Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why does February have 28 days?

Have you ever wondered why we have the calendar we do? Most of the names for the months come from Roman or Greek deities (January, March, May, June) while a couple are named for emperors (July and August) and others are named for Roman numbers (September, October, November, December). February is named for the Latin term meaning purification and refers to the purification ritual Februa, on February 15 (full moon) on the old Roman lunar calendar. The origin of the name for April is unknown. Have you ever wondered why February has only 28 days? And 29 days in a leap year? The answer is fairly simple: superstition and the lunar cycles.

Ancient Romans used the 10 month calendar of Romulus of 304 days from March, with the spring equinox through December with each month either 30 or 31 days. In 713 BCE, King Numa Pompilius decided to reform the calendar with the year’s 12 lunar cycles, a span of about 355 days and introduced January and February. He believed the Ancient Roman superstition that even numbers were unlucky, so Numa tried to make each month odd but to reach the quota of 355 days, one month had to be even and February was chosen.

February soon became a month of rituals in order to ward off the bad omens from having even number of days. After a few years, the King Numa’s calendar was out of sync with the seasons. The Romans occasionally insert a 27 days leap month called Mercedoniaus. This new calendar caused so much confusion and headaches, that Caesar nixed the leap month and reformed the calendar again. By 46 BCE, Caesar aligned the calendar with the sun and added a few days to up to 365 but kept February 28 days long.

The leap year was introduced by Julius Caesar over two thousand years ago. There was only one rule: the leap year would be any year divisible by 4. This lead to too many leap years and wasn’t corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, in 1582, which allowed for realignment of the astronomical events like the solstices and equinoxes. The Gregorian calendar, named for Pope Gregory XIII has three rules for a year to be a leap year or not: 1) the year is evenly divisible by 4, 2) if the year is evenly divisible by 100, it is not a leap year, unless, 3) the year is evenly divisible by 400, then it is a leap year. So, the years 1900, 2100, and 2200 are not leap years but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are leap years.

Whew, confused? My head’s spinning a little bit. So, the adage that a leap year is every four year is not entirely accurate. So when someone asks you why February has 28 days and 29 days in a leap year, you could give them the long and confusing history behind the calendar’s development. Or you can simply say it is in accordance with astronomical events.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Good the Goblin Queen: a great fun adventure story

Good the Goblin Queen by Becket and illustrated by Raven Quinn is the story of Good who has a strange family and one fateful night, she makes a wish on a falling star. That’s when her life changed forever.

Good is seven years old and she doesn’t like her life. She doesn’t like her name, she doesn’t like her parents (who are escaped orangutans from the New York Zoo), and she has no friends. One night she sees a falling star in the sky and she makes a wish. The next morning, she discovered that she didn’t just make a wish on a falling star but the wish was multiplied by a thousand falling stars. She discovers she could be in danger and she runs away. Good soon meets Mr. Fuddlebee, a ghost who is there to grant her wish. He gives her a crinomatic, a small compact mirror, which will grant her wish. She wishes to a queen. The cinematic soon makes her a beautiful dress with bows and shoes with sparkling jewels. She even has a crown and she discovers her skin is green. Good is soon joined by a group of goblins and they claim that she is their long-lost queen. Good joins them on the journey home to the Goblin Kingdom. Along the way, they meet dangers and obstacles, which Good teaches the goblins about thinking through the situation, being brave and the need to ask for help.

Good the Goblin Queen is a fun adventure story with great lessons about getting all the facts before making a decisions, about being brave and there is no weakness in asking for help. I had two quotes that really stood out to me as important to remember. First, the world isn’t coming to an end because you’re in a difficult situation and second, you cannot control the things that hurt you but you can control the healing afterwards. I love these words of wisdom that readers can apply to their own lives and the situations which they will encounter. I highly recommend Good the Goblin Queen. It’s a fun adventure with great lessons.
Good the Goblin Queen
Is available on Amazon
In paperback for $11.99

On the Kindle for $2.99

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hattie McDaniel: more than just Mammy

I love the movie, Gone with the Wind and one of my favorite characters is Mammy, who was portrayed by the wonderful and talented, Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel was born June 10, 1892 in Wichita, Kansas. The 13th child of former slaves, Henry, a Baptist minister, and Susan, a gospel singer, Hattie began perform from a very early age. She had a natural flair for singing and she began her professional career while still in high school. While Hattie McDaniel is best known for her role as Mammy, she was accomplished in many other ways. She has appeared in over 300 films. She is also known as friends with many of Hollywood’s most popular stars such as Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Olivia de Havilland, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis. She was also known for her community service efforts.

