Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing up

Now that I am off orientation, my work is about to go to a completely reasonable two days per week. I giggle everytime I realize that this is my LAST week of this schedule and I am basically permenantly on twice a week after this.

Next week, my classes start but I can only take two courses this semester and they are both online. I am required to take an "Orientation" class that all new RN-BSN students take. I am hopeful that it will at least give me a chance to do some writing and keep my mind sharp while I work my way through what step comes next in my life. I am intending to apply for Graduate Schools, but I'm completely torn on whether to finish this BSN first or just head to Graduate School. Finishing this program will add one year. However, I hate to not finish something I start....I also had to bide more time before getting to where I'm headed. I made a promise to myself to stay with this semester and make up my mind by summertime, the point when I have to diverge two different pathds depending on what I want to do for next year.

In all of this, my main priority continues to be this family. I have a middle schooler who is still homeschooling. Due to his special circumstances, he will not enter public school. I'm no longer afraid of public schools. I'm not afraid of public school for him even. I just know that he requires something very unique and different from the other children and would not thrive in a mass education format.

I also have a kindergartener that I am homeschooling. I LOVE homeschooling her. I can clearly see the fruits of my committment to build the foundations of learning for my older children and how well they have thrived in their learning because of the time I gave them. I did try sending this little one to school but it was so many hours that she was exhausting. She was not learning. She was miserable.

Unlike her older brother, she is NOT going to homeschool forever. If we remain where we are I will look to enter her into public school around 3rd or 4th grade. I expect like the others, she will thrive and love school.

Behind this sweet little girl is my baby. Darling baby J, who was never supposed to be with us, is the last of our tribe. My intention is to homeschooling J until late elementary or early middle school like all of the others. Then, he too will enter public school and will thrive.

Added to these children are the five siblings who attend public school. They are still realing from losing Micah. They all adore school, but they also still need mom to help guide them. They go to school but need a parent to help get them out the door. Right now, they have been latch-key kids for most afternoons, but next week they will return to having mom home most afternoons to guide them with homework, snacks and eventuallly dinner and bedtime.

All but my last two babies are now pre-teen or teens. I can see the seasons of my life change before my very eyes. I have loved every moment of raising these children, but I can see the years of my babies leaving the nest are nearly upon me. All of my younger years, I promised myself that I would have my career ready to get started as these children started leaving. I know my life would be empty if all I had was these children and I had nothing to fill my life as they left me.

As hard as the growing pains have been in the last few years, I am thankful that I have my career already in progress. I am thankful that I can look forward to their growing and not worry about what happens to me when they leave.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Glimpsing the mirror

Yesterday, I saw my past in the mirror, staring back at me.

A good friend contacted me wanting to set up a playdate for our children today. She homeschools all of her children now, and most of mine are in public school. She wanted the opportunity for E and her oldest child to socialize and waited until we were out of school.

She used to be a school teacher and a firm believer in public education....until her own special needs child forced her to realize she could provide a better education at home herself than to continue to fight the school system.

She's making the right choice for her family. As a mother continuing to homeschool my young elementary children and my complex special educational needs child, I can completely sympathize.

As a mother who lose herself in the life of homeschooling and non-stop children's needs, I can see my past in her current struggles and burn out.

Last night, I cut my hair. I don't like it long but II does. So, we play a constant game. I cut it short and then grow it out until I cannot stand it any longer. It's not that I allow II to dictate my hair style. I just try to take his opinion into some consideration. He would prefer my hair down to my rear and the reality is that my thyroid thinned scraggles look like strings of nothingness when they get long like that. Back when I had long, thick, gorgeous wavy hair, I used to prefer it long as well. I haven't had that for most of our marriage. It looks less thinned and unhealthy when maintained in a simple bob cut than what he prefers. So, I generally cut it chin length and then let it grow until it's below my shoulders before I cut it again.

However, if it's time to cut it, I always cut it before I henna it. It makes no sense to me to dye hair I'm about to chop off anyway. Henna is one thing I absolutely maintain for my hair these days. I've talked about it before how I prefer the auburn tint to my hair but struggle with justifying the time and expense. I solved that struggle by buying a year supply of henna. Then, the Psoriasis got SO bad that it was painful to henna my hair and I spread a year's supply of henna out quite a bit longer. I have one package left after this time and fully intend to replenish my supply within the next month. However, through last summer and fall, I dropped how often I was using the henna from the eight weeks that I normally do that serves me well to every three to four months. My last experience was pure torture at the height of the Psoarasis flare-up. My scalp is not 100% recovered but finally close enough that I felt brave enough to try henna again. So, today is the day.

