How to Deal With Symptoms of Stress in Your Child

Posted on

As children are constantly growing and learning, we get used to them going through different stages and fussy phases. One day they’ll relish your pot pie and ask for more; the next time you serve it they’ll refuse to take a bite. While these behaviors are typical in growing kids (and sent to make us stronger), if you notice that your child is consistently acting out, is unusually aggressive or irritable, distant, or not sleeping well, they could be experiencing symptoms of stress, rather than a passing phase.

There are many ways that stress can manifest in your kids, but generally, a parent knows when their child is simply not being themselves. They may lose their appetite, throw sudden tantrums, or begin to grind their teeth. Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is actually fairly common in children, with as many as 3 in 10 suffering from it at some point. If your child starts complaining of earache, or pain in the jaw area, then you should check if a dental night guard would ease their discomfort until they outgrow the condition.  Continue reading »

Speak Softly to Them
If you or your partner are particularly stressed, it’s not always easy to keep from raising your voices in front of your kids. But your nerves are easily transmitted to your children and fighting in front of them can have a very damaging effect on their mental and physical health. Some studies even suggest that shouting at very young children can permanently alter their brain structure. It can be hard sometimes, but try to make the effort to keep your worries away from your children.

Make Sure They Get Enough Physical Activity
Depending on the age of your child, they’ll have different amounts of energy that they need to burn off during the day, so make sure that they get enough time outside and practicing sports. Physical activity helps promote better sleep and is a great way to relieve tensions.

Take Action
If you know that your child is having problems with a sibling or family member, change of environment, or separation anxiety, take action to discuss the issue with them. If you have to be absent for long periods of time, don’t just leave abruptly. Reassure them that you won’t be gone for long and make sure that they’re doing something they enjoy as you leave. For sibling rivalry and fights, observe as much as possible what’s going on so you can decide on the right course of action.

Consult with Experts
If you believe that your child is seriously hyperactive or anxious, then it may be necessary to consult with experts, from therapists to your local doctor. There may be mild medications they can suggest that can remove their symptoms completely. If they’re grinding their teeth, that can have a detrimental effect on their tooth enamel, jaw, and even facial features, so consult with a dental care provider to see if a custom night guard would work for your child to ease some of the tension.

It’s hard not to worry when bringing up children, but try not to obsess about their stress, as this will only make things worse for you and your kids. The main thing is to be aware that stress is a condition that can affect us at any age, so lookout for the signs and how to stop them from becoming a problem.

 
My guest on the blog today is Sam Jones, a digital marketing expert, social media and branding consultant and guest blogger for various publications, including Business2Community, Inbound.org and TestPrepPlace.com. In her free time, Sam is an avid traveler, foodie and lover of all things technology. She’s also a fitness fanatic (in the making).

Tuesday Tome Week 20- Down and Out

Posted on

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell was the book I had to read for the May meeting of my reading group. I did not enjoy it. It describes poverty in Paris and then in London. I don’t like reading about poor people, especially when they spend most of their earnings on alcohol.

Down and Out in Paris and London

While reading the book, I did have all sorts of thoughts about Protestant countries (like England) versus Catholic countries (like France). Have you noticed that Protestant countries tend to do better economically? That they have a bigger middle class than Catholic countries? That the contrast between the very rich and the very poor is not as striking?

Religion has a lot to do with life – more so than we realize. Religion influences one’s take on work, for instance. There was an atheist in the book who hated the bourgeoisie and stole from every employer he ever had simply because he hated anybody with a business. Of course, he was also a Communist.  Continue reading »

Some of the characters described in the book are interesting, but not that much. Luxury restaurants in Paris apparently served cheap food at exorbitant prices (we are talking the beginning of the last century) and employing staff for next to nothing. In addition to that, the food was dirty, the kitchens were filthy, and nobody washed their hands in the back. Think about that next time you visit ANY restaurant. Which is why I am always nice to our waiter, by the way. They are in charge of your food after all.

