Friday, September 18, 2020

Count Alexandre Dumas

 Do you remember The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas fils*

It's the story of Edmond Dantés, who is wrongfully accused of being a traitor to Napoleon, and put into prison where he languishes, whilst his life on the outside is also destroyed.

I read it in high school because it was French, it was an adventure story, and written by the author of The Three Musketeers. Full of adventure, drama, and the the human plight of the wrongly accused. But, it was also a morality tale warning how the need for vengeance can warp our own integrity, and endanger one's own soul.  

Add caption

   The Black Count is the story of the author Dumas' father who was the son of a black slave and a French aristocrat. He was the inspiration behind all his son's novels, but especially The Count of Monte Cristo. For a biography, it was like a swashbuckling adventure, though at times, it was heartbreakingly sad. There were some boring military logistics and background info that I skimmed over. And at the same time, so many tidbits that piqued my curiosity (like the medical practices of the day-enemas were a daily treatment for some and sperm conservation was crucial matter). 

Here is a concise biography of General Alexandre Dumas: 

Alex Dumas was highly educated in the Paris of the late ancien regime before the Revolution and was a great equestrian and swordsman. He was also a beloved husband and father. 

                                                             Marie-Louise Labouret, his devoted wife                                                             
He started in the lowest ranks of the military, and quickly rose to general, then military governor, then a general leading 50,000 men. His heroics are near-unbelievable. But there are multiple contemporary sources describing his exploits-as well as his humanity. In fact, he was mockingly called “Mr. Humanity” (which sounds much cooler in French), due to his compassion toward his soldiers, prisoners and the people of the towns he "liberated."

Napoleon had an unusual hatred of him, the repercussions of which led to Dumas fils' impoverished childhood.

Why did Napoleon dislike him so much, when he was such an accomplished, celebrated, daring, intrepid soldier?

Well, those are some good reasons right there. But also because of Napoleon's famed hang-ups regarding his height (after all, General Dumas was over 6-feet tall), and the typical penchant dictators have for not tolerating their motives being questioned (Dumas could not help but speak up against injustice and speak up for the values of the revolution that Napoleon was flouting more and more). And, we think Bonaparte was a little racist. 

Dumas was taken prisoner after Napoleon up and left his men and generals overseas. In a

prison in Taranto, Naples, Dumas was treated cruelly for two years, slowly being poisoned,

and with no word to his family in all that time. 

When he was finally released and returned back to France, Napoleon went to great lengths to insure General Dumas' military feats were forgotten and ignored those who pled on his behalf to give him his backpay.

His death a few years later was cruelly slow (stomach cancer) and painful to read about as

he prepared his family for it and watched as Napoleon imposed cruel race laws in France, reinstituted slavery in the colonies, and made sure any black who wore an officer’s uniform was killed, or captured.

His family was shunned and penniless,

Alexandre, the author, only four years old.

Alexandre Dumas fils wrote: “You see, Father, I haven’t forgotten any of the memories

that you told me to keep. From the time I could think, your memory has lived in me like

a sacred lamp, illuminating everything and everyone you ever touched, even though

death has taken it away.”

               *fils, after a French name, differentiates son from father

Sunday, September 13, 2020

3 Ways Getting a Puppy Messed Up My Routine-In Some Ways for the Better

 We got a puppy! She's cute as can be. And a bundle of trouble, and joy.


She's getting easier though. 

She's stopped chewing up everything in sight, we don't have to watch her every single moment, and she actually plays by herself sometimes.

Still, she has totally messed up my routine. 

However, I'm recognizing that it might not be a bad thing.

1. Exercise: I cannot do cardio with a puppy around. She thinks it's playtime when she sees me doing  burpees and jumping jacks. She jumps on and around me, and runs between my legs. But I discovered she's okay with me standing still as I do weights. I used to avoid strength training; cardio always felt it like I was accomplishing more in a shorter amount of time. I'm still devoted to Yvette Bachman and her step and cardio-kickboxing at least once a week, but I've also found Caroline Girvan, and can exercise without getting my hair ties pulled out or my pants pulled down. And, the best part is, the gushiness on my inner thighs is disappearing and my biceps are toning up!   

