What I’m Into: April 2016

painting

April was emotionally taxing. (I won’t get into it here, but it involved many blessings and victories and also SO MUCH PUKE. From everyone, but especially from me. So much puke, you guys. There were illnesses, a surgery, and ongoing explorations of different therapies and treatments. Lots of good stuff, but like I said, it’s been taxing.)

The weather has mostly sucked, too.

To deal with all of these, I read a lot of books and created some art.

Here you go.

(PS: I REALLY WANT TO BLOG. I really, really do. I just have not had the time or energy. I have so many drafts of posts started that I’m itching to finish. I just . . . can’t right now. I will get back into the swing of things. I just need to not be cleaning up toddler diarrhea at 2 am every morning. It will happen.)

Books

books

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. READ THIS BOOK, YOU GUYS. It’s spectacular. It totally lives up to the hype. This book vibrates with life. I haven’t been this excited to be a human in a long time.

Gut And Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride. Somehow I managed to devour this dense tome in two or three days. It has given me so much hope. I am anxious to start Felix on this dietary program as soon as possible. His poor gut has been completely massacred during his short time on earth so far. I’ve heard some really inspiring testimonials that fill me with hope for healing.

Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katie Bowman. I’ve been obsessed with Bowman’s blog and podcast the last few months and finally decided to buy the book. It’s fantastic. Bowman is majestically articulate and engaging, able to explain complex and foreign concepts in easy-to-understand terms. She’s funny and memorable, too. And her ideas are revolutionary and exciting. Some of the most interesting highlights for me have been:

  • the difference between exercise and movement (and how we need more of the latter in our lives)
  • the difference between fitness and health (“fit” people can be just as susceptible to illness and injury as anyone)
  • her radical suggestion that you don’t have to add exercise to your busy schedule. Just change the ways you move in your everyday life to become stronger, more capable and less prone to injury. In a word, healthier.

Children’s Read-Aloud Books

 

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. I think I’m alone here but I thought this book (by the author of Charlotte’s Web) was stupid. (Lydia liked it well enough. I guess that’s what’s important).  It starts like a realistic nature story, but quickly becomes an absurd tale of a swan who goes to (human) school and learns to read, write, and play the trumpet to make up for the fact that he has no voice. And in the end he “donates” some of his children to a zoo to pay off a debt. WHAAAAAAT. Also, it’s so long it took us a whole month to finish.

Picture Books

children's books - april

Imogene’s Antlers by David Small. Lydia’s favourite this month. (She’s four.) She weirdly loves stories about children who inexplicably wake up with bizarre changes to their bodies. (Others in this category include George Shrinks and A Bad Case of Stripes.)

Snow White by Paul Heins and Trina Schart Hyman. Absolutely captivating illustrations to a powerful classic. (Read ahead of time, though, and be prepared to maybe change the words to the very last page, wherein the evil queen — without any foreshadowing — is given a pair of red-hot iron shoes she must wear as she dances to her death. ?! The punishment is as morbid and arbitrary as it is unexpected.)

The Wild Swans by Amy Ehrlich and Susan Jeffers. The most beautiful illustrations you will ever see. A very interesting fairy tale, too, which has the fortune of never having been Disneyfied. (Warning: this and the above stories are very anti-feminist, with kings who decide to marry the beautiful maidens with almost no indication of any volition on the woman’s part. I still liked ’em.)

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaulo. A familiar old tale gets new life in this Mexican setting. Everything about it is lovely. There’s lots of Spanish mixed in which adds to the atmosphere but was tricky to read out loud since I don’t know the language at all.

* * *

We didn’t really watch any TV or movies this month.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

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

What I’m Into: March 2016

crocusesI briefly explored where I’ve been emotionally in my previous post, so in this one I’m just going to jump into the books, movies and more that we’ve been enjoying.

(But can I just say this real quick? YOU GUYS. I am just so unbelievably blessed. I have read all your comments and messages and though I can’t respond to them all, know that I have wept tears of joy over your kindness and generosity. I can’t believe what a wonderful community has gathered around my little family. Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

Books

I need to stop requesting books from the library that have a waiting list, because I can’t possibly read a whole book before it has to be returned when I’m only reading in five-minute snatches on the toilet. And that is just my life right now.

I read half of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life (Gretchen Rubin) before having to bring it back to the library. I think I liked it. I may never know.

