Monday, 22 February 2021

How I made our guest room safer

I have such good memories of having sleepovers at friends homes and at my home throughout my childhood. Some of my friends would stay for many nights in a row or even weeks. I had a double bed and a double papasan chair in my room. 

Our oldest kid has been doing sleepovers for a few years now with family members and also with one friend of his who we know really well. When Will grew out of his crib last year, I was so excited to move the bed situation around in our house so Cohen could have a double bed in his room for sleepovers (until now, we would blow up a little mattress on his floor). 

I was telling a family member (not in my immediate family) about our new improved sleepover situation. They said they wouldn't recommend having kids who aren't siblings sleep together in the same bed. I was like, huh? Why not? I have slept in the same bed with so many of my friends so many times. I mean, they are the same age, and they are little kids. But this person didn't grow up like me. They had to sleep in the same bed with friends and cousins sometimes due to situations I couldn't even dream about (like because a guardian was just gone for days on end, so a friend or relative had to step in). And this person had been in situations where they felt forced to cuddle, touch, etc another kid their own age who was probably just physically curious or maybe lonely or whatever. 

I'm telling you, that never ever crossed my mind in a million years. Of course, I don't actually think that would happen in my house where J and I are super involved with our kids and keep a really close eye on them and their friends. And also in school now they learn about their body and consent and stuff so early. BUT. I just want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our house. And when I think more about it, there are lots of times where two people sleeping in two separate beds is better than two people sharing one bed. Examples in my own life include my brother-in-law and his dad, my separated in-laws who still travel together sometimes, Cohen and his female cousin. Even if a couple of my girlfriends were spending the night, they would for sure prefer to have their own bed. 




I think we have all had these lightbulb moments this past year (#BLM, #metoo) where we learn something that just completely changes the way we see the world. I love learning more and trying to be better. So now, our guest room is a pair of twin beds, and I actually think it looks way better. I am no decorator, so it's pretty basic, and also we did it on a budget so we just used a lot of what we already had (who would have guessed cushions can be so expensive!!). We aren't really having any guests right now, but we are so ready to have sleepovers as soon as it's safe. 

Friday, 19 February 2021

My February library list

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. 4/5. So this book is written by a rabbi who lost his son at a young age after a long illness. 
A couple things that stuck out for me: 
- When someone has something bad happen to them, never ever say anything that might seem like you are blaming them or God. Like if someone's parent dies, I am pretty sure they don't want to hear that "it's God's will" or "God must know you are strong enough for this burden." Also if someone is getting a divorce, definitely don't ask them if they were having enough sex or talking enough or going on enough date nights. That's the last thing someone wants to hear. So I loved the chapter about how to talk to people who are dealing with tough life stuff
- Prayers. Praying has always rubbed me a little the wrong way (asking God to fix things for you feels weird to me). BUT. I think they are so helpful in making the person who is praying feel better. And I think sending good vibes to people is actually helpful. Which I guess that's what prayers are? For years I have been sending good vibes to my friends and family. Maybe I was actually praying that whole time. 
- The main thing I got from this book is that God's main way of helping is sending people. So when you are super down and feeling totally screwed, God will send you people who will help you. It's some sort of guarantee. I have found that to be so totally true. When we were about to terminate my pregnancy, I had just started at out clinic, and so had 12 brand new coworkers. And with one, I just broke down. And she said she knew how I felt. And I said, well, no, you couldn't know unless you had to terminate a pregnancy due to a medical issue. And she had done exactly that ten years earlier. I remember being shocked that someone who went through my exact situation landed right in front of me just when I needed it. 

She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. 4/5. This was a kind of info book about Harriet Tubman. Of course I learned about her in school, but it was cool to get a refresher and learn a little more. I didn't remember that she had epilepsy from a head trauma. She believed that whenever she fell asleep, she was getting direct orders from God, so she was really grateful for her sleeping spells. Also she was taking care of a newborn at the age of five because her parents had to work all day long. And I never really knew the story of her working during the civil war for the Union army. Super interesting. 

White Rage by Carol Anderson. 4/5. I read White Fragility, which is more explaining what systemic racism is. This book was different. It was really a history lesson about slavery in the US and what came after slavery that was basically still slavery. This book felt really really well-researched, like the best textbook ever. The thing that I'll still thinking about is this: Black people in North America can't possibly have any kind of generational wealth. They were not allowed to own anything or really have any freedoms until very recently. Very recently. For Black people, for sure their great grandparents had less than nothing. For some white people, maybe that is also true, but it had nothing to do with the colour of their skin. There is no comparison. I think everyone should read this book and probably at least ten other books about the history of systemic racism. PS: Canada is not all cool when it comes to racism. More on that in the future. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. 5/5. Some books keep me up at night thinking about them. This was one of those books. I was reminded of a time in my life when I was a teenager and an older man I knew really well asked me to come into his office and look at his computer screen. Which was open to a website with naked women. It felt so weird and horrible, and this book made me realize he was testing me to see if I would act cool about it. And I just really think that absolutely no one can judge what a teenage girl does when an older man in a position of power does weird unacceptable stuff like that. Twenty years later, and I still cringe about that moment. 

