meals, sept 13-19

This weekend is starting off with a surprise little trip for the kids! My husband and the kids are going camping — so fun! I am going to head over during the day but return home each day. I know what you’re thinking: It’s a bummer someone has to stay back to keep the dog company 😉

Honestly, though, I am really looking forward to the weekend. We are going to make s’mores and it’s just going to be a blast. A nice little break in the back-to-school routine. My husband and I packed the kids each a book to read with some downtime, a horse-shoe game, a frisbee, and a football.

Last week’s rogue supermarket trip was really nice. I like the calmness of not having to plan everything. I did have to run to the store a few times this week to pick up a thing or two, but overall, I think I’m going to try to shop like this more often. I typically do my shopping on Thursdays, so that gives me Friday morning to look at my haul and figure out what we are going to eat for the week. It’s been nice cooking off the top of my head without following tons of recipes (though, we did get back to True Roots and Cravings last week).

We are going to keep things super simple for the weekend, since everything will be cooked either over a campfire or at the site (they have charcoal grills).

Friday: Hot dogs, carrots, and fruit. I figured that we’d want something simple while we set up the tent and we want to make sure we have time for a campfire and the s’mores that go along with it.

Saturday: For breakfast, we are going to do sausage, egg & cheese English muffins. We are testing out the dutch oven cooker we bought for camping this weekend and will use it for dinner when we make a batch of vegetable chili with s’mores to follow, of course.

Sunday: Same breakfast as the day before. We will be home by lunch and will do a fun little lineup for Sunday football of chips and salsa, homemade pizza, buffalo chicken dip and spinach-artichoke dip. I can’t wait!

Monday: We are back in the grind of life and work and school. I wanted to keep things easy so we are going to do pasta & zucchini with sauce and chicken sausage and salads.

Tuesday: Taco night with crunchy tacos, ground beef, refried beans, and beets. This is probably our favorite dinner of the week, honestly.

Wednesday: My husband is going to make his family favorite and ever so famous buffalo chicken salads (Pittsburgh style, with fries, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs). These are amazing.

Thursday: Black bean tacos with salad.

Having the kids make their own lunches and breakfasts has turned into, to put it ever so lightly, a nightmare. They ‘forget’ to eat breakfast most days and 11 literally packed himself a container of lettuce and nothing else one day; the next day, followed it up with a meat stick and popcorn… only. In an effort to make things super easy on everyone; lunches are going to be largely pre-made or sandwiches until 11 & 13 are better able to get themselves set up — this week, I grabbed meatballs, breakfast sausage (so they can finish the french toast bites), and things to make sunbutter sandwiches. I also grabbed two boxes of cereal bars and a box of applesauce, so there is something for my husband to keep in the car in case they forget breakfast.

My husband is going to try a new breakfast idea for the week with getting bell peppers, slicing them in half, and using the pepper to hold an egg, some quinoa, and ham. Hopefully, he likes this; we are always trying to find things that will work as a post-run breakfast after school drop-off. Lunches will be cauliflower and rice or quinoa bowls with chicken sausage, peppers.

My meals aren’t really planned during the week. I typically eat eggs for breakfast and salads for lunch but sometimes I grab something while out and about with 3, so we don’t really plan anything. This is something that’s nice about being home and not having to think about what we will have because we can always go to the store if we want something specific.

EduTech

This week for my Emerging Tech course, I’ve been tasked with writing a blog post that shows some of the new things I’ve learned and what I’ve been thinking about based on the readings and discussion.

Wow. What a loaded prompt!

First, I would like to point out that in terms of educational technology, I’m most familiar with things piloted or mastered in the mid-2000s when I finished my first graduate degree. My, how things have changed! I read an article today, titled: Saving School Libraries: How Technology and Innovation Help Them Stay Relevant” and it has me thinking all of the things. I have always been intrigued by the work of the school librarian, but thinking in terms of working “as a catalyst for social change” is something that never dawned on me (Lynch 3). As an English teacher, I always thought that engaging students in reading and discussion could drive such change and as I worked at the college level, I saw just how thoughtful students were when it came to social events and news. I did not really put a lot of thought into how the librarian can shape students similarly, but I love the idea of encouraging students to research, engage, and utilize their critical thinking skills to make waves around them.

