5-Day Artist Challenge Postponed Due to Hogwarts Sorting Incident

My dear dance friend Mary nominated me, well over a year ago, for the 5-Day Artist Challenge on Facebook, in which you post a photo or so every day for five days, along with some interesting information or anecdote, to share with others the role of art in your life.

I did not manage to do this at that time, despite my best intentions. I forget what silly thing sidetracked me.

Because really, what’s more important than art? Art is bread for the soul – EVERY kind of bread: the white, the brown, the seedy, the fluffy, the cheesy, the crusty, the glutinous AND the gluten-free. I profoundly believe that we all need art to live.

This post was supposed to be Day 1. But I just have to tell you something before I start. I’m reeling a little, for two reasons that have nothing to do with the title of this piece.

Firstly, my beloved MacBook just came back from the shop. It had a several-days-long medical episode in which it was only sometimes taking a charge, and then it stopped charging altogether (!!) and went deep into computer-sleep. And then the good lad at the repair shop (their designated “Mac guy”) made it work again.

Everything seems back to beautiful normal in laptop-land… except that at least two almost-finished blog post drafts are GONE. Including a lengthy comparison of Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake as weekend getaway options. Disappeared! Except for this one partial title: “5-” Which frankly I could have managed to remember anyway.

Skye: I swear that this is true.

So that’s a bit traumatic. But EVEN WORSE.

My second shock has to do with Harry Potter. As you know, I am a Level 5 Harry Potter Fan with a tendency to geek out on the subject, sometimes at the expense of a small child. I just finished reading the entire series to one-and-a-half of my children (i.e., my 7-year-old listened avidly to every word, and my almost-4-year-old was asleep for at least half of it). It took us many months, and although I know there are those who would judge me for reading all seven books to such young’uns (believe me, I did not take the exposure lightly – I did fret about certain themes, and very occasionally edited small things out), my kids were great about it. They loved it, and I loved it. (So much that I did voices – WITH accents.)

Such an amazing story. It just gets better with every reading. The kids were almost never scared, and E took everything in stride. When we finished the series, he immediately asked, “Can we start at the beginning and read it again?” And to be honest, it’s been handy being able to refer to HP when questions come up about difficult things (war, politics, love, death, bullying, etc.).

I also, of course, bought The Cursed Child and read it (to myself only) after we finished The Deathly Hallows. (I haven’t told E we own it, otherwise he’d insist on hearing it, and I just don’t fancy reading a play aloud to him.)

harry-potter-cursed-child

And I enjoyed it, especially the quirkiness of the new characters, although it felt very weird to read it as a play, and without Rowling’s unique voice. I’ll have to mull over and re-read to know how I really feel about it.

But anyway. Back to my trauma. My identity crisis.

I mentioned in my geek-out that I’d been sorted into Ravenclaw a couple of times, but that was years ago and I don’t even remember how. Then I became a member of the beta version of Pottermore, where they have an actual genuine virtual Sorting Hat, and I was sorted into Hufflepuff. When you become a Hufflepuff, you learn all the things that make Hufflepuff life so great, and I really did relate to it, and embraced the identity.

Then, just recently, after I started reading HP to the kids, I got curious to see if I’d changed over the years, and did another test on gotoquiz.com – the one with “all possible questions” – and it sorted me into… Gryffindor. That was a shock to me – not unwelcome, exactly, but startling to say the least. Was it possible that I’d gotten braver with age? But I said to myself, this is not Pottermore. The only way to know FOR SURE is to get re-sorted on Pottermore, because it’s the real deal.

I finally did that today, with my newly happy laptop, doing my best to consider each answer carefully and honestly. Because this is crucial. And what did I get?? Effing Slytherin. I still can’t believe it. Seriously, friends, is there ANYTHING dark about me?? Other than the fact that I do actually rather like snakes… What am I missing? Where did I take this turn?? (It’s probably The Cursed Child‘s fault, come to think of it. It’s trying to teach me a lesson.)

If you ever see me sacrificing my friendships for the sake of my ambition, just smack me, please.

Because this is an emergency, just to keep me from tossing and turning all night, I just did the “shockingly accurate” Buzzfeed quiz for hybrid houses. Good ol’ Buzzfeed. Now I can go to bed. Not sure I can ever go to Pottermore again, though.

huffleclaw hogwarts sorting test
Does this seem more Dilovelyish?

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Related Posts:

100 Happy Days – Day 38: Cozy

My Hubbibi has had his machine line at work shut down over Christmas – four weeks of shutdown, in fact.

This is financially tricky, of course, but there’s something awesome about being able to leave for work knowing your two-year-old is snuggling with her Daddy and a good book. (Going on a Bear Hunt.)

Wearing a Sheriff Woody poncho towel also increases coziness.
Wearing a Sheriff Woody poncho towel also increases coziness.

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Remembering What We’re Built To Do

sunshine through the trees
Image from http://www.ForestWander.com

When I was 18, a boy at Camp wrote a poem for me. Although I didn’t requite his crush, I still consider his poem one of the most romantic things I’ve ever received, because of its candour. The second line was “She’s just like sunshine through the trees,” and to this day I still feel kinda thrilled about that. Sunshine through the trees is one of my favourite things in the whole world.

A while back, I heard on CBC about a study showing that spending time in green space improves our mental health. Apparently, being in the presence of leafy trees actually makes us happier.

I think most of us can vouch for this. At the end of a long, white winter, I’m sure I am not alone in feeling an almost physical thirst for those luscious green leaves. It’s nice to get this confirmation: we are built to feel that way.

Family Camp at NeeKauNis last month was full of reminders of the things we are built to do and enjoy.

Here we are, in the age of modern medicine, where Westerners rarely worry about diseases that used to kill us in great numbers – smallpox and tuberculosis, for example – and we’ve handily encouraged a phalanx of new maladies all by ourselves.

We eat packaged food so far removed from its sources that we don’t even recognize the ingredients; then we wonder why we have troubles with our various organs and our energy levels.

We’ve surrounded ourselves with harmful chemicals in our food, clothes, grass, household products, and everything plastic; then we are devastated when opportunistic cancers have a field day.

We spend hours a day sitting, hunched over some screen or other, often sacrificing sleep for addictive overstimulation; then we realize – too late, sometimes – that our heart or lungs or joints or brains don’t work properly anymore.

We live in our container-homes, put in our earbuds so no live people can distract us, and avoid eye contact with the humans who serve us coffee or check out our groceries; then we shake our heads at the rise of prescription anti-depressant use.

I’m not speaking in self-righteousness. I do most of these things too. I’m not condemning modern medicine either, or technology in general. I really appreciate the benefits of ultra-portable computers, affordable antibiotics, high-speed transportation, laparoscopic surgery, and the wondrous capacity of the internet. I like Cheetos and Toaster Strudel, I watch TV on Netflix, I love Facebook, and as I’ve mentioned, I am very grateful for the existence of prescription anti-depressants.

