The Hibernator Begins a Whole New School Year with Optimism

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75 Books Challenge for 2019

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The Hibernator Begins a Whole New School Year with Optimism

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Aug 24, 2019, 8:50pm

Topper: On the left is my family going on a week and a half of Labor Day vacation without me. On the right is what I'm doing about that.

Hi! I'm Rachel, 39yo mother, stepmother, and caretaker of aging parents. I have 2 step-kids: D (9yo) and M (7yo), one biological son IL (9 months old on September 7). I have three cats: Myra, Puck, Hero. I currently work as a dialysis technician. I read all sorts of books, from fluff to literature and nonfiction. (Though I tend not to read fluffy nonfiction.) I am not getting as much read right now as I would like due to all that is going on in my life, but I hope to squeeze in some time here or there.

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 10:57pm

2019 books read The books that aren't in bold are children's picture books.

1. Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher
2. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
3. Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
4. Vote Loki, by Christopher Hastings
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare
7. Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
8. Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan
9. Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
10. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
11. Now I Rise, by Kiersten White
12. The Tale of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler
13. Rise of the Earth Dragon, by Tracey West
14. Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine
15. Saving the Sun Dragon, by Tracey West
16. Bright We Burn, by Kiersten White
17. Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare
18. Secret of the Water Dragon, by Tracey West
19. The Burning Bridge, by John Flanagan
20. Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep, by Liz Kessler
21. American Overdose, by Chris McGreal
22. Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan
23. Power of the Fire Dragon, by Tracey West
24. Song of the Poison Dragon, by Tracey West
25. Flight of the Moon Dragon, by Tracey West

Edited: Nov 23, 2019, 10:56am

2019 books read
26. Search for the Lightning Dragon, by Tracey West
27. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
28. Roar of the Thunder Dragon, by Tracey West
29. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
30. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
31. Death Masks, by Jim Butcher
32. Icebound Land, by John Flanagan
33. The Apothecary's Daughter, by Julie Klassen
34. Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
35. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
36. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
37. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

38. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
39. Infidel, by Pronsak Pichetshote
40. Room, by Emma Donoghue
41. They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei
42. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
43. Walking Dead: Volume 1 Days Gone Bye, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
44. The Battle for Skandia, by John Flanagan
45. Dark Fantastic, by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
46. Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez

Edited: Nov 10, 2019, 8:42am

2019 Books Read

Aug 24, 2019, 8:52pm

I used to post all my personal reading challenges after my list of books read, but my challenge for now is "Read something. Anything. Please just finish a book." :) So the thread is open for comments!

Aug 24, 2019, 9:50pm

>5 The_Hibernator: Hahaha I can certainly identify with that, Rachel. I think of myself as the Prince of Failed Challenges.

Happy new thread. x

Aug 25, 2019, 3:06am

Happy new thread, Rachel. Wishing you a lovely Sunday.

Aug 25, 2019, 9:02am

Happy new one!

Aug 25, 2019, 9:20am

Happy new thread, Rachel!

I hope your family has a wonderful time, and I hope that you have a wonderful time. Good luck with the reading and house work.

Aug 25, 2019, 10:03am

Happy new thread, Rachel. Great photos of your beautiful family.

Aug 25, 2019, 3:30pm

Happy new thread Rachel. Your topper made me smile - lovely smiling / excited faces.

Aug 25, 2019, 3:58pm

Happy new thread, Rachel. Enjoy your alone time to the utmost!!

Aug 25, 2019, 6:34pm

Happy New Thread, Rachel. I love the juxtaposition up top of the gang on vacation and you peacefully reading! :-)

Good idea to read some Toni Morrison. I need to do the same soon.

Aug 25, 2019, 8:34pm

Happy new thread!

Aug 25, 2019, 9:03pm

Happy new thread, Rachel. Enjoy your alone time!

Aug 25, 2019, 9:37pm

Hi Rachel! Enjoy your alone time -- with books!! :-)
Beloved. I've read it twice and I could well imagine reading it again (and I'm not much of a re-reader).

And Happy New Thread!

Aug 25, 2019, 11:49pm

Happy new thread Rachel!

>5 The_Hibernator: >6 PaulCranswick: Yup, me too.

>13 jnwelch: >1 The_Hibernator: It's a toss up as to who's having more fun.

Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 6:33am

Happy New Thread, Rachel. I hope you had a nice weekend. Glad you are reading some Morrison. I have Paradise lined up. One I had never read.

Aug 26, 2019, 8:34am

Happy new thread!

Aug 26, 2019, 3:03pm

Happy new thread, Rachel! I hope you have some wonderfully indulgent solo time.

Aug 28, 2019, 4:42pm

Happy new thread, Rachel!

Wishing you enough reading time to finish a book.

Aug 29, 2019, 4:29pm

Happy new thread, Rachel! Finishing 55 books is nothing to sneeze at, and you've read 20 more books than I have so far.

Aug 30, 2019, 12:12am

Rachel--Happy new thread!! So, I guess you are not coming to Portland? Well, I am coming to MN!! Hoping to meet up with my Twin (BLBera) on Sunday 9/8 for brunch and then visit Milkweed Editions store downtown. I used to be an intern there in my younger days. : ) Are you available?

Aug 30, 2019, 8:07am

>6 PaulCranswick: Ah, a kindred soul. Hi Paul!

>7 Ameise1: Hi Barb! Thanks! I'm wishing you a lovely Friday. :)

>8 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

>9 karenmarie: Thanks Karen! So far, I'm doing well on my to-do list. Today I'm tackling the housecleaning. I know that seems like it should have come first in my list of things to do, but I had a BUNCH of errands to run.

>10 BLBera: Thanks Beth!

>11 charl08: Thanks Charlotte! Glad to make you smile!

>12 ronincats: Thanks Roni! I am. :)

>13 jnwelch: Hi Joe! I put the Toni Morrison book in my bag to go to work, and it's been in my car since then (except when I take it in to work for reading during breaks). But I hope to get it out for my Labor Day readathon. I've been reading Gene while home.

>14 foggidawn: Thanks foggi!

>15 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! I will.

>16 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. I am enjoying Beloved, though I haven't spent much time on it yet (only breaks at work). It's my first time reading this.

>17 humouress: Hi Nina! I agree about who's having more fun. :)

>18 msf59: Thanks Mark! The only Morrison I've read is Song of Solomon

>19 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

>20 MickyFine: Thanks Micky!

>21 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! I don't think I'll finish a book because I've been working on Gene at home and Beloved at work.

>22 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl! Some of the books I read were to IL. So they were pretty short.

>23 Berly: Hi Kim! I PM'd you.

Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 8:18am

Hi all! As I said in my message above, I have not gotten through much of Beloved yet this week because I decided to read it at work and Gene at home. I will have a readathon on Labor Day, and will hopefully make some good progress on it then.

Today, after reading Gene for about a half hour, I decided to take a nap. I was awakened by a popping in my head...I was wondering "what was that?" when a really strange feeling washed over my whole body. It was like I was lightheaded and couldn't think straight. I decided "I should call 911 and get a CT scan." So I reached for my phone, and I couldn't move my arms! I tried and tried. And then I tried moving my feet, and they moved just fine. I thought "have I had a stroke, and I'm just going to lie here until Aaron gets home?" I tried moving my arms again, and couldn't. Then, as quickly as it started, it ended. Of course it seemed like a long time, but it was probably only half a minute or less if I'm guessing correctly. I wonder if that's what sleep paralysis feels like? Only shouldn't I have not been able to move my feet. Really, really weird. Oh well. I'm fine now. *shrug

I have finished a lot of stuff since Aaron and the family left. Today I'm going to tackle cleaning the house. I haven't done that yet because I was prioritizing other stuff. I'd expected to get to it on Sunday, but mom had a seizure at church and we took her to the ER. It was nothing special, but her neurologist had said to take her to the hospital as quickly as possible when the next seizure happened to get a scan. Of course, we got the scan, there was nothing to see, and we were promptly sent home. It's not something I'm particularly worried about. Sometimes people develop epilepsy with Alzheimer's. She's been having seizures for about a year and a half now.

ETA: I was going to say that I'm also going hypomanic, which could explain the amount of stuff I'm getting done, and perhaps the lack of adequate prioritization. I'm getting lots of stuff done, but in the wrong order, I suspect. It's also causing problems for me sitting still. I want to get up and pace. My orientation for work and church and eating dinner with dad last night was really difficult for me. I also simply forgot to eat all day yesterday until I ate dinner with dad. I suspect I may have forgotten dinner if dad didn't want to eat with me.

Aug 30, 2019, 8:33am

>25 The_Hibernator: That sounds like sleep paralysis to me. Maybe you being able to move your legs could be that different parts of the body "wake up" faster or slower than others? I've actually hurt myself because I tried to move when I'd just woken up but not all of my body was properly awake.

Aug 30, 2019, 8:45am

>24 The_Hibernator: Oh, how are you liking Mukherjee's The Gene? I'm a fan. He explains it so well.

Aug 30, 2019, 10:43am

Happy New Thread and all the best wishes for the new school year for the not-so-littles!

>25 The_Hibernator: Scary episode! I have no ideas what it may be, but hope others' explanations are the correct ones.

I should reread Beloved. I read it so long ago, that it was pre-LT which I joined in 2006. Details are hazy.

Sep 3, 2019, 9:52pm

>25 The_Hibernator: That sounds pretty scary, Rachel. Just sayin'.

Take care of yourself.....

Sep 7, 2019, 6:12pm

I suffer from occasional sleep paralysis and it's the worst. Waking up, being fully conscious, and being completely incapable of moving is pretty alarming, and I had never heard of it the first time it happened, so it scared the crap out of me! I felt like I was lying there for half an hour too, but I doubt it was more than a minute.

