Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Life of the Imagination

I stumbled onto these beautiful spectacular prints on Pinterest. Where can I get these prints so that I can hang them in my kids' rooms? I mean, I need these! I love how these prints make one want to dive into the world of both Hogwarts and Narnia showing us that reading is traveling. This art is the life of the imagination to me. I want to book a trip on the Hogwarts Express right now!

Thursday Afternoon Book Post

I already know that I won't have time for my somewhat regular Friday book post tomorrow. So, here it is on a Thursday!

Ummm, how is it that I've never read The Giver? Ok, I admit that I've seen this book around forever, but I hated the cover. I had all kinds of preconceived ideas about this Newberry Winner based on this cover with this scraggly old man. I was sure this wasn't my cup of tea. I had no idea and I mean, no clue, that this book was dystopian literature. I envisioned a crazy old man living alone in the woods or something.

I can already see that both Divergent, The City of Ember, and the Hunger Games trilogy were influenced by this book.

My good friend, Marie, recently reviewed this book on Goodreads and wrote this: The Giver is the dystopian Sci-Fi YA to rule them all.

So far, I'm totally sucked in and I'm feeling terrible for judging a book by its cover. 

It looks like Luke and I will have another book/movie night this summer. I already told him to start reading The Giver

Running on Empty (Again)

It's that time of year again. We're nearly at the finish line for another school year and I'm losing my will to care. What? You don't want to do your homework? Whatever. 

 I started thinking about Jen Hatmaker's hilarious worst-end-of-school-mom-ever post yesterday. I had to go back and read it, because, well, I'm there with her and I needed to laugh. If you haven't read it, it's worth it. It'll cheer you up as you start to lose steam at the end of the school year.

 It's not even the end of April yet and I'm looking ahead and thinking how I just have to get through May. I always hate the thinking that I have to just "get through" something. "Getting through" something isn't exactly good living, is it?

I'm burned out again. I know I write about this a lot, but being mama to five sure isn't easy. Over this school year, I've been implementing new things hoping some new strategy will leave me without constantly feeling like I'm going to lose it. Believe me, I've googled everything relating to stay-at-home-mom burn out and guess what? There's a whole lot of info about what burnout is, but not a lot of realistic ways to combat it. Or, if they're realistic ways to combat burnout, those methods aren't working for me.

I found this list today while googling around for more health information on how to turn this burnout ship around. This list confirmed I'm headed in the wrong direction. Oh, boy.
  • Every day is a bad day. (Well, not every day.)
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy. (Yup.)
  • You’re exhausted all the time. (Yup.)
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming. (Yup.)
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated. (Yup.)
 Okay, not every day is a bad day, but every day feels unnecessarily stressful and difficult. Clearly, I need a mind shift. What if I'm approaching this phase in my life all wrong? All year long, I have been trying to come up with a solution that makes being home with my twin boys and five year-old daughter more manageable, more peaceful, more calm. I've not succeeded. I didn't use to feel this overwhelmed with parenting, but I've boiled it down to constant interruption. My interruptions have interruptions. This makes my day feel unstable from start to finish.

All along, I thought that I needed to carve out more quiet time, more me time. I thought that the quiet was the answer. In those small quiet pockets, I could get back to some of the activities that make me, well me. Sometimes, I've felt that I've gotten lost in the constant needs of small children and I have to  remind myself that this is the hardest work. Raising little people isn't for wimps. This is important work, but that doesn't mean that sometimes, it is just plain boring. Somewhere in all those interruptions and malaise, I lost sight of the importance of what I am doing. Just maybe, I'm thinking about this all wrong?

Yesterday, I stumbled onto this post by Amanda Low. In her article, her husband suggests that she take a day to herself. So, she did and guess what? It didn't feel right at all. Go read the post. It's worth it because even before I read her post myself, I was starting to come up with the same conclusion. One day, during this current school year, my mom offered to watch the three littles for me so I could go out and I guess do errands. As headed out, I thought that the last thing I needed to do was more work. So, I went to a movie. At first, I was all giddy with the possibilities of having about four hours to myself. I really wanted to use the time well, but, in the end, there were too many things I wanted to do and only about four hours of free time. I went to a movie in the middle of a day. At first, it sounded all daring and wild like I was getting away with something. A movie in the middle of the day!!! By myself!!? Wow. 

