There’s These Men…

So I’m driving down the road when Hal starts his longwinded manner of trying to tell me something.

“Mommy? You know that store? That one with all the books? The one with lots and lots of books?”

I have no clue if he means Hasting’s or Half Price Books or still some other place, but I make a slight affirmative noise and he continues.

“Well there’s a magazine I want.”

“What’s the name of the magazine?”

“I don’t know, but…” At this point, I know I’m going to get a very detailed description that likely won’t help me figure out the magazine. “…there’s these men. There’s three of them on the cover…”

I’m wondering if this might be some fitness magazine.

“…and they are holding guns…”

Whaaa?

“…and there’s this big red skull in the middle of them.”

Oh, my.

“But the scary stuff doesn’t show up until the middle of the book,” he assures me. “Although there is this really strange looking dog.”

I have no clue what this magazine is and I’m not sure I want to know. I am fairly confident that I won’t be purchasing it for my Kindergartner.

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The Inner Dragon Let Loose

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A stone support near the entrance of our local Braum’s.

It’s Vacation Bible School week.  The coolest thing about Vacation Bible School week is that we go out with friends for ice cream at Braum’s nearly every night afterwards.  This is a pretty crazy thing to do since it’s already bedtime when we get there but, hey, it’s summertime.  Why not?

I was standing near the above pictured item with Daryl while Hal and Daddy fetched some bread and bananas from the market before we left.  (If you don’t live in a close enough radius to Western Oklahoma, then you may not know what Braum’s is.  It’s primarily an ice cream store except it also has great hamburgers and cherry limeades… and a pretty decent grocery section where we buy eggs, milk, bread, and some produce.)

Anyway, I was standing there with Daryl, who was wound up and hyper.  He was hopping around and throwing his arms around and talking trash like a rapper.  Actually, he looked more like a pale, skinny, nerdy white kid trying to imitate a rapper, which made it kind of hard not to laugh.

“Momma, momma.  I’m tellin’ ya.  I’m gettin’ ready to let loose.  I’m gettin’ ready to let loose my inner dragon all over this stone plinth here.” He slapped his hand on the support in demonstration.  “I’m gonna let loose my inner dragon on this stone plinth.”

Ok, let’s just set aside the whole “inner dragon” business for a minute.  My ten year old son used the word “plinth” in conversation.  I mean, who does that?  *I* don’t even do that.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the word spoken before.  It doesn’t come up in everyday conversation.  It just doesn’t.  Unless you are talking to Daryl, that is.  Which is what makes him so awesome.

Now, I must have heard the word before, because as soon as he said it, I corrected his long I sound: “It’s plinth, not ply-nth.”

He paused from his tough guy act.  “Are you sure?”

“Not positive, but I’m pretty sure it’s plinth.  You can go ask Daddy.”

He returned from checking with his dad to tell me it’s pronounced “ply-nth”.  The tone of his voice would have been enough to label that a lie even if I hadn’t heard his dad protesting in the background.

This kid uses the vocabulary he gains from books, which makes him awesome.  And the fact that he mispronounces almost all of them doesn’t faze him one bit.  Which makes him doubly awesome.  I love this kid.  And that crazy inner dragon of his.

Books, Books, Books

About a decade ago, my husband and I decided that we had too many books in the house.  Some of you book lovers out there will claim that this isn’t possible – that no one can have too many books.

That’s simply not true.  There are too many books when you can no longer access all the books you have, when they are stacked in front of each other, when they line the walls, forcing you to stack other stuff in front of them because they take up all the wall space.  When you simply can’t access most of the books you have.

Note we decided that there were too many books in the house.  We didn’t decide that we owned too many books.  Actually, I think we knew that we owned too many but we weren’t actually ready to part ways with them.

So… we packed them up in tubs.  And tubs.  And more tubs.  And put them out in the storage building to be dealt with later.

And here we are at later.

There has been a confluence of personal growth events and decisions over the last couple of months that has paved the way for where we are now.

First, we both dearly love our Kindles.  We rarely crack a spine of a book anymore.  Books that we love… more and more, we are deciding to repurchase in electronic form.  Now some, with beautiful pictures or the author’s autograph, we will always keep.  And we’ll probably always have a wall or two of books – just to feel at home.  But we simply aren’t likely to read them on paper anymore.  And we know that.

Secondly, we have been growing the desire to keep a cleaner, less cluttered house.  This has created a willingness to stop purchasing things and to let go of many things that we do have.  Including books.  In theory.

Finally, we are about halfway through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  We are excited about taking control of our money instead of vice versa.  We are excited to know where our money is going.  And we are excited about paying off our vehicles and then the mortgage and student loan to be debt free.

One of Dave’s recommendations is to sell whatever you can to earn some extra money to achieve your financial objectives.  So we decided to do a joint garage sale with other folks from the class, this dovetailing very nicely with our drive to rid ourselves of stuff.  That took us out to the storage building, where we started extracting those tubs.

Sixteen tubs of books.  Sixteen.

My husband nobly committed to getting rid of half of them.

“Half?!” I exclaimed.  “We need to get rid of more than half!”

“It’s a start.  Maybe I’ll get rid of more.”

“So much for making room in the storage building!”

“They won’t go back in the storage building.”

“Then where will they go?” I asked.

“In the house.”

“Where?!”

“I’ll find room.”

“Where?!”

“Well, I might have to get rid of some of the books in the house to make room.”

“You could get rid of all the books in the house and not have room for half of these!”

“You know, you could try meeting me part way.  I’m trying here and you still just want to slash and burn.”

“I don’t want to slash and burn.  I’m trying to inject a bit of reality into this.  There. Isn’t. Room.

“There’s nothing rational about this.  There’s not room for reality.  It is what it is.”

“Fine.  We’ll start with 50%.  But nothing in tubs.  Nothing in the storage building.  Nothing stacked in front of anything else.”

He agreed to that but I don’t see how he’s going to make it happen.  There’s already stuff stacked in front of everything else.

Oh, and one of the great things about all this great personal growth stuff we’ve been going through?  That entire discussion above was done with humor and grace.  No anger.  No irritation.

It’s pretty awesome.

Diverging from Divergent

Ok, this post is rife with Divergent spoilers, both book and movie. I’m warning you. You can safely read until you hit the DIVERGENT SPOILERS line. Anyone still reading after that, I shall assume that either you have read the book and seen the movie or do not care about spoilers.

We finally got to see Divergent this weekend. Jane missed an opportunity to go see it with her main group of friends and I was starting to wonder how we’d make it work. If she had seen it with her friends, then my husband and I could have seen it on a date night while she babysat. All three of us still waiting to see it was a logistical problem.

Lucky for us, some good friends commented after church Sunday that they (meaning the mother and daughter) were going to go see Divergent. The father said he wanted to get home to watch Nascar. A solution blossomed in my head and I smiled sweetly at him.

“Would you be interested in having some extra boys at your house?”

He shrugged and said that’d be fine.

He wife warned, “You realize that includes Home Slice don’t you?” Home Slice is his inexplicable nickname for Hal, our youngest and the one without a counterpart in their household. He shrugged again and confirmed it was ok.

And before I knew it, I was sitting in the theater watching Divergent. Now I had already checked out the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and knew it wasn’t getting a great response. But when you are a fan of a book, you go to the movie regardless.

And I am a fan of the book. Not as much as my daughter is, but I enjoyed the read. There were several plot points, however, that didn’t feel solid to me. It didn’t make sense for the characters to do what they did. Some of the confusion was cleared up as time went on and I learned more (some of that confusion, btw, was reflected in some of the reviews). A few points stayed with me even after completing the series.

To my great surprise and delight, the movie, weak and overlong as it may have been, “fixed” all my problem spots in the story. I honestly can’t think of another time when I’ve watched a movie and felt they fixed some very specific problems I had with the book.

******************* DIVERGENT SPOILERS ***************************

1) Tris’s final test for Dauntless.

Tris is Divergent. This means she doesn’t fit into the mold of a specific faction and is considered by some to be dangerous. It also means she can manipulate simulations, including the simulations used by the Dauntless faction to have people respond to their worst fears through hallucinations. To move past a fear, the person must either “defeat” it or calm their breathing and heart-rate.

Tris, however, is able to know that what she is experiencing is not real. She can also change what is happening. The first time she realized this, she was trapped in a glass box filling up with water. When she was unable to kick the glass out, she reminded herself that it wasn’t real and simply touched the glass, causing it to shatter.

Doing so caused Four, her instructor and soon-to-be boyfriend, to realize what she was. He and another character told her that doing that in a simulation would broadcast to others that she was Divergent, which would get her killed. She was strictly warned not to manipulate the simulations in her final test.

So what did she do in the book? Manipulate the simulations. Make a gun appear at her feet. Make a door appear at the end of the closet. Make it start raining. And… touch the glass to make it shatter. The. Exact. Action. That. Prompted. The. Warnings. The other manipulations might be argued as “ok”, but certainly not that one.

You could also argue that she was just stupid (a weak argument since one of her strengths was “Erudite”) or that she forgot under the stress. That argument does not explain why the Dauntless leaders watching did not immediately nab her when she woke up.

The movie fixed it. She responded to all of the crises in ways that a Dauntless person would. Most noticeably, she didn’t break the glass. Problem solved. She’s not stupid. And we have a reason why she wasn’t in custody or dead when the invasion took place the next day.

2) Tris’s Execution.

Once the Erudite take mental control over their now robot-like Dauntless army, Tris and Four pretend to be controlled like everyone else. Circumstances eventually out them and they are taken to the Erudite leader. The book and movie diverge in this scene, but the end result of each is that Four is taken away and Tris is ordered executed.

In the book, we have this great parallel to her fear landscape where she is placed in a glass box that is filling with water. Oh, no! Now it’s not a simulation! Whatever shall she do?!

Just like the old Adam West Batman TV series, though, the villains leave her unattended or at least unattended enough and her Abnegation mom, secretly a bad-ass, comes and rescues her.

The scene has punch until you step back and think about it. They are in the Abnegation area, which the Erudite just invaded with their Dauntless army. It’s all happening on the same day. When did the Erudite have time to setup the water tank? Would they really have taken the time during an invasion to setup the means to kill her with style? Especially not knowing for sure ahead of time whether she was Divergent or not?

The movie solved the problem in a much more realistic manner. Her execution is ordered. Her captors drag her outside between some buildings, force her to her knees, and prepare to shoot her execution style. That’s when bad-ass mom comes tearing out of the woods with a gun and takes out all the soldiers. Same punch, same effect. No doubt about the likelihood of the bad guys actually behaving that way.

3) Stopping the Mass Simulation to Save the Day.

When Four is taken away, it’s because he can also resist simulations and the Erudite want to test a more powerful control serum on him. He demonstrates it works at first by nearly strangling Tris. But he’s still able to break free. They take him away to work on a tougher one.

He is eventually successfully controlled and sent to the Dauntless control room where he can mastermind the invasion. Unbelievably, despite his previous observed ability to resist simulation and everyone’s assumption that he is Divergent (and thus not to be trusted), he is left to manage this important task alone. There are guards in the facility but he is alone in the control room.

This makes for a poignant scene when Tris is able to fight her way in. He goes to kill her; she resists. They are all alone. She tries to get through to him and finally succeeds when she decides to turn the gun she has trained on him to her own temple to kill herself in a pure demonstration of selflessness (an Abnegation trait). This wakes him up and together they are able to stop the simulation and thus the slaughter.

Would they really leave him there alone? With the lives of thousands at stake, would she really try to kill herself to break him free? Maybe the second point – she was kind of odd. But the first one?

In the movie, the control room is full of Erudite people, which makes sense. Why in the world would they leave a mind-controlled Dauntless in charge of it all? And alone? In the movie, he’s there: hooked up to a simulation, strapped down to a chair, doing… something. Tris sneaks in and tries to free him. He then tries to kill her. The struggle continues roughly as the book had it but with Erudite witnesses.

When she succeeds in breaking his mind loose, they then turn and fight the Erudite. They have a pretty easy time of it since they’ve trained for fighting and the bookworms haven’t. Tris then tries to get the Erudite leader, the person you would expect to be controlling the simulation, to stop it. She refuses. They stab her with the mind-control serum and then tell her to stop it and she does.

My daughter probably hated the scene because it was such a sharp deviation from the book. I, however, found it much more believable.

In the end, the book was good. The movie was ok. But if the book had been written with these scenes conducted more like the movie, wow. The book would have been great.

Dangerous Women

I hope you will humor me with an unusual blog post… for me, at least.  I’d like to give a book review.  One that morphs into a bit of an author review.  I am a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series.  I mean, huge.  So huge that for my birthday, my husband bought two very expensive tickets for me and a fellow-fan friend to go watch her talk about her upcoming book this summer.  We can hardly wait.

Since I (of course) follow her on Facebook, I had also been looking forward to her short story “Virgins” in the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, released December of last year.  I pre-ordered the anthology months ahead of time and eagerly anticipated its download to my Kindle.  When it arrived, I used the Table of Contents to navigate to her story first.

Now, I was coming off of a bit of a Brandon Sanderson binge.  I remarked to my husband when it showed up, that 6 of the 7 most recent books on my Kindle had Sanderson in them.  I had downloaded a different anthology that he was in (haven’t read it yet) and then read all four of his wonderful, magical, delightful, unpredictable Mistborn books and his also wonderful, magical, delightful, maybe slightly-more-predictable children’s book, The Rithmatist.

“Too bad he’s not in this anthology too,” I remarked.

“I don’t think he’s quite the same type of author as Gabaldon and Martin,” he replied, referring to their propensity for violence and sex.  (Because of the scenes I choose to tell him about, I think he has a less-than-accurate view of Outlander if he takes the same disdainful view of it that he does A Game of Thrones.)

To my great amusement, when I concluded my reading of Virgins (it was ok – I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough on its own to redeem the price I paid for the entire anthology.  Too much anticipation, perhaps.), I noticed that Sanderson actually did have a story in the book: “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell”.

I fell in love.  It tells the story of an aging woman who runs an inn in some alternate dangerous world.  It had all the right short story twists and surprises and it exposed me to yet another Sanderson world that I sincerely hope I get to read more about some day.  There are 21 stories in this book and I read them over the course of 2 1/2 months, so I can’t remember them all clearly, but this one was easily one of my top 3-5 stories.

I then returned to the start of the book to see what these other authors had in store for me.

First up, Joe Abercrombie’s “Some Desperado.”  I will be searching for more books by this author.  The writing was excellent, the plot twists were great, character development wonderful.  Unlike with Sanderson’s tale, it didn’t leave me begging for more; it just left me satisfied.  And eager to read more of his works.

From there (no, I’m not going to review all 21 stories – just hitting the highlights!), I moved to Megan Abbott’s “My Heart is Either Broken,” the tale of a man whose wife is suspected of killing their daughter and he simply can’t come to terms with it.  In my mind, the perfect short story makes you think you know what’s going on, delivers a twist, and then another one, and you are left stunned.  This story delivered full force.  At this point, I was in love with the anthology because three consecutive stories had blown my socks off.

I yawned through the next one, not exactly sure which woman was supposed to be the dangerous one.  The next (“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass) intrigued me with the fantasy world it depicted and expertly pulled off one of those “so what’s real?” questions.

Then I got to Jim Butcher’s “Bombshells.”  Like Gabaldon’s “Virgins,” this story came out of his existing body of work, The Dresden Files, which sounded vaguely familiar to me.  I expected to perhaps not connect with the story since I wasn’t familiar with his series (neither the book nor TV series).  Nope.  Fell in love.  Asked for and received Dresden Files books for Christmas.

The next three (“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn, “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale, and “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm) were excellent reads.  The first is about an uber-competetive female Russian fighter pilot in WWII.  The next, about an old “professional” wrestler bewitched by a beautiful and seductive (to him, at least) woman.  The last, a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and her warped view of her neighborhood around her.  I thoroughly enjoyed them all.

So far, I was feeling pretty good.  Then I read “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block and it ticked me off.  Not the story, but its inclusion in this particular anthology.  Don’t get me wrong, the story was still brutal: a crime thriller with a really sadistic character graphically described.  Still, the slow nature of the reveal was good and the writing was solid.

*** Small Spoiler Alert – skip the next paragraph if you want ***

However, the anthology is described as “showcas[ing] the supposedly weaker sex’s capacity for magic, violence, and mayhem.”  And… slight spoiler alert here… this story appears, at first, to be describing a dangerous woman, but when it’s all said and done, you realize it’s just a depraved and dangerous man.  One that preys on unsuspecting women that he convinces himself are dangerous, but who actually aren’t.

*** End Spoiler Alert ***

So, while the story was good, I felt very strongly that the editors should not have included it.  It didn’t fit my (highly legalistic) interpretation of the intent of the collection.

“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman, from the Magicians series, left me rolling my eyes.  I found the allegedly “dangerous” girl to be frivolous and full of herself and it left me feeling the entire story was frivolous.  I mean, I think it was the writer’s intent: it’s a teenage girl that thinks all the wrong things are important and she’s so much better and more important than she is.  But it annoyed me way too much.  And the ending fell flat for me. (Ironically, I just looked at a review of all the stories I found online, complete with grades, and this one was one of that reviewer’s favorites.  Different strokes, I guess.)

This post is getting long so I’ll try to wrap it up so I can get to my major discovery at the end of the book.  The last story in the anthology was Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens” from his A Song of Ice and Fire series (often referred to by the name of the first book: A Game of Thrones).

Now, that series has been on my reading list for awhile now.  In fact, when I finished (finally!) reading The Wheel of Time, I put out a poll among my friends on what I should read next.  The choices were Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, or A Song of Ice and Fire.

My husband strongly recommended Kingkiller, stating that I had been steeped in Sanderson long enough, and so that’s what I read.  (Rothfuss’s writing is simply amazing, by the way.  The only thing that upset me was that my husband tricked me into starting a series that was still in progress.)  I’ve since read Mistborn too so Martin’s epic tale was rising toward the top of my reading list.  I had imagined that I would read the Divergent series, then a couple of Sanderson books my family loves, then the new Outlander book, and by mid summer, get started on A Game of Thrones.

But now it’s slipped down around “if I can’t think of something else to read, maybe I’ll give it a try, just to see.”  I had just read 20 (for the most part) excellent examples of short fiction.  Those authors made me laugh and cry and swoon.  They made my heart race.  They made me care about the characters.  They surprised me.  Elated me.

Here’s how I would summarize Martin’s story: In grand historic tones, with sweeping brush strokes, he describes an epic battle for the throne between two tyrannical, unlikeable characters in which he introduces you to 50 characters with long titles and then kills 40 of them in horrifyingly awful ways, maims the other 10, and leaves one of them nominally on the throne by the end.  There is tremendous betrayal and backstabbing and turns of fate as the war rages on.

The problem was, I didn’t care about any of them.  None of them at all.  I picked a side early on – the throne seeker who the previous King had said was to be his heir, but she turned out to be just as awful as the other guy so I didn’t like her at all.  I had trouble keeping track of whose side people were on so I’d be reading about a battle between two lords and be unable to remember which side was which, so I had no sense of hope and anticipation on who I wanted to win.  Then he’d say stuff like “and 200 people died that day, including so-and-so, lord of thus-and-such.”  That was the first mention of so-and-so, so pray tell me, why do I care that he (in particular) died?  He’d also make strange statements (like “the Iron Throne cut her so astute observers knew her reign would be brief”) without explaining what any of that meant.

I found it tedious and uninteresting.  I read it just to be able to say I had finished them all.  I can only assume that if I was a Game of Thrones fan, I likely would have better understood what was happening and thus (hopefully) enjoyed it more.  But now I will likely never be a Game of Thrones fan.  I didn’t like the style of writing.  As one friend put it, I don’t want to have to take notes while I’m reading.  If he’s going to throw a whole bunch of people at me and kill off most of them, I’m not going to bother.

Maybe he gives more character development in his main stories.  Maybe I’d care about the characters and thus keep track better.  But here’s the thing.  I think it’s telling that two of the stories that I found kind of flat – this one and Gabaldon’s – were taken from existing universes.  I must assume, especially after reading the reviewer’s dislike of Virgins in the link above, that both authors wrote for their existing audiences instead of trying to pull more people in.  Contrast that to the Dresden Files tale (and, as it turns out, Joe Abercrombie’s tale, which I didn’t even know came from something larger), and I think these two big name authors failed the new readers.  I loved the latter two stories.  They were pulled off in a way that didn’t force readers to rely on their existing knowledge of the characters or the world.

I can vouch for Gabaldon.  Her stories are excellent, her writing superb.  She just didn’t quite pull off her usual success here in my mind.  Martin?  You can try to vouch for him if you want – I’ll listen, but there’s just too many great authors out there that, at this point, I know I would love to read.  I fear his stories will never again come so close to the front of my queue.

Forgetfulness on the Last Day of School

Last night, Daryl wanted us to let him stay up late to finish reading a book he had borrowed from his teacher. Since today was the last day of school, he needed to return it to her today. I didn’t let him stay up because, well, he had spent plenty of time playing a game on the computer instead of reading the book, which he had likely forgotten all about when he sat down at the computer.

This morning, my husband noticed that Daryl was reading a different book. “What about the one you have to return today?”

Daryl smiled a sheepish grin. “It’s on my pillow.” He confessed that he had read it by flashlight after going to bed and finished it. He then promptly forgot it was on his pillow and didn’t take it to school.

This was not the only case of forgetfulness this morning. Not by a long shot!

I was finishing my morning run on the treadmill when I saw the kids filing out the door to the car. “Hey!” I called out, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?!”

Daryl and Hal kept walking. Jane, who was running back into the house yelled defensively, “I haven’t left yet! I will!”

But when I got off the treadmill, she was nowhere to be found. My husband came in to get a hug and I asked where she was. “Out in the truck,” he replied.

So off I went to say goodbye. As I opened her door, I asked, “Did you forget something?”

“Oh! Mommy! I’m sorry! I forgot!”

About the same time, Daddy looked at the boys in the backseat. “Did either one of you brush your hair?” Guilty expressions answered the question. “What about your teeth?” Heads hung in shame. “Get out. Get out of the truck now.”

“Daryl,” I chided. “You have to brush your teeth!”

“People forget things, Mo-om!”

“Not brushing your teeth, you don’t!” Ah… the irony those words would prove to be…

Soon enough, they were off to school and I entered the house to get ready for work. I noticed that my husband had left his cell phone on the arm of the couch. My first instinct was to call him and let him know.

Since that wasn’t possible, I thought it’d be fun to surprise Jane by calling her on his phone. But she didn’t answer. Frustrated, I called again. She sent me straight to voicemail. As I began to type out a text, she called me. Turned out, she thought her daddy was “butt calling” her (her words) so wasn’t answering!

I was now running late for work and was still a little overheated from the run after my shower. I decided to skip drying my hair as the heat seemed too much to bear. Skipping any part of my routine almost always has regretful consequences. Sure enough, I was halfway to work when I suddenly realized. Yes. I had forgotten to brush my teeth. Ok, kid. You win. But really, you “forget” every day. And unlike you, I have toothpaste and a toothbrush at my destination.

All I can say is that five brains had already checked out for the summer. It’s amazing we made it through the day.

What Beneath A Pillow Lurks

Underneath a boy’s pillow is a mysterious and dangerous place that only the bravest of parents should dare to venture.

I have found quite the variety of items under pillows over the years. The most common, by far, has been candy. There is a bear pillow that is still waiting for me to figure out how to unstick the blue candy cane that is matted into its fur after Hal tired of sucking on the candy during the night and tucked it under his pillow for safe keeping.

When Daryl was very young, I came to tuck him in and he said, “You can give me a hug, but don’t put your hands under my pillow.” That, obviously, caused me to do just that, revealing his candy stash he planned to consume that night.

The Nintendo DS has been a recent sub-pillow dweller, although we appear to have resolved that issue. I have extracted quite a few books, toys, flashlights, even pen and paper.

All the candy and toys in the world couldn’t have prepared me for last night, however. My natural hugging of a tucked-in child causes my hand to sweep under the pillow. As I hugged Hal, I thrust my right hand under the pillow and was stabbed!

“Ow! What in the world??!!”

I pulled one of Daryl’s jumbo thumb tacks out from under the pillow. “You have got to be kidding me! What were you thinking, Hal? Do you have any idea how much this would have hurt if you had stabbed yourself in the night? Look! I’m bleeding. This was a terrible idea!”

He looked suitably abashed and gave me extra-tight squeeze hugs in an attempt to make amends. I never expected to injure myself tucking my children into bed. I think I might start wearing heavy duty rubber gloves and searching the bed before I go in for the hug.