October 7, 2013

My Manifesto for my Family

Manifesto is a cool word -- sounds like I'm taking over the world, but it just means a stated plan or intention.  Here is the manifesto I created a year ago for my family while I was in the midst of dealing with angst around the behaviour of one of my boys (you know who you are!).

My Manifesto for My Family
* open to intrepretation and differnt methods of implementation

  • You are my child/partnet and I will always love you.  I will not always love the things you do or the atttitudes you have but I will always love you, just as you are. I won't love you more if you behave better; I won't love you less if you behave badly.


  • I will always hve your back.  I will always do what will benefit you most.  You may not always like it or agree with it.  No matter what happens, I will stand beside you.

  • Home is a safe place where you can be yourself.  You will not be hurt or ridiculed.  You will be accepted just as you are.  You will not be allowed to hurt or ridicule anyone in this house.  If "who you are" hurt people, I will find you the resources to work through this.  Home is safe for everyone.

  • I will always encourage you to go for your goals, try new things and take chances (within reason).  I will do whatever I can to help you.

Teaching and Learning
  • I will teach you what I know, sometimes even things you don't want to know, like chores, consequenses and responsibility.  I am willing to learn what you have to teach me, even if I don't want to. Things like patience, humily and that I'm not always right.

Being Together, Being Apart
  • I want to spend time with you -- alone, with the family and with others.  I enjoy your company and we can't achieve the other items if we don't spend time together.  I also need time away from you -- and you need time away from me -- so we can e our own people with our own friends and interests.

May 27, 2013

Electric Lettuce - Couldn't Stand The Weather

This excellent guitar playing is done by my incredibly talented honey, Aaron Eldridge.  The band is Electric Lettuce.

January 21, 2013

On the bedside table January 13 to 20

It's been a while.

I've been reading (if I'm breathing, I'm reading) but just haven't been posting.  Got so far behind that it's easier just to start fresh.

Now I am reading but not as much as I'd like so I only have one book this week.

Here is where there should be a picture of the cover but for some reason it won't upload. 

I'm reading Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

This book is basically a biography of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West from birth to death.  It covers a lot of class and apartheid issues, as well as covering religion, government, and abuse of both.  It was a bit of a long read.  Definitely some slogging and I didn't find the ending very satisfying.  It felt like Elphie (the witch) worked very hard all her life to make a positive difference in . . . anything and died not only mis-interpreted but a failure.  There are three more books in the series.  I might try one more and see if it's worth continuing.  I found this one kind of depressing.

My take-away: Don't let someone else decide your fate.

July 20, 2012

On the bedside table July 7 to 20

I know, it's a two week list this time, but as you'll see, I had a lot of reading to do!  I didn't even finish one book (You're Not So Smart) before it had to go back to the library.

Here's what I've read in the last two weeks

Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes (Acord) - An interesting book taking characteristics and habits of the fictional Sherlock Holmes and showing how we mortals can use them to be more successful in our lives.  I found the snippets of information about Conan Doyle more interesting than the self-help tips, most of which were pretty standard fare -- do what you love, pay attention to the details, etc. My take-away: I need to re-read the Sherlock Holmes books as I feel some of the traits Acord was lauding were ones that I had found grating when reading the books. 

A Wolf at the Table (Burroughs) -- I love Augesten Burroughs. LOVE him.  I've loved every book I've read by him.  That said, I often mix him up with David Sedaris, who I often confuse with Dave Eggers.  Anyway, this is a haunting memoir about the author's experience of growing up with a father who was clearly quite mentally ill, and how his mother tried to protect him in the best way she could at a time when a married woman didn't have a lot of options.  Burroughs tried vainly to elicit love from his father and the stories are sad, scary and sometimes funny.  Eventually Burrough's mother loses her grip on sanity as well, leaving him effectively orphaned and under the care of a tremendously unstable doctor (see his book Running with Scissors.  Don't see the movie, it's not good.).  Despite the abuse and disinterest Burroughs received from his father, he still tried to get the love and attention he so desperately craved right to the end of his father's life. Kudos to Augusten for turning out as well as he did and writing such great books. My take-away: Living with a crazy person can make you crazy.

