Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5 Favorites~ About Movies and Wes Anderson

{My one disclaimer is that I feel like I've been doing a lot of link-ups recently. But I'm linking up with Jenna/Rachel today because they're some awesome people! :-) Anywho onto 5 favorites!}

 When we lived in Annapolis, there was this wonderful shop with fun and geeky movie rentals, and it also happened to carry gifts, food, and wine.  It was such a fun store, and not just for its hipster sensibilities. If you know Annapolis, you know what I’m talking about. We lived literally around the corner from this quirky place. I actually applied to work there (!!!) so now you know my dirty little secret… my other secret is that I didn’t get the job (it wasn’t in the cards, I was pregnant, etc), but hey, I did work at Great Harvest Bread company at one point...(?) so, don’t fault me too badly. I’ve had some awesome jobs...ahem.
mmmm... bread.

One thing I will confess is that I am a little bit controlling, (I don't want to say controlling, but something like controlling) when it comes to watching movies, or ahem, films with my husband. We used to geek out together over all the foreign films, especially when we were dating… and I miss those days, to be honest.  Ever since we tried opening our tastes to less “MUST BE AWESOME AND FOREIGN AT ALL TIMES,” I think we just started fighting more about what to watch. Which is something I hate admitting, but whatcha gonna do? It’s the truth.  When you have kids, it’s kinda like…. Ok, we just watched The Fiddler on the Roof again, why bother trying to watch something else? Let's just clean instead. :)

But we always agree on Wes Anderson. A long time ago, a Bible teacher of mine- yep, in the Bible Belt - showed one of Anderson's very first films, the movie Rushmore, in class.  At the time, I wanted to like Wes Anderson, but I found his movies so quirky and odd that I honestly felt like they weren’t accessible enough.  It was a little over my head. But over time, I became used to his dead pan humor, and the world became accustomed to his genius through actors who went on to become box office success famous- such as Luke and Owen Wilson, for example. Since then, I’ve seen commercials and box office hit movies imitate his style … and you can see it a mile away.

Wes Anderson’s films are not explicitly Christian or faith driven. He’s not a Christian, and I’m pretty sure not Catholic, that I know of, but I don’t really know one way or the other. His films are not considered very spiritual. Yet despite that, I still think that his movies are hypnotizing. They're so beautiful. They make us better people, even if they contain murder or bad words. And I still think that he should have won best director (Although I did not see Birdman, and Richard Linklater would have been my second pick).  There are five reasons that I’m still his fangirl, even though the Academy didn’t agree that he deserved more accolades. (And, according to my husband, it might very well be because he’s young and he might yet win best director or best screenplay).

(1) First of all, Wes Anderson has not only influenced, but changed the film industry.  Before you criticize a little cuss word here or some violence there— and yes, that stuff matters, deeply- try to remember that few people could ever pull off a movie with the quality and caliber that he has accomplished. His cast and crew gave him so much credit when they won those awards for costume,  and make-up. It’s because he’s meticulous and careful with his decisions and tastes. It’s because he’s doing really good work, and he has earned the respect of those in the film industry. Every detail of every room is planned, orchestrated, and pulled together in The Royal Tenenbaums, for example, and every character is complex and funny in a really original way.

(2) Second, he is contributing to the film industry with films that are good, beautiful, and true.  Now, I will contend that even though Grand Budapest Hotel won more awards than his previous films, it was far too violent for my taste, and I actually walked out of the room and didn’t finish watching it. However, that was a first for me. For someone who is dabbling in his films, I would say to start with some of his earlier stuff. However, no one could contest that the costumes were beautiful. The characterization was masterful. The set was genius.

(3) Third, while some of us scratch our heads or scoff at the things we disagree with, remember that while we’re sitting on our butts in front of a screen, he is working his butt off. He might be changing and/or making history with good, albeit eccentric, films. With the influence he has had and the people he has turned into accomplished, gifted actors, he’s inspiring a new generation of movie lovers. He’s making us set a higher standard for film in general. Even though we all respect Sigur Ros and Coldplay (actually, I’m not sure if any of his films incorporate Coldplay)- not because it’s Christian but because it’s just so good, yet  we are offended or turned off by his films…… but, why? We like their music, not because it’s full of holiness,* necessarily, but because it affects us, it’s beautiful, and it isn’t painfully cheesy.