Kids’ Picture Books

fancy nancy: a review

Fancy Nancy (Jane O’Connor) — this monumental series is perfect for little girls (ages 4+) who love all things fancy: glitter, ballgowns, and accessories. I’m surprised how much I like Fancy Nancy — she’s a funny, smart, imaginative, and relatable character with an impressive vocabulary who happens to also love glitz and glamour. Lydia is already using words like “indelible” and “furious” in her everyday language, thanks to Miss Nancy. The illustrations are great, too — they’re detailed, clever, and often very funny. We keep going back to the library for more of these books. (Fortunately, there are tons of them. We haven’t come across a bad one yet.)

actual size - review

Actual Size (Steve Jenkins) – I love Steve Jenkins’ beautiful artwork. His collage style produces unique and interesting texture. This particular book was so intriguing as it gives you a glimpse of the actual sizes of things — from the enormous atlas moth (“often mistaken for a bird”) to the tiny dwarf goby. Lydia ate up the animals facts, and we enjoyed comparing the size of the ostrich egg to the familiar chicken’s egg.

Read-Aloud Chapter Books

Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic (Emily Jenkins) — this is the delightful prequel to the fabulous Toys Go Out Trilogy. It was fun to get the story of how all the lovable toys came to live with the Little Girl, and to get a better understanding of what makes them come to life. Heartwarming, smart, and a page-turner. 5/5 stars for the whole series. (P.S. the author and illustrator put together a picture book, too. It’s good as a standalone book, but a delightful experience for those already familiar with the characters.)

Because of Winn-Dixie: review

Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) — this lovely book was a little mature for my four-year-old, but she could totally understand the whole story. (There are just some darker themes in it — I had to skip the chapter wherein Miss Franny Block describes her great-grandfather’s war experience. You also hear of a child’s death and a woman’s past with alcoholism.) It’s a beautiful, sad story with an admirable young female protagonist, and it tenderly explores love, family and friendship. I would recommend it for older children, maybe 7+.

Movies

I took Lydia to see her first movie in the theatre — Zootopia. It is absolutely stunning in every way. WATCH IT WATCH IT WATCH IT. Very funny, very smart, visually delightful, and with an incredible message of inclusivity. Lydia (4) was a little (a lot) scared during a scene near the end (when a beloved character appears to be “going savage”), but otherwise, it was a great experience for both of us. (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 99% rating!)

That’s it for now!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

What I’m Into: February 2016

siblings in the snowLydia and Felix’s relationship, summed up in one photo

February was . . . well, February. Dreary and long. But even the longest, dreariest months are still tinged with joy and hope after the year we’ve been through. (Last February is when we found out Felix had CMV and when we came the closest to losing him.) So I can’t complain.

Snow, cloudy skies, icy wind. Storybooks, baby milestones, sleepless nights, unlocked preschooler imagination. It was… February.

Books

I read a narrative this month, you guys! Not just educational books all the time!

Mennonite in Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen.

Janzen’s memoir is hilarious and fascinating. But the story is very scattered, and I had trouble connecting with the narrator, who clearly thinks she’s better than everyone else, especially those who embrace their Mennonite faith and heritage (unlike her. She completely rejected her faith and community as a young adult). She says flat-out that Mennonite men are un-dateable because they “gross her out.” Classy, Rhoda.

I found myself riveted and amused by the parts where she talks about her childhood (her mom is the best), but not really interested in her mainstream, secular, academic adulthood wherein she makes so many poor relationship choices. I’ll take my hardworking, devoted Mennonite husband and old-fashioned values, thanks.

Kids’ Books: Princess Edition Part 2

You guys made so many awesome suggestions after last month’s princess-themed book list, I ended up taking a bunch of new princess books out of the library for Lydia (age 4) this month. Lots of good stuff here!

hamster princess

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon. This unique book is kind of a mix between a traditional novel and a graphic novel. It was fun and exciting for Lydia. Older readers will be amused by how the author plays with fairy tale conventions, though these were lost on my four-year-old. Harriet is cursed a la Sleeping Beauty as a baby; but as she grows up, Harriet discovers an interesting advantage to her curse and exploits it, which allows her to fight ogre cats and go on adventures. Harriet is a great role model and all-around interesting character. She’s a princess I can get behind.

princess books part 2

Princess are Not Quitters! by Kate Lum. These tenacious, enterprising princesses learn some valuable life lessons when they decide to take on their servants’ jobs for a day (just for fun). Lydia enjoys poring over the super-detailed and silly illustrations, and I’m happy to read her  an interesting story about princesses who do more than sit around looking pretty.

Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora. This lovely picture book sets the classic fairy tale in Africa. The text doesn’t change a thing from the familiar European version, yet it feels completely at home in Africa, highlighting just how universal this fairy tale is. I was thrilled to be able to present Lydia with another princess of colour, and she loved it. The illustrations are beautiful and timeless.

