Monday, January 24, 2011

Cat and Baby

I try to avoid "awwwww" intended stories about Little Man, but he and Oswald have just been so freaking cute today that I had to share one little blurb. Tonight after his bath, we were reading to Littles before bed when he hopped off my lap, picked up Sandra Boynton's The Going To Bed Book, and took it over to Oswald. We tried to explain that Os can't read (yet), but he stayed over there, shoving the book in the poor cat's face, til the Man came over and read it to both of them. Littles patted Oswald on the head through the entire book and then put his forehead down for Oswald to kiss him goodnight. Which Os promptly did.

That cat has been, at times, the bane of our existence. He's cost hundreds of dollars in vet bills and destroyed countless mac power cords. He sent me to the emergency room when I was seven months pregnant. He's made me clean up unbelievable amounts of barf. He's eaten dozens of ponytail holders, packing peanuts, and twist ties (which probably accounts for the barf). But his saving grace is that he's exceptional with Littles. It's almost as good as having a dog named Nana who can turn down beds with her paws. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

60 Hours with Suzanne Collins

My middle sister told me about The Hunger Games last fall, saying that I had to add them to my book list, which I dutifully did, because I'm a diligent youngest child. I'm trying to be better about buying books, because I've run out of bookshelf space, so I looked at the library--only to find that The Hunger Games was on a wait list. And what a wait. I mean, I knew these books were popular (you can't enter a book store without seeing The Hunger Games trilogy on prominent display), but waiting for over two months to get my hands on a library copy really hammered that lesson into my memory. Amazingly though, it was worth the wait.

A fascinating read dealing with the overarching themes of war and government power, The Hunger Games is based in post-apocalyptic America, where a central government requires its surrounding districts to send two children (a boy and a girl) to compete in a gladiatorial fight to the death every year as a punishment for an uprising staged 75 years earlier. Fast paced and surprisingly full of philosophical meat, I was intrigued not only by the story line and characters, but also by Collins' ability to provide food for thought without beating the reader over the head with a moral. And then The Hunger Games ended. In a cliff hanger of epic proportions. And I faced another two month library wait.

Obviously, that wasn't an option. So I was seriously considering just buying the trilogy (and housing them in the guest bathroom, which is our last remaining pretense of shelf space) when I realized: online reading! And in less than forty-eight hours (I'd spent maybe 24ish on the first book, between things), I'd finished Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Amazingly, I also managed to do other productive things during that time. I have to say, I really enjoyed reading all three books. I thought it was an excellent perspective on violence and government and what it is that makes us human. I was describing the trilogy to a friend, likening it to Lord of the Flies thematically, but what I like about Collins' book, as opposed to Lord of the Flies, is the ray of hope, however faint, that is portrayed. Best yet, I loved that in the last book, Collins shatters that hope into a million pieces only to rebuild it piece by piece without pretending that it is unscarred or whole. She doesn't tie everything up in a pretty bow, but we aren't left with a bunch of cannibalistic children pretending nothing ever happened either.

At any rate, it was time worth spending. I am, however, curious to see what they do with the movies. The trilogy is geared toward a young adult audience, but there is such an extreme amount of violence and even some nudity that I don't know how they could accurately present the material without getting an R rating. Just a thought. Loved the books. Not sure I could handle the movies. I had to close my eyes in Castaway when Tom Hanks knocked his tooth out with the ice skate. Just saying...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some Seashells and a Grain of Sand

I've been having an ocean craving lately. In light of that, I'm not sure if my library book choice was fortuitous or a really big mistake. I had an Anne Morrow Lindbergh moment this week (the Hubs had just finished reading a book about the Lindbergh kidnapping) and picked up Gift from the Sea for my non-fiction read. Although now I'm even more desperate for the sound of the surf and wish I was close friends with a beach front home owner, this book may be adding itself to my list of all time favourites. At the very least, it gave me a lot to think about.

Lindbergh's book is a collection of thoughts on life, marriage, family, and, especially, the woman. It's simple and unpretentious while still achieving the poetic and philosophical, plus it has those perfect nuggets of thought that are so fun to pull out and quote. I'll give you one of the most thought-provoking:

"Women, who used to complain of loneliness, need never be alone any more. We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side. Even day-dreaming was more creative than this; it demanded something of oneself and it fed the inner life. Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone."
This is a constant challenge for me, as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother. I used to relish my alone time, the blossoming of my own inner life. But I have seen in the last few months a desperate attempt to cram the silence full of noise. Unfortunately, it's in that necessary silence that the voice of God can be heard most clearly. How do we re-learn? Perhaps it's by taking the time to remember what it used to be, or to sit in the company of one who has already attained, or to walk along the sea shore and allow the wide open expanse to seep back inside our souls. Or maybe all it takes is an early morning alarm followed by a cup of coffee and some time to think and pray before the world wakes up.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Week With Rick Riordan

This week I decided I was sick of my own company. So I found some fictional characters to hang out with who had really exciting lives and wouldn't mind me tagging along for the ride. See, that's the thing about being a Stay-at-Home-Mom. If you have an off week, so long as you're going through the correct mothering motions, you can kind of let everything else go (for a little while). And since my child typically takes good naps and goes to bed early and is not the most demanding of playmates, and since my husband is currently rather busy at work, and since I read relatively quickly, I was able to pack 5 books into the second half of this week. I did suggest to the Hubs on Friday that I should be given a PhD in Laziness and Sloth, but, on the whole, it was quite an entertaining week.

