Saturday, July 30, 2016

July Book List

It's summer in Texas.  Avoid the heat by staying in and reading a book.


The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick:  I did things very backwards with this book.  D and I watched the show on Amazon Prime first, then we grabbed the book.  As crazy as it sounds, I think that's the way to go with Dick's story of what would have happened if Germany had won WWII.  The book is very well written, but I don't think I would have understood it as well without first seeing the show. Plus, the show and book are similar, but they focus on different aspects of the story, so you're not going to have the whole thing ruined for you by watching first.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout:  I loved this novel.  It is one that can easily be read in one sitting.  The language is simple, yet the story explores the depths of abuse, poverty, identity, and mother/daughter relationships.

If you enjoy this one, you might like:  Outline by Rachel Cusk

Everything I Don't Remember by Jonas Hassen Khemiri:  Due to a nameless narrator and the disjointed writing style, this one is not easy to get into.  I thought about abandoning ship several times in the beginning, but I kept going.  It was a good read, but after all the build up and suspense, I wasn't blown away by the ending.  This fictional account is an interesting study in memory and different perspectives of the same story.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid:  This one was not a favorite, though I dare you to start reading it and then try to stop.  It's suspenseful enough that I couldn't put it down, but the ending was less satisfying than I hoped for, and I figured out it was going to be about halfway through the book.  Still, kudos to any author who can keep me reading even when I'm pretty sure I'm not going to walk away with a satisfied feeling.

If you like this one, you might like(or in this case, be mildly entertained by):  The Forgetting Place  by John Burley

The Unseen World by Liz Moore:  I can't say enough good things about this one.   I read a lot of good fiction this month, but this was my favorite.  This story follows Ada, the son of computer science genius David, as she comes of age in the 1980s.  When a mystery surfaces, Ada has to rely on her father's disinegrating memory and clues he leaves behind to find out who he is many years after she thought she already knew.  The characters are unforgettable and the story unfolds beautifully in Moore's care.

If you like this one, you might like: The Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin or Version Control by Dexter Palmer

Historical Fiction

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart:  Despite the seriousness of the title, this book was hilarious.  It was also moving, suspensful, and full of information that makes me glad I was not a woman at the beginning of the 20th century.  Girl Waits with Gun follows three sisters as they come up against a  man who is bent on making their lives hell when one of them, Constance, demands payment for his wrongdoing.  The story has flashbacks built in every few chapters, so the reader will feel a deeper connection with the characters as the story moves forward.

If you like this one, you might like:  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd


Half the Church Carolyn Custis James:  I've been on an exciting journey for some time concerning women's roles in God's great plan, and Half the Church has been a welcome companion.  Make no mistake: this is not a fluff piece.  Rather it's a convicting, Biblically supported read that brings up many questions, like why do we applaud girls in countries where women are oppressed when they stand up and fight against a patriachal system, but find here in the states that boys attending Bible colleges name "submissive" as the number one characteristic that they look for in a wife?  (That fact leads to many women within our churches submitting to abusive spouses and not coming forward for fear of condemnation.)

James explores these issues with grace and wisdom and presents the great truth that matters more than all the gender debates on the planet:  God called women to be warriors right along with men. Women who choose not to participate and men who discourage women from doing so will have to answer to Him because there are too many people hurting in this world for us to bench half the church.

You Might Like:  Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Museums and the Invention of Don't Lose Your Marbles

All of my parenting life I've wanted to ensure my kids didn't end up living near museums and not seeing them.  This is something I've been thinking about since Wren was a baby.  We tried in May to make it down to the Nasher and the DMA, but we stopped at Klyde Warren Park first which is where Wren gashed her chin open on a rock.  Instead of studying works of art, I saw the meaty innards of my child's face.  I just threw up in my mouth typing that.

We decided to try again a couple of weeks ago, but things got off to a rocky start.  Sammy wanted to go on his individual date with D, which wasn't set to take place until the afternoon.  Asher and Eowyn had some sort of dispute over a towel that got ugly fast.  Wren did not want to be anywhere near "the park where I almost died and everyone saw me bleed."  The museums she was cool with, but the thought of even being near the park caused quite a bit of anxiety.

D and I gave each other that look you give when you've planned a great day for your kids and realize they have the potential to ruin it before you even make it to the garage.  You know the look.  So I handed five marbles to all the people in the house over three and explained that if anyone whined, yelled, or otherwise acted inappropriately, they would have to sacrifice a marble.  That included D and me.

For whatever reason, all of us did great that day.  We hit two museums, Chipotle, and no one lost even one marble.  At the first signs of bad behavior, one of us would warn the other, "Don't lose your marbles!" and we'd all laugh and recalibrate our thinking.

The weird thing is how well this worked for me.  I did not want my marbles taken away from me by my school-aged children, and just the threat of that helped me reframe my words and focus on problem prevention and solving instead of just reacting emotionally.

Here are some pictures of our artsy adventures:

Identifying art on a scavenger hunt.

Eowyn in purple.  This is her art appreciation face.

The spinny chairs at the Nasher were a hit!

Creating our own art at the DMA.

My men

My loves.

D making my line creation look as sad as it really is.

You guessed it.  I made the lopsided hexagon.  It took
me several tries.  I'm sorry Mrs. Walker, my tenth-grade geometry
teacher.  I know you tried.  

Waiting for fourth of July fireworks the same weekend as the
museum visits.

I wish I had a picture of the first time Wren and Sam saw a picture of one of the big paintings displayed outside the DMA.  Eyes got wide, jaws dropped open.  I will always remember it because it's what I want for them, to be surprised and amazed by art.