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Stacy’s challenges

Book a Day – A Mother’s love knows no limits

Book a Day – A Mother’s love knows no limits

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G read The Red Car by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R Maslen.  There were three names in the short book and he made me laugh every time he called Mark ‘Marble’.  I told him I was going to start calling him Garble 🙂

I read An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son’s Story of Love, Determination, Autism and Art by Debra Chwast with paintings by Seth Chwast.

Jason and I were able to hear locals Debra and Seth speak at an autism conference years ago and it was inspiring to see what this tireless mother has done to make her son shine.  Seth was diagnosed with autism at a young age and Debra says in the book that she cried for three years.  “For most of Seth’s childhood I was frantic confused, weepy and in over my head”  She read and tried every therapy she could find, but when Seth turned 18, she was told that he was most suitable for dry mopping (whatever that it).  She hired art therapists, art teachers and just plain artists after it became apparent that Seth had a gift.  You can check out his paintings here.  Since then they have travelled extensively, had films made about him and even been on the Today Show twice.  His works have hung in some very prestigious places and yet he needs 24 hour supervision.  Even when he paints she must pay someone to be there otherwise Seth wouldn’t even pick up a brush.

The book is gorgeous and there are at least 120 paintings included, each one including Seth’s own description of it.  Seth and his mother have benefitted from an abundance of money, so this is not the autism story many can afford, but that in no way diminishes Seth’s talent.  He’s a true artist.  It’s how he communicates with the world.  You can visit his website here.

Book a Day Challenge – It’s a double down day

Book a Day Challenge – It’s a double down day

Last night I finished The War of the Worlds at 10:45 and just wanted to get ready for bed after that.  Of course, no sleep was had until midnight but I tried.  G and I are both 7 for 7 with this challenge.

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Yesterday I read The War of the Worlds by HG Wells.

First published in 1897 in a series of magazine articles, this sci-fi classic has not been out of print since and has spawned a number of movies.  I loved Wells’ The Time Machine and was looking forward to this one about an alien invasion of England.  His writing always takes me a few chapters to get into a rhythm, but then I don’t even notice that the pre-1900 language.  Aliens from Mars head down to earth and somehow they are able to start killing at will and the people in the area don’t even seem that concerned.  The protagonist somehow managed to come out unscathed and with his life seemingly intact.

I was expecting to like it, but found myself a little bogged down in the geography and details. But I did love the old school, 1980 edition I had on my shelves!

G read Monkey, Where are You? by David Martin and Scott Nash.  There’s no review because he moved on too fast for me.

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Today I finished listening to A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston. It was read by Cranston himself and it was 8 cds. I love when actors read their own books!  I did watch one season of Breaking Bad and have seen him in other things, but I wouldn’t have picked this one up unless someone on the book blog recommended it.  Cranston’s dad was an actor and left his three kids when they were young.  Cranston and his brother survived their childhood together, living with relatives, traveling overseas, and taking motorcycle road trip across America.  Cranston has led a very bold and ambitious life and he pulls no punches.  It started a little slow, but for most of this book his stories made me laugh out loud or have a motherly concern for his wellbeing. If you are at all interested in reading about the acting life or love Walter White then this will a good fit for you.  Perfect for a road trip with the hubby or wife, but not suitable for kids. Lots of language and sex.

G read Fun! by Peg Ballard and Cynthia Amoroso.  He was very frustrated with it because he didn’t know a word or two on about a third of the pages.  This boy is a perfectionist. sigh.

Book a Day – Not Quite Ready for Mysticism

Book a Day – Not Quite Ready for Mysticism

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First day that G has been in school since the month started so I was able to get my book read by noon 🙂

G read Summer by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R Maslen

His assessment – Molly and her Mom got into the pond because they were hot.  (Way to spoil the end, son :))

 

I read a memoir that was sent to me by a publicist, The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening by Nancy Torgrove Clasby.

I am not well-versed in mystics or healers, but was willing to be educated because this book was short, 110 pages.  One day this mother of three young children was in a session with her massage therapist, when the world opened up to her.

“I was on the table, fully clothed, and he was working at my head.  All of a sudden, my body started to shake, and it felt like I left my body.  My eyes were wide open, so I could see the room I was in, but I could also see through what I later found out was my “third eye,” which is an invisible energy center everyone has that sits in the middle of the forehead and is the seat of intuition.”  page 7

She sought out the advice of those around her and found supporters, including a rabbi, reverend and doctor, that would help push her in the right direction.  She learned to understand her gifts more clearly and spend the next 20 years as a healer.  I admit that much of it was too much for me, in part because it was new, no doubt.  But she was sincere and truly open and how rare is that?  She included pages written by her mentors, but the bulk of it was stories about some of her patients.  She included some different meditations at the end that left me feeling wonderful.  I love meditation and don’t do it often enough.

