Wednesday, May 27, 2015

So I thought my kids understood what a stranger was...

So if you a person who gets on Facebook at any point in your day I'm sure at this point you've seen the video where the guy walks up to the woman in the park as ask if he can approach her child as part of a social experiment and then he proves to her that her kid would come to him when offered looking at a puppy.  The first thing that came to mind when I watched this was of course the kid went with the guy, he is the child of a mother who would let some random stranger talk to her child after just saying, "Hey I'm doing a social experiment."  "Hey guy, I have an answer for you, heck no."  I don't see any paperwork, I don't know you, I can't be the only person who feels this way right?  Anyway I think I saw that video last week and felt totally judgmental about it, which just makes what happened Monday just even more ridiculous.  

So Monday evening I'm sitting out on the driveway watching Cheetah ride her bike.  Dr. J comes out and our oldest daughter starts complaining that I only let her ride her bike in our culdesac and the next one down and she wants to go to the park.  The park is probably only 10 or so houses away but it is a couple streets and the idea of my kids there alone makes me nervous.  Not so much that they will get kidnapped but there are often older kids playing basketball or making out and I worry someone might take their bikes, or they might see some kids going at it, or they could just get hurt, or whatever.  So right now I'm not entirely comfortable with my eight year old going down there to play alone, but we were outside and my husband is the opposite of a hoover parent and he told her it was fine.  While I was turning to shoot him a death stare the girl took off.  To say the least I wasn't happy so Captain E took off after her and then after looking at my face for about five seconds my husband went over there to keep an eye on them.  So that just left me and the Littles at home.  I wanted to start dinner so I brought Cheetah inside but Peach (almost six) was playing on our driveway so I left her outside with our garage door open.  I kept coming out and checking on her every few minutes and then like the third time I came out I could see her.

I called and called and called and all the sudden she pops out of a car in our four houses down neighbor's driveway.  It was the car of the daughter-in-law of our neighbor but we don't know her at all and when I saw that my heart jumped into my throat.  I calmly called her again and brought her into the house.  I was not happy but I was trying to keep it together until her dad got home.  When he walked in the door I explained the situation and we decided that another family council on stranger danger was needed.  So while eating dinner we started in about the danger of strangers.

Here are some things we learned from our daughter.

1) Bunnies trump apparently everything.  The lady had a baby bunny in her hand and Peach thought that was  a great reason to get in the car.

2) Other kids normalize situations..."But her son was in the car, why couldn't I be?"

3) My daughter doesn't think people she's meet are strangers.  If you've ever read the Child Whisperer Peach is a Fun-loving Type 1 child to a T.  Everyone is her friend.  We were in the grocery store last week and she hugged a little girl in the other self check out aisle before we left.  I asked, "Do you guys know each other from school?"  "No," she said, "We are just new friends."  And that is how my daughter goes through life.  Our move is just an opportunity for her to expand her friendship circle, if we go to a party she knows no one at these people are all going to be friend with her, she believes that everyone will like her immediately and for the most part she's right.  She is very pleasant and is very outgoing.  The problem is though she thinks if she has walked up and said hello to you and you have exchanged names you are now best buds because everyone is her best bud.

So that is kind of what we were working with here.  We went over again that we do not go with strangers.  We went over again that strangers are people that your family doesn't know.  We went over the fact that we never ever get into a car or follow after a person (even if it is someone we know because it became obvious to us that Peach's definition of stranger was just not going to change) unless we had talked to mom or dad and they had okay-ed the move, even if they had a puppy, even if they were asking for help, even if they had a baby bunny.  We went over the fact that we don't take candy or food from people unless we've talked to our parents first.

And this is when G Bear asked, "Why can't we go with strangers?"
"Well they could be trying to kidnap or hurt you?"
"Why would they do that?"
"Well sometimes people want to hurt kids?"
"Hurt kids how?  Break their bones?  What?  What will they do?"

