Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Days Two and Three of just Elisabeth and Mommy home

Yesterday was a nice full day. I noticed Elisabeth getting out of bed at about 7:00, but I carefully kept my eyes closed (looked at the time after she'd left the room) so she wouldn't notice I was awake, and then I fell back asleep. I didn't wake up until Elisabeth knocked on my "door" (my bedroom doesn't actually have a door, but the children are supposed to knock on the bookcase outside of the curtain, or at least say "knock, knock"...) just after 8:00.

On Monday I'd given each of the camp-goers some little juice boxes, which are a rare treat, and Elisabeth of course wanted some too, but I told her that she was having enough treats on Monday and she could have hers on Tuesday. She put it in the freezer on Monday and reminded me Enough that I'd said she could have it on Tuesday. She'd asked if she could have it after breakfast, and I said that as far as I was concerned, she could have it WITH breakfast.

So...Tuesday morning just after 8:00 she informed me that she'd gotten her frozen juice out, cut it open, eaten half of it, put half of it back in the freezer, cleaned up the mess on the table, and had a bath, because she'd also gotten juice all over herself. She hadn't washed her dishes, though, she told me, because one of the shelves for the refrigerator was balanced across the whole sink, soaking. Since she doesn't normally ever wash dishes, it hadn't occurred to me that the sink needed to be kept free for her...

She wanted to play a game with me, but agreed that I could get up, have a shower, get dressed, and even have breakfast. As it turned out that she hadn't had breakfast yet either, just the juice, she also had breakfast.

Then we played Hase und Igel again, which I won by only three moves. She likes to take the chance option on that game more than I do, which means that my carefully planned strategy sometimes gets wasted!

A little after 10:00 we left for Sue's house, where we go every Tuesday morning. Elisabeth and Sue's three-year-old grandson played quite happily together, and it wasn't difficult to accept the invitation to stay for lunch. Elisabeth should have had a piano lesson at noon, but had adamantly refused to go without her sisters.

We left there at 2:30 and stopped by the house briefly to collect our swimsuits and towels, and then drove half an hour to Mazotos where other friends live. Actually, last week was the first time we'd ever socialized with them, the main person in the family with whom we'd had contact being their two-year-old daughter, Mi. I'd babysat her two afternoons a week for the last year, and two or three times her four-year-old brother, Ma, as well, but had never spent time with their mother except when we first met, and for drop-off and pick-up, and had only met their father, very briefly, twice.

When we arrived last week, Mi had first looked shocked and clung to her mother, but once my children had jumped in the pool and I'd sat down and been handed a frappe, it was easy to see the wheels turning in her head. Normally, my appearance meant the disappearance of her mother, which she was fine with at OUR house, but certainly couldn't allow to happen at HER house. "But...the children are all in the pool, and She-ah is sitting down, so maybe Mama won't disappear?" After she'd looked back and forth between the others in the pool and me on the sofa several times, she then climbed up on my lap and requested some of the games we play, and she stayed with me most of the time we were there. :-) Ma also had plenty of fun with us, and I got a message from his mother the next day that he wanted to know when we were coming again. Also, when we were leaving last week, he was very disappointed that we hadn't played trains with him, so I'd promised him we'd play trains with him when we came again.

When Elisabeth and I arrived yesterday, there was no hesitation at all on Mi's part, and she cuddled with me almost the whole time. I read her one book in German (actually, a book of songs, which I sang to her...) about 15 or 20 times, and I also got to read her a book in English, as well as one in Hungarian. No, I do not speak ANY Hungarian. Mi giggled all through it. We also played with trains, and Mi and I played with a balancing game. The children were in and out of the pool, and then after dinner (Hungarian pancakes with a meat filling that were scrumptious) the three adults joined them. We didn't end up leaving their house until 10:00!

Elisabeth slept well last night and I woke up before she did this morning. :-)

Today, in contrast, we never left the house. I lost count of how many times we played Hase und Igel, but only played Ticket to Ride once (Elisabeth wasn't very happy that I won 177 to 100 and claimed I cheated) and Enchanted Forest once (Elisabeth won that one, of course). I also finished proofreading the third chapter of Jörn's book and Elisabeth had a very long bath, and during dinner I cleaned yet another shelf of the refrigerator. (The last shelf is in the drying rack now, so tomorrow I'll do the drawers. It's an exciting life. I also hung up one load of laundry and put another on to wash.) After dinner we were in my room looking at some things on the computer when we heard someone calling to us. It was three GROWN-UPS who were here to pick up something. It was nice to see them and get to say hi (and bye--two of them are leaving Cyprus tomorrow), but they didn't have time to come in. They probably sensed my desperation, too, which would increase their need to hurry off...

