Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Witches: Salem, 1692

I can tell you one thing...it would suck to be a Puritan!
I find myself liking nonfiction reading more and more, although I'm still picky about the subjects I choose. One aspect that will get me interested in a nonfiction piece is that it relates to a topic I teach. This is how I came to read The Witches: Salem, 1692, by Stacy Schiff. As is common, I found this book in a review from a fellow blogger, this time from Katie @Doing Dewey. She was kind enough to send her ARC as well, which I've already sent on to Allison @The Book Wheel. So, you'll have a few more perspectives on this book soon enough.

My interest in The Witches comes from teaching Arthur Miller's The Crucible over the past four or five years. (I never quite reviewed The Crucible, but did do a more personal piece on it here.) In case you aren't familiar with The Crucible, it is Miller's somewhat fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials in the New World (not America for another 80+ years), where a group of teenage girls began accusing townspeople of witchcraft. The accusations spread like wildfire, the courts became a circus, and innocent people were jailed for months on end and some hanged - most in the name of envy and revenge it turns out. With every reading of The Crucible, my incredulousness grows. It's hard to understand how so many people can be so easily fooled. But then I recall Miller's purpose for writing The Crucible...he himself was accused similarly of being a Communist during the 1950's Red Scare era, now well known as McCarthyism. A general fearfulness of the infiltration of communism existed throughout the country, but it was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin who threw the country into a terror with his claims of communism infiltrating parts of the U.S. government. The result? A replay of the 1692 Salem witch trials. Granted, no one was hanged, but lives were effectively ruined as people were blacklisted from careers and asked to either confess or lead authorities to those who were communists. Miller was turned in by a friend in such a predicament, but refused to turn in anyone else to save himself. Miller took this forced sabbatical as an opportunity to research the events of 1692 and write his famous play, paralleling the U.S. government to the circus courts of hundreds of years ago. Miller: 1; U.S. government: 0

So what about this new book on the witch trials? I liked it. Let me first say, I did think there was a lot of repetition; however, the book follows the court records and people's personal writings through that year, so it's likely certain thoughts came up often. The repetition begins to serve as this crazy marker for how many opportunities the authorities had to turn this all around before it went too far. Schiff's statement highlighting the essence of the trials: "Salem is in part the story of what happens when a set of unanswered questions meets a set of unquestioned answers."

What I really liked about the book was that I now have the facts on the people appropriated by Miller as characters for The Crucible. I can see how the situations within The Crucible happened to various people, but for the sake of the story, Miller took the prominent names of the real Salem witch trials and attributed as many of the real life situations to them as possible, to give a full scope of what happened. I was also happy to see that the ending of the movie version of The Crucible (starring Daniel Day Lewis) was true to life. The innocents who are martyred on the scaffold recite The Lord's Prayer as they are prepared to hang. It is a chilling ending that never ceases to send ripples up and down my spine.

I like to think that when we are cognizant of our history, we have a better chance of not repeating the mistakes. But what is better known than the Salem witch trials? And yet we have Hitler and McCarthy effectively bringing about the similar events of brainwashing, mass fear, and sheer stupidity. At least we can be personally aware, even if it means only we will not succumb to such madness.

Any good books you've learned from lately?

Note: the following information was shared with me by my cousins (who did our genealogy years ago) after seeing my review on FB. I pieced the conversation together here for easier reading.

Jennine, we are descended from Lydia Wardell. Her brother-in-law, Samuel, was the last witch executed in Salem. Lydia and her husband were Quakers, which I believe was a political motivation behind her brother's execution. Although, that can never be proven. 

I just read the account in the book "The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England" by Diane Rapaport. The book says Lydia and her husband Eliakim (our ninth great grandfather) were Quakers and fined for missing the Puritan church services which were mandatory under Massachusetts colonial law (this is what the seperation of church and state is all about: no state-mandated religion). Her response was to come to church, but naked (or butt naked as the case may be). The church was the Newbury meetinghouse which probably also served as the courthouse in those days. In any event, yes, there is a long tradition in our family of strong, outspoken women.

As punishment, Lydia "was ordered to be severely whipped" which most likely happened at the public whipping post in the typical fashion which was, ironically, "naked to the waist."

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

My AP classes are reading the first 5 chapters of A Prayer for Owen Meany over the holiday break. (That's 255 pages...no, I don't feel bad.) I read this book quite awhile ago, but rereading allows me to rediscover the unique characters and Owen Meany's unique voice.

“My life is a reading list." John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

You were expecting something big and grand weren't you? Haha, this is pretty amazing I'd say. Don't worry, more to come from this one. It's 600+ pages and we're not quite half way through.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bout of Books 15

It's that time again! I'm not sure how many Bout of Books I've officially participated in (written a post like this and linked it up), but it's been three or four now. The January Bout of Books is my favorite because I'm in the reading mode from a Christmas break of reading and work isn't crazy and interfering!

So clearly, I love Bout of Books (especially the Twitter chats) and intend to participate. Should you? If you've never participated, check out this blurb from the Bout of Books team, filling you in on some details.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

So if you love to read and others need an excuse for you to do so excessively, here's your chance. Visit the Bout of Books link in the blurb and find the various ways you can sign up and participate. Hope to see you around the blogs in 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Coloring Fool

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and bought a sophisticated coloring book. I've seen the displays, read the reviews, liked the tweets of excitement for months, but have just started taking part. I have mixed feelings on it.

First, I LOVE the idea. I loved coloring when I was younger and was fiercely jealous of those who could do so well. I remember being acutely upset that a friend won a coloring contest in kindergarten, making her the owner of a huge stuffed bunny rabbit. So, I've quite enjoyed paging through B&N's coloring book displays. For awhile I was overwhelmed by the choices, not only at B&N, but also at numerous other stores that now carry them. (Buyer beware, you get what you pay for. Pay attention to not only design, but also thickness and quality of paper.) But, a B&N gift card came my way last month and I decided it was finally time to give it a go.

And I chose...

Once I'd looked through all books twice, this one stood out because every page is like the cover. A huge expanse of possibilities. There aren't any pages that have the black background or much blank, draw your own options. Every page is a detailed drawing of tropical animals, giving the opportunity of the most colorful display you can imagine.

