Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best reads ever

I’ve just finished a wonderful book I want to share called “the Package” by Glenn Crabtree.
I won’t give the story away but this 2008 novel is about being lost and finding real joy, which is only possible through our Heavenly Father.
It is near the top of my Top 11 list.
Few books incite emotion in me so great that I cry real tears.
This is one of them.
This book blows “The Shack” out of the water.
Find a copy, read it and and share!

My Top 11 reads of all time:

1. Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West by Ethan Rarick
2. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
3. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
4. The Package by Glenn Crabtree
5. Night by Elie Wiesel
6. The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes
7. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
8. Under the Lake by Stuart Woods
9. Perfect Victim by Christine McGuire & Carla Norton
10. Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
11. The Shades by Betty Brock

The Shades, published in the early 1970s, was possibly the first chapter book I read of my own free will.
I think I bought it at a book fair at Caldwell Elementary School on the hill on North Street.
It might have been third grade.
I still have this tattered paperback now wrapped in Saran Wrap and tucked away.
Since having children I’ve purchased three copies of the book, long out of print, online so each of my three sons can have their own copy.
I shared my excitement about The Shades with the oldest boy a couple of years ago.
He hasn’t touched it.
That’s OK. He’s finding his own way through books.
And he’s loving it.
Christian just turned 10 and has read several of the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia novels already and is on a Goosebumps kick right now.
I am a proud momma that so far at least one of the children has taken after me and his father and enjoys reading for pleasure.
Anyone who has any good adult reads up their sleeve, please send me a note.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A reason to celebrate

(Originally published on 9/11/06 in The Daily Jeffersonian.)

I'm celebrating today.
I've celebrated Sept. 11 since
1999. On that day my first
child was born.
Last Sunday, after company
departed following an early
birthday party for Christian,
my husband and I were watching
"Inside the Tower" on The
Discovery Channel. A plane
slamming into the World Trade
Center was being played,
which caught Christian’s attention.
I asked him if he knew what
was happening.
His response was elementary.
"That plane crashed into that
A lot of people died when
that happened, my husband and
I told him.
Interested, I decided to take it
a step further.
"That plane crashed into the
tower on Sept. 11."
"Oh. Last year?" he asked.
"No, the year you turned 2."
So now he at least knows the
date the planes crashed into the
towers was Sept. 11, which he
knows is also his birthday.
That's enough for a 7 year
There are too many disturbing
aspects of 9/11 to tell a
first grader.
I don't want to shatter his
innocence by discussing something
he’ll eventually learn.
In the five years since 9/11,
Christian has gone from being
our only child to one of three
He grew a mouth full of teeth
and then lost 3 of them.
He learned to talk and backtalk.
He learned the alphabet.
He learned to ride a bike.
He started school.
He made some friends.
He doesn't need to know
about 9/11 yet...
In actuality, 9/11 is not a day
I think about until it rolls
As the years go by, I return to
it just like everyone else when
the images reappear on the television
and news stories are
printed and broadcast .
Even executing this assignment
has been difficult because
I've not really thought a lot
about 9/11 for a while.
I watched an "Oprah" episode
a few months ago about a 9/11
widow who is suffering from a
shopping addiction in an
attempt to replace the loss of
her husband. How sad.
Something else negative post
While my medium of work is
print news and most of the stories
I've come across have
intrigued me, I am drawn to
the visual. It's the still photographs
that I pour over like the
ones on the cover of this special
I recently purchased LIFE’s
Fifth Anniversary Expanded
Edition of 9/11 and it is filled
with lots of commentary (little
that I have read) and lots of
photographs (awesome). I will
keep it for Christian for his
9/11 "capsule."
In this business I see hundreds
of news stories unfold
every week and more than half
of those are tragic. After a
while it gets to you. There are
so many problems in the
9/11 was an historical event,
but what about the situation in
the Middle East? Have we forgotten
about Iraq and
Afghanistan? And what about
the woman from Ohio who was
sentenced for cutting off her
baby's arms?
Evil lurks everywhere.
So I thank God for a distraction,
a miracle amidst the
chaos, and I focus on the good
stuff for a while.
I retreat to age 7.
Reading, writing and arithmetic
... riding bikes ... friends.
Thank you Christian for
being my calm reminder of

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Compassion for a cat

Our family learned a lesson in compassion this week on the heels of a heart-breaking accident that cost our family cat one of its legs.