J and I give each other a look.  We've had conversations about abuse with our kids before.  I don't want to get too personal here but in my family growing up we learned the hard way that you can't always trust the people who should be taking care of you so we've made sure that our kids understand about good touch/bad touch, about what is their private parts, about who is allowed to touch them (themselves, the doctor when mom or dad are in the room, when they are little mom or dad real quick during bath time but when they are older this "honor" returns to just them.)  We've explained to them that no adult or child, family member, friend, stranger has the right to touch those parts and that if someone does or tries to that they need to tell us as soon as they can even if that person has tried to turn it into a secret or made a threat because people touching a child's private parts is not OK and that person "needs our help" so that they will stop.  What I really want to say is that that person needs a kick in the balls by my foot but we read somewhere that sometimes when an abuser is family  or a family friend kids will feel guilty about turning them in so we've tried to keep it a more neutral thing than your mom will rip the skin off their face.

So we've talked about this before but these are hard concepts to grasp when you are a child, when you don't have a basic understanding about sexuality, what is normal, what is not, what is legal, what is not, what is moral, what is not.  Talking to children about sexuality is a balancing act I think that even with four kids I just don't feel like I've completely mastered yet.  Lord help me as we enter the teenage years and please help Peach remember to ask mom before jumping into people's cars...especially one's her mother considers a stranger.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

When I mow the lawn...

I am doing it only out of love for you.  I know there are some people who enjoy mowing the lawn or are so controlling they won't let anyone else do it, but I'm not one of those people.  I never saw my mother mow a lawn in her life.  I'm not saying she hasn't done it, I just don't ever remember her doing it.  Maybe it is because most of my life we lived in apartments or maybe it is because our lawns that didn't have sprinklers weren't much of a lawn or maybe it's because the one time we did have a house with a small back piece of lawn maybe 8 by 15 feet we had a step dad that went with that house that mowed.  I remember the one time he was going to let me mow the lawn.  It is hard to remember back now if this was a "let me" or "force me" situation.  I know it is hard to believe with how diplomatic I am now (uh huh....) but the years of 11-15 were pretty rough in my house.  So this may have been a punishment or maybe I just thought it would be cool to do it.  He made me go inside and put shoes on.  Ok that makes sense because I was most likely barefoot or wearing flip flops, so closed toed shoes I went in to find.  Then he made me find a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt.  Sure I had them because I spent 11-13 in an alternative funk following bands who lived in the Pacific Northwest where lumber jack shirts would be totally appropriate, but usually I only wore them in the winter when it was like 70 or from air condition room, to air conditioned car, to air conditioned room.  But here I was, the middle of summer, shoes on my feet, jeans on, a long sleeved plaid shirt and then he handed me the googles.  My step dad always mowed the lawn with protective eye wear.  PROTECTIVE EYE WEAR PEOPLE!  I've worked in a lab, I've taken plenty of chem classes, I understand the importance of protecting your eyes, but I am not going to wear googles outside in the middle of an Arizona summer.  I swear it was like noon, but honestly it was probably like 8 am and already stiffing.  It is hard for me to remember accurately though because I also had a pair of man sized garden gloves on he insisted I wear and I couldn't have seen a watch had I wanted to.  I'm also almost 100% sure our mower did not have a motor assist on it.  I was dying.  I think I did about two rows, said I was done, walked away from the mower and threw and the gloves and googles down never to be picked up again.

So when we moved to this house and were suddenly responsible for our new overly lush lawn I just expected you would always take care of it, and usually you do, but the thing with the weather here is about 1/3 of the year our law is mush.  So sometimes on the days you were home there was no way to mow and then it would be like another 14 days before you'd be home again and meanwhile our yard was turning into a jungle.  So one day when the yard was terrible and I just didn't know what else to do, I put some tennis shoes on and I pulled the mower out.  Since that moment I'm the back up mower, although depending on how the month is going (I've done the last three mows in a row) I might actually be the number one mower.  I don't wear protective eye wear, I don't wear gloves, I have a mower that has a little motor that helps pull it along, and I live in state that while it may get a \hot in the summer stays in temperatures that can support human life.  I like being outside although I don't particularly enjoy mowing.  The grass sometimes makes me eyes itch.  I'm always a little freaked out about hitting a rock and blinding myself, I think we all know why.  It can be hot.  I'm worried about running over baby bunnies.  I actually do a baby bunny check about three feet ahead of the mower as I go.  I hate mowing behind our fence.  It is bumpy and scary and frankly opening that back gate takes almost herculean strength.  I do it because I love you.  Each time I mow that lawn I am mowing into the grass: I love you, I care about you, I want to make your load lighter, I want to give you a little bit more free time.  At least that is what I'm saying until Captain E get's enough girth on him to push the mower himself.  Then I'm kicking this job on to him :)  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduation Pics

