Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Aunt Died Yesterday.

It happened in the very early morning. My mother called during breakfast to tell me. The news took my breath away and replaced it with a weight I am slowly becoming used to carrying. I can't make it to the funeral and it's making me sad. I need to memorialize her some way and right now the ol' blog, ephemeral as it may be, seems like the only option.

Aunt Barbara was my dad's handicapped sister. She was the fifth of seven children and had Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome. Because of her handicap I was always of two minds about her. I was struggling against my fear of her otherness to find the strength of compassion so I could relate to her somehow. I wanted to see through her handicap, through the difficulties this life threw at her, and see her as God saw her. I wanted to see her as His child; as one of His miracles. There were a few times that I think I came close.

We visited Barbara on most major holidays. She lived in a group home in Ogden and we lived in Cache Valley so we would trek down there for Christmas and her birthday and sometimes on other days. The first thing my dad always did was take her and the other folks in the house over to the 7-11 for Slurpees. We would all walk together and after a few minutes their smiles and excitement would crowd out the awkwardness of their gaits and what I percieved as strangess about them.

For her birthday we always gave her the same things: dollar bills and 3 Musketeers bars. Those things never lost their enchantment for her. She opened them with giddy fingers and would hold them high above her head, crowing with excitement, before tucking them safely into her fannypack. In her happiness she was always wild to hug someone and as much as I was nervous about her body a hug from Barbara never failed to impart some of the magic that made her who she was.

Eventually Barbara was moved to a rest home in our town. She spent six days a week at the rest home and Saturdays at our house. It was the same routine each week. My dad would drive to the rest home and pick up her and her laundry. He was closest to her in age and always the best friend she had. Barbara knew she could count on him because she always had. I think doing her laundry was his way of saying that he would do anything in the world for her. While her clothes were swished around in the washer and warmed and fluffed in the dryer she would watch The Sound of Music and sing along at the top of her lungs. She knew all the words and never missed a beat. When Barbara was there music filled the house.

When I knew her, singing was the truest form of communication with Barbara. Talking and words seem to roll around her body but never make it inside. But music, well, music was already inside her and singing--especially the hymn "I am a Child of God"--tapped into her essence. It was the way over the hurdles of her disablities.

I took her for granted for a lot of years, like most of us do with most of our loved ones. It wasn't until I read my grandmother's journals, Barbara's mother's journals, that I saw her a person. Instead of her being something strange and peripheral I could see her as a daughter and sister, as someone full of love and in need of love. I thought of her often and wondered how I could reach out to her but never found any answers--until a few weeks ago.

When we were on vacation in Utah I went with my dad and mom to visit Barbara. They had just finished one of the church services they did at the rest home and Barbara was sitting near the piano as the minister cleaned up. She recognized my dad--she doesn't remember me but she never forgets him--and took his hand. My dad introduced our family to the minister and she reached down (Barbara has been in a wheelchair for quite a few years now. She broke her leg and then her hip and decided learning to walk again wasn't worth it.) and put her arms around Barbara. My mom leaned over to hug Barbara too. I wrapped my arms around myself and wondered about the feel of her skin. The minister talked about God's love and somehow or other Barbara's singing came up and before I realized what I was doing I blurted out, "Have you heard Barbara sing 'I am a Child of God'? It's her favorite song." Of course Barbara sang it beautifully for us. And we sang with her. When Barbara sings it's hard not to join in. As I listened to her words I felt the Spirit envelope our group and hold us together. As the chorus rose and fell I knew that Barbara was part of our eternal family and I was filled with gratitude. For a split second her spirit felt enormous to me. For what was the last and probably the first time, I reached out and took her hand, her skin cool against my sweaty palms.

I don't imagine it meant much to Barbara. She was surrounded by people who loved her. The nurses all knew Barbara--there was a sort of bemused smile they all got when we mentioned her name--and they took excellent care of her. She had a roommate named Bev who was eternally patient and kind to Barbara. There were doctors and therapists and volunteers who all spent their time and energy on her. I think Barbara enjoyed her life and didn't miss an errant neice.

The truth is I missed her. I missed singing songs. I missed eating candy bars. I missed all the things I could have learned from her. I missed all the love she would have given. I missed her. And now I miss her more.