But when I’m in a restaurant and see a family of four at the next table, not speaking, each absorbed in a separate hand-held device, my husband and I look at each other and quietly vow: That will never be us.

And at Family Camp, I remember that when those contemporary facets of life drop away for a few days, it does good to every layer of our selves.

It helps that there are children of all ages there. They’re all over the things that humans are meant to do. Just watching and listening to them is therapy.

built for 3

Children run and jump and climb and slide. They laugh their heads off, and cry hard when they need to. They sing and dance with joy. They build and knock down. They splash and spin. They scrunch their fingers and toes in the sand. They get dirty with real dirt. They want stories, hugs, their own little space, and their own accomplishments.

I want those things, too.

When I think about what really, actually makes me feel good, it’s mostly simple things. The things I’m built to do. The same things humans have been doing for centuries – or longer.

Dancing until I am out of breath.

Cooking for someone I love.

Making art.

Getting lost in a great book.

built for 2

Sitting in dappled shade. (Sunshine through the trees.)

Hugging.

Plunging into cool water on a hot day.

built for 4

Sipping a hot drink on a cold day.

Listening to music I love – or better yet, making some.

Hearing breezes, birds, crickets, rivers, waves.

Writing.

Looking closely at something beautiful.

built for 6

Reading to my kids.

Going to bed when I’m really tired.

built for 5

Walking in fresh air.

Laughing.

Eating something truly delicious.

built for 1

Sharing thoughts and feelings with a friend.

Doing a job well.

Having an adventure.

I know, they read like clichés, worthy of a curlicued garden tile. But there are reasons the inspirational-message market is so successful. Mostly, it’s because

1) It really IS good for us to dance as if nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening, etc., because we’re built to.

And

2) We busy humans are remarkably good at forgetting the value of those seemingly easy things.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the thousand little jobs you have to do on a daily basis. I could easily spend all of every day doing small, necessary, basically mindless tasks. Which is not satisfying at all.

For me, I know, I need to think of those good-for-my-soul things as medicine. Taking my medicine is my responsibility, something I must do for my health. And in order to take it, I have to notice it. I have to be truly mindful and present.

That way, any time I can grab a bit of dappled shade or kid snuggles or good conversation, they will heal what ails me.

What precious things are you built to do?

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A Story About Today

Okay. This story is not actually about today.

Last Friday, my mother-in-law – one of the most generous people I know – came to babysit, and got more than she bargained for. She came on the arranged day, even though she knew that Baby AB had woken up with a stomach bug of some kind and had already puked three times by the time I called her.

Poor E also had a cough that sounded like a beer bottle barking (that would make sense if you’d heard it, I swear), and I didn’t know how I was going to get him to school with a puking baby anyway… so he stayed home too.

I was stressed when I left for work, having spent most of the morning doing laundry and disinfecting various parts of the house that might have been touched by puke.

When I came home, I was relieved to find that AB had napped, woken up happy, and then eaten a snack and kept it down! (Stomach bugs give me total anxiety, no matter who has them.)

Also, during said nap, E and Grandma J had made a book together, entitled “Today.” The original is about 4 x 5 cm, written by Grandma J and illustrated by E. It goes like this:

photo 1
Today A(****) got sick. She started throwing up.
photo 2
Today I’m going to blow bubbles
IMG_5324
and have a bike ride.
IMG_5325
I stayed home from school today.
IMG_5326
We might decorate our Christmas tree today.
IMG_5327
Grandma and I had fun!

The end.

It’s so sweet and sad that he thought he might bike ride and blow bubbles – total summer activities. The picture of Baby AB throwing up made me laugh the hardest, though – especially because I fretted about it so much while it was happening.

Since the book was produced, we had a relatively un-sick weekend – and then E and Daddy have both had some stomach troubles since then. Go figure. I hope I’m not next (GO teacher immunity GO!!).

And that about sums it up.

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BANG Book Review: 9-Volume Bookstravaganza!

{Tra la, this post was supposed to be finished and posted OVER A WEEK AGO. Ridonculous. Had several rough nights with congested baby, also working on E methodically testing every boundary he can think of, especially the one where he tries to get us to do his bidding by being a whine-meister. Boo, excuses.}

Sooo… You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t posted any GGG book club reviews for a while. I got behind by a few, and then they just piled right up. You know, like books.

Ergo, I’m going to catch myself up, shorterness style: Four Bullets Only Per Book. !!! ONLY.

1. One Day, by David Nicholls.

One-Day-David-Nicholls

  • A love story in which we follow the relationship of our protagonists for one day per year (St. Swithin’s Day) for twenty years. A neat idea, though it makes for a (deliberately) disjointed story.
  • Very readable, smart, interesting, but if you’re expecting a light, fun summer read, look elsewhere. This book has quite a bit of sad/depressing/frustrating stuff along with the romance.
  • It’s set in the U.K., written by an English author, and therefore contains cute words you don’t read in North American books. I enjoy them generally, but I noticed certain ones (such as as “raffish” and “larky”) came up too many times to remain charming.
  • One Day has the distinction of being the first book I ever read on my Kobo (e-reader). I loved its portability, but the editing was wonky: there were well over a dozen instances where the second letter was missing in words starting with F, so “flatly” became “fatly” and “frightened” became “fightened”, etc. At first it made me chuckle, and then I thought it was a weird joke I wasn’t getting, and then it made me unreasonably annoyed.

1.1 We watched the movie at our book club meeting, because obviously. (I get an extra set of bullets for that. Since it’s my blog and I say so.)

One-Day-one-day-movie-poster-Anne-Hathaway

  • I think I actually liked the movie better. *gasp.* The embodied characters were more endearing, probably because I liked the actors.
  • I finally saw the appeal of Jim Sturgess, who didn’t do anything for me in Across The Universe. Somehow, he was cuter and charminger in this – maybe I just don’t like him in Beatles-y hair.
  • Anne Hathaway was great, as usual, though her pronunciation (I think it’s supposed to be a Manchester accent) was unstable. AND, they actually made her look full-on frumpy in one scene. Impressive.
  • If I remember rightly, I got kinda choked up at the end. In a good way. (Whereas at the end of the book I was more like, “HUH???”)

2. Falling Backwards, by Jann Arden

jann arden falling backwards

  • Memoir of Jann Arden’s journey from (sorta) normal Canadian childhood to successful music career.
  • This lady is FUNNY. Also bizarre and disarmingly candid. I laughed out loud, many times.
  • She’s also a really good writer – very honest and unaffected, with occasional profound phrases that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
  • And she did some crazy stuff in her life. Alcoholic father, very troubled brother, and personal illnesses aside, she had adventures in fields and woods, rivers and high seas – and the urban jungle. Not exaggerating.

