Thursday, March 15, 2018

March - Quick Lit

These are really going to be shorter than usual because, life exploded (in the best way) last week so, no time to blog!  Or little time to blog because, obviously, here I am blogging.  (I had a two day span where I read for a total of 6 minutes which is basically unheard of for me).  Books I've finished in the past month, linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, I'm on Goodreads a lot here

Other book posts this month:

And everything else I finished!

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
World War II story about a Jewish family from Poland and how they are the "lucky ones".  It's strongly based on the author's family (her grandfather, his parents, and his siblings). While I've read many WWII books, they have largely taken place in London or Paris or America, I can't think of many I've read that have looked at the Jewish side, who were obviously very impacted by the war.  It was horrible but felt important to read.  To know their stories were getting told.  If you like World War II novels you might like this one.  I was really rooting for the family (and there is a note at the end about what happened to the real people behind the characters).  4 Stars

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
A YA book about a teen who might get deported and then the boy she crushes on/dates (I can't say "falls in love with" because...they are teenagers and I just can't).  It's the longer form of The Sun is Also a Star but also, more teenage angst because it covers a longer period of time.  I've read a good amount of YA and this was far from my favorite because, again, the angst and teenage drama.  But good look at undocumented citizens.  2.75 Stars

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year of Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
I've read plenty of books that could be classified as "self-help" (I call them "self-improvement") and this was a fantastic reminder of how something seemingly simple as being more grateful can improve your life.  She references studies and backs some of it up with science, while trying to improve different parts of her life through gratitude.  Great reminder to be grateful for what we have.  3.75 Stars

Staying Stylish: Cultivating a Confident Look, Style, and Attitude by Candace Cameron Bure
I grew up watching Full House (and have watched some of Fuller House, not all) and added this one to my list after hearing Candace on Jamie Ivey's podcast earlier this year (episode #176).  I found this a mostly practical guide to fashion, beauty, fitness, etc.  Didn't go too in depth on any of those but I was an enjoyable read (also, quick).  3.75 Stars


The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
I liked this one way more than I expected!  A chef teaches a cooking class and each chapter goes into the story of a different student and the chef.  It was delightful and a perfect weekend read.  4 Stars 

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Micro-memoirs is super correct, this was about 100 pages and could be read in an hour.  Which makes it a very satisfying read.  Liked some, not others, not a wasted hour!  3.25 Stars 


A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
Basically a Christian version of Big Magic (not that that one was anti-Christian, it wasn't, but it was secular, and one of my favorites of 2016).  Inspiring you to find and make your art, in whatever form it takes (you are reading some of mine right now!) 3.75 Stars 


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
One of my favorites from childhood and it still held up on the reread.  Two kids run away to (briefly) live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  They get caught up in a mystery.  I love how they make their own routine at the museum and it's funny reading about prices and such from 50ish years ago.  Making NYC trip #4 later this year...maybe we'll finally visit the Met.  4.5 Stars 

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Super charming middle-grade about a family of 5 kids who are trying to keep their family from being evicted from their Harlem brownstone.  I loved how the kids worked together, helped each other, but also had sibling squabbles.  4 Stars 

Come & Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy
I love food books, even though I rarely cook from them.  About the art of gathering people around your table for fellowship and how it doesn't have to be fancy or hard.  Inspiring.  3.5 Stars

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones
Ehhhhh...not my favorite of hers, I couldn't get invested in the characters and honestly, weeks later, I could barely tell you the plot.  I wanted more sweet tea and less secrets, I think.  2.5 Stars 


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I feel like everyone has to know about this book by now.  Novel but feels very real and very relevant.  Teenage girl is witness to her friend being shot by a police officer.  Both kids are black, the officer is white.  Things escalate from there.  It was a very interesting and real look at the issue but also, not the best written book I've read but still, worth a read.  (Also, lots of language).  3.5 Stars

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
I was very interested in this book after reading other space books like The Martian and Good Morning, Midnight, and my Dad's interest in the space program meant we visited a lot of space museums when I was growing up.   Anyways, parts of it were really interesting and I liked that my alma mater got a few mentions BUT then there were quite a few chapters about using the bathroom in space, how they study what using the bathroom will be like in space, and the possibility of space sex.  It just got a little too graphic for me, even though I did finish it.  If you like this would depend on your interest in space travel and tolerance for reading about the ickier parts.  2.75 Stars

