Sunday, December 28, 2014

Starting off a year in review..

In many ways, having this blog is like a quick reference of some of things that happened over the year. A quick check in to parts of my mental state.  This has been yet another speedy year.  It feels like the past two years have been intense - filled with many little shifts and a lot of learning.

I think it is funny that although I try to sit down and blog more to track these thoughts of mine, the past three years I am hitting about the same amount of posts - just over 60.  Considering that this is the most I have read in the past decade (50 books, ye-hah!), most of my yearly posts have been about the books that I have been reading.  I will admit, you can track a certain piece of me through the books that I have been choosing, and how my tastes have been evolving over time.  Best thing about this year when it came to books was my library card.  It has saved me hundreds of dollars and exposed me to books I would have never discovered on my own (like We, the Drowned or the Golem and the Jinni).

I was starting to improve with my jogging this year - I got new running shoes at the end of 2013 and we bought an elliptical in April… and then I promptly stopped jogging altogether.  This coincided with me going back to my old job, which didn't last as long as I expected, but led me in to wearing way too many hats at works until the last few weeks.  I will admit to hitting a bit of a burn out somewhere along the way, but I think I also learned a lot about myself, about leadership, and grew up a lot in that timeframe as well.  I need to get more in touch with my physical self again.  I am really missing it, and I think I am feeling a certain level of frustration as a result.  I have told my boss I need to take about a 35 minute lunch every day since that is how long the walk I like to do takes.  I have to make it not negotiable again - it is good for my soul and makes my work days so much more palatable.

We camped a little.  I love camping and getting out there and seeing new things with my family, and we need to do it more. This seemed to be the year of high daycare costs and lots of car related expenses. It felt a bit like a step forward, and then a few to the side.

This has been a great Christmas season.  Overall, things have gone well - I have cooked a lot, and cleaned a lot. I am tired.  I am grateful for this time off because it just gives me more time to be.  I stayed in my jammies all day yesterday and I went through some paperwork and the kids artwork.  It is amazing how fast things accumulate when all you do is the stuff you can see in the middle and you lead the edges for later.

I was so proud of what B accomplished with karate… and so proud of how far C has come in hockey.  Hockey has been far more rewarding than baseball (no matter how well run the baseball was).  A lot of emotional energy went in to the changes from our old elementary school/daycare to our new settings.  It has been great.  It has worked out so much better for all of us. I am also grateful I am done with the childcare board - it was an amazing finish and I got a standing O!!   I am proud of my hubby - how much he worked over the last month because it is demanding for him at this time of the year.  December is wonderful and trying all at the same time.  Next year I need to plan out this time of the year better… I do want to do Christmas cards again, and targeting baking, and to have gifts done early to enjoy more of the little moments in the month.

This is a start.  Lets see if I take more time in the next week to expand on this.

What do I want for 2015?

Every year I could say I could lose weight. It sort of seems to happen, and then I end up about the same weight by the end of the year - up or down about pounds from the same starting weight.  I think this year I will say I want to be 15 pounds less than I am today.  I suspect what I am about now… and I can achieve this with better attention to exercise.  I need to remember to stretch, since I think this is part of what did me in.  Now that I am not a spring chicken, I need to exercise.

I want to continue knitting - this year felt good. I made 3 baby blankets, a pair of socks, a hat and a scarf, another viking hat, and a bunch of washcloths… it was satisfying work.  I really want to make myself the "St. Brigid" sweater by Alice Starmore.  This is a huge undertaking, and I think I would be happy to even get a start on it.  I expect the wool for this to cost about $125-$150 since I want to buy a quality product since I expect to wear this sweater when completed for years to come.  I also want to make myself a pair of socks, and a few things for the rest of my family..

Manage our finances better.  Overall, 2014 was easier/better than 2013 although it still had it's dodgy moments.  I am hoping to keep a better budget this next year, and I really would love to see us take our family to Disneyland in the Fall and for Ken and I to have a weekend away somewhere without the kids.  Love them, but it would be great for us to have a little slice of time to do something different together.  I want to get out camping more this summer too.

I could also tie in helping keep my family healthier.  B to keep up with riding, skating, and karate again.  I am thinking of hockey and lacrosse for C.  I want them both to be in swimming lessons at some point.  More walking/jogging for me and some bike riding for them.  More active than we have been.  More family hikes on the weekends.

Themes - I want to stay a little more organized and on top of things.  Letting the walks go, and the jogging, and my budget at times, comes down to stress management at times, and self management.  I need to set better boundaries so I can achieve what I need to, and feel like I am back in the driver's seat.

Time like this, to sit and reflect.  These kinds of posts are like thinking on my feet - I am not sure where I am going to arrive a good portion of that is the journey, and taking out ideas and trying them out and seeing if they fit how I want them too.

To get to the island a few times and enjoy our family over there and to see perhaps some whale watching? hot springs cove? even to camp or see some new parts… even to go back to NewCastle island… this time of the year is good to reflect upon what was, and to throw out ideas for the next year. Set expectations, utter aloud a few goals and dreams, even if they may change along the way.

Milestone achieved, 50 books for 2014.

I started this book at the beginning of December, and although it took time to digest, this was a very profound novel.  This is the story of the sea, of the Danish city of Marstal, and of 150 years of history and the lives the sea has claimed in one form or another.

It starts with days of the great sailing ships, and ends with the closing of World War II.  I don't think that I have ever read a book quite like this one before.  It seems to have been a year of finding books such as this.

I turned the last page, and I will admit to a few tears leaking out, likely just because.  This was a surprising novel - truly epic. I am searching for the right word - one that will take it's rightful place among the best of seafaring literature… Several stories are woven together throughout this book, and some are more compelling than others.  It is quite fascinating as one life merges with the next, and how our lives can be interwoven.  A story of courage, and disaster, love, and the depths of the human soul.  Definitely not a summer read, and well worth the time spent meandering through these pages and on the journey.  Makes me wish I knew more about my Swedish ancestors - some of the names seem familiar (like Gunnars, and Eriks, and Einars) and being close to the sea… it also made me appreciate in a different way the silence from our relatives about WWI and WWII and why there was a darkness in their lives they didn't speak of.   Makes me appreciate novels like this even more - to have a lens in to a part of history that is unspeakable.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

49... and counting

I am working some time magic to post about this book. 

Time is flying.  I have also been really tired, and I can't really come up with any excuses beyond that it has been a busy, emotionally intense year that has been pretty okay overall.  It has already been almost a month since I finished this book.. but I never dreamed that I would get to 48 books and then completely stall out. 

I started reading "Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrel" and it is a good book, however, it is 1000 pages long. I frankly petered out about page 300 and I have put it to the side.  I think I started it at the beginning of November.


