Monday, June 6, 2016

Bookish Adventures: Room

*personal photo*
Oh, this book.

It seems I have a thing for sad books.  I thought I had a thing for sci-fi books, or fantasy books, or maybe YA books, but no, I have a thing for tragic, make-you-ugly-cry books, be they about kids with cancer or kids with dead parents or kids who just plain need a hug because of everything they've been through.  Basically, if it's a book about a young person in tragic circumstances, I'm all over it.

I have not yet seen the movie adaptation of Room but I'm sure you have, in which case you know exactly how beautiful this story is.  If you haven't seen it, I'm sure you've seen the trailers.

Room is a story about a young woman who was kidnapped and kept as a sex slave, gave birth to a baby boy, and raised him in their tiny prison until one day she smuggles him out so that he might rescue them both.  The story is told entirely from the first person point of view of the five-year-old Jack, who calls his mother Ma, and we never learn her name.  The one-room shed where they are held together has a television, so Jack grows up believing he, Ma, and their captor are the only "real" people in the entire world- a world comprised only of Room- and that everything he sees on television is fake.

This is a book about culture shock.  Imagine being thrust into the world for the first time after only ever knowing one other human being.  Imagine entering a world where you technically speak the language, but many words and ideas are still totally foreign to you and you're forced to learn by immersion.  Imagine leaving a cell where you actually felt safe because the only other person there devoted her whole life to protecting you, and gaining a freedom that leaves you vulnerable in an uncaring, hostile world.

This is a book about parenthood- and especially motherhood.  Although most of us, praise God, will never experience what Ma and Jack live through, all parents know what it's like to hold your newborn for the first time and realize that you would literally give your life for her, that nothing else matters in this world except this tiny perfect person.  The book reads as sort of an extreme case study in attachment parenting- to keep him alive and feeling safe, Ma continues to breastfeed Jack the entire five years that they live in Room, and when someone questions her decision to do so, she shoots back that of all the things he's been through in his short lifespan, is this really something that would damage him?  As Jack tries to adjust to Outside, he, in his innocence, makes observations about the way other parents treat their children- observations that hit you like a punch to the gut when you realize he feels pity for these families who have lived normal lives, not in captivity.

Finally, this is an incredibly pro-life book.  I feel like maybe an editor must have pointed this out to Ms Donoghue before publishing, because at one point Ma goes out of her way to say that her experience in no way invalidates society's "need" for abortion- a line that feels like a hastily written apology to those who might take offense to the author's stirring (if accidental, apparently) defense of those children conceived in rape.

All in all this is an incredibly powerful book, and even if you've seen the movie, I encourage you to read it.  (I need to get around to seeing the movie myself.)

What have you read lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, June 3, 2016

Oh, Internet... {86}

We got home from our road trip on Monday and have spent the rest of the week recovering from our vacation!  Little Miss Chief started at a new daycare on Wednesday because we're getting ready to move!  We figured it'd be best for her to face one transition at a time, so the new school happened this week and the new house will happen at the end of the month.

I didn't have time to blog in all this post-vacation-cleanup, but I did have time to check out what other people blogged ;)

A LOT has been said about this gorilla business, but my favorite reminder so far comes from Better than Eden: Beware the Culture of Outrage.

In lighter news: Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas and her husband celebrated their 10th anniversary with a wear your wedding dress party!  This is so awesome!

Speaking of awesome outfits- Jamie at Petite Panoply looks great, once again, in something I could never pull off- white skinny jeans!

Cake Wrecks is always good for a laugh, but this post is pee-your-pants funny.

I'm pretty sure I need these flats from ThinkGeek:

And finally, this xkcd will not only make you feel old, but will have a serious impact on our country this November:

What awesomeness did you find on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oh, Internet... {85}

Our vacation is almost over and I'll be sad to see it end.  We've had a wonderful time visiting with family and celebrating my sister's marriage.  It's been so relaxing to not have any responsibilities and a mostly empty schedule, just talking and playing and showing off our lovely little munchkin to my aunts and uncles and cousins.

In the downtime, I've had the opportunity to catch up on some blog reading, and I found a few things to share with you:

Lovely Haley is once again using Jane Austen to teach us life lessons.  (I, for one, am in the camp of people who sort of hate Emma, though I love the story.  I guess it's time to revisit her.)

Catholic All Year has a refreshing take on teaching modesty to young children.

Julie at These Walls makes a shocking confession: she thinks social media is not entirely awful!  (I agree!)

