Aug 31, 2012

What the Toddler Found

I could start a recurring series on the blog called "What the Toddler Found"


"oooh pretty..."
"It's okay Mom.  Go back to your computer.  I got this. 
Oh yeah, and I just decorated the calendar."
"You're busy, Mom.  I'll just finish these PTA forms for you."


"What's that clicking noise?"

And my personal favorite...

"Mmmm....this chocolate paper is delicious!  Mom, you have to try this."

That last one is my favorite.  I have to clarify that he did that after I paid for the groceries.  I literally had to hand that chomped candy bar to cashier and go, "I guess we're getting this too."

Oh never a dull moment with this one.  He's not at all mischievous or naughty.  I genuinely believe that he thinks of himself as a big kid who can do what everyone else does.  Except for the Rolo bar incident.  I think he was just hungry then.

I promise to keep my phone ready and waiting for the next round of what the toddler found.

Linking up with Jellibean Journals for Monday Moms Musings :)
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Aug 30, 2012

Let's Talk about Books...


Okay, I fudged up the book chat this week.   I looked up Banned Books week and saw the 30th and wrote it in my calendar for August 30th...oops it's September 30th.  Clearly, I have to move it until next month.  And clearly, that is an excuse.

The truth is, I am and always have been fascinated by banned books and the idea that books CAN be banned.  I want it to be a good post, because I feel passionately about it.  This week the well was dry on this topic so it's actually a blessing in disguise.  So mark your calendars!  October 4th.  We'll be discussing censorships and banned books. I hope you join in if you have thoughts on the topic.
For more information, how you can get involved or to see the list of Frequently Challenged Books: click here.
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Well, this doesn't mean I have to skip the book chat entirely.  In fact, it would be kinda nice to just talk about books without being stuck on a certain topic.

So imagine we're having coffee and the topic of current reads comes up.  This is what I would say...

I was in a serious reading FUNK this summer!  This is nothing out of the ordinary for me (or anyone probably).  I go through phases when I read nonstop, and everything I read is fantastic, and it's usually a very bright, happy, creative time for me.

And then sometimes, I choose to play Sudoku on my phone before bed instead of read.  I was disappointed in myself, but I also had to forgive myself because we all need breaks.  No big deal.

First I read Still Life with Woodpecker.  This book was so strange!  At first I hated it and didn't get it, but I knew that the people who like this book LOVE this book (hi Caitlin), so I opened my mind to it, and by the end, I felt very close to it and really loved it.


I think because that book was so out of my element, that it left me feeling weird after I read it.  You know it can be hard to switch gears from one book to another.

So I started Code Name Verity.  It just wasn't going down smoothly.  You know the feeling when you feel like your trudging through every page hopelessly.  I really blame Tom Robbins for having to abandon this book less than halfway through.   It had potential, so maybe I'll return to it another time.


Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm about to admit this, but I started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and...I didn't finish it.  I'm sorry, I actually feel terrible about this one.  I'm not going to give up on it.  I don't think it was bad by any means.  Here's my theory as to why I couldn't get into it...1. I already saw the movie.  I cannot read books after I see the movie or show.  It's just redundant, and I cant use my imagination.  2. It was juvenile.  Not meant to be an insult, it just is.  It's the youngest book, so as an adult, it was hard to get emotionally invested.  3. I was in a reading funk!  I promise to give it another try.  I promise.


I knew only one author could save me from this abyss of book boredom.  So I read Looking For Alaska.  And I really liked it.  Naturally.  It's John Green.  He could write the weather forecast and it would be brilliant.  I won't say I was disappointed in this book, but I definitely thought The Fault in our Stars was better.  Which makes sense.  LFA was his first book, so I went backwards.  Nevertheless, it was still brilliant and I think every teenager person should read it.


I was slowly surfacing from said abyss, but still scarecly reading, not passionately like I used to.  I decided to give mindless entertainment a try, so I chose Envy, a lesser-known Ward novel.


I sped through the second half of the book in two days.  Finally I was my old self again.  It feels great to be back.

As for the book, it was great in traditional Ward style.  Once you've read so many of her books, you know what to expect.

