Update on Felix

Dearest friends,

I’m afraid this blog is going to be a little different for a while, as I will likely be using it mostly to provide updates for friends and family on little Felix. This is the best and easiest way I know to keep loved ones up to date on our baby’s condition. I hope to be as thorough as possible, both for those who love him and are concerned about his well-being, and so that those who are the praying type know what, specifically, to pray for.

As most of you know, last Monday (December 3), when Felix was only 12 days old, I got called from the newborn screening center at the Victoria Hospital in London, letting me know that Felix’s blood test got flagged for a rare, life-threatening disease called SCID — severe combined immune deficiency. We were called in to get him re-tested two days later, since false positives are very common. So we made the two-hour drive out to get him assessed and to have his blood taken. He appeared perfectly healthy, aside from some oral thrush, which is comon in babies, and a mild cough.

By the time we had arrived back home, we were called again — the initial results seemed to confirm the diagnosis. We were asked to return first thing next morning. We were warned that we might end up being admitted and have to stay the night.

So we left Lydia with grandparents and made the trip back out to London with a change of clothes and toothbrushes. As soon as we arrived, the bad news started rolling in. It hasn’t stopped.

We are now admitted here long-term. We have been here a week, which is just the start. We have been told that best-case scenario, we will be in hospital at least for the next three months, but very likely it will be much longer.

The diagnosis has been confirmed. The good news is that the disease is treatable, possibly curable.

As I’ve mentioned, this genetic disorder affects Felix’ immune system — he is unable to produce t-lymphocytes, which are necessary to fight infection. In other words, he has no immune system. Any bacteria or virus that he gets exposed to can be life-threatening. So far, he’s done quite well, though recently they’ve identified a bacterial infection in his bladder and an unidentified infection in his lungs. They are treating both with antibiotics until they can learn more.

Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be suffering too much as a result of these infections besides the cough. The greatest source of suffering comes from the constant testing. He gets blood work every day, and has had numerous catheters, a spinal tap, a lung swab that required sedation, three x-rays, and an ultrasound. He is due for another ultrasound, more blood work, and a catheter dye test tomorrow.

Meanwhile, to prevent any exposure to pathogens, Felix is in strict isolation in a sterile environment. To see him, we must wear masks, gloves, and gowns. I undersand that this will be the case the entire time we are in hospital.

Felix’s absolute best bet for recovery is a bone marrow transplant. Ben, Lydia and I have gotten our blood taken to see if any of us is a match. If we are, and the transplant is successful, he will essentially be cured. If we are not, there are other treatments available, though they are expensive and life-long.

My two greatest prayer requests are these:

1. That none of his current infections spread or put him in serious danger until he can get treated; and that he doesn’t develop anything new.

2. That one of us is a match for a  transplant. Lydia is the most likely match, and the odds are only 25%; Ben and I are even less likely.

Thanks so much for all your love and support. It has meant more than you can know. I will try to keep you updated as I can.

Please Pray for Felix

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi friends,

I just wanted to offer a quick update as I will probably not be blogging much in the next little while.

Monday I got a phone call from the newborn screening center, letting me know that Felix’s blood test got flagged for a rare, life-threatening disease called SCID — severe combined immune deficiency. Basically, this disorder means that the baby’s blood doesn’t have the necessary elements to fight infection, and is fatal if left untreated. This morning we had to drive in to the hospital two hours away to get him re-tested.

We already got some initial results which don’t look good — they seem to confirm the diagnosis. We still have to wait a week to get a full diagnosis, but we have to return to the hospital tomorrow morning to get him screened for any infections. If any are detected, he will have to be treated and possibly stay overnight to be monitored. Again, this hospital is two hours away from our home, which will mean another long day.

It’s been a long, long couple of days and I don’t have any emotion left. I just wanted to update you, my dear readers, and ask for prayer.

A few hours ago, I would have asked that you pray that the tests came back negative; but since that possibility seems less likely now, please pray that he has a less severe, more treatable form of the disease, and that we’ll be able to take him home tomorrow night. It is likely that we will be spending a lot of time in hospitals for the next weeks, possibly months.

Thanks so much for your continued love and support.

What I’m Into: November 2014

Well, my main project this month was bringing this guy into the world:

baby Felix

As most of you know by now, Felix Victor was born last week (November 19) here at home.

