Sunday Salon: My favorite books of June

Sunday Salon: My favorite books of June

Time: // 2:05 p.m.

The scene: // For the first time ever, I am days past my due date. I’m calm about it, while the rest of my family are on eggshells waiting for the new arrival. She’ll come when she comes. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time and just read and do any last minute things.

June: // was an okay month for reading. I don’t what happened. I checked out many books from the library and even read books from Scribd, but there just wasn’t enough “yes!” books. You know the type of book where you want to grab the nearest person and make them read it? Those. Some standouts from last month includes:

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Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy. I spoke about this anthology last week. It’s good to see current work by indigenous people, especially young people. We need more books like this one.

lynchThe Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and Don Tate. I’m always on the lookout for good nonfiction to share with my kids. Plus, nonfiction picture books are a great way of learning about people and events that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood a slave until about the age of fifteen. After that, he took on a number of jobs before becoming a portrait photographer, then a justice of the peace, and finally elected into Congress in a matter of a decade. Lynch’s life was pretty inspirational.

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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. This was another inspirational nonfiction picture book. Decades ago, Cuba had this taboo against women playing the drums or becoming a drummer. As a young girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga wanted nothing more than to play the drums. It was her passion. Finally, her father relented and got her a teacher who believed that Millo was one of the best drummers he met. The young girl took off and even started an all-girl band with her older sisters, becoming world famous.

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Blueprint Homeschooling: How to Plan a Year of Home Education That Fits the Reality of Your Life by Amy Knepper. With school starting in a little bit over a month, Blueprint Homeschooling was just the book I needed to help me plan the upcoming year. Knepper takes readers step-by-step through planning a whole school year in a matter of weeks. I found the book to be so helpful and it makes things less overwhelming. It was also refreshing to see her mention resources that beginner and veteran homeschoolers can use.

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. The basics: a kick-ass young girl who loves to kill and is the sidekick to a local villain. Plus, she’s a shapeshifter. If you haven’t read this book already, you should. It’s much more than it seems. Noelle Stevenson can’t produce things fast enough for me.

Now you know my favorites books of June. What were yours?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon
Time: // 5:13 a.m.

The scene: // I’m sitting in bed as the house sleeps. Insomnia has hit me pretty hard in the last few weeks, so as usual, I’ve been up for several hours.
Drinking: // water.

Reading: // I read several books last week, mainly children’s books. One that stood out was Dreaming in Indian, an anthology of poetry, essays, and short stories by indigenous youth. The latest volume of the Fables series stood out, but not for the best reasons. I found the sudden turn of events and drastic personality makeovers from the main characters to be disappointing, which is sad since there’s only one volume left in the series.

With my due date fast approaching this week, I really want to read as much as possible. After my daughter’s birth, I know I won’t have the time or energy for much. On my reading stack are:

  • Between the World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (nonfiction)
  • Find the Good by Heather Lende (nonfiction)
  • Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (middle grade/YA)
  • Rat Queens Vol. 2 –Kurtis J. Wiebe (a reread)
  • Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam (nonfiction)
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper (middle grade)
  • The Martian by Andy Weir (fiction). I’m probably one of the few people who haven’t read this yet. Luckily, The Socratic Salon is having an upcoming read-along for it.

Looking at my list, I notice some adult fiction is missing. I need to change that.

The past few weeks: // have been so emotional for this country. First, there was the Charleston massacre, which is such a horrendous thing. Then, there was the latest Supreme Court rulings. I had no faith in the SCOTUS, but found myself amazed and thankful that the Affordable Care Act was left alone. Then for SCOTUS to decide that marriage equality is now the law of the land?! Omg! Love. Love wins. Love should always win.

Now I’m off: // to have a sip of coffee and read a bit before the kids wake up.

What are your plans for today?

Sunday Salon: On Recovery

Sunday Salon: On Recovery

sunday salonTime: // 5: 23 a.m.

The scene: // The house is quiet as I listen to the birds chirp outside. I’m sitting here with my thoughts and there’s so much to try and process.

I named this post “On Recovery” because right now I’m recovering physically from being really sick early in the week and emotionally from all that’s happening in the United States. Nine people were gunned down on Wednesday at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina during Bible Study. Nine people who were murdered because they’re black. They were parents and grandparents, coaches and college students, librarians and pillars in their community. They were loved. They were human beings.

As a black person, I don’t often mention things about race on my blog. Often, like now, I feel like it’s so hard to put my thoughts and feelings into a coherent post. But being silent about things that matter like race and privilege and being so talkative about things that don’t like book giveaways or whatnot is part of the problem that’s going on in this world. Book blogs try to stay focused on the subject, but as people, we are not one-dimensional. Things happen and they affect us. So why not speak about it?

As I pray for the victims’ families, I’m hurt, angry, and shock. People often act as though our society is post-racial though it’s anything but.

It’s a world that’s filled with hatred and acts of violence based on skin color, religion, and gender.

It’s a world that’s filled with love and forgiveness as we’ve seen with the families of the dead.

It’s a world that’s filled with courage as Joy and her friends stand every weekend to point out that “black lives matter” and Jill posts about a diverse and important number of subjects about the world.

It’s also a world that’s filled with hope as people come together to pray and openly talk.

You may not know how to contribute to the conversation. Listen to what others are saying. Speak up even if it means offending or losing the support of family or friends. It may be hard, but isn’t it harder living in a world where horrific things of this nature happen? Acts of hatred and terrorism cannot be fought by being silent or on the defense. That’s not how the world is going to change.

