Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

New Adventures of Old Bethany July 4, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 10:15 am
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When life gets a little nuts, that makes it the perfect time to jump into a new project. Right? What, that’s just me? 😉

I’ve had the idea simmering in my mind for a year or so to start a book review blog, and finally decided to get on with it. It will not be replacing this blog (aka my random-thoughts-on-life public journal) but is an entirely different project.

The new blog – Dark Side of the Covers – will be focusing on reviewing Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance. (I’ll admit it – I grew up reading fantasy and other imaginative genres, and I’ve never grown up. Long live imagination!) I’ll be keeping the blogs separate, so if you’re into that sort of fiction and want to discuss the books with me, I hope you’ll subscribe or follow over there, or even share the link with a fellow bookworm.

And for those of you who aren’t into that sort of thing (*waves* Hi, Mom! *grins*), you can still hang out with me here at LHBW for more of my ramblings.

Here’s to new adventures, and a summer filled with them! 🙂

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Rant: Mature Content May 26, 2011

Filed under: Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 12:15 pm
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“Warning: this show contains mature content and may not be suitable for all viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.”

This disclaimer baffles and amuses me every time I hear it. I understand – and appreciate – the warning that I’m likely to be bombarded with blood, guts, profanity and/or sex in the next few minutes. What amuses me, though, is the assumption that these things are mature.

I mean, that twenty-something kid you know with the foul mouth and off-colour humour?

Odds are good the adjective you use to describe them isn’t “mature.”

Maturity has nothing to do whether or not you can stomach the blood and guts in A Game of Thrones, and everything to do with whether you can stomach being the one who gets down on your hands and knees to scrub the floor behind the throne, if you know what I mean. It means biting your tongue instead of cussing the air blue when your five-year-old hammers your thumb instead of the nail, and it should also mean you’re discerning enough to watch the damn show when the kids are sleep, because the second part of the warning, about viewer discretion? That, I completely agree with.

 

How (and why) To Vote With Your Kids April 22, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Kids,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 11:43 am
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I was a wide-eyed 7-year-old in 1988, trailing my parents through the crowds at a local arena along with my older and younger brothers. We weren’t there for a hockey game, though – this was a “family field trip” and we were there for a real-life lesson on voting. At the time, I was still trying to make sense of how this had anything to do with the colorful signs all over my neighbours yards, and didn’t realize how that simple trip would impact my life – but I’ve never missed voting in a provincial or federal election since the day I walked in on my 18th birthday with ID in hand to vote for the first time, and it has a lot to do with those early memories. I wasn’t the only one to feel the importance of that day – my younger brother, Eric, is now 23 and running as a candidate for the Green Party, and attributes his interest in politics to that same trip.  Just as I’m passionate about getting out and voting, I’m equally convinced it’s important for us parents to involve our children in the process as much as possible.

We need to teach our kids responsible citizenship in the same way we teach them to brush their teeth

– through example and endless repetition.

(A little nagging never hurts, either. 😉 )


Here’s how (and why) to vote with your kids:

Ride in Style

  • HOW: Keeping infants in carseats, slings or carriers works great. Use your parental powers of persuasion to convince toddlers and preschoolers that the stroller is the sweetest ride around.
  • WHY: You’ll need at least one hand free.

Timing Is Everything

  • HOW: If your kids are preschoolers or younger, pick the time of day they’re happiest – whether that’s right after or during a nap-in-the-carseat – and hit the polls.  If your children are in school, PLEASE consider either voting this weekend in the advance polls so you can take them along, or waiting and going to vote after school or in the early evening on May 2nd.
  • WHY: Waiting to vote during meltdown hour will make the experience memorable in a whole ‘nother way. 😉 Older kids need to SEE you vote, not just talk about it. They do what we DO, not what we say…

Forewarned is Forearmed

  • HOW: Take emergency rations (cheerios, how we love thee!) and entertainment (crayons and coloring book, a few quiet toys). Make sure YOU have all your necessary ID ready and easily accessible, and that you know where you’re going before you leave the house.
  • WHY: Murphy’s law of parenting says if you’re ready to wait, you won’t have to.

