And now I’m back

Oh hi there! How are you? Me? Oh, I’m fine, thanks. Now that I’ve finally finished all three books in The Hunger Games Trilogy. I read them on my iPad. I don’t know how many pages the books were, but on the iPad, all three books totaled 15, 215 pages. I swiped my iPad screen 15, 215 times in the last four days.

My eyes hurt.

Yep. I took the plunge. I started The Hunger Games Saturday night and I finished the third book, Mockingjay, last night around midnight. I have done absolutely nothing in between those times. Except turn thirty-four, which I largely ignored anyway, so no big deal.

So my take on the books: I was skeptical when I went in to the series. I didn’t want to like it but, alas, I did like it. I had to fight through the first five chapters of the first book, which I found to be painfully boring. I almost gave it all up, but once the story finally picked up, I was hooked.

From a story standpoint, the books were great. There was a love triangle, lots of action and fantastic descriptions that pulled me right into the world of Panem. I could see it and smell it and feel the terror of it all.

That is great storytelling.

My suspicions that it isn’t the most grammatically sound piece of literature were correct, but I see the freedom that the author took with creative license and I could appreciate it. There were a few paragraphs that were overly fragmented in my opinion and a couple of times I laughed out loud at the, perhaps, overly judicious use of creative license, but overall I understood why she wrote the book the way she did and why an editor didn’t change it.

About half-way through the book I started to feel a bit squicky about the idea of watching the movie. There was this nagging idea that the author was making a pretty braod social statement, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. But all I could think was that The Hunger Games were meant to be a thing of entertainment. People from the Capitol watched children killing each other as a means to entertain themselves.

Doesn’t it seem odd that we would want to watch the movie in that context?

By the end of the series, though, I got it – I saw exactly where the author wanted to lead us, which made watching the movie version of the book less offensive to me (though I still don’t know if I’ll see it). The Hunger Games is supposed to be an allegory of war. It’s a loose allegory and I think it’s meant to be an extreme picture on purpose.

We send young people into battle and they have to fight to the death with the knowledge that really, there can only be one victor. But in the battle, the good guys and the bad guys get muddied and soon, everyone kind of looks alike, because the battle for survival makes us all act in desperation.

Just as in a war, the end results of The Hunger Games are devastating. The victor is never the same, having seen and done things that are unspeakable. The families of the victims are forever left without their child and every community is ultimately affected with the horror of it all.

But who is the Capitol supposed to represent? This is something I had a hard time figuring out. Maybe it’s not a representation of any one thing or group of people, but on occasion I got a vague sense that maybe the Capitol was supposed to represent America and it felt a bit underhanded.

Other times, however, that didn’t seem to be the case at all.

In the end, it was one more story that leads us to believe that the only answer is a sort of Utopian society, where a new race of peace loving people is the only hope for the world. A nice thought, I suppose.

But in the end it’s all just fiction, isn’t it?

So what do you think? I realize I’m roughly two years late to this conversation. I’m edgy like that.

*eye roll*

In all honestly, though, before I read the books I truly had no idea what they were about so I’ve read nothing on the subject. What message did you take from The Hunger Games?

About the book

I’ve been hard at work on my book lately. I’m not going to finish it by June, but I’ve got momentum going now so I fully intend to finish by the end of the summer. Want to read a little more?

For some context here is Sneak Peek Part One, Part Two and Part Three. You have now met three out of the five characters. Today I will introduce you to the final two characters. Maria is becoming one of my favorite stories to write and it shouldn’t come as a surprise because her story is based on the story of a woman I knew and loved in Ukraine.

Maria’s story inspired this book.

Fourteen-year-old Maria and her brother, Sergei, are the oldest and the youngest of Ivan, who you met in Sneak Peek Two. Sergei has joined the Red Army and without him, Maria feels lost. Ivan has survived Babi Yar with his life, but emotionally and mentally he is failing. Maria longs for her brother and this passage has become a sweet moment for my characters as Maria escapes to the confines of her memory.

A particular memory keeps folding over me. The bitter, biting cold of January pushes the sun beyond the hill overlooking the Dneiper River earlier each night, and I find myself overcome with this one moment in time. I can’t escape it and so I have given myself to it. The shadows of night make fighting too difficult.