In the next two weeks we have two residency graduations to attend.  Can you even believe there is such a thing?  Well there is and if you do fellowship there is one then as well, and if you do another piece to fellowship there is one after that as well, but luckily we are stopping here so there are only these two that I have to drag myself too.  I hate graduations, all of them, with maybe the exception of my kid's preschool graduation because your own preschooler in a graduation cap is adorable, but besides that I hate them all.  I'm not entirely sure when this hatred started.  I know I went to my high school graduation relatively happy.  I went to my sister's high school graduation relative happy.  I decided I didn't really want to go to my own graduation so instead walked with Dr. J at his.  I think it was around this time that I started to realize that graduations are SO BORING!  Please graduation speakers spare us the positive life lessons.  If I want to be uplifted I'll watch a Disney movie or read a cat poster.  I don't want to hear about how we are all just going to go out there and conquer, that today is our day.  Get up at tell a few jokes.  Sit down.  And then the name reading...don't get me started on the name reading.  No clapping until the end they say, but of course people clap, of course it the name reader pauses for them.  It makes me crazy.  This is when I really start to hate my last name.  If my name was Adams I could get my diploma, walk off the stage and keep going to the parking lot but name is far back in the alphabet so instead I just have to sit and listen and stand in line, stand in a never ending line that only get longer because people always clap.  I hate graduation.  The years of usher graduations for the education department as part of my college job only added to my bitterness.

When Dr. J told me that we had not one but two graduations to attend I pleaded, I yelled, I begged to get out of it.  "It is a free dinner at a fancy event with me!" the man said. "Can't we just go to Saint Elmos?" I responded.  When my mother in law called to let me know they were coming I asked if it would be ok if I just stayed home with the kids.  She lovingly told me I wasn't being very supportive and that this was a culmination of all of our hard work.  First off I'd like to point out that I'm pretty sure the 13 years of actually being supportive during my husbands long path of higher education are proof enough that I'm very supportive.  Secondly I told her the culmination of all our hard work for me is going to come that second we get our first pay check.  I'm to cash that thing into cash, bring it home, stand on top of my bed and throw all that money into the air until it rains cash.  That is the moment I'm waiting for.  This sitting at a dinner, listening to talks about going out and seizing the moment, listening to names read off that is just going to be a moment of torture for me.

My friend whose husband is doing psychiatry said each of the graduates is going to do a little speech at his.  Thank goodness there are way too many pediatric or internal medicine residents to do that, because there is only so much thanks I can take in one night.  As is in the pediatric resident graduation they wanted each graduate to pick 3-6 pictures to send in for a slide show to represent his time living here during residency.  Dr. J asked me to pick a few for him.  I sent him six figuring he could pic his favorites.  Here were my choices....

We have lots of pictures in Kenya but only a very few as a whole family and of those whole family shots it is really hard to tell for the most part where we are.  I like this equator one though because it is pretty darn obvious and less you think I'm just being a little bragging about the trip the Kenya trip is actually done through the University of Indiana.  It is actually the reason we wanted to come here and we are so thankful we had the opportunity to do it!

This one same deal only it has elephants in it.  I doubt he will pick it but I liked it because this is fatherhood.  I have traveled all over with this man carrying our children on his shoulders.