IWhat can you say about a book like this many weeks after you finish it? I would love to have a beer with these two and just talk.  They are both brilliant, and I had a few great laughs reading this.  It reminded me a bit of "Lamb" by Christopher Moore.. really funny, and very intelligent if a bit sacrilegeous. I love that it is almost the end of time, and that the antichrist ends up being able to carve out his own destiny.  Lots of food for thought, and lots of guffaws.  Strangely, it wasn't a quick read.  I am planning to read "American Gods" soon by Gaiman and at some point I would like to read some of Pratchett's discworld books. I am grateful that I love to read and can discover so many different thoughts by being open to different books.
 
I am currently reading "We, the drowned." It is amazing book.. but another book that is well over 600 pages. I am not sure why hitting 50 books has become my Everest this year.  I was at 48 books on November 1st, and I cannot tell you where the last 55 days have gone.  POOF.

 
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

October rules.

I love this month.

I have made it to another Treacherous Tea with my mom, and we took the kids for the somewhat macabre scavenger hunt at our local museum.  Nothing like getting the kids to eat kitty litter cake after finding items like "Crazy Clara", the "Death Beatle", and "Raggety Angry".

We made it out to the Corn Maze, carved pumpkins with some family a week or so back, and our cemetary is standing once again on the front lawn.

We aren't going to check out a pumpkin patch (figured the corn maze and their outdoor activities fits that bill) and we didn't make it for our annual grave tours in Fort Langley (which I did miss). 

I always think of my friend Kelz this month (from Oz).  After our first fall together, I must say that I appreciate the changing leaves more than I ever did before - all the spectacular colours.

We also had great Thanksgiving dinners with family, and one of my oldest and dearest friends made it up here for a long lost visit.  It was amazing to get the chance to reconnect.

All in all, a great month... except the nasty cold and ear infection that came around...

I am really looking forward to Halloween on Friday - it should be a crazy night with lots of kids, especially if it doesn't rain.  I am also looking forward to November, and our usual week off and trek to Seattle.  Fingers crossed, we may make a few trips!

It is hard to believe Christmas is less than two months away.  The time is truly flying.  I am thinking of trying to do more, and less at the same time.  The kids are quickly reaching that saturation point, and it is not just about more things...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An almost? Replaced by amusement.

I really wanted to like this one... I guess it doesn't help when you are currently reading the Order of the Phoenix to your son, and trying to get in to Rowling's new crime novel under her pseudonym.  The funny thing is, I can't say that I didn't like it.  I only got about 125 pages in to this one before I had to return it to the library.  The jury is out whether or not I would request it again so I could finish the story.  It is well written, and the characters were interesting.  I don't know why I didn't really connect with the story.  I enjoy crime thrillers, but in this current moment of time, I am not all that interested in reading them.  Oddly enough.  I apparently have been in to humour or slightly supernatural reads (when you take a look at the books that have been catching and holding my attention in the last few months).  I am not sure if I just wasn't in the mood, or if there was something there that just wasn't really engaging me.  Perhaps one day I will finish this one.  I don't know.


 Where I found the cuckoo was really hard to turn pages, in this book, the pages were turning themselves.  It is crass.   It is funny.  In weird ways, it made me feel a bit better because I do not always watch my language and have been known to spout off with a few tirades that have been peppered with less than savoury language.  It is even funnier when you consider his dad is a well educated doctor, and he really, truly does come up with some spectacular one-liners.

My pop had a really unique sense of humour as well, which I miss, and I am grateful for him in the sense part of my stiff upper lip is likely from his tough love. This is a great book to get from the library when you need a quick read, or a bathroom book when you only have time for a short story.  I will admit that I did bust a gut with the last story about his dog.  I almost counted this as two books for the yearly total, but I figure that since I didn't really get anywhere with the Cuckoo, and I did get through this one pretty quick (it is really short and not a real novel per say)... this is okay billing.



Friday, October 10, 2014

A much more satisfying trilogy...

I have a read a few trilogies in the past few years, and this one is by far the best.  Hunger Games, kind of peaked, the Divergent series tanked, and the Dark Materials were ok.  A year later and I can't say that much stuck with me from that one. Now this series, on the other hand, got better as the books progressed.  I remember being far more irritated with Matthew, as a possessive vampire in the first book than the more self-aware version that we see in this book.  Diana, as a witch in denial evolved from being slightly irritating to a fully rounded character.

This was a great book to read entering in to October, and the month of All Hallow's Eve.  Nothing like reading about witches, daemons, and vampires to get you in the mood.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and this book in particular.  Well written, and well researched.  I was a bit sad when I turned the last page.  There were many elements here that I would say that I look for in a good book. I have also noticed that I have been drifting a bit more to these types of books lately... I hope that Harkness bring this cast of characters back for a new series, or even a continuation if only because I enjoyed the story so much.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Busy.

This is a great article about 'busyness'. It talks about the 'tyranny of the to-do' list, and I must admit, this strikes pretty close to home in my world.

Allowing time for self reflection is so important in trying to remain spiritually connected to your self.   I do struggle with managing myself, my time, our family, my work, sports for the kids, doctors appointments and other people I have to meet with, in other words, a lot of priorities.  Sometimes I write lists just to recognize how many things I am accomplishing in a day, especially for those days where it feels like all I was doing was effectively spinning my wheels.

I like the idea of bringing back play, even in our adult lives.  I have also taken to small moments to stretch.  Last year when I was jogging I will admit I was terrible for just getting out there and plodding on the pavement, or trail.  I didn't really stretch, and my idea of stretching out after was plunking my ass on the couch with a glass of cold water. I want to start jogging or walking again on the weekends, but I have come to realize I need to build in that stretching time. After starting to build in some stretches to my daily routines, I have come to realize just how "tight" I have become.  The last few years have been quite frenetic and overwhelming at times.  It also feels like one cycle is slowly drawing to a completion and I am moving in to the next cycle.  Things are ending, and new things are beginning and it is exciting to be in this transition stage.

The stretches are just as important as things like keeping up with this blog (even if it is normally just posts about the books I am reading), knitting (I am working on a birthday gift for someone), obviously reading, and then my lunchtime walks at work.  I would really love to get in a walk a weekend, and then to also work in some hatha yoga too.  To see some friends here and there, and to spend more quality time with Ken, and not always with our kids.

The busy is crazy though.

From the article: "So, as much as I wouldn’t wish overwhelm on anyone, I actually see it as a positive thing. For too long, work-life issues were always seen as “women’s issues.” When they’ve really always been about both good work and raising the next generation. What we all need to be talking about is redefining work to be mission-driven and flexible, rather than rewarding long hours of face time. The former enables not only everyone to have time for living an authentic life as well as being a more productive, engaged and efficient worker. The latter just leads to more inequity and burn out.".

I think this is something that I will try to keep in mind.  Being flexible, being more mission driven and to accomplish tasks rather than just grinding parts of it out.