(4) Fourth, Wes Anderson makes us think about the world differently through his excellent storytelling.  What do you like about a good film when you see it? If it aligns with your faith perspective, but it’s horribly cheesy or the music is bad, or the dialogue is unrealistic or stilted, well… then, who cares about it. (I mean, right?) We might have a good temporary takeaway, but our artistic sensibilities remain mediocre at best. Liken it to your favorite book. A complex plot, interesting characters, and a complicated setting interwoven throughout might be just your thing. Then add an ironic character like Owen Wilson's character in The Royal Tenenbaums...? I'm hooked. His movies aren't moralistic, yet they have a heavy impact by showing us what happens to messed up people in the world, interacting with other messed up people in the world. And all while laughing out loud... or at least chuckling to ourselves.

(5) Wes Anderson may not be Catholic (I don't know), but he is making me a better person through his movies. One of my favorite scenes is at the beginning of  Moonrise Kingdom, the camera goes through the house, showing us the family listening to music together in their big, New England estate. It is moving and beautiful. I thought he should have received what was coming to him. He should have gotten the credit that obviously he deserved and has earned. Maybe in the future, more people will come to like him and see the light. :0)  His most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, was violent, but it had a clear message and I liked it.

*Honestly, when we're throwing around the word Holy, I think it would be better for us to be set apart and to keep our children set apart as much as possible, and I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of exposing my children to things that are inappropriate. I think sheltering them and watching The Fiddler on the Roof over and over again is actually a really awesome idea. ;) But we're here... in the world....just not of the world, ok? There is a difference between smut and a good movie that has some unquality spice. But it does matter, deeply, and I have been to confession at least once after seeing a movie that really conflicted with my conscience.

I am going to lay on you all of my geeky, funny, silly, romantic, smart, etc etc etc movies that I love.  I wouldn’t say I’m a connoisseur of movies (at least not lately with kiddos, because like I've said, I’ve put other things before going to the movie theatre), but I would say that I think I have decent taste— because I LOVED that little shop with the movies, gifts, and wine back when we lived in Maryland.  So go check out my Movies Worth Watching (these are not "all the movies I've ever seen"... I've excluded MANY) board on Pinterest, and you can follow me there if you want! If I had had some foresight, I would have added some categories in my descriptions, such as 1 Warning for Adult Content, 2 Some Adult Content, 3 Family Friendly. But you know. You can always just ask me.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekly Minutiae vol. 13~ Feeling Blessed, More Snow, and Tea That Tastes Like the Yard

We got a light dusting of snow on Tuesday, and Molly was sick. So despite the two hour delay, she was home for the day. Ugh, I don't like seeing her like that. The snow melted by the afternoon.

I've been thinking a lot about how we are just really blessed. I thought about that song "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, and for the first time in a long time, the words didn't resonate with me...
"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping. "I'm empty and aching and I don't know why..."

Actually, I think I heard the world's most depressing cover at Starbucks a few months back (Thank you First Aid Kit). Never listen to that song when a) you might be pregnant b) you don't know you're pregnant yet and you start crying into your latte for seemingly no reason at all.
But last week I was in an emotional funk.  I mean, it was bad.*See below in Book Update* But I've also been feeling really blessed. And that just feels really good.  We have been so blessed by Stephen's job, and some of our debts are now currently being paid off.  We would be able to completely pay off student debt this year, which just blows my mind, and now it will probably be the end of the year, simply because we've been putting a lot down on our mortgage to lower the interest. And I know all of that is because God is providing a lot for us. I'm not for a minute ungrateful.

I have some early birthday money to spend, so I walked around Anthropologie the other day, and tried this honeysuckle lotion, which smells amazing. I didn't buy anything, because I realized their style isn't really mine anymore. It's all of a sudden feeling very "newlywed," to me, either that or trying too hard, I don't know. Which makes me feel like I don't know my style anymore.


But, speaking of blessings, we finally got a good amount of snow!  Like 4 or 5 inches a lot.
Frances: "I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs!"
You can see the flakes still falling in this picture!
Even though it was 7PM, and the snow was still falling, we all had to go out and play in our front yard! So much fun!

The next day there was still plenty of snow for playing before we retired to our cups of hot chocolate. Frances is really into snowballs!