3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley.

sweetness at the bottom of the pie alan bradley

  • Eleven-year-old detective Flavia de Luce narrates a tale of murder-mystery-solving, and gets herself into some serious escapades.
  • This character drives the book. She’s mischievous and smart and sassy and a little vulnerable sometimes, and I relished her.
  • She makes you want to learn chemistry. (That’s where much of her Sherlock-ability lies.)
  • There are more books about her! Someday I’ll have time for those. (But don’t worry, unlike SOME books, this one has its own gratifying ending.)

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig

Pirsig zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

  • Classic (1974) philosophical novel about a guy who takes a motorcycle road trip with his son and some friends, and lets his deeper mind do most of the talking.
  • This book was ground-breaking, life-changing, when it came out. (As indicated above.) My own parents have referred to it in such terms.
  • For us, it was not as thrilling as we’d hoped. Many (though not all) of the ruminations on technology are obsolete, and some bits seem kinda naive. Most of the GGG found it dense slogging, to the point of groanishness. I found some parts quite interesting, but to be honest, I haven’t finished it. I do plan to… someday.
  • I now associate it with the horribly sweet neon-orange beverage I had to drink during the 3.5-hour glucose test I did while pregnant with Baby AB, because Zen and TAOMM was how I passed the wait.
  • One extra point! to state that later editions have a bonus ending section that is not part of the original! Yes, I’m saying that if you haven’t read this since the 70s… THERE IS MORE TO THE STORY. (See how it makes sense that I get an extra bullet? Boo-yah, loophole.)

5. The Colour of Tea, by Hannah Tunnicliffe

color of tea hannah tunnicliffe

  • Grace moves to China for her husband’s work and is left listless by news of her infertility. Eventually, she picks up her bootstraps (or whatever the phrase is) and starts a new life as a café owner.
  • The heroine irritated me for the first few chapters (even though I could hardly blame her for her torpor), but I ended up liking her a lot.
  • The descriptions of the city of Macau are vivid and interesting, but not as much as the mouthwatering descriptions of the café food, especially the macarons of different flavours. (NOT macaroons – these are more like gourmet meringue sandwich cookies, as pictured on the cover. Our host procured some for the book club meeting, because obviously we were dying to try some, but I missed it. 🙁 )
  • The synergistic ending was one I (and probably many others) saw coming from a mile away… but it was still satisfying.

6. The Knife Of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness

The_Knife_of_Never_Letting_Go_by_Patrick_Ness

  • In the land where there are no female humans – and the males can all hear each other’s thoughts – all the time – one young boy must escape. Things are not as they seem. Dun dun dunnnn.
  • Really interesting, thought-provoking concept. I think all of us enjoyed the way this alternate world was imagined, and were fairly carried away by the plot and flinty characters.
  • We were unanimously annoyed by the deliberate wrong spellings, though, since they only partially made sense. Maybe they appeal more to the (intended) YA audience.
  • Warning: it’s not over at the end! In fact, I was somewhat ticked off at the end. HUGE… BUILDUP… CRESCENDO… OMG CAN WE PLEASE JUST KNOW HOW IT ENDS?? And then it’s over, but nothing’s wrapped up because go read Book Two, people. Hmph.

7. White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

white teeth zadie smith

  • An unlikely bunch of people in London are connected, practically as family, by a strange history and even stranger present events (present being mostly the 70s in this case).
  • I was fully impressed by the confidence with which Zadie Smith, at age 25, wrote this debut novel. The writing is quirky and opinionated and speaks brashly about all kinds of topics where I’d be tiptoeing. Evidently the rest of the world was also impressed, because it became an immediate bestseller and won a bunch of awards.
  • Some in the group found it kinda hard to get into. I found it mostly interesting, full of characters that were engaging if not completely likeable, but it helps that I was reading it on a very lightweight device, as it was apparently a very large book. The absorption-to-weight ratio matters.
  • There was one part in particular about a young black girl going to great lengths to achieve straight, silky hair. It is now branded on my memory forever, because shortly after finishing the book, I watched the documentary “Good Hair” on Netflix. It’s true and it’s crazy, y’all.

8. The Story of Beautiful Girl, by Rachel Simon

the story of beautiful girl rachel simon

 

  • Where do a deaf black man and a woman with Down Syndrome find true love together? At the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded.
  • This is an amazing and lovely story, written sensitively and beautifully through the POVs of several different people. We were all moved by it.
  • The author’s note at the end was great, too. She wrote humbly about not wanting to appropriate voices that weren’t hers, but needing to write about this, and give these characters a more joyful story than the real ones on which it’s based.
  • This book, like The Help, makes you shudder. This kind of treatment of differently-abled people was only a few decades ago (or less? could still be happening?) in the United States (and probably here in Canada, too). How scarily, horribly recent. How outrageously shameful.

9. Something Fierce, by Carmen Aguirre

something-fierce carmen-aguirre

  • Memoir of a young adulthood spent as a (daughter of a) revolutionary in South America, particularly Pinochet’s Chile; winner of Canada Reads in 2012.
  • One of those books that makes your jaw drop. Seriously?? She did all that stuff? At WHAT age? How was she this brave??
  • It reminds you that concentration camps and everyday danger are not limited to the WWII Holocaust. As the author points out, we have a sheltered, relatively naive existence here in Canada.
  • Despite all this, the book is not as harrowing or depressing as you might imagine. It’s written with a dark humour and frankness, and the evolution of Aguirre’s 11-year-old self to her adult self, under crazy circumstances, is fascinating.

Alors, voilà!

There are (I think) three books missing from this list (namely Animal Vegetable Miracle, Quiet, and Gold), which I will be reviewing individually, because the five-bullet rule was just not going to work for me in those cases. Please stay tuned.

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Related Posts:

Eight Random Things with Dazzling Segues

Yep, it’s after ten on a Wednesday night and I’m gonna DAZZLE y’all. With some random things connected by pure awesomeness. After all, my claim of brilliant segues last time was… oh wait. They were fair-to-middling.

Anyway.

raspberries
This photo doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous black-purple of the ripe ones.

1. It’s black raspberry season. BEST THING EVER. As kids, we used to scale the cliffs near our house and slither right into the brambles to get these, and they were worth every scratch. Now I know about Marcy’s Berry Farm where you can get them without quite so much peril – but still lots of wholesome dopamine hits when you find fat, juicy berries in luscious clumps. There’s a black raspberry cobbler in the oven right now. Aw yeah.

2. Speaking of local stuff that’s in season, SWEET CORN! Okay, I guess there are two best things ever. Even my picky son was exclaiming about the deliciousness of the corn we munched on tonight.