So now, I'm reading Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Honestly guys, I don't know.  I like it, but it's disturbing sometimes and I just don't think I was prepared for what it's really about.  I feel responsible for Charlie and I want to help him and it's making me feel helpless, so if that was intentional, the author is probably a genius.  I'll try to write a better review when I finish it and can process it properly.


After Perks, I intend to finally read Ender's Game, The Kill Order (the prequel to The Maze Runner) and Rapture (yes, another Ward novel).  Plus, I received a couple books for review so I'm pretty excited about that too.

I rambled on and on, didn't I?  If you stuck with all of that, I'm impressed.  I guess I could have touched on some interesting topics in literature right now like:

Is this talk of a Shades of Grey movie legit? Please say no.

And did you know Anne Rice wrote racy novels about Sleeping Beauty under a pseudonym that are being re-released (because of Shades of Grey probably)?

And Stephen Chbosky is directing his own novel-to-film adaptation?  Love that!

And the most popular baby names list came out and Isabella is #1 for the 3rd year...Twilight to blame?  At least it's not Reneesme, amiright?

I think that's all for now.

So here's the deal: If you blogged anything about books this week, feel free to link it up here.  Reviews, lists, favorites, thoughts, anything.  It doesn't have to be from today, either.  I just want to read some book-related posts. 

As for next week: Literary Names
When we researched our kids' names, we looked at influences from things like music and literature.  Literature names are a hit.  So, lets talk about names.  If you could give your child a literary name (or already have), what would it be?  Or do you just have some favorite names from literature you want to share?  Make a top 10 literary names if you wish. :)



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Aug 28, 2012

Tunesday: Reinvented Songs


With shows like Glee, American Idol and musicals composed of pre-recorded music (aka Mama Mia), people seem to be going nuts lately for re-invented songs.  I'm shamelessly one of those people.  I don't watch Glee because I felt like it lost its heart seasons ago and just started redoing pop songs, but I was a fan of their earlier renditions.  And I noticed at Bonnaroo that nearly every set I saw had a cover of some sort.  It was a great way for newcomers to show their chops and pay respect to their roots.  It was a great way to get the crowd riled up too.  The people on stage and in the crowd get to be fans together to a song we all love.

But I've always loved covers.

I love hearing a song stripped down to it's bones and rebuilt with a different artists vision.  When done right, I don't think it's an offense to the original, but an homage.

So here are some of my favorite covers:

These are always exciting.  Hearing a heavy song slowed down by crooner or a classic rock anthem redone by an indie vocalist.  

The Scientist  
Originally by Coldplay
Covered by Willie Nelson
I saw this brilliant Chipotle commercial on someone's blog.  I love everything about it, but it was Willie's cover of The Scientist that really stuck with me.

Across the Universe 
Originally by The Beatles
Covered by Fiona Apple
With chops like hers and a song like this, what's not to love?


I think these covers show how brilliant these three songs are.  Don't fight me on this one: these are three of the best songs ever written.

Hallelujah - Written by Leonard Cohen - covered by Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, Elisa (my favorite), and many more.
This song, sung by anyone, is brilliant.  Sung by Elisa and my heart splits in two.

Wild Horses - originally by The Rolling Stones - covered by The Sundays, Elisa (again my favorite) and many more.
This may sound incredibly morbid, but I have always thought this song should be played at my funeral, and for the record, I would prefer the version sung by Elisa.  Write it down.

Creep - Originally by Radiohead - Popular done live - My favorite is Brandi Carlile and this little gem: we call it an eargasm.


For the record, the most covered songs are Yesterday, Imagine and Eleanor Rigby.  Who knew.



I hate to say it, but there are just some covers out there that I prefer over the original.  

To Make You Feel My Love - originally by Garth Brooks - covered by Adele
Maybe it's just that good of a song, or she's just that talented, but I prefer to put on Adele over Garth any day.  Her version drives me to tears every time.  His is just good.

Hallelujah (different one) - originally by Paramore - covered by Vitamin String Quartet
What? You haven't heard of Vitamin String Quartet, yet?  Well, they are this brilliant string quartet (duh) that redoes popular songs and throws out albums of them.  They are brilliant.  This song though is pretty incredible because it takes a mediocre song (sorry Paramore!) and makes it epic.