Finally, I read the first chapter of "Little House in the Big Woods" to Elisabeth (she read part of it to me, but she wants me to read it to her, because I've read it to all the other children, so she thinks she should have a turn, too), and she officially went to bed. Since she claims she doesn't go to sleep for hours anyway (not true, of course, but it's true that she doesn't go to sleep right away), I told her that she obviously wouldn't mind me doing my Greek lesson, and she couldn't really protest. LOL

I did get to talk to another grown-up today, when my sister Erin phoned. Elisabeth was very miffed and not getting to talk with her, and after I got off of the phone, she said, "It's not FAIR! Not even letting me talk to my AUNT! She's my AUNT, which means she's IMPORTANT." But she did indeed stay quiet through the phone call, which Erin had asked her to do, promising that she'll speak with her the next time she phones in the morning.

But I'm going just a little bit stir-crazy. The only concrete plans we have tomorrow are driving someone to the airport, and Friday Elisabeth has been invited somewhere, but I haven't, and don't know what I'll do during that time. I can only proof-read for a maximum of an hour or so at a time, sometimes not that long. We're probably going to the beach Friday afternoon with friends (two GROWN-UPS!! Yay!!), and the three campers get back Friday evening. I imagine that on Saturday I'll be missing the quiet week we've had. Elisabeth is a great companion--never whiny or bored, spending a lot of time with me and talking, but also wanting to go off and do her own thing as well--but I've simply never had so much quiet time in my whole life. It's still WEIRD.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Day One of just Elisabeth and Mommy at home

The first time I remember my husband being away for several days (it was a whole week, in fact) since Marie was born was in July 1999. Marie was 22 months old and Jacob was 6 weeks old. I was quite excited to manage a shower on about the third day. AND the three of us traveled on our own from Germany to England, where we met up with Jörn and continued on to Costa Rica and the U.S.

The next time I remember was in March 2003. Jörn went to Uganda for ten days, and I had the most exhausting ten days of my entire life. Marie was 5 1/2, Jacob was nearly four, and Lukas was nine months old. They all got sick. I had three children throwing up on their beds, my bed, and me, all one night.

If Jörn did any other traveling before we moved to Cyprus, I've blocked it out of my memory.

However, since we moved to Cyprus in January 2009, he's traveled quite a lot, and often takes a child or two with him. This week he's in Turkey, and he took Helen, who will be nine in September. If I'm counting correctly, this is his sixth trip this year, the previous ones being to England in January, Israel in February (with Katie), Germany at some point, England again at some point, and Greece (with Jacob). In September he'll be going to Germany again, with Lukas, a week before the three younger girls and I join him, and then after our time together in Germany, the U.S., and Costa Rica, he will probably be going to yet another event in England.

However, this is the first time EVER I have been home alone with just ONE child for an extended period of time. Jörn and Helen left yesterday after lunch, and this morning Jacob, Lukas, and Katie (first time for Katie) headed up to Youth Camp in the mountains and won't be back until Friday.

WEEEIIIIRRRDDD!!!!

Elisabeth was not very pleased when she found out that she was going to be home alone for nearly five whole days with just boring old Mommy. However, she was appeased somewhat when I mentioned that we might go out for souvlaki at some point, and she's been busily planning the week. (Including suggesting that we sleep in one room, so that we can use just one air conditioning unit and save money, so we can buy ice cream after the souvlaki. I said that that was very forward-thinking of her, and she said, "No, I'm just planning ahead.")

We even got a practice run yesterday afternoon, as the three youth headed for a pizza party at 4:00 in the afternoon, and Jörn and Helen had left at 1:00. Elisabeth and I played Ticket to Ride (I won 129 to 128--she's become an extremely competent player, but doesn't take new destination cards until she's finished what she has in her hand. I often do, which often works out well...but not always. My record lowest score was negative 3.) Afterwards she informed me grandly that she was going to go listen to a tape in her room and I was free to do whatever I wanted. She also got herself dinner (we just have bread 'n' stuff for our evening meal) and went for a walk. But she was very relieved that Katie was home for bedtime--as was I, because I then went out for the evening myself, and played Settlers of Catan with five friends!

This morning I got to go swimming as usual, because the older children were all still home, but not long after I got home from swimming, children started waking up.

