"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Beginnings

We're back from our whirlwind trip out east just in time for Top Ten Tuesday.  Today's topic, hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is top ten beginnings or endings.  For some reason I've had trouble thinking this topic through, but I tried to pick the books whose beginnings excited my imagination or drew me into the story.

1.  The Bible:  Is this a cop-out?  Maybe.  But is there any better start to a book than "In the beginning..."  It draws you right in:  This is your story and my story, where we came from.  It opens on your imagination just as much as "Once upon a time" does.

2.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy:  "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  It really sets the stage for the story to come, and makes you nod your head in agreement as well.

3.  The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera:  The first few pages of this book led me to go into East European studies.  The imagery of how a man can disappear from history, leaving only his hat behind, stirred something in me and it stays with me, 15 years or so since I first read this book.

4.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling:  "Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much"  In addition to the initial description of the Dursleys being hilarious, the first chapter introduces you to Harry's back story, to Dumbledore, Hagrid, and McGonagall, to elements of magic (like the "put-outer", flying motorbike, and McGonagall's status as an animagus), etc.  Reading it again after finishing all the books makes you realize how much Rowling actually set the stage for the whole series right from the start.

5.  The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton:  Maybe this is cheating a little since I just finished it, but I enjoyed how the opening scene introduced Lily from Selden's point of view, and you're not sure at first whether he like hers or whether she's someone he wants to avoid.  It really set the stage for the whole book.

6.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed:  I had mixed feelings about this book, but I can't help admitting that starting in the middle with her lost boot certainly drew me in.  I spent half the book wondering how in the world she would make it through her adventure barefoot.

7.  The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:  "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."  I read this book in high school, in the days before Google, and I was going crazy trying to find out who the Rosenbergs were. 

8.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery:  I love that the book starts with Rachel Lynde instead of the Cuthberts, yet gives us a description of the area and the line, "... for not even a brook could run past Mrs Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum ..."  Such busybody, that Rachel.  Wait, is she related to the Dursleys?  :-)

9.  Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides:  "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."  After you've read it, this sentence makes sense, but at first you're just like, "Wait, what??"

10.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:  "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."  Obviously, I can't leave this one off as it's my favourite book.

Honourable mention goes to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  Before the book came out, I would sometimes ask myself strange questions about the HP universe, and one of them was at what point of government in the UK are muggles aware of the wizard realm.  When I read the opening of Half-Blood Prince, I was so glad JKR cleared that up.  Yes, I'm a little weird...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Turn-offs

Over the past few weeks I've passed on linking up with Top Ten Tuesday because the topics didn't work for me.  This week I'm back and posting on "Top ten topics/themes/words that will make you NOT pick up a book".  Here are my choices:

1.  Zombies:  I just don't get why this is appealing.

2.  Romance:  Books that have a romantic element are fine.  I'm a lover of all things Jane Austen after all.  Books that are ONLY about romance are not my thing, and most especially the kind in the "romance" section.  I do thoroughly enjoy reading some of the titles though, since they never fail to make me laugh.

3.  Baseball:  My husband loves baseball, so even though I find it kind of boring, I'll watch it.  Reading about baseball, however, seems as appealing as watching grass grow.

4.  Diet books:  Everything in moderation is my motto. Otherwise, I make it a point not to read anything touted as a diet that will change your life/make you lose 100 pounds/etc.

5.  50 Shades + knock-offs:  Not my thing at all.

6.  Aliens:  I grew up with a deep-seated love of Star Trek and Star Wars, but other than that, sci fi books about space or alien invasion don't interest me.

7.  Adultery:  Okay, I won't say that I'll never read a book about adultery; after all, I consider Anna Karenina one of my all-time favourites.  On the other hand, adultery tore my family apart, so I have a hard time with any books or movies that are overly sympathetic to adultery or trying to break up a couple.  I couldn't even stomach My Best Friend's Wedding for that reason.

8.  Political commentary:  Even political campaign ads usually have me yelling at the television and wanting to throw things.

9.  New age/crystals/etc:  I'm a Christian and I try to stay away from that kind of thing.

10.  Drugs:  I have a really difficult time reading stories of people destroying their lives with drugs. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Life Lately

Gosh, I've been a pretty lazy blogger for the past few weeks.  Not sure why, other than a bit of travel, and then this heat wave sapping all of my energy.  So what's new and exciting 'round here?

