Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘parents’

Review of Tell Me a Secret

TEll-Me-a-Secret-by-Ann-Everett>Review of Tell Me a Secret by Ann Everett. Narrated by Sarah Pavelec.

He spun the chair around and straddled it like he was doing it a favor.”

That is the effect Jace Sloan has on women at college, and is one of the many wonderful metaphors used throughout this love story. His charm works on everyone accept Maggie, who is in graduate school and works as a nurse and tutor. Jace and Maggie’s personalities are like oil and water, but they must find a way to work together when she is assigned by her professor to be his tutor for anatomy.

Just when you think this story is following the usual boy meets girl, girl losses boy, and then they get together again, plot line, there is a twist. Actually, there are a number of twists that will keep reader’s wondering about the character’s futures. The dialogue shifts from chapter to chapter, between Maggie’s perspective and Jace’s, providing an intimate microscope into their internal thoughts, emotions and perceptions. Author Ann Everett did a good job keeping the dialogue and situations real, as well as the couple’s reactions.

As an avid reader, and past reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, I must confess that this is the first audio book I’ve listened to and reviewed. Though it was quite long, the narrator’s voice, Sarah Pavelec, was pleasant and engaging. Her tone for both the male and female characters was spot on, as well as the intonations for specific dialogue and action.

Tell Me a Secret is a good book to take on a long trip, or listen to for a period of time each day. It is a sweet romance that shows opposites can not only be attracted to one another when the pheromones are intense, but may also stay together through misunderstandings, tragedy and jealousy.

Advertisements

Meeting Her Parents

After going out for a year and a half and living together for four months, it was time to meet my wife’s parents. Her parents lived in Chicago and we lived in California. The day of reckoning had arrived.

images

One day, as Audrey was talking on the phone with her mother (which she does every week for hours on end), her Mom told her that they were coming out to a convention in San Francisco and wondered if they could meet us for dinner. Audrey had replied, “Yes, we would love to.” and then informed me of it afterwords. I was reasonably shocked, but as ready as I’d ever be. She had told me a little about her parents and I’d talked to them on the phone, but had never met them in person.

I was nine years older than their daughter and already had three children from a previous marriage! Audrey had never been married, was only twenty-four and had grown up as an only child. And even though I had a Masters degree, at the time of our meeting I was working as a nursing assistant, which was as far away from their daughter’s previous boyfriend, who was going to medical school, as possible.

The meeting took place at what is now the Sheraton Hotel in downtown San Francisco. We met them in the lobby. I had on the one good suit I owned, that looked like something from the seventies and just as tacky. Audrey looked beautiful, as always. Her parents looked just like I had imagined, though her father wasn’t as tall as I’d expected. We exchanged formalities and went outside to get on the cable car and go down to Ghirardelli Square, where we went to a fancy Hungarian restaurant.

After being seated and making sure to follow everything they did, such as eating with the proper utensil and delicately sipping the wine, her father asked about the work I did and what I had done in the past. I tried to make health care, counseling and massage sound important and exciting, but I could tell it wasn’t going over real well. Then her mother asked about my kids. I gave her a glowing report and tried to convey how different that relationship had been, from the one her daughter and I had now embarked upon. Her anxiety and fears seemed to increase, despite my good intentions.

I must admit, if my only daughter was involved, at age twenty-four, with a man in his thirties who already had three children and worked as a nursing assistant, I would have had my doubts, concerns and clanging sirens of apprehension!

As we all stood on the trolley car, on the way back to the hotel, her father unexpectedly asked me where I lived. The one thing we hadn’t told them yet was that we were living together. Not sure what to say, I finally said, “I live real close.” Luckily, he didn’t ask where or how close. I’m not sure I could have pulled off another stretch of the truth.

As we were driving home that night Audrey said, “It will take time, but I think they like you. They’re just scared about my future, that’s all.”

“That’s all!” I exclaimed. “That’s quite a bit, your future.”

