Slice of Life March 30th, 2013 #slice2013

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I spent a good portion of my day trying to get ahead (and caught up) before going back to school on Monday.  That means I graded a lot (trying to get caught up, to what feels like no avail), cooked a lot, and completed a lot of food shopping. Those tasks, coupled with getting Chris out of the house for a bit and watching Wreck-it Ralph resulted in a very tired Sarah.

Baked ziti

Baked ziti (Photo credit: dolescum)

Chris has a few more weeks of recovery at home so I wanted to get some meals in the freezer that he can use for lunches while I am at work.  Because he loves pasta, I decided to make my first baked ziti.  I know, I know.  What can I say?  I’m Irish, not Italian!  But I ended up making a double batch of ziti, so we have one pan in the freezer and one in the refrigerator.  I think we are set for a while!

Then, I made some baked eggs that we can use for breakfasts this week and some frozen crockpot meals.  That way, I can just toss the meals in the slow cooker before I go to work and I won’t have to waste time cooking when I get home.  As an aside, I can’t tell you how much I love Pinterest.  All those recipes I have been pinning for months have finally come in handy!

I’m not really a cook, but I can follow a recipe, so Pinterest has been a lifesaver.  And while it was tiring, I am glad that we have a bunch of meals already completed for the week.  It should make the transition back to school a little easier!

Slice of Life March 29th, 2013 #slice2013

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Yesterday it was announced that Amazon will be purchasing Goodreads next quarter.  I’m not sure how to react to this news, because I love Goodreads.  I loved its independence, the community, and the interface.  While I am an Amazon customer (no independent bookstores closer than an hour away), I don’t need Amazon taking over every website I use.  They already own all or part of Shelfari and Librarything, which is one reason I don’t use either site.

But what upsets me the most about the sale is that I encourage my students to use Goodreads.  It was independent and not tied to any major retailer, so I was comfortable recommending it.  It also allows my students to grow as they move through school and eventually graduate.  The few other book social networking communities I tried out were aimed at kids and my students would eventually age out of them.  While this may seem like a silly thing for me to worry about, it’s important that my students find a community of readers that can stay with them as long as they are willing to participate.

When I taught 6th grade, I always shared Goodreads with my students and encouraged them to join (with their parents’ permission).  Many of them did.  It’s been over 6 years since I first started recommending the site and I still hear from many of those students.  There is an ebb and flow to the site, allowing members to pick up where they left off, without any pressure or judgement.  In the last few months I have been contacted by 5 former students, ranging from 8th grade to current juniors in high school, who have become active on Goodreads again.

 One of those students told me she was looking up a book her friend was reading and the search results included Goodreads.  She remembered using the site with me, clicked on it, and soon she was adding books to her “want to read” shelf and reminiscing over the list of books she last updated in 7th grade.  I now see her adding books a few times a week and she even recommended a book to me!  The power of a reading community is stronger than most people realize and too many students (and adults) lack access to one in the flesh.  Too many of my former students tell me that they haven’t heard a booktalk since leaving my classroom, haven’t had a teacher recommend a book that wasn’t canon since being with me, and no longer remember how to find books on their own.  And how can we expect them to keep reading if no one is providing them with the opportunity to find and read books?

That’s why I love Goodreads.  I love that current and former students can message me about books.  I love that our school book club can have conversations between meetings.  I love that I can model my reading life and passion for all of my students (current and former) in an unobtrusive manner.  And I love that there is no commercial tie-in.  We are surrounded by ads all day and Goodreads was a welcome respite from that.  Sure, there are banner ads and such, but they were book-related and usually lead to a publisher’s official site or an author’s blog.  They didn’t lead me to an Amazon order page.

Goodreads is about community and passionate readers.  It’s not about making a buck.  At least, it’s not about making a buck for me.  Sadly, it seems to be about money for the founders.  I can’t blame them for that, of course.  But I do wish they had offered the users of Goodreads an option.  Maybe we would have been willing to kick in money to keep the site independent!  I’d even be ok with publishers buying into the site.  But a single retailer?  That’s harder for me to digest.

We have a while before anything changes because the sale doesn’t close until next quarter.  I’m not going to stop using Goodreads and I hope I won’t have to in the future.  But I will be watching carefully.  And in the meantime, I think I will be doing what author Kate Messner suggests.  We can support other retailers, especially indie bookstores, in the reviews we post.  But my students and I will keep using Goodreads, while crossing our fingers that the community isn’t destroyed by Amazon.  Because the community is what drew me to the site and it’s why I share it with my students.  Losing that would be a shame.

