Tuesday, May 16, 2017

January and February Book

Last year I read almost 100 books.  This year's number is not going to be quite so high.  During January and February, I averaged about a book a week.  I know it's waaay past those months, but I have loved rereading my lists from last year, so I am going to play major catch up!

Murder on the Orient Express

I actually led a literature group on this book.  I have read this book at least 3 or 4 times, but it was fun to reread and teach this book.  I think my students really enjoyed reading it.  Maybe there will be some lifelong mystery lovers!

If any teachers google this book and find my site, here are some sample lesson plans.  I made these for my ELA teaching class last semester and didn't use all of them with my literature group.  But I did have the students create a book trailer, it worked really well with the standards.

Also, there's a new movie version coming out this fall!

Rare Objects

This was a fun read.  It's one of those books that just showed up on the family kindle account, and so I read it.  It's about a girl who moves back to Boston in the middle of a depression and finds a job at an antique shop.  She's from a poorer area but she manages to mingle in the wealthy crowd for bit before figuring out who she really is.

Nothing too amazing, but this would be a good summer read.

Orphan #8

Ohhh, this book is intense!  It's about a Jewish orphan in New York City in the 1920's.  She was experimented on as a child--nothing too scary but the experiments lead to serious medical complications in later years.  She now works as a nurse at a nursing home and encounters the experimenting doctor. 

This book is based on real events and was really interesting to read.  

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I have been working on this book for 1 1/2 years now and I finally finished it!  I'm not kidding when I say I'm a slow non-fiction reader.

Bech and I bought this book right before we moved from State College, and we are huge fans of it, so much so that my family regularly uses the phrase, "Kon-Marley."  The book can be a little out there in describing the method, but you should read this book.  I love using the Kon-Mari method--if you are interested in the method, just google it and read reviews and explanations of it.  I found that really helpful.


Another fiction book about a historical event, Mischling tells the story of twins at Mengele's zoo at Auschwitz.  I love to read books about the Holocaust, and I really enjoyed this book.  The story is chilling at times, but the writing is beautiful.

The Versions of Us

Ohhh, I loved this book!  I couldn't put it down.  It tells the story of a man and a women, but there are three versions told simultaneously.  In one, they meet and become a couple, in the second they meet and aren't a couple, and in the third, they aren't a couple at all.  The story goes through the years, through fights, affairs, divorces, life changes, children, everything.  It didn't have some grand idea or theme, but, for some reason, I just really enjoyed the way it was written.  It was beautifully realistic.

84 Charing Cross Road

Oh, this book is just delightful!  It's a short little read (I think 100 pages) of correspondence between an American script writer and a British bookstore clerk, spanning 20 years after WWII.  It's all true, and it really was just wonderful.  Definitely a reread.  If you need something that will make you laugh and cry, in all of the best ways, I strongly recommend this book!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Another What Should I Read Next suggestion.  This book is about a retired Major who lives in a typical small country village in England.  He began a friendship with a widowed Pakistani shop owner, which then turns to a romance.  This book deals with some major issues of the day, but I loved how the main character handles the situations with humility and kindness.  Plus, I'm a bit of an Anglophile!

Alright, now to catch up on March and April!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What I'm Loving Now

Also titled:  How I'm getting through this semester.

This semester is all sorts of crazy.  I am in my student teaching placement 5 days a week, taking 4 classes at night (but only on 3 nights, so that's good!), coaching a Mathcounts team, and tutoring.  Oh yeah, plus being a mom and wife!  Needless to say, blogging is the last thing on my mind.  

Actually, it's when I'm really busy that I discover my favorite things to do.  And it's not blogging.  It's also not watching tv, except for the bachelor.  It is reading.  And Nick's journey to love, because everyone knows that Finland is the perfect place to fall in love.

But I do miss my blog some.  This week is February break.  They do this here in Vermont and a few other New England states.  I thought it was so kids could go skiing, but I just googled it and guess I am wrong.  Apparently it harkens back to the days of the high cost of heating.  Well, whatever it's for, we get of school for a week in February and then again for a week in late April.  Jack is out of school at the same time, but Gil's daycare is still open.  So Jack is home with me, while I attempt to get some major school work done.  We are trying to have some fun too, with playdates and the Lego Batman movie.  Oh, and lots of legos and reading!

In typical Marley fashion, I am going to post in list format because LISTS.  Seriously, lists are the best and I love them.  So here's what is keeping me sane during this crazy semester:

1. Kindergarten Jack

Jack is so much fun right now.  He can play actual board games (like Catan Junior)--game changer.  He can read.  He is funny.

2. Toddler Gil

I'd be lying if I said Gil was as much fun as Jack currently.  The terrible two's are upon us!