I also had thoughts about communism or socialism versus capitalism. Some of the characters in the part about Parist wanted a communist regime. In a recent French movie I watched, an Englishman calls a Frenchman Communist and says, “You the French are all Communists.” The Frenchman agrees.

This book may have actually broken the spell the French culture held over me ever since I grew up in Romania, where we pretty much admire anything that comes out of France. I saw France with new eyes: the drinking, I  think, is what got to me.

I grew up with an alcoholic father and no, I am not amused when people are portrayed as having a drinking problem in books or movies. I know first hand about the sad end of an alcholic and about the sad life of alcoholics in general. Alcohol is such a horrible vice. It is worse than illegal drugs in statistics relating to domestic violence, suicides, and fatal car crashes. And yet, it is perfectly legal.

The writer draws some conclusions after each section and I cannot agree with him on everything he concludes. But I do agree with him on a solution for poverty: agriculture. If all the paupers were brought out of the cities into the countryside, on farms, they would be getting work, a sense of decency, a much better diet than tea and bread, or wine and bread, and a bit of money.

Anyway, not a great book, unless you like to read about filth and drunk paupers.


Tuesday Tome Week 19- Traveling Mercies

Posted on

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott is a funny book if you can put up with some language and an enormous amount of liberal concepts. If you can get past that and focus on the Christian experience the author shares, along with good writing and great humor, then you will enjoy this book.

traveling mercies

A single mom and a recovering alcoholic, Lamott makes a living as a writer of mostly nonfiction, memoiristic books. The introductory chapter to this book will give you her conversion story which can be summed up in the following: she was an alcoholic and a drug user, then she met Jesus, and then she quit. But see, I just made it boring. She makes it fun over several pages and you get to sense the heart of God through this process, the incredible love of the Creator for Anne Lamott, working her over and over until she finally surrendered.  Continue reading »

She is still what we would call a liberal Christian, i.e. she is pro-choice and admits to having had an abortion in the book. In fact, years later, she almost had a second abortion. After talking to a minister, who told her to pray and imagine that she had the abortion and if she had peace in her heart, she should go ahead and do the abortion, she decided against this second abortion. During her prayer, she had absolutely no peace about it, so she had Sam, her son, who is then present throughout the book and turns out to be a terrific kid who blesses her life daily.

Lamott will tell you story after story of her friends who struggle with AIDS, terminal diseases, parenting issues, and other issues. She herself has had to deal with a “funky blood” diagnosis on Sam. I won’t tell you how that one ends. Then she looks a hard look at her own bulimia and how she got out of that hole by learning how to eat all over again.

Her chapters on dealing with the death of her father and the aging process of her mother are poignant. They make you want to look at your own life and relationships and redefine values and boundaries.

I ordered this book before we traveled to Romania. I forget how I even ran into this book. I just know I was extremely scared of flying right after the Brussels terrorist attacks and needed a book with a title like “traveling mercies.” It turns out it is not a travel book per se. The title refers to traveling through life under the banner of the Lion of Judah.

Lamott is not afraid to tell you her true feelings, including when she felt like physically hurting someone and how she got over that. I am glad she has a great church family and that she takes her son to church. And I am glad she keeps it real with Jesus and with herself.


Essentials Curriculum Review

Posted on

For the past four months, I have been teaching spelling from a curriculum from Logic of English, called Essentials. My children are in second grade and kindergarten respectively and we started LOE Essentials in January, in the second semester. I geared this curriculum mainly towards the oldest, but the little one could benefit from it too. She is learning how to read and spelling is reading in reverse. So I have included her in our lessons, especially in the beginning, during the Pre-Lessons.

