Float :: a book review



What good is a wordless book? In its silence, it shouts.

“Pause! Reflect! Absorb!”

On every page of this concise little title, the reader is encouraged to drink deep the adventures of youth. The child’s delight as he steps off his porch, fervor as he splashes, and dismay at losing something dear to him, are all beautifully illustrated as a reminder of just how passionately the young among us experience what seem to us to be the humdrum day-to-day moments.

My favorite part, though, is when his parent acknowledges his dismay, and helps him go about setting things right. How often do we brush off the big emotions of our children, meeting their dismay at losing that leaf that looked just so, with frustration of our own?

“What’s the big deal? Grow up!”

We may not say these words aloud, but we certainly say them with our actions. When I am frustrated that my son cannot cope with the fact that he cut the construction paper too small for what he wanted to build, or that his creative process requires a certain color LEGO piece that he cannot find, may I be reminded that he is human, too, and these “little” things matter to him as strongly as my experiences matter to me. May I be reminded to see things through passionate eyes once more, and to revel in the simplicity of splashing in puddles and watching snowflakes drift.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended by: 17 of the Most Beautifully Illustrated Picture Books in 2015

Recommended if: you’re looking for picture books demonstrating gentle parenting, you enjoy losing yourself in illustrations, or you just need to be reminded of the wonder of youth.

Linked at: Saturday Review of Books

2016 Reading Challenges

I had the greatest of intentions to start blogging again in 2016, beginning with a grand list of all of the books that I intended to read (and, in theory, review) this year, as well as an update on life as I know it.

Then, you know, life happened. I had a lovely little health crisis the day after Christmas, which has dragged on and left me fairly lacking in energy, motivation, and organization to do anything except keep the kids alive. (Kidding. They’re all still alive. I think. One, two, thr– yes. All still there.)

Finally I just decided to return with a book review.

But now! Yes, now. Now the list is assembled. Or rather, the lists are assembled. See, I’m going to be ambitious. (Because that’s the thing to do when chronic illness besets you, am I right? Be ambitious. Ambition will help you do ALL THE THINGS.) I’m going to partake of multiple reading challenges.

I’ll just pause right here to let you shake your head in dismay for a moment.

Done? Good. Moving right along.

My initial goal for this year was to say that I wouldn’t be reading library books. Or, well, okay. I would limit the reading of library books. To a minimal amount. As yet undecided. Then life happened, and not only did I not finish what I already had checked out in late 2015, but books that had been requested via inter-library loan came. So. Erm. Well. What reading has been accomplished in January has been primarily focused on getting those books back where they came from or so help me–

No, I did not just break into a chorus from Monsters, Inc. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

So. The notorious To Be Read pile. All of those books that you picked up because they were free or cheap, or that were given to you, lent to you, or that you borrowed from the library but then decided that you needed to own so that you could sit down and study, highlight, peruse, and absorb them… only to have them sit on your shelf once purchased, unread. Yes, that TBR pile. Turns out, there’s actually a challenge for this. With prizes.

I’ll be participating at the Mount Blanc level or, for the uninitiated, the plan is to read twenty-four of the books on my shelf. If I read more, great, but I figure with three mobile children now (yes, you read that correctly, three), setting the bar at two books per month is fairly ambitious, since most of my TBR falls under the category of thought-provoking non-fiction or classics, neither of which are particularly easy to breeze through. I haven’t nailed down exactly which ones I’ll be reading; I certainly have a fair number from which to choose.

Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity? I’ve only had it since high school. Jane Eyre? No, I’ve never read it. Yes, I can feel your disapproving gaze from here. Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church PracticesA friend lent it to me, so obviously I need to make this one a priority. Then there are titles like Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant, The Kite Runner, and the somewhat-ironic How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent ReadingPerhaps I should start with that last one! If you’d like to take a peek at some of the others I am considering, you can take a peek at the applicable Goodreads shelf. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the titles therein, especially if you have read them yourself!

Now, when I stumbled upon the Mount TBR challenge, I also discovered Read It Again, Sam . No prizes here, but I figure that it will be good motivation for me to re-read a series that I’ve been meaning to reread for quite some time: Harry Potter. I started reading them my freshman year, and the last time that I read Deathly Hallows was, I’m afraid, the only time I’ve read it – and that was shortly after it was published. So, yes. It’s about time. There are a few others on my shelves that I would like to take the time to revisit, so I’ll be joining this one as well.

Last but not least – yes, that’s right, three challenges – I will be participating in the Finishing the Series reading challenge. I’ll be working at Level Two, with the goal of finishing off two to four series in 2016. Since I had already begun Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by the time I discovered this challenge, I’m going to include the Harry Potter series in the challenge, as well as Anne of Green Gables and Ralph Moody, as I’ve read the first two books in both of those series and would like to finish them off.

