Friday, December 30, 2016

5 on Friday

Christmas break is almost over, which means I am about to head into my toughest semester.  I will be student teaching 5 days a week and then going to three night classes...whew!  But it's only 4 months.  I can do anything for 4 months, right?

I want to post about Christmas down south (and maybe catch up on Thanksgiving and the fall!), but I'll start with my favorite...5 on Friday!

O     N     E

I know I have mentioned this before once or twice (okay, fine, like every time I post), but I am obsessed with Modern Mrs. Darcy's What Should I Read Next podcast.  Besides just getting a slew of new book suggestions, I have also learned a lot about myself by her book descriptions.  I realized that I like realistic fiction.  It can have a touch of mysticism or fantasy (L'Engle, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Tana French), but I don't really want or need a thriller.  I like plots that are slow and beautiful.

I think that preference pours over into my choice of movies and television shows.  One of my favorite shows is Gilmore Girls.  While the talking is fast paced, the plot isn't.  It even verges on the mundane, at times, but the characters and their development is so captivating.

Enter in my new favorite show:  This Is Us.

Oh, ya'll, this show is incredible.  I was talking about how good it is with another girl, and, when someone else asked what it was about, we just really couldn't give an answer or explain.  It's just the story of a family, but it is told so beautifully.  I guess there are some exciting plot things that happen, but what's more interesting is how everyone responds to those events and to each other.

T     W     O

I am a huge Christmas money hoarder.  My birthday is in July, and it is not uncommon for me to still have Christmas money left over by the time it rolls around.

This year, though, I have already spent some!  I have been reading about FabFitFun for a couple of months, and I really wanted to try a box.

They just came out with the Editor's Box.  I went with this option, because I could actually see what I was going to get.  

I got my box in yesterday, and I love it!  My favorite item is definitely my blanket scarf.

T     H     R     E     E

This has been the Christmas break of sickness.  I had a short bout of either the flu or the flu-like virus.  Bech had the stomach bug.  And now Jack has walking pneumonia.

I knew he wasn't feeling sick when he disappeared one afternoon and I found him asleep on Narnia (more on that in a later post!) at 4:45.  I tried to wake him up for dinner, but he wanted to sleep.  He slept from 4:45 until 7 the next morning!

He's on antibiotics, and he moved up from a nebulizer to an inhaler.  He's on the mend and will hopefully be better for school next Tuesday!

F     O     U     R

Jack has flown a TON in his short life, and Gil has already flown a bunch too.  But, other than one trip to San Diego, Jack didn't fly from 10 months until 3 1/2.  That age is just SO tough to fly with!  And of course, that's right where we are with Gil.  Gil doesn't want to sit in our lap or a seat...he just wants to move!

A friend (thanks, Ashley!) recently mentioned that they bought a plane ticket for their (then) almost two year old and brought his car seat on the plane.  Well, Gil is now over two so this was his first flight with his own seat.  We decided to do the same.  

Y'all.  GAME CHANGER.  Gil is an incredible car traveler and does great in his car seat.  The same was true for flying.  He fussed a little, and we had to stop him from kicking the seat in front of him.  But other than that, he did pretty well.  The car seat made a ton of difference.  Until he's a little older, I think we will always fly with our car seat.

Head's up, though, you do need to double check that your seat is aircraft approved.  Only one flight attendant asked me, but I was glad I had googled the night before where exactly that approval was located on the car seat.

F     I     V     E

Everyone's doing it, so I decided to make a best nine collage of my 2016 instagram pictures.  

I always get so tickled at these things, because Bech gets the most likes!  With the exception of the second picture and the last picture, Bech is in every one.  Well done, Bech, well done.

Do y'all find that to be the case?  That people like a picture more when you or your spouse is in it?

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  We have some fun plans for NYE that I am excited for!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

5 on Friday

Whew, long time no blog.  I've been keeping my book posts up to date because they are a great resource to look back on.  In the craziness of this semester, the blog has fallen by the wayside.  But I am writing this post on a Thursday, and, as of right now, I only have one more assignment due!  I'm taking a Praxis test next week too, but it's the ELA one (and, thanks to my incredible ELA content professor, I feel VERY well prepared!).

