Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I Love to Read

On the first day of computer class in high school we had to stand up and tell the class our name and what we like to do. I stood up and said, "My name is Tia and I like to read." I promptly sat down halfway on my chair and ended up falling on the floor.

My brothers love that story. It illustrates both my nerdiness, but also how I've loved reading forever. I've loved it since my mom took me to the Longview library and I found treasures bound in creamy white bindings with little black stickers stuck inside. I've loved it since my grandma gave me my own copy of Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tittlemouse and my mom read it to me on her lap as I leaned on her and felt the vibration of her voice against me. I've loved it since college when I almost had an anxiety attack searching for the fiction books in the UO library. I plan to keep loving it.

In 2007 I started keeping a list of the books that I read each year. It's fun to look back on my favorites, and interestingly I have read more books each year. This year I started listing those books on the right of my blog's sidebar but since it's nearly a new year and time to start a new list for 2010, I wanted to recommend the books I ingested this year that were my favorites before they get wiped away:

The Help
Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Middle Place
Sing Them Home
A Homemade Life
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Whole World Over

The Help, Sing Them Home, The Whole World Over and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County were all kind of epic type books I sunk my teeth into and did not want to end but the others mentioned were entertaining favorites as well.

In 2008 my favorites included Water for Elephants, Among Other Things I've Taken Up Smoking, Love Walked In, Belong to Me, The English American, and the Tale of Edward Sawtelle.

In 2007 I read a lot of ho hum books. My favorite book was probably On Beauty.

Feel free to share your favorites in the comments! I always love a good recommendation. Happy reading in 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Here the girls wear the new hats I knit for each of them this week. They were the only things I made them this year during a time when I am typically inspired to create something for them that will go under the tree. Here there are all sorts of ideas for things parents can make for their kids for Christmas. I starting clicking away and it made me tired looking at them all. Creative projects do not beckon to me now. I just want to be cozy and peaceful. All I had in me this year as far as creating for them was to knit them hats, and I honestly feel fine about that. That's where I'm at this year.

In other news, we went to the cabin yesterday for what was supposed to be a two night stay. I had worried about the possiblity of finding it with burst pipes and water-logged after the recent really cold weather. For some reason when we left it for Thanksgiving we hadn't done any weatherizing. Still, it felt so good to drive up the driveway and be there, but when we got inside it was bad. There was a terrible smell, we saw that a big section of the kitchen ceiling's sheetrock had caved in, there was water everywhere, and plops of insulation and mouse poop and even a dead mouse. The whole ground level carpet was completely satured, and another bedroom on the first level had completely spongy wet carpet, too. I don't know what exactly the extent of the damage will be, but there was definitely plumbing problems and water sitting everywhere. I had to call my mom, who was on route to L.A. to spend Christmas with Andy and Meghann to give her the scoop. It was bad enough that there wasn't much we could do, other than try to call her insurance company for her and turn the water off. I hate that it's sitting there stewing in water and filth and that my mom has this to worry about. It's all a big huge sucko sandwich.

We piled back in the car without even a trip around the trail and headed home. Total time in the car: five hours. The shock and size of it all left us resolute but by the end of the day grumpiness set in. I soothed myself by watching The Holiday which I'd tivo'd. Maybe it was because of the long day I'd had but Cameron Diaz was SUPER annoying during this viewing, FOR SURE.

Today, we went to see The Princess and the Frog as a family. The girls were swooning over it and I got choked up when the firefly character....well, I won't ruin it for you. Classic Disney.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We saw Fantastic Mr. Fox a few weekends ago. It was highly entertaining, for all of us.

If you are a fan of Wes Anderson movies (Rushmore, Royal Tannenbaums, Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited) you appreciate his skill at developing characters, writing realistic dialouge, injecting my kind of subtle humor, and laying it all on top of amazing, colorful sets. In my mind, Fantastic Mr. Fox, originally a children's book written by Roald Dahl, was the perfect medium for Anderson. He brought layers of complexity to Mr. Fox, his wife, and his son. He made them all real, and captivating to watch on the screen and in their various environments.