Very hyper children. Okay, Jacob wasn't "hyper," but he WAS awake at an earlier time than usual (he got collected to go shopping for camp with another one of the leaders), and Lukas is in a mode of EITHER acting like an overgrown two-year-old OR a too-cool-to-look-interested-in-anything teenager, and happily, he was more in the second mode most of the morning. But Katie was very excited to be going to camp for the first time, and Elisabeth was even more excited to finally start on all our "plans." Before that, though, Katie had to make cookies to take to camp, and discovered that we were out of eggs. So I sent her to the bakery to buy eggs, as well as bread for breakfast and for their packed lunches.

After hours and hours and hours between 8:00 and 10:15, it was finally time to take the teens and almost-teen to the drop-off for camp. While waiting in what passes for a traffic jam in Cyprus (Cyprus has plenty of traffic issues, but after having lived in the most densely populated part of Germany for 17 years, I cannot truly label anything I've experienced in Cyprus a "traffic jam"), just around the corner from where we were going, Jacob remembered he'd forgotten the ice cream in the freezer at home. He needed it for a game he will be leading. I don't think I want to know. I said I'd drop them off first and go back home for it. As we pulled up, Katie remembered she'd forgotten her phone. And as I started to pull away, Jacob remembered he'd offered to lend someone a sleeping bag. So I drove the five minutes home muttering "ice cream, phone, sleeping bag" the whole way, and it worked. I returned with all of those items AND Jacob's hat AND someone else's bicycle helmet that had been left at our house.

When Marie went to camp the first time, eight years ago, I took lots of photos and was a little bit emotional. I stayed until the bus drove away, waving after the bus just in case she was looking out the window. The last few years, I haven't even waited every time for them to get on the bus, but it being Katie's first time this year, I did. And I couldn't take photos, because our camera is in Turkey. (I did borrow Katie's phone to take a photo of her, at least, though.) Elisabeth and I left before the bus did, but Katie's phone was on the bus anyway, so I couldn't have taken more photos.

My first stop of the morning with just one child was at my friend Dagmar's house, as I'd left my phone in her car after swimming this morning. We only stayed for about a minute, and then drove to what we call "the grain store," although I'm not sure we've ever bought any grain there. All I wanted was dried coconut (for making coconut milk), but Elisabeth also talked me into a package of sweetened dried coconut as a treat. Then we finally went to Coffee Island, which is actually just a short walk from our house. We got milkshakes--as all of the youth and all of their parents must know, as Elisabeth made sure to tell all of them that that's what we were going to do. Elisabeth had had a milkshake only once before, about two years ago, I think, and it was also as a consolation for being a temporary only child: Katie and Helen were at a birthday party and the older children were at a youth event. So this was exciting, and came only second to souvlaki in her request for treats this week. She didn't want to stay at Coffee Island to drink them, though, so we came home. (They didn't have air conditioning anyway, and they did have smoke, so home was more pleasant.)

Once we were home, I started doing the usual stuff of laundry and dishes and such, with the idea that I was hanging out with Elisabeth in the kitchen, but when Elisabeth started listening to a cassette tape, I headed for my bedroom with my milkshake and told her to let me know when she wanted to do anything with me. I only meant to go on the computer for a little while and then do some proofreading, but...

Anyway, after maybe 20 minutes or so, Elisabeth came in and asked if she could go on the computer. So I let her do that and I put about an hour and a half into proofreading 12 pages of Jörn's book...at this rate, I will NOT be finishing all 300ish pages in time, but I'll see how far I get. (I've done about 70 so far, and these 12 did go more slowly than the previous ones, without being able to clarify things with Jörn, so maybe we'll manage it when he's back, if we don't do anything else until it's done...) (And lest reading this blog has you worried about me proofreading, I'm taking out more commas than I'm putting in, even though he CLAIMED he wanted British English/punctuation rather than American. But I have to ignore sentences that start with conjunctions, because there are just so many of them. I'm also leaving the sentences ending in prepositions alone, because there are too many to deal with.) (And I'm typing here because I'm too tired to proofread, so this is not a reflection of my proofreading...skills...anyway.)

Eventually we decided we should have lunch, so I started my usual process when Jörn's away of cleaning out the refrigerator. So far, I've actually only thrown away one apple. I also consolidated five separate nearly empty plastic containers of cut vegetables into one container, gathered halloumi from three different places in the fridge to one place, stacked the five containers of cream cheese in one stack with the started one on top, and washed the top shelf. Oh, and I made coconut milk and put almonds to soak so that I can make almond milk tomorrow. (I'm not making cashew milk at the moment, because cashew prices have skyrocketed.) We ate leftover casserole from yesterday and it occurred to me that I'm not at all sure how to cook for two people anyway, never having done so. In any case, there are enough leftovers in the fridge for me to not need to cook all week anyway, but there are also two packages of raw chicken. I guess I should check the date on them, because they probably need to be dealt with before Saturday, when the big eaters are home. Yuck.