I've never experienced it with just my upper body, but it does usually happen when I'm in those awkward "just waking up/falling asleep" sleep phases. Usually when it happens to me, as I'm trying to move the my hands/feet will tingle, like when your leg "falls asleep" from sitting too long or whatever.

My best advice if it ever happens again is focus really hard on moving your fingers (not your arms.) I don't know how to describe it exactly, but when I try to "break free" I twitch my fingers/toes and try to get momentum, like I'm rocking a boat or swinging on a swing. I usually start with my toes, and after a few seconds I can get my foot twitching/moving, and I'll slowly build up more and more "momentum" until I get my foot to jerk at the ankle and then I'll break free of it.

I don't know if I'm actually doing anything, or if my body is just slowly waking up naturally, but I do it every time anyway. *Shrug*

Sep 7, 2019, 6:41pm

>25 The_Hibernator: That does sound frightening. Hope you are doing better, and take care of yourself.

Sep 8, 2019, 10:37pm

So great to see you, Rachel and meet your little one. He is a charmer.

Sep 11, 2019, 7:01am

>26 PawsforThought: Hi Paws! Yes, that's what I finally decided about the incident. Sleep paralysis. Harmless.

>27 jnwelch: Hi Joe! Yes, I am enjoying The Gene quite well. You're right, he explains it so well. I love his previous book The Emperor of All Maladies, too.

>28 streamsong: Hi Janet! Still plugging along on Beloved. I need to try to spend more time reading. I'm just not sure when I'm supposed to fit that in! :(

>29 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist today, so hopefully we'll get me stabilized.

>30 Ape: That's good advice, Stephen. And it's totally great to see you around!

>31 banjo123: Hi Rhonda! Still cycling between depression and hypomania, but as I said above, I am seeing my psychiatrist today and hopefully she will have some advice.

>32 BLBera: Great to meet you, too, Beth.

Sep 11, 2019, 7:02am

Summary: During WWII, many teenaged girls worked in watch dial painting shops, dipping their brushes into radium and pointing the brush with their lips. When they started presenting horrible side effects of the radium poisoning, such as necrosis of the jaw (to the point of the jaw falling out), cancer, and other horrible diseases, they realized that the firm they worked for had been lying about how dangerous radium was. They sued, they failed. They sued, they failed. They sued, they failed. As they died, the remaining girls sued and sued, until finally a few girls finally won a suit. This is a book about the injustice of the system – and the development of laws regarding work-related poison.

Thoughts: This book was fascinating in itself, though it took me a long time to finish. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had anticipated. The information was intriguing and I loved learning more about history. But I felt that the book lacked excitement as the suits dragged on and on and nothing seemed to happen.

Sep 11, 2019, 7:13am

Hi all! As you can see, I finally finished an audiobook. Now that I've started walking again, it makes it much easier to finish books. I'm working on getting some paper books read, but am struggling to find time.

Things are going ok lately. I am cycling between hypomania and depression, and have to see my psychiatrist today. I think it's the sudden change in schedule from working until midnight to starting work at 4am. And I think I'm getting less sleep.

Anyway, I had a good meetup with Beth, Erik, Kim, and Kim's brother Eric. I bought several books:

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid for Malcolm, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, for Deirdre, Rez Life and Round House for me, and They Called Us Enemy for Aaron.

I got some fantastic pictures of the kids courtesy of my mother-in-law while they were in Oregon. Here's one:

I also had my early birthday party (combined with my friend's birthday) last weekend. It was a murder mystery party. I was a painter who loved taking selfies. Here is a selfie of me and Merry Monroe.

And one of me and Aaron:

Aaron ended up being the murderer.

Sep 11, 2019, 11:22am

Sounds like a fun birthday celebration!

Sep 11, 2019, 12:38pm

I would *LOVE* a murder mystery birthday party (or any murder mystery party, or just a murder mystery for no particular reason). Sounds like so much fun!

Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 2:08pm

That photo of the children is adorable. Wonderful stuff.
The murder mystery sounds like fun: we did one years ago as a team building work thing and my team, the "juniors" won, to our great delight.

Sep 12, 2019, 10:40am

Hi Rachel!

Happy early birthday. A murder mystery sounds like a lot of fun. That's a wonderful pic of the kids, and the look on IL's face is a delight.

Great pics of you, your friend, and Aaron, too!

Sep 13, 2019, 11:55am

It sounds like a fun celebration, Rachel.

The photo of your kids is lovely!

Sep 13, 2019, 8:13pm

Happy new thread!

Sep 14, 2019, 12:16pm

Great picture of the kids! They grow up so fast .....

Hope your appointment went well. Changing your schedule sounds very tough, indeed.

The meetup and mystery birthday party sound like so much fun. Married to a murderer, huh! Did you suspect him from the start?

I felt much the way you did about The Radium Girls. A very sad chapter of history.

Sep 16, 2019, 12:15pm

>36 MickyFine: >37 PawsforThought: >39 karenmarie: It was Micky, Paws and Karen!

>38 charl08: I love the picture of the kids, too, Charlotte. I can't remember which picture we picked as on our wall, but either my Parents or we got a large print of that one. :)

>40 BLBera: >41 ChelleBearss: Thanks Beth and Chelle!

>42 streamsong: Hi Janet! Yes, they do grow up fast. I was checking out some older pictures from when I married Aaron, and the two older look so tiny and cute!

I actually suspected myself as the murderer. As did everybody else, it seems.

Sep 19, 2019, 3:56pm

So IL (9mo 12days old) took one single step today with hands completely up in the air. Yes, it was a transfer from one piece of furniture to another, but he took a STEP!

Sep 19, 2019, 9:11pm

>44 The_Hibernator: Oh, that is exciting! Now's when the fun begins! Get your running shoes on!

Karen O.

Sep 21, 2019, 10:32pm

Hi Rachel! Congrats to IL as his world expands again.

Sep 30, 2019, 7:12am

Hi Karen and Karen! Thanks for the congrats!

Sep 30, 2019, 7:18am

First of all, happy 81st birthday to my mom. We were out celebrating her birthday when I snapped this gem of her and IL.

This has been a pretty good week. D got her standardized test scores from 3rd grade back. She scored 95th percentile in reading and 92nd percentile in math. The more I see scores like that, the more I believe that she has dysgraphia. Why else would writing be so very difficult for her compared to her reading and math? And now that we know it’s not a fine motor skills issue, either, I am more determined to get her diagnosed.

M has generally been managing his depression well while on the happy lamp. So yay! Though he didn’t eat a thing for dinner last night and complains that he didn’t eat over the weekend (at his biological mom’s) either. He says he no longer likes even McDonald’s! That’s so frustrating, since we frequently use McDonald’s as a reward. Our next step is occupational therapy to see if his pickiness is a sensory issue.

Despite his one unaided step, IL has not yet taken multiple steps. But he does walk quite well with a toy walker. It’s coming soon!

I had a lovely recharge weekend. I spent Saturday walking and reading. (And reading audiobooks while walking.) I finished:

Crash, by Ellen Hopkins

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Both books are banned teen books, which I read in honor of Banned Book Week.

Sunday, I decided to mix it up a little. Aaron continued to watch all three kids while I listened to Furiously Happy and cleaned the whole house (sans basement). It felt even better than walking! We have both decided a full recharge weekend is not necessary, but we can take the second day to focus entirely on our own to-do list instead of juggling between who watches the baby and who does stuff (which can get ineffective since we never really get to rest that way). We’re always either rushing through to-do lists or watching the baby. (And fending off the kids’ complaints of boredom. I always read when I was bored and wasn’t allowed to watch TV!)

This week I have high hopes that I'll be able to surf threads and make comments (usually I surf silently because I don't have a lot of time). My dad has rehab 3 times a week to get rid of the claudication (cramping) in his leg when he walks. I can try to make comments while sitting with my mom at their house (instead of giving him a ride, he would rather someone sit with mom). She will likely sleep the whole time I'm there.

Sep 30, 2019, 10:07am

>48 The_Hibernator: Your mom looks good for 81, Rachel!

Oct 1, 2019, 7:17am

Hi Rachel!

It sounds like things are busy but manageable for you right now.

(And fending off the kids’ complaints of boredom. I always read when I was bored and wasn’t allowed to watch TV!)

I always told Jenna that I'd give her something to do if she was bored, and since that always involved chores, she usually found a way out of her boredom all by herself. Don't know if it would work with your kids, but we got a lot of mileage out of that strategy.

Oct 2, 2019, 12:01pm

>48 The_Hibernator: Lots of good news! Happy birthday to your mum.

Ah, picky eaters; I have a couple of those. It’s so annoying when I put food on the table (and I’m not the world’s best cook) and they go and get cereal or scrambled eggs instead. In their case, they’re just spoiled; I don’t know what their mother was thinking.

>50 karenmarie: I like that. Doubt it would work for my kids though :0/

Edited: Oct 2, 2019, 2:23pm

OMG. It's slushing out. Yes. Rain. And SNOW.

Edited: Nov 17, 2019, 8:34am

Ready to look at this again: In order to increase the variety of fiction books I've read, I modified a list of genres and subgenres off of Wikipedia, and hope to read one of each. (Of course, I will read many of some.) This project started in October 2018.