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Library list lately and all the other stuff I've been consuming

I read so much, so my method is I order a bunch of books from the library, and also buy a bunch of books from the secondhand store. So then I have to read the library books as they become available, and leave the books I actually own for last. I can get a little bit hoarder-ish with books, and I have this fear of running out of stuff to read. Which is insane, I know.

Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington. 5/5. I have been "sober curious" since I got engaged the day before I graduated from dental school. That was the day that I realized that alcohol was going to be a complicated issue for the rest of my life. Jon and I decided to take a break from drinking the day after we graduated. My version of "not drinking" was actually just drinking way less than we had in school. And for Jon, he didn't drink for a year, and then slowly eased back into having a few beer here and there. Anyways, this book. My favourite part was about how so many people are really into wellness, like drinking special shakes, doing special workouts, avoiding certain foods, using essential oils, but still drinking. And alcohol is a poison (you can tell because it makes you sick for 1-3 days after you take it). I'm so into the sober curious movement. I am so moderate about everything, so I will probably never not drink, but I will not drink much. 

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. 2/5. This book is such a downer, and maybe a kind of accurate depiction of how some marriages can be. I haven't seen the movie but I kind of want to now. Overall the book was pretty "meh" for me. 

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. 5/5. LOVED. Just so into this book. The main character is a shape shifter, which would normally be too sci-fi for my tastes, but it was done in such a good way. Loved all the characters and still think about them weeks later. Lots of reviewers describe the writing as lyrical, and I really get that. 

A simple favor by Darcey Bell. 4/5. Such an easy and kinda fun read. I want to watch the movie on Netflix now for sure. Some of the book is actually "blog posts," which felt cringey and addictive. 

All adults here by Emma Straub. 4/5. I liked it and it was a light, easy read. Not changing any lives, but cute. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. 5/5. Just amazing. The slave trade is absolutely mind blowing, and this book is just so easy to read. And also so hard to read. There is so much I don't know about slavery and also systemic racism. 

Commute by Erin Williams. 5/5. I just love a graphic novel depicting something really normal with complete honesty. This book made me feel inspired to share sexual experiences that have happened to me because I am a woman and because of alcohol. Almost. 

Living with Joy by Sanaya Roman. 4/5. Ok, this one is kinda intense. The idea is that this book is actually written by a spirit, who just told this author what to write verbatim. So it's actually written by a spirit names Orin. For real. And Orin has actually written a few other books. And what's crazy is this is not the first book I have read that was "written" by a spirit. I am so 100 for Oprah and Martha Beck, which is where I get these book recommendations. Anyway, the main thing with this book is about manifesting. Which is the same idea as that book the Secret from a while ago. So you need to imagine the things you want and ask for them and believe you will get them. I know it maybe sounds super woo-woo, but I am so into this stuff. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. 5/5. This still holds up, and my seven-year-old was laughing so hard throughout most of the book. I really enjoyed reading it too. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie directed by Tim Burton. 5/5. Was so close to the book, and Johnny Depp was so creepy and good. 

Charlie and the great glass elevator by Roald Dahl. 2/5. Ummmm, nope. This one got so weird and used a lot of racial stereotypes. These creepy brown alien lumps took over for a few chapters, and neither me or my seven-year-old was into it. 

The BFG by Roald Dahl. 5/5. So good! I was worried my son would be freaked out since the story starts with a giant stealing a little girl out of her bed, but he loved it as soon as we finished with that scary part. He laughed so much with this one too. 

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers. 3/5. So maybe my seven-year-old is too young for this one. I had to bail halfway through because of the intense racial slurs that I have not heard since I lived in Texas. It was bad. And the way the dad treats the mom in the book!! I remember loving the movie with Lindsey Lohan, so maybe we will just watch that in a few years. 

Superstore. 5/5. For us, this one is kind of like Parks & Rec or VEEP. Cute and funny and it grows on you with every episode. 

The Bachelor. 4/5. For some reason we aren't as into this season as we usually are, even though we love that it's for sure the most diverse season. We were surprised we loved the La Quinta season as much as we did, but there was something to addictive about the Covid aspect that time. I think this season feels more produced, and some of the girls seem more like actresses. There seems to be less real, normal not-looking-for-fame girls. 

I own these ones and so I am saving them until I run out of library books to read:

Paper Towns by John Green. I've read so many of this author's YA books. I pretty much love them all, so I know this will be an easy good read. 

Girl with a pearl earring by Tracey Chevalier. I mean, I'm sure it will be decent?

Life of David Hockney by Catherine Cusset. This one I got fully because I liked the cover art. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

New Year, new books. And my media diet.

