Monday, April 23, 2018

Hallelujah!

Did you hear the angels singing yesterday? That was to celebrate the relocating of the chickens from the kitchen to the chicken coop. J. worked for nearly the entire weekend non-stop, and just has a little more to do this afternoon. He got enough done that the chickens were evicted. They'll get the run of the run by tomorrow. It's probably just as well they had to chill inside the coop for 24 hours to get settled. They were a little overwhelmed by the experience.

And then the ducks arrived. While all this coop building was going on, the ducks were having a grand time out in the pen with their wading pool. Not much upsets a duck. Well, except it seems, when they are surprised upon returning to their suite after a dip in the pool to find it infested with chickens.

I peeked in the window at one point to see how things were going. It was like the poultry version of West Side Story. Well, with less dancing and a bit more quacking. The chickens, all 21 of them, were squeezed as tightly as they could get into one corner. The ducks were a bit more spread out in the other corner, but walking around and doing a lot of quacking. It as is if there were long ongoing discussions as to how to rid themselves of this nuisance. The chickens on the other hand, just acted as though they had suddenly found themselves in an episode of The Twilight Zone, and had to escape from the zombie ducks from Mars. It was actually a little amusing.

The second time I peeked in, the huddle of chickens had loosened somewhat, but the Jets and the Sharks were still very much circling around each other.


Here is a photo of the outside.


The trenches are dug, wire laid in and covered. A good portion of the wire is up around the outside. The coop has its window, and the roosting bars are up. Tomorrow J. hopes to finish with the wire, add a door into the pen, and cut a hole in the coop for the chickens and ducks to use to go back and forth between the coop and the pen.

But the chickens are out of my kitchen!! I have already taken out the brooder box and done the first of probably many vacuumings of the floor. Today I hope to begin the really deep cleaning that the kitchen needs. I may actually want to spend time in it and cook in a bit!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Creating a high school transcript

It was not so warm and sunny today, so you get a real blog post.

I discovered when someone asked me about making transcripts, that I have never written about how I go about creating one. Since this is a topic that I feel as though I repeat myself over, it is perhaps a good topic for the blog.

First off, transcripts can be organized in different ways and still be valid and communicate the information they are intended to convey. Many high school transcripts are organized chronologically by school year. I don't actually like this method, though, because it is very difficult to fit a non-traditional school experience into a very traditional box. I find it much more useful to organize high school transcripts by subject instead.

Under the headings of various subjects (i.e. Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Art and Music, etc.), I will list the coursework that my student has completed. For a non-traditional student, this format is simpler to use because it requires less explanation. Because we do not follow a traditional high school format, my high schooler's learning does not fit into neat boxes. They may take more than one year to complete a class, or they may double up and do two classes concurrently. (One of my children did Algebra 2 and Geometry in the same year.) Sometimes, on their own, they will have done enough study to equal a class worth of credit over the course of four years. How does one even begin to figure out where to put something like that in a chronological transcript? It doesn't really matter how or when a subject was learned, just that it was learned.

Secondly, I tend to make transcripts a little backwards. Instead of starting with what classes my students will take, I wait to see what they have done before putting a class down on the transcript. This is why I have my high schoolers keep fairly detailed records during their high school careers. I give them a large binder, and they keep track of things they've studied, read, watched, done, listened to, participated in, etc. We then go back and look to see what classes we can make with all that experience. Now, of course, for some classes... algebra, biology... those required types that colleges like to see, and for which we usually use a text book, we already know they have completed those. If a text book was completed, then they get the credit. But not every class that goes down on a transcript was text book based. I have written about non-traditional high school classes, which you will find by clicking the link.

The other thing that everyone always wants to know about is grades. I make no secret of the fact that we don't grade or do testing. (And the world keeps spinning and children get into and succeed in college. Really.) We base grades on a combination of mastery and effort. Because we will keep working on a class (usually) until there has been some level of mastery, it is not surprising that there are a lot of A's on my children's transcripts. The few B's and very occasional C's come when a class is generally required for consideration by colleges, so must be done, but is less than enthusiastically received by the students. For the most part though, a class that we decided would earn the grade of C or lower wouldn't even count towards the transcript. I also tend to ask my children what grade they would give themselves and take that into consideration when completing the transcript. They have tended to be much harder graders than I am.