So I am celebrating by posting, and it's my favorite type of post...5 on Friday!

O     N     E

As I just mentioned, I am almost done with this semester.  It has been so hard, but I have also loved it.  One thing that has helped me get through this semester is the wonderful people I get to learn with and from!

This is one of my classes at a local Pho restaurant.  Seriously, I have an incredible cohort.  There are 8 of us doing the middle level MAT, and I think each of my fellow classmates is pretty incredible.  I am so thankful for all of our group texts and social events.

T     W     O

It's December, which, in Vermont, means SNOW!

Last year, we had a really mild winter.  I was sort of thankful for that.  It's nice to not be totally frozen all winter.  But I missed the snow!  I am glad that we have already gotten some snow here.  It's snowing a little today, and we have snow on the forecast for this weekend and next week.  Vermont is just magical looking all covered with snow.

Plus, it never hurts to have a white Christmas!

T     H     R     E     E

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, Bech and I had a cocktail party for some church friends.  Bech made rosemary gimlets, and I laid out a cheese board (complete with baked brie!).  Friends brought more appetizers and drinks (and no kids!).

We had the BEST time.  We have a great group of church friends, but we haven't gotten to spend a lot of time all together this fall.  The guys do guys nights, and the girls do girls nights (which is almost always just an excuse to drink margaritas and eat nachos together #nachoaveragechurch).  It was wonderful to just spend time all together.

Plus, the baked brie did not hurt.

F     O     U     R

I am almost completely done with my Christmas shopping!  Woohoo!

I know Christmas shopping is stressful for some people, but I really enjoy it.  The only part that is stressful is paying for it all.  This year, though, I tutored a girl for the PSAT this fall, and put all of that money aside so that I could pay for most of the Christmas presents.  It worked out really well.

And it's perfect timing, because we head to Mississippi a week from Saturday.  We are all SO excited.  I am extra excited because this is Gil's first flight to have his own seat.  I am going to bring his car seat with us and have him sit in it during the flight.  Has anyone else ever done that?  Any tips?

F     I     V     E

I've written before about my love for Advent.  I love this season right before Christmas. 

Last year, we read through this book (by Ann Voskamp) together, and we are doing it again this year.  I love this book so much.  There have been a few nights where I am holding back tears as I read the final paragraph.  I can tell a huge difference in Jack's comprehension and engagement with the book this year.  He is listening and is talking about it afterward.  

If you are looking for a way to prepare for Christmas with your kids, I would highly suggest this book!

There we go.  Five very random things!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Books

Another month, another list of books.  I have really enjoyed doing these post, because I can go back and see what I read each month (and can make recommendations to others!).

The Blackthorn Key

The Blackthorn Key is on the DCF list of books, a Vermont award for children's literature.  A classmate read it for an assignment and loved it, so I decided to give it a try.

It was really good!  It's about an orphaned apothecary apprentice who gets caught up in a string of murders in London.  The book is full of chemistry, codes, and mystery.  Maybe not what most adults would want to read (unless they teach ELA), but I would definitely suggest it for middle schoolers!

The Mysterious St. Benedict Society

I needed to pick a book for class (and I could pick whatever book I wanted).  I asked for suggestions on Facebook and got some amazing ones.  And then I saw this in the library and caved.  I had been wanting to read it for some time now, so I figured this was a good excuse!

The main character, Reynie, is an orphan (this is the month of orphaned main characters!) who joins up with three other exceptional kids under the care of Mr. Benedict.  The kids are sent on a mission to figure out what is going on at the Institute. 

This book was a really fun read.  It reminded me a lot of A Series of Unfortunate Events, although not quite as clever.  I think a child who enjoyed puzzles and clues would really enjoy reading this book.  Here is my book companion I made for class (in case you decide to read the book).

Emily of New Moon

I am a HUGE Anne of Green Gables fan.  Goodness, I even named my son after Gilbert Blythe!  But for some reason, I have never read beyond the Anne series.  Recently, I heard a guest on What Should I Read Next talk about the Emily of New Moon series.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this series.  It was like seeing an old friend again.  I read these three on my kindle and I just could NOT stop reading.  

