Thursday, December 30, 2021

On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues, I'm exhausted. There's a special kind of burnout that exists for teachers around this time of year. Looking back at 2020, I have a hard time even remembering a lot of that time, which is insane to think that I just lost months of my life.

I've been reading quite a bit this time of year, 

By Karen M. McManus

Me being honest...I loved the cover of this book. And I have a whole army of cousins that could take up an entire series. What I really liked was how this book kept most of the plot points mysterious throughout. It started out slow, and then I realized at one point I couldn't put it down.

The book takes different perspective for each chapter; Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah are the grandchildren of the incredibly wealthy and reclusive Mildred Story. She cut off every member of her family 24 years earlier, and sent a mysterious note to her grandchildren, inviting them to work on the island. Upon arrival, they realize there is much more to the family past. Everyone has secrets, and they can be deadly when people start poking around. I did enjoy this book enough to recommend it to my students!

By Ashley Poston

Another pick from the bargain bin. Why does Books-A-Million think this should be on sale? I prefer the word "nerd" for myself, but I just had to snag it because of the name. I'm a sucker for any interpretation of Cinderella, especially modern ones! There's just something sweet about that storyline, which is why I imagine it remains popular after all these years. 

Elle is an orphan, living with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. They do a number of terrible things to her, including forcing her to cook and clean, and generally just being emotionally abusive. Her father was involved in the fandom of a particular science-fiction show and shared that with Elle before he died. As a teen she writes a blog about the series and has a mysterious connection with someone claiming to be a character. Through a series of twists and turns, she honors the memory of her parents and learns about herself. My students are going to love this one! 


Friday, December 10, 2021

A Quick Weekend of Museum/Wedding

Early December isn't usually the busiest time of year for me. Sure, I'm shopping for presents or making them up, but at least it's a calm sort of busy work. I rarely travel beyond the mall, and even then I try to do my shopping online. So this trip was different!

The first time I've been on a plane since 2015

We attended a wedding in New Jersey, Newark to be more specific. We passed New York City on our way to the hotel, the skyline looking more like a block of children's toys. There were two parties, one on Friday and the other on Saturday. I danced so much that I had a few blisters on my feet; I maybe pulled a muscle in my hip too. It was absolutely gorgeous, and they did an excellent job of planning the whole thing, from start to finish.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to check out some of the local history. Being so close to New York, there were dozens of museums and historic sites to visit. We settled on the Morristown National Historical Park, the site of one of George Washington's encampments during the Revolutionary War.

During the winter of 1779, Washington's army camped at Jockey Hollow. It was the coldest, snowiest winter on record, and yet they still survived. The park features a museum built in the early 20th century with exhibits about the encampment.  The exhibits held many artifacts from the 18th century related to the site, and I spied a few familiar items. There was also a decent video that gave good context for the museum's importance. 

The trip wouldn't be complete without visiting at least one historic house. The Ford Mansion was built in 1774 by Jacob Ford Jr.; he died only a short time after its completion. It was the largest house in the area, and was surrounded by a working farm. The Fords were wealthy, but more importantly they were patriots to the American Revolution. She agreed to let Washington and his many aids live in the house while she and her four children occupied only two rooms. The winter was bitter cold and they crowded into the rooms and halls. It was a strained existence, but it was necessary to the creation of the country as we know it today. 

It was odd stepping on original flooring that George and Martha Washington once stepped on. There wasn't much left of the original furniture, except a chair. It makes me want to buy a historic house and live there forever, but I know well enough the work that goes into it. Instead, I'll keep visiting and pretend, even just for a little while. Also, there were a lot of goodies at the gift shop!

It was a beautiful weekend, and when we returned to Michigan I was utterly exhausted. It took a few days to recover enough even to write this post. I think I'll take a nice break before Christmas.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A Little Winter Hair Change

When you meet me in person, you might notice a few things right away. I don't wear makeup, and I'm really lazy about my hair. In fact, I'm lazy about a lot of things, but specifically I love to be comfortable. Nothing too tight or itchy; I operate at a pajama level of comfort on a daily basis in all of my wardrobe. My hair goes up in a matching ponytail too.

My lack of haircuts has been a lifelong problem. I blink and suddenly it's been a year and my hair is very long. I'll do a nice dye, perhaps a cute cut, and then forget again. Add COVID into the mix, and it took two years this time. Remember when I dyed the ends blue on my birthday in 2019? That bleached section is now blonde and looking scraggly. It was way past time for this haircut!

In the end, I was able to donate 13 inches of hair to Children with Hair Loss, and I hope someone gets a fun wig out it. To be honest, I hadn't realized how heavy my hair really was, and the constant pulling on my neck and scalp caused headaches. I'm also excited to be able to style it again; the length made it difficult to do much of anything, like curls.

It feels really nice to have this change. I know there are different cultures that see hair as sacred, and it can also carry emotion. Considering my illness last year, a former toxic work environment, and the terrible school year, my hair felt extra heavy. It feels odd to say this, but I almost feel like a bunch of negativity and pain is now gone, as well as grief. It's hard to explain these emotions! At the same time, one thing is constant; I feel better, and I want to stay that way.

So I hope you like my new haircut! I'll be twirling my new locks around my fingers for the rest of the week. And maybe adding more headbands to my daily wardrobe?


On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...