Monday, January 9, 2017

Masters of Library Science

17. Earn a masters degree.




When I created my 40x40 list, I had earned 15 credits toward my Masters of Library Science degree and was waiting for readmission to the program after taking a year and a half off due to monetary, medical, and other life-related reasons.


My first semester back in the program was the spring of 2015.  I took two courses, which my program considers to be a full-time classload.  One was the Acquisition and Management of Knowledge and Information (formerly known as Collection Development), and the other was Youth Services.  Both required that I spend time volunteering in actual libraries (both school and public) and creating program plans, in addition to tons of academic work.


Then I took two summer courses, which was especially rough with my four kids home with my during the summer.  Each course was condensed into a shortened 6-week intensive course and was incredibly hard to get all the work completed.  It involved a lot of time spent with my four kids playing at the public library while I did observations of the patrons, the workers, and the collection for my Evaluation of Information Sources and Services course.  During that time, I also volunteered for a week as a leader at Girl Scout camp, so it was nothing short of a miracle (and an absolute lack of sleep) that the work got turned in that week).  Then, when that one was done, we did a lot of movies at home while I did Grant Writing for Libraries.  Grant Writing also happened to fall during the time that I took my circus on the road for not one but TWO week-long trips--the kids to day camp for a week, with me and all four kids staying in a friend's basement, and then our whole family traveling up to Michigan for a vacation with my dad, stepmom, and siblings.  So my laptop and textbooks went along on those trips, and it involved a lot of late nights for me after the kids were in bed.  Being that I was on the road for a full 1/3 of the course, it was a little touch-and-go at times, and my stress level was pretty high, but it got done and I was happy with the results.


Then in the fall of 2015, I went back to work full time as an elementary school librarian.  Because I am crazy, and also because I was on a timeline for graduation because I'd had to apply for readmission to the program and my earlier credits were going to expire if I didn't hurry up and finish, I continued to carry the courseload of a full-time student while also working full-time.  I took School Media, which was incredibly applicable to what I was doing in my job every day and a fascinating, hands-on course that I utterly loved, but was also an intensely heavy workload.  I also took Seminar for Literature for Youth, which was one of my two favorite courses ever, but was also easily the most time-intensive class I ever had.  It involved reading a minimum of 500 pages of novels per week, on top of the academic reading for the course, on top of the multiple weekly assignments we had to submit.


In the spring of 2016, the end was in sight.  It was my final semester in the program.  I took Online Searching, which I initially didn't think would be terribly applicable to my job as a school librarian--but boy, was I wrong.  I have used the skillset that I learned in that course nearly daily in my current job as a high school media specialist.  I also worked with my advisor on an independent study, called Directed Readings, in which I plunged more directly into a study of some of the struggles that face school media specialists.  Those courses comprised another full-time student load; I continued to work full-time; and to make things REALLY interested, I also picked up a part-time job for supplemental income.  Sleep was rare.


Then, in May of 2016, I finally graduated with my Masters of Library Science, completing the journey that I had begun by taking the GRE when Liam was only a month old.  The success was bittersweet, as I had to leave my job at the elementary school library (the same school where my kids attended), due to their refusal to hire a licensed librarian.  Under the old superintendent, the strategic plan had called for media specialists in all schools; under the new superintendent, the revised plan keeps aides in the elementaries and makes some other (in my opinion) very negative changes.  So after earning my hardwon degree, I was out of a job.


I spent the summer working at the local public library, assisting with the summer reading program.  My kids switched elementary schools to be under a more supportive principal (though still under the same superintendent, so there's that).  And I found a full-time job as a media specialist at a junior-senior high school with an incredible administration, albeit an hour's drive away.  So that's where I'm at now.  Goal #17, achieved.



