in the reading room this past week…

Seasons of Reading’s Fright Fall Read-a-thon took place this past week. I completed the solo requirement of reading a spooky/mysterious/thriller sort of book. Beyond that, I’m not sure if my week should be considered a success or not. The amount of time I spent reading didn’t suck, it just didn’t involve as much “fun reading” as I had hoped it would. This also means I’m not as far along on Andi’s #15in31 (only 2 of 15 so far!) as I might like. No worries–so not stressing about it. So, what have I been reading this week?

*The one book I did finish was Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. The first of the Alex Cross books. And a book I’ve read before, oh at least 20 years ago. There was a time I thoroughly loved this series, but after the first ten or twelve I just grew bored and eventually quit reading them altogether. At our recent library sale, I picked up the first several in the series again, figuring they would be the perfect sort of reads for flare ups when my brain just refused to work. And it was the fact that I’m experiencing one of those times that led me to read this book now. If I’m being honest, I think that I sort of hoped that I wouldn’t like it this time around. Like I was hoping I’d “matured” or something. Ha! Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds. Whatever. Fact of the matter is that I did enjoy it, whether I wanted to or not. 😉  I didn’t remember a lot about the book, but the two things I did remember were pretty important. But even that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Anyway, as far as thriller-type books go, I still think the early Alex Cross books are great. Of course, I don’t read this type of book all that often anymore, so I can’t compare to what’s out there in the genre today. This counts as book 6 for RIP.

*In the “school reading” category, I conquered a few more chapters of our astronomy textbook. Reading this is work for me. Not in the sense that I hate it, but in the sense that it is a struggle. I have to read some sections three or four times. And even then, all I come away with are the basic concepts. I’ve sort of given up on the math involved. That’s okay, we’re doing an integrated sciences course of which astronomy is only a small part, and yet we’re reading nearly an entire college level astronomy textbook…so I’m going to be forgiving of us both if we don’t walk away remembering, or even understanding, every little detail.

*Also in the “school reading” category, I’ve read several chapters of Reigns of Terror by Patricia Marchak. In the intro, she suggested reading Part II before Part I. Part II contains chapters for each of the 20th genocides/politicides/crimes against humanity that she focuses on, explaining the historical context, what happened during the genocide, and the external influences at play; Part I is where she gives her arguments about the preconditions and similarities that are present among nations where these violent crimes against humanity occur. So I understand why she suggests reading Part II first, but I don’t understand why she didn’t just place it first in the book. I’m a few pages short of finishing Part II, and as such have not yet gotten to the meat of her arguments and can’t yet judge how I feel about the book as a whole As important as I think it is that we’re doing this course on genocide, crimes against humanity, and human rights, I have to admit it is mentally and emotionally overwhelming.

*Back on the “purely for pleasure” front, I started reading Umineko: When They Cry, Episode 3: Banquet of the Golden Witch, Volume 1 by Ryukishi07. Annie convinced me to read these so she had someone to talk to in person about them. 🙂  Annie actually hasn’t even read the mangas yet, but she’s read the visual novel a few times. Anyway, it’s a massive (page-wise) series. There are 8 episodes, each broken down into volumes for the manga. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 each consist of 2 volumes, though I believe the later Episodes will each have more volumes. And each volume thus far has clocked in at about 500-700 pages. It is such an intriguing ride! Influenced by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. But very much it’s own story. It is mind-twisting for sure. It plays with logic throughout. Being slightly more than halfway through the first volume of Episode 3, I can say unflinchingly that I have no frickin’ clue what is going on. 😛 But I am enjoying it immensely. The characters are flawed, but there is a depth to their individual stories that helps up understand where many of them are coming from. Battler Ushiromiya is our protagonist, and at this point I find him both likable and a twit simultaneously. He’s 18-years-old, a bit sexist, and obsessed with big breasts. However, I was talking with Annie the other day, and she assured me that he actually grows a lot throughout the series. For all it’s fun with logic and mystery-solving, it is a violent, gruesome series. Duh–we’re talking multiple murders here. But really, it goes far beyond the cozy sort of mystery that I would classify Christie’s stories as.

