Good Read: The Princess and the Goblin

Have you read this classic book, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald?

I’m taking a children’s literature course, and many of the books were already familiar to me: the Hobbit, the Narnia books, a Wrinkle in Time, Alice in Wonderland and so many others (lets just say the prof made up for the ease of reading by piling on lots of it). This one I had never heard of, but you might have, since it is considered a classic.

It was a delight. It isn’t a very big book. I would recommend it for any child, or for any adult who is interested in children’s fantasy literature, or for anyone who needs a little injection of light and joy into their heart. When I was done, I thought it had a similar kind of feel to it as the stories as Tolkein and Lewis. Sure enough, when I read some of the information in the appendixes, it turns out that MacDonald pioneered this kind of story and Tolkein and Lewis were among the many who learned from him and fashioned their own work after his. Apparently there are two more stories, and I will certainly purchase them and pass them all on to my kids.

And can I add, if you have a little girl who is interested in princesses, Irene, the  8 year old princess in this story is a wonderful model of what it means to be a true princess.

Feeling Dancy

This song came on this afternoon and I had to have an impromptu dance party all by myself in the kitchen. Love this song! I had the privilege of seeing Sam Roberts Band in concert a couple of years ago thanks to my Dad. Concert tickets are the best presents!

Never mind the lousy video. All the ones with good video had lousy sound.

 

Today

(Post-gym, pre-shower look.) (Ooh la la.)

I spent most of the morning thinking about the future. I’ve been doing that a lot. The semester is sprinting by and graduation is immanent and all I can seem to think about is the what / when / where / how of possible future jobs.

Also, my very pregnant sister in law could give birth anytime. Membranes have been swept. Dilation has been charted. This baby could come at anytime. I can’t wait to go cuddle my new baby niece. Come on out baby niece.

Also, my husband and I have made the decision to sell our house… eventually. There are a few things that need to be done (new roof, landscaping) so we probably won’t list until at least mid-summer. But I have moving on the brain.

And there are other things. But you know what? I need to snap out of it and give my head a shake. I need to focus on today today.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. Malcolm X

Today is the beginning of reading break. I have no classes this week, but I don’t really have any illusions about an actual break. I’m feeling motivated and I have a detailed to-do list in hand. I’m looking forward for the chance to get caught up on some things and even to get ahead on some reading. I can’t believe the semester is half over.

Today:

  1. Gym – (check)
  2. Complete and submit Mill assignment (today’s BIG priority)
  3. Go to the church and do a little work (just a little)
  4. Laundry (oh how it piles)
  5. Cook and bake and food prep for the week. (I promised my s-i-l some freezer meals)

That’s what I’m hoping for today. Looks exciting. Wait. No it doesn’t. Let’s fix that.

6. Something spontaneous and fun. (I don’t know what this will be yet, hence the spontaneity designation, but I’ll let you know later.)

Happy Monday!

Bad At

This is a list of some of the things I am bad at. I’m not being down on myself today. And I’m not fishing for compliments. I have worked really hard over the last decade or so at recovering some self-esteem and I’ve been learning about all kinds of things I can do and that I’m good at, most of which were a huge surprise to me. But I think there is something to be said for acknowledging faults. These aren’t things I necessarily hate about myself, just like I don’t hate my friends’ flaws but view them as personality quirks or simply different from me and not bad in any way at all. This is a ‘bad’ list. But it’s a friendly bad list.

Also, it’s not a premeditated list and I have no plan. I’m just going to type for a while and see what comes up. Which brings me to flaw number one…

