Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Young Adult Mini-Reviews!

I have a few books that have been sitting in my review pile for quite some time gathering dust. And since I don't have a ton to say on each of them, I thought a series of mini-reviews would be fitting!


Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol is a graphic novel that I read quite a few months ago. I had marked it as something I wanted to get my hands one for quite some time, and after our media specialist ordered it, I snatched it to read that weekend (the perks of being a teacher).

Anya, a recent Russian immigrant, doesn't fit in at her New England school. She wants to be a part of the popular crowd and blames that on her "Russian-ness." One afternoon, she falls into a hole where she finds the skeleton of Emily Reilly, a girl who died nearly 100 years before. Emily's ghost appears, and she tells her story to Anya.

When Anya returns home, a piece of Emily's skeleton came with her, so Emily's ghost continues to appear. At first, Anya is okay with this, as Emily helps her with her school work and with the dreamy boy she likes.

Then it gets flat out creepy. Emily's ghost starts to get a little aggressive, then violent, and the book spirals from there.

It's well done. And as someone who doesn't really like scary or suspenseful, this book had a lot going for it that kept me intrigued. The artwork is gorgeous and I think Brosgol really captured that teen angst and self-image dilemma in a realistic way.

A great, short read that is well worth it!

I've read I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak a few times before, and each time, I've loved it more and more.

We (meaning the Media Specialist and myself) included this in our book battle activity that we did back in the spring. It had been awhile since reading it, so I decided to pick it up and read it again to refresh my memory.

First, I forgot the amount of language in the book, so be warned going in. But other than that, I love the message of this book. Ed Kennedy, a teenager living in Australia, is lonely, going nowhere, and lost without his father. Then he witnesses a botched bank robbery and his world changes. He receives playing cards in the mail and each one has addresses. Not knowing what else to do, he visits the addresses and learns that he has to complete tasks for the people who live at that address.

Over the course of the novel, Ed grows. He changes. He realizes what's most important to him and comes to term with the things in his life that he has the ability to change.

The good thing is that most of the kids who read this as a part of the book battle loved it. It's not as popular as The Book Thief, but I love it as well.

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima is a book that has been sitting on my shelves for years. I picked it up, as well as two sequels, in the Borders sales that took place when the stores were closing. I've eyed it a few times, but never jumped on reading it.

So, last school year a student suggested it to me and I finally gave it a try. And while I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite (I will read the sequels at some point and make a final decision).

In short, the book follows Jack, a young boy who has taken a certain medication all his life. He is told to stop taking it and voila! Magical powers and strength come surging to him! Okay, not really. But he does go through some training.

There's also a bit about an old war that seeks Warriors, like Jack, to fight on both sides. Warriors are now rare, so Jack is being scouted and hunted by both sides.

My biggest complaints about the novel surrounded some of the explanations and magical rules. There were bits and pieces not explained well enough for my liking and the final grand battle? I don't know. It lacked something. Perhaps I am took picky with my love for adult fantasy to really be drawn to this one, but it was a fast read and something I flew through. And I do want to read the sequels, so that says a great deal, if you ask me. ;)

This particular post has been sitting my drafts for quite some time, so I thought it was time to bring it out, edit, and post it before it disappears into drafts forever. :) I hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recent Book Loot-September 2015.

It's been a little while since I went out and bought some new books, but a few have wandered into my hands in the last few weeks, so why now share them?

First, I received 3 books from my friend Adam over at Roof Beam Reader as a part of a book swap I run on Facebook. He got me Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (top), The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, and David McCullough's The Wright Brothers. He also gave me a slew of other gifts, including my new favorite tote bag (covered with text from The Odyssey), and tea, which has been coming with me every morning since school started. I had to grab the Smith title off my nightstand for this picture, since it's been sitting there, waiting for a good moment for me to start it. :)

I also ordered 2 books a week ago. First, the new Andrew Smith title, Stand Off, which is a sequel to Winger, one of my favorites by Smith. I'm anxious to get into it, but I know it's one of those books I'll read straight through. Perhaps this weekend?

I also ordered Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon after hearing a lot of great things. I think I might save it for the readathon though...something quick after some classics. The cover is also fantastic. And that IS important. ;)

The last three at the bottom are three more titles from the Fables comic series I've been reading. I stayed away for a month after I hit the end of one story arc, but I'm ready to dive back in and finish the series before the end of the year (there are 22 total, and I have 13-15 in my new stack). Those are also going to live on my nightstand, as I can easily fly through them on a weeknight...when the grading eases up.

