Tag Archives: recommendations

What I’m Into: Summer 2014

It’s been a long time since I shared a “What I’m Into” post. I haven’t posted much of anything for the past 3 months. Clearly, I’m not that into blogging lately. Not that I’ve lost my love for writing as a hobby/therapy/desperate bid for attention – let’s pretend I didn’t actually spell out that last reason out, shall we?

The truth is, I’ve spent a great deal of my writing mojo on other projects lately. Hesitantly poking my nose into freelance articles, writing poetry and short stories I may never show anyone, and even, deep breath admitting this out loud, the start of my sci-fi YA novel. There are other outlets that would make more sense both financially and practically right now. But sometimes you have to do what makes your heart sing, no matter how silly it seems to everyone else.

So here’s a few of the other things that made my heart sing this summer:

the Calgary Stampede, steak and cheese bread from Ceasar’s, making s’mores with family from far and wide, a backyard full of toys and half-naked cousins, little ones kissing Gigi on the cheek

sour cherry slurpees, lifesaver popsicles and watermelon on the hot, miserable days

kiddie pools, beach days and eating on the deck

finding new sci-fi buddies in my own house (thanks to Aunt Colleen for the amazing Marvel-cation you gave L and C this summer) – next up: Star Trek

brand new text books full of things to learn (art history, medieval literature and creative writing)

Reading

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is technically a children’s book (ages 9-12), but I’ve read it twice already. This should be required reading for everyone who’s ever known someone with a disability, or ever will. Funny, gut-wrenching and uplifting by turns it follows Auggie Pullman, who was born with a drastic facial deformity, as he attends school (grade 5) for the first time.

Cinder, followed by Scarlett and Cress in short order. I both love and hate the cliff-hanger endings, especially since the fourth and final installment doesn’t come out until next year. The premise of these futuristic fairy tales (Cinderella the cyborg) is intriguing and the writing is solid, if not brilliant. I’ll go a long way for a clever premise.

Black Dog, Dream Dog is a sweet tale written by Michelle Superle for young dog lovers. I am neither of those things, but a fan of the author and the art of gentle story-telling. They don’t make enough like these anymore.

Bloom by Kelle Hampton has been sitting on my shelf for months. It’s recommended to me, and no doubt every other mother of a child with Down Syndrome, on a regular basis. I admire Kelle’s unvarnished honesty, her stunning photography and her lovely writing. BUT, her experience is as different from mine as night and day. It was so hard to relate to. For those with little experience in the messiness of life, those who pursue picture perfect and are facing the first bump in the road, this might be the book for you. But not for me.

I also really, really wanted to enjoy Blue Shoe by one of my favourite authors Anne Lamotte, but alas, I hated it.

Watching

This summer my TV (read: Netflix) watching has consisted of:

  • Season 2 of Veronica Mars
  • Suits – a stylish and fun (though unrealistic) drama about lawyers
  • A blast from my far past – Highlander (full episodes found on Youtube)
  • Extant – weird, but interesting
  • Under the Dome – losing steam, but refusing to give up entirely

The movies that I’ve enjoyed lately are:

  • If I Stay, a sugary sweet, but still palatable story about family, death and young love
  • The silly, but strangely endearing Guardians of the Galaxy
  • And for some reason, despite the gory violence, Lucy

I don’t know if I’m getting old (or boring according to my kids), but I’m enjoying documentaries and Ted Talks an awful lot these days. Here’s a few of my favourites:

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

If you stumble on me doing an aggressive Wonderwoman pose in the bathroom, blame science.

The Happiness Advantage

The Game that can give you 10 Extra Years of Life

Blogging

Summer isn’t all fun and games. I’m learning to Exhale and accept that Grown Up is Hard to Be. I even posted my first celebraty tribute: Robin Williams and the Human Condition.

We celebrated 19 years of imperfect, but mostly happy marriage this July – Beyond Obligation.

The summer is also a time for birthdays, which in our family means birthday letters. After much discussion, the kids agreed they can be posted on the blog (I suspect it has something to do with the rave reviews we give them). He’s big. He’s bad. He’s four., Raising You is an Art, not a Science, and Prima Ballerina.

