Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weekly Wrap-up: Back to Blogging, End of Semester, House Renovation, and More.

Phew, what a week! Even being only 4 days of work (MLK day), it was a long one as it was the week before exams (they start Wednesday). But let's come back to that!

It feels so good to be writing again, even if it's a little awkward and I'm not sure the entire time if I'm "doing it right." It's hard to believe that when I first started book blogging with my initial classics project, I was writing posts daily, and sometimes I had posts going up multiple times a day. That's what the joys of unemployment will do to you. ;) While I miss the reading and writing freedom I had during those days, I feel so much more fulfilled now. Can you believe this is my 6th year teaching "officially" in my district, my 8th in the district overall, and my 10th in entirety? Yeah, neither can I.

But blogging was such an important part of my life for a few years and I have missed it. I think it'll take some time to get fully back into it and comfortable with sitting and writing posts, but I'm getting there, I think.

This past week I wrote posts on the 2 books I've managed to finish so far this year. My first read was Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills. It was a great choice to start my year as it left me feeling uplifted and hopeful even though the book highlights struggles and frustrations. My second read was actually my first read off my TBR Pile Challenge list, Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I don't remember my original reasoning as to why I added it on Goodreads, but it was another fabulous book that I very much enjoyed. It did take me 30 pages or so to "get into" but it was well worth it and I ended up flying through it once I settled in. I definitely recommend both titles!

And I can officially say that I read 1/12 books for my TBR Challenge! Wahoo! That might be tied for the furthest I've ever gotten in that challenge. Haha! No, really, I always pick books sitting on my shelf that I feel like I should read, and usually that meant titles I was avoiding. I tried to mix it up this year, and I truthfully feel like I have a lot of excellent reads in store!

After reading two YAish titles, I decided to switch gears and settle in with Steinbeck's East of Eden, book #2 off my TBR Challenge list (killing it!). I have loved pretty much every Steinbeck I've read so far, which continually surprises me. I should really consider him one of my favorite authors, and I don't know why I haven't. But I'm just over 100 pages in, loving it, and thinking of all the things to talk about. I don't know if I'm going to write an "in progress" post like I used to (remember all of those? I love looking back at them, but it took so much time), but I will definitely be sharing thoughts when I finish. I usually avoid really chunky books during the school year (unless it's a YA chunkster that I can fly through) since they take so much time. I prefer shorter reads since it feels like I'm accomplishing more, but there is something about THIS particular title that seems fitting to read right now. Your thoughts if you've read it?

Speaking of right now, I am taking a break from the MASSIVE piles of grading I should be working through. The end of our first semester is Friday (we have exams starting Wednesday), and I have ALL OF THE WRITING to grade. My APUSH classes completed their written exam portions Thursday and Friday (3 short answers per student-about a page in length for each question, and a DBQ essay), and I also collected book reviews from my Juniors. It's a lot. I'm taking breaks. I know it'll get done, but I'm trying to be proactive.

I have been much better about my work/home balance, which I'm sure comes in part with feeling more comfortable with the courses I'm teaching meaning less prepwork. This has allowed me to read a little more during the year and partake in other fun things. Some weeks are better than others and this coming week is going to be terrible, but I'll power through.

As I'm typing, Matt is working on the kitchen. When we first looked at this house...wait. Side story. This was actually the very first house we looked at in our house search. We liked the large lot and some of the features of the house (yay basement), but the kitchen killed it for us. Gross cabinets, very small, etc. We ended up coming back to this house after we lost 2 others and decided we could make it work. The eventual goal is to turn one of the bedrooms into a much larger kitchen (a dream kitchen), but for now, we needed to renovate the current kitchen so it would function. End side story. We were originally going to keep the old, gross cabinets and rehab them, but when we removed the non-functioning dishwasher (we bought all new appliances), the cabinets essentially fell in on themselves. So, we bought new lower cabinets and Matt is rehabbing the uppers. We're going to paint the cabinets navy blue, put on new countertops, install a new sink, new backsplash, etc. Well, it's been an ordeal with some bumps in the road. We've been living here...about 4 weeks and have been using the fridge and our microwave for all our food needs. It's getting old...

