August 30, 2017

Flowers For Mama

We went up to my parents' earlier this month, and I was able to do something I've wanted to do for a very long time. I put in a flower bed for my mom! (With lots of help.)

She originally had peonies planted down along the driveway, but they were all overtaken by grass. There wasn't any kind of dedicated bed at all.

So, first things first: Dig up the peonies and get all the grass roots out of the peony roots. 
We did this and set them aside to replant later.

Next: Create the flowerbed itself.
This is where the spontaneity of the project may come back to haunt us. I dug out as much grass as I could all along the border, then my dad got out the big tiller and tilled the rest under. We raked out as much as we could, but even so, there were a lot of clumps and roots left.
We may be weeding grass out of that bed forever and ever! Putting on some Roundup and waiting a few days or weeks would have been better. Except that I wouldn't be there to do the rest.
So anyway, it is what it is.
I volunteered myself for weeding duty every time we come.

3rd step: Bring in dirt and compost.
Dad and I went over to a neighbor's field who had several tall piles of compost.
We filled up about half of his pickup bed and brought it back.
Shoveled it into the bed and then dad tilled it all in again.
More raking and picking out grass roots.

4th: Buying stuff!
Now we're getting to the fun part! 
Dad and I (with my oldest boy) took a trip down to Logan and bought the edging pavers, along with the 2 dogwoods, one for each end. Okay okay, and some sedums that were on sale.
(Mom and I had already discussed ideas for color schemes and what to put in.)

Later that day, Mom and I took a trip down to a plant nursery and bought the roses, and the rest of the perennials. She decided on a pink/purple color scheme.

5th: Set edging and plant the shrubs.
My dad set all the edging pavers and helped dig the holes for the shrubs.
We decided to put a red-twig dogwood on each end, and 3 pink Knockout roses in the middle to anchor the bed. The 3 roses should grow together over time and look like one big shrub.

6th: Arrange the rest of the plants (including the peonies) and put them in! 

Left to right: scabiosa (pincushion flower), purple daylily, salvia.

We essentially had 2 large planting spaces between the shrubs to work with.
We put the peonies on the edges of the spaces, closest to the shrubs on each side.
Then we filled in with all the rest of these lovely flowers.

Echinacea (purple coneflower) and more daylilies.
We also had the 3 sedums I had purchased from before, which are not in the picture.

It looked so pretty when we were finished! 
I may add in a few spring bulbs here and there the next time I go up. :)

Here's hoping it will bring you joy for years to come, Mama!

August 25, 2017

What Did I Tell You?

My husband offered to pay the kids 2 cents per rock, to pick them out of the garden.
They had to be at least 2 inches long.

So basically, that's a pile of money you're looking at right there.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of $30.
It took them maybe 2 hours to collect that many and count them out.
My oldest made the most--he kept going until we owed him $20.
Easy money, I tell you!
Where can I sign up for this gig? I could use some extra change!

August 21, 2017

Healer trilogy, by Maria V. Snyder

Before I get into this trilogy, let's chat. I've read others by Maria Snyder, with a mixed experience. Some I really liked and others I didn't like at all. In fact, after reading this trilogy, I decided that I'm done reading her books. There's a common theme that I find very troubling. Her female protagonists keep falling in love with guys that treat them badly--at first. Then after they decide they love each other, it's supposedly all warm fuzzies and bliss.

For instance, in the first book of this series, at one point Kerrick actually backhands Avry, and also ties her to a tree and won't give her food or water (until she promises not to run away any more.) Really, though? I don't care about his "reasons" for doing it--a man that hits a woman? Not ever okay.  In another one of her series, the girl--who is a royal poison taste tester as a punishment for a crime--falls in love with the guy who administers the poison to her during her "training."

Anyway, in every series of hers this keeps coming up in some form. I stopped reading the Sea Glass series because of it. I don't understand why she puts it in every book and I don't like the implications it puts out there. Namely, that if you stay with the abusive guy, it will be all better once you're in love. If he has "good" reasons, then it's okay. Unhealthy patterns when you're falling in love will automatically go away once you're both committed. No, No, NO! I especially don't like that these books are supposedly geared for teens with this type of subtext going on.