Everyone is doing really great. So far, Felix is a pretty happy guy and a great eater, though he’s really dramatic when he needs something. I am about eighteen times more relaxed about everything this time around which really helps. Lydia is adjusting to the changes astonishingly well (but it helps that she’s been staying with grandparents a lot). She looooooves to cuddle her new brother, except when she “doesn’t like babies.” Fair enough.

And if I’m honest, here is the number one reason I wanted a second baby from the start:

Lydia and Felix

Oh my melting mama heart.

I just wanted so badly for Lydia to have a sibling — someone to share her childhood with. I am so grateful God heard my prayers and baby Felix finally arrived safe and sound. We are so happy to have him join our family.

As for the name, if you’re interested . . . I fell in love with it way back while studying Latin in university — it means happy or fortunate. I like for my babies’ names to be linguistically consistent (both of Lydia’s names are Greek), so we gave him a Latin middle name — meaning victorious. Lots of happy words there.

So obviously my world has pretty much revolved around the family since his arrival, but here are a couple of things I’ve been into:

Books

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I’ve wanted to read Wendell Berry forever.  If you’re not familiar with him, Berry is one of the most prominent voices connecting the Christian faith and ecology. He’s a poet, novelist, essayist, and — importantly — a farmer. I finally got my hands on this book (What are People For?) and dug in — I kept it in my purse (hence its ragged state) and read it in the waiting room of the chiropractor and during Lydia’s swimming lessons.

SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. It’s a collection of essays exploring a range of topics that circle around our (broken) relationship with the land. It highlights the bleakness of our relationship to the earth but is infused with hope that change is possible.

Admittedly, Part 2 is a little academic, mostly exploring ecology and sustainability in relation to literary subjects; but Part 3 is a lot more accessible, and I found it very moving.

Television

After we ploughed through Season One of Veronica Mars on Netflix last month, we jumped right into Season Two. SO SO GOOD!!! Ben and I just loved it. Riveting plot, interesting characters, fantastic story-telling.

Again, it deals with really heavy stuff like child abuse, rape, murder, and suicide, yet I find it doesn’t fill my soul with blackness the way a lot of shows today (ahem — Walking Dead and Breaking Bad) do. (Note: I have not watched a significant amount of either; I’ve just seen enough scenes and heard enough synopses to determine tell they were not for me. Too many rotting/melting corpses.) Once again, we watched an episode almost every night until we finished the season.

Hoping Season 3 doesn’t disappoint!

Craftyness

I don’t usually make much time for crafting. I’m usually too busy in the kitchen, honestly. But reading The Nesting Place last month must have had a greater impact on me, subconsciously, than I realized. Suddenly, I wanted to make All The Home Decor. I started getting really excited to make wreaths and sunburst mirrors and I got a little carried away.

So here goes. I did all of these things while watching Veronica Mars with Ben.

Also: not a SINGLE one of these ideas is original to me (except the last one). Someone else came up with them. I just followed tutorials I found on Pinterest. I am not the creative mastermind behind them.

First I made this sunburst mirror out of poster board, following the tutorial on the Nesting Place blog. I paid $6 for the mirror at Michael’s, and another $1.50 for the cardstock. (So that’s $7.50 total.) It’s big, too — about three feet across. It’s going up over the new mantle Ben built for our gas fireplace — he just has to mount it.

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Then I started getting crazy with book pages. All of the paper you see in the items below come from the same old copy of Don Quixote. Thanks, Cervantes! I never read your book but it looks awesome on my walls!

book page wreathI got the instructions for this book page wreath from Vintage Paint and More. Since I already had the book, it cost me about a dollar in hot glue and took me three hours to make. It hangs above Lydia’s care of self table (which I talk about here). I’ve wanted something there for a year now, and I realized that what was missing from the room was something with texture. Here’s how it looks in its new surroundings:

book page wreath / care of self table(Full disclosure: I totally kicked things out of the way for this picture. It was not this tidy twenty seconds ago.)

Delighted with the results (Yay texture! Yay free decor!), I then went ahead and made a slightly different book page wreath for the space going down the stairs into the basement.

vintage book page wreathThe tutorial for this one comes from The Shabby Creek Cottage. It also cost me about a dollar in hot glue.

