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October 03, 2012


Pratchett's got a new one out - Dodger - based on Oliver Twist and apparantly it's focussed at YA like Tiffany. I don't know for sure though so check it out yourself :-)

(PS It MAY only be released in UK now, but that's what Amazon.co.uk is for!)

Argh - although it may ALSO only be a BOOK at the moment too!

Do you eat meat from the supermarket? Because if I were to choose meat from an animal my husband hunted and processed himself; and an animal that has been fed hormones and stuffed in too small living spaces walking around in its own feces, I choose nature. Not all hunting is gun nuts and weird-o's, it is responsible people providing for their family. I would rather Edward eat meat he and Steve hunted themselves than some Tyson chicken nuggets. It just makes sense.

Glad all is OK although, um, wow, that is a pretty serious bow for a little boy. In profile in that middle bow-and-arrowing picture, Edward looks very much to me like (a younger) Patrick, though it sounds like in reality Patrick would be slumped over asleep and drooling if he were that close to a bow and arrow, so maybe the resemblance isn't all that after all.

My goodness your kids crack me up! I enjoy your posts tremendously. I usually go get a coffee, or something, and read you like you were dessert.

Pterry has a new book out with Steven Baxter called "The Long Earth" out, which, as far as I can remember, is appropriate for the wee'uns (no sex, violence exists but consequences are mostly offscreen...but it's not really YA). There'll be a second book sometime.

"Nation" is very good YA but is pretty overtly atheistic if you aren't into that.

Getting away from him, if he's cool with a female protagonist, Patrick might enjoy Diane Duane's "Wizardry" series. "So you want to be a wizard" is the first one. They have a nice mix of magic and massive conflicts between good and evil and a bit of science. "The Wizard's Dilemma", book 5, is emotionally very rough, and they never shy away from tearjerking even before then but if he could cope with "I shall wear midnight" he'll be fine.

Okay, could I have had any worse grammar in that post? To remove all the crazy.

"The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett is good speculative fiction but not YA.
"Nation" by Terry Pratchett is good alternate-universe YA but with an atheist slant.
"The Young Wizards" series by Diane Duane is good but emotional.

Aaand I'm just remembering "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" by Terry Pratchett, which is perfectly okay but not wonderful. Have you tried any of Neil Gaiman's stuff? Start off with "Coraline" and if that's cool move on to "The Graveyard Book".

Beg to differ on "The Amazing Maurice...": it *is* wonderful. It was the first Pratchett I ever read (won the Smarties award, I think), and all of a sudden it was past midnight, and I was still reading and having a lovely time. Great mix of clever and funny - not a series but also set in Discworld.
I can't remember: have you listened to the Discworld books featuring the witches? Because "Wyrd Sisters" and "Witches Abroad" (to name only two; there are more) totally rock. And I think P can deal with some, uh, innuendo, can't he? (Nanny Ogg, you know.)
Speaking of Patrick: I'm really glad you got him to see his ENT. I read most of the comments on your last post and hoped you would take that route.

Re Discworld: the whole City Watch thread about Sam Vines is excellent, too. Starts with "Guards! Guards!"; after that, Wikipedia is your friend.

Agree with Annette- go for Discworld. You can find lists that show the books chronologically featuring each character which is a nice way of concentrating on the bits you love.

Me, LOVE the Sam Vimes ones, love the witches and love Death (Christmas isn't THAT far away - try Hogsfather!). The wizard-based ones are my least favorite but that's just me.

Good Omens - Pratchett and Gaiman co-writing - is excellent and, just thinking back quickly, I think would be fine for Patrick although he might not be as interested.

For speech comparison purposes, my girls still use "w" for "r" and "y" for "l." I think they are about 6 months older than E and C.

I agree with the young wizard recs. she just put out updated (millennial) versions of the first few to tighten up the 20 year old tech references but I think they may only be available as ebooks from her site.