Adventure novel

Romance - Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare

Historical romance - The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox
Contemporary romance

Historical fiction - The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Historical Mystery
Holocaust Novels
Prehistoric fiction

Literary fiction - Room

Mathematical fiction


Slave narrative - Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan

Occupational Fiction

Political fiction - Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Pulp fiction

Christian fiction

Christian science fiction / fantasy
Contemporary Christian fiction
Historical Christian Fiction - Apothecary's Daughter, byJulie Klassen

Islamic fiction

Jewish fiction

Saga - The Conqueror's Saga, by Kiersten White


Epic / high fantasy
Ancient history fantasy
Medieval fantasy - The Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flannagan (series incomplete)
Low fantasy - The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Urban fantasy
Paranormal romance
Comic fantasy - Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Contemporary fantasy - The Tale of Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler (series incomplete)
Dark fantasy
Magic realism
Retelling myth/fairy tale
Superhero fantasy - Black Panther: Nation Under Our Feet, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Horror The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

Supernatural / paranormal
Ghost story
Monster literature
Vampire fiction
Werewolf fiction
Occult detective - Dresden Files (series incomplete)

Science fiction - Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
Alien invasion
Post-apocalyptic – The Passage (series incomplete), by Justin Cronin
Hard science fiction
Military science fiction
Parallel universe, aka alternative universe
Alternative history
Space opera

Speculative cross-genre fiction
Climate fiction (cli-fi) - The Overstory, by Richard Powers
Weird fiction

Suspense fiction
Crime fiction
Detective fiction
Mystery fiction

Legal thriller
Medical thriller
Political thriller
Spy fiction
Psychological thriller

Urban fiction


Women’s fiction

LGBT fiction

Oct 3, 2019, 4:47pm

>49 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

>50 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Yes, I tell them to do chores if they use the word "bored." But they can ooze boredom even while avoiding the word.

>51 humouress: Hi Nina! Our kids went through a rough patch when their dad was depressed after the divorce and gave them whatever they wanted to eat, which resulted in little variety. So, opposite of being spoiled, but same result. Their biological mom takes them out to eat for every meals, or just skips meals in lieu of snacks - unless the kid asks for something.

Oct 5, 2019, 8:17pm

Hi all! This week was a whirlwind seemingly resulting in nothing. Dad started his rehab for his claudication, which is apparently a cramping in the leg which occurs when the arteries going to the legs are a bit clogged. His cramps have been getting worse and worse, and he’s barely able to walk a couple of blocks without needing to rest. While dad was at rehab, I stayed with mom because dad was concerned about leaving her alone for a couple of hours 3 times a week.

Mom had her Watchman procedure, which is meant to reduce stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Most strokes originate in the left atrial appendage (a little pouch hanging off your left heart). There is a newish device which blocks the pouch off, thus reducing the chances of strokes. Sadly, they put mom under anesthesia, scoped out the pouch laproscopically, and found that her pouch was too small. She ended up spending the night in the hospital anyway, because she was too frail after the aborted procedure to leave. *sigh

There’s nothing new to report about the kids, though IL did take two independent steps last night, and then sit (instead of falling) down. Personally, I think he knows perfectly well how to walk and is just relishing the suspense.

This week I read about half of The Economist, and a month’s worth of the Foreign Affairs weekly Audible articles.

I am currently reading

Hopefully this week I will catch up on at least a few of my reviews. Upcoming are: Good Omens, Crank, The Earth My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Furiously Happy.

Oct 6, 2019, 12:05am

What a precious picture of the kids together, Rachel. M and D look so grown up, especially D! IL will be walking before you know it and you'll need eyes in the back of your head.

Oct 6, 2019, 10:11am

>53 The_Hibernator: Good luck with the list, Rachel!

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 11:57am

I love the photos you post of your kids - it's fun to see IL getting bigger before our eyes! "Personally, I think he knows perfectly well how to walk and is just relishing the suspense." Heeheee

>53 The_Hibernator: That's an interesting list, Rachel. I'll be curious to see how you do with it. I use challenges to expand my reading, but then I get behind or just don't feel like it, and I drop in and out of them. Your way gives you lots of choices.

I'm way behind on reviews, too. When they get done, they get done. :) I'm not half as busy as you with your wonderful family and also juggling work, but sometimes they are at the bottom of the list.

How are you liking The Room? I read it as a sort of 'guilty pleasure' but ended up feeling there was more to it than I had been led to believe by the naysayers.

Oct 7, 2019, 4:18pm

Didn't know you were a reader of the Economist, Rachel.

I enjoy their reporting for a different take on the days news that is neither Densely Democratic or rabidly Republican. And it's fun to watch the slow motion train wreck that is British politics these days.

Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 6:12pm

>56 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! I know D is getting very pre-pubescent isn't she? In fact, she's so pre-pubescent she's having changes that no 9yo should have to put up with. yikes! Here it comes!

>57 BLBera: Thanks Beth! I've enjoyed the process so far. But I'm not letting it have a strong impact on what I've been reading...I don't want to be tied down by challenges.

>58 streamsong: Hi Janet! Thanks, glad you're enjoying the pictures. I'm liking Room a lot. I didn't know it was a guilty pleasure, lol. Didn't it win the Pulitzer or something? I was going to count it as my "literary fiction" book for my genre challenge.

I agree about challenges. I'm trying to keep it to one challenge at a time this coming year - in other words, I'm going to focus on my genre challenge. At least, that's my current plan. After that, I may focus on international books.

>59 magicians_nephew: Hi Jim! Yes, I agree with your assessment of The Economist. It is slightly liberal by US standards, but it keeps it moderately liberal. In fact, I think it's considered moderately conservative in the UK. I love their coverage of international affairs. I feel so much more aware of what's going on in the world when I read it.

Oct 7, 2019, 11:56pm

Rachel, writing is the single most complex activity children are asked to undertake in school, and children with anxiety who are perfectionistic tend to block on starting writing tasks because it seems so overwhelming. I suspect this is at least part of Dana's problem. You might try a sequence of writing exercises starting from highly structured and gradually moving to more open-ended. For example, how does she do when presented with paragraphs or short vignettes with words missing that she can fill it--no right or wrong, just her imagination. Structured writing prompts. Teaching her to take an idea and outline it before starting writing, again starting with structured prompts. What is the problem/issue? How is it resolved? What are the steps to get there? First, second, third.

See how she responds to the different levels of structure to gauge where her anxiety is blocking her, and what supports allow her to work around it.

This may or may not be helpful.

Oct 8, 2019, 8:49am

Thanks for the thoughts Roni, though her problem may stem from anxiety, I suspect there is more to it than that. No matter how structured the assignment (including rote copying or simply writing exactly what she's told to write verbatim) she balks. Her spelling and hand-writing are atrocious. She can't read her own writing. On the other hand, the anxiety dissipates when she types on her iPad. She can then compose just fine, with bad spelling.

Another clue that it's an issue with a learning disability stopping her from being able to write is that she is 92nd percentile in math, but can't show how she does the work. Carrying numbers in her head is fine, but as soon as she tries on paper, she can't organize her thoughts.

Oct 8, 2019, 12:53pm

Good information, Rachel. That really is important diagnostic observation. I can't remember--is she on a 504? The difference between an IEP and a 504 is that in the first, she requires differential instruction to learn while on the second she requires accommodations to demonstrate that she indeed is learning and to help her with production--such accommodations then being using a keyboard for all written work along with spell check and customizing requirements for math output.

Oct 13, 2019, 3:41pm

>60 The_Hibernator: Uh oh, good luck, Rachel. Sounds like it will be an interesting transition for you both.

Oct 20, 2019, 3:16am

Hi Rachel--I am so far behind here (and everywhere on LT!). Love all the pictures of the kids and your birthday party and your Mom's bday. Fun times. : ) Glad you are looking into dysgraphia--man, if anyone can get to the bottom of your kids' issues, you will!!

Oct 20, 2019, 7:52am

Happy Sunday, Rachel. Sorry, I have not been by in awhile. It sounds like you have your hands full with RL issues. I hope you are keeping your stress levels in check and getting some reading in, here and there. What od you think of Room so far? I loved that book.

Oct 25, 2019, 3:48pm

Just stopping by to say "How de do" Rachel to you and the whole family

Oct 26, 2019, 4:01pm

>63 ronincats: Hi Roni! In the end, the experts decided that there wasn't enough evidence of a learning disability, so we're going to have to settle for a tutor. IF she'll actually participate. *shrug

>64 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! It sure is. Yikes!

>65 Berly: Hi Kim! As I said to Roni, they have decided that there's no point in checking for dysgraphia - they think it's all anxiety. So we're kind of stuck. :(

>66 msf59: Hi Mark! I'm loving Room. I really should have finished it by now, but I had a library book that I wanted to at least start before I return it. I'll finish Room up soon though! :)

>67 magicians_nephew: Hi Jim! Things are going well, thanks for stopping by!

Oct 26, 2019, 4:02pm

Summary: Crowley is a demon sent to earth to seed discord and demonic horror. Aziraphale is an angel meant to watch over earth and keep it’s occupants on the right track. Their bosses didn’t expect them to become the best of friends. But now, the Apocalypse is nigh, and they must work together to do their part in both eencouraging it as per their assignments, and secretly to stop it.

My Thoughts: I’ve read this book before, but after watching the miniseries I really wanted to read it again. It did not disappoint. This book is so funny – a perfect combination of Gaiman’s dark humor and Pratchett’s silly humor. The reading by Martin Jarvis was quite enjoyable.

Oct 26, 2019, 4:04pm

Looks like I forgot to post last week's update, so here it is:

Hi everyone! This was a good week. IL learned to climb, as you can see above. He’ll push a toy up to a gate and try to get over. If they toy isn’t big enough, he’ll try another.

M went to OT for potential sensory issues with his eating problems, and they think they may be able to help.

D and I had a girl’s weekend because M and Aaron were at Cub Scout camp. We watched severbal movies and got her a mani-pedi.