So here’s us, facing an uncertain fall full of new things. Teacher’s strike looming, all new SEA’s and teachers for the girl, full time school for me and 4 days a week of preschool for the boy. Wonderwoman poses for everyone.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer:

what I'm into

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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

 

 


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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What I’m Into July/August 2013

Back-to-school outfits have been donned. Backpacks have been filled. First day butterflies have been calmed.

Summer is officially over.

Here’s a look back at a few of the things I was into this summer:

Activities

  • swimming with ALL the cousins
  • pretending I’m flying on the AtmosFear ride at Playland
  • playing Science World games with my big kids (especially Glen)
  • dandelion bouquets
  • flying kites and dancing with ribbons on the beach
  • rainbow sorbet
  • homemade burgers straight off the BBQ
  • being woken up on rare sleep-in days with enthusiastic hugs and screams of “Look! It’s Mama! Look! Mama’s here!”

Music

I kept Gang of Rhythm by Walk Off The Earth on repeat all summer. It’s catchy and whimsical and makes us all dance. Except for Glen.

Books

51kgV8bTDiL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is the first time I have strongly recommended a book I haven’t read all the way through. Not because I didn’t have time or didn’t want to, but because my heart just couldn’t take it. The main character Aminata feels so real and her story so sad and, worst of all, so true, that it wrecks me. This particular story of abduction and slavery is set many years ago, but is still happening all over the world. This book is beautifully written and a compelling read, if you can stand it.

My favourite light reading for summer was romance novels by Debbie Macomber. They are predictable, sappy and extraordinarily prolific, which doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but when it comes to mindless indulgence, it really is. I always know what I’m getting with one of these novels and I can finish it in a couple of hours. If you’re looking for something smut-free and easy to read, as opposed to great literature and deep thoughts, she’s your gal.

51KfyeRqnyL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_Hold Onto Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate has been on my shelf for a while. The title of this book is so alarmist. I wondered if it would be a whole lot of hand wringing and reactionary fear mongering. It is. But it’s also full of good advice and psychologically sound insights. Every time and culture has its weaknesses – this book deals with one of ours: peer orientation and parental alienation. Ultimately, I’m totally on board with the style of parenting they promote, if not in agreement with every single point. As they say, “the secret of parenting is not in what a parent does but rather who the parent is to a child.” If we establish strong relationship, we can parent intuitively and instinctively, and much more effectively. Not an easy read, but worth slogging through.

Blogs

Simple Mom is exactly what it sounds like: a blog for Moms about keeping life simple. I’m always looking for ways to declutter my life and soul, so I appreciate the practical and helpful posts.

I found a new hobby: reading the winning entries from writing contests. Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry are my favourite. I like CBC Writes and Literal Latte when I’m looking to feel more “intellectual and literary” (see above re: fluffy romance novels).

Movie

We went to see it because there was nothing else that would work with babysitting. I was skeptical, but The Heat totally won me over. The language is SO bad. The plot is thin. But somehow it was just what I needed. Melissa McCarthy is comedic gold!

TV

After watching Done the Impossible, a documentary about the rabid fandom of Joss Whedon’s show Firefly, I felt compelled to re-watch the one brilliant season and force my husband to sit through the movie Serenity. This is MY show. I LOVE it. All caps – LOVE. I’m not sure I can even put into words why. The intriguing premise, the witty dialogue, the complex characters, the strange and beautiful world they inhabit, the acting, the underdogs triumph against all odds trope… It’s the best that science fiction has to offer! In fact, if you’re wondering where the title of my blog comes from… well, watch the movie to find out.

Sadly, my husband doesn’t “get it.” What is wrong with him? Fortunately, he has many other fine qualities.

I also started rewatched Sherlock (BBC) in eager anticipation of the third season. The acting. The tension. The British accents. What’s not to love?

Space channel started reruns of Castle, a cop show starring Nathan Fillion (of Firefly fame) and some other people who I barely notice. He’s a crime novelist shadowing a beautiful NYPD detective whom he is not-so-secretly in love with. Nothing profound, but it’s funny and entertaining. Also, I love having a whole season on PVR to watch at my leisure.