3. Speaking of my quirky firstborn, I love him heaps and piles forever, but he’s a strange guy. As some of you know (or have witnessed), he has loved arms for a long while. Yes, the limbs, not the weapons. Especially mine. He likes to give lavish kisses to the inside of the slightly-bent elbow. Recently he has discovered he can cut out the middleman (or woman) and kiss his OWN arm. It’s kind of sweet that he expresses such affection toward himself, but the kissing gets on my nerves because it’s, like, really loud and smoochy and frequent. In the car, at the dinner table. In bed while he’s going to sleep. But what kind of mother would I be if I told him to cut out that self-kissing, it’s annoying? After all, I kiss my kids’ kissy cheeks every chance I get. What a terrible example I’m setting.

4. Speaking of self-love, I finally watched Dr. Brené Brown’s viral Ted Talk about her research on shame/vulnerability. Gah, she’s so amazing. (Plus I love to listen to her because she’s from Texas. She sounds like my family.) Now I can hardly wait to read her book, Daring Greatly.

5. Speaking of books on the must-read list, I also must read the new book Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, Ja.K.a. Rowling! What! So exciting!! I hope it’s not scary because then I would still have to read it but I would be scared. And I feel a little bad for Jo, because it was apparently very freeing for her to write under an unknown pseudonym for a while, but as Sean pointed out, she has all those billions of dollars to make her feel better. And as Jon Stewart would say, “Oh, billions of dollars. Is there any problem you can’t solve?”

6. Speaking of things I know of thanks to my internet connection, I will be unplugging as of this Friday, July 19th, through Saturday, July 27th, to attend Family Camp. Looking forward to seeing wonderful people, watching my kids play with lots of other kids, eating food cooked by someone else, splashing in Lake Huron, listening to breezes in birch leaves. I will not be blogging, nor attempting to blog, although I am going to try to have a few short-and-sweet posts ready for auto-publishing through the week, just for fun. (And I will not apologize if I happen to write some things that later become blog posts.)

7. Speaking of unplugging, I’ve been reading some cool blog posts about the subject of screen-free time for kids, and I’m mulling over the limits that need to be placed on screen time in our house. Not just for E, but for me too. I get irritated with myself always checking things. Blog post is brewing on this. (Irony is also brewing.)

6. Speaking of brewing, that rhymes with stewing, and it is hot as blazing chili out this week. Even my morning glories that seed themselves rampantly every summer are looking droopy. (I don’t water them. They’ll manage. Next thing you know there will probably be flooding. Oh, hello Climate Change, do they still think you’re a made-up fad? You go prove ’em wrong, slugger!)

7. Speaking of things sprouting and the heat being on, Queen Elizabeth and I are basically the same person, because here we are, both wondering Where’s that royal baby? Please arrive before I go offline! But then, I’m also practically Kate Middleton because I know about late babies. I know what it’s like to be so overdue that people give up and stop asking. So hang in there, Kate, your baby’s gonna be awesome.

8. Speaking of my undeniable resemblance to royalty, I had a brush with my own fame the other day. I was at the splash pad chatting with my blog-friend mama lola and some of her other friends – and one of them heard mention of the “teacher post” and was like, “You’re Dilovely! That post was awesome! It was everywhere!” You guys, it was SO. EXCITING. I’m sure it’s really bad form to talk about this to my actual readers on my actual blog, but whatever. I’m still all thrilled and blushing about it. (And joking, since I’m still pretty sure Kate is a little more famous than me.)

So… à bientôt, lovely Di-hards.

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Related Posts:

Glennon Melton, Vampire Weekend, Iron Man 3, and other news bites.

I had a grand plan to craft a beautiful essay, rife with linkativity, proving the essential similarity of these three items:

Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Carry On, Warrior,

carry on warrior glennon doyle melton
A great read.

Vampire Weekend’s new album “Modern Vampires of the City”,

modernvampires
A great listen.

And Iron Man 3.

Iron-Man-3-IMAX-Poster-570x844
A great flick.

You see, this one time, in high school, I got perfect on an essay. Yep. My English teacher could find nothing wrong with it. (I am STILL proud of this, eighteen years later.) But I’m actually a little rusty, believe it or not. My skills have gone soft from too many bullet points.

Lacking the essay chops, I was gonna say something short but insightful about the use of irony or alliteration or metaphor, and the role of artistry in our modern lives. Then I thought that might cause a few too many folks to go Uggghhhh Dilovely, you’re scraping bottom, and proceed over here to cry with laughter.

Instead, we’re going to try a News Bites formula. For fun, because what could be funner than news bites? They’re like Fritos, without the fat content.

 

Blogger’s Book Insanely Popular Even Before Being Read

Glennon Doyle Melton is the creator/author of Momastery.com, a personal blog that exploded into the online world in January 2012 and became a community for people who passionately agreed with Glennon’s messages, including but not limited to “Love wins,” “Life is brutiful,” and “We can do hard things.” (I have been reading Momastery since then, and although I don’t usually participate in the comments, I have read some, and I am always gratified by the respectful, loving, open approach of those who identify themselves as “Monkees”.) I bought Glennon’s book, Carry On, Warrior, for myself and my mom on Mother’s Day. It contains some of her most popular blog posts and lots of new essays, forming a quasi-life-story that’s fascinating. Frankly, I ate it up. Loved it. Didn’t want it to be over as soon as it was. It’s funny, heartbreaking, wise, and deep without being heavy. Makes you want to be a better person, whilst also making you feel better about the kind of person you already are. WORD.

 

Household Attacked by Vampires

“Modern Vampires of the City” is the third album of one of our household’s fave bands, Vampire Weekend. We are listening to it obsessively around here, ever since Sean got it for me for my birthday. It’s a departure from their Africanesque/world sound; at first listen, it seems a bit more mainstream. Most of the lyrics are not as overtly oddball as those of the first two albums. But now that it’s becoming ingrained in the fibre of our lives, I can assure you, it’s just as original as ever. Maybe even more so. Their sound is simple but not. The lyrics completely baffle me but I love them anyway. As with the last album, Contra, my favourite song changes every day. (Currently it’s “Everlasting Arms”, but “Diane Young” is best for dancing to and “Unbelievers” is best for singing along to and “Yeah Hey” is the catchiest.)