It's funny, I used to be pretty crazy about ordering books all the time, but I've become to realize that I'd rather purchase things that I want to live on my shelf for a bit. I guess I've become more selective? I also went through my books back in August and donated a few boxes (and sold a bunch too-that's where I got the money to pay for the Fables titles). I still have quite the library, but I got rid of a lot that I know I'll never read again.

Let me know what books you've recently picked up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall TBR.

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's topic is one of my favorites-our top picks for our Fall "To be Read" lists. For some reason, these topics are always my favorite. I love searching my shelves to find new and old gems.

Truthfully, I failed at my summer TBR list, so I'm trying to be a bit realistic in what titles I'm going to read this fall season. School has only been in session for two weeks, and I'm already drowning in papers (English teacher plus 2 AP history courses. It's a lot of writing). But I've been working towards spending a little more time on myself and the things I really enjoy at home. Reading is up there on that list.

In no particular order:

1. Stand Off by Andrew Smith: This book just came out and my copy is already here and waiting on my bookshelf to be read. I loved Winger, so I have super high hopes for this one (but it's by Smith, so I know it'll be amazing). I think I might reread Winger before diving in, but we shall see. :)

2. The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith: Yep, a second Smith title. This is one of his older books, but I've been meaning to finish reading his backlog (I have 3 or 4 to go). And after just rereading the blurb, I'm even more excited to pick this one up. I have a feeling it'll be amazing. Because Smith.

3. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon: This is one of those books that has been EVERYWHERE and I finally caved and bought it because it just looks...so good. I'm thinking it'll make a perfect readathon book this fall, so I'm saving it!

4. More Fables by Bill Willingham: I'm officially halfway through the series and just acquired a few more, so I'm ready to dive in and finish the series. These are incredibly addicting, but the plot is great and I love the break from normal reading. If that makes any sense.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Truthfully I've already started this one, but it's a perfect fall reread. It's been giving me a lot of things to think about on this reread, but I'm loving it and can't wait to finish it (and write about it).

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: This was actually inspired by last week's TTT post, where I mentioned that a Dickens seem fitting for this time of year. I feel like I've been pulled to this one, and giving it another shot to impress me. We shall see.

7. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather: I need to reboot my Willa Cather Project, and this is the next title on the list. I think this is another one I'm going to save for the readathon. I read My Antonia for one a couple years ago and it was a fabulous experience. Time for a repeat.

8. Winter by Marissa Meyer: I LOVE this series, so I'm excited for the final title to come out in November. It'll be one of those books that I buy the day it debuts!

9. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz: I have longed claimed that this is one of my favorite YA titles of all time, but it has been a number of years since I've read it. I think this might be another one for the readathon pile.

10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Since I'm currently reading her sister's work, I think it might be time to return to Emily as well. This is the perfect read for a cool fall day when Matt is at work. :) I'm looking forward to it.

What books are you looking forward to this fall? Let me know below!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up for September 20, 2015: On School, Blogging, and Fall Reading.

Hi everyone!

I decided to pop on and write a bit about how things have been going since school is back in session. Really, I'm just procrastinating from doing some grading, but it's been awhile since a weekly post went up that it's a good excuse.

So, school started on September 8, which seemed really late! Michigan has a law in place that public schools cannot start until after Labor Day, so that's what we deal with. It was still flipping hot the first week, so it didn't make it any better. Our classroom thermostats only go down to 74 in the summer months, and since our hallways and common areas aren't air-conditioned, it gets pretty warm and muggy. On the first day, my classroom hit 87 degrees. It was disgusting.

Besides the heat, the first two weeks have gone well. I've revamped a bit of my curriculum for my sophomore American lit class, so I spent a lot of time setting things up-interactive binders, article of the week readings, etc. We even put together a flip book with MLA citations. Overall, we had a good two weeks, but I'm ready to dive into some literature this week (the Colonists) and get moving on content. We also straightened out the issue with the new textbook I'm supposed to be piloting. We were originally given a book with no American lit...and after going back and forth, the new texts are on their way. I'm ready to get them and use some new materials.