So here’s me, thrilled to be back to our normal routine, but sure I’ll miss the “free time” I had this summer, now that my school starts as well. This fall I’ll be taking “Literary Journalism” – not quite sure what it is exactly, but the syllabus looks fascinating. And intimidating. I’m going to get SO far behind on my Castle episodes.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for

what I'm into


What I’m Into (June 2013)

June.

Second only to Christmas as the busiest time of the year. Also like December, a time in life I appreciate the most AFTER it’s over. At the time it felt like an unending whirlwind of dance rehearsing/essay writing/house guesting/field tripping/thank you noting/routine busting crazy… and you know how I feel about routine.

In retrospect, it was all good. Not in the dopey Rastafarian way, but a deep down, life affirming, good-for-me month. It’s possible I hold a liiiiiittle too tightly to that routine after all.

So, what made June amazing?

A not-totally-perfect hip hop routine

One that depressed C, my perfectionist hip hopper, but made me so proud I cried. It was awesome! And maybe parents are supposed to think that, like she says. But more likely, it was thinly veiled genius, just beginning to emerge. Not to mention ADORABLE (but don’t tell her I said that).

Beauty and the Beast, ballet style

With L as the dog, the stove, a dish and an angry townsman… amazing production all around, but the highlight is always seeing this glamorous woman-child on stage doing such beautiful, complex, graceful things that I barely recognize her.

Cousins

This was a month of cousins. My baby sister had another baby (something I’m still wrapping my brain around) – little cousin Marcos to increase the testosterone load in the fam. Beyond beautiful and way too far away.

We saw our “in town” cousins a few times and reaffirmed that my god-daughter is one of my son’s favourite people in the world. Cousins make the most convenient friends!

Speaking of, one of my favourite cousins came to stay. Growing up, she was the sister I actually wanted. Her two oldest kids came along and I’m pretty sure mine feel the same way. S was delighted to have a big boy with tons of energy to chase and wrestle all day! My city kids were also dazzled by tales of 4H and bear hunts, horrified by an attempt to bring possum road-kill home (“but it was fresh,” he said, bewildered by our reaction) AND impressed when he took on a local bully with geography riddles (see: you may be a homeschooler when…). Meanwhile, the oldest girl-cousin and C have the same symbiotic, silly-fun, picking-the-friendship-right-up-without-missing-a-beat chemistry that Janis and I have. Honestly, cousins make the best friends!

Books

One of the last books for my Children’s Lit course, Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson is a very contemporary type of book – messy and gritty and strangely compelling. I can’t decide to recommend it in spite of, or because of, the weird plot twists. It’s a little bit heartbreaking, but beautifully so.

After all that FUN reading for my course, I decided it was time for a Good-For-Me book. I choose something outside my usual box, a memoir about addiction and the spiritual side of recovery. Heather Kopp is one of my all-time favourite bloggers, so I figured Sober Mercies would at least be palatable. As it turns out… I couldn’t put it down. I read it in 24 hours and I’m already planning to read it again. I was completely drawn into her story and her vulnerability and her humor… and guess what, it really was Good-For-Me. Even though I’m a different brand of broken, I can definitely relate.

Blog

No time to peruse all the great blogs out there? Me neither. 3 Things for Mom has a guest poster almost every day with a Truth, a Tip and a Find. It’s a quick and easy way to sample new writers and new ideas.

App

songzaSongza is for those of us too lazy (smart and efficient) to make our own playlists. It has every style of music I could think of, categorized by mood or activity or even time of day. I love the Working/Studying (no lyrics) playlists – Classical for studying and Epic Film Scores for writing dramatic position papers. Headbands and Legwarmers: 80s Workout while I fold laundry. Coast Guard Motivational Mix while I mow the lawn (every cheesy song you can think of from Eye of the Tiger to Chariots of Fire). Mom-friendly Pop/Rock for a BBQ with the in-laws.

Video

Another thing I felt compelled to look into, since Kristen Howerton was one of the first bloggers I ever followed. Glad I did… as I’m always needing to find this fine line. When is social media a healthy diversion; when is it a wasteful distraction?

So here’s me, June survivor, and dare I say, thriver. Bring on the lazy summer days!

what I'm into


What I’m Into (April 2013)

Ever wanted to be a fly on my wall?

Of course you have.