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton. Hilarious, adorable, smart and unexpected, Lydia and I both loved this one. Who doesn’t love a chubby, cuddly, and flatulent little pony? Even when what you really wanted was a big, strong warhorse?

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke. Here’s another princess who uses cunning and skill to take her destiny into her own hands.  I love that this charming, engaging, feminist tale doesn’t paint men as evil or stupid — just sometimes mistaken. And some are worth marrying, too (eventually, on your own terms.)

Kids’ Chapter Books

I am LOVING reading chapter books to Lydia before bed.

toy dance party

Toy Dance Party: Being the Further Adventures of a Bossyboots Stingray, a Courageous Buffalo, & a Hopeful Round Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins. The delightful sequel to Toys Go Out is every bit as hilarious, unique, and exciting as the first. The lovable characters are so real you feel like you know them within the first few pages. This story is so engaging that when I went to take the photo for this post, I ended up reading ahead, just because I was so curious what was going to happen next. A big win. Can’t wait to read the next one.

Television

We haven’t been watching much TV for Lent. (The positive influence this has had on Lydia has been astonishing). Ben and I have kept up with Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn Nine-nine. That’s it.

Movies

The only movie I recall watching was Tomorrowland on Netflix. It was a little disappointing, considering the trailer was so amazing.

That’s about it! I would love to explore more stuff but Felix decided he hates sleep again so I have no energy.

What have you been into?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Merry Christmas, Friends! {2015}

Merry ChristmasWishing you and your loved ones a healthy, safe, and happy Christmas.

We are so grateful you’ve been a part of our lives over this last year.

May the peace of Christ be your gift at Christmas and your blessing throughout the year.

(As for us, we are just so thrilled to be together and home this Christmas!!)

–Ben, Kathleen, Lydia and Felix Quiring

What I’m Into: Fall 2015

fall

siblings

I meant to do a September What I’m Into post . . . And then an October one . . . and time just got away from me. So here’s a What I’m Into Post for the last couple of months together — for the season of fall. (Which, by the way, isn’t close to being over. Didn’t everyone JUST finish saying fall is their FAAAAAAAAVOURITE season? And then the second Halloween is over it’s all Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls? Hang on a second, friends. There are still four more weeks of your FAAAAVOURITE season to enjoy. And we’ve been having a lovely one at that.)

I hate that I’ve been neglecting the blog. But you know what else I’ve been neglecting? My kids. (So I guess that’s a who, not a a what.) I’m just trying to get through the next couple of months.

Life in isolation has produced mixed emotions in us. On the one hand, we are just so unbelievably happy to be living at home instead of the hospital. Every day at home is a gift. Ever meal cooked on my own stove, every night spent in our own bed. I never want to take a moment for granted.

But it does get lonely sometimes. And boring. We have lived separated from the rest of the world for almost a year now. I get sick of these walls sometimes. I miss the outdoors. I miss my friends. I miss their kids. I’m so tired of waiting and worrying. Will my baby ever be okay?

It’s so hard to go out when you need two separate babysitters to care for your two kids (your healthy one and your sick one) that it rarely happens. We’re just always home. Alone. Always.

We’re having Lydia live with us more and more these days, and I could write a whole post on that experience alone. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to one of these days.

Felix’s first birthday is this week. I’m hoping to provide an update soon (we’re waiting on some really important lab results right now and I’m kind of losing my mind over it.)

For now, here’s what I’ve been into.

Books

Where is God When It Hurts? (Philip Yancey) — I re-read this 1977 classic when I realized that the excruciating emotional pain I experienced with Felix’s illness and near death over the last year is just the beginning of the suffering that is inevitably ahead of me. (Cheerful thought, right?) Yancey handles the subject sensitively and sagely. I’m sure I’ll be turning to it again.

Anne of Avonlea (Anne L. Montgomery) — I read the first Anne book while in the hospital a few months ago. I still can’t believe I never read these books. Why oh why did I waste so much of my childhood on the Sweet Valley Twins?! Why did I always assume these books would be boring? (I think maybe because the covers were always ugly.) This one was as charming and delightful as the first.

Children’s Books

With Lydia staying with us overnight more and more, and with her being a full year older than when I had to first relinquish care of her due to Felix’s diagnosis (she’s four now), I thought it was finally time to venture into the exciting world of read-aloud chapter books. What a thrill it was! (I went to this excellent list for suggestions.)

The Night Fairy

The Night Fairy (Laura Amy Schlitz) — this was our very first chapter book together. I loved the experience. What a thrill to have my child anxiously wondering, “What’s going to happen? Will the spider kill her? Will she get her wings back?” She hated the ending, though. (It’s a good ending; she’s just young and particular about how she wants her stories to end.)

