Book Review: In the Hand of the Goddess

Book Review:

In the Hand of the Goddess (Book 2 in the Song of the Lioness series) by Tamora Pierce

I enjoyed the first book and dove right into the next book in this series.  Although I still only get a few minutes here and there, I enjoy my reading time and keep my books accessible throughout the day.  Steven often grabs my book and tells me to “Put that book down now!”


This book follows Alanna and her quest for knighthood.  And apparently her quest is approved by the Goddess Mother.  Alanna is visited by the Goddess, who gives her a magical charm and a guardian cat.

At the end of the first book, Prince Jonathan found out Sir Alan of Trebond’s secret.  But that doesn’t stop Jonathan from choosing this young page as his squire when he is knighted.  As squire, it is Alanna’s duty to protect her friend and liege against foes seen and unseen.  Throughout many trials, Alanna serves boldly and gains her shield as a knight.

Although the storyline was fun and full of adventure, there was a lot of drama.  Alanna faces many challenges while hiding her gender.  One challenge is to acknowledge her romantic feelings towards her comrades as they learn her secret.  And even though there wasn’t anything explicit, I wasn’t impressed with the loose morals at court.


I give Book Two 8 out of 12 buttered rolls.  This is a drop from book one of the same series.  This series is definitely geared towards a younger audience.  However, I felt that much of the underlying subject matter would not be appropriate for my twelve year old.  Like I mentioned before, nothing was explicit or inappropriate in its conveyance.  But I didn’t like the inferences and those underlying messages distracted me from the adventure.

Making Progress… Slowly

It took a little over a month, but we are finally making progress on the house “remodel” effort.


Most of our first few weeks were simply spent on cleaning out he space to be “remodeled.”  I keep putting that in quotes because it is only partly accurate.  We aren’t technically remodeling the house, we are actually finishing it.  The space we are primarily focused on has never been completed.

For years it has served primarily as a storage room.  Things put into there were neglected and forgotten.   I’ve found countless items I had forgotten I owned, and so have my parents.   I’ve posted several humorous lists about it that you can read here, here, and here.

Here’s a quick glimpse into what this room was when we started.

As you can see, there was a LOT of stuff to go through.  Much of it went into the trailer and was hauled off to the landfill.  Some of the items were good and useful and were moved to a different location in the house.  And some of it is needed to finish this space.  But first it was the cleaning, and it took us a seemingly endless period of time.

I may or not have noticed in the video, but there were open access points directly to the outside.  These allowed birds to almost freely come and go from this room.  This meant that along with dust, we were also cleaning a fair amount of birds nests and feces along with our own possessions.   For the first month we did nothing but cleaning/organizing.  But as I say, it finally feels like we are really making progress.



This space is a bit over 1200 square feet.   In the end it will turn into 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 full kitchen, a laundry room,  and a living room (which will likely be filled with that pool table you saw).

A big portion of our cleaning was dealing with those big piles of insulation blocks.  This room is over the garage and needs insulation from that space, and those blocks were always intended for that purpose.  Because the space was never finished, the floor boards were never screwed down and were easy to lift up.  So up they came, and that block insulation went down below it.

This week we were also able to get additional fiberglass insulation blown in on top of those blocks.  This was done to fill in gaps left by the block insulation and to provide the appropriate R-value.   We were able to do this ourselves and was a fairly easy process.

Insulation in floor


The plumbing for a kitchen was already in place, but we needed to add plumbing for the bathroom and wash room.  We started that last week and are almost done.  A good competent professional would probably have been done in about 5 hours, but we’re all either old (Dad), broken (myself) or in need of direction (Julie/kids).

As an aside, Julie has repeatedly proven herself as the best worker amongst us.  She doesn’t always know what to do, but she is the most capable one to do it.   She has definitely been held back by Dad and I because we can’t keep up with her.  Absolutely completely awesome!

One of the challenges slowing us down is the fact that we need to get the plumbing done before we put the floor down, and we need the floor down to build walls, but it is nice to have walls built before you do the plumbing.   We’ve spent a fair amount of time discussing the best order to do things in, and another longer amount of time going back and forth to Home Depot for supplies.

But we’re making progress.  We have the rough plumbing done except for vents that need to go through the walls.  For water supply, we only need to connect to the house water lines AND pray that where we brought the supply through the floor is in the right locations.

Main trunk of rough plumbing
The main trunk of the waste lines made from ABS, before insulation was blown in


Next week we will hopefully be making progress again.  We think that on Monday the HVAC guys will be there to install the gas line for the furnace and to the oven in the kitchen.  When they are done we can start building the interior walls.  We’ve bought the electrical wire to run from the meter to a separate breaker box in this space.    And if all of that gets done we’ll start running the individual electrical lines for outlets and lights.