Ironically, this is also where my mixed feelings come in...I don't really have an imagination. Setting up a pattern of colors for such detailed drawings takes some time. None of it just comes to me. And so my relaxing activity becomes work. 

The results of an hour or so labor...

Not bad for a first start, but people, this is the tiny corner of one page...take a look at the size of the book in the picture above this one! Ugh. But I am happy with that bug and this keeps me going. That bug's colors and pattern came out so nicely it makes me want to try it again. And just maybe it will start to come naturally and it will become a more relaxing activity.

It's definitely a statement of some sort. I had two friends send me the picture below! Some explanation: the year each of our kids hits high school, we buy him/her a Mac laptop. Expensive, but it's the only present he/she receives from us, the child pitches in his/her own money, and family members contribute as their gift as well. We don't mid putting in a little more for something that will last a long time and is practical and useful (and Best Buy's same as cash offers rock). This year it is middle daughter's turn - she's getting a Mac Book Air with Microsoft Office. The cartoon below is so fitting.

That leaves me with one question to all you colorers out there. What's your favorite coloring utensil? Right now I have water color pencils, but have only used them as pencils, no water just yet.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

It's hard not to let life knock you down sometimes. Even in good times it seems something can sneak up on you. But, it's more about your response to that knock down than the knocking down itself. I'd rather learn from it - about myself and the world - and just keep going. And that's my thought for #SundaySentence this week.

Source: by Serena from wehearit.com

Monday, December 14, 2015

LOST - American TV Drama

source: screenrant.com


I spent late August through early December binge watching on Netflix like I never have before. I've decided I like binge watching better than week to week episodes, for the same reason I'd rather sit and read for an hour than just ten minutes. The more I do in one sitting, the more engrossed I become in the story. Much like a series of books takes over and resides constantly on my mind, so did the 2004 - 2010 American TV series Lost these past few months. It was good timing. With my reading slump, work schedule, and family life, I wanted nothing more than to lazily, easily get caught up in a good story in my free time.

If you're not familiar with the premise of Lost, read it here. Plenty of people had recommended the show, but what finally made me watch it was a video made by the writers of the show, where they discuss how it was based off of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. A hug fan of Campbell's study, I teach the Hero's Journey to my students every year, regardless of grade or ability level. That video was all I needed to jump right in. I was in good company as my husband and a couple of our best friends watched and compared notes too.

source: 4jlkelly.com
And what is the Hero's Journey? (You didn't really think I'd discuss TV without teaching an English Literature lesson too did you?) It's a pattern found throughout most stories, dating centuries back through the present. Not every story contains every step and steps aren't always in exact order, but most steps show up and usually in a similar order. The goal of the journey appears as one thing (in Lost, getting off the island), but it's always self realization and growth. It's amazing to think of all the different minds across centuries telling stories that are essentially the same in many ways. The interconnectedness between stories, ultimately a display of relatable humanity, is what I love most about them.

source: left - sacredimperfections.wordpress.com
right - dvdbash.com
Anyway, Lost was quite a ride. Every episode presented a mixture of personalities duking it out for survival. The mysteries of the island and the people themselves often created more questions than answers. In fact, for every question an episode answered, about five more questions popped up. But I loved it. It was always entertaining, never dull, and the characters amazingly drawn. It was easy to feel love or hate for them and often I found myself going back and forth between emotions on the same character! By the end of season one (of six), the character I'd started out disliking was my favorite. I had a couple I liked more than others, but definitely a favorite - Sawyer. Sarcastic, always ready with a quick pop culture jab, he brought quick comic relief to even the most serious moods. Plus he was reading in every episode and wasn't bad to look at at all!

Which is another cool aspect of Lost. The placement of the books Sawyer read on each episode was purposeful. Whichever book Sawyer is shown reading, that book relates back to the happenings in the episode. Various characters also allude to famous literature constantly. For example, in season three, episode 14 (Expose) the high school science teacher Leslie Artz says of Jack and Kate, "The pigs are walking! The pigs are walking!" Which is a line from Animal Farm, pertaining to the power hungriness of those animals on the farm...here directly attributed to Jack and Kate, two characters in charge on the island. I also noticed allusions that may have been unintentional, such as Jacob and his twin, the man in black, who is never given a name, but seem to be a close remaking of the Bible's Jacob and Esau.

And the ending? (HERE'S THE BIG SPOILER) I had so many commentaries from previous watchers and although no one spoiled the ending, people were definitely for or against it. Those who did not like it said there were too many things left "unknown." And it seems many mysteries remain. This is simply my opinion, but those who didn't like it, don't know their literature and it's their loss. In the end, the "surviving" passengers of Oceanic 815 find out they never survived the crash. They've been dead all along and together their particular spirits have been working through some issues before moving on. (The assumption being that those who didn't "survive" the crash were already in a place to move on to what awaits after death.) Other people who show up on the island had died and come there before or even after and were traveling the same journey. The finale shows them coming to this realization and ready to "move on."

source: beliefnet.com
What does this have to do with knowing literature? The Hero's Journey of course. Every journey has an ending, whether it is simply to move on to another journey or the final end. Either way, the ultimate boon is learning about yourself and the world around you. Their spirits lingered on this made up island to work through issues and heal emotions. It's about allowing knowledge gained through trials to change you, make you better than what you could've ever become without the journey. That's life isn't it? One big Hero's Journey.

Who has another series I can watch to fix the #showhole?! After I read a bunch of books that is!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Tis the season for giving and it's a good time of year to be generous. My husband and I think it is a sense of heart that should be lived equally year round. We try but it's funny how you lose sight of things sometimes. Yet, reminders are never far away and in the past two months we've found the verses below proven to us. Giving is such a blessing in a way I can't explain exactly - or at least easily. It's an experience. And somehow, someway, the blessing is returned in the way you need and when you need it most.

Source: Edited from slideshare.net

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Student Spotlight: Pablo S

Yes, I am a bad teacher. I've completely slacked on my Student Spotlight postings for this school year. (If you're not familiar with Student Spotlight, please take a look.) Not for lack of good essays, but for the abundance of essays to grade. Grading writing takes it out of you, especially analysis. However, better late than never! I am here today with a Student Spotlight essay for you on Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily."

