Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Back from Break! Review: A Plague of Unicorns, by Jane Yolen

I wish I could say I have spent the last few weeks reading, but that was not even remotely the case. While our holidays were enjoyable, they were also very busy! In addition to now having a close-to-Christmas birthday to celebrate, and Christmas (at the library, at home, at the fire department, etc., etc.) itself to celebrate, SOMEbody decided to throw in a wedding...


...which also took up just a little bit of time and energy. I did get a few minutes here and there to read, though, and finally have a few reviews to share with you:

A Plague of Unicorns
9780310746485

"Young James, the duke's son, asks too many questions. At least that's what everyone at Callender Castle thinks after all but the last of his tutors quits and his uncle ships him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey. 

Unfortunately, the once-beautiful abbey has problems of its own, including cracked walls, a leaking roof, and shattered stained-glass windows. Not to mention the pesky herd of unicorns that continues to enter the abbey's orchards and claim them as their own."

Okay, Jane Yolen is pretty much an automatic "Yes, please!" for any fantasy lover. This one is a quick and enjoyable read. Quick, that is, unless you are trying to read it while surrounded by children with more questions than James! The irony of being interrupted continually was not lost on me, and certainly caused me to identify quite well with the adults in the book.

Young James, while he doesn't actually appear until page 47, is of course the main character of the story, and is just as easy to relate to. From the time he is introduced, we view happenings from his precocious yet innocent just-turned-nine viewpoint, which is certainly not the same viewpoint of anyone else in the book, but which just may be the one that is needed.

Wow, was that a convoluted sentence - fortunately, Yolen is much better than I at the craft of writing, and readers of any age will enjoy the flow of words and the mental imagery they produce. Because of the age of the main character and the fact that it is such a quick read, I am putting it in with our middle grade fantasy. I may hand it off to readers who want to read a "big kid book" but who would lose steam on something like Enna Burning. I will also be showing it to certain adults who enjoy a book they can savor, and who appreciate a good wordsmith (yes, D. and K., I'm thinking of you). A good, solid purchase for any library!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

A year's worth of Facebook posts and pictures...

We rang out 2013 with song and dance:


And started 2014 with food:

JANUARY


Best friends!
Sheridan just called her brothers to a meeting at the dining room table, to discuss what they are going to do about the bad guys. Our jokes about her being World Dictator may not be that far off...
***
One of many things I never thought I'd be telling my 2 year old son. "Logan take your bra off so you can come eat dinner"

Why did we bother buying Christmas presents?

 My darling daughter: it's pisTon cup. The "t" is important. And it doesn't end in "ing".

All I did was suggest that it wasn't necessary to eat the second we woke up, and we could perhaps socialize for a bit, first. This is the look I got.

She used to fit here without bending!
Sheridan is doing one of those school papers where you have to help the kangaroo get through the maze to the koala by following the path littered with "k" sounds. Except, it's a kangaroo, right? So she lets it jump over the hedges around the path to get there much faster. I'm not going to tell her she's wrong!



Sheridan came running into the kitchen with her hand over her mouth, and told me cheerfully, "I'm pretending to throw up!" Then she retched into the trash can quite convincingly, complete with spitting at the end, and ran back out. Um...sounds like a fun game, honey.


 Daddy was about to compliment my lasagna...until I told him he had just eaten eggplant and squash. But, he did eat a big plateful before he found out:)


Sheridan is pretending to be a zombie. She asked Logan if he was a woman, and when he said "yes," she said, "Then I will eat your brains."

Dreaming of boobies...

 Sheridan, stalling at bedtime, asked Daddy to rub her back. He said okay, but "Just for a minute." She was happy, saying, "A minute is a long time!"
Daddy: "No, a minute isn't very long at all."
Sheridan: "But, when Grandma says 'just a minute', it takes a LONG time!"


Logan is breastfeeding a blue dinosaur.

 
Sheridan was just helping Christopher with his math homework. Seriously - the two he got wrong, she corrected
***
Daddy to Sheridan: "The reason I don't eat my vegetables is that they are very very good, and I like to save the very very good stuff for my children."