Manners Matter

  • HOW: Explain the rules before hand – inside voices, stay by mom/dad, etc. Depending on where you vote, they *might* have to stay a couple of feet behind you on the “white line” or some other mark when you actually vote.
  • WHY: Going over expectations beforehand makes any outing smoother – and we want this one to be positive!

Teamwork

  • HOW: When your friend/neighbour/mother-in-law offers to watch your kids at home so you can vote, politely counter-offer with an invitation to go WITH you and the kids to vote.
  • WHY: You’ll have extra hands to help, and your kids will see even more trusted adults participating on election day – and you never know, maybe you’ll encourage your helpers to vote, too!

Talk, Talk, Talk

  • HOW: Start now – talk about the different candidates in your community, how voting works, why it’s important. Hold mock “elections” at home – vote on what’s for dinner or dessert, which movie to watch, etc. On voting day, explain each step of the process as you go.
  • WHY: As with tooth-brushing, it takes a lot of repetition and explanation to communicate the importance of voting. When children understand the concept on a small scale (yay, chocolate ice cream won tonight!) they can begin to grasp the larger scheme as well. Educating them about the process of going to vote increases the chances that when they’re eighteen, they’ll actually go and do it – because by then they aren’t going to want to listen to your advice. 😉 Give it now, while they still will.

Take Your Village

  • HOW: Team up with another parent or couple, carpool, arrange a big playdate for all the kids while the adults watch the results of the vote trickle in. Offer a ride to people in  your community who need one, and TALK to your fellow parents about the importance of voting while you watch the kids at the park, wait outside school, and watch the t-ball game. Don’t like conflict? Stay away from the “issues” and just try to motivate the vote.
  • WHY: We’re not just cogs in a machine or parents sitting on park benches. We are Canada, and it is vital that we make our voices – ALL OF THEM – heard.

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

I’d love to hear any other tips or suggestions you might have – how do YOU involve your kids in voting? Any strategies for going to vote? Leave a comment! And if you found this post helpful, pass it on to your fellow parents, and do what you can to motivate the vote around you! Make a difference.

 

Vote. Just…vote. April 21, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 2:12 pm
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As a rule, I dislike blanket statements…but I’m going to make one anyway: You should vote. “You” meaning anyone in a democracy, but specifically my fellow Canadians, in the election that’s creeping up on us. I’ve heard a lot of excuses why people don’t vote, but in my opinion, not one of them is a good enough reason to skip voting:

Excuse #1: I can’t get to the polls.

Reality: Find a friend (or neighbour) to take you, and nag them into voting too. Or you can call any of your local candidates and ask for a ride. They will give you one. Once you’re there, vote for WHOEVER THE HECK YOU WANT TO, regardless of who gave you the ride.

Excuse #2: I don’t like any of the party leaders.

Reality: In Canada, our vote goes to a local candidate, not the party leader. Vote for the local candidate who most closely represents your values.

Excuse #3: None of my local candidates represent my values.

Reality: Prioritize your values, and vote for the candidate who is closest to your most important one(s). Nobody even close? Vote based on the party’s platform, or consider running as a candidate yourself next time… 😉

Excuse #4: I have a (child, parent, pet, paint drying on the wall) and nobody to watch it while I go vote.

If it’s a child, TAKE THEM WITH YOU, and increase the odds of them growing up to be an involved citizen. If it’s a parent and they’re healthy enough to vote, TAKE THEM WITH YOU. If it’s a pet, grab a neighbour who also has a pet and TAKE THEM WITH YOU…you can take turns standing outside and holding the leash. (If you’d really rather watch paint dry than vote…turn on the news and see what’s happening around the world. Be ashamed. Then get off your butt and vote.)

Excuse #5: All politicians are corrupt, I don’t want to support any of them.

Reality: They’re corrupt because we as a nation don’t bother to hold them accountable BY VOTING. Politicians think we don’t care, so they can do whatever they want without consequence. Prove them wrong.

Excuse #6: The candidate I like most will never win in my riding anyway.

