Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 reads

50. Digging to America - Anne Tyler

49. Before I Wake - Robert J. Wiersema

48. The Keep - Jennifer Egan

47. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing - Melissa Bank

46. The Septembers of Shiraz - Dalia Sofer

45. Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli

44. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

43. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

42. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

41. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

40. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

39. A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon

38. Silk - Alessandro Baricco

37. Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessi

36. Stumbling on Happiness - Daniel Gilbert

35. The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show - Ariel Gore

34. The Golden COmpass - Phillip Pullman

33. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón

32. Dawn - Elie Wiesel

31. The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

30. Literacy and Longing in L.A. - Jennifer Kaufman & Karen Mack

29. Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult

28. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

27. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

26. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling

25. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling

24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling

22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling

21. Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette - Sena Jeter Naslund

20. The Cater Street Hangman - Anne Perry

19. It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters - Andrea Buchanan

18. The Widow's War - Sally Gunning

17. Ten Thousand Lovers - Edeet Ravel

16. Baby Proof - Emily Giffin

15. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

14. Getting Rid of Matthew - Jane Fallon

13. A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore

12. The Road - Cormac McCarthy

11. The Birth House - Ami McKay

10. Lullabies for Little Criminals - Heather O'Neill

9. In Lucia's Eyes - Arthur Japin

8. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

7. Summer of My Amazing Luck - Miriam Toews

6. To The Tower Born - Robin Maxwell

5. We Need to Talk About kevin - Lionel Shriver

4. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

3. Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

2. Gilded Chamber - Rebecca Kohn

1. Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy whatever...

I had many posts composed in my head about this, and other, holiday seasons.

But then life intervened. There were parties! And visits! And driving across the province! And more parties! And more driving!



...and then it was Christmas Eve. Tomorrow there will be much spoiling of the child, food food and more food and far too much chocolate.

I'll be back after a few days with pictures and stories and deep thoughts and not-so-deep thoughts.

So whatever you may celebrate, may the season be good to you and your family!




Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That love that shan't speak its name

Fueled by kgirl's fetish admission in yesterday's comments, today I make an announcement.

A confession, if you will.

I loved, and still do love,

Little House on the Prairie


Okay, Little House on the Prairie. There, I've said it.

I loved the books as a child, receiving the box set the summer between kindergarten and grade one. By September I had finished the series. I re-read it over and over again, until the spines were cracked and the covers bent and faded.


But what I really loved was the TV series.




I was a child of a (very) broken home. By the time I was old enough to watch the series, both of my mother and father were gone, having abandoned their responsibilities as parents. I was left with The Nana. My childhood was not filled with the delights of most children my age - ET, The Muppets, etc. However, I was allowed to watch Little House on the Prairie.

I watched the show faithfully, seeing every episode several times over in re-runs (to this day Mr Babbler teases me that I can figure out which episode, down to the season, that we are watching within the span of a single scene). I hummed along to the opening and closing credits. I seethed with righteous indignation at the evil doings of Nellie Olsen and her busybody mother Harriet. I sang along to Bringing in the Sheaves and Go Tell it on the Mountain with the good Reverend Alden. I wanted to sit in a one-room schoolhouse with a tablet and a shared bench, being taught by Miss Beadle. I wanted to wear a calico dress with with a pinafore and black button boots, running to the Merchantile for a piece of penny candy. But most of all, I wanted to be a part of their family.


I coveted the Ingalls family. Pa Ingalls, he of the wavy, feathered hair and chiseled cheekbones, was my ideal father, a strong but caring man, a man who simply adored his wife and faced any and all danger to keep his family safe. He was stern, yet loving. He was kind, compassionate, a good leader and had a sense of humour to boot. Truly, a perfect man in all ways. A tad unrealistic perhaps, but to my adoring, childish eyes, a man to idealize as a father.



And Ma, pretty, sweet, kind Ma of the soft voice and will of steel. I wanted to run and hide in her aprons or help her with chores. I wanted her to dispense her womanly wisdom to me. In short, I had the biggest crush on Ma Ingalls and did my best to emulate her quiet, thoughtful manner. That isn't to say I was successful, but oh, did I try. (As an aside, in hunting for photos for this post I stumbled across this photo of Karen Grassle (Ma Ingalls) - wasn't she a hottie? Whee!)