Emily Perper at LongReads compiled a small list of online reading about the massacre.

Thanks to Evelyn for pointing out #CharlestonSyllabus, a list of selected readings that educators have gathered to talk about race and race relations in the U.S.

Speak up.

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:04 a.m.

The scene: // As usual, I’m sitting at my desk in the living room. I spend a lot of time at this spot, doing research, reading, or just watching my kids play outside.

Drinking: // coffee.

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Reading: // Syllabus by Lynda Barry. I started it earlier in the week and though it’s a short book, I’m taking my time reading it. Barry has been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a few years now and Syllabus is about some of her past classes. The book includes syllabi, assignments, and is done in that typical Barry style: composition book-like pages and filled with images. I can see why Joy enjoyed this book so much.

Thinking about: // the power of storytelling. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Avid readers love stories and there are some themes we gravitate to, while ignoring others. Stories have the power to change us and give us words to experiences that we ourselves couldn’t voice.

With my daughter starting high school next year, I have the opportunity to create her English class. Previous classes offered for homeschooled high schoolers have been pretty bland, filled exclusively with busywork, books that were written at least forty years ago, and all the authors are white. Nope. That’s not for us.

So I’m starting from scratch: going over standards while figuring out what we should explore from themes to books, documentaries to podcasts. It’s scary, yet exciting at the same time. It also means that I have a ton of reading ahead like old favorites such as To Kill a Mockingbird, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Persepolis, American Born Chinese, and more. I have my work cut out for me.

Enjoying: // my last few weeks of pregnancy! I have four weeks left and it’s exciting, though I hope time flies by. I can’t wait to meet my baby girl.

Now I’m off to: // figure out what’s for breakfast. These kids aren’t going to feed themselves (though they’re old enough to).

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon: It’s finally summer!

Sunday Salon: It’s finally summer!

sunday salonTime: // 8:28 a.m.

The scene: // It’s a cold and cloudy Sunday morning, not your typical setting when you think of summer but it feels good.

The last day of school was Friday, so I’m spending the weekend packing up old textbooks, correcting tests, writing my last learning record of the year, and decluttering our homeschooling space. It feels good to have the school year done with. I plan on writing down what went right (and wrong) about this school year, and any new changes I’m thinking about implementing. Lesson planning will start in a few days.

Reading: // I’m currently diving into the middle grade class, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo with the kids. It’s a fantastic read aloud and I can see why it’s won so many awards.

Participating in: // The 7th Annual #bookaday challenge. The challenge started a little more than a week ago and I decided to join in this summer. I’m hoping to read a ton of books. Well, at least before the baby arrives in early July. You can find the challenge on Instagram and Twitter.

Now I’m off: // to read blog posts.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 9:26 a.m., four hours after the readathon ended.

I didn’t stay up reading the whole time. I’m too pregnant to do that! I stayed up until hour 18, woke up around hour 22, read a bit more, then went back to bed. No readathon hangover for me thanks. As someone who has been going through a reading rut for such a long time, it felt good to get through book after book. I feel like maybe I’m getting my reading groove back.

Eating: // homemade waffles that Oliver, my 11 year-old made.

Drinking: // water

This week’s tbr (to-be read) list includes:

  • Citizen by Claudia Rankine for an upcoming Socratic Salon chat.
    Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 edited by Mary Roach
    Where We Were Kings by Christie Watson

Today: // I wish I could take it easy, but I can’t! I need to clean up around the house and do some homeschooling prep work for the week among other things. I am looking forward to dinner, which will be carne asada nachos. They’re my sister’s idea and I can’t wait to try them.

It’s time for me: // to start my day.

What have you been up to this past week? How are you spending your Sunday?

Sunday Salon: Happy Easter!

Sunday Salon: Happy Easter!

sunday salon

Time: // 9:00 a.m.

The scene: // It’s a cold Easter morning as I sit at my desk, regretting the fact that I didn’t start cooking Easter dinner yesterday. I’m a big believer in cooking the day before, so I can just eat on a holiday. Now I have hours to go before the ham and everything else is done, which means I have to buy takeout.

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Reading: // After talking to Memory, Chris, and Sarah, I finally started a free trial with the reading app, Scribd. The app has a crapload of comics that my library doesn’t have and I didn’t necessarily want to pay for since I’ve never read them. Since the start of my trial a few days ago, I have been reading up a storm! I read the first seven issues of The Lumberjanes series and Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh, a graphic novel. The app doesn’t feature the newest books, but I can use it to hit my reading goal of reading more diversely, trying out new comic series, and reading older books from my tbr list/pile. If you want to get a free two-month trial from Scribd, here’s the link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7271v

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Celebrating: // The fact that it’s Spring Break. For the next seven days I can do pretty much what I want to do, which means I am reading from the stack of books above and taking the kids to various places like the beach and local museums. I’m also going to relax and enjoy the start of my third trimester.

Now I’m off to: // relax and do some reading.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 4:16 p.m. – Saturday afternoon

The scene: // Since California has decided to skip winter AND spring, it’s a hot summer day. The kids are outside enjoying themselves while I’m sitting at my desk and feeling a little bleh. Emotionally, I don’t feel all that great. I don’t know what’s going on.

Eating: // Nothing. I just finished my crockpot dinner of stewed steak with rice.