Okay, so keeping all of that in mind, read on if you want to find out what I thought of this series in particular.

* * * * *

The series in which death is a revolving door. That's all you need to know. Someone you especially like gets killed off? Don't you worry about a thing. (wink wink)

Touch of Power (Healer #1), by Maria V. Snyder

4 stars: Unique premise and feisty characters.

Avry's a healer, which means she can lay her hands on a sick or injured person and assume their injuries herself. They end up healed, while she ends up sick or worse. The good thing for her is that she heals much faster than a normal person would. She just has to be careful not to assume anything beyond her power to heal herself.

You would think this ability would be looked highly upon, and it was before the plague. Since that dark time, however, healers have been hunted down and killed all over the kingdom. You see, they couldn't heal the plague, so to most it seemed as though they were simply refusing to help when people were dying all around them. When rumors started flying that the Healer's Guild had actually started the plague, that was the last straw for most people.

So Avry's been on the run for quite some time and expects to be for the rest of her life--however short that may be. Then she is captured by a man named Kerrick and his band of misfits. As it turns out, she is the last healer left anywhere, and there is a Prince who needs healing. Unfortunately, Avry has had some dealings with this Prince and hates him. Having no better alternative, however, she is prevailed upon to travel with Kerrick and the others--they did save her life, after all. Also, her attempt at running away failed miserably.

As they go, she learns more about the troubles brewing all over the kingdom. Kerrick is convinced this Prince of his is the answer to the trouble facing them. Avry is convinced of nothing. This could get interesting.

* * * * *
You know what? This is another one that I've read before! Must have been a long time ago, because I didn't review it and I was reading merrily away without realizing it until I got to the Death Lilies and Peace Lilies. Then this memory trickled in of what was going to happen. Weird. Anyway...

There was a lot going on, which kept me turning pages. Avry's powers as a Healer were intriguing; the multiple armies forming with varied allegiances and problems; Avry's moral dilemma about healing the Prince; romantic tension between our two lead characters, and so on. It was a fully realized world with complicated problems shaping up. I wanted to know what was going to happen!

Even taking into account my misgivings about the way Avry and Kerrick's relationship was shaping up (as mentioned above), I liked it. I went on to the next right away.

Content: Occasional bad language, a couple of non-graphic sex scenes. Supposed to be for teens, but it's more adult in content.

(Finished reading June 15.)

Scent of Magic (Healer #2), by Maria V. Snyder

3 stars: The action slows down quite a bit in this second installment.

Kerrick and Avry have split up to accomplish their bigger goal: stopping King Tohon from taking over the world as they know it. Kerrick heads up north, to rally his kingdom to battle, while Avry's job is to infiltrate Estrid's army of religious fanatics and teach them how to walk quietly in the forest. For real. That's her job. She's also trying to reconnect with her younger sister who is  part of the army.

Meanwhile, Tohon has a horrifying surprise of his own: an army of the dead, obedient to his commands. There doesn't seem to be any way out of this mess, but if anyone can find it, our dynamic duo can.

* * * * *
The plot was much stronger when our two main characters were together. This one switched POV's between them and was overall just a slower read.

Content: Same as the first--some language, a handful of non-graphic sex scenes. Adult level content.

(Finished reading June 23.)

Taste of Darkness (Healer #3), by Maria V. Snyder

2 stars: The darkest (hence the title?!) and least favorite of the 3.

Kerrick has got some big problems. Mostly that his connection to the forest has become immeasurably deeper. So much so that he is the forest, to some extent. Avry is back to healing people, but she not only is grieving for Kerrick, she keeps having these awful dreams featuring the slimy Tohon. Also, the Prince may or may not be using her as bait for the bad guys. Not happy.

There's slim hope that everything will come around and give us a positive ending, but it seems less likely as time goes on.

