Monday, 10 August 2020

More books!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Oh this was good. It took me a while to get used to the large print that I accidentally ordered, but after that, I was so in. This book really surprised me by being about a Black man who is incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. I loved it. Oprah knows how to pick a book. 

Normal People by Sally Rooney
This book is getting so much hype right now along with the show based on the book. I wanted to read the book first, especially since I am hearing that this is one of those situations where the show is actually better than the book. I flew threw this one. I think I had it read in less than two days. The relationship between the two main characters is so intense, and I can't wait to see that play out on the show. Loved it. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Road trip fiction

I am forever feeling like my life is running on a theme. The theme changes all the time. These two books I read one after another were both about road trips where you don't really know where you are going. I found one at the secondhand store and Jon picked the other one up at the library for me. 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. I loved Turtles All the Way Down and also The Fault in our Stars. My favourite thing about this one was the relationship between the main character and his best friend. The dialogue between them was so fun to read and imagine. The book made me feel like road trips are so great for creating memories, especially when you are a teenager. I need to try to remember that when my boys want to drive to Montreal when they are teens. 

The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews. So good. I loved the weirdness of the characters and the relationship between the main character and her sister, who is mentally unstable and hospitalized for the duration of the story. It made me think about my own relationship to my sister, and how unique and huge that relationship is.

I'm still reading so much. My kids are getting to the age where I can lay on the couch and read for 20 minutes while they are playing together. If reading and writing about said reading were a job (I know it is actually a job, but not really realistic for me), I would love it. 

Monday, 20 July 2020

A birthday party in the year of Covid

Cohen's birthday party is usually pretty big. He invites his whole class, and we plan a bunch of activities here. This year was totally different, just like everything is totally different this year due to Covid. In our area, we have very little community transmission, and our borders are mostly closed, so a couple weeks ago Jon and I realized we could probably actually have a little party for Cohen's seventh birthday. We tried to make it as safe and easy as possible for the four kids who were invited. This is what we did:

- We only invited four kids. Three of the kids have already been in each other's bubble because one of the moms babysits the other two kids. And the fourth kid has been socializing with Cohen since the bubbles opened a month ago. All the parents knew who was coming.

- We kept it outside. We know that the research is showing that being outside is WAY more safe than being indoors. So we committed to a completely outdoor party, which was a little weird for us because we live in a condo-style house, so the only way to get to our teeny backyard is through the master bedroom. But it was totally fine. 

- I kept party shopping to a minimum. I am always trying to keep my potential contact tracing to a minimum, so for this party, I made one special trip to a store (the Bulk Barn), and bought everything else during my weekly grocery store trip. I didn't order anything online. In some ways I feel like it saved me money, because I wasn't just going to party stores getting more stuff like I normally would. But in some ways I spent more because I wasn't looking for sales, and I knew I had to buy everything in one shot, so I was throwing everything possible into my shopping basket. The party was for sure cheaper though, just because we only had five kids (plus little brother Will) attending. 

- We didn't order any food. Normally I would order pizza for lunch and also order a cake from Dairy Queen. But I wanted to keep the risks super low, so I bought frozen pizza from the grocery store during my normal grocery store run, and we made the cake. Wow, the cake was a lot of work! Cohen's favourite food is for sure avocado maki, so he really wanted a sushi cake. Cohen and I worked on it together, and we were so happy with how it turned out! We used the tutorial from chelsweet, which worked out awesome. I borrowed a cake spinner from my assistant, and I was glad I did. I don't think you could make this cake without a spinner. 
(giant buttercream avocado maki)

(the low-key setup)

- Totally unrelated to Covid, I have been trying to buy less party decorations for the last couple years. So all the tissue paper decorations are our hoarded ones that I pull out for every party, I  leave out certain colours depending on the celebration, and of course I make a pinata with whatever craft paper I have. I feel so much better about these decorations compared to the hundreds of balloons I used to blow up for arches, and then pop them and throw them out right after the party. 

- We set out every single piece of outdoor equipment we own, which wasn't much. I borrowed a sprinkler from my parents, put out soccer balls and nets, and washer toss. We had colouring and a really lame craft that I found in the back of our craft closet. And the kids had a great time. They loved the sprinkler, and were very into kicking the soccer ball around. Normally I would be trying to pack as many activities as possible into two hours. This time, there was no schedule. We did the pinata halfway through, which was full of pokemon cards. The kids loved looking at their cards and trading them. Cohen opened his presents slowly, and for the first time, I was able to watch him since there weren't 20 kids running around. His friends all gave him thoughtful gifts like a homemade pokemon book and hand painted rocks. 

Jon and I feel like even though we were forced to have this kind of small, measured party due to Covid, we will not go back to the way we used to do it. We feel like all the kids had a better time because it was so small and freeform. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins:

Oh my gosh. This book. I can't even believe how good this book was. I haven't read anything this good for so long. I would say the book that came the closest to being as good as this for me was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

As a middle class white Canadian lady, I know about as much about the immigration issues from Mexico to the US as This American Life tells me. When I was a kid we would sometimes cross from Texas to Mexico to have lunch when we were vacationing south of our home in Killeen, Texas. I think it was really different at that time. Anyway, I feel like this book was really well-researched. The situation that immigrants fleeing violence face when they hit the American border is so horrible. Everyone should read this book, and then maybe donate some money to help immigrants seeking safety. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

One textbook-like book about the brain and a book about being broke and white in America

The body keeps the score by Bessel Van Der Kolk:
My usual routine is to push myself super hard in life until my body forces me to slow down by feeling sick. Like, I get an actual sinus infection or a bad cold, and so I spend a few days laying low, and then start the cycle again. Anyway, this book is not about that. But it does talk a lot about how our bodies feel things physically when we are emotionally hurting. That's probably not groundbreaking for anyone who works in healthcare. If you are having chronic stomach pains or back pain for no obvious reason, it might be an emotional issue. This book talks about the science of that. I found it really interesting, but also intense and also dense. So I read it on the side for like a month, while I flew through a bunch of other books. I would highly highly recommend this book to anyone who works with people with PTSD, or if you survived trauma during childhood. One thing that really stood out to me is that people with severe recurring trauma during childhood have huge blank spots in their memories. Their brains physically change so they are protected from those memories. So amazing. 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance:
This book was a little weird to be reading right in the middle of #Blacklivesmatter and #defundthepolice. It is about poor white people (hillbillies) in Kentucky and Ohio. The author manages to go to law school and make a success of himself, maybe at least partly due to white privilege? That's what it felt like to me as I was reading this and also watching videos on my social media of police beating up peaceful Black protestors. I enjoyed the book for sure, and I will probably watch the movie when it comes out. 

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