This essay, titled "Emily Grierson is Dixie" was written by 11th grader Pablo S, who is in my AP Literature class. Extremely bright, Pablo blows me away with his ideas and writing ability. For example, AP's summer reading assignment only needed to be 10 paragraphs answering the 10 of 18 questions they chose to answer. Pablo's came to me in essay form, all of those topics weaved together, in MLA format no less!

We read "A Rose for Emily" during our study on the effect of plot on a story. As Pauline Hopkins writes in Contending Forces, “And after all, our surroundings influence our lives and characters as much as fate, destiny or any supernatural agency.” Students always excercise our studies through essay writing, the prompt always from AP Lit tests as far back as 1970. This time around students were to choose an essay from four given to analyze the plot of Faulkner's classic. Pablo's choice was from the 2012 AP Lit test:  Choose a novel or play in which cultural, physical, or geographical surroundings shape psychological or moral traits in a character. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how surroundings affect this character and illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

Here it is. Enjoy.

Emily Grierson is Dixie
Emily Grierson is the frustration and distortion of the cultural and physical influences of her time. Symbolically, Emily is the South. The same culture that rejects Northern ideals and morals coincide with the way Emily lived her life.  Throughout the story, Emily reacts and counteracts as a representation of the relentless post-Civil War South. It is doubtless that her psychological traits and ethics are directly corresponding to that of the old Confederate States. This is the society that constructs Emily Grierson into a “fallen monument” (1) of her community.
With a disputable statement that Emily is a full portrayal of the deep South, a new question is posed: How did a wealthy and prominent woman become a rebellious symbol? Starting with her first influence, her father, the concept is not hard to grasp. He is a renowned Southern man that had been described by the narrator and the community as “a spraddled silhouette… clutching a horsewhip” (5). Emily’s father isolates the girl and passes down a prestigious and single-minded attitude. This sets up a solid foundation for Emily to serve as a symbol for the South. Comparably, the South also isolated and saw itself as a prestigious society with its fixed political views and opinions. In turn, the cultural and geographical positions in which Emily and her father were created a parallel of attributes for Emily and the Southern society to share. 
Emily Grierson’s behavior mirrors the attitude of the beaten society she lives in. Similar to the Old South, Emily is not apt to sudden change. This is seen when “the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction” (1). Miss Emily refuses to pay taxes to these modernized officials. A simple inconvenience would not budge the prideful woman’s stance on this matter and she had demonstrated the men to Colonel Sartoris, a man who “had been dead for almost ten years” (3). Before this situation, Emily is too stubborn to believe her father’s death. In mention to her community, “she told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days” (5). To her town, she was “humanized” (5). Her father’s death exposed her as a simpler woman that the community was now more comfortable with. One cannot be distinguished and mad at the same time. This is a portrayal of the effects of the recently vulnerable culture she lives in, which refused to adapt and accept its changes after the Civil War. Similar to Emily, the South also became vulnerable after its own tragic loss in the war. Psychologically, Emily and the South have similar natures in their conduct. 
Miss Emily Grierson is not a villain, however. She is “a tradition, a duty, and a care” (1) to the people around her. Faulkner, a native of the South, does not intend for the protagonist to be an evil character. Sure, she kills an innocent man, but it is the symbolism behind it that correctly shows Emily’s innocence. Homer Barron is “a Yankee-a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face” (6). He is the icon of the North, the foe of the South Miss Emily so closely resembles. This social and energetic character creates a foil for Miss Emily. Only a year after Miss Emily’s father dies, “the town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks” (5).  This is an indication that Emily Grierson is the victim of the sudden changes she and her community go through, notably when Homer Barron invades and brings forth a reconstruction of the town. This is against Emily’s culture, which itself experienced a Reconstruction after the damage left by the North.
Indeed, it is possible that Miss Emily is not influenced by the cultural surroundings around her, and she merely acts in demented ways as an insane person. This argument is conceivable, but it would take away the significance of the work. Faulkner created this piece as a Southerner during the aftermath of a bloody Civil War. He uses Emily as a symbol of his heartbroken land that struggles to accept its modifications. Miss Emily does not even allow her town  to “fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it” (9). This is a simple action of a character that greatly reflects an entire region. Without the cultural effects on Miss Emily, she would simply be an introvert woman that commits a horrendous crime. The relevancy of this work is emphasized when it is accepted that Miss Emily is guided by the society she lives in. 
Emily Grierson is the result of an honored culture struggling with its uncertain future. This woman epitomizes the South’s internal conflict of a changing society. Emily receives a strong-willed backbone through her father, resembling her own home’s determined will to retain its old values. Throughout the story, Emily’s actions simulate that of the South she represents. Emily is a fallen soldier for the land she is commanded by, and when she dies, she rests “among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson” (1). Miss Emily is another fallen soldier, a victim of the developments she and her community face.
Work Cited
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and 
Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 79-84. Print.

Impressive, right? Feel free to leave Pablo some feedback in the comments and share this post to social media using #StudentSpotlight. We'd love to hear what readers have to say!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Reading the Bible as Literature

Source: roofbeamreader.com
*Note, this event has been cancelled, so the links are invalid. However, I am leaving the post up for any reference I (or others) might like to make to the idea and the reading plan on my own. 

It's December, which on most book blogs means setting up reading challenges and goals for the new year. Last week I set up the one reading challenge I will continue from 2015, Reading My Own Damn Books (#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks). An attack on the TBR books I own, which I am looking forward to. However, another reading activity caught my eye and I am posting to join. Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting a year long read-a-long of the Bible as Literature.

I've read the Bible beginning to end three times, only once was within a one year period. Having grown up in church, I've also read the Bible in part multiple times. My reading has followed different reasons and met different needs over the years, but in the past decade as a teacher, reading the Bible as literature has become important. Fiction alludes to biblical stories and teachings more than any other work besides Shakespeare. Understanding the Bible's stories and characters on a literary level leads to deeper understanding of literary works, allusion or not. Thus my interest in Roof Beam Reader's read-a-long.