Unfortunately I don’t have any openings in that department, so here’s a list of “What I’m Into” as of last month – part of Hopeful Leigh‘s monthly link up. It should give you a feel for life at our house. Just add copious amounts of Wonder Pets, dirty diapers and shrieks of happiness/rage/frustration/surprise/just-trying-out-my-lungs-to-make-sure-they-still-work… the kids are pretty noisy too.

what I'm into

Books:

  • divergentDivergent by Veronica Roth – I’m a sucker for dystopian fiction. This book has all my favourite things: a tough but relatable leading lady, a strange and horrifying new world, with just enough romance to keep things moving. In this new world all people are sorted at age 16 into 5 factions, which were created to counter what they percieve is the most dangerous human failing. These subcultures are called Candor (people are deceptive), Amity (people are too aggressive), Erudite (people are ignorant), Dauntless (people are cowardly) and Abnegation (people are selfish). Beatrice just turned 16…
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – I’m crazy about Brene’s TED talk on the importance of vulnerability. She is brilliant! Her book is more of the same, not quite as compelling, but still plenty to chew on. Self-help isn’t my favourite genre, but I still found this a good mix of entertaining and challenging.
  • coloursThe Colours of God: toward an emerging theology by Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen and Randall “Peg” Peters – So much of Christianity, and the emerging movement within it, seems to focus on what we oppose; this book is about what (and who – hint, it starts with an ‘e’ and rhymes with shmeveryone) we are to embrace. Although the discussion format takes some getting used to, this unique vision of how to BE church is intriguing.
  • Wrestling with Angels: Adventures in Faith and Doubt by Carolyn Arends – I’m reading it again. I’m loving it as much as ever. Enough story to make it feel like light reading, but enough profound to reach deep into my heart and soul. Just what a busy mom like me needs.

TV Shows:

  • It’s more than a show at our house. Chopped has become a favourite game for the big girls. Just like on the show, each participant is given a basket of 4 mystery ingredients. They are given 20-30 minutes (depending on the round – appetizer, entree or dessert) to prepare something delicious, creative and beautiful. They must use all 4 ingredients in their dish. Their Mom (I mean Judge) must eat it and declare a winner. Sometimes the results are surprisingly tasty. And other times… that’s what mouthwash is for.
  • Although I continue to dislike cooking, for some bizarre reason I enjoy watching almost anything on the Food Network – Top Chef Canada, Restaurant Impossible and Pitchin’ In are my favourites. None of them are “must see” but if we have some down time I’ll look for them.
  • Fringe – still working my way through the first season on Netflix. It is creepily fascinating. I can finally see Joshua Jackson as someone other than Pacey. Though I’m still rooting for him to get the girl.

Movies:

  • The Host. I’m always nervous when they make a movie based on a book I love. But, they did an okay job. It’s tricky transfering complexity of plot and depth of character development from page onto screen, so at times they choose simply to focus on kissing instead. I wonder if the editor was a teenage girl? More likely they were hoping to entice this audience. I’d still recommend it – just read the book first, okay?

  • After a week on my own with the kids I missed my husband so much that a few minutes after he got home I ran out to see a movie. Oblivion was pretty good. The entire movie is spent trying to figure out what happened and what is happening, but not so confusing that my brain hurt.

Music:

  • Phillip Phillips, despite his ridiculous name, is the flavour of the month. Most of the time I don’t bother with a playlist – just put his album on shuffle. So good.
  • I downloaded The Parson RedHeads’ latest album and it’s pretty good. They were amazing live, which is saying something, because I don’t even like that sort of thing.
  • It goes without saying that The Airborne Toxic Event is usually heard somewhere in our house throughout the day. After my groupie experience at the beginning of the month, I appreciate them more than ever. Their song Timeless is on repeat in the car. The girls and I had a great discussion about the phrase “Oh my God” as we listened and concluded that in this song it is a good thing, because those who grieve aren’t being flippant.

Blogs:

  • The tagline alone is worth the read: Living my life as is, instead of as if. The Actual Pastor has been my go-to destination this past week. It’s awesome. Go read it.
  • I love getting to know a brand new blog. Not just the writing, but the writers themselves. Mewhoami is a kindred spirit. I especially enjoyed Trapped Within – a slice of life, from her son’s perspective. For many parents, autism is something bad to be stomped out at all costs, but to others it is a unique perspective and a mystery to be unravelled. Love.
  • Have you ever found a poem, just a little piece of prose in an unexpected place? It might be the work of Poem Elf. She sets poems free from books, leaving them in public places for everyone to enjoy (then tells the tale on her blog). I’m so glad I stumbled on this site. Poetry isn’t my first love, but it is something I really enjoy in small bites. I’m enjoying this gentle education.