In 1925, she became the first African American woman on the radio as she perform on the Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds in Denver. In 1931, she would join her acting siblings, Sam and Etta McDaniel in Los Angeles where she perform on her brother’s radio show as “Hi-Hat Hattie,” the bossy maid who often forgot her place. She would get her on-screen break in the film Judge Priest (1934) with Will Rogers which displayed her singing talent. She also appeared in The Little Colonel (1934) with Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. While she appeared in films, she also continued to work in radio. She is well known for playing the sassy and opinionated maid.

It was her friendship with Clark Gable which helped win her the role of Mammy, Scarlett O’Hara’s scolding maid. She ultimately won the part when she came to her audition in full costume. Due to the segregation laws at the time in Georgia, Ms. McDaniel was not allowed to attend the Atlanta premiere of the film. Clark Gable threatened to boycott the premiere because she was not invited. She wouldn’t allow him to do so and convinced him to go anyway. She would win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1940. She would be the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar as well as the first African American to win an Oscar. Her award would be bittersweet because she was not allowed to sit with her Gone with the Wind co-stars at the ceremony. Her win would be a reminder to her about how much the film industry and the country still had to go in regards with racism.

Hattie McDaniel was often criticized for the roles she portrayed. The progressive black community of the time saw her roles as “offensively old-fashioned.” Ms. McDaniel often felt that this criticizes cost her some film roles and feared roles would disappear if the criticism was “too loud.” As film roles diminished, Ms. McDaniel turned once again to radio. She took a starring role in CBS’ The Beluah Show, where she played a maid who broke racial stereotypes. She also took a role in community service and gained a reputation for generosity. During World War II, she was chairman of the Hollywood Victory Committee which provided entertainment at military bases as she entertained the American troops with the United Services Organizations (USO) and helped sell war bonds. She also helped raise funds for the Red Cross relief programs which helped Americans who had been displaced by floods.

Hattie McDaniel passed away on October 26, 1952 at the age of 60 from breast cancer. She was buried at the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery because her first choice of the Hollywood Cemetery would not allow her to be buried there due to the racism of the day. However, in 1999, a pink and gray granite monument was erected in her memory after her family didn’t want her moved from her resting place. To me, Hattie McDaniel was more than just Mammy in one of my favorite films. She was an immensely talented actress who did it all and helped her fellow man in times of need as well as paved the way for future African-American actresses who would follow. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When I grow up I want to be..a Nurse! A great story to introduce a great career

Wigu Publishing has a new title for the When I grow up I want to be… series. In this story, a young girl named Amber explores the different jobs of a nurse.

Amber has an accident during a soccer game. The school nurse tells her mom that Amber needs to go the emergency room. When Amber arrives she is scared about what is happening and George, the ER nurse, helps to calm her fears. The book introduces the history of nursing and Florence Nightingale. It also introduces what jobs nurses can do like take a patient’s vitals and the different surgical nurses involved in a surgery. There is also a section on how to overcome your fears and how X-rays work. With the help of X-rays, the doctor learns that Amber has a broken arm and it must be put in a cast. In no time, Amber is healed and back on the soccer field.

I enjoy any book which introduces the different types of jobs that are available to them when they grow up. This book introduced the different ins and outs of working as a nurse in the medical field. I highly recommend this book for any school library or family collection as a way to expose children to different careers as well as familiarize them with the different people they could come in contact with.The publisher has also announced that current and new titles will be available in Spanish. 

When I grow up I want to be…a Nurse
Is available on Amazon

In paperback for $12.95 or on the Kindle for $2.99

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Then Like the Blind Man: a story of mystery and storms

Then Like the Blind Man Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens is the story of a young boy’s experience in Kentucky’s forgotten countryside. He learns a deep, dark secret and he must find the courage to fight a growing threat.

