Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! Link up, link back, say hi!

1. In twenty-four hours I'll be on an eleven-day President's Day Break and pretty much the happiest woman around. It technically doesn't begin until Friday afternoon, but I'm calling a sub so that I can take care of some business. We just had winter break five weeks ago, so I know I'm sort of a jerk for celebrating another vacation, but I've been working hard at home and work and I'm TIRED. Plus I get to spend all week with my favorite little guy, which I definitely am looking forward to.

2. Next week I'm going to take Sawyer to the San Diego Zoo (tangent: I have mixed feelings about zoos, but I have an annual pass in my name as a result of needing to qualify for a credit union membership that was necessary to finance our solar panels; long story semi-short: I'm going to make a donation to some sort of save the elephant fund to make myself feel a little less hypocritical. But circuses or Sea World- over my dead body). I've had a few people surprised that I'm going "alone." Because I can't drive two hours and handle the same toddler I handle every day? Come onnnnnnnn. He's super excited to meow at the koalas that we watched videos of the other day. 

3. Toddlers in backpacks are pretty darn cute:

4. I'm making these as we speak. I've been eating like total crap lately since I've been so active, and I know after the half Sunday I'm going to either have to maintain my current level of activity so I can keep eating ridiculous amounts of carbs (like absurd), or scale everything back. Or, I guess I could keep eating ridiculously and stop exercising and just let nature take it's course, but considering it'll be bathing suit weather in about five minutes that's not happening.

5. I'm slightly obsessed with changing up my sparsely decorated mantle and came across this wood wall art thingamajig on Etsy. I'm going to email the guy for a quote on a special order asap (this one is too big for what I have in mind), but the colors are perfect for my living room and my husband actually likes it too.

[A+ cropping job]

6. Speaking of things that are aesthetically pleasing and highly necessary:

[I better decide soon, since they're so low on inventory...]

7. I don't get too political on here, but I think it's safe to say most know where my allegiance lies. The caucus results the other night were fascinating and encouraging. That's all I'll say.

8. We watched Everest last weekend and all I knew was that it was about people climbing the mountain (that's all I needed to be on board). I had no idea that it was about the trip that John Krakauer was a part of! It made me want to reread Into Thin Air, despite the fact that Krakauer apparently wasn't exactly a fan of the movie.

9. I need to sit down and make a really, really long, carefully thought out playlist for Sunday. I recently acquired quite a bit of new music, so now it's time to sit and think things like "at one point am I going to hit a wall and need something fun like Ke$ha?" and "how many times should I include "Party Rock" on this list?" and also "am I still into starting every race with 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'?" [insert judgmental comments about my taste in music here.] I'm actually really, really excited about Sunday, but that may be in part because I can't wait to get a solid night sleep in a hotel room all by myself the night before. I have this nagging feeling that I'm setting myself up for failure, though, since a little part of my thinks it could be a really solid race after my successful long run last week. Nonetheless, it'll be some good exercise by the ocean and a nice chance to spend some time alone (minus the twenty thousand people I'm hanging out with).

10. I just started Us by David Nicholls and so far, so good. I have to admit that part of the short chapters are part of the appeal right now, since it makes it easy to pick up in spurts (it is pretty long, though).

January Reviews

January allowed me five books, probably because I was off for a few days and the semester has only just begun. I appreciated the variety- short stories, letters, a graphic novel, contemporary fiction, and a classic.  

Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker 
225 pages
This is a collection of letters told to various men in Parker's life, from her grandfather, to abusive significant others, to cab drivers. The names are never divulged, but she provides enough context to where the reader is able to determine time periods, emotional states, and where she is at in her career. It's an interesting concept and there's obviously a great deal of catharsis in letter writing. 

Verdict: I enjoyed this book, for the most part. It was an easy book to read in spurts, and like I just said, I appreciated the concept. Supposedly she wrote this herself, which means she has some chops (although slightly overdone ones at times). I do have to admit to thinking the theme, only writing to men who have had meaning, bothers me a little bit, but that's probably just me being defensive.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
390 pages
This is the story of a married couple that views their decades-long relationship form both Lotto and Mathilde's perspectives. We see them grow, stumble, keep secrets, and suffer over and over again. The reader is sucked into the world of theater and given a unique glimpse at the torturous mind of a creative- and the woman standing his shadows.