Drinking: // Water.

Reading: // Can you believed that I’ve read three books this past week and I’m now on my fourth?! That’s crazy. I haven’t read this much in probably a year. I finished The Life-Changing of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. My review will go up tomorrow. Also finished are The Sculptor by Scott McCloud and Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Effiel Tower by Greg Pizzoli.

I’m currently reading Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver. National Poetry Month is in a few days and I’m looking forward to diving into a few poetry collections. Also on my reading list for this week is The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple, a graphic novel, and Ironweed by William Kennedy. I was cleaning out my bookshelves when I came across Ironweed. I started reading it and the opening pages reeled me in.

Bloggiesta: // was a success. I didn’t participate in any of the chats or mini-challenges, but I was able to cross off pretty much everything on my to-do list.

Next up: // I think I’ll enjoy a brownie and a nice nap.

What are you up to?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 7:36 a.m.

The scene: // Sitting in my living room with my son as he watches Steven Universe. I was trying to get some alone time to just read, but that’s okay. I love spending time with my soon-to-be second youngest.

Drinking: // coffee. It’s so good today.

Eating: // I’m thinking about making some donuts this morning even though I just made some on Friday. They are so good and I cut down on the prep time by letting the donuts rise for an hour instead of two hours.

Reading: // I’m still reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I’ve had a few disagreements when it comes to the author’s de-cluttering philosophy and I can see myself writing a post about this book later on this week.

Looking forward to: // Bloggiesta. I still don’t have a list yet, but I know reading, writing, blog commenting, and giving my blog a new look is part of my plan. There’s some of my list!

What are you up to today? Are you joining Bloggiesta?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:35 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my kitchen table while being surrounded by books.

Drinking: // water and my first cup of coffee. I know that’s a little odd, but I wake up sometimes thirsty.

Eating: // nothing yet but I have a slice of carrot cake that I plan on finishing off.

It’s amazing to me how easy it can be sometimes to stop blogging. A lot has gone on since my last post. After recovering from the flu, I broke my tooth and spent almost a WEEK in excruciating pain before finally having it removed. Now that that’s over, life is pretty much back to normal. Thankfully.

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Reading: // I’m actually reading books! For the past couple of months, there hasn’t been a lot of books I’ve completed. More often, I started a book and then stopped for no apparent reason. It’s becoming a habit that I’m trying to get out of. I’m currently reading A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science Even if You Flunked Algebra by Barbara Oakley. According to the reviews on Goodreads, the title is pretty misleading. It’s not a book about excelling at math and science, but learning how to learn any subject. It’s filled with tips based on cognitive psychology and neuroscience. There’s even a course on Coursera that people can take as they read the book. Being the lifelong student, I decided to take the course and see if I can get the full effect of the book.

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I’m also reading Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta by Ina May Gaskin. I have three and a half months until my due date, but there’s no time like the present. It’s been years since I’ve last listened to an audiobook, but I’m actually listening to one now! The True Meaning of Smekday by Alex Rex has been on my TBR (to be read) list for years. Now that the movie adaptation, Home, is out in theaters, I decided to give the book a try. So far, I’m really enjoying the story of Gratuity Tuchi, a young girl who’s traveling to Florida after all Americans have been relocated there by an alien race. On the way there, she meets a rogue alien by the name of J. Lo and they start a strange friendship. Did I mention this is a middle school book? The wonderful Bahni Turpin is the narrator and as usual, she’s doing a fantastic job. My daughter and I are listening to it together which always feel good to do.

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Today I plan to: // catch up on my blog reading, reorganize my bookshelves, read, and plant some flowers. We’re having summer weather in SoCal this week with temperatures in the 90s today. Strangely enough, it was just raining a few days ago.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:18 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my kitchen table listening to my tea kettle. The boys are watching TV and my daughter is off to a sleepover. It’s a cold winter morning and for once, I’m wishing that summer was here.

February: // has been one hell of a month. The kids and I spent most of this month in bed with the flu. I haven’t had the flu in years and every time I get it, I end up losing a massive amount of weight. I like being a curvy girl and the fact that I’m pregnant means that I now need to gain the lost weight and then some. Gaining weight has always been an uphill battle, but I’m determined to have as much of a healthy pregnancy as I can.

Having the flu also means not being able to blog, homeschool, or read most of the time. Now I feel like I need to catch up on everything and everyone. Luckily, the thought of catching up on so much isn’t overwhelming.

Thankful for: // the fact that all of us are feeling much better.

Reading: // not one thing. Any suggestions?

Missing: // each and every one of you. What have you been up to? How’s February turning out for you? What are you looking forward to doing?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:54 a.m.

The scene: // Cuddling with my family on the couch while watching HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. The older kids are in the kitchen washing dishes and making pancakes. Love.

This week: // has gone by in a flash! When I look back on it, the kids and I got a lot accomplished school-wise, but that’s about it. I guess I should be grateful for that.

Currently reading: // not much. My reading has drastically slowed down, but it’s my fault. I found myself doing things like being on Facebook and Instagram instead of reading. I plan on changing that this week and focusing on things I love and make me grow.

I started reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles for Joy’s New Year’s Resolutions Read-along. The author talks about feeling resistance whenever you have something positive you need to do but will take time. I’m feeling that when it comes to de-cluttering, reading, and even taking walks. I’m going to continue reading to see what the author suggests when it comes to pushing through resistance. If you want to join the read-along, there’s still time. The War of Art is a short book.