I found this great post on A Gentle Mother with her take on the bullying epidemic in our culture.

There's a great post on Sweet Little Ones about letting go of perfect (something I need a lesson in every now and then).

Real Catholic Mom has a similar post this week about remembering whose image and likeness we're created in (hint: not our own).

What all have you found on the internet lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bookish Adventures: Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl

*personal photo*

There's something about stories set in high school that I just can't get enough of.  You'd think, now that I've been out of that awful place for ten whole years, I'd be over it, but I just get so sucked in to a well-written depiction of awkward teenagers learning monumental life lessons between chemistry and world history classes.  Did I ever have such life-changing experiences in high school?  Did I come to any eye-opening realizations that altered the way I viewed the world around me while hammering out my calculus homework?

Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl covers a high school experience that is definitely miles away from my own, though somehow I can relate to the narrator, Greg.  Greg takes the whole concept of being a loner to quite the extreme- he has carefully constructed a scenario in which he is not actually a member of any of his high school's social groups because, according to his well-reasoned logic, to be a member of any group is to make enemies of a rival group, so by not having any friends, he has guaranteed that he does not have any enemies.  This premise seems reasonable at first- in college I had a similar desire to fly under the radar and not get caught up in the complicated social structure outside of class- but it quickly becomes evident that his nonchalant, quite literally too-cool-for-school facade is just the result of a paralyzing fear of rejection.  The one person who Greg should in fact consider a friend- the one person with whom he spends all his time, and with whom he shares his one hobby- is Earl, and in his desperate attempt to hang on to this relationship, Greg refers to him as a "coworker" rather than friend.

This precariously perfected lack of social life comes to a crashing halt when Greg's mother interferes rather accidentally- something all mothers have a knack for.  A classmate has been diagnosed with leukemia, and Greg's mother demands that he spend time with her, because she needs a friend.  This is in direct contrast to Greg's preferred modus operandi of, you know, not having friends, so Greg drags his feet and pronounces the awkwardness of the situation at every step, yet he does spend time with Rachel (and Earl, his not-a-friend).

Lest you think this is another Fault in Our Stars, Greg lets us know from the very beginning that this is not a romantic story.  Nobody falls in love with anybody- and rightly so, as Greg does not exactly make himself loveable as he builds walls and vocally refuses to get attached to anyone- but Greg does learn some fundamental truths about being human and living life.  It's rather painful at times observing his interactions with Rachel through his own embellished narration as he is so clueless to exactly how much of a jerkwad he's being and exactly how wasteful he is with his own life in the presence of someone whose life is fading, but eventually, finally, blessedly, he gets it.  And we get it.  And we probably cry a little bit, though Greg has taken great pains to tell this story as a comedy.

I'm not sure I've ever met anyone so overtly anti-social as Greg.  My lifetime career as a nerd has brought me into contact with many introverts, but none who declare their introversion out loud in every conversation.  I know the value of alone time, and of keeping a small circle of friends rather than legions of followers, but that's more a product of my personality than a guard against those who might hurt me.  Even still, I think we can all find a bit of Greg in ourselves- we're all humans, and we all tend towards selfishness, though we may think we're being pragmatic.  But because we're all humans, we need each other.  We need relationships.  We need community.  We can't isolate ourselves and walk through life alone.  Life requires us to make an impact on other people and, in turn, that those people make impacts on us.  And life on earth is finite and fleeting; we'd better learn quickly to not waste it.

All in all, this is a really good book.  The storytelling is so original and the humor so pervasive that the inevitable tears will truly take you by surprise- but it is a cancer kids book, after all.  It's written in the first person from a teenage boy's perspective and is therefore rife with profanity and sexually explicit humor, all lending themselves to probably the most authentic voice in any YA novel I've read in a long time.  The little book club I'm a part of watched the movie after we finished reading the book and, as usual, I prefer the book.  Greg is a lot more likeable in the movie than he is in the book, but I think this story is most powerful if you can approach Greg in an effort to be his friend, discover that you kind of hate him, watch him realize that he kind of hates himself, and then breathe a sigh of relief when he finally, finally stops being such a jackass.  (Earl is the conduit through which the audience experiences these emotions, and much more explicitly so in the movie.)  The movie captures the humor and heart of the book perfectly, though.

As with most stories about high school, this is probably best enjoyed by those who have already lived it; while the things Greg and Earl experience are realistic in that they happen to real people, teenagers tend to see these depictions as romanticizing what are, in reality, tragic circumstances, and are therefore in danger of becoming tragic characters themselves.