App:

good readsGood Reads is the newest reason I love my smart phone. When I’m at the bookstore, or library, or snooping on someone else’s shelves… and I see a book that looks interesting, I just scan the barcode with my camera and up pops a listing for it. After seeing the rating and reading a few reviews I can decide if I want to add it to my “To Read” list. I can also type in an author or title if that’s easier. The best part is the running list of books I want to read, books I am reading now and being able to rate/review books I’ve just read. Every bookworm needs this app.

Other things I’ve loved this month:

  • At the beginning of the month we spent one day in the hipster mecca, Portland. I would love more time to explore someday, especially Powells Book Store (taking up 4 stories and a full city block of books, books, books… including enough used books to win over my frugal little heart). Such a cool city!
  • Which brings me to the absurd show Portlandia. It’s Red Green for hipsters. It’s the only reason I have the YouTube app on my phone.
  • With more and more sunny days, it’s time to turn my attention to that important spring activity: avoiding yard work. I’ve heard friends complaining about putting it off until the last minute, then doing a haphazard job of it. Amateurs. The best way to avoid it is to run away from home; bring some food and enjoy the sunshine where someone else has done the yard work. Around here we call that a picnic and it’s my favourite thing to do with the kids this month.

On this blog:

little mirror, little me – was written in the car on the way home from Portland. I was thinking about my girls, especially C. I constantly see myself in them, in their strengths and their weaknesses. It is both gratifying and terrifying.

So here’s me, and the stuff I’m into.


Friday Favourites

So this is the part where I explain why what was once a weekly part of this blog is now an infrequent visitor. I will allude to my busy schedule and my need for blogging to remain a fun hobby and not an obligation. Because DAGNABIT, I control this blog, it doesn’t control me! But every once in a while I will post a list of things I liked that week. And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it, but I hope you will.

Only this part is supposed to be, ya know, witty and eloquent, maybe inspiring.

But then Glen spent the evening at a work event. And I spent 45 minutes hunched over the crib holding the boy’s hand until he fell asleep. And I sang 3 1/2 lullaby songs to B. And I was sidetracked by C’s new-found love of baking and the alarming questions she would yell at me from the kitchen. And L’s dance carpool fell through.

So, here it is anyway, but without the eloquent.

Quote

A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.

~ Archibald MacLeish

Song

This song is on constant repeat these days. The first time I heard it I thought of Glen and all he does for me and how wonderful he is and how he takes care of us all. And I felt sorry for everyone who isn’t in love with him.

This letting go is so beautiful, cause you make it so easy, to fall so hard…

Movie

Naturally, we will take the tragic Tsunami in Thailand and make it all about the rich, white tourists… Nevertheless “The Impossible” is a great movie. I cried from the beginning to the end. And yes, I like that kind of thing.

Blog

Joy in this Journey is NOT another cheesy Christian blog, as the title might suggest. I first stumbled on Joy Bennett’s blog to read a post about the death of her daughter Ellie. Not many people are able to tackle the topics of grief, faith struggles and depression with unflinching honesty AND hope. I’m in love with her tagline: “Somewhere beneath the kids’ stinky laundry and my own doubt lies a joy worth fighting for. I’m here to dig it out.” And she does.

Exercise Routine

I don’t care what he says, I invented this exercise. Except, I do it in the privacy of my own home, where only my husband can (and does) mock me.

So here’s me, dancing like no one’s watching. Because they aren’t. And that’s the best kind of dancing.


Friday Favourites: Goodbye 2012

We needed milk.

We needed milk and, according to B, hot dogs for lunch. So, I came up with the brilliant plan to celebrate one of our last official day of Christmas holiday with a quick trip to Costco. We’d grab a few things and enjoy a fun and inexpensive meal out, just me and my four angels. Stupid, naive woman.