1)  A few weeks ago, I took a weekend trip to visit my best friend in Ottawa.  We were joined by another old friend, and spent a few days just being girly:  Mani/pedi, shopping, eating, cooking.  It was great fun and so relaxing.  My best friend is due with her first baby in November, so we know that our relationship will change somewhat, and it was nice to have some time together enjoying the friendship as it is.  I'm having a hard time with being hours away and not being able to see the baby right away, especially since we used to live on the same street.  It's just one of the many changes since marriage that take some getting used to, but it still makes me tear up a little.

2)  Last week we had a crazy storm that knocked out our power for hours.  There was even flooding downtown.  Yikes!  Thankfully our family were all safe and sound.

3)  Gil and I had our very first date four years ago today.  We went for Thai food.  Who would have thought that would go down in (personal) history.  Married friends, do you still celebrate dating anniversaries?  I kind of like to acknowledge it, even though we won't do gifts or anything. 

4)  Royal Baby watch is ongoing!  I am not one of those crazy royal fans, but I do kind of follow Will and Kate, and I actually saw them in Charlottetown, PEI, two years ago.  (Okay, I could barely see anything, but I definitely heard Prince William's voice life).  My grandma was always a big fan of the Queen, so I love imagining how excited she would be to hear about the Royal Baby.

5)  We're counting down to our Newfoundland vacation:  6 more sleeps!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Marriage Reading: Creative Counterpart

This is the third installment of my marriage reading series. This time I read the book Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow.  I didn't know what to expect as I go this on Kindle so didn't have any cues from the cover blurbs or illustrations, plus it is a bit older, but I ended up really enjoying it!

What I liked best about this book was the focus on character rather than tasks. Dillow began the book discussing the Proverbs 31 woman, but noted the importance of looking at the woman's character instead of a list of all the stuff she does. She noted the qualities of trustworthiness, industry (working hard even if you don't like the task), organization, and love. She also stressed that the relationship with God enables all of these characters. In fact, I found this book to be incredibly biblical, which was refreshing in comparison to some “Christian” authors that throw in a Bible verse or two just to support their own ideas. (Not trying to implicate any specific people here, but rather a general theme I've seen sometimes.)

Interestingly, I found that the last chapter had the deepest lessons for me. Firstly, Dillow states that to have a good marriage, I must do the following: Accept my circumstances; accept my husband for who he is; and accept myself. Soooooo many marriages fall apart because people think, “If only we had more money, things would be better” or “If my husband were X, things would be better.” We can only work on our marriage when we accept the conditions as they are. The second key point was that refusing forgiveness is a huge hindrance to growth. Guilt is a huge issue for me, and I have recently become more aware that beating myself doesn't actually help me learn, and it also puts undue strain on my relationship with Gil, because he shouldn't have to console me for every little mistake I make.

A theme running through the book was acceptance of your husband, showing you're on his team and not pressuring him to be perfect. This also leads to discussion about how a wife handles her husband's flaws. I really appreciated the call to consider my own attitude when my husband does something I don't like. Yes, it's bad for him to (FILL IN THE BLANK), but if I respond by arguing, badgering, giving him the silent treatment, or bad-mouthing him to others, I'm also sinning. Dillow comes on strong with the idea that nagging is not generally helpful. I particularly liked the quote: “God the Holy Spirit does not need a wife to be a personal Holy Spirit.” Yet, it never comes out as though wives should keep silent about flaws, but rather they need to address the issues properly. In the chapter on submission, she actually notes that not voicing an opinion is not necessarily submissive: You could be staying quite and smug, just waiting for your husband's plan to fail. So by accepting your husband as he is, you open the door to work with him on issues, instead of seeing his flaws as something that is holding you back or getting on your nerves.

I also appreciated Dillow's focus on the long-term. She stresses that women shouldn't adjust their attitude in expectation that things will immediately be fixed, that a change will be a cure-all to any problems in the relationship. She says a few times that we need to remember that suffering often produces long-term good. We can't just assume that hard times are necessarily bad and need to be 'fixed'.

One practical thing I took out of the book was the idea of writing out your priorities and fitting them into your week. I talked about this a few weeks ago (http://mrsdoctordear.blogspot.ca/2013/06/productivity-at-home.html), so I won't go into detail again. I went out and got a glass board and markers just to do this. It's helped me remember to fit my home chores into life (rather than waiting to “feel like” doing them).

