Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Books, Books, Books

You guys, sometimes I read too much. Sometimes I read when I ought to be cleaning the house. So, the good news is I have some lovely books to blog about. I'm just going to brain dump what I thought about them in little snippets, okay? The bad news sink is full of dishes right now.

Oh, well.

I first heard about this book in my 451 Theory class back in 2011, long before it was a movie. Room is told in the voice of a 5 year old boy who has lived in captivity with his mother his entire life. They escape their impenetrable shed halfway through the book and try to adjust to being in the world, and being free. This story is all the more poignant because it is told in the voice of a child. Somehow, that makes the darkness of the kidnapping and the struggles of Jack's mother a little more tolerable to consider, but also more repelling at the same time, if that makes sense. The whole thing is masterfully written and definitely makes you think. What is the most "real"? How do we deal with tragedy? What is bravery? What is so beautiful and sacred about the bond between parent and child? 

One thing I didn't like about the book... It definitely got a little political at times, which is inevitable considering the subject matter and the times in which we live. In one scene, Jack's mother discusses how she's okay with abortion and it's a choice that makes sense to her. For one thing, the topic felt out of place to me. But more importantly, this book is so beautifully about the affirmation of life and how the love between parent and child can save us. What does it say about our society that a book that covers these topics also feels the need to qualify these things? It really bugs me. 

A lot of people didn't like Go Set a Watchman when it came out. I'm not sure I loved it, partly because I just thought it was kind of slow. But I don't fault Lee for writing it the way she did, and about the topics she did. This book is less about racial relations in the United States, and more growing up. Scout learns that Atticus is not a perfect person, and she survives and becomes capable of making her own choices. Honestly, while I think some people would fault me for it, I liked Atticus the way he was presented in this book. The best heroes are flawed, just as the best villains have redeeming qualities. That's more like real life, isn't it? 

Out of all the books I've read this month, In the Heart of the Sea has the best ratings on Goodreads. First Greg and I watched the movie--about sailers who are lost at sea after their whaling ship is attacked by a sperm whale--and then I decided I wanted to read the book. A quick read, very interesting. While the section about cannibalism is hard to get through, I really liked the rest. And now I really, really want to visit Nantucket. 

This is a story about an 11 year old who solves a murder her father is framed for. I found the narrator to be both incredibly obnoxious and totally delightful. While I had a few problems with the way Bradley presents the arch of the detective story, I do think it's a cute and fun book. And I think it's the first book of a series, so I might just have to dig up the rest. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Growing Up

This little bubby is growing up. Yesterday we learned how to color a little bit. It surprised me how well she can actually grip a pen or a crayon in her hand and scribble. Well, not crayons so much. She mostly just eats crayons.

Today I had my To Do list and pencil out on the coffee table, and little Brynn picked that pencil right up and started coloring. It was adorable. Now I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't have encouraged that particular bit of curiosity yesterday.

Of course, she looks adorable while doing it. 

Since I never wrote down her 1 year stats, I guess now is a perfectly good time to do it. I'm still nursing her 3 times a day. You guys, I just can't stop. I don't think Brynn really "needs" it anymore, but I just don't want to be done. At her 12 month appointment, she was 28 inches tall and weighed exactly 20 lbs. She is in the 52nd percentile for weight, but only the 10th for height. Looks like she inherited those shorty Zollinger genes. Imma put her in gymnastics just as soon as I can without feeling like a crazy over-achiever mom. 

In the last few weeks she started clapping. When she was about 12 1/2 months she started walking to Greg and me. So fun! Now she will choose to walk about half the time. We've been trying to get her to blow kisses in the last few days, and I didn't think she was really picking up on it. But today I was talking to my parents and with no coaxing at all, Brynn blew kisses like crazy the whole time. Yeah. It's precious. 

She also started figuring out how to throw temper tantrums. Me and Greg are like...uh, now we actually have to do some discipline stuff, instead of just keeping her alive. Mostly my strategy is just to ignore the fits and try to teach her that they won't get her anything. Not sure it's working. Translation: I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I'M DOING OVER HERE. 

What would we do without our cutie, happy Brynn Eliza? Little Cutes McGee, we just love you. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Nothing big has happened lately. I have finished a book, but I don't feel like blogging about it. But I do feel like blogging, so I'm just going to document some random stuff we've been doing lately. These types of posts are always fun for me to look back on later.

1. We survived our first Florida hurricane. was just basically a rainstorm. We got all hunkered down and filled up our gas tanks and our bathtub with water, just in case...and then it just rained a little bit. Kind of anticlimactic. Thanks, Hermine, for letting Greg work from home on Fridaythough. That was fun. Also, we got some lovely, crazy, Florida sky pictures.

2. We finally broke down and bought an actual bed frame. We're Hemnes people over here. It may not look like much, but it's pretty fun for us. After 6 years, we feel like a legit married couple. Not a great picture, but our room feels so put together and peaceful now. I'm like, Joanna Gaines ain't got nothin' on me. (just kidding, I really love her, and I don't really know what shiplap is or how it got on all the walls, but I love shiplap too) 

3. I always wanted a daughter with tawny curls. You guys, her hair is growing and I am getting my wish. 

The perfect baby curl. 

4. I've written my second primary program, and it's pretty stinkin' awesome, if I do say so myself. Probably going to go over time, though. Also, cub scouts is kicking my booty. Other than that, I can't even tell you how much I heart being in primary. 

5. That's kind of it. Brynn just woke up from her nap. Time to play. 


Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Books

Time to do the obligatory monthly reading post. I feel like I might be missing something, but anyway here are the books I remember reading in the last few weeks. 

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. Elder Richard G. Hinckley came to my church ward when I was a young teenager and he quoted from this book in his talk, and since then, I've known I needed to read it. Don't know why it didn't happen til now. 

I think this is an absolutely beautiful book. It shows how Africans lived around the onset of apartheid in South Africa. The story of Stephen Kumalo's trip to Johannesburg to find his sister and his son, both who have turned to crime to support themselves in the city, discusses the issues surrounding urbanization, poverty, crime, tribal culture and the end of tribal culture, race, family dynamics and the importance of healthy family structures in society...there's just so much in here. Even though the book was about a preacher and societal issues, it never got "preachy." It just told a story about one family's sorrow in a way that was somehow simple and bare but also poetic. 

Mostly, though Cry, the Beloved Country is a story about forgiveness and compassion, and that's why it was beautiful. I thought the compassion demonstrated by the characters was all the more poignant because each and every character was presented as flawed, even very flawed. And I'm not talking about Absalom Kumalo, who committed murder. I'm talking about the heroes of the book. This  is just one of those stories that leaves me both thinking but also in peace. Even flawed people can commit great acts of charity, and even extremely flawed cultures can produce people who are capable of incredible love. Regardless of your opinion of how societal problems should be addressed, this book is an eye-opener. 

Okay, I've written too much already, so I'll just say, here are the other books I read: 

Some light comedy and some light economics. My favorite anecdote from the books above was about the social structure and economics of drug dealers in Chicago. DON'T DO DRUGS, JUST SAY NO. 

Public libraries are really some of my favorite places, and I mean that wholly without sarcasm. I have 6 or 7 books on hold at the library right now. It's nice to know I have good taste I guess...or at least the same taste as everyone else in Jacksonville?