Monday, January 18, 2016
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Sunday, January 10, 2016
I started January off by reading Grace Lin's Where The Mountain Meets The Moon. Because Mark was off work for 10 days over Christmas, I found the time to sit, and cuddled for hours in my reading chair with this book. It was a delightful couple days of recharging for the start of a new year.
By Grace Lin
Minli loves her life, but she can sense her mother's dissatisfaction with the poverty they live in. In an effort to change their fortunes, she sets off on an adventure to find the Old Man on the Moon, a character who features prominently in the fairy tales her father tells her. The story jumps from Minli as she travels from her village to where the mountain meets the moon, to her parents as they struggle with the reality of their daughter's disappearance, and to the world of fairy tales as Lin weaves the story of the Old Man on the Moon into Minli's adventure.
As fairy tales generally are, this book was filled with strong moral lessons, lessons about gratitude, kindness, hospitality, adventure, and self-sacrifice. These lessons were incorporated beautifully, naturally, without being over-bearing. In all, it was the kind of story I can envision sharing with Isabel one day, when she has the attention span to sit still for a chapter or two.
This book is made all the more beautiful by the drawings that accompany the story. Lin created beautiful artwork to depict key scenes in the book. It was the first time I was pleased that I chose to read this through the convenience of my iPad, rather than uploading it to my Kobo. The images would have probably had an even higher impact with a proper paper copy, but I would have barely noticed them, and certainly not appreciated them on the black and white screen of my ereader.
I gave this book a full five out of five stars. I really have nothing bad to say about it, nothing critical at all! I definitely plan to add more of Lin's work to my reading repertoire.
Next up? I'm halfway through my very first Tamora Pierce experience. She's a writer that so many hold dear from their tween and teen years, but I have never before read anything she's written, despite having loved fantasy as kid. So, I'm checking out what all the fuss about her is, and so far, so good.
What are reading these days? Do you have any reading goals for 2016?
Friday, January 8, 2016
At the beginning of school year back in September, I gave myself permission to read. On one hand, I was disappointed with the number of books I had read – a measly 6 at the end of the summer. I missed reading for pleasure so much. On the other hand, I’m in library school; while my heavy course load provides me with a myriad of excuses not to read, professionally, it’s a really really good idea for me to read and read consistently so I have a greater awareness of what’s out there and what people might like. However, keeping in mind that heavy course load, I narrowed my reading for the school year, focusing primarily on children’s and young adult novels. I need books that won’t require too much mental attention, while still being good. On top of that I want to make sure that, if I actually manage to find a job at the end of this semester, it won’t take me too long to figure out what’s good and wonderful in the world of kids and teens.
The books I did read this past year were pretty decent. I can’t decide on a favourite; there’s a tie between Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge and Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Both are fantasy: Cuckoo Song is contemporary, set in post-World War I Britain; The Queen of the Tearling is high fantasy – or possibly dystopian, depending on how you want to look at it - set in an incredible world that Johansen has poured a myriad of beautiful – and not so beautiful – details into.
On the bottom of my list of favourites sit two books that have so much undeserved hype surrounding them, so I’m sorry if you totally you disagree with my judgement. Paper Towns by John Green was good but it really wasn’t great. It was entertaining, but throughout, I felt like it took itself too seriously. I’ve heard that Green’s books are really formulaic, so I’m not sure I’ll trying another one. And then there was Divergent by Veronica Roth. Oh world. Why do you love this book so much? The world building is weak, so weak that I couldn’t appreciate the story itself. I know it’s supposed to be fantasy, but the idea that the world would decide that everyone should be sorted into categories based on their most dominant personality trait – of which only four exist – is beyond absurd, I just couldn’t. I will admit that it was an easy, light read, but it left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I won’t be reading any of its sequels, and I’ll make no effort to see the movie. There are better page-turners out there.
So, now on to 2016. Over this last semester of school I hope to continue reading as much as I can, but I’m already looking forward to the remaining 8 months of the year. Knowing that I’m soon done with course assignments, I’ve set myself a goal of 20 books for the year, fiercely hoping that I’ll be able to surpass it. I won’t limit myself to YA completely, but I do love books that are targeted to children and teenagers, and I look forward to reading more. But, more importantly, I hope to fill my reading with a greater diversity of voices. During the course of my last semester of school, I became acutely and painfully aware of the lack of diversity in all things books – publishing, writing, and yes, librarianship. I don’t know how to help fix it except by listening listening listening, so I will fill my head with the words of women and men from different backgrounds than myself, people with disabilities, the young and old from socioeconomic positions that I am unfamiliar with. Words are for more than just entertainment: I want to be mindful of that this year in a way I have never been before.
Friday, January 1, 2016
January to April was consumed with my second semester of library school. We took those months day by day, assignment by assignment, play date by play date, daycare drop off by daycare drop off, pumping session by pumping session. In comparison to my first semester, that term of classes had felt so much easier. I was gentler on myself, I think, recognizing that I wasn’t going to be the student I had once been, and forgiving myself for it. Isabel and I had figured out our normal and I finished that semester excited for 5 months of time with my daughter before school would start up again.
I hardly remember those five summer months anymore. I know we celebrated her birthday in there somewhere, and I spent time training for my first half marathon. I know we spent sunny days in the backyard and at the park. We had play dates and made good friends. We had a good summer – don’t get me wrong. I would like to say I cherished and savoured each day. Instead, I learned the hard way that staying at home full time is chalk full of its own challenges. Just as I figured them out, my 5 months of stay-at-home motherhood came to an end and I jumped headlong into the hardest semester so far. Four months distant from those summer days, I hardly remember them, but for the few times I pulled out my camera to snap pictures of my growing baby.
