Monday, June 30, 2014

First lobster of the summer

Drew put in his lobster posts a week and a half ago, and last weekend he took out his first catch. He has 4 traps (the max for a non-commercial lobster license is 5) and ended up with 6 keepers that day. We gave 3 to our neighbors, but Drew kept the other three. Drew is the only one in our family who eats lobster; I can't stand the texture and Fynn's never really tried it, however we all had a little fun with the experience.

Fynn loved chatting with the lobsters and "helping" out:

Zoey observed, and perhaps dreamed of partaking in some lobster





I set up an enthralling lobster race (watch out for the one on the right, he's scrappy.

Drew made me put them back in the pot though, he was worried about them boiling alive in the sun... notice the irony there?



A few minutes later Drew dropped them into the boiling water. Fynn was quite interested in watching Drew crack them open and continuing to talk to her new friends. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Social

1. What was your college major? Did you ever change majors?
My undergrad major was Elementary Education with a concentration in English Language Arts. I'm currently working on my Masters in Education: Literacy K-12. Can you tell that I love reading and teaching reading? I never changed my major; I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and literacy was something I truly enjoyed. When going for my masters I did debate about focusing on educational leadership, but I felt that the literacy piece would have a greater effect on my teaching practice and students. That said, I'll probably continue some post-grad work in educational leadership after I get my degree. Can you tell that I'm a dork that loves school?

2. Best purchase you’ve made lately?
Drew and I bought Fynn two PowerWheels cars for her birthday next Thursday. She's getting an F150 pick up and a pink jeeps... kid is so spoiled, but she is going to be so excited when she sees them, so it's all worth it. 

3. Something silly we don’t know about you and go…

I have freaky, long, double jointed toes. 

4. Favorite Holiday?

4th of July- no pressure, no big family events, but Drew and I always have the day off together. Sometimes we go see fireworks, and one year we even had a baby (technically she was born the 3rd... but close enough).

5. The first thing you do when you wake up?

Moan about being woken up too early and go get Fynn out of her crib... some morning's she's REALLY lucky that she's so cute.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Workout Plan: Week 1

As of Wednesday, I've completed one full week of my summer workout plan. I mentioned it before, but my plan is to make myself workout at least 5 days a week. I'm home with Fynn, and she naps in the afternoon, so it's a perfect time to get a workout in; no excuses. Making it "blog official" is my motivation. I can't let down all 3 of you who might actually care about my summer workout plan.

Anyhow. The plan has ended up being this: Monday-Thursday I do Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 workout series(which you can find for free on YouTube) and on Fridays I run- my awesome mother in law is taking Fynn on Fridays. I did week 1 of Ripped in 30 for 4 days, and now I've moved on to week 2. Week 1 was super exhausting the first day, but by day 4 I was ready to move on to more of a challenge... and oh is week 2 a challenge. Kicks my butt, but in a good way... kinda.

After a week of working out and trying to eat somewhat better, I've lost about 2 pounds. I'd love to say it's because I'm exercising... but the truth is that with school being out I'm just eating less crap. At school there are always baked goods in the teachers room, snacks scarfed down on the way to a meeting or birthday cupcakes brought in by a kid down the hall. Pull those out of the equation and some how I'm magically not gaining weight anymore... weird how that works. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our 5th Anniversary



In 5 short years we've bought a house (and remodeled 90% of that house), got a dog, each gotten new jobs, had a baby, and shared countless laughs. Thanks for always being there for me, for knowing what to say to make me smile, for putting up with my (very rare!) moments of craziness, and being such an amazing Daddy to our little girl.

Happy 5th Anniversary to my awesome husband. We've been married for 5 years, together for almost 12, and somehow we're both still here. It's amazing how fast time flies. Love you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog life versus real life

This really has nothing to do with this post
Blogging is a strange hobby to have. I don't mean strange as in it's a weird thing to do, I mean strange in how public it is. Most hobbies are things you do in your living room or with a small group of friends. They're things that you mention in passing and no one thinks anything of it.

Writing a blog is different.

I literally put my life out there almost every day. I write about things that are personal, even if it's just what we did last weekend. I write about people I know (though I don't usually name names). I write about products I've been comped or reviews I've been paid for. In short; I put myself out there for public consumption (and possible ridicule) on a daily basis. Most of the time, that doesn't even phase me.