Knockin on Heavens Door - written by Bob Dylan - covered by Guns N' Roses
Look,  no disrespect.  I think Bob Dylan is a legend too.  But seriously, there wasn't a day in the 90's that this hit wasn't blaring through someone's Walkman.  I'm sure there are a few of you out there reading who didn't even know anyone other than Axl sang it.


Just some of my favorites that need to be mentioned.

Skinny Love - Originally by Bon Iver - covered by Birdy
I bet you're surprised that I love this cover because I'm so devoted to Bon Iver, but I really, really love this cover.  Not more than the original, of course, but I think everything Birdy does is fantastic.  She has a whole album where she covers The Postal Service, The National, Fleet Foxes and I give her props because they are all exquisite.  Her voice is bold and smooth.  Watch out for this one.

The Suburbs - originally by Arcade Fire - covered by Mr. Little Jeans
Okay I admit, I have not heard anything else by this group, but they did right by Arcade Fire with this single.  This is a great song, but it reaches it's full potential, I think, when slowed down and given a chillier sound, as Mr. Little Jeans did.

The Boxer - originally by Simon & Garfunkel - covered by Jerry Douglas with Mumford & Sons and Paul Simon
I saved the best for last.  I may have shrieked out loud in the car when I first heard this cover.  The Boxer has always been my favorite S&G song.  Throw some Mums on it and I'm in heaven.
I love the top comment on this song on YouTube: "Just close your eyes. Breathe it all in. What a beautiful world we live in, guys."
Couldn't have said it better myself.


What are your favorite covers? Are there any good ones I missed?
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Aug 27, 2012

Taking yourself seriously

Blogging has made me take myself more seriously.
Not just in my writing and career goals, but in life in general.  It has bettered my life in so many ways, and I don't know if I'm an established enough blogger to be dishing out blogging tips, but I want to share some of what helped me feel this way with you.



1. Stop thinking other blogs are better than yours.  Most of us have those blogs we read that we feel are in a completely different league than our own.  Their photos are perfect, their house is clean, their kids are photogenic angels, their writing is exquisitely snarky, their Goodwill junk looks like vintage treasure.  It can be disconcerting.  But you have two choices.  You can let it hinder you or you can let it motivate you.  Stop beating yourself up and say "I can do this" and then go do it.  Research photography tips. Spend more time planning your posts and prepping your photos.  Put forth the time or money for a flawless blog design.  Take a class or attend a conference.  Those bloggers don't have anything you don't have or can't acquire.

2. Be a blogger "in real life".
I admit I rarely ever shared my blog posts on my personal Facebook.  I had a fear that my husband's coworkers would laugh at it or my neighbors wouldn't get it.  I hid my blog from my real life.  For most of us, our blog is somewhere for us be expressive, sometimes more expressive than we are IRL (in real life).  Exposing our blog to IRL people is like walking into a party completely naked.  We feel singled out, weird, misunderstood.
To be a serious blogger, you have to own it.  Strut your naked butt through that party and be proud of it!  Emit confidence.  Ditch the doubt.  Talk about your blog with people.  At the dinner table talk about the post your working on.  Share helpful posts with your friends.  Start calling yourself a writer/blogger when strangers ask what you do.

3. Plan your posts ahead.
I can't tell you the last time I hit the Publish button to actually Publish it right at that moment.  Okay, sometimes I do.  But most of my posts are scheduled.  I spend time perfecting each post, treating it more like a paper I would hand in to a professor or an article I would send to my publisher.  I used to be a "seat of my pants" poster, but then I found it too easy to go days without anything at all.  Now I give myself deadlines and hold myself accountable for each days post.  I feel more professional this way.

4. Designate Blogging Space/Time
If you don't have a desk or room to yourself, designate a spot or space at the table that you always blog at.  Get a binder, calendar and box that you can collect all of the accoutrements needed to blog the way you do.  I have my own happy space that makes me feel more like me every time I return to it and it creates the perfect writing & creating environment.



Blogging for me started out as a hobby.  Then, once I realized how fulfilled it made me feel, I knew I wanted to take it more seriously.  I have begun treating this like a job, but also like training, because that's what it is.   Because of blogging, I have career goals, and I work hard now to market myself and my writing.   Taking yourself seriously is the first step to others taking you seriously.

