Memories: Papa Freddie and Grandma Dor

I was lucky enough to truly know my great-grandparents, Fred and Dorothy, and I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. Here are some random memories.


My Papa Freddie called me putty – no clue if that’s how it’s spelled. As far as I can tell, it’s a term of endearment. Maybe Danish? Pus is a Danish pet name meaning tiny tot or darling. Maybe he was actually saying pus or pussy but my modern brain has shifted it to a less…er… you know…word.

Grandma Dor had purple shampoo. It was remarkably thin and liquidy, and I used it all the time in my “potions” which often also included spices and yogurts and dollops of peanut butter and sprinkles. Sometimes I would microwave them.

When my mom told me Grandma Dor had died, I think I was asleep in bed. I was in grade school, seventh grade I think. I have cloudy memories of going right back to sleep and then being devastated the next morning.

Papa Freddie and Grandma Dor had the party house. Their basement, complete with a pool table, bar, giant dining room table, orange shag carpeting, and an 8-track/record player combo console, was where we held every family gathering. I loved that basement.

At my grandma’s funeral, I carried my cousin Tara who was just a toddler at the time into the church. She was crying. But now I think that was probably Papa Freddie’s funeral because my memories of this event are not from the Catholic Church. Grandma Dor was Catholic. Papa Freddie was Lutheran.

They would watch me after school, and every weekday I would be “treated” with either an ice cream sundae or a shake – both of which included the fantastically tastefulness that is malt. That’s this stuff:

maltI could eat it by the spoonful. Actually, I’m pretty sure I did eat it by the spoonful. And they let me. They also had this deliciousness:

cheesecurls.jpgand Coke in glass bottles. There is nothing like eating at your great-grandparents’. Yum.

Papa Freddie let me drink Budweiser straight out of his can when I was still in grade school. I remember loving the taste of it then. I can actually picture him sitting in his chair down in the basement, can in hand, and simply handing it to me. Lest you think there was anything hinky or neglectful or abusive going on, my mother thinks this probably happened once on a lark and I’ve elevated it to a recurrence in my memory.

He also sat with me in the den, just the two of us, and watched a million episodes of Tom & Jerry. The table that sat next to his chair is in my attic, a cherry wood waist-height rectangular two-shelf table with softly curved legs. I would sit on the couch and he would sit in his chair and we would just be together.

I was 16 when he died, and I thought I was too cool to go with the family to clean out the house, so I ditched it and hung out with my friends instead. I regret it to this day.

Once, my cousin Chuck, who is my grandparents’ age, convinced me to eat those weird little appetizer cocktail weiners which I thought smelled horrible. I had one tiny bite and promptly threw up all over the shower which was strangely in the basement kitchen. I can still vaguely recall the taste in my mouth.

Papa Freddie would let me comb his hair and put it in pigtails when I was young. While I don’t really remember doing this, I have many pictures of Papa Freddie sitting on the floor in front of my grandparents’ couch, me perched behind him, him with five or six pigtails sticking straight up off his head. I never once doubted how much he loved me.

Grandma Dor would softly stroke the inside of my arm when I was lying in bed sick. I didn’t know it then, but towards the end of her life, she was practically agoraphobic. I remember her as soft and quiet not nervous and stressed.

I loved them so much. I still do. And I’ve been regretting that my children will never know them. I suppose this is the way of it really. Many of the people who were so important to you when you were a child are not around by the time you have children of your own. I am happy, though, that my children are privileged to know their great-grandparents and have as close a relationship with them as I did with my Papa Freddie and Grandma Dor.


Sunday Post: Now it’s November

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

introtoprinciplesmoralsReading | In the last week, I have finished the third Lady Sherlock book! Just a marvelous series, and I sincerely thank Amanda, from The Zen Leaf, for recommending it. I just started Jeremy Bentham’s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation as part of my “read the book before listening to the Partially Examined Life podcast” plan.

Listening |As I was eagerly anticipating November 1 and my Audible credit, I killed time bingeing Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities – a wonderful 2 stories in 10 minutes podcast – and immersing myself in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s podcast. I love listening to this brilliant man so much I now have all of his books on my wish list for Xmas. I’m pretty sure I snuck in one episode of Lore and one episode of the Partially Examined Life as well.