There is also a rather unique problem that I've encountered as I've gone through my children's high school record books to figure out what classes they have done. Sometimes I have to decide to leave some credits off the transcript because they have enough, and to add everything would begin to look a wee bit suspicious. This is a side effect of letting children explore their interests... they do. You can squeeze a lot of learning into four years when you have a lot of free time. It's been interesting to see my children pass through various phases of interests. But since it would be one of those things which would be difficult to explain on a transcript, we choose to take our children's learning and make it look as traditional as we can.

So there you go. Transcripts in a very brief nutshell. What questions do you have that I missed?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ahhhh....

I did not write a blog post today.

I sat and dozed in the warm sun.

I read a book in the warm sun.

I watched the ducks swim in the wading pool in the warm sun.

I watched my children play baseball in the warm sun.

I watched J. put in posts for the outdoor run of the chicken coop in the warm sun.

There is supposed to be more warm sun tomorrow. You may or may not get a blog post then, either. It's difficult to see computer screens in the warm sun.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Eschewing the limelight

I am not actually a fan of attention being focused on me. I know that might seem a little odd, given that I write a blog talking about my family and do some public speaking. But the former is because it's therapeutic, a way to keep track of what my family has been doing, and (I hope) can help other people not make the same mistakes I have. This is also why I speak to groups. If I can make use of the things I've learned over the years and perhaps help other people along the way, then I'm happy to do that.

So when a friend approached me asking if she could do a documentary on our family, I was torn. We are really not ideal documentary subjects. (I think our friend would concur... I think we have been a trial to her over the past five or six years.) My children don't care for cameras, and I can be, um, crotchety and uncooperative. As she has heard me say over and over and over, we are not really anything so special. We do not have super powers. Truly, anyone could do what we do, they just haven't taken the plunge into chaos.

And there is my dilemma, I want to show people that we what we do is not anything special. It's just living life, and learning that "normal", whatever that is, isn't all that it is cracked up to be. I want people to realize that they can do so much more.

I also have the perpetual tug between advocacy and privacy. When we first started, I talked with H. She wanted to help other children find families. When she first came home, H. was amazed that there were so many mommies and daddies out there. In her previous world, parents were a rather limited commodity. She spent her first year home astounded that there were so many children who did have families. H. was willing to help others find permanent families by sharing part of her story.

The reason why I'm sharing all this is because this documentary has reached a new point in its existence... the fund raising stage. As a result, I'm starting to see a little more traffic to my blog, and felt a brief explanation was needed. It's a peculiar tension to both want to see something do well, but wishing I could pretend it was about someone else. I'd feel so much less odd about sharing this if it really were about someone else. I can think of quite a few other families I'd love to see a movie made about, and I'm quite sure they would be far better subjects than me and my crew.

This is probably not the best way to do my part in the 'helping with fundraising' category. (See? I'm a difficult documentary subject.) It just all feels so very awkward. So without further ado... or anymore vaguely squirming uncomfortableness, if you feel so inclined, take a look at the Hayden and Her Family Production Fund Kickstarter campaign. But only if you want to. And if you know me in real life, you will probably never hear a word about it coming out of my mouth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Equal time

After I posted L.'s poems yesterday, G. reminded me that she wanted to be an artist, and decided it would be best if I put a picture that she drew up on the blog next. So that is what I'm doing.

Super Panda

Let me tell you a bit about Super Panda. In his tool belt, he is armed with (from right to left): Silly Spray which makes people stick to things; a candy that makes him turn so cute that other people freeze; boomerang; more silly string in case he runs out; a hot dog for a snack; another snack; a hook gun which hooks onto things so he can climb them; a baby bottle for his drinks. He's holding a bamboo sword. 

Here is Super Panda next to Pandy, who is never very from from G.


This girl adores pandas, can you tell?
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I have another new article published: This is Why Photolistings are Important

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Free verse - A dog triptych

In the midst of All Math, All the Time, L. (age 8 1/2) has decided to write poems. Here are her latest works. (Well, technically, these are the translations of her latest works, her spelling is still on the more inventive side, though she can now read it back consistently.)


The Sunset Dog
One puppy, alone and scared
In the mist, as thick as fur,
And bone that stared with icy eyes
A glimmer in the dark.
And then he strayed
And was never heard
Again.
His sharp bark cried out, "I'm done."


Kenzie
Kenzie, the nicest dog
His fur is gold, his head is soft
He really is the best.


