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.


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.


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.


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.

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  1. Such a sweet picture of your kids! We had such different experiences of Janzen’s book! I laughed and cried and couldn’t put it down. I loved it! I don’t remember picking up on a snobby or arrogant vibe. But then, I also don’t have a personal connection to the Mennonite community so maybe I was missing a whole bunch of stuff.
    Leigh Kramer recently posted..What I’m Into (February 2016 Edition)My Profile

    • I agree, it was a very compelling book! I just thought she was kind of mean to some of her characters, like the guy she goes on a blind date with, and didn’t appreciate that remark about Mennonite men “grossing her out.” I happen to love my Mennonite men!

  2. I’m glad to hear your review of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. I know I’ve seen that and considered reading it before, because it seemed like a fun and readable way to learn about Mennonite culture, but maybe I’ll look for a different book instead.

    • You should probably still read it. It’s very entertaining, and everyone else seems to have loved it. I’m just a little sensitive, perhaps, because I AM a Mennonite and love many Mennonites (and married a Mennonite). I don’t know if you’ll learn much about Mennonite culture, but it’s a very amusing book.

  3. So I have to admit, I LOVED Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and read it aloud to unsuspecting family members. I wonder if the sequel would redeem some of it for you? She doesn’t become Mennonite, but she does find faith and become more open-minded about her past religious experience.
    Anna recently posted..February (2016)My Profile

    • Hi Anna! It’s definitely a hilarious book with lots of read-aloud-able parts! I didn’t realize she wrote a sequel. I’d be intrigued to check it out, especially after she was so cruel to that evangelical blind date!

  4. Felicia Hardy says:

    Those books are insane! My kids gonna love it!
    Thanks Kathleen for sharing <3
    Felicia Hardy recently posted..BCAA Supplement Benefits & Top 5 ReviewsMy Profile

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