The Last Apprentice series (Delaney) -- THIS is why it took two weeks to post.  I randomly picked up book 3 of this series and enjoyed it so I ordered the rest from the library, assuming they would come in at a leisurely pace. They all came in on the same day.  So I had seven books to read and luckily they were interesting enough that I read them all in one go.  Phew.  The basic premises is that the renowned Spook in the area (a Spook is a person who deals with the dark, driving away ghosts, battling witches and trying to make the area safe) has trained 30 apprentices, many of whom didn't survive, and hasn't found one that can replace him.  He takes on Tom Ward as his last apprentice and throughout the series they battle various forms of evil with the help of a young witch, Alice.  My favourite character doesn't appear until about book 4 or 5 -- Grimalkin, the witch assassin who swears she will kill Tom but ends up being his ally.  My take-away: only order one book at a time . . . .

July 6, 2012

On the bedside table, June 30 to July 6

My job recently lent me an Ipad to trial an application for work.  It's been interesting to have one.  Maybe I'm not using it right or something but I seriously don't understand the appeal of them.  I've downloaded some apps but the Ipad is too bulky to take with me everywhere, making the apps that seem most useful (Evernote etc.) much less useful.  One app I am liking is Overdrive because it lets me download books from the library.  So this week's books were downloaded and read on my Ipad.
Oh yeah, we downloaded Angry Birds as well. Stupid birds. I may never sleep again.

NurtureShock (Bronson/Merryman) -- ah, this is one of those books that I've read before and forgot until I was well into it and it all seemed familiar.  It's an interesting book about how a lot of the common wisdom we use in raising children (praise heavily to increase self-esteem, not talking about race will make children "colour blind") are wrong and actually cause the opposite effect.  I enjoyed the information in the book (yay information!) but then felt anxious and unsettled because I obviously caused my children great harm (because I belive in full catastrophe thinking) by following what seemed like the best parenting ideas at the time.  So, it's a good read for the information but not if you're looking for parenting support and tend to be insecure anyway.  My take-away: interesting bit about how babies actually learn new words which I'll revisit now that Carson is starting to talk.

Nerd Do Well (Pegg) -- I love Simon Pegg's movies. I think Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are hysterical.  And I wanted to like this book, I really did.  Unfortunately, I couldn't even finish it.  He intersperces his biographical bits with some fictious bits where he is a superhero? with a robot butler.  I ended up just skipping those bits but even with doing that it just  . . . drug.  In the introduction he mentions that writing a biography seems a little self-important and would try to downplay that aspect of it.  Which he did to the point where it wasn't intersting.  Normally I would perservere but a HUGE stack of library books, all with non-renewable return dates and the promise of something interesting inside them finally made me give up on this one.  A third through the book and he was still around 10.  My take-away: Just because someone can write a funny movie doesn't mean they can write an interesting book.

June 29, 2012

On the bedside table June 23 to 30

ugh! Not much reading done this week as the family (except for Aaron) has been down with gasteroentinitis, which is Latin for "Sucks to be you".  I only finished one book.

Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Barry/Pearson) -- The next book in the prequels to Peter Pan, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first, but that might be because I was reading it between vomiting spells.  In this book Peter returns to London to warn Molly (from the first book) that she's in danger.  He briefly meets J M Barrie, author of the original Peter Pan, and we are introduced to George Darling. My take-away: Don't read while you're sick, just rest. Or your dreams get weird.

June 22, 2012

On the bedside table* June 14 to 22

Although I call this blog "wilditude", the sharp-eyed may not that the website is "bookgeekbabe.blogspot.com".  That's because I am a huge book geek. (And a moderate babe).  I LOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE  books.  So much.  Reading is my number one form of entertainment and stress relief.  I don't drink, take drugs, watch much TV, or exercise and I'm trying not to over-eat (HA!) so my first and last line of stress relief is reading. 

