Rodeo Roundup of April Ishness

April is over, and what a month it’s been! Thought I’d get a jump on things and actually post an Ishness before we’re halfway into May already! Ha!


Well, the big exciting thing that happened at the beginning of the month and then has taken over our lives for the past several weeks was this little bundle of preciousness who arrived a bit earlier than expected on April 2nd.

Grayden 1

Grayden is a very pleasant baby (he appears to have been aptly-named) and beloved by his older siblings, who have welcomed him into the fold with open arms.

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Having four is SO. MUCH. FUN!

We are very much in the throes of newborn-sleeplessness at night (though, to be fair, Little Buddy does give us 3-4 hour stretches through the night fairly consistently) and having Derek’s mom here for the past 2 weeks has been such a huge blessing as it has allowed me to snatch a few more winks of sleep in the morning while she gets the bigger kids breakfast and does puzzles and legos with them!

AWANA is wrapping up. The final club night/awards ceremony is later this week. We had our Grand Prix (Pinewood Derby Race, for those unfamiliar with AWANA) and while neither L or N won any prizes for speed, Leiana took home the first place award for design with her car: which was shaped and painted like a carrot with a bunny driving it! She was over the moon excited about that.

carrot car

One of my dear friends from NC came to visit for the day and it was so nice to see her and catch up in person rather than on the phone or via video-chat. We even got the chance to go on a hike through the woods by our apartment (Grayden came along for the ride) and it was SO nice to get outside and get a little exercise. Unfortunately, I neglected to get any pictures… I tend to get caught up in enjoying these sorts of moments and don’t get pictures… but hey, I was having too much fun to stop for a photo-opp! *grin*


Writing this month came to a screeching and adorable halt. I wrote zero words at all, and I’m not even sorry. *grin*


Reading on the other hand… now that’s a different story. Ha, pun!

Reading is something I CAN do one-handed while feeding an infant… and since I am doing that 8-12 times a day… I’ve actually read rather a lot. So this month’s Ishness will be a bit of a mini-review-roundup! I read NINE books this month!

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The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket – a re-read and just as entertaining the second time around. Particularly because it’s been fun listening to these while my husband reads them out loud to our children. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a seriously bizarre set of stories, and I think the first three books are my favorites of the set. Be warned, however, the author is NOT LYING when he tells you in the first paragraph of the first story that there are no happy endings in this story.

Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke was the April read for the Fellowship of Fantasy book club, and it was quite fantastic. I devoured it while in the hospital and thoroughly enjoyed the read. I read some of it out loud to Grayden and one of the things I liked about it is that this is a story that lends itself well to being a read-aloud. The wording has a nice flow to it. I plan to do a more extensive review of this, but for now suffice to say that I really liked the book and definitely recommend it.

In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson is a very cute book. Each chapter is sort of a stand-alone mini-short story from the author’s grandmother’s childhood. Each story has a certain moral or lesson that the grandmother learned. My girls LOVED this one.

Winter Danger by William Steele – a story about a young boy whose father is a “woodsy” (meaning he basically lives in the woods and is a hunter/trapper with no real roots). Due to a terribly cold winter, the boy gets left with his uncle’s family and learns some valuable lessons along the way about people helping each other and not always having to see everything as a debt one owes. This one started kind of slow, but was interesting and had a beautiful ending.

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde is probably my favorite of the “Thursday Next” novels so far. When I first read it, I remember feeling satisfied, and yet slightly saddened because I was certain that it was the very end of the series. This time around, knowing there are more books I have yet to read, it was just great fun. These books always make me laugh.

Half Upon A Time, Twice Upon a Time, and Once Upon the End by James Riley is a trilogy a friend introduced me to recently and let me borrow, and I have absolutely devoured them. If you enjoy clever humor and fairy tales, you will want to pick up this trilogy!

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis – finally finished this one and enjoyed it for its many instances of logic and profundity. It was interesting to find that there are some things Lewis and I strongly disagree on (as it appears he (at least at the time he was writing this book) believed in some form of evolution or bought into the idea of a long period of time between animals and man being created, rather than it being a 1-2 day delay (depending on whether you’re talking about birds/fish or land animals) though it is possible that I am misunderstanding what he meant). However, when it comes to his views on man’s relationship to God, the book was quite good and it was a challenging change of pace to read something with slightly “deeper waters,” though I must admit, I enjoyed the Half Upon a Time series and other fictional tomes far more.