My experiences with reluctant and struggling readers, something I’ll likely discuss often, allows me to work with students through a critical scope regardless of where their skill sets are. Another thought in the Lynch article states that, “Libraries need to provide an unbiased, and unlimited, access to information” (3). This is a statement that I think will stick with me as I think of ways to integrate community and technology within the confines of school walls. Further, I think that utilizing new technologies to advance learning will assist with this.

Through my readings, I’ve been introduced to a few new sites and concepts:

  1. Librarians without Borders: This may become my new obsession, as I see that in 2019, trips to Guatemala and Ghana were organized to set up libraries and learning resources. As I type this, I am mentally thinking of ways to help my husband understand why I should participate in something like this next year.
  2. EdShelf: Perhaps this is more applicable to other educators browsing this blog. I bookmarked this page for later (and even created a Library Resources folder in my bookmark bar!). EdShelf has a number of educational tools listed for whatever task you may have at hand. I’d read an article by Joyce Valenza that touched on Augmented Reality and there’s a whole section of applications available for perusal on the EdShelf site. I also clicked on the Read/Write/Literacy tab and was pleased to see ReadWriteThink has an application (this is a website that I used 10+ years ago for resources for my students). I am really looking forward to delving into this site more!
  3. FlipGrid: We used FlipGrid this week to create a 90 second video about our comfort levels with technology. I really enjoyed this task and learning about this platform. I can see this being used easily in collaborative approaches between content-area teachers and librarians as well as professional learning communities (both in-person and online). I love the idea of students creating FlipGrid videos to keep responses concise (it makes me think of Twitter limiting characters with typing). I think there are a lot of applicable ways to use such a platform: word problems in mathematics; breaking down a science experiment and its outcomes; giving a quick book review; reciting a timeline from history. This is something I really want to keep in mind when I’m working in a school library.
  4. Glogster: This was a site recommended in another Joyce Valenza article. It is animation software and on the site, there are examples of how content area teachers are able to have students utilize this within the confines of an in-class project. This is software that seems valuable to use from mid-elementary school through high school. It is more graphic/animated than Prezi but should offer a similar engagement.
  5. Bubbl: In the same Valenza article mentioned above, there’s a piece that focuses on mind mapping via Google Docs. This jogged my memory: When I used to teach in a special education, independent school, I had my students use a site called Bubbl. This site allowed students who needed to visually map out their thoughts the space and capacity to do so. I have also recommended this to college writing students who need the same processing accessibility.
  6. The last is a concept that I need to wrap my mind around. In both the Lynch and Valenza articles, it is stated that libraries need to advocate for improved digital access to include social media, blocked sites, and cell-phone usage. This is something that I am going to continue to wrap my mind around and think about how these tools can be responsibly used to further the educational growth of our youth. I think a lot of this as to do with the fact that I work hard to preserve a tech-free space within my home and get anxious at times that I’m very far behind in cutting-edge technologies. For example, my three year old thinks cell phones are only for FaceTime with his grandparents (also, for taking pictures) but has never used one otherwise.

While I battle mentally with the cell phone piece, one thing that is starting to give me a little relief is that I’m realizing maybe I’m not as overall technology resistant as I can sometimes feel.  Reading this week’s assigned articles have given me the ability to take a deep breath and rethink my technology uses within the classroom. Sure, I always have preferred to lecture without PowerPoint slides, but I’ve always printed out my lectures for students who need to read and re-read information and may not be adept at note-taking.

As a classroom teacher, I have always tried to touch on the various learning styles my students may have. Now, I am thinking about how I can support teachers with similar tasks through technology-infused assignments and various resources. Now that I’m reading and gaining access to sites, I am feeling less intimidated about the prospect of such a task.

Finally, in the midst of thinking and reflecting on technology in terms of what I’ve had access to and what is available to students and teachers, I want to think of ways that students can publish writing. When I was an undergrad, I received The Writer’s Market as a gift — this was a book with thousands of pages of publishers and contests for writers. I think it would be so fun to eventually run an after-school or advisory program where students write in accordance to contests to submit for a chance at publication. I am not sure if most teens would find this cool, but I’m really jazzed at the thought. (I also find it encouraging that in my nine years teaching at a local community college, I’ve had four students major in English — I know there are other writers out there who are eager to find these opportunities.)

“threenager”

Three has been quite the age for us. We are in a season of life where all 3 does is argue — literally, about everything. Because I am with him all day, each day, I am really worn down by the incessant arguments. Sure, we’ve moved past the spite peeing but now that school is on the horizon, I think that his anxiety is kicking in and EVERYTHING is a battle: Getting dressed, using the bathroom before we go on a long car ride, eating, brushing his teeth.