Tonight is no exception.

I’m eight years old again and we’ve gone to our dacha for the summer. The dacha – our happy place. On this particular day I wake up early and tiptoe outside to watch the sun lift up over the small lake settled at the back of our property. My long gown soaks up the morning dew and I shiver against the chill of daybreak.

As I come out of the trees into the clearing, I see him. His back is to me, long and thin, always stretching out and up. I don’t speak but the rustle of my feet in the moist leaves reveals my presence and he turns, his thin face breaking into a smile.

“What are you doing here?” he says and gestures me to come sit.

“I wanted to say good morning to the sun,” I reply and he laughs. I have always loved his laugh and even now, as I listen to it dance through my mind, I feel a smile spread slowly.

“Well, sit,” he says, and together we drop onto the banks of the lake, the rocky soil digging into the backs of our legs. I look at him, my brother, and I am completely at peace.

“Sergei?” I ask.

He turns and looks at me, his thick eyebrows raised. In this memory he is more boy than man. At twelve years old, he didn’t feel that much older, but then Sergei never did feel too old for me. Anna, on the other hand, has always seemed to be light years ahead of me in maturity despite only being two years older.

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” I ask.

Sergei takes in a deep breath and looks back out over the lake. A thin layer of orange and pink is beginning to pull up over the horizon. Daybreak is coming and our solitude will quickly slip away. I find myself wishing then and there that the sun would never rise. If only I could have frozen us on the bank of the lake for all of eternity.

If only…

“Don’t know,” Sergei says with a smile.

“You don’t know?!” I ask incredulously. “How do you not know? It’s very important to know.”

Sergei laughs again. Magic. “Well, I just don’t know yet,” he says with a grin. “Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?”

I open my mouth to answer, then snap it shut. Afraid.

“I don’t want to tell you,” I finally answer and Sergei gives me a gentle push. “See, you don’t know either,” he says with a laugh.

“I do know!” I protest. “But you can’t tell anyone yet.”

Sergei nods. “Okay,” he says and he means it. My Sergei always keeps his promise. Taking a deep breath I lift a small handful of sand and pebbles and toss them into the water, watching as a hundred droplets form rings that pierce the sheer glass of its surface. The strip of orange is getting brighter. Morning dawns.

“I want to join the circus. I want to be an acrobat.” I don’t look at him while I say this and I wait for him to laugh at me. I know I can’t even turn a cartwheel, but I truly believe acrobatics are my destiny.

Sergei is silent for a moment and I fear he is just laughing too hard to answer. Slowly I peek at him, barely turning my head. He isn’t laughing. Instead he stares intently at the rising sun. Now that she has broken the surface of the horizon it seems she is racing toward her perch in the sky. Time sped up – never slowing down.

“Okay,” he says, his eyes narrow and serious.

“Okay, what?” I ask.

“I think you should do it. I think you should plan to join the circus as an acrobat.”

I narrow my own eyes and study his profile seriously. “Are you making fun of me?” I ask evenly.

Sergei turns and looks at me, his eyes a little deeper and different. The sunlight gleams in the dark parts of his eyes swirling with an intensity that I’ve never seen before.

“Masha, you can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. You’re good and you’re a fighter. I believe you can do it…if you want to.”

We study one another for a quiet moment then he turns to look at the sky again. The colors reach from left to right as far as our eyes can see, vibrant, full and brilliant. The golden orb hangs above, giving forth the heat that will ultimately dry the grass and give way to a day of grace filled memories. I lean gently into my beloved brother and sigh.

“Thank you,” I say with a small smile.

Sergei is quiet briefly before responding. “When I grow up, Masha,” he says softly, “I will make sure that you can do and be whatever you want. That’s what I want to do.”

©Kelli Stuart 2012

Have a great day, friends. I leave tomorrow for Tanzania! Eeeek!

It’s Not Your Mama’s Wizard of Oz

The kids and I finished the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz today, much to their awe and delight. There is only one other book that we’ve read this year that has captivated their attention as much as this one and that was The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles.