So maybe one day I will get an awesome sponsorship or get the writing gig of my dreams.  Maybe I won't.  The point is that I am a lot closer to those goals than I was two years ago when I wasn't even trying.

If you feel the same, I hope these tips help.
What about you?  Do you feel like a serious blogger?  What helps you?

Aug 24, 2012

Living Room Redo - Inspiration

This week I have been consumed with redecorating the living room.  Jeremy and I keep saying that the living room is looking so BLEH.  I'm tired of complaining about it so I told him, I'm taking $500 out of savings and we're going to re-do it now.  The first thing I did was hit Pinterest (naturally).  I wanted to have direction and ideas before I just started shopping.
We can't paint the walls or change anything structurally, but I think we can still make a difference.

So here is my inspiration.







1. This is my main inspiration for the room.  I love the old books, the colors, the plant, everything. 
//source//
2. Have you discovered Design Seeds yet?  It's addicting.  If you're doing anything with color (i.e. decor, fashion, blog design) use this site.  It's my fave.
3. I wouldn't use white (as shown) but I think a natural wood mantle with random pieces of art would be awesome above the couch.
4. I'm seeing the ottoman/coffee table/breakfast tray combo everywhere.  Plus the floor to ceiling curtains is happening too.
5. An old globe.  How smart are we going to look.
I will blog more about the living room redo process.  It's taking more time and money that I had planned, but it feels so good to get a fresh look in there.  


I'm linking up with From my Grey Desk for her High Five for Friday.  I love the idea for this link-up.  It's simple but still lets you inside my world a bit.  It's basically to share your {five} favorite things from the week.  You should join too!



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Aug 22, 2012

printed books v. e-readers {the.book.chat}


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I have to admit, I was one of those people (years ago) who swore I would never use an eReader.  I vowed that I would only read printed books for a bunch of reasons that I can't really remember now.  I was just being stubborn.  eReaders became trendy very fast.  One day everyone and their grandma was reading a Kindle.

It seemed like a very non-bookworm thing to do.  I was proud to be a bibliophile and reading a book on a device felt sacrilegious. I remember thinking that if I bought an eReader, I would never be able to buy an actual book.  How could I stop going to Barnes & Noble or the library?  I couldn't.  However, after a fellow book nerd showed me how handy it was and how she was actually reading more because of it, I decided to give in.  I convinced myself it was mostly for school use, which we all know was an excuse.  My dad bought me a Kindle for Christmas a few years back and it has become one of my most prized possessions.

Now that I have had my Kindle for a couple years, I know how I feel about it now so I have devised a list of pros for each.  In case you're the last living human who hasn't read on an eReader, may this list be your guide.


So you know, I have the classic Kindle.  It has that digital paper appearance, a keyboard and no apps or fancy backlight.  I don't get a nasty glare in the sunlight, and I only have to charge it once every 3 or 4 books.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants an eReader for strictly reading.



So basically, I read both.  I go back and forth.  If it's price I'm worried about, I buy thrift store books or go to the library.  Kindle books are not always cheap.  You can sometimes find good deals on Amazon and of course, the old classics are free (as long as the author has been deceased for 100 years or more).  I have to say there is nothing better than being able to get a sequel immediately after finishing the first book.

My nightmare is that in 200 years kids are going to ask their parents, "so they used to print the whole book on paper and made a million copies for everyone?"  Because yeah, to those little future kids, it sounds more economical and eco-friendly to switch over to eReaders, but you know what kids, you'll be missing out.  You'll never know the feeling of hugging that big warm book to your chest, or the excitement that comes with a heavy bag of new books, or the delicious smell of a library.  I don't trust that the love of reading will be carried through time without the love of books to go with it.

So while I do enjoy reading my Kindle, I will never stop stacking those printed pages on my shelves.

What are your thoughts?

If you want to join, please link up below.
- Simply write a post pertaining to this week's topic (eReaders v. Printed books).  Stretch the topic all    you want.
- Please link back up to this page. (or use the button at the top)
- This link up will be open all week.
- Open to ANYONE!




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Aug 21, 2012

Tunesday: CD's I would burn for you.

