Regarding the Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, they surround us.

The media blitz of this book/series/movie is inescapable. Most or all of you know of them, have read or seen or surely heard about these books and now, the movie. If not, go here (or just open your newspaper or peruse your news feed). I know of them too. I read them, the whole series, last summer when my eldest daughter grabbed onto them. I figured I’d better figure out what they were about. Happily I’m a faster reader than she is and so we could have quite a bit of discussion as she read through them. And, sure, they are a super fast read, a page turner, even as they make you feel kind of sick with the disturbing games… So, I have a lot of thoughts about them, but that would be a whole ‘nother book review post.

The primary topic, for me today, with these books, this movie is this: These books/movie are marketed, hard, to the teen and PREteen set. I understand that, as the main characters are kids themselves. But the storyline is so brutal that I have some serious reservations about that (My rant on the disturbing trends and actions in the advertising and marketing world would be a whole ‘nother post. I’ll spare you, today. You’re welcome.) I’ve read lots of different parental takes on these books/movie. I’ve dithered a bit too. On the one hand, I have support for this stance regarding the series. I respect this mom and her views and she has much parenting wisdom. I read her article and say, “Yup. Yup.” But on the other hand, I think that, as a mom, I can’t hide from it either (I am not saying she is, to be clear). I have to discuss it with my kids. I have to discuss either the actual content and story, and/or I have to discuss they why’s of why I’m blocking it.

When I do block a movie or book series, it is typically due to age appropriateness (ratings) or blatant lack of redeeming…anything. Horror movies, gore, terribly violent movies, overtly inappropriately sexual (these often have that R rating tho, helpfully). However, this series HAS some redeeming themes and actions. The movie is rated PG-13. I have heard the movie shows less on screen violence than the book; though you can still not dispute, the whole issue is kids killing kids. And that is irrefutably evil and disturbing to the core. However, it’s not as simplistic as a Freddy Krueger movie.

All this is to lead up to where I’m at now. After first blocking it, I finally decided to let my Emmy read the book. She knew the story, in detailed retelling from her classmates, anyhow. At that point, we were already having the necessary discussions. The natural evolution of having an informed discussion is to go to the source. So, I figured at this point it might be best to have her read the source. That way we can now have a fuller broader discussion of the good and the evil and disturbing; the “hows” and “whys” and “what about thats?” So. Maybe they will see the movie. Maybe not, I don’t know yet. Yes I will see it before that decision is made. But first, always, read the book….and have lots of conversation. Not lecture. Conversation. Because on a good day, that’s what books should engender: conversation.

And, my hope is that we can mine this media blitzkrieg and these stories for learning…..about the media hype machine, for starters. We can look at the uncomfortable parallels between those very Hunger Games in the dystopian future and wonder if that future is not here, almost, right now as we cheer and boo at the ridiculous and banal on much of reality tv, or on the multitude but yet attention-sucking compelling reality competition programs. And, yes, also about good and evil and sacrificial love and human spirit and even, as Fr. Barron points out, a LOT of historical connections. Fascinating, and cool!

Take a look:

Stations Week 6

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O’Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

My dinner with Buzzi….OR, Notes to a waiter…

Ruth Buzzi, that is….

Ruth Buzzi in her famous "Old Lady" character....

You see, last night Coffeedoc and I got all gussied up and drove downtown to a lovely  fancy restaurant.  We were celebrating our 25th Anniversary and we were just happy to be out of the house and be able to have an uninterrupted conversation and enjoy some a nice delish quiet dinner.

And so we did…we arrived a bit late, per usual, and we were escorted to a quiet corner table.  As we perused the menu and wine list, it happened.  The server said to me, upon pouring some water, “Here you are Young Lady.”  Really.  No big deal, right?  Hmmm.  But then, he brought my wine…and said it again!  Now, I’ll let that go, if the speaker is older than me…say, someone around the age of my father (who is now 80).  I immediately looked over at Tom, who was seemingly captivated by the menu.  So, I shrugged it off.  But, and this is the part where I must have unwittingly morphed into Ruth Buzzi… this waiter began to use that phrase with almost every turn of attention to us.  Truly.  And of course, only to  me.  Because somehow this young pup (I am now pulling out all of my old fogey lingo since I am old enough to have perfect strangers patronize me) thought that it was somehow charming to continue to refer to me as “young lady.”

