The One Where I Write About Japan

So Monday happened... And there was no Reading. Well... There was reading, but I didn't share any of it. This week has been kind of odd. And I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that Passover started Monday night? Life this last week or so has just felt... In limbo. Like I was waiting for something big to happen. And it did. And now I can move forward, with remembrance.

Anyway. This post is not about yesterday or this week or Passover (as much as I would like it to be).

It's about Japan.


I know.

I'll be honest: I've been avoiding the whole subject.

I haven't looked at many photos. I haven't read much about it. I haven't talked about it, even among my friends who I see a lot. In fact, I've wholly forgotten about it a couple of times.

And I haven't given anywhere... Yet.

Am I a callused, selfish, ignorant fool?


Sometimes, it's just easier to bury your head in the sand. Sometimes, I like being that cartoon ostrich. Sometimes, it hurts too much to look Death and Pain and Carnage and Sorrow full in the face and not flinch.

Sometimes, I just don't want my heart to break. Lately has been one of those sometimes. I feel fragile. Or overwhelmed. Or both, maybe? I don't know.  

Even as I'm writing this, my heart aches. For what I haven't seen, but I know must surely be. For the pain, the loss, the chaos, the heartache.

I guess maybe that's because I have to marinate on things - on big, scary, awful, important THINGS - for a while. I have to think about them and let them sit quietly in my heart.

Or else I'll get overwhelmed. And I'm useless when I'm overwhelmed.

And because there is so much else crowding my mind, my thoughts, and my actions. The day-to-day of life and small children and breathing and my own small world.

I think sometimes, during a life crisis or a breakdown or whatever it is that SOMEONE ELSE is going through, I can appear aloof, untouched and untouchable. In fact, I've had several family members tell me "You just don't care!" when I am presented with their hurricanes of life stuff.

And that's patently untrue. I DO CARE.

I care too much.

I care so much that I have to turn off my emotions.  Otherwise I am engulfed by them, overtaken and the waves of my heart become tsunamis that threaten to destroy me, to overwhelm me. And I'm useless when I'm overwhelmed.

So I turn my emotions off (as best I can), and I become cool, logical Kristen. The female counterpart to Mr. Spock.

And only in the private moments of quiet do I allow them to come back and let the tears come. And believe me, they come. A lot more than I'd like to admit.

Perhaps this is a wrong way of dealing with the really heavy, hard, ultra-sad stuff... Perhaps. I don't know. But this is how I am able to cope.

So here we are.

Awful things have happened.

Japan has happened.

And I've sat quietly with it.

And the tears have come.

And I've turned them off.

And NOW is the time to talk about it.

So why am I posting about this now? A full month, a full SIX WEEKS after the first quake?

Because NOW, it's *not* breaking news anymore. It's old. It's stale. We already know all about that. It's after-the-fact. It's almost time to forget. Japan is the setting sun on the horizon of our collective memories.  So what! Japan had yet ANOTHER major earthquake... We don't care, we've already heard about it.

That's why NOW Japan is so incredibly important.

When the rest of America has moved on, this is when *I* am ready to think about it, talk about it, and ACT on what has happened.

I've talked about it with KayKay (and a little with the Ladybug), and we've talked about what it means to be homeless and WITHOUT. Her emotions come more easily than mine, and she is strongly moved. 

So as a family, we are donating to Shelterbox. I offered the choice up to KayKay and she felt the most connected to their work. I invite you to donate to them or the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders

We are also contacting friends in Japan to discuss whether we can send them things directly that THEY PERSONALLY can distribute. 

Please join us in continuing to pray for the people of Japan.

I know this is late... But it feels timely. It feels just right

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do share, friends. 

Monday Reading, The I Started Early Edition


I'm actually starting this post a FULL twenty-four hours before I intend to post it.

It's like some kind of miracle!

Or maybe it's spring fever.

Or maybe I just have that little to do.

Nah. Definitely not that last one. I always have WAY too much to do (even when I try to scrape things off the calendar, they keep holding on like that one dried-on piece of food that just WON'T COME OFF the otherwise clean plate you're scrubbing... Or something...).

Speaking of busy, this weekend has been busy, man.

But the weather has been AH-MAZINGLY GORGEOUS, so we were going and doing and frolicking in the sun all weekend. *Happy sigh* Love.

I even have a little bit of a sunburn to prove it, too. Although that doesn't really mean much, because ten minutes in the sun and I'm crisped up like a lobster. My father used to call me a vampire (actually, he still does) because I hibernate when the sun comes out (i.e., it's HOT) and I'm pasty white. But the comparison is no longer apt, because - as awesome as it would be - I don't glitter in the sunlight (DARN IT. Why don't I glitter?!?!?!). Then again, Twilight isn't even a blip on his radar (stay true, untainted and totally awesome, Dad!), so you know...

And yes, there is definitely shame in admitting that I've actually *read* the Twilight series. *Sigh* But the fact that I love this helps. Seriously, read it. It's hysterical. THANK YOU, Olivia!

