Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review: Jerusalem Gap by T. R. Pearson

This one was recommended by my Grama. She tends to know the kinds of books I enjoy. Jerusalem Gap was an easy read about a man and an abandoned dog that he unwillingly took in. The simplistic life of the main character was what I loved. In the story, he spoke to his animals as if they were fellow humans. No high pitched squeaky voices or silly doting. It reminded me that I am drawn to those who take pleasure in the day to day of life and march to the beat of their own drum.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt

This is the first book I haven't finished in one month, but I am very close! I'm on pg. 394 out of 490. I got it at a book signing because the author is a fellow teacher AT MY SCHOOL! I'm a little bit star stuck by her now. Every time we pass in the hall I find it necessary to tell her which page I'm if she's keeping tabs. I really do love the book though! Being that its somewhat of a teen romance novel, I would never normally pick it up, but in this case, I'm so glad I did. Its been a nice escape. Also, Liz uses lots of big words that I am going to look up when I've finished the book. I'll come back and use this post as my own personal glossary and we can learn together....

antiquated- old fashioned or outdated

miscreants- One who behaves badly; often by breaking rules

mylar (balloons)- foil balloons

festoon- a decorative chain or strip hanging between two points

impasse- a predicament affording no obvious escape

bastion- a stronghold; a fortified area or position

bachata- a genre of popular song and dance of the Dominican Republic performed with guitars and percussion

faction- a party spirit especially when marked by dissension

curmudgeon- a crusty, ill-tempered and usually old man

vestiges- a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something; the smallest quantity or trace

Finally, there was a part when the two main characters were going to prom together & when they saw each other for the first time, the boy says to the girl:
"My grandaddy'd say you look prettier than a speckled pup." I think I would melt if someone said that to me! It just tugs at my heartstrings in the best way.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

When I first started this book, I'll admit it, I was a little annoyed at Melissa Hartwig's valley girl tone coming though in her writing. I think its because I was just coming off my David Spade book and that's the very thing he made fun of all the time. She introduced her book by writing, "First I want to say, like, Thank you...." It rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry. But as I read, I put those trivial thoughts aside and learned a good bit from her advice. Below are the nuggets of wisdom I've taken away from the book:

Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" Its going to feel like hard work at first. You may not even remember to switch gears until after the first bite. You will probably still find yourself automatically accepting the offer of rewarding foods out of sheer habit. This is okay. They key is not to panic, or think you've blown it and beat yourself up over it. And I certainly don't want you to think, "Oh, well" and eat your way through the rest of the pantry. You don't do that anymore. This is a new skill, and you're not going to be good at it right away.
-pg 84

"You are not good or bad based on your choices. They are simply choices. You do not cheat; you make a choice. You do not fail; you make a choice. Your choices do not define you as a person. There is no shame, guilt, or punishment, only consequences. "
- pg 96

Strategy to cope with tempting situations: Create temporal distance (Ex: I can have this in 15 min/one hour/one day)
-pg 100

"Develop routines: Choose a few situations where you feel your willpower getting shaky or times of day when a routine would help you feel self confident and in control. Then create a cue to drive you toward healthy behaviors. A common practice is coming home from work and immediately snacking, even if you are not hungry. In this case, the cue is arriving at home. So, design a new routine to follow that cue, to prevent you from ruining dinner with less-healthy foods. Your new routine could be changing into workout clothes, brew a cup of herbal tea, everyday when you get home- a soothing ritual that allows you to shift from "work mode" to "home mode"
- pg 107

"Researchers agree that your willpower "bank" (the amount of energy available in the brain to exercise self regulation and resist temptation) is a limited resource, like having $100 in your bank. Each time you exert willpower, you withdraw a dollar- or a few. 
-When the account is down to $0, know the kind of decisions you make then. The problem is that in today's world, you are constantly bombarded with temptation and the promise of reward. If you start spending your will power dollars before you are out the door, what do you think your balance will be by the time you get home from a tough day at work. 
- Improving your will power for the day starts the night before. Take as many decisions out of tomorrow as possible- especially ones involving food. Lay out your clothes the night before, prep your coffee, breakfast, and lunch; pre-pack your work bag. Try to predict ahead of time whether you'll be feeling rested enough to hit the gym , or whether you will need an extra hour of sleep. This way, your brain won't be forced to make trivial decisions early in the morning, and you will have more willpower bucks to spend later in the day. Also, get your butt to bed earlier. Sleep makes ample deposits into your willpower bank, while fatigue creates stress,  which compromises willpower."
- pg 110