 

Tony Stark Rendered Speechless by Pepper Potts

Sean wisely had me watch Iron Man and Iron Man 2 before we went to see Iron Man 3. They are all pretty epic and exciting, filled with witty deadpan remarks (mostly delivered by Robert Downey Jr.) at times of great stress and suspense. All the movies were good – I enjoy the scientific conscience and moral questions, as well as the effects so cool that you’re more than happy to suspend your disbelief. I think I have a bit of a crush on Tony Stark’s talking computer, Jarvis. But really, it’s all about RDJ and how he manages to portray an egomaniacal jerk who is also a heroic person with a lot of love in his precarious heart. This movie had it all: some slapstick, some suspense, some acrobatic midair humanitarianism, some laugh-out-loud moments, a small but great part for Rebecca Hall (whom I love), an evil part for Guy Pearce (who doesn’t love a Guy Pearce villain?), Gwyneth Paltrow kicking ass, a spunky little fatherless kid… And, forget about Gandhi. THIS is Ben Kingsley’s best role ever. Plus, the ending was very satisfying. {N.B.: I think there were just four of us left in the theatre by the time the post-credits joke scene came up. All those early leavers missed out on a good chuckle.}

 

Vampire Baby is Also Child Prodigy

So, not long ago, Baby AB cut her first two top teeth, and both were second incisors. If you got a view of her upper gums, she looked like a vampire baby. (Too much Vampire Weekend, undoubtedly.) Now, tooth #5 is coming in between those two, so she’ll just look like she was in hockey fight instead. BUT! The important thing is, she is totally talking, at eight months of age. When she’s in the mood (which is all the time except when you’re taking a video or otherwise trying to show her off) she waves her arm and says “Hi!” And I’m virtually certain she knows I’m “Mama” and Daddy is “Dada”, based on the frequency of those syllables in relation to who’s holding her. So she’s pretty much got the language thing in the bag. Amazing, yes??

 

Four-Year-Old Boy Becomes Father

E’s big birthday present from us, upon turning four, was a baby doll, as he had expressed interest in having one, specifically one whose clothes he could change. The search for, and subsequent giving of, that baby is gonna be its own whole blog post, but for now let me say: Awwwww.

 

Whole Family Flies Through the Air

On Thursday, my dad’s whole side of the family shall converge upon New Mexico (near Albuquerque) for my cousin’s wedding! First plane trip for the kids! (Trying not to think about how stressful that might turn out to be. I’m sure it’ll be nothing but fun, right? Especially the layovers.) We actually have passports for all of us! (Baby passport = ridiculously cute.) CAN’T WAIT to see the clan!! Two more sleeps, you guys!!!

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BANG Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

I read a high-school copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in Monteverde, Costa Rica, at my host family’s house, during a teaching internship. I also read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and The Bluest Eye, but The Great Gatsby was the most incongruous story in a place where the houses are made directly out of the trees that were cut down to carve a little space out of the Cloud Forest.

You see, I’ve remembered embarrassingly little from the book, despite enjoying it – but I did remember the decadence. The impressions of glowing parties, visible for miles, full of sparkly people, under glamorous starry skies. (Glamour in the cloud forest comes in the form of quetzals and fireflies – but that’s another blog post or seven.)

I also remembered a tense, emotional scene in a hot hotel room. And I remember that Jay Gatsby is a mysterious man in love. That’s about it.

So really, when Skye and I went to see Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation, nothing about it was spoiled for me. From what I can tell via Wikipedia (since my memory does not serve), the film’s plot is very loyal to the book overall, and there’s tons of action in it that I did not see coming. Win!

 

the-great-gatsby-poster1

Bullet Time, in which I do not spoil anything, in case you too have forgotten the entire plot of the book or never read it in the first place:

  • Seriously, what an amazing cast. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson… all brought their characters to life memorably (unlike the book, apparently, for this lazy reader). Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan) and Elizabeth Debicki (Jordan Baker) were quite believable as well, IMO.

the-great-gatsby-2013

  • If you’ve seen Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” or “Moulin Rouge”, you could immediately guess that this film was also by him. It has all the earmarks: the era-conscious style from the very credits; the deliberate juxtaposition of loyal period costuming and anachronistic music; the crowd/party sequences that make you feel like you’re on drugs. And he likes him some Art Deco.
  • We saw the 3D version, not because we’re particular fans of 3D but because the showtime worked best for us. As I saw it, the 3D stuff is kinda contrived. The plot doesn’t exactly lend itself to OMGitscomingrightatme!! Nevertheless – the stuff they did was pretty cool. I found the 3D effective in illustrating connectedness, underscoring distances of space and time, making snowflakes look cool, and rendering those surreal scenes even more trippy.
  • I’m going to have to read The Great Gatsby again. The film showcases (often with onscreen handwriting that’s coming right at you) a lot of direct quotes from the book, the kind of fascinating writing that makes you go “Aha. Yes. Legendary American classic. Bravo, F. Scott.”
  • Did you know? The original book cover, designed by Francis Cugat, was commissioned while Fitzgerald was still writing it. Wikipedia says: The cover was completed before the novel; Fitzgerald was so enamored with it that he told his publisher he had “written it into” the novel. [You can’t see ’em too well, but there’s some nekkid ladies in those eyes, old sport.]

TGG-orig

  • In the movie, the effect of that billboard with the disembodied eyes is downright eerie, and is probably branded on my memory forever. Well played, Baz.
  • I enjoyed the party scenes and the sweeping 3D vistas and so on, but I enjoyed even more the focused scenes with the hard-core dialogue and acting. Those were SOLID. And now that I think about it, Luhrmann is just as good at taking things down to their essential heart as he is at making a big fancy imagery-fest.
  • And I guess Fitzgerald was also good at getting to the heart of things. The Great Gatsby was a commentary on excess and corruption and certain flaws in the American Dream, but it also is about people. What kind of attitude matters, what makes a person good or bad. It’s an interesting perspective that definitely provoked me some thoughts.
  • We went to see this movie – at 4 pm on the day it opened, no less – because it stars Skye’s boyfriend, Leo. Kudos, Skye, I have to admit he’s looking mighty fine these days.
leonardo-dicaprio-carey-mulligan
Leonardo and Carey
  • Skye and I gave this movie four out of four thumbs up.

Riveting Real-Life Side-Story:

So. We went to see this movie at the UltraAVX (“Ultra Audio-Visual Experience!!!”) theatre, which has assigned seating. We got to pick our seats when we purchased them, and there were like six other seats booked in the whole place, so naturally we picked far away from anyone else. Upon arriving at our seats, we saw that there was an elderly couple in our seats. They had chosen not to sit in the seats they’d picked originally, because those were too close to another couple of people who were, in the words of the curmudgeon gentleman, “just yappin’.” He recommended we not sit near them (even though they were more than entitled to yap – the previews hadn’t even started).

We came up with a recommendation of our own out of this experience:

If you decide to move from your assigned spot in a theatre where there are approximately twelve-and-a-half zillion empty seats, proper etiquette does not allow for you to sit one seat away from the people whose seats you accidentally took, then complain about the noise level of some innocent moviegoers… and then proceed to SNORE THROUGH THE LATTER HALF OF THE MOVIE. No. Ce n’est pas acceptable. Just so you know.

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A Review of All Things Misérables

So I finally got to see the new Les Mis movie in mid-February, when it had been in theatres for a month and a half.

les_miserables_movie_poster
Just learned this awesome word: “oscarisé”. This director has been previously Oscarized. Way to go, Tom Hooper.