This picture is from Indiana Dunes my absolutely favorite spot in Indiana!  I've been up there three times and love it more each time.  I thought this picture was fun because it shows a little of Dr. J's nature.

This picture was taken at Clifty Falls another one of our favorite spots in Indiana.  They have cool fossils here.  This is the spot my kids became true fossil hounds!
This is at the Museum of Art.  It is a pretty recognizable landmark for our city so I figured I'd give the city a little love.  Also this particular graduation is being held here.  This museum used to be free which was totally amazing.  It has since raised it's adult prices to $18 a ticket.  The grounds are still free though, have tons of statues, and are worth a visit!

The final picture was a Dr. J pick.  It happened while we were in the program and it the only reason we were even there was because of the program so take that, one of my favorite days of the year, an eight mile walking tour of London with four kids!

So enjoy these pictures...hopefully these will be a bright spot for me as I white knuckle it through graduation :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DIY Near Catastrophe

I'm starting to feel like DIY projects are cursed.  You know those blogs devoted to DIY projects, how do those people stay married.  I  mean seriously?  In the last month we have replaced our dishwasher, we framed our bathroom mirrors, we replaced faucets, every doorknob in our house, replaced a bunch of boards on the treehouse, repainted most of the house and baseboards, put new mulch in our garden beds, did a ton of weeding, replaced the bathroom floor, and the the kitchen and every project was exhausting.  It isn't to say these weren't doable, they just took way longer than we thought they would, they were always fraught with mishap, and there were times when we wanted to kill each other.  It is like every project was cursed.  Yesterday just proved to be more of the same.  We had a roof tile that had flown off in a storm.  The insurance guy came out and said we should just replace it, it was going to cost $300.  So J went to the hardware store and got some roof tiles, nails, a roof cement.  I'm pretty sure it cost $30.  But then he just didn't have the time.  He's been really busy trying to get all his graduation stuff put together and then getting ready for his new job while of course doing his old job, well things have just been busy.  So he hasn't had time to get around to it.  I mentioned this to my friend on Saturday.  Her husband had fixed tiles on their house before they sold it and when he heard J had been so swamped he offered to come over.

So yesterday he showed up at my house at nine.  He grabbed the supplies and headed up onto the roof and everything was good until he had to come back down the ladder to get a second tile and that friends is when I watched my friends husband fall from the roof of our second story to the roof of our first store.  It was horrifying.  Slow motion I saw the ladder start to slip, he grabbed for anything he could get his hand the gutter start to bend, he feel through the air, hit the the roof, started to slide and then the ladder came down on him.  The crazy thing folks is he got back up, wiped himself off and climbed back up on the roof to get the supplies.  He then came back down only this time we chatted for about twenty minutes first.  I think we were both a little shaken, can you blame him, before he attempted the dissent.  He made it back down the first story roof and then fixed a tile there that had torn when the ladder came tumbling down.  He then told me he was retiring from roofing and I told him I was retiring from DIY.  Seriously people I think we are cursed.  My friend ended up with scrapped up arms and probably a sore back, the roof ended up with some discolored tiles (turns out J picked up the wrong color that depending on the inspector we might still have to pay someone to replace), our gutters got bent,and our siding got scratched.  Let's all be grateful that he didn't fall all the way, that he didn't break something, or impale himself on a light fixture.  Still though, cursed people, done with DIY, that is all!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Can I Have A Moment To Geek Out

Please allow me a moment to geek out.  I was a teenager in the 90's and my absolute favorite show was the X-files.  I had to tape it because my mom was refusing to let us watch TV on Sundays at the time, but at least we had a TV so maybe I should stop complaining....because there were a lot of years when we didn't even have one.  Sometimes I feel like when I watch what is popular now with mom bloggers that my mom was probably just 20 years ahead of her time.  Anyway I use to record those episodes and sneak them when I could.  Then when Captain E was a baby I got my hands on all the dvds from the library and watched the seasons again.  X-files is now on Netflix and so I've watched them all a third time, but the thing with series you love is after awhile you get sad that there is nothing new, so that is why today I was so excited when I saw that Fox is doing 6 brand new episodes of the X-files.  Look I think Fox is pretty much of the devil but for six more episodes of the X-files I'll drop my standards for a month and a half.  This is going to make my January!

