This is Dani Smith


I am Dani Smith, sometimes known around the web as Eglentyne. I am a writer in Texas. I like my beer and my chocolate bitter and my pens pointy.

This blog is one of my hobbies. I also knit, sew, run, parent, cook, eat, read, and procrastinate. I have too many hobbies and don’t sleep enough. Around here I talk about whatever is on my mind, mostly reading and writing, but if you hang out long enough, some knitting is bound to show up.

Thank you for respecting my intellectual property and for promoting the free-flow of information and ideas. If you’re not respecting intellectual property, then you’re stealing. Don’t be a stealer. Steelers are ok sometimes (not all of them), but don’t be a thief.

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    Entries in Sonars (103)


    ABAW, Sonar-Style: Wells' Time Machine and Colfer's Opal Deception

    Bedtime reading has been wonky around here, with interruptions from overscheduling, but a long car ride gave us some extra time to read. Sonar X7 has found the 39 Clues books, managing to swallow up three of them over spring break. Now he’s working on some of Mike Lupica’s middle-grade sports books.

    Sonar X9 reread the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as a segue into reading The Heroes of Olympus series for the first time. Oh, it was hard to wait his turn to get his hands on a library copy of the much-coveted Son of Neptune.

    Sonar X11 has scored the biggest coup, I think, recently finishing The Silmarillion. Few people I know have attempted to read that one, and fewer still have finished. Oh, so he was reading it as part of a graded school assignment. He still did it, and liked it.

    We also managed to finish a couple of books out loud.


    The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Kindle free edition.

    I suggested The Time Machine to the Sonars for bedtime reading (which is subject to a rigorous vetting regimen). They are becoming less likely to read anything I recommend. Which is to say that my recommendations are a sentence of doom to any book. I’ve taken to tucking books innocently in the reading basket or leaving the Sonars completely to their own choices without any input. They stand a better chance of not ignoring the good stuff that way. For whatever reason, The Time Machine caught their attention in spite of my suggestion. 

    I’m not sure how well any of them would have handled this one alone. It’s short, but the century-old style and diction feels foreign to them, as does the boys’-club setting of the group of men meeting for dinner and cigars. Together we were able to navigate some of the that difficulty and get a chance to enjoy the story.

    The coolest part (at least for me and the older Sonars) was recognizing sci-fi tropes that for Wells were innovative, but we know them as routine or even cliche. We also enjoyed some surprise at how modern the nineteenth-century philosophy and science was. We share many social concerns. Wells’ vision of the future was both weird and uncanny. And in the end, the Sonars were riveted by the suspense and puzzled by the vague ending. 

    Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer. Scholastic 2005.

    This is the fourth book in the series about the preteen criminal mastermind. I’m not sure I have anything new to say about Artemis Fowl. The Sonars love these books and they’re fun to read out loud. 

    Artemis - his memories of anything fairy-related erased in the previous book - returns to a life of crime, specifically stealing a painting from another thief. But pixie-villain Opal Koboi has escaped her coma and incarceration to seek revenge on those who jailed her. She wants to frame Holly for murder, feed Artemis to trolls and destroy the fairy world of Haven before setting herself up to rule humanity as a precocious human girl. Can Artemis and his human and fairy friends survive, stop Opal, and save their reputations before Mr. and Mrs. Fowl return from vacation???

    As soon as I finished reading the last page, the Sonars wanted me to start reading The Lost Colony (Book 5) right away. but it will have to go into the queue behind The Phantom Tollbooth and The Order of the Phoenix



    Something Knitty: Soccer ball and hearts

    Watch out, actual knitting content. 

    Felted Heart Milagros

    Pattern by Mags Kandis. Yarn is Lion Brand Amazing in the Glacier Bay colorway. Not so much felted, but still squishy sweet. If you are a Ravelry member, I highly recommend browsing through the project gallery for this one. People have put together some amazing heart stashes. 

    Sonar X9 modeling Felted Heart Milagros 


    Pattern by Yana Ivey. Yarn is Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn in black and white (for obvious). So that a soccer-loving friend can play ball in the house. Knitting the thirty-two pieces was great. But there was EPIC SEAMING. Next time: I’ll use wool instead of acrylic so that a little bit of light felting will help tighten up and even out any little bulges and puckers.  

    Sonar X7 modeling the hand-knit soccer ball


    And the rain came down: Puddle Ducks

    We had a little rain this morning. Twelve to fifteen inches depending on who you ask. When the storm blew over and the water receded, the Sonars went out to play. They’re lankier versions of the waddling puddle ducks they were a few years ago. They have an angular grace now as they leap over puddles and bogs rather than swishing through them. When I watched them splash and chase grass-blade boats in the gutter currents, I remembered a short piece I wrote a while back, on an afternoon when heavy rain surprised us at afternoon pickup from school.

    Could you resist a puddle like that?