Now, many of you might think, “Gee, what’s her problem? That’s not so bad, don’t get your panties in a knot…”  But, if you are thinking that, I’d lay dollars to donuts (another fogey phrase…) that you’re YOUNG!  And while I may very well be staring down the barrel of fifty (that’s the rumour at any rate…), I haven’t yet really started considering myself officially, really, OLD.

But now, thanks to this young waiter….I feel like a rickety old crone.  I know it shouldn’t make me feel so, but, it does a little bit.  Gee willikers.  Maybe we old gals are touchy….  Now, we still had a really lovely romantic dinner.  My sweet Tom helped distract me from the patronizing waiter.  I only mentioned wanting to deck they guy once, I think.  But I have to say, to all you servers out there (and I can say this because I DID wait tables for years in college) if you want to keep your customers in a good mood….don’t try out some faux debonair “young lady” comments on anyone older than  you.  It just doesn’t play like you think it does.  Not suave, not cute.  Really.  Makes us old gals a little hostile, even…or at least THIS old gal.  Ahem.  He still got a good tip, because it was our anniversary.  But if it wasn’t…… I’m not deft with the quick comeback.  I so wish I was, because today I have a number of them.  But, since I’m now officially an old doddering crone….I’ll probably forget them.

I’m off to buy a hairnet…..

Landing in Kona...we OLD GALS get around!

Forget that…I”m going back to Hawaii…

Saying Yes, Annunciation

Painting by Henry Tanner

It’s the Solemnity of the Annunciation. This is the day the church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel coming to Mary and the most important “yes” ever in history. Fiat. “Yes, I will.” Her consent to become the Mother of God. Read more if you like here.

As an adoptive mom, and a mom of biological kids, I trembled (with that adrenaline rush of shocked thrill and joy, but also with the ‘bigness’ of it all) each time we were presented with a child, or even when the child was “announced.” I cannot imagine how she must have trembled. And yet, she said “let it be done.” It is an awesome and fearsome responsibility, to care for a child and give them what they need – this gift from God.

Now you all know that this feast just resonates with me.  For me.
Really, I could and probably should, meditate on this feast, these images for a long time, oh…for the rest of my days.

Because this feast is all about the letting go.  It’s about the letting go, in blind faith…the kind of faith I can only dream of, reach toward, and pray for a glimmer.  It’s about a kind of trust I can only gape at and wonder.

That kind of faith, that kind of willingness to “let go” and accept challenging, don’t know the road ahead but I’ll keep on and do my best without whining endlessly and relentlessly nagging questioning sort of faith just astounds me.  Humbles me.  Blows my mind.  Still.  Ever.

But she did.
Mary was a girl, a mere girl.  Not old, with decades of life to measure the probability of it turning out ok in the end, or to compare to another girl she heard of in the same spot.  She had no measuring stick but faith.  And she was able to hold her breath, think about it for a moment (Because she was not programmed like a robot, she could have said ‘no,’….Indeed, we are taught that all of creation held it’s breath.)…and say, “fiat.”
Fiat.  Yes.  “I say yes.
I’ll do it.  “Thy will be done, not mine.”

On this special day I pray for the willingness and ability to be able to say the same.

white mom, black son: the raging heartbreak of Trayvon Martin

I try to choke down the news, the nightmare, of Trayvon Martin this past week.  This is such a big thing…..and I feel but a shadowy glance of what his mother must feel…but feel that mother heartbreak, I do.

How can I even begin with all this?  I have wrestled with this all week;  what happened,  what is happening, how to process it, for myself, my prayers, my family, my kids.  Wrestled with writing about it.  Or not.  As I have nothing profound to add, I keep thinking, “Don’t.”  But, as I process by typing….I need to.  So, onward type….

I am a white mom.  I am a white mom to five kids of color. I am a white mom to eight kids in all.  But, make no mistake, what is important today is that I am a mom to two black sons.   I am a mom to one young black son who will grow into a rather large black man.  This boy, my own sweet son, he is on my mind as I read the news, pray for his mom and family, and try to sort my furious whirlwind sorrow over this.

