Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Where have I been?

This blog has been relocated! Find us now at Lonesome Cow Ranch, where my husband and I have integrated our several blogs and are starting a new journey in our lives!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book Review - Wayward

Wayward (Wayward Pines #2)Wayward by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These books are just so much fun.

I marked this as currently reading a couple of days ago, but didn't start it until last night. And once again, after I had picked it up I was in it til the end, reading under the covers like I did as a ten-year-old and barely holding in my excitement during the climax of the book.

But this is very hard to review without barfing spoilers all over the place.

If you liked Pines, the first book in this trilogy, you'll like Wayward. If you like creepy, dark novels, you will love this. If you liked shows like Twin Peaks and the X files, or books like The Lottery (The Shirley Jackson one we all read in 8th grade, you know the one), then you will stay up late at night reading this book under the covers and gasping and squealing in all the right places.

It's just so much fun.

I thought I was burned out on dystopia when a recent read that was pretty well reviewed here and on Amazon just bored me and made me question my whole love of the genre. But I still love dystopia. I just love *good* dystopia. These characters are real and relatable and not all-powerful. They are human and flawed, even our hero isn't such an awesome guy. He's just an ordinary husband who makes mistakes and sometimes makes great triumphs.

The world-building here did have me question a couple of places. If they don't have furnaces, why do they have hot water heaters? If they have such limited stores, why are they using disposable styrofoam coffee cups? Things like that. They'd make me hesitate for a second, but not long enough to cost the book a star. If there had been much more of that, maybe. But I wasn't overly troubled.

As happens with the best dystopia, I wanted to be a part of everything. It drew me in that much. I'd probably die first, you know how that goes, but I wanted to be there to see it anyway.

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Monday, 25 May 2015

Book Review - Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of ThingsStuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, let me explain that when I ordered this book from the library, I did so because we have a hoarder in our family that I was hoping to help, or at the very least, to understand better. By the time the book was shipped from another library and delivered into my hot little hands, that family member had been cut out of my life for other reasons.

I figured I would read the book anyway, since I enjoy hoarding TV shows in a rubbernecking-at-the-accident way, and thought this might be entertaining as well.

Yeah.... not so much.

This is sort of a memoir of a person who has both treated and studied hoarders for years. It includes stories of the people in his case studies, but it's much more sad and depressing than it is entertainment. Enlightening? Sure. But in a way that made both my heart and my head hurt.

This is less about horror stories and more about the significant mental illnesses that plague people who also suffer from hoarding disorders. It is academic, a bit dry in places, and a bit draggy in places. If you are interested in the psychological study of hoarding disorders, this is for you. If you are interested in different treatment approaches and how they fared among different patients, this is for you. If you are prepared for sad endings, stories of depressing childhoods, tales of abuse and neglect and marriages pulled apart, give this a go.

If you are looking for a fun horror story, a'la "Hoarding: Buried Alive" or "Hoarders" this is not the book you are looking for.

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Thank you, Universe, for...

Disney Movies

We saw this fabulous one this past weekend.  So Bloody Amazing.

I loved Disney movies as a kid - but as a grown-up most of the non-animated ones didn't thrill me much.  Til now.

Amazeballs.  Go see it.  Clooney is extraordinary in this.  I mean, I like the man in just about anything, but in this movie he shines.  The whole cast does, really.


One of my favourite libraries in the Marigold system - out in Canmore, AB
I wouldn't be able to read nearly as much as I do if it weren't for libraries.  Books, Ebooks, Audiobooks, Movies - my resource for all my favourite forms of entertainment!  I don't understand, honestly, why more people aren't devoted to their library.

Everything Bagels

This one needs no explanation!

What are you grateful for today?

If it ain't broke, it will be...

This is a reality we expected when we talked about adding children to our lives.  We expected extra wear and tear on our possessions.

Aftermath of our fire
Now, we aren't all that locked up in possessions.  About five years ago, we lost everything we owned to a house fire.  We learned in those moments, watching our house burn, and afterwards, dealing with insurance and with starting over, what is truly meaningful in life.  And it isn't "stuff".  Not by a long shot.

