{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 15

I am feeling rather caught up in the whole “blahs of winter” right now.  It is still a little chilly, still a little wintry (although the ugly kind of winter, where the snow is partially melted and icy and dirty) and the sun plays hide and seek most days.  Add that to a severe cold…riiiiiiiiight after recovering sufficiently from the stomach flu….and I am feeling a little gloomy.

Of course it helps to remember that spring is in sight, that the blahs give away to warmer temperatures and being able to spend time outdoors without coats on.  So we soldier on…enjoy these Quick Takes and be sure to check out some more at Kelly’s !

ONE

I scored big at the Used Book Sale (referenced last week)!  Two giant piles of books for $8.00.  I am glad I brought along Junior, who helped me lug my treasures to my car.

TWO.

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Is this not the cutest Valentine ever?  I especially love the Quarter.  Not sure if the drawing is supposed to be of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but I truly appreciated how the kids worked together to make this extremely thoughtful card.

THREE.

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I love this poster by Arnold Lobel

I have these really cute literary posters that I want to get framed and hang up in the kid’s “book corner”.  The problem is that they are odd sizes, and I am pretty sure I won’t be able to locate ready-made frames and will have to get them specially framed, which I hear is expensive.  I do want them framed, but wondering if there are cheaper options for odd specifications?  I am not very skilled at the whole DIY-thing so making the frames myself is probably not a great option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR.

I am thrilled to be able to bring dinner to a friend and her husband who recently adopted a baby.  They have had dreams of parenthood for years and I am so happy that their prayers have been answered!  I am so awed by how the Lord works through adoption.  Adoption has definitely proven to be a  blessing in my own (extended) family.  My little niece is so fiercely loved.  Thanks be to God!

FIVE.

Sometimes you just want to rub a corn dog on your head. #Spikesgreatideas

SIX.

I had a weird dream last night where all these people were being assassinated at our house (thanks, I think to the Kim Jong Nam assassination).  But apparently Dream Me was less concerned about people meeting their deaths at my home than that fact affecting our social life.  “Nobody’s going to want to come to our house anymore,” Dream Me told Dream Hubby.

SEVEN.

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Castle Combe, a Cotswold Village in Wiltshire. Courtesy of Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co

Trying to make a final decision on a mini-bus tour from London.  In the running: Warwick Castle, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon; some sort of Cotswolds-centric tour; and Dover, Leeds Castle, and Canterbury.  Any suggestions?  I love the extensive history of Warwick Castle (plus what historian doesn’t find Warwick the Kingmaker fascinating – I loved his portrayal in the White Queen miniseries).  The Cotswolds, of course, are delightfully English.  And I have always wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover.  Also, one of my best friends used to live in Canterbury and I would love to see where St. Thomas à Becket was martyred.  Hard decisions when you’ve only got one day to devote to one of these tours!

Wishing you a blessed week!

 

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{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 14

I couldn’t stop laughing at Kelly’s 2nd Capsule Wardrobe post!  There are more funny folks over there, be sure to check it out!

One.

This has been week numero dos for the Great Stomach Bug of 2017.  Every time I keep thinking the family is finally through it, somebody else vomits in my car.  I was feeling better myself and then, a week later, was sick again.  So far, Hubby and Evvie have not gotten it, but the incubation period seems to be about 7 days, so I am sure this time next week I will probably be needing to buy more bleach.

Two.

Hubby and I don’t generally make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Hubby also doesn’t generally send me flowers, particularly not for specific holidays – he likes the element of surprise, he says (which, also, he says, has nothing to do with forgetting most of the time).  One day I told him, “Gifts are my Love Language.  I wish you would think about sending me flowers once in a while”  and then the joke became him telling me, “I thought about sending you flowers today.”  I would always nod appreciatively and say, “Thanks, It’s the thought that counts!”

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In an about face, eschewing just The Thought of Sending Flowers, I received these via delivery on Tuesday.  Along with the card (no signature, who could they be from?:-)  Which leads us to

Three.

