Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Reading Receipt

Off to a New Year of Reading Receipts here on AAB!

This month I read Chronicles Volume One by Bob Dylan.  This was a Christmas gift I picked out when my husband realized that the special high top sneakers he ordered for me would not be here in time.  I've been a Bob Dylan fan for about 30 years, so I really enjoyed this.  His narrative writing somehow manages to reflect his lyric style.  I would have thought this was impossible, but no.  Never one to please the masses, Dylan doesn't talk a lot about how he wrote his most iconic songs. 

The second book I read this month was Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead.  Astonish Me, also by this writer, was one of the last books I read in 2016.  I really loved Astonish Me, and while Seating Arrangements was excellently crafted, it didn't grab me as much.  It's about a wedding among other things. I did feel like the characters (especially the main character) were drawn exceptionally well.  

That's it for this month.  Onward to February!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's Up, Wednesday?

I have had a headache all week.  All. Week.  I think it's the weather.  It's supposed to get cold again tomorrow, so I hope that will help me out.  On the bright side (pun intended), I think we did actually have one day this week that was not overcast.  We all enjoyed it.

Dan ordered two presents for me Christmas that did not come in time.  One was out of stock and he got a message that it wouldn't be back in stock any time soon, but the other arrived this week.  Awesomeness.

It was time to take Jack to the vet for his annual check-up and shots. Just like always, he was a champ!

Thank goodness my Donor's Choose program was funded, because I don't know how I would even begin to teach subtraction with regrouping without materials.  We started today, and I was happy with how well the two groups I worked with did with the concept.

Back to that headache...I decided tonight that the only remedy was a chocolate milkshake from Steak and Shake.  Really, is there anything better in life?  (Maybe also not having to cook and clean up dinner?)  And it did cure me.  It also made me smile when I noticed Dan putting together the Steak and Shake car.  The kids don't care about it anymore, but he just can't resist a car. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's Up, Wednesday?

What's up this week?

I finished a good book about Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan. I've always admired Dylan's "I Do What I Want" attitude.  Who else wins the Nobel Prize for poetry but doesn't show up for the award ceremony?

We started watching The Crown on Netflix on Monday.  John Lithgow is my favorite.  My husband is sick now, so we haven't been able to watch more.  Hopefully this weekend, he'll feel a little better and it will be a great excuse to take it easy on the couch and finish the season. 

New flowers this week too - they're good for what ails me.  What is ailing me right now is all this gray, gloomy weather. Oh sure, it's been warmer, but I'd rather it be ten below zero and sunny than this.  Blechhh!  But these flowers?  They brighten the place up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's Up, Wednesday?

Okay, here's the thing.  It's been cold.  Then today it got warm.  I hate that.  Let me just duck while you all throw rotten tomatoes at me, but I love the cold.  But more specifically what I love is coming inside after being out in the cold and getting cozy.  Which is why I was about as happy as I can be when I came home after grocery shopping on Friday (the day I took the above pic) to a fire my husband had made and an evening to read this book on the couch with my dogs.

This twice baked potato was miraculous.  Somebody my husband works with gave us a couple of these recently, explaining that he has perfected this particular culinary delight.  He wasn't wrong.

Also, the Target Dollar Spot this month has been phenomenal.  I have bought lots of banners.  Lots. Of. Banners.  This little tray may just be my favorite though.  Florals for the win every time.

I'm not at all sorry to have made up this whole #onepictellsastory deal on Instagram, even though I do realize I could have just saved myself a lot of time and told some people on Facebook to unfollow me. (LOL)   It makes me stop and appreciate moments like this.

We've been getting more math stuff in from my Donor's Choose project and have started to reap the benefits in class. 

Also, we did this writing project about Martin Luther King, Jr. last week.  They were supposed to write about their own dream.  They each have a picture on the side with them looking thoughtful (which I cropped out of this pic for privacy's sake), and I was happy with how supercute these turned out to be.  Oh, and meanwhile I'm just over here livin' the dream...

Last, the girl represented her school in the Catholic Schools Spelling Bee today.  In typical fashion for her, she took it all in stride and didn't even study or tell us about it until the last minute.  She made it to the top 5.  The word she missed was "Icarus".  I told she flew too close to the sun, and she totally got the reference and proceeded to explain to my son and husband why that was funny.  I think I was more proud of her for that than for going to the Spelling Bee.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What's Up, Wednesday?

The first "What's Up?" of 2017 - let's do this.

Rogue One was very, very good.  We got to go for free because the realtor we worked with this year rented out the theater for a customer appreciation night.  This was pretty nice considering we neither sold nor bought a house this year.  We did make a formal offer on one, and that's what got us the invite, complete with free popcorn and drinks.

When I heard that Carrie Fisher died a few days before we went to see this, my reaction was kind of "Awww, that's too bad, " and I went about my day.  So it took me off guard when the final scene of Rogue One snuck up and sucker punched me in the feels.  I actually teared up.  Whoa, where did that come from? 

I finished my last book of 2016, Hillbilly Elegy.  I related to this book for a number of reasons: I teach kids who live in poverty, my paternal grandfather was a coal miner for a number of years, and my maternal grandmother left high school due to poverty, but the bottom line is:  I think this is a good book for a lot of people to read.

New Year's Eve was rocking -  appetizers for dinner and trivial pursuit!