I know that his anxiety is revving, and I try to talk about what school will look like. He is going three days a week for three hours each day. He starts on Monday and I’m hoping some of these behaviors fall by the wayside when he starts school and adjusts to his new routine.

It can be very challenging to remain patient through the minute-by-minute arguments, followed up by throwing-himself-on-the-ground tantrums. I have been giving myself tons of breaks throughout the day so that I can have some semblance of patience when dealing with these behaviors.

In addition to the anxiety, he has been fighting naps most days. Some days, he’s out so cold that he goes to the bathroom and doesn’t wake; most days, he just fights naps. I recognize that I can’t make him sleep, obviously, so my typical rule is that he do a quiet activity. Most days, he follows this rule and will relax in his bed with a few books. These are the days he tends to have better days; but then there are days when he scales his brother’s furniture (it’s all bolted) and plays with his things — he knows he’s not supposed to; he’s engaging in these behaviors out of spite and sometimes anger.

I can honestly say that there are days where I’ve felt like 3’s behaviors were going to break me. A few weeks ago, I texted my husband and told him needed to come back and work from home; he’s just left. We were in the throws of the third tantrum by 8AM and 11 & 13 were so tired they were just spinning around. (Keep in mind, we maintain pretty strict bedtime schedules, so we recognized everyone was run down — probably because we spent a lot of time at parks and the beach and just running around in the sun.)

So, here we are, the weekend before school starts and 3 is acting helpless — “can’t” put on his clothes or go to the bathroom or drink his water. He is a trooper, though: We’ve traveled a lot this summer and he’s a great flier and a great backseat driver in the car (“Oh, mommy, watch — that car isn’t paying attention … Mommy, there’s a red light”) — his backseat driving skills have only improved since switching him to forward facing — alas, once we return home, his behaviors kick back in.

Part of it, I think, is him exhausting himself trying to keep it all together while we are out and about and traveling to and fro; so, when we are home, he just can’t keep it together. He’s also had more appointments than usual with his care team; he weaned from thick liquids to thin and had several follow-ups as a result. This was a big deal for him and his health but also a big transition.

Regardless, it’s rough and it’s been weighing on me. I like our normal routines and I’m hoping that once school starts, he will feel safe in the environment and some of these behaviors will fall by the wayside. Until then, we will keep doing what we are doing — we give him a lot of choices (he chooses what snacks he wants; toothpaste; clothing). We try to give him as many choices as we can, which we’d hoped would make things easier for him but it sometimes feels that’s not the case. Last week, I took him shopping to pick out a backpack, which was very exciting for him (but again, I think it made his anxiety brew).

So, here we are in 3’s last week of summer break. We are hopeful that we can reel things back in and alleviate a lot of these behaviors sooner than later. Until then, you can find me sitting in silence in my room after copious hugs are given… happy to receive any positivity…

guilt free foods

Let’s talk about “guilt free foods” for a moment. I felt inspired to discuss this when I opened an email from FindMeGlutenFree about “Guilt Free Brownie Bites” — huh?

Now, I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t make me feel guilty. I love desserts, I’m the first to admit. There is plenty of guilt to go around, especially as a mom, but we all need to draw a line somewhere and for me, this is where.

I spend a lot of time thinking about food and planning our meals. One of my goals for this year is to be more mindful of finding balance in my life, diet included. I’d like to slim down a little and lose some weight (health reasons, not merely vanity) and I’m working hard to figure out what works best for my body. I spend a good bit of time reading and researching various recipes. I’ve talked with my doctor numerous times and have met with a nutritionist. Finally, I feel I’m making progress.

Over the summer, I tried WW. I think that it’s too restrictive overall for my liking, in that I’m only allotted ~1200 calories a day. Sure, that number increases with the “zero point food” but I don’t think I’m eating 400+ calories of chicken breast and plain Greek yogurt. I will say, though, that I definitely saw a trend by tracking. I am really good about eating something for breakfast and sugary breakfast foods are not my friend because they just make me hungry. My big issue is that I often skip lunch or have “snack lunch” which never bodes well for me. This is something I’ve become mindful of needing to change. I will miss lunch because I’m busy and then 3PM rolls around and I basically eat nonstop until after dinner.