My poor friend is interested in henna but scared of maintaining it if she tries it while she is here. She is fully in the self-neglect mode I lived in for so many years. My heart hurts for her. I can fully see burn-out in her future, just like it was in my past. However, it was also a reflection that surprised me today.

There is so many things I still need to improve in my life, in my self-care, in my approach to mothering. It seems keeping my hair the way I like it has finally crossed from the 'know I should but cannot bring myself to' category into the firm 'I do this for me, end of discussion' realm. It's nice to know that I do make progress in my life and not merely stay stagnate about everything.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Everyday heros

Many years ago, when I was new to nursing and HIV was not as well understood, I had a patient who was HIV+. I remember that patient not because I was scared of him, but because of the attitude so many of the staff members had about him. I remember that the support staff was running around growling that he was a "double glove" patient and the other nurses were not really much better. I remember telling at least a few people, very angrily, that the entire reason we WEAR gloves is because anyone we encounter could have something in their blood we could contract. The only difference about that patient was that we knew what he had before we entered his room. I remember when that man was ready to be discharged, I was the only person willing to handle his care so the poor man could go home.

Back when I had my only known HIV+ patient, I also had a very young baby brother we had recently adopted. My baby brother entered our family because his adoption agency could not find anyone else willing to adopt him. When his birthmother went to seek prenatal care, she lived in a state that autmoatically did HIV testing. She found out she was HIV+. When my baby brother was born, he tested positive for the virus as well, despite his birthmother taking AZT through her pregnancy.

My brother does not have HIV. A newborn baby will carry it's mother's antibiodies for up to 18 months before they will convert to negative on the antibiody test. The antibody test is merely the body's attempt to fight the virus. The antigen test shows whether the actual virus is present in the body, and my brother never tested positive for the antigen test. Most families were simply too scared to even try to take that baby into their homes.

These days, I've seen a movement in adoptive circles that has swung too far the other direction. I've seen a lot of adoptive families who espouse that HIV no longer kills, that it's merely a nuiasance disease and that it has little to no impact on a person's life. It's true that patients are living longer, but it is not merely a nuisance disease.

Today, I had my second HIV patient ever. The first thing I learned is that the treatments for the virus today has been whittled down to one pill. That, for the record, is absolutely amazing to me. The second thing I realized is that this patient, who was suffering complications of the disease, who found out they were having even more complications and the somewhat bad day went reallly bad for them, touched my heart. I can honestly say this patient was one of the sweetest, kindest patients I have ever had the pleasure to work with before. I can also say after seeing how poorly things were going for this patient, I just wanted to hug them. I didn't. I think the patient would have thought I lost my mind.

Just before this patient came into the office today, we had been discussing that while it's true some people just get handed a really crummy deck of cards in life. However, at some point, you still must CHOOSE how you are going to interact with the world and what you are going to do with your life. This patient has clearly choosen to accept some horrible circumstances with a smile and joy. It was a strong reminder to me. I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet this patient and the pleasure of being able to touch their life at a moment in time when they needed to be touched as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The pissed off nurse

I do not like nursing.

I cannot figure out if it is the dynamics of a very small outpatient clinic with a staff that has known and been personal friends, and thus cliquish and exclusive....or if this is simply related to nursing in general.

I remember I left nursing the first time because nurses eat their young and I grew tired of the idea that before you could be accepted into an environment, the seasoned nurses had to deem the correct pound of flesh had been extracted first. However, that was much less than what I am experiencing in this position.

I did not realize when the truly incompetent nurse was asking me questions about my education and experience on my first day that she was not, in fact, being sociable and curious. She was, in reality, trying to find ground to prove that despite my being a 15 year seasoned nurse in a non-traditional manner and she was only a new nurse of just over one year, that she was in fact superior to me. I bombed that test quite badly by accidentally informing her that I was already admitted (and was readily given a one semester extension to address my grief) to the very same nursing program she has been rejected in her application twice now.

In all fairness, I also now know the girl way overreached in her applications. Instead of choosing one of the local, run of the mill Bachelor's programs, she opted for a top tier program with national ranking. Given she couldn't get admitted into the local, run of the mill Associate programs and had to go to what is locally known as the worst nursing school around AND she barely graduated even then, she was just asking for a rejection from this particular program.

However, I forgot that this dynamic exists. Yet, I am convinced that this tiny clinic is far more exaggerated than the normal dynamics at play. I enjoy my work and dealing with the patients. I have fantasies of telling these henish women what I truly think of them and spend a lot of time biting my tongue while realizing I am back in high school.

