“When it comes to a fair fight the barbarians are … well … barbarians. Incapable of virtue, they insist hypocritically on etiquette — and the powers that be are so vigilant about keeping up the appearance of civility that they may even suspend you or charge you with harassment should you have the temerity to call them on their hypocrisy and refuse to play nice. Not having to be nice when others are acting shamelessly is what academic freedom was meant to protect.”


Mo-om! Abaigeal and Faith are writing fan fiction!

Abby’s fic, To Be Human, is in the Phineas and Ferb fandom, and answers these burning questions: What if Perry the Platypus was human? Does Ferb own any other clothing? And, most important of all, what are Phineas and Ferb going to do today?

Chapters 1-9 are [here](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/perry-the-platypus-fanfic-to-be-human-chapter-1/).

Faith’s Warriors fic, Stars of Gray, is also at their blog, but not neatly next-chapter-formatted yet. It features Graystripe, Faith’s favorite Warrior cat of that era. [Prologue](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/warriors-stars-of-gray-prologue/) [Chapter 1](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/warriors-stars-of-gray-chapter-1/) [2](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/warriors-stars-of-gray-chapter-2/) [3](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/warriors-stars-of-gray-chapter-3/) [4](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/warriors-stars-of-gray-chapter-4/) [5](http://ultrafab.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/warriors-stars-of-gray-chapter-5/)

addiction, habit, what-have-you

In my ongoing attempts to scale back my Internet habit I have switched back to Firefox from Google Chrome so I can use the Time Tracker add-on for Firefox. My goal is less than two hours of Internet time a day, which sounds simultaneously decadent and difficult. Decadent because, come on. Two *hours*? When there are people who walk miles a day to get water and wood to cook with? Poor widdle me, wif my two widdle hours! Difficult because, ack! Only two hours!

Time Tracker doesn’t track while you’re idle (mine considers ‘idle’ to be 30 seconds without mouse movement, the default is 60) and can be set to not track particular sites at all (I don’t track Pandora or this blog server, for instance.)

If I can’t do this the next alternative for me is to not have an exclusive computer, and put this one into communal use. I don’t kick the kids off the computer unless I have to look something up like a recipe or a phone number, and I give it right back. The interesting thing about that scenario is the lack of stress involved. I’m much more likely to be jonesing for my computer when it’s MY computer, and not in use unless I’m using it. When I shared a computer with the kids before I got this one I didn’t resent it at all, even though there were days when I didn’t get on. Maybe I should just do that.

Is this all part of the bargaining addicts do rather than quit for real? Probably. But maybe I’m not addicted so much as a heavy user. If I can control my habit, then I’ll know. If I can’t then I’ll deal with it then. Gulp.

Here’s a guy who has asked himself the same questions: Slate columnist James Sturm is halfway through his four-month Internet hiatus. After the first shock it seems to be largely a non-event. Could it be that easy? [Offline: What happened when I gave up the Internet](http://www.slate.com/id/2249562/entry/2249563/).

long tall Gleesons

I’m tall for a woman (I’m 5’10”, or 178 cm) and Sean is 5’9″ (175 cm). Our kids are all normal to tall, but some of them are very tall. Among the girls, Gloria is the 99th percentile for height and is predicted to be 5’10”-5’11”. Faith is very tall right now but will likely end up about 5’8″. Trixie is slated for 5’9″. Abby is supposed to be the shortest, at around 5’6″ (168 cm).

The boys. Bede is predicted to be 6’1″ (185 cm), and Gilbert is the beanpole, likely to be 6’2″-6’3″ (190 cm).

It was fun to predict these!

[Kid’s Height Predictor](http://children.webmd.com/healthtool-kids-height-predictor)
[Child Height Predictor](http://www.babycenter.com/child-height-predictor)

read books -> get free books -> read more books

The summer reading program at Half Price Books is underway! Kids 14 and under can get a $3 card for Half Price Books EVERY WEEK from June 1st through July 31! That’s nine weeks, guys, or $27 bucks!

Your kid (or you, if you have a non-writing kid) have to fill out a log showing at least 15 minutes of reading time each day, but it’s not an annoying log like in fourth grade.

We’ll get $162 in free books chez Glee, and since it’s Half Price Books, it’s actually $324. *Ohhhhh yeah*!

[Feed Your Brain at Half Price Books](http://www.halfpricebooks.com/feed_your_brain.html)

medieval historical fiction

Here’s my preliminary list of Middle Ages or so historical fiction for middle grades. We’ll start a high-tide period with some or all of these in the next month or so.

(This is just novels. We’ll also have nonfiction and some other books. When I get the final list compiled, I’ll post it too. All links go to the books’ pages on Amazon.)