At some point after lunch, Elisabeth and I played Ticket to Ride again (I got really, really lucky with my many overlapping destination cards, and won 145 to 99, but Elisabeth took it very well), and two games of Hase und Igel. (Hare and Hedgehog is the German version of Aesop's The Tortoise and the Hare, presumably because Germany are more familiar with hedgehogs than tortoises. This game is based on the idea that the players have to choose between slow and steady or lots of sporadic jumps. Either strategy can win.) Although it says ages 12 and up, Elisabeth grasped the strategy of it perfectly when I taught it to her a few weeks ago, and we had two excellent games, in which I just barely beat her.

After that she decided she wanted to go listen to a cassette on her own again, and I did a tiny bit more proofreading and of course turned on the computer. At least I thought to do my Greek lesson at that point, in case Elisabeth really did end up sleeping in my room and wouldn't go to sleep listening to Greek!

During dinner, which for me was a slice of bread with cream cheese and bell peppers and took me about five minutes to eat because I put effort into eating slowly, and for Elisabeth was at least half an hour eating pretty much the same thing (in content, but multiplied in quantity), I finished the dishes and washed countertops and other miscellaneous things, while Elisabeth talked and talked and talked. (Maybe that was partly why it took her so long?) And afterwards she chose a book for us to take turns reading, which reminds me, I need to find some white-out, because those were most definitely sea lions, not seals, on one page!!

And now she's asleep in my bed, where she convinced me to let her sleep. Of all six children, she's the only one who virtually never climbed into bed with us again after she moved out of our bed. In fact, once I wanted her to sleep with me, because Jörn was traveling and she was sick, and I didn't want to have to get up in the night to check on her. She wasn't even three yet, but she absolutely refused, quite insistent that she sleep in her own bed. This is the first time I can remember in 4 1/2 years that she's slept in my bed, and here's to hoping that she no longer sleeps desperate-octopus style, because it's way too warm for that, even with the air conditioning on...


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books finished in July 2017

It's the first of August and I'm already blogging the books finished in July!! There IS such a thing as catching up!!!

Fools' Gold, Philippa Gregory This is the third book in "The Order of Darkness" series, and although I continued to be irritated by the denseness of some characters, I was also getting to like quite a few of the characters by this point, and was very disappointed when I went on-line to discover that Philippa Gregory has not yet published more books in the series, although she said the fourth one would be out in 2016.

The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory  Having read the three supposedly "children's" books by this author, I finally picked up one of Marie's books. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and I know I was fascinated by Anne Boleyn at some point as a teenager, but I don't really remember why. Especially as everything I've read since indicates that she wasn't a particularly nice person at all! This is mostly about Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary, and there are many more details about her relationship with Henry VIII (and many other women's relationships with him...) than I was happy about. Also, enormous liberties were taken with the historic facts, more so than I feel justified in historic fiction. In a way, the story made out of the (not all that many) known facts reminded me of a movie made from a book. It was more that the facts inspired a novel than that Philippa Gregory actually set out to write a plausible "it could have been this way" story.

The Truth About Melody Browne, Lisa Jewell  It was quite fascinating to find out about the main character's childhood at the same time she, as an adult, did. She'd lost virtually all of her memories from before the age of nine, and is completely surprised by them as they start coming back. The more she remembers, the more she goes searching for more memories and explanations.

Blue-Eyed Son, The Story of an Adoption, Nicky Campbell  I think this may have been a book that Jörn gave me long ago. In any case, it had been on my shelf for a long time, but I'd never read it. This is yet another British celebrity of whom I'd never heard (like Alan Titchmarsh), with a writing style I like very much, writing memoir-type non-fiction. It's mostly a very uplifting book about his search for his birth parents. There's nothing tremendously traumatic, but certainly issues that give him serious pause for thought.

The Potluck Club, Linda Evans Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson  Finally, a free book for the Kindle which I enjoyed very much! I got a little bit confused at first, with each chapter being from the viewpoint of a different person, but as I got to know the characters, I was able to know immediately who was talking without the name even being said. I never quite understood the point of the existence of the reporter guy, though, but at least his chapters (between almost all of the other chapters, which alternated between half a dozen or so women, all in first person) were very short.

Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn  None of the other books I've included this year (except some of the books I've read to children, and those I only listed in January) were books I'd read before. We went up to Rocky Point (a private campground in the Troodos Mountains--this was our seventh year in a row to go!) last week, for five days, and I READ. I'd read a tiny bit of The Potluck Club before we went up, but I finished that by reading it at night after the others were asleep and I couldn't use a regular light. (I love my Kindle Fire for reading at night!) I do read at home most evenings, too, but less, because I first spend time on the computer (such as right now...it's 10:54 p.m. at this moment...) And I read this book, as well, one that I read when we went last year, and which I was pleased to see was still on the shelf in the lodge. Although I haven't included any other books I've re-read, I just had to include this one, partly because I enjoyed it very much, and partly because it almost didn't feel like reading the same book as a year ago. Last year, it was just amusing. This year, I saw so much deeper meaning in it, about how easy it is to get stuck having to go along with something that you totally disagree with, how easily that starts and how nearly impossible it is to escape. Basically, the entire book consists of letters written by Ella Minnow Pea, her cousin, her parents, and a few other people. They live on the island of Nollup, a utopian (quickly becoming dystopian, of course) society off the coast of North or South Carolina. (I don't remember which, but it's not important.) Their country is named after the person who came up with the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs," which includes all 26 letters of the English alphabet, and they of course have a monument to him, with the sentence on it, in tiles. And then the tile with the Z falls off. The council decides that this is a sign from Nollup that they should no longer use the letter Z...and the story goes on from there with fewer and fewer letters available for use, and almost nobody left on the island. The people who really feel it is absurd and have enough guts to put actions to their beliefs all emigrate or are exiled, leaving people who increasingly realize that they're in trouble but feel helpless to do anything. Which reminds me of a LOT of situations throughout history, and at this moment particularly, of the situation for home educating families in countries where home education is not allowed...

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson I borrowed this the day before we left, started it in the mountains on Monday, and by Friday had read about 450 pages (as well as the other two books, and playing a lot of games with my family, and taking naps, and going for short walks (no hikes this year, not one!!), and hanging out with people, etc. The last 125 pages took me Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning before church, mostly in hurried moments of a few pages at a time. I very much enjoy Bill Bryson's writing style, the first book of his I read being Mother Tongue:English and How It Got That Way. Even in that first book, though, I knew that I didn't agree with everything he says, but that doesn't bother me. (I don't even agree with everything I say...) Overall, the book was a fascinating history of HOW people have researched and come to conclusions about many aspects of science. I did find it amusing, though, just how many times a chapter basically went, "First they thought this because of that. Then they realized they were wrong and thought that instead because of the other thing. Then it became clear that that wasn't right either, so they..." etc. over and over again, until the final sentence of, "But now we know this to be the fact." Really? After just spending a whole chapter explaining how many people sincerely believed something to be true, and then it was disproved?

I got in trouble three times that I remember in second grade. (Not counting all the times I got in trouble for reading. That was just constant, all through school.) One of the times was because I talked back to my mother in the hearing of my teacher, and my teacher gave me an extra page of math to do. Totally logical. Yep. Once was because we were given brown, orange, and yellow construction paper to make an owl, and the eyes were supposed to be yellow and the beak and feet were supposed to be orange, but I insisted on doing them the other way around. I was Wrong. That was Bad. (However, I got an A on the poem I wrote about it for a college English class.) And the other time was because when the teacher said that brontosaurus was the largest land creature that had ever lived, I asked how they could know that there wasn't anything bigger that just hadn't been found yet? I got told off for talking back. A couple of years later, we learned about several bigger dinosaurs. And MANY years later, I learned that "brontosaurus" didn't ever actually exist, because the specimen that was labeled as such was actually the body of one (already known) creature, with the head of another (already known) creature. Maybe. And much more recently, I researched some of the dates of discoveries, and learned not only that the so-called brontosaurus had been disproved a couple of years before I was in second grade, bigger dinosaurs had been discovered more than 70 years before I was in second grade!!. And even more recently (2015--I had to google to check on that, though), brontosaurus has been reinstated as having existed. They now "know." As they "knew" before. Basically, my take on it is that I wasn't there and I don't know, and that's cool.

Books finished in June 2017

June looks rather better than May as far as books finished, but at least two of them were started before June (one of them many months before), and one was very short.

