Author Archives: jalzen

About jalzen

Follower of Christ, wife, friend, and member of Team Alzen!

Book Club: Anne of Green Gables

This is the book I own that I’ve never read. I bought it quite some time ago at Good Will. I adored this movie as a young girl. My grandma bought me the complete series of books for Christmas one year because she knew how much I loved the movie, but I just never really got into the books. I thought it was about time I read this one.

The movie version of this book is about 80% word for word out of this book. There were maybe 4 chapters that weren’t in the movie at all, but there were more details in various chapters that were left out of the movie. You definitely know Marilla more in the book. You get a better sense of her feelings toward Anne, which were very endearing. What was not endearing, was the fact that she is pretty racist in a couple of spots. The book also has a lot of wordy descriptions, which are consistent with Anne’s character, but not consistent with my reading preferences. So all in all, watch the movie and skip this book.

A side note that was kind of interesting about this book was that I read it in the sauna at the gym, and several people struck up conversation with me for reading this one. I found that pretty interesting. My next sauna read is a much more contemporary book. We’ll see if people care to engage with me about this new book.

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Book Club


Things I Hear in the Gym Sauna

I’ve added sitting in the sauna as part of my gym activities. The purpose is threefold:

  1. I take a book in there to read and leave my phone in the locker. Leaving the phone is mostly because my phone can’t handle that much heat for that long, but I also appreciate the break from all electronic devices.
  2. It helps with my break from mama-hood. I get 2 hours of childcare each time I go in, and you better believe I use all 120 minutes.
  3. It’s supposed to help with hormone blah blah blah and workout recovery.


There were several things I did not know before I started this practice:

  1. The majority of sauna users are men.
  2. I feel very vulnerable and unsafe when I’m in there with multiple men and no other women.
  3. When you read a physical book, older people tend to engage you in conversation about it, but not younger people
  4. People (mainly the men, but some women too) talk about things in there as if they are in the privacy of their own homes or participating in private phone calls and this is so bizarre to me.


I’ve decided to start collecting sauna stories and sharing them here because they must be shared.

  1. I heard a man talk about how he lied to his wife about the benefits of some food supplement because she wasn’t going to believe the real benefit
  2. I heard another man tell his buddy that sometimes daughters just need to be told that they aren’t smart enough to do something
  3. I heard a man who was probably in his 40s trash talk the young guys for not stretching in the sauna prior to working out IN FRONT OF some said young guys
  4. I watched a young man try to hit on a young woman awkwardly in front of about 8 other people in the sauna
  5. I overheard that same woman talk about her modeling photo shoot with her friend in that same sauna with 8 or so strangers

So…do what you will with all of that. You can imagine how I felt at times.

In a more positive report, I had a lovely conversation with a colleague of Shirley Brice Heath whose book I read in graduate school. He chatted me up because he saw me reading Anne of Green Gables. He first complimented my use of a “real” book rather than a device, and then told me about his work with a Taiwanese linguist and Anne of Green Gables and how it related to Shirley Brice Heath’s work. Let’s just say I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation as opposed to things I was thinking when listening particularly to #2 above.


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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Grad School, Uncategorized


Book Club: The Outsiders

This book fits in the category of a book published before I was born. I’ve had a couple of friends suggest this book to me multiple times, but for some reason I never picked it up. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It had more plot twists than I expected and really engaged me from beginning to end. It made me think of some really sweet kids who have been in my life over the years. I know very little of the background to this book, but my understanding is that the author wrote it when she was a kid because she didn’t think the books she was reading in school appropriately reflected the real experiences of teenagers. Just like several of the other books I read on this challenge, boy has my life experience been so vastly different from so many others. If I were to write a book about the experiences of teenagers, this is not the book I would write. Regardless, I enjoyed this book and appreciated the way issues of class are brought up in ways accessible to younger students. I can see why a lot of my 7th-graders read this when I taught middle school.

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Book Club


Goals 2016 Check-In

I’m so far behind on checking in with these goals. Here’s a quick recap of where I am right now.
1) Whole 30 (January 1st)

I completed a strict Whole 30 in January. Since then, I have only added back pre-made condiments such as ketchup and bbq sauce in limited quantities. I’ve lost about 9 pounds and around 6 inches overall. I’m finally back below my pre-baby weight and, in fact, weigh less than I ever have in my adult life. However, that’s not exactly the goal. Sure I wanted to reach pre-baby weight, but I also wanted to reset my relationship with food, which I’ve definitely done. At this point, dates and mangoes are plenty sweet for me. Sure I occasionally want a cupcake or some chocolate or ice cream or a donut, but I’m fairly convinced that all but the chocolate will give me a stomachache. At this point I’m aiming for 100 days just to say I did it, but I’m not convinced I’ll last that long as I’m not sure I care. I’m not aiming to lose more weight or anything, and I’m sure my relationship with food has been reset. But I will carry on for a few more days at least. At this point, I most want to go on a date with the Husband for sushi and maybe have some tacos.

2) Bed by 9 on a regular basis (January 1st)

We’ve been pretty good about this. I have not been doing all of the nighttime rituals, but we’ve at least been in the bed relatively close to 9 most nights. I try and stop reading around 9:30, which I’m normally successful at.