I also think it is important to bring back some play, and I think I would like to seize the little joys more, and to try to do something that scares me a little as often as I can to stretch myself in different ways too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What happened????


Okay.  What happened, too much popularity, too fast?

I really enjoyed Divergent and then Insurgent... and then along comes this book.  I came so close to laying it down and running away and picking up one of the other books that started to beckon to me.  This book really came apart at the seams for me.  If the story and characters moved and were entertaining in the first two books, the shift to a dual narrative (without truly distinctive voices) and a plot that crumbles made this not quite the story that the first two installments were.  About 250 pages in, I started making mental comparisons to reading 50 shades of gray (not a good thing) and how I felt reading that... at a certain point you just start to skim read... Now I just kind of feel relieved that I finished the book and I can move on.  I was disappointed by how this one was written, how the story collapsed, and about the ending - given how it started, it just didn't satisfy.

Next.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A fantastic tale...

This was an excellent book.  Almost 500 pages, and I found the story to be compelling from start to finish.  This was a very unique, well written, mystical novel about a golem (jewish creature made from clay) and a fire jinni (a supernatural spirit below the level of angels and devils in Arabia) that meet in New York, somewhere around the turn of the century.  It was hard to  put down this book, and it was also a pleasure beacuse of how it was written and it wasn't a book that I devoured all in one sitting.  In a sense, this novel caught me a bit off guard, and it also reminded me of the kind of books that I do like to read - ones with a bit a magic, or other-worldliness about them.  I enjoyed reading about the Jinni's past, and how the lives of the golem and the jinni intertwine, and then come together, and apart.  If you are looking for an intellectual, almost romantic, supernatural novel, this one is a sure bet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Books, books, and more books (not just mine!)

There is a new meme travelling through Facebook, and I would admit I have been stewing over titles for a few days before I post my own list of 10 books that have had a lasting impact on my life.  Of course I have been over thinking this one… it is also an interesting exercise when I troll my memory through all the books that immediately jump and demand attention.

The 100 Books that Facebook Users love… is a great summary of the list of the top 100 books that people identified in their meme, and it is interesting.  Even checking out how the books are related and mapped out, is also an interesting exercise to check out folk's literary tastes.

In no particular order, I will list my work in progress and call it done for now:

Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Lamb, Christopher Moore
Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins
The Power of One, Bryce Courtney
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl
Works of William Shakespeare
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
No Great Mischief, Alistair MacLeod

I don't do well in limiting myself to a list of just 10 books.  I have a hard time not weighing and assessing and fretting over a list like this. I have missed some, ones I would not expect, like The Bees, The Gargoyle, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, My Name is Memory, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Unbroken to name but a few.  I also think about other books that impacted me as a youth - The Outsiders, Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bill Peet books, The House with a Clock in it's Walls, and of course, Are you there God, it is me, Margaret?. What I can tell you with feeling is that my life would not as rich as it is without books. It feels like each year I have been making better and better choices in what I have been reading - in my own geeky way, this has been really exciting.  My next reads are the Golem and the Jinni, then Jonathon Norrel and Mr. Strange, and then the latest Harkness and Gabaldon books.  I have at least 4-6 weeks of amazing reads to go! That doesn't even count the books I have ordered through the library that I hope don't come in any time soon...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Entertaining series... again, far better than Twilight...

Since it has been a few weeks since I read the first book it took me a while to pick up the threads again in this second book in the trilogy. Is it a guilty pleasure to admit I am really enjoying these books?

I am.  I am looking forward to reading the third, and even to read Four, which is from Tobias/Four's perspective.. which I wasn't all that sure I would want to read. 

These are enjoyable books, there with the Catching Fire series, way better than Twilight, and for me, better than The Giver.  Given the stack of books I have waiting to read, I would assume I won't be reading the next book until closer to Christmas. 

On a related side note, I finally have read more than 41 books in a year! It was a quiet goal to read more than 50 books in a year, and this year, it feels achievable. It has been great to have such a long stretch of great reads, and from all different genres. I have not been bored reading a book for quite a while.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pretty much one a week...


There is more to life than just reading, but blogging the books that I have been reading makes it easy to track where my headspace was.  This was an entertaining and humourous book, but not as funny as a few of the others that I have read by Moore.

The South Pacific is an interesting plcae, and I have enjoyed my literary forays in to the region since I had just thought all the islands were little slices of paradise.  Moore has a great sense of humour, and is very intelligent.  I enjoy how his books are a departure from the every day, and how they can challenge your perceptions.  Worth a read, but not the best one to choose if this is your first time reading him.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yup. That was August.

It would appears that summer for our younger kids is likely not over yet.  So much for kindergarten starting for our little man.  At least they have decent haircuts and are good to start the school year, whenever that may be.  I have a lot of feelings about our school strike, mostly I am disappointed with both the BCTF and with our provincial government for where things are at. I am trying to hard to be fair to both sides - but demands from both are ridiculous. It is really hard to know where the truth is, especially when I think about how some of the contract negations I have been a part of have gone and how they have resolved.

It really feels like the last two years have been a blur, especially this last year.  I am looking forward to when things normalize - between new childcare, new schools, no more Board meetings (AGM is in a few weeks, I will glad to be moving on) and just settling in to the new reality.  I am looking forward to not commuting with my kids every day. I am glad that that they will not have 90 minutes in the car every day, that is a big deal.  Friday morning we almost had a big truck run in to us coming off of the highway.  Great reinforcement it is nice to not have my kids in the car every day.

There have been some amazing moments this summer - going to the beach with the boys, our camping trip to Porpoise Bay, the demolition derby, my quick trip to Kelowna when my brother got married (although this experience is wrapped in a few different emotions), and just getting out and trying to enjoy the amazing weather we had this summer.  Although I must admit, I am struggling to really figure out where did the time go.  Back in June, it seems that everything got thrown off kilter with the start of the school strike and school ending early.  Next year, we will need to get away camping and get out of dodge for a bit.  When you don't really get away, you don't really feel like you have much of a break.  During my two weeks off, we took care of a few appointments, sorted through clothes, read some amazing books, of course, I love spending time at the beach with our boys, and then viola! I was back at work again.  We are short staffed (still, again).. and I have a few hats on, so it seems like I am not getting much of a break to just really get caught up with myself… in the last few days things are somewhat calm.. but working in post secondary… everything will change on Tuesday.. and knowing this, and knowing we are short, makes it hard to relax.  I figure I will just wake up one day and it will be after Thanksgiving.

I think for the boys the summer went well - summer camps, time with me, time with Ken, new daycare, more summer camps and old daycare.  It was busy and it was a bit all over the place. I think it was good for C since it allowed him to be treated like a big kid, not a toddler.  B rolled with the punches and is excited about the upcoming changes. With the summer broken in to weeks, I think this also contributed to the time just flying.