"Technology has a vampiresque impact on willpower, sucking the life out of our capacity to say no to temptation. Research shows that resisting the lure of technology- the PING of an e-mail notification, the text message alert on your phone, all those shows you have lined up on NetFlix- are especially taxing to your willpower reserve. Think about how many apps you have on your smartphone, all the various methods friends can use to connect with you, and how many times you've used technology to procrastinate. The smartest move is to reduce the sheer volume of temptations that come from your Internet connected devices"
- pg 112

"Turn off notifications on your smartphone and computer. The result: No more pop up when someone hearts your instagram, no more message indicator on your e-mail icon, no more posts when someone posts a new story on Snapchat. Remove these cues and you'll cut way down on the RIGHT THIS MINUTE WHAT IF I'M MISSING SOMETHING mentality. In addition, move your most frequent ed social media apps off your home screen, so every time you make a business call or consult your calendar, you're not reminded that you haven't checked Twitter in four whole minutes."
- pg 113

One thing I learned which has helped me on the willpower front is realizing that "the buzz of a new text, email, or social media notification actually is addictive is because of dopamine. The same neurotransmitter responsible for "wanting" and "seeking" rewarding food also really loves the promise of a new notification. Your brain associates that little ping with validation (someone liked my comment!), belonging (I'm part of this social connection!) , and seeking (discovering new music, articles, and dog photos).... Given how fast social rewards pile up thanks to technology, you can get stuck in an endless loop of wanting-> reward- >wanting more->  more reward. Plus there is that ever present cue: that little chirp or notification that precipitates you picking up your phone. No wonder its hard to ignore"
-pg 113

Smart supplementation may help support everyday stress reducing practices. Stress at the cellular level drives down magnesium levels, which make it hard to relax (especially at bedtime) and harder for your body to utilize glucose as energy. You can take a patented magnesium form called Magtein, which is designed to cross the blood brain barrier more effectively, or a supplement with a powdered magnesium citrate like Natural Calm. Split your dose up throughout the day, taking some midday and the rest just before bedtime. If sleep is your biggest issue, try an all-natural supplement like Dr. Kirk Parsley's Sleep Remedy ( which contains magnesium and other micro nutrients designed to promote deep, natural sleep. 

"During your stressful time, prioritize three things that are the most important given your context (work, exercise, sleep, friends, family) and accept that the rest will be sacrificed for the greater good until you can catch your breath"
-pg 145

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Review: Almost Interesting by David Spade

Ah, this book was a welcomed change after January's book. Whew. I trudged my way through that one but there were many large, confusing words and some heavy material.

Now on to February's the introduction alone, I found myself laughing out loud multiple times. A literal, "el-oh-el." David Spade is at the top of my "funniest people in the world" list with his dry wit. He reminds me of my very dear friend, Jonathan, who passed away about 6 months ago. Reading this memoir has helped me feel a connection to Jonathan though the pages of sarcasm and witty charm.

Spade has such a way with these subtle jokes. For instance...referring to his '83 hatchback Honda Accord, as his"pimp sled." Or when he talked about finally having the chance to write a piece for SNL with Tom Hanks. He goes on to say how excited he was to have the writers list the piece as written by HANKS/SPADE in the top corner and "if I had a camera phone back then, I certainly would've snapped a sneaky pic and posted it on Instabrag."

Interesting tidbit: David's brother Andy and his friend Katy, worked in a clothing store where Andy ran the men's side and Katy ran the women's. Later they started dating and created KATE SPADE handbags and became rich and famous.

I found out where Chris Farley's "LAY OFF ME I'M STARVING" line came from. Spade says "it was inspired by the fact that Chris always ate the fries off my plate whenever we were in a restaurant together."

Spade on being high-maintenance during filming : "I'm only good for one thing and that's throwing away jokes in a movie like Tommy Boy. So, the plan was to shove some Vicodins in my pocket and a protein bar down by throat, then say some funny shit you little clown."