What have you read lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to Act like a Princess

March 2016 
We're having a Princess Moment in our house right now.

I suppose, as a Modern Woman, I should be horrified, or at least slightly annoyed, that my two-year-old daughter is obsessed with that animated symbol of the repressive patriarchy- the Disney princess.  After all, before she was born, I experienced the appropriate levels of mental anguish when I realized that I had come to the conclusion that maybe dressing little girls in pink is not the end of the world.  I suppose I should be ashamed that I've even let her watch Snow White at all.

Except I'm totally not.

Mr. Geek and I are, obviously, huge Disney geeks, as we took a Disneymoon and everything.  (We even posed for pictures with our favorite characters, because how many times in your life do you get to hug Tigger?)

And you know what?  Disney princesses are actually quite good role models.  They teach us to value loyalty, to put our friends and family above our selves.  They teach us to be brave by doing things that make us uncomfortable or scared.  They teach us to try new things and meet new people and never judge a book by its cover.  And most of all, they teach us that nothing is more powerful than love- the love between a husband and wife, the love of a family and those we treat as family, and the love of parents for their children.

So as our boisterous two-year-old runs around the house singing Let it Go, I've decided to use this princess obsession for good- to teach manners.  (I'll let the life lessons come later.)  Since Miss Chief prefers to wear dresses and skirts because "that's what princesses wear," I've found that I can influence her behavior by telling her that "that's how princesses act."

My mother taught my sisters and I how to act like little ladies, but living in the north (for all intents and purposes) in 2016, "act like a lady" means nothing to my little one.  A princess is a much more solid concept for her, though, and someone she's eager to emulate.

How to Act like a Princess
1. A princess never runs inside the house.
2. A princess uses her inside voice when she's inside.
3. A princess says "please" when she wants something.
4. A princess says "thank you" when someone gives her something.
5. A princess sits up straight at the dinner table with her feet under the table, never on it.
6. A princess wipes her mouth and hands with her napkin after she eats.
7. A princess never whines when someone tells her "no."
8. Princesses do not hit, or bite, or push.

The list is ever growing- basically if you include the phrase "like a princess" in any behavior-correcting command, she's more likely to obey (though she's still a toddler so it's not completely foolproof).  This weekend, she was a flower girl in my sister's wedding, so how did we get her to walk down the aisle?

"Walk slowly, like a princess."

Her performance was quite royal indeed.

How do you teach your young ones good manners?

Much love,
The Geeks

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Oh, Internet... {84}

Looking for a few interesting reads for the weekend?  Look no further!

Jamie at Petite Panoply is adorable, and I absolutely love the hairstyle she wore with this look.  I mean seriously.

That's Sew Kari made a beautiful little dress for her daughter for Easter!  I love that keyhole back!

Bean in Love painted a beautiful pattern on the concrete floor of her covered porch and I love it!

I may or may not have been stalking Dwija's newest addition on Instagram lately, so I loved reading this update over at House Unseen.

Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas provided a wonderful overview of liturgical living for the month of April.

What blogs are you really into right now?

Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

Hello, world!

I guess I sort of accidentally gave up blogging for Lent.  Oops.  But the unintentional hiatus has left me energized to get back to writing, so I have some good things planned for this little blog in the coming weeks- book reviews, musings on parenthood, and maybe even a recipe or two.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out our adorable Easter outfits :)

While we love the Easter Vigil, Miss Chief is only two, and a crazy long Mass that starts after bedtime is just not a rational thing for our family to do right now, so we went to the 10:45 Easter Sunday after a slow morning of cinnamon rolls, candy-filled eggs, and treats.  (The Easter Bunny even brought something for Mommy and Daddy- the Inside Out play set for Disney Infinity, because there was a sale on Amazon ^_^ )  Then we spent the afternoon cleaning the house like crazy, because we had a dear friend over for a fancy little dinner complete with peach glazed ham and chocolate mousse pie.  All in all, it was a day for rejoicing!

How did you celebrate Easter Sunday?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Lent: 2016

It's Ash Wednesday, so I'm coming back out of hibernation to share some resources to help you do Lent right this year.  (Because I just don't have the energy or the smarts to put together a post like any of these, so instead I'll just point you to the experts!)

Catholic Sistas has a great post about a Messy Lent (I can attest that ours will probably be messy).

