It’s all about relationships in Days Like These

29496483Days Like These by Sue Margolis is all about relationships. Relationships from siblings to parents, to friends and acquaintances and between the parents of the schoolchildren. This book is about Judith and her grandchildren Sam, 9, and Rosie, 5, and Judith’s Mother, Nana.  Judith (Judy), is asked to take care of her grandkids as her daughter, Abby, and son-in-law, Thomas, both doctors, are called away to help Nicaragua after an earthquake.  They are supposed to be gone for six weeks but then it turns into a lot longer than expected.

Judy’s mother, Freida, is a typical hypochondriac thinking she has every kind of ailment and searches her symptoms on the internet.  She also likes to cook elaborate meals. There is a bond between Judy and Freida that is tentatively explored. It appears that they haven’t always known each other very well. Despite their ease and teasing of each other, their bond is explored. Nana was a fun supporting character who brought smiles to my face and a few chuckles.

Judy soon has a nemesis at the private school in the form of Claudia, who always had a need to prove she is a better mother than anyone else. While all of this is going on, Judy is dealing with the loss of her husband. A new man, Patrick, enters the scene complicating things for Judy in many ways.

Sam has a hard time at school with a few of the situations develop into very serious consequences. Judy tries to navigate the situations as a grandmother and a temporary parent while trying not to destroy the relationship between her daughter and grandson.

Sue Margolis does a great job of showing how there can be conflict within a family, how we support each other and how we fight for each other. She shows how we can be strong even when we don’t believe in ourselves and how a family and community can come together for the sake of the children.  This was so worth my time.

Book Description:
In the new novel from the author of Losing Me, one woman is about to discover what happens when you take the “grand” out of “grandma.”

Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.

As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time…

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Goat Children shines a light on dementia

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Goat Children by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek features high school senior Keziah who’s Grandmother (Oma) is starting to show signs of dementia.  Oma needs to go into assisted living but her children aren’t ready to put her there so Keziah volunteers to live with Oma and take care of her.

Oma tells Keziah the story of the Goat Children and tells Keziah that she was once one of them.  She says they are coming to get her and also tells Keziah she is next to become one.  She even tells Keziah how to join them.

I found the story about Goat Children very interesting.  The author told me it was difficult to write the story as she used a lot of events from when she took care of her Grandmother in the story.

Some of the things I struggled with this story was the fact it seemed like Keziah didn’t receive much guidance on how to care for Oma and what to expect from the disease.  Keziah was supposed to go to school and leave Oma home alone during the day, which didn’t seem very smart.  Keziah wanted a normal life hanging out with friends and participating in extracurricular activities, but then Oma would be home alone too long.  She also didn’t understand why she couldn’t go out with her friends and was upset when Oma was mean to her.

I found Keziah a little selfish despite the fact she volunteered to take care of her Grandmother.  This story did make me feel for the people who pretty much stop their lives to make sure their loved ones have a decent life as their minds deteriorate.  This was very well written…another great book by Jordan.

Book Description:

When Keziah de Forest’s grandmother, Oma, is diagnosed with dementia, the seventeen-year-old makes the decision to leave her family and move to New Winchester to care for Oma.  However, the decision comes with burdens Keziah never expected.  Each day becomes a greater weight and loving the woman she once cherished becomes a chore.

Resentful of her hardships in New Winchester and the family secrets buried in the attic, Keziah finds herself drawn to Oma’s ramblings about the Goat Children, a mythical warrior class who ride winged horses and locate people in need, while attempting to destroy evil in the world.  Oma sees the Goat Children everywhere, and as Keziah reads the stories her grandmother wrote about them, she begins to question if they really exist.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Independence Day

July 4th, the Fourth of July, Independence Day.  In 2010 what does that mean?  To some people it means huge sales at their favorite stores.  Other people it’s a day off from work.  Some it’s time to shoot off fireworks for several days, all hours of the day or night.  My dog freaks out for days and hides under the bed.  Our street usually looks like a war zone on July 5, which is irritating since fireworks are illegal in our town and most of my neighbors don’t clean up the mess.

Independence Day means a lot to me.  It does include having a day off from work; it also means getting together with friends and family.  But it also means remembering what our founding fathers sacrificed so we could celebrate our independence.  Fifty-six men signed a document that was called the Declaration of Independence even though it was considered treasonous against the English crown and the men, who signed, were in danger of being executed.  They risked their lives so we could be free from the dictatorship of Great Britain.  This was on July 2, 1776.  Yet we celebrate on July 4 because that is the day when the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

From July 8, 1776, until the next month, the document was read publicly and people celebrated whenever they heard it.  The next year, in Philadelphia, bells rang and ships fired guns, candles and firecrackers were lighted.  The start of all Independence celebrations.  But did you know Congress didn’t declare the 4th of July a federal holiday until 1941?  It took them 165 years to decide our independence day should be official.  It is now 234 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed.  That sounds like a long time ago, but really it isn’t.

I remember celebrating as a kid and thinking about what the Continental Congress did for this country.  My family used to go to Williams, Iowa, a town of about 450 people and 0.9 square miles wide.  We would participate in the parade and then hang out in the town square/park for the day.  I remember throwing candy from a float or from my Uncle Floyd’s boat, which he pulled behind his truck.  Then the floats would be parked by the grain elevator and people would walk up and down the street looking at the floats.  Afterwards I would sit on a blanket under a shade tree with my grandma listening to a band playing patriotic music while different clubs sold food.  We would people watch for hours and laugh a lot.  Then later we would walk over to the football field to watch the fireworks.  Fireworks in the 70s were way different than now.  Today there are smiley faces, stars and other creative explosions.

Lately, I’ve stayed home, made my dog feel safe and watched fireworks from three different celebrations from my driveway.  I don’t have to deal with the crowds and I can relax at my own home.  This year we are celebrating at a friend’s farm.  It will be like old times, friends, family, homemade food, games and then fireworks.  I wonder if there will be a band.

John Adams, the first vice-president and the Second President of the United States was one of the members who signed the Declaration of Independence and I think he may have predicted what this country would be doing 234 years later.  He proclaimed: “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”  I think we have done John Adams proud with our celebrations.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.