What does weird me out is thinking about all the people in my real life who could be reading my blog. Weird, right? 

I don't tell a lot of people about my blog. A few friends, 1-2 coworkers, my sister, and my BIL... but that's pretty much it. But who knows who they have told? Who knows which Facebook "friends" clicked over and started following during the 3 days I had my blog linked to my personal account. Who knows who has found me through Google or even other blogs that they follow?


And that is weird.

It's weird because these people don't talk about the fact that they read my blog. They don't leave comments or send me e-mails. They are lurkers; Blogosphere stalkers that read what I write and look at my pictures, but never mention doing so. It's weird because it's like Facebook stalking except on FB they have to be my friend first AND I can easily stalk them right back. It's one aspect of blogging that makes me feel uncomfortable; not knowing who in my real life reads.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One step at a time

Disclaimer: I received this product to facilitate my review, no other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own

I love tracking things. I've used my phone as a pedometer before and I love my running watch that tracks my speed/distance during runs. However, my running watch isn't good for tracking overall steps during the day and while my phone does a good job, I don't like having to have it on me at all times (especially at work). So, when Ozeri sent me their 4x3 Motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer (say that 3 times fast), I was excited to see how it compared and how accurate it was. 

Initially I was a little confused about how to set things up, and then I did this genius thing called read the directions and realized it was a million times easier then I was making it. You have to calculate how large your stride is and put in your height and weight to get started. Then you pick whether you want to track in steps or miles. That's it for set up. After that you just have to wear it and it tracks. 

Now, I'm always curious with pedometers about how accurate they really are. A lot of times you can just shake them up and down to get "steps" added, or it's easily tricked by random movements that aren't really steps. I was impressed by the Ozeri because it seemed to only count actual steps. I'm not sure how it could tell the difference, but it seems like it could.

Size-wise, it's a good size to stash in your pocket. It says you can carry it in your purse, but I don't know if that would affect accuracy... and then you'd have to make sure you carry your purse at all times. The other way you can wear it is on a lanyard around your next. Again, I don't know if this affects accuracy or not. I also didn't like it on the lanyard because it felt funny, kept bumping against my chest and it's also not exactly the height of fashion (though clearly that's not always an issue for me.) With some outfits it was hard to find a way to wear it- see the next paragraph for a prime example.

Overall I really liked the Ozeri pedometer. Liked, you ask? Do I no longer like it? Well, I don't know. After wearing it religiously for almost a week, I had a major blonde moment and sent it through the wash. See, I was having trouble figuring out how to wear the pedometer when I was wearing yoga pants and a tank top. At first I just wore it around my neck, but it was driving me nuts, so I rolled it up in the top of my yoga pants. It fit perfectly and was tracking well, so I figured I was all set... until I took a shower, threw my clothes in the wash, and forgot all about the gorgeous piece of technology I had just ruined. I did the put it in rice trick, and I think it mostly bounced back, but the display isn't as clear anymore and I haven't tested it out to see if it's still as accurate. 

I would give this pedometer a 4 out of 5 points. I took off one point because of the hard to wear piece, but otherwise I loved it. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Social

1. What’s your favorite scary movie?
I don't like scary movies. They give me nightmares and make me paranoid about the horrible things that people do.
2. What is your favorite weird TV show you think no one else watches?
I totally watch old episodes of Saved by the Bell and Dawson's Creek on Netflix, does that count?
3. What is the song you can sing all the words to without any music?
This is sad, I can rock the Hoedown Throwdown from beginning to end WITH the moves. Yeah, that's right. I loved the movie when it first came out, and then I taught my 5th graders the routine this year for the talent show. After listening, singing, and dancing to it multiple times a day for 2 weeks; I'm an expert.

4. What is your favorite book to re read?
This is a tough question. There are so many books I love to re read; anything Jodi Picoult- there are so many layers to her books that you can read them multiple times and pick up on something new every time. I also love re reading books I read when I was a kid/teen. It's cool to read them with a different perspective.
5. The one website you visit more times a day than others?
Probably Facebook. Though I use the app on my phone primarily, I still consider it a website.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My most popular post ever, play dates, and yes I worked out on Thursday

In looking at my blog stats (which I may more may not do way more often then I should), I noticed something funny; my most popular blog post EVER is entitled "Make Him Squirm"... what an unfortunate choice of words.

