Tag Archives: cancer

Reading Roundup | August 2016

Book reviews on The Dark Garden, Uppity Women, ZInk, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, and The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands.

It seems that whenever I’m really into blogging, my reading suffers. Whenever I’m really into reading, my blogging suffers. And, that is exactly what happened this month. I was able to begin and finish five entire books this month! I loved being able to read this much!

Book reviews on The Dark Garden, Uppity Women, ZInk, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, and The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

Book review on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I know a lot of people had harsh opinions about this and were disappointed. But, I actually really liked it! This play is about Harry’s son, Albus, and how he has to live in the shadow of his father, The Boy Who Lived. Albus isn’t very good at anything magical and is friends with Scorpio, Draco Malfoy’s son. Oh, and he’s a Slytherin. But, when an opportunity comes to try to fix a “mistake” in Harry’s past and make a name for himself, Albus jumps at the offer–only to cause some bad rippling effects.

I really liked the premise to this story–it made sense to me. Especially the part about Voldemort having progeny. I loved that idea. I also really liked the symbolism of the Augery. The distance and awkwardness between Harry and Albus made complete sense…I mean, how would you feel if you were a mediocre wizard whose father was the famous Harry Potter?!?! And, if you were Harry Potter, how would you feel with a son who did poorly in all things magical? And for that matter, the relationship between Draco and Scorpio was well done. Given Draco’s past and his relationship with his mother and father and all the emotional and mental turmoil he went through, especially since the order from Voldemort that he had to kill Dumbledore, it makes complete sense that he wants something different for his son, but just doesn’t really know how to do it. It was so fun for me to watch this play happen in my mind and makes me really curious about how they do all the magical stuff on a stage without CG or special effects! Too bad it’s going to take forever for the play to come on tour OFF Broadway in America.

However, there are a few things that I didn’t like. I enjoyed the play format and understand why, but I would’ve liked it in a novel format. In fact, I’d be willing to read a whole series about Albus Potter! I also wanted more background on the Augery and the whole Voldemort’s child story. I didn’t like Ron’s character at all. I think he was just downgraded to a buffoon adult comic relief. I also thought that the ending was a bit rushed and anti-climatic.  But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved talking with my husband about it. I read it in 48 hours, then he did the same after me, and we’d talk about it for hours together.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Book review on the famous Dr. Laura's book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
Image Via

My husband doesn’t like books like this. He sees the title and thinks, it’s another book for women to say how to deal with men, it’s all about degrading men. Well, my mom told me to read this book. She literally handed it to me as I was leaving for Texas and told me to pay attention to it and take good care of my husband. I trust my mom’s taste as she really loves and respects my dad. And, it’s more on how to be a good wife, how to stop being a whiny, nagging, entitled b**. It honestly reminded me of a book I read last year called When Beauty is a Beast

The whole point of this book was really to let women know that men are truly and completely different then women, and typically, it’s the women’s fault for not trying to understand men that causes a lot of arguments and tensions in the family and marriage. Dr. Laura used a lot of examples from clients on her radio show and letters she’s received and I found myself shaking my head numerous times at these pitiful women ruining their own marriages, but trying to blame or change their husbands. Although it wasn’t necessarily as insightful as When Beauty is a Beast to me, it was still a nice way to reflect on how I treat my husband and think of ways to do a better job at being a better, more supportive, less complaining wife.

But, be warned, Dr. Laura is very Christian and has many conservative Christian ideals about marriage in her book–which I liked because they aligned with mine and how my religion feels about marriage and family. And, she is very obviously against feminism…so, if you are a feminist, please take what she says with a grain of salt! She still has great advice on being a better wife!

Zink by Cherie Bennett

Book review on the YA novel, Zink by Cherie Bennett.

This is about a 4th-6th grade reading level YA novel from my classroom collection. I’m making a good dent in it! Anyway, this is a cute little novel about a young girl, Becky, who gets leukemia. It follows her as she goes through treatment, and remission, and then had a relapse. But, through this whole time, she had the company of three Zebras who gave her friendship and courage, and allowed her to travel to Africa in spirit. They also taught her the story of Zink, the brave Zebra who was different from all others and was proud of it.

Bennett wrote this book for a girl she knew who was suffering and died from leukemia. She had other young kids suffering from cancer draw the illustrations in the book and had a lot of information about it at the end of the novel. It is definitely a sweet book, and I cried a little at the end.

The Dark Garden by Margaret Buffie

Book review on YA thriller The Dark Garden by Margaret Buffie.

This is another one of my classroom YA’s. It is definitely a high school read, though, and is a thriller with paranormal events. Thea, a sixteen year old, got in a bike accident and received traumatic amnesia–she couldn’t remember anything about herself, her family, or her past. But, she started seeing ghosts and hearing voices. She wasn’t sure if this ghost, Susannah, was actually herself and her memories, or if she truly was Thea. But, with the help of a local farthely priest and a teenage clairvoyant named Lucas, Thea was able to begin to piece memories and scenes together and figure out a murder mystery.