Trayvon Martin.

I knew.  I have known.  I have known and thought and considered how my own sweet young boy might be perceived as he grows into his height and build and ages up.  And I have been trying to begin his instruction for that time: “Strong men are gentle.” “Strong men are kind and good.” “Strong men control their actions.” I knew I would have to give him more particular instructions as he became an older teen.  Some of these instructions I gave to my two older sons, my white sons: “If you are pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel.” “Do not talk back, just say ‘Yes Sir, no sir. Be respectful and direct.”  But now, I realize that soon, too soon, perhaps even now, I have to begin to introduce some different rules to my son. I have to train him to see another possibility: that he might be presumed to be criminal simply due to his deep beautiful brown skin.  As many writers point out, he might be guilty of “walking while black.”  And that makes my heart break, and it makes me churn with anger….no different from other moms.  I might be a white mom. But I am a mom of black sons.  And that makes me worry and pray in a special way for my children.

The death of Trayvon Martin makes me so angry; hurt for his family, hurt for the injustice, hurt for this innocent kid….. It’s unspeakable.  And yet, of course, we must speak.  I’m not adding anything to the dialogue spreading like wildfire around the net.  The outrage over this story is building; it’s set in motion what we can only hope to be justice.  And yet, even with that justice, the investigation, and yes, hopefully, the arrest of the Zimmerman…..I feel conflicted.  I do not want to join any bloodlust chorus for revenge.  Revenge is hollow, empty, nothing.  Justice is needed.  And so, I will unite my prayers with those across the world, for the repose of this innocent’s soul.  I will unite my prayers with those across the world for the comfort and peace and courage for his family and friends and community.  I will unite my prayers with those around the world for justice.

Because here is what I think.  I think this was a racist act (the reported racist slurs make my blood boil).  I think this was unconscionable and unspeakable senseless violence.  I think an innocent kid was murdered.  And the only way I can reconcile all this is to say…..Zimmerman, he is a broken man.  How can he not be? That is not, even for a a moment, to dismiss what he did, or have that be an excuse.  There is no excuse.  But, he is a man seemingly filled with rage and paranoia and racist bile.  But, even so, surely, now, surely…he  must realize what he has done?  I haven’t  heard if he has.  But surely, in his core, he knows.  He knows.  He must.  Trayvon was a child.  That alone, should shatter him.  That, right there, is where I need to look in order to be able to choke back my own rage towards him and try, try to find a way to pray for him.  I need to find – to beg for – the Grace to pray for his remorse.  My husband points out that he needs our prayers too.  And so, I pray for that grace…to be able pray for Zimmerman too…..for his justice, yes, but also for the mercy of deep true remorse and understanding in his soul.

The news on this keeps breaking through the cacophony of our busy days.  And it should. We all should be outraged.  We all should shout for justice.  We all should be shocked.  And we are.  But, while we all weep and pray and should and do and will continue to pray for Trayvon and his parents and family…as the call for justice rings out ……I pray we find a way to change our nation and heal the rage and ignorance that simmers just below the surface.  Because until it does heal and change….

my anthony

…all of our sons are at risk.  Perhaps not of such precise shocking immediate violence.  But certainly they are at risk – or indeed perhaps they are guaranteed – of a loss of their innocent hearts as they learn the hard lessons of being a black young man in America.  As a mom of a young black boy in America, Trayvon is ‘my son.’ He is all of our son’s.  God have mercy on us all.

Stations Week 5

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O’Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

Considering Joseph

Ah… Joseph.  He’s the man.  Really.  He is the model of quiet strength.  A doer.

Now, I have always been drawn closer to Mary, of course. You all know that, and I think St. Joseph would be ok with that, being a gallant spouse.  But even so, I am gathering more and more connections to Joseph as I walk through this life.   As you all know by now, my son is now a Dominican with the eastern province of St. Joseph.  His religious name is now Brother Peter Joseph.  Bricks on the head.  I am being reeled into considering Joseph.  So, in honor of this feast day I am buying myself a hard  hat with the name Joseph across the top.