Whole30 is part of what has helped — while the foods didn’t necessarily work for me, I learned that fat is not evil and I probably need more of it in my diet. What I do not need, however, is a ton of meat — high protein/fat does not work for my body. I love fruits and vegetables and it’s easy to take in a lot of produce, and focusing on that not only works well for my body but also puts me in a good headspace.

After Whole30 a few years ago, I learned that I’m allergic to yeast and as a result, gluten and refined sugars are never going to work well with my body. I had been gluten free completely for years but then there were things that came up (a few trips coupled with a couple deaths in the family and I went completely off the rails with gluten). I got back to being mostly GF and then our kitchen collapsed and I spent the better part of last fall eating takeout and fast food. Since the kitchen was remodeled, we’ve been back to cooking wholesome meals that are more in agreement with my body. I have a few cookbooks I really like and am really looking forward to The Defined Dish’s cookbook that is set to come out.

Despite my eating preferences, I do not feel guilty if I eat something whether it be purposefully or on accident that doesn’t align with my body’s needs. I usually feel sick, but I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day and I try to pick things up and move forward. I like pizza; I like nachos; I like mac & cheese; I like cake; and as childish and gross as it may be, I like Bagel Bites (not even the organic ones but the chemical ones) — but I don’t need any guilt associated with these foods, and neither does anyone else.

Ultimately, this rambling is really about understanding the importance of disparaging titles attached to foods. There really shouldn’t be — we should all just be concerned with what makes our bodies work and what we can afford and what works for us. It really bothers to me that my kids grow up seeing that they should feel guilty for indulging in a treat or should be shamed for eating something that’s not terribly healthy. At some point, I think it’s vital to change the way we look and talk about food — and also how it’s marketed.

/endrant

(On a side note, I go back and forth and back and forth about getting a fitness watch of some sort — I think they’re neat and I’d love a more accurate read of how many calories I burn doing exercises; however, I know myself and I know that I become obsessed with numerical goals like this. Every time I say I’m considering getting one, I weigh my options and always come back to doing what is best for my mental health — steering clear. I do not need guilt from food, nor do I from fitness…)

(Second side note: I wrote this before my trip to PA and set it to publish at a later date. When I was in PA, my mother talked incessantly about calories – so much so, that three started to ask about how many calories are in an item; then, I returned to MA to my MIL who also obsessively talked about ‘bad’ foods and needing to ‘be good’ with eating. She’s doing WW now and everything is about how many points it has… it was all too much for me. I try to dabble in structure but it just doesn’t seem to work because I don’t want to model the concept of demonizing food for the kids. With 3, I worry because he’s never gaining enough weight for his doctors to be pleased; despite the fact that all he does when he’s not moving is eat, bathe, or sleep…)

 

 

 

meals, sept 6-12

Well, it’s official: We are finally entering our first full week of school. 3 starts preK-3 on Monday and I’m sure someone will shed a few tears about it. (It’s me. I’m the someone.) We went today to pick out a new backpack. I wish Pottery Barn Kids didn’t carry such cute things, but they do and thus they can take all of my money. He picked out a camo blue small backpack, which will fit his school folder in it. 3 is really anxious about starting school but I think it’s going to be great for him. There are only a dozen children in his class and his teacher is straight out of college, so I’m hopeful that he will have the energy required to keep up with my child. I can’t wait for him to make some friends and talk about his days; I’m truly looking forward to it.

After our trip to PBK, we walked to Whole Foods and did our grocery shopping for the week. There I was, a typeA, overbearing, over-planned mom without a list or idea of what to make next week. The two of us basically grabbed all of the fruits and vegetables that sounded good to us at the time, swung by dairy for some kefir and nutpods, and then hit the meat counter. I have a free trial of Amazon Prime that I used to get my textbooks, so I got the discount for that at WF. I saved nearly $20 and now I get to struggle with figuring out if it’s worth getting Prime or not — I rarely shop on Amazon except to buy meat sticks and, in this case, textbooks (thanks to the free 2-day delivery). I am happily accepting any weigh-ins around Amazon Prime and whether or not its worth it…

Until then, I looked at my meats and vegetables and came up with this loose plan for the week (Who even am I right now?!):

Friday: I have a dentist appointment in the afternoon, so I wanted something quick and easy. We are doing kraut and kielbasa with mashed potatoes. I can’t wait.