The Very Thought of You, Rosie Alison I've read SO many books set during World War II, and a majority of them set mainly in England, and this is another one. It's also far from the first one I've read about children sent to the country to avoid the bombing in London. This one still stands out for many reasons, though. For one thing, it keeps switching points of view, so it's hard to say that the eight-year-old girl who first seems to be the main character IS the main character, but although most of the other characters are adults, and the book is intended for adults, the child's voice is very real and realistic, a child without being childish. This isn't a book about everything ending up wonderful, though. I had a premonition that certain people would die, who did, but other deaths took me totally by surprise. I think the thing that bothered me the most was the completely omniscient viewpoint. I don't mind when the reader knows what a particular character is thinking when other characters don't know, and when the author switches back and forth between characters (and these were not at all confusing, which some books are), but I think I generally feel that that's acceptable because that character COULD have written it down or told someone later...but it bugs me when there are things that nobody could possibly have known, such as a person's last thoughts before they died.

Changeling, Philippa Gregory Marie left a pile of Philippa Gregory books here, and a friend was here when Katie picked one up and asked if she could read it. I didn't know the book, but our friend Dena happened to be here at that moment and suggested that it might not be appropriate, but said she had some other books by that author, which were written for children. This is the first of the three books Dena gave Katie, and Katie talked me into reading it. I wouldn't have said it was "for children," so much, as I'd say Katie (just turned 12 last week) would be more or less the minimum age for this book...except then later I read one of Marie's books that is targeted at adults, and all of a sudden, Changeling (and the sequels) seemed totally innocent... Anyway, this book is the first of "The Order of Darkness" series, set in the 15th century in Europe (at least, the first three books are, and no more have been published as of yet). While it (and the others) CAN be read independently, there's definitely a story thread going through all of them that make them better to read one after another, and some plot points that only make sense when taking them together.

The Wings of a Falcon, Cynthia Voigt I have maybe a dozen or so of Cynthia Voigt's books, most of them from when I was a teenager. Homecoming is probably her most well-known one, contemporary and totally realistic fiction, along with its several sequels or spin-offs. Jackaroo was always my favorite of her books, though, set in an undetermined place or time, but giving the impression of being Medieval times in Europe, and never entirely clear about whether there was an element of fantasy or not. This book I picked up from the give-aways at the library, very excited to see a Cynthia Voigt book I didn't have (and the price was right!), then even more so when I noticed it said that it was a "companion" (not a sequel, but somehow related) to Jackaroo. I don't remember when I started this...probably last year. I found this very hard to get into, starting with a Lord-of-the-Flies situation, really (and THAT's a book I HATED...), and it mostly stayed on the shelf next to my bed. Sometimes I would pick it up and read a page or two, usually having to backtrack to figure out what on earth (or wherever this is set...) was going on and who the people were. (It didn't help any that one of the main characters didn't even have a name for quite awhile...) But at some point in June, I started to get into the book and I probably read 90% of it over two or three days. The connection to Jackaroo is extremely loose (I think the name of the possibly mythical character of Jackaroo is mentioned once, and that's it), but I take it that it's the same country, more clearly a made-up country in this book. I did enjoy the book...mostly. One person died who most certainly should NOT have died, but then, not a single one of Cynthia Voigt's books go for unequivocal happy endings, although possibly Jackaroo comes the closest. (Maybe that's why that's one of my favorite books. I like neatly tied up and basically happy endings. Real life doesn't have many of those, and I read to have something DIFFERENT from real life...)

Stormbringers, Philippa Gregory This is the second "Order of Darkness" book, and the "Order" gets "darker". I had many moments of wanting to tell off dense characters. But it was compelling enough to finish...

At Home in the World, Tsh Oxenreider This one is proof that my husband reads my blog! I'm pretty sure I never mentioned the book to him, but I did mention it in a blogpost, and all of a sudden, he presented me with this book. :-) Tsh's family (and no, her name is not a pseudonym nor is that a typo...her parents had decided that her name didn't need vowels) traveled around the world for one year, and this is a chronicle of that trip, with quite a lot more than just "we went there and did that." I enjoyed it very much.

A Miracle in the Making, Patricia Batoba Jones Well, once again...there's a reason that some books are only available free for Kindle. My main complaint about this book was that it would have seriously benefited from some decent proofreading. From ANY proofreading. Anyone can make typos, anyone can write run-on sentences, anyone can use non-standard grammar...but if one is going to get a book published, I think it's reasonable to at least make an attempt at having it proofread. This was about the author having a micro-preemie who (spoiler alert) survived, and that's wonderful. And her own spiritual journey during that time. Cool. Completely the kind of book I like, and with a happy ending. But exhausting to read, because there wasn't a page in it without multiple typos and weird grammar. And sentences starting with conjunctions. Fragments, too. It reads like a collection of blogposts. Maybe it was.