Yes. It’s a bit ambitious. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.

So, what about you? What are you planning to read in 2016?

It’s the first Picoult that I have read in a while, and while I enjoyed most of it, the end fell a little flat for me. I thoroughly enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper, although I had watched the movie first and while thought that I knew the twist – ha! – so that ending left me a wretched mess. I’ve read a few others since, and none of them has quite struck the same chord that MSK did; some even felt formulaic. Continue Reading »

Of health and wellness

As some of you may have seen in the Sunday Lynx yesterday, there’s a new link-up in town: Mighty Mommy Mondays! While the host is focusing primarily on an athletic goal – swimming fifty miles – their focus is to encourage bloggers who are hoping to make changes that will have an effect on their health regardless of what “area” of life that involves. Whether it’s being more intentional with your meal planning, getting out there and starting a workout regimen, remembering to take your vitamins, or just getting your family out to the park on a more regular basis, they’d like to help uplift and keep you accountable.

Now, what are my goals? Well, aside from my reading goals for 2014 – which, I have to say, I believe counts toward the idea of mental health – I’ve got a few others, and I might as well throw them up here on the blog.

1. Make stretches and exercises that promote diastasis healing a daily habit. A lot of mamas find that they have diastasis after they’ve borne children, and many of them are far more severe than mine (which, last I checked, was only about a 2.5), but I would like to heal this so that I can focus on the exercises that I used to do pre-baby, such as pushups, crunches, et cetera, which are all exercises that are not recommended when you’ve got diastasis.

2. Transition my sons and I to the Full GAPS diet. This one may prove interesting; we’ve been gluten-free since I received the diagnosis of non-celiac gluten-intolerant in February 2012, and dairy-free for the last four weeks in preparation for going on GAPS. I’ve wanted to try the GAPS diet for healing my food intolerances and the constant battle I have with candida, as well as to see if it would help my older son’s digestive issues and sensory processing issues, but what with cooking for extended family while we lived in their home, I knew it wasn’t going to happen until I had my own kitchen again. Now that we’ve closed on our new home and are preparing to move in, it can finally happen!

3. Build food stores. This one goes back to reading Independence Daysand the goals she lays out, to try to do one of the following things each day: plant something, harvest something, preserve something, minimize waste, want not, cook something new, manage your reserves, and work on local food systems. Frankly, this goal falls primarily into the last two categories. I first want to build my reserves, but in doing so, I want to try to work within the local food system, stay within a limited budget, and maintain a GAPS diet – which means your typical “storage foods,” such as whole wheat grains and canned beans, won’t work for us. We’ll see just how well we can tweak this. That was my biggest qualm with her book; the section on “special diets” focused primarily on the needs of pregnant women and infants. To my mind, those aren’t special diets… they are seasons of life. There’s a difference, don’t you think?

4. Plant a garden. This is sort-of a sub-goal to #2 and #3, in a way. Or perhaps they are sub-goals of #4. Chicken and the egg, right? Regardless, planting (and harvesting!) a garden this next year will go a long way in  a) reducing our grocery bill, b) consuming healthier foods, and c) staying active. Because it’s a little hard to plant, weed, and harvest if you’re sitting inside, ye ken?

So what about you? What are your goals to increase and/or promote health for your family this year?

This post is part of the Mighty Mommy Mondays link-up.

Sunday Lynx :: 01.05.14


Everything from the past week seems to fall under one of two categories: parenting or health. So. Why be fancy?


When you read about gentle parenting, do you feel inspired but at a loss as to what to do in your own home? When you debate the topic, do you agree that punitive methods are problematic, but can’t find another way? When you hear people online gush about gentle parenting, do you just want to know what the heck it is and how to do it?
The Problem with Gentle Parenting (The Guggie Daily)

All kids have special needs. (Simple Homeschool)

I have dark pools under my eyes. A valley where my belly button once was. Hips with a new amplitude that my teenage self wouldn’t recognize. I have lines mapped across the mountains of stretched skin left over on my midsection. Lightening bolts on my sides proving I once was too small to contain all of the love that filled me. Lines indicating that my daughter once lived inside of me.

Do you realize the significance in that? Every limb, finger, toe…her heart, even, developed near the very place my own heart beats inside of my chest. Those mountains of skin are all I have left to prove that we were once one and not two.

How can I be ashamed of that?
Babies Ruin Bodies (we seek joy)

Keeper of the Home talks about Twelve Things My Children Learned While Worldschooling This Year. It sounds fantastic. And fantastical. And it would be an amazing thing to do someday. (Although I would probably settle for Scotland, to be perfectly honest.)