Finally, while I was browsing Michael’s, I spotted the very thing to go on the walls beside our alphabet poster: paper-maché deer heads. I immediately knew I wanted to cover them in torn up book pages to match the wreath on the opposite wall. Here’s the finished result:

paper mache deer head with book pages

paper mache deer headsAs you can see, I’m almost done with the second one. It might be a while until my hands are free during Veronica Mars to finish it, though. We’ll see.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer!

Announcing: Felix Victor

Hi friends! In case you missed it in my social media feeds, baby Felix Victor arrived last Wednesday.

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We had a wonderful (though still horrifically painful) home birth, and we’re all doing really well. He was a whopping 9 pounds, which makes perfect sense considering my size. Felix is a champion nurser and so far a great sleeper. My wonderful mother and mother-in-law have been keeping an eye on Lydia quite a bit, which has really helped with my recovery. I will never be able to repay them.

I’ll be back soon to share his birth story if you’re into that kind of thing (I am!!). Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown over on Facebook and Instagram. You are all the best.

What I’m Into: October 2014

October leaves

playing in leaves

October garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t even begin to talk about October without first making this important PSA: if you are experiencing any kind of back trouble, whether related to pregnancy or anything else, consider chiropractic care. Even if you don’t have insurance and will have to pay for it out of pocket. Even if you’re broke.

I mentioned last month that I was suffering from debilitating back pain related to my pregnancy. Seriously, you guys: I could hardly move. Getting out of bed and climbing down the stairs in the morning pretty much wiped me out for the day. I couldn’t get groceries, couldn’t cook . . . couldn’t do any of the daily household tasks that needed to be done. I was miserable and helpless so the whole family was miserable and hopeless. And we were ordering in dinner every night, which we totally can’t afford. I was panicking, because I didn’t know how I could possibly deliver a baby in a few months when already in this much pain.

So we decided it could hardly cost us more to go see a chiropractor. We sucked it up and I used my piddly savings from my blog’s ad revenue to see if my sister’s chiropractor could help me.

The first couple of weeks didn’t seem to help much, though my chiropractor seemed able to pinpoint exactly which vertebrae and joints were giving me trouble. I was feeling discouraged. Three $30 appointments a week were draining the bank account pretty fast. I stuck to it, though, and soon I started to feel better.

And now, four weeks later, I’m as good as new! I literally feel no more pain whatsoever. I can walk with my daughter to the park, climb stairs without thinking about it, and I’m on my feet most of the day again without trouble. The only reason I remember I’m carrying 30-odd extra pounds is because I get out of breath if I move too quickly.

So all that is to say: I’m so glad we went ahead and saw a chiropractor! Totally worth it. I am a firm believer now. My quality of life is improved a hundredfold, and we don’t have to order in crappy food every night.

Okay, moving on!

Books

During my last pregnancy, I probably read at least two books a month on pregnancy, birth, or infant care for the duration of my pregnancy. So that was, like, eighteen books. Plus a ton of internet reading. This time around, aside from some refreshers on pregnancy nutrition, I hadn’t read a thing.

I’m due next month (late November), so I thought I’d re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin) — the book that sealed the deal on home birth for me last time. (Oh yeah, if you didn’t already know — I’m planning on another midwife-attended home birth this time around. I sometimes forget that people give birth anywhere else. Hoping for a water birth!) It’s just so comforting and inspiring. My anxiety about this birth has decreased since re-reading it. I believe my body can do it. I was made for this. Thanks, Ina May!

I also decided to try out The Nesting Place (Myquillyn Smith), just because everyone on the internet is going crazy over it. I had to wait months to get it from the library, it’s in such high demand. Turns out the timing is just wrong for me right now. With a new baby coming, interior design just isn’t on the forefront of my mind. And I felt like the opening chapters were just . . . stating really obvious things? But the latter chapters are more interesting, and the photos inspiring . . . I’m suddenly inspired to make some textured wreaths and sunburst mirrors for our house. In between gathering birth supplies and attending midwife appointments and freezing meals, of course.

Children’s Books

flora and the flamingo

We happened upon Flora and the Flamingo (Molly Idle, 2013) at the library recently. What a stunning find! It’s another gorgeously-illustrated wordless book with a unique twist — it has interactive flaps to help tell the story about a little girl learning to dance with a graceful flamingo. The artist is a former DreamWorks animator and you can totally tell.