Lydia tends to be wary of the unfamiliar, but I was able to lure her into the book with the fact that it’s about a fairy. But Flory is no Disneyfied Tinkerbell: she’s a complex character who develops through the story. It’s an exciting, well-written, well-paced story about survival, friendship, and forgiveness. It’s got a fabulous mix of magic and nature. It’s perfectly suitable for a boy, too. If I were to do it again, I’d probably wait until she was five, though. It was a smidge advanced for her.

Lady Lollipop (Dick King-Smith) — this book is from the same author as Babe. Again, I got Lydia to try it because it’s about a princess. I thought it was kind of boring but she really liked it. It involves using wit and kindness to get what you want in life. And there’s a pig, of course.

Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes (David Shannon) — this is a picture book Lydia picked out herself from the library, about a girl whose body starts to change in bizarre ways because she won’t admit she loves lima beans. I thought it was kind of dumb but Lydia finds it fascinating. She’s had me read it over and over again and asks questions about it randomly throughout the day. What do I know about what kids will like?

Knitting

Ben requested that I knit him a winter hat. I was delighted to meet the challenge. I used this pattern. Unfortunately, I’m learning that I’m a very tight knitter, and soon realized it wasn’t going to fit him. So I shortened it and now it fits Felix. (It’s on Ravelry here.)

Felix hat

Then I knit my first sock. How exciting! It took a zillion hours, and as Ben pointed out, I now have half a pair of socks. Which is as useful as zero pairs of socks. But still! I made it! I know how to make socks! The next one will follow . . . eventually . . .

sock(Ravelry link)

Finally, I tried the hat for a second time but with larger needles. Hooray! Success! It’s so comfy and warm.

hats(Ravelry link)

Television

We’ve been dutifully keeping up with Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn 99. Both provide much-needed laughs during this season of waiting. We’re also now regular viewers of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, which is terrific.

Last month I started re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix by myself which has been fun. (It gives me something to do when I feed Felix, who still feeds like a newborn). It’s so great, you guys! (I’m on season 3).

The last time I watched the show I was about Rory’s age, so I saw events primarily through her eyes. Now I’m almost Lorelai’s age, so I see them more through her eyes. The time Lorelai first saw Rory kiss Dean through the window I was all OH MY GOSH, IF/WHEN I SEE LYDIA KISS A BOY FOR THE FIRST TIME I WILL DIIIIIIIIIIE.

And while when I first saw the show as a seventeen-year-old I was completely and irrevocably in love with Jess, I now find myself thinking, “Man, that kid is irresponsible and disrespectful. And hey, hmmm. Luke’s kinda cute. I never noticed that before.” And then I’m all HOLY CRAP I’M OLD, THE GUY IS LIKE 40, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN??

Movies

We have no time for movies. When we do watch them, we watch them in two parts so we can get to bed by 9pm. It’s a sad life. But we did watch:

You’ve Got Mail — we’re still catching up on Classic Romance Movies We Weirdly Never Saw Before. (Last year it was Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Jerry Maguire). This one was completely charming. We both loved it.

Divergent — I just can’t pass up a good YA dystopian-novel-turned-movie. The first half of the movie was sooooooo intriguing. The second half was kind of Meh, I feel like I’ve seen this before.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

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

What I’m Into: August 2015

Felix 9 mosFelix, 9 months

Lydia strawberryLydia dressed “as a strawberry”

For those who have been following our story, August was split into two distinct parts. The first half of August we continued to spend in the hospital, as follow-up for Felix’s gene therapy in July. But halfway through the month he was discharged and we got to come home!

Life at home has been absolutely wonderful. Felix is still in isolation (and will remain that way for at least the next four to six months), but it feels delightfully normal after all that time in the hospital. He’s doing great — he’s really getting the hang of solids (and he loves them!), and he’s still just such a chill baby. He wakes up once at night (usually), which is amazing. We’ve been spending plenty of time with Lydia, who has already had a few sleepovers.

package

And I have to mention this amazing package I received from Molly (of Molly Makes Do). It made my week. I can’t decide whether I’m in more awe of her talent or her generosity. Looks at those gorgeous yarns, those hand-knit doll clothes, that lovely fabric!! (The doll was already ours, I was just so excited to see the sweater on her.) And on top of that, she made this:

cross stitchCan you even believe it? I am so framing it and putting it on our gallery wall.

Life is good, you guys. So good.

Here’s what I’ve been into.