What have YOU been reading?  And would you volunteer to have your bathroom habits analyzed to help the space program?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Call - Sam's Adoption Story

After years and years of waiting for another baby, you'd think we'd be ready to have one sprung on us at any time.  And yet, when the call came last Sunday and we were told there was a baby waiting at the hospital for us, it was like we hadn't been waiting for that exact call for years.  A lot of excitement and a little bit of panic (we're not ready!!).  Yet, I feel like God must have delighted in springing one on us and making us a family of 4 in just a few hours.  (I realize many families expand in a matter of hours.  Mom goes into labor and has a baby, boom! Family bigger.  Except we didn't know we were imminently expecting.)

We were blessed beyond measure with another perfect son, Samuel Paul.  Sam because we liked it (and biblical like big brother Luke) and Paul after my dearly departed Grandpa

Matt and I always wanted multiple children.  We have huge families and we always planned on having a houseful ourselves (I guess that's a relative term, considering our family sizes but we always wished for many).  Before we even got Luke we were talking about how soon after we'd want to relist for another.  It was always part of the plan (which I've learned, doesn't mean much).

We started shortly after Luke's first birthday, contacting the same agency that helped us get him and starting the home study process.  But there was a waiting list for the waiting list and I was having foot surgery in the fall (that put me on crutches for 6 weeks) that would have kept us from being placed anyways.  So it was November 2014 before we were officially listed and waiting for a baby.

Almost 3½ years ago.

Adoption posts during wait #2:
Deja Vu to Two Years Ago (Sept. 2014)
Praying for the Next One (Nov. 2014)
November is Indiana Adoption Month (Nov. 2014)
The Interrelated Woes of my Foot & Adoption (May 2015)
The Adoption Struggle, It's Real (Sept. 2015)
Things I Tell Myself When the Adoption Wait Sucks (Dec. 2015 - it's a good thing that I didn't know we still had TWO YEARS to go when I wrote this.)
State of the Adoption - Year 4 (March 2016)
The Adoption Question I Wished We'd Be Asked (Feb. 2017)
State of the Adoption - Year 5 (Feb. 2017)
Dear Birth Mother... (March 2017)
Prepping for an Adoption Home Visit (Aug. 2017)
State of the Adoption - Year 6 (Feb. 2018)

Three and a half years is a long time to wait.  A long time to be thinking about every plan "Well if we have a baby by then this will change because..."  We prayed "Thy will be done" even on the hard days (and JUST that Sunday morning when I was getting ready for church I was thinking about how I should write a post about how hard "Thy will be done" can be to pray and accept.)  But there were a lot of benefits to having just one kid who was getting easier by the year (I wrote a whole post about it: The Things We Will Miss).

In 2017 we started looking for more agencies to list with after one of ours didn't place any babies in 2016 and another had shut down their adoption program.  We spent a lot of time last year on adoption related things.  We went to meetings, had another home study visit, made two profile books, filled out more paperwork, wrote checks, and stressed.  (You can read about our most invasive personal question asked here and small humor in filling out some paperwork here.)

By the fall we were listed at multiple agencies in multiple cities and we finally felt a bit at peace with the wait.  We felt we had done what we could to get our profile in front of many birth mothers and now we were going to let God do His work.

Life was continuing on.  We got infrequent updates from some of our agencies.  We registered Luke for kindergarten and I was asked many times what I would do once he's in school (Me: "Hopefully have a baby!  Train for a half marathon if we don't!")  We planned a trip to New York City for later this year.  (New thing to stress about: how we will handle a tiny baby in New York.)

Then everything changed in an afternoon.

Saturday, March 3rd
Normal Saturday at home.  I know we were sorting through garage sale Legos ($5 for a giant tub with Star Wars and Harry Potter sets, our best find ever) at 5pm.  We went to Matt's BIL's surprise 40th birthday party that evening.  My SIL asked me about running a half marathon and I said I would if we don't have a baby.  Matt and I watched The Avengers after getting Luke to bed and didn't get to bed until past midnight but I always take a nap on Sunday afternoons so it was fine.  I was really looking forward to that nap.

Sunday, March 4th
We went to 9am Mass, talked with people after, went to breakfast downstairs.  Came home, changed, and went to my in-laws for weekly Sunday brunch.  Matt and I were sitting in the kitchen talking with other family members when I got a phone call from out of state at 11:59.  I ignored it because we've been getting a lot of spam calls lately and so I don't answer my phone unless I know the number or am expecting a call.

