Category Archives: Writing

The Surprising Difficulty of Choosing Children’s Furniture

 

Being in my mid-twenties, I now have a lot of friends with children of varying ages, and it always surprises me how involved every single aspect of parenting is. My friends are criticized for working, then they’re criticized for staying home. They’re told they don’t spend enough time with their friends anymore, but also shamed for taking advantage of people’s offers to babysit.

It’s no surprise that parenting is tough, but sometimes difficulties and stress come in surprising places. Like decorating. Choosing children’s furniture is a very involved process. First and foremost, you have to consider safety. Cribs and carseats have safety standards, but once you get into big-kid beds, or finding chairs that they can get into but won’t topple over, but also gives them room to grow, things get complicated.

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Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Science Fiction and Historical Fiction are both genres that I’ve always enjoyed but never become super invested in. I really like what I’ve read, but I won’t become obsessed with the genre and dedicate myself to 20-book world-building sci-fi series. So when I was reading a profile about Octavia Butler and her book Kindred, I was immediately interested. A one-off about a woman from the 70s who is transported through time and space to a slave plantation in the 1800s? That sounds amazing!

And it was.

I don’t want to spoil a lot. But I will say this is a great look at a lot of different aspects of America’s history pertaining to slavery. It shows different peoples’ perspectives of the time, and shows how people can become accustomed to just about anything if they need to do so to survive. It also shows how book-knowledge of a subject doesn’t necessarily translate to a real-world understanding. It questions judgements that people make about people in certain situations. It also highlights the dangers of going back in time for anyone who isn’t a white man.

Just a note, some people qualify this as science fiction, because that is largely what Butler wrote. She argued with that designation, because it has very little science in it. But it does involve (unexplained) time travel, so I would probably consider it at least of interest to those who like science fiction- as not all science fiction explains the science necessary for the fiction to happen.

Overall, this was a great book and I will definitely be reading more of Butler’s work.

Review: The Bullies of Wall Street

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In my massive accumulation of books when Hastings closed, I found an interesting book called “The Bullies of Wall Street: This is How Greed Messed up Our Economy”by Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC.

I grabbed this without really looking into it, because I have my own opinions on our economy and I wanted to see an expert’s perspective. I didn’t realize this is a children’s book, meant to explain the economic collapse of 2009 (and surrounding years) to kids.

Overall, I think this book does a great job of introducing kids to financial terms and concepts. The first section shows fictional anecdotes of how children and their families were affected by the collapse, and then explains the economical factors that led to their situations. All of these stories have a happy ending, which I thought was unnecessary, but I understand why that choice was made.

The section of the book I enjoyed the most was where Bair talks about her time as head of the FDIC. She explains several key positions and entities, as well as how parts of the legislative process works. This is definitely written with her opinions as the main bias, but I feel she stays pretty neutral about many things. She talks about how she disagreed with certain people and policies, but also saw some reasoning in what they did. She also explains that a lot of differences stem from priorities. She felt the FDIC needed to protect consumers, while others felt that protecting banks would lead to better outcomes for consumers. I remember some of the bank buyouts she refers to and it was very interesting to find out more information about the behind-the-scenes happenings.

I think this book would be great for educating kids and refreshing adults on many financial and economic concepts. I didn’t learn a lot of new information in terms of broad knowledge, but I did learn some things about specific banks and government officials that I didn’t know. I thought this was informative and interesting, while being a very easy, accessible read.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

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I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King. I own a lot of his books, as my husband’s mom buys them for us all the time, but both of us have only read a few. I’ve read On Writing and The Shining, and now The Gunslinger.

The Gunslinger is the first book in King’s Darktower Series. I think this is the closest King ever really gets to sci-fi. King intended Darktower to be an epic, his magnum opus, and it certainly is impressive in scope.

This first book does not explain a lot about the world it takes place in, but it does give the reader enough information so that they’re not confused. It’s a great beginning, and it really does just set the stage for the rest of the books. I’ve heard that the first 4 books are the best, so I will definitely be reading all of those, but I don’t know yet whether I’ll finish the series, which I’ve heard drags on a bit in the later books.

They’re making a Gunslinger movie, and I really wish they were making a miniseries instead. The sections of the book are really each their own scene, each of which would make a great episode of its own in a series.