Many years back, my work sent me on a speed reading course.  I'd asked for a course on team leading but apparently speed reading is close enough - maybe because they kind of rhyme?  In any case, before I took this course I was a fast reader at 700 words a minute.  Now, depending on the type of book, I can get up to 2,000 words a minute, although reading too long at that speed makes me kind of dizzy. I still have 93% comprehension and 85% retention at that speed.  This is pretty much my sole claim to fame. 

I've often thought I should keep a book journal where I can record the books I read and what I thought of them. I usually read several books a week and, since I read so much, I sometimes find once I start a book that I've already it.  Disappointing!  Anyway, I've tried keeping a journal in various notebooks but I tend to get one or two entries in and then misplace the notebook, or forget, or let the kids draw in it, or spill tea on it . . . .

Last night it occurred to me -- I could keep a list on this blog!  Sometimes I amaze myself.  So here are the books I have read in the last week:

*"Bedside table" also means floor beside the bed, back of the toilet, passenger seat of the car . . .

Brain Rules (John Medina) -- Interesting book on how the brain works.  I enjoy books like this although what they mostly say is "We have no idea why the brain works the way it does."  Which this one mostly said.  What I liked about it was that the author set out 12 "brain rules", devoting a chapter to each one, and at then end of each chapter summarized the content and made recommendation on how to change school/work life to optimize our brain power.  My take-away: Chapter 1 was about how our brains evolved to work best while our body was in motion, so maybe I should reconsider exercising.  May also explain why exercise is so helpful for people with anxiety, depression and ADHD.

Guitar Zero (Gary Marcus) -- Another brain book, although I didn't realize it at the time.  I had ordered a bunch of books on guitar playing from the library for Aaron and this was among them.  The author was approaching his 40th birthday with a burning desire to learn to play guitar and absolutely no musical skill, in fact he is congentially arrhythmic. He is also a brain researching guy (I can't remember his actual title and I've taken the book back to the library), so he decided to take a brain researching approach to learning to play.  It was interesting to see the impact music has on the brain, and how difficult it is to explain!  My take-away: I'm not going to learn music because holy cow! it seems hard.  And I have a much greater appreciation for my guitar-playing man.

Tanglewreck (Jeanette Winterson) -- A  YA fantasy novel set in 2009 London that involves time tornados, worm holes, time travel and parallel universes.  I thought the book was kind of interesting, although the protagonist, Silver, is an 11 year old girl and I had a hard time following the time manipulation plot so I suspect most children would have a hard time too.  My take-away: In the "holding area" (300 years away and in another galaxy) there is a cat named Dinger, as in Schrodinger, who is sometimes dead and sometimes alive. This is cool.

Peter and the Starcatchers -- Dave Barry and Ridley Scott wrote the "prequel" to Peter Pan and, while I love both of their work individually, I was prepared to be disappointed as prequels tend to have an afterthought feel to them, or you can see so clearly where they are going that it's barely worth reading.  This one was great! The story was awesome stand-alone but also nicely tied in the Peter Pan story details we are familiar with. Excellent characters, good action and lots of humour.  My take-away: I totally wish I'd though of the name "Black Stache" for a pirate name.

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain (Barbara Arrowsmith-Young) -- Another brain book -- what was with me this week?  I should be super smart about the brain now.  This was an interesting book about Barbara who was severely learning disabled throughout her school years yet managed to achieve a graduate degree through sheer determination and mind-numbingly hard work. As an adult she heard of some research in which researchers where able to change the make-up of rats brains through training.  Using herself as a guinea pig, she developed training exercises to learn to tell time on a clock, something she had never been able to do.  She found that not only was she able to (with a LOT of hard work) learn to tell time but doing this also helped with other seemingly unrelated difficulties with symbolism, speech etc.  She eventually opened several Arrowsmith schools where people of all ages can learn to overcome their cognitive difficulties. The book highlights the journeys of several students and draws a good picture of the shadow LD can cast over an entire life, and how it can change when the LD is addressed.  My take-away:  Two really.  1-- Sam has poor handwriting and maybe some of the tracing excercises they have their students do would be helpful.   2.  I wish I had the money to send Nathan to this school because I think he would benefit the most.