I initially liked the idea of this book, but I thought the writing was a little all over the place and too confusing with the points of view and timings. I also absolutely hated Thea’s family–the parents were basically absentee, and the kids definitely needed social services to care for them. I also thought the climax was a bit anti-climatic, especially with all the spooky and paranormal buildup. It also happened way to fast.

Uppity Women Speak Their Mind by Vicki Leon

Book review for Vicki Leon's Uppity Women Speak Their Mind.

I love learning and reading about women in history. They are so fun, especially when it comes to the subject of “uppity women”. I love the famous quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” and this book falls into that category. This book has short one page vignettes about women and a quote they are famous for. I often found myself smiling or doing imaginary fist pumps after reading about each woman. There were even some coarse women that I literally would laugh out loud after reading. I loved this easy, fast read, but wish that it was organized in a different way–maybe either alphabetically or chronologically.

What books did you read this month? Which one of these would you like to read?

Tayler from The Morrell Tale.com

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Power of Prayer

The lord truly will answer your prayers.

“He’s not able to come home,” my mom delivered the tragic news to us.

My dad had volunteered for a tour in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. Thankfully, it wasn’t a combat position–he was a JAG for the Marine Corp (a lawyer) and his job would be to train Iraqi lawyers how to hold a fair court of law with due process. He was only supposed to be gone for 10 months. I remember that my bishop gave us a promise from God that he would come home safe and well. Of course, we were still nervous since the Embassy was being bombed often, but we trusted that God would return him to us.

IM001442

However, during that 10 month period, my mom experienced some of the worst pain of her life. It had been little over 10 years since she had a radioactive surgery to kill a melanoma tumor in her right eye. But, the eye was finally dying. It caused her so much pain–her eye swelled, she barfed a lot, couldn’t eat much, had splitting migraines, and was in bed most of the day. As the oldest, I was given a lot of responsibility around home. But, to a fourteen year old freshman with three younger siblings and no father currently at home, it scared me.

That was the situation when mom told us that the General wasn’t going to let dad come home for another few months. One the one hand, it meant my dad was doing such an excellent job and was truly needed in Iraq. But, on the other had, we desperately needed him back. My parents tried to use my mom’s medical condition to persuade the general to find a replacement. It didn’t work.

So, my parents, half-way across the world from each other, prayed and fasted that the general’s heart would be softened. My siblings and I prayed every night and every morning for the same thing. After a month, it was to no avail.

But, we didn’t give up. Growing up Mormon, we had a strong testimony not only in the power of prayer and fasting, but also in community support. We told both sides of our family. We told our entire congregation. Working with our Bishop, we decided to try to change the wording of our prayers: instead of trying to have the General’s heart softened, to help a replacement for my dad be found, but let the Lord’s will be done. A special Sunday was chosen for the congregation and our entire extended family to fast and pray. We all trusted that the Lord would help my family.

Less than a week went by and we heard that a replacement had been found for my dad and he would be coming home within a month! My mother and siblings immediately knelt down and thanked the Lord for answering our prayer.

Dad came home, was able to help mom get back on her feet, and our family was whole again.

IM001634

Even 12 years later, that experience of prayer is the strongest testament I have to the power that can be when we plead with our Heavenly Father. I truly believe that if our hearts and intentions are pure and good, and that we are humble, Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers.

The lord truly will answer your prayers.

Mosiah 9:18 (Book of Mormon)
And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers

Doctrine and Covenants 112:10
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.

 

2 Nephi 32:9
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

Tayler signature

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dealing with Family Tragedy and Potential Loss

As an English teacher, one of the biggest, most prevalent themes in literature is death and tragedy. My 7th graders have read The Pearl, in which the protagonist’s baby boy is shot and killed. They have read Twelfth Night, in which a pair of twins think each other are drowned. In Animal Farm, their favorite character, Boxer the horse, was sent to the slaughter house after his lung collapsed. In 8th grade, Macbeth is full of death and tragedy. My students hated that their favorite character in The Open Boat didn’t make it to shore. They were upset that Tom Robinson never got justice or freedom in To Kill A Mockingbird. In 9th grade, they witness unbelievable strife and demonetization in a bunch of children in Lord of the Flies, as well as cruel murder in Jekyll and Hyde, and now are reading Hamlet (must I say more?).
I have been very blessed in my life when it comes to death and tragedy. True, I have had great-aunts and uncles pass away due to old age, but I never really knew them all that well. But, as a teacher, I am surrounded by strife that my students have to go through. Many have already missed a day to go to a grandparent’s funeral. Some have asked to go to the bathroom numerous times to dry their tears. 