Man, his eyes are brown.
***
That little hole in the front of little boys' underwear is so confusing...especially when you already have trouble figuring out where your feet go...


Shane charmed everyone at his cardio check-up, and they are still happy with just monitoring him - back in four months!


From Grandma: "Sheridan's baby was sick when it popped out, so Logan mixed up some medicine for her. She thanked him for "being such a good helper for me this morning" and he said "Of course!" Now the baby is all better and they are going dancing. Missed this!"

and

"Logan just came up to me and very seriously informed me that he wishes he was a baby raccoon."

She's FOUR!

FEBRUARY

Me: "Logan, you need some clothes on before we go outside."
Logan: "I have socks!"

Oh, well, carry on, then.
***
 Logan: "You should go look in the mirror."
Sheridan: "I don't want to."
Logan: "Why not?"
Sheridan: "I already know how pretty I look!"

Started gymnastics - Mondays evenings with Mom or Dad.

When you walk into the kitchen and your 2yo greets you with, "I was eating nothing in the trash can."...

MARCH



From Grandma, at nap time: So far to my "I hear too much talking in there" I have gotten "I'm not talking, I'm thinking out loud" from one, and singing instead of talking from another. Going to be some real smart-ass teenagers, these Jones kids!


Cowboy Days at the Farm and Ranch Museum



Long, busy day!


Also from Grandma:

Have you been subjected to the phone calls Sheridan makes/gets where she is chewing somebody out - quite firmly. And Loudly. Whoever it is has "aggravated" her and she tells them to never never never call her again.


Then there's the ghost who left a mess. That went on ALL the way up the hill today. She told him to get his stuff and go out the door and just keep on walking up the mountain until he found a place to live and he had to live there forever and forever and never never come back again. Until she tells him to. That's one I wish I had recorded - it went on for the ENTIRE trip and I don't think she even took a breath. There was finger wagging and head shaking and the whole works. I think he tried to get a word in here and there (in a little squeaky voice) but she firmly cut him off every time.


So when is she going to develop an imagination?

***


First bath in the sink!


Trying to look at a spider, who wouldn't hold still:



Sheridan and Logan are playing "shopping". And of course they are shopping at Walmart:
Hey! How are you? I haven't seen you in a long time!

Fine. How are you?

Good. How are the kids?

Fine.

One of mine is sick. I'm getting some Sprite and games for her....

Mine aren't sick. I'm getting some books. For sharing. If they be bad I will take them away.

Oh, are they bad?

No. Not really. Just sometimes.

Well, I gotta go! See you around
.Bye.



Told the kids they did not need to be watching a video. So they showed me! They are sitting there pretending that they are watching a video. Snort. (Then they started fighting over which video they weren't watching.)


That's it, Mike Jones, no more country music. As I was dropping the kids off this morning, your middle son told me to "kiss this".
***
Picnic lunch for Daddy's birthday:


Sheridan just came out of the bathroom to show me what she is wearing. Stretch leggings, a Superman t-shirt...and my pink bra.


APRIL



BE IT KNOWN that on this, the 8th day of April, in the year of our Lord 2014, Mike Jones did freely and audibly praise his wife's spaghetti sauce, saying, to whit, "This is good stuff",

AND be it known, that said spaghetti sauce did contain a generous amount of SQUASH.


Logan, clutching a picture he colored: "Mommy, I made this for you. Don't poop or pee on it."


From Daddy's Facebook: "Her written instructions were very clear. "There is a ziplock in the bottom of the fridge with bok choy and leeks in it. Toss the whole thing in the crock pot"
Smells like melting plastic in here. Sure hope it tastes better then it smells!"


Sheridan (sliding on the floor in her socks): "Mommy, watch us skate!
Me: "Cool - but, don't fall."
Sheridan: "We don't fall."
(BAM!)
Sheridan: "But, sometimes we do."

Buzz, truck, dirt, scar - ALL boy!
*****
When someone belches "I love you", it takes away a bit of the sweetness



Sheridan is teaching Logan's baby doll subtraction using her Easter basket M&Ms #mykidsareweird

Sensing a theme of some sort...

