{SQT} Writing Coop, Good Books, and Five Years Later

1. Edel 2017 is August 4-5 in Austin, TX. Right now, I’m not sure I can attend, but hopefully the stars will align and I’ll see a few of you under deathly sunny skies in the Lone Star state this summer. (Be careful stepping outside as you may melt.)

2. The unseasonably warm winter weather (sorrynotsorry FiFi) means I’m outside working to clean out our secondary chicken coop to turn it into a writing retreat. It sounds very cozy doesn’t it? And except for the lingering smell of chicken feces, it should be the perfect spot for me to use to continue working on the book, vs numerous trips to Panera bread where I’m tempted to eat gluten and lose focus due to all the catchy background music and loud conversation. Plus, since the shed sits at the back of the property, I’ll be out of range of wifi, so no wasted time on the internet. I anticipate winter temperatures will eventually return, so I’ll have to see how committed I am to my cold exposure if I want to make any progress with the book. Because I keep telling people I’m writing the book and what it’s about and everyone seems so supportive I feel bad that it’s coming along at a snail’s pace.

3. During yet another discussion of Lego Batman today, Teddy pondered, “What would happen if it really was raining dads?” To which Byron promptly responded, “A bloodbath.” Teddy laughed. “Yeah, there’d be bodies everywhere.”

When Byron was six, his whole life revolved around Thomas the Tank engine. Teddy’s favorite movie is ‘Pacific Rim’. I don’t like to think I treat any of my children differently, or that my parenting style has changed at all from my oldest son to my youngest, so Teddy’s blood lust must be genetic…on his father’s side.

4. I’ve been busy reading a couple great books right now, both after hearing interviews with the authors on ‘The Art of Manliness’ podcast (which is my motivation for getting the boys’ laundry sorted and put away.) First, I read ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr. Although the book is a few years old, Carr lays down a compelling argument for drastically limiting screen time for all of us. He clearly articulated my own discombobulated thoughts on how our screen based culture is physically changing us as human beings. Our brains are rewiring themselves to adapt to our new and preferred way of reading and gathering an overwhelming amount of information, often at the cost of other higher level functions. But like all society-changing inventions (the alphabet, maps, clocks, the printing press, etc) we can’t go back to a simpler time, we have to learn to control our use of these technologies, which, especially in the case of the internet, is a much harder task than we like to believe. If you’re looking for motivation to give up Facebook, or limit your screen time for Lent, this book will provide the perfect impetus.

5. Now I’m tearing through Steve Silberman’s 560 page ‘Neurotribes’. If you want to understand the history of autism you simply need to read this book. If  the length seems too daunting, start by listening to the podcast interview, then skim the book. Many chapters provide fascinating back story and historical biographies, but you can skip some of those details and still learn about how we arrived at a surge in autism rates that’s been blamed on many incorrect causes. I greatly admire the author’s dedication in exploring and questioning every aspect of the autism narrative that’s been fed to parents since the early 20th century. I would love to know what parents of autistic children who’ve read this book thing about it.

6. One of the most enlightening, yet equally horrifying chapters, talked about the commonly held belief among many scientists in the US, and abroad, of the need for eugenics in the years following WWI. Eliminating the feeble-minded and physically disabled from the gene pool was considered a way to take charge of evolution and improve society as a whole, especially after losing so many young men to the war effort. What I found chilling however, was that much of the rhetoric used years ago to justify forcibly sterilizing people in the United States, is the same type of talk doctors give parents if a prenatal test or ultrasound shows the possibility of a disability in an unborn baby. Prenatal testing and abortion is the eugenists dream, and as the number of children with down syndrome continues to drop we see results better than what those early advocates of a superior race could have ever hoped for. We can all agree that the horrors imposed by the Nazi regime in their quest to create a pure Aryan nation were unquestionably evil, however the mindset that people with physical and mental disabilities are a burden on their families and society, and that they are suffering and can be of no use to anyone, is still alive and well, and is still used to wipe undesirable people off the face of the earth. Just because we don’t leave babies on mountainsides like the Spartans, or starve them in hospitals like the Nazis doesn’t make us more civilized.

Don’t be surprised to see other references to this book pop up in future posts; lots of good food for thought.

7. Tuesday marked my fifth blog-aversary. FIVE YEARS. When I started, I wanted to be funny and offer useful homeschooling advice. I didn’t want to talk about SMA or my spiritual struggles. Teddy was 16 months and sleeping somewhat better at night, plus Fulton had just gotten a nurse for seven hours during the day. Clearly, I needed a hobby.

A lot has changed in that time. I’m so glad I wrote so much of it down here. It’s why even now, as real life has pulls me away from my online life more than ever, I continue to blog at least once a week. Perhaps in another five years, I’ll have found the time to go back to writing three or more times a week (and taking more pictures.) Thank you dear readers (and fellow bloggers) for continuing to stop by (and link up!) week after week. I don’t respond to, or leave, comments nearly enough but I appreciate all the feedback and prayers that you offer, and I am continually humbled by your generosity.

How was your week? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!


  1. I would LOVE to go to Edel, but I don’t think my pocketbook will allow!
    You know, a kid just can’t be a little “different” or “weird” anymore…he has to have autism, just like an older person can’t just be forgetful anymore…he has to have dementia or alzheimers. We’re such a diagnosis-crazed society.
    You’re going to write in a chicken coop???? Oh, my!!!

    1. Actually, the author isn’t claiming that there’s an increase in autism due to misdiagnosis, rather, rates of autism have been on the rise due to the fact that for decades it was misclassified. Before the the nineties and 00’s, autistic children were frequently diagnosed with ‘childhood schizophrenia’ or mental retardation, and almost all were institutionalized. As doctors have come to realize autism presents on a spectrum, definitions of the disease were updated so that more children could be properly diagnosed, and hopefully receive government and educational support services that would not have been available to them with an non-specified form of mental illness. The downside is that yes, some people may be considered autistic when they only display some autistic traits. However improved diagnostic testing can differentiate between the two.

      1. Thanks for your reply. That is definitely another “spin” on it! I am a Speech Pathologist in the public schools, and I definitely see Autism on the rise. There is a definite need for further research!

  2. I am having baby two weeks before edel via c-section…I still tried to convince myself I should go.

    Whoa. #6. Spot on. So sad. And kind of terrifying.

  3. I thought for a second it was a writer-chicken co-op. There’s far too little cooperation between chickens and authors these days, as we all know. 😉

  4. Happy blog anniversary! Five years is impressive! And good luck turning your coop into a writing room! We actually want to start raising chickens, so we’ll be building a coop to be a coop!

  5. It’s almost my 5-year blog-aversary, too! It looks like the traditional 5-year gift is wood, so a new desk? Some wood slices with motivational quotes on them? So many possibilities…

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