Messenger: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 3-52

For once, there was continuity, from the beginning. However, that made me want to devour the words on the pages even more. With every turn there was a flurry of thoughts, connections, and wonder.  “Messenger” is by far the most intense of the first three books in this quartet. Much like as in “The Giver” and “Gathering Blue” there were many, many moments where I had to turn back the page. Not because I was lost, but because I found something amazing.

Through the entire last half of the book, I was on the edge of my seat. Wondering what was going to happen next, uttering prayers for characters of a book. I, once again, saw another one of my children in this books protagonist. My son David shares so much with the character, that there were moments where I could close my eyes and see David, a little older, going through the events. This was both a good and a bad thing.

It is hard to NOT read these books through the eyes of a parent. Even harder to rationalize how I may have read them when I was younger. I would challenge any parent to read “Messenger” and NOT see at least some glimpse of your child in one of the characters.

Out of the three books that I have read for my (self-imposed) 2018 Reading Challenge, I think that this one would be my second favorite. Perhaps I need to create a ranking list. All in all 4.9 out of 5 stars. If you have not purchased the quartet, you should. Then read it all and let me know what you think. All of this, and I still have one more to go.

Reading is challenging during the winter storm

As I awoke yesterday to a fresh, white, blanket of snow, I knew what I was going to hear. “The Richmond offices are closed due to inclement weather” the voice echoed on the other end of the call. A flurry of texts ensued as I alerted my staff of this event. Wondrous thoughts of sitting by the fire and finishing my second book, perhaps starting my third, of my 2018 Reading Challenge lulled me back to sleep.

Boy, did I sleep. I finally had a chance to get some rest. For the past few months I have been running at full speed, tilting all the windmills in my path. Perhaps it was the cold weather, the radiant views as the sun streaked across through the barren trees, but I relaxed. I rested. I woke up late. The kids were going outside to enjoy their snow day. Though, truth be told, snow days do not exist as a homeschooling family. Be that as it may, they were filled with excitement to run outside and dive into the snow that caused a day off. All one and a half inches of it.

Having spent a better portion of my life in regions that truly understand snow, it was a little laughable. But, to have some time to relax, time with family, is always a blessing. We quickly made plans to clean, organize, and de-clutter. These are never ending tasks when you have three children ages five and under. I assure you that the hurricane that is them trying to ‘help’ clean is far worse than the snow that kept me home. But we did these things just the same.

I watched them bounce up and down as we talked about snow, and smile chocolatey smiles as they had their hot coco. I handled the negotiations as to why I felt we would not be watching any more Christmas movies, even “Christmas Train” (or Polar Express as some of us call it), just because of the snow. They tried. It was adorable. But, it was an amazing day.

Near the end of it I realized that I had lost the opportunity to read as I had intended. It was the end of the day, the kids were going to sleep, and I was just relishing in the relaxation that I received from this unexpected day. In the quiet of the night, while I soothed my youngest back to sleep (for the millionth time) I read a little. Happy, and content with my progress, I logged in at 50% complete on my second book. Slowly, still reflecting back to the cool weather, and the day off, I lulled myself back to sleep in preparation for the day to come.

I hope to have a post on my thoughts on the first book, “The Giver”, sometime this weekend. Stay warm out there, and remember to take time to enjoy the unexpected gifts that are a snow day.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Day 29: Five Weird Things You Like

We all have things that we do that no one else we know does. But how often do we think about the weird things that we do, and like? This one was a bit more difficult to write. Having this level of introspection is not my norm, publically.

French fries with mayo instead of ketchup

I know that there are scores of people that do not like mayonnaise. Even though you are wrong, I can be understanding. However, there is something amazing about boardwalk fries, salt, pepper, malt vinegar, and dipping it in mayo.

The smell of old books

I know, I know. MANY people like the smell of old books. But I had to put this one on here today. I like to live dangerously and smoke a cigar, while drinking scotch, all while reading an old book. The aged leather not only feels fantastic, but the aroma. Plus, there is the amazing smell that lies in between the pages. Something about the ink, parchment, glue, and time coalesce into something amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle and the 200+ books that I have on it, but I will still be expanding our home library as our children grow with fantastic, old, books.

Walking in the rain without an umbrella

This one provides some strange looks when I am out an about. It takes a downpour before I will pull out an umbrella. I have found that walking in the rain is far more calming without an umbrella than with. Being hands free, feeling the cool water cascading over me is refreshing. Since I run hot (my average body temperature is right around 100.9 °F) it always feels great. Though I am lacking the sound of the rain falling onto the umbrella, hearing the sounds around me more clearly provides solace.

Small, secrete, wins

In all things that we do, there are wins. Some are big, some are small. I love celebrating the small wins. I enjoy this not just for myself, but for others as well. Most notably my children. I think that there is something fundamental in celebrating the little things, which will go a long way in helping their self-esteem. Think about it, if you had someone on the sidelines cheering for you because you tried, what would that do for you. Now, let us amplify that by this person pointing out that this time, even if you failed, you did something better than before. Celebrating small wins requires observation, and investment, on all sides.

Watching the calamity as a Dungeon Master

No listicle of weirdness could be complete for me without a reference to Dungeons and Dragons. I love being a Dungeon Master. But that is not weird. If one is in the role of being the DM, and they do not like it, then they are doing a disservice to the other players. However, I REALLY love watching things unfold, when everything is going wrong. Low dice rolls, saying the wrong things, traps, all coming together and causing chaos. It is beautiful.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Stories That Honor Dads and Encourage Sons

Let’s talk about our culture’s perspective on dads. It has come to my attention (over and over again) that too often dads are left out of the limelight when we talk about families and parenting in the home. Moreover, most media coverage continues to trend toward painting fathers as clumsy and backward characters in the best of light. It quickly spirals downward from there, with very few diamonds scattered throughout miles and miles of darkened corridors. Not only is this damaging to dads who genuinely care and are rocking (see what I did there? Rocking?) the parenting journey; but it also hinders the potential of our sons to be caring fathers. Did you know there are well-written stories that honor dads? I think we can do better for our families by avoiding stories that degrade dads, and instead highlighting the better examples of fatherhood done right.

Below I’m sharing a few diamonds (or books and movies with inspiring dad characters) that we have stumbled over in our search for positive dad role models. Can you think of a few to add to the list? If you have your own favorite book or movie, for any age group, that honors the role of fatherhood, let us know about it in the comments! In honor of Father’s Day approaching, let’s get intentional about lifting up our dads and future dads. Here are a few titles to get us started.

  1. My Father Knows the Names of Things by Jane Yolen (Juvenile Fiction)
  2. Gifted (new drama release rated PG-13)
  3. Caddy Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Juvenile Fiction)
  4. The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings (Fiction)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Fiction)
  6. Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (Juvenile Fiction)
  7. Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Juvenile Fiction)
  8. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Juvenile Fiction)
  9. Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers by Ralph Moody (Juvenile Fiction)
  10. Lone Pair of Blue Jeans in a Sea of Yoga Pants: The Life of a Stay-at-Home Dad by Brian “Pete” Craig (Parenting Nonfiction)