Teacher's Manual and Student Workbook

Teacher’s Manual and Student Workbook

I decided we needed the Pre-Lessons after administering the Placement Test very informally, over breakfast. Even though my son can write in cursive (we did not do manuscript at all), spelling has come difficult for him. We have tried four other curricula and I have no seen great results. He does the work, remembers the spelling for a few days, then he does not.  Continue reading »

After consulting with a homeschooling mom who has graduated two, a boy and a girl, I concluded my son just may not be ready for spelling. So I dropped it and focused on copywork with Writing With Ease. And then a hero comes along…

Logic of English staff contacted me about doing a review. Since I had already used their Rhythm of Handwriting curriculum successfully two years ago, while I was on the Review Crew, I accepted. It took me about an hour to sort through all the materials, understand what I am supposed to do, and find the phonogram chart with all the sounds on their website.

Essentials flash cards

Several flash card decks which are necessary to teach Essentials

One hour to prepare to teach this very important subject does not seem too long. Some people go to Teacher’s College for four years, right? So I counted it all joy to be ready in one hour.

I moved all the sets of cards into zipper bags. As soon as I am finished teaching one lesson, I look ahead at the next one and prepare the materials needed for the following day. That way, I am prepared and ready to go in the morning. So the every day prep work takes less than five minutes.

The Pre-Lessons were fun for me, but the kids declared them boring after two sessions. They enjoyed looking in the mirror at their mouths as we formed different sounds. After that, the honeymoon with this curriculum was over for them. I ignored their protests and pressed on.

Quick-reference guide to teach Essentials

Quick-reference guide to teach Essentials

Finally, when we got to Dragon, the game, they loved it. So we played Dragon for a few more days to keep it entertaining for them, then we continued until we finished the Pre-Lessons. My daughter can write uppercase letters so I asked her to write those down, while my son would write the required phonograms in lowercase cursive. By the way, I did not play Bingo with them or any other games. They just seemed to get the phonograms easily and it seemed like a lot of work to pull just the right cards out for different games.

We relied a lot on the website for the pronunciation of phonograms. Vowel sounds especially are a bit tricky for me, and I wanted to make sure my children got them right. Besides, we live in the South and I can tell they both have a slight southern accent. Ben sounds a bit like bin, for instance, in their mouths. One cannot be too careful.

Phonogram Tiles

Phonogram Tiles

In the process, I found out my daughter, who is in kindergarten, thought Thursday is pronounced Fursday. She wanted to spell it with a F. We clarified that and I realized all over again how true it is that most spelling errors come from wrong pronunciations or from the lack of awareness of mouth position.

The big day came. We started Lesson 1. I showed my son we needed to cover four pages for Day 1 and he seemed worried. I told him it was mostly me talking and we will actually skip over 1 ½ pages of questions like “is this a vowel or a consonant?” He seemed relieved.

That’s the only problem we have had with this curriculum – the length of each lesson. Each lesson is split into five days and each day can have up to six pages. That’s a lot to cover in one day, for us. So sometimes I have had to split it in several sessions.

But it really works and has helped my son befriend spelling in ways he never has before. I can definitely tell he is making progress with this curriculum.

I have been given this curriculum for free in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


Tuesday Tome Week 18 – Madame Bovary

Posted on

I read Madame Bovary painstakingly. It took me longer than a week because I had to put it down over and over again. I was not sure I could finish it. It pains me to see characters – especially women – making foolish mistakes again and again. When I finally came to about 80% of the book, – yes, I read it on my Kindle – I started enjoying it. Why? Because Emma Bovary was finally hitting rock bottom.

Madame Bovary

I don’t like reckless behavior, whether in real life or in literary fiction. I understand why Susan Wise Bauer included this novel in her list of 32 best novels to read from Western literature. It is the first novel chronologically which puts an end to Romanticism and starts Realism as a current in literature.

Gustave Flaubert shocked many people with the realistic depictions of every day life and the adultery Madame Bovary engaged in while married to Charles Bovary, a country doctor in Yonville, France. Flaubert even got sued over the book, which shocked the sensibilities of many in the 19th century.