I should be writing more reviews.  I'm not getting around to it, and I'm sorry.  And I can't just NOT write about music, so I think I will be devoting Tuesday to music from now on.  Why Tuesday?  Because you add an N and it becomes Tunesday.  I'm clearly a genius.



So this week, I have compiled a list of albums that I would burn for you if A. we were friends in real life and B. people still owned CD's.  ((they're still making them, yes?))



I purchased this album on Amazon through one of their killer MP3 deals (Currently $5. Worth every  penny).  I bought it without ever hearing a song.  Two seconds into the sample, I hit Buy Now.  This choice has paid off.  I am hopelessly addicted.  The folk-rock wave sweeping the nation has me fist bumping hippies with excitement.
My favorite song: Stubborn Love
Similar bands: The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men



My friend, Melissa of Press Play, sent me this album through our little Dropbox album exchange.  Usually new albums take some getting used to for me.  I have to get into the mood to like a new sound. Bombay Bicycle Club must infuse their music with some sort of ecstacy-like sound drug that makes their listeners fall instantly in love with them (otherwise known as "talent").  This is an easy album to love.  It's just an easy album to listen to.  I put it on while I'm doing my hair, making breakfast, doing the dishes.  It's just nice to have around.
My favorite song: Beggars
Similar Bands: Two Door Cinema Club, Fleet Foxes


I originally thought I was not hip enough to like Japandroids.  With a name like that, surely you have to still be in college or work at an Apple store to appreciate these guys, but I cannot help that I secretly rock out to this "garage rock" band whilst toting my children to playdates and PTA meetings.   They have great energy, and their sound and lyrics have meaning, heart and maturity.  I can't help it.  I love them.  Hipster rock street cred: 1 point.  Oh yeah, I still got it.
My favorite song: Fire's Highway
Similar bands: Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady


I fell in love with Anna Sun earlier this year.  When the album came out, I expected to love the heck out it.  I do love it, but I still feel like Anna Sun is the best song on the album.  This is a fun album.  Roadtrip music.  The kind of stuff that plays during an impromptu beach volleyball game with all of your closest friends.  I don't make it to many beach volleyball games, so I listen to it while I clean, and it has a similar effect.
My favorite song: Anna Sun
Similar bands: Young the Giant, Maroon 5

Well, these are just a few of the new albums I have purchased lately that I would make my closest friends listen to.  Long gone are the days of mixed tapes and burned CD's, but that doesn't mean we can't still share our favorite sounds with our friends.  You can now open up a Dropbox folder and send your favorite album across cyber space to your best bud ten states away.   It's only a matter of time before you can scan barcodes with your eyeballs and listen to music directly in your brain.  Ain't technology grand?
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Aug 20, 2012

The Vaccination Incident


A year ago yesterday, there was an incident that occurred in our family that I have not shared with anyone online yet.  The only reason I share it at all is not to make a statement in a very controversial issue, but to share the lesson that I learned.  The truth is that I became a different mother on that day.

The story of the incident...
Jude was exactly one year and eight days old, and like any good mother, I took him to the doctor to assure us all that he was a healthy little boy.  The appointment went as routinely as it could. I reveled in that motherly pride over my child's growth and accomplishments.  I was happy inside when I was assured that he was in as good condition as possible.  
Before leaving the office, we had to face the infamous immunizations.  My happy feeling was gone, because even though I believe that vaccination is important and beneficial, I still feel the anxiety of the unknown.  However, I agreed to abide by what was preferred by my doctor and the AAP.  So when the nurse walked in and told me that he would be receiving five shots, I ignored that voice inside me that said five is too many.  I ignored my own instinct, and listened to what someone else believed was necessary for my child.  I died a little bit inside as I watched those five syringes being emptied into my screaming son.  I reassured myself over and over that everything would be fine, and I told that voice to be quiet.
We left that appointment and Jude's good mood failed to return.  This is nothing out of the ordinary after receiving shots, so I took him home, cuddled him like crazy and laid him down for his nearly four hour nap, checking on him obsessively the entire time.  When he finally woke up that evening, he still wasn't himself.  He was lethargic, clingy and burning up.  Jeremy and Jonathan ran out to pick up some pizza for dinner and while they were gone, I gave Jude some Tylenol, laid him down next to me on the couch and pulled out the doctors information to call and see if my concern was appropriate.  