400s Between the Forest and the Hills
597 Augustine Came to Kent
781 Son of Charlemagne
800s Beorn the Proud
1100s Red Falcons Of Tremoine
1167 The Red Keep
1170 If All the Swords in England
1171 The Hidden Treasure of Glaston
1200s The Magna Charta
1200s Adam of the Road
1200s Catherine, Called Birdy
1381 Crispin: The Cross of Lead
1400s The Door in the Wall

Worth a thousand words

No, no, this isn’t going to be my long-awaited picture post. Instead, it’s about picture books! On Twitter, Melissa Wiley mentioned the favorites at her house right now, and I started to reply with ours but quickly hit the 140 limit.

Gloria’s favorite is unquestionably “the big book!”, the HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics. According to Amazon, I purchased it a year and a half ago and I don’t think a day has gone by since that it hasn’t been read from. It is a great book, and a steal compared to purchasing the titles individually. Unlike many compendiums of kids’ books these are not abridged in word or illustration, nor are the illustrations reduced in size. The paper is heavy and holds up to repeated (and repeated!) readings, although I have had to tape the binding and use a bit of glue to hold the covers to the front papers. It consists of:

Goodnight Moon
Caps for Sale
Harold and the Purple Crayon
A Baby Sister for Frances
Leo the Late Bloomer
William’s Doll
If You Give A Mouse a Cookie
George Shrinks
Baby Says
From Head to Toe
Pete’s a Pizza

(The only one I could honestly do without is the very outdated William’s Doll. It introduced the idea that it was weird for boys to have dolls to my children which is what the story was trying to prevent. Heavy-handed writing is heavy-handed.)

Trixie is VERY into the whole If You Give A… series. Her favorite is If You Give a Pig a Party, but really any of them will do. Have you ever noticed the kids in those books look dismayed pretty quickly as they deal with the capricous whims of their charges? Heh heh. Welcome to my world, buddy.

Gilbert likes the Pigeon series, especially Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Gilbert has the melodramatic nature of many five-year olds, and he simultaneously feels for the pigeon, who just wants to drive the bus, fer cryin’ out loud, and yet loves beyond reason the power of telling him NO. Great, great book.

Bede is all about Seuss and Eastman right now. His decoding skills are mad but his ability to follow a plot is significantly delayed, so he really likes books like The Cat in the Hat and similar. A favorite of his is The BIG Blue Book of Beginner Books, which has six stories in it:

Put Me in the Zoo
A Fly Went By
Are You My Mother?
Go, Dog. Go!
The Best Nest
It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny

Again, a steal to get them all for one price. Bede likes to read them all, out loud, to me and Gloria. My favorite is Go, Dog. Go! but I am also fond of A Fly Went By.

So, yeah, busted that 140 character limit pretty hard, huh?

HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

If You Give a Pig a Party

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Big Blue Book of Beginner Books

my best birthday present

was the O’Melays, who were the visiting friends! I didn’t want to out them until they got back to their lovely farm. It was such a delight to finally meet Tabitha who I have known for almost seven years. The kids all got along swimmingly. Tabitha’s children are generally between my kids in age: Tristan is one year younger than Abby, Kassi is nine months older than Gilbert, Toly is nine months younger than Trixie, and Rome is nine months younger than Gloria. This meant that there were multiple playmates for each O’Melay. Tristan flitted between the older girls and Gilbert and Kassi played with Gloria and Faith. Toly and Bede wrestled with each other like puppies, and Rome floated around the edges.

Everyone got a mild cold and stuffy nose but the only one really sidelined by it was Tristan, who spiked a fever too. Poor dude!

Overall the visit was wonderful. They came down so Karl could build a wall in our new garage to partition it off for Sean’s office, and that was accomplished. Karl is amazing. Tabitha and I made food, as previously noted.

I also got other gifts: Sean got me The Complete Sherlock Holmes and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, both of which are great.

So all told, a Very Happy Birthday!

upcoming visit, a birthday

We have guests coming this weekend. It’s a perfect time to visit because for the next month we have two houses, see, so there’s room! We’re going to build an interior wall to partition off part of the garage and get an idea of what new flooring will be needed.

I’m thrilled to see the folks who are coming. I plan to cook a lot today and tomorrow. I hope my friends don’t mind the mess. It’s a pity they know me so well, I can’t blame it on moving.

In other news, Beatrice Anna snuck in and turned four when nobody was looking. I’ve turned my birthday photographer hat over to my eldest, and she has yet to post the pictures, but when she does I’ll link a few. In the meantime, [you might like to read her birth story](http://sean.gleeson.us/2006/02/23/beatrice-birth-1). It was very exciting, in retrospect. The day it happened, it was like a moment caught out of time, and absolutely the most divine of all my births.

Indoctrinating anglophilia

When I was in fifth grade, I switched schools. Someone there asked if I had been born in the UK, because I had a trace of the Queen’s English in my speech. I assure you it was not affected by me, but a natural byproduct of being raised in a home where the only thing on television was PBS, then recycled British children’s shows via 1985 Nickelodeon. The Third Eye, anyone? How about The Tomorrow People? The strongest, quickest and best, Dangermouse. And of course Doctor Who!

Thanks to the wonder of the internet I can continue this tradition with my kids. They are Whovians through and through, and Gilbert and Bede currently love Alphablocks, a CBeebies programme. Enjoy!


I was on Facebook earlier (I know, shocker) and my friend Jeni posted a link to make your own rice milk. Now, I don’t drink rice milk, I drink cow’s milk, but I have more than a few friends who are allergic to cow’s milk or have children who are allergic so I clicked through and read it.

It went on for quite a while, explaining the link between Monsanto and, well, pretty much anything agricultural, but then diverged a bit into sustainability and introduced me to a new word.


More than this, a move away from Rice Dream rice milk would be in alignment with our family’s goals to become ever more skilled at self-sufficiency. We are working to reskill ourselves (emphasis added) so that we are capable of producing as much of what we need as possible, as our incredibly skilled ancestors did. Reskilling yourself could involve learning to cook, sew, farm, weave, make baskets, do carpentry, preserve foods or even build your own house.

So that’s the word of the day.

go with the flow in more ways than one

The plumbing issue continues to plague us; we have misaligned pipes. With a little lip of pipe for things to catch upon it’s no wonder we keep having trouble. I think we’re going to see about buying our own power auger.

Sean had a second interview today at the same joint he was at earlier. The intervening days have given me time to get used to the idea and I’m now 90% excited and 10% anxious, and officially hoping he gets the job. I reckon we’ll find out next week. He said the interview went well.

Tonight we had a simple potato soup and homemade bread. One of those delightful plain meals that get overlooked for more sophisticated fare. Potatoes, onions, milk, butter, salt. Honestly, what’s not to love? I made enough to feed our army with a bit left over and then some – I had planned to feed my niece and her boyfriend as well as the Gleesons, and he was unable to make it. So there’s enough for lunch tomorrow as well! Yum. It’s especially good with grated cheddar in it.

Bede had another rough day. He seems to be ‘stuck’ more than he has been in the recent past, and gets more and more agitated as the perseveration goes on. I find that it’s very difficult to break him out of it once he gets started, and even if I do he’ll return to it later with renewed insistence and frustration. Whenever possible we have been trying to avoid situations where we have to bluntly say “no” and instead we are smoothing the way beforehand – keeping things he will become agitated about out of sight, attempting to compromise in the early stages of a ‘moment’ and so forth.

I am not unconditionally saying okaysure! i getchoo whatever it is you want! because I don’t like the precedent it sets in his mind: if I am insistent enough, loud enough, physical enough, I will get what I want. Sometimes there are just “no” moments: you cannot sit on your siblings or assault their persons; you cannot eat food, chew it to a pulp and spit it on the stairs; you cannot do many things. And so on. So when they occur I try to Just Be with him, consistent and kind and empathetic.

The hardest part about these times, beyond the episodes themselves, is the uncertainty of the peace when everything is calm. Knowing that the calm can be shattered any moment by an upset seventy pound autistic boy is more than a little nervewracking. I am on edge and jumpy, which makes things even more tense, and Bede more likely to react in kind.

All the more reason to keep the peaceful, easy feelings in the fore…

Do they dare?

Today I rediscovered (as in, found it behind a bookcase) one of my favorite books as a child, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. I loved it as a kid and remembered lingering over the illustrations. My kids love it just as much as I did, and Gloria is quite put out that I’m not reading it to her for the ninth time.

Amazon is currently running a sale on Dr. Seuss books – buy two get one free. Some other Extreme Favorites here at the Gleeson abode are Go, Dog. Go!, Big Dog…Little Dog, and Fox in Socks. I love these books!

There Are Cats In This Book

That’s the name of Bede’s favorite book. Have I discussed this before? I don’t think I have. It’s a REALLY GREAT BOOK. Did you like The Monster at the End of This Book? Then you’ll love this book. Bede acts it out constantly, redraws it with other beasts and beings (There Are PIXAR Lamps In This Book, etc) and it has given us a whole new world of bridging scripts upon which to drape deeper meaning. Abby has drawn several semi-sequels and derivative works. Faith still chuckles at it, at age nine. Trixie and Gilbert love it too.