My office space got a tad out of control in December what with work and the holidays:

but I managed to get it back to workable on Monday.

Also my wonderful husband put in a light fixture and ceiling fan there. This room has always been lacking in lighting department.  Do you ever finally bite the bullet and tackle a home improvement project and then ask yourself, "Why in the world didn't we do this sooner?"  Yeah, us too.

My Donor's Choose math project was fully funded right before Christmas.  Boxes started arriving today!

I also kicked off a #onepictellsastory on Instagram this week - one picture a day for the whole 365. 

We're due for snow tomorrow.  I'm really looking forward to it.  How else are we supposed to know it's January?

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I use my cell phone all the time to pick up little details of my day.  Sometimes I share them on the blog or use them for inspiration when I need something to write about, but most times I don't.  It's nice to look back on them over the month and remember the small details of life.  Instagram is the perfect place for this, but I need the motivation to remember to do it.  I'm doing this for myself as much as anything else.  I want to be able to look back at the end of next year and see the big story of 2017 with 365 little stories.

I'm shooting for one picture a day on Instagram this year.  I'm thinking it will be small details most days, as those are the pictures I tend to take.  It might be bigger news on other days.

I'll be using #onepictellsastory as my hashtag.  Feel free to follow along with my 2017 stories on my Instagram account

Here's to many good stories in 2017.

17 Books in 2017

In 2014, I started a Facebook Book Group called 14 Books in 2014.  You can read the original post here if you are so inclined.  The idea was for a group of book lovers to share which books they read that year as well as how many.  At the end of 2014, I shared all my titles and handed out a few awards (post on that here).  Last year I shared what I had read in 2015 (post here).  And that's what today's post is for...the books I read in 2016.  Feel free to join in the fun here if you're interested.  If you're already a member of my group, you've seen all the titles as I've read them throughout the year, but here they all are without further ado, in one nice, neat list for you.

My 2016 reads were:

#1 The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
#2 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
#3 Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
#4 The Blondes by Emily Schultz
#5 Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
#6 Me Before You by JoJo Meyes
#7 Calvin by Martine Leavitt
#8 Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas
#9 The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
#10 The Passage by Justin Cronin
#11 The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
#12 Matilda by Roald Dahl
#13 The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
#14 The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
#15 The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
#16 The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
#17 Veronica Mars The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
#18 Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
#19 Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain
#20 The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
#21 The Girls by Emma Cline
#22 Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Various Authors
#23 Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
#24 The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
#25 Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
#26 Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
#27 Love That Boy by Ron Fournier
#28 The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
#29 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
#30 The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
#31 The Power of Play by David Elkind
#32 All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
#33 We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
#34 Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
#35 The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood
#36 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#37 Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
#38 Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

My total went up 3 books this year.  38 books for 2016...break it down:

30 were fiction. 8 were nonfiction.  Actually, I feel like that's a bit misleading.  The three books I read by Melanie Benjamin were based on real people and events.  Benjamin does a fictional imagining of what these real people were thinking and feeling.  Let's count them as fiction with a twist of nonfiction, mmmkay?

Two recurring authors this year: Melanie Benjamin and Mary Kubica

27 Never Before Read Authors (actually more than that if you count all the authors from Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, but I'm not going to): Kathleen Grissom, Kristin Hannah, Emily Schultz, JoJo Meyes, Martine Leavitt, Ken Ilgunas, Justin Cronin, Mary Karr, Alena Graedon, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Karan Mahajan, M.R. Carey, Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, Beatriz Williams, Mary Kubica, Melanie Benjamin, Rumaan Alam, Ron Fournier, Daphne Du Maurier, David Elkind, Bryn Greenwood, Meg Little Reilly, Monica Wood, Maggie Shipstead, J.D. Vance, and a bunch of essay writers in Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

Books with movie or television series tie-ins: Me Before You (haven't seen it), Matilda, (only seen small snippets), The Girl With All The Gifts, (forthcoming), and Veronica Mars The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (haven't seen it and don't want to), The Handmaid's Tale (forthcoming on Hulu)

And now for the awards...let's start with some new ones.

The "Mammoth Award" goes to...The Passage
This one was a monster of a book.  It was well worth the time invested.

The "Resonating Book on Writing" goes to...Big Magic
It's a rare book on writing...or creating anything for that matter.

The "Let's All Pay Homage to the Road This Woman Paved" Award goes to...Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
People talk all the time about the likes of female writers who tell creepy, eerie, murderous tales like Gillian Flynn, Mary Kubica, and Paula Hawkins.  Du Maurier precedes them all in a stellar manner. This is the one to read.

The "Most Intriguing Premise" Award goes to...Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Ever wonder what became of Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes... this is an interesting take on that.

The "I Read Everything This Writer Has Written This Year" Award goes to..
Melanie Benjamin and Mary Kubica

And for some repeat awards...

Best Author Find... Melanie Benjamin, hands down
I love the way she fictionalizes real people and events.

The "Stayed With Me The Longest in an Unsettling but Fascinating Way" Award goes to...
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Atwood has won this award from me before with Oryx and Crake.  I suspect she will win it again someday.)

The "Page Turner" Award...Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Seriously, I had to find out what happened at that barbeque.

"Made Me Cry" Award...The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood
I won't tell you why.  No spoilers here!

It's 2017, and I'll be changing the name of the group today.  If you'd like to join, you can do so right here.  Here's to more books in the New Year!