Describing one of my favorite scenes from Tommy Boy: "One of my script ideas was the scene when Chris and I are driving along after a long day of sales. We are both burned and tired and this really fruity song comes on the radio. I pitched the idea to Fred that the song should be one by The Carpenters (This comes from my REAL LIFE because I had The Best of the Carpenters CD in my car, and once a girl got in and turned on the radio to find that disc blaring "Rainy Days and Mondays." I played it off like, 'What is this shit?' and then acted like I didn't even know it was in there. I may have even tried to blame it on her.)"

More on behind the scenes with Tommy Boy: "Props can also help a scene. I love that exchange when Chris tells me he's wearing a clip on and I go, 'Are you sure?' Throw away jokes like that are important. They don't get huge laughs but they're nice texture and they carry the style of your humor across."

On of my favorite parts of the book is David's response when he thinks he is talking to a model on twitter. He is so excited and can barely contain himself, but he tries to play it cool. It goes like this: "The day of the event she messaged me again and asked,  'So are you definitely coming tonight?' And I was like, 'RELAX babe, don't be so thirsty. F*cking Needy Gonzalez. Take it easy, I might pop in.' I didn't really say that [but it was pretty ridiculous how excited I was about the party.]" Turns out he was being catfished and he was in reality NOT talking to a model- but his cool cat response was the best part of the story.

On marriage: "I heard a quote once that has been attributed to George Clooney but I'm not sure he said it. Supposedly when someone asked him, 'Why aren't you married? Aren't you afraid of being lonely?' He replied, 'The loneliest I've ever been was when I was married.' Its a great quote whether GC said it or not, and probably hits home with a lot of married men and women out there. I'm not totally against a trip down the aisle, but I don't think I've found a situation where I could nail it perfectly. I've dated great girls. Especially in the last few years so its more my problem. I'm not anti-marriage. I'm anti-bad-marriage."

What a great, easy read. I had a dream last night that I met David Spade and he was just as cool as I thought he would be. So sad to see this book end! It lived up to all my expectations.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: Teaching with Purpose by James D. Kirylo

My 2017 goal is to read one book per month, more if possible, but bare bones- 12 books this year. I am going to keep my notes and musings here instead of in a paper journal this time. Save some space.

This was my first book of the year,  a Christmas present from Josh. Here are my notes...

"Humility means staying close to the ground (humus), to people, to everyday life, to what is happening with all its down-to-earthnesss. It is the virtue that opens our eyes for the presence of God on earth."- Nouwen (1983)

"First, when teachers begin to embrace the concept, 'I can't save them all," they are opening the proverbial crack in the door toward pedagogical shut-down, which only adds to the intensity of the conflict, simply because this view point offers no direction, no movement toward solutions." (p. 22)

"Awareness leads to revelation, which leads to deeper examination, which leads to action, leading to change." (p.56)

"As leadership guru John C. Maxwell succinctly puts it, ultimately, "leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less." (p. 145)

"In hierarchical school systems or top-down management school organizational schemes, the connection between 'leader' and 'teacher' is not a concept that has been historically linked or necessarily even encouraged. At the state level, this type of structure generally moves spirally downward beginning with a state board of education, to a state superintendent of education, to the local school board of education, to the local superintendent, to central office coordinators, to local school principals, and finally to teachers at the school.
     In this paradigm, while teachers may be tacitly acknowledged as leaders within their classroom practice, their authority and influence outside the classroom when it comes to policy- state, system, and school-wide decisions, have been shortchanged, perpetuating a system that maintains the subordinate or dependent nature of the role of the teacher. 
    This kind of system troublingly cultivates an, 'I am JUST a teacher,' attitude among many teachers themselves, and disturbingly fosters a patronizing, 'You are JUST a teacher,' (ie: know your place) unsaid viewpoint... which disempowers teachers from being involved, speaking out, or challenging questionable policy decisions." (p. 146)

"Moreover, in such hierarchical systems, if individual teachers desire to 'move up' into a leadership position, they must move out of the classroom. The implication of such language as 'moving up' or actions that necessitate one to move out of the classroom to assume a leadership position suggests that teachers are, in fact, down and must understand their place as underlings." (p. 147)

"Teaching is a flat profession. In most professions, as the practitioner gains experience, he or she has the opportunity to exercise greater responsibility and assume more significant challenges. This is not true of teaching. The 20 year veteran's responsibilities are essentially the same as those of the newly licensed novice. In many settings, the only way for a teacher to extend his or her influence is to become and administrator. Many teachers recognize that this is not the right avenue for them. The job of an administrator entails work that does not interest them, but they still have to urge to exercise wider influence in their schools and in the profession." -Danielson (p. 147)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ET Phone Home

Due to Hurricane Matthew, I lost power along with the rest of Savannah. Thankfully mine is now back on now, but in the mean time Josh had to unhook the lock on the garage so that we could manually open and close it.