When I asked my dad about Barbara's death he said, "It will also not surprise you to know that my faith in Christ’s grace leaves me comforted that she is now free of her many challenges, rejoining loved ones who have gone before, and preparing for a glorious resurrection to eternal life and joy . . .[but] the world feels a little older and colder to me now." That is how my sadness feels too.

Maybe it's my sense of drama but I wanted to sing at her funeral. It seemed like the only appropriate gesture I could make for her, like maybe singing that one time would help her voice stay in this world a little longer. But that's not going to happen. So (humor me here, grief makes people do sometimes silly and irrational things), maybe those of you who read this could sing. Not a lot, nothing weird or crazy, but just sing. Sing "I am a Child of God" with your kids at bedtime or if you don't usually sing the hymns in sacrament meeting sing one this week or maybe just on your own in the car or something. For me it was Barbara's music that made this world not so cold and if others sing--just a little--some of her warmth, the Spirit's warmth, will linger. Thanks. (And thanks for refraining from calling me a wierdo for asking!)

p.s. Here is another hymn, "Be Thou My Vision", that my dad identified with Barbara. This is a Christian pop arrangement but I like it anyway :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comments on the Comments

Hi readers! You know what makes my day? Comments. I love it when you guys share your experiences and points of view. So in the comments on the last post Zen said this:

Depression needs to be seen more like an unfit neurotransmitter response, much as obesity is unfit muscle response or insulin response. I say this, because right now, it sounds like a mental inherent deficiency, rather than something that can be either weakened or corrected . . .I [think] that being depressed is another issue entirely - and has little to do with success in work, or dating or anything.

I really appreciated his sentiments but I want clarification on some of it. I absolutely agree that depression is an illness like diabetes or heart disease. Our bodies are incredibly complicated--especially those neurotransmitters!--and depression happens when one of those neurotransmitters misfires and throws the system off. Until the neurotransmitters get back on target the depression continues--which is where treatment comes in. Depression is an illness and it does have treatment options.

The part where things get confusing is the second part of the comment: depression has little to do with success in work and dating and anything? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what Zen meant, but in my mind environmental factors have a lot to do with depression! If you are in a relationship that is high-stress or dysfunctional, you can end up, well, depressed. If you are in a dead end job, or even a job you love that is extremely demanding, you can end up depressed. Sin can contribute to depression, but so can feeling too burdened by church responsibilities. Of course, whether or not your depression will be a chronic problem or not depends on the individual, just like whether or not a certain job or relationship will trigger depression is an individual issue. But it gets sticky trying to figure out what is the biochemical response and what are the environmental factors. And that doesn't even address any spiritual issues a person may be having.

So here's my question for you all: How do you tell the difference between what is environment and what is chemical? Untreated depression is so overwhelming, how do you begin to deal with it?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Depression profile #3: ME!

Hi friends! In the comments on my last post Gypsy asked me some good questions that I thought I'd try to answer here. Here is what she (or she could be a he . . .) said:

Laura, I have read some of your posts about your depression. I am happy that you are writing about this subject because many LDS women are afraid about not looking perfect and admitting to themselves that they can't live up to the perceived expectations. I personally have struggled with a mental disorder for the past 10 years, but I have struggled with emotional issues for a good part of my life. But this post isn't about me. I wanted to ask you about the measures you are taking to combat the disorder. How long do you think you have had this depression? What drugs have you taken. . . I may be able to help you in your quest to find the right drug. I have taken almost all of them. YAYA!

Okay Gypsy, here are your answers! I gotta warn you, though. I have never been able to give a short answer in my life.

#1 & #3: I do A LOT of things to combat my depression. I try to exercise almost everyday--I usually skip Sunday (keep that Sabbath day holy!) and miss one or two days during the week. I take an antidepressant. I just switched from Lexapro to Cymbalta a week ago. I'll let you all know how that is in a few weeks when the medicine has a had a chance to kick in. I occasionally go to therapy so that I can sort the effective behaviors from the ineffective ones. I'm part of a playgroup and a book club so that I don't get too lonely. I attend Church and try to pray, read my scriptures, and attend the temple so that I can receive the Lord's guidance and His uplifting spirit. My depression affects every facet of my life so I do a lot of things to fight it.