I am bad at…

  1. Thinking things through, paying attention to detail, and moving forward on a project with a solid plan. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. Sometimes it can be a good thing, but there have been times when I really could have done something better if I’d only given some diligence. Sometimes important things.
  2. Checking for grammar and spelling. I have all kinds of knowledge about grammar and spelling. Sometimes when I go back and read something I’ve read*, I am amazed at the glaring mistakes. But more often that not, I just shrug my shoulders and move on without caring to go back and fix it. And I’m horrible – horrible – at remembering to use spell-check on documents before I print or submit them. Something in my mind says ‘you’re a great speller. You don’t need to use spell check. Buzzzzzz. Wrong.
  3. Being super involved with my kids. I’m not saying I’m a bad Mom or anything. I think I have my merits and my skills. But compared to a lot of parents I know (that I admire) I really fail at the -hmmm- let’s call them the micro-managing aspects of parenting. This falls into so many categories really. Making sure they are reaching their full potential. Making sure they are fulfilled and happy. Making sure they are getting proper nutrition ( I used to be better at this one, I’m not sure what happened). Making sure they are being very good citizens. Making sure they get all their homework done. Making sure their activities are very well-rounded.
  4. Being content. I’m just not. Ever.
  5. Being non-judgmental. Despite my half-assed ways, I am actually way too idealistic. Sometimes I set standards for myself that I can barely live with. And then to top it off, I assume a smug kind of attitude towards others who don’t adhere to my own unachievable ideals. Usually, I give my head a shake and snap out of it and give people a break. But that is not my default setting. My default setting is thinking everyone could do better. Including me.
  6. Loving people up close. I love people! But I have a tendency to love them – over there – from afar. Here’s a scenario that could happen any day of the week. I will be thinking about a particular friend and about just how awesome I think they are. A little while later I will see them somewhere and think again about just how much I like them. I will look at their face and be overcome by the beauty in the flush of their cheek and and the sound of their voice when they laugh and touched by some small gesture that they do. And then they’ll say hi to me and we’ll make some small talk and maybe even get to the point where they compliment me or say they love me – and I just smile. I hold it all in! I just don’t know what to do.
  7. Beauty stuff. I really like makeup. And fancy hairdos. And fashion. And lately all my friends have these really fabulous nails because one of our girlfriends from church recently opened up her own nail salon. I’ve actually never been much of a nails girl – my youngest sister is – but this lady does the best nails I’ve ever seen. They have a particular quality. They are classy and she has a knack for doing really creative things with nails that perfectly suit the personality of the wearer. So I’ve been looking at all these fabulous nails and loving them. I wear the same barely-there makeup everyday. I wait as long as I possibly can between trips to the hair salon and it shows. I wear jeans and a tank top and a hoodie five days out of seven (Even though I’ve at least gotten better about purchasing more fashionable things. I just don’t wear them very often) (A month ago I bought two pairs of fabulous heels and finally I wore a pair out last night). The only time I have ever gotten my nails done was for my wedding. Eleven and a half years ago. I want to be better at this stuff. I really do.
  8. Sticking to healthiness. I’m really good at focusing on particular areas for set amounts of time – working out – trying new activities – eating more healthfully – cutting back sugar and alcohol – paying attention to my body function and giving things the attention they need – getting my mental stuff sorted. But I can’t seem to get a well-rounded, big-picture, overall healthy routine going on.
  9. Being faithful. I don’t mean in the relationally faithful- to- my- husband kind of way. I mean that I have a tendency to be kind of faithless. As soon as something begins to look sour, my tendency is to just walk away and give up on it. Especially if that thing, whatever it may be, depends on someone else. If its my own thing, I can usually trust myself to stick to it. I hate flaking out (sometimes I flake out, but not often, and I always feel terrible). But I don’t have a lot of trust in others for some reason. I don’t like trusting in others. I don’t have a lot of faith in others. This might be tied to #6.
  10. Doing my best. Oh we covered that already didn’t we.
  11. Humour. Most things that other people think are funny fall flat for me. My sister, who is a giant goof-ball, gave me a hard time about this all my life -not having a funny bone. We saw a comedian last night and the whole place was roaring and most of the time I didn’t understand why. Although he did make a few good jokes about menopause that I thought were hilarious mostly because my friend was sitting directly behind me and I know she’s been dealing with that lately (you know who you are 😉 so I was mostly laughing with her. Also. I make jokes daily and people don’t get them. I deliver a punch-line and … crickets. Yeah. I’m just not funny. I can talk to you about your existential crisis, but if you try and tell me a joke you’ll probably end up having to explain it.
  12. Popular culture. Especially stuff on the internet. I’m one of those old ladies who just seems to have missed everything that happened in the last three decades. But the thing is that I’m only thirty-one years old. So yeah. Did you hear that Whitney Houston died by the way?
  13. I’m really bad with money. I went to pick up a cheque from an employer yesterday and she asked me how much she pays me per hour because she got mixed up when she wrote the check. I didn’t know. Upon reflection, I don’t know what any of my jobs pay me per hour. Sometimes I make a family budget. And then it sits in a binder all lonely for a few months before I look at at again. Recently our friends told us about mint.com (which is awesome!) and my husband took the steering wheel of our finances (hallelujah!) which I gladly handed over (hallelujah!) and I’m hoping for progress. But on the other hand, whatever. We eat. You see what I mean? I’m financially purposeless.

