Read Aloud

100_7028It’s World Read Aloud Day and we’re celebrating here by taking extra time to read from our bedtime tome, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. We’re currently in The Silver Chair, the next to the last book in the series. The kids have enjoyed the stories as much as I do—and as much (or more than) the movies—which is awesome. 100_7029

I remember the best part of school was listening to my fourth grade teacher read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary to the class every day after lunch. That was where my fascination with Newbery award winning books began—listening to Ms. Sawyer’s raspy voice read those letters from Leigh to his favorite author.

Which books do you recall from your childhood, or do you currently share with loved ones, in the read aloud tradition?

Chocolate, It’s What’s for Dinner

For the past three weeks, I’ve been hard at work on the first official round of edits for Fortitude—the developmental edits, direct from my shiny new editor at Anaiah Press—and I’m now done! That is to say, I’ve been hard at work in between homeschooling, family emergencies, and other assorted life happenings. And that translates to eating lots of chocolate.

No, I haven’t actually eaten chocolate for dinner, but the consumption of the confectionary delight has happened with breakfast, before, during and after lunch, midafternoon, evening, dinnertime, and all hours of the night. And in all forms: liquid, dark, square, round, crunchy candy coated, I’ve ingested it all.
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This next week will be detox time:
More exercise, less sweets.
Extra hours reading for pleasure, and a little less time at my standing desk.

To start things off, I’m celebrating this milestone with a girl’s night out tomorrow. And to make things even more exciting, one of my friends involved has no clue what we’re going to do. Maybe maintaining the upper-hand over someone is a sign I’m not ready to release control over my book world. After all, knowledge is power.

Chocolate is pretty powerful, too. What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Bibliophile Problems

If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I’m a book girl. There are a lot of books in my house. I’m talking more than dozens, more than hundreds, probably a couple thousand. I’ve never counted them all—that would mean math, and me and numbers don’t always get along.

This afternoon, after answering yet another a post on a homeschool page for recommendations for books set in a specific time period (happens regularly, and as a children’s literature connoisseur with a passion for historicals, I have to respond.) This time, it was a call for Civil War books. So, after going to my “favorite author” shelf in the hall, I returned to my desk area to look over my general middle grade collection for more titles. But then I remembered my middle child’s quest for all things military, and that I’ve allowed him to adopt many of my middle grade novels dealing with war, so I had to go check the bookcase in his room.

I circled all around the house to gather information I could have grouped together. What’s a bibliophile to do?

Book project! 100_6855

I’m seriously contemplating putting all my books in chronological order. Even though that would mean splitting up the Katherine Paterson, Avi, Richard Peck, and Laurie Halse Anderson novels, I think at this point in my life (hello, homeschool!) it would be beneficial. But then I’d have to worry about the fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary… where would they all fit? Group the contemporary at the end of the historicals, with books like Bridge to Terabithia (and it’s 1970’s references) toward the beginning of that section. What about classics, like Charlotte’s Web? Do I place it in the era it was written?

The stress!

But it’s a happy, first world problem to deal with. Now I just need to decide if I take the plunge. Photographic journal blog will follow if it comes to pass.

Music: The Sensory Edition

If you know me, or have followed this blog for any amount of time, you realize that I love music. I use music for mood alteration, inspiration, and escape. My preferred listening method is live, in concert. For sanity sake, I try to attend at least two live performances a year but life doesn’t always allow that.

My second and third choices for listening are earphones and in the car—alone. 100_4829

Having songs plugged into my ears is great for tuning out exterior noise, but it isn’t always practical when supervising children. Plus, I don’t want to subject those around me to my butchered attempts when singing along.

When driving, I usually have my nifty homeschool kids in the car and they like music, too, just not always the same stuff I like. I used to put the “Children’s Music” playlist on shuffle when we went anywhere but I found myself getting a little snappy after fifteen minutes. So now the whole iPod—which is attached to a cassette adapter because I’m so last century—gets put on shuffle when we go.

A Disney song = the kids happy, or most of them, and often me.

A little Mitch Malloy = me happy, and sometimes the kids.

Queen = everyone is good.

Sesame Street = one happy kid.