After the delivery guy left, I asked Spike who he thought could have possibly sent me these beautiful flowers.

Spike: I don’t know!  The guy that just dropped them off??

Me:  But why would he do that?

Spike: ?? Because he loves you??

So, if that is not a testimony to all husbands out there to set an example by sending your wives flowers more often, I don’t know what is.  You don’t want the children thinking there are random flower delivery guys who love your wives more than you do!

Four.

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I have to remind myself to be grateful for the quiet moments when they are getting along courtesy of Netflix.

Five.

I like to try to make Valentine’s Day special for the kids.  This year my goal is to make them hand crafted Valentines, complete with personalized love notes and carefully selected candy.  Haha!  Just kidding.  It is more like I will scatter some Hershey’s kisses on the table Tuesday morning, while scrawling I Love Yous on Post-it Notes.  It’s the thought that counts.

Six.

As soon as Hubby gets home from getting a haircut we are planning to do a major Slash and Burn of the kids’ bedrooms.  It has gotten Out. Of. Control.  They are pits of despair.  Well, mainly, dirty laundry, misplaced bric-a-brac, and garbage.  Oh the garbage.  Apparently the physical act of getting trash into the proper receptacle is lost on my children.  Except Bellie.  Because, for Bellie, there is no such thing as Trash.  It is all art.  Or could be used in the future for art.  At any rate, it is NOT WORTHY OF BEING THROWN.  This is why I need to clean out her room in secret, or if she is at school.  Otherwise what generally happens is that she tearfully picks through the garbage bag, taking out every last worksheet and piece of candy wrapper, saying, “Don’t throw away my stuuuuuuuuufffff”  It is dramatic.  Garbage might just be her Love Language.

Seven.

My library holds quarterly book sales of donated used books and withdrawn library titles.  I am mildly obsessed with used books.  I honestly have no need for any additional reading material right now.  I honestly have no more bookshelf space for any additional reading material right now.  But, yet…I am trying to decide if I should head on down to the library this weekend.  Just to see.  Just to browse.  Many books are 50 cents!  I am Rebecca and I have a book problem.  Anyone else?

Have a fantastic week!

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol 12

Lately it has been sort-of hit or miss with {7QT} but I’m here today!  Check out other more motivated bloggers at Kelly’s!

ONE.

Happy Inauguration Day!  There are Americans who are happy, Americans who are sad, Americans who are angry, and Americans who are resigned today.  But the point is, this is how democracy works.  This is how America works.  And I still think we have the greatest political system in the world.  Sometimes we don’t like the outcome of elections, or Congressional votes, or laws that are made.  And that’s OK.  Because we are able to disagree civilly, and work together to come to a compromise.  We can air our grievances, and work to change things we don’t like.  We are free to speak out.  And that’s pretty awesome because there are countries in the world who do not have that option.

At any rate, one of the paramount aspects of our political system is a peaceful transition of power (another thing many countries in the world do not have – hello Gambia).  So, like him or hate him, ecstatic or morose (or, I guess, the negligible percentage of Americans who just plain don’t care one way or the other about him according to the media), President Trump is the newest leader of this great nation and the amazing people within.

TWO.

I got a new phone.  I didn’t want to, my Samsung Galaxy III was working just fine, thank you.  Except for that I couldn’t get picture messages and it deleted all my contacts on me.  Hubby wanted to graduate from a 2000’s-era flip phone to something a little more sophisticated, for work, you know.  And since we were on different carriers, two different bills, two different kinds of coverage, we decided to simplify the matter by just getting matching phones.  Which is our romantic way of celebrating Valentine’s Day early.  (Isn’t that how the Millenials do it anyhow?  Skip the flowers & chocolates, opt for Apple products?)

THREE.

