A Poor Excuse For a Dragon, by Geoffrey Hayes

When Fred the dragon leaves mom and pop dragon to venture out and make something of himself, his parents give him a simple list of success strategies. But they all go awry.

With cute plot and pictures, this is a wonderful little book. It is intended as a “step 4: reading paragraphs” book, for which purpose I think it is well suited. I used it to introduce my 4yo to having paragraphs read to him, and it worked swimmingly for that, too. He loved looking at the pictures and was attentive to the story.

Simon and Chester Super Sleepover, by Cale Atkinson

In this graphic novel, Chester is invited to a slumber party. Being a shy introvert, he doesn’t know what to do at the party, but feels he has to go. Meanwhile, his ghost friend Simon has to pass an inspection which grades his ability to haunt. They decide to help each other out by giving rather silly advice.

This was a cute and funny book, appropriate for younger readers. I’d say a 7 or 8 year old could read it, and my 4 year old enjoyed listening to it and seeing the pictures.

Puss in Boots

In the first Puss in Boots movie, Puss forms a team with a friend from childhood and the thief Kitty Softpaws to steal some magic beans.

This movie is cute and hilarious. Even my attention-deficit 4 year old enjoyed it. It really stood the test of time, too.

In this follow-up movie released 11 years later, Puss is on his 9th life. He decides to retire, but can’t resist one last adventure. He joins a nameless, friendless Chihuahua and his bygone friend Kitty Softpaws to get the wish of a lifetime.

Fantastic follow-up! Sequels are rarely as good as the original movie, but I think this one did a good job! I loved what they did with Puss, and this was my 4 year old’s first theater movie – he mostly sat through it!

Update January 21, 2023



Not much happened on Saturday. Aaron and I took IL4 to open swim at his swim school. He loved that.


Sunday was an easy day. I spent most of it reading.


Monday was messy. I had lots of plans, most of which did not come to fruition. Then at the end of the day, I discovered lice in my hair…again. We have been battling these lice since early September, and lost every battle. I gave up and shaved my head. So did D13. In fact, we just shaved everyone.

Has anyone here read War and Peace? It covers a historical moment in 1812 (yes, America, your war wasn’t the only world event) when  Napoleon was attacking Russia with cavalry and foot soldiers in winter. They were out of provisions, having not predicted that Russia might be cold. They assumed that when they got to Saint Petersburg, they could restock the provisions.

The Russians predicted this. They burnt Saint Petersburg to the ground. So… Napoleon’s army had no provisions and had to turn around and glumly starve while marching back to France.

Think of our family as the Russians and the lice as the French. Starving to death because they have no hair to hold on to. We lost the battle, but we will win the war.


Tuesday, I picked a wig out on Amazon. My friends Todd and Alex talked me out of getting a long ass auburn one that would have made me look like Rowena from Supernatural. So instead I chose an ash blonde one, since Alex informed me I had warm skin tone, and wigs.com informed me that ash blonde or ash brown would bring out my skin color best. My natural hair is brown, so I decided to shake it up with blonde.

I took a mental health day that day. Watched some MrBallen on YouTube. Then some Whose Line is it Anyway? on HBO.


Wednesday, I was to send IL4 to special education on the bus from home for the first time. He yelled and screamed when I tried to put on his winter gear, so I took him outside jacket-free. We sat hugging for warmth on the porch for about 15 minutes, when I suddenly realized the bus really didn’t seem to be coming.

I dropped him at school (now wearing his jacket, since he was cold), and called Transportation. They said the bus had arrived early and left early, and they’ll have a talk with the driver. 🤷‍♀️

After special education, I took IL4 to occupational therapy. The therapist said she really suggested switching to the Children’s hospital, as that was only a half hour drive, and Park Nicollet was an hour drive. I pointed out that going two times a week to Minneapolis wasn’t really better than going once a week to Maple Grove. We agreed that he should wait until June when a closer Park Nicollet location opened up. I will discuss the urgency with his Doctor at his upcoming well-child visit.


Thursday was low-key. I got some reading and writing done. The kids picked up their scripts for the Willy Wonka play.


Friday was also a relaxing day. I went to the library with D13 and got 5 books for IL4. Aaron and M10 left for Cub Scout camp. They left for 20 minutes, and returned for M10’s meds. Then 20 minutes after that, I called him to say M10 had also forgotten his clothes. 🫣

M10 reading

  • The Coming of Hooole, by Kathryn Lasky

D13 reading

  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T Kingfisher


  • 1 letter Maine Department of Corrections
  • 1 letter Michigan Department of Corrections
  • 1 letter Virginia Department of Corrections
  • 1 letter Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
  • 1 letter Texas
  • 1 letter Michigan

Week’s Photos

Media Partaken In

3.25 hours left – Complete
45.25 – 35.5 hours left
Pg 28 – 87
5.25 – 0.75 hours left
Lecture 18 – 19
Lectures 21 – 22
Pg 88 – 135
Podcast Episodes 1 – 3
Season 1, episodes 1-5
Season 2, episodes 5 – 8
36.25 – 28.75 hours left



This is Aaron’s 3rd Christmas puzzle

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, by Moniquill Blackgoose

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for providing a galley copy of this book

In this fantasy world, the Anglish have overtaken the lands of an indigenous people, and are bent on either exterminating or civilizing them (depending on political party). Anequs is an indigenous girl who lives peacefully on her island – isolated from the Anglish. Then she sees a dragon lay, and abandon, an egg. She brings the egg back to her village, where it hatches. The hatchling chooses Anequs as its person.