                         1 Hour DUMBBELL FULL BODY WORKOUT at Home | Caroline Girvan in 2020 |  Fitness body, Full body workout, Body workout at home  Caroline Girvan - Home | Facebook

2. Writing: I used to get up between 4:45 and 5:15am to write. Since getting Gigi, I get up and take her out to the bathroom and play tug-o-war and fetch until it's time to get ready for the day/work.                      

       selective focus photography of pen

Now, I write in the afternoons, after work and while the kids are doing school and Gigi naps. Or, just as often, I write in the evenings after dinner when the kids are fully in charge of the dog and husband is watching his home design show. 

It's made me realize that I wasn't all that productive in the a.m; I mostly ended up checking emails and Instagram. Now that I have to snatch moments, and those moments are after my other obligations for the day, I can more fully concentrate.

3. Social Life: There's not much positive I can spin out of this. The few times we've left her I've been preoccupied with worry at how she's faring. The last time we left her, we watched on the nanny cam as she jumped out of her pen to run free through the house until the neighbors could get over. 

The lack of social life has kept my cupboards, closets and drawers neater, as I have had more time for those little projects. I suppose it has also helped our family to bond in a different way. We laugh, and play with Gigi together. We bond over dog training videos and work on how best to train her.  

And when we do get the opportunity to see our friends, we have a whole lot to catch up on, and it's that much sweeter.  

It's good to shake things up. Sometimes, we find the routine we were in, maybe wasn't the right one. Sometimes, we find out it was but we just have to adjust. 

As we used to remind ourselves when our kids were little, this is a phase, and it will don't get used to it!        

                                                                            Its Just A Phase Full Moon Lunar Funny Cute - Pop Threads

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Farmer in the Dell

 Do you remember that singing game/nursery rhyme The Farmer in the Dell?

We  played it in elementary school, sometimes in music class, but more often, to fill time in the classroom.

We never played it at recess, it was one of those games that was forced upon us. 

I'm not sure anyone liked it. I hated it.   The Farmer in the Dell | Song, Karaoke, Printable Score, PDF

I hated holding hands with my classmates; cold and clammy, warm and sweaty. I truly appreciated those hands that were tepid and dry. 

More than that, I hated the anxiety of being chosen, and the anxiety of not being chosen.

The Farmer in the Dell Game | Party Ideas & Activities by ...

It was my greatest anxiety to be the farmer, in that circle alone, while my classmates spun around me, waiting to judge me for who I chose to be "the wife". No matter what, I was miserable after the choice. I either eschewed my friends to pick a more popular choice that would garner joy and laughter, or I risked shrugs and eye rolls when I chose my friends or someone who I felt deserved a turn.   

Why did I care so much what others thought? Why did I so readily look for signs of disapproval? 

I'm still good at that. It's one of my greatest talents. I'm so good at it that I can find it even if it's years-old disapproval, or if you didn't even know it was there.

No one wanted to be the cheese. The cheese stands alone, after all. Alone in a circle with classmates jeering at you.

And no one really wanted to be the rat, either. Poor rats.

Customer nightmares: The Dallas scammers, a rat suit and a mob mouseIt seems nowadays, they've changed those lyrics from rat to mouse.                                          

Junk Food Cartoon clipart - Food, Snack, Line, transparent clip art

A heartening lesson I should take from this is that, once the game was over, it was forgotten. No one remembered who chose who, no one remembered who was the cheese.

But I did.

How about you? Did you like playing The Farmer in the Dell? What about Red Rover, Red Rover?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Back to School Reading for Middle School

Did your middle schooler really get in enough reading this summer? 

If not, don't worry; we are about to get back into the academic groove!
You're going to need some good books for that required reading, and those times when your kid finishes three days of work in three hours 😲

Here are some books to reserve from your school🤞or public library:

Black Brother, Black Brother
Rhodes' Latest

Count Me In
Reject Racism!

Great for 5th-7th grade

The Canyon's Edge
A MS survival tale

The Torchbearers
A local Columbus author takes on Hindu mythology

The List of Things That Will Not Change
Blending families isn't always easy

Clean Getaway
Road trip with grandma!

We Dream of Space
A great science teachers make all the difference!

Other Words for Home
A beautiful refugee novel in verse

Here in the Real World
An abandoned church becomes an imaginative playground

For fans of Wonder and Wimpy Kid

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs
A naughty dog brings a family together

The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1)      The Deceivers (Greystone Secrets, #2)

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Graphic Novels I've Loved:

       Be Prepared  Hey, KiddoIf you want more graphic novel recommendations, let me know! There are so many great ones out there (and some not so great).

Also, if you need recommendations on nonfiction for middle grade readers, let me know. I love middle grade biographies and narratives.