My baby turned 2 earlier this month.  Supposedly, she is our last one (according to Hubby, but I could easily be talked into another!) so I am going through the whole gamut of emotions relating to that and all my babies getting older.  Of course, kids growing older comes with its benefits obviously: they can strap themselves in the car, put on their own clothes, and can generally follow directions.  But, baby-lover that I am, I miss those days of little bundles sleeping all day and cuddling while breastfeeding.   I am getting more sleep these days, which is a plus.  But….still.  Sigh.

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Princess Evvie turned 2!

FOUR.

………….I am whisper-typing this, in case the Universe decides to play a trick on me….but I *think* I can claim victory on the Spike Potty Training journey.  He has been a trooper since Christmas, with accidents few and far between.  He really does excellent when we are out and about in town, it’s mainly when he is at home and distracted by tv or a complicated Lego creation that he sometimes forgets to go until it’s too late.  Yay!

FIVE

In just a few short weeks it will be….SIX MONTHS TO EUROPE!!!  More on that later.  So excited!!  It is really feeling more real now that everything is coming together, tickets have been purchased, reservations have been made.

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Coming soon!

SIX

One of the hardest things about living so far away from family is that you are not available to help in times of need.  Two days after Christmas, my mother fell and broke her leg really badly.  She is extremely independent and lives on her own, so this has caused her to completely reorder her life (including her willingness to ask for and receive help).  She is now recovering from a successful surgery but will be unable to bear weight on the offending limb for a few months.  In the meantime, my geographically-closer siblings have really stepped up to the plate and helped her with transport and shopping and stopping by to check on her morning and night.  My sister has taken on the bulk of this, for which I am really appreciative, because it is next to impossible for me to drop everything here and go there, what with kids in school, a husband on back-to-back business trips, as well as financial concerns.  It is hard feeling so impotent when it comes to helping out.  Anyone have any experience with this?  When you are unable to physically be there for someone, how can you Be There for someone?  Aside from sending money, what are some things I could do, both for my mother and my siblings who are taking on the responsibility for caring for her?

SEVEN.

Listening to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive on audiobook.

41a2znogcclIt is forcing me to think differently about our society’s definition of “success” as well as how to take better care of myself.  Huffington’s main mantra: Get enough sleep.  So I am trying.  The goal is to go to bed earlier so I can get up at 6 with the kids before school after getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep.  So far, so good.  I am hoping that in the long run I have more energy and am more focused.  Generally, I stay up late at night to “get stuff done”(which, incidentally, is what my mother always did growing up – and subsequently was a zombie all day) and then proceed to hit a slump shortly after lunch, where the world looks bleak and I am too tired to function.  Yesterday after 8 hours of sleep I didn’t feel that slump, which was awesome!  Hoping that will continue.  I will keep you posted.

Have a delightful week!  We’ll chat again soon!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: New Year’s edition and 2016 catch-up

Happy New Year!  And happy Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, if you will.  Here’s a long-awaited update about what’s been going on around here:

One

Six weeks ago Junior and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to celebrate my sister’s graduation from a prestigious law enforcement academy.  We had a great time.  It was so fun to spend time with my oldest son while showing him important places in America’s heritage.  We visited George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon; went to dinner at a happenin’ farm-to-table restaurant called Founding Farmers; had a tour of the Capitol building; saw aviation history at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; practiced our espionage skills at the International Spy Museum; and attended a delightful performance of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre.  Junior and I got to spend time with his grandmother who we don’t see very often, and my awesome sister who I miss being away from very much!  It was a great long weekend.

Two

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Spike channeled Garth on Thanksgiving.

Three

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For my birthday, Hubby got me a new chandelier for our two-story stairwell.  Before it was a flush mount (read: boring) light fixture that I didn’t feel did the space any favors.  We got this chandelier at a really great Black Friday weekend sale and Hubby put it up before my early- December birthday.  I love it.  It really adds a new level of style to the steps!

Four

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Bellie performed in her 3rd annual Nutcracker.  It is a lot of rehearsals and late nights, but I really love being able to watch her and relive my glory days as an amateur ballerina!

Five

We had a lovely and relaxing Christmas.  Of course I entertained all sorts of ideas about crafts to do and cookies to make, but I only really got around to making a gingerbread house with the kids.  And I guess that’s enough!