Olive
Olive the dog
She can run as fast as a fox.
Although her brain is tiny
She really is smart.

____________
And in other animal news, if you are in the horrible never-ending ice age of the north, you might not know that along with your being miserable, small birds are in a critical state. Read about the Bird Emergency and the simple things you can do to help these animals survive until spring actually arrives. The page I've linked to will give instructions as to what food to provide and how to warm any birds suffering from hypothermia which you may find.

Monday, April 16, 2018

SOS

February 75th,

Dear Diary,

Every morning I wake up and realize that I am still in this alternate universe. I spend most of my day trying to figure out how I got here, and more importantly how to get back to the place I belong. I have yet to find an answer or solution to my questions.

Vocabulary is currently the trickiest thing to navigate in this particular universe. When I say the word 'spring', I have in my head warming days where I can feel the sunshine. Of course there will be rain, but it is a warmer sort of rain that makes the plants grow. Here, in this universe, 'spring' means something different. Spring seems to be what they say when cold weather isn't in the negative digits. There is still snow and cold, and while I see the sun in the sky, I certainly cannot feel the warmth of it on my skin. I miss that!

So far, in my quest to figure out how to get home, I have tried wishful thinking, clicking my heels together and saying, "There's no place like home," wearing clothing appropriate to my universe's idea of spring weather, and pouting. None of these has returned me to the proper dimension, much less the proper temperature.

I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out. If I could figure out how to send a distress signal, perhaps a rescue team could figure out how to get through the barrier between dimensions and take me back. At the very least, perhaps they could send a supply of new winter clothes and hot cocoa in bulk amounts. I don't know how the residents of this dimension hold out in the face of this grinding and perpetually cold weather.

A frightening idea plagues my thoughts as I try to figure out a means of escape. What if there are not seasons in this universe? What if they just call groups of months by different names for ease of telling the passing of time? What if it never gets warm here? If this is truly the case, I may go truly mad.

Here they tell of mythical lands to the south where the temperatures are high enough that one can go outside without a coat. If I cannot return to my rightful home, perhaps I will venture forth in search of these mythical lands.

I will do my best to hold out for a while longer. Every night when I go to sleep, I comfort myself with the thought that I will somehow be magically transported home during the night, and will wake up to warmth and sunshine and leafy green spring. A soul can only take the crushing reality of this not happening so many times.

Until tomorrow,

Saturday, April 14, 2018

An actual phone conversation

J.: Is there anything you need me to pick up from the store on my way home from work?

Me: Spring. Maybe a couple of boxes.

J.: I think the stores are all out of stock. We'll have to wait until they get a new shipment.

Thus, many children (the ones who are not sleeping) are spending their Saturday doing math (their choice) and I'm working on the checkbook and bills. Saturdays don't get much more fun than that, do they?

And the chickens are still inside my house.

I love the photo-bombing chicken in the background.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday bullets, April 12, 2018

Yesterday was beautiful and warm as promised, and we spent nearly every minute of it outside.

  • I spent most of my day trying to free some more of the trees that had become overgrown over the years. Here's a couple transformation photos.
From this...

to this. There really was a tree under there.
I also worked on this one.

Before

After
  • Why does something that takes hours to do, always look like such little progress when it is all done?
  • Y. adores math, and did over 20 pages on Wednesday.
  • TM needed a photo of himself to go along with his auction basket, so he took this one. Isn't it cute?
  • D., by all accounts, is having a grand time visiting the H-S Family. He has been to the ocean, ridden a ferry, explored Seattle, learned to ride an ATV and a dirt bike, gone hiking, and seen otters playing. Real life is going to come as rather a shock, I'm afraid. He returns very late tonight.
  • I finished the last book in the Invisible Library series. It was a sad moment. Now I can only hope the author writes the next one quickly.
  • A word of warning to everyone. If you plan to be picking up ducks and carrying them about, do not wear nice clothing. I moved the ducks into the baby pen to enjoy some outside time, and when I looked down, I had duck poop down my leg. I was wearing jeans, but it was a good lesson as to what to be aware of when moving ducks.
  • Also, if you are picking up ducks, watch out for those webbies. They may look cute and harmless, but the claws they have at the end of their toes are sharp. I also think duck feet look like dinosaur feet.