But, Gil is talking more and more, and he's pretty hilarious.  He also plays a mean air guitar and air drums and just loves music in general.  Plus. those eyes?  He's a heartbreaker for sure!

3. Snow Days

We haven't had a crazy hard winter this year, which I have mixed feelings about.  I really do love the snow.  But I don't love when it feels like your face is going to freeze off.  We have had a couple of good snows, plus we've had two snow days this winter!  Even though I've still had homework on those days, I was thankful to get to play at home with my boys, making forts and eating snow ice cream.

4.  Aslan is on the move!

Slowly but surely, things are warming up around here.  Granted, this is a little on the early side.  And I wouldn't put it past Vermont weather to have a snow storm in April!  But we did enjoy the 50 degree weather this past Saturday.  We played at Oakledge (of course, it's my favorite) and spent time with friends.

5.  Bullet Journaling

This is legit how I'm keeping sane.  I started Bullet Journalling at the beginning of the year, and this journal has become my lifeline.  Everything I need to do is written down (in a color coded system).  This notebook has all of my lists!  It's how I'm getting everything done and done on time (sometimes even early!).

If you are interested in bullet journaling, check out this site or just google it.  I found lots of cute ideas and layouts that way. I would describe bullet journaling as getting to create a planner exactly how you like it and incorporate any time of list, note taking, or tracking into that planner.  I have never really gotten the hang of or enjoyed using a digital system, and I haven't just loved any of the planners I've bought in the past.  But this allows me to create a planner that works perfectly for me.  Plus, I incorporate washi tape and cute pen colors to make it fun!

6. Marakesh Oil
I got this in my fabfitfun box this past December.  This hair oil is a great example of why fabfitfun is a good idea.  I would have NEVER gotten this hair oil on my own.  But now that I have and use it, I LOVE it.  It makes my hair shiny but not oily.  I have been making an effort to curl or straighten my hair every day, so I will look nice for student teaching.  This hair oil helps!

I am sure there are many other things I am forgetting, but that's all I can remember for today.  Now, back to homework!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

December Books

It's the 15th, and I am just now finishing up this post!  My final set of 2015 books.  I ended up reading about 100 books this year.  I hate that I didn't do these posts from the very beginning, because I now love keeping track of what I have read (and my thoughts on the book!).  I did just start bullet journalling, so I will have complete lists from now on.

The Long Way Home

This was a reread, but one of only a few rereads from 2016.  This book came out right before Gil was born, and I loved it then. But I hadn't picked it up again, and I wanted to close out the year with it.  Louise Penny is one of my favorites.  I actually finished this book on the 31st, which was a perfect ending to the year.

I think this is book 10 in a 12 book (for now) series.  I can't really say much about it, because you have to read the books before it.  But, oh, so good!  One of my favorites.

The Doldrums

Another middle level book.  There will be lots of these this coming year as I try to stay on top of recent releases and figure out what I want to teach from.

I enjoyed The Doldrums a lot.  I think if you liked A Series of Unfortunate Events or The Mysterious Benedict Society, this would be a fun book to read.  This book is on some awards lists, and I think there will be a follow up as well.  Archer, the main character, is the grandson of famous explorer who are presumed dead.  His parents are terrified of anything outside of the norm, but Archer is dying to be an explorer and find his grandparents.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

Another middle level award winner.  Not the best middle level book I've read this year, but a page turner.  If you know a middle level reader who likes suspense, this would be a good recommendation.    Victoria is a student in a picture perfect world.  She likes to be the best, always.  But she starts noticing that people are going missing and decides to figure out what is happening to them.  Lots of "march to the beat of your own drum" messages here.

Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor

I have always been a fan of Rick Riordan.  I think he does a great job at getting kids excited about history and mythology!  Magnus Chase is his newest demigod hero, a son of the Norse god Frey.   In this book, Magnus Chase is searching to find the lost hammer of Thor.

Warning to parents, as Riordan's characters grow older, they deal with more complex issues.  If you have a younger reader who really wants to read the Magnus Chase books, I would read it alongside them, so that you can talk about any themes with them.

What She Knew

This book is being compared to Girl on a Train, which I suppose is a far comparison.  But that comparison made me doubt the narrator a lot, and that is far from the case with this book.  What She Knew is about the kidnapping of an 8 year old son and the mom's search to find him.  I thought it was really good and definitely a page turner.  But I didn't think that unnecessary elements were added just for the sake of suspense, which is the case with a lot of other similar books.  I liked this book a lot.

The Accidental Tourist

My (in my dreams) best friend, Ann Bogel, recommended this book on one of her podcasts.  It's about a marriage that is falling apart after the death of a child.  I've mentioned before that I don't need an intense or fast paced plot.  I really enjoy more beautiful writing or good character development.  This book delivered in the character department.  I really enjoyed reading it.