But, I have one student who continues to amaze me with her feat of strength and bravery. Her mother has cancer and has been given a deadline. Now, an average 7th grader would show their emotions–act out (not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way you could tell something was wrong). Grades would drop, participation and socializing would fall, their face would be the emotional giveaway, there would be days they were absent. Not this girl. Not her siblings. They have not missed a day at all this year. My principal told me that last year when their grandma died, they only missed half a school day for the funeral. Even when their mom was having brain surgery to try to help the cancer, they still went to school. She has straight A’s. She never skips a beat–participation is getting stronger and more constant, she still puts 100% effort in every assignment she does. I see smiles and laughs coming from her often. I wondered if she was just trying to hide her emotions (whereas I wear mine on my sleeve). My principal told me the mom had been fighting cancer for years and has been given numerous deadlines, so the girls have grown up with this as almost a fact of life. But, still. 

Right now, my 7th graders are writing short stories, and she has decided to write her about a young junior high girl whose mom dies of cancer and how she handles it. I am so glad that she has decided to write about this. Writing is a great therapy, a way to express the emotions you are feeling and a way to relieve pain. I am so glad that she is willing to share her apprehension and fear with me in this way and that she is allowing herself this “mourning” in a sense.

It has gotten me thinking about the scariest time in my life. My mom is a cancer survivor. When I was very young, she was diagnosed with melanoma in her right eye. Thankfully, it was caught very early and she was able to have a successful surgery that got rid of the cancer, but at the price of the color and sight of her right eye. I was too young to remember anything but my mom lying in a dark room and my dad getting me a big, soft pretzel in Philadelphia–it was a vacation to me.

However, that isn’t the end of the story. My freshman year of high school, my dad was sent to Iraq. My mom’s eye started to have a reaction–it wasn’t cancer, thankfully, but it was after effects of the radiation and surgery. Her eye would swell and become so painful, she wasn’t able to get out of bed. I remember her crying and telling me that it was so painful sometimes that she thought she was going to die. Now, as a 14 year old, those were scary words. I was the oldest and stayed home some days to take care of her and my siblings. But, I was always nervous for the sake of my mom’s health, especially because my dad couldn’t be there to help her.
That memory also got me thinking. Seeing how strong and vigilant my student is staying in school, I wonder if it is her mother’s wish for her that she is complying with. So, I wanted to know my mom’s side of the story when this happened to her:

When I become ill while Tayler’s dad was deployed with the Marine Corps in Iraq, I DID worry about my kids.  I worried, with my husband gone, who would care for them because I was so sick and in such excruciating pain that I was unable to care for them myself. But that worry was more along the lines of their emotional well-being and the basics like meals, bathtime and general needs being met, rather than whether or not they were keeping up with their studies.


I felt guilty for needing to ask my older girls (Tayler, age 14 at the time, and Madison, age 11) to help out with bathing and feeding their younger siblings as well as making meals and general housecleaning tasks.  But, I absolutely needed them!  We lived away from extended family, and although we had neighbors and friends who helped with carpooling and even brought in some meals, I needed help.  

However, although I felt guilty for needing this above-and-beyond help from my kids, I was also extremely proud of my girls (and especially Tayler) for being able to step up and take care of things.  In fact, I never had to worry for one minute about the younger kids having their needs met.  


In regards to how I felt about their studies and the other things going on in their lives, I have pretty much always just wanted my kids to do their best…whatever that meant.  And I have always tried to take their mental/emotional stress in to account when considering this.  I have really awesome and talented kids who do really well in school.  But sometimes, other challenges outside of school just make it really hard to stay vigilant and highly focused.  I know this, and so frankly, during that time, I just didn’t really care about the schoolwork (although amazingly, they all kept up and did really great!).

The truth for me is that I was suffering so intensely during that short period of time that my thoughts progressed from “are my kids okay?” to “who is going to take care of my kids?” to “I need to be making arrangements for my kids” to “I can’t even think about that…someone will take care of them…they’ll be okay”.

I think families tend to handle stressful situations in different ways.  Our family, generally, as Tayler mentioned, tends to wear our emotions on our sleeves.  We are open with expressing pretty much how we feel all the time…if we love you: you know it; if we are angry: you know it; if we are sick or stressed: you know it; if we are happy and having a good time: you will definitely know it!

My kids excel at pulling together with our family when challenging times arise…I couldn’t be more proud of them.  


I hope Tayler’s student and her family are working through their emotions.  Chronic illness within a family can be emotionally draining.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like either as a mother, or as a daughter, to be faced with terminal illness and impending death.  I am extremely close to my own mom as well as my girls (and son). And since everyone does handle things differently, I hope that staying strong in school is a positive thing in her student’s families lives.  I would probably selfishly want to have my kids around as much as possible.

But what I do continue to take comfort in is knowing that we will continue to be there for each other and I am blessed to have kids who care so much and are always willing to help!

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.