Knitting

Before I get to books, I want to say that I didn’t get a lot of reading done this month because I was too busy knitting.  I learned how to knit last month, and I spent this month (obsessively) learning how to do slightly more advanced knitting.

I learned how to make grandmother’s favourite dishcloth which was very satisfying.

dishcloth

I also completed this baby sweater for Felix which was an absolute thrill. (I did this while still in the hospital. Unfortunately, it ended up being too small, so will have to go to another baby.)

sweater

sweater felix

The details of this sweater are on Ravelry (which makes me a real knitter, I think). I want to highlight that this pattern uses extra-bulky yarn, which is awesome for a beginner because it knits up so quickly! I did it in like three days! I highly recommend it.

Books

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown — I definitely agree with and appreciate the general philosophy of Essentialism — that there’s value in doing less, but doing it better and with more focus. It’s basically minimalist living for your brain/time/energy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a whole lot of practical advice in this book until I got to the end — I was just like, “Yes! I agree with all this! I want this for my life!” And even more unfortunately, my library loan time ran out just when it was getting interesting. I’ll have to wait until it’s my turn again before I can finish it (and I definitely want to!).

Kids’ Books

Little You by Richard Van Camp — The amazing woman who runs the Family Resource Center at the London Hospital gave us this little board book as a gift. I can’t get through the dang thing without crying. The poetic text is spare but deeply moving. The illustrations of the little hipster family are gorgeous. Even Felix (at nine months) seems drawn to it.

Little You

“Feel our love as we hold you tight.” I CANNOT EVEN.

Movies

Hector and the Search for Happiness (Netflix) – a little predictable and trite, but Simon Pegg is so utterly charming and delightful to watch I could forgive all.

In a World (Netflix) — Bizarre and hilarious. Lake Bell is spectacular, and Demetri Martin is surprisingly believable and adorable. A smart and delightful exploration of female identity in a chauvinistic world, fidelity and sisterhood. The dialogue is brilliant and I loved it.

The Giant Mechanical Man (Netflix) — I thought it would be weird to see Pam Beesley and Danny Castellano fall in love and it was. This movie had SO much potential to charm. But the dialogue was flat and unconvincing, and unfortunately Jenna Fischer totally drops the ball. (I’m talking Kristen Stewart-level acting. I KNOW.) She’s amazing as Pam, but this character was kind of a bummer.

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation — We saw this when we went out for out tenth anniversary. LOVED IT!! The opening scene is magnetizing and the fun never stops. The action is thrilling and the characters are lovable. And I actually really liked the female character, which is so rare in an action film. She’s awe-inspiring without being a machine with boobs (a la Trinity from The Matrix). Come to think of it, there’s like no focus on her boobs. Unprecedented!

Television

Wet Hot American Summer (Netflix Original Series) — We’re still not sure how we feel about this one. (We’re about 6 episodes in). It’s OVER-THE-TOP ridiculous. Everything is a joke. If you’ve seen a comedy in the last year, the actors are probably in this show. Everybody is in this show. There’s more crude language than we would like, but also a lot of laughs. Hmm.

Last Week Tonight — I am recently obsessed with this show. I was vaguely aware of John Oliver before, but our doctor recommended we watch the episode on Food Waste and we’ve been hooked ever since. He’s brilliant, hysterically funny, and often convicting. I want to watch everything he’s ever produced. They’re all fantastic, but I particularly enjoyed the one on Fashion. (Language warning.)

That’s what I’ve been into!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Becoming Peculiar!*

Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

What I’m Into: July 2015

Felix 8 monthsWell. July was different.

As regular readers know, at the beginning of the month we took our seven-month-old son to California to undergo an experimental therapy for his life-threatening disease. Then we flew back home to spend a month in the hospital. (We’re halfway there!)

Since returning to our home province, life has been uneventful — which is exactly what we want it to be. Felix is still doing great. His cell counts are bouncing around in the expected range. Ben and I have been doing lots of reading and Netflix-watching, and I’ve been learning how to knit. We’re hoping to do at least ONE fun summer thing with our daughter (who is still living with grandparents) next week.

We’re starting to dream about life at home with both our kids. Oh, how we dream about the squabbles and the messes and the nonsense! How joy-filled they will seem to us!!

Here’s what I’ve been into:

Books

Unfortunately, I’ve tried several, but haven’t been dazzled by any books this month, even though I’ve danced with a few different genres.

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews — I’ve been meaning to read this book for years, because it’s about Mennonites and it won a prestigious Canadian literary award. But it confirmed something I already suspected: I don’t generally care for books that win prestigious literary awards. Call me low-brow, but I like stories with endings. (Preferably happy ones.) As usual, I found the tone too gloomy and the narrative too disjointed, and I couldn’t connect with the narrator. (Why are all the characters in award-winning books SO MESSED UP?) Also, I am a Mennonite, but I’ve never heard of a Mennonite community like the one she describes. It was so weird.