Emily is a little like Anne.  She's an orphan, living on PEI, and she loves to write.  But she is different than Anne, still feisty, still a touch dramatic, but maybe more of a realist.  I still think Anne-girl is my favorite, but Emily is now a close second.

Emily Climbs

The second book in the Emily series is a lot like Anne's second book.  Emily goes to the high school in a neighboring town.  

Emily's Quest

And the series finishes up with this book.  I will say, I enjoy the Anne/Gilbert story a little more than what goes on in this book, but I did still love it.

Seriously, if you are an Anne fan and you haven't read these books, please do!  You will thank me...

Boy in the Moon

This is another book for school.  Ian Brown chronicles what it is like raising his son Walker, who has a severe disability.  This book is raw and real and a really beautiful read (look at that alliteration!).  It is non-fiction, but it reads like a narrative, so I enjoyed it.  I loved this book.

The Marvels

Oh, this book!  This book was my second favorite this month, after the Emily series, of course.  It was written by the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

What is amazing about this book is that the first half is only pictures, but somehow, you get a whole story out of the pictures.  And then there is 200 pages of a story, which happens 90 years later.  This book is so beautifully done, and the story is captivating.  I literally didn't put this book down while I was reading it.

Rum and Razors

Another Murder She Wrote mystery to close out the month.  Okay, so this book isn't going to win any awards, but it sure was a fun, light read.  

So that's what November looked like.  December will involve lots of traveling and family, so who knows how much reading I will get done!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

October Books

I read a crazy amount of books for how busy this month is.  But, three of my favorite author's came out with new books, so what was I supposed to do???

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Listen, please trust me and just skip this book.  It was not very good and it was more than slightly graphic.  I kept reading it, hoping there would be something amazing about it.  But no.  There wasn't. I think the author means it to be a coming of age story.  I guess she does accomplish that one.  Just skip it.

That's all I have to say on that one.

A Great Reckoning

Oh, Louise Penny, you've done it again!  This is the newest book in the Inspector Gamache series, and it did NOT disappoint.  It may be my new favorite!

I don't want to give anything away.  But, I will say, if you like mysteries, you should really give this series a try.  They take place in Quebec, right over the Vermont border.  The mysteries are good, but what really makes this series is the character development.  I love the main character, Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete de Quebec, and I think you will love him too!

Also, this is a series that you really need to start at the beginning (or at least in the first four books) to understand it all.

I've Got You Under My Skin

Listen, I love me some Mary Higgins Clark.  I know she isn't an amazing author, but I enjoy her.  My grandmother first introduced me to Clark as a teenager, and I still like to keep up with her latest.

This was a fun read.  I like Clark because her mysteries are somewhat predictable but they aren't gory and there isn't sex or language...a nice cozy mystery!

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

I had to read this for class.  It's on the DCF list, and it's a non fiction account of how teenage boys in Denmark stood up to Hitler.  

The actual story is good.  It's just told in a pretty boring way.  To be fair, I am also not a huge non- fiction fan, so that probably plays into my feelings about this book.  If you have a middle school kid who enjoys reading non fiction about wars and weapons, then hand them this book.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Oh, Flavia, how I have missed you!  Flavia de Luce is a 12 year old chemistry protege living in the country side of England.  She is quirky and witty and just delightful.

This newest book is wonderful.  Flavia is back home after a one book stint in Canada, and she, of course, is immediately wrapped up in a murder.  As she says, "It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one's spirits."  Heads up, this is perhaps the saddest of Bradley's books so far.

The Trespasser

This is another book I have been anxiously awaiting!  I started reading Tana French right when her first one, In the Woods, came out in .  This is the sixth book in the series, all murder mysteries and all set in Ireland.  One fun thing is that the books all connect, but they aren't dependent on each other.  So if you wanted to pick up this novel and read it, you totally could.  I read a couple of the books out of order and it didn't affect the reading at all.

I really enjoyed the main detective in this book.  I love all of French's books, but this one is near the top of the list.  It was really good!

The Wonder

I believe this was on What Should I Read Next's fall reading list.  I haven't been able to read most of the other ones on the list, but this was at my local library.  The Wonder is by the author of Room.  I haven't read that one yet, but I did get to watch the movie and loved it.  