Somehow, I knew something was wrong before I knew what was happening.  Something inside me knew it all along.  I knew he was having a seizure before I saw his arms seize up, before his lips turned blue and before he fell over, his body stiff and his eyes focused on the nothing above his head.  To see your sweet baby in this state is sickening.  I immediately snatched him up into my arms, I cried out his name, I kissed his head.  He would not look at me or respond to my calls.  Meanwhile, I dialed 9-1-1 with my free hand.  I screamed in panic at the operator to please help me.  Within 10 minutes, there was an ambulance in front of my house and Jude was sleeping peacefully in my arms.  
At the time, my knowledge of seizures was practically nonexistent.  I remember thinking at that moment that he could end up with brain damage. I remember being taught to keep him upright. I remember thinking that if I held him tight enough and willed him to be okay, I could somehow heal him of whatever was happening to him.  I remember watching him turn blue and thinking that he could die.  
But he did not suffer brain damage, and he is perfectly healthy and happy today.  He and I were escorted to the hospital just moments after Jeremy and Jonathan returned in a panic because they had passed the ambulance on the road and just knew it was headed to our house.  Jude was giggling and happy within a few hours at the hospital after his fever finally broke.  We were released that night and returned home to an un-eaten, cold pizza.

Apparently what happened to Jude was not uncommon or even alarming.  Apparently, seizures are a common reaction caused by a spiking fever.  The fever was brought on by the shots.  There are no long term effects and does not mean Jude suffers from a seizure disorder. I don't blame the doctors for what happened, but I do blame them for not preparing me appropriately.  I blame them for never asking my opinion on the matter.  I blame them for making my feelings seem invalid.  I don't care how common or harmless these seizures are; it was devastating to me.


Everything turned out okay, and I am extremely thankful for that.
But I became a different mom that day.


When we become parents, we are ingrained with an amazing ability that helps us to avoid disaster and protect our child.  It's called instinct.  If you have a bad feeling about something, you have that bad feeling for a reason.  Speak up for your child.  I didn't, and I blame myself for being too nervous or shy to tell the doctor that I was uncomfortable with five shots.

Will I give Jude vaccinations again?  Absolutely.  Never again will he get more than one at a time, but I do believe that they are a necessary precaution to keep children healthy.  Still, I won't get involved in the vaccination debate.  I will never tell someone that their concerns are invalid or tell them that they are wrong.  We are all concerned with our children's welfare, and this issue is really a double-edged sword.  There are rights and wrongs on both sides.  My experience has taught me that I cannot let someone else make decisions for me and my children.  It's their job to give shots; it's my job to educate myself and do what's best for my family.  So, I can't tell you that vaccinations are terrible or great.  I can't tell you to avoid them or get them.  What I can tell you is: you have a choice, and instinct is useless if you don't listen to it.  



Aug 15, 2012

the.book.chat. {school reading} My attempt at humor.

About the book chat...
I'm sure you've noticed the book chat has grown quiet lately, in terms of participation.  So I figured I should say something as to prevent you from feeling bad about it or worrying about the future of TBC.

I guess all I want to say is...The Book Chat is not going anywhere.  Even if I'm the only one doing it, every Thursday I will be here talking about books.  I hope you can join me.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way...



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I'm afraid if I rattle off all of the books I read in school, I will bore you as much as they bored me.  So, I'll do something a little different.

A little bookworm humor.  Or at least my stab at humor.

Books you will never see assigned in school...


Astronomy


Math



Home Ec.


Political Science


Criminal Justice


Human Anatomy


Geography


Journalism


Business


Women's Studies


Physical Education


**chuckle**
Okay you got a glimpse of my cheesy sense of humor.  Sorry to put you through that.

If you want to join, please link up below.
- Simply write a post pertaining to this week's topic (school assigned reading).  You can share your favorites/least favorites.  Books you think should/shouldn't be assigned.  Your post doesn't have to be as silly as mine.  Stretch the topic all you want.
- Please link back up to this page. (or use the button at the top)
- This link up will be open all week.
- Open to ANYONE!

If anyone is interested in co-hosting the book chat with me, let me know.  I'd love to spread this nerd fest as much as possible. :)





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