It is, however, a very delicate book, what with all the white space and manipulable flaps; at three, Lydia is a little young to be trusted with it completely unsupervised. I’ve kept it on a high shelf and only allowed her to look at it when she asks. I would recommend it for slightly older children — maybe four or five. Little girls (especially aspiring ballerinas) will love this beautiful, charming book.

Little Oink

Back in March, I shared our love for the books Little Pea and Little Hoot. I remembered that there was a third one in the series out there somewhere, and I requested it through inter-library loan.

Little Oink (Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace) is just as funny and cute as the first two. This time, it’s about a neat little pig who likes to keep his room tidy, but his parents tell him he has to mess it up before he can go play. The illustrations are lovely and just as chuckle-inducing as the text. Ben and I enjoy this book as much as Lydia does.

Television

We started watching Veronica Mars (from 2004) on Netflix last month and weren’t crazy-impressed. It seemed a little cheesy and relied too heavily on narration in those first few episodes. But Leigh Kramer insisted we keep going, so we watched a few more episodes.

I’m so glad we did! We LOVE this show! We watched an episode almost every night until we finished season one. Spectacular! A very intriguing plot and wonderfully complex and interesting characters. There’s scandal and murder and intrigue but it’s not dark and gory like many shows these days. There’s witty banter and familial love and high school drama in there, too. Thanks for the push, Leigh!

Movies

We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on Netflix this month. Overall, we really enjoyed it. It’s funny and weird and has a happy ending. You get to see beautiful landscapes and it will make you want to travel the world and go on adventures.

With the Munchkin

One of the most fun things we did this month was just walk around the neighbourhood collecting leaves for crafts. Okay, so I was more into it than she was; but she ended up liking holding the basket. And it was good to get out of the house.

Beach sand play dough

I made this sand play dough for her, which she loves. I just had coarse commercial sand on hand — not beautiful, fine, Florida beach sand like in the original tutorial — but it still gives it a really neat texture and weight, and is fun with sea shells.sharpies on foil

Another fun and easy fall-back activity that Lydia loves is coloured Sharpies on aluminum foil. The foil makes the colours glow, and just offers a slightly different experience.

marker holder made with plaster of paris. Keep markers off the floor and capped!

And lastly, I made her this plaster marker holder, with instructions from The Artful Parent (Jean Van’t Hul). Like most kids, Lydia loves colouring with markers, but she always left the markers and caps scattered all over the floor. This was both irritating and it quickly ruined the markers. With this pretty new holder, she is much more likely to put her markers back where they belong. No mess, no drying out. WIN.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

What I’m Into: September 2014

tomatoes

little pumpkins

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September was mostly terrific. There was harvesting and preserving; we celebrated the autumnal equinox; and we read some good books.

Last week I injured my back (I’m in the third trimester of my pregnancy) and have been pretty much out of commission since; so I have a feeling the next couple of months won’t be as eventful. I’m hoping some chiropractic care can at least get me back on my feet. We’ve also been dealing with some pretty serious extended family issues, which has been hard on all of us; so it hasn’t all been pretty pumpkins and walks in the leaves.

But here’s what we’ve been into!

Books

September books: Killing Monsters and Artful Parent

Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence – Gerard Jones.

Two words: Absolutely phenomenal.

Killing Monsters is one of the most interesting books I’ve read all year. Intriguing and elegantly written. Very challenging and very compelling. I’m a tough customer on this book’s premise, as a pacifist and a general hater of commercial entertainment. But Jones had me seriously rethinking my views on violent cartoons and video games. I know, right?

What struck me most, throughout the book, was his intense empathy for children. It’s central to everything he writes. He’s a true role model. I highly recommend this book to anyone invested in children’s development, especially if you’re interested in the effects of media. You will be surprised and challenged.

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity – Jean Van’t Hul

I’ve gotten some good ideas from the author’s blog recently, so I suspected I would love her book. And I did! I skipped a lot of the (kinda boring) introductory stuff (I feel pretty artful already); but took notes on her recommendations for art materials. And I loved the activity ideas that comprised the latter half of the book. We already tried a few and I have plans to try lots more.