Hey, I know! Bring in another child because you can use hand me downs. Have another child because you can make them take care of each other. Or alternatively, refuse to bring another child into your family because you can’t give them new clothes. Restrict your family size because you want to care for each child one at a time. Whichever one floats your boat, you have to realize that they are two sides of the same coin.

Did You Ask Your Child to Join Your Family Today? (The Guggie Daily)

Mighty Mommy Mondays! Introducing a New Linky (Farmer’s Daughter)

When your five year old pulled off her coat, revealing a Wonder Woman dress and purple sweat pants in all their glory, I could see you thinking again that it wasn’t appropriate for church.  Oh, mama!  First of all, I have kids with SPD and I know very well what it is like when every single item of clothing they own suddenly doesn’t feel right.  Here is the most important thing: she had put on joy, love and a tender and open spirit.  She has plenty of time to adapt to social conventions of what is appropriate.  What I saw was a pure heart that was happy to be there, and that is far more important.  Seriously–if you had pushed the issue, and forced her to change, it would only have meant that you both arrived in a bad mood (if you arrived at all!).  And finally, she was totally rockin’ the sparkly shoes with her outfit!
To the mom who brought Wonder Woman to church (Dulce de leche)

Food Co-Ops: What They Are and How to Find One Near You (GNOWFGLINS)

Five Changes Your Body Begs You For (Butter Nutrition)


Now if only the Elf were wearing a gas mask, we could combine the two scariest elements of Doctor Who in one meme.

H/T: The Common Room


Back when I first saw Food, Inc., I was surprised and excited to see them interview Joel Salatin about sustainable farming practices. It served as a great introduction to the work that Joel is doing on his farm, to all of the people who are more apt to watch a movie than read a book (and believe me, I love Joel’s books!). But now? Now they’re doing a seventy-minute documentary just about Polyface Farm and Salatin’s family.

They’ve invested $50k into the project thus far, and need another $95k to finish. Sustainable agriculture is growing more prevalent in the cultural eye; there are enough people out there to get this important project finished. This system can work. This system does work. So ;et’s continue to educate. Let’s continue to grow.

Donate. Share the video. Spread the word.

I’ve read a few reviews of Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City that were fairly negative, bemoaning the fact that this book is not an exciting memoir to be picked up by the ambivalent masses who grow a potted tomato on their patio and perhaps a little basil in their window-box. I can’t say that my gardening experience has been particularly more involved than that, although I did harvest some particularly tasty lettuce a few years ago, and I’ve found that it’s nigh unto impossible to kill a zuchinni, but despite not being the book’s “target audience,” I did enjoy it.

Here’s the thing – don’t go into it expecting it to be something that it’s not. The subtitle should tell you everything that you need to know: “Two Plants Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City.” Did you catch that third word? Geek. So guess what? They’re going to geek out on you. They’re going to talk about the different plants that they planned to put in, and how this plant didn’t get along with that plant, and how this other plant with a family name that I can’t pronounce was too aggressive, and then there was this pest that killed off three-quarters of the plant they were hoping to harvest, and this one was just too fascinating to not try and grow, and did we mention the tropical theme in the front yard and how we tried to have chickens but then the cops got wind of it–

Yeah. They’re passionate about their plants. They’re passionate about their permaculture. So unless you’re a permaculture enthusiast yourself – or a voracious researcher like myself, who reads plenty but does little – you’re probably not going to like the book. I’ll admit that there were a few portions where I felt my eyes start to glaze over, but you know what I did? I paused, appreciated their passion, and skimmed ahead. You see, I can appreciate that passion. I can appreciate that sometimes, you’re going to make someone’s eyes glaze a bit when you’re really on a roll, because.. well.. I’ve done it myself.

So was reading this book a waste of my time? Goodness, no. I got to read about some rather fascinating plants that deserve to re-enter the limelight after being sent to the corner by industrial agriculture. I got to enjoy seeing someone else be passionate about what they do. And while my climate is even less hospitable to tropical plants than Massachusetts – a point that is driven home quite squarely by the -1 degree Fahrenheit temperature as I write this – I was able to glean a few ideas that I would like to put into practice as I discover what our new home has to offer. After all, a home is not just the house. A home is also the land around it. A home is what you make of it. And I intend to make much of it.

What is this, Canada?

The forecast high for tomorrow is zero. Zero. And the windchill? -20.

What is this, Canada?

Suffice to say the horses are bundled in the warmest possible combination of blankets available to them, Spice the livestock guarding dog is bedded down with the goats tonight instead of adjacent to their pen, and the neighbors probably think someone was being abducted thanks to the cries of the psychotic rooster that I rescued from where he was roosted outside.

What are you doing to keep your critters warm?

I’m just wondering, because I came across this…

…and it seems legit.