MAY

Just back from our check-up with the cardiologist. Shane kept grabbing the wand away from the Echo tech and trying to eat her hand, but they finally saw enough to decide things are growing as they should. We go back in six months, and if everything is good then, we are done with them!


Well, I didn't accomplish all the cleaning I wanted to today, but at least I got the floor...oh...never mind.

Birthday boy! Eight years old!

***
Sheridan, playing with the human body Uncle Mike and Aunt Shannon got them for Christmas: "What part of the skeleton is this?" 
Me, totally guessing: "Lungs, maybe?"
Sheridan: pauses to consider it. "Probably the penis." Wanders away.



FYI: We have established that saying "Thank-you, maggot-heads" to the trash guys is not polite, no matter how you meant it. "Thank-you, piston cups" is, however, acceptable (however unintelligible.)

My college graduate!


Sheridan and Logan were pretending to give each other presents. After numerous attempts to say "birthday" instead of "birsday", Sheridan said "Look what he gave me for Christmas!" Problem solved.


Greeting his admirers after the final school program.

Logan beginning the morning extremely confused by the picture of the record on his shirt. Mommy trying to explain.
I...am...Ballerina Man! (name that movie!)
Logan was just playing with the refrigerator magnets, 'writing' words. He put three letters up and asked, "Mommy, what does this say?" 
"Hey, that's actually 'this' in Russian. I didn't know you knew Russian!"
Two more letters underneath the first. "What does this say?"
Hmm. "BS". So, basically, my 2-year-old just wrote, "This is bullsh*t" on my refrigerator.



Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. We aren't sure if they will want to come back.


Helping with the library remodel!

JUNE






Logan: "Mommy! You have a red shirt and I have a red shirt! We are wearing the same thing!"
Me: "Yep. Except...I am also wearing pants."
Logan: (looks down.) "OH!" Scurries off.


Sheridan and I were debating a grammar point at bedtime (doesn't everyone?) and she insisted Grandma had said her way was correct. I said I would have to e-mail Grandma to check on that, and she said, "You don't have to, I can do that right here." She whipped out her imaginary laptop, typed very seriously for a moment, stared at the 'screen', and announced that Grandma still said she was correct. Well. I guess if you can't trust imaginary technological communication, what can you trust?


Surprise! I wasn't really sleeping!


Just told Shane he was unreasonably adorable. And he belched in my face.


Told the kids there was a surprise outside. Waited until they were inspecting it and then turned the water on. Because, yes, I'm that kind of mom.

JULY




Yesterday's car conversation.

Sheridan: "Can a mountain lion run faster than a deer or an elk?"

Me: "Yes."
S: "Is a velociraptor faster than a mountain lion?"
Me: "Um...yes."
S: "But they're not faster than God!"
Me: "Uh...nope!"
S: "Mommy, what if God turned into a dinosaur? A girl dinosaur?"
Me: "Well, that would be interesting."
S: "What if a girl dinosaur and a boy dinosaur kissed?! Did dinosaurs kiss each other?"
Me: "Well, actually, I'm not..."
S: "Mommy, when a vampire bites your neck, does it hurt you?"
Me: "Um...yes. Oh, look, we're home!"




Pitting cherries takes on a slightly disturbing turn when it is being narrated. "Those are bad guys, and you are punching their hearts out. 'Oh, no, don't let me die! Aaaaaah!!!!'"


Three questions: 1 - What fool bought the children silly string? 2 - Why is Sheridan wearing her party dress to play with it? and 3 - Where are Logan's pants?

***
Sheridan, carrying her dinner plate and eyeing the broccoli: "Ohh, good, farts for supper!"
***






How do your feet get dirty when you don't even WALK yet?!

Good helpers!


Definitely my daughter - she has my morning hair!

Logan turned THREE!




Note to self: buy Sheridan a doll.

AUGUST

JAKES!






Special days with Sheridan...


Christopher...


...and Logan:












Kid has a camera for five minutes, and he's already taking selfies.