King sets the scene really well visually, and characterizes Roland really well while still keeping a lot of details in the dark. I read the original version, but I would probably recommend reading King’s edited version, where he fixed a few inconsistencies. The world the book takes place in has some references to our own, especially in the form of Beatles songs, but technology is very different and for the most part lacking. There is also a bit of magic and some references to gods/supernatural beings. For the most part, this book shows us this world, but none of the “why things are the way they are”. I imagine much of that will come later.

If you like fantasy and you haven’t read The Darktower series, I would definitely recommend checking it out, as it’s really engaging and interesting.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

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I don’t buy a lot of books full price. This isn’t because I don’t value them. It’s because as good as my intentions are I don’t tend to read books I buy for a very long time. So by the time I read it, it will be available in used book stores for a lot less. And I like supporting used book stores. But I also like supporting authors, so when it comes to small presses and debut authors, I try to buy books full-price. Otherwise, if I see a new book I’m interested in, I usually file it away for future used bookstore hunts.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a book I saw in Hastings many times before I purchased it. I think it caught my eye because of the cover. It’s a pretty blue book with a fun, eccentric looking illustrated woman’s face on it. The synopsis was fun. But I wasn’t going to pay Hastings prices for it.

Until Hastings went out of business, that is. I have a lot of (mostly negative) thoughts about mega-media stores like Hastings. I did not feel bad at all taking advantage of their closing sale clearance prices.

(There won’t be spoilers in this review) Read the rest of this entry

Ghosting vs. Releasing

Today we have a guest post from W.M Chandler! She writes about the importance of cutting loose toxic relationships while recognizing that not all conflict is toxic.

We have all experienced relationships that did not serve us in a positive way, whether it was a family member that only caused turmoil, a malicious friend or a narcissistic significant other. Letting go of a relationship to better your mental state can be both empowering and jarring for both parties.

When evaluating your relationships, it is important to recognize the difference between long-lasting negative feelings and an exclusive instance that may have an opportunity to be remedied. This is the difference between the need to release a person from your life and simply “ghosting” on a relationship that might have been only temporarily soured. Read the rest of this entry

Gamifying Home school for Older Children

Today I’ve got a new article up about gamifying home school for older kids! Whether you’re familiar with gamification or not, this piece gives some ideas about how to incorporate it into a home school environment!

Taking Your Gardening Underground

If you’re looking for ways to keep your family self-sustainable through the winter, check out this article I wrote for Right to Thrive! It goes into some of the basics of building underground greenhouses where you can plant your produce year round!

How “Fire Touched” by Patricia Briggs gets personal agency right

 

fire-touchedIf you haven’t read any of Patricia Briggs’ books, I highly recommend them. They are fantasy books set in basically our world, but with werewolves, fae, and other magical creatures that humans are aware of, if not completely in the loop about the extent of their powers.  And being set in the Pacific Northwest, there’s lots of cool landscape and locational shout-outs to the region!

“Fire Touched” is the 9th book in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a mechanic who can shapeshift into a coyote and was raised (and now lives with) werewolves. She is also friends with vampires and fae, though the magical beings don’t usually get along with other types of magical beings. All sorts of drama between vampires, werewolves, humans, fae, and witches ensues.

In “Fire Touched” Mercy is asked to protect a human child who has magical powers because he was trapped by the fae for hundreds of years. So yes, he is not actually a child, but he looks like one and has not really developed social or life skills beyond that of a child.

I don’t want to spoil too much, and I can’t go into to many details without spoiling important events in the series for those who haven’t started it, but there’s one major thing that stuck out to me in this book and that is personal agency.  Read the rest of this entry

Organizing Cupboards

My husband and I are pretty good about keeping our home clean. He keeps the kitchen pretty spotless (so I have something to mess up when I cook), and does the laundry, while I tend to focus on keeping the crap (okay, MY crap) from piling up in the common rooms. If my craft-room mess is contained to the craft room, we’re looking pretty good.

But there are definitely places in our home that suffer from lack of organization. Our bathroom shelves are pretty disheveled, with body care products thrown up there with no regard for order. We also have a couple of “junk drawers” in our kitchen that are pretty frustrating to dig through when we’re looking for miscellaneous items. Read the rest of this entry