I admitted that in spite of all my preconceptions and notions about her parents, that I liked them as well.

Audrey and I have been married twenty-six years now and her mother and father (who has since passed away) are both close to our hearts and lives. They have loved all their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including the ones that didn’t come through their daughter and even accepted their American son-in-law, who never became a lawyer or physician and still only has one good suit.

Unschakles the Mind

Review: The Last Conception by Gabriel Constans
Reviewed by Monica Arora. 23 September 2014
KITAAB (“Book” in Hindi) Singapore

LastConception-CoverThe oft-debated dichotomy between modern scientific research and wisdom of traditional values, religious beliefs and spiritual propensities have formed the basis of several discussions, debates, deliberations and continues to dog the human sensibility, constantly torn between the two. This conflict between science and spiritualism forms the basis of the engaging novel by Gabriel Constans, entitled ‘The Last Conception’.

The plot revolves around the young female protagonist Savarna Sikand, who is an embryologist engaged in working with fertility treatments in a high-tech laboratory in San Francisco, US. Meanwhile, her parents, hailing from the south-eastern part of India, but settled in the United States, and deeply rooted in some ancient religious cult, express their desire for their daughter to conceive and thereby continue their rare lineage. What follows is a gripping saga of the dilemma faced by the young scientist Savarna who fights very hard to tread the fine line between her parents’ spiritual beliefs and her own scientific wisdom.

Gabriel has come up with a taut narrative that is extremely simple and yet keeps the reader engaged with its fast pace and myriad topics conjuring doubts, dogmas and apprehensions in minds of young people all over the globe. Right from exploring alternate sexuality and its ramifications on the immediate family to the delicate issue of childlessness, all are dwelt upon with much thought and deliberation and ‘The Last Conception’ offers a rare insight into lives of seemingly ordinary men and women dealing with such quandaries on a day-to-day basis.

Moreover, there is this keen sense of urgency and uncertainty running throughout the narrative pertaining to Savarna’s attempts at conception and the traumas, both mental and physical, which have to be endured for accomplishing the same. The high point of the novel comes in the form of adoption of an Indian-origin baby by Savarna’s sister Chitra owing to her infertility and the feelings of joy, pleasure and pride experienced by the entire family thereafter. Such sensitive subjects are dealt with much bravado and wisdom by the author and offer a lot of information to readers regarding these subjects, thereby clearing several dogmas and misconceptions plaguing childless couples and misled elders, who succumb to mindless religious dictates and notions without studying their cause and effect in detail.

What really touched me was how the parents of the two girls, Mira and Mr Sikand, handle their daughters’ dilemmas as well as their old mother’s beliefs continuing from unwavering faith in a dwindling sect of ancient India. The maturity of their feelings and their ability to keep their family together under all circumstances stands as a pinnacle of hope in contemporary times mired under the garb of modern values or lack of them and hence, offering no emotional solace to lonely, weary souls in a confused society.

‘The Last Conception’ is indeed a very noble attempt by the author to choose such unusual and uncommon themes and write a piece of prose that unshackles the mind and offers rare insight into the much spoken and widely discussed matter of science vs spirituality. With immense care and caution, Gabriel has gently treaded around prickly territory and offered a well-researched and well-structured story which deserves to be read and preserved not just as a treasure-trove of information but also juxtaposing human emotions.

Read entire review and more at KITAAB.

Families Need Food Now!

Families Need Food Now!

In some places, hunger isn’t just something that happens for a few hours, or even a few days. For some, hunger lasts a whole season – and we’re right in the middle of it.

Stores of food from last year’s harvest have run low in Mali, Guatemala, and Lesotho, but next year’s crops aren’t ready to eat or sell. There’s no money left to buy more food. Children are getting more and more hungry. Many parents are desperately trying to make what food they have stretch for just a few more days.