While we are talking about media I'm looking forward too, can I also mention Southern Rites.  I saw an interview with John Legend on John Stewart where he was talking about this documentary he produced.  Dr. J and I love documentaries and the HBO ones are intense.  This one is about the desegregation of prom in 2010 at Montgomery County High School, 2010 people, 2010!  In 2009 Gillian Laub went to Montgomery County and filmed the segregate proms.  You can read about it here if you are curious.  I just don't have patience to deal with this kind of stuff and the people who think it is no big deal.  If this story was just about Prom it would still be a pretty big deal but it turns out that while Gillian was in Montgomery filming for the project a young unarmed man was killed in the county.  I know people are sick of hearing about this sort of stuff.  They've started to tune it out.  They look for justifications about why people deserve to be shot.  They rant and rave about riots and federal oversight instead of taking a deep look to see if there might be some deeper underlying illnesses that we need to take care of.  They post news feeds on their Facebook about how the first American slave owner was black as if that in some way justifies the history that follows.  News flash people, it doesn't.  Stop trying to justify.  Listen, make yourself vulnerable, ask the tough questions.  If you are personally guiltless then look around in your community and see if there is something there that you can put pressure on to fix.

I know it is rough to have empathy for people outside yourself or people you aren't related to but it's important.  In the US we spend 74 billion dollars a year because we fail, we all fail, to bring people into productive society.  Did you know that in this country while only 30% of the population is of color that they make up about 60% of the incarcerated Americans.  The incarceration rates for men goes like this, 1:15 for African Americans, 1:36 for Hispanic men, 1:106 for white men.  Ask yourself seriously, do you believe that there is something inherent to not being white that makes people more likely to be criminal?  Do you really believe that?  Would it shock you to know that the majority of people go to prison for drug offenses?  Would it shock you to know that the rates of drug use and sales is pretty even across the board for whites, blacks and Hispanics and yet people of color are arrested at a much higher frequency, are incarcerated at a much higher frequency, and are given much more severe sentences for the exact same crimes.  Would it surprise you to know that studies have been done that find that people of color are much less likely to get job interviews or jobs even when presenting the same qualifications as whites?  Would it surprise you to know that at all levels of education blacks and Hispanics are paid less.

I got this nifty graph from from the article "Does Race or Gender Matter More to your Paycheck" by Deborah Ashton.  There is lots of research done on this though and if you listen to NPR or the BBC you'll often be lucky to hear about it without having to search journals but it is there so it's not like it isn't easily accessible.  Would it surprise you to learn that schools of low income children, the ones most likely full of black and Hispanic kids get less money?  So basically children in Title I schools who probably could use the extra support aren't getting it because their districts have less money to spend on teachers.  Would is surprise you to know that banks are less likely to give African Americans and Hispanics home loans or small business loans.  Across the board time and time again research shows that when we control for all other factors race still plays a role on how good the education you get will be, how many opportunities you will have, and ultimately what type of life you will have.  When you say stuff like this people want to throw out guys like Ben Carson or Alfredo Quinones and they will say, "These guys made it, why can't the rest of you?"  And you know what I have to say to those people, those guys worked hard, and were amazing, and were just fraking lucky?  Do you work that hard?  Are you that amazing?  Were you that lucky?  The truth is very few of us were or are but the reasons those cases stand out is because they were able to overcome what is obviously a system problem.  People we have a system problem.  We are not responsible for the things of the past.  As my cousin so tactlessly pointed out this week, "Our family never owned anyone."  And you know what, she's probably right.  But even if our family had owned someone we personally don't own that autrocity.  But the atrocity that we do own is that the research is all around us that our system is broken and yet we refuse to admit that and I'm telling your right now if we can't open our eyes to face it we certainly aren't ever going to be able to fix it.  So I'm going to watch Southern Rites and I'm going to keep my eyes open and while I can't do anything about the past I'm sure as hell going to do something about the present and future.  If you want to live in denial land I can't do anything to stop you but living denial isn't going to make the problems go away.  And just an FYI if you happen to listen to a particular "News" station (I say news loosely here, Dr. J personal thinks we should have federal oversight that forces them to just call themselves the Conservative Daily Show because news is a little misleading) that denies all the research in pretty much the whole academic community it might be time to ask yourself, "Do these people have an agenda?"  I'm just saying.....