I also have not been jogging, for months.  I do miss it.  I also haven't been able to get out walking at lunch as much as I would like at work. I need to figure the exercise piece out - I think for me having my routine totally off and has thrown me off of my game a little.  If you can say kids love their routines, so do their parents. I think it is good for my knee (since it seemed to be having some weird issues) I am not running, but I think we need to figure out biking or something wild and crazy like that… fingers crossed next weekend I get to try Stand Up Paddle boarding.  It seems I have not quite figured out that yearly goal of losing a bunch of weight, but at least I can try SUP this year, and we have painted the family room and put a fence in our backyard.  I suspect the 5 or 10 km run isn't going to be this year, but perhaps I can even get out for a huge, long hike and call it even.

Yup. I am rambling. I could be writing my report for that AGM, but I am kind of in a blah mood.  I suspect once I finish here, I will retire with my latest book and look forward to a Sunday morning layabout for a bit as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A seafarin' yarn of worth

This was a really powerful book.  It appears that I have been on a bit of a nonfiction kick lately, and this is a really great addition to that list if you enjoy a good yarn about the ocean and it's travellers.

This is a book that caught my attention in a magazine a while ago, a blurb, and it appealed so I added it to my "to read" list.  I really had no idea what it was about, except that the cover looked neat, and it was well received.  Ironically enough, our book club made a point of reading novels this year that are being made in to movies - and this book falls in to this category (which surprised me, somewhat). 

I learned a lot from this book, and it does help that I read Unbroken  last year, so this isn't my first book reading about unlikely survival at sea.  Comparisons are also drawn to Alive, the book and movie that chronicalled the story of a Uruguayan rugby team who were involved in the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. 

I really didn't know a lot about whaling, about Nantucket, or about the whaleship Essex.  I have heard about Moby Dick, and it is on the "to read" list, and I have heard about the mutiny on the Bounty (which I also thought was a fictional event but have now learned it to be based on real events).  This novel describes what happened to the Essex and her inhabitants.  What happened out in the Pacific Ocean, the sperm whale the stoves the ship, and the three whaleboats with the crew that seek salvation.  Previously there was only accounts from the first mate, and recently a second first hand account has been discovered from another crew member.

There are so many layers to appreciate about this story, the history of whaling, racism (crew members were local from Nantucket, the mainland, or of African American heritage), survival and what happens and what people are willing to do to survive, human psyche, the push to the west and our naval explorations. It is also interesting to note how the author compares the differences between the stories, and what the locals choose to remember and talk about when it came to the Essex.  It is also interesting to learn that this event was taught to America school children for years.

Very well told.  There were parts that I almost dreaded reading, and I was relieved when the rescue came for the surviving crew members.

Fascinating.  I will need to read Moby Dick (Melville was also a whaler and developed this story based on the Captain of the Essex) one day, and I definitely want to visit some of the San Juan islands again soon and check out the whaling museum there.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

I have wanted to read this one for a few years, and more so after finishing Wild earlier this year.  Talk about two very difference experiences, and two very different individuals relating their own personal experiences on their respective trails.

Wild takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail (west coast) and The Walk takes place on the Appalchian trail (east coast).  As far as folks go, I think I would prefer to kick back and have beers with Bill - and hear about his travel experiences and overall life philosophy than Cheryls'...

Bryson is known for his sense of humor, and I read one of his other books a few years ago (In a Sunburnt Country).  My impressions of Australia are definitely coloured by his words.  In the Walk, Bryson relates his attempt at covering a good portion of the AT with his friend Stephen, and at times solo.  Bryson includes a lot of historical information to supplement his impressions.  Bryson also has one helluva sense of humor, so you can appreciate a few laughs along the way. 

This is a good read.  I did appreciate the history, and the scant personal details that Bryson includes.  It made me appreciate being from the west more - from being from a pretty "wild" place that hasn't been domesticated and tamed for hundreds of years already. 

I have done a distance canoe circuit, and I would one day like to do the West Coast hiking trail along Vancouver Island.  Of course, each of these is just over 100km, where these trails are literally thousands of kilometers long and will take months to complete.  Very different scale.  I would also love to drive across Canada and come back through the United States - just to see.  Reading books like this makes me want to travel, and also appreciate that I am from the West, for so many different reasons. I am glad it is a little more wild, and a little less tame.  I am glad for our wild spaces, and different attitudes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The end of or schedule summer programming....

Last night, I looked at Ken, and we both realized that we had reached the end of our planned summer activities.

Yes, the boys still have a week of daycare and a week of camp left, and Ken has a handful of days before he has to return to work, but all of things we had planned (with few exceptions) have come to pass.  The demolition derby was a riot (although really, really hot), and camping was good (I really miss having a campfire, it isn't quite the same), we spent time at the beach and some local parks, got a bit of a tan, made pickles, picked blackberries, and read a bunch of books.  The spontaneous stuff, like our day trip to Manning Park, and the scheduled stuff too.

Crazy.  We start the slide towards September and then the month of October.  I love Fall.  I love the slightly cooler weather and surprisingly warm days. The changing leaves, and fresh, local veggies, and the Corn Mae, pumpkins, decorating for Halloween… all that fun stuff.  I really, truly think we are a shoulder season family … Fall and Spring rock… summer and winter are great too… but something about those other seasons.

Grateful.

Every now and then a book comes along that rattles you a little bit.  Especially when you know it is grounded in true experiences.  I have a handful of pages left of the book, but for intents and purposes I am done, and I have a moment to throw down a few thoughts.

Wow.  What a life experience Amanda Lindhout and her friend Nigel Brennan went through.  I applaud their courage to write their stories, and to open themselves up to public opinion by offering up their stories.

I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it out.  I knew the cover was appealing (yes, choices can be that base), and that it was a recommended book that made a few top reads lists.

I am not sure where to begin about a book such as this.  This is the autobiography (of sorts) of Amanda, starting with some experiences previous to her capture by Somali teenage militants whom were looking for ransom money from Amanda's and Nigel's family in Canada and Australia. As I started to read this book, I realized that I could remember hearing about their story in the news a few years ago (2008) but really didn't dwell on it.  I remember images of them when they were free, but really, did not even grasp a glimmer of what they had survived.  In many ways, this is much like how you can't really appreciate the experiences of someone else until you have a few of your own, or have the luck (??) to be able to read or experience a slice of what happened to them through whatever form the story journey takes us on.