I try not to buy too many books new (and when I do, I try to go to the one local bookstore we have), so many of the books I read just fall into my lap. I find them at the thrift store or on Jon's section of our bookshelf or a friend passes them to me. And the library of course. 

You and I, as mothers by Laura Prepon. 2/5. I actually read her first book, Stash, I long time ago, and didn't love it, but it was fine. This book about Laura becoming a mom is totally fine too. I liked reading all the quotes from her celeb friends, and I now know for sure that Ashton Kutcher is amazing. Instead of asking Mila what he can do to help, he just looks around and figures out how to help, and does it. Amazing. Also I liked this one line in the section on meditating when she said that our thoughts in our head will continue to stream for our whole entire lives until we die. All we can hope for is to slow the thoughts down with meditation sometimes. 

A promised land by Barack Obama. 3/5. I love him, and I love the way he writes and speaks. I just couldn't get through this book because I think my tastes are so much more low-brow than Barack can offer me. I just don't find it that interesting to learn about his political aspirations and about his work life. I want to know about his love life and his marriage, which there is a little bit in this book, but not a ton. 

Indeh by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth. 3.5/5. I love so much how graphic novels are changing the way we learn about history. I liked this, but I felt like I needed a little more hand-holding while reading. I wanted a bit more narration. As it was, I feel like I now need to go and find more info about the history that the book was depicting. Which is maybe a good thing. The illustrations were so amazing and great. Jon wished that the Spanish dialogue was translated in the back of the book or something. Can't wait to read the next graphic novel by these guys. 

Loving what is: Four Questions that can change your life by Byron Katie. 5/5. This was technically the last book I read in 2020. I read it super fast and then swiftly returned it to the library because I want everyone to have a chance to read it if they want to. I have read a few books by Katie now, and I'm pretty into it. Some of the stuff is a little hard to swallow, but for me in my very privileged life, this book is amazing. She talks about how we don't make any decisions. None. You can just get up every morning and let life live you. And that seems totally crazy. But then I think about the big decisions I have made in this life. And honestly, they kinda happened in spite of me. Even the stuff that took a lot of work like getting into dental school. When I look back, it was inevitable for me. And though I worked hard and studied hard, I was doing exactly what I felt like doing the whole time. 

And a couple other things I have been consuming in the past week or so:

Your Honor. 4/5. This show on Crave is so good because Bryan Cranston is so good. I still think of Breaking Bad as the best show we have ever watched. Uggg, just so good. Jon and I have to watch a light funny show after this one since it's intense and I'm just so worried about the judge and his son! 

Scoob! 2/5. The boys and I watched this one the other day. We also recently watched the live action Scooby movie from 2002, so I couldn't help but compare them. This cartoon was so much better! I found it pretty clever sometimes, and definitely bearable, which is basically what I'm looking for in cartoon movies I watch with my kids. They LOVED it. 

VEEP. 5/5. We tried watching this years ago and just didn't love it. But this time, we are so into it. It reminds me of Parks & Rec in that it is super funny but not necessarily laugh out loud funny. We sometimes watch multiple episodes in a night, and by now are in love with at least 5 characters. The relationship between Ben and Kent is just so unexpectedly delightful, honestly. Love love. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The last few books and my favourite book of the year

I think I ended up reading around 50 books this year, which is probably average for me. I thought I would have read way more since we were on lockdown for so much of the year, but it turns out that I can't read as much when I'm super duper stressed. 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. Loved it so much. Now I need to go read Homegoing also. The main character is a grad student researching mice brains, which I just loved. All of it. 

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. Oh man. This one is still with me. It was a little hard to read just as it will always be hard to read about slavery. I loved how part of the story happened in Nova Scotia. I need to learn so much more about how "free" black people lived in Nova Scotia. Also the author is Canadian, which is just cool. 

French Exit by Patrick DeWitt. This one was so quick and easy to read. I liked that it was light and cute and also a teeny bit dark. Also loved the cover artwork. 

A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini. I was so wrapped up in this book for a couple days. It's hard to read. I have never really understood much about the details of the Afghanistan war, and this book helped me understand things a tiny bit more. But really this was a love story about a woman and her husband's second wife's kids. Love love love. 

After thinking about all the books I have read this year, there is no question which one I loved the most. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins blew my mind. I still think about if all the time. My mom read it after me, and she still brings it up sometimes. 

And there is one book I read twice this year. I never ever read books more than once. I have a friend who just loves to dive back into a book she has read multiple times. I could never do that. But Pema Chodron's When things fall apart is just so great to read anytime, and for sure when things are feeling kinda hard. The first time I read it, I highlighted sentences that were so true for me that I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of them before. The second time I read it, I had totally different sentences to highlight. If I had to distill the book into a couple lines, I would say that it's about finding the thing you dread the most and walking straight into it. Except that you don't have to go looking for hard stuff in life. You can sit patiently and wait and the hard stuff will come, and when it does, face it and lean into it. 

So this concludes my book reviews for the year, and I promise I will be back next year with lots more books.  

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