This was my first time to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, too, so I was equally excited to dig in HOWEVER…

This may be the first time in the HISTORY OF ALL TIME that I liked a movie better than a book. Maybe because the movie is such a classic? But the book was a classic first, thus necessitating the need for the movie so what we’re left with here is a chicken or the egg situation.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was good, for sure. It was exciting and, for the most part, was very similar to the movie except for, ya know, the morbid violence and word pictures that left my six year old looking at me with saucer eyes and mouth hung open wide.

Do you know how the Tin Man became a Tin Man? The wicked witch put a spell on his axe so that every time he tried to chop something HE CUT OFF ONE OF HIS LIMBS. The local tin maker replaced each amputated limb with one of tin until, finally, the Tin Man cut off his own head and wound up being a man made entirely of tin.


Read that to your kids while they eat breakfast and see what happens. It’s fun.

Or there’s the part when the Wicked Witch of the West sees the four travellers (and her little dog, too) making their way to her palace and she sends out wolves with the command to tear them to pieces. Never fear, though. The Tin Man chops off the heads of every wolf that lunges forward until he is, at last, standing upon a pile of severed bodies and dismembered heads.

This is the part where Tia wonders if she really wants to see the movie.

But wait there’s more!

While traveling to Glinda’s palace in the South to (hopefully) (fingers crossed) return Dorothy to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Kansas, the band of misfits runs into a most peculiar group of little men called The Quadlings. These men refuse to to let the group cross over the mountain that stands between them and Glinda and when they try, The Quadlings who, naturally, don’t have any arms, detach their heads from their bodies and fling them at the trespassers with brute force and might, bruising the now courageous lion and knocking the stuffing out of the Scarecrow.

Landon was all, “Wait…dey TAKE OFF DERE HEADS AND HIT DEM?!”

To which Sloan replied, “COOL!” and Tia looked at me with saucer eyes again.

I promised the kids we would watch the movie one morning next week to celebrate finishing the book. I also promised that we would not witness the dismemberment of a single person…well, except the Scarecrow. But I’d rather let them be surprised. Tia wasn’t sure about the movie, though, so I sweetened the deal with a promise of green popcorn (in honor of the Emeral City, of course) and lots of candy.

This should be fun.

Image Credit

The eyes to see

Like a petal dancing on the wind, the theme of Grace has been floating across the internet this past year.  Everywhere you look, people are seeing it, feeling it and living it.


Grace is not a movement.  Grace has simply always been.  Grace hasn’t changed or altered or moved. Grace has been dancing for us for all of eternity – we just haven’t always seen it.  But it isn’t fair for me to speak of you, for perhaps you have seen it.  Perhaps only I have missed it.


In the past two months, our life has changed drastically.  The known has been replaced with the unknown and the comforts of predictability have been stripped away.  Filled with fear and doubt, we’ve moved forward with faltering steps, our eyes truly open for the first time.


It’s always been there, just waiting for me to see it.  A sunrise over the dark waters, bursting forth the light of day.  Grace. A palm tree swaying and bending in the stormy winds, a sign of water coming to renew the ground.  Grace. A bird singing, a lizard racing and the pealed laughter of children with eyes wide to Grace.  All these things were here.

And I can finally see.

Ann’s book opened my eyes.  Her blog moves my heart.  And I looked, not only in nature, but at man – God’s most glorious creation.  Grace.

I sat on the plane last week, my head and my ears tight.  The cabin pressure left me with a headache and I could never quite get my ears cleared.  As we descended, the man across the aisle leaned over.  “Would you like a piece of gum?” he asked, a kind and understanding smile on his face.  I accepted gratefully.


Standing up to deplane, I watched the man in front of me help an elderly woman with her bag.  He pulled it down and as she reached for it, he shook his head.  “I’ll get it off the plane for you, ma’am,” he said.


Life is full of Grace…when you’re watching for it.  And in the looking, another miracle takes place.  Life slows down. As a mother, this is the greatest miracle of all.  Because the passing of time takes with it the sweetness of youth.  Newborn cries turn into toddler giggles turn into the lengthening of limbs and deepening sounds of a growing man’s voice.  And it all happens in a blink.

But when you’re looking for Grace, the moments last a little longer.  The sticky arms flung around your neck hold on tighter.  The giggles ring a little louder.  The wet kisses are a little sweeter.  Life is grander.