I learned about morals and love and community and the power of family with each episode. (Oh, and I learned about a few other things along the way, like rape and death and oh, perhaps my Nana should have been monitoring my viewing a bit more closely.) In the later episodes I learned about love, eagerly awaiting the big kiss, and eventual marriage between Laura and Almanzo (although, to be clear, I did not have a crush on Almanzo. That was reserved for Gilbert. Sweet, sweet Gilbert Blythe. But Laura and Almanzo were a close second.)



I'm an adult now, and fully understand that the family life portrayed in Little House on the Prairie was idealized - a fictionalized, perfect version of family in which all hurts could be done away with a simple apology, a hug from Ma and some fiddle music from Pa. I think that perhaps I even understood that as a child, jaded as I was.

But still, the magic remains. I've recently started recording the daily re-runs of Little House on the Prairie, watching them while Peanut is down for her nap. I know that as Peanut gets older I will share my old copies of the books with her, and then sit down and watch the show with her, hopefully passing along a little of my love for the series.

And this Christmas, I'll also be pulling out these DVDs:



And awaiting the final scene. That sweet ending, and this long-awaited kiss (be still my heart):




"I don't want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter time reading - and a challenge

Yesterday was a snow day here in Toronto. Is there anything better than snuggling in a nice warm blanket, watching some Sesame Street and reading books? Nope - I didn't think so!

* * *

I've decided to take part in a reading challenge for 2008. As I've mentioned before, I buy books. A lot of books. Although I may purchase these books, it doesn't necessarily mean I get around to reading every book on my shelf. Things come up, life intervenes, some other more interesting book comes along, or sometimes I just don't feel like reading what I have lined up. As a result I have a number of books that have languished for years and years, being dragged off the shelf, taken on countless vacations, stuffed in purses and backpacks, re-shelved, and then pulled out to start the cycle all over again, and yet somehow they still don't get read.

To help clear this backlog, I've decided to join the To Be Read Challenge 2008. the premise is simple - you pick 12 books (and up to 12 alternates) that have been on your "to be read" list for more than six months. Starting on January 1, 2008 you can begin reading any of the titles on your list, in any order. The goal is to read 12 titles in total and clear them from your "to-be-read pile".



With a drum roll and some fanfare, and in no particular order, here is my list:

1) The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley


2)
Sisters in the Wilderness - Charlotte Gray

3) The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen


4)
Bitch - Elizabeth Wurtzel

5) 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez


6)
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

7) Sophie's World - Jostein Gaarder


8)
Possession - A. S. Byatt

9) Watership Down - Richard Adams


10)
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

11) Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett


12)
Ahab's Wife - Sena Jeter Naslund



Alternates List:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke


Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I Am Charlotte Simmons - Tom Wolfe

The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

So those are my titles. Anyone want to play along?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This moment brought to you by Cookie Monster

Dude, this has been in my head all day, causing me to have a snapping good time!



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'll think about it tomorrow (just not today)

Today, Peanut paused in her play after lunch, abandoning her books and curled up on the floor with her lovey bunny. Seeing her lying there, I put aside the items I was tidying and got down on the floor with her, curling my body tightly around hers. Her head tucked up under my chin and body in a little ball in the curve of my hips and thighs, my arm rising and falling with her breath, the words of yesterday's appointment raced through my head.

... fine motor skills between seven and ten months...


... language and communication skills showing cause for concern...


... significant percentile drop in weight...


I want to shout - can't you see how beautiful she is? Can't you see how charming, how happy, how lovely? What does it matter if she hasn't said a word yet? She waves! She smiles! What does it matter that she only chews her toys, and can't stack a block? She "reads" her books! She crawls! So what if she's petite? She's dainty!

Today I curled my body around hers, holding back tears and struggled with my feelings of failure. Perhaps if my body - if I - hadn't failed her in my pregnancy, then she would not have these new obstacles to overcome. This guilt a great leaden weight in the pit of my stomach.