36 / 36

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reading Update - end of 2016

The update on my 200 book goal, at the end of 2016:





1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
2. Stone Fox John Reynolds Gardiner (read with Bryn)
3. Little Big Lies by Liane Moriarty (read with book club)
4. Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
5. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
6. Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (read with book club)
7. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
8. Unglued: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lisa TerKeurst (also Christian book)
9. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
10. This Girl by Colleen Hoover


11. My Life in France by Julia Child (read with book club)
12. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
13. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
15. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
16. Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol (read with book club)
17. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
18. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
19. Paper Towns by John Green (re-read, read with book club)
20. Defending Jacob by William Landay (read with book club)


21. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (re-read, read with book club)
22. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
23. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
24. El Deafo by Cece Bell
25. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
26. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Hepperman
27. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
28. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (re-read)
29. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
30. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (read with Bryn)


31. Confess by Colleen Hoover
32. Best Friend Next Door by Carolyn Mackler (read with Bryn)
33. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
34. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
35. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
36. Crash by Lisa McMann
37. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
38. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
39. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Mattson
40. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver


41. Bang by Lisa McMann
42. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
43. Gasp by Lisa McMann
44. Ashfall by Mike Mullen (read with book club)
45. I Was Here by Gayle Forman
46. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
47. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
48. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (read with the kids)
49. Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga
50. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (re-read)


51. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
52. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
53. Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
54. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
55. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
56. Winger by Andrew Smith
57. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (read with Bryn)
58. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
59. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
60. Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio


61. Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
62. Gone Fishing by Tamara Will Wissinger
63. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
64. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
65. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech
66. Inside Out & Back Again by Thannha Lai
67. Sold by Patricia McCormick
68. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (read with book group)
69. Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
70. Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal


71. What Is the Statue of Liberty? by Joan Holub
72. Parallel by Lauren Miller (re-read)
73. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
74. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
75. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
76. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (read with the kids)
77. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
78. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
79. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
80. Kristy's Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier


81. Mary Anne Saves the Day by Raina Telgemeier
82. The List by Siobhan Vivian (re-read)
83. Claudia and Mean Janine by Raina Telgemeier
84. The Truth About Stacy by Raina Telgemeier
85. Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm (read with Bryn and Shay)
86. Babymouse: Bad Babysitter by Jennifer Holm (read with Bryn and Shay)
87. Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
88. Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
89. Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
90. My Name Is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton (read with Shay)


91. Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
92. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
93. Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
94. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
95. Tales of a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
96. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Mattson
97. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
98. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown (read with book club)
99. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (read with the kids)
100. Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian


101. A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
102. Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
103. Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
104. Tales of a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
105. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
106. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
107. The One and Only by Emily Giffin
108. George by Alex Gino
109. Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
110. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson


111. Who Is J.K. Rowling? by Pamela D. Pollack
112. Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean
113. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (re-read)
114. Tales of a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
115. Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl
116. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
117. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (re-read, read with the kids)
118. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
119. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
120. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater


121. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
122. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (read with Bryn)
123. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
124. Holes by Louis Sachar (re-read, read with Shay)
125. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
126. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
127. Harry  Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
128. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (re-read)
129. What Light by Jay Asher


What's next:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
Overwhelmed by Perry Noble


128 / 200

Friday, December 2, 2016

Reading Update

An update on my 200 book goal:



1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
2. Stone Fox John Reynolds Gardiner (read with Bryn)
3. Little Big Lies by Liane Moriarty (read with book club)
4. Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
5. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
6. Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (read with book club)
7. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
8. Unglued: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lisa TerKeurst (also Christian book)
9. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
10. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
11. My Life in France by Julia Child (read with book club)
12. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
13. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
15. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
16. Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol (read with book club)
17. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
18. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
19. Paper Towns by John Green (re-read, read with book club)
20. Defending Jacob by William Landay (read with book club)
21. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (re-read, read with book club)
22. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
23. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
24. El Deafo by Cece Bell
25. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
26. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Hepperman
27. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
28. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (re-read)
29. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
30. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (read with Bryn)
31. Confess by Colleen Hoover
32. Best Friend Next Door by Carolyn Mackler (read with Bryn)
33. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
34. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
35. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
36. Crash by Lisa McMann
37. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
38. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
39. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Mattson
40. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
41. Bang by Lisa McMann
42. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
43. Gasp by Lisa McMann
44. Ashfall by Mike Mullen (read with book club)
45. I Was Here by Gayle Forman
46. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
47. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
48. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (read with the kids)
49. Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga
50. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (re-read)
51. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
52. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
53. Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
54. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
55. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
56. Winger by Andrew Smith
57. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (read with Bryn)
58. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
59. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
60. Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio
61. Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
62. Gone Fishing by Tamara Will Wissinger
63. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
64. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
65. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech
66. Inside Out & Back Again by Thannha Lai
67. Sold by Patricia McCormick
68. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (read with book group)
69. Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
70. Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet B. Pascal
71. What Is the Statue of Liberty? by Joan Holub
72. Parallel by Lauren Miller (re-read)
73. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
74. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
75. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
76. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (read with the kids)
77. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
78. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
79. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
80. Kristy's Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier
81. Mary Anne Saves the Day by Raina Telgemeier
82. The List by Siobhan Vivian (re-read)
83. Claudia and Mean Janine by Raina Telgemeier
84. The Truth About Stacy by Raina Telgemeier
85. Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm (read with Bryn and Shay)
86. Babymouse: Bad Babysitter by Jennifer Holm (read with Bryn and Shay)
87. Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
88. Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
89. Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
90. My Name Is Stilton, Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton (read with Shay)
91. Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
92. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
93. Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
94. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
95. Tales of a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
96. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Mattson
97. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
98. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown (read with book club)
99. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (read with the kids)
100. Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
101. A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
102. Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
103. Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
104. Tales of a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
105. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
106. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
107. The One and Only by Emily Giffin
108. George by Alex Gino
109. Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
110. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
111. Who Is J.K. Rowling? by Pamela D. Pollack
112. Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean
113. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (re-read)
114. Tales of a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell (read with Bryn and Shay)
115. Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl
116. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
117. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (re-read, read with the kids)
118. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
119. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (re-read)
120. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
121. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
122. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (read with Bryn)
123. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
124. Holes by Louis Sachar (re-read, read with Shay)




124 / 200

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Driving: August 8, 2003

The last day of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....


Day 63--Friday, August 8, 2003


What can I say about the last day of our trip?  We drove.  And drove.  And drove some more.


I woke up around 8:00, and we stopped to take showers at a truck stop.  We got some McDonald's for breakfast, and we continued driving.  We went through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  Ben drove the whole way.  Once I woke up, he kept driving and we talked about our trip and about the lives facing us once we got home.


Around 5:30, we arrived at the Steak 'n' Shake on Michigan Road in Indianapolis.  We stopped for some dinner and basked in the familiarity of it all.  After that, back to 680 Mulberry Street.  We spent the rest of the night unpacking the car, cleaning up the house, battling with the jungle that is my yard, and getting settled in.  We went to bed with aching backs and a sense that "real life" was upon us once more.








26 / 40

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rhode Island: August 7, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....


Day 62--Thursday, August 7, 2003


We packed up the car for the last time and got on the road.  Our first crisis of the day was that we had lost our ferry ticket back to the mainland.  This meant I had to spend an additional $10 to get a new one.  Ben assured me this was okay because we are eventually going to be rich due to his new job!


Back on the mainland, we drove to Providence, where we met up with David Babcock at the same Barnes and Noble on Brown University's campus where Damon and I met him on our spring break trip last year.  We got caught up with him while he ate a crepe for lunch.  We spent our afternoon doing quite a bit of maneuvering: getting our car to David's house, seeing the building where David's office is located, trying to get tickets to a sold-out show at a local comedy club, and checking movie listings at the Brown library.  This all eventually accumulated with us getting in David's car and driving to Boston to see "Pirates of the Caribbean."  David assured us that this is what all good Providence locals do for fun--go to Boston.




We had a great time getting caught up with him during the drive.  Once in Boston, we parked and took the subway (I love public transportation!) to downtown.  The movie theater was huge, two stories tall, and we managed to snap our 6:30 picture right before going into the show.  The movie was great, although I did have difficulties with some plot holes.  As we strolled through the rain after the movie, the boys assured me this was just because I was overanalyzing.