I would talk w Edwards preschool teacher about the speech. My kids all hit a bump where there vocabulary aquisition outpaces their oral motor and try are sort of incomprehensible for 6 month until it all evens out. It can be tricky to figure out normal abnormal at this stage and helps if you have a bunch of peers to compare them to.

I decided that my big objection to my husband hunting was mostly that I had no idea what I would do with an entire deer in terms of storage and eating it.

Yes "Guards! Guards!" from Pratchett's Discworld series. Fantastic.

My son is same age as your twins and sees a speech therapist (his speech sounds similar to Edwards but worse, and with a few other kinks thrown in for good measure), and the Rs and Ls are NORMAL to not be right just yet. We aren't even worrying about them yet. And as for TH, they aren't expected to come out right for another couple of years (age 7 or 8 I think). (And even the "expected" ages are actually "pronouncable by 75% of the kids 75% of the time" not "100% perfect all the time by virtually everyone".

So don't WORRY.

But it can't hurt to get him back on the books somewhere. If they think he needs it then why not avail yourself of their services, if they think he's caught up to average (even if he hasn't caught up to his sister) then you can stop worrying.

missed you. that is all. nice break from the world of IEPs, "how to say hello" practices, and the like. reading your blog is a glimpse into this world of brilliant, hilarious, beautiful, and most appreciative folk. thank you.

I love Pratchett. Could try Good Omens.

My son is doing Mandarin too (and French :P ). There is SO MUCH good language instruction on YouTube and other websites. We do 'Learn Chinese with Emma'. Also, you might be able to get movies in Mandarin (we can't, in Australia, but you might be in the right zone). Also, BBC's free language facilities are great, although maybe not age-appropriate. If Caroline is really hardcore, she might even be up to Michel Thomas. I hope she has fun :D

"a come to ASPCA meeting"---HA HA HA HA HA!!

She gots pretty hair.
I taked it.

I'll wait for K next fall for speech therapy for my creative speaker, but I've started actively correcting during conversations. Up until recently, I didn't bother. She's young.

My husband has always hunted with his father, who just turned 80. They're heading to Montana next month. We have what I call "the corner of death" in our family room - the animal heads and assorted antlers. This was such a foreign life (to me) that I married into, but I had years to get used to it. I'll cook it, I know it's healthier than anything from the grocery store, but I still cannot eat it. I tell my husband that I'm just not "ready" and he rolls his eyes.

The last taxidermied head arrived about 15 minutes before I was due home from work. I would love to have seen these guys work that quickly to get it on the wall before I had a chance to say anything.

I second The Amazing Maurice and Nation (all of his stuff is delightfully humanist/skeptical, I think, and this is certainly no exception), for Pratchett one-offs, but...

...maybe it's time to just go for it with the actual Discworld books -- there's some naughty jokes but subtle and mild enough where when I was reading them at age 10-11-12 I found them funny but didn't quite actually, say, understand them. I guess there's at least some hinted-at off-screen (off-page?) sex in some, too.

I would skip the early wizardy Rincewind stuff and either start with the witches (since they overlap some with Tiffany Aching) or the City Watch books (my favorites, for some reason. Less magic, more hard work and street smarts, I guess.)

I think Patrick will like Lord Vetinari. Though doesn't everyone? You could read/listen to one and see what you think.

Wikipedia copy-paste!
Witch book list:
Equal Rites 1987
Wyrd Sisters 1988
Witches Abroad 1991
Lords and Ladies 1992
Maskerade 1995
Carpe Jugulum 1998
The Wee Free Men 2003 (Tiffany Aching)
A Hat Full of Sky 2004 (Tiffany Aching)
Wintersmith 2006 (Tiffany Aching)
I Shall Wear Midnight 2010 (Tiffany Aching)

City Watch:
Guards! Guards! (1989),
Men at Arms (1993),
Feet of Clay, (1996),
Jingo (1997),
The Fifth Elephant (1999),
Night Watch (2002),
Thud! (2005)
Snuff (2011).

