What I’m Into: November 2013

lydia in trees

feet in leaves(*Sigh.* I can’t believe this was only three weeks ago. Now it’s all hats, mittens, scarves, boots, and pre-warming the car.)

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.)

Children’s Books

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).

wilfred to the rescue (MacDonald & 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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  1. I was a huge fan of the Brambly Hedge books as a child! My parents gave me a poster book of some of the pictures as a gift one year – they’re so incredibly intricate, I used to spend hours looking through them.
    We watched a lot of classic movies as kids, especially musicals. Singing in the Rain was a favourite. We also loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, White Christmas, Mary Poppins, Slipper & the Rose (relatively unknown Cinderella version), High Society (when we were older, it’s my Garndpa’s fav), Doctor Doolittle…
    fiona lynne recently posted..Finding Meaning Where I AmMy Profile

    • Hmm, I should add it’s been yeeeears since I’ve seen Dr Doolittle and when I just looked it up I was reminded of a slightly less than politically correct scene with an African tribe… so maybe knock that one off the list ;) Mostly I just remembered the weird llama with two heads and the big pink sea snail so clearly the young me wasn’t too badly influenced!
      fiona lynne recently posted..Finding Meaning Where I AmMy Profile

      • Ha ha . . . yes, isn’t it painful when you revisit old beloved stories and realize how sexist/racist/etc some of them are? Fortunately we can grow and transcend some of those negative messages we were exposed to. But I’ll look into those other ones! THanks!

  2. I’m reeeaallly excited to read that Nonviolent Communication book. Did you find it at your library? One of the larger things I have had to work through as an adult is understanding exactly how my environment and relationship models growing up influenced what I believe is “normal” and a healthy way to communicate. While I fully understand how good I had it, some of the models I learned from family members who were not mentally healthy were just plain incorrect, including the pervasive idea that if you think it, you must say it if you’re an “honest” person. So anyway, this is something I’m constantly battling with my conscious.
    Anyway, I’m also looking forward to the hilarious months/years to come! Already Sam is cracking me up, literally asking for “more crack” yesterday (he meant crackers) and calling all the rocks in his beach scene “poo”, because, well they did look like poo. There are other less vulgar instances of hilarity but let’s admit it, those are the best as apparently I have the humor of a teenage boy :)
    alison recently posted..Our DIY, interactive, anachronistic advent calendar!My Profile

    • Hey Alison! Yes, I found the book at my library (that’s why it was such an old edition. The new edition is supposed to have a lot more content.) You might find it at yours, too!

      And I totally agree that those are the funniest instances. I die the most at her references to bums, boogers, toots, etc. She’s just so earnest and innocent, it cracks me up when she talks about these things with such seriousness.

  3. KATHLEEN. I am rescinding your literature degrees. The wordplay and puns are the BEST PART of Alice, and, basically, all books. SO DISAPPOINTED in you. ;-)

    Also: I hate Curious George also, but that’s because I have a monkey phobia. So I can’t say I’ve ever actually read them. But I picked up one of the Babar the Elephant books at a garage sale because I remember loooooving them (I <3 elephants almost as much as I hate monkeys), but when I read it to T-Rex it made me kind of uncomfortable. I guess it can be a good jumping-off point for discussions about how things have changed and why some of the assumptions in the books can be problematic…but not until he's older. Sigh.

    • Sorry to disappoint, Katie! I’m more of a plot girl. :)

      Yeah, there are things I will want to talk to Lydia about when she’s older, but right now, during this “absorbent phase,” I would rather expose her to positive messages.

  4. Down with winter!!! I hear you, Kathleen. I’m OK with a White Christmas but otherwise I’d like to skip straight ahead to spring. I read The Phantom Tollbooth when I was a kid and know I loved it but can’t remember a thing about it. No judgment here. Singin’ in the Rain is one of my favorite movies! So glad you enjoyed it.
    Leigh Kramer recently posted..Dating at ChristmasMy Profile

  5. Yes, the cold needs to go away. And yet, it will be here until May. I get why you feel that way about Phantom. It isn’t for everyone. Thanks for the heads up about Crods. And congrats on making it through a year of What I’m Into!
    Amy E Patton recently posted..What I’m Into: November 2013My Profile

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