You can read here for details on his postings and some regulations he has in place for discussion, but below I've included his reading schedule to give you an idea of what it takes to read the Bible in a year. It's the hardest thing I've ever done reading-wise. I'm not promising I'll keep up the whole time or post consistently, but even when I fall behind I will be reading Adam's posts, gleaning readers' observations, and joining in when I have my own.

The Reading Plan
January: Genesis 1 through Exodus 40
February: Leviticus 1 through Deuteronomy 4
March: Deuteronomy 5 through 1 Samuel 17
April: 1 Samuel 18 through 1 Chronicles 2
May: 1 Chronicles 3 through Esther 10
June: Job 1 through Psalms 89
July: Psalms 90 through Isaiah 17
August: Isaiah 18 through Ezekiel 8
September: Ezekiel 9 through Zechariah 14
October: Malachi 1 through Luke 18
November: Luke 19 through 1 Corinthians 8
December: 1 Corinthians 9 through Revelations 22

If you care to join us, or even just peek at what everyone has to say here and there, sign up on the linky at the end of his post or subscribe to Adam's blog. Also, he is hosting a similar Shakespeare reading event for 2016, as important to understanding literature as the Bible, the link of which is at the end of his post as well.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

The busy seems to have let up just in time for me to enjoy December and its festivities. We put the tree up a couple days ago, watching a Christmas movie at the same time, as is our tradition. This year it was A Christmas Carol, the newest version, smartly animated with Jim Carrey as Scrooge. By far my favorite version.

I find it amazing that you can read or hear something a dozen times before it really stands out to you. This time around, it was Jacob Marley's ghost whose words caught my ear and I post them here to remind myself to be intentional about helping others and touching lives.

Source: welchwrite.com

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas Came Early

Top left: My sister, her husband, and my kids.
Middle: Me waiting for my sister coming down aisle,
my husband and I at reception, my sister and I in Station Square.
Bottom: Pittsburgh view from our hotel.
I know, you're shocked. I have two posts up in the same week! Maybe my schedule is making a turn for the better...reading is picking up and I have things to talk about! Yay!

Anyway, my sister got hitched the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It made for a busy week before and after (also because of the holiday), but it was an amazing weekend we spent in Pittsburgh together.

We spent Saturday hanging out with one of my sister's best friends, talking, eating, and walking our way around Station Square. She held her ceremony and reception at LeMont Restaurant in Mt Washington the next day. The view from the hall completely breathtaking, especially as evening set in and the city lit up. The restaurant itself, a 1920's Gatsby-esque decor, had been recently decked out in gold Christmas trees and decorations, which we hadn't known would happen. It was a welcome sight...totally lifted the atmosphere and spirits more than expected and made for great pictures. And in my sister's usual style, every piece of the wedding matched the setting...especially her dress. Among the most beautiful wedding dresses I've ever seen.

As a thank you my sister gave me a sweet card and a B&N gift card! It was totally unnecessary, I wouldn't have missed it all for anything, but very thoughtful of her. It only sat in my pocket a couple days before I found my way to B&N to spend it. The first item was a given, The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5). With every gift card I've received in the past year, I've first bought the next book in the series, even though I'm only on #3 right now. They are beautiful big books and will look amazing on my shelf when I have them all...that is, when I have any space on a shelf.

A number of other titles came to mind as I walked around, but the next item that caught my eye was a day-to-day 2016 calendar of book trivia for bookworms. Between questions and quotes, it looked like a great way to start every day, so to work it goes! My plan is to work a few good ones into my blog each month, either as #SundaySentence or a whole new posting.

Not far from the table of calendars was a table of "sophisticated" coloring books and supplies. I've been watching the coloring phenomenon from afar. I wasn't the best color-er as a kid, but it's always been a fun activity. I've gone through the selections the last couple visits to B&N and decided now was the time to give it a try. After circling the table a few times and flipping through ten different books, the one that stood out the most was Tropical World, by Millie Marotta. I picked it because it was the only book where I felt excited to color every page as I flipped through. Not having colored in awhile, I needed new pencils too! I bought a 24 pack of watercolor pencils, which came with a brush. I had never heard of them before, but apparently they can be used as regular colored pencils or, with a little water on a brush, made to look like watercolor on paper.

Thanks to Educator's Discount, I pretty much left within limit of my gift card, only had to pay $2.24. That's what I call a successful trip!

Anyone else get the chance to haul home bookish goodies recently?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Reading My Own Damn Books

Going to start with this pile from a recent post.
2016 is looking promising!
How bout that title? Made me laugh out loud, but I can't take credit for it. It's a Twitter thing, I guess, but I heard it from Andi at Estella's Revenge. The challenge behind it however, I will totally take credit for since I posted it this time last year. And if Twitter just started it, then I'm totally hipster. Is hipster still a thing?


The idea is to read your own damn books, aka, books you already own. There aren't really any rules, unless you want to give yourself some. Last year I gave myself a few that turned out very well, so I think I'll stick with them again this year. Here they are from last year's original post, TBRs I Own Challenge:

1. E-books and physical books I pay for count against me as buying a book, obviously, but not if someone else gives them to me as a gift. (Who in their right mind would turn down free books?)

2. Library books do not count against me, but must be two year or older publications I've been meaning to read.

3. Newer books I get for free (from publishers or as prizes) do not count against me. I must still take advantage of great offers from publishers. But I will limit these big time.

4. Wishlist answers from paperbackswap do not count against me. They are all TBRs, some on the list for years now, and the credits I have are already paid for through previous trades.

5. Every book I already own counts as an option.

6. The challenge begins January 1st.

Believe it or not, in 2015 I only bought two books. In June I bought Go Set a Watchman, which was kind of a given and almost doesn't even count! And then Outlander #4 as a vacation souvenir, again, does that even count? It was a bad year of reading for me all around, so I hope this challenge can refresh 2016! Thanks Andi for the reminder.

Also, if you're interested in joining, Andi has a link up on her Reading My Own Damn Books post. Join us! #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

I saw a Ray Bradbury quote posted on Facebook today about how book banning is not a problem when the people of a country aren't reading to begin with. Reminded me of a related quote that I love...and I believe is attributed to Mark Twain.