By the time we made it through the line up we had a teetering mountain of dry goods (how did that happen?) and a whiney pair of littles to contend with. Food would help. Food always helps, right?

Except now, B has decided that she doesn’t want hot dogs. Not now. Not ever again. She’s offended that I keep putting it in front of her. S removes not only his coat, boots, and socks, but sweeps a fully loaded hot dog and drink onto his sister and my pizza slice onto the floor.

Then the screaming starts. Not your typical whiney fussing, but whole-hearted, top-of-the-lungs, sounds-of-torture shrieks that has everyone stopping to stare. Costco right before nap time… not my best idea.

Somehow we make it out to the parking lot. I’m hobbling on my sprained ankle (did I mention I’m wearing a walking cast today – extra fun). I’ve got one hand on the boy’s shirt trying to keep him from thrashing out of the cart, pushing it with my hip, the other hand is clamped around B’s wrist dragging her across the street while she does her best floppy corpse impression; the big girls are trailing behind carrying our food and various items we’ve dropped along the way. The screaming has not abated.

Somehow, finally, we make it to the van, unload our cart and buckle everyone in. L makes a grand flourish with her hand and using her best director’s voice: “AAAAAAAAND… SCENE!”

I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. It might be maternal pride in a well-timed joke. It might be I’m still slightly hysterical. But mostly, I think it is our crazy, gong show of a morning that makes a good laugh better than ever.

That’s 2012 for us in a nutshell. I know it’s over, but until school starts again, I’m still chewing on last year and girding my loins for the next. So, a few favourites to make the transition smoother.

Quote

Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

~ Oprah Winfrey

Year in Review

26 Moments That Restored Our Faith in Humanity This Year  has made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook. I’m not a bit surprised. Stories of big and small gestures of kindness and generosity are welcome reminders that the world is full of wonderful people too.

Source: Courtney Sacco / via: annarbor.com

2012 Election Spoof

It’s not even my country. But US elections are comedy gold. Good times. Although it’s a done deal now, Chris Rock’s “Message for White Voters” may still reassure some of the rednecks out there about President Obama. And makes me laugh. Which I need today.

2013 Movie

Okay, I don’t know if it’s a favourite. I only hope it will be. Definitely something to look forward to.

Every time they make a book I love into a movie I am filled with equal parts excitement and trepidation. The balance of an intriguing premise, several likeable characters and a dash of romance make The Host my favourite sci-fi novel. I have read it half a dozen times. I’m sure I will read it that many times again. And in less than 3 months, we can all watch it!

So here’s me, with 2 days, 17 hours and 47 minutes until Christmas holiday is entirely over and 2013 can start for real.


Friday Favourites: The End of the World

candlesToday is The End.

Of the Mayan calender.

Not, it would seem, the world.

Since we don’t actually use the Mayan calender. Since most of us had never even heard of it until this year. Since it’s really not this mystical, prophetic word, merely the end of an ancient system of time measurement (according to our Mayan tour guide when we were in Mexico last year). It’s really not worth panicking about. When my calender runs out, I simply go out and get a new one. It doesn’t have to MEAN anything.

But there are a lot of Chicken Littles in this world. At the slightest provocation they jump right to doomsday scenarios. It’s silly, but kind of entertaining as they run around, wringing their hands, worrying about end of days. Remember Y2K? Good times.

At this time last week I heard about the Sandy Hook school shooting. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. For those families it really must feel like the end of the world, no matter what calendar we use. And as much as we want to find a reason and assign blame and make it MEAN something, it was the kind of horrific violence that will never make sense to me.

This is where Christmas can either help or hurt. Either it is an idealized, pretty holiday full of trite and easy answers. OR it is God of the Universe jumping into the chaos, confusion, pain and stupidity that we call life, to be WITH US.

There were end of the world cults in Jesus day. There was senseless cruelty and systematic violence (see: Herod killing all the babies of Bethlehem, Roman torture methods etc.). He wasn’t the instant-fix, beat-up-the-bullies, end-to-all-troubles Messiah they wanted and expected, but he was GOD WITH US. And somehow, even when it doesn’t make sense, that helps.

Prayer

Merciful God, in this Advent season we thank you that you can rewrite the script of our lives,

moving us from wandering to arrival,

from self-hatred to acceptance,

from distance to nearness,

from loneliness to belonging,

from weakness to energy,

and all this because of the enfleshment of your dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus, who became one of us

and showed us the way.