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On my nightstand: // Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer. The graphic novel has been on many “best of 2014” lists last year. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. Beyond Magenta tells the lives of transgendered teens in their own words. My daughter and Elisabeth read it and loved it, so it’s my turn to read it. Daphne’s Book by Mary Downing Hahn is a middle grade book I read in middle school and fell in love with. As an adult, I searched for an original copy of it and was lucky enough to find one. It’s the story of two girls, Daphne and Jessica, who have to come together for a school project. While Jessica’s life is pretty average, Daphne’s is anything but and she hides a serious secret. Readers who enjoyed Cynthia Voight’s The Tillerman Cycle will appreciate Daphne’s Book.

Promoting: // My Chunkster Challenge giveaway for Children of the Stone by Sandy Tolan. The giveaway is only open to Chunkster participants.

Now I’m off to: // eat pancakes then play Uno with the kids.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 6:46 a.m.

The scene: // I woke up early this morning to get some me time in. The living room was nice and cozy as the coffee pot perked in the background. Not even five minutes after I came into the living room, all three kids came and joined me. Maybe I’ll go to Starbucks later for that me time.

Thoughts: // I didn’t read much this past week. When I look back on it, it seems like I didn’t have much time or energy. But I don’t think that’s true (at least about the time part). The kids and I had the week off from homeschooling and besides a few errands and appointments, there wasn’t much for us to do. Once again, it’s time for me to take stock of how I’m spending my free time and get back on track doing the things I enjoy and need to accomplish.

Promoting: // Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness recently wrote a post about Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. She’s not the first blogger to mention the book, but after reading her thoughts I think I need to read the book for myself.

Andi’s post at Estella’s Revenge, “The Slippery Slope of Diversity Tracking,” has a lot of readers thinking about what diversity means to them and how it’s tracked. Join in on the conversation.

Need some support when it comes to keeping your New Year’s Resolutions? Look no further than Joy’s New Year’s Resolutions Challenge. You can sign up any way you want either formally or in the comments. There’s also a read-along and giveaway of Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

Now I’m off to get started with the rest of my day. What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonHappy New Year!!

Time: // 7:26 a.m.

The scene: // It’s a cold SoCal morning, so I’m bundled underneath covers on my couch. The boys are making pancakes and it’s a pretty quiet morning for the most part. Wait. I need to make another pot of coffee.

2015: // will definitely be the year of change for me. With the addition of a new baby in July (I’m expecting!), life is going to move at a faster pace. I’ve been wanting to move for years, but this year it has to happen. Living in SoCal, it’s hard to find affordable and roomy places in a decent neighborhood on a limited budget. You can easily find expensive places in shitty neighborhoods but who wants that? It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m determined to move before the baby comes.

Bookish Goals: // Last year I read 192 books, my lowest in years. Most of those books were picture books. This year I want to read 200 books, with half being adult books. 200 is a low number, but I’m being realistic. Once the baby comes in early July, I expect my reading to go out of the window.

Diversity: // I just knew I was going to read a ton of diverse books last year. I read a dismal 28 books by people of color. My favorite books of the year like An Untamed State, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Mr. Loverman were by and about people of color but that’s not enough. For 2015, I want to read 100 books by people of color, 50% of my reading. Compared to last year, this will be a challenge, but I think I can do it.

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TBR (To be read): // Meet my dreaded tbr bookcase. It’s not the only bookcase I have with unread books, but it has the most. My shelves are collecting dust so my last bookish goal of this year is to read 40 of my own books. That’s 3.3 books a month.

Now I’m off. What are your goals, reading and otherwise, for 2015?

Sunday Salon: Week 3 of My Happiness Project

Sunday Salon: Week 3 of My Happiness Project

sunday salonTime: // 12:46 p.m. – Saturday afternoon

The scene: // The sun is out and shining. If you didn’t already know it, you wouldn’t think it was fall. It feels more like summer, but for once, I don’t mind. My mood matches the weather. Tomorrow morning, as this post appears on my blog, I should be at a local park that has plenty of acres to explore or at the beach with the kids.

As with any goal, there has been some hits and misses with my ongoing happiness project as I de-clutter and try to manage my time better. Here’s what I learned in the past two weeks:

It doesn’t matter where you keep your to-do list as long as you check it throughout the day! I’m a post-it/back of a bill/index card-writing kind of girl. Before, I would put my to-do lists on any piece of paper near me. I would also use that same piece of paper for a bookmark and wonder why I couldn’t find it later. So I decided to write my to-do lists in my journal, thinking that if I kept it in the same place, I would be able to find it. I was able to find my list but I never checked it! Talk about frustrating. For days I forgot to check my list, if I even remembered to write my list down! I didn’t use my journal very often to start with, so it wasn’t the best place for my list.

Now I use my phone to keep up with my to-do list and add an alarm so I get beeped during the day to check on my progress. That helps a lot. While we’re talking about alarms…

A kitchen timer is one of the best things you can use to help you achieve your goals. Whether I’m putting on the timer for 15 minutes as I straighten up a room or for an hour as I work on homework or my blog, hearing the ticking of the timer keeps me focused. That’s something my phone’s alarm can’t do.

Cull. Rearrange. Repeat. In the past three weeks, I have given away books, bed sheets, clothes, and anything else I thought I can live without. My space still felt small, so I started rearranging things. What a relief. My living room and bedroom function a lot better and I don’t have to look at piles of things. What couldn’t fit is gone.

