Thursday, December 14

Books I Wish I'd Read Sooner: Revolution by Jennifer Donnely

Every now and then (maybe more often than not) I totally miss the boat on a stellar YA book, and when I finally discover it for myself I wish I'd read it sooner. In the case of Revolution by Jennifer Donnely, I'm tempted to blame the blurbs I'd read, which, combined with something about the cover art on our school library's copy, really gave me the wrong impression of this book - I was thinking that time travel would be a major piece of the plot. It's not that I don't like time travel, but I had an Outlander hangover at the time. Spoiler alert: there might not be any actual time travel involved. I'm so glad I gave Revolution a chance, because it's now one of my all-time favorites.

Not only did I overcome my wrong impression about the structure of the book, I was also almost turned off by its opening scene - our narrator, Andi, is doing drugs with a bunch of pretentious rich kids with ridiculous names who she doesn't even like. If I know I probably couldn't keep a book in an eighth-grade classroom library, I'm a lot less likely to stick with it. But I did, and thankfully Andi left that uncomfortable world fairly quickly - for a combination of reasons I won't spoil, her father forces her to accompany him on a work trip to France (poor kid, right?).  I ended up connecting with Andi for a lot of reasons - I could, after all, write my own book about an artistic high achiever who deals with depression and almost self-destructs after losing a family member in December. Andi's grief over her younger brother's death is keeping her from moving forward, and her father is hoping the trip to France will help her clear her mind and finish the work required to earn her high school diploma.

"Every heart is made of stories." 
- Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution

Andi's father, a genius genetic scientist, and his colleague, a historian, are studying the preserved heart said to belong to Marie Antoinette's son, Louis XVII, who was imprisoned in a tower following the French Revolution. Andi finds a diary written by a girl her age during the Revolution and most of the novel's historical fiction element comes through the diary entries she reads. Everything I know about the Revolution comes from Les Miserables, so I learned a lot from the rich historical detail Donnelly includes in the story.  I loved the French setting, my heart ached for Andi's Revolutionary counterpart, Alex, and I was rooting for Andi and her sweet new friend Virgil. Donnelly's teen characters speak with a Gilmore Girls level of clever and sarcasm, and when the story does break away from dialogue, her prose, in Andi's descriptions of modern-day Paris and Alex's passionate diary entries, is lyrical and lovely

Wednesday, December 13

currently... [december 2017]

Two of my favorite bloggers, Anne from In Residence and Jamie from Perpetual Page-Turner (who became a mom while I was on hiatus! Congratulations Jamie!), have features on their blogs with what they're currently up to, so this month I decided to join in now that I'm back to blogging. 

lighting: an Advent candle every Sunday. One candle, because I went super minimalist this year/never got around to buying additional candles or making a wreath. I ended up popping a pillar candle into an empty glass jar, adding some Epsom salt and glitter "snow," and calling it good - it's the prayer and spiritual preparation for Christmas that count. Ann Voskamp and Tsh Oxenreider have some great Advent resources on their sites if you're interested in starting this spiritual practice but not sure where to begin.

spending: my mornings wondering if I'm going to be sick and late for work or if I'll make it there on time. Thanks, Baby Q. My nausea and morning sickness are definitely less terrible now that I'm in my second trimester, but every now and then the floor tiles start swimming, or I'll start gagging for no apparent reason, and apparently my heartburn is never going away #hairybaby

choosing: Dirty Santa gifts for upcoming celebrations with my Bible study and co-workers. I don't know why a simple party game that's meant to be playful and funny causes me so much anxiety, but I never know what to buy! I don't really want my contribution to be THE gift everyone fights over, but I certainly don't want it to be the one no one wants.

sending: what feels like a million Christmas cards. We did a photo card for the first time ever with one of the pictures from our pregnancy shoot, and I may have gone overboard on the order. I saved money with a coupon from Motherhood Maternity, but as someone who usually just grabs two boxes of cards from the store, there was definite sticker shock.

singing: Hanson and NSYNC Christmas songs - those were the first two holiday albums I ever purchased and they're still the first ones I play every year!

reading: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines - not super into it so far. I feel like I'm reading a boring e-mail exchange between a married couple.

eating: cookies Mr. Q made with the leftover Halloween Kit-Kats and Reese's we still had in the kitchen. 

wearing: a LuLaRoe Carly dress on a regular basis - it's so perfect for pregnancy, but I still look like I put some effort into my outfit for work. 

watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine - I started streaming it on Hulu and watch a few episodes a week. Why has it taken me so long to catch on to how great this show is? Also, I think I am Amy Santiago.