Reality: They might, if you and the 1000 other people in your riding thinking the same thing actually voted. (Two elections ago here in Huron-Bruce, the MP was elected by a slight 971 vote lead. That’s not a big number.) And if you really want your vote to count? Consider voting for a local candidate who supports electoral reform. Our “first by the post” system was designed for two parties, not multiple parties. If we moved towards proportional representation, every.single.vote would help get an MP elected, and those who vote with their conscience (like the 1,000,000 Canadians who voted for the Green Party in 2008) will have fair representation.

Excuse #7: I don’t know who my local candidates are.

Reality: All of the party websites have the option to enter your location and be shown your candidate. If you’re short on time, check out CBC Canada Votes 2011 for a list of all the candidates in your region, complete with contact information. Local debates are a great way to see your potential MP’s in action, and they’re usually more civilized and vastly more interesting than the televised party leader debates – plus you get a chance to ask your questions and meet your candidates face-to-face.

Excuse #8: Politics are confusing, I don’t really understand the issues, and I don’t want to vote for the wrong person.

Reality: If you don’t vote, you increase the odds that the “wrong” person will be elected. Pick one or two key issues that you care about personally (childcare? extending EI benefits? green energy? improved public transit?) and spend 5 minutes at each candidate’s website to see what they have to say about it. Can’t find the answer there? Call or email them. You may not agree with everything in a party or candidate’s platform, but if they agree with you on a couple of key issues, it’s a vote well cast.

Excuse #9: I’ve never voted, and I don’t know what to expect.

Reality: By now you should have received a voter’s card in the mail, telling you where to go vote. If not, go to Elections Canada and find out. It’s easy. You’ll also find information there on what kind of ID you’ll need to bring (simplest is a driver’s license, but the website clearly explains other options.) On Election day, go to the appropriate location. There will be many helpful people working who will tell you what to do…and they’ll be happy to do so.

Additional Resources: (I’m including links for the parties represented in my riding. Yours might have others – don’t forget to check them out.)

Liberal Party website

Conservative Party website

Green Party website

New Democratic Party website

Vote Compass (quiz designed to help you figure out your voting priorities; mildly controversial, but interesting.)

May 2, 2011

Be there. Show you care.

VOTE.

 

Writing prompts, and a little story February 10, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 11:31 am
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I’m loving the Writing.Com “Writing Prompts” app for the iPhone. Shake your phone, and you get a nifty little nugget of an idea to run with. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just write with it; no censoring allowed – let your imagination run wild. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing before you turn your attention to whatever you need to be working on, and you never know, maybe you’ll end up with the start of something great to work on later. 🙂

Just for fun, I’ll share what I got today. It’s still pretty rough, but it’s always interesting to see what your subconscious can come up with in a few crazy minutes…

Prompt: You can see through your mirror to another dimension…

I thought it was steam clouding the mirror when I stepped dripping out of the shower. Maybe the fan was broken again; I’d have to call my landlord and try to get him to fix it. Like that was going to happen. Pulling on my robe, I reached for the hand towel that hung dangling from the wings of a pewter fairy. I’d picked the hook up at an estate sale weeks ago, amused by the way she looked over her shoulder, a flirtatious little smile lurking on her exquisitely carved face.

The worries of the day swirled in my mind, thoughts of bills and bosses and brutal reality, and that’s probably why I didn’t notice at first that the fog didn’t wipe clean. Instead, the mirror stayed gray and cloudy.

Puzzled, I dropped the towel in the sink and raised my palm to the mirror, expecting the wet, smooth feel of glass. Ripples rolled across the surface at my touch, and I jerked back in alarm. Then the clouds began to clear in slow, careful swipes, as if someone were wiping the glass from the other side. A heart-shaped face stared back at me, lips full and red, hair a shimmering silver with streaks of blue. Translucent wings flitted softly behind her, and the glass – or what had been glass – shimmered in time with those wings. She lifted her hand and spread her fingers across her side of the mirror as if trying to reach me. Her blue eyes shimmered with tears as her lips moved in words I couldn’t understand. I felt my hand rising to meet hers, and the mirror rippled between our hands, the swirls growing more and more intense.