Fifteen minutes later Matt stepped out to take a call from his sister and then came to get me. "I want to see if you know who this number is." He said as we walked into another room.

As soon as we were alone he said the agency was trying to get a hold of us (and had tracked us down through his sister whose daughter is friends with the daughter of one of the employees).

Now, there is only ONE reason an adoption agency would be calling us over a weekend.  And we both knew what that was.

We went on the front porch and started freaking out a little and trying to figure out who to call back.  I listened to my voice mail and called that social worker.  Matt called the number from his sister (he's still not sure who he talked to).  We got the story.  There was a baby born the night before, at 5pm, completely healthy, he needs parents.  We were next on the list (it doesn't always work like that, Luke's birth mom picked us from profiles, but this mom didn't want to pick and we won since we had been on the list the longest).  Could we sign papers downtown and then head to the hospital?  The hospital wanted someone to stay with the baby that night and then he should be discharged on Monday.

That's a lot to take in in a few minutes.

My mind was going 100 miles a second and I said I wanted to talk to my husband and I'd call her right back.  Meanwhile Matt's talking to someone else and agreeing to go get a baby.  His phone call was much longer than mine and I couldn't get him to hang up and tell me what the heck was going on.  I went and got Luke, got our coats, and we just disappeared, didn't tell anyone what was going on.

As soon as we got in the car we told Luke we thought we were getting a baby that day.  He was finally getting his brother/sister he had been praying for since he could talk.  What he's wished for on every birthday candle, every eyelash.  He often asked why it was taking so long to find them.  He had been waiting basically his whole life.  And he was SO excited.

At 12:33pm, about 15 minutes after this all started, I called back the social worker I had talked to and told her we would take that baby and start to figure out how this would happen.

We had about 45 minutes at home to pack our bags and get things ready for a baby.  Most parents get 8 months.  With Luke we knew 8 days before we were bringing him home.  What I wouldn't have given for even 8 hours.

I spent a lot of that time walking around the house just saying "Oh my goodness.  Oh my goodness.  Praise the Lord.  Oh my goodness."  If it's possible to have an excited panic attack I think I had one.

We looked up roughly where this hospital was (about 90 minutes away).  We looked up if the infant carseat we used for Luke was expired (it would be in August).  We looked up if Target had any on the shelf we could buy immediately (they did, and even ON SALE.  THANK YOU TARGET.)  We all packed bags for overnight, grabbed the camera and GPS, I filled the diaper bag with at least 8 outfits many burb cloths and blankets.  There was no room in there for diapers.  We got the Big Brother button I had ordered for Luke over a year ago.  I'm really surprised at how well we packed considering the no time and minor freaking out.

(Luke, of course, packed a bunch of Star Wars books and toys.  Gotta teach this baby young.)

We left home before 1:30, got downtown to the agency at 1:37.  And then spent more than an hour going over the paperwork and signing.  Let me tell you, a good way to kill a "we are getting a baby!" high is by reading a bunch of legal documents.

But we signed away, wrote a check, got our packet of papers to take to the hospital and the social worker who would be meeting us there, and headed out about 2:40.

We stopped at Wendy's for lunch.  Went to Target for the car seat, diapers (forgot wipes), a toy for Luke (spent $14 and totally worth it for all the time he spent playing with it at the hospital!) and I randomly grabbed some onesies because, we were getting a baby.  I could buy baby clothes!

He "played" with those in the box for the entire drive.

We were back on the road about 3:20 and started our drive.  We called the social worker to let her know when we were due to arrive.  I called my Mom and asked if she could watch my niece who we normally watch on Mondays.  She asked if there was anything I wanted to tell her.  NO MOM.  (She knew something was up.)

At 4:48 we arrived at the hospital.  We grabbed the camera, my purse and water bottle and met the social worker at 4:50.  Then set off to meet our son.  They took us to the OB unit and to the room that would be ours and right at 5:00, when he was 24 hours old, they wheeled him in.  And there he was.  Perfect.  Less than 5 hours after we knew he existed, we had signed papers and had our lives completely and forever changed.

The first picture we have of him is at 5:03pm, me holding him and Luke next to me.  It was completely surreal.  We woke up that morning thinking it was a normal Sunday (and I was really looking forward to that nap, before I was even out of bed).  Then less than 9 hours later we had two beautiful boys.