Verdict: I hate using the word "epic" to describe things, but this was an epic work of literary fiction. The writing was perfect, the characters deep and complex, the plot riveting. It was long, as all epics are, but totally worth it in the end.

American Housewife by Helen Ellis
185 pages
I saw this collection of short stories pop up here and there and thought it would be a nice companion piece to The Awakening. The stories are centered around women who are housewives, to varying degrees. There's a story that is comprised of an email exchange between two apartment neighbors at war over how to decorate the shared hallway. There's the story of a struggling writer who wants to win a reality show. Another novelist who's tasked with writing a book sponsored by Tampax (come to think of it, I think three of the stories are centered around stay-at-home-writers).

Verdict: This was definitely the weakest of the bunch this month; the stories were really inconsistent. There were a few that were really witty and satirical, but some that drug on (like the reality show one, which was also way too long). It's not a bad book by any means, but it seemed a bit sloppy.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
116 pages
I think this is the fourth time I've read this book, but the first time as a mom (I may write about this perspective later). For those unfamiliar, it's about Edna, a woman at the turn of the century who decides she's not content being only someone's wife and mother. She goes through a premature midlife crisis and becomes increasingly flirtatious and eventually moves out of the family home. Scandalous. 

Verdict: I love this book, and I especially love teaching it. The students are always pretty divided in how they view the issues and we have some interesting discussions on feminism, identity, and whether Edna is a feminist or entitled brat.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
296 pages
I finally read a graphic novel! I'm pretty sure most are familiar with the story, but it's Spiegelman's retelling of his father's time leading up to, and after, Auschwitz. The narrative flips back and forth between the past and the author's present, which allows the reader to see the impact being a Jewish prisoner had on Vladek, as well as his family. 

Verdict: I don't tend to gravitate towards WWII history, but this was a really, really great story. I went in with some trepidation, not sure if I could connect to the animals as characters (I was thinking Animal Farm prior to reading... I was amused but detached) or the black and white illustrations (again, I read maybe one graphic novel a year, so I'm still finding a comfort level in this style of reading). I will definitely be recommending this to my students. 

1,212 pages

January, Revisited, Plus February

Time! It's flying! 

For those new around here, I like to start each month with some goals to keep me focused and accountable, as well as a check-in to see if I was able to follow through with what I wanted to the month before. I'm naturally competitive, even with myself, so putting it out into the world at least motivates me a little to be productive. I'd say 70% of them are actually really, really boring and make me seem much more responsible than I really am, but... I don't care? Correction: I mostly don't care. Anyway. 

Here's how I did with January's goals:

1. Make fruit/veggie smoothies three times a week: Nope Twice. Total.  And I think one was actually from Juice It Up. I've been much better about Sawyer's veggie intake, so that's a plus. Now for my own....

2. Finish 2015 photo book: Yup! 117 pages and 700+ pictures later it's been ordered. It's not the masterpiece I would have wanted, but I had a great coupon code that knocked off half the price, so I hauled ass to finish. 

3. Take stuff to Goodwill: Yes! I actually donated to one of those companies that drive around and pick up your stuff, but same thing. And easier.  

4. 95k steps a week: Reached in excess! I ran/walked nine miles the other night and the only thing that hurt the next day was my mutant ankle. I'm cautiously optimistic I won't die when I do the half on Sunday. 

5. Computer maintenance-type stuff: Partially I backed up my phone but have yet to find the balls to update my phone and computer (I'm afraid they'll die... I need to go to first-world-problems therapy). 

6. Chart time for two weekdays and one weekend: Yes Honestly, I don't know why I did it. I'm on the go constantly, between work, taking care of Sawyer, dealing with the house, working out, and trying to see friends. I need to sleep more. 

7. Stay on top of grading: Yes? I question this because I don't feel like I'm buried, but I may be, in reality. Nonetheless, it's not stressing me out so we'll call it a win... for now. 