This is rather a travesty. I’m a musical geek. I could sing you most of the soundtracks for about a dozen different musicals.* I was also a French major; I studied much French lit, loved the Romantics, and I’ve even been to the Victor Hugo museum.

As you can imagine, this movie gave me a lot of feelings.

First, some back story. (Victor Hugo would want me to include this.)

Dilovely’s first exposure to Les Mis in any form was on a visit to family friends in Toronto. She was about 11. This family had the piano music for the Schönberg-Boublil-Kretzmer musical, and the dad was playing it while another friend, a girl around my age, swished her long skirt around and sang “Master of the House” and “On My Own”. She knew all the words. Mini-Di wished she were like this girl: confident, knowledgeable, able to sing in front of people. And the music… it was compelling. There was obviously great drama behind it.

It was the spring of 1990 when a copy of the Original Broadway Cast Recording, with Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, came into Mini-Di’s household, via her aunt. It was a home recording, on cassette tape, of course.

She and her sister Emily became totally obsessed. ‘Twas in the days before lyrics.com (or anything .com), so Em transcribed the lyrics by hand in a little spiral-bound notebook, and Mini-Di read them and listened for the parts she couldn’t get. They knew every word – and every inflection, every quirk of accent, every nuance of instrumentation. They were of an age where they understood the concepts of poverty, prostitution, homeless people, revolution, and death – but only superficially. Suddenly this story, with its gorgeously sad music, was making tragedy real.

Soon, Dilovely would see the musical live at the Royal Alexandra Theatre – twice – and receive a Les Mis T-shirt for her birthday.

Fast-forward ten years. [That’s a Hugo tactic too.] In 2000, Dilovely was in France, having finished her French degree during which she was, inevitably, moved by Victor Hugo’s poetry. That year, the musical version of Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris was a wild success in Paris, starring Canadian Pierre Garand (a.k.a. Garou) as Quasimodo.

Dilovely found a copy of Les Misérables in the original French at Dunkerque’s Virgin Records store: two hefty paperback volumes totalling 1,948 pages (not counting appendices). She decided to make it her Everest.

Cosette-sweeping-les-miserables-emile-bayard-1862
“Cosette Sweeping” by Emile Bayard, 1862.

She spent over three months reading this chef-d’oeuvre (in between teaching and gallivanting), with her French-English dictionary close at hand. She adored it. She cried frequently over the story. When it was over, she mourned its finishing and missed the characters terribly. They had become family.

As you can imagine, she was rather stoked to find out that there would be a new movie of Les Mis, the first to incorporate the music from the musical, and the first movie-musical to use live (rather than pre-recorded and lip-synched) singing by the actors. She anticipated great things.

Then, poor Dilovely wasn’t sure she would even make it to see the movie in theatres.

It ended up being almost a covert op: get baby to sleep just in the nick of time, leave the house in a hurry to arrive less than two minutes before the opening scene, keep phone in bra for whole movie in case of emergency text from Auntie Em, return home as swiftly as possible once the movie is over, before baby remembers that she doesn’t know how to drink from the bottle. (She was chewing on the nipple happily enough when we came in, so it was better than nothing.)

So, here are my thoughts as a francophile/Les-Mis-devotee.

Firstly, A Note About The Book:

To be honest, after I’d read Les Misérables, I returned to the musical’s soundtrack and found it lacking. The book is incredibly rich, teeming with history both real and imagined.** Every character, major or minor, is endowed with a superbly crafted, heart-wrenching personal history. And Victor Hugo knew what he was doing; though I haven’t been able to find it for you, I remember reading a quotation from him in which he admitted that he strove to evoke powerful emotions in his readers – something on the order of “If y’all don’t cry reading this book, I’ll eat my hat,” but in erudite, Romantic French.

It was gratifying to see the movie and realize it recaptures some of the depth that was lost in the stage play.

General Notes:

  • This movie thoroughly impressed me: the performances, the singing abilities, the method acting, the sensitivity of the adaptation, the sound mixing (bonjour, Oscar!), the makeup (Oscar again), the costumes, the set design, the overall vision.
  • This movie contains some of the most raw acting I’ve ever seen. And I don’t mean raw as in under-done – I mean naked, harrowing, bare-your-soul-to-the-camera acting.
  • The main actors are apparently all Les Mis geeks, for whom playing these roles is a dream come true.
  • Their dedication to their roles is remarkable. For example:
    • Hugh Jackman drank no water for 36 hours prior to filming his convict scenes, to achieve the “gaunt” look;

    Film Religion

    • Eddie Redmayne sang 21 takes of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” to be satisfied with his work, even though the director was happy with take #12;

    eddie redmayne empty chairs at empty tables

    • and Anne Hathaway had them actually cut off her real hair, on camera.

    anne-hathaway-haircut-les-miserables-fantine

  • Sean, without previous exposure to the music, was not as thrilled with the movie. There were many scenes where he felt it would have been better if they’d spoken the dialogue instead of singing. I think that’s an unsolvable issue with movie musicals: when you put them onscreen, it’s just kinda strange that they’re singing. The same is true of Rent: when it’s a movie, you expect them to speak their dialogue, not sing it.
  • To combat this, I recommend listening repeatedly to the soundtrack until it’s part of the fabric of your being. Then it doesn’t seem incongruous at all.
  • While watching, I had occasional glimpses of how the movie might seem to an outsider, how it could be perceived as maudlin. I mean, the pathos is so thick you can chew on it. But that’s part of why we love it. I believe Hugo would have approved.

Comparison to the Stage Musical (spoiler warning, if you don’t already know the story… but who doesn’t?):

  • I noticed every time the music differed from the soundtrack in my head – alternate lyrics, more delicate instrumentation, and lots of abridged songs. (“Dog Eats Dog” was all but eliminated.)
  • The grit and sordidness of the time and place really come through on film. From the dizzying nosebleed section of the Royal Alex, you can’t fully appreciate how filthy everyone is. (Teeth especially.) On a movie set, one can achieve truly repulsive squalor. “Look Down”, “Lovely Ladies” and “Master of the House” are outstanding examples of this.
  • Similarly, the intimacy of film allows for plot subtleties that aren’t possible in stage format. Suddenly certain realities are clear:
    • Fantine’s dawning acceptance, as her hallucinations dissipate, of the fact that she is dying and must give up care of her daughter;
    • the poignant youth and naïveté of the students;
    • Valjean’s jealousy and panic when he realizes Cosette will not always be his;
    • the gendarme’s regret after shooting Gavroche;
    • the pathetic haphazardness of the barricade, and indeed the “revolution” as a whole.
  • I loved the new song, “Suddenly”, sung by Valjean when he takes little Cosette into his care. This was one of the book’s plot points missing entirely from the musical: rescuing Cosette completely changes Valjean’s outlook and priorities. His love for her is immediate, intense, beautiful, and drives basically all of his subsequent actions. He is fiercely protective and fearful at the same time, as parents are. I was very glad they reincorporated this element.