But, Joseph.  What’s up with him anyhow? Many outside of the Catholic church rarely ever even think of him. Heck, many inside the Catholic church rarely ever think of  him…except for that passing “foster father of Jesus” bit.

Permit me this: it just irks me every time I hear that particular phrasing.  Maybe it’s my own chip on my own shoulder.  But, “foster” father.  Hmmm.  Sure, Joseph nurtured Jesus…if that’s what is meant by ‘foster.’  Perhaps this is a holdover term from a different era, with different connotations.  But in our modern day, it seems foster father get’s short shrift (and no disrespect to modern foster fathers, as it’s a heroic job).  Somehow, that term feels rather “less than.”  Don’t flame me now….

But, as an adoptive mom let me tell you that I don’t consider Joseph anything but Jesus’ dad – his earthly, human father.  His place was, um, irreplaceable.  Joseph was the dad in place, on earth, loving and caring and protecting and raising and teaching his son just like any dad of any era.  He was the father.  Not a stand-in or temp; he was Jesus’ father, hand picked by God to raise and love and care for his Son.  For Joseph and Mary’s son.  He was/is head of the Holy Family.  So, I guess I want to make sure that Joseph get’s his cred…he’s all humble and everything so he wouldn’t push for it.  But he did the work, his heart broke and worried and swelled with love over his family and that boy…just like any dad.  In fact he did more, because he had to take the hit and the heat (from Mary even, I’m sure) upon fleeing to Egypt for safety, for bunking down in a stable,  for obediently doing whatever it took to safely care for his wife and child.   So, I’m just saying, let’s not diminish his role, ok?  Thank you.

There is SO much to ponder when considering Joseph.  He loved even when he didn’t understand it all, he was faithful to the core and to the end.  He was humble; didn’t go around bragging on his amazing kid and trying to get the local papers or Nazarene media to scout his boy.  He was a dutiful husband and dad.  He is a model for us all in quiet steady faith and deep giving love.  I tend to, as I said, look to Mary as a role model for how to do better and stop screwing up.  But, I’ll tell ya, I look to Joseph in my heart and prayers, more and more, especially when I am fretful or worried.  I look to Joseph when I yearn for a deep steady loving hand.  I see him in my own husband and my sons.  And, I’m grateful.

 I’m grateful for dear Joseph.

Today is his feast day.  Happy feast day Buddybug, Peter Joseph!

St. Joseph, pray for us!


It’s Saint Patricks Day!  

And this is the gist of it, especially as we meet the midpoint of lent

(from the prayer “St Patrick’s breastplate”):

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

More links for St Paddy's here, click pic

Happy St Patrick’s Day! 

Stations Week 4

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O'Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

Something of a Rite of Passage…

What? A rite of passage? Which one? Graduation, marriage, birth, death, adoption finalization, first steps, first tooth….what?

The zoo, of course!  Going to the zoo is a mini rite of passage for a kid, specifically an American kid.  Some might argue this, but really, I think we can agree that it’s a kid marker, a kid commonality….more, it’s family bonding.

watercolor by m.mahan

The zoo.   You go with your family when you’re little, with the school on the bus when  you’re bigger, you’re dragged there on family vacations and outings when you’re a teen, and then you start the cycle all over again with your own new little family.  Right? Well, maybe for a few zoophobics its not.  But still.  For most of us, the zoo is treasured memories and stories.  It’s boxes and boxes of old kodak snapshots; all looking mostly identical – yellowing blurred shots of us near some big trees that have monkeys in them, somewhere, standing awkwardly waving with bad hair and ill fitting shorts (ok, maybe that’s just me).

So, for one reason or another fifty, we hadn’t yet made it to our local zoo for Gabey or Marta.  Let’s rephrase that to be more shockingly precise: Gabe has been home almost four years and Marta is at two and half, and they  had not been to the zoo.  Mom fail. Yes. We are the slacker parents of all time.  I know.  My pitiful excuse defense: the weather is wonky here, either freaky freezing cold or hellishly sticky muggy humid hot AND we spend our days dealing with many kid behaviors and issues, not to mention juggling schedules like a circus clown.

