Monday, October 15, 2012

This Blog Has MOVED - Exciting Announcement!

Due to extreme busy-ness, and frustration with lack of followers here, I have decided to start fresh over at Wordpress, with its strong connected community, and better interactivity with Facebook, Twitter etc. It should be new, fresh, and more what this place was all about when I started blogging.

Please follow me to my new blogging home at HTTP://SHORTYSARCASM.WORDPRESS.COM ... it's still under construction but already I feel much more vibrant and inspired with this new beginning. I hope to see you there, along with some new faces. XOXO

The Posthumous Slut-Shaming of Amanda Todd

One of the most horrific aspects of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd's suicide last week, was the fact that those who had tormented her in life followed her after her death ... and seemed to have brought along several friends. To summarize the story, Todd was in an unfortunate (and by unfortunate, I mean 'criminal') situation three years back where she was pressured by a grown man online to flash her webcam for him. For what turned out to be the rest of her life, this man, in response to future rebuffed come-ons, followed her movements from school to school, being sure new friends, teachers, etc. received the image of the topless tween. Given the fact that when young girls are victimized in such a way, of course it must be there fault, the inevitable blaming of the victim ensued, and Todd ended her life last Wednesday after three years of what I can only imagine was a living hell.

Now I was bullied as a kid too - and yes, come gr. 6/7/8, some of that bullying took on a decidedly ... well ... lewd nature at times (in terms of comments; at no point was the bullying I experienced physical, either in terms of violent and/or sexual behaviour). And I was as squeaky-clean as they came (full disclosure: I didn't know what the word 'virgin' meant until I was 11 years old). So I can only imagine how that kind of bullying, coupled with the feeling of actually 'having something on this kid', must have played out ... and really, I have no majorly new insights to offer on this topic that haven't already been well-covered in THIS BLOG at the Huffington Post, which was actually my inspiration to write this in the first place. Really, she puts it so much better than I can and you can consider this whole entry one big 'DITTO' on that blog. However, I wanted to add one further observation:

I am probably, to a fault, not one to scream feminism (some would say I do, and I DO stand up for my feminist beliefs in either truly egregious or public scenarios, but in day-to-day reality the truth is I've been accused far too much of being humourless, and have just become too tired, non-drama-seeking and (un?)wise to pick 'Big Issue' fights over stray comments in a casual conversation), but honestly ... 'well this wouldn't have happened if she weren't a slut,' as one (many) commented on a memorial site? Really?

Imagine for a minute if this had been a male who was victimized. In fact, we have a very apt comparison in incredibly recent times, with Jerry Sandusky's sexual assaults on at least ten boys, and his attempts thereafter to discredit them as untrustworthy, troubled boys turning on the one person who loved and supported them. I am going to suggest some of those relationships were, in appearance, 'consensual' (I don't believe sexual relationships between a grown adult and children can actually BE consensual, so I will trust my readers know what I mean here), involved kids covering up their adult 'friend's' secrets, etc. etc. etc. - in other words, things that could be seen, by victim blamers, as 'bad judgement'. Yet, those victims, and rightfully so, continue to have public support and be seen as courageous for coming forward.

So what is so different about Amanda Todd? She was roughly in the same age range as Sandusky's victims, and had just as much agency (or lack thereof), in these kinds of dealings. And while they are held up as courageous and heroic young men for shining light on the sick culture of Jerry Sandusky and his defenders, this young woman is blamed for her own torture and demise.

There are so many 'issues' at play in this story ... teen suicide and depression ... bullying ... technology in bullying ... the role of adults in protecting children from these situations ... but I want to add another: feminism. And having been a victim of bullying that in many ways came almost directly from my gender (my weight, how I dressed, lewd comments that would never have been directed at boys), and having seen through this and so many other issues (abortion and contraception issues, rape denial, etc.) over the last few years that while we women have come so far in the past years and decades, the fight is far from over and the peace far from secure ... I will no longer be shamed or cowed away from the fact that I am a feminist. I am not angry and raging, I am not anti-man, I enjoy girly things and can laugh even at inappropriate humour from time to time ... but I will no longer contribute by my silence to a culture that treats young women who were literally tormented to death - and beyond - like this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For my American Friends ...

Please note that the REAL Mitt Romney did not defeat Barack Obama at last week's debate. He simply presented a kinder, gentler, but complete disingenuous face to the American people. This is what Obama needed to highlight and point out throughout last week's debate. Hopefully he won't be caught out napping again this week.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanks

It's Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and while my three space-sharers, aka my family, have spent a certain amount of the time ill, we have still managed to find the opportunity to enjoy each other and think of the things we're grateful for. It's late and I am insanely near to a Turkey Coma lol, so this might not be complete or eloquent, but I wanted to take the time to throw out a few things I'm thankful for.