De-cluttering and time management will always be an ongoing process. I didn’t realize that at first. I figured that once you understand how to manage your day or keep your living space livable, you don’t have to worry about it again. Wrong. It’s a daily process.

Be patient with yourself. Over the past few weeks, I had to deal with stubborn and smelly carpet stains, migraines, car troubles, and other unexpected things. It doesn’t matter how packed your day is, things come up. And they usually happen when you least expect them to. I’ve gotten pretty frustrated before I realized that I need to take a deep breath and realize that’s life. It doesn’t matter how early I wake up or how late I stay awake, I’m not about to run myself ragged to do the unexpected along with everything else. Asking for help or waiting until another day to do some things helps keep me sane.
I plan on spending the next week focusing on my de-cluttering and time management routine. While I’m doing that, I’m also figuring out what November’s goals will be. With NaNoWriMo and so many other writing projects going on during that time, writing may be the thing I focus on.

So tell me, what have you been up to? Have you figured out what you are going to accomplish in November?

Sunday Salon: Week 1 of My Happiness Project

Sunday Salon: Week 1 of My Happiness Project

At the beginning of October, I decided to spend the month de-cluttering and focusing on managing my time better. I’m pretty tired of my days going by in a blur with little to show for it, but an ever-growing to-do list. So last week I decided to go through my days and write down my observations about my daily life before I put a plan into gear.

Time Management

There’s too much to do and I’m only one person! There’s a million things that I need to do every day. From homeschooling to cleaning the house, making dinner to taking care of my kids, there’s always something that needs my attention.

I try to multitask. That’s a fail right there. Multitasking is something that you feel the need to do even if you can’t always do it well. I find myself trying to look up something online for one kid while helping another one with their work, and doing a third thing. I know I’m not giving any one thing my undivided attention and often it shows.

Multitasking leads me to being distracted. My attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly running around with things to do and not enough time to do them. There’s 24 hours in a day and my son, Avram, often asks me if I wish there was more time.

Organization

I don’t have enough space. I live in a small two bedroom apartment, crammed with kids and books. I try to take advantage of every inch I have, but I’ve realized that I can scale down and cull our things, buy furniture to help make this space home, or just move. I’m at the point where every time I look around my place, I don’t feel peace. I see more tasks that I need to do.

I have too many things. I really don’t, but as I said above, I don’t have enough space. It makes what we own seem like too much though it’s not.

Our things are everywhere. As any bookworm knows, books never stay on shelves. They’re on nightstands, on the floor when you run out of shelf space, on the couch, and all over your desk. I can say the same thing about my pens and pencils, writing notebooks, Legos, and other objects.

Writing down what I observed this week was pretty eye opening. I’ve been having the same issues over and over again for years now and it’s time to change that.

Changes

Now that I understand some of my problems, it’s time to put a plan into place. Instead of lamenting about my small space, I’m going to work with what I have for now. I plan on culling things, organizing, and trying to give everything its own place. When it comes to time management, I’m going to cut things from my to-do list and cut out multitasking to see if it helps. We’ll see what happens.

What are you up to today? Do you have any time management or organization tips for me?

Sunday Salon: My plans for October

Sunday Salon: My plans for October

My daughter's vanilla birthday cake.
My daughter’s vanilla birthday cake.

Time: // 8:34 a.m.

The scene: // sitting in my living room with the kids, watching HellBoy 2. The kids and I decided to watch a scary movie every day in October. We missed two days but are planning to make them up. Next up is Super 8.

Yesterday, we celebrated my daughter’s thirteenth birthday with cake, ice cream, and Chinese food. There were several birthday parties going on in the neighborhood, so instead of hosting one more, we decided to go and enjoy everyone else’s. As a parent, I realize nothing makes you feel old like seeing your children get older.

Reading: // I seem to be on a non-fiction kick. Right now, I’m currently reading 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually WorksA True Story by Dan Harris. He’s one of the hosts of Good Morning America. I like his reporting style but didn’t know if I wanted to read a celebrity memoir. I figured if Harris learned something about being happier, maybe I should read the book. So far, I’m impress. Harris is very honest about how he was a chronic worrier, even when things were going well, and how being a war correspondent is like a drug.

Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches is the author’s third self-help book. I’m about seventy pages in and I’m finding it inspiring.

A few months ago, Elizabeth of The Dirigible Plum recommended Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston. Once I finished reading her post, I bought a copy. Since then, the book has sat on my shelves unread. In Opening Minds, Johnston talks about the language adults use to help children become their best and get them out of a fixed mindset.

Planning: // a happiness project. Too often, it seems like there’s not enough time in the day. My days have started to blur together and it feels like I don’t have anything to show for it. I decided that I’ll spend October focusing on managing my time and de-cluttering my home. I plan on posting updates about my progress to help me stay focused.

So now I’m off to: // start my day. I have a house to clean, lessons to plan, and some jambalaya to cook.

What are your plans for October?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:42 a.m.

The scene: // my living room is a mess! As I sit at my desk typing this post, behind me my son has poured thousands of Lego pieces on the floor. I better remember to walk around with shoes on for the next few hours.

Reading: // Black Swan, White Raven, an anthology of fairy tale retellings collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It’s a reread for me so I’m looking for a novel that will knock my socks off. Any recommendations?