By 5:10 we were alone in the hospital room as a family of 4.  (The nurses and social worker: "Let us know if you need anything! Bye!") At 5:11 we took our first family of 4 picture.  It was so completely different from how Luke's meet and greet went (where we had to meet and impress his birth mother and her parents before we got to meet him).  We had signed all the papers and now this was it!  We were new parents again.

By 5:13 we were back on the phone, each calling our parents.  Then all our siblings.  Everyone was pretty shocked (can't say it had settled in for us yet either!).

Most of the people we talked to: "Did you know this was coming??"

Us: "Nope.  Not at all."

After years of waiting, years of praying, years of wondering when we would get that baby, it all happened in an afternoon.  I like to think God was up there gleefully laughing at giving us this blessing, all those times we prayed knowing this was coming and that it would come so fast.  An answer to so many prayers.

I stayed that night in the hospital with Sam.  Matt and Luke got a hotel and came back in the morning.  Luke and I ran to Wal-Mart in the afternoon for formula (and wipes) but otherwise we stuck around the hospital all day.  We were discharged at 5:30 and headed home with a full car, still a little in shock.

You know how most parents do the whole nesting and getting ready for baby thing?  Like washing the clothes, getting furniture rearranged and set-up, etc.?  Yeah...we didn't get that.  People kept texting and asking what we needed. Someone to break into our house to sanitize bottles and wash the baby clothes.  Please and thank you!

We got both sets of Grandparents over within an hour after getting home.  I threw in all the newborn - 3 months clothes in the washer, almost before I had my coat off.  We got the pack n play set up (super important because it's where we store all the baby stuff downstairs - diapers, wipes, burb cloths, clean clothes, etc.).  The next morning we washed bottles, started (another) shopping list, and got things knocked off the to-do list (call about baptism class, let other agencies know we were placed, work on insurance, get attorney, etc.)

The first night was rough but every one since had gotten a little easier.  Matt and I getting at least 7 hours of sleep (even if not consecutively) makes a world of difference in how the day goes.    We've had a steady stream of visitors and Luke is especially delighted when cousins come to meet his new baby (but then run off to play with him).

We still have to wait for the putative father registry to clear (not that I'm completely stressing about it or anything (I am.)), have post placement visits, and eventually go to court to finalize.  Our adoption journey for this baby isn't over yet.  But the years of waiting are.  It's still a little mind boggling.  But, also, crazy how quick it became weird not to have Sam with us, how quickly he became an integral part of our family.

It still blows my mind at how quickly life changed.  It's been a little over a week and still feeling so so blessed.  There are so many people who have said so many prayers for us over the years.  We are so grateful for every one.  Getting to tell everyone is so exciting.

Things might be a little sparse over here for a few weeks (everything that published last week I had written and scheduled before our lives blew up) as we adjust and figure out our new routines. But this is the life disruption we've been wanting.  It's exhausting but so exciting.  We are so blessed by this baby, his birth mother, and all the people who helped pray Sam into our family.  Praise the Lord.

Friday, March 9, 2018

{5} Friday Thoughts

 It's been awhile since I did one of these random thought posts, so here we go!

1) I mentioned the podcast Women's Work in my last Things I Like post and then, after writing that post, episode #6 downloaded and it was with Katie Davis Major, an author I have really enjoyed.  I was delighted!  Her first book, Kisses from Katie was how, after high school, she gave up her pretty normal American life to move to Uganda and adopted 13 daughters, as well as started an organization that aimed to keep families together.  Her second book, Daring to Hope was about struggles she's faced in her time there and working on trusting God through it all.  I'd highly recommend both books and the podcast episode.

2) Matt and I have both been fan sleepers, since childhood.  We need a fan on to sleep and will take one on any trip we drive for (we're not crazy enough to pack one in airplane or Amtrak luggage).  We've had a fan in Luke's room since he was a baby but it recently broke and it took us a week or two to order a replacement.  Which means he was sleeping without the noise of a fan.  Every time I went in his silent room and saw him asleep, I was shocked and amazed.  How could he sleep without a fan?!?!?!