On November 1, I browsed Audible like a crazy person before settling on Classics of American Literature (a Great Courses) which includes 84 lectures paired with a 389 page sort of textbook (an outline of the lectures with a few extras). I’m totally geeking out.

Blogging| Last week I was MIA but this week, I have a few posts pre-scheduled. On Tuesday, I share a few memories of my great-grandparents. I was lucky enough to know them and they’ve been on my mind lately. Then on Thursday, my R.I.P Challenge wrap-up post will publish. I have a bunch of books waiting to be reviewed, so fingers crossed I get around to one or two this week.

candyDoingEating Candy. No seriously. We have soooo much candy from Halloween. My grandparents’ house gets about 300 trick-or-treaters a year, and this year I thought I was responsible for providing all the candy. So did my aunt. As such, we ended up with a lot, a whole lot, of leftover candy which somehow managed to make it back to my house along with all the candy the kiddos got on our two-hour trick-or-treating extravaganza. I shall gain weight. Much weight.

Smelling | So I recently boarded the essential oils train, and I must admit that while I don’t feel like oils will solve all of life’s problems, I do very much enjoy the smell and the way they put me to sleep. Right now, I have a blend of Citrus Fresh, Eucalyptus, and Copaiba going and it’s just heavenly.

Thinking | Holy crap it’s already November. How did that happen?

Wondering | Has anyone ever read the Kate Locke series Immortal Empire series? If so, should I read it?

Loving | As always, it’s the kiddos.




Sunday Post: Here Comes Halloween

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Reading | I’ve been a reading fool. Which is super wonderful. In the last week, I powered my way through Annihilation, the first two books in Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series, and two audios. Four of those even count towards my R.I.P challenge. What a wonderful week!

Watching | My tv viewing is a mish-mash now that the regular season has started, but to be honest, I’m not loving on anything in particular. Anyone have a new show they absolutely adore?

How I feel while binge-watching – Focused and Awesome


How I feel watching a bunch of different shows at once – Unfocused and Kind of Dorky


Listening |I finished Gladwell’s David and Goliath through Audible and have been eagerly waiting for November 1st ever since to get my next read. In the meantime, I did listen to an Audible original, Jonathan Maberry’s “Lullaby”.

Blogging |Last week, I posted reviews of Seraphina and Shadowscale, and then I took the rest of the week off.

Doing | Halloween prep! The kids love driving around looking at decorations, so I’m something of an expert on all the spooky houses in town. We have all the candy, treat bags, drinks, and crafts at their school ready-to-go for Wednesday. Costumes have been chosen, random decorations are up around the house, Halloween socks are on our feet, and pumpkins have been decorated.




Sunday Post: Alone Time Please

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

theminiaturistReading | I finished The Miniaturist, and to be honest, I can not wrap my mind around my feelings on it. I read it, I enjoyed reading it, some of the intricacies of the story were truly intriguing, and yet I was very underwhelmed throughout, as if constantly waiting for something to happen which would tie it all together. Hopefully I’ll work it all out and then get a review together soon. I’ve pretty much given up on Miss Timmins School for Girls, as in I haven’t read a word of it in weeks, so we’ll see if I pick it up again.

Listening |I’ve been loving podcasts so very, very much for the last year, that I decided, on a whim really, to join Audible. For my first book, I figured I’d play it safe and get a book narrated by a podcaster I enjoyed, so I started listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. It’s exactly like listening to his podcasts, so I am loving it.

Blogging |Last week, I posted reviews of Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation and V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. This week I have a review for Seraphina and Shadowscale finally going up after three months of putting it off – not due to a lack of enjoyment. I just couldn’t figure out what to say. I’m not sure what else will be going up as I haven’t had time to write any other advance posts. 🙂

alonetimeWorking | Work has been a whirlwind these past two weeks between the TYCA conference and then meeting after meeting after meeting. I am involved in a bunch of projects which is a love-hate relationship for me. I truly enjoy the work; I love the idea of continuous quality improvement; and I’m excited about these projects. Simultaneously, the time these projects is added on top of my normal workload which is a full-time job in and of itself. Also, it means way less alone time in my life overall which is rather stressful for me. I feel like I haven’t had time to recharge as I haven’t been alone for about 13 days now.