Grateful for: // a lot of things. Last week was pretty hard to get through. Now, there’s a lot of change that I need to adjust to. I’m grateful that I’m not sad or upset but looking forward to the future.

Promoting: // Deb’s Week in Books post. If you’ve been going through reading slumps or blogging malaise, this is the post you should read.

Now I’m off to: // finish my cup of coffee and start correcting math books.

What are you up to today? What’s the last book that knocked your socks off? What are you grateful for?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8: 52 a.m. Sunday morning

The scene: // sitting in the living room, listening to my kids and sisters talk. Is it me or are teenagers kind of loud? It’s already 80 degrees, set to be 97, and I’m miserable. Can fall please come already?

Listening to: // the latest album by FKA Twigs entitled “LP1.” I don’t even know what genre to call this music but I love her voice.

Promoting: // if you didn’t know, today is the first day of Aarti’s A Diverse Universe event, which goes on until the 27th of this month. You can find her link-up post here.

Reading: // for the past week or so, my reading has been going . . . surprisingly well. After being in and out of reading slumps for months, I’ve actually finished a couple of books. I want to keep the momentum going so I pulled a few books off my shelves to read this three-day weekend.

Kara Cooney’s fictional biography, The Woman Who Would Be King, started off pretty good, but I’m putting it down for now. I call the book a fictional biography because its subject, Hatsheput, lived thousands of years ago as a pharaoh in Ancient Egypt. There’s little evidence of Hatsheput’s personal life, so Cooney uses her experience as an archaeologist to fill in the blanks, which she admits to doing. Readers will find life during ancient times fascinating but Cooney’s input kept taking me out of the story.

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is book of verse about the author’s childhood. I’m only a few poems in but so far, so good. I wish I could get the cover as a poster. I would definitely put it on my walls.

I recently added Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado to my tbr list after reading the essay she wrote last year about being poor. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from the publisher. I can’t wait to start reading it.

Looking forward to: // going to the library today. The local libraries were hit hard with budget cuts about a decade ago, which left them open only five days a week. Recently, the original budget was restored, so the library is now open seven days a week. I have fond memories of going to the library on Sundays, and I can’t wait to make new memories. It’s funny how simple things can make you happy.

So: // what are you looking forward to today?

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

sunday salon

Happy Sunday! Instead of telling you what I’m up to, I decided to do something different. A Diverse Universe event is coming up and I thought I’ll write a list post for anyone who’s thinking about joining the event and don’t know what to read.

Bloggers like Aarti and Nymeth have eloquently written about why more people should read diversely. I’m not going to do it. I’ve realized that exploring works of art based on an author’s race means being open to something different. And either you are open to that or you’re not. Readers love the adventures that books can take them on, like new worlds light-years away or a dystopian version of the world they live in. Looking at race can be a different and harder thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s an ongoing process, one that means making a decision book by book. It doesn’t mean suddenly changing the way you read overall. I, myself, have been guilty of not reading many books by people of color over the years. Or, I’ll read them but don’t review them. This year has been fantastic with books by people of color dominating my reviews, but I still have work to do.

Some critics have stated that by purposely choosing to read a book written by a person of color, you’re excluding whites. Well, that’s true. When you’re in the mood to read science fiction or fantasy that means excluding all writers who don’t write in that genre. Race isn’t any different. Nor is it any different when choosing to read books that won certain awards or set in different countries or translated from other languages. I hope everyone who reads this post makes a decision to pick up a book by a person of color. Like I stated earlier, that choice is up to you.

The books on my list were all published this year. I decided to give newly released books more bookish love than those that were published in previous years. By buying, borrowing, or reviewing new releases shows the gatekeepers that books by people of color are desired by readers.

Note: Most of the links to the titles below will take you to Goodreads. Several will take you to my reviews or the reviews of other bloggers.

Looking for a short read?

diverse collage 7

I don’t read short stories often enough though I love them. The great thing about them is that you can often find amazing ones online via Tor and other online publications.

Novels

Diverse Collage 1

diverse Collage 2

 

Diverse Collage 3

 

diverse Collage 4

 

Diverse Collage 5

Nonfiction

Diverse Collage 6

 

Have you read any of these books? What newly released books would you recommend?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:14 p.m. Saturday afternoon. You guys, we have to stop meeting like this! It’s becoming a bad habit that I’m only posting on Sundays. Luckily, I have a few book read and I plan on spending some of this weekend writing reviews.

The scene: // sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the fan directly on me. It is hot outside, just a little over 80 degrees but it’s Cali. (That means I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat.) Half the kids are at a neighbor’s birthday party while the other half is munching on hot wings and macaroni and cheese. Kids.

kids books
Reading: // Nothing right now. I’m supposed to start read-alouds with the kids. With Piper it’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s a re-read for me but her first time. Oliver and I are going to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is Avram’s book. I plan on spending part of this week catching up with the kids.

Listening to: // The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan on audio. I can count that as reading. I’m trying to get the kids to try new formats and genres of reading this year. The first book of the 39 Clues series is fantastic. Every time I’ve listened to it (three or four times so far,) I’ve been glued to it.

Thankful for: // the first week of homeschooling being over. The bad: my youngest’s perfectionism reared its ugly head. The good: the kids’ microscope and slides for biology and life science are coming. One of the best things about homeschooling through a charter school is that the kids can take advantage of so many opportunities like cooking school and are able to get their hands on materials they wouldn’t have been able to in our local public schools.