And I love that the book includes beautiful photos. I’m way more inclined to try an activity or recipe it’s got a picture.

Kids’ Books

Over the last few months, most of our library visits have produced pretty meh findings. But this month we got an incredible haul!

Kevin Henkes

For starters, we discovered Kevin Henkes. We just stumbled upon them at the library. His books happen to be perfect for Lydia’s age (three). Not too wordy, but rich and evocative text. His illustrations are simple and beautiful. My personal favourite from the bunch is Old Bear, about a bear who dreams about the seasons while he hybernates (so cozy and lovely); Lydia’s is Penny and Her Doll (about a little mouse trying to find the perfect name for her new doll). Kittens’ First Full Moon (about a kitty who chases the moon, thinking it’s a bowl of milk) is a Caldecott Medal winner.

Hank Finds an Egg

And then we found Hank Finds an Egg (Rebecca Dudley), which might be the cutest picture book in the history of the world. It doesn’t have any text, it just tells a story through images. It’s made up of photographs of miniature handmade scenes, with breathtaking detail. Every leaf and twig is handmade. And look at little Hank! You  can see every stitch that holds him together. Isn’t he the most adorable thing you’ve ever set eyes on?! The story is sweet and heartwarming.

Television

We mostly took a break from TV this month. We tried Veronica Mars on Netflix but weren’t totally taken by it. And then we watched the season premieres of our favourite shows (Big Bang Theory, Mindy Project) which were fun as usual.

Movies

We re-watched Megamind (with Will Ferrell), and MAN, I love that movie. It is just so clever and wonderful. One of my favourite romance stories ever. I don’t know why it just tickles me. Come to think of it, every movie Will Ferrell has done for children (Elf, Lego Movie) are among my favourites.

With the Munchkin

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I recently got Lydia some new coloured pencils, since she’s so into drawing. I love these particular pencils: the triangular shape means they don’t roll around and fall onto the floor while she’s working; they’re high-quality, with beautiful vibrant colours; and they’re eco-friendly, too! Oh, and she loves them, too!

I thought they deserved a nice holder, to encourage Lydia to take good care of them and not leave them all over the place. So I made this wool felt pencil roll, based loosely on this tutorial (I only did single layers, though. Wool felt is expensive!)

To encourage her to put away her pencils, I told her these were their beds and they needed to go to bed every night. Unfortunately, I hadn’t foreseen how she would assume that just like in real life, everyone would want to share beds. She stuffs them all into just a few pockets. So much for orderly. *Sigh.*

But at LEAST it keeps them off the floor. So: win!

Spider web capture. Spray paint a spider web, then lift with black cardstock.

We also did this spider web capture activity, which was pretty cool. Next time I’d like to try using a brighter colour.

Linking up, once again, with Leigh Kramer!

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What I’ve Been Up To (Instead of Blogging)

Man! It has been so busy around here! I thought I’d share a few pictures in lieu of a real blog post. So that you can see I’m not just being lazy.

Harvest from the garden . . .

onions1Onions curing in the sun!

squashLast year was lousy for squash, but we got a good haul this year!

pumpkinsAnd look at all these PUMPKINS! (And some spaghetti squash). These excite me to no end because we grew them from seeds I saved from a couple of heirloom pumpkins (red Cinderella and and gray Jarrahdale) I bought last year. I’d never saved seeds before. There’s something thrilling about watching two pumpkins turn into twenty. And look how gorgeous they are! They have thick, delicious flesh, too, which will be turned into pies and muffins throughout the winter.

Please note: I think some people are under the impression that I am doing this stuff all by myself. FAR FROM TRUE. I garden with my mom at her house. She’s been gardening for decades and has lots of excellent land to do it on. During spring and early summer, I go over there once a week to help plant, sow, weed, hoe, and pick a few things to take home. During the late summer and fall, I go over there two or three times a week to help harvest and preserve. It’s usually when we butcher, too. Last year we did hogs, because that’s what my parents raised; this year they raised meat chickens. I have to go back next week to do the last ten with my mom.

At our own home, we raise four hens for eggs and an herb garden. That’s it.

Anyway, we did all this canning this week:

tomatoesDiced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salsa. My mom’s been doing additional canning like a madwomen in the evenings when my sister and I are not there. She’s insane, and also awesome. We still want to put in another day or two.