Anyhow, if the weather is good (on those two to three days a year of weather perfection), I love going to our little zoo.  It’s just the right size, not too big to be overwhelming, not so small as to be a joke.  It’s a friendly little place, with a fantastic playground area to collapse and the let smalls get the last dregs of their energy out so that they will be happily exhausted for the rest of the day.  And so, on Tuesday, all the planets aligned and the day was perfect.  It was spring break, the weather was going to be in the high 70’s and sunny…it was the perfect day (In four years!) for the zoo.  And so we went.

It was just me and the youngest five. I packed a picnic lunch and we all set off for the longish drive to the zoo.  They were very excited. Marta wasn’t entirely clear on how it would be…but she was game to try (which is a huge deal for a hyper-vigilent kid).  As we piled out of the car, grabbed the old stroller to carry our gear (and occasionally Gabe, who knows a good deal when he sees it) we could hear the whoops and hoots of both the Gibbons and the parrots and I’m not sure what all else…but it was a minor racket.  I looked at the kids and grinned.  Marta’s eyes were big, “What is that? Loud!”, she said.  I laughed, the girls laughed.  The little boys speculated about dinosaurs.  I said, “You’ll see!”  Gabey was just pulling us along as quick as he was able, in a rush to go see the monkeys.

We saw the monkeys.  Marta was most impressed with their feet being like hands, we saw beautiful tigers and leopards, cool zebras, scary alligators, scary snakes, weird frogs, cool camels, pet a goat, pinched noses (my city boy) and laughed at the “wild” smells and marveled over the bizarro but beautifully pink flamingos.  

Best of all we saw the “Very big!” elephants and the “Very tall, so cute” giraffes.  We even saw a few babies: with the leopards and the giraffes.  We had an easy happy picnic lunch in the shade, we lifted our faces to the sun as we walked.

Then, for another classic thrill, we got tokens to ride the carousel. Oh the thrill of even picking out which animal to ride as they waited.  Then the fun of scampering on to claim the chosen beast (Sweet dear Emmy sacrificing her choice of dolphin to stay close to help Gabe, even without being asked.  What a girl!).  The whirling ride got face splitting grins out of all, even our toughest customers.  

So, totally worth those pricey tokens.

After the twirling  thrills of the carousel (Can  you say double win?: Vestibular therapy motion too, score! It’s occupational therapy!) we headed to the playground to close the visit.   I sat in the partial shade while I watched my kidletts run and rampage over and around, under and through the twists and turns of this huge crowded playground.  There were ramps to ascend and tunnels to slide and rope bridges to climb, nooks and crannies to explore.  Marta didn’t last long there, she ventured forth and then came back quickly to sit with me in the sun.  Gabe ended up choosing to swing for a bit, helped again by my mamacita Em.  We finally dragged Little Man out, sweating and happy.  The sun was high, we are all getting hot and tired.  Perfect.  Time to go  home.

But first, no premier trip to the zoo should be complete without that last final classic treat: the slurp of a soft serve swirly ice cream cone.  And so, we did.

It was a very good day.

Stations Week 3

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O’Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

Works for Me Wednesday: Kid Date

Ok, so this should be more precisely titled “Works for Us, Wednesday…”  But then I’d miss the whole linky bit, here, so I’m keeping it as is.  But, you get the point.  This little tip is something we’ve honed to a very worthy custom in our household: it’s the “Kid Date.”

The kid date is not, as you might wonder, when just the kids go out together and run wild, going out on the town and boozing it up or sneaking into movies.  No, no.  The kid date is when the kids get a turn for their own, SOLO, date, with their dad.  Sounds small, no big deal? Oh, no.  Not at all.  Especially when you have a family with many children, this is a really key thing to craft, if you can.  Heck, I’ll go out on a limb and say even if you have a standard size or even small size family, this is a good thing.  That time of undivided attention between the dad and kid?  Priceless.

The Kid Date is a standing Wednesday night gig in our house.  We protect it as much as possible.  Yes, it means a Dad Date, really.  The kids all get lots of time with me.  But their dad, he is a hard working guy and he is busy…all the time.  He’s around as much as he is able. But, his job stuff is, um, time consuming.  It just is.  So, a few years ago, we intentionally started carving out a protected night every week for Dad and one kid to go out, alone, to do whatever they thought sounded like a good idea.

