Capturing Life

There was a part of me that wanted to have a blog long before I did.  The thing that kept me from doing it was the thought of keeping it up.  You see, I’m really much more of a doesn’t-this-sound-fun kind of girl than an actually-follow-through-with-the-plan kind of girl.  But then we embarked on this little adventure that makes blogging at least helpful if not almost necessary for keeping in touch with people so here I sit with my blog that (not surprisingly to me but much to my mother’s dismay) rarely gets updated.  Nothing like a little structure when you’re stuck in a rut!  I love to fill out a form so I’ve created one that I can easily update.  Here’s my first attempt to keep a little more current:

This week…
     The kids finished school!  Hannah had a gymnastics program and a sweet little play based on Charlotte’s Web and Eli graduated from Kindergarten!!!  I think I’m more excited about the year ending than they are.  They will still go to school this summer but it’s really more like summer camp.  Everyone will finish at noon everyday with no homework and no after-school activities – yay!!!  Other big news: Mark turned 39!!!

Fern and Charlotte
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The graduate!

What we’re seeing…
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Mark’s parents and older brother + family came in town so we are at Punta Leona, about an hour and a half outside of San José, for the weekend.
What we’re learning…
     I love to do read-alouds with the kids.  About 2 months ago we read this book:

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Written from the perspective of a hermit crab (Pagoo), it DETAILS (and I mean with LOTS of little details) his life cycle by narrating all of his thoughts and experiences.   I really thought it was over my kids’ heads when we first started (advanced vocabulary, some pretty abstract ideas and did I mention LOTS of DETAILS) but they were super interested so I kept reading.  Fast forward to today – Eli finds a hermit crab on the beach and as he’s watching it drops its shell (which happens several times in the book as Pagoo grows larger and needs more space).  I thought that was super cool but Eli took it one step further (I love the way his mind works!).  A few minutes later he came to me with another hermit crab still in the shell.  “Mama, watch this!” he says.  He gently pulled the hermit crab out of its shell and then set both down on the ground together.  He patiently persisted in blocking the crab in and then putting the shell close by again.  Eventually his attempts paid off and we watched with fascination as the crab backed back into the shell and claimed it as his home once again.  “Did you see that Mama?!?!  Just like Pagoo!”                              

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The first crab that dropped its own shell

What we’re reading now…

     A few back issues of World Magazine that my in-laws brought.

What we’re thankful for…
     The process of getting Reide’s paperwork to leave the country has been smoother than we thought -just one more step!

What we’re praying for…
     1. A house in Cusco
     2. That God would quicken our minds as we soak in as much Spanish as we can during these last few weeks.
     3. Hank has croup and a fever now – pray that he will get better and that Reide won’t get it.

What we’re saying…
     The other night as we’re walking back to our room from the pool and Hank and I were lagging behind the group he said, “I just can’t walk as fast as them – my nose is tired.”

One more picture/video/website to share…

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find the cost of your paper

Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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