  • First of all, God, without whom any of the rest wouldn't be possible.
  • My family; Ari and my boys who are the light of my life, my parents (all four of them) and in-laws who provide more support than anyone could ever imagine, my brother who is one of my favourite people on the planet and who makes me laugh like no one else, my grandmother who is one of the strongest people I know ... and a myriad of extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws who I am so blessed to know and love, even if it isn't always as often or for as much time as we'd all like.
  • My friends; those who are blessings, those who have been lessons, those who have been blessings, those who are no longer around, those who are around, and those who are to come. I have admired and learned so much from everyone who has touched my life, and especially in the last year or so I want to say I have seen some very dear friends learn, grow and find strength they didn't even know they have - I can only hope as I look around right now frustrated in some ways professionally, missing my family and friends who are so far flung, that I can find some of that strength for myself. I have been surrounded by amazing people who I love dearly. Thank you for that.
  • I am thankful for the professional fulfillment I HAVE found, which can often be easy to overlook in the face of frustrations of trying to become a teacher in Ontario in 2012. I am the children's minister in an amazing Christian community, working with a tremendous team of coworkers, volunteers, families and children that I can't imagine leaving at this time; I have had the opportunity to teach such an interesting assortment of students in online high school courses, and I have had the chance to supply teach in a variety of schools for a variety of teachers. It is a rich experience which is never monotonous or boring, and that's pretty special.
  • I am thankful for the things we so often take for granted - living in Canada, in democratic conditions, under my own roof, with food on my table and a car in my driveway. We worry about money like anyone these days ... but really, in this regard, we are so lucky, and it is truly all relative.
  • Awesome babysitters ... good books ... fall leaves ... entertaining TV and movies ... family vacations ... nice wine ... fun conversation ... CBC Radio ... gossip magazines ... more serious magazines ... blogs that I sometimes frustrate myself trying to keep up with, but would never stop writing ... for all of these things, I am truly thankful.
Blessings on all of you this Holiday Weekend, and for taking the time to read - THANKS!(giving).

Monday, October 1, 2012

I finished ROAD TO PERDITION, by Max Allan Collins, this week. I thought I had added it to my reading list this new time around, but apparently not. So I replaced "The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth" by Alison Weir with it - because chiefly there is no such book! lol ... There are a couple of books by that title, neither by Alison Weir; I might find which one I was thinking of and re-add it later, but for now, this was an easy approach.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris 
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire

12. Road to Perdition - Max Allan Collins
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


Not a hard read by any stretch as this is a graphic novel, but a good one semi-based on what Collins refers to as 'true enough' events. Good illustrations and a compelling story of this loving dad who is adored in return by his son, yet has a truly heinous career. I enjoyed the read although I will admit it's not my typical fair, and as such would encourage people to take a chance on it as it's not just your one-note gangland fair. That said, I also see, though I enjoyed it, how it might not be to others' tastes. "For those who like this sort of thing, it's just the sort of thing they'd like." But if you like buddy movies, mob stories, father-son stories, revenge tales, on-the-road travails ... you'll find something to enjoy here.

What an amazing weekend!

So it's been far longer than I intended since I posted - however last week was a busy one getting ready for an even bigger whirlwind of a weekend. On Friday, I surprised my brother by heading overnight to Toronto with my parents to celebrate his 25th birthday (as well as his having signed up with World Pipe & Drum Champions Field Marshall Montgomery - a TRES big deal in the p&d world he inhabits). A great time was had by all on my side of the family ...

Before rushing back to Ottawa to celebrate my mother in law's 60th with the other side of the fam. Also a really fun time at the Metcalfe Fall Fair, and out to dinner at Flying Piggy's afterward. Followed quickly by church the next day and needless to say it has been a very, very breathless week making sure all of the above came off without a hitch. But it did, it was a fabulous time, and now I'm back to the land of the living - both teaching and studying in online courses, getting ready for Thanksgiving weekend at church (and with my folks) next week, and hey - day to day life with two wee ones (one of whom is now not-so-happily nursing his two year molars, the other of whom seems to be fighting off a cold he won't acknowledge having).

But would I trade a minute? Naaaah! :) Welcome to my life.