I can’t say I was the target audience but I’m glad I read something out of my comfort zone.  I feel a little more enlightened 🙂

 

Book a Day Challenge – A Strange Classic!

Book a Day Challenge – A Strange Classic!

IMG_1427 (2)You’d think that with a book less than 200 hundred pages I may have finished before 10:15 pm, but no such luck.  G read his right after we took this picture.  He’s finally starting to gain some confidence, yay!  I read a paperback copy with small print and I have a bit of a headache, so I see glasses in my future.  I’m a little amazed I’ve made it to 45 without them.

G read Funny Bunny by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R Maslen

What he said it was about – A fox (Lox) wants to eat two rabbits but he’s out of luck.

I read Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

I haven’t read Vonnegut since Slaughterhouse-Five in college, a book I disliked.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself charmed by this one.  The father of the hydrogen bomb made something even more deadly and, left in the hands of his three children, the fate of the world is in peril.  Jonah, a writer and our narrator, finds himself drawn into the lives of these offspring and sent on an adventure that would leave the world changed forever.  This book was a hoot in its absurdity, but pointed in its observations of humanity.

I want to write a proper review and will link to it here after I post it tomorrow.

Book a Day Challenge – When company calls

Book a Day Challenge – When company calls

Jason’s father and stepmother are visiting from Michigan so this will be brief.  How could I read a book when there’s company you ask?  I stayed awake cleaning the house and listening to an audio book after my guys went to sleep.  Finished it at 2:15 this morning 🙂

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G read Hop and Tap written by Lynn Maslen Kertell and pictures by Dana Sullivan

Dot and Sam can do various things.  Not much to it.

 

I listened to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  It was read by Sunil Malhotra and Cassandra Campbell. 5.5 hours.

Paul was a neurosurgeon resident and found out he had stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 36.  Between his diagnosis and his death he wrote this book about living.  Paul was able to choose two paths in his shorten life, as a writer in his youth and at the end of his life and his calling as a neurosurgeon in the middle.  I loved his relationship with literature and science and how he strived to make meaning of them both.  The world lost a great doctor and human being when he passed and I can only hope his words will inspire other young people to follow in his path.  A beautiful book about life and death and what to do with the time we have.

 

 

Book a Day Challenge – Heartbreaking

Book a Day Challenge – Heartbreaking

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On this beautiful fall day G read Floppy Mop written by Bobby Lynn Maslen with pictured by John R Maslen

G’s take – It has 12 pages and 4 characters. My favorite is Zack the rat because I like his tail.

 

I read Rosemary:The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

A Kennedy book not about any of the famous Kennedys that I already know.  I have read a few Kennedy books, but not many.  If I have the time to tackle Ted’s bio this month I will, but it may to be too long to accomplish.  I loved the inside look at the day to day lives of the Joe and Rose and their nine children.  I’d heard more about the ambitious, controlling father than about the mother, so I was intrigued and put off by her at the same time.  The Kennedy children are beautiful and brilliant, but Rosemary stood apart because she was different.  When she was born, during the height of the Spanish influenza in Boston, a nurse physically held her head inside of her mother after she’d already crowned.  I’m still horrified by it.  Whether that is what cause her ‘retardation’ we can only assume.  I can’t believe that Rose went on to birth 6 more children and live to be 104 after that!

Rosemary was beautiful and, surrounded by her family, could blend in and not be called out for her mental delays.  But, with time, it became obvious that all would not be easy as she was removed from one school after another for one reason or another.  When the family lived in England Rosemary found a perfect school for her, but the realities of the WWII caused the family to come back to America for their safety and it went downhill for her after that.  Joe Sr., who did not come off as terrible dad up to this point in his relation to her, did a terrible thing.  He signed up Rosemary for a lobotomy and she was never the same again.

I loved this first half of this book.  There was much historical context given and it helped me to keep in mind that these were different times.  Having a mentally handicapped daughter was a stigma that people were scared of and the Kennedys were no different.  I can’t fault them as parents too much (except for the lobotomy thing) because they did try to find what could help her.  A complicated family with so many children and so much tragedy.  Because of Rosemary, the Kennedy family will be forever known for their work for the mentally challenged.  Quite an achievement for the sister who had a hard time fitting in and bore the greatest injustice at the hands of her father.

