{August 30, 2011}   The Last Ten Days …

So it’s been an insane 10 days! On August 20, we went back to Southwestern Ontario for Little J’s naming ceremony … a lovely weekend with family and friends. Ari’s grandma from California was there, and we got to see so many folks we hadn’t seen since at least the holidays … it was so wonderful to see so many people come together for our little family.

credit for the above photo to Alex Pominville of Pominville Photography.

It was then off to Wildwood, NJ on the Jersey Shore for a week at my favourite childhood vacation spot. After 12 hours of driving spread over two days (including an overnight in Binghamton, NY), we reached our destination, and it was a blast! 🙂

The boys enjoyed the beach …

Although my fearless Little Tyke developed a bit of spooks around the waves, which is unlike him, and a bit sad and diasppointing, but of course in a way almost a relief to his parents who are glad he’s so brave, but sometimes wish he understood the idea of danger a BIT better …

And rides …

But it was definitely a weird week at the same time. The first sign of the strangeness to come was an earthquake we felt on our first day out on the beach. Apparently, a 5.8-magnitude quake hit Virginia, down the coast, which we managed to feel up in Jersey (I’ve heard from some Ontarians they felt it too – so apparently quite the thing).

Unfortunately, though, as minor as that was where we were, it was only the harbinger of things to come. Our lovely, almost week-long vacation, it turns out, was only meant to last 3 days instead of six, as on Thursday we received word that Hurricane Irene was heading up the coast to the Jersey Shore, and Wildwood was being evacuated as of 8am Friday morning.

A bitterly disappointed Daigen family loaded up all of our stuff and began the drive inland and north, eventually reaching Montreal, where we decided to make SOMETHING of our two remaining days of vacation anyway, hitting the Biodome on Sunday, featuring animals and plant life from four ecosystems found in the Americas (the rain forest, the gulf of St. Lawrence, the St. Lawrence maple forest, and the sub-polar region).

The boys even got to ride on their first subway – Montreal’s excellent Metro!

Incidentally, Montreal met Irene as well on Sunday, only she wasn’t quite so harsh to La Belle Ville as she was to the Jersey Shore.

And we checked out the Ecomuseum Zoo on Monday on our way, finally, home.

We calculated almost 40 hours of driving, 4 hotels, 5 different cities overnight, and just about every kind of weather but snow on this trip. Relaxing beachside family vacation, as planned? Not exactly. An unforgettable adventure? Yeah … one could say that.

{August 18, 2011}   Happy Birthday Little J!

Happy birthday to Little J, our youngest baby, this handsome, chili-covered sweetie above. Today, he turns one. Tomorrow, we’re heading back to Kitchener-Waterloo to celebrate his birthday and ‘naming’ – an ecumenical mashup between a Baptism and a briss, with less bloodshed – with dear family and friends, one year to the day after we learned this little wonderbaby had come into the world, and Little Tyke was a big brother. After that, we’re heading to the New Jersey shore for, what, if I say so myself, I consider to be some well-deserved fun in the sun. 🙂 So if the blogging is less frequent over the next few days … please know that means there will be more to talk about later. We’re going to enjoy the last couple weeks of summer.

How will YOU be spending them?

{August 16, 2011}   VACATION!!!

Yeah – you can see where my head’s at. lol Can’t wait …

{August 14, 2011}   Summer Reading

Hi guys,

Just wanted to mention a couple of books I’ve read in the last week – the fact I’ve gone through two books this week tells you they weren’t terribly difficult to read, and took little enough time I’m not adding them to my 101 book list – however, I wanted to share that, while somewhat (okay a lot) fluffy, they were fun reads and I’m sure if I thought about it I could criticize their quality as ‘literature’ … but that’s just it, I wasn’t thinking. 🙂

UNTOLD STORY by Monica Ali documents what might have happened if Princess Diana had survived that car crash in Paris, only to fake her own death about a month later in a drowning/shark attack off the coast of Brazil, to go on to live undercover in small-town America. By far the smarter of these two books, it’s still pulp lit, but a lot of fun, with a fair bit of thought put into it. Just because it’s short-ish, and easy to read, I can imagine it having been a challenge to plot out and write – and I applaud Monica Ali for applying her talent as best she could to a real mass-appeal novel that will grab the tabloid-reading crowd, without being God-awful, or really even bad by any stretch.

SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL covers the lives of Sweet Valley High’s famous Wakefield Twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, ten years and one huge falling out later. Updating everyone who grew up on the Sweet Valley pablum in their tweens and teens on the lives of the beautiful California girls and their friends, while this is the definition of drug store pulp, as a former SVH reader, I have to admit it was worth it if for nothing but the nostalgia factor. You’ll be surprised who you root for – absolute trash, but of the most fun kind. 🙂

What has everyone else been reading this summer?

{August 9, 2011}   Wildwood Bound

In two weeks from right now, we will have just come back to our hotel room in Wildwood NJ after our first evening on their famous Boardwalk. We will have celebrated Little J’s birthday and naming ceremony with family and friends, and spent some time back in our hometown, which we’re also looking forward to bigtime.

In between, we will be cleaning, packing, working, parenting, enjoying the lovely summer … not necessarily in that order lol. It’s been such a good one. And as it winds down and we look forward to our vacation, it is also time that teacher hiring swings back into something of a higher gear – wish me luck in that department too! It’s all just life, man … and we’re enjoying it currently.

{August 3, 2011}   Reading Update

I just completed “The Secret Mulroney Tapes” by acclaimed (though conservative) Canadian journalist Peter C. Newman. While not a completely unbiased or magisterially historical biography – Newman explains why early on in the book, due to Mulroney’s lack of follow-through providing him confidential documents that could have fleshed out this story – what this might lack as a comprehensive, exhaustive look at ‘The Mulroney Years’ it more than makes up for as a character sketch of one of the most controversial, yet accomplished and risk-taking, Prime Ministers in Canadian history.

1. Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. The Host – Stephenie Meyers
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Last Night at the Chateau Marmont – Laura Weisberger
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks – Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours – Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The First Christmas – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. Under the Dome – Stephen King
48. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours – Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
59. Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister – Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes – Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians – Will Ferguson
67. Planet Simpson – Chris Turner
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. The Emerging Christian Way – Marcus Borg et al
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K – Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma – Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. Good Book – David Plotz
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Undisputed – Chris Jericho
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

While not a completely unbiased or magisterially historical biography – Newman explains why early on in the book, due to Mulroney’s lack of follow-through providing him confidential documents that could have fleshed out this story – what this might lack as a comprehensive, exhaustive look at ‘The Mulroney Years’ it more than makes up for as a character sketch of one of the most controversial, yet accomplished and risk-taking, Prime Ministers in Canadian history. What this book did for me, while solidifying my perception of him as arrogant and self-aggrandizing, was mellow my view of him as an ideological Reagan-ite or Thatcher-ite. More left-leaning than I thought, if anyone has successfully squared the circle of the ‘Progressive Conservative’ oxymoron, it is Mulroney. I definitely recommend this read – it’s not heavy politics or history, it’s completely digestible, and gives you a front row seat to the movers and shakers in an incredibly intense and important time in Canadian history.

{August 3, 2011}   Thank you Matt Damon!

et cetera