Continue reading »

Anyway, I am glad I read it because (1) I read it in French, in the original, and I saw it as a way to practice my French; (2) now I can tell you about it; (3) I can keep going down the list in The Well-Educated Mind without feeling like I skipped over something; (4) it is always good to finish what you start.

And (5), I found several pearls – any book has them, you just have to be willing to look for them. The pharmacist was one of the few characters who ends well by the time the story is over. He said a few things and just the way he was, the way Flaubert described him, I gained insight into somebody I know – we won’t mention any names.

So Emma Bovary reads too many romantic novels for her own good and wants to live her life on an emotional high. The daughter of a farmer, she gets sent to a Catholic convent for education. As a Protestant, I have never thought sending children to a Catholic school is a good idea and this book proves it – and this 200 years ago! Of course, we are dealing with fiction, but art imitates life most of the time.

The books we read and what we make of them can really influence our thinking. No wonder many Puritanical educators do away with fiction altogether. They don’t know how to handle them or how to teach them to their children.

Our heroine Emma Rouault marries Dr. Bovary, a widower, and becomes completely disgusted with her husband because he is not refined. She craves expensive goodies and launches into not one but two affairs (not simultaneously) with men who could not have been more different from each other. The woman is confused to say the least and ends her own life in the most horrible way, by eating arsenic. Her daughter becomes an orphan not long after that, as Dr. Bovary dies of a broken heart once he finds Emma’s love correspondence with the two men – although he told one of the men that he did not hate him.

So what’s the good in such a novel? First of all, the form. Flaubert invented the art of telling it like it is – a reaction against the Romantic novels up until that time. It is not by accident that Emma’s sad life and tragic end are caused by reading romantic novels. Secondly, if you can read it in French, it would help you tremendously. Don’t stop to look up every word you don’t know. As long as you can get the gist of what is happening, move on. Thirdly, read it so you can count yourself warned – adultery and living beyond your means never take you down a good path. At least Flaubert did not reward Emma by letting her live on and somehow glorifying her mistakes.

For me, “tout à coup” remains the main expression I learned after reading Madame Bovary. I saw it many, many times throughout the book. I should have counted it. Glad it’s over though.


Tuesday Tome Week 17 – Founding Mothers

Posted on

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts makes for very good historical reading as long as you can peel off the layer of mockery she dishes all over the Founding Fathers. Ms. Roberts has done a lot of reading to bring us details about the wives and mothers of the Founding Fathers, but she presents it through her liberal lens and that is a pity.

Founding Mothers

Casting aspersions upon the heroic and the patriotic is not the way to go when you tell the stories of our Founding Mothers. Yes, women were lacking the vote and right to property back then. Yes, women were perpetually pregnant and barefooted in the kitchen. But why do you have to mock the men for it?

The men were the product of their era. Many of them came around on the issues of slavery and education for women during the years described by this book. Some even started wondering about the womanly vote. It all takes time. I take issue with Cokie Roberts’ history of the Founding Mothers because of the tone she takes towards the Founding Fathers.

Do you really have to tell us three times in the book that Alexander Hamilton was a womanizer and Martha Washington named her tomcat after him? Would one time not have been enough? Do you really have to throw sarcasm at Benjamin Franklin for being a pig – for a pig he was? Why can you not recount some of his good parts – for he had many? Why magnify the men’s defects and paint a picture of only their growth areas? What kind of history is this?

Ms. Roberts sounds like a feminista with a chip on her shoulder – someone who has not completely recovered from the gender war. I would like to reminder her, next time she rattles on about the wonderful, enlightened European nations, that Switzerland only got the vote for women in 1971. Wrap you mind around that historical fact, Ms. Roberts!  Continue reading »

The other thing I did not appreciate in the book was the fact that she dropped editorial comments after reporting historical facts or after quoting from letters. When George Washington writes to a group of women to thank them for their welcome, and says he would never forget the image of their angelic presence (they were all dressed in white), Ms. Roberts writes, “I bet not.” How does she know that Washington did not mean what he wrote? How does she know that Washington eventually forgot that mental image he promised not to? And who cares about Ms. Roberts’ sentiments on the matter? Why can’t she just be a historian and let us have the fact and the fact only? We do not want to know her opinion about historical facts.