Carrots for Michaelmas has a great roundup of liturgical traditions for the whole month of February, including Lenten observances.

A Blog for My Mom has a great reminder for pregnant and nursing women- you're exempt from the fast!  You've got to take care of the little life you're supporting!

More Than I Can Chew is trying something new with her family this year.

The Provision Room has some great recipe suggestions for meatless Fridays!

Good luck for a successful Lent!

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Too Much Snow!

we piled up the snow taller than her // *personal photo*
Much love,
The Geeks

Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Bake Cookies with a Two Year Old

On Friday, at the beginning of the weekend blizzard, we decided it would be really fun to bake some chocolate chip cookies, and to let the toddler get involved.  She's been really interested in cooking lately- Santa brought her an awesome play kitchen, and shows like Chopped Junior and Kids Baking Championship have shown her that cooking is for more than just Mommy- seeing Murray and his little lamb go to cooking school on Sesame Street really solidified the idea for her that she can help cook, too.  So, since our little kitchen is lacking in counter space, we cleared off the dining room table, plugged in the stand mixer, and got to work on a simple recipe I found here.  I'll let the two-year-old herself share a look at the process:


Normally, I'm not supposed to stand on chairs- I'm supposed to sit on my bottom.  But Mommy said I could stand on the chair while we made cookies.  First, she put one of her aprons on me.  She says she needs to make one in my size.  We'll see if she ever gets around to it.

When the two sticks of butter were mushy and room-temperature, I helped Mommy take the wax paper off of them and put them in the bowl of the mixer.  I got butter all over my fingers, and Daddy said that's why I was wearing an apron.  I mean, I could have wiped my fingers on my shirt, too, but sure, Dad, whatever you say.

Mommy measured brown sugar and white sugar into measuring cups and I helped her pour them into the mixing bowl.

She showed me how to turn the mixer on and told me that was my job now.

I took my job very seriously.

After the sugar and butter were creamed, Mommy showed me how to turn the mixer off.

Mommy scraped the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and then I did, too.

We added the eggs one at a time.  First, Mommy cracked the egg into a tiny bowl while I held it steady.

Then we turned the mixer back on...

...then I helped Mommy pour the egg from the little bowl into the big bowl.

After the eggs were completely incorporated, I turned the mixer off, because I had that part all figured out by now.

Mommy measured some vanilla into the tiny bowl again.  Using the bowl meant we were less likely to spill any vanilla as we poured it into the bowl.

The recipe said to dissolve the baking soda in some hot water first, so we used that little bowl again.

Then we poured in some salt.

Mommy had to keep checking the recipe on her tiny camera that's also a computer.  I didn't think it seemed so hard- just pour a bunch of stuff into the bowl and turn it on!

I didn't think the white stuff in this bag looked much like flowers, but that's what she kept calling it.

We poured some in the bowl.

I got some batter on my fingers, and found a new way to get it off.

Mommy put this weird little hat on the bowl, but it stopped the mixer from making a mess.  I guess sometimes she knows what she's doing.

The whole time we made cookies, it just kept snowing.

We took the bowl off the mixer and I stirred it up with the spatula again.

Mommy poured in some chocolate chips...

...and I stirred them in.

Then she poured in some walnuts...

...and I stirred those, too.

Then Mommy got a baking sheet.  She scooped some dough with a spoon and I helped her put the dough on the tray.

I made this one all by myself:

I thought Mommy's cookies looked more like lumps than cookies, so I squished some of them down flat for her.

She kept telling me not so squish them, but I don't think she was too upset.  They looked just fine with my finger prints in them.

All this talk of cookies made me want some milk.

Of course, Mommy had to take a picture, because she takes pictures of everything with that little camera that she sometimes uses to call people.

I didn't want to wear my apron anymore, so she took it off me.

Now everyone can see my puppy shirt!  (Daddy says I look like a fashion blogger in this picture.)

The dough looked really tasty.

So did the cookies- after I squished them into cookie-shape, of course.

Mommy said the Internet would judge her if I ate the dough before it went in the oven.

But it was so yummy!

She took the spoon away and cleaned me up.

Mom is so uncool sometimes.

Of course, I had another source...

How long does this take, anyway?

Ten minutes is a long time, so I asked for some water.

I let Mommy have some, too.

The cookies were finally done baking.  We let them cool a little bit, and then I got to eat one!  I'm a really good cook.


Do you ever let your little ones help you bake?

Those of you on the east coast- how did you survive the blizzard?

Much love,
The Geeks