* * * * *
Okay, I read this one to finish the series and see if the loose ends got tied up. Maybe I should have just read some reviews with spoilers instead. This was the darkest of the three in content, particularly the scenes involving the Skeleton King. He and his minions were just disgusting and beyond creepy. The torture scene--could definitely have done without that. Yuck.

Also, Avry's personality really started to bother me. She was so clueless at times. Time and again, she would make plans--upon which other people's lives depended--than break them to go do her own thing when the opportunity presented itself.  I think it was supposed to come across as her being this independent woman who couldn't be told what to do, but really, it was obnoxious. Of course, her plans always resulted in some greater good, so she was welcomed back...

Why did any of her friends put up with her? They stayed loyal to her, for the most part, though I couldn't figure out why exactly. They had this indulgent attitude toward her, like, "Oh, that Avry. [Fond chuckle.] No-one can tell her what to do." Say what?!

Speaking of her friends. For all they seemed to love her and be protective, they kept ditching her and leaving her to defend herself at the worst times. Prince Ryne--couldn't stand him. He was so manipulative--and he was the one built up to be the great leader. I didn't really like the ending either. So, all in all, a letdown.

Content: Torture, some language, non-graphic sex scenes. For adults.

(Finished reading June 29.)

* * * * *
So, if you couldn't tell already, I don't recommend these books. Anyone I talked to about them would have to hear my whole spiel with all the caveats. By then, what's the point? So yeah, if I were you, I would move on to something else.

August 17, 2017

Vegetable Garden Update

Friends, it's looking pretty bare out there.
Except for the weeds.

Not a single seed I planted came up.
Wait no, there was one. 
One lonely bean sprouted, but it didn't survive.

My best guess is lack of water.
This soil is a lot more sandy than what I had before, plus it's been very hot, plus new baby, etc., etc....
The bottom line is: turning the sprinkler on 1-2 times per week for an hour was not nearly enough for my seedlings.
Duly noted.

The big healthy-looking plants in the foreground?
Pumpkin plants brought over by our sweet neighbor, as a gift.
We planted them in the last 2 beds, where the zinnias and sunflowers were supposed to come up, because obviously there was some space available there.

Hey look, it's a blossom!
We currently have one pumpkin growing, about the size of an orange.
(My dad's pumpkins are the size of basketballs.)

This pumpkin plant is not doing as well as its neighbor, but it's still doing better than most of the rest of the garden!

Our yellow straight-neck squash, which I planted from starts, have produced the bulk of our harvest so far. We have picked 7 or 8 summer squash now.
So we're figuring out what do with them.
My oldest has decided he doesn't really like them; my vegetarian sister-in-law says the same.
I like them well enough, but I don't intend to eat 8 all by myself!
Apparently, they don't freeze all that well, either.
We've had some in soups, some with bacon and onions, some just steamed.
Any other ideas? 

The tomato plants are finally growing tall-ish, and we even have a handful of green tomatoes on them. Not sure when the first frost usually is around here, but I'm guessing we may have around a month to get whatever harvest we can out of them.
The pepper plants on the right are still puny, pathetic little things.

I didn't even take a picture of the cantaloupe, watermelon, or sweet potato plants, as they are also small and pathetic looking. 
Chalk it up to a "learning experience," right?

Plus, my lovely mulch paths harbor the most weeds.
Not sure why that is!
Maybe the garden beds have been too hot and dry for very many weeds to thrive. 
(Painful, but probably true.)

So, I already know for next year: water for longer, more often!
Also, I think I want to get some sort of drip system going next year, so that I'm not using up so much water just evaporating into the air.

I still can't believe the beans didn't even come up!

What have you harvested out of your garden this summer?

August 16, 2017

4 LDS Suspense Novels

I quite enjoy the LDS (Latter-day Saint, or Mormon) suspense fiction genre. They don't have bad language or sex scenes, and are not nearly as graphically violent as similar titles in the mainstream suspense world. There are evil characters and some violence, but most of the bloody stuff happens off-screen.

As a bonus, all 4 of these are titles that I own. Woohoo! Chipping away at the New Year's Resolutions!

Wrong Number, by Rachelle J. Christensen

3 stars: What if this happened to you?