Speaking of Frances, she really, really loves learning, and in fact Molly, my Mom, and others in her life have been feeding that fire of excitement, and she is sounding out words already and doing math facts with Molly! They "play school" all the time... Molly gets out the white board and just treats her like a peer, and Frances is picking up all the things she teaches her in pretend school.
Finally.... a deep snowfall for TN. :-)

The other day I overheard them saying
Frances: Why does dragon start with d? It sounds like it starts with a j."
Molly: It's because it's dr- DRU-AGON.. When you say it fast, it DOES kinda sound like J-ragon. You're right! J-ragon, DRUH-agon.
Frances: Daddy? Does your name have an f in it? Ste-fen.
So cute.
Look at that chair.... like I said, probably around 5 inches! That's a lot for us!

Frances will be able to go to Pre-School at Molly's school in the Fall - she has one of those turning-5-in-October birthdays. So that feels good, too. She knows what's coming, and it will be so good for her. I'm sure she will love school! To be able to finance a good education for our kids is a dream-come-true for me.The other thing I LOVE about Molly's school is the modified Montessori that they do with the kids. And the teachers. Oh man, the teachers are so.great. Her kindergarten teachers blew me away with what they brought out in her over the course of a year.

Other funny things said...
Me: Barnes and Noble has this really good tea... it's cranberry orange rooibos.
Stephen: It sounds too fruity for me.
Me: I think it's called African Autumn. It's really good...
Me: I know you really like green tea, so ...
Stephen: I only like tea if it tastes like the yard.

Frances: The snow is falling, but it isn't spreading. (We don't have much snow terminology here....I knew what she meant, it wasn't really sticking yet.... but it sure was fun to watch it fall from my chair by the window.)

Madeleine: (in the middle of Mass) Dat boy dis said 'frozen.'
(our priest was giving a synopsis of the movie Frozen in his homily)
Madeleine : (in the middle of Paddington, really loudly pronouncing) Dat was too loud. (Later...very loudly... ) Dat was too dark.

Book Update

I finished up Middlemarch, Still:Thoughts on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner (subtitled: divorced, partied, now I'm really, really depressed: how when you booze you lose... and other thoughts to put you into an emotional funk and/or depressed state), and the Lewis Carroll biography. Woohoo! ;-)  Still plugging away on Flannery's Complete Stories (subtitled: the undue harshness of prejudiced bullies), but getting excited about my March reads.

How is it already March?! I ordered Team of Rivals and Catherine of Siena (which I gave away a few years back!). And, I already own The Kalahari Typing School for Men, which I can't wait to read! I found a great deal on Beautiful Ruins, so that's in my Kindle too.
All in all, because of the weather, Molly missed four days of school this past week! We had a lot of time for art projects.

All Molly wanted to eat was chicken noodle soup while she was sick. However, while I served it to her, I was sorta not into that idea, so I made this SIMPLE soup that I highly recommend.... Turkey, Bean, and Carrot soup. I feel like it's one of those soups you make when you a) can't eat another bite of chili because you're tired of it or b) are kinda craving chili, but just want a unique alternative. It goes really well with homemade buttermilk biscuits. And if you're into Paddington Bear, those go really well with marmalade.

Remember the riddle from last week? Well, here's...

Did you miss my posts from this past week?

(that last one is now edited to make the document accessible, apparently it was private when I first published the post! Sorry!)
Also, our cats are named Sneaky and Yo-Yo-- the kids named them! (their other names are Prince Caspian and Yo-Yo-Ma, but we let the kids pick what we'd actually call them!;)

weekly minutiae (min-oo-shuh) updates, funny things they say, photo dumps, "blogging is fun" type deal with all of the fun trivial details that make life fun and interesting. 
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Add your link~ and simply link back here in your post!;)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thoughts on Middlemarch

“Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honey-moon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic - the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which make the advancing years a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.” 
-George Eliot, Middlemarch

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who was actually a college professor taking a year off to rewrite the English curriculum for our school. She taught the AP English class that I took junior year.  She was an amazing teacher, and I credit all of my 5 on the AP exam to her.  Her favorite author was George Eliot, and we read Silas Marner in her class. I liked it, but it was always in the back of my mind to read Middlemarch, because I feel sure that was the professor's favorite book.