How are you seeing Grace these days?

Sneak Peek, #2

I am having a hard time focusing on blogging lately.  There are a few reasons for this: First, I am just really busy.  Between the kids activities, Lee being out of town, preparations for Easter at our church, the house on the market and general everyday things that pop up, I have little time to sit and think.

Second, my heart feels anxious right now.  It’s probably mostly magnified by Lee’s absence and all of the aforementioned craziness, but I am truly feeling restless inside.  I feel like I’m not doing enough and equally I’m doing too much.  This morning I got up early, while the house was still.  I opened my Bible and just began to read.  It was so refreshing.  You know when you walk outside on a warm summer morning and step into the cool grass and your whole body buzzes from the cool?  That’s what this morning felt like – stepping onto the cool grass.

Third, when I do have a few minutes to sit down and write, I want to work on The Novel.  I don’t want to edit pictures or video.  I just want to release the characters in my head.  In June, I have a trip planned with a dear friend and a couple of other writer’s.  For four days we will sit on a lake in Northern California and get lost in words.

I’m only mildly excited because it sounds like heaven.

Today I give you one more small sneak peek.  I won’t give too many of these, because I don’t want to give it all away, but a few here and there are fun for me to share…and I hope it’s fun for you to read!  This is, of course, the first draft and contains few edits.  It will change with time and re-reads, but it’s slowly beginning to take form.

This part of the story is told by Ivan Kyrilovich Petrochenko, a father of three teenage children and husband of Tanya.  They are living in Kiev.  This is June 22, 1941, the morning of the bombings, after the smoke has cleared.  Ivan and his son Sergei are headed out to survey the damage.  

The memory of that night will haunt me.  The whistle of the bombs and the thunder as they found their targets still move through my head, my heart, my soul.  Intertwined with the noise is the sound of screaming.  Masha, turning and crying, confused and afraid.  Tanya and Anna gripped in the corner, their cries mingling together to form a low wail.  In the midst of all the noise, I see Sergei, my son.  He is silent.  I watched him through the flashes and tremors.  Between dark and light, he became a man.

As the terror of the night slipped into a balmy, dusty morning, I watched them all closely.  Tanya and Anna, both delicate and small, wrapped in one another’s arms, their faces worn and strained.  Masha sat tucked beneath Sergei’s arm, her head nodding and falling, stubbornness alone keeping her from succumbing to the sleep that so clearly longed to take her away.

And the man Sergei, who sat with his back straight against the wall, protecting the sister he so deeply loved.  I knew the decision he made in those long, quiet hours.  I saw him wrestling, an inward battle flashing through his grey eyes.  And when the war was over, he looked at me resigned, brave, grown.  I nodded, a silent confirmation of what he needed most – my blessing.

Shuffling into the still street, I turned to my son and grabbed his shoulders with both hands.  I felt the muscles that rounded over the tops of his arms and for the first time noticed the sinewy nature of his frame.  My son had developed the taught muscles of a man without me even noticing.  Surely this did not happen overnight.

Looking straight in his eyes, I spoke to him not as a father to his son, but as a comrade.  “You will wait until your birthday.  When you are eighteen, you may enlist.”

My voice came out gruff, almost harsh and tears stung the corners of my eyes.  Sergei’s chin lifted slightly and he nodded calmly.  “Yes, Papa.”

Not caring who might look out and see, I pulled him into my arms and gripped him with the passion that only a father can feel for his son.  Sergei’s arms engulfed me in return and for a long while we held one another.  And in that embrace I bid farewell to the boy I had rocked, fed, played with and taught for nearly eighteen years.  And somehow I knew that when my son left, I wouldn’t see him again.

©Kelli Stuart April, 2011

Have a lovely spring Tuesday!

A Note to Samuel Clemens

Dear Sam,

I decided to read your book to my children last week.  You know, the classic novel you wrote that captured 19th century boyhood with charm, wit and mischeif.  I wanted my kids to have an adventure with Tom and Huck.  I wanted them to know about what life was like back when days were not dictated by Miley Cyrus and iCarly.  “The good ole days.”  That’s what they were.  I thought it would be a good idea to introduce my children to the children of your alter ego – Mark Twain.