Now I’m off to: // read and relax.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:32 a.m. Sunday (Insomnia is no joke.)

Listening to: // “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. What a fun song about plus-size women! Have you heard it?

Reading: // I’m still reading The Canon by Natalie Angier. I’m liking it a lot but I do notice that Angier tries to show off her science knowledge in a way that can be distracting. I’m hoping to finish it in a few days. For some reason, I’m not really in the mood to read fiction right now.

This week: // is the last week of summer before we start back homeschooling. Is it possible to cram in everything I want to do in seven days?! Oliver, my oldest son, has his 11th birthday tomorrow, which means he’s having a cakepops party and food will be all over the kitchen as the kids make their own. With his new bike, I’m sure we’ll spend most of the day outside.

Thanks to my reading mojo vanishing for much of the summer, I didn’t get to half of the books on my summer reading list (or any) but that’s okay. I can read them over the year and it’s a small stack anyway.

I need to spend the next week cramming in time at the beach, reading, lesson planning, and just relaxing. We’ll see if I can get it all done.

Promoting: Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood on audio. I keep saying that I’m going to listen to this and haven’t yet.

Buried in Print’s post on This One Summer by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. B.I.P., Candace (BethFishReads), and my daughter have all enjoyed this book. What am I waiting for?

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee and curl up with The Canon.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 7:14 am

The scene: // with the exception of the fan going, the house is pretty quiet. Almost everyone is still asleep and the air is so cool since it rained last night. I hope it continues today.

Drinking: // coffee because no one is crazy enough to want me to go without it.

July: // wasn’t the best month. I spent most of in a blah type of mood, where I didn’t get much read or done. I finished seven books, three of which were picture books and one was a graphic novel. In terms of quality, six out of the seven I would definitely recommend.

PicMonkey Collage

August: // holds a lot of promise. Hopefully. We start back homeschooling in two weeks. Until then, I’m getting lessons and materials together. The thing I really love about homeschooling through a charter school is all the materials and things the kids can do that they weren’t able to do in public school.

Looking forward to: // reading and reviewing more this month. Ruby by Cynthia Bond is a hard book to review. I’m trying to balance the summary without giving too much away. It’s a book more people should read.

I also plan on finally joining Trish’s Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge with my kids. We have lots of recipes just lying around, so I plan on making a recipe scrapbook to help us get started.

So what are you up to today? Have you read any good books?

Monday Salon. . .again

Monday Salon. . .again

Time: // I originally started writing this post around 8:30 Sunday night as I waited for my son’s x-rays to come back. He was playing soccer and miss the ball and kicked the concrete wall outside instead. Ouch!

The scene: // It’s now 6:55 am Monday morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying my coffee. With the exception of my daughter Piper’s chattering, it’s mostly quiet.

ruby
Reading: // I’m actually reading again! It’s like the world is more beautiful now! On a whim, I downloaded two graphic novels from NetGalley on Saturday and devoured both of them within hours. Now I’m reading Cynthia Bond’s Ruby. From what I’ve read about it, I’m sure it’s a devastating read. You know, the kind of read that breaks your heart with its characters’ lives and beautiful writing.

high summer rat

Promoting: // Michelle’s High Summer Read-a-thon which starts today and ends this Sunday. I’m joining the event in hopes of keeping my reading streak going. I have no idea what I’m going to read after Ruby and that’s okay. I’m going to go where my mood takes me.

Aarti is bringing back A More Diverse Universe event for the third year in a row. In the past, the event highlight speculative fiction by writers of color. This time around Aarti is expanding the event’s reach by highlighting books of all genres by writers of color. A More Diverse Universe is going on the last two weeks of September, so there’s plenty of time to sign up, help out, and figure out what to read for the event. You can find more information on Aarti’s blog.

Now I’m off to: // read.

What have you been up to lately? Read any good books?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 9:20 a.m.

The scene: // Sitting in bed as the sun shines through my window. The fan is on, my cup of coffee is on my nightstand, and I feel so good.

Reading: // a bunch of teaching books before we start back homeschooling the middle of next month. For some reason, it’s been hard for me to settle down with a book. The weather is pretty mild right now but I have almost no desire to read. I’m thinking about returning all of my library loot unread and just waiting this mood out.

Promoting: // I may not be reading too many books right now but I’ve read several interesting online articles this week. Penelope Trunk wrote a fantastic post this week called “Leaving Your Options Open Sets You Back”. Y’all, I am the queen of leaving my options open. I thought it was smart but over the past year or so, I’ve been kicking myself in the ass big time. My problem is every option looks GOOD. This is why I’ve changed majors a million times: Anthropology English Psychology Anthropology and why so many occupations sound right up my alley.

So anyway, Trunk writes about how it’s important to stop trying to multitask since it’s foolish and start taking action. She writes every day and says that the only way she can get it done is to give herself no choice in the matter.

“You might tell me that I do have a choice. When we have a choice to not do something big, we don’t do it. Each of us has a challenge to find something big that we want and then convince ourselves there is no option but action. Focused action does not include hedging our bets with something else. Because hedging your bets is like multitasking: everything degrades. And taking action toward a goal we’re committed to is like splashing cold water on your face: it’s difficult and jarring but you feel power to do anything in that moment.”

Go read the post.

Now I’m off to: // go back to bed.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 7: 28 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk as the family sleeps. With summer here, the kids are staying up late and sleeping in pretty much every morning. I’m loving it. I can enjoy my coffee in peace without anyone wanting to talk about Legos or trying to plan my day.

