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The War That Is This Blog Post

18 May

Books have power. This is no secret. The school librarian put a book in T~’s hands this spring and if ever there was a book that needed to be read at that moment, it was The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times a thousand different ways & yet this time, this telling, cracked open a window for T~. That crack, and a little mental maturity, has caused monumental shifts for T~ & for those of us that live with her.

A brief description of the story: Ada is told her whole life she is one thing & through a series of events, she realizes she is not who she thought she was.

The shift in Ada’s thinking. The shift in her perspective. It is all beautifully told in the story. What else is told is the cost of that shift. It is huge. All her life she wanted one thing to be true. But it wasn’t. That caused monumental hurt & uncertainty. The shift changed everything.

T~ & I read the book at the same time (she started it, went to bed. I took it, started & finished it before falling asleep. She finished it the next day). I’m so thankful we did because we had some wonderful conversations. For the first time, T~ found a book where the mixed up emotions she feels were put into words. She could relate to Ada’s confusion. Ada knew things were good but they still made her anxious, fearful, & unsettled.

T~ feels like that. Days J~ & I love, Referralversary or Za Ding Day are days of conflicted emotions for T~. She wants to please us by being happy, but she does not see these days through the same lens. When J~ & I think of Referralversary, we see what we have gained. T~ sees what she lost. I cannot change her perspective. It is hers as much as mine is mine. She cannot put on my glasses and see what I see anymore than I can wear her glasses and see what she sees.

A long time ago I read a blog post about how parenting is grinding the lenses through which our children view the world. I loved the analogy. We help shape how our children experience life. With my boys we started from the very beginning.

Hungry? Mom will feed you.

Lens grind.

Tired? Dad will rock you to sleep.

Lens grind.

All those grindings shape the lens so my boys saw safety, comfort, & love.

T~’s lens was ground differently. Maybe they started out being ground the same way, but eventually, her lens took a different shape.

Hungry? There’s not enough for you.

Lens grind.

Need to be held? No time for that.

Lens grind.

T~’s perspective of the world was of insecurity, anxiety, & stress.

We are doing the long, hard, exhausting work of grinding & adding filters to T~’s lens. She feels her trauma & losses deeply.  So we adapt and parent differently. We parent by book and by touch. We sense shifts & adapt as quickly as we can. We bring in experts who help us navigate the troubled waters & help us steer clear of other stormy paths. Some days we get it right. Others we get wrong. Some days we think we might survive her childhood. Other days we hope she’ll finish high school without becoming pregnant.

Good thing there’s grace!

And psychiatrists.

*insert funny segue*

To sum up.

Read The War That Saved My Life.

If you’re in the trauma/loss parenting trenches, we’re right there with you!

But you should really take some time and read The War That Saved My Life & then we can discuss 🙂





What I Wish For

7 May

I wish there was a website for books like IMDB. One of the things I really appreciate on IMDb is their Parents Guide. I know there are other more popular movie guides, but I like IMDb because they aren’t viewing the movie through a particular filter. Just give me a list of the language & the questionable scenes & I’ll decide for myself.

I don’t want to censor books but as a parent of a tween & a kid with a high reading level I really wish there was a place to go to see what’s appropriate without having to pre-read all their books.

E~ would like to read Life of Pi. I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. What kind of violence is in the book? Sexual content? Language? If I had that kind of info, it’d be easier for me to say if it’s appropriate for my 12yo or not. Same goes for A Dog’s Purpose. I think it’s something both boys would enjoy but I have no idea what else is in the book. The kids are voracious readers. I can’t keep up!

Right now E~ is in the middle of two Jack London books. I think he’s preparing for his trip by reading White Fang & The Call of the Wild. G~ is reading book 341 of The Warriors Series. I can’t get into that one. Cats are not my thing.

T~ is easy. She’s reading whatever she can get her hands on & right now that’s Magic Treehouse. I find them annoyingly simple but for an early reader – you can’t get much better than that series!



Who Knew Graphic Novel No Longer Meant Comic Book?!

27 Sep

I love Young Adult Literature. In my opinion, some of the best authors are writers of YA lit. Amazing stuff like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, & my new favorite sub-genre – The Graphic Novel.

This summer I picked up the book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It was a unique book. The story starts off as a thriller but is really a fantasy. I never really knew what was coming next. But the best part was the pictures. The author wrote the book around these really weird, old photographs. It made for a really unusual, great read. The book cries for a sequel.

Yesterday I picked up Brian Selznick’s masterpiece The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I’ve been shelving the book at the school library on a weekly basis. The book intrigued me, one for its size, & two for the illustrations. Seemed like an interesting book so I finally picked it up from our local library.