D also had her first choir event Saturday: a sing-a-thon at Urban Growler Brewery. It went really well, and we’re really proud of her.

Edited: Oct 26, 2019, 4:06pm

Summary: When teenaged Kristina visits her estranged father, she is introduced to crank. Everything goes downhill from there.

My thoughts: I’m generally a fan of Ellen Hopkins books, and this one was good, but not as good as I expected. Maybe it’s just that I was younger when I read earlier Hopkins books? But this one didn’t seem as heart-wrenching and there were not surprises about what happened to Kristina when she started her downward spiral. Still a good book if you’re interested in teen realism, but nothing to write home about.

Oct 26, 2019, 4:25pm

And this week's update:

Well, it’s fall, and time to rake up the leaves! Our whole family got out there today to make a gigantic pile, which the kids then played in. This is IL’s first fall! He’s taken 4 steps in succession, now, so I guess he’s really going to walk soon. Someday. Lol.

M is doing well. He’s been cheerful lately, and he enjoyed jumping in the leaves. D is also doing well. Unfortunately, we are unable to check for dysgraphia since they decided it’s “all anxiety.” So we’ll just have to work on a tutor for her writing.

And, of course, Aaron and I are doing well. Except that I had an awful cold and didn’t get to take advantage of my “recharge weekend,” which means no readathon this month. 😦 There’s always next month!

Tonight, we’re all going to carve pumpkins. I’ll post pictures next week.

Still slowly reading:


Oct 27, 2019, 4:37am

>70 The_Hibernator: Wow, impressive climbing (and problem solving) skills there, Rachel.
Your genre list looks like a fun project. So many different kinds of fiction to choose from - what will you be doing next?

Hope that you have fun with the pumpkins!

Oct 27, 2019, 8:26am

Thanks for the updates and pics, Rachel.

Re Room - I was supposed to read it for book club in Feb 2012 but I took a dislike to it within a few chapters. However, the discussion at our meeting got me enthused. The second time, one of our book club members loaned the audio to me and it worked perfectly. I loved it. I also really liked the movie.

I hope the pumpkin carving was fun for all.

Oct 31, 2019, 1:00am

>72 The_Hibernator: IL is so cute! They grow up so fast, don't they?

Nov 2, 2019, 5:18am

>73 charl08: Hi Charlotte! Right now, I've been reading whatever I want and checking them off as I go, since I already read quite a variety of books. I was going to listen to Oliver Twist and then Dead Beat (since I haven't finished that series yet), then I'll probably go with adventure by reading Master and Commander. Room is considered my literary fiction.

>74 karenmarie: I have been avoiding watching the movie till I finish reading the book, but I've heard it's fantastic, Karen. I'm glad you enjoyed the audiobook. I took a little while getting used to the "kid" voice of the reader, but after that, it's going pretty smoothly, except that I don't have a lot of time to read.

>75 banjo123: They do, Rhonda!

Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 5:28am

I was going to write a review today, but I am so sad. A boy was struck and killed in front of D & M’s school yesterday morning, and on his 13th birthday, too! 😭😭😭 My prayers go out to his family.

However, I will still update you on some happier stuff, as it is the season. We carved pumpkins, of course.





Note, I carved mine without drawing on it first. That’s some skillful free-hand carving, if I do say so myself.

And we trick-or-treated, of course.

That’s a crocheted Loki’s helm. Not my work. 😁

And I fed IL his first Reeses Peanut Buttr Cup (naughty me).

PS I expect to finish Room this weekend and will also be working on They Called Us Enemy

Nov 2, 2019, 6:40am

Happy Saturday, Rachel. Love all the wonderful Halloween photos. I am so sorry about the tragedy at the school. How awful.

I hope all is well and you are finding sometime for the books.

Nov 2, 2019, 7:12am

Hi Mark! I am trying to find time for books!

Nov 2, 2019, 8:35am

I am so sorry for that family, Rachel. I can't imagine losing a child.

Your pumpkins are all quite wonderful, as are the kids' costumes.

You have now unleashed the chocolate monster in IL. I remember the first time daughter had candy and the first time a friend fed her McDonald's. Fortunately, now, at the age of 26, she rarely eats candy and never eats McDonald's.

Nov 2, 2019, 8:37am

IL eats chocolate the same way I eat chicken wings.

Nov 2, 2019, 8:49am

Love the costumes, Rachel! Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Nov 2, 2019, 11:28am

I am so so sorry about the boy that was killed.

But thank you for sharing the Halloween photos. You are rocking it!

Nov 2, 2019, 11:46am

>80 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Hopefully he won't have another piece of candy for a year, at least. The kids aren't allowed candy very often, so they're unlikely to hand a piece of precious candy to IL. And I'm trying to lose weight, so trying to keep away from that stuff, too. That leaves only one weakness - Aaron. lol.

>81 Ape: Hi Stephen! Now I'm visualizing your face covered with chicken wing goo!

>82 BLBera: Thanks Beth!

>83 streamsong: Hi Janet, thanks for comments on both FB and here. :) Yes, I was pretty shaken about the boy being killed. I can't imagine what it must feel like to the family, and to the driver! I was also a little frustrated with how the school handled the issue. I had to pick D up for a doctor's appointment after 10am. The police (and the kid's bike!!!) were still out there on the road at that time, even though the accident had occurred at 7:20am. D was all excited by the accident and was under the impression that the boy would be fine, he just had to go to the hospital for a little while. It felt dishonest after a while to keep quiet when she kept talking about it, so I finally had to tell her that the boy had died. I then had to keep her home from school the rest of the day so she wouldn't tell the rest of the 4th graders the truth. Then when M got home, he didn't know either. So they were emailing the parents about the accident, but not telling the parents that they'd lied to the kids. All they said was "not all details were given." I'm sure a lot of kids found out from their parents in completely the wrong way, because the parents would have already thought they knew. :(

Nov 2, 2019, 1:22pm

So sad when a kid dies at such a young age, Rachel, I feel for all involved.

Sad how the school decided to bring the news, I hope no one gets scarred more by the way it was handled :'(

Nov 2, 2019, 1:54pm

I love the Halloween photos, Rachel. Your minimalist pumpkin is perfection. :-)

Nov 2, 2019, 3:51pm

That is so sad about the accident at your kids' school, Rachel. I'm not sure how the bad news should have been handled. Perhaps the authorities wanted the parents to break it to their children, but it would have been best if the parents knew that ahead of time. So sad. It's interesting that all of your pumpkins represent the variety of feelings after the loss of a child. Particularly sad that it was the 13th birthday.

On a happier note, I love all the pictures you've been posting. IL is growing up quickly! They lose that baby face too soon.

Nov 2, 2019, 9:06pm

Happy Weekend!

Sorry to hear about the tragedy at school.

IL seems to really love chocolate! That picture is absolutely priceless :)

Edited: Nov 2, 2019, 9:56pm

>55 The_Hibernator: Proof that DT and BJ are identical twins ;0)

>55 The_Hibernator: My younger son had the opposite problem; he thought he could run before he could walk. There are five years between my kids so he always thought he could do what his brother does. Just a couple of days ago we had another 'Why can't I if he can/ do I have to if he doesn't?' issue.

>62 The_Hibernator: *sigh* My son seems to have similar issues with maths. Right now he's in the middle of exams (GCSEs for anyone familiar with the UK system) and I'm trying to convince him that there are marks for showing his working. He does well in class, but his teacher was surprised by his mocks result.

>70 The_Hibernator: Wow; he's got brains, that one. Don't be in a rush for him to walk. If you think you've got problems now ...

>77 The_Hibernator: I'm so sorry about the boy at school. We had a similar issue after the Easter bombings earlier this year. There was a family from Singapore that was caught and because they were part of the international community here (but not at my kids' school), they announced it at school. Unfortunately, of course the kids looked it up (secondary school have their own laptops) and it turned out to be one of my son's best friends and then I realised I knew his little sister too. It wasn't a good few months for us after that.

>77 The_Hibernator: Good pumpkin carving! Do you have pictures of them with lights inside? You can tell Aaron I like his best because all the others look a bit angry ;0) I like the Hallowe'en costumes - and the chocolate accessory :0)

Nov 5, 2019, 11:53am

>85 FAMeulstee: Yes, Anita, it was so very sad. :( I can't imagine what the family must be feeling. Good news is, the kids seem to have gotten over the stress pretty quickly.

>86 jnwelch: Thanks Joe!

>87 Donna828: Thanks Donna! I think it would be fine if the school provided little info, I just think they should have been more upfront to us about exactly what the kids knew.

>88 figsfromthistle: Thanks Figs! Yes, I love his smile. :)

>89 humouress: Hi Nina!

1. They are!
2. There are 6.5 years between IL and M, so I'm sure it'll be a similar situation. I am NOT giving him a tablet until he's 5, though, which is the age M got one. The other day D asked when I would let her wear makeup to school, and I told her high school. She then asked when she'd get a cell phone, and I said high school. She then complained that her friend has a phone. And I explained that her friend is in a situation in which she can't easily contact her mom when she's at her dad's house, so that's completely different. I wonder what makes her think "T has one" will actually convince me.
3. Yeah, it's frustrating to see the disparity between capabilities and results.
4. Yeah, I guess it's hard not to be in a rush to see him walking. I'm told he took 8 steps yesterday, though I'm skeptical. lol
5. I'm sorry for your son's loss. That must have been hard.
6. Lol, yes, Aaron's is pretty good. I did not take a picture with lights inside. I'll try to remember tonight.

Nov 5, 2019, 11:55am

Summary: Virginia feels isolated from her family. They are thin, beautiful over-achievers; she feels like a chubby under-achiever. When her rugby star brother is found guilty of something terrible, she needs to rearrange her views of who her family is, and ultimately who she is.