So Wednesday I decided to finish up the series I started about a year and a half ago when Josh deployed. For those of you who don't know, the way I deal with things I don't want to deal with is by putting them on hold until I'm ready to legitimately deal with them. This hold process is crucial, and I typically accomplish it by reading (although this year with the advent of Baby who makes it difficult to get to the library or book store whenever I want, I have lowered myself to watching TV online). So, I said goodbye to the Hubs that Sunday morning, and instead of going to church (where everyone would've lovingly asked me how I was feeling) or going home (where there was a giant gap where all of his stuff should've been), I went to Borders.  And read Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The entire book. And then I put it back on the shelf and left to feed my pregnant self and face life.

So that was almost a year and a half ago, and I kind of wanted to finish up the series and find out what happens, but I didn't want to buy the series (because I'd already read the first one, so I didn't need to buy it, but then I would have an incomplete set) and they're incredibly difficult to get from the library because they're so popular right now. Better them than Twilight, I say. And then I had an epiphany. What if I could find them online for free? And so I did.

I'm not saying it was the easiest reading ever (one book would separate the "ou" from "You" like so: Y think you are so cool ou.), and another book only had about four sentences per page, so you felt like you were reading very, very quickly when in reality you were just getting tendonitis in your fingers from "turning" the page, but it was totally worth it. I'm not saying Percy Jackson is the next great classic, but I give it a five star rating for entertainment value. I also went ahead and read Riordan's latest add on to the series (which is part of different series but has a lot of the same characters), The Lost Hero, and I watched the Percy Jackson movie, which I have to say was horrible. It gave me that slight pain behind the eyes that Twilight does; it was like watching Xena Warrior Princess meets High School Musical, which is never a good thing.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the experience with you. If you're in the need for some light entertainment that includes Greek gods and goddesses, satyrs, wood nymphs, teenagers with ADHD and special powers, and sundry monsters, it's a fun series to check out. Or just find online. For cheap as free.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Powdered Sugar Donuts and the Ocean in Winter

It snowed last night while we were sleeping. Not a whole lot. Not like last year. But a powdered sugar dusting that left all the cars looking like those little donuts you can find at Chinese buffets or better yet, beignets. I love snow. Even last year when I got snowed in multiple times and had to dig out my car with a dustbin, I couldn't get over how beautiful it was. I'm not saying I didn't recognize the inconvenience and dread driving through the snow bank maze of downtown D.C., but it was still beautiful, you know?

But I was thinking this morning, as I looked out the window, how much more I really want to be looking at the ocean instead of a snowscape. I'm so desperate that I would even take a cold, winter ocean complete with five jackets, two scarves, and an extra fuzzy hat with ear flaps. There can even be a little snow mixed in with the sand. But I really miss the sound of the waves hitting the beach. Kind of in a desperate, hyperventilating way.

Is it that obvious that I didn't make it to the beach this summer?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

winter blurbs: starting with gloves and moving on haphazardly from there

I hate gloves. They inhibit my tactile senses. But I appreciate their manful attempts to stop the rapid advance of frostbite. Also, I realized today that they function really well as a reusable tissue--one that's already attached to your hand. This isn't gross at all. It's inevitable.

For me, the appeal of winter decreases sharply after New Years. Once I take down the Christmas decorations, it should start to get warm again. Even butt warmers only do so much. Who really wants it to be cold on Valentine's Day, the holiday of love? Doesn't that seem like it should be a spring holiday? Or at least any other season where you aren't at least wearing five layers of clothes at all times and most likely sick with some sort of pneumonia?

The worst thing about winter, though, is the immediate runny nose I get upon walking out of the house. I open the front door, and it's as though the snot faucet is turned on. Hence, the need for gloves.

I realized recently that scarves are also like unloseable (this is not a word) handkerchiefs. Unfortunately for my gloves, I bought them at Payless and most of my scarves come from overseas, places that make high quality, not easily replaced merchandize.

I have all these hateful thoughts about winter, but as soon as I cuddle up in front of the fire with a cup of hot cocoa (nicely frothed with mini-chocolate chips sprinkled liberally into the foam), I feel all cozy and happy and stop panicking about how long spring is taking to get here.

Last thought: I enjoyed winter so much more last year. I think it has something to do with the fact that I had my own internal radiator. I tried to replicate the effect with a food baby this year, but it didn't work.