When Aubree Stewart leaves her home one day with her husband's cell phone instead of her own, she has no idea that her whole life is about to be upended. She's driving to work when she receives a phone call. The voice on the other end is not one she recognizes, and what's more, the man says he has taken care of it and the body is in a manhole. What?!

She reports the call. Sure enough, there is a body down a manhole. If that weren't scary enough, simply by answering the phone, she has made herself and her family targets for--whoever these people are. That's just the beginning.

* * * * *
Great hook! Like many thrillers, there's the "what if" factor. What if something seemingly ordinary, that happens to us all, was really much more than that? Something dangerous? Where would that chain of events lead?

There was a lot I liked about this one. Aubree was a strong character. I thought her reactions were believable. She's 7 months pregnant in the beginning of the story, and I was about that when I read it. Gave me a personal perspective on it all, I guess. The mystery itself was good--it kept me reading to find out what was going on.

I was lukewarm about the romance. It was not as believable as the rest. Our hero came along and was willing to overlook a whole lot for her sake, while she came to trust him rather quickly, considering everything she had been through.

(Finished reading April 5)

The Hainan Incident, by D. M. Coffman

3 stars: International intrigue and an American [Mormon] undercover spy.

Jason Yi, Chinese name Yi Jichun, is an American attorney who gets tapped for a special undercover mission for the U.S. government, due to his language fluency and professional training. He travels to China to attend a school for judges, with the job of uncovering corruption in the court system there.

He uncovers more than that. On a vacation to Hainan Island he stumbles across an unusually high-tech computer set-up, behind the fa├žade of a tourist village. The more he learns about Hainan Net, the more he is convinced that this is more than just somebody's side business. This is an international criminal ring, with the potential to do all kinds of damage. His discoveries put him at risk, along with his fellow student judge Sarah. He must to get to the bottom of this. Time is ticking...for all of them.

* * * * *
The mystery was good and the cultural aspects of the setting were interesting. It was a good stress relief read, pre-move.

(Finished reading May 11)

Wake me When It's Over, by Robison E. Wells

4 stars: Suspense mixed with a liberal dose of humor.

Eric Hopkins is a man in love. Unfortunately, the fair Rebekah does not seem to hold him in the same esteem. In fact, she mostly seems to count him as a friend...sort of. The kind of friend that you will ask to drive you to a concert, if absolutely no-one else is available. Hey, he's happy to do it. If only she would be just as happy that he did.

When she is kidnapped from said Christmas concert (she's a violinist) by a freakishly tall man who smells like bananas, Eric follows them--of course. A few serious injuries later, he is kidnapped as well. At least they're together...sort of.

For some reason the kidnapper is most interested in Rebekah's necklace--which just so happened to be a Christmas gift from Eric. The kidnapper wants the ring that came with it, but Eric's not just going to hand it over. He's fairly certain the kidnapper wants it for some nefarious purpose. If only he could come up with a plan; preferably one that includes him and Rebekah staying alive. Especially her. He's probably the expendable one in this whole scheme.

* * * * *
Despite his admitted deficiencies in rescue attempts and escape plans, Eric manages to come out on top...eventually. In the meantime, at least he has a sense of humor and can see the utter absurdity in his entire situation.

I quite enjoyed this one. There was some suspense, but Eric's sarcastic wise-cracks--whether thought or spoken--kept things from getting too intense. I didn't predict the ending, which was good, too. I also liked the way Wells included the religious aspect. Eric and Rebekah prayed and discussed answers to prayer a couple of times, and attended church, but it wasn't the focus. I never felt like I was being preached at, which is just how I like it: a steady undercurrent.

(Finished reading July 31)

The Counterfeit, by Robison E. Wells

3 stars: Eric and Rebekah (plus some bad guys)--the continuing story...

It has been a couple of months since all the hoopla with the kidnapping and Eric is good and ready for it all to just go away. He would like to see if things progress with Rebekah, who has definitely warmed up to him since their shared adventures, but instead he's hounded by reporters and FBI agents all the time. You see, he continues to receives death threats on a regular basis. So, it's not that he's ungrateful, per se, just that he wishes he could resume normal life. Except, with Rebekah still liking him.