My Thoughts: This was an excellent stotry, I see why it’s an award-winner. Although I’m not from an over-acheiving family, nor was I chubby, I could still relate to a lot of her experiences and feelings. This was a touching story.

Nov 5, 2019, 2:06pm

Just discovered a new reading list: Literature for Justice, chosen by the National Book Foundation. The 2019/2020 books are:

The Prisoner's Wife
Becoming Ms. Burton
Are Prisons Obsolete
The Mars Room
Until We Reckon

Anybody read these books and know whether the list is worth reading?

Edited: Nov 6, 2019, 10:31am

Summary: Aisha, an American-Muslim woman, moves into an old apartment building with her fiance, future step-daughter, and future mother-in-law. As she notices an undercurrent of xenophobia in bother her MIL and the other apartment dwellers, she also starts seeing ghosts. The “nightmares” and “hallucinations” get worse and worse, until they are impossible to ignore.

My thoughts: Brilliant. I loved the artwork. I loved the concept. This is an intelligent graphic novel for “woke” people. Highly recommended.

Nov 9, 2019, 12:01pm

This has been a pretty uneventful week. In fact, yesterday I took these pictures of the family specifically because I had nothing new for the blog. 🤪 Of course, the first is of M and me. He actually sat by me of his own accord. I don’t recall him ever doing that in the past. (I met him when he was 5, and he was a little skeptical of the stepmom thing.) The second picture is Aaron and D, followed by a picture of IL.

I did get a lot of audiobook listening in last week, as well as more than usual reading. (I decided it’s not “cheating” to use some of the baby’s nap-time for reading. He takes two naps, so I can always do some cleaning during the other nap.)

Currently Reading

Completed Last Week

Nov 9, 2019, 11:52pm

>90 The_Hibernator: Thank you for that long reply! And for your sympathy. It's good to know the kids on your side are okay.

>94 The_Hibernator: Well that seems pretty eventful in a small victories kind of way. You all look really excited, especially IL :0)

Nov 9, 2019, 11:55pm

Reading is never cheating, Rachel!

Nov 9, 2019, 11:58pm

>96 banjo123: Oh yes; that too.

Nov 10, 2019, 12:55pm

>94 The_Hibernator: That's no small victory! That's downright impressive! I'd have died if I was forced to sit that close to my step-mom when I was a kid. :P

Nov 10, 2019, 1:50pm

>93 The_Hibernator: I just requested Infidel from my lib. It sounds like my cup of tea (or McDonald's coffee, more likely). Thanks for the "heads up"!

Karen O.

Nov 10, 2019, 9:45pm

>98 Ape: ... but I wonder how your step-mum would have felt about it ;0)

Nov 10, 2019, 9:57pm

>95 humouress: Lol, yes, if only I had the excitement of a baby.

>96 banjo123: I hope not, because I'm doing it! It sort of feels like I should do something "productive," but then I remind myself that I have done something productive. :)

>97 humouress: lol

>98 Ape: I hope just figuratively, like of embarrassment, not of murder. :)

>99 klobrien2: I hope you enjoy it!

>100 humouress: I agree. She may have liked it. :) Or she may not have. There are a lot of step-moms who don't like their skids, it turns out.

Nov 10, 2019, 9:59pm

Ok. I ran into a problem. I signed up for the Christmas Swap and now I have to work on a Christmas Wishlist! But I don't know what I want. Strange, no? I mean, I want to read SO much, but I'm trying to limit myself to the library a lot more next year, so I need to pick out those special books that I want for keepsies.

Any suggestions about what I should add to my wishlist?

Nov 10, 2019, 10:20pm

List your top five (or ten) and we'll vote on it. :0)

Nov 10, 2019, 10:28pm

>103 humouress: That's a good idea. Except if I had a top 5 of all the books buzzing in my head, I'd know exactly what to put in my wishlist. But good news! I decided just to request that the kind LTer send me something that fits into one of the categories of >53 The_Hibernator:, and to let me know which category it fit into. Or to give me a favorite nonfiction. Perhaps that's giving them too much power, but it feels adventurous to me. :)

Nov 12, 2019, 11:37am

I’d like to get back to writing real reviews rather than mini-reviews – at least for some books. I’ll use a line of questioning outline in Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind.

Summary: Blogger Jenny Lawson writes an hysterical memoir about her adventures while trying to be furiously happy. She is a warrior for destigmatizing mental illness, and this subject is the main point of her memoir. She wants to be furiously happy rather than wallowing in self-pity.


👽 Is there meaning to the title or cover?
Yes, the cover is a happy raccoon, which represents her own stuffed raccoon which she uses for all sorts of pranks and shenanigans. (She is a taxidermist.)
The title is the main point of her book – instead of wallowing in self-pity about mental illness, we should try to be furiously happy despite the mental illness. Let go of our inhibitions and be happy in the face of adversity (and especially the face of people who don’t like you).

👽 What are the central events of the book?
It’s hard to pinpoint the central events of this book. It, of course, centers around her deciding to be furiously happy – so she starts going on adventures even though they are outside of her comfort zone. Adventures like going to Australia despite her agoraphobia. Fun like wearing a koala suit while going to see the koalas.

👽 What historical events coincide – or merge – with these personal events?
Well, the book was written around 2015, so I’d say the major events that were going on in Obama-era times was the Great Recession, though I don’t recall her mentioning it.

👽 Who is the most important person (or people) in the writer’s life? What events form the outline of that story?
Her husband is the most important person in her life – considering how many times he was mentioned in the memoir. He is a Republican, and she is a Democrat; he is sensible, and she is often irrational.

👽 What is the theme that ties the narrative together?
The theme of the book is being furiously happy, of course. 🙂

👽 Where is the life’s turning point?
In this memoir, it’s when she decides to become furiously happy.

👽 For what does the writer apologize? In apologizing, how does the writer justify?
The writer doesn’t really apologize, but I suppose she offers excuses for being so deeply depressed that she had to decide to be furiously happy out of spite. She justifies this by having an array of mental illnesses and sleeping disorders. She also excuses herself for bugging her husband with shenanigans by pointing out that it’s her way of fighting her depression.

👽 What is the model – the ideal – for this person’s life?
The ideal, I guess, would be perfect mental health. But that’s not going to happen, so she settles for being furiously happy.

👽 What is the place where the writer has arrived, found closure, discovered rest?
Lawson has developed as a blogger and gotten a strong following due to her efforts to destigmatize mental illness and encourage people to be furiously happy.

👽 What are the three moments / time frames of the work?
This story’s timeline is all out of order, as far as I can determine. But I suppose they would center around her deciding to be furiously happy. She talks very little about her time before deciding to be furiously happy. She was deeply depressed at that time. The book is almost a set of short essays about events in her life while attempting to be furiously happy.

👽 Where does the writer’s judgement lie?
I guess if she judged anyone, it was people who stigmatize mental illness and people who want her to be unhappy. These people were not talked much about in her memoir, but she dropped hints of them on occasion.

👽 Do you reach a different conclusion than the author about the pattern of his / her life?

👽 What have you brought away from this story?
That a good sense of humor can solve many problems. 🙂

Nov 13, 2019, 11:47am

Many of you know who George Takei is, but in case you don’t he’s a social activist who acted as Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series. In this touching graphic memoir, Takei chronicles his time in a Japanese internment camp in America during WWII. The story is tragic and uplifting at the same time (uplifting in the fact that as a child, he didn’t really realize what was going on, and although it certainly colored his view of the world later, it did not crush his soul). This is highly recommended to anyone who is interested in Takei, or in Japanese internment camps, or simply likes graphic nonfiction.

Nov 13, 2019, 12:38pm

Hi Rachel!

>104 The_Hibernator: Letting your Christmas LTer pick from your categories is a great way to let something come your way that may happily surprise you.

I was just trying to come up with some books I want for Christmas from Cousin Rachel and daughter Jenna and had a really hard time – I actually think I’ve got a surfeit of books. I don’t even like writing that, but took half an hour to figure out 5 books.

Nov 14, 2019, 10:13am

Hi Karen! Yeah, I think it'll be pretty fun to have someone else choose what to send me. That's a way to learn about new books. I finally figured out a few books for Aaron to buy me that I actually wanted to own (given that I don't have much space and will have to get rid of books in order to get more).

Nov 14, 2019, 10:14am

You may remember from long ago that I was working on a long-term project to read the Bible along with a lot of supplementary reading. I have read the Bible a few times, and this time I really want to study it. One of the supplementary works that I have been reading on and off is How to Read the Bible, by James L. Kugel.

Chapter 7 is a short chapter in which Kugel describes to aspects of the Bible: the two ways of conceiving God, and the perception of angels in the Old Testament.

Modern readers of the Bible tend to view god as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. That is the later model of God in the Bible. In earlier texts, God is not everywhere simultaneously. As an example, during the Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1-9), God has to go down to earth to see what was going on.

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. Genesis 11:5

If he omnipresent and omniscient, he wouldn’t have to go make this trip. He would simply be there and know. Furthermore, God walks in the garden of Eden, as well as appearing in other places in the early texts as a human-like figure. This is against the currently common conception of God.

As for angels: it is common for men and women in the bible to mistake angels for men at first. One example is when an angel comes to Manoah and his wife in Judges 13:2-24.

God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” Judges 13:9-10

As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. Judges 13:20-21

This general confusion is a theme throughout the Old Testament. It isn’t entirely clear why people are so confused about whom they are talking with.

Nov 14, 2019, 11:03am

I'm glad you're moving along with your study of the Bible, Rachel. I'm still glad I read The Literary Study Bible in 2017.