This is a beautiful and bleak novel.  Reading parts of it I could feel my insides clench with something, and feel my opinions shifting.  If reading 419 was one thing about Nigeria, this was a whole other thing reading about a personal experience in Somalia.  I am glad that I live in a culture that values life, and women.  I am glad that I am married to a good man, who loves me for who and what I am. After reading this book I am grateful for many things, including my freedom and the culture and land that I call home.  This is not the same around the world and the price of a life here is not the same as other places in this amazing world.  This is an important book to read.  It is very well written, and as I said in the beginning, I appreciate the courage and honesty it takes to make yourself vulnerable by telling this story.  I also appreciate Lindhout's honesty, and humble acknowledge of her naive mistakes and the costs so many people paid.  The grace she found within terrible circumstances, it reminded me of reading the "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor Frankl.  Compassion and forgiveness, and consciously choosing to be positive in a world that can be a far cry from this is something that can set any of us apart.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The ever changing ocean, down at the end of the lane

I would have to admit, this book caught me by surprise.  As I sit and reflect about my response to it, I think this is the kind of book that I would love to pick up again in a few years, and see how my perceptions and reactions to it have changed. 

This is one of true spinoffs to having a library card, a book club, and friends that read.  Being exposed to new and different books, ideas, dreams, poetry, and thoughts. I have always read a lot, and there have been times in my life where I have been far happier with the books that I have chosen to be reading, and this is one of those times in my life that I feel like there have been many, many good books crossing my desk and it is has been a pleasure to spend time between their covers.  I could not imagine a life without books.  I am so happy to see B totally immersed in the world of Harry Potter, and I can't wait for the next year to happen and to watch the gift of literacy truly take shape in C.

Back to the book at hand, this is well worth a read.  It is very short, like a long short story (175 pages).  It is poetic, whimsical, a little dark, exporatory, wonderfully vague, magical... I am sure I have missed a few adjectives that I could throw in to the mix.  There are website that summarize novels such as this better, but this is one that I think will stick with me for a while... it is profound, and poetic, and in some ways, it does defy description.

Novels like this explore our fears, and what it is like to be a child, growing up, and what we lose in reaching adulthood, that is not always accessible.

This was a pleasure to read, and I would recommend it as an intriguing and thought-provoking novel.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to a familiar series...

Definitely a summer read.

I have been spoiled by the last few books that I have been reading. I found a bit of the dialogue a bit stilted, and the content not nearly as inspiring (or as interesting) as the last few books that I have been reading.

Again, a quick read, and it was good to discover some of Reacher's backstory.  In a way, I wish that I had read these books in series, although you do not have to.  I can't say much profound about this book, except that it was a decent, quick read with some character development and plot twists, not neccessarily grounded in reality, but an escapist read. I do enjoy this for a bit of a break from the more literary books that I have been favouring as of late.  I must also note, that this book pushes me past how many I read for 2011.  Is this a result of going to the library and requesting books or because my kids are getting older and I have a little more breathing space?  Likely both, LOL.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beach Bums.

I love going to the Beach.

This week, it feels like my summer vacation finally got started.

I also think that it takes me about 10 days before I start to relax.

Of course, now that I have started to catch up on sleep, it is almost 1am and I am catching up on my blog instead of my sleep.  Seems fitting.

Monday, was Centennial Beach.  What a find.  I loved it.  The only real downside is that the sand goes out forever.  I am not kidding.  For EVER.  Almost too far. Next time we come, I will plan it for when the tide is coming in.

Tuesday was Lynden City Park and then to Birch Bay.  The boys were a bit perturbed at how fast the tide came in.  Noted.

Today was White Rock. I love this beach.  Who am I kidding? Perhaps we should have just come here every day, but variety is good and I am glad that we checked out a few new beaches.  Fingers crossed we make it back to Centennial Beach on Friday - I have a hankering for a picnic with the whole family and to watch the sun go down.

Tomorrow is likely a spray park and then CW's graduation potluck from preschool.  Wow.  It is hard to believe that here we are.

Friday, local park in the morning to walk the dog since we will have Duke visiting, and then in the afternoon to the beach.

Caught by the cover, a nice surprise

At the library the other night, the cover of this book caught me.  It was a 7 day express read, so I really hesitated whether or not I should grab it, since I had already started a different book, and well, I saw it was only 250 pages so I thought - what the hell.  Worst case scenario, I take it back - no foul.

It was a lovely book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I would categorize it under "chick lit". Or belonging to what I would widely label as such.  I have never heard of this author before, and this is one of the things that I am loving about my library card - new books, different authors. I will admit to more than one geeky moment because of my library card.  Only drawback is remembering when books need to go back and avoiding late fines.

It really feels like what I have been able to read lately has really taken off.  It does help having the card, and I enjoy being able to request books and have them magically appear on the hold shelf, it is a bit gratifying.  Much like how I really enjoy having my car insurance delivered rather than trying to figure out where to get it done and making sure it happens on the right day.  That it is my BFF's mom, makes it even sweeter.

Back to the book - maybe one of these days I need to come up with my own rating system rather than a few scribbled thoughts.  I really don't want to craft long winded reviews of books, but it is nice to track how I responded to the books that I am reading since I have discovered that I really do like being able to look back in to this window of "where my head was at" and what was I in to reading at the time.

Once again, back to the book at hand.  This is a partly a love story, and partly a feminine journey of rediscovery at age 60.  I like that the female lead was strong, and was likeable, and did make mistakes.  There are some very poetic passages, and I feel like Quindlen captured something in their story that left me with a nice, warm fuzzy.  Every now and then, books like this are lovely to pick up and enjoy without having to delve in and solve life's mysteries.  A satisfying read - quick, and perfect for summer.

Monday, July 28, 2014

No snappy title coming to mind. I blame the time.

Between this series, and the Hunger Games trilogy, the quality of the Twilight series really pales beyond comparison.

This is the beginning of another trilogy in a distopian, futuristic world in which society has broken down, and the solution is to divide people in to one of five factions based on your personality type.  This book focuses upon a 16 year old girl (Tris) that chooses a different faction than the one she is born in to when offered a choice.  By the end of the book, fractures are beginning to show, and war/a rebellion of sorts by one/two factions breaks out.

Books like this do raise the question of freedom, justice, and happiness and with it, they carry their own political warnings.  I do find it interesting the current young adult novels that are popular dealing with this theme - the aforementioned Hunger Games trilogy, the Giver, and now this series.  All three have also been made in to movies.  Hollywood cashing in perhaps to huge trends?

This was an entertaining book in the way that a summer blockbuster movie is - definitely science fiction adventure and I will read the next books in the series - it was a quick read.  I am happy that Tris connected with Four/Tobias, and their shared history adds an interesting twist to the book.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I can't say that I planned on reading a lot on my vacation, but it seems that this has been a goal that is definitely being accomplished.

I picked up the book based on a text from my BFF as we exchanged random notes about what we were reading one morning.  In her typical, dramatic fashion, I was pretty much told to "read this".  Which translates loosely to "this is an amazing book and you really need to read it".

