Tag Archives: book recommendations

What I’m Into: April 2014

How did May sneak up on me? Not to mention the entirety of this past year. Yet, here I sit with sun beams and computer screen competing for my attention (sunbeams are pulling into the lead… I may never finish this post).

On Friday, for Pro-D day, I packed up all the kids, and a spare, along with juice boxes, pita chips, sushi, a giant umbrella, towels, kites, buckets, shovels and dozen plastic dinosaurs. The first beach day of the year was definitely the highlight of the month!

My One Word this year is “Breathe” as I’m learning to taste and savour life moment by moment. I’m still a novice at this. But, somehow, it’s so much easier in the sunshine.

Here’s a taste of my past month…

Reading

What if you woke up one day and 10 years had passed? One minute you’re happily married, expecting your first child and the next you’ve got three kids and are in the midst of a messy divorce. Although the bump-to-the-head-causing-amnesia plot device is pretty cliché, What Alice Forgot (Moriarty) is engaging enough to live it down. I couldn’t help but wonder what 29-year-old me would think of how my life has actually turned out.

Another fun read by Rainbow Rowell, Attachments is an offbeat romance which unfolds primarily through email. Lincoln, an internet security officer is tasked with reading through all flagged messages on the company server. Instead of reporting the witty banter between two of his coworkers he finds himself enjoying and eventually falling for one of them, who he’s never met.

On a more serious note, I borrowed I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Yousafzai) from our 12-year-old neighbour and am currently concocting schemes to get my children to read it. Yes, it is an interesting look at life as a Muslim in Pakistan, but it is the personality of Malala herself that is most compelling. In light of the kidnapping and enslavement of Nigerian schoolgirls recently, the issue of girls education is more pressing than ever.

It’s not all fun reading at our house. The Out of Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (Kranowitz) is practically required reading for anyone whose child has trouble coping with the demands of daily life and seems a little out of step with the rest (typically developing and special needs kids). Whether it is to rule out or better understand this particular brand of struggle, this book presents a ton of information and many practical suggestions.

I put off reading A Generous Orthodoxy for a long time, because the subtitle is both long and confusing. I’m glad I did, because it is a perfect time for me to read it now. McLaren explores both the strengths and issues embodied by many distinctive groups within Christianity, encouraging us to recognize and embrace the contributions of each one while building a less defensive faith community. Something for everyone to both appreciate and hate. Good stuff.

Watching

Netflix apparently knows me well. They suggested I might like The 100 about a post-apocalyptic earth – both the humans who’ve lived for generations aboard a space station and the group of 100 teenagers they send to earth both to reduce the strain on resources and to ascertain if it is now survivable. What would we sacrifice in the name of survival? At what point is our humanity at risk?

I’ve converted my husband. After season 1 of Veronica Mars he is a believer. If only I could break him of his nasty House of Cards habit. Yuck.

Call me an idealist. Most of the time I like a hero who is unswervingly good. Which is why Captain America is my favourite Avenger despite his terrible costume and cheesy patriotism (after all, I am Canadian). I wasn’t disappointed by Captain America:  The Winter Soldier – definitely the best Marvel movie so far!

Thinking Deep Thoughts

As we’ve found ourselves moving into a new spiritual community I’ve been contemplating the nature of friendship, both building new relationships and maintaining established ones. I am, admittedly, a technophile with my iPhone always close at hand. I feel the draw of easy, efficient, but ultimately superficial social media connections. Ironically, there are several articles and videos making their way around Facebook right now about the drawbacks and dangers of our new virtual communities.

also: Loneliness in the Age of Facebook

They’re not wrong. As I click back to my newsfeed after watching/reading these kind of things I’m filled with guilt and discouragement and worry. Social media certainly has a dark side. It can be too much about too little, a poor substitute for real intimacy, and it can swallow up my actual life.

BUT, it’s only a tool. Built to serve us, not for us to serve it. We can use its power for our good.  I’m reminded of the advice and encouragement I’ve gotten from friends and family when I needed it most, the nephews and nieces whose faces and habits I am familiar with though they live far away, the childhood companions I’ve connected with (both online and in person), the new friends I’ve gotten to know and appreciate though my face-to-face with fellow adults is limited, and the cherished old friends I haven’t lost touch with though we no longer move in the same circles. There are so many things I love about it, that make my life better, when I use it to enhance reality and actual friendship, not to replace it.