But anyway. We had a great weekend.

We went to the farmer's market, picnicked  in the park (TWICE), played frisbee and Molkky (I actually won! It *IS* a miracle!), ate at the Cheesecake Factory (it's just a WEEKEND of miracles!), ran errands, and worked in the garden. Oh, and picked violets for jelly (more on that to come).


Okay. So. I ACTUALLY started this post LAST WEEK right before the power went out. 

And fittingly, we've had another major storm here. (It is Monday after all, why not?) And have had flaky internet all day (ARGH!). 

So, in keeping with this seemingly new tradition, I figured I'd post this now. That and the fact that we had yet another incredibly awesome and insane weekend, complete with more feats of Molkky (I won! AGAIN!!!) and a night so late I'm almost ashamed to write it (I was up until after 2:00 AM... But it was worth it!) and another beautiful couple of sunshiny days. 

But... This Reading post is going to be a relatively short one, for three reasons: 

A) I have internet, I need to type and save while I can. 

B) I'm trapped in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love. Well, actually, I'm not, but that's another story. Suffice it to say, I haven't branched out as much as I would have liked this week. 

C) It's late, and I'm tired. 

Answer C is actually the most pressing at this point, but whatever. 

So on to the reading you say? Okay! Let's go! 


So like I said earlier, this week has rather revolved around Eat, Pray, Love. I didn't really intend for that to happen - it just kind of did. After finishing The Book Thief a bit ago, I determined to finish Eat, Pray, Love before I moved on to anything else. So that I might take at least ONE item OFF of my nightstand and place it on a bookshelf where it belongs. I mean, seriously, my nightstand looks like a bookstore went out of business all over it. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, I've managed to get down to the last fifty-or-so pages in the last five or six days... Just not in time for this post! Ack. 

So I don't really have much to say on that front except that I can FINALLY do my breakdown of The Book Thief. Yay!

About The Book Thief... To give a quick overview, the book is about a young girl, Liesel Meminger who is taken to live with a foster family at the start of World War II. The story centers on Liesel, but there are many very strong characters throughout. It is narrated by Death, who meets Liesel for the first time when her brother dies on the way to the foster family's home. And then he becomes interested in her story. And it is Death's telling of Liesel, her family, her friends, Germany, Hitler, and the Jews. 

Oh, my. 

I'll start with the cons, like always.  

Cons: First and foremost, it takes a little bit to get into the story. This book is not one that immediately envelopes you into its fictional life. It's more of a slow-moving stream than white water rapids. And like I said earlier, the sort-of news-bulletin things in it were very distracting for me at first. I didn't know how to place them and what significance to give them. Just know that they are, actually, important and have a place. 

Also, there is some language in this book. There is some common name-calling (NOT nice name-calling - basically the German equivalent to calling someone an S-O-B) throughout the book, but what's interesting to me about it is that the name-calling almost always is in relation to someone the characters' have affection for. I'm not sure how I feel about that at all. As an adult, it didn't bother me in the least, but for a younger high-school student... I'm not sure. 

Lastly, this is a dark book. It is not an easy story to read, the subject matter is quite obviously very heavy, and although it ends well, it is a dark and weighted read. Don't pick it up if you're feeling hormonal. There were several scenes (read: half the book) where I bawled like a baby. 

Pros: It was incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking. The writing was solid and poetic at the same time. I read several criticisms of this book that said the writing was pretentious and forced, but I didn't feel that at all. There was only once or twice where I felt that the author, Marcus Zusak, may have tried a little too hard, but overall, I feel that his writing in the book is excellent. It is very emotive and focuses a lot around color - it's use and portrayal is very important to the way the book plays out, and it is used in some really unusual ways. 

The characters are VERY well-developed. I felt that I really got to know these people as PEOPLE, as a part of my life, and their emotions and experiences impacted me. I feel that a sign of a fantastically well-written book is one which finds me wondering about the characters' lives when I am *not* reading it. This book definitely has that quality. In fact, if Zusak had not pulled off the character development as well as he had, this book would have been a complete waste of paper, because it is ALL about the characters and how they interact. 

It was also refreshing to see a book about Germans who weren't Nazis. Who actually hated the Nazis and Hitler just as much as the Jews did, and who defied them in small ways and suffered in small ways at the hands of the Nazis. I know that this is a truth for many Germans of that generation, but it is very underrepresented among Holocaust literature. 

Conclusion: Oh my goodness. I SO loved this book. Like I said, it was a bit slow-going in the beginning, but I am so very glad that I pushed through those first couple of chapters because it is such a worthy read. This book is a must-read for any young person over the age of sixteen or adult, in my opinion. It is heart-breakingly good. Devastatingly good. Sweetly, beautifully GOOD. 

Now. Go read it. 


Okay, so here we are at links! 

Up first... 

A Spring Apron: Storybook Woods. Isn't this delightful? I just love it! And I wouldn't mind looking that good in it, either.