You can read it here, but basically it was all about the time I first thought I felt Fynn move and Drew's bizarre reaction to it. 

Upon further investigation, I also noticed that the phrase "how to make him squirm" is the 4th most popular term searched that brought people to my blog.

With that in mind, I'm sorry ladies. I'm pretty sure my post about potentially feeling a baby moving is NOT what you were looking for.


***

Yesterday Fynn and I had a great playdate with our besties. Got to love when a get together involves just hanging out with someone you love. No stressing about the house being messy or putting on make up, just being able to enjoy friends. Bonus points when your BFF's kid is your kid's BFF. After the play date Fynn took an awesome nap. And yes, I used that nap to workout. I really wanted to run yesterday, but Drew was going out on the boat after work to drop the lobster traps and maybe do a bit of fishing. Since I didn't know what time he was going to get home, I decided to do Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 workout again. Still kicked my butt, but it was a little easier this time. Day 2 of Don't Be a Fattie is a success.

 Today my amazing, wonderful, gorgeous mother in law is watching Fynn for the day, which means I get to do errands (by myself!), go the chiropractor (by myself!), and go for a run in the middle of the day... it's the little things in life that make me happy. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Teacher Gifts: The easiest guide in the world

I'm not sure when giving teacher's gifts at Christmas and the end of the year became the norm rather than an over the top gesture, but it seems like, since I started teaching, most of my students have given me gifts. Not that I mind... I love presents (ask Drew) and it's REALLY nice to be acknowledged and appreciated for my work. Not necessary, but a really nice gesture.

That said, some gifts aren't worth the money families spent on it. I can't tell you how many awful gifts I've gotten (or heard about other teachers getting). So here's my super simple guide to getting your child's teacher a gift they will actually enjoy (that is if you're going to, obviously this is not required).

1. If it says "teacher" on it- leave it on the shelf

I can't tell you how many ornaments, knick nacks, or other random crap I have that say "#1 Teacher", "A+ Teacher" and the like. Thanks, but no thanks. You would never give a doctor a "Dr. Awesome" sign. Chances are whatever "teacher" item you're looking at- your child's teacher has already collected 10 and thrown away 20 more.

2. If you wouldn't want it in your house, don't try to put it in mine

Some people just give junk. Pure and simple. Honestly think about whether you'd be embarrassed to give it to me yourself. Yes? Then don't send it with your kid.

3. Pinterest is full of lies, I don't want your craft project
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Sure, they're cute. But I can handle only so many cute craft projects in my classroom. See #1. Pinterest has given you this false sense that you need to go over the top to thank a teacher. So not true. The worst part is that often these items have to be thrown away as a teacher moves classroom or packs up their things for the summer. They're cute, and we appreciate the thought and work that goes into them, but they're not a gift that's going to last.



4. Make it personal

The best gifts I get are ones that are meaningful or show that a kid really knows me. Case in point? This year I got a basket from a kid that REALLY knows me. I'm talking Reeses' Peanut Butter cups, Sour Patch Kids and an adorable pink breast cancer water tumbler and some school supplies that were pink, because she knows I love pink. Another kid made a slideshow of pictures from the year. I may have cried watching it. Bonus points for any (usable) gift that's monogrammed with my name on it. In the past I've gotten an L.L. Bean tote with my name on it, an engraved pen and a pencil-shaped ornament with my name on it. I'm a narcissist; if it's got my name on it, I'm a fan. 

5. Make it meaningful
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Want to know the best teacher gift ever? A sincere note from a student and/or their parent thanking me for my hard work. This is especially meaningful from a student that I have worked particularly hard with or from a kid who isn't always appreciative. These are note that I keep for years and years. Notes that I put in my "yay me" folder- a folder I reach for on rough days when I need reminding that what I do makes a difference. 