Specific Notes:

  • The opening scene blew me away. “Goosebumps” doesn’t remotely cover it.
  • Hugh Jackman made me cry, especially in the Soliloquy at the beginning. I loved almost every aspect of his performance.
  • My only quibble was that I wished “Bring Him Home” were more wistful/delicate. But it’s, like, one of the hardest solos in the world, and he sang admirably.
  • Anne Hathaway made me cry multiple times, even though her character lasts for less than half the movie. I’m glad she won the Oscar.
  • I’d been warned that Amanda Seyfried as Cosette sings like a Chipmunk. I understood the reference immediately – it’s true that her vibrato is very trembly and the part is written super-high – but her pitch is right on and I thought she did a good job overall.
  • I was also warned that Russell Crowe as Javert was the weak link. I can’t disagree; his singing – especially his consonants – were tentative where they should have been full of conviction (no pun intended). His performance was lacklustre. But again, his pitch was good, and his duet with Jackman was solid – especially the low note on “Monsieur le maire, you wear a different chain” – so I forgive him.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter as the Thénardiers were appropriately gaudy and repellent, although I didn’t love Sacha’s constantly mutating accent. But I guess accents are his thing.
  • Eddie Redmayne is totally endearing as Marius. Earnest and freckly and boyish. He completely won me over with his delivery of the line, “I’m doing everything all wrong.”
  • Colm Wilkinson! Was in it! As the Bishop of Digne. I didn’t even recognize him – or his voice – while I was watching… so I guess I’ll have to see it again.
  • I appreciated the parts that recreated certain stage moments, like Valjean’s burdened silhouette in the sewer, and the angle at which Enjolras dies. My inner geek-self was tickled. (If you’re thinking, Um, Dilovely, what other self do you have? then yeah. Touché.)
  • I also appreciated the bits that gave us information from the book that was not in the stage version; for example:
    • we get to see the elephant statue that, in the book, is home to Gavroche and a bunch of other urchins.
    • we also catch sight of young Cosette’s doll that looks like a bundle of rags tied together; readers know she has wrapped up a little lead knife to be her doll. (I KNOW – how heartbreaking is that??)
  • I was confused for a moment by the enormous barricade that appears in the finale, with the whole cast singing atop it. I guess it’s probably reminding us that less than 20 years after the end of the story, in 1848, the French people would rise up for real and force King Louis-Philippe to abdicate – using a MUCH bigger barricade.

Notes on Revisiting the Story After Many Years:

  • As my understanding of the world increases, this story seems more and more relevant – and sad. There are people all over the world who still face tragic circumstances like those in Les Misérables, even though as a species, we should know better.
  • Fantine’s story touches me more now that I’m a mom. The idea of being obliged to give my child to someone else to look after and just hoping for the best, yearning for her all the time… Furthermore, knowing I’m going to leave the mortal plane and never hold her again… Just awful.
  • Hugo’s own story also hits home a lot more. His firstborn son died in infancy, and his second child Léopoldine drowned at age 19, shortly after being married. He knew all about pain, and also about passion, and politics. And he observed poverty all around him – the conditions he describes in the Les Misérables were not imagined. No wonder it’s an amazing book.
  • I need to read it again someday, even though it would probably take me… an embarrassingly long time.
  • And if you enjoyed the musical or the movie or even just the plot, I highly recommend reading it yourself.

***

  • BONUS Factoid/Recommendation:
liberty-leading-the-people-1830
La Liberté guidant le peuple, by Eugène Delacroix.

This is one of my favourite Romantic paintings, commemorating the July Revolution of 1830 in Paris. The little boy right beside Lady Liberty is said to have inspired Hugo’s Gavroche. I fell in love with this after seeing it discussed on video by Sister Wendy, and later had the privilege of seeing it at the Louvre. Sister Wendy is amazing and so is the painting.

***

*West Side Story, Showboat, Cats, Evita, Les Mis, Joseph, Miss Saigon, Assassins, Falsettos, A New Brain, Once On This Island, Rent, Parade… Sisters, what am I forgetting?

**For example, there is a section entitled “Waterloo”, a gruesome 70-page depiction of battle and its remains, related to the story only as historical context – and a vehicle to introduce Thénardier in the last few pages. I wrote a paper on it, about Hugo’s manipulation of time, during my M.A. That’s how much I love Hugo.

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Happy New Year!

It’s January Seventh, Twenty-Thirteen! Happy new year (more or less), Di-hards. It’s the first day back to school, the 13th day after Christmas. As good a day as any for a new year post in which I lighten up a little bit… with a silly celebratory questionnaire meme. Woo hoo!

{Disclaimer: Dilovely wrote these responses, with minimal actual consultation… but Sean gave the go-ahead.}

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Me: Taught kindergarten; took up the ukulele; tried Aztec soup; and, um… oh, gave birth to a daughter.

Sean: Quit retail; learned machining; measured lots of stuff to within a tolerance of like two thousandths of an inch.

E: Turned three; began learning to read; ate (and liked) cornbread, macaroni, zucchini; swam with only pool noodles; started drawing people, cars, horses, etc. with gusto.

A: Existed, had cells, moved limbs, got born – yahoo!

 

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Me: Ummm… Did practice my uke, but not as much as I meant to. Didn’t become paragon of fitness – became pregnant instead.

Sean: Yes! Kept them perfectly preserved for this year.

E: I can totally say the word “resolution.”

A: Yes, I was born alive and healthy. Wait – that was Mommy’s resolution, but I pulled it off.

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me: Me. I’m pretty close to me. Oh, AND at least six other friends with awesome babies. Yay! Love you and your babies!

Sean: See above.

E: Mommy. And Skye. I even drew a picture.

A: Mommy. I was right there. It was intense, dude.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Me: Gramma Sue.

Sean: Nana and Grandad.

E: Grammie and Papa’s cats.

A: My placenta.

 

5. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Me: My waistline would be nice.

Sean: Freedom from acquisitiveness. In fact, I have made my wife a deal to this effect. There will be no talk of or wheedling for or purchase of gadgetry of any kind in 2013. Now it’s public.

E: Rollerblades! And of course, MY OWN iPAD. (Not gonna happen.)

A: How ’bout teeth? And perhaps independent mobility.

 

6. What countries did you visit?

Me: None.

Sean: None.

E: Remember that time we went to England? And I know we went to North Carolina, too. Mommy, yes we did!

A: Is Uterus a country?