Anyway, all this work is made a bit more taxing due to all this extra weight I’m carrying:

28 weeks

Yeepers! I still have three months to go! How huge am I going to get?! I’ve been huffing and puffing for weeks already, and my hips are starting to get achy. I was about this size at nine months when I gave birth to Lydia, so . . . this is uncharted territory for me. (Ben conveniently cropped out my badonkadonk, so you can’t see how much weight I have gained in the lower region of my body.)

And for fun, on the weekend the three of us went to see WALK OFF THE EARTH in concert!! (I went a little crazy talking about the band here.) They were playing at a venue less than an hour away, and we’re all huge fans, including Lydia. She knows all the members’ names and likes to imitate Sarah in Material Girl and drum on the hood of the van like the guys in Gang of Rhythm.

Walk Off the Earth concert

It was an outdoor concert, and we had a hard time finding a babysitter, and we really though Lydia would enjoy it. So we took a risk in taking her. It went great! She was a little overwhelmed by the volume and lights. This is how her face looked throughout most of it:

watchingAnd when they sent huge balloons out into the crowd, she cried because she couldn’t have one. Until someone handed her one! Then she was thrilled. It made her night.

balloon

familySo things have been busy, but good. So, so good. I’m overwhelmed with the blessings in my life right now. I hope you are doing well, too!

What I’m Into: August 2014

Lydia three years

harvesting honey

honey comb frames

harvesting honey 2

honey

canning tomatoes

August never fails to be a full month. It’s always the busiest time for harvesting and preserving.

Just in the last week, I was over at my parents’ house helping to harvest potatoes and onions, pick and can tomatoes, butcher meat chickens, and harvest honey. (We still have lots more canning to do.)

We also celebrated Lydia’s third birthday and our ninth anniversary this month. Oh, and I’ve reached the third trimester with this pregnancy! Entering the home stretch!

So much work! So much fun!

On to the Stuff I’ve Been Into!

Books

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story (Dan Harris).

I’ve been feeling for a while that meditation might be a key element that’s missing from many of our daily lives, which, if practiced, could vastly improve our physical and emotional health. (And, by the way, I believe it can be perfectly compatible with Christianity.)

So when my friend Rebecca practically begged me to read this book exploring meditation from a non-spiritual perspective, I thought I’d give it a try.

First thing to note about this book is that the writing is absolutely superb. So much so, that I couldn’t shake the suspicion it was ghost-written. I know professional writers who have had their work published for years who don’t write this well. Very absorbing and bitingly clever.

This book is more of a memoir than a self-help book. Harris traces his journey into meditation from cynic to awkward evangelist. I really valued the chapters exploring the science that is beginning to demonstrate meditation’s impressive power to transform the brain. The practice actually strengthens parts of the brain in ways that can be seen through brain scans, increasing an individual’s capacity for contentment and self-control. Cool stuff.

He gets a little into how-to’s, but I would really like to go deeper into how to practice meditation. Any recommendations? I’m also deeply interested in any books that might explore Christian meditation.

book

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (Mindy Kaling).

Ben and I kind of went on an obsessive spree watching The Mindy Project this month (more on that below), so I was eager to check out Kaling’s book and get to know the brain behind the show that had so captivated our attention.

This book is fun, quick, light reading. It’s terribly smart and funny, just like the author. I particularly enjoyed the early chapters about her childhood and how she got into comedy writing, eventually landing her job writing for The Office. Some of the essays later in the book are witty and illuminating, too, though a few of them kind of bored me.

I really wished that the book was more recent — at its writing, she hadn’t even begun The Mindy Project. I would have LOVED to learn more about the show and how it came to be. Regardless, it was very interesting to get a glimpse of the person behind the show. I think it really helped me to better understand what she’s trying to do with the story, too.

Television

As I mentioned, we got a little obsessed with The Mindy Project and binge-watched the second half of the first season and then the entire second season. It is so good, you guys. Absolutely hilarious. Especially the last episode of season two. It made me happy for a week.

And if you find yourself in the middle of season two thinking, “Man, there is a lot of sex in this show. Does anyone know how to have a relationship? Is this all this show is about? Why does everyone suck so much?” . . . I feel you. I felt the same way sometimes. But I really think Kaling is trying to do something that you’ll only really get once you’ve watched all the way through. Either way: the last episode makes it all worthwhile.