After a near-miss attempt on his life, he and Rebekah are whisked away into the Witness Protection Program. Unfortunately, their alibis are not as air-tight as some would like to believe, because someone not only knows where they are, he (or she) has plans to take them right out of the picture. If they're going to survive, they'll have to choose their allies--and their enemies--very carefully.

* * * * *
This book has been on my shelf for a couple of years, and I never realized it was the sequel to Wake Me When It's Over until a few weeks ago! How does that happen? I will say that it was definitely a different tone than the first book. Where the first was primarily lighthearted with moments of suspense, this one was more intense stuff with a bit of humor now and then.

There were a few twists and turns that caught me by surprise. I thought the climax was well done.

(Finished reading Aug. 1)

* * * * *
For more of the same, check out this earlier post I did, a Mini-Theme called On the Run.

Do you have a favorite in this genre I shouldn't miss out on?

August 15, 2017

The 5 Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman

Lately I have been feeling like I'm doing a less-than-stellar job at mothering my 3 older kids. What with pregnancy, moving, and now new baby exhaustion, I find myself too easily irritated and frustrated. My older two, in particular, have expressed that I care about their 5 year old brother but not them. (The baby sort of goes without saying. She's everybody's favorite right now!)

I am realizing, also, that I can't used being tired as an excuse. I mean, it is a major reason why I'm not as patient as I ought to be, but also, I have been tired for nearly a year now. Obviously I need to figure out how to be kind to my kids even when I'm tired, because that probably won't be changing very soon. So. Enter this book.

The 5 Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

4 stars: Useful information, with practical suggestions.

I've known about the 5 love languages for quite some time, but hadn't ever dug into applying it to my children or my relationship with them. From the comments my older two made, I have not been giving them they type of love that resonates most with them.

If you're unfamiliar with Chapman's work, he has figured out 5 ways that people feel or receive love from others: quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gifts. Of course, everyone likes all of them to some extent, but for each of us there will be one or two that really make us feel the most loved--our love languages.

Since I haven't been able to check books out from the library this summer, I actually bought the ebook. I know! Paid full price for it, too, which is even more surprising. Listen, it had been a pretty bad day. I needed something to feel like I was making some positive progress. I decided that really, my main job was to love them. If I could figure out how to do that more effectively, the rest would fall into place.

So, just from reading it I couldn't really pinpoint what any of their love languages might be. He gives some suggestions to help you figure it out, including paying attention to what they are always asking for, or on the negative side, what type of discipline seems most effective or most hurtful.

He has a whole section on disciplining, by the way, which I found very helpful. You don't ever want to use a child's primary love language as a method of disciplining them, because the message they will receive is not just "I messed up," but "Mom doesn't love me anymore." So for instance, if your child's primary love language is words of affirmation, yelling at them or demeaning them with words in any way would be especially hurtful.

He says you should give your kids the most love in the form in their primary love language, but also sprinkle in all the others as well, so they can learn to give and receive all the types. In the 2 weeks or so since I read the book, I have been making an effort to pay attention.

Here's what I've figured out so far:

I realized that I hadn't been giving my older 2 kids very much physical touch at all. My 9 year old (boy) pushes away from any type of hug and dodges kisses, and my 7-year-old (girl) appreciates it but doesn't initiate it very much. So I have started making a conscious effort to touch them all more. Rub on the back here, steal a hug there, fist bump, high fives, tousle the hair a little--wherever I can get it in. It has made a noticeable difference! I have found that it has added some lightness to our day that wasn't there before. I even kissed my 9-year-old's sore finger, as a joke--sort of, to which he was surprised and laughed. (Big clue there!)

My 5-year-old's love language is definitely quality time. He was constantly asking me to do a puzzle with him, stay in his room at bedtime just a little bit longer, or come play with him. No wonder he was especially struggling when we first brought home the baby! I would read half a story, then have to go do something for her. I have made more of a conscious effort to spend that time with him, even with baby on my lap or along for the ride.