Kind of blurry, but you get the gist of it.

Overall, I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to others! Tune in for the next installment (late August, probably), when I'll be discussing John Piper's This Momentary Marriage.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books that Intimidate Me

I'm linking up again with The Broke and the Bookish, and today's theme is "Top Ten Intimidating Books".  I'm not sure why, but I've been looking forward to this week.  Maybe it's in the spirit of "confession is good for the soul", or maybe because I hope to find companionship with others who are afraid of War and Peace.  I've read a lot of intimidating books, even plodding my way through Ayn Rand at age 14, but there are still some books that scare the pants off me.  Here's my list:

1.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel:  I know, I know, everyone raves about this one, but I've also heard several people say they couldn't get through it.  I will read it one day, when my mom's copy finally makes its way over to me.

2.  Sophie's Choice by William Styron:  I took German and East European History, so I've read lots and lots of depressing books and articles, but somehow this one scares me

3.  Schindler's Ark/List by Thomas Keneally:  Once again, it doesn't make sense for someone who put No One Is Here Except All of Us on a best-books list to avoid a book about Holocaust, but I guess I do so because I sobbed my way through the movie. 

4.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy:  My shame as a Russophile... 

5.  Les Misérables by Victor Hugo:  Saw this on several lists today.  I think I've been put off by the bizarre belief that I should be able to read it in original French, a task which will probably take the remainder of my life.  Even in English, though, it's just soooooo long...

6.  Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin:  I'm so curious about this series, but I always hesitate to start it because of the time it will take to get through so many giant books.

7.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel:  Everyone loves it.... so I'm convinced I'll somehow hate it.
8.  Richard Evans' Third Reich series (The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War):  This set has been on my TBR list for years, but at over 2500 pages, I never manage to actually pick it up.

9.  The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:  Both long AND depressing.

10.  Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West:  I once took a class on the Balkans, and I believe we read portions of this book.  It was great, so why can I never manage to read the whole thing?

Which books intimidate you?  Which ones should I get over myself and get reading?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Medical Monday: Drink Your Fluids (and Happy Canada Day)

Can you believe it's July already?  That means it's time for the next installment of the Medical Mondays blog hop, hosted this month by Medical Mondays blog hop, hosted by Emma at Your Doctor's Wife, Jane at From a Doctor's Wife, Heather at Army Wife, Army Life, and Cyndy at Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional.  If you're now around here, welcome!

More importantly, however, it's Canada's birthday, so without further ado, here are some photos of Canadian things (though unfortunately I have no pics of poutine or maple syrup):

Seriously, though, on to some medical thoughts.  The past few Medical Mondays, I've written  lighthearted posts about the life of a doctor's family.  Today, however, I'm going to share a snippet of medical advice that I unfortunately neglected recently and that is pertinent in this week of both Canada's and America's birthdays.

Friends, please don't forget to drink your fluids!

Last Wednesday, I had a lovely morning of walking around on Danforth Avenue, sampling a new (to me) cafe and reveling in the sunshine.  I spent the afternoon at home and, after picking up my car from the repair shop, went to exercise class at church.  I woke up on Thursday morning with possibly the worst headache I've ever known.  My whole body felt achy and my stomach hurt after eating.  Of course, I thought I was dying, but my husband thought I was dehydrated.

What gives?  I drink water at all my meals and during exercise, so how could I be dehydrated?  I neglected to take into account the exercise and the sunshine, and in all honesty, I probably don't drink enough water to begin with.  I stupidly thought that I would know when I was getting dehydrated.  Wouldn't I get really thirsty first?  I thought dehydration just happened to people who got lost in the wilderness without enough drinking water, or people who did excessive exercise in hot weather. Wrong.  Anyone can get dehydrated, and in the hot summer months, we're all more vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration.

So friends, while you're out enjoying barbecues, fireworks, and parties at this festive time of year, don't forget to put a few bottles of water in your bag for you and your kids.  Don't wait until you feel thirsty to get a drink of water.  Don't get your fluids from coffee or alcohol, which don't actually hydrate you.  Take it seriously if you feel tired, dizzy, or lightheaded.  And don't forget that your pets may need more water in the hot weather as well.

Oh yeah, and Happy Canada Day!

Embarrassing photo from my 27th birthday scavenger hunt