This book is pretty incredible.  It's about a girl in Ireland who has survived for 4 months without eating anything.  Many in her Catholic community think she is a miracle, so a committee is formed to investigate.  The committee hires two nurses to watch the girl.  The story is told by one of the nurses.  I thought it was really well written and definitely a page turner.  You should check it out!

So overall, a really great month for books!   Any suggestions for Thanksgiving and Christmas break reads?

Friday, October 14, 2016

5 on Friday, Fall edition

It's 5 on Friday.  I haven't joined in in forever (thanks, MAT program), but I have a little bit of time free right now to blog!

Instead of just 5 randoms, I decided to do a fall edition, because fall is the best.  So here are some fall favorites:

O     N     E

I am SO not a coffee snob.  I actually buy my flavored coffee from Home Goods (aka my happy place).  I love fall, because Home Goods sells some really yummy fall flavored coffees.

I'm not a huge fan of PSL's, because I don't like to drink pumpkin.  So I get this flavor instead.  Add a little Frosted Sugar Cookie coffee creamer and it's perfect!  I know not all Home Goods sell the same things, but you should look for this coffee.

T     W     O

I may not like to drink pumpkin, but I LOVE to eat it.

Here's my new favorite, Trader Joe's pumpkin biscotti.  Oh y'all, this is just so good.  I love to dip it in my coffee and let it get a little soggy.

T     H     R     E     E

I mentioned in this post that I love dressing my two boys alike.

I bought these pajamas from Carters about a month ago and it's just now getting cold enough for the boys to wear them at night.  Matching pj's are pretty darn cute!  Now I need to make sure I take a picture of the boys in their pj's.

F     O     U     R

Right now in Vermont, the leaves are SO beautiful.  We are in peak season, which means the leaves are at their prettiest.  I am hoping to talk Bech into a Saturday morning drive through Smuggler's Notch to check out the beautiful foliage.

I totally stole this picture off the web, but this is a good indication of what our drive will look like!

F     I     V     E

I know I already talked about pumpkin food, but I wanted to share my current favorite muffin recipe, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  We have made these muffins about 5 times already this fall, including for Gil's birthday!

Don't they look yummy?  They are the perfect blend of spice and chocolate and they are super moist (I know, most awkward word ever).

What are y'alls fall favorites???

Thursday, October 13, 2016

It's Fall, Y'all!

It's October, which means it's the beginning of my favorite three months of the year.  I ADORE fall so much.  This year, we have jumped right into October and are enjoying it so much!

The first weekend in October, we headed to Sam Mazza's for the fall festival.  This is one of my favorite fall traditions.  We love to eat, play, pet animals, and take a hayride to pick out our pumpkins!

Look at my three boys, aren't they the cutest???

I have a photo just like this from the past three years.  I love being able to compare and see how big Jack and Gil are getting!

Isn't Sam Mazza's beautiful?

My sweet little boys.  I have to admit, I just adore putting them in matching outfits.

Last weekend, we headed to another local place, Chapin Orchard.  We are usually die hard Shelburne Orchard fans.  I still love Shelburne, but Chapin was wonderful too!  We had a great time picking apples and playing.

Gil is not much of a talker still, but he does love to talk about apples and pumpkins.

And his big brother hasn't seen a tree he won't climb.

They are getting along more and more and it's pretty fun.

Gil is also obsessed with eating "bapples!"

Jack's school has a circus artist in residence right now.  Jack was showing off his newly acquired juggling skills in the orchard with the apples.  I'm sure the orchard owners loved it...

Oh this kid!  I miss his sweet baby curls, but he's pretty darn sweet with his big boy haircut and cheesy grin!

August and September Books

Oh, goodness, it is halfway through October and I am just now getting this list up!  This program is killer, y'all.  There is just so much work!  And when I am not doing homework or classwork, I just want to veg and read or spend time with my boys.  But here we go...

The Lake House

I have mixed feelings about Kate Morton novels.  Obviously, I do like them.  This is my third Morton book to read.  But they aren't short.  I don't mind a long book (I'm looking at you, Atlas Shrugged), but it needs to be worth it.  I do think that some of the narrative could be cut out in these.  The other complaint is that her novels sometimes wrap up a little too neatly.  This book definitely falls into that category. 