The thing is that little time away didn't really recharge me like I thought it would. Yeah, I didn't have to do all the routine things I normally do, but this didn't feel completely right to me either. I didn't feel guilty or anything like that, but the whole experience just left me wanting more and more time to myself. That isn't such a bad thing, but I realized that daily peace has to come in my daily schedule as well as when I get time to myself. I can't have this sense of peace only when I'm away fro the overwhelming demands of home because that makes me resentful. I know I need to schedule my alone time in my regular daily life. My introverted nature demands it, but this outing made me want more time away rather than figuring out how to get the respite I need within the context of a busy crazy life. In other words, I don't want to feel like I need to run away to get that quiet alone time.

So, here we are again. It's almost the end of the year. It's Spring. It's starting to get lovely outside. I'm starting not to care if Sam gets all of his homework done. I'm feeling the last bits of Winter recede and a new lightness emerging. I don't have the answer, but I think I've stumbled onto something and if I think it through, could it be a game-changer?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Afternoon Book Post

It's Good Friday. I'm baking Hot Cross Buns. It's a Good Friday tradition around here, but man, they take all day with all the rising time. The house smells delicious, but it's almost time to head off to church, but I thought I'd pop in with a short book post. (All of my posts these days are about books.)

I just finished re-reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I'm not much of a re-reader, but I kind of thought it needed a re-read. I read the book last year, about this time, in a very detached manner. I didn't really want to get too close to the cancer story because, cancer just sucks. This time around, I let myself feel the story more and I really got more out of it on this second read.

The movie comes out in June and I will go and eat popcorn and hopefully, that popcorn will mask my tears.

I have book club tonight and no, I never did get very far into The Goldfinch. It just won the Pulitzer. I'm sure I'll get back to it, but I won't have much to say tonight.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twitterature (April 2014 Edition)

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy today for monthly Twitterature. Twitterature is just a fun way to share short, casual reviews of what you're reading and lately, my blog has been all about what I've been reading.

Here's what I've been reading:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- This one's a re-read. It's unusual that I re-read anything, but I saw this book on the Lucky Day shelf at the library and I was compelled to pick it up again. I want to go see the movie which comes out in June. So, I thought I'd revisit the tragic love story of Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace. They both have cancer, but Hazel's diagnosis is terminal. The first time I read this book, I deliberately kept myself remote to shield myself from the sadness that is cancer. This time around, I want to let myself feel more of this story.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger- I recently re-watched the funny 2006 movie starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep and I thought I'd pick up the book. I'm only 85 pages in and this book is much different and wildly more detailed than the movie. Usually, I savor these bookish details left out of the movie, but strangely, I can already tell that I prefer the movie.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior- This book largely deals with the recent research that concludes that non-parents are much happier than parents and why. Parenting has gotten so much more challenging and the bar is high for modern parents. I'd like to know why. I always love a good social science book and where I am in life, raising five kids, this is going to be sentient information. 

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo- Usually I love Kate DiCamillo. I love her rich diversity of story telling. I know that this book just won the Newberry Medal, but I'm just not connecting with the story of Flora and her superhero squirrel, Ulysses. This book will appeal to those who love graphic novels and comic books. What am I missing here?

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta- This novel has been on the back burner, but I'm still reading it. Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's school that's barely co-ed. Her mother, suffering from depression, can't get out of bed. So far, Francesca is a fish out of water trying to make the best out of a less than ideal school experience. I can't really predict where this one is going, but I read that Marchetta really knows how to to write a YA novel. I thought I also should diversify my YA reading.

That's it for me. Go check out what Modern Mrs Darcy is reading.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Morning Book Post (and some movies too)

 I feel like I lost most of March due to a nasty strain of flu that ripped through my family. I spent nearly six days in bed. Many of those days, I was too weak to even read. Isn't that awful not to be able to read? I would try to read using the Kindle app on my phone, but it would hurt my eyes and I wouldn't get very far. Here I was in bed and I couldn't read. It was so frustrating.

Slowly, I got better, but even when I was getting well, I remained tired for a long time. During this time, thankfully, I was able to read.

I started reading Ann Patchett's The Getaway Car. This is a Kindle Single rather than a full length book. It's a short memoir about the writing life. Here's a quote:

“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”

In college, I took a short story writing class. I loved that class so much. If my college had offered a degree in creative writing, I would have jumped on it. I would have lost myself in words.