3) The Olympics are over and it's worth noting that there might not be any better time to have a DVR.  Ours was set to record it all - over 90 hours on regular NBC.  But the beauty of the DVR is that we could fast forward through anything not interesting and catch events that aired in the middle of the night or during the day.  It was wonderful.  We didn't watch nearly 90 hours worth but did at least see most of that in fast forward (and we still watched a lot).  We watched most Americans in most finals (skipped a lot of qualifier rounds). 

4) My favorites: downhill slopestyle skiing.  Matt's favorite: ski or snowboard cross.  Luke's favorite: not the Olympics.  (Again, I don't get this.)  (The picture is my skis over the snow park while riding a chair lift...the closest I'll get to doing tricks.)

5) I finally took Luke to storytime!  It was on my 18 in 2018 list and it was an easy enough one to check off the list and so it happened.  A month before Luke turns 5.  I'm super timely.  And Luke was NOT into it.  It was Peter Rabbit themed and they hinted there was going to be a guest at the end.  It was a person in a Peter Rabbit costume.  I think Luke would have been more excited if it was an actual rabbit.  But he has been asking when we can go again so not a complete loss.

That's it, 5 random thoughts!  Happy Friday!!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

{6} Things at Which I Wish I Was Better

Blogging can often feel like very braggy.  I write about things I've done or all the books I've read, generally things I am good at.  This may come as a shock, but there are a lot of things I don't feel very good at.  Which are primarily things I don't write about.  Because who wants to read about how I don't know how to do things?  It might be interesting for awhile but I'm assuming you read this because you want to learn/improve your life in some way (or you know me in real-life and feel obligated).

This is why I've posted 33 dessert recipes, 43 for ice cream and 75 drinks, but only 19 main course recipes.  I feel much more confident in my ability to make the things we don't need to eat than the things we should.

So, today, talking about skills I wish I was better at and therefore, you probably won't see much on the blog:

1) Landscaping
We lived without much landscaping for...4 years?  I got all inspired and tore out some 40 plants...and then took a bunch of years to finally decide what to plant in those spots (and really, we just covered a lot of it with mulch.)  Gardening and growing things, or even deciding what to grow, are not our strong suits.  Our garden isn't very productive, I never fertilize anything, rarely trim bushes... I wish I cared more to actually figure these things out...but I don't. We have some bare spots in the flower beds that have lasted for...18 months now.  I'd like our yard to at least look passable, it's never going to look great.

And that goes along with...

2) Keeping Plants Alive

I've maybe killed more plants than I've kept alive, even my beloved and long-lived hibiscus biting the dust this winter (although, that was more my husband mercy killing them (ala Angela's cat on The Office) rather than having to carry two 5 foot plants to the basement...I haven't gotten over it yet, also haven't completely given up hopes that they are fully dead even though all the signs point to yes.).   If sunshine and (occasional) water doesn't keep them alive then they just shouldn't be on our property.  I have done slightly better with house plants, but I've also killed a lot of those too.  A LOT.  (Which explains all the fakes we have.)

3) Kid Art Projects
Last fall Luke and I were in a good routine of making an art project every Friday.  I think we did 5-6.  Which makes about a total of 10 in his almost 5 years of life.  See, part of the problem was that I never know what to do with all these projects.  It felt like we were just making more clutter.  And I realize they would probably help teach him skills like following directions and hand-eye coordination and all that...but I just am not real motivated in searching out projects on Pinterest, finding supplies, and then corralling Luke long enough to do them.  AND then still having to find a place for them.  He was really proud back when we did them so maybe we need to try once a month or something?  But I also know he's going to be bringing home all sorts of art from school next year AND he still is coloring almost daily.  It's not like we have a shortage of his art around here.  (This one did have a blog post here.)

4) My Hair
I can either wear my hair down and straight or down and curly.  I do basic ponytails to run or at the lake (or most of the summer) but that's pretty much it on my hair knowledge.  You'd think growing up with all sisters we would have practiced doing each other's hair...but nope, not really.  I can braid, but not french braid (and my braiding was mostly limited to Barbies).  I don't own a curling iron/wand and my hair dryer is literally over 20 years old.  I keep telling myself I just need to figure out a few basic styles, besides just down, and then be set.  But that hasn't happened yet.  (That picture is from, what I consider, a SUPER rare good curly hair day.  They happen about once a year.)