And once more - thanks to everyone who makes that life special, many of whom I got to spend this weekend with, and particularly a happy, happy birthday to the best brother, and the best MIL, a girl could ever ask for. May the year(s!) ahead be nothing but rosy. XOXO

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spirit Matters

Check out this video introducing my Christian home, Trinity United Church. It's every bit as amazing a community as this video implies. If you are in the Ottawa area, I invite you to join us Sunday mornings at 10am. There is something for everyone, and all are welcome.

"Come in, come in and sit down, for you are a part of the family!"

Spirit Matters - Trinity United Church from Trinity United Church on Vimeo.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More Reading List Progress

I just finished Gregory Maguire's "Wicked" today, about 6 weeks after having seen the musical. FULL DISCLOSURE: I began this one several months ago, put it down for awhile and came back to finish it while away on vacation/the week or two I've been back. My review is at the bottom.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris 
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


Definitely a different take on The Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, the daughter of an overzealous preacher and his flighty wife, who ends up going away to school where she is responsible for the care of her disabled sister Nessarose, and begins a strange friendship with the beautiful and popular Glinda. Perhaps not so wicked, Elphaba's main crime here seems to be advocating for the rights of Animals (note the capitalization - picture thinking, talking, intelligent beings like the Cowardly Lion), whose rights are being restricted by the despotic Wizard of Oz, killed accidentally by an innocent girl from Kansas who happened to get caught in the crossfire between Elphaba and the Wizard's grudge.

Much darker than the musical version, with (spoiler alert) a less-neatly-wrapped-up ending, it's nonetheless an interesting take that leaves everyone just that touch less innocent, that smidge less sympathetic. This is, largely, about decent people trying to survive in an oppressive system, and the choices they make. From that perspective - and keeping in mind the tale we're all familiar with - it's a very creative and thought-provoking exercise that I enjoyed reading very much despite having gotten sidetracked.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

We picked this book up when we visited the World Trade Centre memorial last week, and it is Little Tyke's new favourite. You should check this out if you have a few minutes, it's lovely, a happy memory, and a way of introducing the WTC to youngsters in a happy and gentle manner.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wildwood Days

So we're back from our wonderful trip to Wildwood New Jersey and life slows down for no one. From our drive down to Philadelphia and getting to spend a morning exploring that city, to enjoying the Jersey Shore for 5 days and all that entailed - the beach, the rides (new rides for both boys as they grew this year - Little Tyke went on his first roller coaster even!), the hotel pool, the deliciously crappy food (ask LT what kind of pizza we ate - Mack's!). A visit to New York - both relatives on the upper west side and the sights of south side, as we explored the 9/11 memorial, Staten Island Ferry and Battery Park - was fabulous, and even though it resulted in a long through-the-night drive home, none of us would trade anything.


And now we're back and life slows for no (wo)man, as Little J gradutes to a toddler bed ...


Amd Little Tyke begins Junior Kindergarten!


Today we went to meet his teacher for a half hour one on one interview; on Friday, he has a 'gradual entry day' where he attends school with half of his class. Tuesday will be his first 'full' day of school with all classmates etc. He is so excited and ready to go - he loves Mrs. R., his new teacher, and I think we're looking ahead to a great year.

Now, to get me back into routine ... with supply teaching, my children's ministry, and just generally life as a mom, wife, grownup ... I think I'm having more 'back to reality' pains than the kiddos!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two more days!

So after our vacation last year was so rudely interrupted by a hussy hurricane named Irene, we're heading back down to the Jersey Shore to have a ball once more and enjoy those wild, wild Wildwood days. As of Saturday we're on our way. I will still blog from down there maybe share a pic or two ... but after a really busy August (couldn't you tell?) and of course we then had to get hopelessly ill this past week, I can honestly pat ourselves on the back and say this vacation is well deserved.

All systems go ...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two more ... Harry Potter Series done!

Over my last 10-day absence I also managed to finish the last two Harry Potter books - "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris 
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


The ending of this series is quite bittersweet as it was really appropriate and satisfying, but man do I want more! :) By now, the Harry Potter books are decidedly young adult/adult fare as opposed to out-and-out children's fare - indeed, these last two books could frighten and disturb your seven- and eight-year-old crowd as much as entertain them, and the characters even indulge in a bit of ... ahem ... cursing (linguistically, not magically) as they get older (which is only realistic). But that's the beauty of this series ... to the extent a book about a wizarding school can be called 'realistic', at its core this is a coming of age story about a young boy (man) and his friends, love interests, etc. 