waiting on my DVR: several episodes of Saturday Night Live - I haven't been able to stay up very late recently. I think the last SNL I watched was Gal Gadot if that tells you anything.

texting: my sister-in-law and her girlfriend about family Christmas plans.

on my library holds list: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon - I tried to read it once before and failed, but I really miss the characters so I'm going to give it another try.

on my book to-buy list: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones for the Creating & Co. virtual book club - have any of you read it? Is it worth paying for?

waiting to be released: Maggie Stiefvater's Dreamer trilogy (the follow-up to the Raven Cycle with Ronan as the main character).

looking forward to: winter break, even though ours is very short this year (our last day of school is December 22nd, and we go back January 2nd).

craving: Cheez Doodles, Doritos, nachos, Amy's macaroni and cheese, etc. - for reasons I will probably never know, powdered/fake cheese seems to be my number one pregnancy craving. Is there some mineral in "cheese product" that my diet is missing?

griping about: our standardized testing schedule. As if testing in and of itself weren't bad enough, we never seem to be very organized ahead of time, and there are two days when I'm going to end up basically babysitting the students who aren't testing. I have put together an awesome activity for the first day, but for the second I am super tempted to pop in a movie.

need to do: finish my Christmas shopping, especially for Mr. Q (does anyone else find that husbands are incredibly difficult to shop for? Why is that man so self-sufficient?)

Sunday, December 10

Monday, December 4

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • I'm currently obsessed with this Apple commercial - the combination of lyrical dance choreography, that romantic Sam Smith song, and the falling snow is pure magic.




Sunday, December 3

I'm BACK! With news!

Well, hi there. Again.

I didn't intend to take a 5-month hiatus from blogging, but it's time to come back, because I miss engaging with friends from all over the place about what we're reading, what concerts we're going to, and more importantly, how we deal with real life when it smacks us in the face and how we celebrate when wonderful things come our way.

What happened in July? I traveled to St. Louis for a week-long training for my new position at work as a school director and instructional coach, and from then on I haven't had a slow day. I had to focus all of my mental energy and most of my physical energy on the day-to-day work of building a culture, helping teachers orient students to a new style of learning, mastering the ins and outs of a new online learning management system - basically, putting on my big girl pants and becoming the school reformer I've dreamed of being. During that work, blogging seemed frivolous. Had I ever added anything to the world by blogging, or was I adding to a lot of noise? Why did I ever think I was qualified to give anyone advice or suggestions about homemaking when I was figuring it all out myself? Moreover, I imagined a parent coming across Beyond the Aisle and, as a result, not taking my school seriously.

So while I am back, I will be doing things differently. I am not going to put pressure on myself to blog multiple times per week, because that made blogging feel like a task rather than a hobby. I'm not going to try to be anyone else's personal shopper or party planner, but I am going to continue to share cool things that I like. I still want to include book, movie, and concert reviews, but only when I'm truly impressed or moved. So why am I returning now?

I mentioned the biggest thing bringing me back to blogging already - I missed this community. Or perhaps, I miss the idea of the community I always wanted to build around this blog. Because reader, I am facing the biggest challenge and most amazing blessing of my life so far - I am going to be a mom!

Right now I am seventeen weeks pregnant with Baby Q. The verse from Psalm 30, "You have turned my weeping into dancing," came into my heart as soon as I had confirmation. Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), I had anticipated that becoming pregnant would be difficult for me, and given my mom's medical history I had tried my best to prepare myself for a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or the possibility that I might not ever be able to carry a baby. Instead, Mr. Q and I finally listened to our friends who'd been saying, "if you wait until you're 'ready,' you'll never have kids," decided we were open to the possibility of having a baby, nd God made that possibility a reality very quickly. 

So far, my pregnancy has been healthy and fairly smooth - I did deal with some morning sickness first trimester ("morning sickness", by the way, is an incredibly misleading term), and I have pretty killer heartburn constantly, but it is nothing I can't manage. I've lost rather than gained weight, but I am fairly sure it's because I'm trying to eat super clean and be active for at least a little while every day for Baby Q's sake. My mom and Mr. Q's parents and sister are over the moon excited, and my friends at work are very understanding of the days that I just need to sit at my desk instead of coaching in classrooms. I look forward to documenting Baby Q's progress here, and I know that those of you who are already mamas will have lots of helpful stories to share with me. I've missed you all, and I'm excited to be back.

Monday, July 17

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...



Monday, July 10