April Books 25-31

My reading slowed down a bit this month.  I blame the fact that I been working on my house a ton but you can also throw in the fact that after two months of having no Netflix I caved and we have it again.  My reading is definitely take a hit.  Take for example the fact that we are almost mid May and I've only finished one book, granted it was almost 600 pages but the thing was written for 12 year olds so you think I'd have gotten through it faster.  I need to get a move on.

The Program -Suzzane Young
So this is another one of your dystopian romances.  At this time in teen suicides have grown so high that something like 1/3 of all teenagers are killing themselves.  To combat this problem the government/ the school district starts a program where any kid who "catches" depression is sent to a program where they are wiped clean.  They don't remember their friends or really who they are.  Anything the program deems a trigger they take.  Sloane is acutely aware of the risk on both sides.  Her brother killed himself and she feels she is not properly able to mourn because her parents are constantly looking for signs that she needs to be sent to the program.  Her best girlfriend was sent to the program and no longer remembers any of them.  Sloane is trying to hold it together until another friend of hers kills himself and her boyfriend spirals into depression and is sent to the program.  This book was ok, not the worst but certainly not the best YA out there.  This is a series and I will probably not bother reading any of the rest.  One of the shockers for me there is actual sex in this book.  It isn't like graphic detailed sex but it is there, think the last Twilight book.  You sort of get used to YA taking it right to the edge but then pulling back.  I guess I just expect it.  I don't really know why I think that is the case, considering I think it's something like 80-90% of teenagers are no longer virgins when they leave high school, but since these books are often read by a much younger crowd I can of expect them to stay relatively clean.

The Color of Grace: How One Woman's Brokenness Brought Healing and Hope to Child Survivors of War - Bethany Williams
So spoiler alert here Bethany Williams brokenness comes from the fact that she thinks she picked her spouse badly when she married young and then she cheated on him, a fact that she was forced to admit to her whole church.  In that fact I had a really hard time feeling bad for her.  Infidelity is like my number one pet peeve.  It just is.  We live in a time of no fault divorces.  If you don't love someone anymore, if you think you want to love someone else get out of that marriage.  Give your spouse a break.  Don't drag them down into this drama, so I came in a little irritated at her, but after she decides that being married and the 2.4 kids is probably not for her Dr. Williams, a licensed psychologist (doesn't that just make it worse) decides to travel to Africa to spend time with woman and war affected children.  At first she just wants to help but as she spends more time with girls who have been wrapped and kept as slaves and boys who lived as child soldiers, many of them forced to kill their parents or other young children who are disobedient she resolves to start a curriculum to be used to help children dealing with psychological trauma the world over as well as try and fight to stop War Lord violence.  I was never able to fully relate to Dr. Williams, I understand everyone makes mistakes and that I too am a sinner, I just struggle with this issue a lot, but I did appreciate the work she was doing.  One of the things she points out during her travels is that she was witnessing some of the worst human suffering imaginable and something she noticed is that contrary to the US where many people blame God for suffering of question God's existence during times of trouble these people living sort of the lowest of the low lives instead just see God as hope and a place to turn with all their troubles.  I've thought on that all month what it is that makes those of us blessed with such abundance so incredibly undeserving of such.  I resolved to try and be a little more grateful and to try and be a little more helpful.

Unbecoming - Rebecca Scherm
I don't want to go into too much detail on this book, because it is one of those stories that is suppose to throw a wrench in what you think you know, so I'm just going to say this, there is a girl names Grace working in Paris restoring antiques going by the name Julie.  She has a past.  You are going to find it out.  She is never really likable.  The end.