That being said, I don't feel the need to read more Anne Tyler, so maybe I didn't love it that much?  Any Anne Tyler fans out there?

The Reader's of Broken Wheel Recommend

This was a fun and quirky read.  Sara travels from Sweden to a SUPER small town in Iowa to visit her pen pal, who died right before she came there.  She ends up opening a little book shop and trying to make readers out of all of the residents of Broken Wheel, Iowa.  The town falls in love with her and create an elaborate plan to get her to stay.  Not the best book I've read this year, but not too bad.


After hearing this talked about my Ann Bogel multiple times, I finally gave it a try.  And goodness was it good.  Imagine Great Gatsby meets Jane Eyre.  I could not put this book down.  It's a chillingly beautiful story.  I am sure I will reread this at some point in the future.

Alright, that's the last of my 2015 books.  This month is already looking like it will be a little slower.  I am doing the 2017 Reading Challenge, and I am upping my classics so that will mean a little less reading (because they often take longer to read).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christmas 2016

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with one of those caveats:  LOTS OF PICTURES AHEAD!  

Seriously, though, I tried to slim down the amount of pictures.  I really did.  But this blog is basically my digital scrapbook, so this is the best I could do!

As Jack likes to point out, the boys got THREE Christmases this year.  They opened some presents from Bech and me the Thursday before we flew to Mississippi.

Early in December, Pottery Barn Kids put all of their stockings on sale for half price.  I still didn't have stockings for the boys (I have just been using some red velvet Pottery Barn ones that I bought years ago for Bech and me), so I jumped on that sale.  Here is Jack modeling his new stocking.

And, of course, they're Fair Isle!

I stuck with the four gift theme: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.  This is Jack opening up his "want"--Lego Scooby Doo Haunted Mansion.

And Gil is opening up his something to wear.  He loves to wrap a towel around himself like a robe, so I bought the boys matching Cat & Jack robes from Target.

We flew out two days later.  We spent our time between New Orleans, Brookhaven, and Jackson, and got to see all of our family!

The first night we spent in Brookhaven, and Jack and Gil got to see a big surprise at Bella and Doc's house...NARNIA!

In my parents house, there is a small children's den that leads onto a sun room.  My parents had an old wardrobe converted and then made the sunroom into a playroom.  Now you walk through the wardrobe to get into a really cool playroom.  Jack and Gil (and their baby cousin, Anne Douglas) LOVE it!

A sign waiting to welcome the grandchildren.

The art corner

The reading nook

Looking in through the wardrobe doors

We spent a coupe of days with Bech's family, some time with my family, and then back to Bech's family for the last bit.  Here's Jack, chowing down on some pancakes in NOLA.  Doesn't he look SO old here? 

And here he is wearing Bech's mom's reindeer outfit that she wore when she was five!

In Brookaven, we checked out some amazing Christmas light displays.

And opened some presents early.

We ate our Christmas Day dinner on Christmas Eve Eve (stick with me here, things get a little tricky).  Then we opened presents on Christmas Eve day, before going to church that night.

All the cousins on the stairs on Christmas morning (well, you know, Christmas Eve morning).

And then opening their stockings (my mom might have taken advantage of that same Pottery Barn Kids stocking sale, too...).

This is the first year that Jack has really really wanted a specific present...Lego Jokerland.  Here he is opening it (and then being told that he could not put that together until we were back in Vermont!).

Gil didn't want anything specifically, but he did have a lot of fun opening presents!

And he cried some...that's just Gil...

We might be a tad Star Wars obsessed...

My brother-in-law took this cool shot from the foyer.  Actually, Dave is pretty much the reason that we have any Christmas Day shots.  I think it's because it's his daughter's first Christmas.  Thanks, Dave.  I am the worst at remembering to take pictures.

After a full day of opening presents, eating a yummy brunch, and playing with toys, we headed to our church's Christmas Eve service, one of my favorite parts of Christmas every year.

After church and a quick stop to a family friend's house for a party, we headed up to Jackson for another Christmas.

Dave is married to my sister, thus Dave was not there to take pictures at my in-laws.  You will notice pretty quickly.  I'm just proud I remembered to snap two pictures!

Jack and Gil both had a blast opening presents, checking out their stockings, eating brunch, and playing with new toys.

We stayed for one day after Christmas and then headed home last Tuesday morning, bright and early. We had a great trip, full of Target, Sonic, CFA, and lots of family (and maybe a sushi dinner thrown in...).  We did get a walking pneumonia diagnosis for Jack the day after we came back.  Not the best welcome home present!  But he's better, we're unpacked, and this semester officially started today!