8. Journal more: Sporadic.

9. Write two short stories: Big fat no.

10. Get a pedicure: Yes I walked and ran hundreds of thousands of steps. It was much needed. 

And for February:

1. Think about daycare for next school year: This stresses me out unbelievably. Deciding where to put your child for nearly eight hours a day is no small task.  I just keep picturing him crying at some strange place with people he doesn't know. He's very social so this is probably more my issue, but still. I've found not thinking about it to be a successful strategy, but we're nearing six months out and I need to start preparing. This month I'm trying to get the courage to initiate the conversation with our current provider to see if she's completely sure she's done. I'll go from there.

2. Prepare tax documents: We have our appointment later this month and I don't want to wait until the last minute to get our paperwork together. My life. It's just so exciting. 

3. Cross train more: I've been all about running and walking lately. I need to do more yoga and cycling. My brother and I are also trying to figure out a Saturday to try Orange Theory together. I can't wait to be humiliated. 

4. Walk dogs more

5. Drink less Diet Coke: I don't want to, but I need to. I really, really love it. I have a "no wine on weekdays" policy, so Diet Coke is my trusty friend. And it has enough caffeine to take the edge off my exhaustion when I haven't had coffee. But it's basically liquid cancer and it costs more than a gallon of gas or milk, which are both far more useful. 

6. Schedule at least one or two posts each week: I'm generally a "write it and post it" kind of girl, but I'd like to start sitting down on the weekends and scheduling at least one or two posts for the week.

7. Clean something abnormal: Junk drawers (yes, plural), my work out room, the upstairs desk. Something that has been neglected.

8. The Closet Situation: Speaking of taking on a super fun and exciting new project, I want to look into doing some sort of huge overhaul on my closet. We are lucky enough to each have our own walk-ins, and I'm sick of using the rubbermaid drawers that I've had since college to organize everything that's not hanging. It's not a mess, but I'd like it to look more put together. 

9. Research, and book, some short getaways- We're hoping to spend some time in Yosemite later this spring as a family, and then possibly a night in Malibu in July for a wedding (we'd leave Sawyer with my mom... he's not currently wedding material).

10. Expose my kid to something new: I want to take Sawyer to do two new-to-him things this month. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Last Saturday my brother drove up and joined us for breakfast at this dive we go to and then for bowling. It was so fun and we learned that Sawyer can lift a ten pound ball and gently set it on the ground. He loved the bowling alley, since it's a place that revolves around balls, vending machines, and swirly chairs. I broke 100 both games, so I was pretty pleased with myself. 

2. I almost got my wedding dress out of the meticulously sealed box the cleaners put it in to try it on the other day, mostly to just see if I could squeeze, sausage-style, into it. Why I'd want to subject myself to such abuse is beyond me. Buuuuut, what if I could? What if, after eight years and a kid, I could still get into it? Nothing, that's what. Not even a certificate. 

3. I'm actually reading a graphic novel right now- Art Spiegelman's Maus. I feel slightly out of place reading this genre, but I guess that's a good thing.

4. SOMEONE AT WORK ACCUSED ME VIA SOMEONE ELSE OF CHEATING IN OUR FITBIT CHALLENGE. Whoa there. WHOA. Back the HECK up. Do we need photographic evidence? No, we don't, actually, because no one wants to be see me in a sports bra with a face as red as a tomato after running at night. Trust me, work people.  

5. I watched another movie this weekend! That's like two this month. A miracle, I tell ya. This one was Sleeping With Other People, a romantic comedy about people who had a ton of sex and were scared of emotional intimacy. The best part is that the weird guy from The League, Jason something or other, and his movie wife stole the show. They were hilarious. 

6. My husband bought Everest, which I cannot wait to watch this weekend. Unfortunately, he has to fly for a quick business thing later this week and he's pretty sure he's going to die (this is only the second time he's flown since I met him, twelve years ago) and I don't really know how to work the XBox to watch it if he does. Fingers crossed he survives, because I really want to see it.