Six

We spent the new year at dear friends of ours’s cabin up near Yellowstone National Park.  It was lovely.  The snow made it just like a wonderland.  We spent our time cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, drinking hot cocoa, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Seven

New Year’s Resolution:  Become an Ultimate Book Nerd.  Our library sponsors the challenge: read 50 books in 50 weeks.  My friends and I are doing it together!  I am pumped!  I am hoping I can do it!  I will keep you appraised of my progress.

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Hope everyone is settling into the New Year in a lovely fashion!  Check in with Kelly to see what more awesome people are resolving to do this year!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Vol. 11

Well, here we are approaching the last full week of October!  I can hardly believe it.  Time is flying so quickly.  Linking up with Kelly again for this week’s 7QTs.

~ONE~

My computer is boasting a sticky keyboard this week.  Thanks to Evvie kindly spilling my coffee all over it.  And I am too lazy to unscrew it and take the back off and clean inside it, so I am still using it while having to pressssssssssssssss (see?) really hard on some keys to make them work.  It’s an occupational hazard, I guess.

~TWO~

We went to a local corn maze extravaganza on Friday night.  The kids had a BLAST.  Hubby and I (who are more antisocial homebodies) tried to keep those completely fake smiles plastered in place while freezing our hinies off as the kids insisted on running in four different directions while we we kicked ourselves for not bringing more than one flashlight.

~THREE~

I had the opportunity to volunteer at my older kids’ school on Friday.  Since the public school system in Idaho is so poorly funded, classes like art and music have been cut.  In my town, the elementary schools greatly rely on parent volunteers to teach “FAME” or “Fine Arts Mini-Experience” once monthly so that kids can be exposed to art history and music appreciation.  I have been volunteering with this program for four years and I really enjoy teaching it.  I am always really impressed with how well-mannered and inquisitive the kids are.  One of the major highlights of this lesson (in which the art discussed was Grant Wood’s American Gothic) was showing the kids the different parodies that have been made of the artwork.  I think the overwhelming favorite was a Star Wars-themed one where the farmer traded his pitchfork for a light saber.

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courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago, artic.edu

~FOUR~

We babysat an 11-month-old baby girl yesterday.  She was sweet, but a big girl!  She was the same size as 21-month-old Evvie, and weighed much the same.  Evvie has always been at the low end of the size spectrum.  She’s growing, just seems to be petite.  It was interesting to watch Evvie interact with a younger baby.  Mostly she was just jealous because I was giving attention to another baby!   The parents sorely needed a break, Hubby works with the dad, and they are new to the area and don’t know a lot of people.  I sometimes forget how vital it is as a new-er mother to have other friends who are also traversing the journey of motherhood along with you.  It sounds like this mom is very lonely for other mom friends.  I am always so happy to recommend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) to moms looking for that kind of connection.  Just being able to check in a few times a month with other parents who have kids the same ages as yours and who can commiserate with the ups and downs of parenthood along with you is such a blessing.

~FIVE~

I recently had a friend diagnosed with breast cancer.  They caught it early and her prognosis looks good, but she will still be in the throws of chemo for the next several months.  She is young (36) and is married with two young girls.  I have offered to help with whatever she needs, and I know she has many other friends doing the same.  I have never had a friend go through this before, and am unsure what would be the most meaningful way to help.  Any suggestions from anyone who has been there?

~SIX~

One of the best things about having kids get a little older is that you can pass on chores to them that you do not relish doing.  Having Junior clean out my car this weekend was SO AWESOME!  Of course he is not as thorough as I would be, but he vacuumed.  He threw away trash.  He put little trash bags by everyone’s seats to encourage them to throw garbage in there instead of on the floor.  It warms a mother’s heart!