Christopher was in the parade today, with his 4H group, and the rest of us were watching. People on floats were throwing candy, and Sheridan and Logan were darting out to get it.

Until.


The little bitty princess riding on the car stopped in front of us...and my little lady's man decided he had to go out and give HER a piece of candy. I'm not sure if the little girl quite got what was going on, but her mother fell in love! I am in so much trouble...
















Two years, the child has been using scissors, with no issues. I guess every kid has to do it once...





SEPTEMBER





Me: "Sheridan, go potty."
Sheridan: "I don't need to go potty."
Me: "Well, you're sure acting like you do."
Sheridan: "I'm pretending."


Looking for all the "A"s





Kids are making wedding gifts for their Aunt and Uncle. Mike Segna andShannon Marling, I hope the color scheme for one of your rooms is "completely covered in glitter and foamy shapes".




OCTOBER

The dentist says Logan has a tongue tie, and it may affect his speech.



HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

*****

I can't IMAGINE why one of Shane's first words would be "Uh-oh!"



***

What's that sparkly thing on my daughter's left hand???!!! (Sheridan's outraged response: "There's no Hello Kitty on it!")


It is an hour and twenty minutes past bedtime, and Shane is blowing loud and enthusiastic zerberts into my upper arm.
***

(from Grandma, referring to Logan): 
We have gone from being sad and burying dead babies that wouldn't eat to:

Okay now, honey. We are going on a trip. Now don't be scared because it's dark outside. I will hold your hand and you will be just fine. I know it looks scary outside because you can't see and  everything looks scary, but I am right here. It's just the same as in the daytime, but you can't see stuff. I'll take care of you, Honey, so don't be afraid. We are going on a fun trip but we have to leave now in the dark. It's alright, don't worry. I will take good care of you.



(From Grandma)
S & L are sucking on their big toes while watching Harry Potter. "We are pretending we are sucking milk out of mommy's boobies." You'll be glad to know they are changing sides from time to time.
***
Logan: "I need help, my hands are full!"
Me: "So, put the ax down!"
***
Sheridan used her fingernails to scrape a Baby Jesus into each of her apple slices. Then she ate them.




I'm not sure what question Sheridan asked Mike Jones, but the answer was, "It depends on how much I poop." Sometimes it's best to just not ask.







Dear Darling Daughter: your lotion is not quite the same thing as Mommy's hair gel, and scrunching your hair with it will not result in bouncy curls. Sorry. Now, get in the tub.

***
Sheridan, playing with Logan: "We need to make more cookies. Come on, let's get in the oven." ‪#‎timetocheckonthekids‬
***
"Oh great. Oh Crud! Everybody - we need to go FAST! How do we do this? She can't stay in the airplane, she'll die! There's no food and no drinks, she'll die. WE NEED TO GET OUT NOW! AND FLY! JUUUUUUMP!!!!"
***
Burning question from Sheridan and Logan at lunch today. Why is it called White Grape Juice when it is made from green grapes and it is yellow?
And then they decided it looks more like pee, so they are calling it Pee Juice now.
***




And, the range of safe places to put things changes once again...





On the way to the library Fright Night yesterday:
Sheridan (dressed as Fancy Nancy) - "It's not fair. Logan (witch) and Shane (monster) can fly, but I can't"
Logan, earbestly ~ "But you look so pretty!"



Oh, goodie, Sheridan seems to have changed her costume, and is now going as "defiant teenager."




NOVEMBER












(from Grandma)

LIttlest Turd fell asleep on the way to the fire station, flirted outrageously while we were there including doing that tongue thing, tried to dismantle the little voting stand while I was voting, fell asleep on the way home, and is now zonked in the crib with no fussing! 



So, as a wee mousie, creeping into a warm house and finding it filled with cats is scary. Getting caught in a live trap is scary. Being released in the woods surrounded by children belting out "Let it Go" at the tops of their lungs...wee mousie didn't even want to come out of the trap!

***
Sheridan: "Why is Bradley in love with Mykela?"
Me: "Because she's awesome."
Sheridan: "He's in love with her because she's cute."


Well, yes, there's that, too!