Now, to figure out how to do that…

Blogging

I’ve  added another post to my What I Believe series about my changing views on God and the world and our place in it: Embracing a Bigger Gospel

I also posted a short story I wrote which was… wait for it… published in UFV’s literary magazine! Yay! The Stranger (aka – Who Will Remember) is about memory and family and losing both through dementia.stranger

So here’s me, from the sunny West Coast. My sincere condolences to everyone else in the world. While I was splashing in the ocean my family in Calgary was digging themselves out of yet another snowstorm.

Once again, I am linking up with a group of talented bloggers for Leigh Kramer’s “What I’m Into”
– definitely worth checking out!
what I'm into

 

 

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What I’m Into: March 2014

Today was a sunny day.

Ya, that’s right. Sun. Blue sky. Green grass. I wore shorts.

We who live on the rainy West Coast complain a lot. And it is grey and soggy and unrelenting. But sometimes, while our relatives are digging themselves out from another snowstorm, we’re digging out the sunscreen. We win.

Reading

I’m SO relieved I don’t have to think of diplomatic things to say about my friend Angela’s new book, Jewel of the Thames. I loved it! You know when you eat a meal that hits the spot – feeding a craving you weren’t even aware you had? That’s what this book did for me.
BBC’s Sherlock rekindled my fascination with the unconventional genius detective; Angela Misri feeds it with this fun read. Portia Adams, recently orphaned, discovers she is heiress of 221 Baker St from the mysterious grandfather she never knew. As with all my favourite detectives she is quirky, tough and brilliant. The mysteries are intriguing and I whipped through it at record speed.
PLUS – as a special bonus, my friend Ang has agreed to be the first official guest poster on this blog on Thursday!
jewel of the thames front cover

I also read The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall this month – exploring the necessity of narrative, a power so integral to humanity we rarely notice how completely we are immersed in it. It’s a dense book exploring competing ideas about everything from literature to dreams to LARPing (that’s Live Action Role Playing, non-nerds), but it is full of story itself, never once feeling like a textbook. I usually dislike evolutionary psychology, but this author manages to present his ideas without sucking the mystery and magic out of life. So much to think about… a fascinating read for every bookworm and amateur sociologist.

Surfing

My second cousin and a friend put together this unusual blog. Weekly Love Story tells a unique story about real-life love each week. They reach beyond formulaic Hollywood romance to show us everyday beauty: a meeting of the minds, sister and brother, a beloved child, passing friendships… there is so much out there worth celebrating. It always brightens my day!

Watching

A friend reminded me of this poem recently: The Shrinking Woman, about our tendency as women to agonize over how much space we deserve to occupy in our own worlds, not just physically, but in other ways too.

As usual, I’m behind the times in watching Call the Midwife. After the first couple of episodes I liked it just fine, but didn’t see what the big deal was. By number 4, I had fallen deeply in love with this series. It is by turns gritty, sweet, challenging, heartwarming and deeply human – a celebration of community and womanhood set in East London during the 1950s.

After watching the (pretty good, but not as amazing as the series) movie with me, Glen agreed to watch all 3 seasons of Veronica Mars together. That’s love!

Our family gives The Muppets: Most Wanted a unanimous “okay” – a fun show, but not nearly as good as the last one.

Advocating

Last year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that our prostitution laws are unconstitutional. The government has been given until December 2014 to draft new laws. The conservative government has been here before and ultimately committee recommendations to implement a Nordic (abolitionist) model were overlooked. Although the official deadline for public input was March, we can still influence the direction our country takes.

As for me, I’m an abolitionist. Here’s why:

abolition infographic

abolition 2

abolition 3

abolition 4

abolition 5

abolition 6

Infographic by: rethinklife.org

For more info or to get involved, check out:

The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution

Blogging

This has been a strange month for So Here’s Us. I’m all over the place.

On one hand is my usual fare, a poem for World Down Syndrome Day: I Am Me; another one for So-Overwhelmed-I’m-Losing-My-Mind Day (aka – almost every day): Sinking; and finally an introspective piece about things life is teaching me: Excuse Me While I Apologize for Living.