Although I was excited to settle into it, the first part of Middlemarch felt stilted to me. She is painting a very grandiose landscape of a town in England (is Middlemarch a real or imagined place? I think imagined).  It is very wordy and her characters are drawn as very uppity and self-absorbed.  I almost cast the book aside a couple of times, so fed up I was with this condescension and long, laborious, self-righteous sentences. But around the second book, there is a not-so-subtle change. And so, good reader, neither should you give up on George Eliot. When the setting moves from England to Rome, her words start to flow freely.

Dorothea becomes more likable, she fights with her husband on their honeymoon, but despite the character's imperfections, the prose is beautiful and natural. Her introspective nature is all the more believable and thusly appealing.  She is a rounded-out character.

The first part comes into light with receding shadows: your doubts about her authorship is resigned and you see the first part for what it actually is: the laying of a foundation for a great and glorious story.

Later on in the book, the dryness returns, along with a sprinkling of uppity lines. But it is accompanied by the gracious, beautiful prose. And even more importantly, not just Dorothea, but the entire story becomes more developed. She has created an entire town, full of issues, monetary quandary, and deep characters. As the subtitle ("a study of provincial life") suggests, it is an upper class look at a middle class town. The ending just absolutely sings, the dryness melts into spirituality and just a touch of sweetness... and it is worth it to read the whole thing to find out the ending.

I credit the dryness to George Eliot's focus on financial issues: gambling, debts owed, debts paid, and money given up for the betterment of the characters.  The plot twists are subdued- an excellent stylistic aspect- and I think the overwhelming detail is in the end worth your time.

I couldn't quite place the exact location of Eliot's spirituality- or the landscape she paints in the book- but I think she believes in the power of shining light into darkness, and the heroism of those people who despite pain and severe life challenges, make sacrifices that cannot be rivaled except by the saints. She is known, to the best of my knowledge, for all but having abandoned Christianity, but maybe she didn't, altogether. Perhaps we learn from this book that she shed its orthodoxy but kept it's basic principles of love, light, and sacrifice. At least I'd like to argue that she didn't, but I can't know for sure.

I'm thankful that I could read the original English text, and I encourage you and recommend that you read this book at some point in your life. Although not American, it is always nice when we don't have to read a translation!

“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, "Oh, nothing!" Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts— not to hurt others.” 
-George Eliot, Middlemarch

Have you read it? What thoughts do you have to add?

read more on Middlemarch:

Friday, February 27, 2015

SQT: My Favorite Books: of all time and right now

Today, I give you my list of the best books I can think of. You're welcome.  I say that these are my favorite books of all time, but I felt like it needed a qualifier "right now," because they are subject to change if I consider how many books I will read down the road. Thus, "of all time, and right now." My favorite books have to fall into a few categories: they have to be timeless, literary, and life-changing.

First, they have to timeless. They bring you into a world out of time, where all the same rules apply to me as they do to the characters (in fiction), or where the advice offered isn't tied to whatever philosophies that are currently en vogue. Even if they might encapsulate a certain time period, in a quintessential way, the universal principles stand above that time.

Second, they have to be (mostly) literary. A writer's writer, a book-lover's book, or just clear and lovely prose. All of the books listed fall into this category in my mind.

Third, they have to be life-changing or moving.  I don't mean sentimental or tear-jerker. I mean... it makes you stop to ponder... oh wow how beautiful this world is. The content comes into your heart, melds with it there for a while, and then you stop, look in the mirror and think "And, now I'm a different person completely."

These are the books I'll either tell you to drop everything and read, or they're the books I'll literally just give you a copy of.  So, without further ado... my seven favorite books of all time and right now:

novels (foreign):
1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I read this while I was pregnant with our first child, Molly. I love everything about it and would happily reread the monster at some point when I make the time. He weaves philosophy into a very interesting story seamlessly, giving us lots of food for thought and time and food for contemplation. Make sure you get a good translation and good comments if you can.

2. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

My husband gave this to me several years ago as an anniversary present, and I was finally inspired to read it last November.  It was worth every page. Tina Nunnally's translation was PPIEW.* It will make you think about Norway, Catholicism, motherhood, life, death, and living well.

for kids:
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I have read this so many times I've lost count. I used to read it every time I got sick.  Have you seen the illustrations by Tasha Tudor? Own it. I can't wait to read this to my kids and share the love.