Anticipating | I have big dreams of at least one afternoon, possibly Wednesday, where I will have approximately three hours between leaving work and having to pick up my kids. Three blissful hours of alone time where I am determined to not grade anything, clean anything, or even answer a phone call. I may just sit in silence and quite literally do nothing.



Sunday Post: Well, hey there

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Well, hey there! Long time no see. I’m baaaaccckkk. Again.

Reading | So in my giant hiatus from blogging, I have finished a few and started a great many books. Here’s the rundown in brief:

  • V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. Finished. Fantastic. Fan. Tas. Tic
  • Miss Timmin’s School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy. Currently Reading. Meh. Has anyone read this? Should I keep going?
  • Descartes’ Meditations on the First Philosophy. Currently Reading. I’ve made it through the first two meditations of which I’m quite the fan. I love his idea of methodological doubt. I haven’t read the next three because I’m not sure I’m ready for him to undoubt everything he just doubted which is my understanding of what’s coming next.
  • Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. Currently Reading. I’m tending towards liking this one despite what feels like a serious lack of action.

Watching | I finally stopped bingeing Stargate (after season 8 so two seasons to go), watched a few episodes of Stargate Atlantis, and am now off the binge and onto the obsessive viewing of random new shows on the fall lineup. I am enjoying Manifest so far, I’m feeling pretty blah about New Amsterdam and FBI, I am seriously not feeling Magnum P.I.. Those are the only new shows I’ve seen, so please tell me what good ones I’m missing out on!

Listening |I just downloaded Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath from Audible, but I haven’t had a chance to start it yet. I figured I’d give it a try since I love Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast.

Blogging |This week I have reviews going up for Stephen King’s The Gunslinger and Susan Cain’s Quiet, two wildly different but both wildly awesome reads. I did update by Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge as I read two of the books I originally listed and added a new one!

Anticipating | I’m heading to Indianapolis this week for the TYCA Midwest Conference where I will be presenting on the Humanities & Social Sciences division’s plan to increase hybrid offerings from 3% to 60% in a two-year span, including our plans for setting guidelines for hybrid instruction, scheduling rules, student and instructor satisfaction surveys, assessment of student success plans, etc. Any other two year teachers out there who are hitting up this conference?

Loving | We all went to my cousin Tara’s wedding a few weeks ago, and this picture is the kids, at approximately 11:30pm after doing some serious dancing at the reception:

2018-09-22 22.56.41



Sunday Post: The Long Month Recap

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Doing | I’ve been on a month-long hiatus from blogging due to my two-week family reunion and then the start of the school year. In other words, I’ve been busy with a lot of this….

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Reading | I read a bit while on my fun-filled hiatus. I finally finished Susan Cain’s Quiet and loved it. The hilarious Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read But Probably Didn’t was consumed in about 20 minutes. I finished V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic and then immediately began reading the second in the series. I’m working on that one now, and I have to say that I think this may be one of the best series I’ve read in years.

Watching | While I still throw on Shameless from time to time, I’ve been binge-watching Stargate SG-1…for like the third time in my life. I know, I know. Geek.

Listening |Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell and Lore by Aaron Mahnke are still my top two podcasts, but I have been listening to Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities as well. While the first two are longer podcasts, approximately 30-60 minutes depending on the episode, the Cabinet tells two strange stories in about ten minutes. Great for when you just want a quick fix…like waiting in line, or on a day when the dreadmill just seems stupid…

Blogging |Since my last Sunday Post, reviews have gone up on the blog for Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, Kassy Taylor’s Ashes trilogy, the first part of The Wicked + The Divine graphic series, and Richelle Mead’s The Glittering Court. As I’ve been absent, I haven’t gotten to read any comments on these posts, but I promise I’m getting back in action now.

Anticipating | In the next month, the family heads to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding which I am really looking forward to.

Working | We are now two weeks into the semester, and I’m teaching three sections of Composition 2, Introduction to Literature, and Introduction to Film Study. So far my students seem awesome (to me, this means engaged and talking).