Bent Leather, Part One: Sage Parnassus. As I am learning more about homeschooling and Charlotte Mason, I am drawn to this post in particular, because it looks like what I want for my girls. What are your thoughts on this? 

Making Healthy Changes When Your Husband Isn't On Board: Keeper of the Home. Ho boy. This one is a good one. And something I have struggled to find the balance with for years! 

Inspired: Mom-Nom.Com. Perfect. Lovely. Inspiring. I love how she describes how she's feeling, too, don't you? And so many awesome links! 

How To Bring Peace To The Witching Hour: SimpleMom. I thought I'd already posted this, but apparently I didn't... Anyway, I nearly cried tears of relief when I read this and realized that I was NOT ALONE. We have struggled with this "witching hour" for years. So good! 

Cutting Down On Sugar, 21 Ways To Eat Less Sugar: Keeper of the Home. Another one from Stephanie, and this is just a great article to read... We already follow many of the suggestions she has here, but there are some I hadn't thought of! 

Alright, friends... I'm off. Happy Monday, and do stop in again! And let me know your thoughts! 

Monday Reading: Postponed

So, Monday Reading kind of lost its power. Actually, there was no "kind of" about it. We really did lose power.

Well. I guess I should explain a little.

Early yesterday afternoon we got hit by a major storm and the electricity went out all over the city. It was restored by late afternoon to many people, but we were not among those lucky ones.

Instead, we got to stay up half the night listening to the two-hundred-and-fifty men from the electric company yell at each other over the ear-shattering roar of their God-awful-loud truck while they fixed the power RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW. I honestly think they parked it next to the glass. But maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive.

I shouldn't complain - I mean, I know people who STILL don't have power. And I should be grateful... More than I am, certainly. But some part of me wishes I could have slept.


I actually started a Monday Reading post last week, but after all the power shenanigans yesterday, I'm just not feeling it.

So. Monday Reading is postponed until next week. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to tell about then anyway.

Instead, I'll share something pretty. It is Tuesday after all, and Monday's well in the past already.

Doesn't this just make your heart happy? It does mine. I love spring, despite the crazy weather.

And daffodils are like sunshine and happiness all wrapped up into one blazingly glorious moment. Daffodils are the bow on Winter's gift of Spring. To me, daffodils sing joy and renewal, calling in the next new thing.

Happy springtime, friends.

Nature Connection: Literally.


My fabulous friend, Sherry, of Living And Learning fame and more fabulousness, always hosts this totally fantabulous link-up called Nature Connections at the end of every month.
(Click the button at the bottom to check it out!)

And I always forget to link up. Or I just don't feel like we've actually CONNECTED to nature in a post-worthy way.

Fast-forward to this afternoon.

Sherry sends out a reminder that the post will be closing soon. Which gets me to thinking.

"We're going to the park this afternoon. I should bring the camera."

And oh, boy, am I ever glad I did!

The Ladybug had a nature connection of the literal kind. Or perhaps, I should call it a nature epiphany.

My kids are both like Dug: "SQUIRREL!
It started with a squirrel. A somewhat blurry squirrel, but still. Damn squirrel, stop twitching!


I call it Squirrel Nutkin. Awww, isn't he cute?

I'm still feeling all Beatrix Potter-ish (Can you tell??). And since we just listened to an audiobook of her stories, I keep hearing it pronounced, "Squir-REL" in my mind.

But anyway.

So it started with a curious fat little Squirrel Nutkin.

And a curious little girl with some actual nuts.

The squirrel and the girl were BOTH curious.

They got closer...


To each other. 

And then it happened...

The point of contact:

Ack! Squirrel Nutkin grabbed her finger by mistake!

Oh yes, there was a connection all right. 

But apparently the Ladybug wasn't too upset because she started back up again almost immediately. And I think Squirrel Nutkin was sorry for his mistake because he immediately came back, too, and very gently took the nut from her hand (not that you can tell from these next photos, but it's true!).

But she was MUCH more cautious after that (even though he didn't really hurt her). 

I think this photo is nearly my favorite because of her expression. I'm just so sad that it's blurry! 
Sheer terror! Ha!
Of course, KayKay had to get in on the squirrel action... But with STYLE. 

Yes, she IS actually holding a nut up against the tree while striking a pose.
And that was that. Squirrel Nutkin went on to bury a few of his nuts just to dig them up and eat them two minutes later.

All's well that ends well. 

Oh, have I mentioned that up until now, it has been *both* my girls' greatest aspiration (among many, but this one ranks high) to catch and "tame" a squirrel? 

Yes. I kid you not. They chase them. They call them. They talk to them. They stalk them. They've made (very elaborate and creative) traps for them all over our miniscule front yard. I have found drawings of plans made for squirrel catching and taming.

I know. It's kinda weird. 

But I guess there are a lot worse things they could be planning, right?

And after today, perhaps the obsession will fade into the twilight of childhood memory... I HOPE.