I read yourbooks myself as a kid.  I loved them.  I remember adoring the love/hate between Tom and Becky, the thrill of the chase between Tom, Huck and the robbers and the awe at their receipt of $6,000 for capturing the bad guys.  6 thousand smackers!  That was the largest sum of money I could fathom.  And I wanted my children to experience the thrill of a great story…a piece of Americana.

However, my dear Mr. Twain…er, Clemens – can I call you Sam or perhaps, Mark?  Sam?  Okay.  However, Sam,  it appears that I had forgotten the nature of your writing.  Your words, so eloquent in your time, were a bit more than my children could decipher.  For instance, this sentence spoken by dear Aunt Polly had my poor children so puzzled I fear they will never allow me to pick out a book to read them again:

“He ‘pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make me out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it’s all down again and I can’t hit him a lick.”

My goodness, Sam, even I had to stop and think about that one for a minute.  We made it one chapter into your lovely novel before I realized that the kids eyes had glazed over and they were no longer listening to a word I said.  They didn’t even get the fact that Tom had just whooped the big stranger on the path back to his house.  You know, the boy he “‘lowed” to ‘”lay” for.  That one.  Yeah, they missed that.  Crazy, huh?

There’s also the tiny issue of political correctness – a term that I am certain you would despise were you alive today.  I simply cannot, in good conscience, Sam, read the slave Jim’s true character name as you wrote it so many years ago.  It was an acceptable term then (acceptable to some, of course)…now, however, it just isn’t a word that needs to be used.  Someday, when they’re older and can comprehend the beauty of your novels and they can understand the context in which they were written, I’m sure it will be fine for them to hear (or read for themselves) about Jim and his great escape from slavery by Huck’s side.  But now, when they are too young to understand and too indescreet not to use certain words in public, I simply wouldn’t be able to read your novel in it’s purest form.  And that seems unfair to you.  And to them.  And, honestly, to Huck and Jim.

So forgive me, dear Mr. Clemens, if I put this book back on the shelf of a few more years.  Forgive me if I show them the movies made of your iconic tales instead.  I want to inspire their imaginations, Sam, I really do.  But they can’t be inspired under such educational duress.  I did find, today, this book, which has been edited and abridged specifically for children.  It only tells a piece of the story, but it does introduce them to the scrappy Tom, a character I so loved growing up.  I think I will give it a try…you know, when they’ve had time to forget how utterly and completely bored and confused they were the first time I introduced Tom and Huck.

Don’t take it personally, Sam.  I still love your books and I still plan to expose my children to your iconic tales.  But I’m sure you understand that it’s better to give them a love for literature, not an absolute dread.  Thanks for your books.  Thanks for your imagination.  Sorry it didn’t work out this time around.


A literature nerd who forgot that sometimes classics are not neccesarily proper for young children


A conglomerate of all that is rolling through my head.  You can hardly contain yourselves – I know it.

– I got to go to a wine bar last night with a group of beautiful, successful working women and discuss writing and reporting and what it means to be a woman in media.  It was relaxing and fun and I met new people, made new contacts and discussed the possibility of a new freelance gig.  All around I had a great time.  And then I went home and watched So You Think You Can Dance and envisioned myself being able to actually dance and not just bootie shake.  Then I went to bed.

– School starts Tuesday.  At the beginning of this summer I was actually really thinking about homeschooling.  I enjoyed having the kids home and I liked not having such a rigorous schedule.

Um, yeah.  That’s not gonna happen.  It’s laughable even, if the thought of it didn’t make me want to cry.  I can’t wait to greet Routine with a gigantic hug and kiss next Tuesday.  I might even make her cookies and invite her to come share my bed.

– Tomorrow I have to leave my house a little before 5:00 am to catch a flight to Dallas.  I don’t know why I always choose the earliest flights possible, but for some reason I do.  The plus side is I get to see dear friends when I arrive and I will spend the weekend catching up with some of the people who hold sweet, sweet pieces of my heart.  I am very excited.

– There is a book that I need to write and I’m scared.  I’ve needed to write it for seven years now, but for seven years I’ve been scared.  It’s a personal book and I have been plagued by self doubt.  I’ve pushed it aside and made myself to believe that I’m not the right person for the job.  And maybe I’m not.  But if I don’t do it, I’m not sure anyone else will. 