My AP U.S. History class is also off to a good start. I have 2 sections this year, so it's a big increase in grading. I know I just need to get used to it again and I'll be fine. :) We're already done with the first 2 chapters and the kids have 2 reading quizzes under their belt. This class is always a little rough-the kids don't know what they're doing and I spend a lot of time reassuring them that it gets easier once they get the hang of it. But I really enjoy teaching it!

My last class is a new one for me-Shakespeare! One one hand, I'm really excited to be teaching it-I LOVE the bard! But, a new prep is difficult, especially when the class has been non-existent for a decade. So far we talked about Shakespeare's life, the authorship controversy, and a small part of the history of the era. The kids made infographics last week about topics of their choice, so we'll wrap up the background this week before moving to sonnets (I thought reading sonnets would be good before reading the plays). I have a really diverse mix of kids in the class (seriously, from all walks and cliques and abilities), but they're energetic and fun. It should be a good semester.

Besides all that, I'm still running our chapter of National Honor Society. It's a lot of work at the beginning of the year, so I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Our first meeting is this week, so hopefully it'll die down a bit.

I'm also co-coaching our Debate Team with another teacher, and if possible, it's even more work than NHS. We meet twice a week and our first tournament is on Thursday! The kids are super motivated and are pretty much running things (the teacher who worked them last year retired, so we're winging it).

I might have taken on more than I can handle, especially with the fall play coming up and me wanting to help....so we'll see what I might have to sacrifice.

In terms of blogging, I've made a goal of 2 posts a week. So far, I seem to be doing fine. I think the key is to write them in advance and pre-schedule, so that's my plan! I really miss the blogging community, and while I keep trying to re-insert myself, it's just so hard with being so busy. But I'll do what I can for the readers who still pop by.

Fall Reading...I'm so ready to slip into a lot of great books in the coming months. Fall is my favorite season, and now that it's starting to feel like it outside, I'm ready to get reading. I have a big list coming your way on Tuesday of all the things I want to sink into, I just need to make the time. I'm working on catching up this week so I can read a bit this weekend. I really want to get into the habit of setting aside Friday evenings and a chunk of time on Saturdays for reading, but that hasn't happened just yet. We'll see what I can do...

Anyway, it's been a good start to the school year, and I'm looking forward to my fourth official year in my building. In some ways, it does get easier every year, but there are always challenges!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

“I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another. And now I feel, with a strange, deep certainty, that it must be my lot in life to be taught that lesson over and over again.” 

Orphan Train is a book that I had seen around for quite some time before deciding to pick it up and give it a try. Truthfully, I knew little about the orphan train system that used to function in the United States (I knew it existed, but hadn't read further). This fictional account of one girl's journey on the orphan train contrasted with a teenager's journey on the modern-day orphan train, the foster system, is a book I really enjoyed.

The books transitions back and forth between 2 perspectives. In one, we are in the present day learning about young Molly's experiences in the foster care system. As an older teenager, she's beginning to age out of the system and has struggled to find a place where she feels she belongs. She soon befriends the 91-year-old Vivian Daly, who, in a younger life, had been an orphan on an orphan train. 

Together, their stories contrast and wind together in a narrative not only about the past, but about the present. I couldn't help but compare Molly's experiences in the system to that of Vivian's. I was most struck by the feeling of having to conform to their host family and their expectations. In Molly's case, it's fighting against foster parents who don't understand her beliefs and values (being a vegetarian, etc). For Vivian, it's losing her original name, living in poor conditions, and taking the place of a deceased daughter.

Their stories do parallel each other, and highlight the negative aspects of our current fostering system. I mean, in most stories where there is discussion about foster parents, are there ever any positive, healthy relationships? I know they must exist, just not in literature (if you know of any, please tell me). But it really talks about the plight of young people in our country, and the world at large. What do we do with children who are orphaned? What happens to those kids who don't get adopted?

“So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason - to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?”

The book raised a lot of questions for me. I want to learn more about this-both the historical aspect of the orphan trains, but also our modern system for taking care of kids in the system. If anything, this book was inspiring for me (I have already planned out a unit on this topic to do with my AP kids after they take their test in May). 

Back to the story....Kline managed to weave the two stories together seamlessly, and while I was a bit more invested in Vivian's story than Molly's, I found a lot to value in each. When I initially finished, I was almost bothered my Molly's story, thinking it distracted from the power of Vivian's, but after some reflection, I realized that Vivian's story merely highlights Molly's-it shows that we still have children with no families.