Thanks for the reminder, Julia -- Patrick, CA plates headed your way in the next few days, I promise!

I'm really happy that you are on the path to try to improve Patrick's immune system. I've suggested this before, I think, but, well, it doesn't have to be expensive. You might find this extreme, but aren't you kind of at a point where extreme is warranted? This will really, really help him.


So, so good to see you post. I love your stories. Very interested in the naturopath stuff - and not just because Patrick is hilarious about it - but because I, too, am a lifelong sinus sufferer and have been considering drastic options lately. Keep us posted.

Glad you are writing again!

I have to agree with the comment above that if you are going to eat meat, hunting meat is better than buying it. At least you are not adding to the environmental impact and animal cruelty of factory farms. I share your love of the animals, so now I don't eat them at all. It took me decades to understand this, and I have blogged about my journey.

Good luck with getting to the source of Patrick's health issues!

Does Patrick have IL plates yet? If not...I've got some with his name on them.

Yay! A new post from Julia! You made my day :o)

This will sound strange, but you should try popsicles for Patrick's sinuses. I have chronic sinusitis and I find that pushing something cold up against the roof of my mouth will take down the swelling and allow some circulation in there

My son was evaluated over a year ago [he's nearly 5 now] and it turned out he had a substantial delay - even though I thought it was "mostly" normal for his age. I didn't think it was as off as the therapist thought. It never can hurt to have Edward evaluated again, my son has come a long way but has much work to be done.

We're working on SH in the beginning and ends of words now - just fyi. :)

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Your wonderful pictures (word and print) of your family never fail to delight me.

Assuming the blood gets sent one of the fave labs of the naturopaths, I'm putting my money on the report stating that they detected a fungal infection. And when you get their "diagnosis," please confirm it independently with testing through one of your regular docs, 'kay?

Guards! Guards!

I'm going to throw my two cents in here regarding speech therapy. We have B/G twins that are just about 4 months older than Caroline and Edward. I finally took my daughter to be evaluated at the end of the school-year last spring. She seemed to not be improving, if not getting worse, and when she talked fast, good Lord help us, we couldn't get 50% of what she was saying. At her eval the speech therapist said she thought that everything she was doing was age-appropriate and would improve on its own, but we would meet again in a week after she had gone over all of the findings. At the next meeting she said essentially what you did, that she felt that she had enough problems with her speech that it wasn't silly to start her and that she would hate to re-evaluate her when she started kindergarten and discover that she did in fact need speech therapy, and we had wasted an entire year. Long story short, it sure wouldn't hurt to have him re-evaluated. It doesn't help when you're comparing them to a sibling/twin who has perfect speech, does it? Mine are just flip-flopped with yours.

And regarding the hunting, I'm with you. I get that some people enjoy it, that that meat is more humanely killed than most farm animals, and that it is necessary...but ugh. I don't get it. We get all of our meat from farmers we know and get it processed at a local butcher. I don't eat it, but I can't knowingly purchase meat for the rest of the family that was most likely mistreated.

This is totally off topic (and I owe Patrick license plates!) but I think I've found something Patrick might like. I believe you've written that he builds with Citiblocks (or something similar), right? Well, my kids have a bunch but never really took to them (lacking the patience, I think). I found these star-shaped connectors that fit on the blocks and allow you to build things that you can pick up and carry. Anyway, they might breathe some more life into the blocks, if you're interested. Here's their Facebook page (free shipping in October!) https://www.facebook.com/bionicblox?ref=ts&fref=ts