I know that others have larger struggles, great difficulties, and this is not a sentence by any means. I know that this is precisely what these appointments are for, to identify any potential "issues" early so that we can tackle them head on. And I know how lucky we are to have this program available to us.

Tomorrow I will recover - will get on with it - and we will buckle down and start working on the items as laid out by the team. Tomorrow my positive outlook and optimism will rebound. But today I want only to tuck her in my arms close to my heart (oh, my aching heart), where milestones don't matter and I have the power to kiss her troubles away.


Her smile - worth more than a thousand mamas or dadas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Falling like dominoes

Here I am - I've been away for the last week as we all fell like dominoes around these parts. The sickness came and it hit us hard. However, I did learn several valuable life lessons:

Life Lesson #1
If your daughter is going to have her first bout of projectile vomiting, it will occur on the evening when she has decided she is really hungry, and eats half a salmon fillet, a large quantity of broccoli and a significant serving of pasta side dish. She will also not stop until every sheet for her bed, and nearly every pair of pajamas and towels are sullied. If you are fortunate you will have already purchased multiple backup lovey bunnies, as she will successfully hit four over the course of the night.

Life Lesson #2
If, over the course of two days, you've been vomited on, pooped on, kicked in the face (while trying to sleep) and held your daughter pretty much constantly, you will inevitably fall ill with something. Something like an incurable migraine, nausea and vomiting. This will also occur on the night your husband has to work late, and your daughter will not go to sleep and screams consistently for many hours well into the night (if you are lucky though, your in-laws will have arrived to attend to your child.) You will also need to time your bathroom requirements carefully, with four adults in a house with one bathroom.

Life Lesson #3
If, well into the night, you eventually decide that you are going to need medical intervention and head to the ER and your attending nurse sees your catch basin and says "I'm going to take this, or I'm going to throw up" with disdain and contempt in her voice, you are likely not going to have a quality care experience. When the same nurse asks you to "speak up, speak up, I can't hear you" when asking you to spell Imitrex, the evening is going to go downhill rapidly. When that same nurse is about to start your IV, and you put your catch basin on your lap as a precautionary measure, she says "Are you going to throw up when I do this? Because if you are, can you do it now before I get started", you may want to be glad that you don't have enough strength to wallop her, and congratulate yourself anyway on your self-restraint. And when that same nurse leaves for her break without passing your chart on to a doctor on call or another nurse to get your IV meds started, leaving you in your own personal hell - well, you'd better just hunker down and hope for the best.

Life Lesson #4
If, after pumping you with several different types of powerful anti-migraine and nausea drugs, the same nurse from Life Lesson #3 asks if your headache is gone, and you say yes, you may want to suggest that you take another half hour to an hour to simply rest. Otherwise, said nurse may come back and remove your IV immediately and send you packing. You may just end up staggering down the hallway, which might toss like the decks of a sailboat in a 55 knots storm, smash into a sliding glass door and ultimately end up passing out cold in the closest bathroom, whacking your forehead on the way down.

Life Lesson #5
If your husband also falls ill, it doesn't matter how sick you are, the husband is always more ill.

Life Lesson #6
Just as everyone starts to feel better, your child will immediately start to cut her next set of teeth, learn how to climb, and consequently how to pitch an enormous tantrum when denied her way.

* * *

Good news: all the illnesses seem to have passed. The teething seems to have settled down. I think (tentatively) that we're in the clear. For now. However, I am now left with detoxing Peanut off the lifeline of Sesame Street that has filled her last five days. She is clearly exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, turning eagerly towards the television like a junkie and squawking for the remote. Yeesh.

* * *

Somewhere in the last few weeks of ups and downs, I've been terrible blog citizen. Not much visiting (500+ items in reader, yikes!), not a lot of commenting, and a complete lack of acknowledgment of some lovely awards given to me.

First, the always lovely and eloquent Slouching Mom thinks my blogging is hitting the mark (now if only someone could give me a hint as to the target!)



I'd like to pass this along to nomotherearth, for her beautiful writing about the fears and realities and joys of having her second little boy.

Also, the terrific Nap Warden, she of the mad Photoshop skills, has given me this fantastic bit of bling.



Thank you ladies!
 

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