Do you have any idea exactly how difficult it is to get a picture of duck feet?
  • Now that the stinky ducks have moved out, I am much more aware of how bad the chickens smell. Their days are numbered. We just need some good weather when J. is not at work to get the coop and pen finished off so we can move them.
  • Olive does not have to wear the cone anymore! Hooray! We are all celebrating. Olive now spends her days attacking the wicked, evil cone that took possession of her.
  • My speaking gig is a week from today. I suppose I should spend a little time working on it.
And that pretty much sums up the week. Enjoy your weekend!






Thursday, April 12, 2018

Warmth

"On that first morning when the sky was blue again Mary wakened very early. The sun was pouring in slanting rays through the blinds and there was something so joyous in the sight of it that she jumped out of bed and ran to the window itself and a great waft of fresh, scented air blew in upon her. The moor was blue and the whole world looked as if something Magic had happened to it. There were tender little fluting sounds here and there and everywhere, as if scores of birds were beginning to tune up for a concert. Mary put her hand out of the window and held it in the sun.

'It's warm -- warm!' she said. 'It will make the green points push up and up and up, and it will make the bulbs and roots work and struggle with all their might under the earth.'" from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Assuming the weather forecast is correct, this will be everyone in the household this morning. Well, minus the moor, of course. You can't have everything. The end of winter, especially one that is an overstaying guest, can be more than a slog, but there is something magical about the first truly warm day. The contrast between the bitter cold and the warm sunshine with birds singing and tress budding out is so great and so wonderful that it is almost worth the wait to get to it. It's easy to take warmth for granted when you live in a place where it is warm nearly all year long, such as where I grew up. But then you don't experience the great and overpowering joy of actually feeling warmth when you step outside.

So today, we will spend out of doors. Some people are happily planning on doing more math outside, while others are happily planning on avoiding it in favor of doing other outdoorsy things. I'm hoping to get in a bit of gardening and maybe clearing out around another of our very overgrown trees.

And as to the forecast for Sunday night...

Well, La la la la la la la... What? I can't hear you... La la la la la la la
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I have a new article published: Adoption Parenting and Secondary Trauma

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Artist in Residence

TM is going to Mexico with a group from our church's youth group this summer. In order to help raise money to pay for this, each student is asked to provide a basket to be auctioned at the service auction this Sunday. TM decided to make an art basket and include an original piece of art.





I kind of love it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

All math, all the time

If there is one word that defines my homeschooling journey, it is reactionary. Reactionary in that I am usually focusing on remediating whatever area my over-active imagination has decided to fixate on and worry about. These worries can run the gamut from feeling the need to do daily nature journal entries to deciding I have failed the lot of them if they do not know Latin and everything in between. I do tend to veer wildly in what homeschooling here looks like. Watching my older children be successful adults makes me think perhaps I did okay, but that doesn't stop me from obsessing about the current crew.

As I was thinking about the spring and the time we've lost watching, caring for, and cleaning up after our household barnyard animals, I decided yesterday morning that too many times math had fallen by the wayside. I made the decision to call in the big guns.

Bribery.

Hey, it does have its place. Here was my offer. Every child who could complete the math book they were currently working in by the end of the spring, would get a trip to the bookstore where I would buy them whichever book they wanted. Heck, I'd do math for that offer.

It seems to have worked. I think Y. had the high end of nearly ten pages of math completed yesterday. But she really likes math. It did motivate the couple of children who don't really care for it, and they focused on math far longer than they would have had it just been a regular school morning.

Here's what I've noticed. First, I will be paying for this twice, in time and money. When a child does ten pages of math, someone needs to check it to be sure things are being done correctly. I tried to rope A. into the correcting fun, but she was having no part of it. I'll be correcting a lot of math for the near future.

Secondly, the math skills which I was despairing about inside my head yesterday morning, are not nearly as dire as I had thought. In fact, nearly everyone is doing things that I didn't know they could do. Even though we had not been moving quickly through our math books, I had been diligent in making sure that the things we had done were extremely well understood before moving on. I am currently the queen of elementary math manipulatives. There is something to be said for a really strong foundation of how the concept of numbers work.

We will still keep on with our 'Round the World Tour, but we will also spend a good chunk of our school time this spring with those math books. Summer will provide us with time to sit and read books together to solidify the reading habit. I personally find this method of focusing on one thing at a time to be my chosen method for learning something. Then that topic can rest a bit, and the brain can sort and store all the information while moving onto another, often very different subject.

