Friday, July 27, 2018

A Friday list...

Hey there, internet! Long time, no see.

1. July was travel month 2.0. Jeremy and I spent another fantastic week at Sooner Youth Camp while the kids lived the small-town country life at Nana and Grandpapa's house. Then, the kids and I drove up to Missouri to visit my family for the week, while Jeremy headed back to Houston to work for a few days before going to Chicago for Ultimate Frisbee Masters Nationals. The kids and I had a blast in Independence, and managed the 14 hour road trip from Independence to Houston without any major incidents (pro tip: when driving with small children make a pit stop IMMEDIATELY before getting on the Indian Nation Turnpike because that is one lonely stretch of road).

2. Re-entry into "normal" life has gone about as expected, with the most major hiccup coming yesterday when I tripped while running and tore up both of my hands and one knee pretty bad. It's times like this when I notice just how much I wash my hands and pick up my kids. (ouch, ouch, ouch). Also cooking...dishes...showering...

3. We're beginning the potty training adventure with child number two this week. We bought brand new undies and candy for bribes so we're ready to go! I'm just praying it goes more quickly than with child number one.

5. I've read a few super fun books the past few weeks: Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson; To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S., I Still Love You, by Jenny Han; and Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan.

Alif the Unseen is fantasy with a modern setting (kind of like Harry Potter). It's computer hackers meets Middle Eastern folklore and mysticism. I loved the unfamiliar-to-me Middle Eastern setting, and the author did a fantastic job of bringing it to life. Really, I loved everything about this book: from the well-written and nuanced characters to the spot-on dialogue. I couldn't put it down.

The Jenny Han books are the first two in a contemporary YA trilogy about a teenage girl who gets over intense crushes by writing "goodbye" letters to the crushes but not sending them. Except one day the letters get mailed and things get a little awkward and a little exciting too. The books are also about family, friendship, and being brave. Han writes great teenagers that are endearingly annoying and clueless, and love triangles that actually feel realistic. Bonus: the first book has been adapted to a movie by Netflix! I can't wait.

And finally, I've been hearing good things about Crazy Rich Asians for a while, and since the movie comes out in a couple of weeks I thought it was time to jump on board -- I'm so glad I did! It was engaging, fascinating, breezy, and a perfect summer read. The setting and over-the-top (but still realistic) characters steal the show, so it definitely has the potential to be a great movie.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Wednesday list...Independence Day edition

1. I know there are a lot of people around the Houston area today who are bummed about today's weather -- rain -- but I have to say, it's been a pretty good day around here so far. Jeremy got to play a fun game of Ultimate Frisbee in the rain, I drank my coffee and cleaned up our screened in porch while the kids played in the mud and rain, I went for a short run (on the treadmill, so not ideal, but I'm still grateful), and now kiddos are napping while the rain is falling and I'm drinking more coffee. Wins all around.

2. I listened to the Popcast with Knox and Jamie this morning (because On Wednesdays we Popcast!) -- Patriotism in Pop Culture. While most of the episode was the delightful fun one expects from The Popcast, at the beginning they mentioned something in their theme set up that stood out to me: the differences between patriotism (good) and nationalism (bad). Here's my paraphrase and personal spin on their point --  Patriotism: being proud of where you're from, and wanting to represent your home country well. Nationalism: loving your country to the point of being aggressive, antagonistic, and dismissive to anywhere else in the world. patriotism: being proud of where your from, and being able to acknowledge the not-so-great things about it while also celebrating those things that are truly great. Nationalism: turning a love of country into idolatry.

All that to say: I'm grateful and proud to be an American. It's not perfect -- but no place is, and I'm proud to live in a country whose citizens can and do work to preserve what's good and change what's bad. I appreciate the sacrifices of resources, time, and life that people have made and still make in order to create a society, community, and home where people have the opportunity to thrive. Everyone from veterans and law enforcement to honorable government leaders to neighbors and teachers and doctors and nurses and families and caregivers, preachers and protesters, artists of all kinds, the guys who pick up my trash and the girl at the grocery store who bags my groceries.

3. On a lighter note, and because it wouldn't be Amanda Loves Words without some talk about books and movies, here are some seasonally appropriate recommendations:

Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen - Sarah Dessen writes some of the best contemporary young adult fiction around, and this novel is set in a little beach town in North Carolina. There's nothing specifically about the 4th of July, but it's the kind of book that feels like the epitome of summer.

Time Enough for Drums, by Ann Rinaldi - This is another book written for a younger audience, but it's a great Revolutionary War novel if you're in the mood for historical fiction but don't want to pick up a door stopper of a book. There's a swoony romance, spies, and a heroine who grows and develops in the face of having her ideas and preconceptions challenged.

Lonsesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry - The American West is so iconic, that I had to add this book. It's not an easy, breezy summer read, but it's a book that will put you straight into the middle of a period of American history that fascinates so many. It's rich, detailed, and full of fascinating characters.

The Sandlot - there are actually quite a few options out there in the "baseball-Americana" movie category, but for my money it's going to be The Sandlot. Baseball, kids and summertime, and don't forget the once-a-year night game played by the light of the fireworks.

Armageddon - Jamie Golden mentioned this on The Popcast and I have to agree -- you've got the space program, working class roughnecks, huge pieces of machinery, personal sacrifice, and a very emotional aren't-we-all-glad-to-be-alive montage.

Fresh off the Boat  - A t.v. show about immigrants to America seems like a fitting addition to a Fourth of July list. I haven't watched it yet myself, but I've heard really great things about this show -- that it's funny, thoughtful, well-written, and entertaining. Sounds like it's worth giving a try!

Hidden Figures  and Windtalkers - I mention these two together, because they both celebrate people in our country's history who made big impacts that were largely forgotten.

Happy Independence Day!