#2: How long a person has been depressed is always a tricky question. I wasn't formally diagnosed until about four months after I gave birth to my first baby. The depression, however, had started sometime during the pregnancy and I just hadn't realized it. I called it postpartum depression and hoped it was merely a blip in my otherwise seriously, so blessed life. I took Lexapro for about three months and quit, thinking that I was cured.

I started the slow descent back down only a couple of months after I went off the drugs. Exercise, writing, and developing meaningful relationships all helped stave off the bad days. But the bad days were really bad. When I got pregnant with my second baby I started to perk up. My body seems to produce hormones better when I'm pregnant so for the first couple trimesters I felt quite buoyant. Unfortunately, during the third trimester of my second pregnancy I began to feel like, well, crap. So I started thinking of myself as someone with perinatal depression. My OB put me back on Lexapro when my baby was three weeks old and strongly urged me to get a therapist. I found one but we didn't really get along so I quit seeing her after a few sessions.

I quit my medicine the second time, under my doctor's supervision, after six months. I was still hoping the PPD was just a minor detour. My emotional state quickly deteriorated again. This time I joined a gym and found a new therapist. I figured/hoped that maybe the depression was being caused by some underlying anxiety issues that got triggered by the stress of having babies. Which some of it was. But a lot of it wasn't.

I then got pregnant for the third time and, thanks in part to my therapist who provided essential support during my pregnancy, started taking my drugs during the last few weeks before delivery. I had some anxiety and trouble sleeping after the baby was born but nothing like the crazies that I had with my first and second babies.

Which brings me to now. My baby just turned one and I am on a new drug. I also still see my therapist occasionally and I am only now coming to terms with the chronic nature of this illness. It boggles my mind, and kind of scares me, that I am going to have to deal with this issue for the rest of my life. Of course, when I am being honest with myself I admit that I went through depressed phases as a teenager so I've already been dealing with it for quite some time. Bizarrely, that thought gives me hope.

I hope that covers it all in a relatively succinct manner, Gypsy. Oh and by the way, if you or any other reader would like to share your story (in a completely confidential and anonymous way) on my blog I would love it. If you are interested please email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com. Please put "depression profile" in the subject line so I know you are not a spammer! I honestly believe that the more we talk about all this the better it will get.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

3 books in 3 days (thanks, Stephenie Meyer)

It's probably because my husband is out of town and I don't sleep well when he's not here, but I just read three books in three days. So much for being burned out on reading!

A friend of mine(Hi, Jerilyn!) wisely realized that I wasn't truly burned out on reading. I just needed a change of pace. So she brought me some books she'd been meaning to give me for quite some time now. What are the books? Well, they happen to be the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer.

Now, I have had several lengthy conversations with friends and family about these Mormon vampire books so I will try to keep it brief here, but they really gave me a lot to think about.

Twilight was the 29th book I've read this year, New Moon the 30th, and Eclipse the 31st. I picked them up having read a lot of the internet stuff about it. How can you live in America and not know about these books? I was trying to keep an open mind though. After all, so many people think these books are the only thing to fill gaping void that Harry Potter has left in their hearts. However, plenty of people also seem to think these books are, well, bad--with the definition of that word ranging from poorly written to inspired by Satan. Well, after having FINALLY read them I don't sit in either camp.

Don't get me wrong. Stephenie Meyer is definitely talented, especially when it comes to finding a popular nerve and stiking it just right. If you are wondering if that is actually a talent just check out how many impoverished writers are haunting the coffee shops in Borders stores all over America. Knowing what a massive audience wants to hear and producing it fast enough to keep them happy is a huge talent and one that so many writers lack.

Also, as far her craft goes, I was able to appreciate how she seamlessly interwove archetypes from romance, horror, and fantasy genres. I didn't find any of the characters themselves new or original (Edward might as well be named Angel for the way he mirrors Buffy's exceptionally sensitive vampire lover and Bella is SUCH the stereotypical romance ingenue I could pracitically predict how many paragraphs it was unitl she was going to do something) but I do think the combinations are interesting. However, as Edward and Bella entwined their fingers in each other's hair and smacked their icy/hot lips together for the gagillionth time I found myself wondering about Carlisle's story or even Rosalie's. For me the books would have been a lot more fascinating had the story been about Carlisle's tranisition from pious preacher to bloodlusting monster to "vegetarian"-vampire-surgeon and spiritualist. Alice was a hoot until she got to be such an obvious foil for Bella that I thought I was the psychic one.