 

Book a Day Challenge, year 2

Book a Day Challenge, year 2

Last year my first challenge for this blog was to read a book a day for the month of September. I was successful and had fun doing it.  This September I’m also going to be reading a book a day (I’ve decided to focus on memoir/bio and classics that I have on my shelves) but I’m also adding a twist…drumroll please…

IMG_1387 (2)G-man is going to join me!  Reading has been a real struggle for him and it wasn’t until he went to Kumon this summer that we saw real progress.  He is comfortable reading the early readers books and I’m okay with that.  I want him to feel successful and be proud of himself for reading a book a day like mom.  His only rule is that the book will be new to him so I’ll be hitting the library more often.  If that’s even possible.

Here’s what we read today…

Kittens by Bobby Lynn Maslen, pictures by John R. Maslen

G’s review- The cat was sad that she lost her six kittens.

Favorite part- When she found her kittens.

(In his defense that was about all that happened :))

 

Love that Boy:What Two Presidents. Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier

This book  came about when reporter, Fournier, and his wife learned that their 12 year-old son had Asperger’s (from watching the TV show Parenthood.  Go Bravermans!)  As his wife started to assemble a team to help their son, Fournier, took him on a series of road trips to visit Presidential libraries and museums, something Tyler was really interested in.  This was a journey about a father finding his son.

I’m going to start with a few quotes that I marked…

“Parenthood is the last chance to be the person we hoped to be.” page 4

“But first I had to learn to love my boy for who he was, rather than what I wanted him to be.” page 9

“Parents must ask themselves this question:Do I simply accept my kids for who they are, or do I push them to become their best selves?” page 26

Fournier did connect with his son and through their experiences and I was also able to see G in a new light.  Each chapter starts with a short recap of what was important at each stop and then followed by personal stories or insight gained from the multitude of books out there.  He interviewed people he knew and even those he didn’t.  Because of his 20 years as AP Washington Bureau Chief, he was able to introduce his son to three Presidents.  I didn’t like George W. Bush as President, but the way he’s conducted himself since leaving office impresses me.  He met Tyler twice and both times it brought tears to my eyes.  He is a genuinely good human being.  Bill Clinton didn’t fare as well and, to be honest, I’m uncomfortable with parents putting labels on other people. Fournier pretty much said that Clinton was an Aspie.  I know it was to make a connection to his son, but still made me uncomfortable.  Tyler only met Barack and Michelle Obama at a receiving line, but he was able to talk to him for a few minutes.  How exciting for a young man who loves Presidents to be able to meet three (so far)!

Anyway, first and foremost, this is a parenting book.  Every parent should read it.  This is not just about kids on the autism spectrum, this is about ALL kids.  And the parents who love them.

 

 

 

Magazine Backlog Challenge Wrap-Up

Magazine Backlog Challenge Wrap-Up

Not all 30 challenges are fun to read about, sorry.  I had some fun ideas when the month began, but I just ran out of time to implement.  I was able to give away 2 subscriptions through the blog and Facebook Page so that’s a good thing.  When I started the month I had 53 magazines cluttering the house and amazingly 12 more found  their way into my mailbox, so I ended up reading 65 magazines this month!!  I’m feeling pretty good about that.  23 New Yorkers, 7 The Weeks, 7 HGTV, 7 Vanity Fairs, 7 Better Home & Gardens, 5 Cleveland Magazines, 4 The Writers, 3 ADDitudes, 1 Poets & Writers, 1 Woman’s World, 1 First For Women.

So obviously, I need to stop the clutter before it gets here and I’ve decided to give up several magazines that when read back to back made me realize that I just didn’t get enjoyment or knowledge from them.  I’ll be dropping HGTV, The Writer and Better Homes & Gardens.  Nothing wrong with them just don’t need them.

I am still madly in love with The Week, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. I also added a few new magazines that I love like Poets & Writers and ADDitude.

Here’s what the rest of what I haven’t posted already… If you want any of these sent your way, free of charge, just let me know.  They head to recycling tomorrow.

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Magazine Backlog Challenge

Magazine Backlog Challenge

Why do I have so many magazine subscriptions?!  Honestly, it’s ridiculous.  This challenge helped me see which ones are worth it and which ones I might cancel.  I know for sure I won’t be keeping HGTV and The Writer but I’ll have to see if I can pick one more.

So, let’s get to it.

IMG_1337IMG_1336  IMG_1329Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, Check it out!!!!

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If you’re interested in me sending any of these to you. just leave a comment 🙂