I will say, though, that after correcting so many math pages over the years, my knowledge of addition and multiplication facts have never been secure.
_____________
I have a new article published. How Adoption From China Works

Monday, April 09, 2018

I am thrilled to announce that....

the ducks have left the building. Our house, that is. They are now safely ensconced in the new chicken coop. The coop is not fully complete and ready for chickens, but it is finished enough to house the ducks. Given that I found a duck walking around the house a couple of times today, it was none too soon, either.

The first step to move them out was to get them out of their wading pool. We decided that since their water needed to be inside the coop until the outside pen is done, that we needed to do everything possible to keep the inevitable splashing to a minimum. The best way to do this would be to put the food and water inside the wading pool inside the coop. They'd already proven they could get in and out of the pool, so reaching the food and water wasn't going to be an issue.

But how to contain the ducks without their wading pool while we set it up in the coop?

Enter... the baby pen!  That would be the baby pen which I bought for G. and L.  [I couldn't find a picture of it, but in this post, you can see a corner of it] when they were toddlers. They spent a lot of time in that pen, and I certainly got my money's worth. I wasn't sad to pack it up and not have it take up half of my kitchen, though. Since then, we have used it for any number of things, included a few dogs. Well, who knew that it would also be put to use as a duck pen?

I am terribly amused at seeing G. (front) and L. (back) in the pen with the ducks, given how much of their toddler years were spent in it.

The ducks were not entirely sure about this whole thing, and clustered together for quite a while.

Eventually they got a little more comfortable and discovered they liked grass.


With the wading pool washed out and new food and water containers found, it was time to put the ducks in their new home.

We took the larger plate heater away from the chicks who didn't need it anymore, so that the ducks could all get under it if it got too cold.

Once again, they spent a lot of time clustered together in a corner at first.



They eventually started moving around and investigating their new surroundings. We hadn't yet seen them get in the wading pool to eat and drink when we closed the door, though.

Both J. and I have made several trips out to the coop to check on them. They seem to be doing fine, and though we have to actually see them in the wading pool, its messiness leads us to believe that they have been there. 

The next couple of weekends will be spent with the ducks in the pen in the yard while J. adds roosts, a window, some ventilation, a door to the outside pen, and an outside pen. Once that happens, then these chickens will get to move out as well!

Today, I will be deep cleaning the TV lounge, though it may take it a while to truly air out.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Eating for your Brain

I just finished the book, Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power by Lisa Mosconi. I enjoyed it, which is why I've spent the past two days powering through it. There is nothing like getting a notice from the library that you have to return a book in two days to make it jump to the top of the reading list.

What I found most interesting were the parts about how the components of the foods we eat interact with our bodies and more particular our brains. The aim of the book is dealing with how to offset dementia in old age, but really it is about healthy brains. Does it surprise you that I found it fascinating? I will probably get myself a copy just for the geeky brain science parts.

But on top of the brain-food connection, there are also other parts dealing with other ways that we can create brain health. In the section which talks about how using your brain helps to keep it healthy, I ran across this:

"... you might be surprised to learn that, among all the intellectual activities at our disposal, the human brain seems to actually have a favorite. It loves board games the most.

Several studies have identified playing board games as the intellectual activity most consistently linked with a reduced risk for dementia. In one example, a two-year-long study of four thousand people showed that those who regularly played board games had a 15 percent lower risk of dementia later in life as compared to nonplayers.

This makes sense, since playing board games is a highly stimulating activity. Far from merely being a source of entertainment, these games typically promote complex reasoning, planning, and attention, as well as memory skills. Plus, you are interacting with other people ... Card games are included in this group, proving to be as effective as board games when it comes to brain benefits.

As you might notice, all these games promote social interactions and often reinforce multigenerational bonding too.   ...

After all, we are social animals. A fairly big chunk of our brains -- the limbic system -- is all about loving and bonding, as much as playing." (pp. 162-3)

Playing and interacting with others in that play are important for brain health! (I so love it when science proves my pet theories correct.) Notice that we are not talking children here; the book is clearly aimed at adults. Adults who are old enough to start being concerned about what their later years are going to look like. If it is true that play is good for older adults, how much more must it be true for growing and developing brains? We do true harm to ourselves the minute we put forth the idea that play is only for the very young child, and something that is to be set aside once the more "important" aspects can be focused on. How much richer would all of our lives be if we gave play a more important role in life?

