Weekly Update 32

Well, it’s been a productive couple of weeks, and I even got a little bit of reading done! I started the process of informing the school district that we were looking into getting IEPs for the kids. We may be jumping the gun a bit on M, whose impulse control issues have greatly increased this year (we’re still working on the attention aspect), but D still has pretty bad anxiety attacks when attempting to compose written work. I noticed that when she types, the anxiety is nonexistent. (I asked her if she felt better typing, and she said “no,” but that’s not what I was seeing.) The school counselor was a bit reluctant for M, but seemed willing to start a process for D.

Yesterday, the family all headed out to the Minnesota Ren Fest, and we had a great time. (We’re having our “adult” trip next weekend, so we can do stuff besides watch the kids on rides.) Then, at 10:30pm, I picked up my nephew, J, from Valleyfair. As I was driving through Savage, a cop with flashing lights zoomed by. As I entered Shakopee, two more zoomed by. I said to myself “they better not be headed towards Valleyfair!” Sure enough. As I turned through the entrance gate to Valleyfair, two more cop cars zoomed in. My final estimate is that there were about 30 squad cars there, from 5 different cities. There was also a police helicopter circling with it’s light shining down on us. Shortly after I arrived, they shut off the entrance so that the worried parents had to line up at the gate (pretty much pulled over on the shoulder of the highway) to pick up their kids. I was “lucky” to have arrived before they shut down the gate, so I got to sit in the mess and listen to all the rumors. Which were – several fights, stampedes, a stabbing, and a gunshot. (It turned out to be several fights and stampedes. No one was injured.) I was stuck there over an hour as I waited for J’s friends to be picked up – you know, I thought I’d try some adulting and stick around until they were all safe. But as J and I got in our car at the end of the ordeal, a cop came up to us and told us rudely it was time to “move on.” Really? Would he have rather I abandoned a bunch of teens for HIM to watch over? I’m sure most of the cops there were wonderful people, but that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

Still working on The Hate U Give and Hillbilly Elegy. I decided to pick up The Mars Room when it made the Booker Prjze shortlist. I was torn between it and The Overstory. But I’ll start with the short one first.






Weekly Update 29

Hi! I’m on family vacation in Oregon and having a delightful time. So far, I went to the beach, met some blogging friends in Portland, bought some books, and drove to the top of a mountain while the non-pregnant family members hiked. M was dragging by the end of the hike, but he made it up, and he got to ride in the car on the way down. He looks pretty proud of himself at the summit up there in the picture.

Next week, school starts and I will have more opportunity to read and keep up on my blogging. Last month I got behind on both because I was finally recovered from pneumonia and spent a lot of time cleaning and watching the kids.

Exercise this week:

I walked about 3 miles on Tuesday, did a lot of standing and strolling on a beach on Wednesday, and did a lot of standing and strolling at a mountain summit on Saturday. This doesn’t sound like much…but it’s a huge step up from nothing. Now that the kids will be in school, I hope to add a walk to most days. 😁

Currently Reading

The Hate U Give is for a bookclub meeting in October. I still need to finish some heavier books that I decided not to bring on the trip. Gulliver’s Travels is my current Well Educated Mind project book.


These are audiobooks that we have listened to on our intra-Oregon drives.


The bottom three are mine, top four are Aaron’s.

R.I.P. 13

I’ll participate in Readers Imbibing in Peril this year.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Dark Fantasy.

I will challenge myself with:

Peril the first:
Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (our very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Shirley Jackson or Tananarive Due…or anyone in between.

I will work on the Sherlock Holmes series, by Arthur Conan Doyle and the trilogy The Passage, by Justin Cronin.

Peril of the Short Story:

We are fans of short stories and our desire for them is perhaps no greater than in autumn. We see Jackson in our future for sure! You can read short stories any time during the challenge. We sometimes like to read short stories over the weekend and post about them around that time. Feel free to do this however you want, but if you review short stories on your site, please link to those reviews on our RIPXII Book Review pages.

I will read one short story a week from The Weird, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.

Peril on the Screen:

This is for those of us who like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows, or your favorite film. If you are so inclined, please post links to any R.I.P.-related viewing you do on our book review pages as well.

I will watch as much of the TV show Grimm as I see fit.

Weekly Update 27


Well, it’s been an eventful week. I had a bit of a reading slump last week, but I’m starting to recover. I was also able to get some house cleaning done, and am motivated to take a walk today, as I have no kids to watch. It’ll be my first walk in quite a while, and I’m looking forward to it.

Last week we went on a spontaneous trip to Wisconsin Dells. We camped at Jellystone Camping Resort (which was overcrowded and loud) and headed off to the huge water park Noah’s Ark the next day. M and D loved Noah’s Ark, though M didn’t want to ride any of the slides, and spent most of the time in the wave pool; which was fine by me, since I’m pregnant and couldn’t ride the slides, anyway. This is the first time the kids have ever been camping (besides in their backyard), so it was a bit of an adventure.

The big event this week is that my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s not a huge surprise, since her memory has been bad for a while – what was surprising is to find out she had been diagnosed since February, and I never knew. I guess my sister and I are going to have to watch her medical situation a lot more closely.

Above is a picture from my niece L’s 3rd birthday party. They grow so fast!

Currently Reading

Currently Reading



On the road trip, we listened to the first two books in the How to Train Your Dragon series, while D read along in the actual book. She was thrilled to be “reading” as fast as she was, and I think that it is a good lesson in speed reading above her reading level. And comprehension is still good, since she’s listening at the same time.






Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan


Summary:Β In this allegorical novel, a pilgrim named Christian travels a journey in which he loses the heavy weight of his sins, is tempted to sin again, and eventually reaches paradise.

My thoughts: I’m not sure why this is the most printed book in English, other than the Bible. I love allegory generally, but this allegory beat you over the head with obviousness. Everyone and everything was given a name (like Christian) that said explicitly what the character or impediment represented. The story itself was interesting enough, I suppose, as a concept, I just wish it were more subtle. This is also not a book for non-Christians, unless they are reading for the sake of learning about classic literature.

3 and half snowflakes

This is my analysis using the method proposed by Susan Wise Bauer in The Educated Mind. It will contain spoilers.Β 

πŸ‘½What is the most central life-changing event?

Meeting with Evangelist after discovering the prophecy that his city would be destroyed by fire was the life-changing event which lead Christian on his journey. Evangelist told Christian what path to follow to lead to paradise.

πŸ‘½Am I transported? Do I see, feel, and hear this other world?

Not really. It all felt a little flat because of the obviousness of the allegory.

πŸ‘½Can I sympathize with the people who live there? Do I understand their wants and desires and problems? Or am I left unmoved?

Yes, I understood exactly what was wanted by each character, as they were named after their characteristics.

πŸ‘½Is this a fable or a chronicle?

This novel is a fable. It represents a spiritual journey rather than actual events.

πŸ‘½What does the central character want? What is standing in his or her way? What strategy is pursued to overcome this block?

Christian would like to reach paradise, but it often led astray by temptation and hardships.

πŸ‘½Who is telling you this story? Is this person reliable?

The story is third person limited. It told exactly what was happening to Christian (allegorically), but did not tell the thoughts of the other characters.

πŸ‘½Where is the story set?

The story is set in a fantastic land which Christian has to traverse in order to reach paradise. It is filled with both glorious and horrible things. It is a universe that cares deeply about Christian, whether its motivations are to lead him astray or to encourage him to reach paradise.

πŸ‘½Images and metaphors:Β Are there any repeated images? If so, is this a metaphor, and if so, what does it represent?

I’d say the most repeated image is the cross and the savior – but every character and impediment that Christian comes across is a metaphor.

πŸ‘½Β Does the end have a resolution or a logical exhaustion?

Christian eventually reaches paradise, which is the resolution to his problems.

πŸ‘½Do you sympathize with the characters? Which ones, and why?Β Did the author choose characteristics to make a statement about the human condition?

I guess I sympathized with the character in the sense that I would not like to burn in Hell. πŸ™‚ Yes, every character and impediment in the story made a statement about the human condition. The human condition was represented as destined for destruction unless a straight and narrow path were followed to the safety of paradise.

πŸ‘½Does the author’s technique give you a clue as to her argument: her take on the human condition?Β 

Oh yes, it does. The human condition is pounded into the story with hammer and ax.

πŸ‘½Is the novel self-reflective?

Yes. This story represented the struggles that Bunyan went through in his younger years (and expected to go through in his later years). At first, he struggled to see the goodness of God, but eventually repented his feelings of sin and moved on to a life that he hoped would lead to paradise.

πŸ‘½Is there an argument in this book? If so, do you agree?

The argument to the book is that if you don’t follow a straight and narrow path, you will not be led to paradise. As a Christian, I believe it is true for myself, but I do not judge those who follow other religions or no religion at all. That is their choice, and I believe that, for the most part, that choice is right for them.


Weekly Update 26

ball ball shaped blur color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Posting this a bit early in the week since I didn’t get one last week, and (mostly) I wanted to get a picture posted so it had a url I could use elsewhere. πŸ™‚

The past week and a half have been mostly uneventful. I have not had much time to read, and I am concerned that will continue for the rest of the summer, but reading will perk up again once the kids are back in school. There was some drama here and there, but nothing worth mentioning in a public place. My garden is getting overrun by weeds again, but the tomatoes and peppers are coming along beautifully. Now that I am feeling well again, I’m hoping to catch up on weeding.

I had another appointment for the unborn baby, and he is cooking up quite nicely as well. πŸ™‚

This Saturday, I have my first Twin Cities Classics Club meeting – a group I started myself on Meetup. We will be discussing Fahrenheit 451. Wish me luck in my discussion- leading

Currently Reading

Currently Reading





How to Read the Bible, Chapter 6 by James L. Kugel


In Chapter 6, Kugel writes about Abraham leaving his homeland, as ordered by God. He is said, in the Bible, to be blessed.

Ancient Interpretation

The question the ancient interpreters asked is why was Abraham so special? They figured he must have stopped worshiping the gods of his homeland and begun to worship the one true God. He was therefore the first monotheist (in their view – modern scholars believe that Zoroastrianism was actually the first monotheistic religion). But why did he stop worshiping the other gods. Possibly because he realized that the other gods made so little sense. Why was a year 365.25 days instead of a nice round number (as was known in Mesopotamia at the time)? Certainly a god would have chosen a more round number.

One ancient interpreter, Philo (c. 20BCE 0 c. 50BCE ), believed that Abraham also had an allegorical meaning: that he symbolizes any soul looking for God.

Modern Interpretation

Modern interpreters are having trouble agreeing whether Abraham really existed or not. Many scholars believe that Abraham is an etiological explanation for why the Jews are entitled to the Promised Land. But there is archaeological evidence that the cities that Abraham traveled through did, actually exist.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4