I'm still figuring out my 7-year-old's primary love language. She always writes little notes for me and other people, but when she's sad she wants me to read a book to her cuddled up on the couch. So, I'm still working on it for her.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure my 9-year-old is a lot like me when it comes to love languages. I think his two biggest are words of affirmation and physical touch. He has responded the most with my touching campaign, and it has helped our relationship the most that I've noticed. I've also noticed that words affect him deeply. I have always been pretty good about thanking him for helping out (he is such a hard worker!), but I have been trying to find other ways to build him up with my words.

I'm also still working on figuring out my husband's. Trying out a few things here and there.

Hey, it is still far from perfect. I am still far from perfect, but I can see it making a difference in our home and in our days together, for which I am thankful.

* * * * *
What is your love language? Do you do this with your kids at all? How have they responded?

August 9, 2017

Pretty Sunsets

Isn't it about time for a post about clouds? 
I thought so too.

Though there have been some awesome daytime clouds, these are all sunsets.
I have been saving them up for several months now, so these first ones are from Washington.

April 2017

June 2017
Right before we moved--quite a sendoff!

August 2017
Ok, these last 2 are from Utah.
I was trying to capture all the different shades of blue up in the sky, but obviously my camera skills could use some work. Take my word for it--it was really pretty.

Plus--mountains! [sigh] Love it.

p.s. I never realized how much I would enjoy living close to the mountains.
Where some people say they feel blocked in by them, they seem protective to me.
Plus, I can figure out directions a lot better, because I can use the mountains as landmarks! :)

* * * * *
Are you a wide open spaces kind of person, or do you like some mountains in your skyline?
Tell me everything!

August 5, 2017

Our New Library

So, you know I'm a big fan of libraries, right? Even setting aside my professional interest in them, free books make me happy. People wanting to further the knowledge and literacy levels of a community make me happy. I practically grew up in the library, as my dad was also a librarian. When we moved, having a library was near the top of my list of necessary establishments for a town I was going to live in. (Grocery store was #1, as it turned out, but library was a close second!)

Well, I am rather chagrined to admit that so far I have mixed feelings about our new library. So now you get to hear all about it. :)

Let me start with the good stuff.

For one thing, it is quite a bit bigger than the one we left. More books! Hooray!
Related to that, they have a whole section of LDS (Latter-day Saint, i.e. Mormon) fiction. Welcome to Utah, folks! I had to chuckle when I saw that, but I am glad. Maybe I'll get to read some of these books that I've been too cheap to buy up until now!
They also seem much more open to buying books at patron suggestion.

Summer Reading Program
I have been much happier with their take on the Summer Reading Program here. Instead of a log that you filled in at your leisure, to return for the prize of one book for June and one for July, this one goes by number of pages read for older kids and number of books read for younger. It's on the honor system. For my youngest--oops, that would be the baby these days--I mean for my 5 year old, it is 20 books--picture books, board books, whatever. The next step up is 150 pages and for the highest level it is 300 pages. However, you are not limited to a time frame. So you could read 300 pages a day and go in every single day to claim a prize. Awesome! We have been making it in every 1-2 weeks.

Also the prizes are way more fun. Not that I was unhappy with the kids choosing books before. However, at this library, they have a whole glass-fronted cabinet full of prizes of all different kinds. Yes, there are plenty of books, but there are also little toys, games, coloring books, candy, etc. My kids have been way more motivated to do the reading with the plethora of fun options as prizes.

Besides, I'm not really worried about them not having enough books. I buy books rather frequently--from thrift stores, from Scholastic, for gifts, etc. I seem to have this addiction... In fact, we are about at the critical stage of accumulation where if more books come in, some others will have to go simply to make room. May I remind you we purchased 2 new bookshelves after we moved here? They are both packed full already! (People talk about styling their bookshelves and I think--wait, you have room on your bookshelves for things other than books? How does that work?) Each child has a bookshelf in their rooms as well. So yes...books are great, but so are other prizes.

