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YA Book Review: Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich


Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

Paperglass is the second installment of The War of Princes series by Ivanovich.  Yeah, I reviewed the first one last week, but I am binge-reading this shit, so you’re going to hear all about it.  These books are incredible.  You know how sometimes you read the first book in the series and then the next one isn’t quite as good and it just gets worse from there?  These are so not those books.  They actually get better as you go, like The Hunger Games (books, not films-the reverse is true with the films) or the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.  Paperglass is even faster-paced than Haven, and the danger was more palpable since I already knew the dangers of the Outside world.  Can I just say my heart pounded nearly the entire time I was reading because I was well aware the whole time of the tightrope Katelyn was walking?  How often do you get that from a book?!  Only when it is done extremely well, and Ivanovich has the stuff.

In this chapter of Katelyn’s story, Haven has been threatened and Katelyn has no choice but to venture back Outside in order to prevent a catastrophe.  Rune and Dylan are both back to make her life complicated, albeit in different ways.  I love Dylan’s character–the reader is never any more sure about him than Katelyn is.  He’s superbly imagined and written.  You couldn’t ask for a better herring.  Katelyn’s love life follows an obvious but important thread, too, and you have to cheer about it because it never gets trite.  Her mission to protect Haven is tangled by meeting the Margrave (a high power in the Outside army) and brushes with the Prince of Shadows.  Ivanovich’s world is believable, lush, and complex, and her characters are the same.  You can’t ask for more than that in a fantasy for any age.

Like last week, if I give you too much I’m giving away the story.  Buy these books.  They’re relatively cheap for your Kindle, and you will not regret it.  I’m in the middle of the third installment now, so I’ll let you know next week if the series continues to rock.  (Here’s a hint–Hell yeah, it does.)

Love wins,


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Story Time: Hildilid’s Night

Learn all about nighttime with free printables, crafts, and recipes for Story Time: Hildilids Night

We’ve done a couple story times that involved snow (both The Mitten by Jan Brett and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen), so let’s move on to that other resident of winter–nighttime.  Because we all know night lasts for about 3 years every day during January.  And if you’ve never read this great book by Cheli Durán Ryan–and illustrated in pen and ink by the great Arnold Lobel–then you’re in for a real treat.

The best lesson you and your littles can glean from this book is one of tolerance.  You may be wondering where I’m going with this, but it’s a really good book for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (or as Littlest calls it, Milk Day–get it? MLK-Milk?).  Hildilid hates night, so she hates all things associated with night-“bats and owls and moles and voles and moths and stars and shadows and sleep.”   She tries a ton of ways to get rid of night, but night will not go away.  It really gives you a good place from which to jump start a tolerance conversation.  Hildilid is going to have to learn to live with night, just like we should all learn to live with one another’s differences.  So that’s lesson number one.  I mean, you’re welcome.  There’s a lot more fun stuff to do with this book, so stay with me.
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Winter on the farm

Our first seed catalog arrived yesterday.  And man, am I stoked.

Winter on a farm isn’t a time for too much resting.  There’s still a lot to be done.  For one thing, our animals don’t disappear with warm weather.  They actually require more work than they do in summer.  In the summer, we can let our chickens roam the yard, hunting bugs and worms.   It’s kind of awesome, because they keep the ticks and mosquitoes down.

snow day

If you’ve ever lived through a bad tick season, you’re feeling me.  Those little buggers are vicious.  And sneaky.  They’re like mini Viet Cong sneaking up on you in the jungle.  Or forest.  Whatever.

In the winter, though, if we want eggs we have to keep the hens penned up.  They have a nice, large yard to run around in, but most of the time they choose to stay in the cover of their building in a large crowd, staring out dolefully at the world and waiting for the slightest bit of cloud cover so they can go to sleep.  No kidding, those birds might be the smartest animals on the planet.  When it’s dim outside, they go to freaking sleep, by God.  Just sit and daydream about that for a minute, won’t you?

hens looking out

Because the hens are penned up, we have to feed them more.  We have to make sure they’re getting protein so they can create eggs.  Winter costs more than the heat bill, let me tell you.  We also have to keep a light on in the hen house for 14 hours a day, or those ladies will snooze all day and not lay any eggs.  Their water freezes, so we have to break that up.  Unless it freezes completely, then we have to search around for a second water trough and start over.  When it’s below freezing for several days in a row, you start to run out of troughs.   We should invest in one of those heated troughs, and (I swear) we talk about doing so every single winter.  Talking doesn’t really solve the problem, though.

A boy and his dog

A boy and his dog


Our miniature donkey needs a lot of the same care.  His pastures are winter-dead, so we have to provide him with hay and feed so he doesn’t sink in on himself and stand by the road, looking longingly at every car that passes with his thumb out.  At least he doesn’t need a light.  But his water does freeze.

Leo the Lop

In the winter, my free-range rabbits have to be put into pens so they don’t mate all the time and produce litters that die in the cold before they even get fur.  They’re a little easier, because we just use dog food bowls for their feed and water, and they pretty much empty them before freezing can happen.  But it breaks my heart to see them locked up like that.  They’re rabbits.  They should be nibbling grass, thumping, and digging burrows.


I don’t know if you know this, but doves mate like rabbits.  One of our females is sitting on an egg right now.  The baby won’t survive the cold.  They never do.  But we always give them a chance, because there might be that one that makes it.  We could put the egg in an incubator and try to raise the baby in the house, but song birds are harder to care for than chicks, and I honestly wouldn’t know what to feed the little bugger.  I keep asking them to stop mating, but they just coo at me condescendingly.  I think it means, “Yeah, right, lady.  Not on your life.”