Saturday: It is unofficially fall and I am eager to make Chrissy Teigan’s Cheeseless Eggs (Cravings). The Defined Dish posted a soup recipe this past week on Instagram and noted that Nutpods can be used in place of heavy cream; so, I grabbed some and will test this out over the weekend. We will also add the blistered tomatoes and possibly the garlic bacon to this ensemble. I have no idea what we will have for dinner — maybe we will try blackened grouper and have it with leftover potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sounds good to me!

Sunday: I bought leeks and we have some Italian sausage, so I may want to do a frittata of some sort, but we will see what we are in the mood for when Sunday AM rolls around. Sunday being the first full day of football, we are going to really dig in and enjoy — my husband is going to make buffalo wings and we are going to try our hand at making blistered shishito peppers; we will keep things simple and serve this with carrots.

Monday: We are going to do roasted chicken (True Roots), roasted potatoes, and roasted beets. Everything in the oven at once!

Tuesday: I am thinking that mushroom, pepper, zucchini, and spinach fajitas will be in order; simple and quick. Plus, if we have any leftover chicken, we can toss it in with them. I bought the Siete cashew queso to go along with this.

Wednesday: I am thinking a sheet pan meal of chicken thighs, potatoes, and carrots with a stone-ground mustard. I saw the recipe online but will probably just toss some mustard and spices on everything and back it until it’s done. I’m so savvy in the kitchen; what can I say.

Thursday: I grabbed a flank steak at the meat counter and plan to marinate and grill it and serve it with some sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes.

I bought a gigantic tub of spinach (can you believe that TWO POUNDS of spinach is only $1.50 more than 10oz?! Me neither.), so I will be eating this for lunch most of the week. I will probably thaw and cook shrimp to go with it — now that the dinners are going to get increasingly heavier, I’d like to keep my lunches a little on the lighter side and loaded with nutrients. I also will likely bust out the Vitamix this week and get back to making my cinnamon smoothies or match smoothies that I enjoy so much!

Top Ten Technology Tips for Teachers

This week’s blog post for my Emerging Tech for Libraries course focuses on technology tips for teachers. By right, I am not big on technology; Verizon basically had to wrestle my iPhone5 out of my hands and force an upgrade to a newer, working model; thus, my confidence with technology is not as high as others. This assignment pushed me to think about what I appreciate with technology and how I’ve integrated technology in my classroom as a middle and high school English teacher and also as a math special education teacher. I have been thinking back to what 13 & 11 had access to in elementary school and now, in middle school. I am also forced to rethink what I learned from my graduate students at UMass who were always trying to find ways to integrate technology into their classrooms.

So, without further ado, here’s my list:

  1. Understand the tools available to help students gain skills independently. There are some great programs out there that allow students to take control of building their skills. For example, Symphony Math is a program I’ve used to help students gain confidence for numbers sense; Lexia Reading is a program that works on phonetics with students; Read180 is used by some classrooms to build reading skills; while, Achieve3000 offers articles that are based on student reading levels but allow for similar lessons across the board.
  2. Communicate with school staff to understand the available technology within the building. Some reading teachers, for instance, have access to programs that most classroom teachers do not, but that doesn’t mean that content teachers can’t collaborate with reading instructors or other specialists to bring specific technology to students in need.
  3. Think of how best to communicate with parents — most districts use a LMS system, which allows for updates to grades but not always notes to parents. Class Dojo is a program that 13&11’s teachers used in elementary school; this program can track behavior management, projects, and other facets of the classroom. Any tool that simplifies communication with parents and maintains transparency is a win-win.
  4. Check out laptops from the library/utilize computer rooms. Students need to gain confidence and understanding navigating the Internet. In a world of Wikipedia, it’s imperative that students know and understand how to research properly. Lessons can be piloted through collaboration between classroom teachers and technology/library specialists at school to enable students to gain higher order thinking skills all while learning proper ways to research and document.
  5. Maintain consistency around rules and expectations with technology. For example, 13 & 11 do not have cell phones — their school has a policy that phones should be kept in their lockers but last year, we noticed that some teachers wanted phones in the classrooms to use for video. I’ve read about schools allowing students to use their cell phones for in-class research and I do see the benefits of this, but I think in order to do this successfully, all parties need to be on the same page and have access to the same materials.
  6. Teach students how to utilize presentation software. Most schools teach PowerPoint, which is great — I know 13 & 11 used it in elementary school for in-class presentations; they also used GarageBand on iPads in school. In my college classes, I’ve had some students who learned how to use Prezi, which is a really fun and engaging way to create a presentation. I think that encouraging students to play around with new programs and offer mini-tutorials on how to incorporate proper content will allow for more functional and efficient public speaking opportunities.
  7. Allow students to communicate in class the ways they communicate socially. Several years ago, I taught a Romeo & Juliet lesson. Instead of droning on about the tragedy, I had students take things into their own hands. In groups of two, on the laptops, students devised texting conversations between two characters. They used modern language while making connections to the text. Once they finished, we posted them on the Mimio and had students put their modern words into iambic pentameter, had them make predictions and inferences about how things would turn out with the level of communication at their fingertips now, and offered feedback about accuracy and staying on point. It was a fun activity that engaged the class and allowed them some space to showcase their communication skills vs. mine vs. the text.
  8. Investigate critical literacies. In graduate school, I took a course by Vivian Vasquez — she’s amazing and taught me so much about emerging technology. This was back in 2007, so tech has obviously evolved since then, but the concept remains the same. Functional literacy can take many forms and does not strictly involve reading words on a page — I took this concept and applied it to my students who struggled with reading comprehension by using audio books and read aloud/think aloud sessions paired with grade-level readings for them to create v-logs. Removing the blatant reading and writing duo that often accompanies a text allowed students who had high comprehension, but low reading/writing skills, to shine. In classes with 30 students, it can be difficult to find and understand each student’s literacy strength, but that is where specialists come into play and allow for support and tech integration.
  9. One thing we always talk about in reading is the importance of forging connections to the text. Utilizing laptops to search for articles that took place around the time/setting of a book can help students better understand some of the context given throughout the text. It is also fun to set up these searches as a scavenger hunt that utilizes higher order thinking and Bloom’s buzzwords.
  10. Ask your students how they utilize technology for academic purposes. This question can yield two-fold responses: First, you’re able to gain access/insights to the ways students utilize technology, so you can beef up your own usage and second, you’re able to redirect any red flags (Wikipedia; plagiarizing) by demonstrating software you use (for example, at BHCC, I had access to software that would note how many sentences were from outside sources). This offers a great deal of transparency and allows for natural, in the moment lessons and redirections all while using a SmartBoard and integrating further levels of technology.

I hope these tech tips are helpful — it took a lot of thought for me to think about how I’ve used technology, on how my kids’ teachers and schools have offered technical solutions to work, and how I can improve the usage of technology for myself and fellow staff.

When I was in school, we had overhead projectors that would sometimes overheat and shut down; we also had chalk. The ability to utilize technology within the confines of a classroom truly offers boundless experiences for students, which is equal parts great and terrifying. I tried to think of how both teachers and students could benefit by my list, thus the examples; and how a librarian would be able to facilitate learning outcomes with both staff and student. Currently, I have a lot of thoughts swirling around my brain about how this could all look and play out — the librarian really can serve as a central hub/school’s access point between so many departments. It’ll be neat to further explore this and understand how all of these pieces can come together.

summer reads

I have tried to take some time this summer to get back into the swing of my reading. I usually am able to tear through a few books between semesters and with the summer, I try to get through a book every week or two. I started the summer with a recommendation from a student in my Children’s Lit course. After that, I started to take recommendations from an online book club on Facebook that I am in. I like nice, light summer reads but picked up a heavier book along the way and ended up finishing it the day I started it. I am taking a couple of graduate courses in the fall and so I’m really trying to get in my recreational reading before textbook requirements, again, take over my time.

We’re going to need more wine: stories that are funny, complicated, and true
by Gabrielle Union.Image result for we're going to need more wine

I was curious to see what she had to say, as I knew she and DW struggled with infertility. That was ultimately what piqued my interest. This was a really light and relatable read. It was quick and I got through it by just reading for a little nightly over the course of time I’d checked it out from the library. I like books that can discuss heavy material at times and balance it with humor and understanding. This did just that for me.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
by Kelly Harms.

Image result for the overdue life of amy byler

I LOVED this book. I read it at the beach and got through about half in one day. It was my beach read while the kids were at their summer camps and I had a few hours (9-12) to kill. It was light and also sending signs from the universe, since the protagonist is a librarian and I’m going back to school to be one. I just really appreciated the lightness of the text and the realness of the toll motherhood can take sometimes.

