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.

25 / 40

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Massachusetts: August 4, 2003

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

Day 59--Monday, August 4, 2003

We woke up early after not nearly enough sleep, showered, broke camp, and got on the road to Massachusetts.  We drove for the vast majority of the day, arriving in Salem around 4:30.  Our first stop was the Witch Dungeon Museum.  We had to wait for the show to start, so we poked around the gift shop, and I picked up a couple of books that I thought would be useful in teaching The Crucible to my juniors.  I also took plenty of pictures throughout the rest of the afternoon for that purpose.

The tour began with a reenactment of Mary Warren's accusation of Elizabeth Proctor.  The actors were pretty good, if slightly melodramatic.  The second half of the tour consisted of a walk through a scale model of the Salem underground prison.  The manikins they had set up didn't do it justice, but seeing the size was very interesting.

We also learned some interesting facts during the tour.  For one, two dogs were hung during the witchcraft craze.  Girls swore the dogs had given them the evil eye, so they thought that witches may have changed form in order to avoid suspicion.  Also, there is a possibility that at first, those doing the accusing were actually  having hallucinations and believed what they were saying.  Apparently the whole town got their bread from Salem Village, which is now Dansbury, where we spent the night.  At any rate, there was apparently a bad fungus in the grain that year.  I forget the name of the fungus itself, but our guide said that it is now a main ingredient in LSD.  Funny!

Our next stop was the memorial set up for the witch trial victims.  It was a tiny little park with stone benches lining both sides.  Each bench had the name and death date of a victim carved into it.  I took pictures of many of them, but I'm not sure the names will show up.  We also took a brief look into the Salem cemetery.

Our last stop of the afternoon was the Witch Trial Museum.  We didn't want to pay for the tour, but they did have an interesting free little walk-through, so we did that.  It was about the roles and stereotypes of witches over time, and the conclusion of the exhibit did a bit on scapegoating, which I thought was interesting.

After a brief glance at the already-closed Visitors' Center, we got on our way.  It had been raining on and off all afternoon, so we were slightly soggy from our walk through Salem.  We drove to our hotel, got checked in, and went to Denny's for dinner.  We did crossword puzzles while we waited for our food.  The most remarkable part of the evening was that the older couple at the table next to us got up and left when their order arrived (without paying) because there was mayo on the sandwich.  Our poor waitress was really upset, but she did a great job with us, so we left her a big tip.

25 / 40

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Maine: August 3, 2003

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

Day 58--Sunday, August 3, 2003

In the morning, Ben informed me that I had missed a second and lengthy set of horrifying screams.  Unlike me, he had realized that it was a baby at a nearby campsite, and he described the noise as "it sounded like someone was raking him over hot coals."  Mercifully, I managed to sleep through all of this and got up around 9:00.

We had a nice lazy morning and early afternoon.  We ate, read, and napped until it was time to head back to the concert.  We stopped on the way for a round of disc golf at a small course.  Ben did pretty well, and the course was incredibly challenging.  I'm ashamed to admit that I did not do so well, and furthermore, got into a bad mood because of my lack of abilities.  I spent most of the time swatting at the dozens of bizarre varieties of bugs that seemed to only want to attack me and not Ben.  After 18 holes, I was definitely ready to be done.

After driving to Loring Air Force Base and making the long trek to the concert site from day parking, we arrived in the middle of the first song.  We took quite a while trying to find good seats.  We walked through large mud puddles and totally trashed our shoes.  During the first night, we had sat right behind the road, which was interesting at first because I could see so many people, but then ended up being a bad thing because so many of those people were doing things that upset me.  So, for the second night, we were aiming for a more out-of-the-way spot.  We eventually found one, set back from the road, a short distance away from the vendors.  There were only a few other people sitting nearby, and we could actually see the stage and the screens.  I was much, much happier during the second night of the concert.

I thought the music seemed a little louder the second night, which was also good, because it had sounded far away during the first night.  We ate our Subway sandwiches for dinner and enjoyed the show.  During the extremely long set break, Ben went and bought a shirt, and I read by book and made some lesson plans.  During the second set, I stood in line for a very long time to get us a piece of pizza to share, and on the way back, I stepped in a very large mud puddle, drenching both my shoes and my pants.  The music was good, our seats were good, and I wasn't feeling nearly as disturbed as the night before.

Even though Ben swore beforehand that we were going to stay until the last note, he got tired during the second set break.  He packed up his chair and said he'd had enough.  We wandered through the lot for a while, and Ben got another shirt.  Long walk back to the car, and we were on our way.

We spent the rest of the night in a fierce debate on many topics, nearly all of which related back to morality.  I have to say that I got my feelings hurt pretty badly, and we both went to sleep upset.

25 / 40