This whole concept played off our standing date, Saturday night.  That’s right, Tom and I have a standing Saturday night date.  It’s all old fashioned, that standing mom/dad date, you betcha.  But, oh boy, it’s priceless and we protect it like gold.  Because it is.  But I digress.  We figured that our weekly date out was so important to our relationship and to staying connected that it would be great for each kid to get solo time w/ Dad too.  They get it with me; I have to make an intentional effort to find that time to check in (and some days/weeks I do that better than others), but with Dad, the time constraints are much tighter.  So, voila, the weekly kid date.

Now, the only way to do the kid date fairly is to make it a system.  We put it on the calendar and we rotate down the troops in age.  No randomness at all (because then there would be intertribal war, not good), though swapping due to homework deadlines is allowed (they work that out between themselves, mostly).  And, just this past month, little Gabey was finally considered old enough to be allowed to go on his first kid date! Oh happy day, er, night!  He was so excited!

It’s a little difficult some weeks to have the kid date, the weeks get eaten up with basketball practices or late meetings or tests…but we really try to make it happen.  And it does mean that Tom has sat through multiple excruciating memorable viewings of the latest kiddie flick (Fly me to the Moon, anyone? Anyone?)…but that’s just what a dad does for his kids.  It’s a tough duty but he’s the man for it.

And is it worth it? All those cheeseburgers, those cartoons, the crash of the bowling pins? Well, I’m not him, but I think he’d say, “You bet.”  Because in between the skittles and the  pasta, sometimes in the dark of the drive home…the kids talk.  They chatter or they open up for a heart to heart or they ask the hard questions.  Or sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they’ve been known to fall asleep in the movie.  But almost every time, that kid comes home to about half the others already asleep.  They come up and check in with me and hug me.  And I ask them, “Did you have a good time?” And they give me an extra kiss or hug, and say, “Yeah.”  Then they go find their dad and hug him goodnight and say thanks for going out with me.  And then, he thanks them back for going out with him.  And that, that is where the gold is.  That connection.  Little bits, along the way.

Kid date.  Worth the time, the trouble, the juggling.  It’s a bag of skittles, all gold.

Stations Week 2

Once again, it’s time for the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday in Lent I’m putting up the link to the Stations of the Cross.
It’s an uber Catholic thing….but then again not.
Anyone can meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and lent is the perfect time to do so. 
It is a rigorous walk, in prayer…and has it’s own hard beauty.
Take a look, read, pray if you are inclined.

This year I’m linking to Pope Benedict’s Stations, the meditations are great.  Go here for the prayers.

Painting by Michael O’Brien

And, for you techies out there, this app is a gorgeous thing, with beautiful paintings by Michael O’Brien.  Totally worth the download!

Top three books about ADHD

Whew, so the week got away from me! We’ve had a fair lot of kid fallout this week, mostly with one dis-regulated, stressed out teen.  So, the posting took a back seat to dealing with all that.  However, I’m here now and so I want to post this quickly.

On this post, here, I wrote about ADHD for the first time in my blog.  I wrote specifically about the stigma attached to the label.  I did not write about all the many layers to ADHD and the different aspects that go hand in hand with consideration of it: the diagnosing of it, the approaches to it, how it works in school and the family and life in general.  You see, if I was going to address all my thoughts on all those things, I’d have to write a book!  But,  happily for you all, there are many, many books out there already.  Great resources abound! Not so great ones do too…so read wisely.  But, do read.  Do the homework.  ADHD is worth a little effort.  Whether you live with it yourself or love one who does, it helps so much to learn a bit about it.  It makes it just a little easier to understand; and that understanding, every drop of it, is critical to overall quality of life.

To that end, I’m listing MY top three resource books on ADHD.  This is MY personal list, my choices.  There is NO official list, anywhere, of the best of the best of these.  Believe me, I’ve looked. I’m a consumate researcher, perhaps even a compulsive one.  That urge to research and find out all that I can about anything I’m dealing with is perhaps my own control freak urge…but it works for me.  Thus, I now have a mini library on quite a few topics.  ADHD has been a topic of research in our library for eight years.  I’ve read many many theories and help books.  I’ve even seen shifts in the theories.  All told, it’s an overwhelming crop of resources.  Check for yourself, google it.