7. How are you supposed to feel when you know someone is hate reading/following/friending you? Flattered because they think you're interesting (ha!) or insulted because they don't have the best intentions? When I have more time I will think about this more.  

8. Are there any novels based on songs? That seems like a fun creative writing assignment- take a song and write a short story, or longer piece, inspired by it. 

9. For the first time in our entire relationship I told my husband what I weigh the other night. And the only reason why was because I was 100% sure he didn't weigh less than I do (we are the same height). If this isn't intimacy I don't know what is. I will still never pee with the bathroom door open, though, because that's just plain gross.

10. The neighbor's dog and mine had a barking confrontation a few weeks ago and he came over and apologized profusely, with his cute little triplets. Then, he came over again, with a bottle of wine. First of all, it was not a big deal at all. Secondly, now I feel sort of awkward when I see them outside. Thirdly, can this happen again once or twice a week so I can fill up my wine rack?

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Top Ten Tuesday- Beauty Products

[never leave home without it]

Yes, you read that right- my freebie for The Broke and the Bookish's freebie topic is beauty products. While I don't experiment with crazy eye shadow colors or change my hair style four times a year, I'm always on the lookout for better products that help me look a little better put together. This is one area that I am willing to spend a little money, too; while I do have some tried and true drugstore/Target favorites I have found that in many cases the pricier brands can last longer throughout the day or just look better (especially when it comes to foundation or eye shadow). Beauty blogger I am most definitely not, but here are some of my current favorites:

1. Clarisonic Mia 2- I've mentioned this a few times but with each day that passes I love mine more. I can count the break outs that I've gotten on one hand in the last three months and my skin is much smoother and less flaky. It's worth the $150, I promise.

2. Lisurgence Lip Gloss (Tarte)- This stuff is the best; it doesn't get clumpy, the coverage is even, and the color and shine are somewhere between minimal and hooker. I love it so much I just ordered a new tube (fine, three) a few minutes ago.  

3. Facial Spray with Aloe, Herb and Rosewater (Mario Badescu)- I love this stuff! It's less than ten bucks a bottle and I spray it on in the morning for a quick hit of moisture and then after all my makeup is on to set things and make it look a more natural.

4. Urban Decay Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette- This is old, but it's my absolute favorite and pretty much the only thing I use (although I do need a matte palette, which I wish they'd make).

5. Stippling brush- I just picked this up a few weeks ago to use instead of sponges for my foundation. I saw a tutorial on one of the blogs I occasionally watch and decided to try it out. The coverage is much, much better this way, but I'm still working on making sure everything is even. It also takes two or three times as long to apply. Nonetheless, I'm a convert.

6. Covergirl LashBlast Mega Volume Mascara- I'm not really into brows or eye lashes, but I grabbed this at Ulta last week and like it more than the other variations in the past. I'd definitely buy it again.

7. Moroccan Oil- Original Oil Treatment- My hair is super, super dry and this oil helps out quite a bit when I put it in at night. I also use it to soften up curls or slick back pony tails. It's really pricy, but you can get by with just a pump or two, so I only have to buy it every six months or so. Sometimes I panic that they'll stop making it and consider stock piling, but that would be crazy... (right?)

8. Hemp Foot Protector (The Body Shoppe)- I know I've mentioned it before, but this stuff is great. I am not kind to my feet- I go barefoot, I don't have regular pedicures, I exercise often, and I'm just lazy when it comes to dealing with their appearance. This stuff works miracles, though (when I remember to use it).

9. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream for Dry and Sensitive Cream- I have extremely dry skin and this moisturizer has worked wonders for my skin. It's pretty heavy so I don't usually use it under makeup, but I have and it hasn't been too big of a deal.

10. All About Eyes (Clinique)- I started using eye cream at night about a year ago, since I am in my thirties now and I do have a child that is bound and determined to make me look as exhausted as humanly possible. I think it's sort of hard to say whether or not an eye cream really is working when you don't have many lines, but I can say that it helps with my under eye circles and I haven't gotten any wrinkles in the last year. Plus it feels nice.