No. 37 - James Patterson's Jack and Jill on audio book:
No. 38 - James Patterson's Four Blind Mice on audio book:
No. 39 - James Patterson's Mary Mary on audio book:
No. 40 - James Patterson's Alex Cross, Run on audio book:
I took an audio book break over the summer because I was doing a lot of group projects. But I've been doing more solo projects in the last little while, and audio books help pass the time :) I mostly read paper books at bed time. And because I'm so exhausted these days, I don't get many pages in before I fall asleep!
The holidays are coming. Actually, Halloween is just next week... so the holidays are HERE! As I'm constantly told (as if I didn't know!), the "firsts" are the hardest. The holidays have always been a big deal in my family, so I'm quite anxious for this season. Because so many people have told me they appreciate my honesty throughout this process, I thought I should share my thinking on this, too. I'm too tired to decorate for Halloween this year. I've never not decorated for the spooky holiday. But during this time, I just don't have the energy. I do have a couple pumpkins on my front porch and a paper skeleton on my door. But I never even brought down my bins from the attic. Next up: Thanksgiving. Eryn, Brad, and I canceled Turkey Feast 2018. I've never skipped this annual tradition, but again, I just don't have the energy. Eryn usually hosts Thanksgiving with the family, but we passed off the big meal to Ma and Pa this year. We aren't up for it.
Then there's Black Friday shopping and our National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation viewing. I don't know yet. Then the big one: Christmas. I'm just so unsure. I'm afraid it will be a really sad time. It will be really awkward if we act like everything's normal. But if we do think about and talk about Dad not being there, it will just be sad. Christmas isn't supposed to be sad, but I don't know how it won't be. Mom, Eryn, Brad, and I are trying to decide what to do with it all. We're thinking about doing on a little trip after Christmas - something different. And will I have the energy to decorate? Maybe not. Scheduling problems have prompted us to cancel our handbell choir for the holiday season. So that means we won't be playing bells for Christmas Eve. Part of me is so relieved, as I don't have the energy for that, either. But I'm also sad for one more change and loss. Ugh. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed - and to remember that I don't have to make all my plans now. I'm going to continue giving myself grace and flexibility, as I have been for 8.5 months.
As we approach gift-giving season, I'm thinking about my dad. Dad loved shopping. Mind you, that's not necessarily buying - just shopping. He could spend hours looking and not purchase a thing. That was a little frustrating sometimes :) Dad was a deliberate thinker in all things. He took his time in understanding. His thought process was slower than mine. This included shopping. He didn't often impulse buy, but rather looked and contemplated for a long time before eventually buying. Or not buying. This was especially true when we traveled. Dad spent innings in MLB stadium shops, trying to decide if he should buy a souvenir. Or which souvenir he would take home. At gift shops, he would examine all the puzzles (he LOVED collecting puzzles) before picking out one. Or not. And then he would second guess himself and wish he had bought that puzzle. Every year, Eryn, Dad, and I get up at 3:30 am after Thanksgiving for some Black Friday excitement. Fred Meyer is the first stop, and here's us in 2015, waiting for the store manager to open the doors:
Dad bought little during an entire day of shopping, but he loved the experience. And honestly, it's been one of the highlights of my holiday season for as long as I can remember. I will really, really miss this tradition. Eryn and I are undecided about going this year. It just won't be the same without Dad. Dad loved giving gifts. He loved picking out something personal for someone. He once presented me with a box of Mickey Mouses that he'd ordered off eBay. They all sit behind me in my classroom.
Last Christmas, Dad ordered Mom some music-themed socks from her wish list. After quite a while of not hearing from the company, Dad got suspicious and did some digging. It looked like it was a sham company, and his money might be lost forever. But he wasn't even slightly upset about being scammed - he was upset that Mom wouldn't get her cool socks! It was all about pleasing Mom. When the Cubs won the World Series, Dad bought Mom every piece of memorabilia he could find! Christmas was Cubs jewelry, books, calendars, stickers, mugs, signs, etc. For 30 years, Mom's taught at Tigard High School, home of the Tigers. And because of Dad, she owns bins and bins and bins of stuffed tigers! She once expressed excitement over a Christmas penguin. Thanks to Dad, she now owns most every holiday penguin available in stores - stuffed, singing, socks, figurines, outdoor, wall hangings, etc.! Brad is afraid of Bigfoot. He sometimes dreams about the big guy and ends up screaming in his sleep because they are chasing each other. (Side note: It's really disturbing to be fast asleep when the person next to you starts to scream!) Years ago, Dad went to a schools auction and purchased Brad a Bigfoot gift pack (windshield cover, lunch box, figurine, etc.) - because he knew he'd love it. I could list pages and pages of things like this. Dad loved to shop and loved to pick out gifts to make other people happy. As I look back at Dad's life, there are a few definite themes. One is making people happy. That was important to him. I wonder how that played into his depression and own feelings of inadequacy. Was that compensating for his hard childhood and mental health difficulties? Was he trying to fill a void in his own heart by helping and cheering others?
No. 31, Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, was borrowed from the CE2 library.
I started it last year and had trouble getting through it. I finally finished it - trying hard to understand the cultural references. I'm glad we have books like this in our collection for our students of color. No. 32 was John Steinbeck's The Pearl:
I snagged this from CE2, too. It's very short, so students often choose it for their reading assignment. It's horribly tragic! Talk about a surprise ending!
No. 33 was The Giver by Lois Lowry, also from CE2:
I haven't seen the movie and didn't know the plot at all. I wasn't thrilled to realize that it's a dystopia kinda story - not my favorite. But it hooked me, and I was flipping pages to see what happens. Again - horribly tragic ending! What's with these books we make our students read?!?!
No. 34 was a lighthearted mystery - Julie Kaewert's Unsolicited:
It was a fine story, but it seemed to take me forever to get through it. I usually cruise through this kind of book. I'm not sure what it was about the writing style that bogged me down.
No. 35 was James Patterson's Violets are Blue on audio book:
I didn't read as many audio books this summer - too busy working with Mom and Eryn on family projects instead of solo projects when I can check out and get absorbed in a book. This one had two simultaneous plots, and one was about vampires! I really wasn't into the vampire story, but the other was good. I tolerated the vampires to get the other one :) Definitely an interesting mix of books in this last little bit!