Category Archives: My Favorite Things

Rare Bird, a Book Review

Last June, I met the author of the book, ‘Rare Bird’ and blogger at ‘An Inch of Gray’, Anna Whiston-Donaldon. We were at a blogging conference, and she was sitting two women over from me wearing a strapless denim dress that I also owned. I asked her about her dress, and she laughed and said she had picked it up at a thrift store. Ah, I thought, someone I could be friends with. We chatted, and I remember remarking to my now friend sitting next to me how warm and friendly she seemed.

The next day, we sat next to each other in a class and we chatted. She talked about her soon to be released book, and I could hardly wait to get home and put it in my Amazon cart. And that’s exactly what I did. Like I said, this was in June, and I read the description of the book ‘On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions….’

Oh no. No, no, no.

‘Rare Bird’ was released in September, three months later, and I had pre-purchased it and received it the week it was released. I left it in the box for a week. Then, I moved it to a bedside table. Then, into my purse.

You see, I was terrified to read this book. Losing one of our children is my greatest fear, and I was hesitant to read it because it made me physically ill to think about Anna losing her son. And then my birthday came around the next month, and I wrote about my own trauma I’ve experienced in my life and about how I choose joy in spite of it all. Anna commented on my Facebook post about how choosing joy was a good lesson for all of us. She’s a wise one, that Anna.

So, I picked up her book and started reading. While I have never felt her grief, I have felt pain, and on some level, I believe that pain is universal. I’ve had several friends who have grieved the loss of their children, and I’ve never felt that I could say anything gracious enough to even matter.

When I read the book, I couldn’t help but cry, there’s no way around it. It was almost excruciating to read because I live with my guard up, as I believe most of us do, just waiting for the other shoe to drop and ruin our blissfully perfect existence. She is proof that the other shoe can and will drop.

She is also proof of resilience. This book is hauntingly beautiful and profound in a way that I have struggled to put words around. You can feel her pain as she writes through it, and yet, you can also see the bravery and grace she and her family gathers as they work to function as a family unit again. She openly discusses gratitude and regrets, reminding all of us to live in the present because life is so fleeting.

Every night since my children were born, I kiss them after they are asleep and cover them up with their favorite blanket. Every single one of those nights, as I close my eyes, kiss their foreheads, and inhale their sweet smell of soap, I thank God that we have been given one more day with them, and I pray that he watches over the parents that are unable to kiss their children good night because they are no longer there. Anna has been added to that list, and I pray that her words inspire you in the ways that they did for me.

If you or someone you know is, or has experienced grief, this is the book to read to know that you are not alone in your feelings. However, if you want to be inspired, you should read this book, as it left me with a sense of hope I haven’t felt in another book in a long time.

You can buy Rare Bird here: Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love

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Holiday Home Tour

I hosted a Christmas brunch the week after Thanksgiving. One of the women who came to our house, walked in and said to me, ‘You take Christmas very seriously.” I laughed, because it’s not even my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving is), but I do love decorating for the holidays!

My husband and I had a snow themed wedding almost eleven years ago. Because of this, everything seems to revolve around snow in our decorations. The amusing thing is that we have only seen snow where we live twice since we’ve been together. We have a few traditions during the holidays, including collecting Swarovski ornaments and silver and gold snow globes. One of my favorites decorations is our tree skirt embroidered with our monogram.

I think, though, one of my favorite traditions now has to be the holiday cards. One of the things I am sort of obsessed with is stationary and paper. Because of this, I was never happy with the cards I would buy, because I would always want to add a little extra ‘flair’ to them. So, I started making them. You can see in the pictures my process. I sketch out what I want, my husband scans it, and then formats it on the computer. Then, I add all of the glitter, rhinestones, and embossing to my hearts’ desire. The best part is that the kids get in on the action, and help to glitter and watercolor them, so it truly has become a family tradition.

This year, the theme of everything seemed to be ‘Joy’. I took it as signs that everywhere I turned had ‘joy’ decorations after the post I wrote about ‘choosing joy’ ran on the Huffington Post. So, this year, friends, I leave you with the words I wrote on our cards:

Choose joy, and be fearless,
for this is your life.
Live in the moment,
as it is fleeting a moment
as a freshly fallen snowflake

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Literary Gift Guide for the Women in Your Life

Are you still looking for gifts for the women in your life, but have no idea what to get? I’ve rounded up 12 books written by some of the wittiest, smartest women I know, all of which will make fabulous presents! Are you super pressed for time? Most of these can even be purchased as an e-book, no waiting required!

For the Foodie/Romantic in Your Life:
Eating Wildly by Ava Chin
http://amzn.to/1AfhCZd

For the Mothers of Toddlers/or Just a Mother of a Child of Any Age:
I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert
http://amzn.to/12Zj3Ab

People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann
http://amzn.to/1ziLXI3

I Just Want to Pee Alone by Some Kick Ass Mom Bloggers
http://amzn.to/1AfjtNN

I Just Want to Be Alone by Some Kick Ass Mom Bloggers (E-Book Only)
http://amzn.to/1AfjBN3

For the Cheeky and Witty Moms Who Don’t Have Much Time to Read:
Suburban Haiku by Peyton Price
http://amzn.to/1IVzFtm

The Big Book of Parenting Tweets by Kate Hall & the Science of Parenthood
http://amzn.to/1wCyzw9

For the Grieving Mother Who Needs Words of Comfort or Someone Who Needs Inspiration:
Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
http://amzn.to/13sfwuM

For Your Friend Who is About to be Married, or is a Newlywed:
The Bitch’s Bridal Bible by Alessandra Macaluso
http://amzn.to/12ZlfaS

Clash of the Couples by Some Very Brave Men and Women
http://amzn.to/1wCyM2k

For the Newly Pregnant Friend:
it’s REALLY 10 months by Natalie Buenther, Kim Schenkelberg, and Celeste Snodgrass
http://amzn.to/1GpJmhF

For The Friend Who Struggles Keeping it Together During the Holidays and Needs a Hearty Laugh:
Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays by Jill Smockler and Scary Mommy Contributors

http://amzn.to/1AfjNfm

 

MischiefandShenanigansBookList

Happy Holidays Everyone!!