Nov 14, 2019, 7:43pm

>109 The_Hibernator: I love that Kugel book! His writing is so clear and helpful.

>110 karenmarie: I, too, remember your great read-through-the-Bible in 2017. I participated, but didn't finish then. I have great hopes of picking up where I left off. I was using Robert Alter's great translations/study Bibles, and this past year he published The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary (three-volume set), so you know I bought it and plan to pick it up again (maybe this winter?)

Karen O.

Nov 14, 2019, 9:42pm

>110 karenmarie: >111 klobrien2: I'm so glad the two of you read so much of the Nible that year. I really fell flat, what with going manic! But now I'm reading at a more relaxed pace.

Edited: Nov 15, 2019, 3:39am

Hi Rachel, I'm just starting The New Jim Crow today - was desperate to get The Book of Dust finished and back to the library for all the folk who've reserved it!

Nov 15, 2019, 7:18am

It's no rush Charlotte! The intro is short. 😁

Nov 15, 2019, 9:43am

Ugh! So I am spending $150 on a photo session which will include getting picture of the skids' mom with the kids so they can each have a picture for their wall. They were both really excited to get it, and I felt it was a particularly thoughtful gift, given that most people wouldn't go out of their way to take pictures of their husband's ex. So, today M told me I was mean because I told him I wasn't going to print off a picture for his mom! It made me feel very hurt. I know I shouldn't take it personally because he's 7. But it still hurts.

Nov 15, 2019, 9:51am

Another uneventful week. And another picture taken for the sole purpose of having one for the blog. That’s a picture of Aaron reading the second Percy Jackson book to the kids. They’re enjoying the series. It’s blurry because I took it from far away, where I couldn’t be seen by D. Whenever I take a picture of one kid, the other kid demands one be taken of him or her. lol But really, it was meant to be a picture of Aaron reading – not one of M in particular. 🙂

Those WERE folded clothes.


This week we worked on painting D’s room pink and purple. It looks surprisingly good. 😁 Hopefully this weekend we’ll get her new loft bed and desk (also pink and purple) assembled. Then she’ll be set to do homework away from distractions. So far, she hasn’t had much homework, though. On Sunday, we’ll be taking pictures of the kids with their biological mom so that we can frame them hang them on their walls. It’s my birthday / half birthday present to them. They’re both pretty excited about that. We’ll also get a family photo, since we don’t have any with all of us. I’ll hopefully be able to share them with you next week.

Ooh! I found out that my library carries digital copies of Economist and New Scientist! I don’t have to pay for them!

Books Completed

Currently Reading

I’m getting to the point where I’m reading too many books at once again, lol. I have Economist and New Scientist checked out from the library and hope to get them finished up by this weekend. I restarted my Bible-reading project, and will be posting updates about that a couple times a week. I’m doing a study of the sociopolitical landscape around the time of Henry VIII in anticipation of my reading of Wolf Hall trilogy next year. Chatterbox (Suzanne) will be doing a tutored read with me! I hope to post notes on one lesson a week for 24 weeks.

Nov 15, 2019, 9:57am

>115 The_Hibernator: Do the kids get allowances? If so, perhap they could contribute some allowance money and that could be their Christmas present to their mom. Just a thought...

Nov 15, 2019, 10:28am

>117 karenmarie: The kids get money or screentime when they do certain chores, including flushing and washing hands. lol M usually chooses screentime, so he doesn't have a lot of money. Plus, he's supposed to give us $1 whenever he lies, and he lies a lot. The other day, we discovered that he's been faking brushing his teeth by going downstairs and letting the electric toothbrush run for its two minutes without putting it in his mouth. And here I'd thought he'd learned to rinse his spit out of the sink!

Edited: Nov 15, 2019, 3:54pm

I wish I'd listened to my mum about being more careful when I brushed! Hindsight is wonderful, right.

I finished the intro, really powerful stuff. I was struck that she said her husband didn't agree with her arguments but supported the book anyway. Impressive.

The stats of how many people are in jail, and how many black people in particular, are just horrifying.

I copied this stat:

Between 1960 and 1990, for example, official crime rates in Finland, Germany, and the United States were close to identical. Yet the U.S. incarceration rate quadrupled, the Finnish rate fell by 60 percent, and the German rate was stable in that period.

Nov 15, 2019, 10:07pm

I'm reading Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative after Stephen (sirfurboy) recommended it. Got through Chapter 3 in the tub today.

Nov 16, 2019, 9:18am

>119 charl08: Hi Charlotte!

Re: Brushing - yeah, we're now forcing him to brush twice a day and floss once a day and we watch him do it. I said if we're going to be forced to watch him do his teeth, then he's going to have to do it right. D still only brushes once a day, unless she remembers about morning breath and how brushing gets rid of it.

Re The New Jim Crow - Yes the statistics are frightening, aren't they? I briefly signed up for a Coursera MOOC on Mass incarceration before I decided that I simply don't have enough time to take the course. Here's a figure that I copied for reference:

But I'm sure we'll see more stats like that as the book goes on. What struck me about the introduction is that she was skeptical of the idea of mass incarceration being the New Jim Crow when she first heard of it. I'm open to the idea, but will need to hear her reasons before I make a decision. But from what I know, I'm leaning towards "she's right."

Nov 16, 2019, 9:20am

>120 ronincats: Almost missed you Roni! I think I will read The Art of Biblical Narrative at some point, too. :) I'm glad you're appreciating it.

Nov 16, 2019, 9:31am

Next year, Chatterbox (Suzanne) will be tutoring me in the Wolf Hall Trilogy, by Hilary Mantel. During this time, I want to learn more about the sociopolitical landscape of the time of Henry VIII, both in England as well as world events that might also shape this vital time in history. I will start by listening to this 24 lecture series about Henry VIII.

Lecture 1

The image of Henry VIII is more recognizable, even to Americans, than any other King. He may not have been well-loved, but his history has a certain allure. Henry VIII reigned for 38 years (1509–1547). There is much popular culture surrounding Henry VIII which started with Shakespeare’s play. The popularity of this play throughout the following centuries give the impression of a powerful, influential king. In the 20th century, King Henry VIII was reimagined yet again: Charles Laughton’s Oscar winning performance in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Anne of a Thousand Days (1970) with Richard Burton, and the 1972 BBC television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

(The lecture continues as a description of what will occur in the rest of the course.)

Out of my own research, I’d like to note some other things that are going on in the world during and slightly before Henry VIII’s reign. I found this information here

First black slaves in America brought to Spanish colony of Santo Domingo.
c. 1503
Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo sculpts the David (1504).
St. Peter’s Church started in Rome; designed and decorated by such artists and architects as Bramante, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, and Bernini before its completion in 1626.
Henry VIII ascends English throne. Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Balboa becomes the first European to encounter the Pacific Ocean. Machiavelli writes The Prince.
Turks conquer Egypt, control Arabia. Martin Luther posts his 95 theses denouncing church abuses on church door in Wittenberg—start of the Reformation in Germany.
Ulrich Zwingli begins Reformation in Switzerland. Hernando Cortes conquers Mexico for Spain. Charles I of Spain is chosen Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sets out to circumnavigate the globe.
Luther excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Suleiman I (“the Magnificent”) becomes Sultan of Turkey, invades Hungary (1521), Rhodes (1522), attacks Austria (1529), annexes Hungary (1541), Tripoli (1551), makes peace with Persia (1553), destroys Spanish fleet (1560), dies (1566). Magellan reaches the Pacific, is killed by Philippine natives (1521). One of his ships under Juan Sebastián del Cano continues around the world, reaches Spain (1522).
Verrazano, sailing under the French flag, explores the New England coast and New York Bay.
Troops of the Holy Roman Empire attack Rome, imprison Pope Clement VII—the end of the Italian Renaissance. Castiglione writes The Courtier. The Medici family expelled from Florence.
Pizarro marches from Panama to Peru, kills the Inca chieftain, Atahualpa, of Peru (1533). Machiavelli’s The Prince published posthumously.
Reformation begins as Henry VIII makes himself head of English Church after being excommunicated by Pope. Sir Thomas More executed as traitor for refusal to acknowledge king’s religious authority. Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River, basis of French claims to Canada.
Henry VIII executes second wife, Anne Boleyn. John Calvin establishes Reformed and Presbyterian form of Protestantism in Switzerland, writes Institutes of the Christian Religion. Danish and Norwegian Reformations. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.
John Knox leads Reformation in Scotland, establishes Presbyterian church there (1560).
Publication of On the Revolution of Heavenly Bodies by Polish scholar Nicolaus Copernicus—giving his theory that the earth revolves around the sun.
Council of Trent to meet intermittently until 1563 to define Catholic dogma and doctrine, reiterate papal authority.
Ivan IV (“the Terrible”) crowned as czar of Russia, begins conquest of Astrakhan and Kazan (1552), battles nobles (boyars) for power (1564), kills his son (1580), dies, and is succeeded by his weak and feeble-minded son, Fyodor I.

Nov 16, 2019, 9:48am

>121 The_Hibernator: Glad you're supervising M's flossing/brushing, though it's sad that you have to do it.

>123 The_Hibernator: Fascinating! Good luck. Thanks for sharing the infoplease timeline.

Nov 16, 2019, 11:19am

>121 The_Hibernator: Those infographics are really powerful.
I liked that she said the title was a metaphor, not a direct application.

I did think that was striking, like you I think it makes more of an impact is more powerful because she changed her mind. At the same time when she said about the changing focus of the ACLU it was sad - shouldn't have to deal with this.

And yes, I agree let's keep it to your thread.

