Ordinary Days-March Madness and More Books

Ugh there is something about snow in March that can't be anything but annoying. It's a test of will and patience and endurance is what it is.  But a no-school snow day was a nice little reward at the same time.

Jeff surprised the two boys who could go with a DC trip to the Big Ten tournament. And what a tournament it was!  I am so so happy for my uncle.  I really feel he deserves this just on the basis of what a good person he is, and what a leader he is to those college guys and how darn humble he is and how hard he works too.  I'm so happy also, for Andrew and Patrick who will never forget witnessing in person this win.  They all stayed with Joe my brother and Karen his wife who were perfect hosts.

I don't know how many time I print out these brackets every year, but it feels like a lot. (I don't know what that money on the table has to do with it but there must be some sort of illegal betting going down.)

Jeff took Abbey on a ski trip. This is his mocking selfie pose, just as attractive as it is on everyone.

Janey and I found this little purse at a resale shop, almost brand new and she know has another bag to add to her bag lady collection.  She is such a sweetheart, such a good easy little girl.  I love my days with her.

I've been doing some really really heavy reading lately.   They were difficult reads-not because of the style of writing-I read them within days, but because of the content.  Etched in Sand is about a women who survived a terrible childhood and escaped to leave a successful life-bearing scars of course.  

An invisible thread is about a woman with a successful career in NYC, who one day walked by a boy panhandling, but turned around to connect with him, an action that would change both their lives immensely.  Another story of child abuse and neglect and a light on the other side.

It was interesting to read the last three books together-Hillbilly Elegy and these two.  They are all similar in the sense that they describe difficult childhood situations and a way out.  Children's Services-always feared, even within circumstances of starvation and physical abuse (the one case of sexual abuse was actually a foster situation), drug abuse at the core of all three stories, either just one little action (varying widely in terms of personal investment in all three stories) of a person 'outside' who cared enough making a huge difference in these kid's lives.  It all works up to some sort of luck/fate/education intertwined with a strong spirit at the helm-who survives and who doesn't.  It is all heartbreaking and terribly frustrating and shouldn't ever happen.  Drug addiction does terrible terrible things to families for generations and generations.  It is truly the devil's magic elixir it seems-it destroys a person and then shreds their children apart. 

I really think it's important, as hard as it is, to read and listen to first-person accounts of human experience.  I have been thinking lately (and I'm sure I am guilty of it also) of how today so often one can easily spout off about solutions and causes to social problem but what do we really know if it until we really hear the human experiences.  That's listening more than talking.  That's real life experience more than statistics and theories. It has NOTHING to do with politics thank the Lord, we need no more of that today.

"I do not agree with the big way of doing things.  To us, what matters is an individual. To get to love a person, we must come in close contact with him. If we wait till we get numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers, and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person. "  Mother Teresa

I welcome any book suggestions!  Have you read anything great lately? 


A Great Talk

This talk by Meg Meeker is incredibly excellent.  I think I am going to listen to it once a month just for the encouragement and reminders.  (Press the little grey circle thing in front of title when you get to the page.)  If you are not Catholic, I really believe this talk is universal so don't let that sway you. It's about an hour I believe-I listened to it during one long long walk.

Dr. Meeker wrote five books, I've read three of them.  They are excellent also and I would highly recommend them.

(Sounds very interesting as she mentions this is in the speech.)

(I haven't read but it's on order.)


Spring Time Books-Our Favorites, and Some Boy Books

A few Spring books we are loving now:

A little baby bunny can't figure out what "spring" is and looks all over for it, until he discovers it is all around him.
This is a reprint of a vintage book.

This is my favorite childhood book.  Hamilton thinks it's spring only to fall asleep under an apple tree that is losing it's petals, only to awaken to what he believes is snow.  (What a nightmare!:)

The ever favorite-this is the board book, so it's good for little ones.  My kids ALL loved Peter Rabbit.

Janey adores this story of two little ducklings who don't listen to Mama duck and get themselves lost. I love the soft watercolor artwork.

And my favorite Spring Golden Books:

Another childhood favorite of mine. (I loved all Garth Williams illustrations and still do.)

If we read about it, it will come! :)

Andrew (13) is reading The Fellowship of the Ring.  He was having a book crisis last week (meaning no book ideas) and I found a great list, and this was on it. (I can't say enough about this list-even the picture books are great!) Now he has a whole Lord of the Rings series to go, with a great list to reference when he finishes with all of them.

I am reading Patrick (and Janey) Little House in the Big Woods.  I plan to mix it up after that is over with Huck Finn.

Patrick and I went on a dog book adventure this winter and it was great.  It started last year when we read our all time favorite Where The Red Fern Grows.  Then we watched the movie. (The movie is old but great.)  

After that we read Old Yeller-so so good.  We LOVED it almost as much as Red Fern.  We watched the Old Yeller movie-old film but again good.

Next up-Shiloh. Another great one.  The move is newer, which means it's just ok, but we still enjoyed it.

For Christmas Patrick received The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.  Jeff and I picked it up as a last minute after thought.  It was a HUGE HIT.  All the kids spent a bunch of time with this book.  Patrick and his BF made a huge list of dogs they wanted in order.  It's a big coffee table book and tells a little about each dog with nice photos.  This is for sure a keeper and will be in our book basket in the living room forever.