Because if they can’t – if the food won’t last until the crops come in – their children might not survive. These families need food now.

augustcampaign-inset1

This is the worst time of year for hungry families. But right now, we have a special opportunity to fight back: from now until August 29, every single dollar you give will be matched, so you can fight back twice as hard against hunger.

Your donation can help CARE provide relief to a hungry child and help eliminate the hungry season for good. Donate today and your gift will be matched – everything you give will be doubled.

To fight hunger right now, CARE is providing immediate nutritional assistance, including bags of corn, sorghum, millet, or rice, and emergency therapeutic foods to treat malnourished children. It costs just $7 to feed a person in crisis for an entire week.

But we don’t believe in temporary solutions to big problems, and I’m sure you feel the same way. That’s why CARE isn’t just fighting the hungry season this year – we’re also working to break the cycle, to prevent a hungry season next year. And every year.

The cycle of hunger is a vicious one: Families sell shares of their upcoming harvest at rock-bottom prices just to get food to eat today, leaving them less to sell at fair prices the following season and reducing the amount they will earn. Worse yet, in moments of desperation, they’ll even eat seeds meant to plant next year’s crop, leaving them with less to grow next year.

To fight hunger in the future, CARE is taking long-term steps. We’re working with communities to improve farming techniques to make fields more productive. We’re also setting up savings and loan groups so families can diversify their sources of income by taking out loans and investing the capital in ventures like sewing or animal husbandry.

We can’t accomplish any of that without the support of people like you.

Your support can feed a child right now, and can help a family stay nourished for all of next year.

Donate now, and help CARE work towards ending the hungry season for hard-working families – this year and forever.

Thank you for all that you do.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Hunger, Summer, America

Dear Gabriel,

For most of us, the 4th of July means neighborhood parties, backyard barbecues, and maybe a watermelon seed spitting contest or two. The holiday is a celebration of family, friends, and the triumph of the American dream. But for families across America who struggle with poverty and hunger, that dream seems a long way off.

watermelongirl

For many families, the sudden loss of a job or a medical emergency can make keeping food on the table a struggle. And for parents who rely on school meal programs to help bridge the gap when times are tough, that problem is especially acute in the summer months.

Kids shouldn’t have to worry about going hungry every summer.

While many of us are relaxing with family and friends this summer, too many parents across America are wondering how they will keep their children happy and healthy until school starts again.

Today, as Americans everywhere celebrate the tremendous promise of our nation, take a minute keep kids across the country happy and healthy. This July, add your name to the movement of Americans fighting to end childhood hunger this summer!

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Carried In Our Hearts

0399161058.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Carried In Our Hearts
New York Journal of Books
Review by Gabriel Constans

Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption:
Inspiring Stories of Families Created Across Continents

by Dr. Jane Aaronson

“. . . There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.”

The introduction to Carried in Our Hearts reads, “These stories need to be told,” and Dr. Jane Aronson does so with honesty, insight, love, conflict, and conviction.

This collection of adoptive families around the world is wisely divided into eight thematic sections, the headings of which convey the essence of the essays in each. They are: The Decision, The Journey, The Moment We Met, Early Challenges, Becoming A Family, A New Life, Reflections: Children Tell Their Own Adoption Stories, and The Children Left Behind.

The author/editor of this collection is Dr. Jane Aronson, who has two adopted boys of her own from Ethiopia. Dr. Aronson is a pediatrician who specializes in adoption medicine and who founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. To say her heart, body, and soul are thoroughly invested in helping children (professionally, personally and collectively) would be an understatement.

UNICEF estimates that there are 153 million orphans in the world. Dr. Aronson is trying to get as many of them into families as possible and make sure those not adopted are treated with dignity and care.

The title of the book comes from an adopted child’s remark overheard by her mother when she was speaking to another young child her age. Her daughter’s friend said she was carried in her mother’s tummy and the adopted daughter replies, “My mommy didn’t carry me in her tummy; she carried me in her heart.” That line alone could make the harshest reader’s heart melt, but it is just one of many poignant moments revealed throughout this compilation.