When Washington refuses to give advice to this or that widow whether she should marry a particular suitor, Ms. Roberts mocks him that he would not meddle in matrimonial concerns. “Just in rebellions,” she quips. Yes, the man was a war hero and a general of the American army. Do you have a problem with that? He had his boundaries in terms of where he would spread his advice and his time. Why do you have to mock him for being focused on his job?

Her cynicism ruins in us a sense of the heroism of the Founding Fathers – these men were heroes and no, heroes are not perfect. But they inspire us. And if you come and tell us all about their growth areas, we run the risk of not being inspired anymore. All of the sudden, we have nobody to look up to and we are all traitors in a subtle way.

We reject our country because 18th century men did not give women equal rights. That’s like rejecting Ancient Rome for not having steam engines. The time had not come for that in the evolution of the world. Let’s admire Ancient Rome for what it did contribute to this world and learn from its mistakes. Let’s not mock their soldiers for walking around in sandals and little red skirts.

Did you know that after the 2015 terrorist attacks in France some historians came out and said the young men who blew themselves up went through French schools where they got taught all about the bad things France did to other nations and nothing of the positive things France brought to the world? No wonder they had no problem killing French people.

How do we teach history in our schools today? Make no mistake about it, history is a very politicized subject in public schools. Ten years after the publication of this book, Cokie Roberts re-packaged it as a history reader and picture book for middle schoolers. Her marketing also includes the hint that it is “common-core aligned.” Perfect for today’s classrooms. Not for my kids. Sorry.

Alas, in adopting this tone in her book, Cokie Roberts simply brings to life the principles of modern public education advocated by John Dewey, the father of American progressive education: “Education has … to undermind and destroy the accumulated and self-perpetuating prejudices of long ages.” In the words of Anthony Esolen, “Whatever region of the heart beats warm with piety, we want to still it.” By the way, this is one of ten ways to destroy the imagination of a child.

I do feel for the women of previous centuries who were perpetually pregnant, nursing. I hate to think what it must have been like to cook over an open fire and to not be able to hold property. I know they had it tough. The book gives you a whole new appreciation for modern conveniences and laws.

Yes, John Adams offered Abigail the age old put down of “you gals don’t need more power because you already have all the power over your men and we don’t do anything without your permission;” Jefferson frolicked in Paris with a married woman (he was a widower by then) and was an extremely lousy father; George Washington just could not win with the women on several occasions etc etc.

Even if these things are true, if that is the only thing you bring up about these men, what kind of history do you teach? A politicized history. The kind of history that brainwashes kids and especially women for the Democratic Party’s agenda.

I will get off my soap box now. If you want to read the book, consider yourself forewarned.


Tuesday Tome Week 16 – Stories of Composers

Posted on

Stories of Composers For Young Musicians by Catherine Wolff Kendalls makes for great bedtime reading. (I have been reading to my children since they were infants. We read before going to bed but we also read throughout the day.)

My children take violin and piano lessons and my goal is to make classical music a delight for them. As such, we play classical music during our meals and we read as much about composers as we can. I have invested in some CDs about composers’ lives but my children were still too small at the time – we are talking preschool age.

Stories of Composers

They are now 6 and 8 and these stories seem to go over better. It will be an interesting test, after reading this book with them, to re-visit the initial CDs and see if the kids have a better reaction to them.