The ultimate climax of this series is of course the inevitable war between evil Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and the resistance, including Hogwarts teachers and students, the Order of the Phoenix, and of course, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger themselves. These books will not leave a dry eye as beloved and long-standing characters meet their end, friendships are tested, and yes - spoiler alert - good ultimately triumphs (albeit not without pain). This series has been a fun read, difficult to put down, even for a 30-year-old woman (not exactly its target audience), and I would highly recommend it to the few of us living under rocks who have yet to read it. :) Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Little J

So only a month or two after promising to blog more regularly, sure enough I go ten days without doing so ... my apologies. It has been a busy couple of weeks as we went back to our hometown, then a weekend away thanks to my mom watching the boys, and then this past weekend ... well ...

Yes. You see the title. Our youngest baby turned 2 yesterday. It was a great celebration with my parents (all four of them), my in-laws, and my grandmother, lots of fun gifts, food, drink, gifts ... and lots of fun. :) I wish my not-so-little boy a great year ahead, and can't wait to see the growing and adventures he finds himself getting into.

Mommy loves you, Little J, very, very much.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Amazing video of her Majesty the Queen ...

This year marks Elizabeth II's 60th year on the British (and Canadian) throne. This video beautifully captures her growing up from the cute-as-a-button daughter of a Duke and Duchess who were never meant to become monarchs, to the present day as she celebrates her own Diamond Jubilee. Amazing - with thanks to my stepmother Monique for sharing.


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Order off the Phoenix - Cross it off the list.

Another week, another Harry Potter book off my list - this time #5, the Order of the Phoenix.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


This book continues the more grown-up, serious tone set up by "Goblet of Fire". The longest of the Potter series, this book sees the death of Harry's Godfather Sirius Black, introduces the amazingly love-to-hate-her character of Dolores Umbridge (Undersecretary for the Minister of Magic and eventually High Inquisitor for Hogwarts). It introduces us to the Ministry of Magic building and allows for some major character development, particularly for Harry himself, and Severus Snape - or at least more insight into Snape's character! A strong read that continue's the series' march from children's literature to solidly young adult fare.

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Quoting Jon Bon Jovi ...


I was pretty ill this past week, only getting healthy in time to head back to Kitchener Waterloo (where Ari and I grew up) for the long weekend here in Ontario. It was lovely spending Saturday with Ari's parents, and seeing a couple of really good friends (hi Liz and Shari!) Saturday night ... it was tremendous seeing so many good friends and their growing children and families (ranging from 8 years old on down to 6 weeks old and even, 'a few days away from being born' on Sunday afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese in nearby Cambridge. We had originally been planning to meet said friends out at a splash pad, but weather made this not so possible.

Last night was awesome as my dad and step-mom babysat the boys and gave us a night out ... a FULL night out as they provided money for dinner, and a hotel room, etc. - the whole nine. It was a phenomenal experience to visit with them before and after that evening, and to have a date night (we've been spoiled in that regard of late though, off to see Wicked last weekend, despite being ill, and my mom will be watching the boys overnight NEXT weekend - getting our energy back for the Jersey Shore in 3 weeks lol).

Definitely nice being 'home' ... we miss everyone back there and were so glad to have an  extended weekend to make up for a really lousy trip (in terms of being able to see everyone and give them our full time and attention) this past Christmas. Hope to do it again soon, all, and thanks everyone for making it an amazing time.

It's all right, it's all right ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Laugh of the Day

My brother and his pipe band friends ... so cute. For those who don't know Kyle, he's the dude who videobombs his buddy at about 1 minute 30 seconds into the video, and then lipsyncs in the beer tent around 2 minutes 40 or so in. :)

Enjoy. XO

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And #5

I am like, chain-reading these things. :) J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter #4, THE GOBLET OF FIRE, is now off my reading list.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


If you read Wikipedia, every Harry Potter book's entry from this one on claims the status of 'this is where Harry Potter takes a darker, more grownup turn'. Which tells me, really it's this one. The signs are all there - Harry turns 14, high school age instead of elementary school. The book is at least twice as long as its predecessors, and it really brings a lot of the previous books' floating pieces together, as Lord Voldemort ultimately resumes his physical being, as we see the first signs of ... shall we say ... attraction, between Harry's best friends Ron and Hermione (albeit well-hidden amidst a great deal of sniping) ... honestly, the first sense of any romance at all as Harry too has a crush on Cho, a girl from Ravenclaw house who happens to be dating Cedric Diggory, Harry's opponent for the trophy in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. We learn about Voldemort's followers, Deatheaters, and amidst his friendly competition and cooperation with Harry, ultimately the aforementioned Diggory dies, the first victim we actually see of the AVADA KEDAVRA curse at Voldemort's hand - heck, in that sense, this is the book where we learn of Avada Kedavra, the killing curse, as well as the other two Forbidden Curses, the Cruciatus curse (torture), and the Imperio curse (mind control).