Books finished in May 2017

So now that it's August 1st, maybe I'll blog the books I read (or at least finished) in May, June, AND July??

Starting with May, anyway...

Ah...and now that I've gotten my list out, this is impressively short.

the totally and completely perfect even when you feel like the worst mom ever, Michelle Wilson Yes, that's how the title was written. Very irritating. And the book was too. I shouldn't even count it. I don't know how long it was. It was another free book for the Kindle that was worth what I paid...

Running Wild, Victoria Clayton This book on the other hand, was awesome. Even though there are similarities (of course) in style and plot, Victoria Clayton's books don't seem "same-y" to me. Yes, there was one rather major plot point that I think was meant to startle people but I guessed pretty much immediately, but that didn't spoil it. And there were a LOT of characters that really beggared belief (one of which I also guessed very nearly immediately was the person I thought he was, even though the main character didn't have a clue), but it still managed to feel realistic.

And...that was it. I did start or continue other books which got finished later (or haven't been finished yet), but May was rather consumed with drama rehearsals. Mondays I helped in the class for three- and four-year-olds (okay, no rehearsal, just an hour of FUN); Tuesdays when I could I helped in Helen's class (mostly ages 8-9, I think), rehearsing The Giant's Giant Pizza (Helen made an awesome queen), although I usually could only help for part or not at all because I was babysitting a little girl; Wednesdays I helped in Elisabeth's class (ages 6-8, although Elisabeth was the only one who was six, and she turned seven the day before the exam performance), rehearsing Daffodil Scissors; Thursdays I had adorable little girl again as well as going to Midi-Club with Helen and Elisabeth, where I sometimes helped (and Katie and Lukas had their rehearsal for Shut Up, followed by Jacob's for Nuts, but I wasn't involved in either of those at all); Fridays I only had to show up ten minutes before the end of Elisabeth's other drama class (for ages 5-7) to watch their weekly performance; Saturdays there were a few rehearsals; and Sundays there were rehearsals with Helen and with Elisabeth and sometimes for Katie and Lukas. Then the performances were on two Sundays in May, plus the exam performances (of all four plays) in June.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Books finished in April 2017

July is nearing its end, so why not finally blog the books I read (or finished) in April?

Folly, Alan Titchmarsh  Yet another book by this author (also given to me for my birthday by Sue), I enjoyed it very much, definitely my favorite of his books that I've read so far. Most of the chapters alternate between the years 2007 and 1949 and it was fascinating putting together some pieces, suspecting some things before the characters did, but mostly having "aha!" moments about the same time as they did.

Finding You, Giselle Green This is the sequel to Little Miracles, which I read sometime last year. I was EXTREMELY disappointed with the ending of Little Miracles, which ended without solving the mystery of nearly the entire book. Sue admitted that she knew the answer to the one burning question, and I begged her to tell me, which she finally did. I don't remember if she found it out by reading this book, or by looking it up on-line. Either way, despite having a wonderful writing style, I highly disapproved of Giselle Green's ending! I like tied-up ends, or at least, the hope of them happening. This book answers that one burning question in one fell swoop, and poses a whole lot more. While leaving the ending open as to what might happen next, it was still a satisfying ending. In particular, very early in the book I thought, "Hmm...it's interesting that the trauma of this situation would mimic that particular diagnosis." It turned out that it wasn't the case at all...that particular diagnosis was actually correct.

Crown of Blood, The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, Nicola Tallis This book rather dominated April. The first two books had both been started in March, and then Jörn gave me this one as a late birthday present right at the beginning of April. I like history in general. I love historical fiction. I very much like biographies that READ like historical fiction. This didn't. This was loooooooong. And yet...compelling. Just as I was deciding I was giving up on it (like, 135 times or so...), there would suddenly be a new, intriguing fact or link or something, and I kept reading. For at least a few weeks after finally finishing it, I could have told you just about anything you might have wanted to know (or not) about Lady Jane Grey and her nine (or 13, depending on how you count) as Queen of England, and why so many paintings are inaccurate, and what kind of things probably happened and probably didn't. I think I've probably forgotten most of it now.