Go buy it immediately. If you hurry, you can get it hardcover at bargain book price – $6.80. Go on, go!

Sharing is Caring day 4

Sharing is Caring:
for one week, recommend / share
Day 1: a song
Day 2: a picture
Day 3: a book/ebook/fanfic
Day 4: a site
Day 5: a youtube clip
Day 6: a quote
Day 7: whatever tickles your fancy

Today is a Site. I’m going to send you all to The Baldwin Project. It’s a fantastic collection of public domain children’s literature, all formatted nicely and so forth. It’s an invaluable resource. We use it for read-alouds all the time.

Sharing is Caring day 3

Sharing is Caring:
for one week, recommend / share
Day 1: a song
Day 2: a picture
Day 3: a book/ebook/fanfic
Day 4: a site
Day 5: a youtube clip
Day 6: a quote
Day 7: whatever tickles your fancy

Today I’m doing all three, lucky reader!

Book: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I sat back just now and tried to think of the one book I’ve read in the last few years that really surprised me, really stayed with me, and that was it. Heinleinesque first person military mindbender.

eBook: Little Brother (available as a free download at that link, courtesy of the author, Cory Doctorow.) This one’s near-future dystopia.

Fanfic: The Chaosverse, by earlgreytea68. Of course it’s Doctor Who, what else would it be? “And then there came a day when Rose said she was having a baby.”

PBS shirts

Bede draws the PBS logo a lot. He changes it around and makes a whole family of P-heads. He gives the P-head a different look, like a PIXAR lamp P-head, or a Scrat P-head.

I think he would really, really like this shirt. They don’t come in kid sizes, but he’s a pretty big kid, and he likes his clothes loose. An adult small will be too big but not unwearably so. And all he’s doing is growing… This is going on his Christmas list for sure.

Sharing is Caring Meme Day 1

via earlgreytea68

Sharing is Caring:
for one week, recommend / share
Day 1: a song
Day 2: a picture
Day 3: a book/ebook/fanfic
Day 4: a site
Day 5: a youtube clip
Day 6: a quote
Day 7: whatever tickles your fancy

The Decemberists: The Engine Driver has been haunting me lately. It’s such an autumnal song.

I hope you enjoy it. Here are the lyrics:

I’m an engine driver
on a long run,
on a long run.
Would I were beside her:
she’s a long one,
such a long one.

And if you don’t love me, let me go.
And if you don’t love me, let me go.

I’m a county lineman
on the high line,
on the high line.
So will be my grandson:
there are powerlines
in our bloodlines.

And if you don’t love me, let me go.
And if you don’t love me, let me go.

And I am a writer,
writer of fictions,
I am the heart that you call home.
And I’ve written pages upon pages
trying to rid you from my bones,
my bones, my bones.

I’m a money-lender:
I have fortunes
upon fortunes.
Take my hand for tender.
I am tortured,
ever tortured.

And if you don’t love me, let me go.
And if you don’t love me, let me go.

And I am a writer,
writer of fictions,
I am the heart that you call home.
And I’ve written pages upon pages
trying to rid you from my bones.
I am writer,
I am all that you have hoped of.
And I’ve written pages upon pages
trying to rid you from my bones,
my bones, my bones.

And if you don’t love me, let me go.
And if you don’t love me, let me go.

midsummer, math musings

I love midsummer. The cicadas are crooning in their robotic way, the air is viscous with heat, the days are long.

I don’t like my electric bill, which was obscenely high. I mean, it was bad. I have not been as good about hanging laundry as I could be – mostly days where it “looked cloudy” – but even accounting for that it was awful. I’ve renewed my dedication to not using the dryer and we’ll see if August’s bill is less than July’s. Dude.

In other news I’ve been geeking out over Doctor Who, listening to indie rock, and planning our school year. I’m leaning toward Teaching Textbooks for math since it’s self-taught and on the computer, both things Faith and Abby appreciate. It is a bit pricey though.

We’ve become sort of Charlotte Mason unschoolers. I coined the term “nudgeschooling” and it seems to fit. As always, it’s a journey.

How are you?

Police arrest mother for dropping her kids at the mall

There’s an essay in Brain, Child this issue about a Montana mom who left two seventh graders in charge of an 8 year old, a 7 year old and a 3 year old in a stroller, at the mall in Bozeman, for 2 hours. She was charged with child endangerment and forced to pay massive legal fees and to attend parenting classes.

The full essay is here.

As usual, I remain far more frightened of government child abduction than I am of stranger danger. What a world we live in.