Because they did enjoy this book. It was a bit boring for my six-year-old in the beginning, because the book has no pictures beyond a portrait of the composer. But she soon realized these composers fell in love and married – well, most of them did. She is in this phase of awakening to romance.  Continue reading »

One night, as I started reading another story about another composer, she interrupted me by asking, “Mommy, when will he marry somebody?” Whatever it takes to peak their interest.

I have learned a lot from this book about people who otherwise would just be names to me, next to the title of the Suzuki piece my children are practicing. For instance, the Gavotte by P. Martini in Book 3 for violin. My son is polishing that piece to perfection these days. Well, now we know P. stands for Padre (“father” in Italian) because Martini was a priest. To my daughter’s disappointment, he never married, of course, being a Catholic priest.

Thirty composers from Bach to von Weber, whose lives were compressed to 4-10 pages each, can flash before your eyes in a week, making for a wonderful time of discovery and learning alongside your children. I have nothing bad to say about this book. On the contrary. I learned from some of these men’s mistakes in areas that have nothing to do with music. And I can tell the children’s awareness of life, situations, and how music came to be has grown.


Tuesday Tome Week 15 – Mommy, Can We Practice Now?

Posted on

Mommy, Can We Practice Now? by Marie Parkinson is another helpful book for parents whose children are involved in music lessons. Paying for violin or piano lessons is one thing. Making sure the kiddos practice every day at home without losing one’s temper is another thing altogether.

First, let me tell you a story. I have a friend who puts her children in a public school. She does not understand why I homeschool. That’s fine. We respect each other and have wonderful conversations about being a mom and cooking and life in our small town.

Mommy Can We Practice Now?

She definitely does not understand why I pay somebody else to teach my children violin and piano when I can play violin and some piano – albeit not at a concert soloist level. Indeed, it may seem inconsistent. To say “I am not a violin teacher by training” is the same as to say “I am not a physics teacher by training.” Which means I really have no business tackling my children’s education as a homeschooler, overall.

But this is where I disagree. Physics or chemistry or reading or any other school subject are very different from the arts. Music and art are best taught by somebody who is trained as an artist and, even better, as a teacher of artists.  Continue reading »

Look, my son is 8 and he is teaching himself to code from two books I got him on Amazon. He already knows more than I do and that’s fine. I have no interest in learning how to code. I have a big picture of the process. He has shown me almost every new command he has learned and I get the idea. But I don’t need to become a coding specialist in order to have a son who can code.

There are some things we can teach ourselves and we don’t have to have a graduate degree in the matter. There are some things we can teach others without a graduate degree in the matter.

I do need to know what I am talking about when it comes to reading, spelling, math, and handwriting. If you can teach a child the 3 Rs, you can homeschool. Once a child can read, he is off to the races. That’s what homeschooling is all about: releasing the child into the world of knowledge with enthusiasm and self-confidence. Then he can pick for himself the career that fits his God-given talents and abilities.

Back to music lessons and art lessons and this book. My job as a mom is to enforce daily practice. But how do you do that if the child refuses to practice? I have spent a lot of time finding the right teachers for my children. We spend lots of money on lessons, instruments, and sheet music. If I do not get the skills to motivate my children to practice DAILY, it is all a waste.

Teachers can give you clues and hints and book titles and task worksheets, but you have to apply all that knowledge somehow. One such book is Mommy, Can We Practice Now? It will give you ideas on how to get your little stubborn child to pick up the violin and go through two measures of Suzuki Etude at a time, five times each or whatever tasks the teacher has lined up on her assignment.

The idea in this book is to offer your child a reward for practicing, progressively. If you cannot get this book, which offers a lot of coloring pages for you to use with your child, you can get coloring sheets from the internet and have the child color one thing at a time on the picture if need be.

Who does not want a stress-free practice session EVERY DAY? Is that even possible? Yes, it is. This may not be the only book you need on the subject, as not all children enjoy drawing or coloring as a reward, but it will get your thinking in the right direction. It will steer you away from a domineering stance over your poor little child who does not understand why mommy is so angry about violin practice.