Nov 18, 2019, 8:00am

Now reading chapter one, and having a bit of a laugh at myself. When it said it was a review of 'The Birth of Slavery' I thought that I knew this, as I've studied slavery on various courses. I have never heard (or have forgotten about) Bacon's Rebellion though, so clearly I need to be reminded I have Much to Learn!

Nov 18, 2019, 10:59am

>124 karenmarie: You're welcome Karen! I think it's impossible to get a good idea of what's going on in a focused history without knowing what's going on in the rest of the world

>125 charl08: >126 charl08: Hi Charlotte! I haven't yet read the 1st chapter, so I'll leave off commenting until then. :) But feel free to continue posting your points. Personally, I haven't heard of Bacon's Rebellion, either, but maybe I've heard of it and don't know it by name?

Nov 18, 2019, 11:11am

The 8th chapter of Kugel’s tome describes the two ways (modern and ancient) to interpret the trials of Abraham, who underwent many hardships in his early days before settling down to become the father of a nation.

Ancient Interpretation

In the eyes of ancient interpreters, the trials of Abraham brought up the question: why would a benevolent creator allow so much hardship. For one thing, Abraham was obedient in everything God told him to do, and he was the founder of God’s Jewish nation. Therefore, God apparently brings hardship to those who he loves most. The ancient interpreters decided that God was testing Abraham, to prove that he was fit to be founder. Instead of a test being proof that God doesn’t love him, it’s proof that God does love him – because it gives Abraham the opportunity to prove his worth.

The most important test that Abraham underwent was when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac in a fiery offering to God. This was horrifying to the Jewish interpreters, who were told later in the Bible never to sacrifice their own children. However, they came up with a good reason. At the time that they were writing their interpretations, they were undergoing a lot of hardships themselves. Many had to become martyrs for their religion. But they asked: is it ok to be a martyr, or is that like suicide, which is forbidden? Thus, they interpreted Isaac as knowing that he was going to be sacrificed – he was therefore the first martyr, and gave implied permission for others to follow suit. For instance, they noted that Abraham, who was over 100 years old at this time, couldn’t have tied up an unwilling 10-12 year old, who could obviously run and struggle. Furthermore, they rationalized using this passage:

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and he put it on his son Isaac, and he took the fire and the knife, and they walked the two of them together. Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father?” and he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And they walked the two of them together. Genesis 22:6-8

First of all, the Bible never repeats itself or says anything for emphasis, rationalized the ancient interpreters, therefore the repetition of the words “And they walked the two of them together” must have a hidden meaning. They supposed that, since Hebrew had no word for “is” that the passage meant “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering: my son.” Thus, Abraham did tell Isaac about that he was the offering, and Isaac then walked together with his father in that knowledge.

Modern Interpretation

Modern scholars would not see the story of Abraham as a single unit of stories, but as a group of writings by different people written at different times – the writers J, P, and E (as described in Chapter 1). Therefore, the text doesn’t have a single “Abraham was tested” theme. In fact, some of the hardships that Abraham went through seem to be his own fault. When he lied to the Egyptians by telling them that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife, Pharaoh took Sarah as his concubine. When God punished him for taking Sarah, Pharaoh came back and asked Abraham why he had lied, and sent him on his way. Meanwhile, Abraham had become rich because of his relationship to Pharaoh’s concubine. Modern interpreters would tend to think Pharaoh was the one who was wronged in this situation. In fact, the story may be a way of accounting for Abraham’s great wealth later, rather than a story of a hardship.

As for the story of sacrificing Isaac, modern scholars see it as an etiological explanation for why the Bible and laws later said that nobody should ever sacrifice their child.

Edited: Nov 19, 2019, 12:16pm

Summary: 5 year old Jack has never left Room. To him, it’s all of reality. But then his mom tells him of an outside world that she lived in before the bad man took her away. He has a hard time believing.

The following is my analysis adapted from Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind’s description of how to think about a novel. It will have spoilers.

👽What is the most central life-changing event?

The life-changing event that actually is narrated in the book is when Jack and his mother escape Room and have to start a life outside. Everything seems so strange to Jack, he has to learn to talk to other people, to navigate stairs, to understand the “fame” that he has archived by simple fact of escaping.

👽Am I transported? Do I see, feel, and hear this other world?

At first, I had difficulty with the voice of the narrator doing a 5-year-old voice, but I got used to it. After that, I was completely immersed in the story.

👽Can I sympathize with the people who live there? Do I understand their wants and desires and problems? Or am I left unmoved?

Oh yes, from wanting to escape the room to wanting to go back to the room where he felt things were “normal” this book does a fantastic job of giving a realistic and sympathetic portrayal.

👽Is this a fable or a chronicle?


👽What does the central character want? What is standing in his or her way? What strategy is pursued to overcome this block?

Jack wants to please his mom, but he is not excited to be brave and escape the room, and when he does escape, he’d like to go back to where it’s safe, quiet, and small. But he can’t go back because the kidnapper has been arrested and, obviously, his mom won’t let him. He repeatedly asks his mom to take him back, or at least to have his stuff from his room. That is his one power, really, is to ask adults to give him what he wants.

👽Who is telling you this story? Is this person reliable?

Jack is telling the story. As a 5 year old, I don’t think he’s lying, but I think some things may not be perceived the same as the would in an adult’s point of view.

👽Where is the story set? Is it natural or human constructed? If natural, does nature reflect the emotions and problems of characters? Or is the universe indifferent?

The story is at first set in a room that they have been kept in since the kidnapping of ma and the birth of Jack. It was built by the kidnapper. This is a story in which the universe is indifferent to what happens to the characters. They must make their own way.

👽What style does the writer employ?

First person from POV of a 5 year old.

👽Images and metaphors. Are there any repeated images? If so, is this a metaphor, and if so, what does it represent?

Wow, so many. Anything and everything in the room has a name and a significance to Jack. That’s why he yearns for it all when he escapes.

👽 Does the end have a resolution or a logical exhaustion?

It does, the story is circular in that it starts in Room and it ends with a final visit to Room to say goodbye.

👽How might the writer’s times have affected her?

You know, I’m not sure. It was written during the Great Recession, but I don’t see how that, or Obama, or any other major event during that time changed the tone or voice of Room.

👽Is there an argument in this book? If so, do you agree?

Not really, it’s a narrative of escape, a story and nothing more.

Edited: Nov 22, 2019, 10:03am

Hi all! This was a good week! D’s room is all pink and purple, with her loft bed in place! We now need to get her desk assembled and get all her stuff back in there. That’s a task for Sunday, though, because the house needs a major cleaning on Saturday for Deirdre’s “slumber party.” I put quotes around that, because only one girl has RSVP’d. D’s still REALLY excited, though.

I had a lovely date with Aaron at a Mongolian Grill last Friday. 😁 And I really enjoyed my fortune (above).

On Saturday, we got pictures taken of the kids with their mom, for gifts for hanging on their wall. We also got shots of our family. Here are some screenshots:

We also have a photo we’ll use for our holiday cards, so that’ll be nice. Now I just need to collect addresses! I have a good number of them from the wedding, hopefully.

Today is 80’s day at the kids’ school, so I’m afraid I let her go like this:

Oh, and M has been so affectionate lately it’s maudlin. First he said he loves everyone in the family even if they’re bad because even then they have good in them. Then he had a bad morning, but ended the sendoff with “I still love you Rachel, our invisible string of love is still attached.”

This week, I finished reading:

Nov 22, 2019, 11:35am

Great fortune for you, I hope D's slumber party is totally excellent in every way, and yay for pics, Rachel! Thanks for sharing.

M's maudlin statements remind me of my 4-year old great-nephew's statement to his non-bio Mom, my niece, when she chastised him for something or another: "You're breaking my heart, Mommy."

I hope you're having a good day.

Nov 23, 2019, 10:57am

Thanks Karen! The preps for D's party are in the making. I've got the living room clean and am working on the kitchen. :)

Edited: Nov 23, 2019, 10:59am

Most people are familiar with the tale of Oliver Twist. He is born in a workhouse to a woman whose identity is unknown. He is then sent from one horrible situation to another, abused, hungry, and expected to work for his living. When he runs away, he falls in with some pickpockets. His life takes a powerful turn after that.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s not my favorite as favorite as far as Dickens go – Great Expectations and Hard Times are reserved for that spot. However, I felt moved by Oliver’s predicament and by the style of life Dickens was trying to portray. It is so sad we can treat our children that way, though luckily things have improved quite a bit since then. But mass incarceration in the US is another way to create orphans…

The following is my analysis adapted from Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind’s description of how to think about a novel. It will have spoilers.

👽What is the most central life-changing event?

I’d say running away to London is the central life-changing event. Oliver meets the Artful Dodger, who inadvertently leads him to a rich benefactor who rescues Oliver.

👽Am I transported? Do I see, feel, and hear this other world?

Oh yes. I love Dickens.

👽Can I sympathize with the people who live there? Do I understand their wants and desires and problems? Or am I left unmoved?

Oliver’s life is so hard, and Dickens is so good at describing his troubles that it would be hard for a reader of classics to not sympathize with him. He only wants to have a reasonable amount of food, and to be safe.

👽Is this a fable or a chronicle?


👽What does the central character want? What is standing in his or her way? What strategy is pursued to overcome this block?

As I said above, he wants food and safety, but the adults in his life don’t think he deserves these things since he is an orphan. Even running away landed him in a worse spot than he was, and it was only being shot and asking for help which finally got him to a safe home.

👽Who is telling you this story? Is this person reliable?

It is an omnipresent, semi-omnipotent narrator. He (or she) seems reliable enough.

👽Where is the story set? Is it natural or human constructed? If natural, does nature reflect the emotions and problems of characters? Or is the universe indifferent?