I don’t know which one is the male.  So I can’t separate them.  They know that, and they laugh at me every morning when I feed them.


The red golden pheasants pretty much take care of themselves.  They have a beautiful aviary (built by the most beautiful man in the world), and they just hang out and flap their wings at me when I’m changing their water trough, letting me know I have no control over them and that I’m so beneath them they can’t even be bothered to attack me.  They are majestic birds with a lot of attitude, so I have to agree with them.  I mean, I can’t fly.  So they have that on me.

We have had winters when we raised cattle, pigs, goats.  They demand so much more when it’s cold outside and they can’t take care of themselves.  So winter keeps us hopping around here, even when we don’t feel like it.

burpee seed catalog

But the seed catalog… Oh. Yeah.

January hits, the catalogs start pouring in, and we start planning the spring garden.  We sit at the table together, Martin and I, and go through the catalogs, dreaming about what goodness we’ll grow.  It’s the best part of winter on the farm.   The Littles even get involved, as we decide what we’ll grow from seed and which yummies we’ll buy as seedlings from the local nursery.  We start looking at our soil, to see what nutrients need added where.  We plot the year’s design, so that we’re being sure to rotate things and to plant ‘friendly’ plants next to each other.   We get out graph paper and draw up several designs.  By the time we’re satisfied, it’s time to plow, then time to till.  The greenhouse goes up and I start growing the seeds we ordered.  And suddenly winter is over and it’s time to get all that goodness in the ground.

I can rest easy knowing the Littles are learning how to take care of themselves when the zombie apocalypse comes.  If you ask them, that could be any day.

Winter on the farm is expensive, both in finance and in work.  It’s different from the work we do in summer, and it’s cold, and breaking up all that ice is a pain in the ass.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the city.  Not even if they have heated water troughs.

Love wins,


Teach Them Everything

Yesterday, when I was talking about being overwhelmed in January, I mentioned tweaking your schedule to relieve some of the pressure.  If you’re like me, that is almost as scary a prospect as following it to the letter.  I put so much meticulous time into planning our homeschool year, and I Freak The Hell Out if we get off schedule.  (But I’ve told you that before.)

The problem is, I want to teach my Littles Everything Under the Sun and Everything Over It.  I want them to Know.  Because I want to Know.  I don’t want them graduating my house without having every bit of knowledge I can impart.


Are you like that, too?

It got me into trouble with this geography unit study thing we’re doing.  I almost chucked the plan.  In fact, I would have, but since I already had China and Japan ready, we started the school year out with them.  And the Littles Loved It.  Every single day they told me how fun school was.  Who am I to take that from them?  So I’m working out these unit studies country by country as we move through the year, and it has put me behind schedule.

My original plan was to do all of Asia the first semester and Africa this semester.  Problem?  We aren’t even halfway through Asia.  Why?  Well, come on, guys, these countries are Fascinating, and there is So Much to learn about each one.


Can I admit something to you?  I can’t remember ever learning the geographical location of Siam in school.  I had heard of Siam–from The King and I and Siamese cats and Siamese twins (remember when that was a term?)–but no one had ever told me where it was.  So when we started studying Thailand, it was relief to learn that it used to be Siam.  I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, well-read, and I was a good student.  So why didn’t I already know that?

That’s the kind of thing I want my boys to know.  I don’t want them to hear a current event about a certain country and be unable to remember where that country is.  Or to hear about a place that has changed names and not know what it’s called today.

Anyway, the unit study thing is kinda doing me in.  Sometimes I wish I would just break down and buy curriculum that someone else has already written, but I know me.  I will feel it is not in-depth enough.  No matter how good it is, I will find fault.  WHAT is wrong with me?!

So I plan everything myself, and write unit studies and novel studies and make up worksheets and look around sometimes and think, “When, exactly, will I get a break?”

When they graduate.

Is that on me?  Yeah, I own it.  And I always, without fail, over-plan.  I mean, seriously, folks, I would have to teach them for the rest of their lives to fit all this in.  And they might think it’s weird to still be homeschooling when they’re 40.  Talk about weird, unsocialized homeschoolers!  We would be the poster children… er, adults.

Also, (don’t fall over from shock), I tend to be a rather disorganized person.  I like to organize.  It’s fun.  Most of the jobs I’ve had over the years have demanded organization.  I have learned that I have to have a schedule and a plan or things will end up in disarray.  And the last element this homeschool needs is chaos.  Sticking to the plan is what keeps me in line.  I’m also hoping it will teach the Littles to be more organized creatures than I am.  So I make up a school calendar every year so I know from the get-go what days we’re in school and what days we can take off.  For the last two years I have even scheduled in catch-up days in case we get behind.  I’m not kidding.  A sick day can really throw me for a loop.  I have to know we’re going to stay on-schedule because I have to know my kids are Really Learning everything I planned for the year.

Now, I have loosened up a little bit this year.  And it has made me feel like I’m not teaching them anything.

Do you do that?

Some of my friends tell me I’m too hard on myself.  Maybe I am.  But this is the most important job I’ve ever had, and everything hinges on it.

So I suppose that having to constantly tweak the schedule is a thing I’m just going to have to live with.  Feeling behind is a place I’ll have to reside joyfully.  Because I’m not giving up on teaching them Everything.  They’ll appreciate it when they grow up and know where Siam once was.

Love wins,