After realizing that we had no idea where the Let's Go-approved restaurants we had been discussing were located, we went into the nearest eatery, called the Beantown Pub.  The boys enjoyed burger variations, and I consumed a truly massive Greek salad while shouting to hear each other and make conversation over the bar's loud music.


Our drive back to Providence was done mostly through the rain.  By the time we arrived, Ben and I had deiced that instead of spending the night with David, we were going to press on through the night towards home.  Basically, we knew we weren't going to get a good night of sleep anyway because we wanted to get such an early start, and we wouldn't be able to hang out with Dave in the morning anyway if we were going to get right on the road, so we may as well just get a head start.  So off we went.


I drove from midnight until 5:00 through the pounding rain.  Ben slept the whole way, except for the brief moments when he started awake for no apparent reason before falling immediately back into a deep sleep. It was easier to keep alert than I expected because the rain took so much concentration.  I had one encounter with a crazy trucker, but other than that, the night went smoothly.  I wanted to drive until sunrise so Ben wouldn't have to wake up in the dark, but I didn't quite make it.  We switched around 5:00 and I went straight to sleep.






26 / 40

Friday, October 21, 2016

Massachusetts: August 6, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....


Day 61--Wednesday, August 6, 2003


We slept until we woke up, which was a nice treat after the past few days of really hustling in the morning.  The showers were a little on the gross side, and my first quarter was spent on ice-cold water before it warmed up with the second quarter.  However, the good news is that while I was suffering through the shower, Ben got a job!!


The people from Temporary Avenue called back and cemented the position at Brylane for him.  He will make $14.50 an hour, and he'll 95% for sure be offered a permanent position with a salary somewhere from the mid-$30s to the mid-$40s after the first three weeks or month or so.  He will start on Monday, but they agreed to let him work half days the first week so he can have a chance to get settled in Indy again.  Things could simply not be better.  I'm so proud of him!




We called his dad and got the secretary, who was thrilled for him.  We later got a hold of his mom too.  My dad was bouncing off the walls, and Holly B. said she had chills because she was so glad.  So Ben was really on cloud nine!


We went into town, and I got some pizza for lunch while Ben ate my leftovers from last night.  We then took a stroll along the beach and rode the carousel horses that are the oldest in the US.  We also had ice cream at Mad Martha's.  That was about enough excitement for one day, and we headed back to the campsite.





Ben stayed at the lodge to play pinball, and I went back to take a nap.  When I woke up from my nap and crawled out of the tent, I found Ben fast asleep on the picnic table.  He was so cute!  I sat on the picnic table at the next site over and read my book, but when my back got sore and I came back to our site to get out my camp chair, I woke him up with the car door.  Oops.




We spent a nice, peaceful evening at our campsite, eating vegetable soup, couscous, and popcorn, starting into our last campfire of the summer, and reading.  We had a bit of a scary moment when a skunk came strolling up to our site, but Ben managed to shoo it away.  We later heard much scary rustling in the underbrush, so we got scared and went to bed early!


25 / 40

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Massachusetts: August 5, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....


Day 60--Tuesday, August 5, 2003


We got up and on the road early, because had lots of places to hit in a short amount of time.  Our first stop was Concord.  We went to the Minute Men Visitors Center, where the man behind the desk spoke passionately at length about all of the historical sites (but neglected the literary ones) and told us that it would take us the whole day to see the surrounding area.  We rolled our eyes at each other and got on our way.


We stopped at Wayside, which is this old house where Nathaniel Hawthorne (House of Seven Gables, Scarlet Letter), the Alcott Family (Bronson, of Temple School and Fruitlands fame, and his daughter Louisa, author of Little Women, plus the rest of their family), and Margaret Sidney (The Five Little Peppers) all lived and wrote.  We had to wait around for the tour to start, and even then it was only us and one other woman, who killed the wait time by telling us that she had just gotten back from a trip much like ours, but done it in about double the time.






