Slice of Life-Year Seven

In typical fashion, I’m writing my Slice of Life post minutes before the clock strikes midnight. Like Cinderella, I need to get home because I have a deadline. Unlike Cinderella, I have a smartphone with the WordPress app. Thank goodness, right? My students are participating in this year’s Slice of Life Classroom Challenge and I warned them I, much like them, am a procrastinator. But I will get my 31 slices done!!

I guess I’ll explain why my slice is being posted at 11:45pm while I’m driving home. (I’m the passenger in the car. No worries). Last night I was at the HTHS House Cup competition getting teary-eyed over my seniors (who I am so proud of!). I got home late, went up bed, and woke up at 7am. I was out the door before 8am, on my way to my middle school science enrichment class field study. My colleague and I spent 3 hours at the park with seven students who observed nature, created Eco-art, and played games. As a result, my Fitbit tells me I walked almost 9 miles today!

I got home at 1:30 and Chris and I took the dogs to another park where we walked the dogs 2 miles. Dropped the dogs at home and did our food shopping, in an attempt up avoid the crowds before tomorrow night’s snowstorm. Grabbed dinner, rushed home, ate, fed the dogs, walked them again, then changed for the night.

Notice I did lot say we unpacked the groceries. Oops. They are still in the car. Thank goodness it’s freezing out!

Left the house at 6pm, stopped for coffee, and drive an hour to Moorestown. The plan was to surprise Chris’ cousin at his high school musical. Mission: complete! The musical was great, Chris’ cousin was awesome, and now we are headed home. Where I will walk the dogs and promptly crash.

Tomorrow I have nothing to do. Yay!

*post will be updated later with links/visuals.

Slice of Life March 31st, 2013 #slice2013

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I have been participating in the Slice of Life challenge since 2008 and it’s always one of my favorite blog-related activities.  Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for this awesome challenge!

This year’s challenge has certainly been different.  For the first time I had students slicing with me, and many of them sliced every day!  It’s been a pleasure reading their entries and comments this month and I am so glad I challenged them to participate (even if some of them dreaded it).

But this month has also been full of ups and downs.  Chris had surgery on March 19th, and the lead up to that was frantic.  The following week was spent in the hospital and he came home last week.  He’s been home a few days now and it’s such a relief to have him recovering here, instead of in the hospital.  The SOL challenge gave me some time to focus on each day and forced me to sit down and think of the things I am grateful for each day.  And I am grateful for the Slice of Life challenge for helping me keep my sanity this month.

I can’t wait til next year!

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!

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