 

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:

Me, Sean: A’s birthday, September 30th. Also, I’m pretty sure December 14th is etched upon the collective memory of all of us. Fortunately for us, there’s a happy reason to remember that date too – the Birth Day of Skye’s son!

E: My birthday! And Christmas! Because obviously.

A: September 30th was exhausting, but October 1st was pretty cool.

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Please see #1.

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Me: Failure to get dressed properly – or get my children dressed properly – more days than I care to count.

Sean: That time I got only 92% on my shop project… brutal.

E: That 2 I drew doesn’t look like a 2!!! No, it’s NOT GOOD!!! (Inherited Daddy’s perfectionism.)

A: Are you kidding? I’m a baby. I’m always awesome.

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Me: Two stitches to my girl parts, if you really want to know.

Sean: I was constantly afflicted by tiny, razor-sharp, burning-hot pieces of metal hitting my skin during my machining course… But it’s okay. It just increases my manliness.

E: Innumerable runny noses.

A: I’m pretty sure my brother gave me that nose problem… but I eventually kicked it.

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Me: A deal with the dev– with my husband. (See #5 – bought with a certain Apple gadget.)

Sean: Ha ha hahaha! Let’s not go there.

E: With these coins, I can get some rollerblades! Right?

A: Lots of adults doing goofy things. Bought with pure cuteness.

 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Me: Baby A’s, when she slept 7 hours in a row that one time.

Sean: Mine, whenever I clean the kitchen. Because when I clean the kitchen, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

E: My parents celebrate whenever I have a whine-free day.

A: Those adults doing goofy things, especially dancing. I like to celebrate them with enormous grins.

 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Me: Harper Harper Harper. And McGuinty and Broten.

Sean: Cyber bullies and gun nuts.

E: Mommy and Daddy, when they won’t give me back the Os I drop on the floor.

A: Mommy and Daddy, when they strap me into that car seat. It’s an outrage.

 

14. Where did most of your money go?

Me: What money?

Sean: To Apple… and back.

E: I have a piggy bank now!

A: What’s money?

 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Me, Sean: Baby!

E: Sister!

A: Glahkkhhaa!

 

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Me:

Sean:

E: Auntie Em discovered this song at the Jazz Festival and I became obsessed with it. (She is mostly responsible for my musical education.) I even have special moves I do with it.

A: That thumping sound from the womb. It was rad.

 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder?

Me: happier

Sean: happier

E: happier, then sadder, then happier, then sadder

A: N/A

ii. thinner or fatter? Is this really relevant? Yes, we’re avoiding the question.

iii. richer or poorer? Eight months of unpaid pre-apprenticeship + four months of mat leave… ‘Nuff said.

 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Me: Exercising and eating vegetables.

Sean: Eating vegetables and exercising.

E: Playing on the iPad!

A: Nudity. I love being naked… if only it weren’t winter.

 

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Me: Waiting in waiting rooms… but it was worth it.

Sean: Reading the news – but then, I do love knowing everything.

E: Sleeping. Sleeping is so boring.

A: THE CAR SEAT. Still trying to convince my parents.

 

20. How will you be spending did you spend Christmas?

All: With all three sets of grandparents (separately), and all the aunts and uncles and cousins we could muster!

 

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21. Please feel free to submit one! I promise to answer.

 

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Me, Sean, E: Yes, with the baby!

A: Yes, with my own two hands! I wanna eat them up!

 

23. How many one-night stands?

What kind of a question is this? Do most people have that many to count up per year?

 

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Me: How I Met Your Mother, Community, BBC’s Sherlock miniseries.

Sean: Same… AND, they finally have Star Trek TNG on Netflix!

E: It’s between Backyardigans and Busytown Mysteries.

A: I think it’s called Adults Doing Goofy Things – and for some reason it’s on most of the time I’m awake.

 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

What is this, junior high? “Hate” seems like such an immature word.

 

26. What was the best book you read?

Me: Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos, was compulsively readable.

Sean: Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (a re-read, of course).

E: Berenstain Bears – lots of ones, like “Get Into a Fight“?

A: I like the story called Shhhhhh.

 

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Me: The excellent user experience of GarageBand for Mac.

Sean: The Lumineers.

E: Peter Gabriel has cool music videos. (Auntie Em showed me.)

A: There’s music!

 

28. What did you want and get?

Me: A baby.

Sean: An iPad Mini. Oh, and a baby.

E: A ramp for my cars that goes like this: {insert frenetic multi-loop-the-loop gesture}

A: My hands! To my mouth!

 

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Me: The Hunger Games.

Sean: The Avengers.

E: I love Tangled.

A: The movie of life.

 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Me: 34, and who remembers that far back? I’m sure it was awesome.

Sean: 35, and my first day of machinist training.

E: I turned 3, had about four birthdays, and I got presents! And cake!!

A: Full-body massage in the birth canal. Aw yeah.

 

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Immeasurably? More satisfying? How unsatisfied are we supposed to be at this point?

 

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Me: Pajamas au lait.

Sean: Safety boots and coolant. (As if I could be any cooler.)

E: I’d be a dragon all the time if I could.

A: How should I know? I’m swaddled at least 16 hours out of 24.

 

34. What kept you sane?

Me: Same thing that drives me crazy: my kids. Plus: you guys.

Sean: Same thing that drives me crazy: doing everything as perfectly as possible.

E (direct quote): I’m not sane.

A: Khlaaaya!

 

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Me: It’s always James. Even though he did ZERO films in 2012. I’m not bitter. Until the next one, I’ll say Rick Mercer as well.

Sean: Scarlett Johanssen was awesome before… and now she’s Black Widow. Zowie.

E: Lightning McQueen.

A: Ceiling fan.

 

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Me: Probably that teacher thing.

Sean: Harper’s Omnibullsh*t bill.

E: Equal access to my parents’ gadgets.

A: Freedom from bondage (a.k.a. swaddling) and the right to smack myself in the face if I so choose.

 

37. Who did you miss?

Sebastian. Also, please see #4. Also, sorry to say goodbye to Maurice Sendak, Ray Bradbury, Nora Ephron, Sally Ride, Neil Armstrong, Ravi Shankar, Maeve Binchy, and Dave Brubeck, among others.

 

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Me: Some amazing new readers and bloggers!

Sean: My carpooling partner, Rob. We have Guy Love.

E: Daniel, at Camp. I want to live in Ottawa now.

A: Who can pick? I met EVERYBODY this year.

 

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:

Me: Time and patience will get you there eventually.

Sean: Don’t put your hand in the lathe chuck. Also, avoid letting your technology control your life.

E: Screeching and whining will not get me what I want. (Actually, we don’t know if this is fully learned yet.)

A: Crying will get me: milk, cuddles, diaper changes, and any number of cool sounds and funny faces.

 

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Baby, baby, baby, gonna love you so.”

kids ages three years, three months
Love you so.

***


 

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