~SEVEN~

I recently discovered Overdrive from my library and have been having so much fun listening to audiobooks while I clean and do the dishes.  It makes those chores go soooooooo much faster.  I recently “read” (listened to?) the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier…started out as a read for a book club but then I really got into it, even though I am not usually into the young adult/fantasy genre.  But I absolutely loved the narrator.  I love when you get a good narrator who does all the voices believably.  The three books were a really good listen.  Now I am listening to Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.

~~~

That’s all folks, Have a lovely week!

 

{7 Quick Takes} Thoughts on Hamilton, “pretend school” and memory

Hello, gentle readers…hope your week has been lovely.  Linking up again with Kelly to let you in on what’s been happening around here…

ONE

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I am sort-of behind the times, but just recently discovered and immediately jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon.  I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Amazon nearly non-stop for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I was a history major in college and I always thought, reading about Alexander Hamilton, “what a stud!” first, but then, “this guy was the epitome of the American Dream”.  He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the most influential of the Founders.  He had such a fascinating, nuanced life and that’s why this musical really excites me.

Plus, the hip-hop?  That’s pretty darn revolutionary for a Broadway show about an 18th Century Federalist.  It could have been a tired, classical story about an interesting guy, but Lin-Manuel Miranda does such great things with his writing that it makes the early days of America fresh and exciting.  And relatable.  Which is a complaint I think a lot of young people have about the study of history.

(Why do I  have to learn about this?  What does it matter to me?  These people in the past are nothing like me, they have nothing in common with me.)

Miranda took it a step further and cast people of all ethnic backgrounds as the central (historically Anglo-Saxon/white) characters.  And it is brilliant.  The story transcends race and gender and solidifies the fact that no matter our backgrounds or ethnicity, ALL AMERICANS have a right to the heritage of our nation.  And that is just fabulous.

Plus, the music is super-catchy.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the soundtrack (even if you’re not a musical fan…this one might change your mind!).  If you’re waiting to see it on Broadway, it is probably going to be a long wait – it’s basically sold out into 2018!

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Alexander Hamilton (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) as Alexander Hamilton

TWO

The older two started school Aug 28th.  I had to laugh at Bellie (1st grade) when she came home after that first day.  It was an excited, breathless, stream of consciousness about eating lunch at school and riding the bus with her brother and seeing her friends and she loves her teacher and she got to help in the library and she used her new pencils and she loves her teacher did she tell me she loves her teacher?  And Junior (4th grade) came home and grunted “fine” when I asked him how his first day was.  Haha, the difference between boys and girls.  (Or 1st and 4th grade?)

THREE

I attempted to begin homeschooling my preschooler on Tuesday.  I had tried to get him excited about the prospect (We did not enroll him in “away from home” preschool this fall because A) at almost 4 he is showing a stubborn lack of interest in being potty-trained and B) I really don’t want to have to shuttle anyone back and forth to a 2-hour preschool when it takes me 1 hour round-trip  to get there.  This is my one year to be free from that!).  Anyhow, I told Spike that I was going to teach him at home.  He responded, “I get to go to pretend school?  Yay!”  Initially, I thought, that’s cool he calls it “pretend”, I know it is real, and it will be awesome.  Well, it turns out he really thought we were only going to “pretend” we were at school.  I barely got through the morning prayer and the pledge before he got sidetracked and started throwing a fit about playing with his Lego car.  I tried to lovingly refocus him, I attempted to move onto something I thought he would enjoy (coloring), I finally resorted to giving him a time-out.  He sat on the steps screaming, “I hate pretend school!  I don’t want to do pretend school any more!”  So I decided we would probably just take a break for the day.  I don’t want him completely hating it if I push it on him.  I vow to try it again next week.  I will keep trying for a bit but if it appears he is just not ready, perhaps he might not be.  I will keep you updated.

FOUR