Amen.

From: Thoughts and Prayers of Advent

Christmas for Dummies

I almost gave up on this video, it seemed slow, but the ending is worth it. The point of all this: religion, christmas, theology… is really so simple.

Revolutionary Approach to Christmas

Both challenging and encouraging as we try to downsize Christmas to a more manageable size, Advent Conspiracy is a new way to approach the holidays.

Must See Video

If you haven’t seen Landfill Harmonic yet, then you’re a rotten egg. Triumph of the human spirit, uplifting, inspirational – I’m running out of clichés… you get the picture.

Quote

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

~ Oren  Arnold

So here’s us, where each day the world begins again. And God is with us through it all.

Also, I mispell the word calander EVERY time.


Friday Favourites Reblog: Christmas at Our House

I have mentioned recently that we’ve decided to Downsize Christmas this year (insert gasp of shock and horror). I haven’t always felt this way. So here’s a blast from the past (last year at this time) with an old Friday Favourites:

So, the main problem a lot of people have with Christmas is that it starts WAY too early and consumes everything in its wake. Capitalist profiteers grab onto it like its the last cigarette at an AA meeting. It is in your face everywhere you turn: the decorations, the events, the sales, the music… everywhere you go, that same cheesy music echoes in your ears.

Well, I totally drank the koolaid this year. So brace yourself for an all festive favourites post today. Sorry cynics, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your holiday rant. But be sure to check back in the new year, I have very ambivilant feelings about Valentine’s Day.

Favourite Christmas Quote: “Teach us to give and not to count the cost.” — St. Ignatius of Loyola. Coincidentally, this is my husband’s LEAST favourite Christmas quote. But I’m pretty sure the saint was talking about a generosity that goes beyond fuzzy socks and santa claus pez dispensers.

Favourite Christmas Book: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Not the most politically correct book of all time, but it has a heart of pure gold. Plus, I remember my mom reading it to me, so extra points for nostalgia. It starts with “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.”

Favourite Christmas Movie: definitely It’s a Wonderful Life! I MUST watch this at least once every year, preferably on Christmas Eve. If you don’t like this movie, you have no heart. You are cold and cynical. And you may be married to me.

Favourite Christmas Tradition: We shamelessly stole this idea from our friends Mark and Lanette (you know what they say about sincerity and flattery and all that good stuff). One night in December we invite another family to join us for Grinch Night (a different family every year; be nice, and next year we might invite you!). Everyone dresses in green; this may or may not include green streaks in your hair and green face paint. We eat all green food and watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Shrek the Halls”. Green caramel popcorn is the best – looks snotty, tastes delicious!

Favourite Gift Giving Ritual: Like most concerned (read: neurotic and guilt ridden) parents in the modern age, we are always looking for ways to teach our kids the real “reason for the season”. Ya, I said it. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, it’s so cheesy, but truly, I want more for them than just mindless consumption. We found the idea of Three Wise Gifts in a parenting magazine years ago and it brings a little more meaning to Christmas morning. Before opening gifts we read about the Kings who came to worship Jesus (an undetermined number of magi who came years after Jesus was born with 3 gifts). Each year we buy our children gifts in these three categories – frankincense: for worship (usually a cd or meaningful book); myhrr: for the body (clothes or good smelling stuff); and gold: something precious (this is the “big” item and is often shared by all three). Not only does it keep the gifts reasonable, but each one represents a different side of Jesus – God, Saviour and King.

Favourite Christmas Character: Mary, the mother of God. A scared, confused teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy and the censure of her whole community. Birth-days are not cupcakes and party favours. On the actual day of birth there is pain, exhaustion, blood, sweat and tears. It is a messy, overwhelming, and completely amazing experience for every mother. Throw in a few miracles, angelic visitors, political upheavel, uninvited guests… it’s hardly the serene image we see on Christmas cards. But even more powerful, because that’s kind of God’s thing – showing up in the middle of chaos and upheaval.

A great place to find thought provoking and beautifully written articles called Deeper Story had a great post about Mary, definitely worth a read: Incarnation.

So here’s me, celebrating Christmas in the middle of chaos.


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