You can't beat 5 minutes away--though that's more due to the size of the town than the library itself. Also, the staff have all been very friendly and helpful the times we have gone in.

Here are a few things I don't like as much.

5 Items, 90 days
This is my biggest complaint so far. So new patrons can only check out 5 items at a time, for the first 90 days. ! Why?! I mean, this is a small town, as I believe I have mentioned before. People know me in this town that I have never met yet. Apparently, word has gotten around. So it's not like they wouldn't be able to track me down if they had a mind to!

Our average number of items checked out at our last library hovered around 40. You see, I would allow each kid to check out as many books as their age, so that's 9 + 7 + 5=already up to 21. Then I would have my books on top of that. Plus, I would often let them check out audio books that didn't count toward their total. Anyway, what I am saying is, the 5 book rule is severely cramping my style.

I suppose I could get a library card for each child, which would give us 20 books per visit right now. The problem being that I seem to be incapable of keeping track of: a) my children's library cards (so I know the number, so I can renew the books) and b) when their books are due, versus when mine are due. So far we've done okay keeping track of the books themselves. A few too many fines later, though, and we've gone to the family card system. I am the keeper of the family card. So yeah.

So this whole summer, the kids have taken turns being the ones who get to check out 2 books, vs. the poor child who only gets to check out 1 for the week. I have been making do with checking out ebooks, which do not count toward that total, and kindle books on sale for $1-2 through the book deal sites.

Once our 90 days is up and we get a regular person library card, we still can only check out 30 books at a time. Okay, fine. 30 books is do-able, I suppose. (Grumble grumble.)

Kids' Area/Comfort
The kids' area does have a few things going for it. For one, it's roomy. For another, there's a great floor-to-ceiling mural on the walls, of a forest. There's a dropped down area in one corner, which of course my kids all immediately gravitated toward. There's a child-sized bathroom right off the main area. Great!

My problem here is two-fold:
1. Other than the mural to look at, one road map rug, and a handful of cars, there's very little to play with or do in the kids' area. Our last library had a little puppet stage and puppets, a train table, a wooden dollhouse with fixtures and people, magnetic letters and a metal board, a felt wall with felt nursery rhyme characters, and so on. My kids always looked forward to our library trips, as much for the toys as for picking out the books.

2. No comfortable seating!
I'm not kidding! For adults there's one wooden rocking chair and one stiff armchair. That is it! There are maybe 6 kid-sized round tables, each with 4 kid-sized (hard) wooden chairs around them. Then there are 2 big ottoman-like benches between the rows of books, that seem impervious to either sitting (no backs) or lying down (too hard and too short.) So really, no comfortable place to sit down with a book and read for awhile. This is a serious lack. It cuts our visits short every week, because rather than lingering and starting in on that new book, we uncomfortably sit in the available chairs for about 10 minutes then decide to leave.

Family storytime?
Finally, I had kept the flyer listing weekly themes for some time. It advertised the regular preschool storytimes would be for all ages during the summer. Okay, so we chose a week. The theme was "Build with Bubbles." Sounded promising.

It was stories about bathtime. The average age was 2 years old. After apologizing to my 9-year-old for bringing him to this "family storytime" and sending him off to go find some books, I sat with my baby in the back, while the middle 2 listened to the 2 picture books. Not that my oldest would have been super interested in any type of storytime anyway, but we had hoped there would be some actual bubbles involved. Nope, not this time. They did do a craft afterword--painting fireworks with toilet paper tubes that had been cut on the ends. My 7-year-old and 5-year-old participated in that.

Perhaps this was just my bias as a children's librarian coming through, but folks! Don't promise me "Build with Bubbles" then give me bath stories! C'mon now! I did a fun (cheap) program every summer at my library with bubbles out on the patio. It involved a couple of children's wading pools and copious amounts of Dawn dishsoap, with a little glycerin. Anyway. It was disappointing, to say the least.

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I mean, this is what we've got, right? Maybe now that I've got all that off my mind I can just focus on the good. Maybe join the library board at some point and give some suggestions.