Okay. This is clearly not an exhaustive list. But it’s enough for now. If you know me well, there are probably glaring personality flaws that you don’t see on the list because I’m just plain oblivious to them. I think that is fun. That others see things in us (for better or for worse) that we will always be blind to. I think that is so interesting about humans. But these are the things about me that bug me.

*case in point. I caught this after I posted it.

This is Me

I realized today that I really like it when other people post pictures of themselves on their blogs. Seeing the face of the person you’re ‘listening to’ or ‘talking with’ is one of the best parts of communicating I think.

But I don’t do it very often. No particular reason. But I will try to change that. This is me right now:

Cozy in my vagina pocket hoodie sitting at my laptop at the dining table procrastinating from paper writing, makeup smudgy from a long day, nails dark ’cause I painted them this morning, hair… doing its usual thing… wait, did I say “vagina pocket hoodie?”

Yes I did. I only wear this hoodie in the house. The first time I washed it after I bought it, this happened to the pockets:

You see what I mean? Anyway, I can’t wear it out like this. So I wear it in. Or, I wear it out for walks if I have a jacket overtop and only the cute neck is showing:

I sat down an hour ago to get going on this paper and all I have done is read blogs and watched stupid videos on the internet. It’s weird, I have done so well about not procrastinating from schoolwork in the last year or so. I thought I had finally learned a life skill or something. But no. Here I sit.

The topic I chose for my (Metaphysics) paper is this:

“For Fondane, freedom is the contrary of necessity, and hence the contrary of reason and logic. Discuss.”

So I have all my Aristotle notes (that would be the necessity part) and all my Fondane notes (that would be the freedom part – the possible!) and a rough outline and a title and I have typed and deleted about six first sentences and that is it. Then I surfed the net.

It’s due on Friday.

I’ve got all of Thursday.

Except I also have to work tomorrow. I don’t usually work on Thursdays but there is a special event at the church on Friday (date night challenge) (we’re totally going) (it was Matt’s idea) (Yay!) so I need to go make it all clean and pretty.

Which means less paper writing time. Which means I should be doing it NOW. I’m going to hate myself tomorrow when I’m panicking.

Okay. Enough procrasti-blogging. I think I will go eat the last Valentine’s cupcake.

Twenty

I have twenty minutes until I have to go get the kids from school. Let’s see if I have twenty things to say.

1. Happy Love Day!

2. I have class tonight so my man and I don’t have any romantic plans, but we have a gift certificate for indoor golf that we got for Christmas and have been saving, so we might do that tomorrow night. 

3. My biggest kid presented me with a beautiful blue beaded necklace she made for me for Valentine’s Day. It’s lovely! See:

 

4. My youngest kid made me a nice card.

5. My youngest kid also got ungrounded this morning. She was previously grounded *forever* with the stipulation that of we had a full week of getting out the door on time without me having to nag to the point of yelling for her to get her butt in gear, then she would be ungrounded. It took almost a month. There was only gentle nagging involved.

6. The oldest kid is still grounded. Well, not grounded so much as ‘focusing on schoolwork in the afternoons until her parents are satisfied with her performance.’

7. Yeah, we’ve been dropping the hammer lately.

8. But everybody’s happy! Promise.

9. It is such a nice sunny day. It feels like spring to me. Not so much outside – it is still rather chilly – but in my heart. My emotional state tells me that another winter has passed on by.

10. My husband and I are considering a huge financial decision that would be a bit of a lifestyle experiment. It’s kind of scary, but more exciting than scary. But we’re unsure. But we’re excited. But we have to make the decision fairly quickly. Oh what to do!?!

11. Next week is my Reading Break!

12. It’s about time! I will be using the break to play catch up on some reading and maybe get ahead a little bit, since I’m not actually that far behind. I will also be writing papers. I had four papers due this week but two of my profs offered me extensions when they heard about my week last week. I’m very thankful for that relief. I’ll do a better job.

13. Last Wednesday morning I got the call to go to the hospital to say goodbye to my grandpa. It was sad. But also good. He suffered for a long time, and now it is over. Also, we all got to be with him when he passed. That was nice.

14. Wednesday night my youngest girl started throwing up. It was the worst flu I’ve ever seen. I ended up having to take her to the hospital on Friday because she was so dehydrated. Poor monkey. She is all good now!

15. Needless to say, I didn’t get much work done last week.

16. I’m dreaming of job hunting. Not sure if they are sweet dreams or panicky feverish dreams.

17. I’m dreaming of dragonboat season starting again.

18. I dropped out of scuba though. I ditched my friend who was going to take me. I feel like a loser about that. I just can’t right now. No time. 😦 One day!