I feel like I have the angel and devil characters sitting on my shoulders.  Only in my mind the angel character is a small girl with pigtails and mistmatched clothes.  In fact, she looks a lot like Punky Brewster.  And she keeps telling me things like, “You can do it,” and “Think of how this would honor those around you,” and “Man your hair looks good today.”  Okay, not that last part.  But it would be awesome if someone would whisper that in my ear daily.

The devil character is on the other shoulder and he’s a fat, sweaty man with a long knotted beard and a hairy chest sitting in a recliner eating cookies and chips.  He yells in my ear too.  He screams things like, “You’re not good enough!”  and “There’s no way you could possibly pull that off in any way shape or form!” and “Nobody’s gonna want to read that!”  And everytime he yells at me, flecks of sour cream and onion chips smack me in the chin.


Have I mentioned I have an overactive imagination?

In all seriousness, I really am trying to get past this crippling fear.  I hate being held back by something so lame.  The very fact that I am so scared makes me think that I probably am supposed to do this.  But it’s going to be hard and it’s going to take work and I don’t want to mess it up.  So we’ll see.

– The kids are watching a Star Wars movie (shocker!) and are consequently having a light saber fight.  It’s getting out of hand.  I should step in and stop it, but it’s making me laugh a little bit.

– The St. Louis heat has taken me by surprise.  It’s unbearable.  Which begs the question, why do we not live in Florida?  If we’re going to endure this type of heat, there should be the option of a beach close by.  Just my own personal opinion.

– The kids really want to go swimming today, but I have a lot to do so I’m not sure if it’s the best idea.  On the other hand, it’s 412 degrees out and nothing but sitting in a pool sounds appealing.  So we’ll probably go swimming.  Or maybe we won’t.  I’m feeling a little flighty this morning.  What? You could tell?  Oh…

– I need to work harder at speaking russian with the kids.  I really struggle with this.  We’re pouring time and energy and money into lessons to help them learn so by me not working harder on conversation with them I’m really doing them and myself a disservice.  On the other hand, it’s really, really hard to speak russian to them when they all gang up on me and they’re all different levels and my language just isn’t good enough to accomodate them all.  So I’ll keep doing the best that I can.

– Okay, the light saber fight has gotten out of hand.  I hear wails.  It’s probably time to step in and put a stop to it.  Or is this one of those situations where I’m supposed to let them work it out on their own?  That’s the more appealing option because it lets me sit on my behind a little longer.  But I don’t want to be one of them there lazy parents so I’m going to head out.

– Did I mention that school starts Tuesday?

Bits ‘N Pieces

– Today is a MckMama McKDay for me.  I made these pancakes this morning, which I was completely unsure of but was pleasantly surprised when the kids gobbled them up.  Anything made with flax seed meal and flax seed oil sounds a little, uh, gross to me.  But, in an effort to reign in our not so great eating habits, I followed the recipe to a T.

I’m going to make the cookies this afternoon.  And next week I’m going to try the Nut Butter.  I feel so domestic!  (And Barbara, I’m going to wear the new apron – can’t wait!)

If you’ve never read McKMama’s site, you really need to add it to your google reader.  She’s hilarious, she’s an amazing writer, and I think that she just might be supermom.  Plus, she makes me think that if she can manage four children in four years, one of whom has serious health problems and still make meals that contain flax in them, then I can too!

I love blogs…

– I signed the kids up for the library’s summer reading program this week.  And then I bought them canvas bags for their library books and let them decorate them.  Just so you know, a five and three year old and metallic puffy paints are nothing short of an adventure

So, the reading program:  For every 12 books the kids read, they get a special prize from the library.  I’ve actually added to that goal, though.  I told them we would go back to the libaray to collect their prize when they read 12 books in English and one in russian

Piece of cake.

Except they can’t read in English yet!  Gah!  Which means I am having to be much more intentional about reading to them.  I started working with Sloan on his English reading.  I bought a great workbook that seems to be helping a lot, so I think I’ve decided that for every 7 pages he does in the workbook, I’ll let him count it as a book read for the library.  I’m not sure if that’s cheating or not.