Movies

We scored some free movie tickets that expired this month, so we went out to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I love (almost) all the Marvel movies, and this one didn’t disappoint. The opening scene actually made me bawl like a baby, but I was quickly swept up by the humour, action, clever plot, and awesome special effects. And as usual, completely lovable characters. Even the green lady, the tree-man, and the raccoon. I loved them all.

And we’ve continued to occasionally watch classic romances I’ve never seen. This month it was When Harry Met Sally. It was all right. Funny and awkward and sweet. It really took me a while to warm up to both Harry and Sally, though.

With the Munchkin

Sandpaper letters

We’ve started to work with the sandpaper letters I made last month. As you can tell from the pictures, Lydia loves them! In stages, we’ve learned 8 different letters so far with their phonetic sounds, using the three-period lesson. Sometimes we practice writing them. Here, you can see her playing the little game I made up — I’ve drawn pictures of things that start with the letters on little sticky notes, and she matches them up with the right sound. She adores this game. Little nerd.

That’s what I’ve been up to! How about you?

As usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer.

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

What I’m Into: July 2014

feet at beach

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So Summer is 2/3 over for us. The season of swimming at the beach, swinging at the park, and fresh garden produce covering every inch of kitchen counter space. Why must it ever end?

We went vacationing with my family . . . we stayed in a cabin up north in Tobermory, Ontario, where the water is icy-cold and crystal blue. I got a chance to do lots of reading out on the porch. It was lovely.

And here’s what I’ve been into!

Books

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Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh) — like everyone who’s ever been on the Internet, I’ve read and LOVED Allie’s brilliant and hilarious blog. When I saw that my brother owned a copy of the book I took it home and read it in two days. Some of the content is from the blog and still every bit as funny. And the new stuff absolutely slew me. It’s a very quick read, on account of all the pictures. Pure fun. (Also: language.)

A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions About Christian Nonviolence (Ed. Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer) — You guys, this book has been hard for me to read. Not because it’s too academic or too abstract — it’s not — but because it’s very compelling. And it makes me wonder if I really want to follow Jesus that much after all, because he asks a LOT of us. I’m not sure I want to give up my life. I’m not sure if I can do it. And at the same time, the message is so captivating and beautiful . . .

This collection of essays tackles all of the most common arguments against Christian pacifism, from “What would you do if someone attacked a loved one?” to “What about Hitler?” Each chapter is written by a different author, so each one has its own unique voice and perspective. It’s very readable while still being academically robust. And in reading it, I’m torn between not wanting to be a true follower of Jesus because it sounds so demanding and feeling like I couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Anthony Esolen) — This is the first nonfiction book in a while that I’ve actually found addictive. I couldn’t put it down. It’s exciting, challenging, and provocative. I was totally hooked from the first page. And while I didn’t agree with nearly everything in the book — I basically skipped the whole chapter on patriotism — I was definitely challenged in a lot of my ideas about education. He really got me to re-think my aversion to rote memorization and grammar lessons.

Esolen writes from the perspective of someone who wants to kill children’s imaginations — a la C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters — and thus explores ways to do that: keep them indoors, keep them under constant supervision, keep them endlessly busy, etc. It’s a very interesting trope, though he often seems to forget what he’s doing and gets rapturous describing the things he’s supposedly fighting against (spending time in nature, reading great literature, etc.) Also: he writes like a mid-century Oxford professor. Which is strangely refreshing — I’m a huge Lewis fan, after all — but it also means he writes from a very andro-centric, euro-centric perspective, which is mildly annoying. I kept having to check back at the date of publication to reaffirm that it was, in fact, published in 2010. He makes jabs at feminists and truly believes all the best literature in history was written by white men. Weird. Oh well.

Children’s Books

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I recently started to think that at almost-three, maybe I should expand Lydia’s spiritual education beyond mealtime prayers and loving example. I thought it might be a good idea to introduce her to the characters and stories of the Bible. So I pulled out a children’s Bible I’d bought for her a year ago — The Beginner’s Bible. I had one like it when I was a kid.