6. If all else fails, gift cards are the bomb.com
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I've never met a teacher that didn't love a gift card. Whether it's a restaurant they love, a coffee shop near school, or even just Target, a gift card just works. My favs are my Dunkin Donuts cards because it means I can get my iced tea in the morning without having to scrounge through my change bin or put it on my credit card. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vacation: Day 1- SAHM and getting back on the fit train

I made it through the last day of school... actually it was a lot easier then I thought it would be. I got some super sweet gifts from my students (I'm actually working on a post about teacher gifts), I auctioned off a ton of crap that would have otherwise hit the trash can, and said goodbye to my 2013-2014 babies. 


Just some of my school stuff
that got brought home
Once the kids left I finished getting every last little thing out of my classroom and either throwing it in my car or the trash (Drew was thrilled by the about of stuff that ended up in our breezeway yesterday afternoon). After the final clean out I realized that it was too early to pick Fynn up from daycare (she would have still been napping), so I went out with some of my "old" teammates for coffee/tea/smoothies. 


Even better? She passed out on the way
home and slept for 2 more hours
Overall it was a good day. I felt like there was a lot of closure both with my students and coworkers. I'm sad that I won't be with the same team next year, but beyond blessed that I get to keep 2 of them on my new team. I'm also beyond excited for our new school. We got to go in before school yesterday morning and take a look around. Amazing. It's gorgeous, spacious, and (most importantly) clean and fresh. Just walking around made me almost kinda, sorta, maybe want the summer to go by quickly so I can start working in the new school. 
My old classroom... weird to think I'll never teach in there again


***

Today, my first day as a (seasonal) SAHM has been great so far (Granted it's only 2pm... there are still hours to go until Daddy's home). Of course Fynn got up at 5:45. I asked her whether we could try a 6:30 or even (gasp!) 7 o'clock wake up time for the summer... she laughed at me. ::sigh:: I guess if early mornings are the worst part of the summer, I can deal. Fynn has been in a great mood all morning and we headed to a local toddler story time with my sister and the 2 year old she nanny's for. She's been doing a great job playing both with me and by herself and went down for a nap around her usual time... which leads me to the last topic of this post: 

workouts

I've fallen off the fit train the past 2 months or so. I haven't been great since winter, but the last 2 months of school resulted in stress-eating, excuses to skip workouts and a general apathy about my weight. The result? Shocking, I've gained weight. I currently weigh 10 pounds more than I did when school started in September. All my hard work last summer; gone. I'm disappointed in myself. So, in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I'm going to blog about my workouts every day (and yes, I plan to do some sort of workout every day this summer). Hopefully by feeling like I need to blog about it, I'll be more consistent and find fewer excuses. As my lovely readers, you're more than welcome to harass me if I don't blog about exercising... maybe you'll get me off my lazy butt.
How I look right now; post JM butt-kick

The workout of the day:
Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30: Week 1.

Love her workouts because they kick my butt, leave me feeling sore, but they aren't boring. She mixes up the moves and hits every part of your body in a way that makes you feel like you're dying, but in a good way... if that's possible. I've done this workout before, I did it twice last week. The full workout is available on YouTube which I love because it means I didn't have to buy it... now I just need to stop eating Sour Patch Kids and clean my kitchen. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Last Day of School!!!!

Woot woot!

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Today is the last day of school. Half day for the kids. Full day for me, and then 11 weeks of SAHM Amanda. While I'm super excited, the thought of being home with Fynn all day every day is a little intimidating. I can't wait for all the time with my sweet baby girl... but I'm not sure if my patience will be able to handle the tantrums and mood swings that come along with a 2-year old. Regardless, I'm excited for the last day of school. It's always bittersweet to say goodbye to my babies and send them off to middle school in the fall. However, this year I don't have to clean or pack up my classroom... because there's nothing left in it! (just 6 tables, my desk, and 24 chairs).


Monday, June 16, 2014

June 2014 Ipsy

Usually I can wait, but this month I logged into Ipsy early to see what I was getting in my bag. I was excited by what I saw, but I kinda wish I had waited because it's always more fun to be pleasantly surprised by it.
In case you don't know, Ipsy is a monthly subscription box (bag really) that sends you 4-5 beauty products. It's $10 a month, but the value of the items in it are always worth way more. If you want to sign up, feel free to use my referral code!
This month's Ipsy theme was Pretty in Paradise, which meant it had a summery, island feel to it. I love this month's bag design by Rebecca Minkoff. It will be a great bag to hold little things on trips to the beach and the pool this summer. I was also excited to see that not everything could fit in the bag this month... to me that's always a good sign, though I guess it could have just been filled with crap in large packages. 