I woke up cold and alone, a headache throbbing behind my eyes. Groggily I got up, staggering to my feet. All I saw in the mirror was my confused face, staring back at me. But when I tried to hang up the towel, the wings on the pewter fairy were drooping, and it fell to the ground.

 

 

 

Audiobook Review: Shade by Jeri Smith Ready July 18, 2010

Filed under: Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 9:32 am
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Why I Chose It: I really enjoy Smith-Ready’s WVMP books, and I’m a big fan of the YA genre, so when I saw Shade was available through my local library’s download service, it was a no-brainer – into the cart it went.

What I Liked: There is a LOT of emotion in this book – not surprising when you consider that the heroine is one of the post-shift generation, those who see ghosts and shades. Think about it for a moment. Would you ever really LOSE anybody you cared about? What if you could see but never touch them? Yeah. Smith-Ready manages an authentic, first-person voice for her heroine – she sounded like a teen, not a dumbed-down adult. Her emotional responses (of which there are, naturally, many!) rang true. Bonus point for portraying adults/authority figures as antagonists but NOT inherently imbecilic by nature of being adult. (My ultimate pet peeve with YA stories.)

Khristine Hvam’s narration was great…the how-to-sound-Scottish conversation had me giggling out loud and earning odd looks from others in the room. Hvam really brings Aura to life, and handles the emotional content of the story very convincingly.

What I Didn’t: The trying-to-choose-between-two-guys element always irritates me a little, but I will say it was handled well in this story, never crossing into the forehead-to-desk category.

Would I Listen Again? Yes. There are some interesting story lines/world-building elements that I would want to hear again before listening to the next book when it comes out. And, yes, the next book will definitely be on my playlist.

 

Audiobook Review: “Acheron” by Sherrilyn Kenyon July 12, 2010

Filed under: Opinionated — bethanyjoy @ 4:45 pm
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Why I Chose It: Three things prompted me to use one of my Audible Credits for the month on Acheron – first, it’s read by Holter Graham, my all-time favorite narrator. His voice is simply delicious on the ears, and his gift for giving each character a unique voice makes me feel as if I’m listening to a full-cast production. Second, the audiobook clocks in at 23 hrs and 39 minutes, a great time-value for a single credit. Finally, I’d just finished listening to Infinity: The Chronicles of Nick (review to come) and was curious about Acheron’s character.

What I Liked: Holter Graham’s narration didn’t disappoint – character voices were clearly defined, and stayed consistent even when the POV character changed. As for the story itself, the first half of the book is excruciating, heart-rending, keep-a-kleenex-handy sad…I honestly teared up a couple times, and that’s not normal for me. It was a relief to finally reach the romance portion of the story, which developed very nicely. I had a bit of anxiety that it was going to end up hanging on a lame miscommunication conflict to keep them apart, but NO! – our Hero and Heroine actually talk like adults, face down major obstacles, and fight side-by-side to a satisfying conclusion.

On a side note, I usually get twitchy if I try and read a series out of order, but Acheron was strong enough to stand on it’s own. Even though I sometimes had the feeling that the secondary characters interacting with Acheron probably would matter more if I knew *their* story, I never had the sense of being the only one left out of an inside joke.

What I Didn’t: Truthfully, this is a bit of a back-handed compliment – I absolutely despised Artemis. Every time her character appeared, I experienced a spine-shivering revulsion. She’s shallow, stupid, and selfish. This suits her role, but did nearly cause some damage to my earbuds…it was hard to resist the urge to bang my head on the table at moments. So, kudos to Kenyon for crafting a despicable villain…I just wished I’d been able to love hating her. My other frustration was that, since we only meet our heroine at the half-way point of the book, and her story is MUCH less developed than Acheron’s, her character lacked the impact of his. She was likeable, for sure, but even at the end of the book felt almost like a stranger compared to the depth that we know Acheron.

Would I Listen Again? Yes. Lots of action, fun romance, GREAT narration.

 

 
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