4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I've reread this one several times, and I'll recommend it until I'm blue in the face. I read it for the first time in Middle School, if you can believe that, after my Aunt recommended it while I was staying with her for a week.  It influenced my life profoundly, made me want to be a writer when I grew up, and sucked me into the world of Lamott, a world of which I have yet to leave and will happily stay a very long time.

novels (american):
5. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

This book just shimmers with beauty. it is the perfect combination accessible, American, and mysteriously clairvoyant. Steinbeck just gets the profundity of the 'normal class' America in a way that no other author seems to be able to capture. I think it was one of the few that I re-read voluntarily after being required to read it in high school. If I were to write a(nother) novel, perhaps it would look a little like this. If it makes you want to write, it scoots itself to the top of a list.

6. From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier

Of all the books, this one rises to the the top as one of the most 'life-changing.' A best friend (roomie at Westmont, in my wedding) recommended it to me after a high school religion teacher required that she read at her High School St. Louis.  I then read it about a billion times, and started giving away copies to random unwitting friends. Vanier started the L'Arche communities, for people with disability to live in a shelter of faith together.  This book explores the importance of coming to terms with our sinfulness and weakness, in order that we might more fully love each other. There are countless jewels of wisdom, and quotables on almost every page! It's short, but PACKED with wisdom.

7. Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux

This book is/was the reason I finally assented to the conversion to Catholicism  that my husband and I had been discussing and sparring about for about three years! It is soo good! Her love for God and her passion for Jesus' work and ministry, and her insights about faith and spirituality will truly change your life.

runners up (aka the books that I really had a hard time NOT including):

for kids: The Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace
spirituality:The Little Oratory by Leila Lawler and David Clayton
novel: A toss up between Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) and Brideshead Revisited (Waugh)
american:Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
on writing: If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland

This does not include my favorite works of poetry, memoir, biography, among a few other genres and gems. I'm also a huge fan of the foodie genre, but we'll have to save that for another day!

to see all the books I've read see my Books I've Read board, and feel free to follow me on Pinterest!

What are YOUR favorite books and genres?

*practically perfect in every way;-)

Linking up with Kelly and the gang at This Ain't the Lyceum

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prayers to Know as a Catholic Family

Recently, I have been compiling all of the prayers I want our kids to have committed to memory, that I believe we should know. I feel firmly that we would be in grievous error if our children were not baptized, attending Mass faithfully, and praying at mealtime.  But I don’t want to stop there. I don't want to do just the bare minimum when it comes to their rich faith. I want them to be hungry for knowledge and wisdom. I want to help them to come to a rich understanding of Catholicism. Thus, I have been compiling the things (besides the Catechism) that they are committing to memory.

Here is the list.
You can view and/or print my Memory Work document here, on GoogleDocs. I included English and Latin versions for some of the prayers.

Prayer as you say the sign of the cross 
Hail Mary prayer
Apostle's Creed
Hail Holy Queen
The Memorare
Glory Be
Ecce Agnus Dei
The Confiteor
The Angelus
Act of Contrition
St. Andrew Novena Prayer

As I mentioned, many of the prayers can be said in Latin as well as in English. My list includes prayers from Mass, from the Rosary, some novenas, and some extras thrown in. Again, feel free to print this out for your family!

If you do not own it, a wonderful resource is Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, put out by the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops.   We are really lucky to have a copy on our shelf, and it has been a wonderful reference as we try to teach our kids these prayers.

Now, you tell me. What did I forget? What prayers or blessings would you add to the list I compiled?

Cross-posting at the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly Minutiae vol. 12~ Snow Days, Lent Decor, and a Riddle

Molly had a snow day, and she actually was off Monday thru Wednesday because of President’s Day, icy road conditions, and finally a little dusting of snow on Wednesday. The snow came back just as she was getting out of school on Friday, and really started to stick around 7:30 Friday night.

Snow day in Tennessee, folks. This is how much it takes to get out of school here! :-) #snowissnowyo

Molly was begging me to take her with me for the Ash Wednesday service. Stephen had already attended the service at our parish at noon.  We went to the 5 o’clock, which was followed by a soup dinner provided by the Living the Eucharist ministry at our church.  A little boy from our parish, who is a friend of ours', sat down beside me.  He started saying, “Man… my Mom didn’t let me have ANY fun today, because she was really serious about Ash Wednesday.”  I said, “Oh, really? What did you give up?” “My favorite video game…” he responded. Molly piped up, “Well, I have to give up TV for Lent!” And our friend Sean looked at her and goes, “BOY… that is a REALLY hard one!”