Empower yourself by reading such books. That’s what homeschooling is all about.


Adler on DVD

Posted on

Last month, I came across this wonderful DVD with talk-style seminars by Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren about how to read a book. This DVD was produced by Encyclopedia Britannica probably as a companion to How To Read A Book – the actual book by that title. But it got lost and found only in recent years.

How to Read A Book DVD

Walking while watching Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren

You can watch a clip here or here so you get an idea what to expect. Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren are sitting at a table discussing how to tackle books and why. If you read the book you should also get the DVD. If you have not read the book, you should get the DVD, especially if you are not 150% psyched about reading a book about how to read books. The DVD contains the same information as the book, but it reinforces it in conversational style.

The two men discuss the reasons for reading and explain how to read The Great Books – the best collections of ideas produced by Western civilization. They break down the types of reading a person can do: for pleasure, information, fun, entertainment, or for a challenge etc.

The books that are tough for you to read, those that are above your level, those that make you scratch your head – you should be happy when you find something like that. If you only read what you can grasp, how can you grow? How can you stretch and reach higher than where you are? This is a great point especially for home educators. Continue reading »

The DVD is almost three hours long and each section is about 15 minutes long. About. Watch it when you need to put your feet up for 10-15 minutes. Or, if you have a walking desk like I do, watch it while you walk on the treadmill, with the laptop on the treadmill desk and ear buds. The sound of the treadmill drowns out the two learned men and their civilized tones so ear phones are in order.

FYI, Charles van Doren is smoking cigars throughout the seminars – not continuously, but here and there. Just so you know and prepare your children ahead of time, if you plan on watching it with them. Of course, you can always pause the DVD and talk about the dangers of smoking briefly. You can tell this DVD was put together before the 70s, when we got a bit smarter about how deadly smoking actually is.

This is a DVD for adults and older children, at least middle school age and up. The price is $29.95 and, again, you can get it here. This is not an affiliate link, by the way. I just like the product and thought I should give you a brief description of it.

I received a free copy of it in exchange for my honest review. The opinion expressed here is my own. I am disclosing it in accordance with FTC regulations.


Tuesday Tome Week 14 – About Grace

Posted on

About Grace by Anthony Doerr is really not just about a girl name Grace. It is about fathers and daughters, runaway fathers, separation and psychology, precognition, dreams, Alaska, and the Grenadines. And, mostly, it is about snowflakes and insects.

This is Doerr’s first novel and critics agree that it is something special. Personally, when I read it, I felt transported and enlightened. I felt inspired even more to invest in family.

About Grace

David Winkler, the main character, learns the hard way that family is not so much what you are given but what you are able to keep. He also said something that touched me so much, I put the book down and went to a different place to cry. He said that grandfathers are successful fathers who have been promoted to the next level.  Continue reading »

Given the fact that my father never met my children, for several reasons, this rang close to home for me, no pun intended. Details, details, details. I thought I was at peace with his death, but time has a way of opening even more little drawers in our hearts to uncover hurts and pain we stuffed over the years, pain we cannot even remember how we put away.

If you want the plot, it is simple, but I will not reveal everything. Winkler dreams the future. He dreams scenes in which people die, for instance, and then a few days later he lives these scenes in real life. When he dreams that his daughter will drown in his arms during a flood, he leaves his wife with their baby and does not return for 25 years. That’s right. Twenty-five years.

Will he be able to track down his daughter? Did she survive the flood? If so, will she take him back into her life? Is his wife still around? Those questions are for you to find out as you read.

I am leaving out a lot of details and a parade of characters which are very well sketched. Doerr writes well. That’s an understatement. But the man has received so many accolades and awards, I don’t know what else to say. He is a great writer. There. Great is better than good, right? I could even say he is brilliant at what he does.

This book is so enthralling, so captivating, I could not put it down. I finished it in two days.