In all, it was a beautifully written book and a fast read. If you're a fan of historical fiction, you're sure to enjoy this one.

“So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason - to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Classics I Want to Reread!

Hey folks! It's Top Ten Tuesday and the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish gave us a freebie topic for today!

I decided to do a topic that I know I've done at some point in the past (and of course I can't find the post now that I'm looking for it). I've been really craving rereads of some of my favorite classics, so here are the top ten classics I want to reread right now. :)

(Side note: I noticed after creating this list that a lot of my PEL editions are featured....I didn't do that on purpose. But since I finally have the full set, it's fitting that I should read them all, right?)

In no particular order:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I'm sure this is technically cheating because I started rereading it last week, but it jump-started my desire to reread some other old favorites, so here it is. :) I've only read Jane Eyre once before, and I was blown away by the experience. And I figured that since I loved it so much on the first read, it deserved another. I'm sure why I was drawn to it this time...comfort, maybe? But I'm about 100 pages in and loving it.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: While we're talking about the Brontes....like Jane Eyre, I've only read this once (maybe twice...now that I'm thinking about it). And truthfully, this has been my least favorite since reading more by Charlotte and Anne. And I think it's time I give it another shot! I barely remember it, but I think a trip to the moors will be perfect when the fall weather sinks in...

3. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: I have long loved George Eliot, but it has been a really long time since I've read any of her work (I think the most recent was Middlemarch a few years ago). This one has remained my favorite since I blogged about it, and it's another book that I think I can really sink into this fall as the weather turns.

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I'm not sure why I WANT to reread this. I have long chronicled my love/hate relationship with Dickens, and this book is my arch-nemesis if I were to have one. But I think it's time to give it another shot. I was one of the first books I blogged about here, and that was almost 6 years ago! Time for another chance I think. :)

5. Emma by Jane Austen: After rereading Sense and Sensibility last month, I've been craving more Austen. And since I used to reread an Austen every Christmas season, I think I've settled on Emma for this year...unless I read....

6. Persuasion by Jane Austen: I think this might be my favorite Austen, but it's been awhile, so shouldn't I reread it to make sure? Ha! I do consider this one of my favorite covers in the PEL line. I love the colors and the gentleness of the design-it fits the book well.

7. My Antonia by Willa Cather (hey look! It's not a PEL!): Even though I read this one not that long ago, I still want to reread it. I'm sure that my old 9th grade English teacher would be proud that I now consider this one of my favorite books. But there's something about the colors and beautiful language...Cather just gets it. And it would help me kickstart my butt back into my Willa Cather Project!

8. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville: I consider reading and enjoying Melville's masterpiece one of my biggest accomplishments as a reader. And the fact that I consider it one of my favorites books? Yep, deserving of a reread. I actually wore my Moby-Dick necklace to school the other day, which sparked a conversation with a student about the book. And it just made me crave it in the worst way.

9. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: These are childhood favorites, and the last time I read them was around the time we moved into this apartment (almost 5 years ago!). I saw a blog post somewhere talking about them....and then I started thinking about them...and now I want to pull them off the shelf.

10. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Yep, I consider these classics. :) And who isn't up for a reread of Harry Potter? I'm actually toying with rereading them over my winter break (yep-I'm definitely thinking that far in advance). They're just so good.....and I know I can fly through them. ;)

So, what classics would you reread? Tell me below!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Reread: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience- or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” 

I decided to grab Sense and Sensibility as a last option when I traveled to Florida early in August. I actually wasn't even planning on reading it, but once we were down there, I couldn't resist picking it up and diving in.

I was actually thinking I would read it for Austen in August, and while I did finish in August, I never got this post up in time (I know!). Next year....

It's been a few years since my last Austen. I used to read an Austen every year before Christmas, but with school being so busy the last couple of years, I haven't had the time. But, Austen is always gives me a feeling of home and of comfort. And I needed that last month.

I've read Sense and Sensibility only a couple of times, and next to Northanger Abbey, it's the one I'm the least comfortable with (because I haven't read it as many times as the others). The last time I read it, I really loved it. And this time was no different. 

I still find myself relating more to Elinor than Marianne. I'm sure at one point I WAS Marianne. In fact, I know I was like her in high school. Quick to passion and unafraid of saying what I truly felt. But over the years, I think I've just settled more into myself. And I don't always feel the need to say everything I feel. Sometimes I just let it simmer and boil until I blow. Ha!