I took Madeleine to run errands with me on Thursday, while our babysitter watched the other two.  She picked out this Frozen Play-doh kit, so I caved since we have a lot of down time sans screen these days.

We listened to the Frozen soundtrack while they played and played with it. When the CD was over, they continued singing it for another 30 minutes or more… before I finally made Madeleine take her nap. She fell asleep right away, without any kind of entertainment, which is always nice.  She occasionally likes playing iPad games, particularly when she’s having quiet rest time. I think all of those errands with Mommy wore her out for sure!

Stephen took the girls to the theatre to see a movie! They went on President's Day and had a ton of fun. (It was Paddington Bear and apparently it's really good!)

And I took this guy to the playground to SWING!This was a hat for him from Zulily last summer.  :-)

My kitchen table centerpiece for Lent...I've never owned a diffuser, so I was excited to find a purple liquid- lavender sage- to match the kitchen table centerpiece for Lent (I know it kinda looks pink in the picture, though!)
Incense holder and our beans-for-sacrifices jar

For the other Lenten decor, I purchased a yard of purple fabric, the centerpiece tray, purple candles, the very small frame, silver letter stickers, burlap, and brown scrapbooking paper. I cut the paper to fit the frame, and added the word "repent" using the stickers.

 I also purchased the succulent.

While I decorated for Lent, the girls helped decorate the house with watercolor paintings on Friday afternoon. They are doing really well without tv.  Whenever they're are complaining about the tv thing, we made a list of the things we are going to do instead:

- go to playground at least once per week
-have a picnic
-have a tea party
-do playdoh and/or watercolor painting
-run errands
- visit Mom
- read books
- listen to ebooks/audio books (Spotify has some Bedtime Stories playlists: see "Time for Bed:20 Kids' Stories")
- listen to music (Lent at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary is a good one, also on Spotify)
- Lenten crafts of many kinds :-)
- toys and coloring books and stickers galore
Molly made a bunch of signs to remind her. :-)

The kiddos went to play at Grandma’s near the end of the week.  This picture my Mom took just makes me laugh. :0)

Reading update: I finally finished The Secret Life of Bees, I’m half way through the Lewis Carroll biography by Morton Cohen, and I’m seriously close to finishing Middlemarch (see that bookmark?).  I've made it my goal to reach the finish line before March. I’m still reading about 1-2 Flannery stories per day until the end of February… or until I’m finished with her Complete Works. So. good. I also bought a Lauren Winner book that I’m really excited about reading. I'm trying not to read Alice in Wonderland et al while I read the LC biography, but that is next to impossible.
whoooo are you? future Oxford scholar

I claimed that I would probably never finish Gilmore Girls, but on Fat Tuesday, I had about a half of one of Stephen's Nooners (at night) and watched the rest of season 7. I think I only skipped about 6 or 7 episodes in the entire Series, seasons 1-7. Whoa. All in the past 4 months.  My kids were starting to get sick of “Where you go… I will follow…anywhere…. that you tell me to.” ;) And SPOILER: (only read the following sentence if you’ve a) finished the entire series or b) never plan to.)  I was shocked at the fact that no one got together and everyone just ended up living for work. {?!} When Logan proposed I was all, this is gonna be so awesome. But no. And I was happy for Lorelai and Christopher when they did get together. But no.  But I still cried so many times. When Lorelai’s father had a heart attack?! And when Lorelai did Karoake and sang “I Will Always Love You” and Luke walked in? TEARS from this pregnant lady right here!!!!

