Wonder - #ChooseKind


Image result for wonder the book
Last December, a favorite blogger of mine, Lisa from Two Bears Farm, wrote about the book and movie, Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I wanted to see the movie when it first came out, but until I read her blog post about Wonder, it never occurred to me that Lewie would be old enough to read the book.

Since I was hooked on the message of kindness and compassion that the story promotes, I made it our mission to read the book.  Shortly after Valentine's Day, I told Lewie we would begin reading Wonder for his twenty minute reading homework every night.  When I made the request, his face lit up:  "Mommy, my teacher is reading the book to us in class."

"She is?" I replied.

"Yes she is, but we're still at the beginning."

Once I found out the book was being read in class, we made a mad dash to read it first.  It didn't take long before we surpassed the class and then read the full 300+ pages.  Admittedly, we didn't read the book every night.   Sometimes we were sidetracked by Lewie's swim lessons, Cub Scouts events, and his history fair project, but we did manage to read 60+ pages each week.

As we took turns reading the book aloud to each other, we stopped many times to process the thoughts, actions, and emotions of each character.  Lewie immediately identified with the main character of the book, August or Auggie.  The ten-year old boy loves Star Wars, his Xbox, and his sweet dog, Daisy.  (Plus, Lewie is born in "August," so he found yet another reason to like the character.)  We learn about August's "facial difference" early on and worry (right along with him and his parents) about how he will fend going to school for his very first time.

Without telling too much of the story, we learn that fifth-graders (along with their parents) can be mean and insecure, but they also can be kind, loyal, protective, nurturing, and thoughtful.  The book tells the story from August's perspective, but in-between, it also tells August's story from the perspectives of his sister Via; his good friends, Jack and Summer; his sister's boyfriend, Justin; and his sister's best friend, Miranda.  It's during these character shifts that we learn about the inside feelings of these other characters, too, and why they act or react in certain ways.

Lewie didn't want the book to end.  As we finished reading the last page, he told me tearfully that Wonder was the best book he ever read in his whole entire life  He reminded me that The Polar Express was a close second.  (Of course, in between these two books have been many other favorites, such as the entire Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne and all the Elephant and Piggie Books by Mo Willems.)

Now, this week, our treat will be to watch Wonder the movie.  I told him that rarely are movies just as good as the books themselves, but I would be lying if I pretended not to be excited about seeing the movie.  Consequently, we also learned that R.J. Palacio has written a companion book to Wonder called, Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories.  It's already on Lewie's wish list.

Seven Days Until Spring


It's ironic and kind of funny that I'm posting a snowy picture like this for Spring.  The reality is that March has brought us higher snowfall totals than Dec., Jan., and Feb. combined.  In the past week, Connecticut, along with the rest of the Northeast, has been hit by two Nor'easters, which means lots of snow, lots of accidents, lots of fallen trees and branches, lots of power outages, lots of flooding, and quite a few snow days--like this one!

This was a Christmas Tree that we planted in our yard when I was twelve years-old.  It was only four feet back then.

Still, there's an end to this snowy weather in sight; signs of spring are all around us.  Robins have been visiting our yard daily; crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are trying to peek from the ground, and days, especially after we just set our clocks ahead, are longer.  Insects, unfortunately, (especially those abhorred deer ticks) are still around, too.  Evidently, our winter never got cold enough for long enough to kill some of these pesky critters off.

So, in the midst of our second Nor'easter, I'm daydreaming about all that makes spring great.  Here are just a few of the many activities and events I hope to enjoy, and if I visualize them enough, I think they're bound to happen!

1)  All Things Easter  I've already decorated our house with pastel colored eggs, bunnies, and chicks.  Next weekend, we've been invited to an Easter Egg Hunt, and we usually host one of our own--but usually in late April when it's a little warmer.

Our family will go to our typical Easter Mass and then celebrate with family at the Matabesett Canoe Club.  We'll exchange flowers and chocolate and then fill up on more candy until late April or when we've decided it's time to begin dieting for the summer.

A picture of Lewie and his Great Aunt/God Mother at the Canoe Club - Easter 2016

Since Easter falls on April Fools' Day this year, we may just drum up some pranks to pull on family members, too.  Maybe the Easter Bunny will deliver a fruit basket instead of candy or Tootie the Elf on the Shelf will make an appearance instead...

2)  Bike Riding   Little Lewie and I started taking morning bike rides last fall at a greenway near us.  Once the days became shorter, we had to stop, but when the snow melts, we'll be getting prepared for more rides--this time with the promise of warmer days and budding trees.

A Fall Bike Ride - Sept. 2017

3)  Festivals   Spring brings the promise of art fairs and craft festivals.  The best ones, in my opinion, are those that set up outside to enjoy our local parks, town greens, farms, and other outside spaces.  In years past, we've gone to the Meriden Daffodil Festival, The Fairfield Dogwood Festival, and the Milford Artisan Market.  New ones to explore might be the May Market in Farmington, the Gallery on the Green in Litchfield, and the Branford Craft and Community Expo--all taking place in May and early June.

Lewie at the Daffodil Festival - Spring 2013

4)  Day Trips    My mom and I love to visit places in the spring.  Day trips combine our love of shopping along with our love for nature, flowers, and gardening.  This year, we hope to take two special weekend trips.  The first is to the Hildene (The Lincoln Family Home) in Manchester, VT.  The tour boasts a chance to learn about the history of the home while touring its beautiful garden that overlooks the Battenkill Valley.  The description says, "Then suddenly as if on cue, as they did 100 years ago, the peonies 'pop' and the garden is awash in more than 1,000 blooms."   The second trip would be our annual trip to the Newport, Rhode Island Flower Show at Rosecliff Mansion.  The flower show, one of our favorites, happens every year in June with new and interesting themes.  Our day is usually divided with the first few hours at the show and the last hours shopping and dining in Newport.

A display at the Newport Flower Show - June 2016

5) Mother's Day    Mother's Day is a favorite because I usually get a chance to celebrate with a nice dinner at the Hopkins Inn in Warren, CT with hubby, Little Lewie, and my mom.  During some years, the weather has been warm enough for us to actually bask on their patio while overlooking Lake Waramaug.  This year, however, will be different.  Little Lewie will be making his First Communion, which means we'll 1) have to stay local, and 2) consider having some type of family party.  The details haven't been ironed out yet, but I'm starting to see that May will be coming sooner than we think.

Mother's Day at the Hopkins Inn - 2015
I can't help but be thankful for all our happy Spring memories and new ones to be made in 2018. What plans do you have for spring?