Just FYI – teaching kids to read English is H-A-R-D.  English is a dumb language.  It makes no sense.  At least in russian every letter has only one sound.  Once you know the letter’s sound, you’re good to go.  English?  Good grief.

So we’ll see how it goes.  Sloan’s already read three books (I read them to him and made him sound out the shorter words) and Tia has “read” two.  When I’m done here, I’m going to search the internet for simple russian language books. 

That won’t be hard at all.

– I’m going out of town in a week in a half.  I will be gone for 8 days and it’s the longest I will have been away from the kids since they were born.  I’m a little apprehensive about it.  I’m not one of those mom’s who has a hard time being separated from her kids – in fact, I think it’s GREAT to get time away – but I’m going to be really far away and my kids will be spending a majority of their days with a babysitter.

This makes me nervous.

I’m also thoroughly overwhelmed at all the preparations that need to be done.  Meals need to be baked and frozen, schedules need to be ironed out, diapers need to be bought, packing needs to be done, and major pep talks need to be given to my husband who is being very supportive and cool about this whole process but who I can see is freaking out just a little.


Wish me luck.

Harry Potter

I’m not going to talk about American Idol today because I didn’t like the show last night at all.  I didn’t think anyone sounded very good and I was nearly blinded several times by Paula’s plunging neckline, which left me feeling uncomfortable and nervous for her.  The only thing I liked was Allison’s hair.  It was rockin’…

I will tell you, however, that I finally finished the Harry Potter series.  I know I’m a couple years late on this, but I have to say that those books were brilliant.  Brilliant as in that may be the best series of our generation.  I am actually a little sad today that it’s over.  I miss Harry, Ron and Hermione.  The story was written so well that I actually felt I was a part of that world when I read the books and when I closed book 7 last night, I felt a pang of regret that it was over.

I must admit that I was one of those people who did not read the books because of the witchcraft aspect of the storyline.  I bought the whole idea of them being evil hook, line and sinker.  But, I was wrong.

Yes, the books center on young witches and wizards in training and I don’t diminish the fact that we have to be careful how closely we tread to such practices, but the storyline of Harry Potter is complete fantasy.  It’s the folklore surrounding witchcraft that makes up the story, but the theme is good verses evil and the power of love to conquer evil.  In fact, after awhile, the magical part of the books became just a back story.  I was more enraptured with the characters – with Harry’s reconciliation with the death of his parents; with Ron and Hermione’s obvious attraction; with Dumbledore’s wisdom on life, love and peace; with Fred and George’s ability to find the humor in any situation, no matter how bleak.  Those were the things that stood out to me.  The magic just faded into the background.

In fact, book 7 is ripe with Christian imagery and from the research that I’ve done on J.K. Rowling, that was intentional.  I was pleasantly surprised by this fact. 

Rowling does not practice witchcraft, as was widely circulated among Christian circles.  She simply had a story to tell.  And, we must remember that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia also involved witches, wizards and magic as a means to tell a story.  Gandolf was a good wizard, much along the lines of a Dumbledore.  The White Witch in Chronicles was evil, much along the lines of Voldemort or Bellatrix Lestrange.

I do not think that the Potter series is as rich in imagery as Lord of the Rings or Chronicles, but in ranking those three series, I would place Rowling’s books third on the list.  It’s that good.

I don’t think that I would read these books to my kids, however, for several reasons.  First, there are over 4,000 pages to read and my kids can hardly sit still for a short picture book.  Second, there are themes within those books that I think are far too mature for young children.  I won’t even show them the movies for that reason alone.  The story is fantastic, but it is dark and I just don’t think my kids are ready to process the messages and images presented at such a young age.  I also won’t allow them see Lord of the Rings for the very same reason.  It’s too dark and too scary.

When they get older, I will be happy to let them begin reading these stories and possibly see the movies if they’re even interested by then.  But before then, in my opinion, these books are a little too much.

It is my hope that my children will one day have an appreciation for good literature and good story telling.  I hope they will consume books and fall in love with the characters.  Harry Potter is an easy character to fall in love with and at the end, his story is redemptive. 

Now I am going to take a break and catch up on sleep because I am just exhausted.