What was left of the bed we slept in
Something like that teaches you to release your attachments to the physical.  You learn that people and relationships are the most important things in life.  You understand that everything physical is temporary, you can't take it with you, and you can't rely on it to save you, make you happy, or do anything more than serve a purpose to which other items might easily serve.

Stuff is just stuff.

And so, when people told us that our stuff would get destroyed, probably often, we were prepared for that.  We didn't really have a problem with it.\ But our expectations were skewed.

We knew the kind of "destruction" most kids create because we were kids, we have friends with kids, and hells bells, we spend a lot of time on the internet, where people regularly post the aftermath of their kids' household destruction.

Stuff like this:

We saw those parent's worst days, and thought yeah, we'll probably have a few of those, even if the kids we adopt aren't toddlers.

And they weren't.  They were five and six when they came into our home, mostly past what most parents would consider the worst ages of destructiveness.

Except stuff like in the above pictures?  That was our reality.

Not one bad day.

Not once every few months.

Sometimes every day.  Always at least three or four times a week.

And I was so tired.

I was tired of cleaning, and tired of having to throw away things that were often new.  I was tired of buying things for the boys and having them systematically destroyed the next day.  I was tired of washing the walls, because trying to get them to help do it made things even worse.  I was just so tired of over and over again having to explain why it was wrong to destroy things and never, ever having it stick.

I was sent a video by a friend where another parent of an RAD child (who also had to disrupt their adoption) likened this life to the movie Groundhog Day.  Every day is the same.  It doesn't matter how many times you tell them it's not okay to hit, it's not okay to steal, etc, it happens again and again and again.

But we've been accused of putting "stuff" before our kids when they hear me say that, and that's not what it's about.  It's not about the stuff, it's about the wanton destruction.  It's about the exhaustion.  It's about the fact that it was not changing nor was it likely to change, ever.  It's about being faced with that level of horror in your life being a part of the rest of your days.  It's about a level of emotional exhaustion you can't begin to imagine.

Or maybe you can...

I wish I could tell everyone who was so cruel to us when we disrupted to think back on their worst parenting day.  You know that day - the day everything has gone wrong, your kid screamed at you all day, destroyed things, hurt you, hurt others, hurt themselves.  I want them to think of that day, then imagine having that day almost every day.

Maybe then they would understand, a little better, what we went through.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

3 x 3 Gratitude

Life is so full of things to be grateful for.  Maybe three things, three times a week isn't enough.  Or maybe it's just right - so that I'll never run out!

This little cuddle monkey:

Onyx joined our family this past summer, and I've truly never known a snugglier cat.  He can be rather demanding when he needs attention, and his preferred spot?  Right in my face.

But who can say no to someone that is that full of love?  Not me.

Then again, he makes me more grateful for oxygen when he makes it this hard to breathe!

Walking with these two:

There was a time when I didn't know if I'd ever get to do this again.  Such a simple thing, but I've had

my own close calls, health wise, and they affected my mobility.  But the freedom and ability to simply walk through my neighborhood come evening with those I love is such a blessing.

Playful, joyful love

My husband recently went away - just for one night - and brought this sweet balloon home for me the next day.  He predicted that I would squeal, and I didn't disappoint.

I love that our love is fun, playful and indulgent.  I love that we can be child like just for fun, and that we can enjoy the simple things.  And the fact that I can tell he is always thinking about me when he's away?  Completely priceless.

What are you grateful for today?  Are you remembering to look for the little things that make life joyful?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Book Review - The Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh PlagueThe Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe I'm just getting tired of reading so much apocalyptic and dystopian YA, but this one just didn't really do much for me. The best part was that the characters were well-developed and sympathetic. The worst was that they stretched my suspension of disbelief somewhat when a kid with no actual battle experience came up with the plan that saved the day and the whole town.

Yeah, okay.

By then I was pretty well committed to the book, and pushed through to the end, but I think it would have been a better read without the draggy epilogue. At that point I just kept wishing it was over.

I get that kids in YA books - particularly teens - are expected to be intelligent, efficient problem-solvers. I get that they are also supposed to be realistic teens. This book pushed a bit oddly on both those accounts. Either you are so shy and nervous you're afraid to play baseball, or you're so brave that you'll run straight into gunfire. I mean really? Just couldn't wrap my head around some of it. Bah. Maybe I'm turning into a grumpy old lady reader.

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