On the other hand, I’ve started a new series called What I Believe explaining our new life philosophy. It starts with a break-up letter to our beloved church: Confession Time and explains the biggest shift: From Certainty to Mystery. For those interested in spiritual matters, stay tuned for Embracing a Bigger Gospel and What is a Progressive Christian Anyway?

So here’s us, panting for spring and all the new beginnings that come with it.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer’s “What I’m Into” list.

 what I'm into

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Friday Favourites 7: till death do us part

This week I told my love story. That’s right – cue the “awwww”! Suffice it to say, it’s been a nostalgic love fest in our house all week. And it’s not my fault.

You may not know this to look at my husband, but beneath his scruffy, cynical concert t-shirt beats the heart of a real SAP. He is definitely the romantic in our relationship. I must confess, I would never have remembered our first date-iversary, but he’s not one to let these special days pass.

In high school I was the grateful recipient of not one, but a dozen “I love you” mix tapes.

Tapes are like CD’s, only they fit in a ghetto blaster…um… cassette player…it’s like a…walkman… never mind kids. It’s what we called “playlists” in the olden days.

Our song du jour is a tune I’ve always loved, but hadn’t really notice the words until Glen told me the last part reminded him of me. Eat your heart out Bryan Adams, there’s a new “our song” in town!

Quote

Then the letters all flash through my head,

with the words that I was told about the fading flesh of life and love, the failures of the bold.

I can list each crippling fear like I’m reading from a will.

And I’ll defy every one and love you still.

I will carry you with me up every hill.

The Airborne Toxic Event – from The Graveyard Near The House

Song

Not everyone will find this song about decomposing corpses romantic, but we sure do!

Blog

Speaking of death, one of my favourite bloggers is a funeral director. That’s not just a clever segue. Caleb Wilde offers a glimpse into the bizarre world of modern mourning. Nothing like unusual casket options and wacky eulogies, or Slogans for Death’s New PR Campaign to brighten my day. But most importantly, he provides an insight about life that only someone who walks with the bereaved every day can offer. Challenging and uplifting, because often life is seen most clearly in the light of death.

iPhone/iPad App

Speaking of grabbing life and sucking the marrow out of it… ya, this clever segue is not going to work. How about: in this life we all have to learn our times tables, might as well have fun doing it!

For the first time in C’s life she is not kicking arithmetic butt. No matter how thoroughly she understands multiplication, she has not memorized and deeply ingrained the times tables on her soul. Until now… we have tried a number of apps, songs, videos and good old fashioned drills, but Math Bingo is our favourite!

After playing each round you earn a “math bug” which you can use to play another game. It looks like the love child of Angry Birds and Pong to me. And the price is right at only $0.99!

Free Stuff

Personally, I don’t like audio books. Give me written word or give me nothing (or, you know, television). But my kids love it!

They still listen to Adventures in Odyssey each night. They LOVED the Narnia audio books, so I was pretty stoked to hear about Free Audio Books at booksshouldbefree.com. They have every classic I could think of, including some of my favourites: Jane Austen, Montgomery, Alcott… We are starting with Little Women and Pinocchio.

You can stream them from the website or download as a podcast. If you go through Amazon audible, it’ll cost you in the end, so be careful. Thanks for the tip Janis – everyone needs a home school mom in their pocket.

Instructional Video

Cute and funny – my kids even laughed. Okay, made a chuckling sound, maybe just a smirk, but I’ll take it! It’s a Book for anyone born in the last 10 years, and a reminder for the rest of us.

Is it ironic that I watched this on my iPhone? I’d like to buy this Lane Smith book in print. I hear people can still do that.

Book

If you are like me and need a real book in hand (or at least on the kindle) try Mennonite in the Little Black Dress. If you grew up Mennonite, or brethren (like me), or any old school church that spent a lot of time trying to be “in the world, but not OF it” you will LOVE this book. My sisters and I howled over it on our road trip. We sang all the old bible camp songs at the top of our lungs until Glen was ready to chuck us out of the car on our “sitter-downers”.

Don’t expect a devotional or some Janet Oke-ish love story, but it’s an interesting peek into both this strange little subculture and the cold world of academia.

So here’s me, with mine hand on mine self and vat is das here, das is mine tinker-boxer mine Mama dear. Tinker-boxer, tinker-boxer, ja, ja, ja, ja. Dat’s vat ve learn in der school. Ja Ja!


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