We watched Moana – which I thought was quite good. I think I enjoyed it better than Frozen, though it was not nearly so good as Tangled. I liked that it was a “princess” movie without any romantic elements, that was different.

We also had a Star Wars marathon and watched episodes 1, 2, 3, and Rogue One in order. So. Much. Cringe-worthy-ness. I really do enjoy Episode 3, however, particularly after watching the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoons a few years back. But the scripts of all three of the prequel movies were just as bad (if not worse) than I remembered. *shudder*

At least Rogue One was every bit as awesome upon the second viewing as it was the first.

It was a month of re-watches, apparently, because we also watched Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Also watched a little Grimm, a little Doctor Who, and probably some other things I’m forgetting.

Looking Forward to May-ing

My parents and sister are coming to visit later this week! Yay!!!

The girls have their Irish dance recital.

Hoping Grayden starts sleeping in something longer than 3-hour stretches?!

Finishing up school for the year.

Definitely want to get back to writing, hoping to finish the rough draft of Turrim 2 before the end of the month. I am SO CLOSE to being finished with that, and then it’s diving into the edits of Minstrel’s Call! I am getting excited about this next round of editing (yes, I actually like editing… it can be tedious and difficult, but it’s also fun and rewarding to see a manuscript begin to shine once you’ve put a few layers of polish on it)

Probably need to start thinking about this year’s Silmarillion Awards if we want to do that again (I do!)

Oh, and I guess the other big exciting news of April and looking forward through the next year is that we bought some land! One of our dreams since getting married (and a life-long dream of mine, being the daughter of a custom-home-builder) has been to build our own house (and for me, to have my Daddy design said house). So we are getting started on that dream!


And that’s all I’ve got for April. How was your month, dear Reader? Any exciting plans for May?

~ jenelle


Deborah O'Carroll

Grayden is absolutely ADORABLE!! <3 And definitely has that Schmidt-baby look. ^_^ So excited for him and your land and reading! :) Exciting things!

Beggar Magic was really good, yes! I quite enjoyed it! :D

Irish dance recital! *flailing* I love Irish dance and think it's so cool they do that! :)

And yep, definitely a reason to not write this last month. ;) Best wishes on getting Turrim 2 finished, and MINSTREL'S CALL EDITS!!! :D I finished reading Second Son this month (EEP! <3) which means I've FINALLY officially read all the books in the series that are out, so I'm doubly excited about Minstrel's Call!!! I can't wait! ^_^

(And ooh, Silmarillion awards. o.o)

Thanks for sharing! Loved getting these updates! ^_^


Thank you!!!

Irish dance is super cool. I’m looking forward to the recital.

Ooh, yay!! Yes, I need to get cracking on those edits. As soon as I get all the notes back from my editors, I’m diving in. I’m hoping not to drown. But… you know… if I’m not back by the end of the summer… “you come down, and you rescue me!” (To quote a favorite movie) I am actually quite looking forward to this round of edits, I have gotten some feedback and have a few ideas and I think it’s going to make the story quite a bit stronger and also just be a ton of fun. SO MUCH KIERNAN.

I sent out an email about the Silmarillion Awards!!

Madeline J. Rose

Grayden is SO. CUTE. :D

Ooh, Beggar Magic looks really good! I’ll have to add it to the tbr-pile. Can’t wait to read your review!

Moana was really good, in my opinion! And yes, it was really interesting to see a ‘princess’ movie without any romantic elements involved. :)

Silmarillion awards!! I’d love to do it again. :)

Here’s hoping you have a delightful month of May! <3


Thanks! We think he’s pretty adorable. :)

Yay! You should have an email in your inbox about the Silmarillion awards.


Oooh, that is an intriguing category. Last year we seemed to find that character-based awards tended to attract more interest, but a “realm award” might be a fun one to add to the mix this year.

The only thing I know for sure at this point is that we’re probably retiring the Thorin Award for most heart-wrenching death scene… as it had the unfortunate (and unforeseen, though I’m not sure how we managed not to realize this would happen) side-effect of giving away rather a lot of spoilers!


Grayden is so cute! I’ve been following your updates on Facebook 8-D

I am excited for your next book but understand the break. It is a worthy break 8-D


Oh my goodness, your kids are TOO cute!! Best of luck with your writing and editing goals for the next month!


I love hearing from you, dear Reader!