. Dear God, I feel like I have been to hell and back. I'll spare everyone the details (and whining), but I had the worst stomach virus of my life over the weekend- I was just able to go back to work today. I lost seven pounds over the course of about thirty hours, let's just say, and eventually we all came down with it. An only semi-sick toddler when both parents are down for the count is HARD. But we are all basically alive now, although I'm still trying to get the guts to have a cup of coffee. I'm so very tired and need it, but am also so scared. 

2. Speaking of coffee, I finally did break and get a Keurig and it has made me so happy. We are best friends.

3. And because I was sick I was disqualified from the writing contest I had been taking part in, which is a bummer. I had planned on writing Saturday night or Sunday morning, since the deadline was that evening, but that certainly did not happen. I placed 10 of 32 in the first round in my group, with some really great feedback from the judges that I completely agreed with. I had written that short story in about an hour before it was due, so I had high hopes for actually putting in effort during the second round and scoring even higher. THE WORLD WILL NEVER KNOW.

4. It rained the other day. Here. In Southern California, during the drought, in September. I'd like to think it's foreshadowing a wet winter, but I'm more realistic than that. It was still nice, though.

5. Last Wednesday I went to the podiatrist to have my deformed toe looked at yet again and he said that he could fix it with surgery, no problem ("it's no big deal, we'll open you up here, put in a little screw here..."). But then he stopped himself and said we had one more hail-mary kind of option- a gel lined sleeve to straighten it out. He sent me home with a few with strict instructions to run and walk on concrete. I did both. My toe hurt very much still. I was sad, I as upset, I was disappointed. But then, the next day, I had a stroke of genius (for once). I also put a sleeve on the toe next to it and BOOM. It worked. I've run a few times with both on and picked up more of the expensive little guys today.

6. I then promptly signed up for the We Run this City 5k at UCLA in November, which is a charity competition where runners sign up to run for either UCLA or USC as part of rivalry week (go Bruins!). I did this a few years ago with my sister and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully my brother remembers to sign up so I have some company.

7. Kristen Bell's Emmy dress was so beautiful. I didn't watch the Emmy's and didn't really even look at the winners, but I follow her on Instagram and she posted a funny story about taping up her nipples to her shoulders so I had to investigate what was worth that sort of torture. The verdict? For that dress? You tape anything wherever they tell you to.


8. Do you follow Joy the Baker on Instagram? If you don't you should, mostly for her stories. She's been in London and I just love the stuff she posts. She so quirky and cute. 

9. On the way to work there's this little girl and her brother who walk to the elementary school who I see ever day. She's maybe in third grade and I notice that she's been reading as she's walking- it's something I would have done (and yes, a tad dangerous, too). Our district is in a low socioeconomic area, so people love to act like our kids don't want to learn or that they're not passionate readers. This little girl is just the exact opposite and I love her. 

10. I am so excited about Public School's collaboration with Fitbit. I didn't fall in love with Tory Burch's line, but this one is lookin' good. 

A Morning at the LACMA

Last Saturday the three of us headed to LA to visit the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I'm not really a fan of del Toro (nor am I not a fan, I just haven't seen many of his movies), but my husband is and I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to visit an art museum I love as a family! I haven't been in maybe four or so years and I've never taken Sawyer, so this was perfect. I want to go back without my little guy soon to see the rain exhibit, since tickets are really hard to get and the entry timing is so precise (it's a room of rain that you stand in but don't get wet, due to some fancy censors). Some pictures from the morning:

[the del Torro exhibit- Sawyer was pretty interested but a little disturbed]

[this piece from his house was great- the old guy was sharing his cookies with the goblins]

[if you live in the area you have to take your kids to go see Metropolis 2; there are hundreds of cars and trains that exceed 200 mph!]

[Sawyer watched it for thirty minutes; we did many laps around the exhibit]

[Augh! No touching!]

[Sawyer lost his mind with excitement when he saw this piece and the only way I could get him to calm down was to let him take this picture]

[off to run to the rock!]

I promptly succumbed to the worse stomach virus I have ever been afflicted with in my entire life a few hours after we got home, with the rest of the family soon to follow. At least we got one fun thing in this weekend! 

Top Ten Tuesday- Audiobooks

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us center our list around audiobooks this week, and I'm just going to go with the ones I've most enjoyed. I have had an Audible membership for about three or four years and used to listen a lot more before I had my son and was this pregnant lady walking her two dogs around the neighborhood for an hour a day. Now I primarily listen on the ten or so minutes from my work to daycare and on the weekends if I'm alone driving somewhere far (or if Sawyer has conked out), or sometimes if I'm cross stitching. 

I often listen to things that I wouldn't typically read on audiobook (like Gone Girl) or nonfiction.

Here are my favorites:

Bosspants by Tina Fey- I love that she reads it and thought it was a really entertaining listen. 

Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox- This would never have been a book I purchases, but I thought the case was interesting.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn- I am glad I chose to listen to this, since it kept my interest during long walks inside and outside. The male and female narrators took some time to acclimate to (their voices weren't pleasing), but I don't think I would have enjoyed actually reading it. I would be likely to listen to another one of her's in the future.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel- I'm not a huge space buff or anything, but I downloaded this on a whim and ended up learning a lot.

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout- I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about the journalist's abduction while she was on assignment in Somalia. It was also really educational in terms of travel and Middle Easter/North African politics. I wish I would have read it and am considering getting a copy so that I can use it in an activity with my students. 

Anything written by Anthony Bourdain- He's funny, honesty, smart, and a great reader of his own work. I'm a sucker for restaurant and food books, so this is perfect. 

Anything written by Liane Moriarty- Moriarty is a little too fluffy for me to read (sorry!), but she's perfect to listen to. Her stories are crazy and humorous, and I love the Australian narrators.

On Writing by Stephen King- I LOVED this memoir and may actually purchase it as well. It was fascinating listening to him talk about his process. 

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi- I was a huge fan of Top Chef back when I had time to watch it (and satellite), and I knew that it would sort of be a love/hate listen. Lakshmi is a little full of herself, but it was fascinating listening to her talk about her childhood, her marriage to Salman Rushdie, and her work on the show. 

Anything written by Jenny Lawson- She wrote her two memoirs, Furiously Happy and Let's Pretend This Never Happened, about her time dealing with mental illness and I was captivated by both. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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I've been having some internet issues tonight, so I'm just slapping up this quick picture of my kid in a cheapie Target tiger mask, plus the widget thingy below for those of you that want to play along.

Have a good week! If you're totally dying to read some of my ramblings, take a look at yesterday's post on reading way to many books at once.

A Break in Monogamy

I've always been a bit of a serial monogamist when it comes to books (and guys). Even in college when I was taking four English classes that required a book a week to be read I still tried to manage it so that I only read one at a time. Generally, when I find myself reading two books at once I gravitate towards one, finish it, and then hop back over to the other. Despite what some may think [dramatic eyebrow raise], I am a pretty loyal person. 

Right now things are different, though, and it's bothering me, but also a little liberating. I started reading Donna Tartt's The Little Friend at the end of last month, after enjoying her other two novels immensely. I should have known, though, that it would be an intense, dense, read, which may not be the best fit for my schedule right now. I can't read it when Sawyer is up, since he interrupts me frequently (as he should, given that he is only two years old) and I have trouble reading it when I am extremely tired, too, which is fairly common (this is mostly because the print seems a little bit smaller and the pages are PACKED full). 

So, I found myself not reading as often as I usually do, since I felt limited by Tartt's book. Coincidentally, I noticed that I had a fair amount of students reading I Am Malala for their outside reading obligations, so I decided that I would read concurrently, since I (correctly) predicted it could be read in snippets. So, then there were two.

Then a senior student in our IB Program asked me to advise his Extended Essay on Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, which we are reading first. I've read about young Pip almost two decades ago, so rereading was a must. Now I'm at three.

But, it gets worse. My students are beginning Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God this weekend. I always reread what they do, and will do so again, despite having read it three other times before. 

So, if you'r keeping count that's four books that I'll be reading as of this weekend, unless I'm able to finish something before then (doubtful). 80% of me being thinks this is just way too much, but 20% of me who currently has three or four boxes of cereal in progress sort of appreciates the variety. But mostly, I do not. I feel detached and divided and don't really have a strong connection to any of them, really (except the Tartt book). How do people have affairs? How do polygamists do it? 

So, far now the plan is to power through, and maybe at some point I'll be okay with double-dipping, having one more challenging novel going and one that's a bit easier. But four? I just can't. 


Let's go window shopping, guys! 

I love, love, love a good flat and I have heard from a reliable source that her Tieks are worth every darn penny (in fact, she was on the verge of shelling out the cash for a second pair). The matte black option is probably the smartest, but the cardinal red ones are whispering sweet nothings in my ear... 

I am so very tired, down to the marrow of my pinky toe. I'll spare you the redundant details of working hard at work and at home (on top of things that don't fall into either of those categories), and just say that I don't foresee myself getting the sleep I need in the near future. Plan B? More coffee, please. I need a Keurig, now. I've been buying the premade iced skinny Starbucks kind from the grocery store, but they only lasts me a few days and are pretty expensive.  [Edited to add: by the time this posts I may have given in and purchased one; Target has them on sale and I AM TIRED... in case I wasn't clear before]

I've been on the lookout for a good blazer for ages, and I finally found the Elizabeth British Tweed Blazer at Boden. The Turquoise Herringbone is so pretty. 


Once upon a time I lived for ER nights (Thursdays, if I recall). I think maybe college (?) got in the way of my viewing, so eventually I sadly stopped watching. Unfortunately, you can't stream the episodes, but I recently stumbled around the box set. It's pretty pricy, but it is fifteen seasons worth... 

I sort of flip back and forth between chunky, beaded necklaces and more dainty ones. Right now I'm preferring the latter, so I'm definitely eyeing this little sunburst necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs:


I also need a new bottle of perfume. I recently, for the first time ever, actually ran out of the stuff I usually wear, so I've been relying on some backup. 

So, that's what greedy Christine is eying right now. I tend to hem and haw about buying anything over about thirty bucks (minus dresses from Anthro, Loft or Ann Taylor... my kryptonite), so in reality by the time I get around to deciding if I want to spend the money I'll be over these things! Nonetheless, if the money fairy gave me some spare hundreds, these would be towards the top of my lift (after I saved half, of course).

When I Feel Like an Accomplished Adult

When I pick up my dry cleaning. And am caught up on laundry. 

When I go to Costco, Home Depot, or the post office. Interestingly, I also feel an intense rage when I go any of these places. 

When I tip extra. Or when I'm able to treat someone to a meal.

When I take the high road and not tell someone what an annoying pain the ass they're being. See also: not telling someone they're stupid, a whiner, or are simply wrong about life. 

When I fix something or put something together. Basically, when I successfully use a screwdriver. 

When I tell some stupid door-to-door salesperson that yes, thank you, I am the home owner, and have been for FIVE years, when they ask doubtfully. 

When I take my son to the doctor. I made this thing and making sure it stays in one piece. 

When I say things like "we'll have to get an estimate" or "is it tax-deductible."

When I eat ice cream for dinner. 

Author Study (Possibly)

Back when I was at getting my degree in English at UCLA, I had to take several upper-division seminars, some of which focused on specific authors (like Thomas Hardy). I miss those days for many reasons, but the opportunity to read so many books by the same novelist and really examine their style and progression was fascinating (fine, maybe more so now that I'm done with it). So, naturally, I've been thinking about going back there, and reading a favorite author's bibliography in chronological order. Initially I was feeling ambitous and thought I could do it in a month, but then I realized how incredibly stupid that plan was. Depending on the author who I chose that might be impossible time wise, but the likelihood for getting tired of the writer would be high. And that's not the point of this, at all. So, time frame will be flexible, whomever I choose- maybe a few months, maybe six, maybe a year. For now, though, I have made a list of possible contenders, taking into account how many books they have written (only considering fiction and short story collections, unless otherwise noted), how many I already own, and how many I have read.

[all books I've read and loved by these authors]

Ann Patchett
Number of books written: 8
Number of books read: 3
Number of books owned: 4

Ian McEwan
Number of books written: 17
Number of books read: 6
Number of books owned: 6

Richard Russo
Number of books written: 10
Number of books read: 2
Number of books owned: 3

Margaret Atwood
Number of books written: 27 (oh my!)
NUmber of books read: 3
Number of books owned: 4

TC Boyle
Number of books written: 23
Number of books read: 3
Number of books owned: 6

Michael Chabon
Number of books written: 9
Number of books read: 3
Number of books owned: 6

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Why do short weeks always seem so long?

2. I really think I would be good at darts if I'd just buy a dartboard and practice a little. I also feel the same way about pingpong. I don't know why.

3. I couldn't resist this cute new mug:

4. Speaking of cute, my little guy has been using the Endless Numbers and Endless Letters apps and it's been helping him on his talking and sounds. He loves it! He gets twenty or so minutes a night of screen time after his bath and he takes the whole thing very seriously. I sit there with him, so I don't necessarily feel like I'm pawning him off on the iPad.

5. This inner-monologue from the new Target employee was the best. I love the old man who bought Mountain Dew and thought he'd get drunk. 

6. I rediscovered the Garden State soundtrack on Spotify and it took me back to a much simpler time...

7. I love this littly bunny in glasses so much I think I might buy it. For Sawyer, of course, since buying a over-priced stuffed animal for myself would be ridiculous. 

8. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt to ask- I accidentally bought $50 worth of LACMA tickets for the new Guillermo del Toro exhibit for a day we're supposed to be in San Diego. I bought new ones for the right day and then noticed that they don't do exchanges or refunds, meaning I was probably out a nice chunk of change. I decided to explain the situation anyway, and the nice folks at the LA County Museum of Art were nice to enough to credit my account. That sort of stuff rarely happens to me! I took it as a good sign.

9. Do yourself a favor and make these super-easy open-faced sandwich thingies. It's super simple- smear some guacamole on naan bread (or pita!) , top with a little bit of mozzarella and then a friend egg or two. I could eat them everyday. 

10. I love looking at the Burning Man posts on Instagram. I won't even pretend that I'd like to go, or that I would have ever- I am way too into not being filthy and enjoying luxuries such as running water. But, I still love the basic idea of people doing whatever the hell they want and being good to each other with some art. 

Labor Day Weekend

 Oh, what a difference a ten-fifteen temperature drop makes, as well as an extra day off. This weekend has seriously been the best. Like, nearing perfection, so obviously I need to commemorate the greatness. 

There have been friends- Sawyer and I met up with a good friend for breakfast and park time in Claremont, which is just the cutest little city. I also got to visit with another friend later that day and made some plans to meet up with people soon. Sometimes I'm envious of people who are content being hermits, but I like to maintain my friendships and be out and about at least most weekends every month.

There has been family time- the three of us walked around the duck pond, went to the park, ran some errands, and have just generally hung out. Sawyer is learning how to play hide-and-go-seek, which is hilarious, and his sticker obsession is still going strong. Scott and I finally finished the last episode of the last season of Mad Men, too. 

There has been so much outside time- Three different parks, the duck pond, two dog walks, three Sawyer walks, and some time in the backyard. This weather makes me so very happy.

There has been food- I am on an acai bowl kick right now and had two just this weekend. They're just so good! I also finally got the bagel I've been craving for days (I can't keep them in the house, or I'll eat one a day...), baked some chocolate-chip caramel bars for us and my sister-in-law's family with Sawyer, and have consumed gallons of coffee. There also might have been a milkshake for dinner Friday night... Plus some chicken parm and these delicious flat-bread sandwiches I've concocted. Oh, and possibly a tiny bit of wine at some point... Do you see why I work out so much now? 

There has been exercise- The walks I mentioned, plus a forty minute treadmill jog/incline walk/sprinting interval workout, and yoga. And my "do planks every day" goal is going strong. The more I work out the happier I am. 

There has been time to myself- Reading during Sawyer's nap, work outs, and even a pedicure. I was able to get through almost two-hundred pages of the Donna Tartt book I'm reading, and started I Am Malala, too, since I need something I can read in smaller bursts when things are hectic. And, the crowning glory of it all, I even went to Target alone. Sawyer is great in stores, but it's good to not have to deal with the car seat sometimes. 

There has been domestic and work productivity- Blah blah blah.

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! How many days until the next holiday? 

Top Ten Tuesday- TV

This week The Broke and the Bookish give us a sort of a TV-related freebie to write about. Personally, we canceled our satellite service a few years ago and have relied on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and my husband's purchases instead. It's much, much cheaper this way and I seldom miss having access to networks (I did during the Olympics, though!). I really, really don't watch much in general, as I don't have it on during the afternoons or evenings when I'm home from work hanging out with Sawyer and at night after he's in bed I would prefer reading, working out, or getting caught up on work. I hate excess noise! Plus I think, for me, having the TV on gives me an excuse to be lazy, and I don't want that for me or my kid. When I do watch, it's with Scott, and it's just something for us to do together. Before my son, I still watched very little, but I definitely did watch more (probably like ten hours a week then, compared to my two now). 


This isn't to say that I shun TV watching, at all (I know it sounds like it, I just don't think there's a point to spending 20 hours a week watching HGTV when I have a million things to do)! I just rather do other things and I have trouble sitting still for long stretches of time. There are several shows that I enjoy and will watch when I am on the treadmill, or cross-stitching, or with my husband. Here are ten that I either would like to catch up on, or start:

1. Downton Abbey- We are two seasons behind, but man do I love this show!

2. Sons of Anarchy- I've watched three seasons now (my husband stopped after the first) and am determined to finish the rest, in the next year or two or three.

3. The Affair- It's got Pacey in it, guys.

4. Chef's Table- I love this sort of documentary-series on Netflix on food and restaurants. It's beautiful and interesting.

5. The League- We love this show! It's hilarious. My husband has played in tons of fantasy leagues over the years and I've done hockey a time or two, so we both get it.

6. The Gilmore Girls- I'm re-watching the last season in anticipation for the upcoming episodes.

7. Grey's Anatomy- I am fully confident this show went to crap after I quit watching it (I think I'm maybe four or so seasons behind), but I am SUCH a sucker for medical shows.

8. House- Speaking of medical shows, I watched the first season or two of this one and loved it. 

9. The Sopranos- Oh man, can I be any more behind? I am fascinated my the Mafia, so the fact that I've only seen one season just doesn't make sense.

10. The Girls- I love to hate them. I really do. 

Can't wait to see what everyone else has on their list and what I'm missing out on! 

September, Plus August, Revisited

[all of these, plus eat more ice cream. duh.]

Most of August was spent transitioning from the wonderful, glorious summer to the return of the school year. My goals were simple, but maybe not completely obtainable:

1. Be in bed 10:10 on work nights- I'd say I basically did this, at least 90% of the time. The problem? I'm not going to sleep, whether it's because I'm on my phone or I can't turn my brain off (<-- font="" this="" usually="">

2. An average of 12,000 steps a day- Thanks to the work Fitbit challenge group I'm in every week I am able to do this. Even with that many steps (or more) I still don't usually win! I generally come in third or fourth, since we have some super active people in the group, but it's motivating and fun.

3. Yoga three times a week- I started off doing really well here, but the heat has really put a damper on things, as has choosing cardio as my exercise of choice lately. 

4. Grade summer work- YES! I left work this week with it all in the grade book. Sadly, this is probably the fastest I've ever gotten it done.

5. Spend less money- This didn't happen for two reasons. The first is because I started buying myself things to make myself happier about going back to work. The second is because I had to spend $400 on new brakes. 

September is a long month, but we have a lot of fun things planned and the weather is getting cooler which makes me SO happy. I'm fine with the heat when I'm off during the summer and can hang out in the pool, but now that I'm at work I want to be able to walk to my classroom to the car without sweating, not to mention that I miss our long afternoon walks before dinner. Here's what I'm hoping will magically happen this month:

1. No social media, email, or blog-reading in bed at night: I don't care about texting, because there's an actual a purpose there (twenty-first century communication, thanks), but I'm done checking Facebook or answering work email when I get into bed at night.

2. Planks every day: Man, what sad excuse for abs I had at one point are long gone. I love planks because they work you core, arms, and legs, so you get so much bang for your buck. We'll see what I can do in a month. It's important to be in the best shape possible for the holidays, so when I let myself go to shit I am really just getting back to the shape I am in right now. If that makes sense. 

3. Watch 10 TED Talks: I love TED Talks, but for some reason haven't watched any for awhile. I don't have time to watch full documentaries right now, so this is the next best thing. 

4. Finish an audiobook: I have a serious Audiobook Situation right now, which maybe I'll post about later. But finishing one this month would be progress.

5. Sign Up for a 5k or a Toe Surgery (or both?): I have been buddy-taping my useless piece-of-shit toe to the one next to it so I can run and it's helped a tiny bit, but I'm done with the pain and the inconvenience. I see the podiatrist later this month and I refuse to leave without a plan. There's a a 5k I want to do at UCLA in November, so if I haven't had surgery (if I end up going that route) I'll do it, pain and all. 

