Sunday, January 11, 2015

50 Books Challenge

I still have a Christmas post to write, but this is way more important...

I'm continuing to challenge myself to read 50 books a year. Last year, with my return to work, I didn't do so hot, but 41 isn't terrible.

As part of my challenge, I pick an author to read in-depth. This year, I chose F. Scott Fitzgerald since I had to read The Great Gatsby for school. I only made it through part of one other book by him before deciding I am not a fan.
  • The Great Gatsby: ****
  • This Side of Paradise: *
Despite not being a fan of John Green, I read two more books of his:
  • The Fault in Our Stars: ****
  • Paper Towns: ***
This is the only book I gave five stars to this whole year: A Monster Calls: *****

Except these two, which I have read more than once before:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird *****
  • Anne of Green Gables *****

Other books I read for school:

  • Black Boy ***
  • The Crucible ***
  • A Raisin in the Sun ***
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God: ***
  • Speak ****
  • A Child Called It ***

This book I couldn't finish because it was putting me to sleep on my commute: The Light Between Oceans*

Some non-fiction:
  • Bossypants ****
  • Blink ****
And the rest:
  • The Sense of an Ending ****
  • Between Shades of Grey ****
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon ****
  • The Engagements ****
  • Wonder ****
  • Mormon Wife ****
  • All Our Yesterdays ****
  • The Secret Keeper ****
  • The One and Only Ivan ****
  • Night Film ****
  • I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You ****
  • Defending Jacob ****
  • Eleanor and Park ****
  • The Hiding Place ****
  • The Final Empire ****
  • The Shoemaker's Wife ***
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy ***
  • The Round House ***
  • Before I Go to Sleep ***
  • The Humming Room ***
  • The Apothecary ***
  • The Black Opal ***
  • The Sea of Tranquility ***
  • Juniper Berry ***
  • Where'd You Go Bernadette **

The Latest and Greatest in Extracurricular Activities

Soccer season came and went without me taking a single photograph. Have I mentioned how much I hate soccer season? And it has only gotten worse since I started working....

In October, all of the boys decided to try out some new sports. I found a super inexpensive tae kwon do class for Rylan through Raleigh Parks and Rec. Despite being the boy who loves pink and princesses, Rylan is the most physical of all of my children and loves to play fight. Tae kwon do has been a great fit for him.

This past month, since hockey ended (see below), Eli decided to try out tae kwon do also. After his first class, I said, "How was it?"

He shrugged, which is his way of saying he doesn't really want to tell me.

"Harder than you thought it would be?"

"I guess."

"You think you owe Rylan a little respect now?"

"I guess," which is his way of saying definitely but I don't want to admit it.


Meanwhile back at the ranch, Cole and Eli got to try out ice hockey through the Boys and Girls Club. Needing more kids for their hockey team, the director of the Boys and Girls Club practically begged the boys to join. Michael and I were excited because it was a good opportunity for them to try out for free a sport that we otherwise would not be willing to pay for.

The verdict: Eli loved it and wants to continue playing. Cole, meh.


All three boys continue to take piano lessons, and Cole and Eli have continued with percussion in their school band. Their band concert was absolutely wonderful, and I wish I had recorded some of it.


Annual Trip to Chimney Rock

During another fun day of this:

camping 2014

...Eli went over the waterfall, fell backwards off his inner tube, hit his head, and all tubing was pretty much spoiled the rest of the day. Of course, if I would have had to predict which one of my kids was going to have some sort of tubing accident, it would have been Eli. (here, here, and here)

We still enjoyed being lazy in the river, ...

camping 2014

...climbing on the rocks,...

camping 2014

...and enjoying nature.

camping 2014

We went on a fantastic boat tour of Lake Lure that included several very important landmarks (where Dirty Dancing was filmed) and ended with rain.

camping 2014

We ended the trip with our annual meal at that Mexican restaurant in Chimney Rock.

camping 2014

Unfortunately, Michael had to point out the phallicism of Chimney Rock, and since we will now never be able to get that image out of our heads, we may be moving our annual camping trip to a new location next summer.

camping 2014camping 2014

Annual Trip to the Beach

These photos are from August. Rest assured, we did not go swimming in the ocean in January...

2014 beach

2014 beach

2014 beach

Michael decided we needed some of those boards (that I'm forgetting the exact name of right now), and the two older boys definitely enjoyed them. I can take or leave the ocean, but I definitely don't mind a good day of beach-reading and photographing my little toothless cutie:

2014 beach

Friday, December 12, 2014

On working full time

In my ideal world, parents would only work 30 hours a week instead of 40. Combined they'd get paid for a 60 hour week - more than the 40 hours an individual would work but so much more manageable than the 80 hours of two typical full time employees.

Similarly, sometimes I think about how much better off the world would be if every household had one person working full time and one person staying at home. Better for the environment. Better for relationships.

Before I went back to work...
  • Dinner got made every night, which meant less trash and less factory farmed food.
  • The house was always clean and the laundry actually got done.
  • Michael and I both had more hours for freetime.
  • The weekend was spent relaxing, rather than hustling to get chores done.
Things I've figured out since I started working:

  • I have our groceries delivered through a company called Papa Spuds. They provide locally grown produce, milk, eggs, and meat, and it's delivered once a week right to our front door. It's the best thing in the world.
  • I have the boys sorting their own laundry - both dirty and clean.
Things I have not figured out:
  • when to clean the house
  • how to balance getting stuff done on the weekends with getting to spend time relaxing and enjoying each other's company
  • how to get enough sleep

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rylan Says...

"I got a card flip at school today," Rylan announced forlornly when I picked him up from school today. "It was just because I forgot what Ms. Hunter told us to do after each person finished reading their Rainbow Words, so I did the opposite."

"What did Ms. Hunter tell you to do?" I asked.

"She said to say, 'Good job.'"

Uh, oh!

Friday, September 19, 2014


The other night, Michael called me a nerd.

He was helping me plan an activity about characterization in which I would have my students make inferences about me based on things I've said, things I've done, or choices I've made. I said, "Do you think they could guess what table I sat at in high school?" 

He said, "I think they could figure out that you sat at the nerd table."

I said, "I wasn't a nerd in high school."

Of course, if you asked most of the people I went to high school with, they probably would say I was a nerd. It's just that I personally never self-identified as a nerd and certainly wouldn't have listed "smart" as my defining characteristic.

Michael asked me, "So if you aren't a nerd, what are you?"

"A hippie," I replied as if it were obvious.

Michael disagreed, seeing as I don't smoke pot or listen to jam bands.

"Okay, maybe we have different definitions of the word hippie. Maybe a better word to describe me would be crunchy. Granola."

"I could see that," Michael conceded.

Environmentalist. Yogi. Gardener. Bike-rider. Folk-music lover. That is how I self-identify.

Thinking of this conversation, I asked the boys tonight, "What do you think is your main talent? How would you describe yourself? Nerd? Athlete? Artist? Musician? Dancer? What?"

Eli said athlete, which I was not expecting, but his answer might have been skewed by the fact that we were coming home from soccer.

Cole said geek, which he insists is different from and better than a nerd.

I think it's interesting to think about how others see us versus how we see ourselves. How do you self-identify?
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