 I've wanted to write a novel for as long as I can remember. I have yet to start one, but I always have stories floating half-formed in my head. Patchett captures the writing life perfectly. It's quite difficult to transfer those images that play like a movie in your head into just the right words. I love reading about the discipline of writing.

 It's been just over twenty years since River Phoenix died of an overdose in front of the Viper Room in 1993. I wrote an extensive review of this book over at Goodreads. So, I won't go into much detail here. After reading this short biography, I've been revisiting some of his movies in the past week.

I watched The Thing Called Love (1993) where honestly, River just seems so off as an aspiring country singer and Sandra Bullock steals the show. The Thing Called Love was released the same year he died and I can only guess that his shaky and uneven performance is due to his increasing dependence on heavy drugs. This week, I watched his Oscar-nominated performance in Running on Empty (1988). Quite frankly, Phoenix really was at his best playing quiet introverted characters. Running on Empty is dated, but I still enjoyed watching River in this movie. I'm still waiting for Stand By Me (1986) to arrive at the library. I haven't seen Stand By Me in a really long time. Unlike Running on Empty, Stand By Me has a timeless quality and I look forward to sharing this film with my oldest son Luke this time around. I hope he will find the film soulful like I did at his age.

 I'm not going to re-visit all of his movies. Strangely, as a fan, I haven't even seen most of his movies. There was just a small handful that spoke to me. Despite his self-destructive behavior, River Phoenix is worth remembering even I've deliberately skipped several films in his filmography.

 As a side note, The Body, the short story that inspired Stand By Me is the only Stephen King I've ever read.
Here's a still from Stand By Me. Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, and Jerry O'Connell

I've really only just stared Shirt of Flame, but since I've come to terms with the fact that I cannot read just book at a time, I've been much happier. I'm not going to fight the urge to read many books at once. I'm a binge reader and I'm proud!

 Anyway, I've always admired St. Therese and this book keeps showing up as a recommendation. So, I added it to my Kindle and started reading. Even happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin admires St. Therese and I thought that reading this book would help me understand this wise French nun.

My husband, my oldest son Luke, and I all finished Divergent recently. I took Luke to see the movie over Spring Break. Luke and I have a long tradition of reading the book before the movie is released and I really love discussing books and film with him. Reading the book before seeing a screen adaptation always builds the excitement of seeing the film.

 I didn't love Divergent, but it's probably not Veronica Roth's fault. I couldn't help it. I kept comparing it to The Hunger Games and that's so unfair. I'm not in a hurry to read the next installment, but I'm sure I'll get around to reading Insurgent when the next movie is released, because, you know, we have a tradition of reading the book before seeing the movie.

Next up on the page-to-screen adventures for me and Luke: The Maze Runner. Is it me or do most YA novels right now have menacing covers like this? The YA world is stuck in dystopia right now.

I'm also reading the current Newberry Medal Winner, Flora and Ulysses to Sam (almost 9). I usually love Kate DiCamillo, but I'm having a lukewarm response to Flora and Ulysses so far. Flora is obsessed with super hero comics and some unlikely circumstances make her a sidekick to a super squirrel. I've chuckled a few times and I appreciate the short chapters, but I'm not loving it. We're about half-way through this short novel. So, I may have to re-evaluate my current sentiments. The thing about DiCamillo is that she doesn't keep writing the same novel over and over just varying her formula. I really appreciate that.

That's it for Books this week. Have a great weekend. I hope you find time to curl up with a good book.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yarn Along

      ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my                 photographs.

I've been knitting nothing but hats. They're all different, but I haven't been pleased with any of them.I think I've decided that I really don't love slouchy hats. They just look enormous even though they're supposed to. I clearly need a break from hats so I began knitting a Spring sweater for Tess. I'm making the Bulle sweater. If you have a Ravelry account, you can go to the link and see all the Bulle sweater projects. It's adorable and so far, it's easy and it's top-down raglan construction which I love! I'm getting a little nervous as I approach the pockets though. I'm not quite sure that I understand the directions for adding the pockets.

As for reading, I just started reading The Goldfinch. I have book club this Friday. There's no way I'm going to make it through a 700 page book by then. It's my fault. I read way too many other things before getting to book club books.

Join Ginny for more yarn tales.