3) Bible reading on a regular basis (January 1st)
Things are going much better in this department. I’m concentrating on memorizing Colossians 3 at this point.
4) Dissertation five days a week (January 1st)

I haven’t really been keeping track of this, but I think it’s happening. Even if it isn’t, I’ve been greatly productive since January and feel really good about my progress.
5) Blogging/journaling on a regular basis (January  1st)

Not as consistent as I’d like to be, but there is evidence to suggest there has been great improvement.
6) Water (February 1st)
Ugh. Definitely fail sauce on this. I need to start keeping track. I kind of forgot this was a goal. I will start paying more attention to this tomorrow!
7) Cleaning schedule (February 1st)

Kinks worked out and plan executed. I give myself grace on the regular cleaning the two days a week my kid goes to schools. On days she’s here with me, we spend a good amount of time doing chores around the house. She likes to join sometimes, and it’s adorable.
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8) Pleasure reading (February 1st)
I didn’t think I could make 20 books in the year, but since I’ve already finished 7, I think I’m going to be ok. Audio books on the new commute to campus helps a lot.
9) Regular exercise (February 1st)

Still not here. It’s better, but still not meeting anyone’s definition of “regular”. I’ll get there.

10) Sending cards (March 1st)

Ooh! I forgot this was a goal. I did sent little cards to the grandparents for Valentine’s Day though. Just need to send a March love note!
11) Memorizing scripture (March 1st)
See #3. Glad I picked this one up.
12) Sewing/lettering/Crafting (March 1st)
This is definitely happening. Working on a brand new quilt!
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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Blogging


Book Club: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This book fulfills the “Banned Books” category in my reading challenge. Reports of why this book was banned include reasons such as the description of rape, the hatred toward whites in the book, and profanity. Yup. That’s all in there. I also think this is an important book to read. It’s important to read about the experiences of people who aren’t like you. I am nothing like Maya Angelou. Nothing about my upbringing is similar to hers. Reading her book was enlightening to me. It was hard, and it was beautiful. The most notable moments in the book to me were as follows:

–The molestation and rape were obviously disturbing, but I have lived with an elementary aged child for almost two years now, and I have my own sweet little daughter. I can guarantee that my reaction to these parts of the book were more so than they would have been over two years ago. I was so disturbed that I practically had a physical reaction of disgust in wanting to protect little Maya.

–The experiences she had living with and without her parents. These were just so very indicative of the differences in our lives. Again, something important for people to wrestle with.

–The ending, which I think was just one of the most beautiful endings to a book, but perhaps I’m biased after having a little one.

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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Book Club, Uncategorized


Book Club: Bossy Pants

I don’t know why I didn’t read this book sooner. That’s a lie. I know why. I’m not crazy about 30 Rock, and I just always preferred Amy Poehler to Tina Fey. However, this book was super great, and I recommend it to all my friends. Tina Fey provides some great commentary on sexism and feminism and parenting and show business and other relevant topics through a great little narrative about her life. Fun, easy, and quick reading, but still gets you to think about some of the bigger issues in life.

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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in Book Club


Book Club: Overdressed

This book doesn’t meet any of my reading challenge specifications, but I read about it on a blog and decided I had to read it. I’ve been working on minimizing my wardrobe for a while now for simplification and living more of a minimalist lifestyle generally, but I have been thinking about how I vote with my dollars when it comes to buying clothing. I need to start building my professional wardrobe again–not because I’m graduating any time soon, but because I want to save to buy better clothes that have been responsibly made. The vast majority of the clothing I have purchased in the past 5 years has been second-hand, which is great, but it’s hard to find professional clothes that fit well with limited choices at the Good Will.

This book talks about the idea of “fast fashion” and how it plays into our own economy as well as the economies in the countries we outsource clothing/textile production to. I found it interesting and relevant to my shopping goals.

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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


Preschool Research: Step I

So…it’s potentially time to start researching preschools. Really? Yes. Really. Only because sometimes there are ridiculous waiting lists. Step 1: make a list of all the preschools within a few minutes of our house. Check. There are 14. 14 preschools within 6 minutes of our house! That’s crazy. I’m sure we won’t be able to afford at least half of them, which will make the latter parts of this process go rather quickly. Updates to follow.

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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in parenting, Uncategorized



New tattoo perhaps?

I’m thinking about getting another tattoo. Something small on my wrist that could be covered with bracelets and or a watch or something equally small on my foot. Haven’t found the right design yet, but I’m looking. If this goes like last time, I’ll have picked the design about the time AB is ready for kindergarten, which may be good because perhaps I’ll know what my big grown up job will be and can make a decision based on what will be considered appropriate there or not.

I’m thinking of a simple word or very short quote–probably literary. We shall see where I land.

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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Team Alzen!



Book Club: Nancy Drew and the Lilac Inn

For the book I finished in a day (#2), I chose a Nancy Drew book the nine year old who lives with us got for her birthday. I’ve always wanted to read a Nancy Drew, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I have several thoughts about this book. First, there was so much careful description of all of Nancy s clothes and she always had a dress on except for the pants she wore while padding a canoe. Um…OK. Next, these books have a pretty high vocabulary for the age to which they are aimed. I can’t remember any off the top of my head, of course, but I had to look up a word or two. This was surprising. At least Nancy is pretty smart in all her gender appropriateness. And finally, Nancy gets herself into some really sticky and dangerous situations! I did not expect that. Since there’s about 100 of them, I knew Nancy was going to be OK, but I would have been worried if I didn’t know that as a fact!

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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Book Club