Well, she was right.  I will never look at Bees the same again.  I even think I leaked out a tear at the very end! Who was that?? What a total surprise this book was.  I was caught a bit off guard, and it really wasn't a book I expected to enjoy as much as I did.  Yup.  Once again, a good call about this book.  It will stay with me  for a while, I am sure.  Today (okay, not really the posted date but today, the day I am working some date magic again to get caught up since the last time I did a bunch of posts) when I was mowing the lawn I watched for bees as I mowed through the clover.  I didn't want to send a forager bee to the jaws of doom!  It was a quick read, and as I said, once you read this book you will never look at bees the same again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And how is the weather today?

Hay's writing and story telling sneak up on you.

I really enjoy her books.

I wish I would have been able to read more authors/stories like this when I was doing my undergrad.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Knock that one off of the list.. almost

It was almost a family affair… next year!  Connor and I got to go up in an air balloon!  I must admit I have always been a little bit curious, and didn't expect that today would be the day that I would get to go up in one!  For a free event, this was an awesome day.  I must admit, this is a far cooler community than the one I left 14 years ago.


  Too bad you can't see Connor in the basket, and that I am off to the side. Ah well.  It was cool - slightly reminiscent of going up in an elevator. I guess the tie downs will do that.  Here is my little man, beaming as he gets to go on a cool ride around the airport.


What - a book that wasn't about the pants?


Friday, July 11, 2014

Downside of library books.

Too many good books! Not enough time…

Well, I almost made it through this book before I had to return it.  Alas and alack. I didn't make it.  I got about halfway through when my turn was up.  Since I had to wait months to get it, and the list after me was pretty long… I decided a buck a day wasn't worth keeping this book until I finished the last page.

It was good though - and eye opening about how Pixar got started and what came together to create our current golden age of animation.

Well worth a read, hopefully I will think about this again in a few months and try again and finish it off.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Inspector Banks, how nice to see you again!

Damn. I think I am getting really close to having read all of these books.  Always a consistently well written, well plotted novel.  Even when I am not really in the mood for a police procedural, these books never let me down.

It is very cool we can all Robinson a Canadian.  I also think it is pretty cool I did get to meet him at a writer's festival a few years ago and he was a lovely man in person. I miss going to the Sechelt Writer's festival this year… next year, we will need to make a point of going again..

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To the woods!


I think I have a sweet place in my heart for this place. The first time I really spent time here was with Ken, and it must have been in our first year together.  We fed the ground squirrels at Lightning Lake, we checked out the Hope Slide, we drove to Three Brother Mountain and did part of the hike, checked out Manning Park lodge and fed the Whiskey Jacks by hand.. it was a magic day.

Jump forward a few years (??!!) and we went when I was pregnant with Brandon and spent Father's Day there with my folks.  I think I even posted about it back in 2006.  In 2008, we spent an awesome weekend exploring Hope and the area around there for a May long weekend and drove out to Manning Park on a whim. There was still snow on the ground, so we more drove in for a while and then turned around to come back since it was obviously still way too early in the season.

It really is hard to believe it has been 6 years since we have been to Manning Park.  To say we have been busy raising two kids, moving, working, and then some is an understatement.  The time has flown.  It is nice to get back out in the woods again, and to be seeing some new things, and to be exploring a bit more of BC again, and not just Washington (no matter how much I enjoy heading south it is nice to spend more time in our province).


Feeding the ground squirrels - cheeky buggers will eat out of your hand, and will also help yourself if you leave the carrot container open..


My handsome boy.


 My other handsome boy.


A little older perhaps, same breathtaking view.  It really helps even just blogging a few thoughts down. To try to remember these kinds of amazing moments so they don't get lost in the shuffle.  Our weeks go by so fast, and at times have to be so structured, it is so great to get out and do something like this, even if it means all my laundry is not done and our meals completely planned for the week.  I probably should not have spent the last few hours blogging, and thinking about books, and not doing those tasks, but it has been really nice to take some time and do just that.

Balance.  Again, it comes to trying to find this elusive thing.  That and being better at setting limits and realizing that not everything needs to be done at once.  I can spread out tasks and things to do.

Today was great.

Tonight B did karate belt testing.  I was so proud of him.  I leaked out a few of those things called tears again.  Watching how hard he is trying, and seeing him getting his legs up, and giving the best he can with his rosy cheeks and sweaty hair.  I love my kids so much.  C fell down earlier and took a knick out of his head in the shower.  Scared the bejesus out of me.  Sometimes it seems relentless, I can talk about trying to find balance and I just seem to go from moment to moment.  I wouldn't trade it, life is interesting, life is going at a crazy pace, and there are so many amazing experiences that we are getting to have as a result.  I do feel pretty blessed.

June has been a very, very intense and mostly wonderful crazy month.

Pitt Meadows Day, MIL 90th birthday and family reunion, friend getting ready to move away to Alberta, the end of the school year, changing daycares, changing schools, karate provincials, wrapping up baseball, karate belt testing, going to Winnipeg for three days, then you add in a few late nights at work, and book club, and a friend's wedding celebration, and my BFF coming to town for a short period of time and you get a really busy month.  There is apparently another 8 days left before the month is done!  I almost forgot to add in C's birthday as well.  The list has been growing all month. I am also trolling a bit for a book to catch me… I have been reading so many good ones lately and now I just finished my last library book. I need more.  None of the books I have that I have not read are really calling out to me right now.  I am going to check and see before I head up, but nothing is yelling out READ ME next.  I guess a lull was coming after the 5 weeks of great reading..

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"No Man's an island. Every book is a world"


That post title is not mine - it is definitely from this book's cover, and is very close to the John Donne poem… No Man is an Islande.. which is one of my personal favourites.

I really enjoyed this book - one of those quirky books you grab because it has an interesting cover and it looks a little bit different.  What a satisfying read.  I have really been enjoying many of the books that have crossed my path this year.  I am also still loving have books magically appear for me at the library. Being connected and being able to put holds on books until your number comes up is pure genius.

I love how books and stories weave their way through this novel, and how the main characters grow and evolve as well.  I think this one will stick with me for a bit - it was also a really quick read.  There were a few places I think I would have liked to have written down some quotes (which is always a good sign in my books) and I was caught up in the story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Finish the next one.. please

One of the best thing about discovering a new author, is reading your way through all the books they have written.  The worst thing is after you have finished reading that last book, and you have to wait for the next one to be published.  Alas and alack, this is where I am at with SAA.  I have enjoyed all of her books, and this one was no exception.  I would say that my one real head scratcher was when I was trying to figure out how the novella/e-short story she released ("Waking Kate") tied in to this novel, since there is a few year gap I think in the story.. (or at least a time break).  I would not call SAA a formula writer, but the feeling her books evoke in me is the same, book to book.  I like the memories that her books stir up - that awareness of perhaps where I come from, the idea of my people, and even the people I am creating with my children and the place we call home.   This is a story about redemption, and finding yourself.. and like the short story, is a book about Kate's waking up.  I often think that the right book sometimes appears at the right time in my life, or that I finally pick up a book from my shelf when it is the right time to read it… what has really resonated with me about this book, is that line "Waking Kate".  

