Tainted Mountain

It’s always fun to read books by the nominees for RMFW Writer of the Year.  Digging into this lighthearted mystery by Shannon Baker was no exception.  The heroine is a great character, and though I figured out the mystery sooner than I’d like, the ending was still a very satisfying (though bittersweet) surprise.  I may try to pick up some more of these.

One Year

It has been a year since we first brought J. into the US.  Quite the year.  I think we’re all feeling a bit exhausted, but it’s also easy to see that we’ve come a long way.  Sometimes it even seems like J. is happy to be with us.

We haven’t had any pictures in awhile, so here’s a few from recent months.

From the Spring

J & K at the Arvada Kite Festival.
Hiking at Eldorado Canyon









From our trip to pick B & K up from their grandparents:

Feeding the Fish
At the hotel in Kansas City

From our 4th of July Camping Trip

Giant Chess

As you can see, we’ve been managing to have some fun as a family. There are still plenty of tense, angry moments in our home, but we’ve had some good times, too.

J & Tia

Together Again

For the past two-and-a-half weeks, B & K have been visiting family while J and we parents have been home dealing with the unusually warm Denver June.  On the home front we’ve had some not fun business (court; trips to the dentist) and some more fun stuff (skating at Skate City; a trip to Garden of the Gods and to check out Aunt Abby’s quilts in her quilt guild’s show in Monument), but mostly J has been lonely.  He looked almost as glad to see K yesterday as I was, (and he seemed even a little glad to see B).  I don’t know that he’d say the driving was worth it, but maybe he would.

We’re back to driving tomorrow, but yesterday the kids had a blast in the hotel pool, and today we’re going to rent paddle-boats or canoes and get out on a lake with Grandma & Grandpa.  Should be fun, we think.  It sounds like B & K had a very good time visiting grandparents and cousins.  The break from the stress at our house seems to have also been good for them.  But they were very, very glad to see us, and I think they’ll be glad to get home.

So road trip this week for the Hoffs.  And then K’s birthday.  Life is good.

Murder by Misrule

I think it’s tricky to have true historical figures in a novel, and even more so when said figure is a main character–and the main plot is not historical.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed this mystery with Francis Bacon as the leader of a group of amateur sleuths.   The characters are well-drawn; the details enlightening, and the mystery itself intriguing.

School’s Out

J, B & K all did exceptionally well in their classes this term.  Now they’re back home, adjusting to the largely unstructured time of break.  For the most part we’ve done OK, but the house is a bit of a mess, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves.  It helps that it’s warm enough now that the kids can sleep out in their tents if they want to.

J is busy working on his garden and doing a bit of cooking.  He’s doing some better with his English, but we should probably try to get him into a class or something.

B has decided he can live with our new chore system (which is good, since he didn’t really have a choice about that.)  He’s doing something I don’t entirely understand with his Minecraft server, and he and his sister are working together to write and illustrate a digital choose your own adventure book.  It seems to be a bit slow getting started, but they’re working on it diligently.  He and K. are looking forward to hanging out with grandparents for a few weeks starting this coming Wednesday.

K is dancing as a princess doll in her ballet studio’s production of Coppelia this weekend, so we’ve been super busy with rehearsals and costumes and refreshment table cookies and all that.  The late nights are exhausting, but K really enjoys the performing and all that comes with it (especially the makeup, which I’m finally figuring out.)

I’ll miss my younger two while they’re gone, but I hope they get a good chance to rest and have adults pay lots of attention to them.  I hope also that our time with J is good here at home, and that the trip out to pick the younger two up isn’t too difficult for anyone.

Does My Head Look Big In This?

This is a frequently funny, occasionally poignant story about an Arab-Australian teenager who decides she’s going to start wearing the hijab full-time (including to her private school.)  It dives right into serious issues without making them seem at all heavy (faith, women’s rights, cross-cultural communication, the immigrant experience, getting along in families).  It also touches on lots of lighter teenage experiences.  It was a fun, worthwhile read.

Rejection, Romance & Royalties

This collection of essays about making a living as a fiction writer had me laughing out loud and reading extended sections (when I could get them out without cracking up) to my critique group and long-suffering husband.  Besides being a healthy dose of fun, these  essays were practical and encouraging.  I’m currently borrowing my copy from the library, but I may just get one of my own. Yes, it’s that good.  If you’re a writer, or even if you just need a good laugh, you might want to check this book out.

The Apple of My Eye

In this story of love and loss, Brea Cass must learn who her husband really was in order to deal with his death and move forward in her life.  It’s a little bit love story, little bit mystery, little bit tale of friendship and finding oneself.  The characters are interesting, and the story fairly well told.  Worth reading for sure.