Yesterday, I had my first day officially off orientation. Getting off orientation has been it's own drama filled experience. When I applied for this job, I had a personal connection to the hiring manager. I made it clear before I ever submitted my resume that I could NOT work more than three days per week. I actually spoke with her specifically before submitting my resume because the job listing was unclear and I wasn't going to bother to apply if it was going to require more than three days per week. When I started working, the clinic nurses felt that even though once I was off orientation it would be three days or less per week, I should absolutely be required to orient at the same 40 hours per week they were all required to endure when they began the job.

I did buck the consensus on that point. If the hiring manager could not allow me to orient at the pace I was clear from the beginning I could work, then she should have hired her second choice candidate. For the hiring manager, there was never a question. She agreed to my terms when she hired me. She was at a conference the week I began working, or likely the speculation on my work hours would have never occurred in the first place. When she returned to work, it was immeidately established that I would only orient three days per week, no discussion permitted.

My co-workers then decided that if I was going to only orient three days per week, then I MUST orient signficantly longer so as to ultimately have the same number of hors orienting that they all did. Except for one glaring problem. I didn't need that long to orient. They put in six weeks of five hours per day before they were permitted to drop to part-time hours. To orient that same number of days, I would have needed to stay on orientation for ten weeks. I did seven weeks.

My co-workers were staunchly attempting to force me into eight weeks of orientation when I asked a very basic question of my hiring manager Monday. First, if all of my skills reqirements have been met and signed off on, why am I still on orientation. Second, since yesterday I was scheduled to be one of two nurses, niether of us being my mentor, how was I supposed to "orient" when I MUST take the role of a non-orienting nurse since the clinic MUST have two RNs on the clock to operate. Furthermore, if I must be clocked in "OFF" orientation yesterday and tomorrow, do I then fall back to orientee next week when we are back to three nurses?

Those questions prompted my manager to take a more honest assessment of my orientation status than what she was being told. It resulted in my being officially taken OFF orientation Monday. I should have been off orientation at the six week mark. I was signed off on all of my required skills AND I have been doing the duty of a second duty nurse, not an orientee. In fact, I've been functioning as a second duty nurse since Christmas, including being left alone to cover everyone's lunch breaks and to fully manage patients on my own for long periods of time.

The two other seasoned nurses are well aware that I can handle the job at this point. The new nurse cannot stand the fact that I spent one more week on orientation than her and am officially off now. The seasoned nurses openly admit that the new nurse has a personality that you either love or hate. In eight years with this company (only the last 17 months as a nurse) she has burned every bridge with every department she has worked eventually. The floor she came to us from won't even allow her to come back on a per diem basis and work when their are desperate for staff. This clinic, however, adores her. They find her hilarious, and because of that they completely overlooking the serious deficiencies in her nursing practice skills they can openly admit they are aware she possesses. She spent several years as a plebotamost, so she's extremely skilled at starting IVs. It is the ONLY skill she is good at.

I had to speak to my manager in December when this girl's behavior became so egregious she attempted to bully me into administering a medication that a doctor had ordered in a mistake. She felt that checking the medication order with our office assistant was sufficient to ensure the medication was correct, even though the order clearly contradicted the office notes included in the records sent to us. I had to become very firm with her and insist that I was calling the doctor to clarify what was ordered because I was NOT putting my license behind the administration until I determined why the order did not match the medical record.

I'm reasonably sure that disagreement is when I earned the title of "Know it all" to this coworker, a title I can see she exerts to the other nurses. I can tell when she has worked and when she has not. When she works, I return to work and feel as if I have stepped into high school all over again. The two seasons nurses who respect and work with me ordinarily spend the morning reverting back to petty and irritating attacks against me. Typically, they settle down by lunch as I simply stay polite and do my best to do my job and avoid their emotions in the situation.

Yesterday, my first day off orientation, I nearly did not manage to hold my tongue anymore. When I came to work, the most experienced and skilled nurse in our clinic began her day using the same antics and behaviors as the incompetent nurse. She was refusing to allow me to provide direct patient care, was refusing to communicate information with me, was refusing to be polite to me. Late in the morning, the clinic was calm. We had a terminal patient who was struggling with the required paperwork we must complete for new patients. He was there for a palliative treatment and was struggling to even stay awake. He had choosen to keep his curtain closed around his cubicle, which means when you stepped behind the curtain you were cut off from the rest of the clinic. He requested my help with the paperwork, and since the clinic was calm and quiet, I disappeared to help him with the ardous process that he stated was simply confusing him.