But, in spite of those complaints, I do enjoy her stories.  She creates plots and families that I can't get enough of!  I would suggest this book.


Well this book has gotten a lot of press this summer, and most of it has been good.  I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't incredible.  It's a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  Sittenfeld does a good job of trying to stick with the original plot and bring it into modern day situations.  But, if you are an Austen fan, you know that parts of that plot just don't work set in St. Louis.  So parts of it felt forced and unrealistic.  

So, fun, but not a must read.

Truly, Madly, Guilty

Oh, I have been SO looking forward to the new Liane Moriarty book!  I have been on the wait list since May for this book.  It came out late July and I was first on the list!  I actually opted to listen to it instead (my library ordered the audiobook too).  

Listen, if you get the chance to listen to a Moriarty book, do that instead.  Whoever reads her books is just wonderful.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I don't think it's her best book to date, but it was really, really good.  Moriarty always deals with relevant issues, and this book is no exception.

Boys Adrift

I had to read this book for school.  I found it really informative.  It is about the five factors (at least according to the author) that can lead to unmotivated young men, which is a growing issue in the States.

Adolescents at School

Another school read.  This book is probably not interesting to you unless you are a middle or secondary level educator.  But I do want to count it because I read it in August!

Lilac Girls

And yet another WWII book.  Is it just me, or has this past year been the year of WWII books?  I am glad, though, because I think most of them (The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, etc.) are showing us a new perspective.  This book falls right into that category.  

This book tells, for the first time, the story of the Ravensbruck bunnies, the women who were experimented on in a German concentration camp.  It's not my favorite book writing style, but it is incredibly captivating.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I also managed to be pretty high on the list for the new Harry Potter book!  Here's yet another book with mixed reviews, but, I have to say, I really enjoyed this book/play.  Maybe it was just because I got a chance to be back in that world.  

If you are a Harry Potter fan, I would strongly suggest reading this play.  You will enjoy it!

A Ring of Endless Light

I read this book with my literature group, so a bunch of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  I have always loved this book.  Vicky Austin is one of my favorite literary characters.  It was really fun to go through this book slowly with my students and think about new aspects of the story.

If you've never read any of Madeleine L'Engle's Austin series, I would highly suggest it.  The books are: Meet the Austins, The Moon by Night, The Young Unicorns, A Ring of Endless Light, and Troubling a Star.  Oh, and two shorter Christmas books.

Return to Sender

Yet another book for school.  I read this book for my ELA (English Language Arts) class.  I have to say, I'm not a huge fan.  

This book has two narrator's, a young boy growing up on a dairy farm in Vermont and the daughter of the illegal alien working on that farm.  I think the story naturally lends to good discussion, but I found the characters and parts of the plot line to be a unrealistic and not relatable.

The Rumor

I love Elin Hildebrand in the summer.  This book came out in late July, but it took me a month to get around to listening to the audiobook.  

What I love about Hildebrand's books is that they are summer reads (so they don't seem like too strenuous of a read), but yet they still have some deep themes and issues.  This book was no exception.  I really enjoyed it!

Before the Fall

I have mentioned on my blog before that I am not a thriller fan.  Gone Girl and Girl on a Train are never going to top my favorites list.  So I actually almost didn't read this book.  It seemed like it would fit into that thriller category.

But I think Before the Fall is to the thriller category what Station Eleven is to dystopian literature.  Yes, this book is technically a thriller.  But there are bigger issues going on, and I really enjoyed the writing and character development (can you tell I'm smack dab in the middle of learning about teaching these things???).  I'm glad I gave this book a chance!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Oh, this book was just delightful.  I can't think of better word to describe it.  Thanks to my mother and our shared kindle account, this book just suddenly magically appeared on my kindle account.

This book is funny and suspenseful and just a fun read.  It's told through narrative and dialogue as well as memos, emails, and letters.  Seriously, pick this book up and read it!

Alright, those are my August and September books.  So far in October, I have only read two books, but I'm working on three others!