August Reviews

August was a weird little hodgepodge of books, from Franzen to Harry Potter. My reading has obviously slowed way down since starting work (long gone are the seven books a month happy days), but I still managed to finish five this month. My thoughts:

Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
304 pages
The third book in his (allegedly) unintentional trilogy, is set during the Christmas holiday when a stranger comes into Daniel Sempere and his father's bookstore, insinuating a past relationship with Fermin Romero de Torres. Fermin then recounts his past experiences as a prisoner and how his identity was changed in order to ensure his safety once he escaped. Meanwhile, Daniel Sempere is worried that his wife is having an affair... 

Verdict: I though this book was definitely the weakest of the three Zafon books I have read. It was so incredibly rushed, and the beautiful writing at least partially absent. The whimsy was gone and I didn't enjoy reading it like the others. 

Purity by Jonathan Franzen
608 pages
Pip is a young college graduate living in the Bay Area in a squatter's home, wondering how she's going to pay off her debt and when the heck her mom will every divulge the identity of her father. She is recruited, basically, to work at a sort of WikiLeaks type place in South America, where she is then sent on assignment to Colorado. There she becomes weirdly involved in the marriage of two of the people that run the publication where she works (which is in and of itself a long story). The book, meanwhile, is split into sections that involve all these people, plus more. We're all over the world, all over the realm of reality, and all over every character in the book. There's murder, there's travel, there's sex, there's secrets, their tricky relationships, and whole lot more. It is a long book, after all. 

Verdict: This was my first Franzen novel, and I really ended up loving it. Of course there are flaws, and there are definitely sections that could have been condensed, but, nonetheless, I think I am definitely Team Franzen. The way he creates characters and a story is impressive and I appreciate his risk-taking. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
320 pages
I discussed this book here. Spoiler alert: nothing special.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
240 pages
I have read this book five or six times now, and I am still teaching it in class. Please don't make me talk about it more than I have to. It's a classic. It's the ultimate coming-of-age novel. It's oh-so-risque for the fifties. He says "phony" seventeen thousand times. And so-on and so-forth. 

An Innocent Abroad: Life Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers by Lonely Planet 
320 pages
There really are some great authors in here- Ann Patchett, Dave Eggers, and Jane Smiley, to name a few. And the destinations? Pretty exotic, whether Burning Man, Yemen, Cuba, or France. And their life-changing moments vary too, from dramatic to more introspective.

Verdict: I have actually been reading this for months, an essay or two at a time. While I found some more interesting than others, as a whole the book was incredibly enjoyable. I can't wait to travel more, and this just fueled the fire. 

1,792 pages 

September- Looking Ahead

I firmly believe that you have to have things to look forward to, so that if things are crappy in the present (which they're not, exactly, but still) you have something to get you through the day. I relayed this sentiment to my students the other day and I had an interesting mix of vigorous head nodding and snickers. Anyway, August is always sort of rough, so September is so very welcomed right now. Some things on the horizon that I'm excited about:

1. THREE day weekend! Threeeeeee! 

2. I have a few things planned with friends on various weekends, which makes me so happy. Over the years I have acquired a half-a-dozen or so close friends that are accepting, fun, and intelligent, which is pretty much all I've ever wanted, socially.

3. I get to to go to a Jonathan Safran Foer reading! Finally. 

4. Speaking of Foer, both he and Ann Patchett have new books coming out this month. I'm sure there are others, but I haven't spent some quality time with the internet lately trying to figure out the fall new releases.

5. At the end of the month we're taking Sawyer to his first MLB game- our Giants are playing the Padres in San Diego, so we're heading south for the evening to watch the boys in orange and black play (and stuff our faces with wonderful stadium food). Sawyer had a blast at the minor league game we took him to in July, so I think this will be great.

6. We're are hoping to get over to the LACMA at some point so that my husband can see the Guillermo del Toro exhibit and so that we can just spend some time visiting in general. It runs through November, though, so this might get pushed back.

7. It's getting cooler! Yes, there will be plenty of September days in the 90s, but the 80s are pushing in, and the nights are cooler. It's not "fall," but I'll take it.

September! Yay!