And man…. Lewis Carroll. This has been a great read.  What an amazing specimen of Victorian England and the Oxford don tour de force. I would like to write a post about his biography, although I  just don’t think I could handle a research paper, so, we’ll see. The book is over 500 pages, gee. I just remembered that I don’t really like writing research papers just for fun. Maybe it's 11.5 weeks pregnant talking? Ahem. I don’t know… what do think about book reports or research book posts?  Maybe it is better to stick to a post like a Goodreads or Amazon review?  Just know that I will always tell you if I’m going to give any spoilers. :-)

a Lewis Carroll riddle*

Me: All you have to do to write and publish a book, is to make friends with a famous person… like Lewis Carroll befriending George MacDonald. Macdonald encouraged Carroll to publish Alice in Wonderland, and then later, Through the Looking Glass. It reminded him of his own fairy tale Phantastes.
Stephen: Yeah, and go to one of the best universities and get one of the best educations in the world.
Me: They really had a mutual understanding and passionate agreement about such things like God, love, fairy tales, and innocence.
Stephen: And Oxford.**

We also had a long conversation about the new algorithm for things like Pinterest and Facebook. . Apparently, according to him (a techie alltheway), new social media sites like these are cropping up and changing all the time. At first, I was annoyed by Pinterest’s new algorithm, until I figured out the “News” feed thing.  It is at the upper right hand when you're on the site on a real computer -but easier to find on the Pinterest app on my iPhone. I didn’t know why it would start suggesting things for me, when I really was looking for my friends’ pins and suggestions. But, when I figured out that all of that was under News Feed, I wasn’t so frustrated.

However, the thing I’m most frustrated with is the relatively new FB modus operandi. I would assume that the news feed would simply show things according to a timeline…. but NO, it has to be according to how many likes or comments a post has. Thus, a really old post with a bunch of comments will trump a recent post. This way, when I hit refresh, my most recent post appears buried under a miscellany of boring announcements and/or funny memes, and things that get lots of comments. He agreed that it’s really frustrating to see old FB threads bumping up to the top … although he doesn’t go on FB very often.;)

Isn’t there a way- like Pinterest- to show both the popular posts as well as the most recent things your friends have said? I know from recent conversation that there is a way to turn off the Pinterest thing, by hovering over the "picked for you" and clicking the x to hide all pins inspired by a certain board.... so we'll see if that will work to change all of my settings to improve the experience.

In other news, I'm trying my hardest to talk him into taking the Myers Briggs test, since he has NEVER taken it, you guys. I actually took a 5 minute online test FOR him and got ENTJ but that's just me. So, it doesn't count. But it would make sense, knowing him, (For the record, I'm INFP, like two other bloggers that I know of).

SO. We’ll see how that goes. I’m really excited about the plans we have coming up for our Easter holiday and vacation.

* Yes... the riddle DOES have an answer.. And yes, it has something to do with puns. If it's driving you crazy, I can tell you the answer in the comments.... and if it's not, then next week. :-)
**Upon further research, George MacDonald was Scottish, and was educated at the University of Aberdeen. Sorry.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

SQT: 7 Quick Reads~ On Privacy and the Internet, Capsule Wardrobes, and More

Well. I think it has been about three weeks since I did a round-up of good reads from the internet. I have been all around, reading things here and there. Whatever strikes me on Facebook, the news, or  in my feedly. I have some really good stuff today! I hope you settle in for a minute, and check out these links!


Privacy For Mom Bloggers @ The Mirror Mag (Written by Laura from This Felicitous Life)

"I think blogging is analogous to driving.  The best way to reduce the risk of our children’s being injured in a car accident would be to cut out all unnecessary car trips: no play dates, no extracurricular activities, no shopping excursions, no dining out.  But of course, we don’t do that.  Instead we use car seats, drive carefully, get our brakes checked, and say traveling prayers. 

Worth reading. I tend to agree with Laura most of the time! ;-) I love her lawyer Mom's perspective, and I think where we really intersect in our thinking is her no-nonsense (no-embarrassing) approach as well as a laugh-at-yourself attitude (and as she mentions with the driving analogy; I think I can safely interpret her analogy as saying, don't live in a little bubble of fear). The internet, with all of its highs and lows, is here to stay. Mom bloggers are one piece to that good-bad-ugly puzzle.  Might as well make it a beautiful piece.


How to Respect Your Children While Using Social Media @ One Catholic Mama

Again, a perspective I almost 100% agree with. To quote a little bit of it:
"Some bloggers avoid talking about their kids at all, some bloggers don't call their kids by name (using things like #1), and some bloggers, like Jessica, come up with totally super awesome pseudonyms for their kids. I honestly wish I had thought of that before I started this blog.   But, I didn't.  I use my kids' real names, which are great names, if I do say so myself. 
Another good tip in her post is not to complain or whine about your kids online.  I know of one or two bloggers who can air their frustrations with humor, and get away with it. But that's not many. I think I remember a blogger a while back discussing the issue of "snark," and how hard it is to actually pull off without sounding like a terrible person. So true. We should always be careful how we state our thoughts, and take reputation into consideration... the reputation of all parties involved. Us, our kids, our spouses, our extended family... and keep the golden rule in mind when recounting facts, anecdotes, and photos.