Stitch ‘n Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller — I wanted to own a book on knitting. This one has a few useful chapters but the rest just take up space. A third of it covers knitting history (don’t care), a third of it had helpful diagrams and instructions (good), and the final third contained slightly outdated patterns I’ll never use (it was published in 2003). I returned it.

The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting by Megan Goodacre — I picked this one out of our bookstore’s pretty extensive knitting collection after returning Stitch ‘n Bitch. I’m satisfied with it. Very clear diagrams, and it progresses nicely from the basics to advanced techniques. I still prefer to learn via videos, but it’s good to have as a reference book.

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner. I’ve heard so many great things about this author, and this book was published just this year. I like the book (I’m about halfway through). I like how it encourages me to meditate on different rarely-highlighted pictures of God. There are some lovely reflections in the book. But I haven’t come across anything overly profound or paradigm-shifting. The writing is very meandering and sometimes I lose sight of the point. I feel like I’m listening to a very wise, elegant, and insightful person think out loud.

Television

We gave The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (a new Netflix Original series) a second chance (we weren’t sold on the first few episodes). We’re glad we did. Once you get over its cartoonish quality, it’s actually quite hilarious. I remember Ben and I looking at each other and bursting out laughing with raised eyebrows. What is this? It’s hysterical! I can’t explain it but it has Tina Fey written all over it. But I gotta say, I don’t care for any of the scenes with Jane Krakowski in them (I didn’t like her in 30 Rock, either). I just don’t find her funny. (But maybe she just always gets cast as gross characters.)

Movies

The Maze Runner (on Netflix). SO SO INTENSE. Exciting and surprising. Reminded me of The Hunger Games if you’re into that kind of thing. (I am.)

The Help (also Netflix). Ben and I both found this film lovely and moving and wonderfully acted.

Knitting

As I mentioned, I learned how to knit this month! So far I’ve mostly just knitted swatches to get comfortable with the different stitches and different kinds of yarn.

knitted swatchesI can’t believe all of these patterns can be achieved with just different configurations of knit and purl stitches!

I also knitted a doll blanket, which is essentially just a really big swatch. (I used this pattern for a dishcloth, but with chunky yarn and big needles). You can (kinda) see the combinations of garter and stockinette.

doll blanket(This is Felix’s Bamboletta, Jasper)

If you’re curious, here are the video resources I used to learn how to knit:

The Simple Collection: learn to knit with Alexa and Emily — So far I’ve used these videos to learn how to cast on (knitted cast on), how to knit, how to purl, and how to bind off

How to Cast On (Long-Tail Cast On): Knit Purl Hunter

And that is pretty much it for this month! What have you been into?

*Linking up with Leigh Kramer!*

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Becoming Peculiar!

 

What I’m Into: June 2015

felix 7 months

June was a very mixed bag.

Parts of it were beautiful. We’ve finally settled into home life with Felix. We spent some lovely days with our sweet and challenging Lydia. Some days felt gloriously normal.

Ben and I spent one day away where I shopped for some new clothes and we finally watched The Avengers. I pretty much smiled the entire day.

Other days were spent sobbing in fear over the future. We spent a lot of time on the road to various terrifying appointments, including one in Toronto, which was a six-hour drive for us. We had to have lots of long, serious talks about the risks involved in the therapy we’re pursuing for Felix. We had to come face-to-face with the reality that our son could die. We had to engage hospital politics and differences in medical opinions. We’re desperately clinging to hope.

So tiring.

We are preparing to leave for Los Angeles (i.e. we’re making a cross-continental flight with our immune-deficient baby) in a few short days, where we will pursue an experimental therapy for our son’s life-threatening disease. So much ahead of us.

In the meantime, this is what I’ve been into.

Haircut

hair cut

This might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it is for me. This is by far the shortest I have ever had my hair in my life. I have ALWAYS ALWAYS had long hair. In fact, growing up I was not allowed to cut my hair — Old Colony Mennonites believe hair length is a moral issue that God cares a lot about, on account of that one thing Paul says to the Corinthian church. (Poor teenaged me struggled with this sooo much. I dreamed of having a stylish cut!) And after I moved out, I continued to keep my hair long, in part to placate my family, in part because it was familiar and I liked it.

