December 7, 2012

The Best Ever Read-Aloud Books

I love to read aloud. Luckily I finally have an audience who actually likes to hear me! The Precious enjoys listening to me read and has learned a lot of words from the books we read. Here are a few of the best to read out loud--please note, these are not just for kids! My husband was drawn into one of them and wanted me to read more.

For poetry my absolute favourite to read aloud from is The Tolkien Reader.

If you love reading tongue-twisters very very fast, you will not find a better poem for the purpose than "Errantry." The beginning is a clue as to how fun it is.

There was a merry passenger,
a messenger a mariner:
he built a gilded gondola
to wander in and had in her
a load of yellow oranges
and porridge for his provender;
he perfumed her with marjoram,
and cardamom and lavender.

Be prepared to add to your vocabulary!

Of crystal was his habergeon,
his scabbard of chalcedony,
with silver tipped and plenilune,
his spear was hewn of ebony.
His javelins were of malachite
and stalactite - he brandished them,
and went and fought the dragon flies,
of Paradise, and vanquished them.

Not for everyone, I know. But if you're a philology geek who has Bilbo Baggins' love of rhyme, you will love this book and enjoy reading the songs of Tom Bombadil, Sam's song about the trolls, the tale of how the Man in the Moon came down too soon, and much more.
The Tolkien Reader

The first book I ever read to The Precious was The Silmarillion, also by Tolkien of course. I admit that she slept through a lot of it, but she was a newborn after all. She did seem to enjoy the beginning as much as I do. The Music of the Ainur has to be one of the most gorgeous pieces of prose of all time!

Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes
and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs
singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Iluvatar to a great
music ; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in
harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the
heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing,
and the music and the echo of the music went out into the
Void, and it was not void. Never since have the Ainur made any
music like to this music, though it has been said that a greater still
shall be made before Iluvatar by the choirs of the Ainur and the
Children of Iluvatar after the end of days. Then the themes of
Iluvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the moment of their
utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in their part,
and each shall know the comprehension of each, and Iluvatar shall
give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased.

The Silmarillion

Both The Jungle Book and Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling have been great fun to read aloud. My favourite passages come from "The Cat That Walked By Himself," in Just So Stories. As with The Tolkien Reader I will only give you a few passages so as not to spoil the rest.

"HEAR and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild—as wild as wild could be—and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him."


"'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of My Enemy,' said the Cat, 'it is I, for you have spoken a second word in my praise, and now I can sit by the warm fire at the back of the Cave for always and always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.'

Then the Woman was very very angry, and let down her hair and put more wood on the fire and brought out the broad blade-bone of the shoulder of mutton and began to make a Magic that should prevent her from saying a third word in praise of the Cat. It was not a Singing Magic, Best Beloved, it was a Still Magic; and by and by the Cave grew so still that a little wee-wee mouse crept out of a corner and ran across the floor."

I do read The Precious books that are meant for children too, I promise. One of our favourites is Sandra Boynton's Barnyard Dance.

Stomp your feet!
Clap your hands!
Everybody ready for
a barnyard dance!

It's just so much fun, and there are lots of actions you and your child can do along with it.

One of my favourite songs to sing to my baby has been Summertime, and we both love this book version with incredibly beautiful illustrations.

Oh your daddy's rich
And your ma is good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry.


And of course, every night, we have to read Margaret Wise Brown's soothing classic, Good Night Moon. Our copy looks like an accordion now, The Precious loves it so much!

Goodnight comb,
Goodnight brush
Goodnight Nobody
Goodnight mush.
And goodnight to the old lady whispering hush.

Goodnight Moon

*Please check your local independent bookstore for these titles before ordering from Amazon!*

What are your favourite books to read aloud?

December 6, 2012

The Problem of "Ugly Chic"

While browsing Lucky Magazine's site this morning I stumbled across an article that sounded interesting. It was called
"How to Totally Own Ugly Chic,"
in that rather confusing way that Lucky Magazine has chosen to write lately. In which sense is the word "own" meant? I had to find out.

As it turns out, the article is about buying items that you find ugly, so in that sense you will "own" ugly chic items. It is also about becoming a queen of wearing ugly items, so the other, slang meaning is appropriate too. What struck me was the general idea of intentionally buying items that one believes to be ugly and wearing them with the intent of being the best at wearing ugly items. Am I the only one who thinks this sounds completely stupid?

If you think something is ugly, for heaven's sake, don't buy it! No matter what the trend is, if you find a skirt or dress ugly, you will feel ugly in it. Buying something you do not like because a magazine tells you that "everyone else is doing it" puts you back into middle school crowd-follower mode. If all the other kids do something, be it pick on the nerd, chew a certain brand of gum, or wear their hair in a style that looks ridiculous, is that any good reason to join them? We've all been there and most of us have given in and followed the crowd at some point. But we're not in middle school anymore and it is time to have minds of our own!

So stand up against the trendsetters and be one yourself. Wear WHAT YOU LIKE whether anyone else likes it or not, whether the magazines say it is in style or not, and whether it is old or new. Money spent on something that you think is ugly is money wasted. If you have nothing else to spend your money on, take the time to be grateful that you are so blessed and find a charity to give your extra money to.


December 3, 2012

Stitch a Time Machine

This has been officially added to my "must make" list.

See Cross Stitch Tardis and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

I think it would be really neat to stitch this using 14 count plastic canvas so that you could cut it out and make it into an ornament or something. What would you do with a cross-stitched Tardis?

December 2, 2012

Nerdy Quote of the Week

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

For me lunchtime always did seem to go by at a faster rate than the rest of the day, especially when I was in school and often spent the entire lunch period waiting in a line to get my lunch and ended up having to inhale it Garfield-style after the bell had already rung. Even now it seems that the time one wants to spend in quiet and relaxation, savouring one's food, rushes by faster than all of that time spent chasing toddlers or stocking shelves or whatever it is that you do for a living. Time flies when you're having fun, but it also flies when you're just trying to eat.

Hawkeye Shows His Tail

Nope, I do not mean that Hawkeye of Avengers fame has been rude. I mean that, thanks to a growing number of artists who poke fun at the bizarre contortionist poses given to female comic book characters, Hawkeye is now literally showing off his bum. And his chest. And his unbelievable flexibility.

You can find the evidence at The Hawkeye Initiative. If you don't get a good laugh out of this, there is something wrong with you!

Here are a few great examples, to which I have no rights whatever.

This one seriously cracks me up! Thanks, The Small Gods!

This one is by Sucks To Your Asgard

If you figure out what that name means, please explain it to me. Unless it means something bad.

To those who say that women are empowered, not made into cheap sex objects by comic book artists, I offer this.

This bit of anatomically-incorrect brilliance provided by Tsulamonn. EDIT: My husband, Doldin, says that this proves that scoliosis is a superpower!

If this doesn't demonstrate the absurdity of comic female characters' poses, not much will! By Steamed Pork Bun

By putting a male character, Hawkeye, into these "feminine" poses, the viewer cannot help but realize how very provocative or silly they are. So look, laugh, and most of all, think about the view of women that exists in our culture, and about your own view. If you agree that women have been objectified and oversexualized in comics, you can make your own Hawkeye Initiative picture and submit it on Tumblr. If you do, please post a link in the comments section here!