When all is Said: a novel
by Anne Griffin.

Image result for when all is said: a novel

Wow. I read this book in one day, mostly at the beach. The reading was light in terms of the writing; really easy to get through and the story flowed simply. It was really heavy though. As an empath, I had to take a few breaths once I finished and honestly, if I’d gone to the next day, I think that I would have left it behind because I literally spent an entire day reading it/crying. Still, if you’re looking for perspective of losing a loved one, this may provide you with some. This book had me thinking about what I would say/think about how my life was molded in my final days. I will likely write about my five people in separate posts when I have the time to sit down and figure out who those five people would be — at first thought, I have three.

From the jacket: If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you had to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?

How to Party with an Infant
by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

Image result for how to party with an infant

Eh. I could take or leave this book. I wasn’t really into the overall writing style or narration of this but the character development and plot line were okay. The protagonist was relatable but the supporting characters often fell flat for me. It was a light read though and quick.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

This book was cute and light; a very straightforward and simple rom-com, basically. I liked the main character and found her relatable (hello, anxiety and a deep appreciation of literature). I found the setting charming and the family dynamic, once revealed, entertaining, sweet, and earnest. For me, this started as a beach read and ended with an SVU marathon while my husband and son were away for the weekend. * The ONLY complaint is that this is the second book in a row (Party with Infant) I’ve read where there was mention of accidental edibles consumption/intentional edibles deceit. Not really my cup of tea and I don’t find it humorous, but that’s my own opinion on the matter.

The Unhoneymooners
by Christina Lauren

Image result for the unhoneymooners

I read this book in a day. The character development was seamless and the plot was forthright. There was foreshadowing and overall, this was a nice, light read. I liked Lauren’s writing style and actually picked up another of her books when I was at the library to read. This was recommended to me in an online book club and while it was predictable, I found it enjoyable.

You’ve Been Volunteered
by Laurie Gleman

Image result for you've been volunteered

I loved Class Mom, so when I saw that her sequel was out, I had to grab it. (Well, I had to be 16th in line to check out at my local library.) I appreciate the snark and wit woven through the fabric of this book. My husband was a room parent for years and the emails from the other room parents can definitely be over the top, so I appreciated the candor and comedy surrounding this text.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
by Christina Lauren

This book was on the stand near the computers when I was picking up You’ve Been Volunteered, so I grabbed it. The writing is clean and light; just as The Unhoneymooners. The perspective switched between the two lead characters about their relationship, thoughts, and feelings. It took a few chapters to settle into that format but afterwards, it was quick and easy. I recommend if you’re looking for something easy and mindless, as most of my summer reads have been.

Next Level Basic
by Stassi Schroeder

This book popped up during my library search as a “suggested book” — I learned that this gal has her own show, so I think if you’re a fan of hers/know who she is, you may get more out of it. I appreciated her forthright honesty about ‘being basic’ and we share a mutual love of Chrissy Teigan. If you’re looking for a book to read in a couple of hours that doesn’t leave you stressed, this may be the book for you.

Honestly, I am typically not interested at all in chic-lit. I think it’s awful because it’s normally terribly written and frankly,  it’s silly. That being said, I have enjoyed taking a break with really light reads this summer. It’s been a nice retreat to read without a ton of post-reading thoughts lingering.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman.Image result for eleanor oliphant is completely fine

I had a hard time getting into this book. I started to read in on our flight to Disney and then just couldn’t get wrapped up, so I’ve been using it as my emergency book at the beach (basically, something to read when I have nothing else). This one is in progress and will be as my semester picks up.

I try to get as much reading in as I can. I always find myself trying to do what the kids do (and I always used to assign as a secondary ELA teacher): Read for 20 minutes a night. This is simply something that doesn’t work for me. I want to try to read for 20 minutes nightly with magazines I have laying around the house; but books — I need a solid few hours so that I can get through most, if not all, of the text. I was fortunate that my husband worked from home one day a week this summer and I could go to the beach and just read and go for walks; he also took the kids on a few day trips, which opened up some reading time for me. I knocked three books out during my trip to PA to visit my parents.

With the fall semester looming, I know that I won’t have as much time to read as I did this summer. My goal is to knock out 1-2 books per month, reading on weekends after yoga or while my husband and the kids are at church. We have a few weekend plans in place because we want to do more ‘family dates’ but I think that just being in a place to read and relax with a good book has been great for me and I’d like to keep that up.