What really made the books interesting for me was not the story line or the characters (no surprise there, huh?) but the puzzle of their cultural significance. My mind seemed to come back to two questions: Why were these books so fascinating to so many readers? And how did they square with Meyer's being LDS?

As for the first question, I came to a couple of conclusions. First off the books are deliciously distracting. I read each one almost straight through not realizing how many hours ticked by. That was fun. Also, of course, the books are titillating and in some places, downright erotic. And pop culture loves eroticism like it loves Paris Hilton. It was the eroticism that led my mind to a darker, more complicated conclusion too.

Now, maybe this the literature degree in me, but I couldn't help but read Edward as a curious mix of the sexual predator and knight in shining armor. For as much as he is the classic abusive boyfriend he is also the classic prince charming. As I understand it, for as long as they have existed in literature vampires and their lethal bites have been thinly veiled versions of rape stories.(Poor Rosalie! What an ironic moment!) And, to me, Edward's physical affection with its intensity and roughness fits with this. The disturbing part to me was how hard Meyer worked to rescript all this as goodness and how much Bella liked the violence and desired it--with such fervency that it gave her ardor an almost pornographic air. To be sure, the books aren't pornographic nor are they dirty--if they were I wouldn't have read them--but they have a tone that seems similar to those things. And I wonder if that isn't why they are so popular. There is something about that aspect of the books that jives too well with the gender stereotypes presented in hip-hop music, the tabloids, and even in our politics. There is a level of sexual hype or stimulation that our current American culture demands--and is quickly normalizing--that these books tapped into. And I find that a little disturbing. Especially considering these are supposed to YA novels. I just couldn't shake the violence lurking behind every "loving" gesture--whether it came from Edward or Jacob, Bella was being crushed every time she was being "loved"--and that creeped me out. That's not what sex should be and that certainly isn't what "true love" is.

As for my second question, about Meyers' religion and the role her Mormon worldview plays in these books, I was a little disappointed. I remembering reading in an interview somewhere (I'm sure her superfans can cite the source for me) a statement by Meyers saying that these books were built on essentially Mormon themes of unconditional love and redemption. Those are definitely themes in these books, but only in the most general way and certainly not in any way that alluded to Mormon theology and doctrine. I don't hold that against her or anything. I just wish it had given me a little more to think about there. But really, her being Mormon had nothing to do with the books at all.

I know most of you readers have an opinion on these books so let me know what you think! Most of my friends tell me I think too hard and that's probably true in thise case too :) Oh, and just for Maryam, let's do a quick poll: Edward or Jacob? Be sure to comment!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too funny!


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

I got this off Elizabeth-W's blog and it made me laugh out loud! My high score must be due to being LDS: I have a lot of kids (well, only 3--but it feels like a lot!), attend religious services regularly, and am part of a women's organization. Also I don't cuss or have a dope addiction (sure glad the quiz covered that!). I think I did get docked though for crying too much. . .the quiz must be prejudiced against depressed people ;) Anway, I always thought I was an anachronism and now it's been confirmed!

Monday, July 14, 2008

That We Might Have Joy

ASB recently left a comment on my first post. (Be sure to check out ASB's blog. Talk about courage! I'll pray for your daughter!) When I wrote that first post it felt like my personal manifesto--and it is, sort of. However, looking at it now I think it oversimplified things a bit. If I was really being honest, which I try to be, I'd have included the fact that I am sometimes suicidal, that I have days I can't do anything but sleep and cry, and that my intrusive thoughts really make me feel nuts.

But I am still trying to find happy. And that is why I like ASB's comment so much. She said, "The scripture, 'Men are, that they might have joy,' troubled me a little bit at times. I've gone through some dark depressive days over the past few years and I felt like I was missing that one thing that the scriptures promised me.

I read recently (or heard at church?) that the joy referred to is eternal life. Now it makes sense.

I still believe there is more joy out there & I just need to work harder to find it or to feel it more often. But I feel like less of a failure knowing that maybe the joy-on-a-regular-basis that I've been seeking was rooted in misunderstanding."