    Puddle Ducks

    The first drop from the grey-black sky splatted against my right lens. One, two, three beats between the lightning and the thunder. One, two, three strides to damp hair and a spotted shirt. By the time I crossed twenty yards of macadam to the portico my hair dripped, my shirt was plastered to my chest, my arms were slick with rain. I jogged the last few feet, leaping over the final puddle alongside another mom. We laughed our disbelief at the suddenness of the downpour.

    Cars wound around the pickup circle, lights blinkering, wipers swiping uselessly at the sheets of rain. The car queue stretched down the block like a sluggish, twitching snake thumping out a wiper-blade heartbeat.

    Older kids were outside under the portico. Younger in criss-cross-applesauce-nobody-goes-anywhere-unless-you-tell-your-teacher-first lines in the entry hall. Aides and administrators in ponchos and walkie talkies tried to match kids to cars without dripping on the floor, without putting the wrong kid with the wrong adult, without losing little sister in the crush of people, trying to keep kids from washing away in those last steps to car doors under umbrellas.

    I slide through a door between a custodian with a Yellow Caution Wet Floor sign and the gym teacher in neon green galoshes and two terrified looking preschoolers clutching his jacket. I find one of my kids by the cafeteria door, catch the attention and a thumbs up from his teacher, scoop up my second child and touch his teacher on the elbow. She smiles and squeezes my hand as I squeeze back through the crowd with my treasures. I dodge out the side door, stepping aside for the principal in a long yellow raincoat and waders.

    I ask the kids if they’re ready to get a little wet. Their eyes twinkle.


    We had a birthday: Sonar X9!

    (I didn’t forget. I’ve just been distractable.)

    Someone kicked off his Spring Break (a few weeks ago) by turning 9.

    We should all be so lucky as to get birthday cake for breakfast. <3



    Sex Ed: It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley

    This review is part of my ongoing quest to choose great resources for helping the Sonars understand their bodies, their sexuality, and sex.

    It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley. Candlewick Press (Third Paperback Edition), 2009.

    This is the third book in Harris and Emberley’s Family Library series of books to help young people understand sex and sexuality. I reviewed the second, It’s So Amazing, right here.

    The focus in this third book is summed up in the final chapter, “Staying Healthy: Responsible Choices,” and the book is trying to give kids honest, accurate, complete information so that they can make decisions for themselves. The book begins by providing explanations of the the biology of both sexes, addresses personal hygiene and personal care norms, then builds toward an understanding of what happens when desire and sexuality begin to influence lives. Homosexuality, masturbation, contraception, abstinence, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and an expanded section on internet safety, are all discussed in some detail.

    Harris and Emberley continue to respect young people by presenting information directly and without judgement, illustrated by Emberley’s characteristic drawing style with frank drawings of internal and external anatomy. My favorite part of all the Family Library books are the wide variety of naked bodies represented, so that most readers can find someone like themselves in the pages of the books. We see bodies young and old, and in varying hues and abilities, curious and shy, in an array of inclusive family constructions. The book does not hedge illustrations behind suggestion and innuendo.

    The larger chunks of text, and the more explicit descriptions of matters from intercourse to abortion, make this book best suited for slightly older children. The suggested age range is 10 to 14, and I think that’s spot on. This book is less addressed toward young people who are actively engaged in sex, than toward young people who are beginning to have an understanding of sex and will soon face choices for themselves. This book is preparation before and during the early phases of sexual understanding and exploration. It is on target for Sonar X11, and some chapters, especially the biology and personal care chapters, would be fine for Sonar X8, though not all kids that young will want to read all of the explanatory text. That’s fine too, because the pictures teach as much as the words.

    The story is guided by Bird (who is curious about sex) and Bee (who is shy and reluctant to talk about sex), who take a smaller role in this book than in the earlier installments in the series, but are still present to ease the awkwardness of some subjects. Complicated concepts are accompanied by full page, comic-book style explanations as reinforcement. The cartoonish aspects of the book do not feel condescending, and are diminished in the more serious and controversial sections.

    The biological functions are heteronormative in focus, but do acknowledge variation without judgement. A key idea that is repeated throughout the book is that once the biology of puberty kicks in, once adult functioning of the sex organs begins, pregnancy is always a possible outcome of some sexual behaviors. The book does not so much focus on helping a young person who is struggling to define his or her self-identity, but to introduce and define the possibilities that people will encounter in the world.

    The central message Harris and Emberley present is respect for self, respect for others, and responsibility in actions. They steer readers with questions or confusion toward trusted adults, a technique underlined by their own reliance and gratitude toward a long list of experts in many fields.

    We need something one step beyond this book that begins to address social situations and personal identity more explicitly, but this book and the others in the series are great foundational books for a positive and healthy attitude toward sex that is based in complete, inclusive, and direct facts and attitudes without resorting to fear mongering and piling on anxiety.