December 2, 2016

There Goes All Sense of Dignity (Guest Post)

Grace had the shingles, and not just the shingles, but the shingles in her forehead and one eye. The doctors said the worse kind of pain. The difficult part was that because of the Alzheimer’s, she could not remember why she was in so much pain and she could not remember to keep her hands off her sores and away from her eyes. It was a terrible time. I had her in the basement of our home as it was cool and dark down there. I even had to put a towel over the basement window as she could handle no light at all. This one night, she became quite delusional and was screaming that there was water all around the bed. She was “worried for the children”. It was a very long night as I just laid with her and held her so she would not “fall into the water.”

By early morning, both she and I were totally, physically and emotionally exhausted. About this time, she needed to use the bathroom and as I started to get her up, I realized she could not walk. Her legs just would not hold her up. I knew something else was going on but not sure what and she became quite adamant that she needed the bathroom. Thus, I mostly drug and somewhat carried her down the little hallway to the bathroom but I could not hold her weight and I started to fall. I positioned myself so that she would fall on top of me and not be hurt. As we both hit the floor, so did her bowels. An explosion all over me.. We both just kept eye contact with each other as we did not want to acknowledge what had just happened. Then, with as much clarity as you or I, Grace said “Well, there goes all sense of dignity”. We laughed and laughed and then I somehow got her to the bathroom and into the shower. Once dressed, I called 911 and we got her the help needed.

Buy Stages of Grace here 
Find Connie here

Stages of Grace

I'm sharing with you something near and dear to my heart. I've known first had what it's like to witness the long goodbye associated with Alzheimer's and I believe Ms. Ruben's words within this book is helpful to anyone who have been through the same. Thank you to Connie for her words of encouragement and for making us feel not so alone in this difficult journey. 

This book was written out of a desire to share with others who have loved ones with Alzheimer's disease what I have experience as Grace' caregiver and friend. I wanted to capture the emotions, the expected and the unexpected issues, the painful times as well as the humorous and loving moments that Grace and I have shared as a result of this disease. This is not mean to be a handbook for dealing with Alzheimer's disease, but I hope that by sharing my feelings and experiences, readers may recognize they are not alone on this particular journey
Buy Stages of Grace here 
Find Connie here

November 8, 2016

A Mother's Strength and Bravery

If you ask any parent about their worst fears, their answers will vary. Some fear that their not raising their children right, some fear that their kids won’t fit in anywhere, others will say that they fear for their children’s safety. 

These same thoughts run rampant in my mind as my daughter grows. But as a young mother, one of my worst fears is not being able to watch my child grow. Call it irrational and slightly over-dramatic, but the thought of a parent’s borrowed time has always been a constant since my daughter was born. If I’ve learned anything about being a mother it’s that nothing is permanent; that in a blink all could change. 

Luckily, our changes have been positive. First steps, first words, first full night of sleep, even the bittersweet first day of preschool has been something we’ve celebrated—all an indication that time is moving and we’re progressing with it together. 

However, there are some moms out there who aren’t so fortunate.  Some who consider time more as an enemy because of an illness, like cancer;  who want time to stop moving so fast, and so forward. I admire these mothers and their unbelievable strength. I celebrate their brevity in times of crisis and  their willingness to fight against their disease not only for their sake but their children’s as well.  

And Aurora Whittet’s book,  Mama’s Knight encapsulates every mother’s bravery and passion as they battle with cancer. In fact, it does more than encourage families and children through such a tough fight; it gives them hope.  

So naturally, when Ms. Whittet’s book came across my desk for a book review, I jumped at the chance to share it with you.

Whittet’s book is designed to help families, especially children, cope with the challenges of cancer and treatment.  Each page explains the hows and the whys of disease, complete with fill-in-the-blank features that allow parents to explain their condition in ways that any child can understand.  For instance, there’s a page designated to explain mom’s treatment plan and another that leaves space for symptoms that the child might witness as their mom battle their illness. 

The book also manages to broach the heavy subject of cancer by having an optimistic tone.  From its illustrations to its words, Whittet manages to capture the severity of the disease without being so bleak or scary for children; Her thoughtful tale is one that balances curiosity and sensitivity in one.

Perhaps, however, what I most admire about  Mama’s Knight is the varied activities suggested within its pages.  From building a snuggle fort, to making some gag proof family recipes, to creating a simple story, or enlisting a family member to help out for the day, Mama’s Knight becomes more than just a book to a child; suddenly, it’s a means for them to commemorate his/her time together with their mom, and to ensure that even long after their battle is over, both of them will still have the memories to keep. In fact, I believe that the book is designed not only for families to cope with mom’s cancer, but also to see her through the survival of it. 

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for any mom to experience, but even more so for her children and family, but Mama’s Knight does more than allow them to endure every facet that comes with it. It allows them to hope; it’s another source of strength they can pull from and a permanent reminder that even if all seems lost, a mom’s strength is always there to endure.  

Buy Mama's Knight  here 
Find Aurora here | Twitter | Facebook

November 3, 2016

5 Children's Book That Teach Kindness (Part 2)

Glad to have Jenn back for her second installment of these kindness books. These 5 sets gear toward the upper level grades and feature one of my favorite YA Lit authors, Jerry Spinelli. Feel free to peruse through and enjoy :) 

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin  
 This short chapter book for third through sixth graders has been in print since 1945. The timeless theme is similar to Each Kindness where students torment a girl for wearing the same blue dress each day. The girl is pulled out of school, and the students are left to regret their behavior. A newer version of this book has a letter from the author’s daughter. This book will help students think about kindness and empathy on a deeper level.

Loser by Jerry Spinelli
Upper elementary and middle school students will rethink the power in the word “loser” as they read this novel. Zinkoff, a student with some special needs who doesn’t quite fit in, proves that anyone can be a hero. This character evokes both compassion and respect from readers. Spinelli makes older students think about kindness without seeming “preachy;” some critics say this novel is the best of this award-winning writer’s works
Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy
Even though this short chapter book is perfect for advanced first grade readers, the appeal stretches to upper elementary students. The children in Molly’s third grade class make fun of her accent, but this strong young immigrant girl shows them the true meaning of Thanksgiving and kindness. Cohen’s story is the perfect book to spark discussions about diversity in our country.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Soon to be a major motion picture, Wonder actually inspired “Choose Kind,” a kindness and compassion movement. Auggie, the main character, is a fifth grader with a facial deformity. The story begins from his point of view, but other characters soon chime in. All the characters struggle to accept Auggie and his differences. This novel gives upper elementary and middle school students a powerful forum to examine and discuss their own beliefs about compassion and kindness.

Blood on the River: Jamestown, 1607 by Elisa Carbone
Accurate and well-researched historical fiction may be an unusual genre for teaching the importance of kindness, but this novel demonstrates that kindness and compassion led to the survival of the entire colony. Primary sources document that a boy named Samuel Collier traveled to the New World from England in 1607. Carbone fills in his back story as an orphan and a thief who escapes imprisonment by accompanying John Smith to Virginia as his page. Samuel is a fighter and a bully. John Smith teaches him to channel his anger and learn compassion because his survival depends on it. By the end of the novel, Samuel demonstrates kindness and compassion in a completely selfless and heroic act bound to generate many discussions among tweens and teens alike. While this book describes some graphic, but historically accurate violence, the powerful lessons and fast-moving plot make this a true page- turner!

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