But today Matt is finishing all the trim work and priming the cabinets to paint in the morning before he heads to work. He told me, worst case scenario, that the kitchen will be done (ready to cook in), by Tuesday night. SO EXCITED. I have been off my diet since before Christmas and while I haven't gained weight back, I feel gross and bloated. I also want to finish putting things away, etc. All our dishes, etc are still boxed up in the basement.

Our home is very much a starter home, but it feels cozy. I don't miss our apartment, AT ALL, which surprises me considering we lived there for 8 years-we left behind a lot of good memories. But I love having my own house to come home to, and while it needs love, I have a very handy husband willing to put in the work. I'm learning some new handy skills and its fun to see our own mark on this house. We're thinking we're going to be here 5-7 years...then build a new home (a dream home). We'll see how that plan goes...

Anyway, I should probably get back to grading so I have less to do this week. I always try and plan out my grading, since I need to save some for completing while the kids are taking exams, but I don't want to leave too much since then I'm screwed. Yep, that's the game I play.

Let me know how your week went, what you're reading, what I should read next, etc.


  1. What an exciting post and time for you (and Matt)! I hope Jesse and I get to the point where we can buy a home, but I'm not sure that's ever going to be in the cards. Maybe a townhouse. We're going to try to get into a place to do "something" in 4-5 years (after I hopefully* achieve tenure and can feel some sense of stability).

    John Steinbeck has always been one of my favorites. He never disappoints me, and he has so many important things to say about life and humanity, and the United States. I had the same slow "realization" with Joan Didion. I would read something of hers every few years, fall in love all over again, but not realize how really moved I was. Now, I definitely call her a favorite (and I have another one of hers on MY TBR Challenge list for this year!).

    Speaking of which - great job on the TBR! Did you see the check-point post? I've read 2 of mine, reviewed 1, and am about to start #3 (Ready Player One). I'm only very slowly reading books this year, mostly because I'm doing two big, year-long projects, the Bible as Literature, which I'm housing on my blog, but also a personal Daily Stoic reading & journaling project, which is just for me. So, while I'm reading every day, I'm probably not going to be plowing through books. I think this is going to be a nice change, actually.

    1. I really didn't picture myself in this position even 4 months ago (a homeowner). It happened so fast that it is still sinking in. I keep thinking it's a mistake! I hope it works out for you guys, and I know it will!

      I actually need to go comment on the checkpoint post-I saw it the other day and made a mental note-so thanks for reminding me! I'm actually enjoying reading a little slower and not bingeing. I mean, I do love sitting down and devouring a book, but I'm hoping I can keep up this steady pace throughout the school year, even when things get crazy. BTW- I LOVED Ready Player One. It's fun. :)

  2. Having your own home is so worth it! We started owning homes pretty early in our lives because it was difficult where we lived to find an apartment to accommodate two kids that was cheaper than owning a home. Since then, we've owned where we lived every year except the apartment in Boston. When we first moved to Boston - after so many problems with our previous house - I was relieved to rent again. Then realized that no, no I wasn't relieved, renting had all sorts of problems I hadn't remembered and didn't relish. Heh. Homeowning is no picnic, but I'm happy to be back to it! Even if you never convert the bedroom and simply move on to a dream home after a few years, the work you do in your current home will help you in the long run and will be totally worth it. I'm so excited for y'all!

  3. I have loved seeing your before-and-after posts on IG. While I am not a fan of house renovations in my own home, I love seeing the skill and creativity everyone uses to bring their own touches to their homes. Imagine how amazing it is going to be when everything is done!

  4. Hi Allie! I just wanted to say hello! I didn't realize you're back here. :) I ADORE East of Eden. Last year I read Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, by Steinbeck, which I think you'd LOVE. It's all about his insecurities and plans and such as he was writing East of Eden.

    I'm reading the John Jakes trilogy North and South. SO GOOD.