The baby has some weird skin thing going on.  It looks like a rash or maybe psoriasis, is mostly on her chin and around her eye.  It looks very dry and red and patchy.  The only thing I can think of is it appeared around the time the kids were doing swimming lessons last month.  So perhaps a reaction to the chlorine or something?  It has been a couple of weeks since we’ve been swimming, though, so I don’t know what is going on.  Junior had some weird eczema around that age that eventually subsided, but this appears different.  I hate skin conditions in kids…one thing can look very much like another thing.  Something serious that needs treatment can appear just like something else that only needs to be washed with a gentle soap and moisturized.  It could be a reaction to some kind of detergent or it could be an allergy to some kind of food.  In that case, it can take months to figure it out while removing and adding stimuli to the child’s life.  Gaaah.  At least it doesn’t seem itchy or bothersome to Evvie.  She just looks somewhat ghastly.

FIVE

Our garden is overflowing and I couldn’t be more irritated.  I know that sounds totally awful, but it is true.  I love the idea of gardening.  I like having fresh herbs and lettuce to pick when I am making a salad or cooking and need just a little bit of parsley instead of running to the store.  But…but…even when you plant just one, little, teeny zucchini plant you somehow wind up with 5,634,592 zucchinis that you need to figure out what the heck to do with!  I have at least 3 friends who begrudgingly took one or two to make zucchini bread.  Hubby’s been cubing it and sautee-ing it with butter and Parmesan cheese (yummy actually, but not when you have it served for every meal for every day for a month!)

We have tomatoes and plums and really hard, not delicious pears strewn all over my counter.  The fruit is not so bad: the kids eat it constantly.  Unfortunately, those children still in diapers (I’m looking at you, Mr. I Hate Pretend School) tend to bless me with delightful pants to change after consuming all of that fiber.  Hubby was raised with the Depression-Era mindset (I am pretty sure he is actually a vampire who grew up in the 30’s) that you use EVERY LAST available piece of food for SOMETHING, no matter how ugly it is, how full of worms it may happen to be (yeah, our apples didn’t do so well this year), or how bad it tastes.  If it is not rotting or full of mold, you better dang well figure out some way to cook it, freeze it, or preserve it.  Of course, since Hubby is at work all day, this generally gets “intended” my way….and I honestly have tons of things I would rather be doing.  Hence the resentment over my bounteous garden.  I am blessed.

SIX

I have to go to the library today.  My kids love the library.  I love the library.  But I hate going with my kids to the library.

SEVEN

I am reading this fascinating (although a little technical) book: Permanent Present Tense: The Incredible Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. by Suzanne Corkin (2013).

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I became interested in this subject because a new nonfiction book about the same thing was recently published:

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My library hasn’t acquired this new book yet (Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, who is the grandson of the brain surgeon who operated on H.M.) but a search led me to the other one.

Permanent Present Tense tells the story of Henry Molaison, a 27-year-old epileptic who underwent an experimental surgery in 1953 to remove part of his brain in order to relieve his seizures.  It seemed to work somewhat, but tragically included the added side-effect of Henry never being able to create any long-term memories.  His life really was in “permanent present tense” as he forgot everything after about 30 seconds.

As a result, for the next half-century, Henry agreed to be studied by neurologists to discover the intricacies and nuances of the brain.

Fascinatingly, only Henry’s long-term memory of things after his surgery was affected.  He could remember things from before, and his intelligence and personality remained the same.

Henry passed away in 2008, before that, he was only referred to in scientific circles as “Patient H.M.”  He contributed greatly to our understanding of how the brain works, most importantly memory.

I have always been very fascinated with the brain and the history of how brain injuries and mental illness have been treated.  In the first part of the 20th Century, lobotomies were considered appropriate and acceptable treatment for a wide range of conditions, among them depression and schizophrenia.  They were used, with some success, on patients with epilepsy, but up until recently doctors were not sure precisely which areas of the brain were able to be removed or damaged to yield results without damaging other brain functions (such as memory).

I’m only about half-way through but am engrossed.  I feel devastated for Henry and his family to have to have enriched science and medicine through their loss, but it really did open up a whole knew era of understanding about the brain.  Alternately, the book calls into question the lengths we as a society are willing to experiment on human “guinea pigs”(drug trials, for example) to further our goals to find treatment for disease.