Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Year

Hello! It's been almost a year since my last blog post. Why so long? Well, starting a new job is never easy. Starting a new teaching job with subjects you've never taught before in a school that allows you to create your own curriculum? That's damn overwhelming.

In the past year I've planned a wedding, kicked butt at teaching teenagers, managed to take over the cheerleading squad, and bought a house with my handsome fiance. I hate to brag, but my life has been pretty amazing. Too bad I only realize that when I stop for a moment to take a deep breath.

Those breaths come rarely. Life right now is so busy, so hectic, so fulfilling. It's rare that I stop long enough to truly contemplate how wonderful it all is. If I'm done planning a lesson, I'm painting a room or sending out wedding invitations. My Jeromy, my home, my job, my kids (all of those teenagers...) -- they completely fill my life.

I started blogging when I was in grad school and feeling very, very lost. I had no idea if what I was doing was best for me. Luckily, at the beginning of grad school, I found Jeromy and I started book club. Luckily, at the end of grad school, when I had given up hope of ever finding a job I would love, I found Ascension.

My life is not perfect. I neglect my friends far more often than I should. I miss my parents more than I'd care to admit. My cat regularly escapes the yard, which gives me panic attacks every time I can't find her. I lose a lot of sleep over my students and my cheerleaders and my lesson plans.

But, right now, in this moment, I felt the need to acknowledge just how good I have it. Because I have it so, so good. My life has always been blessed, but I'm realizing just how much I have to thank God for. My parents are serious #relationshipgoals, I have a man who loves me even when I'm being a brat, and my job is one of my favorite parts of life.

Not many people are as lucky as I am, and I'm trying harder to sit in my gratitude every now and then.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” 
― Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places

Book Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publication Date: 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Mental Illness
Goodreads Rating: 4.21 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

1. All of the feels, all of the time. This book was so good y'all. I haven't read true YA in MONTHS (which, holy moly for me...), and this was a great jumping point back into it. It was poignant, it was real, it was... It was so beautifully written, as you can see by the quotes down there.

2. But mental illness, y'all. This biggest downside of this story was the refusal to acknowledge the pretty serious mental illnesses going on here. Finch is very obviously bipolar. He "goes asleep" for weeks on end, then wakes up and pushes his adrenaline to the point of killing himself. There's no median for him. Yet, his family just accepts this as normal behavior, even when he goes missing for days on end. Maybe Niven was trying to make a point about mental illness? It was truly the most frustrating thing about this novel.

3. Just not so sure about the ending. And I really, really don't want to get spoilery here, but... I was with this book. I was so, so into it. I read it in one day. But the ending just.. It just wasn't right. It was not supposed to end that way. And I'd hate to ruin it for y'all, but if you want to stop at the end of the second section, you will save yourself heartache and frustration.

This book is not a light read, but it is beautifully written and makes you feel ALL OF THE FEELS.

“We are all alone, trapped in these bodies and our own minds, and whatever company we have in this life is only fleeting and superficial.” 

“When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?” 

“It's my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.”

“The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody.” 

“I learned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me, and that a 1,257 bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you’re standing next to the right person.” 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

“She understood that the hardest times in life to go through were when you were transitioning from one version of yourself to another.” 
- Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

Book Title: Lost Lake
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Publication Date: 2014
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit
Goodreads Rating: 3.85 Stars
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?

Sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again. 

1. Sarah Addison Allen and her whimsy. I've read quite a few of Allen's novels, and I love their uniqueness. I think someone on Goodreads described it as "Magical Realism". She takes normal, everyday occurrences and makes them just a bit more special by adding some sparkle and magic dust. This novel, out of all the ones I've read, has the least of it, but the lake provided some magic in itself, so I wasn't missing it.

2. The heartache and trauma felt real. These characters struggle. They see a lot of loved ones die, or run away, or struggle with very real problems. Allen didn't diminish this sadness and heartache, but rather embraced it in it's own way, and let the characters grieve and grow.

3. What a summer book. I'm so glad I picked this up in the middle of July instead of the middle of December. A good summer read has a way of transporting you when you are stuck in the house with the heat and humidity, and a good summer read takes advantage of that feeling that summer gives where everything is possible. This book was a good summer read.

As my only light read of the summer, I thoroughly enjoyed this whimsical novel, and I thought it was a great summer read.

“After you finish a book, the story still goes on in your mind. You can never change the beginning. But you can always change the end.” 

“When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone. Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again.” 

“If we measured life in the things that almost happened, we wouldn’t get anywhere.” 

“You can't change where you came from, but you can change where you go from here.” 

“But relying on one person for your every need is so dangerous. One set of hands isn't enough to keep you from falling.” 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Summer of Classics

This summer, there hasn't been a whole lot of reading getting done. I know exactly why.


I'm falling prey to it, just like my students. All summer long, I could have been reading glorious contemporary fiction that sucks me in. Instead, I've been feeling guilty about not completing my summer reading. I didn't want to read something fun, because I knew I should be reading Faulkner and Salinger. I didn't want to read Faulkner and Salinger because.. well, for one, I despise Holden Caulfield.

What has that left me with? Not much of anything.

I read The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams last week, and finished it so quickly. Hopefully, As I Lay Dying and The Catcher in the Rye go just as quickly because, y'all, school is right around the corner, and these summer reading tests are the first thing on the agenda.

Plus, it's my turn for book club, and I am DYING to read All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

Keep me in your prayers. I will need it in the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spring Wrap-Up

Oops.. I might have been slacking on the blogging, but I really miss these wrap-up posts. They are a way for me to keep my life organized, and help me look back on my year. (Also, it helps me remember all of the books I read, which, alas, hasn't been many lately.)

Spring in One Word: Work

My Favorite Memories in April, May, and June 2015:
  • Celebrating turning 26 with my sister-in-law at her bachelorette party
  • Tax season finishing
  • Having too much fun at Festival Internationale
  • Baby Caddox being born!
  • Getting the pup fixed
  • Spending the weekend in the hospital with mom and dad
  • Wrapping up the school year
  • Performing in a lip sync battle at school against the students (Shake It Off, and we didn't win... Whomp whomp)
  • My little brother getting MARRIED
  • One week in the dorms at LSU for cheer camp
  • Putting a deposit in on our wedding venue!
  • One week feeling inspired at the Ernest J. Gaines Teaching Institute
  • One week in Austin for iPadpalooza learning so much! (Can you tell June was a busy one?) 
Books I Read this Spring: 
Articles from Around the Web:

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in July:
  • Lots of babysitting and professional development time
  • Setting up my classroom and preparing my lessons for August
  • Soaking up the last bit of summer that I can get (including two weekend trips to see far away friends!)
Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

“They had chosen to make the leap and, having leapt, were delighted to find that the world was even more beautiful than they’d hoped.” 
― Emma StraubThe Vacationers