*And finally, I started a new audiobook. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I needed a new audiobook while I waited for Symbiont to become available, and this was the first one that popped up during my browsing that caught my eye. I had no clue what it was about, but have enjoyed Holly Black before (and really need to read Doll Bones !!!), so I figured “why not?” LOL–I said a few weeks ago how vampire books just weren’t my thing, and here we are with a third book in two months that have vampires! I’m guessing I’m about a third of the way through it, and am definitely enjoying it. I wouldn’t call it overwhelming love though. I have this feeling that I’m really just now getting to the meat of the story, and that I may just fall in love yet. Or it might totally fall apart on me. Eager to find out which, if either, will be the case.

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these days around here…

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THE GOOD: having all five of us together for several meals…the beautifully clean kitchen floor thanks to Rich’s hands-and-knees scrubbing…Gray trying really hard in a nightmare-for-him situation…Flapjack…Gray’s awesome attitude to the start of the school year…Annie finding that she should have a fairly regular work schedule once the fall semester begins…window fans…Max finding he’s got lots of friends in most of his classes…Gray reconnecting with Jimmy and the way they chatted for hours on speaker phone while playing Minecraft…having a day to hang with Eva (and Thistle and Moth too, of course)…board games…the Genius Bar…exercises helping Annie’s sciatica…

THE BAD: the end of summer break…my computer deciding that it will not allow Airport to be turned on (but, see “the good”)…Annie hurting her back at work and ending up with sciatica (but, see “the good”)…

THE UGLY: the hot, humid weather…

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in the land of parenthood: on the eve of a new school year…

What I wish for my children: that they be happy, that they be kind, that they be responsible, that they be who they want to be.

I know education plays a part, in ways direct and indirect, in ensuring that my wishes for them come true. Or not.

We’ve gotten a bit of flack over the years for our education choices. From family, from friends, from strangers. From those who are adamantly opposed to public schooling. From those who are adamantly opposed to homeschooling.

Whatever.

We’ve always done our best to give each of the kids as individuals the education that meets their own needs best. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that I don’t worry all the time.

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As we start this new school year…

I worry that instituting a more rigid schedule for our homeschool day is going to lead to a good bit of butting of heads with Gray. It didn’t used to be a big problem when much of our school day was spent together, but now that he’s older and works on his own much of the time, it’s really become an issue. This is SO HARD for him. Asperger’s and time perception/time management–yeah, they generally don’t play well together. How do you manage your time when you can’t even perceive time?!! So yeah, this is going to be big on our agenda this year…and I know he’s just not going to like it.

I worry that Gray, despite his intelligence and his creativity, may never be able to function in the social world. And yet Rich and I and even Gray’s psychologist know public school is not the place for him. His social anxiety is just so overwhelming, despite meds and despite years with his amazing psychologist. It’s not that there hasn’t been improvement. But the improvement is slow and spotty and fickle. And I just worry so much…

I worry that Annie’s got too much on her plate with her very full schedule of courses and what I fear may be too many hours at her job. And I worry about how that might affect her health. That the stress will throw her OCD into a tailspin again. I just can’t bear to think of her going through everything she went through last fall all over again.

I worry that she’ll never focus in on that one thing she most wants to do. I get it (I’m so much like her in this); there’s so many damn options for paths that sound intriguing.

I worry that Max will fall back into his “do as little as I can to get by” attitude when it comes to schoolwork/homework. But things have been getting exponentially harder each grade and he’s not going to be able to keep up his excellent grades if he doesn’t start putting in more effort. And they’ve put him in the advanced math class again, and frankly, that makes me nervous. He struggled so much last year being in the advanced class, but his teacher thinks he’s ready for it, so here’s hoping…

I worry that I will spend too much time frustrated over Max’s lack of organizational skills. I can’t even count how many different strategies we’ve tried; his brain just doesn’t seem wired that way. He lost two lunchbags last year, forgot something at school that he needed for his homework countless times, lost a jacket…yeah, frustration.

I worry about little things. And big things.

I worry too much–I know this.

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