Loving | School has begun. Madison is in first grade and Carter started three-year-old preschool. *sniffsniff  It just seems like my babies are growing up so fast. Carter’s having a rough time in the morning drop off, crying because he wants me. But his teacher assures me that it lasts about two minutes and then he’s good to go. Luckily, the school is really good about sending parents pictures of what their kids are up to, so I get to see Carter having fun after I leave….and not crying in a corner, desolate and alone, feeling abandoned by everyone and suffering as I originally pictured through the tears in my eyes as I bawled in the parking lot after leaving him the first day.2018-08-17 07.27.38.jpg

So what have all of you been up to? I can’t wait to read the serious long backlog of blog posts I have saved in Feedly!!




Sunday Post: One Day Left

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

darkershadeofmagic.jpgReading | I am so amazingly in love with A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Despite my promise to myself that I would dedicate all my downtime to preparing for the new semester, I have been, instead, devouring this wonderful novel. And as it’s the first in a series, I see myself spending a great deal of the next month or so in this world while mildly ignoring the real one.

I did find Quiet finally!!!! It was, oddly, under the couch. I’m blaming the kids. I promise to get back to it as soon as possible, and I really need to get started on White Fragility.

Blogging |Last week, I posted reviews of Curious, a book about the need to keep students engaged and the Shade Trilogy by Jeri Smith-Ready. I also participated in 50/50 Friday which in essence was like a wrap-up of July. This week I have reviews going up for The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead and The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act.

Thinking | The husband and I have decided to send Carter, our three-year-old, to preschool this year for three days a week, and I’m freaking out a bit even though it was my idea. He’s my baby. Will he be sad? Will he cry? Is he going to absolutely and completely hate it and feel like he’s been abandoned by everyone who loves him? He’s never attended daycare. Hell, he’s never been babysat by anyone not a grandma, so the idea of leaving him with people he doesn’t know is heart-wrenching. Still, I know he’ll benefit from meeting and playing with other kids his age, and he’s certainly intellectually ready for school. I had kids approximately a decade after the typical small town girl, so while mine are still tiny little kiddos, most of my contemporaries are sending their kids off to freaking college now.

2018-07-30 18.04.54Doing |Shopping for school supplies. Holy heck. Now that I have two going, the pain is even worse. They really do look cute though with all those crayons and markers and folders and on and on….

Anticipating |Tomorrow begins my 15 day family vacation, and I am very excited. And a small bit terrified as I face down 15 days with absolutely no alone time. None.

Loving | Carter has finally learned how to ride a bike. Seriously, peddling was a problem for the boy. I still haven’t figured out if his legs weren’t strong enough, his coordination wasn’t good enough, or if he was just being lazy and preferred I push him. But now….look out world.


Working | Work begins August 15 – in-service – and then classes start August 20. I am still not prepared people. Ah, well, procrastination is an old friend.

Loving | Round 2 of loving is this picture of my girl:

2018-07-29 10.34.33I wish I could get my hair to look like that. 🙂


Sunday Post: Let the Prepping Begin

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

curiousincidentReading | I powered through Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in one day this past week. It felt awesome. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to binge read like that. I randomly decided to use that book in my Intro to Lit class this Fall because I suddenly remembered enjoying it way back in 2009 when I read it the first time. Yes, I know, I really take great pains to determine what to read in my classes. After my re-read, I do not regret my impulsive choice.

We will also be reading Ender’s Game and American Born Chinese this semester, along with some short stories I have yet to pick out.

Watching | I’m still stuck on Shameless, and I’ve made it all the way to season 5 now.

Blogging |Last week, I posted a review of How Full is Your Bucket? and a look at Personality Quizzes in general. This week I have reviews going up for Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It and Jeri Smith-Ready’s Shade Trilogy.

Hating | I can’t sleep. I’ve never been what you might call “good” at it, and over the past 20 odd years, I have had multiple diagnoses (fibromyalgia, alpha-delta sleep anomaly, blame it on the back) and multiple medications and practices (no food, more food, no liquid, more liquid, no exercise, more exercise, etc.) regarding my sleep problem. For the past two and a half years, it’s been brutal. This past year, I have tried melatonin, every OTC sleep aid possible, essential oils, hemp oil, Belsomra, Trazodone, Ativan, and Ambien. And alcohol. And alcohol in combination with those other drugs. I’m not proud. Just saying. A combination of hemp oil and Ambien comes closest to helping. Ambien alone doesn’t put me to sleep, and I end up laying in bed for three-ish hours, depressed. If I take them both, I seem to be asleep within an hour and only wake up once or twice…which is much better than the absolutely 0 minutes of sleep I get when I take nothing. No exaggeration; I can lay in bed all night long and not fall asleep once. So that’s where I’m at there….