A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France - Miranda Richmond Mouillot
This is the story of a family of the long lasting effects of the Holocaust and World War II.  This is the story of how one girl's childhood even though it is the second generation since is profoundly effected.  This is the story of a young girl trying to figure out why her grandparents haven't spoken in 50 years.  I've been watching this show Land Girls recently which while not entirely historically accurate (apparently there was quite a uproar about the military uniforms accuracy) has gotten me thinking about what life during World War II was like and how things like marriage, dating, morality did such an abrupt shift and men were constantly leaving home to fight and die and woman were left trying to scratch a living together, take care of children, and often leaving the home to work jobs that previously had only been available to men.  Throw in a bunch of GI's from foreign countries and a little fear and it no surprise that the world drastically shifted at this time.  Anyway Miranda really wants to understand her grandparents and why their marriage failed so explosively that they will not speak to each other at all.  She goes to France to live in a house they had owned together when newly married after the war, reads all the history she can find on them and tries to squeeze out any information she can from them.  In the end I don't know if she found the answers she was searching for or not, but war is terrible and what happened to the Jews at that time changed the world forever.  

Guantanamo Diary - Mohamedou Ould Slahi
So I listened to this via digital form while I was painting my bedroom and it drove the rest of the house batty whenever they'd come in because it was constantly saying the word redacted, but here is the deal, this is the only diary written to be published by a prisoner still imprisoned in Guantanamo bay.  If everything in it is true it is pretty horrific and I think actually there has been some confirmation that a lot of this information is true from FBI interrogators and translators who left Guantanamo because they felt that what was being done there was immoral and entirely unhelpful. There are bad people in the world, people need to be locked up, and I understand trying to get intelligence information can be very important to stopping future crimes but what our country is doing right now, well honestly it is shocking.  Definitely not something I think our Founding Fathers would be proud of at all.  

The Memory Place: A Memoir - Mira Bartok
I hated the ending of this book, just did not like it at all.  First off if you've read The Glass Castle, you've pretty much read this story.  Mira Bartok's mother is schizophrenic and her childhood and adult life in relationship to dealing with her mother pretty much suck because of it.  Eventually she feels like for safety she has to cut all ties.  I'm not saying I blame her for that.  In fact in lot of ways I understand.  Dealing with someone who is mentally ill can be exhausting and the laws in our country and the support systems just leave a lot to be desired.  So cutting your homeless mom off, well it can seem heartless to people from the outside but sometimes it is the only option left to people.  That part I got.  What I didn't like was that at the end of their mothers life when she had cancer and they came back to sort of see her to the end of her life and clean out her storage unit, after she passed the daughters pretty much invited everyone to the funeral, excepted all the sympathy started telling everyone that they should help homeless people because it might be someone like their mother, it just went on and on and I just found that part so frustrating.  It seemed selfish to me, you throw your mom away pretty much but then when she is dying and dead you want all the sympathy for having a mother who lived like your mother, I just don't think you get to have it both ways.  Lots of people liked it, thought it was deeply moving.  I just think you'd be better off reading The Glass Castle.  Feel free to consider me heartless.

The Witch of Black Bird Pond - Elizabeth Speare 
This is one of my all time favorite books.  I can't even tell you how many times I've read it or when I first read it...maybe I was 12?  I was walking through the library last month with my kids though and I saw it on a display case.  I picked it up, entirely just expecting to look at it and put it down but then I opened it up and started reading and I had to bring it home again.  16 year old Kit moves to Connecticut from Barbados after her grandfather dies to live with the only family she has left, an aunt and uncle she has never met and two teenage cousins.  She sticks out in the Puritan community with spirit and her satin gowns and soon catches the eye of the wealthiest man in town but she is headstrong and wild and quickly forms friendships with an abused girl and an outcast Quaker woman, friendships that lead to anger from the townspeople.  How is this book not a movie.  It would seriously be the best!


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