From Grandma: I gave Christopher and his friend Matthew a set of walkie-talkies to play with in the yard. They are standing 20 ft. away from each other shouting into them. Guess I didn't need to put new batteries in them after all.

and


Sheridan: The apple pie is good, Gramma. Did you try some? You should have some after lunch too, with your coffee. I think you will like it. You are a Goooooood Cooooooker!"
Logan: This apple pie tastes like apples!
Shane: *eating noises*

***
Getting cold!





New bedroom for Christopher! Guess what the theme is...



He asked Santa for $169, and they were discussing what denominations it should come in.
Smart girl brought Santa cookies first!
Is it over YET?
Mixed some yogurt in with Scarlet's food to help her tummy. Have I mentioned how much Shane likes yogurt?
***
(from Grandma) 
Shane IS a Jones Kid. This morning Ami was trying to get him to say his newest word - "terrible" - and of course, he wouldn't. Later I was trying to get him to say Gramma - which normally he responds to with raspberries. Today he looked right at me, grinned that grin of his, and said very clearly "terrible!"
***
Sweet little brother, sharing his supper with Sheridan:



This morning in the car:
Logan: "Mommy, when we eat and drink and sleep, do we grow?"
Me: "Yep, you do."
Logan, somberly: "But when we eat babies, it doesn't count."




Um...???


***


Sheridan: "Logan, listen, this is very important. I want you to remember it...
When I die of old age, make sure I am buried with this."
(All 4-year-olds plan their own funerals, right?)
***
Christopher is so sweet. He came into Mykela's old room and spotted the were-dolphins-now-Superman dressers, and asked who they were for. I said, I don't know, could he think of anyone who was getting big and deserved a bedroom of his very own? He suggested Shane.
***
Kids were doing something they know they aren't supposed to. When I scolded them, they explained that they are playing babies, and therefor don't know any better.
***


"Let's play that Mommy threw us out in the yard all by ourselves in cold mud and we are naked and she only gave us one dirty blanket." I guess they were listening to my threats yesterday, after all.

Thanksgiving



Discussing a spice:
Sheridan - "I don't know what that is."
Logan - "I know what it is."
Sheridan - "What is it?"
Logan - "I am not going to tell you. I want you to learn."



Sheridan: "I want to be cremated."
Me: "Well, not until you're 100."
Sheridan: "Are you 100?"
Me: "No!"
Sheridan: "Are you ALMOST 100?"



Me: "No!!!"



hiding the matches now...








This morning, Logan was using lying on his belly on top of a throw pillow, pulling himself across the living room floor, gasping, "almost...there...almost...there!" Sometimes I know why they do things...and then there's times like this.

Mike Jones and I are reliving one of our first dates. You know, the one where the kid threw up all over. ‪#‎theromanceneverdies‬
***
Elk on a Shelf. Sigh.


Not quite a year old, and Shane is the Pesky Little Brother. Sheridan is yelling "Shane stop spitting on me!" and all I hear is very wet raspberries in response.
***
Shane, looking out the window at Bella: "Daw!"
Me: "Dog?"
Shane: "Yeah."



Oh, goody, my 1yo has taught me a word.



Library Christmas Program:






Christmas program:


From Grandma:
Made the kids blueberry pancakes & sausage patties for breakfast this morning. Figured on freezing the leftover pancakes for future use. Totally forgot that 8 Yr. Old Boy = No Leftovers!

My handsome mountain man: 

From Grandma: 

Sound from the dining room ~ CRASH!
Another sound from the dining room ~ Tiny little voice ~ "uh-oh"
Scene in the dining room ~ Littlest Boy under Littlest Tree, grinning That Little Grin.
***
How can he be one already?!




It ain't a redneck birthday unless everyone watches you take a bath.

Logan literally has two left feet today #buthecandresshimself
***

Logan and Shane had temps over 102, coughing and stuffy. Christopher is getting over it, coughing and weepy last night but no fever. Sheridan has a raging case of psychosomatosis, and was dosed H2O in a medicine cup to get her to go to bed and stop whining.

***