Wow. I don’t think I can accurately describe the book. It’s like a movie but with amazing drawings that add another layer of intensity to a fantastic story. The entire book is a work of art. I started reading last night after putting the kids to bed & finished it before I turned in. I had to finish it – it was way too good to put down. It’s a huge book but it reads fast because of all the amazing illustrations. As soon as I put it down I hopped on the public library’s website to put a hold on his newest book, Wonderstruck.

I was 103 on the waiting list. Good thing the school librarian is a friend. She’s got the book pulled aside for me.

I sent Hugo with G~ today for his reading time at school. I hope he loves it too.


Book Banning

6 Jul

My boys love to read. They both will devour most any book they find. E~ has finished Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, is working through the Warriors Series, & loves anything written about WWII. G~ has read the first 3 HP’s (I made him take a break till 3rd grade when he might be able to handle the darker nature of #4), most of Beverly Cleary’s stuff, & whatever else he can get his hands on that is challenging enough but also age appropriate. It’s a hard balance. This summer they have both started reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I’ve read a few of the books, I’ve watched the first movie & now the books have no place on our summer reading lists.

The books are filled with casual meanness. The main character, Greg, has no redeeming qualities & this article could have been written after an encounter with Greg & his family.

Greg lies, cheats, steals, blames others, is a terrible friend, & never seems to ‘get’ it. Older kids can see the lessons Greg is supposed to learn but never does; younger readers will completely miss the point.

As with most kids, Greg is the center of his universe. Only no one in his life has thought enough of him to teach him that he is not. Also missing are lessons on right & wrong. Greg sometimes acknowledges that what he’s doing is wrong, but is always able to justify it because of how it might benefit him in the end. Nothing is ever Greg’s fault.

The casual meanness is what put me over the edge. Nit-picking, off-hand remarks, biting comments, name calling, & a general attitude of disrespect have become huge issues in our house, long before they were reading DoaWK. These books & movies reinforce that behavior & neither have a place at my house.

I want my kids to read things that challenge them. I want them to explore worlds & places we don’t have access too. I want them to have to try to understand things that are foreign to them. That’s what good books do. These are not good books.

I know banning something tends to make it more attractive but it was time to put on my parenting pants & do my job. We talked about the books & the situations in the books & E~ & G~ were mostly okay with my decision. Except that they were both in the middle of a book so our agreement was I would finish it & tell them what happened. I call that taking one for the team.

Have either of my two remaining readers ever banned a book? What was it & why?


Edgy TV

27 Jun

We’ve been reading the kids the Little House on the Prairie series the past few months for their bedtime story. They’ve really enjoyed the books, so much so that we made a point at stopping at a LH site in Kansas on our recent road trip. It’s all a reconstruction (which greatly disappointed E~) but the kids still enjoyed it.

The Indian Territory Little House

I had been DVRing LH episodes to show the kids too. I vaguely remember the TV show as something I enjoyed. Saturday was a rainy, long day waiting for our dinner guests so we parked the kids in front of the TV & turned on an episode.

It all started innocently enough. I was only half paying attention but the kids were enjoying it, to say nothing of the commercials for Geritol & AARP. Apparently the Hallmark Channel has a very specific audience.

Anyway, I’m elbows deep in strawberries when it happened. Up on the screen is some dude trying to get his shotgun set up so he can commit suicide. Those 20 seconds while I’m calling for J~ to get the remote were terribly long. I couldn’t believe how many angles the LHotP camera people felt that scene needed to be shot from. No angle was left unrecorded. And the kids got it all. The first thing T~ said to our company was about how on the tv some guy was trying to shoot himself. Niiice.

I did not remember LHotP dealing with the tough topics like drug use & suicide. I don’t mind having an avenue to discuss those topics with my older kids, but I guess I’ll have to screen episodes before we watch them. Or maybe we’ll just stick to the book.



12 Jan

I leave in 4 days & I don’t have any reading material!!!  I will be spending two blissful days all alone, lounging on a beach & I don’t know what to read.

I need suggestions.  Badly.






You Should Read…

10 Nov

Room by Emma Donoghue.  It’s a haunting book.  It’s an excellent book.

Room is about a woman who was kidnapped & enslaved by ‘Old Nick’ for 7 years.  During that time she gave birth to her son Jack.  She & Jack inhabit an 11×11 room, the only thing Jack has ever known.  We meet Jack as he is turning 5 & things in the Room need to change.  I won’t go into any more detail because I don’t want to ruin it for you.

The book is written from Jack’s point of view.  As he knows nothing other than what is in the Room, how he sees the world is very different.  To him, things Outside, are not real.  It’s a hard voice to capture & the author nails it.

The subject matter is not light, but the author was not gratuitous in her dealing with the premise for the book.  It’s a fast read & one you’ll remember.