On the dark days, like yesterday, I need to remind myself that it's eternal joy I'm working for. I know it sounds odd but there are plenty of times I have felt depressed and thought that was not in keeping with the scriptures. After all, "men are that they might have joy" can be seen as a sort of commandment. Needless to say, worrying about the fact that I was sad didn't help. It was a skewed perspective that created a cycle of spiritual loss out of things (like the scriptures) that were supposed to be places of renewal.

Anyway, I appreciated the reminder to keep things in perspective. When we persevere through the dark times with faith that our Savior's love is still a force in our lives, it IS a victory even though we may feel like it isn't. Sometimes all the Lord asks is that we keep on trying.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Updates: My box is better than your box! and more books

I have now been a CSA member for an entire month and I am still really enjoying it. Since we were out of town for two weeks a friend of mine (Hi Danica!) picked up the box for me. She said we got a lot of lettuce and spinach and some herbs. The garlic scapes pretty much stumped her. When I picked up what was left of the second box there was a lot of lettuce (honestly, five heads a week! Not even rabbits eat that much!), spinach, mint, dill, and grilling onions. And the garlic scapes. I spent that entire night freezing the spinach and the mint (it's a waxy herb so it should be frozen. Read more about storing herbs here.) and hanging the dill to dry.

I had to pick up my next CSA box just a couple days later. Again, five(!) heads of lettuce, a bunch of spinach, mint, dill, and onions. As I was loading the stuff into my own bags and taking them to my car a couple other CSA members took a peek in my box. "Oh! Look at that! She got broccoli in hers," one said. "What? I didn't get broccoli in mine? Am I missing something?" replied the other. "Oooh and she got two kinds of peas and more grilling onions! It must be because she got the family share." I felt my face flush and I stood up a little taller. It sure felt good to be the envy of all the other girls. I never thought I'd feel so cool carrying produce.

Anyway, I spent that night (again) freezing spinach and preparing herbs (more cilantro!) for freezing and drying. I was little burned out on all the food preserving until my husband pointed out that we now have a good supply of spinach for the winter and at least our year's supply of dill (more like two or three years--I don't know what to do with it besides put in on fish). That made me feel pretty good about the whole thing. Besides my kitchen smelled like a pack of gum(thanks to the giant pile of mint). How can one not feel good about that?

For the mint I tried making mint syrup. I boiled a couple cups of leaves in about three cups of water with 3/4 cup of sugar and a little lemon juice for a long time--about as long as it takes to get a five year old, a two year old, and an 11 month old to bed. I pulled out the leaves and squeezed out all the liquid when I remembered that they were on the stove. If you add pectin you can turn it into mint jelly, but I'm trying to figure out a way to make my own mint extract for use in ice cream, brownies, or frosting. I'll let you know how my "mint syrup" works. I'm going to attempt ice cream on Monday.

Oh, I also got turnips in my box. Any good ideas for those? Let me know in the comments!

And a book update: I've been struggling this week to get through Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". I'm enjoying it but I'm not enjoying reading it. I'm not sure what to make of that. I think it's because I'm burned out on reading. Horror of horrors! I haven't had that problem since college. (I took three survey courses in one semester. I had to read two or three books a week and write papers on them. I shudder just remembering it.) I also wonder if it's because my reading time and my writing time are competing against each other. I'm starting to get anxious about my book that is begging for revision. . . anyway, I think I'm taking a break from the reading. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make up the books later in the year. . . maybe that makes me a quitter. Or maybe it makes me good at prioritizing. (After all, the publishers said if I could get the book rewritten they'd read it again and be interested in publishing it. Vague and encouraging--in other words, par for the course in the publishing world.

Oh and keep your eyes on Segullah. Their summer issue is coming out soon and I've got an essay in it. It isn't out yet, but I thought you all might like to peruse their spring issue. It's free online and some of the poems are downright beautiful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Paradigm shift: healing your neurons

We made it home safe and sound from our fifteen day, five state odyssey. Traveling always makes me think and I have a lot I want to blog about, but my brother forwarded this article to me and I'm not sure what to think.