Thinking | It’s probably time to start doing some actual planning for the upcoming semester. Meh, classes don’t start until August 20…

Loving | Time with the kids. We are down to the last month of summer. Bahhumbug. But, we’ve been having a lot of fun, including a hot, sweaty, fun trip to a Jump Zone.



Sunday Post: The Waning Time

The Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

whitefragilityReading | I started reading White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo. Yay! This book came highly recommended to me by multiple colleagues, and I’m excited to see what it has to offer as a guide for leading class discussions.

I was excitedly reading Susan Cain’s Quiet, but then I, horribly, misplaced the book. Seriously I cannot for the life of me figure out where it went. If it doesn’t show up soon, I’m buying another copy. In the mean time though, I have read quite a few books…

  • Shadows of Glass and Remnants of Tomorrow, the last two books of Kassy Tayler’s Ashes of Twilight series
  • Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising
  • Seraphina and Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman

All seven of these books were read as part of my goal to finish series I’ve started.

Blogging |Last week, I posted reviews of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I missed last week’s Sunday Post as I was out of town, so if you missed them, I also put up reviews of sweetly by Jackson Pearce and Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt. This week I have a post on Personality Tests going up as well as a review of How Full is Your Bucket?

shamelessWatching | I was sick, as in on-the-couch-not-moving sick, for three days so I was able to plow through the first three seasons of Shameless. Wow, what a crazy show. I am simultaneously entertained and horrified. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that seemed so believable and unbelievable at the same time. And yes, I realize that’s two sentences of contradiction in a role, but contradiction is the name of the game with this show.

Anticipating | I am in what feels like the final stretch of summer. While I don’t go back to work full-time until August 15, I have family coming in August 6 and staying until the 15, so I need to get some major work done before then. Our family reunion coincides with my town’s Gladiolus Festival every year, and this year everyone is coming. We have soooo much fun, but still, it’s exhausting.

Thinking| I have been going back and forth on sending my three-year-old (Carter) to school this year for three days a week, possibly even half days. I like the idea of easing him in to school as next Fall, he starts regular preschool (4yo) and it would be five full days each week. I also like the idea of him playing with other kids his age and learning all those beautiful social skills. Still though, he’s only three….

Loving | Playing at the park with my kids and visiting family


So how’s your life going?



Sunday Post: Getting in the Groove

sThe Sunday Post hosted by the Caffeinated Reader is an opportunity to share with the blogging community what bookish things are happening in our world. So what have I been doing?

Blogging|Last week, I posted reviews of James McBride’s The Color of Water and Zora Neale Hurston’s posthumously published Barracoon. This coming week I have reviews scheduled for Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt and sweetly by Jackson Pearce.

Reading |I am currently all about Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, but I also sped my way through Shadows of Glass and Remnants of Tomorrow, books 2 and 3 in Kassy Taylor’s Ashes of Twilight trilogy.

Listening |I absolutely adore Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell’s episode of the week for me was “The Footsoldier of Birmingham” in which Gladwell investigates the statue commemorating the picture of a police dog attacking a Black boy:

footsoldierofbirminghamThe problem is before publishing the photo, before writing the narrative, before making this image a central argument of the Civil Rights movement, no one found out what was really going on. And no one questioned how the above picture became the following statue:


Gladwell takes us through the entire story and makes us think. He’s a fantastic storyteller, a careful thinker, and a casual speaker.

Anticipating | I received two new books in the mail this past week. The first is Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, a nonfiction children’s book recommended by Jill at rhapsody in books. The second is Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read But Probably Didn’t, which seems hilarious and was recommended over at Bookfoolery.

Doing | Last week, the family and I celebrated the 4th of July with family, food, and fireworks. For the first time, we had a band at the fireworks which was awesome and my kids got all excited when they would play a song they knew.

The adults loved the music even more than the kids:

fourthfamilyAnd let’s not forget to give much love to my patriotic t-shirt: