Worth the read: The Gone Series by Michael Grant

The first book in the Gone series by Michael Grant has been out for over a decade but, if you have a young boy who struggles to love reading, I always point parents to these books.

Told from a young man’s perspective, the story is incredibly engaging from page one. It’s like watching episodes of survivor, but everyone over the age of fifteen is gone. Fractions form from the kids left behind but there is a solid dome barrier keeping them inside, even those too young to help themselves. They all must learn to work together or they all will die. Every book in this series is fast paced. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Click on the link below to be directed to the first six book box set on Amazon.

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Lemonade, lemonade, lemonade

I don’t like to speak ill of my husband, but if the man has a fault, it’s the fact that he’s an engineering perfectionist. It took him three weeks to lay the bathroom tile in our basement. Though I would challenge any person to find a more perfectly level and perfectly spaced flooring, part of me was dying for him to just get it done. But sometimes, even when you go slow, the meticulous planning can go awry.

We spent the last weekend creating a framework for cement stairs that will be part of a larger pour for a driveway on the side of our house. The moment he went to his CAD program and starting drawing out plans with exact measurements for the width and depth of the treads needed to fit the space, I squelched a sigh and put my “be patient” hat on. What I was asking of him wasn’t just a simple set of stairs, but ones that would have to be molded out of the cement pad for several feet as it dropped to the other previously poured cement pad below, so I knew this careful approach of his was necessary.

After several hours, we finally get to the point were we are building the structure out of the wood supplies we bought. All is going well, his meticulously measured angles of the side boards line up perfectly. We assemble the treads and place it in the space where the steps will be. Stepping back, he realizes there is a problem in the design. I can see his teeth gritting so I remind him.

“Lemonade, honey. We can figure this out.”

During the process of trying to fix the issue, a weak point in the supporting framework snaps.

“It’s okay, lemonade” I say.

Then the other supporting framework snaps in the same place.

If you’ve ever dealt with an introvert, you’ll find they have a very high threshold before their temper kicks in, but once it goes…oh brother, those pieces of wood were going to die.

“Honey, calm down, we can still make this work. Lemonade, lemonade, lemonade.”

As my husband storms into the house growling to find some other tool, our youngest son asks me. “Why do you keep saying lemonade?”

I smile. “It’s an old expression. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Though the project didn’t go as his perfectly laid plans promise, he was eventually able to make lemonade out of the many lemons. It just took a little ingenuity on his part, and he’s got that in spades. The stairs will be lovely.

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Just another day…

My oldest sister told me this week that she hated Mother’s Day. At first, I thought that was a pretty strong reaction for such a neutral, safe holiday. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to shoot some extra love to the woman who gave birth to you?  But as she continued talking about how it only reminded her that our mother was dead, I started to realize I felt the same way. Not that I was going to glare at everybody who might wish me happy Mother’s Day, I realized I hadn’t celebrated the holiday since my mother passed over five years ago. I hadn’t remembered to send out a card to my mother-in-law in years, nor do I want my husband and children to get me anything.

It’s little moments like these that make me realize that although time has marched on since her passing, my attempt to be outwardly stalwart about the whole thing hasn’t stopped my subconscious from pitching a fit on the floor. I can honestly say it wasn’t an intentional thought to never celebrate Mother’s Day again. I guess my heart just couldn’t get behind it anymore, so my mind decided to forget it even existed.

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Learning is not a spectator sport

This weekend, as per usual around here, was full of hard labor. Until our yard is complete, there will be many, many more weekends like those. However, some of the hardest labor was eased by the use of a skid steer we borrowed from my husband’s brother.

In the middle of our “leveling the ground” project, our youngest ran up to the skid steer and asked his father if he could drive it. I said nothing and wasn’t even surprised when my husband said yes. After watching my oldest child drive the tractor on the farm since he was eight years old, letting our youngest drive a different piece of heavy equipment at twelve wasn’t even shocking.

This is probably my husband’s greatest gift to our children. His endless patience with our children allows them to try all kinds of things, even scary, deadly things like saws and other power tools. Yes, their initial attempts often mean mistakes. Mistakes that could be avoided if my husband would just do it himself, but he won’t. It’s in those moments I have to remind myself that nobody can really learn anything just by watching. And when I think about all the things my children have actually learned to do on their own–change oil in a car, wire and electrical plug, shovel with some mad skills–I can see the proof that my husband’s do-it-for-yourself approach has been a very wise one.

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Another benefit of the lockdown

As I’ve discussed before, this homeschooling thing has been a real challenge for me. But, there is one area that I’ve actually enjoyed–my daughter’s American Sign Language class. A long time ago, we’re talking decades, I was an interpreter of the deaf. I haven’t had the opportunity to really use it much, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the vocabulary. My daughter’s class is showing me just how much I’ve forgotten, but with the contextual gleaning skills I  learned from the interpreting courses I took all those years ago, more often than not, I’m able to pick out enough to decode what the teacher is signing. And with each passing week, this old skill set of mine is getting better. It’s true, you’re never too old to learn–or in my case–relearn something new.

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A little yellow reminder of awesomeness

This week I spent a good deal of time unpacking the final boxes from our last move almost four years ago, and some of those boxes hadn’t been unpacked in almost ten years. We’ve had to move so many times over the years I sometimes feel like I’m living the life of Mrs. incredible, but without the superpowers.

In the middle of all the nicknacks and useless things I can’t seem to throw away, I found several journals. Though I love to write, I’ve never been a consistent journaler. My real life isn’t nearly as interesting as the characters in my books, so finding the motivation to catalogue one more boring day takes a dedication I can’t seem to muster.

While flipping through the pages of one particular journal, a small, yellow note fell out. It was the first note my husband ever wrote to me after being married for only a couple of days. The note was just a simple thank you for cleaning the house that day. I gushed in my journal about the thoughtful man I married. Our anniversary is coming up next month. And I can say, that even after twenty-one years of marriage, his consideration of me and my feelings have never lessened. How blessed am I? There’s never been a day since I married him that I regretted my choice.

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This quarantine is showing off my weaknesses

I would like to say thank you to my loyal readers. While scrolling through my facebook notifications, I saw a ton of views going to my author Janelle Evans page. But these views were spread out over several days, not just on Mondays when I normally post. It got me wondering what the heck I had written that had so many people going back. A quick check to my blog showed I had forgot to post anything, not just for one week, but two. I’ve never done that before since I started this blog, but in all fairness nothing in my life is going like it normally does, so it’s even easier for me to be distracted and forgetful. I promise, I’ll try to do better from now on. Now, how about a funny insight for your faithfulness…

This week was supposed to be spring break for my kids, but rather than a trip to some new destination, we were home. And yet, I still found it to be a joyous reprieve. I got a whole week off from doing yeoman’s work to help my youngest son with his online learning. He has told me more than once throughout this ordeal. “Mom, it’s math, I’ll just wait for dad.”

No, math is not my most favorite subject, but I didn’t think I was a complete dummy in that area. After couple of days of Googling almost every problem he was given to figure out how to help him, I started to agree with his assessment. We needed dad. Ugh! I guess me being gifted in everything was never going to happen.

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