5) Cooking
As stated above, I'm not a great cook.  I make most of our suppers but you can tell from the recipes I've posted that they are all pretty basic, and those make up the majority of the suppers we have, besides summertime grilling (which I also can't do).  I'm not an adventurous eater and so my cooking is also not adventurous.  I love reading books about food but also know I'm probably not ever going to cook like that and I don't even like most of the ingredients if I did.  I'm fine with the basics but whenever I read those books or see people who can really cook...I think "I'd really like to be better at that...".  (Also, here we are making truffles, I'm pretty sure no pictures exist of me making main courses.)

6) Playing Piano
I took piano lessons through most of grade school but quit to join the high school marching band.  I did another semester in college but that was still ~15 years ago and have hardly played since.  This is largely due to not owning a piano (a dream for our next house!).  I've tried playing at my parents' a little bit over the years but found I can barely read music anymore!  It's something I really do hope to get back into some day, even just a little bit.  I was never super good but I could play a little.

Plenty of things I don't feel good at and, therefore, will probably never be writing about.  Who will share what they wish they could do better??

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Love: I Will Always Write Back

This book was such a delightful surprise.  I read a decent amount of non-fiction but most falls into the self-improvement category and less memoirs. But this book was mostly just enjoyable, up-lifting, and made me really think about our privileged American life.

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

Caitlin and Martin are two teenagers living very different lives, half a world apart.  They are assigned as pen pals in 1997.  Caitlin is 12 (I remember very clearly her being 2 years younger than me) but I think Martin is a year or two older (you'd think I'm remember him being about my age).  They start exchanging letters, slowly.

At first it's nothing real special, Caitlin lives a fairly privileged life outside Philadelphia with her parents and older brother.  She goes to public school, spends time with friends, and has about two dozen different boys she crushes on (probably pretty typical of many pre-teen and teenage girls.  Not that I speak with experience.)

Martin lives in slums in Zimbabwe, in Africa.  He's very smart and a hard worker but his family's poverty and living conditions make life hard for him.  He shares one half of a tiny room with his parents and 4 siblings.  They rarely eat meat and he shares one small blanket to sleep on the floor with two of his brothers.  He doesn't own a pair of shoes until he's in his teens.

These two kids live two very different lives.  While Caitlin is worried about friend drama and boys, Martin worries about getting to school and having enough food to eat. 

After a few years of corresponding and becoming pretty good long distance friends, it comes out that Martin is having trouble paying for school.  Caitlin starts by sending him an extra $20 in her letter which covers school fees and helps with groceries.  Then Martin needs to take some tests to advance to the next level of his education.  He's been the #1 student in his grade for almost his whole schooling and has big dreams, but they can't happen without some money.  And what he needs seems so small to Caitlin and her family; $20 buys a lot.

I really felt for Martin, struggling in his circumstances, wanting a better life for himself and his family.  Having a real desire to learn but having to drop out of school for a few months when his family can't afford the fees.  He has a lot of drive but not the means to make it happen.

Caitlin's family steps in and helps Martin and his family again, just showing how what seems like a little to us, can really be a lot to another.

And isn't it that way in a lot of things, not just money?  How what feels like a small comment or encouragement can really turn a life, or at least a day, around?  Sometimes you just need someone to notice that you are struggling, to acknowledge that what you are going through is hard.  That they believe that you can overcome.

Reading this book made me very aware of how much excess there is in our country (and probably many others).  I got up to use the bathroom after a solid 40 minutes reading and was just amazed that we have running water, a flushing toilet, and the space for a bathroom!  Suddenly our 1200 square foot house, pretty small by American standards, seemed huge!  All this space we aren't using every minute of every day!  We have electricity and food in the fridge and the ability to pay for our son to go to school.  It was a great eye opener.

Martin ends up going to an elite private school on scholarship and eventually making his way to the US for college, but not without some worries and problems along the way (I figured this out long before I got to that part of the book because I, of course, flipped to the pages of pictures as soon as I realized they were there.)

This isn't a story of the white people saving a brown kid, but about the power of friendship, how knowing the people involved in the news stories makes it all seem much more real, and how we can help others, not just financially.  It was a heart-warming tale of friendship, the power to change lives, and the bountiful blessings we have.  It was a very worthwhile read.

(And if you feel encouraged to help send kids to school in third world countries, I work with an organization, Sung-Taaba, that does just that to blind and deaf kids in Ghana.  We're sponsoring four students right now with hopes for more soon!)

Amazon | Goodreads

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a product link, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for helping support this blog!