The Beach Boys = all good, for most songs.

And on, and on.

There are a few times it’s easier to skip to the next song because the natives are noisily protesting, but most of the time they settle down when I say “it’s Mommy’s turn.” When a song I love comes on, my immediate reflex is to turn it up, but with boys with sensory issues in the car, they drown out the music with their own shrieking of discomfort. (That or I get “What’s Mommy singing?” from my teen with autism, as if he can’t tell I’m trying to sing the song that we’re listening to. Funny kid.)

All this—and more—is why my favorite non-live music experience is in the car. ALONE. I can turn it up as loud as I want and sing off-key without annoying people. (I’d also say without embarrassing myself, but I never know who is watching from the outside of the car.) Listening in a vehicle is a step above earphones because the music cocoons your whole self, not just your ears. At times you can feel it, but it’s an immersive experience and the steering wheel makes a good keyboard or drum.

What’s your listening habit?

Selfish

After my last post shared a few things I’ve found during cleaning, but continue to keep on my desk through the decades, I moved to the next level of organizational hoarding: surrounding myself—literally—with books. Homeschooling my kids gives me a great excuse to collect more books than the average person. Here’s about half of the collection.
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My desk is behind it, nice and tidy.
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Outside, a winter storm is leaving ice and beauty across the southern landscape.
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The atmosphere—inside and out—makes my creative energy soar. Even though there’s a never ending supply of query letters to send, tonight I’m going to write something for fun.

Light it Up, Softly

Sensory issues are often the crux of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and because most people spend their waking hours with their eyes open, visual problems are often the most tiresome. Light sources, rather natural or manmade, can be a blessing or curse for those with this sensitivity. 100_4588

In the U.S., we’re on the verge of a possible lighting crisis. The turn of the New Year will mark another reduction in light bulb options, closing the choice of yet more incandescent bulbs at stores around the country. Fluorescent lights, whether long strip bulbs or the compact swirly ones (which are terrible for the earth—read the disposal warning on them), are often visual triggers for susceptible people. The flicker, harsh glow, and even the hum of the offending bulbs can cause headache, eye fatigue or emotional meltdowns for those with sensory difficulties.

The same thing happened, not long ago, in the United Kingdom. You can read one account of it here. http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/leisure-and-environments/architects/light-sensitivity-and-autism.aspx

This an important situation for me, as myself and loved ones suffer from light sensitivity. Ben, one of the main characters in CORRODED (one of my fictional labors of love, yet-to-be-published stories) has to deal with this as well. Here’s a little peek, from Chapter Ten, when Mary and Ben are at his house playing a round of Battleship.

“You never explained to me why you don’t go outside during the day,” I said.
“I go outside. Remember the first day we met? I sat on the porch with you and your mom.”
“Oh… well, then why don’t you go for walks and stuff?” I asked.
“I’m sensitive to sunlight.”
“Like, you burn easily?”
Ben shook his hands like he was air-drying them. “No, it’s my eyes. Bright sunlight causes sensory overload and I can barely function. Fluorescent light does the same thing. It’s common for Aspies.”
I looked up at the soft white glow of the over-head lights. “So, going to schools and office buildings must be difficult.”
“The worst. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. If I do have to venture out for a medical appointment or something I wear sunglasses inside.”

Excitehension

Excitement and apprehension are in the air. Ever notice how similar those two can feel? Yet, taken alone, each word is distinct and seemingly opposite. I’ve been juggling both and they’re equally exhausting.

I’m known among my Facebook friends as the Brightside lady. Rather than only doing thankful posts in November, I do a “BRIGHTSIDE” status. I began these Pollyanna moments more than three years ago during a stressful week, and I continue to post them when life rears its crazy claws. I’ve posted 350 brightsides, which is not too shabby, stressfully speaking.

Today, the apprehension is trying to take over my excitement so I’m going to throw more fuel on the positive side, in hopes of over-powering the negative.

My boys’ literary tree is filling up nicely.
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The fern on the oak tree is surviving autumn.
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And my sister sent me a pep talk in stones. (I don’t think I can kill or break these like I did the fern terrarium.)
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What do you do to battle the “woe is me” moments in life?