I love makeup remover wipes because I'm lazy and hate washing my face. Usually I shower at night, but if I don't the only way I clean my face is with wipes like these, so I was really happy to see them. These also claim to be "age-defying" cleansing wipes, but I'm not sure how that works. They smell REALLY good. All citrusy and clean smelling. I would, however, never pay $9 for just 10 face wipes. 

I love lip gloss, but I wasn't sure what the heck "butter" gloss was. To me that just sounds greasy and gross.However, I guess it's supposed to mean that it's all smooth and creamy. Ok. I like this gloss, but I don't love it. It is creamy, but it's a little tacky. The color is cute, very subtle which I like. It smells kind of buttery, but in a good way. Like a buttery cake or something. Overall this is a win for me. 


Mascara is my staple make up item. If all else fails, I need mascara to look remotely human. I have pathetically pale lashes and if I go out without them I just look sad and tired. I was excited to get this, because my last mascara from Ipsy is running out, and I was actually going to have to buy some (the horror!). I haven't tried it out yet, but I've read great reviews and I've never been dissatisifed with any Be a Bombshell products. 

I don't wear a ton of eyeliner, but I like the tip on this one. It's super thin to allow you to do a really fine line of eyeliner. Perfect for me because I hate looking like I've gone overboard. 



 Marc Anthony Dream Waves Beach Spray ($3.18 for 1.52 oz sample size)

Is the hairstyle Marc Anthony the same Marc Anthony that J.Lo is (was?) married to? I always wonder that when I see it, but never bother to look it up. Anyone know? Am I stupid for even asking? Anywho, I love, love, love this. I've been using the Healthy Sexy Hair soy texture spray since I got that in an Ipsy box month ago, but it's gone and I was looking for something else to give some texture and volume to my otherwise fine and flat hair. I can't wait to try this. Hopefully it will give me the sexy beach waves it claims and doesn't make me look like I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet. 




This month's Ipsy haul was worth $39.17. Not the most valuable month, but a great value for the $10 I paid for it. Not only that, but I will use everything in the bag which makes it even better. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Social

1. 4 favorite phone apps


Overdrive is my all-time favorite app. It's an app that allows you to download e-books and audio books from your local public library (as long as you have an account). Ever since I started using this app I've always had 2-3 great books to read, and they're always adding to their collection. 


 Google Drive is an app I just recently started using when my school district switched to it as our primary data storage place. Now I used it for school files AND I've started using it for my blog. My favorite is for sending pictures to my laptop from my phone. Ten times easier to do. I also love how I can share documents with others. I had a great video of my class that I wanted to share with parents, but the file was too big to e-mail. Sharing it on Google Drive was easy and the parents loved it. 
 TimeHop is another app I just started using after seeing a friend on Facebook that uses it. TimeHop uses your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FourSquare, DropBox and iPhone pix to show you things you did on a particular day last year, the year before, etc. I love it because every day it shows me pictures or status updates from past years. It's really cool to see what I was doing on that day in the past... and embarrassing to see what I posted on Facebook 5 years ago... awkward.

2048 is a game one of my students showed me on a field trip to Boston. Most addicting game I've come across in years. I beat the first challenge; getting to the 2048 tile, but 4096 is eluding me right now. I love this game, but don't download the app unless you want to find yourself playing it 40 times a day. You can play online too, and I feel like that would be less addictive if you don't have it right at your fingers. 



2. 4 favorite Summer TV shows

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 Orange is the New Black: I don't know if OITNB counts as a summer show, but since season 2 became available on Netflix just a week or so ago, I'm counting it. Drew and I are about halfway through, and I love it just as much as season 1. 








Under the Dome: Season 1 got sketchy towards the end, but I'm definitely tuning in when this starts up again. Hopefully it will be great again.


Big Brother: I've loved this show since season 1. The drama, the challenges, the backstabbing- always highly entertaining.