But I do feel more for Elinor and her sense of duty. She feels the need to do things in the right way and in the right time. And she tries to please those around her, takes on their heartaches, and waits patiently for her own happiness to come. Yes, she does go through everything with a certain degree of sensibility. 

I think that's why when her happiness does come, I cheer! And I also choked up a bit...

“Elinor could sit still no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease.” 

Because it's just so happy and warm and wonderful. I think that's why I love Austen so. I can count on Austen to play with my emotions over and over again, but I always return to her, knowing I'll get that happy ending. 

And every time I reread an Austen, it becomes my new favorite. She just has that gift.

“If a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

I think for this Christmas season I'm going to resurrect my tradition of reading an Austen-what one should I read?

*In finishing Sense and Sensibility, I'm also checking off a title on my "Reread Project." Huzzah!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Trio of Audiobooks: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling.

When I started going back to the gym in April, I resigned up for Audible in hopes that audiobooks would make the gym a bit more bearable. And, in my line of thinking, if I was listening to a really good book, I would want to go back to the gym to listen further.

That theory has worked well for the most part (well, until August hit and my regular gym routine went out the window). Listening to audiobooks has been a great way to spend my time at the gym, and while I do switch it up for music, most of my cardio time is spent listening to a book.

I should mention that I'm incredibly picky about audiobooks. I used to listen to them all the time when I had a 2 and a half hour round trip commute (my first teaching job). During my drive to and from work, I listened to all the Harry Potter books and a slew of others. I like books that keep my attention and I actually like "rereading" books through audio. But, I branched out and the first set of books I listened to at the gym were a bit outside of my comfort zone.

Enter the hilarious trio of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling. Here are my thoughts on each:

Yes Please was the first of the three that I read (listened to?). Poehler has long been a favorite of mine on SNL and in movies, so I had a feeling I would love her memoir/random compilation of thoughts and stories (And I should say now that I love her MORE than Tina Fey, even though my love for Fey is strong).

And I was right. Poehler's narration was hilarious, and I found myself chuckling quite a few times while walking on the treadmill. I loved her guest narrators (Seth Myers-yes.....) and their insights and tidbits.

But what I really loved was the raw honesty in her stories. While she didn't spend too much time discussing the years spent on SNL, she spent enough time on big life moments to offer some advice and wisdom.

More than anything, this was a pretty motivational listen. Poehler's a smart woman and there were a few points about self-acceptance and such that truly resonated with me at this point in my life.

If you've skipped over this one, do yourself a favor and give it a listen. It's worth it.

Next up was Tina Fey's Bossypants, which has been everywhere-I felt like I was the last person on earth to read it. Like Poehler's book, Fey takes her readers through her life, recalling funny moments and the story of how she got to where she is.

As I was listening, I gained a ton of respect and awe for Fey. She's a fabulous woman-smart, witty, and in control of what she wants to accomplish. And like Poehler, she also got across the message of accepting yourself and what you do.

She devoted quite a bit of time to when she was asked to impersonate Sarah Palin on SNL (the audio also includes the recording of some of those skits, which was awesome). It was an interesting story, as she wrestled with her own political views and impersonating Palin the same day she came to appear on SNL. As someone who has long-watched SNL, it was interesting to see behind the scenes a bit.

Overall, the book thrums with her humor and it made me laugh often and loudly. But it left me with a firm impression of Fey's strength and prowess as a comedian. She's a fabulous performer and we also have her to thank for Mean Girls, one of my favorite high school movies-it speaks a lot of truth.

My last comedic book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, written by Mindy Kaling, happened to be my favorite of the three. Truthfully, I only know Kaling from The Office (which I love), so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I found I related to a lot of Kaling's stories and thoughts-particularly her concerns about weight and appearance. As many of you know, I'm in a weight loss lifestyle change (I won't use the d-word), and many of Kaling's struggles with weight really spoke to me. It was very...fresh and honest.

Kaling is also quite hysterical, and I love her quirky sense of humor and self-degradation. I love when people can poke at their own thoughts and have it come across as sincere, and I got that in listening to her stories.

Overall, it was a great memoir with lots of tidbits and gems about her early life, landing her job at The Office, and realizing it's okay to be neurotic in your own head-we all do it, so who cares.

In all, these 3 titles kept me great company. And truthfully, I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed them had I not listened to them. All 3 of these women are definitely performers, so if you haven't read these, I strongly suggest the audiobooks. They're fabulous.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

30 in 30 Update.