For those of you who aren't going to read the whole article--although I think you should--I'll summarize it here. Basically, according to new research the effectiveness of Prozac, and other widely prescribed SSRIs, is not due to its effect on serotonin. Rather, SSRIs work because they "heal" neurons in the brain that prolonged stress has killed off. This means that depression isn't just a lack of something, but a systematic change in the brain. The article compares it to other degenerative brain illnesses like Alzheimer's. Researchers came to this conclusion by lowering the amount of serotonin in undepressed (also known as happy) people and discovered that it made no difference, which (sort of) disproved the whole "depression is a chemical imbalance" theory. Exactly how the SSRIs heal neurons the article doesn't say. But it does cite a study involving the active ingredient in Prozac and lazy eyes. Apparently taking a course of SSRIs can fix a lazy eye!

I think what was most compelling about this article was that the new theory explains a couple of weird things about depression medications. First off, it explains the lag time between the start of medication and feeling the effects of it. If the SSRI is healing a neuron, and not just supplementing the brain with a neurotransmitter, then it makes sense that it would take a few weeks for the process. Secondly, I think, it sheds some light on the "Prozac Poop-out". If the medicine is healing neurons it makes sense that afte awhile it would quit working because the neurons would be healed or they would need something else to help them finish the healing process. I guess in my mind it makes more sense that the brain would become immune to an SSRI if it was healing something and not just supplementing. This also explains why things like exercise, appropriate sleep, good nutrition and talk therapy help. They all reinforce the complex process that maintains the neurons in our brains.

This idea is exciting on another level too. If depression is a degenerative neurological disorder then we might start seeing more hard science on its treatment. There would be no more nonsense about it being a question of willpower--or we would at least be able to differentiate between temporary depressive episodes that may or may not be willpower related and the chronic illness. If people suffering from depression could get tailored treatments that would save a lot of headache.

Anyway, I think I've been suffering for the last couple months from a poop-out. It just feels like my medicine has been less and less effective so I'm going to find a psychiatrist and see if I can iron all this out. But this new research is one more piece to add to the depression puzzle. What do you all think? Does this ring true to any of your experiences?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Notes from the brink

Of civilization that is. We've been on vacation in Yellowstone and Idaho and have been off the grid for awhile. It's been good to change up the routine and embrace so many new experiences. It's given me a lot of blog fodder. I'm excited to write it all up when I get home. Anyway, while we've been out I've been doing some reading. (A good book makes everything more enjoyable!) So here's the latest update on my book a week challenge.

#26 Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This book was given to me by a friend (Hi Sarah!) who usually hands me really worthwhile non-fiction. This book was no exception. The story chronicles "one man's mission to promote peace [in Pakistan and Afghanistan]. . .one school at a time." Driven by the death of his beloved sister and a failed attempt to scale K2, Greg Mortenson was lost in mid-winter in the Pakistan mountains. Rescued by a generous tribe of Balti he found direction and hope in the eyes of young Pakistani children who held classes without teachers and tried to teach themselves to read while drawing in the dust. The ups and downs of his journey are interesting but it was his personal philosophy about the Middle East and the roots of conflict that were most interesting to me. I highly recommend this book. Besides being a good read it was a great introduction to the history of this important region and a little softer than some of the other popular books about the Middle East (like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).

#27 The Little Prince by Antoin de Saint Exupery. I read this one while doing laundry at our motel in West Yellowstone. This is a classic and I thought it was quite nice. I'm glad I read it. It was a nice reminder to treasure my children's point of view and to see things through their eyes--which made some of the sights in Yellowstone more meaningful.

#28 The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell. I first discovered Terry Tempest Williams as a teenager when the family vacationed in Moab. Talk about eye-opening. I was hoping to stumble onto something similar while in Yellowstone, but besides a copy of an old domestic handbook for women which I couldn't bring myself to buy, nothing really fit the bill. Then I came across The Bat-Poet. While it definitely isn't Terry Tempest Williams, it was the right read for the trip. This little story of a bat who wants to sing like a mockingbird but can't and turns to poetry instead is short and sweet and thought-provoking. I can't wait to share it with my kids. If you have elementary aged readers in your home, or if you like poetry, this book is definitely for you.

28 books down, 24 to go. My page count now totals 8,198. What wonderful books have you all discovered lately?