It turns out that a diet based on lots of whole fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lots of fish contains that nutrients that our helps our brains function at their best. In popular terms, the Mediterranean diet comes closest. This is no great surprise as we have been told for quite some time that these foods are good for us, and processed foods and red meats are not. This is also the section of the book where I believe the author became a little rigid. Yes, I completely buy her arguments for why these foods are the best for us. But I also think a little flexibility isn't a bad thing, either. A sweet dessert every now and then is not going to cause a catastrophe.

All in all, I do recommend the book, particularly if you are interested in brain science or nutrition. It is for the most part extremely balanced, and the science is well backed-up. I warn you though, you may never look at a chocolate cookie or a hamburger the same way again.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Friday bullets, April 6, 2018

Is it April 6 or more like February 65? With two inches of snow predicted for Monday, I'm not entirely sure. (And people in Arizona, I just don't want to hear about your 90 degree weather right now, OK?)

  • The ducklings are now big enough that I can leave the wire top off their wading pool most of the time. I feel badly having it down, because they are so tall that they can't stretch their necks very much. They are also so big now that none of the larger predators in the house has given them a second glance. I think they are at least as big, if not bigger, than Midnight these days. I do kind of expect to see a random duck wandering about the house soon, though.
  • Olive is a positive menace with her cone. We will all be relieved when it can come off. A. did a trial of taking it off, but she wouldn't leave the incision alone, so back on it went.
  • I was reminded this week of the beauty of not trying to teach something too early. We had sort of done telling time with analog clocks previous to this, but earlier this week, L. came to me and wanted to know how to tell time. I got out our little teaching clock and explained how it worked. She practiced telling the time a few times, and that was it. She got it. She can tell time. Of course, everyone else wanted in on it, so now the four youngest can all tell time. It took about 20 minutes out of my day. So much better in my book than trying to teach it two years ago before they were ready or cared, where it would have been a total of many (painful) hours.
  • Small people have also been busily building some of the things we have been reading about. Yesterday we read several books about the Great Wall in China. K. became totally consumed with building his own version. J. is also reading the first Lord of the Rings to the younger people. This afternoon, L. has spent a very long time creating every character in the book out of Lego, as well as different places they have been to.
  • Nearly all of my seeds that I have started have come up. It's a new record for me. Now, to keep them all alive until it is (finally) warm enough to plant them outside. That's the real trick.
  • We have now moved to #6 on the husky breeders waiting list. It is looking more and more likely that we will have a husky puppy joining us this summer.
  • There is nothing so motivating as getting a notice that a book you are reading cannot be renewed because someone else put a hold on it. That gives me three days to finish a couple hundred pages of a book I'm enjoying about nutrition and brain health. The Invisible Library is going to have to wait for a few days.
  • Some days it sounds like a music practice building around here. P. has her electric guitar that she plays, many people take turns playing the piano, D. is practicing cello, and TM is trying to teach himself violin. At least once D. and TM were figuring out how to play the same piece together. There could be a lot worse sources of noise.
  • D. is very excited because he leaves tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning to fly to Seattle to visit the H-S Family. This will be his first plane trip, so he is also a little nervous. He'll be there about a week before coming home.
Teatime calls... Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Escapist Reading

What better way to avoid the fact that deep winter does not seem to have any intention of leaving any time soon, than to find a series of books that are fun and purely escapist. These are the  kind of books you can happily sit and read for hours, engulfing huge chunks at a time to see what happens next, but wish you could read slower because you don't want the fun to end. It sure beats standing in sleet, washing out messy duck things at the outside pump. I've done both today, so I can say this with absolute certainty.

The series is The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. The story involves a librarian who is attached to an invisible library which exists between different world dimensions. The librarians of this library spend their days obtaining books from these different worlds to be put into the library. Along with the librarians, there are also Fae (fairies), dragons, zeppelins, a mechanical centipede, and the occasional werewolf, to name a few characters. If you are comfortable with fantasy literature, these are incredibly fun.

If you are familiar with the movie, The Librarian, which Bob Newhart is in, or with The Librarians, the TV show that the movie spawned, you may be wondering if this is just a bit too derivative of something that's already been done. I actually wondered that same thing as I was starting the first book. After the first couple of chapters, the book had created a world so unique that I no longer connected it with the movies or TV show, even though all of them feature a somewhat mystical and vaguely sentient library.