Molly Wenger McCarthy, who has three children, including daughter Lu from Ethiopia, sums up the experience of adoption (and having and raising children by any means) with an insightful and comprehensive line, “The home side of our adoption is a humbling, astonishing, crazy, poignant mess of a life.”

Shonda Rhymes (creator of TV shows Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal) tells about her need to surrender control to the process, as she adopted her daughters, as does actress Mary-Louise Parker and many others who had children previously or were adopting for their first time.

All of the parents who adopted also spoke about learning how to balance doing what they could for the process to move forward and simultaneously letting go of what was beyond their grasp or ability to change. Some might liken it to an adoption parent’s version of 12-step programs’ serenity prayer.

The section titled Early Challenges is especially helpful and necessary to give readers an objective perspective of the difficulties that can arise in the midst of all the goodness and joy. Physical and mental health issues, birth parents changing their minds, governments saying “no” at the last minute, adopted children having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and language, etc. can all take place before, during, and after adoption, just as painful issues can arise with biological children.

Carried in Our Hearts proclaims to contain stories from “families created across continents,” which may lead one to believe that the essays include a variety of adoptive parents (culturally, nationally, and of various financial means), but the reality is that ninety percent of the families who speak about their experience in the book are not only privileged white Americans, but also predominantly from the New York area.

This is not surprising due to the author’s circle of contacts and practice, but it would have added an enriching depth and perspective if there had been as much diversity with the adoptive parents as there is with the children who were adopted.

There is also only one story about an adoption not working out and the child being returned to the orphanage or childcare center. There may be fewer unsuccessful adoptions internationally (which is the primary focus of this collection), but on a local level there is a higher percentage (as much as 50% in some areas), in which the children do not stay in the adoptive home.

Whether you have children, are thinking of having children, thought about adopting or adopted hundreds, Carried in Our Hearts is an inspirational and timely collection. There is great care, hope, and love in these pages.

*****

Read complete review and more at New York Journal of Books.

Reviewer Gabriel Constans’s books include Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call; Good Grief, Love, Loss & Laughter; The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales; and The Last Conception (coming in 2014). He is the father of five children (two adopted) and is closely associated with the Rwandan Orphan’s Project and the Ihangane Project, both in Rwanda.

Call Today

Dear Gabriel,

DAP-one-million-sig-enoughMy son Blair was murdered with a gun on his way home from school. He was riding a Chicago city bus, and he was caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting just a few days before Mother’s Day.

Newtown, Connecticut doesn’t look a lot like the South Side of Chicago. But when I hear the stories of Newtown families, I am familiar with their pain.

One month has passed since the heartbreaking mass shooting that took the lives of twenty first-graders and six adults. No community should have to go through that kind of terror, and no parent should have to feel so much loss.

Please join me and the families of other gun violence victims in saying: ENOUGH.

We recorded a new TV ad to Demand A Plan from our leaders in Congress.

Take a minute to watch the ad and call your members of Congress RIGHT NOW.

Today, more than forty mayors across the country organized events with law enforcement officials, faith leaders and survivors of gun violence to commemorate the tragedy at Newtown and demand action from our elected leaders in Washington.

More than a million people have signed the Demand A Plan petition calling on President Obama and Congress to step forward with a real plan to end gun violence.

But our leaders need to hear our voices every day. Please watch our new TV ad and make a call TODAY:

http://DemandAPlan.org/ENOUGH

I’ve met parents and loved ones of gun violence victims from all across the country. We share a connection because of the pain we’ve all been through, and we can offer each other some comfort and understanding. But there’s nothing that would make us happier than never adding a new member to our group ever again.

Thirty-three people are murdered with guns every day in America — sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. We’ve had ENOUGH and it’s time for our leaders in Congress to act.

Thank you for calling your members of Congress to Demand A Plan,

Annette Nance-Holt
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Tag Cloud