What’s happening: // I haven’t been in the mood to blog for ages now. It still amazes me how hard it is to try to blog again after taking so much time off. I’m going to try though one post at a time. . .

Finished reading: // The Bees by Laline Paull. The author made bees so fascinating! Now I want to read a few interviews with the author to see how this story came about. I’m so curious.

For some reason: // I always have a problem figuring out what’s going to be my next read. I think it has to do with having too many books to choose from. Has that ever happened to you? I have library books, my own tbr pile, and advance reading copies to choose from.

Hating: // the weather. Yes, I’m complaining. Can I get the cool kind of summer? You know, mostly in the mid-70s? It’s 7 a.m. and it’s already hot!

Loving: // how carefree my summer has been so far.

Now I’m off to: // relax.

What have you been up to so far this summer? Have you read The Bees? How do you choose your next read when you don’t have deadlines to think about?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:14 am – Sunday morning

Place: // the usual: at my desk with a cup of coffee.

What’s happening: // Now that my sisters’ graduation is behind us along with Avram’s birthday, I can finally relax!

Just finished reading: // the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle quartet: The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. I finished both books in the past three days. That says a lot since I rarely read young adult books. The next book comes out in October and I’m looking forward to it.

Up Next: // I have no idea. Maybe Brando Skyhorse’s Take This Man, a memoir about the author’s childhood with his mother, grandmother, and the five stepfathers he had. I read Skyhorse’s previous book, The Madonnas of Echo Park and loved it so much.

Loving: // 100 Happy Days meme. I saw a few people via Facebook participating in the meme and decided to join. I love finding a moment that captures my day.

PicMonkey Collage happydays1

Thankful for: // everything. I’m really enjoying the time I’m spending with my kids and these lazy summer days.

Not thankful for: // various neighbors. I wish they would move but I’ll move instead.

You guys should read: // Jill’s review of Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty, a children’s book. I haven’t read this yet but I’m sure I’m going to start crying once I do.

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon – Busy, busy, busy

Sunday Salon – Busy, busy, busy

Time: // 6:31 a.m. – Good morning.

Drinking: // coffee. Have you guys tried the Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut coffee? It’s heaven.

The scene: // Sitting at my desk after watching the first episode in the second season of Orange is the New Black. I don’t watch a lot of shows but I really enjoy this one. I’m trying to space the episodes out so that I can enjoy the show longer, but I already know after writing this post, I’m going to watch the next episode.

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Currently reading: // My Real Children by Jo Walton. It’s about an elderly woman who remembers living two lives – one in which she says no to marrying a boyfriend as a young woman and another life in which she says yes. Readers experience both possibilities and the consequences. I’ve read some reviews that compare it to Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life but an overwhelming majority prefers this book instead. This is my first book by the author and I’m pretty impressed.

Up Next: // The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. This book came at the perfect time last week. The kids and I were doing a unit on Ancient Egypt and learned a little about Hatshepsut. I’m so excited to read this.

Blogging: // about nothing much but I will start back with reviews this week.

Anticipating: // how busy this week is going to be. My sisters are graduating from eighth grade on Thursday, which means I need to do some last minute shopping for dresses, take them to get manicures, and do their hair. My youngest, Avram, is turning nine on Tuesday so I need to do some Lego shopping. Plus, I want to see Maleficent today with the boyfriend.

Now I’m off too: // watch Orange is the New Black before I have to start my day.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

 

Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk, waiting for the donuts to finish rising. I have about 45 minutes left before I can start frying them. Most of the kids are asleep and I’m enjoying the silence.

Listening to: // Melody Gardot’s album, My One and Only Thrill. It’s jazz and her voice is so beautiful. Take a listen:

This week: // Bout of Books was a fail. Well, not really. I did manage to finish and review, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I’ve started reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok. I’m really enjoying it and will try to finish it today.

Grateful for: // the fact that I start work tomorrow. It’s a warehouse job through a temp agency but it’s a start. I was looking for a job that I can work late afternoons or nights so I can still homeschool during the day and be around the kids. I’m glad I found one with compatible hours.

Appreciating: // my extended family. My cousin recently passed and Friday was his funeral. There was so many people there and we laughed and cried over my cousin’s antics. He was one of the most giving and friendly people you could ever meet. Going to his funeral was sad but it didn’t end that way. I was so happy to see my family and will keep in touch.

Writing down: // my summer bucket list. I saw a post on How Sweet It Is and within minutes came up with a ton of things for me and the kids to do this summer, which includes making watermelon gazpacho. Have you ever made a summer bucket list?

Now I’m off to: // fry some donuts.

What are you doing today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonAnother read-a-thon has come and gone. I didn’t try to read for the full 24 hours, so I don’t have a reading hangover. I did pretty well, as I read and finished Cress by Marissa Meyer, a chunkster, yesterday. My daughter finished two books and my son finished a comic. We ate, relaxed, and really enjoyed ourselves yesterday. I’m thankful to Ana for reminding me what the read-a-thon is all about with her post about Dewey. Thanks also go to Heather and Andi for pulling off another fantastic event.

Now that the read-a-thon is over, it’s time for me to start writing reviews. I have about five books to review including a few DNFs. I plan on spending the next few hours writing reviews, reading, and nursing my migraine.

What are you up to this Sunday?