Rookie Blue: I'm so glad this show got picked up for another season, I love it and I can't wait to see what happens next! 


3. 4 things you would NEVER do

I'm a little weary about saying things I would NEVER do, as those claims always end up turning me into a hypocrite when I do them shortly after (especially when it comes to parenting). 

4. 4 items you carry with you no matter what

I don't even have 4 items I always have. 90% of the time I have my phone, but other than that I don't carry much. Obviously my keys if I'm out somewhere, and sometimes my wallet if I can actually find it... other then that, it's just me. I have a gorgeous purse that I only use about once a month or 2. 

5. 4 blogs we should follow
Ramblings of  Suburban Mom
Suri's Burn Book
STFU Parents
Loves of Life


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Social

1. When do you take time for you?
Usually after Fynn goes to bed. I either run (not much lately), watch netflix, or read a book. That's my unwind time to sit down, relax and hang out with Drew for a bit.
2. What do you find to be your biggest weakness?
I'm really stubborn... which means I don't ask for help when I need it and I often overextend myself... it also means I never admit that I'm wrong. Not that I ever am, but if I were, I could never admit it.

3. What is your biggest attribute?

I asked Drew about this, because it's hard to brag on yourself... and I just couldn't choose between all my amazing attributes. 

All kidding aside, Drew says that my best attribute is that I'm "super smart". Now, I'm no genius, but I will agree that my brains have helped. I always got good grades in school which got me some scholarships for college and helped with the whole job hunt (magna cum laude just looks good on a resume). I also can't help but brag about my 4.0 GPA in grad school right now... just saying. While I lack some common sense sometimes (Drew asked me to send him a pic of my car registration and I asked him if that was the tag on my license plate), I'm quick on my feet, good at problem solving, and creative; essential skills in being a teacher. 

4. What is your favorite place to shop online?

I love Old Navy, Forever21, Kohls, and Target for online shopping. I can always find great deals on clothes I really like. I'm not one for trendy, expensive clothes; I like things that I'll be able to wear for a long time and feel comfortable in.

5. What is your favorite place to kill time?

My couch. It's just so comfy and perfectly placed near the tv and the kitchen. If there's time to be killed, I'm most likely on the couch... can you tell I'm a homebody.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Touch a Truck

Saturday after swim lessons Drew and I took Fynn to a nearby event called Touch a Truck. They had an awesome assortment of trucks and vehicles that kids could climb all over and play with. 

Fynn was in heaven.

She climbed up, pushed buttons, and had a ball playing around. There were fire trucks, giant tractors, police cars, delivery trucks, big rigs... if it was a big ole truck, it was there. 

I wasn't sure if Fynn was going to be too young to really enjoy it, but as she quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me to different trucks, I'm pretty sure she had a blast. She loved just sitting up in the seats of the trucks and pretending to steer them. I had quite the workout at it, I guess I never realized just how tall some of those trucks are. I was pulling myself up giant steps over and over with 25+ pounds of baby in my arms.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

May Reads

The school year ends on the 17th, but during the month of May I surpassed my goal of reading 30 books during the school year. Here's what I've been reading this month:

30. The Selection by Keira Cass
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I love young adult fiction, especially the dystopian trilogies that are becoming big lately. I love the combination of rebellion and romance. The Selection is the first in this series and follows America Singer. America joins The Selection, which is basically The Bachelor only the bachelor is a prince and the winner gets a husband AND a crown. It starts with 34 girls, and gets narrowed down from there as Maxim gets to know the girls. America is torn between seeking to win the hand of Prince Maxim, and her feelings for her recently ex-secret-boyfriend Aspen. I loved the character of America. She felt very real and had a depth of personality that can be missing in young adult lit. 




31. The Elite by Keira Cass
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Of course, once I've read the first book, I had to read the second. This is why I love trilogies. I tend to get attached to characters and want to continue reading their story. After falling in love with America in book 1, I wanted to see what happened. In The Elite, Maxim has narrowed down the girls to the final 6, and America is still a contender. Maxim is in love with America, but America is still torn between her love for Maxim, and her love for Aspen. However, when Maxim begins to fall for one of the other girls, America becomes more jealous then she thought possible. On top of her feelings, America is also worried about her ability to be a queen. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more than The Selection. Right now I'm on the waiting list at the library to read the final book in the series; The One.