It feels like I am waking up again and see the world fresh.  This last month has been emotionally intense (understatement).  So many extremes in terms of the emotional ride that I feel like I have been on at times.  This book reminded me of how I feel.. like waking up after a few years of being stuck in a crazy moment (some of my own doing) between young kids, responsibilities, changing jobs, learning limits, relearning limits, and a new one, to really trying to learn that I don't need to be superwoman all the time.  I can rest.  I can sleep.  I can slow down a little.  I perhaps can even learn how to ask for help better or set my own limits (especially at work) better.  

It helps that the kids are older.  I am relieved my stint as a board chair is almost over. I am glad I know where my kids are going to school in the Fall and that we have all of our weeks in order for the summer and covered well.  Both kids should have an awesome summer.  OMG my youngest starts kindergarten in the fall and both are in a new school and a new daycare, close to home. I will commute solo soon, and I will have a more regular schedule.  I am sure there will be chaotic moments, but I am hoping they are a little less crazy that what the last two years has felt like.  It feels like more stability is coming, which can only mean that perhaps I will be able to make a change within my career to apply my skills in a new way.

Waking up.  I can roll with this theme for a while.  

I need to get back to jogging again.  Once again, a semester start up that has thrown my regular routine out the window. I really feel like this is the next element to take back.  Exercise and work.  Crashing through limits with exercise, and better defining my limits with work and working better within those.  I should maybe bookmark this post to come back read this.  I am not superwoman.  Having a deadline that doesn't work and just working harder and more hours doesn't make it a realistic deadline. I have to speak up and stop trying to make it better by taking it all on.  /repeat as needed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A-M-P-S

This is taken along the Red River, near the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Reading this book, felt like the "right place, right time".

Toews is a great Canadian author, and is a very profound, elegant writer.  Her books aren't always happy, but they are still a pleasure to read.  This book also took place partly in Winnipeg (which I can now say that I have experienced in a very limited way since I was there for three days for a conference), and had Mennonite sisters for lead characters.  Which was also interesting since there is Mennonite history on my mom's side, although her family originally settled in small town Saskatchewan when the west was opened up for Homesteading.  Therefore, the timing was good for me to read this book, and it was a very thoughtful read.

I am glad that I don't suffer from depression.  I really wonder about that black dog sometimes, and how some people struggle so much with it.  I have my pity party on occasion, but nothing like some people I know do.  This book delves in to doe pretty hefty topics (depression, single parenthood, aging, suicide, to name but a few) but this book remains hopeful (really) throughout.  It does have a more or less happy ending, and is a worthwhile read to pick up.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not quite as original as the first...

Perfect read for a long plane ride across Canada.  BC is very interesting from the sky.  As is Alberta.. in the beginning.. and then the blocks of green start to flatten out, rivers meander and are interesting, greens seem to fade to browns, and then you arrive in Winnipeg.

This was one of the books I choose to read while I went away on conference. I figured I had a fair bit of time to myself waiting in airports (transfer in Calgary) and then in the air, and at night, that I would get some reading done.

It was an entertaining book, but not quite as novel as the first book. If having read several books by SAA in the last two years and I haven't gotten bored and really latched on to a formula… this one felt a little more formulaic and it is only book two by this author.  It was still really interesting, and crazy how different elements come together.. think Tarantino meets book.  Fun, but not quite as quirky and novel as that 100 year old man tale. (grin)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jump in to this world...

What a welcome surprise! I think I have mentioned that I have been stumbling upon some pretty rewarding books in the last while, right?  This is one of them.  It is also part of a whole series!

This is a lovely period book that is placed in Northern Ireland after the second war (I believe).  It is about a young doctor that has just graduated from University and is deciding whether or not to become an assistant GP to a 'country' doctor.  What a great book.  This is a book about characters, and stories, and about how health weaves its way through a life, and how folks get on in small towns.  A really enjoyable read and I will slowly work my way through more of them.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Food and literature, can you go wrong?

Yes, of course you can wrong.  Just not in this case.

What a great book.  I was NOT expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did.  What a great read.  It will be interesting to see what they do with this one as a movie.. this makes a few that we have read pale in comparison.

This is a great story about a passion for cooking, for food, and how a young Indian boy comes a great Parisian chef.  Totally unexpected, well written, and a pleasure to read.

Food, and our stories, are such an important part of our lives.  How we cook, the meals we share, is so important.  Equally important is how we craft our own story, how we internalize it, and then retell it to our kin.  Using revisionist history, it has been a month since I read this book (and a lot of experiences it has felt like) and what I remember most is the feeling about this book - well written, very interesting, and I never lost my interest.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Went by so fast, what did I read again?

I will easily admit this - I am a fan.  I think reading this meant more since I read Chris Hatfield's book earlier this year.  This is a book about the Canadian and American space agencies working together to help increase their public awareness.  The lead characters of this book are working to move the percentage of folks that would rather go for "lunch" than watch a "launch".  You can't help but reflect about what Hatfield was able to do for space exploration with just how he was on the space station.  I think it has been since 1986 since I cared that much about what was happening (or for that matter KNEW) about CSA/NASA.

Fallis' humour is refreshing.  I really enjoy his books. I will read them as they are published and I know he will be attending one of my favourite writer's festivals this summer.  Who knows, maybe I will get on a ferry and just go for a day trip.  Crazier things have been known to happen.  It is also a week night.  As above, crazy things have been known to happen.  Hmm. Maybe I will get lucky and my Aunt will still be living on the coast…

Friday, May 16, 2014

Forty one and a day.

Maybe not quite completely accurate in terms, but this sums up the spirit of the moment.  I really want to just throw down some thoughts since it is around my birthday.  I find that one of the best parts of having had this blog for as long as I have, there is a lot of history embedded here.  Even if I have just alluded to certain events, left some out, concentrated on the books I have been reading lately, there is still a bit of my story within these pages.  Together, they amount to quite a bit.

I am enjoying my 41st way more than my 40th.  If 31 was anticlimactic and my 30th a lot of fun, it was the opposite this time around.  Last year felt so chaotic, this year feels so much more settled, or I am must less chaotic.  Almost.  I am in a better place at work. Or I am making it a better place.  I have been promoted (in a way, I will believe it truly once the job reclassification has gone through).  I am more confident than I was a year ago in my role.  I have almost completed my Child Care Society Board commitment.  A few more months, and we are good.  Our kids will be going to new elementary schools and daycares in the fall, and I think it is the best thing for them.  We don't have a lot of plans for the summer, but we do have some time off.  I am hoping that next year will have much more camping, and much more excursions, and this year to really be the one everything comes together.  We really didn't plan a lot in terms of trips since we really needed to figure out the kids, and what was happening in the fall.