Lydia absolutely loves it, and has spent tons of time poring over the pictures; but honestly, I am not a fan at all and plan to get rid of it once her fascination wanes. It makes all the stories seem too cutesy and cartoonish. It does not inspire one with a sense of wonder and awe. All of the fish in the pictures have big googly eyes and are grinning. Even the ones Jesus multiplies for the five thousand. What the crap? And look how Goliath is hanging out innocently with David, Jesus, and the other Bible characters on the front cover. How does that make sense?

Jesus is introduced as a nice dude who likes kids, who fixes owies and brings people back to life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJesus is all, “Hey! Wanna be pals? We can live in the clouds together!”

I’m not crazy about the theology, either — the dictionary at the back defines a Christian as some who “believes Jesus has forgiven their sins and will someday live with him forever in heaven.” There’s a lot of emphasis throughout on how we’re going to go live with Jesus in heaven someday. Um. Not exactly the dominant message I’m trying to send my child. “Believe the right things and you can live in the clouds where everything is awesome!”

I was relieved to see that the floods and wars and other horrific violence weren’t present — I still feel she’s too young for those kinds of things — but it kind of made me question what exactly I do want her to know from the biblical stories.

I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of literature would be the best for instilling a sense of reverence for God and a love for goodness and God’s beloved creation. Perhaps the Bible is out entirely until she’s older? Suggestions?

Moving on . . .

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson) — this book is delightfully original and imaginative. The word play is clever but simple enough for a three-year-old to enjoy. Thanks to this book, Lydia has added a number of new words and phrases to her vocabulary, such as “frightening” and “drop off to sleep.” I love it. The only downside is that it has inspired Lydia to colour on walls with purple crayons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASigh.

Arabella Miller’s Little Caterpillar (Clare Jarrett) — lovely illustrations, pleasant rhythm/rhyme, learning about the life cycle of butterflies. What’s not to love?

Movies

No movies here! It’s summer, remember?

Television

OK, so we have been watching some TV. Ben lured me into watching the first episode of The Mindy Project, and we’ve gotten pretty far into the first season already. That show is hilarious. I love what a charmingly complex character Mindy is — she’s intelligent, confident, and independent; but also often silly, gullible, and melodramatic. The jokes fly so quickly you’re not even done laughing at the first one before you’re laughing at the next. Very addictive.

With the Munchkin

I spent way way too much time working on these sandpaper letters for Lydia.

Montessori sandpaper lettersThey’re inspired by the popular Montessori material meant to aid children in learning the phonetic alphabet. You introduce each letter not by its name but by its phonetic sound, and have the child trace over the letter while she repeats the sound. The tactile experience is supposed to help her associate the sound with certain muscular movements, which will be helpful in writing. (I followed this tutorial.)

Anyway, cutting out the letters from sandpaper took a million years. Fortunately we did most of it while watching Mindy Project.

We also tried this craft — making flower mandala sun catchers. The result was pretty, but I’ll have you know that Lydia whined and complained through every stage of their creation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat was my month! How about yours?

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Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Slowing Down for Summer

StratfordSuperfluous picture of me and Ben in Stratford (Ontario)

It happens every summer.

Around June, a restlessness starts to shake my bones.

I need to get out and engage the world — the real, solid, material world.

After months of snow and darkness and cold, the sun is finally in the sky from early morning until night, beckoning me to come out and play.

I need to dig. I need to plant and tend. I need to swim. Walk. Smell. Cook. Preserve. Eat.

The garden needs constant attention. The food coming out of it needs to be preserved. The sun rays need to be caught before they slip away (because they always do way too soon.)

In summer, I have very little interest in sitting in front of a computer.

Even when I’m inside, I’m itching to get to projects — crafts and sewing and painting and creating. There’s finally enough light in the day to see a project through from beginning to end in a single day!

Reflecting and reading and writing in front of a screen can wait until winter.

So while I was already somewhat quiet around here during the spring due to morning sickness, I suspect I’ll continue to be quiet during the summer. Due to it being summer.

We have vacations planned with the extended family; and I have GOT to get me in a pool before summer disappears. And then there’s August, where the tomatoes come flooding in and I can’t spend enough time dicing, pureeing, and canning all the lovely red abundance.

But I’m sure you’ve got stuff going on too, so you won’t miss me too much. I’ll still be here once a week or so, anyway.

Hope you’re all well; and let me know what’s keep you busy these days!

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