32. Claim to Fame by Marageret Peterson Haddix
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If you've never read any of Haddix's books, you're really missing out. I haven't found a single one of her books that I didn't enjoy. My favorites are Running out of Time and the Among the Hidden series. Claim to Fame is about Lindsay Scott. A former child star who has a secret ability; no matter where in the world someone is, if they talk about her, Lindsay can hear it. Obviously, being in the spotlight led to a LOT of people talking about her (some not so nicely). Lindsay has been dealing with this for years, but luckily (or is it luck?) her father bought her a house in a small town that some how blocks the ability, as long as Lindsay stays inside. I loved the first 90% of this book, but I didn't love the ending. I felt like the end was rushed and there was a lot left up in the air. I'd like to see a sequel to this book to finish things up. 


33. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
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I'm a sucker for a Nicholas Sparks book, but this one really got to me. Dawson and Amanda dated and fell in love in high school. When an accident landed Dawson in jail, and Amanda went off to college, the two lost touch. 25 years later they're brought back together with the passing of a close friend. As they reconnect, and realize that they never stopped loving each other, fate is determined to keep them apart. The end of this book, full of unexpected twists and turns left in a whirlwind of emotions. You know a book is well written when you can't stop thinking about it a week or two later.

34. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
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Twisted is another book that left me thinking about it for weeks after. This took a completely different turn then I had expected it to. Tyler used to be the guy no one noticed. Gawky, skinny, and kind of a nerd. After earning community service hours for painting graffiti on the school, Tyler has gained the notice of none other then Bethany Milbury, the most popular girl in school. Between trying to appease Bethany, dealing with a dysfunctional family, and trying to stay on the right side of the law, Tyler gets has a lot on his plate, and not everything goes according to play. I started out reading this book and not being sure how I felt about Tyler. He was a very unlikable character at first, but by the end I was really rooting for him. 

35. Matched by Ally Condie
Like The Selection, Matched is the first in another young adult dystopian trilogy series. In this, "The Society" determines everything about your life based on data and probability. One of the biggest events in a young society member's life is the Matching ceremony where you get to see who your match is going to be. Cassia is beyond excited to meet her match, but ends up discovering that Xander, her best friend, is actually her match. Things get complicated though when her match microcard shows Ky Markham as her match for just a few seconds. Ky is also a long-time friend. Now that Cassia has noticed him, she doesn't know where to go... this leads her to question other decisions of The Society. I like the combination of love triangle and rebellion in this book, it's like a less deadly version of The Hunger Games.

36. Crossed by Ally Condie
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Like I said, I like sequels. Crossed is no different. This follows the second part of Cassia's story as she continues to struggle with her feelings for both Xander and Ky. As Cassie gets closer and closer to finding The Rising (the rebellion) she also has to confront her feelings and decide how far she wants to go to rebel against the society. I didn't like this book as much as the first, but I still want to read the third book; Reached.






37. Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope by Ed and Lois Smart
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I wasn't really a fan of this book. I loved Elizabeth Smart's book that I read a few months ago, because it was fascinating to see her strength and determination through all that she went through when she was abducted at the age of 14 and held captive for 9 months. However, this book was not that interesting to read. It was VERY repetitive and I felt like it just cycled around and around the story. I got very frustrated with it, and ended up not reading the last couple of chapters because I wasn't enjoying it. Elizabeth's account of her story was much more compelling of a read.  


I'm not including them in my list, but I also read about 20 Babysitters Club Books in May. Remember those? I found a ton in my classroom library as I was sorting through and removing old books that no one reads. While I loved the series as a kid, none of my students have touched them in the 5 years I've been teaching, so I donated them to a local library book sale. Before donating them, I just had to read them again. It was a great throwback to my childhood! 

Now that I've reached my 30 in the school year goal, I need to make my summer goal. I think for June-August, my goal is going to be to read 30 books. I'm home with Fynn for the summer, so I know I'll have more time to read then I did during the school year... I'm just hoping I haven't given myself TOO much of a goal!
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