We finally painted our family room, and got the fireplace fixed.  We may even get a fence put up this summer.  I  haven't been for a run for about 3 weeks, and it is bothering me a bit, but it has been a semester start up, we have been short staffed (of course), and there has been karate and baseball and work and birthdays and family events.  Oh my!

What do I hope for in the next year?  To get some kind of physical activity most days of the week. I would like to start up my jogging again and do at least another 5km run (read jog).

I really want to try stand up paddle boarding.

I want the kids to settle in and really enjoy their new settings.

I want to get out camping, continue to read good books, continue to knit, continue to encourage my kids to be active and enjoy reading as well.  I want to get Connor swimming and skating.  I want Brandon to continue with the sports he is enjoying.

I want to feel more caught up.  After putting everything back after painting our family room.. I realized it has been a year since I last sorted most of our bills.  I would like to be more on top of things - to do something with our photos, to keep on top of a few more things.

I want to see a few new places.

I hope the bulbs and seeds I just planted in our garden grow.  I am so happy we made the changes to the front yard, and for the work done in the backyard.  It feels like I am changing our space and bringing new life to it.  I find it amazing we can cart out a whole container (large one at that) of green waste every single week.

I want Ken and I to continue to get out for some dates.

A year from now, I hope we have gone on a family trip outside of the normal confines of where we have been going.  I hope to be a little fitter.  I hope to just be more excited about Summer and what is next and just to keep on building on what we have.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Forty. And One.

Forty One does not feel or look nearly as ancient as I thought it would more than twenty years ago.
My youngest. Almost five.  The weeks and months and years are flying by.
My oldest, almost eight.  I am speechless, I was I really a newlywed and 7 months pregnant this time 8 years ago?
My family.  I am blessed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Date night!

Date nights rule.  Especially now that they seem to happen more than once a year.  I would also say, few people can appreciate date night as much as the parents of young children do.

We joined up with another couple and went out for an amazing bistro dinner.  Very small.  Very cool.  Amazing service.  It was called "The Stable House Bistro."  A lovely meal.  We had the table in the window, and everything about the experience was good.

Then we saw Spamalot.  Again.  Funny as hell.  Irreverent.  I love it.

THEN!!! We went to the Drive for coffee.  After circling a few times, we located an italian coffee shop, and talked away more time.  It was awesome.

It was so nice being out at night, without the kids, hearing night sounds, and doing adult things.

So important to try for some kind of balance…

Fair enough, the books were worth some of the hype…

Having finished this book, I am really surprised I waited so long to read the whole series.  Normally I plough my way through series.  I guess you have to be in the mood, and that mood took a few years to strike apparently.

It was a good series.  Definitely entertaining, and I look forward to watching the movies, eventually.  I think I will miss a bit of Katniss' character, she certainly does grow on you.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Catching up with fire…

Why did I wait so long to read you?  I read the first book years ago. I borrowed the series from my niece months ago.  It took me forever looking at you on the shelf before I picked you up. I can be so strange at times.

These are well crafted books.  I enjoyed this one much more than the Giver, if you are going to go in to tween/teen science fiction.. or Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy instead. I enjoyed watching the story arch, and characters evolve after the Hunger Games.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another second book by a writer that just didn't quite hit the same mark…

I will admit to a bit of "revisionist history" as I catch up from the last 5 weeks.  Apparently life got really busy and I stopped blogging and staying current with my emails.  Alas and alack.  Life is like that sometimes.  I am trying to recall parts of this book to my version of a proper recall, and well… I can say that parts of this book were interesting, and parts were quite far fetched and not all that realistic.

What does stick out, and it is a shame, is that within this book, the author had one of her main characters reading her first book.  She doesn't come out and spell out the title, but she describes the cover.  LAME.  I must admit, that was a real turn off for me.  Not really an arrogant thing to do… just… did not sit right for me.

This didn't have the same magic that the Memory Keeper's Daughter did for me.  It is hard when you are outrageously successful in your first novel… where do you go from there?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A bit of the south…

I chose to read this book because one of the author's that I like to read listed it as one of their favourites, and the last one I read by her was a decent read.  This one was pretty good.  A bit melancholic and sad, but a decent story.  A little whimsical and a little mystical.  I am writing this weeks after I finished reading it, so I can't really capture anything that really sticks out for me…

I remember the lushness of the river, and the roses that bloomed when they weren't really expected to.  I remember some of the characters, and the feelings, but overall… it was an okay read.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Does it live up to the hype?


This Spring in our book club we consciously chose books that were currently being made in to movies.  It has actually been a pretty good ride so far, and it will be interesting to see how some of them translate to the silver screen.

This book has had many, many reviews.  Right up there with the Divergent series, 50 shades of something, Twilights, likely Harry Potter series… funny that these are either dubbed 'young adult' or 'well talked about and poorly written erotica'.  I wasn't quite what sure what to expect. Overall, it is a good novel.  There are some times that the story goes off a bit.  The characters don't always act like normal teenagers, but then again, they do not have normal teenage lives.

I liked it.  I didn't all out cry over the ending (Art of Racing in the Rain got me more), but I did leak out a few tears.  You could see how it would end by halfway through, and it did make it a little more poignant to fully grasp this different take on a Romeo and Juliet twist of star crossed lovers that just don't have nearly enough time.

There are some beautifully poetic quotes that you can pull from this story, and I was surprised when I went looking for some pics to attach, how many of them are out there.  I would guess with the movie coming out, and the age that this really appeals to (especially when you hear it is being read in high schools), that really isn't all that surprising.  Star crossed love stories kind of elicit that kind of response from readers.

This was a quick read - three nights and it will be returned to the library by Saturday.  I do feel a bit melancholic now that I am done.  I can't help but think of one of my really dear friends that died nearly a decade ago from AIDS.  They were one of those good ones that died young.  That lived a bit of a charmed life before everything fell apart.  I miss his friendship, his smile, and his quirky songs.  In the last chapters of this book, you can't help but think of those you have lost (we all have), and what it is to be a survivor (I am writing this and you are reading this) of this thing we call life.  There is joy within the sadness, and hope.  There is also a leap of faith to love, and reach for the stars even if it is for but a fleeting moment.  That we should all reach out and take some happiness, no matter how short lived.  I talk about choices all the time - the choices we all make when we face each new day.  The characters in this book reflect this in their own choices in the face of disaster.  There is a place for gallows humour, a little bit of crass talk, and for respect instead of tolerance.

Knee jerk I would give this book many stars.  It does move you, I am sure we are going to have a good discussion when we discuss this at a future book club (I have to stop reading months in advance… I blame my new library membership for the timing of this read, I was on the wait list and my turn came up!).  Is it perfectly crafted, nope.  Does it need to be? Nope.  It is a good read, albeit a wee bit sad.