I finally decided to get it chopped. With all this life upheaval, a change just felt right. I’m a different person. I’ve been through so much. I wanted something that felt kinda badass, cuz I’m kinda badass. I give injections. I argue with doctors. I dance on the edge of life and death.

Another thing that excites me about this cut? Texture!! I have pin-straight hair, but with these razor-cut layers I can experiment with homemade texture spray and dry-curling to get some of the waves I’ve always wanted. Yay!

Books

books

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo — LOVED this book. I want to do a separate, full review yet. But let me just say, learning how to fold properly was worth the admission alone. So far I have only tackled my clothes using the method, and it completely transformed our bedroom. I have so much more room now! Can’t wait to move on to the next step!

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer — I’m interested in getting familiar with the various educational philosophies before we start formal education with Lydia. (Which, for the record, we’re not planning on doing until she’s at least five.) So far, I’m not too sold on Classical. It just hasn’t captured my heart the way others have. I do, however, like the emphasis on history and world literature, and would like to incorporate these elements into our schooling.

PS – I need to put in a plug for an e-cookbook featuring one of my recipes. It’s called Anti-Inflammatory Herbs And Spices: 30 Delicious Recipes To Reduce Inflammation And Pain and it’s only $0.99! Check it out!!

Kids’ Books

Kids' Books

Ah, heaven — we’re back to taking stacks of books home from the library and reading them together whenever Lydia visits. Just like old days. These books are all great for an almost-four-year-old.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman — absolutely fabulous. Delightful illustrations, funny story, excellent writing (terrific rhyming!). We all love this book. (Thanks to Molly for recommending it!)

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney — not as awesome as Llama Llama Red Pajama, but still great. Lydia really likes it. A fun read, though it likely won’t be relevant to Lydia since we plan to home school.

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. What’s with the rhymes in this one? I can’t get the rhythm down no matter how many times I read it. That makes it less fun to read. I expected better from the writer of Goodnight Moon (which is brilliant). Lydia still likes it, though. All the cute animals.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This award-winning pair has teamed up again for another gem. I bask in their genius.

Movies

Like I mentioned, we finally saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. It goes without saying that I LOVE LOVE LOVED it. I will eat up everything Marvel ever puts out. I don’t care how unoriginal I am.

Music

I basically only add this category to my What I’m Into posts whenever Walk off the Earth comes out with a new album. Sing It All Away does not disappoint!!! Far and away my favourite band. If you love whimsical, upbeat, folksy rock music you can dance to, buy this album!!

Crafting

Since Felix can’t leave his room, I’m always trying to find ways to stimulate him and enhance his environment. Ben and I worked together to make this mobile for him (from this tutorial). I’m quite pleased:

modern wooden mobile

Essential Oils

I finally signed up with DoTerra as a “Wellness Advocate” (<–LOL. That’s a pretty grandiose title for someone who just wanted the wholesale prices). I think I’m on the road to becoming a Crazy Essential Oils Lady. Only time will tell.

If you get into essential oils, DO get a diffuser. I got one just a few days ago and it changes everything.

Also? DoTerra’s Serenity and Elevation blends are spectacular.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA**Disclosure: post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Becoming Peculiar!**

Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

 

What I’m Into: May 2015

Holy smokes, May’s already over? Felix has been home for over a month already! Goodness, time flies when you’re sanitizing the contents of an entire room every day.

We’re just beginning to enter my favourite season of the year! (But only by a smidge…)

The seasons, according to my preference

It’s been a good month, though. An uneventful month. Which is exactly the kind of month you want when you’ve got a child with a life-threatening disease.

Other people have summer bucket lists for the year: camping, swimming, biking, museum visits, etc. We have one on ours: Keep Felix Alive. And we’re totally nailing it! I’d even say he’s thriving! One month down, three more to go. Hopefully next year we can start thinking about beaches and parks and pool parties.

central line dressing change(Oh, just doing a central line dressing change. As one does.)

I turned thirty this month. We celebrated the beginning of a new decade by picking up a grocery store cheesecake and quickly shoving it in our faces at our messy kitchen table so my mom could bring Lydia back home before her bedtime. It was kind of a bummer of a day, honestly. I usually have to plan my own birthday parties (they’re just not Ben’s thing) and I didn’t get a chance this year with adjusting to home life. Everyone else was busy taking care of my other kid. Oh well. We’ll go all out for  thirty-one?

I also didn’t watch a single movie or read a single book this month. I know, right?

So there’s not much left to discuss in terms of What I’ve Been Into. Except the following:

Television

Netflix added season 2 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to the rotation, so we’ve been enjoying that. Oh my gosh, that show is so funny. I love everybody, but especially Jake, Charles, and Gina.