Slice of Life March 28th, 2013 #slice2013

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Isn’t it amazing how certain songs can remind you of people or take you back to a part of your life?  I’ve been reminded of that twice in the past 24 hours.  Chris and I sat down to watch Les Miserables today and I kept thinking of my friend Aileen, who first introduced me to Broadway musicals way back in elementary school.  Thanks to her I fell in love with Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Annie, Cats, and pretty much every Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

I was also reminded of the power of music at last night’s Taylor Swift concert.  I was already out of college (*sob* I am old) when Taylor Swift released her first single, but her music always makes me think of my teen and college years.  She writes the soundtrack for many people’s lives, I think.

Then there are the songs that make me think of Chris and our life together.  Avril Lavigne, Ingrid Michaelson, Michael Buble, and so many others.  I can be transported to a mood, a time, a place, or a feeling when certain songs come on.

Music fascinates me because it is inherently tied to our emotions.  I’m not a musician, but I love music and the soundtrack it provides.

Slice of Life March 27th, 2013 #slice2013

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Tonight I took my little sister to see Taylor Swift.  Ok, she was a convenient excuse for me to go see Taylor Swift.

I’ve loved Taylor Swift ever since I first heard “Tim McGraw” back in 2006.  Even though she is younger than me, her songs provide a soundtrack for my teen and college years.  Her songs are like little YA novels set to music, and her albums are all awesome.  I’m partial to her more country-esque albums, but I own them all.

Tonight, I almost went deaf at her Red Tour.  I’ve never seen so many light-up signs or heard so much high-pitched screaming.  But it was awesome to watch all these young girls and teens (and twenty-somethings!) sing along to “Mean” and nod along as Taylor told them to ignore the people who try to bring them down.  They also sang along, even louder, to “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and I laughed as Taylor Swift told the audience they shouldn’t get back with their evil ex-boyfriends just to be with someone.

It was a great night and a great time with my sister.  :) And now it’s after midnight and I need some sleep!

Slice of Life March 26th, 2013 #slice2013

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Today I am grateful.  Chris is home, in his own bed, and everything is as it should be.  He has a few weeks of recovery ahead of him, but it’s so good to be out of the hospital.  Tonight he can sleep without a stranger in the room, without the woman in the next room screaming, and without being woken up for vitals every 4 hours.  He doesn’t have an easy few weeks ahead of him, but every day will be an improvement on the last one.  And it’s getting better every hour.

Now if only I could convince the cat to leave him alone…….The dogs are easy- a gate stops them.  The cat, not so much!

Slice of Life March 25th, 2013 #slice2013

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Today Chris and I discovered that the hospital wireless is decent enough to let patients stream from Netflix.  After browsing the recently added TV shows and movies, Chris said he wanted to give Dr. Who a try and I agreed.

Most of my friends are big Who fans.  Many, many, many of my students are huge Who fans.  (Is there a name for the Who fandom?)  Some of my students have been begging, or really demanding, me to give the show a try. I always have it on my list but we rarely have time to binge watch anything besides Downton Abbey, which  is in a class all its own.

So we decided today, in the hospital, would be the perfect excuse to sit down and give it a shot.  We browsed the many, many, many seasons and tried to decide where to start.  We quickly made the decision to skip the 60′s version and start with the 2005 Season 1 reboot.  We watched one episode with Rose and Nine (look at me, using the right terminology already!) and it was enjoyable.  But I wasn’t very attached to the Doctor.  We laughed at the episode and enjoyed it, but something was missing.  I asked Chris if he minded skipping to the second season, which starred David Tennant. I wanted to see if that hooked me a little more.  He didn’t mind, so we tried the first episode of Ten’s season.

Well, Ten is my Dr. Who.  Yup. Definitely.  David Tennant, who I know from Hamlet  and Harry Potter, is a force of

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nature.  What an amazing actor!  We flew through his first episode and now I plan to binge watch as many seasons as possible! Chris will be coming home at some point this week (trying not to jinx it!) and I am on spring break.  He has a few weeks of recovery ahead of him and we are looking forward to lots of time spent watching new TV shows and movies, and Dr. Who will definitely be at the top of the list.  Finally!