This afternoon as I was attempting to manually shut the door from the outside, without thinking I pulled down in between a slat rather than using the handle. Next thing I knew, my right middle finger and ring finger quickly became pancakes in the door as it straightened out to close. I screamed, assessed the damage, and immediately became somewhat delirious.

My neighbor Sarah was walking over as all this happened and I knew that I needed to get inside quickly to lie down before my knees buckled. Apparently I turned bitch-mode and yelled at josh to open the door so I could lie down and for him to go talk to Sarah. I remember being on the couch asking Sarah why my ears were ringing so loud. She calmly said, "well that's because you're just had some trauma." Josh was saying ice would be a good thing, so he went to the kitchen. There is a vague memory of him saying " we don't have ice yet.....were are the ziplock bags?" I guess Sarah went to help him because she commented that he should know where things are around the house. I was trying to help so I got up to point them in the right direction and next thing I know, Josh was kneeling over me, panicked, yelling....Caroline! Caroline? You just passed out!"

Immediately after I "came to" I asked, " What? What are you doing?" I was not understanding why he was yelling at me. Sarah instructed him to put my feet in the air and then she ran to her house for gatorade and ice. When she returned, she told me to drink up because my face was pale and my lips were gray. I think Josh's face looked about the same and he told me..." I've never seen anyone pass out before!"

Thank goodness he turned around saw me wobbling & was there to ease me down, because I was super close to collapsing right into the corner of the dining room table....or maybe through the glass door.

Now that we can laugh about it he has not been shy about reenacting my fainting spell. He said when he first turned around and saw me, he and Sarah both said, "What are you doing??" because I was wobbling around "like a drunk, homeless man," in Josh's most eloquent words. Then when he saw my face he let Sarah know that, " something's not right!..." and ran to catch me.

What a day. Now Sarah is going to come over and help me bandage up my finger before bedtime and I will probably go get it checked out tomorrow. For now, I look like ET Phone Home!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tribute to The Saucemkr

All the problems at school today seemed so small when I heard the news that you aren't here anymore. It feels really weird knowing that I can't send you a stupid Facebook message anytime I want and that we won't be having any more battles of the wit. That was my number one favorite thing about you....your wittiness. I couldn't help but laugh with you. We could always pick up right where we left off...always.  Things that I will always remember about you:

-When we were introduced at Hesse many years ago, you said your name was "Jonathan 'no habla espanol'"
-Japanese food
-reading the book "Tweak" out loud together
-WTF is Juice? (Kat Williams)
-Your love for Chac & Bowdy, the baddogs
-Your tender heart
-the "okay"hand sign
-amber alert
- Lady Gaga "Pokerface" was your ring tone
-Going to Midtown Deli with you
 -the sweet relationship you have always had with your mom
- Sskkk ssskkkk ssskkk,
-Taking Bowdy to puppy training at PetSmart
-"wp" "twss" "irl""nbd" "fml"
-your laugh
-me dog sitting while you went on one of your poker trips and Bowden drinking too much water, too fast, and throwing up an unimaginable amount all over your couch & there was nothing to clean it up with, except some dirty clothes I think.
-Role Models
- eating real Lebanese food at your dad's house
- riding around in your truck listening to Travis Porter ("girl I like yo' jeans")
- sending me pictures of your new haircuts/sunglasses/etc that you were so proud of

I met you at Hesse, and tomorrow I will go back there with you on my mind. I know I will think of one million more memories as soon as I end this, but I can tell you that this week I will be listening to all the rap CD's you made me, drinking out of the cat mug you got me one Christmas that says "Catnip for Me," & displaying my crazy-leg crab at school. I can't wait to see you again on the other side. I know you're there. I wish you could tell me how wonderful it is there...