Wednesday, February 14, 2018

16 Things About You at Age 16

16.  Wow.  I continue to be amazed by you both!  I am so blessed to be your Mom.

  1. You seem to get taller by the minute!  I don't know where you will stop!
  2. You started fencing last year and, as predicted, you love it.  Maybe not the Saturday morning practices.
  3. You are teaching yourself computer animation and you are good!
  4. You have a little business drawing avatars for people and they pay you in game currency.
  5. You have a half-year class this year in Video Game Design so that's probably gonna be an easy A.
  6. Your favorite class at school is still Global History.
  7. Your favorite lunch now is Quorn chicken nuggets.  Or jalapeno tuna.  Your favorite snack is a whole pizza :-D
  8. You still talk to your cousin on the phone a lot.
  9. I recently started listening to audio books in the car and I torture you guys with listening to them when we're driving to and fro together.  You seem like you're not paying attention and focused on your phone, but every so often you call out something witty. "Brandon's the better man, Marianne!  Go with Brandon!"  I recently got Master and Commander mostly because I thought you would enjoy it and you did.  
  10. Last night while watching Half-Pipe in the Olympics you said "Shaun White, the only role model we gingers have."  I said that wasn't true and you said ok, name some more.  I said Ed Sheeran, which you accepted.  Prince Harry, which you said was pushing it.  And then I couldn't think of any more.  So now it's down to you, bud.
  11. When you were little, you'd take any excuse to stay home from school.  Hang nail?  Can I stay home?  Tiniest scratch?  Can I stay home?  Now you go to school no matter what, even on the days when I tell you can stay home if you want to.  
  12. You are great about being in charge and keeping an eye on your brother when Dad and I have to be somewhere and you two would rather not go.
  13. Your fashion choices lean towards athletic gear, shirts with hoods, a leather jacket with a hood, and sneakers with just a pop of color.
  14. You have muscles!  That is still strange to me.  
  15. Your face has started morphing into a man's face.  Also strange.  But also kinda cool.
  16. You haven't shown a lot of interest in driving yet and that is fine with me right now.  

  1. You are still growing but not as fast as your brother.  Your feet have stopped though.  
  2. Your favorite lunch is still lunchmeat, pickles and craisins.  Spaghetti is still your favorite dinner with mashed potatoes being a close second.  And smoothies!
  3. For your birthday celebration, you want to take everyone to the Skylon Tower for dinner.  And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  Maybe we should just ask how much it is to rent out the whole place!
  4. When we ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you always say a cook or a farmer.  But you don't actually want to ever help me cook or mess about in the garden.  But you do love food and you do love restaurants.  So maybe you need to be a restaurant critic.  I think that might be the perfect job for you!
  5. Dad and Uncle Hugh took you to the car show last weekend.  You enjoyed sitting in the race car but meeting Wonder Woman was better.
  6. You still wear a hat each and every day and right now you are not happy that I haven't managed to fix the ribbon on your top hat.  You have now added sunglasses worn over your prescription glasses.  
  7. Your remaining fashion choices depend on the weather.  Hawaiian shirts in the summer, tuxedo vest and bow tie for formal occasions and fun tshirts with characters the rest of the time.  When it is cold outside you prefer the puffy coat you stole from Mark to the big parka.
  8. You have appropriated Dad's chromebook and now prefer that to the ipads for the moment.
  9. But I am not allowed to use any of the ipads even though you are not using them.  You literally take them away from me and put them back on the shelf.
  10. You love going to a show whether it is the movies or something at Shea's.  You really enjoyed the Nutcracker and Lion King this year.  
  11. When it is time to shave you tell us to leave the mustache alone!  
  12. You started high school this year and have settled in well.  The 7 a.m. bus was an adjustment though.
  13. You are still the first one up in the morning.
  14. You still swim and dance and now are enjoying bowling a lot more.  You got a ball, shoes and bag for Christmas.  You love wearing the team shirt.  
  15. You love to paint and draw.  We've asked that art be one of your electives next year.  
  16. You like to tell me you are homesick and pretend cry.  Then you say "already home!" and laugh and laugh.  Silly.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2017's Best Books

This year I read 66 books or 19,813 pages.  Yay!  I was also part of 3 book clubs, so that led me to read a few things I wouldn't have normally but mostly it was nice just to have more local people to hang out with.  Sometimes we even talked about the books ;-D  There were a few clunkers (aren't there always?) but most of them were enjoyable.  Here are the ones I loved best this year and that have earned a place on my "always recommend" list.

  • The Complete Works of Jane Austen.  I was pretty sure I'd read them all over the years, but it was possible that I'd just gotten tangled up in movie adaptations (hello, Colin Firth!).  So this year I decided to revisit all of her work.  I found a great audio book of Mansfield Park read by Juliet Stevenson (herself having acted in some of those movie adaptations) and to my delight she had read all the others as well.  Having the right reader makes all the difference to a good audio book!  Feeling the need to take a break from the constant news this year, I turned to audio books to save my sanity and that made life so much more enjoyable.  As I have found when I read all of a series again in one go, reading all of Austen's work in succession allowed me to pick up on little subtleties and similarities I missed the first time (all those men with "W" names for instance).  It also allowed me to see the growth of Austen as a writer.  I still can't pick a favorite, but Persuasion has moved up the list and Emma has moved down.  I know a lot of people didn't love Lady Susan (the film version is called Love and Friendship), finding it too mean-spirited, but I thought it was hilarious.  I'd like to think this was a more accurate depiction of Jane's inner monologues as she observed the world around her.  
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  I found this book when there was a lot of press about it being one of the books that entire communities were reading together.  It's the story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team and how they won gold against all odds.  But it goes into the history of rowing, the very difficult lives of the boys who grew up in the Depression and fought for everything they got and how rowing helped shape them.  Honestly, this is not the kind of book I normally read, preferring fiction.  But I ADORED this book.  It kept me on the edge of my seat and I'll admit I read the last chapters more than twice.  I also found the old newsreel footage on Youtube to see how it really happened.  It gave me some insight, too, to the era that my parents grew up in.  While they would always tell us stories about making do and hardships, for some reason this book really brought all that home and showed how their generation got their resiliency and their can-do attitude that as time passed served the world well in WWII.  I also got D. to read it and he loved it as well.
  • The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker.   The story opens with Julia, arriving in Burma to search for her missing father.  The only clue she has is a love letter he wrote many years ago to a woman neither she nor her mother have ever heard of.  What she finds is yes, a love story and a mystery solved, but also a story of resilience, dedication and miracles.  The language in this book is so lyrical, so unbearably beautiful, I dare you not to be drawn in
  • Beartown by Frederik Backman.  I've been a big fan of Backman's work ever since A Man Called Ove made the list last year.  This book isn't as quirky as his others, though there are some quirky characters.  It takes on much more serious themes that ended up being very timely for what is going on in the world right now.  It's about communities, how they're formed or not formed, how they stand together or not, and how they heal or not when tragedy strikes.  It's about the dangers of putting all your hopes and dreams into one thing and one thing only.  Faced with choices, both big and small, each character in this book slowly reveals who they are and what they stand for.  It's also just as much about place as it is people, the location is just as important a character as the others.  I also think he's quite good in depicting relationships, all those little nuances and actions that started out as nothing but added up over the years become important to a couple, a group of friends, a mentor and protegee.  In typical Backman style, the direction you think the book is going in isn't necessarily where you end up, which is one of the reasons why I love his work.  
Happy reading!  If you read any of these, let me know what you think and, as always, I'd love to hear what made your list of favorites this year.