I think I need to own this movie as I feel it is just so well done. I'm really glad we saw it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If your child loves nature and has a wild imagination The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis is the book for them! It's the story of a girl and her friend who say they're "going to Annie's house to play," but instead go fishing, all by themselves, "which wasn't allowed." Though on the lookout for newts they instead find a Bog Baby. They bring him home and create a habitat for it and love it to pieces until one day the Bog Baby doesn't quite look very happy and they worry about him and tell their mother about him, though up to that point they'd kept him secret. What follows is sweet resolution as they learn they must let it go back to where it belongs. The illustrations are adorable, the Bog Baby endearing. There's even a page in the back of the book where you can write about your own Bog Baby sighting. Your four-eight year olds will most likely love it as much as my girls who are now planning to find a Bog Baby themselves.

Not All Animals are Blue, A Big Book of Little Differences by Beatrice Boutignon is one of a kind. On every page is an illustration on the right and text on the left. The text refers to the illustration, giving several clues about each figure in the illustration and inviting listeners to interact with the pages of the book, watching and pointing throughout the whole thing. For example, on one page, entitled Five Gentlemen Showing Us Their Tails there are five animals sitting and the clues read: Who has a bushy tail? His tail is very elegant. Why is he a different color? Do they know what he's hiding? Doesn't his tail look soft? It's like a pompom. It's amazing how quickly the listeners pick out who each clue is about. The book was an unexpected treat and the kids really enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life has been rolling along here. December settled heavily in our laps and let out an occasional smelly fart, like our camera died and we had to buy a new one, and our power went out when it was 12 degrees outside, stupid annoying stuff like that. In the grand scheme of things, these things don't even register on the big stress-o-meter and we are lucky. There's so much to be thankful for. I plan to spend the remaining days stroking December on the back and enjoying all the lucky.

In other news, Julia received an award at last week's school Town Hall "For loving reading and challenging herself with books she chooses." YOOO HOO JOOGE! She is also big into "Mexican Yarn art," (God's Eyes) which she learned how to do at her school during Art Day. They look like this and she has been cranking them out thanks to a surplus of dollar store popsicle sticks and varigated yarn balls. Her dad also taught her how to play chess today, which she seemed to learn really well. Smart girl, good teacher!

Avery went to a classmate's birthday party today in full ballet garb only to spend the whole time in my lap. We are definitely going to get her enrolled in some sort of dance class come January as she needs a nudge towards something that she will both love and find to be a confidence booster, as school has been. I did love the way different classmates were sweet about it. One friend asked why she didn't want to come out with everyone on the dance floor and then said, "I would have helped you." Ironically she has been doing, "the moves" all evening so watching the party clearly still made an impression. After the party moved to DQ and there was cupcakes, ice cream and a book exchange, she actually said, "This is a party I'll never forget."

Unlike last year at this time, we are in pretty good shape for the holidays. The tree is up and decorated. The gifts are bought and have arrived or been shipped. (Mostly shipped). The photo was taken and the cards are sent. The cookie exchange happened and we've eaten all the cookies. The advent calendar, though up a day late, is in full swing and providing us with some sort of new Playmobil woodland creature each and every day. (See above).

There is one more week of school for the girls and then we will all be off for the week of Christmas. We are starting the week with a trip to the cabin and ending the week with a trip to Bend on Christmas Day to visit my husband's sister. Then my husband will go back to work and the girls and I will spend the last week of December home before school is back in session. I'm curious to see what the weather's going to do this year as last year it snowed a TON. I do love snow, as long as I'm not required to drive in it.

I have not gotten super crafty and ambitious this year giftwise other than making PJ bottoms and embelishing t-shirts using freezer paper stencils. I kept wanting to try that and it was very fun. I am looking forward to picking up my knitting needles for the first time all season to make the girls each a new hat as well as enjoying my current book, The Help over the vacation. Also, I can't wait to watch a video we discovered last year that was just so great: More About the Children of Noisy Village. A video I would NOT recommend: Bruno. My husband rented it and I made it through 20 minutes, amazingly. It was bad, very bad.

Happy holidays to you all!

Dear Santa

I promis to leev cookees for you. Wutt cinnd do you like best? I am thankfull for you. You are vantastick. Plees give presins to my sister. I love you,

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

We got our tree last weekend and LOVE how it fits into our cozy cozy house.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cue the Fight Song

Let it be known that I will be rooting for the Ducks tonight for the civil war to beat all civil wars. I am representing said spirit even in my blog colors. WOO HOO! GO DUCKS!