Looooove your blog and hearing about your uber-cute kiddos. Thanks for ending the hiatus! As a longtime PTerry fan (I even took him to lunch once! nyah, nyah!) I vote for either the witches series or guards series. Granny Weatherwax are Nanny Ogg are in the Tiffany Aching stories and in the general witches stories, so the crossover might be fun for Patrick. The innuendoes are extremely mild and he probably won't twig to most of them. (Just don't let him try to sing, "A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End!" LOL!) The guards series (starting with "Guards! Guards!") has more action, which Patrick might like. Sam Vimes starts the series as an alcoholic, but reforms himself ... and after all, with kids being exposed to alcohol every time they turn around, maybe it's not a bad idea to have a little conversation about that, and maybe plant the idea early that Too Much Booze Is Not Good. I love both series becaused they are funny, action-packed, and full of excellent role models. The good guys do what needs to be done, and do it creatively! (as in the Tiffany Aching books). Hard to go wrong with any of them.

With Patrick's personality and affinity for fabric and sewing has he (you) thought about a quilting class for him? It would combine his love for math with color and creation and I think he would come up with some marvelous design. And it's not just about bed quilts (though that's a nice benefit) but wall hangings, table runners, etc.

I'd be happy to dive into my batik stash and send some fabric his way to get him up and running. :)

are you on goodreads?

Batik! With all the dyeing (I hope I spelled that to mean with dye - yes, I think so) - has Patrick done Batik? I think it would be a pretty cool way to take his interests to the next level - and he's old enough to be trusted with hot wax - right? Might be pretty neat!

I'm a Speech Language Pathologist (and reader/ first time commenter). I wouldn't be particularly worried about "l," and even less worried about "th," (link to a speech sound development chart recommended by the American Speech and Hearing Association: http://www.talkingchild.com/speechchart.html), but it is concerning that sometimes he isn't easy to understand for you.

A general guideline we use is that at age 1, children should be understood at least 25% of the time by all listeners, 50% by age 2, 75% at age 3 and 100% by age 4. Typically, family members will understand much more than people less familiar with the child's speech.

If you're concerned at all, I'd recommend having him evaluated to set your mind at ease OR to work on sounds before he starts kindergarten.

Bookwise: I definitely recommend the Discworld novels, and honestly, I thought "the rough music" portions of the final Tiffany Aching book to be among Pratchett's darkest. Nanny Ogg does feature heavily in the witches books, so there is a fair amount of innuendo though. "The Amazing Maurice" is also quite good.

My son who just turned 4 has been doing speech therapy for a year. It has really helped! We started speech because he had a just about a million ear infections before he was two and I was sick of the doctor telling me he was just lazy. Finally I had an ear specialist tell me that the amount of time spent with ear infections is the amount of time needed to correct his speech. So we are halfway through her prediction and his speech is so much clearer. He is getting most of his consonants now and it only gets fuzzy when he gets excited or sad. I think it would be worthwhile having Edward evaluated.

I would say that it wouldn't hurt at all to get another speech therapy reevaluation.

Easily half the time my ten year old son (lifetime history of endless ear infections, chronic asthma, delayed speech, ear tubes, sick all-the-time &c.) is not understandable to people outside the family; and about twenty percent of the time, even we have to ask him to slow down and repeat. He is also highly intelligent, musically gifted, a deeply committed chatterbox, and is grades above his age level. So, is easily dismissible by doctors — at least that's my theory as to *why* I can't for love or money get a referral for him to speech therapy. It seems to me that the older they are, and the more academicall and socially capable they are, the less interested in speech therapies doctors are. (For us, at leasat, with various different HMOs *sigh*)

I guess all I am saying is, if you can get Edward in now, go for it.

(Apologies for typos: brain tumor = lack of hand-eye coordination)

I hope Patrick's docs figure all this out soon. How awful for him (and you!).

re the Cipro, it's surprising she even made that a choice, since it's considered really dangerous for use in children (permanent muscle and tendon damage). Even in the case of pediatric anthrax, they don't recommend it:

"Oral and intravenous fluoroquinolones are not licensed by the U.S. FDA for use in children due to the risk of permanent injury to the musculoskeletal system, with two exceptions as outlined below. Within the studies submitted in response to a Pediatric Written Request (ciprofloxacin, circa 2004) the rate of arthropathy was reported to be 9.3% at one month and 13.6% at one year vs 6.0% and 9.5% for a panel of comparator antibiotics (mainly cephalosporins).