Unfortunately, while I was assisting this patient, two patients entered the clinic. Our clinic is ONE ROOM. It is a simple matter of asking a patient to take a set in one of the cubicles and letting them know that a nurse will be with them shortly. The other nurse was starting a treatment on a regular (weekly) patient in full view of the full room. One of the patients who entered is a child who must spend about 20 minutes with heat packs on her arms before anyone can even attempt to start an IV, as she is that difficult to start an IV on.

Had I not been the nurse behind the curtain, I would have greeted the two patients, finished starting one patient's treatment, started the heat packs on the child and then addressed the other new patient without complaint. I know this for a definitive fact because I HAVE been the nurse not behind the curtain. This nurse choose to spend the day clearly angry and stewing at me, and then lash out angerily in the mid-afternoon.

I would like to give this nurse credit that at least she did communicate directly with me. However, since she steweed for the bulk of the day and then exploded, I would suspect that in reality my manager kept her promise when she allowed them to use her at 30 days to ambush me. I was lectured on my performance at my 30 day review, which is when I learned that I am referred to as a know it all. That was also the ambush when I learned that I was being cited not only for the sypmtoms of my Psoriasis that were present when I began working there, but also for the fact that apparently the treatment for my Psoraisis leaves the back of my hair greasy. I was also told that while we are all "equals" in the clinc, I am an outsider and have no right to express my opinions on how things are run nor what the future plans are for the clinic. I apparently enraged someone, or everyone, for simply being aware that Obamacare requires all medical records to convert to electronic in the very near future. Evidentally, that I have taken the time to educate myself on Obamacare means I have condemned them and am again... a know it all. When my manager behaved so unprofessionally, she also informed me that if my coworkers had any further complaints, she would refuse to be their mouthpiece and would require they speak to me personally. I suspect the late afternoon hissy fit by a 50 something woman was merely a reflection that my manager did at least keep her word on that stance. So, I cannot truly give her credit for communicating with me afterall.

Ironically, in all of these struggles, only ONE complaint related to my actual nursing care and how I handle the patients was ever expressed. At 30 days into the job, there was a serious complaint about my ability to start IVs. They assumed I could not find veins. They were incorrect. I am extremely skilled at hitting veins. I had a very hard learning curve to converting that to starting IVs because there is a different technique. Because all of my coworkers refused to believe me in where the problem was, they were worthless to help me problem solve to correct this. Ultimately, one phone call to the nursing education director and she walkd me through EXACTLY where my problem was. I corrected the mistake in one shift and viola I am having no problems with IVs now. Their complaints are personal, petty, and frankly irritating. My manager's suggestion on how to resolve them is to tell me I need to attend every after hours social event I am invited to and make friends of my coworkers. Really? I'm REQUIRED to not merely be friendly and professional but somehow be friends? That's ridiculous.

So, yesterday after a very irritating and frustrating day with yet another nurse refusing to be professional in how she interacted with me, I was unhappy as I headed home. II encouraged me that we are within a month to the end of the extremely tight finanicail situation created by all of the medical crisis we've faced. He assured me that I am free to quit and go back to being a strict stay at home mother at any point if I want.

I don't WANT to. I like having the descretionary funds. They are small at the moment, but they make a huge difference. In a month, they will be bigger and make a HUGE difference. Significantly, I want those funds to finish getting rid of the debt and save up the down payment to purchase this farm we rent and live on. Furthermore, I refuse to allow pettiness to drie me from a job. If I quit this job, it will be on MY terms, after I have proven that I am stronger and better than their petty behavior and they cannot and will not drive me off acting like teenage Queen Bees. I have a deep love of acadamia and truly believe I will hold a PhD before my children are all fully grown. However, I am unwilling and unready to throw away nursing, certainly not simply because they drove me out of it.

It's a strange change in attitude to go from longing to be able to quit and go back to full-time homemaker to realizing that I CAN balance this. I CAN enjoy working with patients. I will NOT be driven away by petty catfights. Give it your best shot, but I'm here to stay until *I* move on.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

200 Books

I constantly try to expand my horizons. I always have. I saw this list years ago and noted that I agreed with most of the books listed. I'm looking at it yet again and realizing that I really ought to see about finding suggestions for more books I can read, or make another attempt at the ones I rejected in the past.

So, I found a BBC list that has circulated for awhile and figured I would take a random assessment of my reading, just to see where I stand and where I can continue to improve myself.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien--I attempted this, repeatedly. I couldn't get past the old Enlish prose Tolkien wrote it in. I should try again.

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

7. Winnie the Pooh, AA MilneAt night, when I tuck my last baby boy into bed, we read a chapter of Milne. He is the last I get the pleasure of introducing to Pooh and he is captivated.

8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger--Crazy fundie-lite LMB did NOT want me reading this in High School and I've just never gotten around to actually reading it since then either.