All of the Harry Potter books are good, but this is the real deliniation, in my opinion, from children's lit to young adult lit ... which works, as Potter readers grow up right alongside their favourite child wizard. Over a thousand pages later and nowhere near bored ... this must be a good sign! More than halfway through (in terms of number of books, perhaps not of pages read lol, as I'm about to undertake the longest one of the series, the Order of the Phoenix), and I still highly recommend this series for readers old, young, and young at heart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book #4

Another one off the list as I completed JK Rowling's 3rd Harry Potter book, the Prisoner of Azkaban.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


This is the book in the series where we meet Harry's Godfather Sirius Black, learn about the Expecto Patronum spell, and meet the Dementors, guards of Azkaban. A very important book in the series indeed - although, indeed they all are, and none stand alone. All are intrinsic to the overall legend woven in this seven-part saga. As such, it's rough to say one good is better or more important than the next, as they all work together. I will say as I've started now on 'The Goblet of Fire', that Azkaban is the last of the really identifiably 'children's' books in the series; with a doubling in length for 'Goblet', and a noticeably more grownup tone, the rest of the series falls more solidly into 'young adult' literature, and where you start to realize that this series' original target audience truly does 'grow up' alongside Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione. Three books down and still solidly enjoying the series. :) Excellent stuff.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Books 2 & 3

Two more down! Just today, I completed both "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by JK Rowling and "Speaking Christian" by Marcus Borg. DISCLOSURE: as per the first Harry Potter book, I had read most of "Chamber" already; all but the last chapter. Going forward in the Potter series, all books will be new to me (albeit I have seen all the films but the two Deathly Hallows movies). A list to remind you of the books I've selected to read and to show my progress, as well as my reviews, follow.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


My review of the first Harry Potter book goes for the second - a little bit older, wiser and braver, the Hogwarts gang is back for another year of adventures and magic. A great series that JK Rowling obviously takes the time to tie together beautifully. Book 2 is an extension of Book 1, and the fact that I put one down to immediately pick up the next tells you how seamless it is.

Meanwhile, "Speaking Christian" is one of the most important books I have read in a long time and I think it is important for all Christians, and any non-Christian who thinks we're just a bunch of loons who are waiting for an executed political prisoner to come back and take us back to his cloud castle while damning all non-believers, read this book. Borg's ultimate point is that both progressive and more 'fundamentalist' Christians use the same book, language, cast of characters, and concept to express two radically different ideas - so different as to almost be different religious. Those alarm-bell words ... "salvation", "redeemer", "sin", and difficult concepts like "Trinity" and "Easter" and "rapture" ... are explained in such a way that even non-believers can ... maybe not agree with, but at least understand in a more positive, 'yes, and ...' kind of light. Borg can be a bit academic at times - he is a professor of religious studies after all - but he works hard, and in the main succeeds, at making big concept progressive Christian theology accessible to all (OK ... most). I very much enjoy his work, and this book in particular, as a progressive Christian.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Canada Day/Independence Day


Sunday was Canada Day here in the True North Strong and Free - the birthday of our country's confederation. Tomorrow is Independence Day in the US to the south. Given our Canadian family, and my husband's dual citizenship - and by extension, our American relatives - we want to wish both Canada, and our neighbours to the south, a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :) And God bless us all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Summer Vacation!

So ... it's been a few days since I've checked in ... I've actually ended up subbing the last week or so of school for the most part! Tomorrow, I believe, is the last day of school in Ontario. And on that score, I want to take this time to wish my student and teacher friends a very, very happy Summer break. I hope it's as relaxing or exciting, chill or adventuresome, as you could hope for. Lots coming down the pike for the fall and I can't wait to get back into the game ... but I'm also looking forward o the fun and joy the summer brings. Hope it is blessed and blessing for everyone.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

BOOK ONE DOWN

I've knocked my first book off this list, yay! :) It was HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, by J.K. Rowling. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have already read this book, but re-read it as it has been a long while, and the rest of the series was on my list. This is also true of the next book in the series, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, but I will remind once I add that to my list of completed books. Please see below for a review.