So, for my 30th birthday, I made a list of things I wanted to complete/accomplish/do this year. That list is right here:

The List of 30:
  1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen (probably in Pontiac)
  2. Complete 3 "pay-it-forward" transactions in drive-thrus (paying for the person behind me)
  3. Write a letter to someone I haven't talked to in awhile and post it
  4. Learn to play bass guitar (fitting, as Matt refinished and gave me one as a present this year)
  5. Take a sewing class
  6. Crochet a new blanket for our bed
  7. Get a tattoo
  8. Cull my book collection
  9. Lose 100 pounds (no, it's not unrealistic-I've lost 30 in about 3 months)
  10. Celebrate 6 months of no pop (currently at 3 months)
  11. Take my goddaughter to the zoo and spend a day spoiling her
  12. Take a weekend vacation with Matt to someplace new
  13. Go through all of my clothing and donate items to charity
  14. Clean out our storage unit
  15. Make homemade bread 
  16. Learn 15 new, healthy recipes and share
  17. Go camping
  18. Finish our wedding scrapbook and albums
  19. Read Clarissa
  20. Send out holiday cards
  21. Visit a farmer's market
  22. Learn to can different fruits and make jams (and do so!-Apple butter in the fall?)
  23. Mend a few friendships (I have people in mind....)
  24. Compliment 5 strangers
  25. Give a class a weird, unexpected, and much needed extra credit assignment
  26. Finish writing my novel
  27. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2015
  28. Try 5 new restaurants
  29. Learn how to meditate
  30. Organize a surprise for someone
So let's talk about my progress so far!


I got my very first tattoo on my 30th birthday. I have plans for 4 tattoos, and at first, I was getting something different. I changed my mind last minute and decided to get this quote on my right foot. I've wanted it for the longest time, and it felt fitting as a 30th birthday gift to myself. For anyone unfamiliar, it comes from Homer's The Odyssey, which inspired my blog. I think it's also inspiring this new decade and another chance at reinventing myself. 

Sometimes I look down and forget I have it. Other times I just like to stare. :) It fits me perfectly. And yes, there is another quote I want on my left foot, but it'll probably be awhile until I get it. 

This past month I made it a goal to clean out and toss things that I no longer need, including clothes. I tackled my closet before we left for Florida and my dresser when we returned. I think I donated 5 bags of clothes and 3 smaller bags of shoes. I also ended up with 5 boxes of books-some donated, some to sell back to a used bookstore, and some for school. I'm glad all of it is out of our apartment and I rediscovered some fun things in the process. It's also a good feeling to have everything organized going into the school year. 

And, I also convinced Matt to go through his things as well-he donated 3 bags of clothes-hurrah!


Before my sister, Torrie, went back to L.A., we took Zoey to the Detroit Zoo and spent the day looking at animals and doing fun things with her. The three of us had a blast, and I think we need to make it an annual trip. 

Zoey is at a really fun age (she turns 3 in October), so it's fun to hear her talk and chatter and say ridiculously funny things.

In addition to cleaning out the clothes in my closet, I also culled my book collection (I mentioned that above). I think I finally hit the point where, unless I REALLY want to read something, I'm good with mainly reading from my shelves. I have a lot of great books waiting to be read, so I'm okay with minimal collecting. I'm still not a library person, so this works for me.

In culling, I finally let go of a lot of things I know I'm just not going to read anymore. But since I do LOVE rereading, I still have a large collection. It works for me. :)

In progress:

I'm learning to play bass guitar slowly. It hurts the tips of my fingers still, since I need to form calluses on the strings, but it's easier than it was and I'm getting the gist of learning bass clef (I play the trumpet, which is in treble clef-big difference). I need to get back into regular practice, which will be much easier now that we're done traveling.

Still no pop. And rarely any caffeine. I'm telling you, I haven;t felt this good in who knows how long. 

I'm still making progress. Truthfully, August was a bust on the weightloss front-too much time out of town and in the car made for some poor food decisions, but at least I didn't gain any weight. I actually think that being busier with school will help keep me on track. I'm planning on going from school to the gym 4x during the week and once on weekends. My goal is to lose 10 in September, so here's to that!

So far, I think I'm doing pretty fabulous on this challenge I set for myself! I still have some pretty specific tasks left, but I know I can complete them all. :)