Slice of Life March 24th, 2013 #slice2013

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I don’t think this even counts as a Slice of Life.  But I can’t come up with anything else.

Today’s theme is exhaustion.  Mental and physical and emotional.  Just exhaustion.

Slice of Life March 23rd, 2013 #slice2013

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Just a quick slice tonight.

I spent the day at the hospital with Chris, and my in-laws took a break and watched the dogs for most of the day.  My mother-in-law, who has two cocker spaniels, always teases the dogs by saying that one of them will win “Dog of the day” for being the best behaved.  It’s a very important prize.

Today they had their two Cocker Spaniels plus the two Aussies.  This is the first time Bailey has stayed with them and I forgot to mention that since St. Patrick’s Day she has been on a counter-surfing kick.  I need to deal with it but just haven’t had the time (clearly).  Well, my mother-in-law bought a hoagie today and left it on the table for a minute while she finished getting lunch.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Bailey ate the hoagie.  The whole half.  In one bite.  With no chewing. And she was quite proud of herself.

Needless to say, she did not win Dog of the Day.

And I think she’s ok with that.  Because the hoagie was delicious!

Slice of Life March 22nd, 2013 #slice2013

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I’m sitting here, trying to fall asleep, and I’m watching Friends.

Friends is my go-to comfort show.  I watch it when I’m sick, when I want to fall asleep, when I need to wind down from a long day. I’ve seen every episode a hundred times and Chris would tell you that I can recite the episode title with less than 30 seconds of any episode.  He’s right.

 I started watching Friends when I was in about 5th grade.  Then, I wasn’t allowed to stay up an watch the episodes, so I would sneak and watch them whenever I got the chance.  I remember that my friend Colleen loved the show too, so for her birthday I got her a Central Perk t-shirt and coffee mug, and I was convinced it was the best present ever! We would sing “Smelly Cat” together at school and we all wanted to be like the characters when we grew up.  Living in NY, hanging out at a coffee shop, spending every day with your best friends — it sounded like the best life ever!

I watched Friends all through middle school, high school, and into college.  The episodes would be on the background as I studied or napped.  They played as I got ready to go out on Thursday nights and while my friends and I did each other’s hair and make-up. Then, they announced that the series was ending.  My college friends and I piled into one room, crammed onto beds and the floor, and watched the last episode together.  I remember crying as the characters walked out of the apartment for the last time, because my friends and I were only a few months away from graduating college and walking away from our lives, too.

Friends is my show.  I can recite almost every line.  I still laugh at all the jokes.

“My god, this parachute is a knapsack!”

“The cushions are the essence of the chair!”

“Could I be wearing anymore clothes?!”

 And tonight it will help put me to sleep.

Slice of Life March 21st, 2013 #slice2013

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Today I had to take the Aussies to doggie daycare.

Go ahead and laugh.  I’ll wait a minute.

Ok, yes, sometimes I take the dogs to daycare.  This (expensive) treat is really a treat for me, because I take them when I know I have to work late and won’t be able to give them the attention they need.  This means they spend 7-9 hours running around, playing, and getting their energy out so that when I pick them up, they are exhausted. Aussies are exhausting, especially when you do not have a backyard for them to run in. So I am grateful we have other options.

Today, I felt like I was dropping children off.  I went back to school for the first time since Chris’ surgery and I knew I would be too exhausted to even consider taking care of the dogs after school.  But when I woke them up this morning, they both sounded like they had post-nasal drip.  The hacking was unbearable.  Very quickly, I did the math in my head and realized allergy season is here in full force. Aussies are ridiculously allergy-sensitive and I just read that this year’s allergy season is forecast to be the worst in decades thanks  to the hurricane. Dublin and Bailey also spent a lot of time playing outside for the past two days, thanks to my amazing in-laws, sister-in-law, and friend.  But they suffered the consequences today when they could not stop clearing their throats.

So there I was, dropping off two dogs and trying to explain that no, they were not sick and please ignore the hacking because the benadryl hasn’t kicked in yet. Thankfully, everyone at the daycare is awesome and fawned all over them, telling (the dogs) that the artificial turf they use would help them feel better.

At 5pm, I picked up two very happy, very tired dogs.  Benadryl worked its magic and they are passed out next to me on the couch.  I have been able to pack to go back to Philly and get some work done without them nagging me.  So thank you to our awesome doggie daycare!

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