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


What can I say - the Potter series is a classic and I've enjoyed the first installment featuring the gang of Hogwarts. This is the series that made reading cool again, and with the wave since then of tween and teen fantasy series' - Twilight, the Hunger Games, etc. - it obviously has made its mark on the Young Adult genre. You have to read it to believe it, a description or words won't do it justice.

Happy Father's Day ...

To my dad, my step-dad, and my father-in-law: all three of these men are so different in so many ways, yet all are strong men of character who work hard, love much, and who I know I can count on at any time. You three have brought so much to my life, and to the lives of my kids, I can't even begin to say 'thank you'. Many people are lucky to have one good father figure in their lives. I'm so blessed that I have three.

To Ari: I couldn't have picked a better father for my kids ... you are attentive, loving, and patient with them in ways I wish I could match sometimes. :) It is great to know, in a world where so often so much falls on moms, that I have a true partner who pulls his weight - and sometimes then some! - in parenting.

And lastly, to my grandpa: I have always called him on Father's Day, and this will be my first year I can't. But I hope he knows I loved him as much as any man on this list, and he has as much to do with the woman I am today as anyone. I still love and miss him every day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Neil Patrick Harris Tells it Like it Is ...

In this amazing opening number for last night's Tony awards ceremony. A must-see for all Broadway lovers. Life WOULD be better if it were more like theatre.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

101 Books in 1001 Days, Round 2

So for those who didn't notice, June 5 2012 was my deadline to complete reading 101 books. I didn't succeed, although it did motivate me to read more than I have in awhile, at 29 books over roughly 3 years. With two kids, work etc. - you guys have seen how that's impacted my blogging - I'd say that's a pretty good rate. And to keep myself motivated to read consistently, I want to do it again. Please note the next 3-years-or-so's list might be a bit 'cheaty' as I'm going to keep any book I didn't complete as a goal, but I've started several of them. But hey, it's my own challenge to myself, the goal is more to keep reading than to hit some magic number, so it's all good. :)

My new book list, to be completed by March 7, 2015, is ...

1. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris
2. The Last Week - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian - Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning - Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase - Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong

6. jPod - Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt

9. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir

14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker

24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian

27. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood

30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England - W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

36. The Holy Bible - Various
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

43. The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

47. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

55. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

56. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

58. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
59. The Trial - Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser

61. The Man Who Made Us - Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin

65. Nation Maker - Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History - Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire

85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman

87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland

90. The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon

98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik

100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Big 3-0


So if you're wondering where I've been the past week-ish, here's your explanation. On top of the usual 'Life as a busy wife and working mother of two is hectic', I had weekend guests and a birthday party to plan for myself, as well as a gardening date with my mother (THANK YOU! the yard looks awesome). However one of my resolutions going forward at the ripe young age of 30 is it's about time I develop some 'lifehacking' skills, Ari calls them. I enjoy writing, love writing, miss it when I don't, appreciate it when I do, but life gets so far away from me sometimes that when I actually get a chance to sit down, a brainless book or a silly TV show seems a more realistic goal of how to spend my time lol.

However, among many resolutions for the coming decade (among them - keep a healthy working car for more than 2 years ... get a permanent, close-to-full-time job ... have one more child ... become a better housekeeper) is to keep up with my blogs. I see from my newsfeed people read me, and I want to make it a fun place for you guys to come. So please consider from here on out - especially through the summer months where I'm down to 1-2 jobs instead of 3, my efforts here redoubled, with thanks for your patience and in hopes I haven't lost too many of you to my lack of diligence during a scary ridiculous busy first half of 2012 (starting a year, any year, with a car accident and a month-long illness, at least you know it can't get worse, right? but busier it can get). If I HAVE lost you and you're just checking back in in hopes maybe my head has been removed from other less attractive body parts - it has. Stay tuned. For the best is yet to come.

Enjoying the view from Dirty Thirty. Love to all.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Camping Trip!

So we went camping last weekend - and I haven't had the time to write about it since, lol, that's the kind of week it's been! But it was fun. Roasting marshmallows, sleeping in tents, etc. OK so we could have done without the killer mosquito population, or Little J's decision that without a crib, he has no desire to sleep (in fact, even with a crib, he's had some issues in that regard at home this week lol). It was a challenge, and we both agree perhaps something to pursue again either just with Little Tyke, or when they're both a hair older. But we were so glad to do it - a good time was had by all, even if it was exhausting. ;)

We took a little break on the Sunday to come back to town for church and my new second cousin's Christening - it was a very fun, but busy, weekend ... which describes the remainder of this week frankly. Lots to do, very productive, but 99.9% enjoyable. :)

Hope everyone else has been doing well!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Warm Fuzzies ...