Our tour guide was named Andy, and he did a great job with the tour.  He told us all the little fun facts, made jokes about the authors, and still managed to make it all seem very important.  We saw the stairs where the Alcott girls invented the game of Pilgrim's Progress, we learned that Hawthorne had gables put on all the windows in his portion of the house as a conversation starter, and we heard about how Margaret Lothrop, daughter of Margaret Sidney (whose real name was Hariett Lothrop) donated the house to the National Park to be preserved whens he got too old to take care of it herself.  Very interesting!





We walked by Orchard House, the home where Louise May Alcott lived when she was writing Little Women about her own childhood at Wayside.  We also saw the outside of Ralph Waldo Emerson's house, but it was closed for the day.  We ducked into the museum and bought some "souvenirs," really materials I can use to teach.








Our next stop was the Old North Bridge, site of the famous "Shot Heard Round the World."  There were nice memorials to both the British soldiers and to the American farmer who fired the shot.  The bridge itself wasn't much to look at, just a small wooden structure crossing a stream.


Our last stop of the day was Walden Pond, site of Henry David Thoreau's most famous writing.  As we pulled up, we realized that Thoreau must be perpetually spinning in his grave, because after all of his lectures on "simplicity," they were charging $5 admission to park at the pond.  To put it mildly, I was appalled.


The kid collecting money noticed the Phish sticker on our front windshield and asked if we had been in Limestone.  We said we had, and he said he had been there too and had just gotten back.  Ben seized the opportunity and said, "So, does that mean you want to let us park for free?"  The kid grinned, said sure, and waved us into the lot.  So I guess the concert did have its benefits.  :)


My feeling of disgust at the condition of Walden Pond certainly didn't lessen as we saw more of it.  The pond itself was beautiful with all the woods surrounding it, but a large white building serving as a gift shop, snack bar, and lifeguard hangout spot had been erected on the bank.  Furthermore, the entire near shore was peppered with white ropes designating different swim areas.  The beach was filled with mothers with babies running around in diapers and sunbathers set up under their giant umbrellas.  Somehow, I didn't think Thoreau would have been very happy about any of that.


We left and went to the Historical Society's gift shop, where I really stocked up on classroom materials in the form of postcards, pamphlets, a video, and a shirt.  By the time we left there, it was pouring rain, so we didn't get much more than a glance at the "fake Thoreau house," the scale model of his hut that has been reconstructed in the parking lot.






After driving for a little over an hour, we arrived in Plymouth.  As we pulled into town, Ben received a phone call from Temporary Avenue, where he temped after he graduated.  They said they had a great opportunity for him.  Basically, the company he temped at, Brylane, had a position for a financial analyst open up, and they requested Ben.  The job called for two to four years of experience, but they had been so impressed with Ben last time that they wanted him.


The news absolutely floored us, and we excitedly discussed the possibilities as we walked around town.  We snuck into the Radisson hotel to the bathroom, and then we set out for Plymouth Rock, discussing jobs all the way.


Plymouth Rock itself was a little disappointing, or at least I thought so.  It was smaller than I thought it would be, and it was set down in a pit under a covered pavilion so no one could get near it.  It had the year of the Pilgrims' landing carved onto it.  I was good after looking at it for about 30 seconds.





We then drove to Plimouth Plantation, which we had heard had all kinds of cool interactive exhibits.  It was raining by the time we got there, so we didn't really feel like doing all the outside stuff, plus it was too expensive, so we decided just to skip it and head for the ferry for Martha's Vineyard.


We got there early and managed to get on stand-by to an earlier ferry, so we arrived on the island much earlier than expected.  We got to our campsite and set up camp, then drove into town to get dinner at a restaurant called The Newes From America.  We had to wait for quite a while before we got in, and Ben got us drinks from the bar to sip while we waited.  We promptly got in trouble for taking glasses outside to wait, so we lost our drinks.  Dinner was good, and so were our Feist books, which we could barely put down.  We didn't finish until a little after 10:00, so we headed back to the campsite and went to sleep.







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