What I’m Into: January 2016

The seasons, according to my preference

Winter is objectively the worst season by a billion percent.

I’ve always hated winter, but this year is especially tedious because we have a child in isolation. We can’t go anywhere. We can’t go to the library or the petting zoo or a friend’s house. We can’t go to grandma’s. We can’t run to the store. We’re just inside. At home. All. The. Time.

Technically we could go outside, but Lydia is always wearing those damn princess dresses without any leggings or tights or socks (“They’re not pwetty enough”) so getting ready to go out in the wind and slush takes an hour so I just don’t bother trying anymore. (By the time I’ve convinced her to bundle up Felix needs a bottle or a diaper change or I need to start on supper.)

I wish I was mature enough not to complain, especially given that last winter we spent in the hospital with Felix (I should be perpetually delighted that we’re all alive and well and under the same roof) . . . but I’m just so friggin tired all the time.

Felix’s habit of waking up every night for a two-hour party has expanded to twice the number two-hour parties, so now Ben and I each have to take a shift every night. So we’re both always tired. I don’t have the mental energy to be positive.

Spring should hopefully bring with it sunshine, warmth, and an end to isolation.

So I’m trucking along, repeating, Only two more months till spring . . . Only two more months till spring . . .

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been into.

Firespiral Woven Baby Wrap


A dear friend whom I know only online sent me this amazing woven wrap from Firespiral. (I’d never used a woven wrap before.)

I just cannot get enough of it. It’s gorgeous. It’s comfier than any other baby carrier I’ve ever used. Felix loves it — it’s like holding him in a constant hug (while leaving my arms free.) And thanks to my experience with the Moby Wrap, I had no trouble learning how to use it.

I’m in love.


Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Vicki Robin). This doesn’t sound like a very exciting book, but it’s one of the first books on money to get Ben and me excited about finances.

This is not a budgeting book, telling you how to allocate your money and stick to your guns. (In others words, this is no Dave Ramsey, who just never worked for us.) It’s about developing consciousness around where exactly your money is coming and going, so that you can align your money flow with your values. It teaches you to see your work and money as “life energy,” so you can reorder material priorities.

Unfortunately my enthusiasm for this book fizzled out when Ben and I realized we just don’t have the mental energy to implement these fantastic practices right now. We just need to not kill each other until spring.

But eventually we’re coming back to this.

Kids’ Books: Princess Edition

princess books

I decided that if Lydia was going to be obsessed with princesses, FINE. I’m not going to fight it. But I will try to introduce her to some decent princesses in some decent stories. (She recently informed my sister that all princesses do is stand in windows and get ready for the ball. Oh no she didn’t.) (P.S. I got a lot of ideas from this awesome post).

Princess in Training (Tammi Sauer) – This one kinda feels like it was written by an angsty teenager. Princess Viola doesn’t fit in because she likes to karate chop, dive, and skateboard. (She probably also listens to emo music about how “Nobody understaaaaands me.”) So she takes princess lessons, where she struggles to do things “right.” In the end, her predilections help her to save the day when a dragon crashes the party. (How, exactly, skateboarding and diving into a fountain help defeat the dragon is beyond me.) I’m just glad the story has a plot (a rare quality in princesses stories), even if it does feel like the author is trying too hard. The illustrations are fabulous. And Lydia has already memorized it.

Paperbag Princess (Robert Munsch). I loved this Munsch classic as a kid. Clever Elizabeth realizes she can outwit the dragon and doesn’t need dumb Prince Ronald after all.

Princess Hyacinth (Florence Parry Heide) is about a princess who floats and who isn’t allowed out of the palace (for her safety, so she doesn’t float away). She and a local boy figure out how she can live an enjoyable life despite her unusual problem. I find the illustrations weird but the story is lively and surprising.

Princess Pigsty (Cornelia Funke). I like this one more than Lydia does. Princess Isabella is tired of being a princess (it’s boring) and she would rather take care of the pigs, to the king’s dismay. It ends up being a tale of a girl’s assertiveness and a father’s enduring love. Isabella and her father both come out winners, which is pretty sweet.

Children’s Bible

Jesus Storybook Bible - review

I wrote about my struggle with children’s Bibles two years ago, and got quite the response. Turns out I’m not alone. But this year we found our Bible:

The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones). Finally. The Bible I’ve been looking for. It’s not perfect (the author takes a few liberties, and it’s missing some important stories), but I like how it brings the stories to life. The author really sets the scenes with purple skies and sweet-smelling breezes and laughing birds. The characters are delightfully three-dimensional, and the artwork is lovely and whimsical and kid-friendly without being juvenile or garish. It doesn’t look the other way from death but it doesn’t dwell on it, either.

And Lydia loves it. She’s excited to read from the Bible every night to find out what’s going to happen next. That there is the biggest win.

I’d heard many rave reviews of this book in the past, but I never thought Lydia was old enough for it. Now that she’s four, it’s perfect for her.