It’s June 1959, Orbie Ray is on his way to stay with his grandparents in Harlan’s Crossroads. His stepfather, Victor, his mother, Ruby, and his sister, Missy, are continuing on to Florida where Victor is looking into a job opportunity. When Orbie first arrives, he doesn’t like his grandparents’ country house and must learn about life on a farm. He thinks back to when Victor entered their lives in 1955, his father, Jesse, worked at a steel mill in Detroit and they met Victor at a company picnic. There’s something fishy about Victor as he charms his way into the Ray family life. Victor reveals what really happened to Orbie’s dad and he is left with this information in a strange land. Orbie learns about the true nature of man and the racism that remained strong in the area. He befriends Willis and other black boys of the area as he is introduced to the strange occurrences in the area. As his stepfather and mother return, a storm is brewing both between the adults and the weather outside. With tornadoes approaching, Orbie confronts the one truly responsible for his father’s death. Will he able to save his family in time?

I enjoyed Then Like the Blind Man. It was filled with mystery as clues of what happened to Orbie’s father are revealed. It is filled with drama as Victor worms his way into the grandparents’ house and he becomes chummy with the local authorities. It was filled with strange events that could not be fully explained as Orbie learns the secrets about life around him. Once I picked up this book, I look forward to read how it ended. Would Orbie be able to confront his father’s killer? Would he be able to save his family from the storm? I highly recommend this book.

Then Like the Blind Man Orbie’s Story yy Freddie Owens
is available
on Amazon in paperback for $11.68 or on the Kindle for $4.99

Monday, February 16, 2015

I refuse to engage in the "Mommy Wars"

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of becoming a mother and for the day when a little someone would call me Mommy and want only the comfort that I could bring. I now have a beautiful three year old daughter. Unfortunately, as a mother, I am constantly bombarded with the so-called “Mommy Wars,” the argument or debates originally centered on stay at home moms and working moms and most recently the breastfeeding/formula and vaccinations debates have fueled the “war.” Tempers flare and words get nasty when mothers on both sides face off. I’m here to say the “war” stops for me. It all started with the Similac ad titled "The Mother 'Hood."

I DON’T CARE if you are a breastfeeding mom or use formula. As a woman who wanted to breastfeed and couldn’t, this debate really irks me. I’ve read comments by breastfeeding moms who use shame and guilt to persuade all mothers to breastfeed. I know the benefits of breast milk and I was crushed and heartbroken when I could not provide the necessary milk to feed my daughter. Don’t tell me I didn’t try hard enough. Don’t give me advice about teas, supplements or techniques. I tried them all and they didn’t work. Many breastfeeding moms I’ve met or seen on TV (a certain celebrity comes to mind) have been very condescending and self-righteous. You don’t have the right to question or doubt my ability to feed my child. Breastfeeding or formula, as long as nourishment being provided, who am you to judge?

I’M SO TIRED of the vaccination debate. Parents who don’t vaccinate have mountains of evidence to promote their stance and often believe that parents who do vaccinate blindly follow medical orders. That may be true for some parents, but; for me, I weigh both sides of the evidence and make an informed decision about vaccinations. While I don’t trust some vaccines, I trust others. You have your reasons for rejecting or accepting vaccinations and I have mine. However, it does not give anyone the right to call others names who happen to disagree. I will protect my daughter as I see fit and you protect your child as you do. There is so much information available on vaccinations, both pro and con, that every parent can make an informed decision without bullying, guilt or shaming.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND the working mom versus stay-at-home mom debate. I don’t care if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom. Whatever you need to do to provide for your child, you need to do. If you want to have a career and children, then more power to you. If you want to stay at home and focus on your family, then great. I am currently a stay-at-home mom who knows that one day she will to go back to work, I am enjoying my time I have at home as long as I can and make certain budget cuts in order to stay at home. Every mom makes sacrifices for her children, whether it’s going to work or staying at home in order to provide for their needs. Who are we to say which way is best? 