So, for the past two weeks, I have been plowing through these books. There are four of them so far, and I truly hope the author keeps writing them. I will start the last one tonight, which makes me a bit sad, but it also means that other things around the house might actually get done. It is the rare book these days that will distract me from my always lengthy to-do list. It's been fun. But I suppose it is also a good thing, as people are going to start clamoring for clean underwear and jeans soon.

Highly recommended.
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In less-escapists writing, I discovered I had an article published a few weeks ago, and I didn't even realize it. Feel free to read and share, as it has been somewhat ignored due to my oversight. Processing Trauma is not a One Time Event
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And in other bloggy housekeeping, I'm supposed to say every so often that the links to the books goes through my Amazon Associates link, which in turn gives me a (very) small portion of any sales that link generates. Thanks to those of you who shop through it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

When you live in a cautionary tale

There is a folk tale about a man who complained that his house was too loud, so the local wise man told him to get a dog. When his house was still too loud, the wise man instructed him to continue to add to his animal collection... cat, horse, goat, cow... you get the idea. When the man complains again about his house being too loud, the wise man then tells him to get rid of all the animals. Suddenly, the house which was too loud originally, now seems perfectly peaceful and quiet.

My house is going to seem so serene and quiet once the weather warms and various animals move outside. My kitchen will feel enormous. My house will smell sweet. It will be wonderful. Because right now, we have 21 chickens in the kitchen.


They peep and squawk and scratch and need almost constant refillings of their food and water.

We have five ducks in the TV lounge. They are stinky. Very stinky. And go through food and water as though they were sieves. When they need more water, they peep very loudly. They peep nearly constantly. Well, when they are not quacking, that is. Did I mention they are stinky?

Then we have Olive in her cone. She is back to walking and has stopped being afraid of the cone. While this might sound good, I'm not sure it is. A Great Dane in a great cone takes up a lot of space. So now, not only do we have to conted with her giant size and her tail which feel like a whip when it hits you, but her head is in a cone that she uses like a weapon. It doesn't seem to matter to her that she doesn't fit through spaces, she just barrels along anyway.

But the fun doesn't end there. Oh no! We have Midnight who has discovered something he likes almost as much as butter and bread... tulips. He likes to pretend he's a squirrel and nibble off the tops of the tulip flowers leaving them lying on the table. For added fun, he will throw up the undigested tulip stems on the carpeting.

Not to be outdone, Nefertiti has her own past time. She loves to scare the chickens. We already knew she enjoyed lying on the wire top of brooder boxes and watching the bird(s) beneath, but the chickens have added a new dimension to her fun. When she whacks the wire, the chickens scatter with much squawking and flapping of wings. Sometimes Nefertiti will just hit the wire with her paw and watch what happens. Other times, she will jump up and land on top of the wire, which produces a far greater amount of squawking and flapping. Nefertiti will be sad when the chicks move outside. She is the only one.

Kenzie spends much of his time looking even more hound doggy than usual. He is not interested in the chicks or the ducks or the tulips. He is most certainly not happy about the giant dog with the giant cone on her head, and gives her a wide berth. Often he will just come up and stare at someone as if to say, "Why? What did I ever do to you?"

And it's been cold. We're currently twenty degrees below normal for this time of year. This means that its not only animals which are cooped up inside the house, but children are as well.

Someday spring will come, right?

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Recovering

Yesterday, that would be me recovering from our exceptionally busy weekend, and Olive recovering from her spay surgery this morning. She is fine, but still a little wobbly, and is wearing a cone the size of a small country.


Poor Olive.
Poor A.
Both will survive.

So, in lieu of writing something, I want to share an article a friend sent me about the right side of the brain developing before the left side. It's what makes play so important.

And, remember to sign the petition about international adoption. Go to You Can Help Save International Adoption to read why, and to sign the petition. There are till nearly 80,000 signatures needed before April 16. Surely there are that many people who care that children in genuine need of a family find one.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Eggs, birthday, and Easter

It was a full weekend. There was the requisite egg dying.


 




We celebrated K.'s 12th birthday.






The ducks got carted to the bathroom for another play session in the bathtub.


Then there was Easter morning.





After church, people hunted for eggs. It was far too cold to hunt for them outside.







Olive even found an egg. And then ate it.


Nefertiti chose to pose artfully as the springtime cat.


We had dinner with many aunts, uncles, and cousins, and then collapsed into bed.
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