Anequs is pressured into going to a school for dragoneers run by the Anglish. There, she learns to shape her dragon’s breath, but has to deal with racism and culture shock.

This was a fantastic first book. The story was typical of the school-for-magic sub-genre, but is really impactful in its depiction of how indigenous peoples were/are treated when entering “civilized” culture. Instead of being a super special someone, Anequs is just an average indigenous girl, struggling to find her way amid the politics of a foreign culture.

I felt that there were some improvements that could have been made – things that will likely correct themselves as the author becomes more seasoned. For one, she spends too many words describing the intricacies of the science/magic she has developed. It is beautifully organized and inventive, but uses a lot of words that are not English, and therefore make some heavy reading.

However, I really loved this book despite that shortfalling. It was creative, fun, and culturally sensitive / informative. I appreciated the characterization. It is also an LGBTQ+-friendly book on top of all that. I am certainly going to watch out for the next book in the series.

Update January 14, 2023



Saturday was a good day, though it buzzed by so fast it felt out of control. First, I played D&D – which resulted in an embarrassing mommy fail in which IL4 tried to tell me he needed the potty, and I was in the middle of something, so I said “so go.” I assumed it wasn’t an emergency #2, but it was. Poor IL4 was so embarrassed. 😭🫣😱 BIG TIME mommy fail.

Then M10, IL4, Aaron and I went to Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. That was IL4’s first theater movie, and he did great. He loved the reclining chairs (yes, he was going up and down the full movie, but no one was behind us, so it’s cool). He had to leave twice – once for a refill (I don’t know how he knew that was a possibility) and once for the potty.


Sunday was a calm day. I finished reading To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, by Moniquill Blackgoose.


Monday was frustrating. I had 3 appointments for the kids. One turned out to be recorded in the calendar wrong, so we missed it, which is fine, since the appointment that I thought was right before it went an hour longer than expected.

On top of that, M10 got grounded for lying. He was promised McDonald’s if he ate his breakfast. He didn’t finish his breakfast, so I told him he needed to eat his snack. He didn’t finish his snack, but let me believe he had. So he got McDonald’s. Then, when I found the unfinished snack, I told him he needed to eat it before getting his tablet time. He tried throwing it away, thinking we wouldn’t see. (Mind you, it was food he liked, but as usual, his eating disorder was keeping him from feeling hunger.) Then he lied, and said he hadn’t thrown it away, despite Aaron seeing him do it. 🤷‍♀️


Tuesday was interesting. My friend had a court date that I was witness at.

Basically, he had gotten Suboxone from several sources because he had to switch narcotics programs due to transportation issues. His large-organization health system, seeing that he had gotten a controlled substance (Suboxone) from a few different doctors, put a hold on him so he could only get prescriptions from one pharmacy and all prescriptions had to be ok’d by his primary care physician (thus slowing them down.)

This was tough for him because he needed two pharmacies – one for urgent use and one for bubble wrapping his many prescriptions (for a variety of issues). Since he couldn’t keep track of all his meds, the bubble-wrappibg was necessary. He appealed to the state.

Although I knew that the hold had hurt rather than helped, and although I knew that he had had justification for the way things had gone down with switching narcotics programs, I didn’t think his appeal would amount to anything – no one cares about addicts, after all.

However, the person representing the health company made such stupid arguments! She argued that he’d been to 5 clinics in 3 months, and 5 ER visits, and thus was misusing the system. The clinics were: eye doctor, endocrinologist, psychiatrist and the two narcotics clinics. Umm. He’s not allowed to go to specialists now? As for the ER visits, 3 were for suboxone (the first narcotics program required ER visits at first – part of their program). The representative from the health company argued this was misuse of the ER because he was not admitted to the hospital.

I argued that if I had chest pain and went into the ER, and was told it was not a heart attack, by her logic I had misused the ER. The arbitrator seemed to agree, and asked her for the legal definition of misuse of ER. She said: “Well, I’ve never been asked that before,” as if that should excuse her from answering.

That wasn’t the only humongous hole in her logic, but I won’t go into all of them.

Also on Tuesday, the older kids auditioned for a Willy Wonka production at a local children’s theater. They both did great!


Wednesday was an e-learning day because the roads were terribly icy. It was also the first day of a new schedule where IL4 stays home from daycare on Wednesday and Friday because he has so many appointments I figured he wasn’t getting the educational benefits of those days.

We had taken wifi away from M10’s school iPad because he kept smuggling it downstairs and watching YouTube all night. I had told him he would have to walk to the library if he needed to do homework. 🤷‍♀️ So this was a test of my resolve.

I had already promised IL4 we could go to the library, and he remembered. I thought it would be funny to make M10 walk and then drive past him honking and laughing, but I decided that would be juvenile.

Anyway, at the library D13 wanted to get a new library card, because hers had expired. IL4 really wanted one too. So I told him that he could get one next time if he helped me check out a book, because he didn’t help me today (he was busy trying to smuggle out a toy).

He immediately ran into the aisles, grabbed a book, and handed it to the librarian. I said “Oh, I’ll put that back, sorry.” She scanned it and said “No, you’ll like this one. Your card?” 🤣😂 I was played by a 4yo and a librarian.


Thursday I filled out a ton of paperwork and then played family D&D.


Nothing much happened on Friday. I had fun things planned with IL4, but when I took him to speech therapy he threw a 45 minute temper tantrum. So I decided he wasn’t in the mood to leave the house. We made some hot and sour soup and lemonade together, though.

Read to IL4

  • Dino Thanksgiving, by Lisa Wheeler
  • The Bad Seed, by Jory John & Pete Oswald
  • The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, by Joe Troiano & Susan Banta
  • Grumpy Monkey Oh No Christmas, by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang
  • Pete the Cat I Love my White Shoes, by Eric Litwan & James Dean
  • Grumpy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard
  • The Pup Speaks Up, by Anna Jane Hays &Valeria Petrone
  • Simon and Chester Super Sleepover!, By Cale Atkinson
  • Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice, by Steve Metzger & Laura Bryant
  • Ganesha’s Sweettooth, by Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes
  • Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse, by Jonathan Stutzman & Heather Fox
  • Llama Destroys the World, by Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox.
  • Dog on a Frog?, by Kes & Claire Gray & Jim Field
  • Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons
  • The Berenstain Bears and The Truth, by Stan & Jan Berenstain

M10 reading

  • The Coming if Hoole, by Kathryn Lasky
  • Avatar: The Lost Scrolls Water

D13 reading

  • When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller
  • Amari and the Night Brothers, by B B Alston
  • The Misadventures of Max Crumbly (Books 2 & 3), by Rachel Renee Russell
  • Amari and the Great Game, by B B Alston


  • 1 letter Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
  • 1 letter Texas

Week’s Photos

Media Partaken In

93.5% – 100%
Pg 52 – 88
Episode 3
Lecture 17
Pg 1 – 28
Lecture 20
36.5 – 36.25


Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya

Cooks: D13 and Rachel; Recipe Source: Darryl M.


2 bunches chopped green onions (or 3-4 large shallots)
2 celery stalks chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups UNCOOKED rice (I use Ben’s Original Parboiled Rice…I think the brand makes all the difference)
1 can beef broth
1 can French onion soup
1 can tomato soup or sauce (depending on which flavoring you like better)
3/4 stick butter
2 lbs chopped smoked Andouille sausage
2 lbs chopped cooked chicken


Preheat oven to 350⁰.
Spray Pam or olive oil on a 9×13 glass baking dish.
Combine all ingredients in the dish and cover with foil.
Bake for 1.5 hours at 350⁰ stirring at midpoint (45 minute mark).
Add Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken can be canned, baked, grilled, rotisserie, etc. Can add raw shrimp too or sub shrimp for sausage or chicken (if using shrimp, peel them and don’t put them in until the last 45 minutes so they do not overcook). All canned ingredients are regular size (Campbell brand) soup cans. When placing the butter in the dish I cut it into tablespoons and strategically place around the dish so it does not all land in one spot.

Darryl’s notes

DO NOT use anything other than Ben’s Original Rice in this recipe!! My brother made it with Carolina Rice once, and it was a complete disaster.

• I made it with chicken and shrimp one year, and I HATED it! I think sausage and shrimp, or shrimp alone, would be fine.

• For the chicken I use boneless skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and lightly coated in extra virgin olive oil, then cooked at 425⁰ for 8 minutes on each side. I also dislike rotisserie chicken!

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Cook: M10 and Rachel. Recipe Source


cup butter
cup packed brown sugar
can (20 oz) pineapple slices in juice, drained, juice reserved
jar (6 oz) maraschino cherries without stems, drained
box Betty Crocker™ Super Moist™ Yellow Cake Mix (we used angelfood cake)
Vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box


Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). In 13×9-inch pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice, and arrange remaining cherries around slices; press gently into brown sugar.

Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Make cake batter as directed on box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.

Bake 42 to 48 minutes (44 to 53 minutes for dark or nonstick pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Place heatproof serving plate upside down onto pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake 5 minutes so brown sugar topping can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Store covered in refrigerator.