Source: Pinterest.com

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dragonfly in Amber: Outlander 2

Source: Amazon.com
I like big books...actually the bigger the book the more appealing it is to me. Unfortunately, big books have a distinct disadvantage for me as well...they're big. In the crazy of a school year, a big book can potentially drag out indefinitely. I read Les Mis - unabridged - in late November/early December of 2012, about a month altogether. That's 1,400 pages while planning, teaching, and grading. I was really proud of myself. It doesn't always turn out so well though, as I found out this school year. I read Outlander at the end of the summer and really wanted to keep going, so I began Dragonfly in Amber in September. I just finished...it's the end of November. Three months for a book half the size of Les Mis. Sheesh. I'm ashamed, excuses of new AP Lit classes I'm teaching aside.

That's not to say I haven't read other books between...there were a couple that I read for other purposes, so I guess it's not a total bummer. Regardless, I loved Dragonfly in Amber and cannot wait to move to the next book in the series!

At the start I was really mad though. The story begins with Claire, her practically grown daughter Brianna, and Roger, a young man of interest to said daughter. In their present day. "HOW DARE YOU DIANA GABALDON? WHERE IS JAMIE FRASER?" kept running through my head. Completely incensed, I kept reading because I figured there had to be something about how this daughter came to be.

Sure enough, the story goes back to 1700s Scotland and Jamie Fraser once again. (I was NOT happy about the "why" of the story heading back there again, but I'm not a story spoiler, so you'll have to find out for yourself.) Claire's story picks up again with her new, adventurous life with Jamie Fraser and it's as exciting and action packed as Outlander was. Being a big book with so much happening, I feel more of a need to describe my feelings and general set up than any details of events. Suffice it to say, the story obviously ends up telling how and why the story began in Claire's present day with a grown daughter. But there's quite a bit that works up to the events that bring Claire to this point.

And the ending, well, it made me most happy of all and ready to read the third book of the Outlander series, Voyager. But that may have to wait until Christmas break. Until then, I love you Jamie Fraser!

Anyone have any series they are seriously obsessed with currently - or recently?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

My sister gets married today. It's all exciting and unreal. I am the Matron of Honor and get to give a toast. Of course, I wrote my own, although I did Google around and found truly good and meaningful love and wedding quotes lacking. I did however come across two sayings that I like because I recognize their truth after my almost sixteen years of marriage. So I share them today in honor of the best man a girl could have, my husband Brandon...and lift my glass to my sister and her soon-to-be-hubby. God bless.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Is it just me or are the weeks flying by? It feels like every time I turn around it's a new week. Anyway, here's another great quote from recently published (and reviewed) The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Love the analogy.

"Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words. Everyone joins a band in this life. And what you play always affects someone." 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, TLC Book Tours

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: November 10, 2015
Category: Fiction
Source: I received a galley via TLC Book Tours for consideration of review in their promotional tour.

When you hear that Mitch Albom has a new book out, you don't ask questions, you just buy it. Well, that's the case for me at least. He has proven himself quite able to weave an amazing story on any topic he sets his mind to. From his nonfiction (Tuesdays with Morrie) to considerations on religion (Have a Little Faith) to explorations into mythology/history (The Time Keeper) and more, Albom's stories speak to humanity in a most relatable way. So the only question I'm left to consider when I hear Albom has published a new book is, "Where is he taking us now?!"

This time it's to Spain, where we see Frankie Presto's life begin tumultuously, level out, and shake him up again. Frankie's journey takes him to America, a young boy with only his guitar and music to care for him. Seemingly fate intervenes, as Frankie comes in contact, travels, and even works with numerous famous musicians of the 1940's, 50's, and 60's, ultimately becoming a legend himself. A legend with a special power...magical guitar strings that burn bright blue when he uses his music to change a life. As with most stories of fame, Frankie has his demons. Mistakes have torn him from what matters most and who he is. It takes him years to come back to what matters most, including his first love, his guitar.

That's a pretty brief synopsis for a book with so many events, but I really want to discuss two of the more interesting pieces of this story. First, the story is told in flashbacks and interviews. Frankie Presto is dead, we are at his funeral, and his story is told between a narrator and interviews with people Frankie met throughout his life, from boyhood to fame and beyond. This isn't a spoiler, we know from page one that this is the case. Frankie's story winds us toward the inevitable, wondering not only how, but also why Frankie passes when he does.

The second interesting piece of this story is the narrator himself. Akin to Death as narrator in The Book Thief, Music narrates Frankie Presto's life story. I loved it! An omniscient narrator, Music pieces together the intricacies of Frankie's life, pieces that not even Frankie knows, including how Frankie grasped the talent of music at birth. I love such narrators, not human but personified, for the variance they give from typical narration. In this case, Music relates the happenings of life in terms of musical composition. I have a musical background myself, but it is a good decade behind me at this point and I was never much of a theory student. Yet, I followed along easily, even learning new musical information I hadn't known before. Don't fret if you are not musically inclined, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto does not require musical knowledge, simply an ear to hear and a heart to understand.

Purchase Links for The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto:

About Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.

Find out more about Mitch at his website, connect with him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and sign up for his newsletter.

Click below to view other 
reviews on this tour.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

My AP Literature students have to pick a novel to read and write about on their own time every nine weeks. Of course, they are not only looking for interest, but for length. That might bother some, but it doesn't bother me. The list they have to choose from is a compilation of classics - both older and contemporary - that have appeared on the AP Lit test since 1970. The more numbers next to the title, the more times it has been mentioned/used on the test. So it doesn't matter the size of the book, as long as they're reading from this list, it will benefit them. Plus, we all know little books can pack a powerful punch...Of Mice and Men anyone?

A recent novel the girls seem to be picking up is Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Reading their essays had me looking back through the book and pondering the emotional roller coaster of the main character. It speaks something of humanity that many could or have identified with such waves of emotion. Thought I'd share one today for Sunday Sentence.