So, for what it’s worth, these three books, below, are (IMHO) the best sources for getting a handle on ADHD: the good and the difficult, the whole bag.  They have a breadth and an easy to understand way of explaining what ADHD is and why; but they don’t talk down to you or oversimplify either.  They have a good scope – addressing ways that help and ways that hinder.  No one has the time to read everything, facing that flood of information can instantly stop many in their tracks.  So, for me, these three books are the top three, most helpful books I’ve read over eight years of dealing with ADHD in my family.

Check ’em out (and if you click on the picture it will take you to Amazon):

This book, ADHD, Living without Brakes, is a great concise overview of ADHD.  It explains the behavior(s) of those with ADHD in an easy to grasp and remember kind of way.  This book gives a great overview that pulls lots of research together and goes over it simply.  It’s sort of the best primer on ADHD that I’ve found.  It’s positive but not preachy; it’s realistic but not a stigmatized downer.  It’s pricey for it’s size, but it packs a worthwhile punch in information.  It’s sort of ADHD 101.  (Also good for handing out to teachers and/or family members who cannot figure out why your kid does what he/she does).


This book, Scattered, by Gabor Mate kind of took me by surprise.  A good friend had recommended it and I’d kind of stalled her on reading it.  I was busy, I didn’t think it really was going to be anything I hadn’t read before, etc etc.  Then she mentioned that the author also co-wrote this book, (which I also HIGHLY recommend for parenting kids as they grow, especially into teens, most excellent).  So, with that, I figured it was worth a look.

Turns out, it was SO much worth that look that I ordered two more copies of it, gave one to my son’s teacher and also ordered it on audio download so my husband could listen to it in the car. Yeah.  That good.  And kind of radical in that this was an approach that jived up with my recent sea changes in parenting.  This book goes into the physiological underpinnings of ADHD, in depth, but then it pulls out and explains (from the author’s first hand experience of having ADHD  himself) the hows and why’s of many behaviors and also gives real suggestions on how to work to address the child/adult as a whole  person with this way of functioning.  Meaning, if you can understand some of the whys underlying the behaviors, it’s easier and more targeted to get to either working with them or through them; conversely it’s an eye opener to appreciate some of the remarkable traits common to ADHD as well.  Instead of trying to parse out only the tough symptoms and treat each one, it takes the bigger view of what’s underneath and why.  Because that, the source, is where a more comprehensive approach needs to start.

And, yup, a good part of it comes down to attachment.  Go figure.  Not in every aspect.  But in  more than has been discussed before.  Which then leads me to my next book, one of my top parenting books, ever:

This book, The Connected Child,  is one of the best parenting books I’ve got.  And I’ve got  a LOT of great parenting books.  It is most commonly known, I believe, in adoption circles, and in the land of therapeutic parenting.  Who knew that it also applied to ADHD?  Well, it doesn’t list ADHD as it’s topic.  So don’t be all confused if you get the book and look in the index for ADHD…  But, if you have a child with ADHD, this book can make a huge difference in your understanding of that child.  Whether biological or adopted, this book can help you connect to your child.  Sounds simple…simplistic even?  Au contraire!  Not at all, and it is an intentional way of parenting that can do wonders for any child, biological, adopted, with needs or not.  So, this is not officially an ADHD book.  But it totally jives up w/ Mate’s book, Scattered, above, and it so IS an ADHD book.  In fact, the two rather function as a set, in a way, they complement each other…particularly as applied to living with ADHD.  So it’s on my short list.

Last note: None of these books advocate or oppose any one way of working with ADHD.  There is no ONE approach to dealing with it.  It is a complex thing, goods and toughs,  and takes a multi-layered approach.  And, {now stepping up on my own personal soapbox} anyone who says it’s “this way or the highway“?  Run, don’t walk, from that.  There is no one way to address this.  No magic bullet.  It’s an individual approach to dealing with things that need some help.  Some things work, some don’t.  In fact, it’s moving target…because things change.  So, best to read as much as you can so you’re informed and know options and some whys and hows.  Information is always better.  Try the books!