My second year of my Masters of Library Science began in September. It’s different this year. When I started the program, Isabel was 2 months old. She didn’t start to crawl until I was nearly finished my second semester. She was easy: plop her on a play mat surrounded by toys while researching for my assignments, nurse until she fell asleep while doing the readings for class, wrangle her into a carrier and bounce while writing an essay. These days, she’s far more active, and in September, at 15 months, she hadn’t even begun to learn how to play independently. I worked during nap time, but my saving grace was one day of daycare when I didn’t have class, a day to research, write, and edit. Regardless, the semester was hard, and I regularly found myself overwhelmingly disappointed, working away important weekends, missing Isabel, missing Mark, losing myself in the depths of those assignments.
But, the semester ended. As far as I know, I did just fine, though I won’t get my marks back for a few more days. One more semester ahead. I’m not looking forward to it, but it’s just four months. I can do this. Once I finish school, 2016 will bring with it its own challenges. Will I be able to find a job? How will growing our family fit into this? Will I have struggled through my masters for nothing? We’ll see.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
(A little while ago, an old friend of mine approached me to see if I wanted to try the mascara she sells – Younique 3D fibre lashes. I was hesitant, but she’s a friend, and I want to support her, so I said sure, I’d give it a go. And guys? It’s amazing. I love it. But it also got me thinking about make-up and beauty and consumerism and so then this post happened. Because I want to support my friend, and also because I love the product, this post contains affiliate links and I get a bit of a kick-back if you decide to purchase anything after you read it. But, this post is not going to try to sell you anything, I promise, so I hope you think it’s worth reading anyway.)
Make-up and I have a difficult history. I’ve never had much time for it. Even in my high school years, when all the other typical teenagers were playing around with eye shadow and mascara, I couldn’t see the point in spending hours in the bathroom, leaning in close to the mirror to smudge colour over my face. Even as I grew up and entered a world in which “looking put together” often involves make-up, I couldn’t bring myself to lose precious moments of sleep to fuss over my appearance. And money – make-up can be so expensive.
Appearances can be so expensive.
Because I never spent much time or money on it, I never became particularly adept with make-up. I figured out a simple routine early on that works, for the most part, for my face, and over the years, I’ve adjusted the products I use a bit here and there. I wear make-up almost every day now, and some days, depending on the company I keep, the things I read, the issues I think about, I wish I had spent more time in my younger years playing around and making mistakes with the powders, colours, and creams that are so often associated with beauty and femininity.
I believe I am beautiful without make-up. I believe my skin, even with blemishes, looks just fine, even when it’s uncovered by foundation and concealer. I believe my eyelashes are long enough, dark enough, enhance my eye colour enough. I believe my lips are fine. I believe my cheeks don’t need to pop with a contour of bronzer and blush. However, I also believe that make-up can be fun, that making myself look different – not better, different – with a flip of colour and a darkened eye can help me hit the reset button on a bad week, or adjust my view on the world just a touch in order to see something new around me.
I sometimes think about what I want to teach my daughter about make-up. What does she think when she sees me flick lengthening mascara onto my eyelashes? Does she think I’m trying to cover my true self when I brush bronzer over my cheeks? How can I teach her to love the skin she’s in, the face she has, in a world that so highly values a painted one? How do I share an enjoyment of make-up while also instilling a strong self-confidence in herself without it?
I’m not sure how to do it yet. Like so much of my experience with motherhood, we’re moving forward blindly, doing our best and hoping she hears the right things from me, the things she’ll need as she grows. In the end, this is all I can do, right?
(My make-up routine:
- BB cream
- Younique 3D fibre mascara
Feel free to shop my “party” by clicking the link above. And let me know what you think. About anything. Younique. Make-up in general. Raising little girls. Self esteem. Anything.)
Thursday, September 24, 2015
I have been back to classes for two weeks now. Two sessions of each class. Four days of daycare drop-off.
Four baby-free days.
This year feels different than last year. Last year, I was still so new to motherhood, so new to Isabel. She was a different baby, still unaware of the world around her. It was easy to pop her in the swing and lull her to sleep for 2 hours, or nurse while reading journal articles, or pop her down for tummy time while stitching word after word of an essay together. In comparison, it feels like I had endless amounts of time then.
Now, I have short windows of time when I can get any sort of work done. We’ve been working at it and have slowly built our way up to 2 hour nap times. We’ve been practicing independent play, in the hope that I’ll be able to snatch a little reading time while she’s distracted by other things. But, mostly, I take good advantage of Thursdays.
Oh, Thursdays. They are heavenly. On Thursday, I have no class, but we decided to send Isabel to daycare for the day anyway. Since I have two night classes, and therefore two less nights to work on assignments and readings, I knew that getting everything done with my now very active toddler would not be as easy as it was my first term, when I had the same arrangement. Thursdays are my rush-around-and-get-everything-done-that-I-possibly-can day.
It’s still early in the term, so at the moment, Thursdays are a day to catch up on life. I go for a run, maybe. I get dressed, properly. I go to campus. I work. I come home and clean or cook or both. I pick up Isabel and for at least one day of the week, I feel like our life is working.
Clothes on these days have taken on a whole new meaning for me. Suddenly, I have time to shower and dress properly, to blow-dry my hair and to put on real make-up if I want. I get to put on a real bra, a bra that doesn’t unclasp to allow for breastfeeding access. I can put on a dress that can’t be either pulled down or pulled up. I can wear earrings without fearing for my earlobes.
It’s freeing, this step back into my old clothes, my old self, if just for two days a week.