16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy--Great Russian novels. My grandfather used to say they were written to last a Russian winter. I get that feeling since I've started most of the "greats" and rarely succeeded in finishing them.

21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling

23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling

24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling

25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien--Same problem as Lord of the Rings.

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy--I could never follow the plot and always got lost trying to read this one. I made four attempts but never finished.

27. Middlemarch, George Eliot

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving It's not that I don't like this book. It's just this is so NOT what I would choose as my favorite John Irving novel. I much prefer The Cider House Rules, actually.

29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck One of my all time favorites, not just of Steinbeck's but of all literature. I've probably read this 3-4 times in my lifetime and it never grows old for me.

30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson

32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett

34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute

38. Persuasion, Jane Austen

39. Dune, Frank Herbert

40. Emma, Jane Austen

41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

42. Watership Down, Richard Adams

43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

46. Animal Farm, George Orwell

47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy

49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian

50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

53. The Stand, Stephen King

54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy--See the comment with War and Peace, same issue here.

55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

56. The BFG, Roald Dahl

57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky--Yet another Russian novel, tried and never finished.

61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman

62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough

65. Mort, Terry Pratchett

66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

67. The Magus, John Fowles

68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding

71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind

72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell

73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding

76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins

78. Ulysses, James Joyce

79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

81. The Twits, Roald Dahl

82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar

84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake

85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson

87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

89. Magician, Raymond E Feist

90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac

91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo

92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

95. Katherine, Anya Seton

96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer

97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

It's funny. Books have never just been books to me. They are more like friends. I remember going with my grandfather to the library when I was thrown out of my home as a teen. Granddad was a speed reader. His criteria for reading was it had to be written books. He would check out as many books as he could carry from his chin to the fullest extent of his arms. He had to go to the library twice a week because it only took him a week to read that stack of books.

Books are things that I can remember how I felt long after I forget a plot or name of a character. They were my escape from the brutality of my life at a very young age. It was only through tremenous threats that LMB would drag me away from my books to endure more of her torture and abuse. My books reminded me that those who were hungry preservered. They told me that children with rotten parents could grow up to be something marvelous. They were my lifeline to the world.

When I go over lists like this, I can see some lists of suggestions for more books to read. I don't read nearly as much as I did when I was younger and before I had children, but I do still read. I read to my children and I read for myself. Sometimes, I re-read my favorites like welcoming old friends to sit by my fire and stay awhile. Of all the things I have given to my children, I am most proud of the books. They don't need books to escape the way I did, but they too have learned that books are friends and not merely words on paper.

Hey, found a second half to this list!

101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome

102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

103. The Beach, Alex Garland

104. Dracula, Bram Stoker

105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz

106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens

107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz

108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks

109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth

110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson

111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy

112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend

113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat

114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo--Attempted and failed several times but am currently halfway through and enjoying it this time around.

115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy

116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson

117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson

118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

119. Shogun, James Clavell

120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham

121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson

122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray

123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy

124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett

127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison

128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle

129. Possession, A. S. Byatt

130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl

133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck

134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl

135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett

136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker

137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan

139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson

140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson

141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque

142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson

143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby

144. It, Stephen King

145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

146. The Green Mile, Stephen King

147. Papillon, Henri Charriere

148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett

149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian

150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz

151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett

152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett 153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett

154. Atonement, Ian McEwan

155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson

156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier

157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey

158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling

160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon

161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville--Okay, I tried and tried and this is actually one I wouldn't try again. It was slower and more cumbersome than Gone With the Wind to me, and I really never liked GWTW so that's saying a *lot* for me. Sometimes, tastes just don't mess well, even if you want them to.

162. River God, Wilbur Smith

163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon

164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

165. The World According To Garp, John Irving--Much, MUCH better than Owen Meany, in my opinion.

166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore

167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson

168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye

169. The Witches, Roald Dahl

170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White

171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams

173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway

174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco

175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder

176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson

177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl

178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach

180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery

181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson

182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay

184. Silas Marner, George Eliot

185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith

187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh

188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine

189. Heidi, Johanna SpyriThis is what I'm reading to my two younger girls right now. One of my favorite kids books.

190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. LawrenceLife of Lawrence

191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons

193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett

194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells

195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans

196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett

198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White

199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

What I love best of this list is that there are books I have actually never heard of before, which offers me a perfect opportunity to expand my mind with new and fresh material....not that I will ever finish my entire to-read list, but I can continue to try.