The Abominable Bride. Remember how absolutely gaga I am for Sherlock? I about lost my mind when I discovered that the special episode (which takes place in Victorian England) was playing at our local theater. Grandma babysat and we made it a date. (With two of my sisters in the backseat of the minivan.)

It was everything you could possibly want it to be. I watch the show 80% for the relationship between Sherlock and John, 10% for the hilarious banter, and 10% for the actual mystery-solving. The costumes, sets, and music were perfect. It was creepy, thrilling, and full of surprises. Does anyone else just adore Mrs. Hudson? Oh, and Moriarty? Gah, I just loved everything about it.

Inside Out. We finally saw this on DVD. It’s brilliant, moving, and delightful, as we’ve come to expect from Disney-Pixar. But difficult for the four-and-under crowd to understand. Lydia was totally confused and couldn’t grasp the conceit at all (The characters are personified emotions living in a little girls’ mind), though she did enjoy watching the characters’ silly antics. I definitely cried more than once.

That’s it for now!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

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  1. Oh I love a good princess story! You might want to check out Beth Moore’s picture book: A Parable About the King. (It’s a retelling of the prodigal son but with a little girl princess who runs away instead). Lydia is probably not old enough yet, but some day you guys should look into the Tales of the Kingdom series, for some reason I think you’d really like them. (Enough that you might want to read them now, if you’re in the mood for middle grade Christian allegory with trippy 70s illustrations.) This makes me think that I need to do something with my own picture book princess tale manuscript…if Lydia is an indication of a strong market :)
    Amy Rogers Hays recently posted..31 Books For My 31st BirthdayMy Profile

  2. I feel your pain on all the princess stuff. My daughter really likes Princesses on the Run (http://www.amazon.com/Princesses-Run-Smiljana-Coh/dp/0762446129)…all of the Princesses are bored and figure out what they like to DO (besides sitting in windows and getting ready for balls, haha). Worth checking it out!

  3. I only have boys who have yet to have a princess phase, but a friend of mine was ordering some of these Princess Truly books for her daughter who is about Lydia’s age. She hasn’t gotten them yet so I can’t speak to the quality of the stories for sure, but I know you’ve talked about valuing and teaching diversity before so it’s something to look at. They have good reviews.

    Another suggestion is Rachel Isadora’s books. She has a few fairy tale retellings that are all set in Africa. I remember her Princess and the Pea from when I was a kid, and it looks like there are some others. The illustrations are gorgeous, and again, though the story might be traditional (I really can’t remember if there’s any sort of twist to them), I think there’s a lot of value in showing that princesses don’t have to be fair-skinned and blue-eyed.

    Just some thoughts! Good luck, Kathleen.

    • That’s fantastic. Thanks, Katie! I’m so grateful for Tiana — ever since Lydia watched The Princess and the Frog, she colours people’s skin brown as often as she colours it peach. I’m glad she’s starting to understand people come in different colours. More diverse princesses are definitely welcome.

  4. Christine says:

    If you’re collecting good princess book recommendations, my four-year-old just finished Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon. It’s a bit old for her (you need to be familiar with fairy tales to get all the jokes), but that just means that she missed some jokes, not that it was a problem. The friend who gave it explained that she wanted to make sure that she got to my daughter before Disney did. My husband and I both enjoy the story for itself, not just as a kids’ book. It’s in line with the Patricia Wrede version of being a princess.

    Something that’s worked for us (although our problem is more often shorts than skirts) is that I’ve given up on getting my daughter to change her clothes before we go out. I just rely on her snowpants to keep her legs warm enough. (I don’t know if this works if you’re stuck relying on a car to get places though. Is the bulk in snow pants too much for a car seat?)

    • THanks for the recommendation! Our library has it! And we just got snow pants that fit her, so I think we can finally give that a try. (Until now pants were the only defense against the cold.)

  5. I don’t have a princess recommendation, but I do have sympathy for a long and bleak winter! You know, we have enjoyed Inside Out at our house simply because it has opened an avenue for us to discuss our emotions with our children. We have been talking about who is “pushing buttons” for us in the moment. If anger is pushing buttons, we can identify it. After the “flare” has died down, we can talk about how we can choose our behaviors, or response to our emotions (At our house that often means that just because we feel like hitting a sibling doesn’t mean that we should really do it! But, the emotion is real, so it doesn’t help us to deny it.). It has been good for the kids and us to realize that we can feel a mixture of emotions. For you, you can feel joy that Felix is alive and home, but you can also feel the anger, sadness, and disgust of a long winter of isolation. I am sure you also feel fear about what the future will bring, along with the joyfulness of hope. My sister frequently reminds me that we live in a world where only recently did we have the luxury of “thinking about how we feel” about something instead of just soldiering on regardless. You can still make your choices, your emotions don’t control you, but it may be helpful to identify and accept what you are feeling as you are making choices. Good luck, and you have the well-wishes of a stranger!

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