  • Belatedly to my 'moms' - Mom, step-mother Monique and Gramma, and mother-in-law Val - a Happy Mother's Day. It's been too busy a week to blog, but I DID call all the women I call 'mother' on Sunday. :) And Happy Mother's Day as well to all my mom friends, single dads who are both Mom and Dad, etc. out there.
  • Happy Anniversary today to my in-laws, who have been married 40 years. We'll catch up with you in about 33. :)
  • Congrats to our cousin Carly, who is graduating university. Such a great accomplishment.
  • My cousin Allison and her family - their new baby Christian is being baptized this weekend!
Going camping this weekend as well - so see you all on the flipside.

Be well XO.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Response to "HANDMAIDS NO MORE", in the United Church Observer this month

Please CLICK HERE first to read the article in question.

And my thoughts ...

So let me start by saying I have complete and total sympathy for Laurel Walton's experience. It sounds like she had an awful time, lacking in supports at a young and vulnerable age. While my kneejerk reaction is 'Under those circumstances, would have have WANTED to raise a child with so little backup?', I understand completely that she WANTED that support, and not finding it hurt - that there is a mourning process involved in any kind of loss like this - and that it never 110% goes away.

I also want to preface all of what I am about to say with the fact that my perspective is shaped from standing on the opposite side of the adoption divide. I am an adoptive mom (or - if I were to hold the same sensitivities as the writer, 'just a mom'). But I guess that's also one of my first criticisms aimed at this article - at no point does Walton acknowledge that her perspective is shaped by her own personal pain and agony, by her own experiences, in their time and place. So much of the anger this article brought up in me would have been allayed by a simple acknowledgement tha this was speaking both to and from her experience. My words both preceding and following this, I make no bones, come from my experience. Two individual adoptions, involving one couple and one natural mother/birth mother/term of your choice, in Ontario, in 2008-2010. I make no claims to speak for any kind of collective, any kind of 'us' or 'our'. While that kind of language might seep in here in a personal, unedited, unfiltered blog, I'm stating upfront that is not my intent.

So I guess ... all that said ... the first obvious issue I take is taking obviously judgemental, guilt-inducing behaviours from the 1970s and applying them to today. Yours is a story from 40 years ago ... a time I have no doubt when being a single mom - much less one in her teens - was a hammer many were beaten about the head with. Your suggestion of your sexuality and fertility being used by others to determine your future and that of your baby ... well, if I were a more judgemental person myself I could throw all kinds of things out there like 'But you made an adult decision that led to having to make more difficult decisions', 'You gave them something to use' ... but the fact is teenagers have sex and teenagers get pregnant - some might even, with help and support, make for awesome parents - and I won't judge that. And they are entitled to treatment with dignity and sympathy in tough times - which obviously you did not receive. And I am more than ready to acknowledge that today, there are many who feel the same, and experience the same judgement, issues, etc. However, adoption records are more accessible now, and some levels of openness in adoption (from letters to visits and anything in between) are not only allowed but encouraged. When we began our adoption journey, we happened to be open to and agree with that reality, but had we not, I can honestly say I think saying so would have been a setback to the process. It is almost an expectation that adoptive parents be open to openness, even if the 'birth family' isn't. It is a different time and it is far from perfect - but that is based more on individual circumstances than 'the system'.

The idea that adoptive parents are some kind of privileged elite who prey upon poor, vulnerable women, who could be awesome moms if just given the time, support and resources. Again, I can only speak to my situation - and in the vaguest of terms out of respect for my sons' first mother, as I will not ever take it upon myself to share her story - but in terms of Ari and I as some kind of 'elite', at the time of our adoption he'd been working in a call centre for about 6 months, and I was working very ad hoc as a substitute teacher. We drove a four year old used car and lived in a modest three bedroom townhouse. We were not broke by any means ... but neither were we some kind of ruling class. And as to the boys' mother ... please trust me that she would not have, and most likely never will be, capable of parenting. While she was/is young and poor, and I have no doubt taken advantage of by many, at no point was she taken advantage of by the system or us. It is in fact because of Children's Aid that she was able to get prenatal care, she was given opportunities to take the steps necessary to parent, she was given chances to visit and be in touch ... right or wrong, the choices she made were hers. We did not go to a foreign country and prey upon misogenistic laws, poverty, etc. or hire someone as a surrogate - we went through the public system to help a child in need, and to begin the family we wanted. It was a win-win for all concerned. Did the boys' birth mother struggle with her decision? I would imagine so. I know so. But I also know the right decision was made by the simple facts of the situation; from the day we learned he'd been born, we were in the hospital all day, every day alongside him. She, despite strong encouragement from all concerned (and the utmost clarity that she would take priority), never came back to visit upon discharge.

