Category Archives: Summer Vacattical

Summer Reading Recommendations

P1230259Summer time, and the reading’s easy. Isn’t that how the song goes? To my Compelled Blogger Tribe members, I apologize for the tardiness of this post. My house has been more project than home over the last two months, but things are finally (FINALLY!) coming together, so I’ve been able to put the paint brush down for these 20 minutes and write this blog. Full disclosure: I’m probably writing under the influence of paint fumes.


Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Yes, I admit, I’m partial to this one because it opens with actors performing a scene from King Lear, but people: buy this book. It is absolutely riveting and beautiful and terrifying and full of hope and humanity.

Seveneves by Neal StephensonI have no idea why I picked up this book at the library. Normally, I’m not drawn to sci-fi, and especially not sci-fi that is 800 pages long. But there was something about this book description that made me take a chance, and I’m so glad I did. First, Stephenson is a genius. I’m hoping he’s not a prophet, but he has definitely earned the job title “futurist.” (Which is really his job title.) Some sections got a liiiittle too technical for my attention span, so I freely admit to skipping a few chunks here and there, but most of it was fascinating. Best of all, I know read technology announcements and think, “Oh, I already know about that. It’s in Seveneves.” Not bad for an English dork!


Do people still use that word? Well, I do. Here’s my trifecta: The AtlanticThe New Yorker,The Washington Post. I just discovered a new, online publication called Guernica. The writing is to swoon for.

One article of the last few months stands out for my in hi-definition, and I would go so far as to use the cliche “must-read” for any teacher. You can find it here on The Atlantic’s web site, where Paul Tough has made it tough to ignore the importance of students feeling welcomed and valued in our classrooms and as agents of their own education.


I’ve been fascinated with early childhood education ever since my daughter entered preschool. (I know, you’re thinking, what a crazy coincidence!) These are two books on my to-read list:

The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christiakis

Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff PhD and and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek PhD .

Also on my to-read list is a book I’ve had sitting on my shelf for months: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I have a quotation from Maud Casey in my library that reads, “I was born with a reading list I will never finish.” It’s the damn truth, people. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Happy reading, and enjoy!

5 Quarts of Sunscreen

I live in Florida, so during the summer months if I so much as stick my big toe out the door my hair turns into an giant frizz ball and dots of sweat break out on the back of my shirt like hives. In the year 2010 B.C. (Before Children), it was only when I dumped crumbs of cereal into a milkless bowl that I would venture into the swampy air and climb into a car whose internal heat had climbed to 108 degrees. Now, in the year 2014 A.D. (All Done) I’m forced to brave the elements more often, fly the coop, and make the best of the heat.

Rather than sit and bake like a cookie, I suggest two options: get moving or get wet.

If you chose to move, keep in mind that the faster you go, the more wind you generate and the cooler the activity will feel. Also, consider getting out of the house early in the morning or at dusk when the sun doesn’t try to fry you like a slice a bacon. Hop on that bike, lace up those roller skates, or push that neighborhood kid off his Razor and ride into the sunset.

Water activities have a distinct advantage over the moving activities: no one can tell you’re sweating! There are tons of sites out there with ideas for kids. Here are two I found that offer tons of ideas, many including H2O.

But why should those youngins’ get to have all the fun? Water fights are fun for all ages. Invite a bunch of friends over for a watered down version of paintball by using water balloons or water guns. If you’re getting together with family, arrange a bunch of chairs around a kiddie pool. Have side tables or TV trays accessible for people to rest their drinks, ice cream, or watermelon. Put it all under the shade and voila – a homemade watering hole for catching up with everyone.

While you’re sitting in the shade or on the beach, read the “Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen” column from Mary Schmich (,0,4054576.column). If you’re part of Generation X or older, you probably remember reading or hearing the advice, so it’s fun to revisit Schmich’s advice and consider whether it really was wasted on youth.



Summer Vacattical Recipe

IMG_5191Ah, summer. Even after 8 years, I never got used to waking up at 5:30 a.m. and arriving at the school before the sun got its happy ass above the horizon. In the first week of break, I would burrow into my couch and tear through the stack of books I’d collected since winter, like a bear binge-eating it’s bevvy of food after hibernation. I’d pad around my house in pajamas and not touch a single makeup brush. This sloth-gluttony-booklust would last about a week, and then I’d feel the hard-working girl’s guilt and start making “Productive Things” lists.

Now I have two young kids (3 and 1 years old), so they function as walking-talking, crawling-crying to-do lists. If I was friends with Marty McFly, I’d jump into the Delorian, meet up with my younger self and tell her to cook up the perfect summer by making it part vacation, part sabbatical.

Here’s my recipe for the perfect summer vacattical (yes, I just coined my own term):

- 5 quarts of sunscreen for playing outside with family and friends

- 2 stacks of books to read

- 4  in-house date nights

- 3 trips to local attractions you’ve always wanted to check out

- A sprinkle of summer music

- 1/2 hour every other day to write (journal, social media, letters – the genre doesn’t matter!)

- 1 new professional organization to join

- 2 magazines or books regarding a subject matter other than the one you teach

- A handful of new people to follow on Twitter

- 4 new recipes to try out now and make during the school year

I’ve got ideas to share for each ingredient, so new posts will be coming soon! In the meantime, I hope your vacattical is off to a great start!