The Dating Advice I Wish I Had Heard in my Twenties @ Verily

"Take it from someone who spent all of her twenties dating. Finding lasting love is the best. If you’re in your twenties today and want true love someday, why wait? Start dating like a grown-up now and you are more likely to end up with one when the time is right.

This is so true. I felt like I was seeing my own reflection in my coffee cup while I was reading it. We got married in our twenties, but my husband was definitely a grown-up about it.  I love this oh-so refreshing reminder to take yourself seriously (but not too seriously) while that biological clock is ticking.  You never know when love, commitment, and maturity will align with that special person you're longing for.


Capsule Wardrobe vol. 2~ Ideas and Inspiration for the 2-year-old Girl @ Whole Parenting Family

"The thing about having a two, almost three year old, is that you get to pick their clothes. And I am also not into pink-pink girlie so instead she gets this array of long sleeve shirts. Mini BodenTeasmafolkGap Baby, you know. All used, gifted, or handmedown.

Wow! Am I the only one thinking "Girl... you scored some amazing hand-me-downs?!" But seriously, this is a great series. It is inspiring me to pare down my girls' clothes a bit. It can be so hard to keep it as organized as she does. I feel like my kids are always outgrowing things faster than I can jump in with new *or used, or hand-me-down* stuff. I'm inspired.


In Bitter Cold, Entertaining Kids With Games, Films, and Dumplings @ The New York Times

five words:
“Anna and Elsa all day.”

I am so thankful for the weather in Tennessee usually, but I'd say even here, it has been a {maybe not bitterly, but} cold winter.  Now that my girls have given up TV for Lent, it is no longer "can we please look up Frozen on Ice on youtube?" If we were somewhere even colder, I'm not sure I'd be 'out and about' all that much with kids if I could help it! At least not until it warms up a little bit. BRRRRrrrrr.


Fifty Shades is Abuse @ The Rambling Curl

 I'll level with you:  When I started writing this blog, a whopping SEVEN HOURS AGO (yeah, my eyes are falling out), I had a moment of panic and thought: "What if I can't find fifty examples of abusive behaviour?  If I go through the three books in chronological order, what if I stop at thirty or forty?"  It's hilarious that I thought that, because 1) Thirty or forty incidents of abusive behaviour in a so-called "love story" is sick.  2) This is Fifty Shades of Grey, for crying out loud.  Of course we've got a book and a half to go and we've run out of room on our list....

I thought, that of all the NUMEROUS reports on this book/film, this little gut-level UK blog summed it up well, and it is worth a skim at least. How did this book even get published?! (Did Twilight or bad pornographic romance novels have anything to do with it, perchance?) Folks, this "grey" part of our culture isn't cute. And abuse shouldn't be a grey area at all. And let's get this one thing straight: it was brought to be released on Valentine's Day??!! I didn't read it or see the movie, so I'm not really one to talk. But, from what I gather, it's not what you think it is; wake up Americans.  UGHhhhh...... ugh, ugh, ugh. (I think I heard a collective "NOooo!" from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes as well... 26% is not a good score, FYI Focus Features).


Experiencing Lent Through Our Five Senses @ More Than Enough

"The purpose of this post is not to make you think that you have to do ALL of these suggestions! On the contrary, this list is meant to get you thinking about what will work for your family. I am a big advocate for keeping Lent as simple as possible. What I hope to convey is that Lent does not have to be an abstract idea but rather something tangible that we can truly experience in our everyday lives.

If you don't read Sarah's blog, you should! She's a fun one for sure. Catholic Mom contributor, knitter extraordinaire, and a fun writer all told. I love her ideas for experiencing Lent three-dimensionally.

Also, Bonus:

~My post for Real Housekeeping that went live yesterday~ Making Lists: How I Get My Life Organized

~My new Movies Worth Watching board on Pinterest~

Adding my link to Kelly and all the others over there today!