That story is why I am so far against the strength of the law changes suggested in this article as well ... 90 days before any adoption plan is put in place? No connection until well past the birth between birth and adoptive parents? This is only going to succeed in sowing seeds of unfamiliarity, which in turn breeds distrust, between people who ultimately are working together to ensure the child's best interests - a parenting team if you will. That connection, those shared experiences, those discussions, are best to have cleared up before a child is three months old and - yes - has already bonded with birth mother and vice versa, and while adoption may remain the right decision at that point, is all of a sudden a hundred times harder.

And what about Laurel Walton's son himself? Despite her trauma, she describes him, upon their reunion, as a man she was proud of, who'd grown up well, etc. And who was responsible for that? Oh right, people of privilege who oppressed and demeaned her. Perhaps, rather than this evisceration, she owes her son's adoptive parents (his parents) a thank you. Meanwhile, she is married with children she had the privilege to raise herself. While obviously it was a long, painful road for her - and again, I sympathize - maybe this situation didn't turn out so badly for all concerned. And perhaps the 'me me me' pity party could be tempered by a counting of blessings ... and a realization that her story is HER story ... not necessarily ours, anymore than our (admittedly ridiculously blessed and lucky) adoption story is anyone else's.

And all of this 'adoption is so rough, unfair, hurtful, etc.' could potentially damage a system that, while it does hurt some, has SAVED countless families and children - birth families, adoptive families and children alike. In situations where adoption would be the right choice, a purely negative story like this will only serve to discourage adoptive parents - "Oh my God, do ALL birth parents think like this? Do they all have regrets? Are they all going to want to change their minds and carry this around in their lives, and mine, and eventually OUR children's, forever?" - and, more importantly, birth parents who could very well, like Juno, know the right path to take but feel forced to face a baby they know they're going to give up, to strangers they're not allowed to meet, etc. etc. etc. ... this process becoming more difficult could lead to either more abortions on one hand (a valid choice, but if the idea of adoption is to give potential children and parents a future, I'm working on that premise), or more parents who - I'm sorry, in some cases, it does happen - who can't raise their children, attempting to, against others' and perhaps their own better judgement.

In short, this article was not only insulting - both to well-intentioned adoptive parents (you know - most of us) - but to the whole process itself, and the changes made to said process over decades. If you want to attack privileged elites making irresponsible decisions on how to become parents, perhaps we can talk tens and hundreds of thousands being spent on fertility processes ... surrogacy arrangements because biology is more important than taking care of children who NEED it ... etc. There are boogeymen out there - some certainly in the adoption arena - but adoption has also been a blessing for many parents - both biological and adoptive - and children ... and to ignore that entirely is doing a disservice to families created in this special way ... many of which, these days, in Ontario, involve continued bio-ties.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Another Book Off the List

I just finished reading Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" this week ...

1. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt 

9. Black Berry, Sweet Juice: Black and White in Canada - Lawrence Hill
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker
24. Last Night at the Chateau Marmont - Laura Weisberger
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks - Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours - Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
36. The First Christmas - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
47. Under the Dome - Stephen King
48. 11/22/63 - Stephen King
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours - Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
59. Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister - Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes - Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians - Will Ferguson
67. Planet Simpson - Chris Turner
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
85. The Emerging Christian Way - Marcus Borg et al
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K - Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon
98. Good Book - David Plotz
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Undisputed - Chris Jericho
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong


It was quite something, I have to say! A very weird book, but a clear view at the strange lovechild that would be created if right wing religious fundamentalism ever married radical feminism. It's written from the perspective of a 'Handmaid' - a class of women deemed fertile, who ultimately act as surrogate mothers to husbands and Wives - a 'superior' class of women. However, it's not surrogacy in terms of anything done in a lab. They are, let's say, a surrogate for EVERYTHING. And the odd family dynamics that ensue. A politically and religiously oppressive regime in the former United States - now known as Gilead - ensues. Scary? Yes. Entirely far fetched? Not as much as we'd probably like to think. A good read from Atwood? Yes, if you have a taste for the weird.