"There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation." 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

Friday was a good day. I had some great parent teacher conferences and because we'd had conferences for three hours the night before, we were allowed to leave at 11am on Friday! What to do with an entire Friday afternoon? If you read my previous post, ANNOYED, then you can take a pretty good guess. I spent the next few hours sitting in a comfy chair at B&N reading. And I just couldn't help it - I took an ARC to read. What's better than sitting in a bookstore reading a book that no one else can?!

I easily read over a hundred pages of Mitch Albom's The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto in that one sitting. The story is captivating...but more on the book in next week's review. What I was pleased to see was that besides the story, the writing is also captivating. Phrases and paragraphs stood out to me from the start. So I snapshot a few of the them for this week's Sunday Sentence.

The cool thing about it, is that the phrases are carried throughout the book, into different stages of Frankie Presto's life. Can't wait to put up my review. Have a good week readers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Life is ridiculous. Not really bad by most standards, except it is severely lacking one thing I love without exception: reading. Usually life gets craziest for me with the busy months of the school year: March and September. This year, life hasn't let up since day one. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. There's time spent with family and friends and new or memorable experiences. And even things like grading papers has a good side: it means I have a job. So, I feel like I can only be annoyed at the most. Annoyed in capital letters at the least. ANNOYED.

The only books coming into my house are those on my wish list at paperbackswap.com. (Well there's Outlander #2, Dragonfly in Amber, from the library via OverDrive app...but I'm ashamed to say the number of times I've had to renew it. At three weeks a shot no less. Smh.) As the swap books trickle in I place them on my shelves, only to see other titles longingly beckon me. Titles I've waited forever to read, titles I have at my fingertips, yet they seem to elude me. Over the past few weeks, I've placed such titles by my bedside, because picking them up and stacking them nearby seems like a step in the right direction, as small a step as it may be.

So now I catch glimpses of them daily. Rushing in after work to change my clothes before heading out again. Out the corner of my eye while guiltily binging on past seasons of Survivor and Lost (just starting season 3...oh my lord, season 2 put me in a fit toward the end!). In a dead stare, grading essays and wishing that just by looking at the stack my essays would be graded and I could be reading. Between camera clicks and social media posts (my new puppy Gatsby might as well be a human infant). Fleetingly as I fall asleep.

I like to think my annoyance is becoming determination. That I will dig myself out of this never ending suck on my time and prevent it from happening again. We all know it's not true though. I enjoy time with my friends and family. I love Lost! Sleep is my next favorite thing to reading. Grading essays...haha. No. Necessary evil I guess.

But I have a goal. After this week I will be caught up on my school work. Next couple weeks I will finish up my forever read of Dragonfly in Amber (it's good, just long and my timing is bad) and read and review the newest Mitch Albom as part of a TLC Tour, which I'm excited about. I'm setting time limits to get things graded efficiently instead of dragging them out and dwindling around my kitchen table and work desk. I'm limiting the number of nights I have stuff to do per week. By Thanksgiving I will be set to sit. Sit and read...and watch more Lost. I'm starting with that special stack. And hopefully season 4 of Lost.

I've never had such a bad reading year. Anyone else feeling this?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

A favorite book blogger friend of mine, Eva from The Paperback Princess, wrote a great post this week about her blog's four year anniversary.  I love the post for all of its bookish adventure talk of course! One line in particular stood out though and I present it here for Sunday Sentence.

"I will happily die crushed under the weight of all the incredible books that currently live with me."

I LOVE IT! And I totally agree...no matter the where, when, or how, I know I will be in the middle of an amazing book and an impossible to finish to-be-read list.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Reading Shakespeare

Source: www.roomone.training
Shakespeare, man of mystery. Enough is known through public record to know that the man existed. However, any personal detail is unknown, to the point that there isn't technically proof that Shakespeare wrote the plays we read today. I personally adhere to the camp that he did write them, that we owe his friends a debt of gratitude for putting his works together in the First Folio. Why complicate things? Besides, the bigger matter is the plays themselves. Works of art that literally created a sizable portion of our English language and have lasted hundreds of years because of their eloquence and humanity. Read any Shakespeare plot line, examine the themes, and you will see present day humanity playing out before your eyes. Homo sapiens haven't changed as much as we'd like to think over the centuries.

Why all the fuss about Shakespeare on the blog today? Well, I've read multiple Shakespeare works over the years, but in my past ten years as a teacher, Romeo and Juliet is the only one that has popped up in my curriculum. I know it well and it's easy to teach because, thanks to pop culture and the nature of teenagers, everyone already knows it for the most part. This year AP Literature brings me to teaching other works, like Hamlet and Othello, and new experiences in the teaching of Shakespeare.

Ah Hamlet, emo before emo was a thing. An emotional wreck, spilling his guts and emotional distress soliloquy after soliloquy, Hamlet at first reminds me of whiny Romeo. Of course, Hamlet has good reason (Romeo not so much). In short, his father, the king, has passed away; his uncle marries his mom a month later, denying Hamlet his dreams; a rival country is planning an attack on Denmark; his father's ghost is walking the castle watch tower with a secret; a dear one commits suicide; murder and general mayhem reveal themselves. It's a mess like only Shakespeare can create and put into motion through poetry. I'm enjoying it.

Of course, some of my students will tell you differently. Pulling apart Shakespeare can be intimidating. It's never been particularly intimidating for me, although I bought new copies of each play in No Fear Shakespeare editions, just in case. Haven't needed it yet though, so I started to wonder how it is Shakespeare clicks for me. I am a reader, which helps, but even I don't know the meaning of every little odd word and detail Shakespeare uses, so how is it I understand? It came to me in a teachable moment one day.

We'd reached Hamlet's first soliloquy (Act I, scene ii), read through and settled into a worksheet to pull it apart for meaning. Immediately they felt lost and didn't hesitate in saying so. At first I thought, what's there not to get, but proceeded to reread the beginning with them (lines 129-132 in my edition):

            "Oh that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
             Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
             Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
             His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!"

I realized as I read that I was only using one phrase and two other words of those four lines to translate in my head. So I told them to pick out the familiar words and string them together for meaning, ignoring all else. Conversation progressed something like this:

Me: What happens if your flesh melts? (Indiana Jones, Shakespeare beat you to it.)
Class: You die...you'd be dead.
Me: What does "Everlasting" mean and why is it capitalized? Only proper nouns are capitalized.
Class: It means forever...so it's a name?
Me: Who is the only being we claim to be a forever being?
Class: God
Me: What does slaughter mean?
Class: To violently kill.
Me: And adding "self"?
Class: ohhhh...suicide!