London and the surrounding areas from which Oliver walked are certainly human constructs. However, I’d say the universe does care about Oliver, as he has some jolly good luck at the end there.

👽Images and metaphors. Are there any repeated images? If so, is this a metaphor, and if so, what does it represent?

I think the Artful Dodger (the pickpocket of London) is a metaphor himself – as he keeps appearing but does not seem to have much purpose in the narration other than to pick a pocket at a book store. Can people be metaphors? I will have to think more deeply on what he represents. Maybe I’ll write a discussion post on the topic, as I’ve decided to include more discussion posts (on Mondays).

👽 Does the end have a resolution or a logical exhaustion?

It does. Oliver is safe with family at the end.

👽How might the writer’s times have affected him?

This book was specifically a chastisement on how orphans are treated in England (and elsewhere) during Dickens’ life.

👽Is there an argument in this book? If so, do you agree?

The argument is: this is a terrible way of treating a human being. With a little honesty, compassion, and perception, people would have seen what a quality child Oliver was to begin with.

Edited: Nov 24, 2019, 6:15pm

Hope the party went well, Rachel.

On a different note entirely, I am still reading (!) The New Jim Crow. Struck by missed opportunities- the populist movement alliance after reconstruction which might have avoided segregation. Civil rights shifting to challenging poverty, but being derailed by rhetoric on violent cities.

Some of this is just shocking.
John Ehrlichman, special counsel to the president, explained the Nixon administration’s campaign strategy of 1968 in this way: “We’ll go after the racists.”

Always depressing to read about the "deserving vs "undeserving " poor (a big theme in any British social history too).

How can anyone argue they have an anti-drug policy and make cuts to drug education funding? (Reagan)

Did not realise there was a difference between crack and cocaine.

The stuff about housing budgets being diverted to prisons is tough reading, I didn't realise Clinton was so bound up in the ramping up of drug punishments and bars to federal support.

Nov 24, 2019, 6:06pm

>133 The_Hibernator: Certainly one of the most readable Dickens novels, Charlotte.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Nov 24, 2019, 6:45pm

>130 The_Hibernator: Love these photos! Such a nice looking family.

Happy Sunday, Rachel. You have been knocking out some interesting reads! Hooray for Room! 5 stars is just about right. I can not believe I have not read Oliver Twist. I need to remedy that. I hope you had a nice weekend.

Nov 24, 2019, 10:21pm

That is a great and hilarious fortune in >130 The_Hibernator:! And great photos of the family.

I hope things keep going well, Rachel!

Nov 25, 2019, 12:34am

Great family photos!

Nov 25, 2019, 11:29am

>134 charl08: Hi Charlotte, I'm about 20 pages behind schedule, but will hopefully rectify that today!

>135 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

>136 msf59: You should read Oliver Twist, Mark!

>137 EBT1002: The family is well Ellen. Hopefully you are too!

>138 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda!

Nov 25, 2019, 11:34am

Ugh, so today's a mess. I have a friend who knows a woman who will inject him with a lethal dose of fentanyl in exchange for drugs. He plans to do this on Wednesday if things don't improve. So I've spent all morning calling crisis lines to make a plan for what I can do on Wednesday if this plays out. The Mobile Crisis Unit says I can call them on Wednesday, but they doubt someone will really be willing to kill him. (I saw the conversation, so the person is at least saying she'll do it.) That's frustrating to me. I realize the whole thing is gamey, but they need to take threats seriously! So then I talked to a number of other resources, and finally used good old Google to find a walk-in crisis counselor for my friend. This is a really broken system!

Nov 25, 2019, 12:10pm

Lol, and that put me in such a rotten mood, now I've gone off on D and M's mom. I was telling her (because we have an open communication in which she takes things better from me than from Aaron) that M's ADHD is so bad in the evenings that he has to be constantly corrected, if only for the safety of IL (who could get trampled by an overly-excited M). M has started punching himself in the head and yelling "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I want to kill myself" which says to me that his quality of life is suffering due to his ADHD symptoms. Our corrections are kindly meant, and they are necessary, so I don't see how we can change our behavior to better suit his needs in this case. So Aaron and I want to try a higher dose of med to see if we can get it to last longer into the evening. His mom refused outright because she's "always disinclined to increase med doses." Really?! Always disinclined? That seems like a knee-jerk reaction which did not consider what I had to say at all. Which is pretty much how I answered her because I'm just so tired of stress today. She has not responded.

Nov 25, 2019, 12:10pm

So here I am in a bad mood. I wish I could read, but my mind is racing with frustrations right now.

Nov 25, 2019, 1:08pm

Rachel, don't worry about keeping up - I think you have more pressing things, and I won't be bothered/ stressed if we are delayed.

Hope that your friend has second (less toxic) thoughts, and that M's evenings improve.

Nov 25, 2019, 1:30pm

>130 The_Hibernator: Lovely photos, Rachel.

I hope your day gets better.

Nov 25, 2019, 2:40pm

Ditto, Rachel. I hope your day improves.

I liked your comments on Oliver Twist. That's an interesting way to approach thinking about a book you've read.

Nov 25, 2019, 4:14pm

Sorry you are having such a bad day, Rachel! I wish I could say something that could make it better, but I doubt that's possible. I will say that I have a lot of faith in you and I think you are better equipped to handle this sort of thing than most people. That's probably not comforting at all though, since now I've put all the pressure on you! But my point is, these people are lucky to have you in their lives and they would probably be much worse off without you!

I hope everything turns out okay!

Nov 26, 2019, 12:16pm

M: I love you Rachel, you're the best stepmom ever.

Me: I love you, you're the awesomest stepson.

M: You smiled! You have a pretty smile. You haven't smiled in a while.

Me: uh. Sorry?

D: That's not something you need to apologize for.

Me: Uh. You're right.

Nov 27, 2019, 11:04am

>143 charl08: Yay! I'll have some time to finish the first two chapters today, Charlotte. I will stop by your thread to let you know when I've done that. Sorry for they delay!

>144 BLBera: Thanks Beth! That day was bad, but it's been better since then!

>145 jnwelch: Thanks Joe! I hope that you're having a good holiday.

>146 Ape: Thanks Stephen! Crisis day has come, and it doesn't appear that he's going to go through with it today as his boyfriend came back to him. Personally, I think his boyfriend can shove off, as his whole reason for dumping my friend in the first place is because my friend was trying to sober up.

Nov 27, 2019, 11:06am

Readathon long weekend has begun! Yay! The kids were supposed to be gone with their mom about 2 hours ago, but first we had a snow storm and then their mom had an ER visit, so it's up in the air whether she'll be coming or not. I hope so, as I will have to go shopping for more food and have less reading time if they stick around. Plus, they've really been looking forward to seeing their grandma on their mom's side.

Nov 28, 2019, 10:38am

Judy and i have been listening on and off to a Great Courses course on the Old Testament.

The instructor is a funny woman scholar who tells the old Bible stories with lively insight and wit.

I'm enjoying looking over your shoulder as you go through the Bible.

If you can find it - it's long out of print alas - Isaac Asimov's Asimov's Guide to the Bible is worth a look

Nov 29, 2019, 4:06pm

>150 magicians_nephew: Thanks Jim. I also have the Old Testament Great Course, though I haven't started it yet. Good to know that you are enjoying it. I'll take a look to Asimov's Guide to the Bible.

Nov 29, 2019, 7:43pm

Hi Rachel--I am all caught up on the ups and downs of your life again. Quick comments: Fortunately, there seem to be a lot more ups lately! Love all your photos you've been posting--priceless. So glad your friend didn't go through with his plan. Yikes--that was a lot of pressure on you to try and find help. Good thing you caught on to the timed tooth brushing, LOL. Post a picture of the refurbished bedroom when it's all put together again--sounds awesome! Good luck figuring out the ADHD meds (with the other mom). Phew. Okay. Now enjoy your weekend. : )

Nov 30, 2019, 11:51am

Happy Saturday, Rachel! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving (with or without your kids!)

I'm loving all the photos and stories of your kids. Sounds like lots of family stress, but you seem to be handling it like a champ.

>140 The_Hibernator: I sincerely hope your friend gets the long term help he needs. I have been in that place where I can't imagine things ever being any better.

Hugs to both of you.

Dec 2, 2019, 7:36am

>152 Berly: Hi Kim! Yeah, my life is one big drama, isn't it. But it's mostly pretty good.

>153 streamsong: My friend is doing a little better now, and his psychiatrist is going to try some new treatments on him which are supposed to be fairly effective.

Dec 2, 2019, 7:38am

The Dark Fantastic, by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

In The Dark Fantastic, Thomas writes a study of darker-skinned people in fantastic popular culture. She covers Rue, from Hunger Games, who is described as “dark-skinned” in the book, but got a torrent of horribly racist comments when Rue was cast as black in the movie. To the white mind, and sometimes even to the brown or black mind, innocent characters should not be cast as black. Another rage emerged when Guinevere was cast as black in the TV show Merlin.

Thomas mentions that there is a paucity of dark-skinned people in fantastic literature, and that could be part of the reason why dark-skinned people tend to not be considered the audience of fantastic literature – because they can’t relate to the characters. It is quite possible for dark-skinned people to find heroes in white people, but why not have some dark-skinned people that they can view as heroes?

In most shows / books, dark-skinned people are shoved off to the side as supporting characters to white characters like Luka Martin in Vampire Diaries. They are meant to serve, not to be powerful characters themselves.

I had heard previously that fantastic literature lacked in diverse characters, but had never spent much time thinking about it. Now I feel like reading books more carefully to see how they are portrayed. This was a fantastic piece of nonfiction for anyone interested in diverse voices in literature.

This topic was continued by The Hibernator tries one more thread.