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth  This was a free book for the Kindle, and although I'd heard of Sojourner Truth, I didn't really know anything about her. She was born a slave and escaped to freedom in 1826, only half a year before all slavery was ended in New York anyway. She never learned to read (her books were dictated) and she never stopped fighting for abolition, and after the legal end of slavery, for equal rights for former slaves, for women, and for anybody and everybody who was oppressed. This book was published in 1850, well before slavery was finally abolished completely in the United States. Quite fascinating.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Books finished in March 2017

Since I wrote them down (at least some of them...), I figure I may as well go ahead and list the books I finished reading in March this year. I'm curious how many of them I'll even remember!

Dance With Me, Victoria Clayton I continue to enjoy Victoria Clayton's style, although by the third or fourth book of hers I read, I knew certain things about the plot for the whole book by the end of the first page. Still, I don't mind predictable when it's well written (which this is) and has lots of surprises despite the overall predictability, and just the right number of loose ends are tied up.

Rosie, Alan Titchmarsh I discovered Alan Titchmarsh at the library a year or so ago, never having heard of him (he's apparently well-known in the U.K. as a TV gardener...), and really enjoyed the couple of books I read then. My friend Sue, who is better at remembering what interests me than I am, gave me two Alan Titchmarsh books for my birthday in March! It's a little debatable who the main character of this book is. Rosie is definitely central, but it's really her grandson Nick who is the one changing and growing throughout the story, and most of it (if I remember correctly) is told from his point of view. I haven't particularly enjoyed very many novels written by men, but this is a wonderful exception.

The Midwife's Tale, Delia Parr Every week I get several free books for my Kindle, and this was one of them. It was...okay. It was one of those that reminded me that sometimes things that are free are worth about what was paid for them. There were quite a few anachronisms that irritated me, but the story was interesting enough to keep going. I disagreed with one plot twist. Not so much that it happened (that's up to the author, and it DID surprise me...), but because it wasn't, in my opinion, at all foreshadowed, and depended on yet another anachronism and so felt totally fake...

Beautiful Child, Torey Hayden I thought I'd read all of Torey Hayden's books (and I think I have most of them), but came across this in the give-aways at the library and it didn't look familiar. I can't ever read more than one Torey Hayden book in a row, as they can be too depressing. The author has received a certain amount of criticism for allegedly implying that she is perfect, "look at all the children she has saved." I don't think she comes across that way at all. She's honest about her failures, signs she's missed, etc., but yes, obviously she writes about cases where she was successful in her job with children with some pretty extreme special needs. I find HER encouraging, while the situations of some of the children make me very sad.

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett Despite the best efforts of several people, I haven't been able to get into Terry Pratchett, really. But this book was lying around (sort of...it's Marie's, and I was moving some of her stuff from one place to another and saw this and it appealed...) and I started reading it, and actually finished it. Neil Gaiman is apparently also famous, but I'd never heard of him. Surreal and very funny and thought-provoking, too.

Parker Twins Bundle: Cave of the Inca Re, Jungle Hideout, Captured in Colombia, Mystery at Death Canyon, Secret of the Dragon mark, Race for the Secret Code Jeanette Windle I think I started this last November or so. I got it (them?) free for the Kindle, and it's pretty much another case of getting what I paid for. I think the target age group is around 10-12 and they're certainly very easy reading, but I have nothing against well-written children's books. These aren't, particularly. There's a pair of twins who get to travel to South America with their uncle. In the first book they're in Peru and stumble across smugglers. Spoiler: the twins don't get murdered. (That's clear anyway, because there are five more books.) The smugglers also get caught. This is because the twins pray. In the second book, they're in...Bolivia, I think and they stumble across...hmm...some other lawbreakers. The lawbreakers get caught. The twins don't get murdered. This is because they pray. In the third book they stumble across drug smugglers. The smugglers get caught. The twins don't get murdered. This is because they pray. (Sorry, I know I'm giving away the whole and complete plot of each and every book here...) In the fourth book they're actually back in the U.S. They stumble across smugglers. The smugglers get caught. The twins don't get murdered. This is because they pray. In the fifth book they're also in the U.S. They stumble across a violent gang. The gang gets caught. The twins don't get murdered. This is because they pray. In the sixth book--PLOT TWIST--the boy twin doesn't pray. He gets tricked into doing stuff he shouldn't. This leads him to stumble across more illegal behavior. Finally, like a couple of pages before the end, he prays. So he doesn't get murdered and the bad people get caught. I don't really know why I finished these books, unless it was because I was reading them when I couldn't sleep...

I also read lots and lots of books to the children and don't feel like leaving my comfortable seat in the air conditioning (set at 28 Celsius) to look at the list in the living room, which isn't even a complete list. None of the books I read to them were books I hadn't read before, except maybe a few picture books from the library.