And using those couple of items, they pieced together for me that Hamlet wants to die and would commit suicide, except his God has made it a sin to do so. It was a learning moment for them, figuring out how to read some of this craziness and it was a learning moment for me to be able to show them, when I hadn't been sure how to do so before. It doesn't make it easy though...it still takes time to slow down and go through the lines, digging for previous knowledge and connecting those pieces together. But it's a starting point. They'll be reading Shakespeare next year and some of them in college even, so hopefully we've made a good start of it.

What about you readers? Any luck with Shakespeare?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Literary Alchemy of Harry Potter

I went straight down to discuss Emily Dickinson's
"Soul at the white heat" afterward, based on what
he said about alchemy in writing.

When you hear that the local college, your alma mater, has a speaker on Harry Potter coming in, there's not much choice but to attend. How often is it you get to hear from a man titled the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars? I'm going to be up front with you though. I'm writing about this because it was a great lecture on a really cool topic, a book topic no less, but it's also a somewhat involved topic, all new to me. So, I apologize ahead for any gaps in my info. I'll provide information for further study at the end.

Anyway, at the end of September, Youngstown State University (YSU) held a lecture titled Literary Alchemy, featuring Harry Potter, given by John Granger, Dean of Harry Potter Scholars. I decided to go on that information alone and invited the biggest Harry Potter fan friend I have, SR. (She's read the books multiple times and is my go to for HP detail checks when my students or I write on the topic, such as parts of this post!) Then I received a flier in the mail that convinced me I had to go.

Harry Potter in connection to Lewis, Dickens, and Shakespeare? Yes please. The background they have in common is alchemy. There is so much information here, but a few points I remember pretty well. According to Granger, besides the attempts to turn lead to gold alchemists are known for, alchemy is about spiritual purification. In literature, certain authors have used alchemical symbols and tropes in their storylines to represent their character's quest for purification. For example, there are color schemes and stages connected to alchemy. The most obvious element, based on alchemy's more well known principal, is gold, the purest form a medal can achieve. When Romeo and Juliet die, their families declare peace by erecting GOLD statues in their children's honor. And what is Harry always chasing in his Quidditch matches? A GOLDEN snitch. Then there are the colors black, white, and red. Sirius BLACK? And ALBUS, white in Latin, Dumbledore? (The Twilight series book covers aren't a coincidence either.) Besides colors, there are seven stages in an alchemical cycle. There are seven Harry Potter books, with the later books' plotlines cycling through seven stages each. Each of these authors' stories reaches the ultimate goal of alchemy as well: a transformation of character(s).

And these are just the minor details. There's also the types of characters involved. Pairs of opposites working together, for example. Romeo and Juliet come to mind with Shakespeare, Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter, and Edward and Bella in Twilight. One character in each pair represents the hot sulfuric element of alchemy (Romeo, Hermoine, and Bella), while the other is the cool mercurial element (Juliet, Ron, and Edward). The two characters in each pair play off of each other, becoming more than pawns in a plot.

If you're not convinced this is not all coincidence, or if you're completely lost by my gaps in knowledge, here's some contact information to start reading further. You can always Google "Alchemy in Harry Potter" too. A little side note: JK Rowling studied alchemy in school and so did Granger, which allowed him to easily pick up on the alchemical elements Rowling so carefully pieced together. In an article from 1998, Rowling states:

      “I’ve never wanted to be a witch, but an alchemist, now that’s a different matter.
      To invent this wizard world, I’ve learned a ridiculous amount about alchemy.
      Perhaps much of it I’ll never use in the books, but I have to know in detail what
      magic can and cannot do in order to set the parameters and establish the
      stories’ internal logic.”

Here's the information I promised! John Granger not only invited emails, but will also connect you with further reading. Go, explore, and learn something you may have never known about the never ending wonders of our literary world.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

October is proving a busy month if this past week is any indication. Every day I was leaving my house at 7am, coming home to stay around 9-10pm, and going to bed around 1am. The days were packed with activity and in between I was devouring a study book for a four hour test I took Saturday. The cool thing is that it was all good stuff. Time with my daughters at a college piano recital and doing homecoming stuff and then the dance itself, visiting with friends for their sweet four-year-old's birthday, an amazing concert of Casting Crowns, and ending with a great movie with friends (The Martian). Work this week was pretty productive too, although my evening activities and constant studying have put me very behind on grading, so I imagine that's what this week will consist of. The schedule looks like it's slowing down after tomorrow.

Weird thing is, I have quite a few friends for whom this week was trying too. A family with the death of a loved one, two friends each with a child so sick it turned their entire week upside down, a friend who had a surgery and may already be facing another, my pastor who had umpteen evening meetings and hospital visitations, and more. It was a rough week for my little corner of the world and I'm praying this next week brings them all hope, peace, and realization that the journey is building them into the people they are meant to be.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Begin the Week with Words

How bout I forgot to even post a quote on Sunday last week?! Crazy, yes, but then again, I've hardly been reading between work, binge watching both Lost and old Survivor episodes, and my family's activities. Seems to be the story of my life for 2015.

I did, however, find a quote Allison of The Book Wheel tweeted the other day from The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton. Made me want to read the book more...it is waiting for me on my shelf!

“Memory is a cruel mistress with whom we all must learn to dance."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Just Show Up

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together, by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn
Publisher: David C. Cook
Publication date: October 1, 2015
Category: Biographies & Memoir, Christian
Source: I received this galley from the publisher via NetGalley in consideration of review.

Where to start? The publication of Just Show Up comes just six months after the passing of co-author Kara Tippetts. Tippetts published a book about her journey with aggressive cancer in October 2014, which I read and reviewed here in May. The book was about much more than cancer and I was awed by her faith. This connection did further my interest in Just Show Up, but not as much as the title itself. Much like Nike's "Just Do It" campaign, this book makes its topic a statement, rather than a question or consideration. The connection is that I find myself in a position in life right now to be of help to others, specifically in ways that I needed help in the past, but didn't always have it. I've learned it's not always easy helping others or being a volunteer and it's not always obvious how to be of good help. That's where this book comes in.