"As such the pediatric use of ciprofloxacin is restricted to proven complicated urinary tract infections and pyelonephritis due to E. coli and inhalation anthrax. Although FDA approved for this indication, ciprofloxacin is not to be considered a first line agent for inhalation anthrax in the pediatric population."

Do you pay the eye-watering costs of free range meat/chicken/eggs/etc. as well? I hope so. I mean that sincerely, although looking at it, it looks snarky.

My husband hunts the meat we eat (that sounds like a very weird children's book, "the meat we eat.") and I am somewhat fanatical about encouraging people to NOT participate in factory farming. I know that is all most people can afford but if you can swing it, please go for the naturally raised.

Better yet, kill your own meat. It's more ethical and, frankly, it tastes better.

I also have to laugh at the idea that Steve is doing something honorable by not taking the kids hunting due to your sincere wishes.

I can see it now..."Gee, Julia, I promise to go by myself away for weekend after weekend while you manage all the kids but only because I respect you so much."

Naturally you get weekend after weekend off in the Spring to do as you wish while Steve watches all three kids, right? I didn't think so (&, yes, that was snarky but, really, it's too ridiculous to not make mention of.)

I am a speech-language pathologist, and I agree 100% with Alicia (the SLP who commented above) that you should consider having Edward evaluated. Even though the particular errors you mentioned may be within developmental norms, the fact that his speech is not always intelligible is concerning.
As a "newish" reader, I have not followed all of Patrick's medical history. Has he been tested by an allergist? I had a miserable childhood and teenager-hood(is that a word?) with constant sinus infections until my allergies were discovered.

For Pratchett, try the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, if you haven't already (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb). It's geared slightly younger than Tiffany Aching and not set in Discworld, but there is a fantastical element. Also, while Patrick would most likely enjoy the "Watch"/Sam Vimes books others have mentioned, I am partial to con-artist Moist von Lipwig, myself - featured in the books Going Postal and Making Money.

I've also been reading the "Dark Is Rising" series by Susan Cooper (starts with Over Sea, Under Stone), which is also quite good.

I am in the middle of the Belgariad Series by David Eddings, you guys might like it! Although the guy that reads the audiobook takes a bit of getting used to!


It's not possible for everyone to eat wild meat. Animals would go extinct.

OK, I have to throw in my (hard science educated) bias: bag the naturopath. Their blood tests as noted above do not stand the test of scrutiny, they tend to sell staggering amounts of stuff that doesn't do much. They are the refuge of the worried well. If you want to spend lots of money on vague things to make yourself feel a little better, go to one. If you (or your child) is SICK, don't. I sound stern because a dear friend of mine is in hospital as I write and may not make it out except in an urn, and largely this is because of a reliance on "alternative" practitioners who failed to recognize what SICK looks like. My friend had a structural abnormality that could have been readily and quickly treated two years ago and now, assuming survival of the latest crisis, the best he can hope for is a life never eating normally again. Using cipro does not mean the doc is an idiot who knows less than the average internet-educated bear. It means the kid is SICK. And if it works, hooray. I'd try the popsicles, or plain ice cubes if Patrick doesn't like the sugar in the popsicles, a long time before I'd go with the eight million supplements for a year and see what happens approach. And, yes, I'm snarky. I may be losing a wonderful friend for absolutely no good reason.

Also, you are an incandescently gifted writer and all the kids are beyond wonderful. I love "so much Caroline" and "bow and arrowing."

Julia! I haven't visited blogs, yours included, in a very very very long time. Your children are delightful and growing so fast. Wow!

Just wanted to let you know I thought of and checked up on you and your fabulous family. There! You may now go about your business. :)

Laura (from baaaaaack in the iP day!)

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