I won’t hold my breath for all of that getting done next week.  We are painfully slow.  A competent craftsmen could build the walls in half a day.  I think it’ll take us three at least.   Dad used to be more than competent, but 70 is just around the corner for him.   I’m young enough, but just unable to do more than about 30-60 minutes of real work a day (broken into 5-10 minutes segments).

So keep watching and I’ll give you more pics and fun stories about what we’ve got going on.  If you notice the countdown timer at the bottom of the page we are now under 2 months before school starts, so any day we aren’t making progress is a day driving me nuts.

What Is That? – Part III

“What is that?” is the most common question the kids have asked while cleaning?  This is the third installment.  You can read the first two here and here.

This week we got a terrifying glimpse into the garage.  We also continue to find gems in the basement and ‘Great Room.’

What Is That?

The answers so far include:

a car wash coupon with no expiration date, but no indication for which car wash 🙁

7-10 empty paint cans

MORE Christmas lights!

Some sort of specialized router table

Noah’s Ark

a 6th Nativity set

a picture of the original Gerber baby

every paper to every house my parents have ever built (seriously!)

a quilt given to my parents as a wedding gift

a 1960’s (?) stove top oven

the Scepter of Dagobert

a glass door shot out by a neighbor kid with a BB gun

a filing cabinet full of work contracts

3 sets of jumper cables

a never-assembled children’s rocking chair

a Princess Leia action figure

the RMS Republic and the Tsar’s Treasure

a Chewbacca action figure inside of a Star Wars star fighter

a twirling baton

a 1990’s expired fishing license

enough weather liner (for doors or windows) to circle the globe

3 lawnmower carburetors

4 refrigerators

the Florentine Diamond

a pellet gun

life jackets from before there was life

a broken wooden oar

the REAL source location for the Spiders of Mirkwood


and finally….

the pool table my parents bought me when I was 15 – a gift to shut me up!   (For two years anytime I was asked “what do you want?” the answer was a “pool table.”  Eventually the persistence paid off.)


Stay tuned for next week, which will hopefully be a video/picture version of “What is that?”

Feeling Numb

I haven’t posted much lately.  That’s because I’ve been feeling rather numb.


As someone with depression, numbness isn’t new to me… and yet it is.  While I have also been feeling quite emotionally numb, what I’m referring too is an actual physical numbness that has taken hold of my left arm.

Tuesday of last week I lost feeling in about 1/2 of my left hand and a good portion of my forearm.   My pinkie, ring finger, the portion of the hand below them, and down into my forearm to my elbow is all tingly and numb.

I don’t think I’m having a slow heart attack, and I don’t remember hitting it on anything.  I have no explanation for why this has happened.  At first I thought my arm had just fallen asleep, but it hasn’t woken up for a week now.


I haven’t done anything about it yet.  I called the VA and there was a 15 minute wait on the phone to schedule an appointment, so I hung up.  Waiting that long would have made the rest of me numb too!  If it doesn’t get better than I’ll be force to call back I’m afraid.

I mentioned it at my mental health group meeting last week and one of the VA guys said that my Ulnar nerve runs down the arm and if it were pinched it would cause numbness in those fingers.   I was interested in that, so I looked up more info on it.

ulnar nerve numbness

Turns out he was right.  I often rest the inside of my elbow on the edge of the desk while on the computer.  The cause, symptoms,  and other info here was exactly as I’ve experienced.  Gold-star for Alan!

I says it can go away in a few weeks (!?!) at home.  If not to see a Dr.  If it doesn’t go away then it may need some surgery (!!!).  So, I won’t be spending as much time at my computer desk.  So if you don’t here as much from me you’ll know why.

Post about the insurance call I mentioned last week is still coming.

Josh will hopefully be posting about his first Scout Camp, so look for that upcoming!

Thanks for all the love and support!

Book Review: Alanna: The First Adventure

Alanna: The First Adventure (Book 1 in the Song of The Lioness Series) by Tamora Pierce

This is a fantasy book written for young teens, probably around 12.  Kristie, 11, started it a few months ago but didn’t finish it.  She said it seemed good but she got caught up in a different series at school.  So I thought I would try it out for her.  And I’m kind of glad I did.


Alanna of Trebond is being sent of to learn to be a lady, but that is the last thing she wants.  Her twin brother is supposed to become a night, likewise the last thing he wants.  So they switch places.  He goes to the convent, not to become a lady but to be taught in the arts of sorcery. Alanna becomes Alan of Trebond and begins her training as a page on her road to knighthood.

Alanna forms many friendships during her training, including prince Jonathan and George, king of thieves.  Although Alanna only desire is to become a knight, she has the Gift and must learn to use sorcery as well as chivalry to succeed.


10 out of 12 Buttered Rolls

I give this book 10 out of 12 buttered rolls.  Alanna is a heroine that I truly enjoyed.  She is quick witted and likeable.  Her trials are realistic and fantastic at the same time.  All in all, a fun read.