I gained two valuable insights from this book about helping others. The first is how the helping affects the person showing up. It's important to keep in mind that "showing up for another, extending yourself for another is always costly." It may be a sacrifice of comfort, time, money, and even your own emotions. Buteyn states simply that "showing up can get us hurt in the biggest way," whether it's that you are hurt by others in the process or the fact that the person you're helping is hurting and you feel his/her pain. 

So why bother? Buteyn says it best: "Friends. Community. It is the only way to know and be known. It’s where we see our own humanity and frailty, our gifts and our weaknesses. But when we show up for one another we invade each other in love, and become witnesses to the truth that trials and sickness and pain are not the whole story. There’s more, so much more. We can remind one another that our lives are not a mistake. And most importantly, that we are loved with an everlasting love." That's pretty powerful, but it's not easy. I can attest to the roller coaster emotions of being involved in the lives of those you care for. It helps to remember that the hardest things are usually the most worthwhile. And people are always worthwhile.

So, if you're ready to accept the difficulties of helping, the next thing to consider is, is the help you're offering actually helpful? The worst case is that you're causing stress or even a little more work for those you are trying to relieve of a burden. Here are a few aspects I found most valuable about helping people:

1. "So many people offer to help. They say, let me know if you need anything, but that offer is easily dismissed because it’s too broad." Making a noncommittal comment puts stress on our friends in need by handing the decision over to them and asking them to get back to us. (Although there are times where the person in need must reach out first.)

2. "If we go and serve not expecting to see them, even telling the family we’re not asking for their time, that is another gift we can give. Drop the meal off, do the laundry, or pick up the kids without expectations. People are going to welcome you when you want to serve because you aren’t making it about you." This can be difficult because you naturally want to interact with the people you love enough to serve; but, depending on the situation, it's not always feasible. So, if serving them in love as they need is truly your motivation, then this is a good point to keep in mind.

3. Kind of tied to number two, but possibly it's own thing at times, is the idea of "loving your person by releasing expectations that would remain with a normal friendship." Situations, especially where there's suffering, "can steal friendship moments from us—ones we really want to keep having. We crave those same conversations we used to have and the time we used to spend together." Depending on the situation, the typical aspects of your friendship may change and it's only fair to accept the changes because most situations that go this far are out of our hands, as well as theirs.

4. Don't offer platitudes, especially in suffering. And if details aren't offered, do not seek or press for them. "Our desire to fix things can often get in the way of our silent, listening support." Usually listening alone is what a person needs most. No need to fill it in with our own words when we don't know what to say. (I know trying to fill a silence is a habit I need to break.)

That's a whole lot of good information right there, but it's not done. The end of this book is invaluable as well. Remember that piece at the beginning warning us of the difficulties in helping someone? Buteyn revisits that topic, explaining to the reader exactly what a helper might feel (she speaks to hurt, jealousy, and insecurity), what the truth is, and how to fight those feelings. It is an extremely important section to the book.

It seems I've told so much of this book, yet there is much more. Not to mention, the details and examples missing from the points I briefly made. If you find yourself in a position of helper to friends and family in hard situations, this book is exactly what you need. Rereading the notes I made during my first reading was amazing in itself!

Any other good advice you've heard about helping others?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Going to be a Mommy...

No books today, but a really funny FB stunt to discuss. Actually, if you are reading this from my FB link, you're either a regular reader of my blog or you fell for it! Lol! Fell for what? Well, I liked one of those statuses that gets you in trouble on FB last week. You know, your friend says she won $900 on a lotto scratch ticket and of course you'll like it, except it was a joke and by liking or commenting, you then have to post a possibly embarrassing status without explanation.

I waited at first, knowing that the status choice stating "I'm a mommy again" would get a crazed mess of response from my FB crowd - so haha if you clicked my link based on this title. My kids are 16, 14, and 10 years old and EVERYONE knows that despite how much I love babies and toddlers, I am so happy to have independent children and have NO desire to start anew. And then I thought I waited too long for the whole joke and wasn't going to post anything. But within a few days, I did become a new mommy of sorts! 

On Monday, a co-worker told me about a puppy his family recently brought home. Not just any puppy, but a dachshund! (Ummm, if you don't know my love of dachshunds, you don't know me! My six-year-old mini dachshund Samoa is THE BABY in our house.) He said the tiny puppy wasn't doing well with the bigger dog they have and he was hoping to find a new home for the puppy. Completely understandable. So, thinking it was a small chance, I sent off a text and picture to my hubby, who wants a "big" dog one day, but is stuck with a wife who adores ankle biters.

Turns out my husband's a sucker for a cute face too. To make sure, I listed all of the possible reasons we might not want a third dog, and yet he said why not? So arrangements were made and the very next day, yesterday that is, we "became parents again." (Yep, with my kids growing up I've purposely adopted small dogs who will stay baby size and cuddly forever! I'm sure there's a Freud field day going on in my subconscious somewhere.) 

We picked him up and returned home nonchalantly, telling our kids we had some news. Cause, yea, joke's on them too. They are always wanting us to have a fourth kid, but from the sounds of it, it would be more like their little pet! So, when my husband walked in with the puppy after my "announcement" and the implied "news" shifted in their heads, they were just as thrilled. And so they should be. The puppy is a beautiful silver dapple miniature dachshund. 

And the kids want to name him now. I'm thinking favorite characters, of course, like Atticus, Gatsby, or Fraser (as in Jamie Fraser!). My family is thinking anything else! My husband said Bronco (he's a Denver fan), but then decided he wants to save that name for his future big dog. One friend, BC, who was with me when my husband came with the puppy to pick me up last night, said we should name him Dapple, since that's the name for the pattern of his coat. So far, it is sticking. 

Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing in our excitement. I'm sure I will have more fun dog stories to share in the near future, since the puppy loves to jump on our ten-year-old pug fox terrier and poor Samoa runs at the sight of him! 

Isn't he adorable?!