Crafting

After spending five months in a stark hospital room, I’m anxious to bring a little beauty into Felix’s life. And since he can’t experience nature firsthand, I’m also trying to bring some of that in, too. So I made him this butterfly mobile. It doesn’t look like much from our perspective:

butterfly mobile -- Montessori-inspired DIYBut here it is from his perspective:

Montessori-inspired DIY butterfly mobileThe butterflies are just cut  from card stock and hung with thread from an embroidery hoop, so they flutter and float a little like the real thing. (It’s a Montessori thing — the philosophy encourages mobiles which represent things from the real world that actually float/fly/swim in a similar fashion. Like whales, fish, etc.) I got the vintage butterflies here. (It’s a free printable; I just printed it out on card stock and cut them out). It’s a little tricky to get them to balance properly from the thread, but easier if you fold the wings downward a bit.

And I haven’t had much time for crocheting, but I took a couple of hours to learn how to make puffy hearts. I love the way they look felted:

felted crocheted hearts

I used this pattern, though I altered it a little to give the hearts a bit more of a “voluptuous” shape. I used 100% wool and felted by hand. (Like how I did with these bowls.)

so far they don’t serve any purpose; they just delight me.

And that’s it for May! What have you been into?

As always, linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer.

What I’m Into: April 2015

easter blogEaster at the Ronald McDonald House

Felix 5 monthsNo NG tube for passport photos

(Note: I wrote this while still in the hospital, since I assumed I would be a little busy for blogging in the first weeks back home. Rest assured we are thrilled to be home and I will update you on the details soon!)

April was our fifth and final (for now) month in the hospital with Felix.

It was still a hard month, but it was infused throughout with hope. We knew going into April that we would probably be taking Felix home by the end of it.

There were still hard days and lots of tears. Especially the day Felix pulled out his NG tube and it took us TEN tries to get it back in. And the day I gave him his injection for the first time. And the day I found out what’s really in the formula we’re giving him. (Corn syrup solids are the first ingredient?!? Oh Lord have mercy on me. Corn syrup solids. My baby’s organs and bones and brain are being grown with corn syrup solids.)

And even though we were still trapped indoors for most of it, way up on the sixth floor, spring had a hopeful effect on us. And Easter. Our thoughts turned to Resurrection more than once as the snow melted and little crocuses popped up in the flower beds.

Death and new life. They come together.

And here’s what I’ve been into:

Books

enders game

Ender’s GameOrson Scott Card. Wow. WOW WOW WOW WOW. So many surprises in this thrilling, intelligent sci-fi novel. (This book confirmed once again that my heart eternally belongs to YA fantasy and sci-fi.) Though it differs in a lot of ways, the book reminded me of the TV show Firefly — it shares a similar mood and magnitude. Entire planets and civilizations at stake. Plus there’s the rarely-explored power of love between siblings. A fascinating, deep and moving story. (Also: Ben read this book at the same time as me — hence the two bookmarks — and he obsessed over it as much as I did. So I also recommend it for the fiction-averse dude in your life.)

Little Women – Loise May Alcott. Another classic I’d never read. I have mixed feelings about it, but mostly positive. Jo’s character was fascinating and wonderful. A few chapters were kind of boring. The realistic ending caught me completely by surprised, and I wasn’t happy about it at first, but I guess it was okay. I really loved Laurie and would have liked to marry him myself.

Movies

Ender’s Game. We watched this within hours of completing the book, which was probably a bad idea. We weren’t super-impressed, but that’s not surprising. I can’t imagine how anyone could translate and compress a story of that length and grandeur into a two-hour film. Using child actors, no less. We never felt convinced that Ender was the great leader he was supposed to be. Nor did we get the chance to develop any real affection for him. It was just razzle-dazzle special effects.

Television

We are SO SO SO SO sick of TV. We’ve watched the pilot episodes of at least a dozen different TV shows in four different genres and we couldn’t appreciate any of them.

Crochet

I finally finished the black-and-white striped blanket I started last month. (Hoping to post a tutorial soonish.) I’m very pleased with it.

black-and-white cotton crocheted blanket

I decided that now I’d mastered the basics of crochet, it was time to move on to amigurumi.

I started with a simple monster, and then tried my hand at this adorable chibi doll:

crochet amigurumi chibi dollThe tutorial can be found here. I used worsted weight acrylic yarn. I’m still a slow crocheter, but I started it in the morning and finished it by midnight that day. So that tells you how obsessed I was.

I also started to experiment with felting, which brings me endless delight. Like this bowl:

felted bowl

So  that’s what I’ve been into. How about you?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Becoming Peculiar!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...