Whiskers, a five-month old calico, had his right front leg amputated on Monday. He is home now and recovering from the operation. A full recovery is expected. He had three days of pain meds and will continue on antibiotics for a week.

We are not absolutely certain what happened to Whiskers, but last Sunday one of the boys reportedly “twirled” him in the air and he landed with a thud, made a louder than usual meow and retreated under the bed. Later in the day I noticed he was favoring one leg and the other was limp. A couple of weeks ago one of the boys dropped Whiskers from the upstairs banister onto the stairs below. David observed the cat land on its feet but in retrospect said he believes this could have been the first injury.

I am disappointed in the children’s behavior and have thought a lot about that this week. We try to teach them right from wrong and we certainly don’t condone animal abuse. Aside from this incident I keep reminding myself that they will probably continue to disappoint and we will continue to be forgiving parents and hopefully everyone will learn some lessons along the way. I don’t believe my sons are animal “abusers” but I do think this has been one lesson that they will never forget. They now realize you can’t treat your pets like stuffed animals.

The boy who “twirled” the cat is the same one who upon running home from a friend’s house dropped his tree frog on the sidewalk, accidently stepped on it and entered our house crying hysterically that he’d killed his pocket pet. We buried the frog in the backyard.

The boys were shocked to see Whiskers in his carrier - one leg missing, though they were told what was going to happen - when I picked them up at the babysitters after picking up the cat from the animal hospital. I was glad of this. I told them that day that I hoped they would love Whiskers even more than they did when he had four legs. When we got home the boy who “twirled” the cat and stepped on the frog exited the van crying. “I shouldn’t have done that to Whiskers,” he said. I hugged him and replied, “I forgive you and so does Whiskers.”

I never dreamed a week ago we’d have a three-legged cat. A friend from high school, who is on Facebook, reassured me last Sunday that her cat had broken its leg and pins and plates were used to put him back together again, and that was seven years ago.

An X-ray showed Whiskers’ leg was shattered, said our veterinarian on Monday morning. It would be a tedious operation to repair the leg and it was not guaranteed he would regain full use of the leg. The recovery would require weeks of isolation and little activity. If he didn’t recover, the bum leg would have to be amputated. She then recommended a consultation, perhaps, with an orthopedic animal surgeon. All I saw after the vet's latter comment was dollar signs.

In the half hour I had to decide this cat’s fate, I rationalized that Whiskers' personality would probably change if he had to be confined to a room without any furniture and crated for 6-8 weeks post-op. Whiskers might turn into our last cat, Meg, who not once during the 8 months we had her (she was adopted in March by a Caldwell woman who has no children) let the children pick her up. I also couldn’t fathom the care Whiskers would require for these two critical months. And would the surgery even work? Even after David told me to “put him down,” I decided I could not have Whiskers euthanized. “There is nothing wrong with this cat except a broken leg. He is a wonderful companion,” I told myself over and over again.

So I asked about amputation. Can a cat lead a normal life with three legs? Yes. Have others resorted to amputation in lieu of surgery? Yes. Actually, the vet who performed the amputation said he learned in vet school that dogs and cats “have three legs and a spare.” Before being dismissed from the hospital the doc said Whiskers’ initial difficulty could be with the litter box and learning to bury his waste differently. I’ve not noticed any difference except that maybe there’s a little less litter on the floor (and that’s a good thing). The doc said Whiskers would be able to jump up and down and run like before, and he has.

He’s still slower than his brother Stuart because of the medicine, I think, and the big blue sutures, which come out in a week or so. There is no bandage or other compress to limit his activity. He sleeps a lot but he’s more friendly than he’s ever been – I believe. He is a vocal cat. Whiskers and I had a nice conversation last night in bed, where he rested next to my uncovered feet for a bit. I am keeping him isolated for hours at a time when we are sleeping or not home so Stuart does not tear a stitch before Whiskers heals completely.

Whiskers was shaved from the neck to the stomach but after his fur grows back I think his coat will be just as beautiful as before.

I will post a picture of Whiskers in a couple of months.