19. I really, really, really, like lip gloss.

20. Ummmm. Twentieth thing, twentieth thing…. hmmmmmm. The more Plato I read, the less cohesive his philosophy seems. Especially regarding the nature of the soul. I think I’ve found my term paper topic.

That is all. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Birthday Cake

So, sometime last month my sister was visiting our Papa in the hospital and she said to him “Wow. You’re going to turn 80 in a few weeks Pa!”

“What are you talking about? I just had my birthday in February,” he said.

“But it’s January now,” she said.

“Really? Already?” he asked, his eyes getting all wide. He couldn’t believe it. Time flies.

The next day he told his nurses “It’s my birthday tomorrow!”

They brought him a cake the next day. He was so happy. He loves cake, pie, cookies, chocolate – sugar of any kind. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually his birthday. I’m not even sure if he clued in. But my Nana and my Dad got a good laugh out of it, and they had some cake too when they went to visit him that evening.

Yesterday, sitting around my Nana’s kitchen table after we returned from the hospital where we had gathered around the ICU bed after the tubes were removed and the machines were turned off and we said our goodbyes and patted his hair and prayed prayers and sang his favorite songs as his breath faded away and his blood pressure dropped to nothing and he passed from this place to the next, my Dad suddenly chuckled and said, “At least he got his birthday cake.”

Papa would have turned 80 on Valentines Day. Rest in Peace Pa.

Flow

I’m a little afraid to say it aloud, in case it all shatters tomorrow, but things… are still good.

Sorry to be going on and on about school. It is just where my head is at right now.

The strange thing is that now that all the midterm paper topics have been assigned, I actually have more to do. Maybe it is that I have just finally hit my stride with this semester. Maybe it is that I have completed a handful of assignments (ahead of schedule) and feel really good about my grasp on my subjects. Maybe it is just having specific projects to work towards, instead of a gaping future of I-don’t-know-what-but-I-know-it-will-be-crazy. Maybe… lots of things, but I feel good. And that’s good!

Want to hear a crazy story from the past? I had kind of forgotten about it, but it came up today out of the blue in a class. I never posted about it while it was happening (I don’t think) because I didn’t want to embarrass my extended family, who are more private that I am, but now that a few years have passed, and the edge has worn off a little, and well, this blog is kind of anonymous – I think I’m safe to tell a bit of the story.

In my Ethics class, we were discussing John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian concept of Ethics, and the topic of motive. Sometimes people do good things for varying motives. For Mill, motives don’t matter. it is the right action that counts. One example was that a person could save a child from drowning. Their motive could be that they think it is ‘the right thing to do’ or their motive could be hope of a financial reward. Mill would say that it doesn’t matter because the child is saved. Another example would be that some businesses might give large sums of money to a charity for the sake of putting a plaque on the wall.

Visions of some very familiar plaques came to mind as she was speaking. There is a plaque on the wall of the hospital that I see every time I go visit a loved ones who are sick (which seems to be a lot lately). The plaque has my husband’s grandfathers name on it. That man gave all kinds of money all over town before he died. Nice old chap.

He also gave 1.5 million dollars to the university – the very university I was sitting in today (not to mention was attending at the time of the donation) – while ALL of his grandchildren are up to their ears in student debt. Yes he did. Gave it away purposefully (he was very explicit about that behind closed doors) so that none of his children or grandchildren could have it.

Crazy.

Oh well.

He used to give dirty looks to my husband at family dinners because I work. Women don’t work! It’s just wrong!

It’s like he was punishing us for not having money.

Crazy.

He made a good utilitarian decision, according to Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle.

So that was my crazy story out of nowhere. What else can I tell you about today? It’s frosty out there. Yeah, nothing else too exciting about today. My workout lasted the same amount of time (I’m really restricted time-wise) but I upped the level intensity, so that felt good. Now I’m going to read (again) Plato’s slave-boy demonstration that all knowledge is recollection.

Plato thought the soul exists before birth, knows everything, and forgets the knowledge at birth. So, when we learn things, we’re really just remembering. Yep. That’s Plato.

That’s why a good teacher doesn’t give knowledge to their pupils. Knowledge is already in the pupil, and just needs to be drawn out of them. Teachers just need to ask the right questions – lead the pupil in the right direction.

I should see what my teacher friends think about that.

Well. Time to go get the kiddos from school. I love them. I can’t wait to see them. Bye!