Well, I’m about ready for winter to be over. I’ve had enough cold for one year, thanks. This sucks.
Oh? We have to do this for another three months?
At least we are entering an absolutely wonderful phase with Lydia. Two years old is a blast, you guys. I’m not even joking. Sure, there are still half-hour crying spells because I didn’t wrap the baby in the blanket right (“You do it WROOOOOONG!”), but all in all, I’m really enjoying this age. Everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious, and she’s learning to play independently for long stretches of time while I go about my business. It’s really nice. Taking her into stores is no longer a circus show; she can put on her own socks and shoes; and did I mention she’s hilarious?
(Ben: Lydia, do you want to eat some breakfast?
Lydia: No thank you. I’m busy picking my nose.)
Anyway, here’s what I’ve been into.
I read Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World? (McKinley, Seay, Holder), but honestly, I think I got just as much out of watching this 2-minute video on Youtube. (It’s definitely worth a watch, if you’ve never seen it. Absolutely brilliant and inspiring.)
I tried The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster), because I love YA fiction and someone recommended it, but just couldn’t get into it. Too much like Alice in Wonderland. I don’t get much pleasure out of riddles and wordplay. Please don’t take away my literature degrees. They were a lot of work.
But my Big Awesome Read of the Month was Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B Rosenberg. (I actually read an older edition, where the subtitle is “A Language of Compassion,” but want to purchase this new one.)
I believe this book is essential reading for anyone who is committed to peacemaking and radical nonviolence. Heck, I’d say its essential reading for anyone who wants a better world than the one we have now. I wholeheartedly believe that if everyone used the principles in this book, we could make the world a more peaceful place.
I have long believed that nonviolence encompasses much more than not killing people. You can be violent with your words, body language, gestures . . . even your attitude. I have even witnessed as well-meaning folks, who are also committed to peace, conveyed their messages of love with rudeness and condescension. I KNOW I have been guilty of this myself. We need to be peaceful with every fiber of our being if we want to see change. And the most important tool, Rosenberg suggests, is empathy.
Rosenberg offers the tools to communicate empathically and peacefully, which can help defuse conflict and make space for connection.
Communicating in the way he suggests is hard. It takes effort and practice and piles of self-discipline. Sometimes I just wanna say what’s on my mind without thinking it through. But it is soooo worth it. I need to practice this every day. Read this book and find the means to foster greater peace within yourself and within relationships — whether that’s with your family, your coworkers, or your neighbours.
(Random observation: I just noticed that a LOT of my favourite reads over the last year were written by Jewish authors. Sharon Astyk; Jenny Rosenstrach; and now, Marshall Rosenberg. I feel like there were others I’m forgetting. Interesting.)
We’ve been through a bunch of new books this month, thanks to multiple trips to the library.
I discovered that I’m not a fan of Curious George. The original books, written by H. A. Rey (their original author), have some content I find ideologically problematic. And the new ones, written by Lord-knows-who (seriously: they don’t even list an author anywhere in the book, not even the copyright page) are so twaddly they make me squeamish. There might be some good ones out there, but so far I haven’t been impressed.
But one excellent book that stood out this month is Wilfred to the Rescue (Stories from Brambly Hedge) by Alan McDonald (illustrated by Lizzie Sanders).
It’s inspired by the Brambly Hedge stories of Jill Barklam from the 1980s. This particular story follows three rodent families after a flood destroys the Vole family’s home. While the kids are playing outside, the youngest one goes missing, and the older three have to find her.
It’s charming and quaint, and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Little Sissy Vole is utterly adorable, I can’t get enough of her. I love their old-timey dialect (“Mind you look after Sissy!”) and the overall cozy feel of the book.
Oh, and Lydia loves it, too. I guess that’s important.
We also enjoyed Alice The Fairy (available as an audio book — score!) by David Shannon. Alice is such an amusing (and clever!) character, the story is delightful, and Shannon’s artistic style is unique and appealing.
Thanks to the cold weather (and Lydia being a bit older), we’ve been watching a lot more movies lately. Since she still doesn’t go to bed any earlier than 10:30, whatever we watch, she has to watch, too. So we have to be selective.
We watched The Croods because my mom bought it. It was good. Funny, heartwarming, and visually stunning; but not especially original or touching. Also not ideal fare for toddlers (ACTION! ACTION! LIGHTS! COLOURS! FLASHING!). In fact, there were so many instances of characters falling/swooping/flying that the only thing Lydia took away from it was, “I want to fly away, just like the Tiger Mom!” (The lead character is wearing tiger-striped clothes. It makes sense in her mind.)
We randomly watched Teen Wolf one night (the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox — I’d never seen it), which was fun but also mostly ridiculous. The last half with the dagdum basketball game just DRAAAAAGGED.
Our best movie choice was Singin’ in the Rain (1952). None of us had ever seen it, except for a few tap-dancing clips that I showed Lydia on YouTube (and that she adored.) To our surprise, we all enjoyed it. And I had no major qualms with my two-year-old watching it with us — the way they filmed movies back then is a lot less manic and overstimulating. Ben and I decided that we’d make Classic Movie Night a more regular occurrence in our house.
In The Kitchen
I finally took our decorative pumpkins (pictured in this post) inside, took out the seeds (to dry and plant next year — I want more!), and roasted and pureed the flesh. I’ve been making all kinds of delicious pumpkin food: from bacon, mushroom and pumpkin risotto to this scrumptious chocolate chip pumpkin bread. (The author highlights that this recipe is low in sugar. I reduced the white sugar by an additional half a cup AND used plain yogurt instead of vanilla, and it’s still plenty sweet.)
That’s what I’ve been into. How about you? Any other classic movies to recommend?
Linking up with Leigh Kramer. This marks one year of What I’m Into. Crazy!
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