There is so much pressures on mothers to Super Mom and as mothers, we need to realize that parenting isn’t one size fits all. What will work for one child, isn’t going to work for the next one or the one after that. Why are we generalizing? Author and blogger, Leslie Morgan Steiner summarized the “Mommy Wars” like this: women struggle to come to terms with their own choices in parenting against society’s standards that they engage in this warfare that does nothing to promote self-acceptance, acceptance of others or balance within their individual lives. Therefore, I accept my parenting choices and I accept yours. You do not know the ends and outs of my family and I don’t know yours. I know that we all love our children and want what’s best for them. Stop the guilt. Stop the shaming. The “Mommy Wars” are over for me. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A new adventure with Captain No Beard and his crew

A great new addition to the Captain No Beard series. Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles by Carole P. Roman is a story of sharing your problems with your friends and learning to be a big brother or sister to the newest members of the family.

The story opens with Cayla making a mess on the deck of the ship and Fribbet in hiding. When the crew finds him in his hiding spot, he is upset and doesn’t want to share. The crew convinces him that sharing your problems with your friends help make the problems not so big to handle. Fribbett then shares that his home has been overrun with many tadpoles. Captain No Beard tells Fribbet that while being an older brother is hard work, it is also worth it. As the ship returns to a bed, Captain No Beard’s mother brings in the newest member of the family.

I loved this story for three reasons. First, the story helps children understand that sharing your problems with your friends can help. Friends can help find a solution and offer support. Second, the introduction of new family members and the changes that take place. Third, I love that the book takes the children through the development stages of frogs, from eggs to tadpoles to frogs. It’s a great way to illustrate the life cycle to children. I highly recommend Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles as well as the other titles in the Captain No Beard series.

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles
Is available on Amazon
In paperback for $9.99
And on free on the Kindle

for Kindle Unlimited subscribers

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The snowball effect of stereotypes to discrimination

Racism and discrimination has been a part of America since the first landing of colonists in the New World. Many people don’t believe this but there have been many racial discrimination across different ethnic and nationality groups in America’s history. The English colonists past judgment on anyone who wasn’t English. Thomas Driver of the Huffington Post wrote, “Racism is so ingrained in the American experience that no one who has grown up here is free of it.” It’s true. We may think of ourselves as not being racist but people will be shocked on how a simple little thought like stereotypes lead to prejudices which leads to racism which leads to discrimination. 

Stereotypes are beliefs that unfairly places all people in a certain group with a particular characteristics. For instance, “all Mexicans are lazy,” “Asian women are bad drivers” and “all Middle Easterners hate Americans” are a few. Not all stereotypes are negative, some are place a positive light on certain groups but still place unfair generalizations to all members. For instance, “all Asians are smart,” “all African-Americans can play basketball,” and “the French are romantics.” We all can think of people who do not fit these descriptions but they would be lumped in with these stereotypes because they happen to fit a certain ethnic group.

Prejudices are unfair feelings of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This dislike is often unreasonable or illogical. How can stereotypes lead to prejudices? Think for a moment that you hold to the belief that all Mexicans are lazy and you, therefore, think that the Mexican family that lives down the street are lazy and mooching off the government for their needs. You think they are dirty because their yard may not be as pristine as yours? Do you really know that? Would it change your mind to learn that that family’s patriarch workers three jobs in order to provide for his wife and kids. The matriarch cleans every day to keep her house in order? Would it change your mind? Maybe, maybe not. If prejudices are firmly held regardless of evidence to the contrary, it will often lead to racism.

Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially characteristics to distinguish as inferior to another race. Same scenario, because you believe that the Mexican family is lazy and government moochers, you believe that you are superior to all Mexicans because you aren’t lazy and don’t have any form of government assistance. Because you believe that all Mexicans are lazy, you will probably treat all Mexicans you will met as if they don’t deserve to be in your neighborhood or even in your country. Never realizing the hardships they left to come here and how hard they work to stay in this country. You may even assume that that Mexican family are here illegally, never realizing that that family’s ancestors have been here since colonial America.


Racist beliefs can lead to discrimination. Discrimination is the treatment of a person or particular group of people differently, in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated. For example, you are walking by the family’s house and you decide to allow your dog to do his business in their yard and you wouldn’t think to do it to the house next door. Why? Because the house isn’t occupied by those “dirty Mexicans.” Would you want people to treat you differently simply because you belong in a certain group? I know I wouldn’t. I want to be treated as any human with dignity and kindness. I give the same smile and hello to the Muslim woman in a hijab as I do a Christian who wears the cross or a Jew who wears the Star of David.

In conclusion, I am very aware of the stereotypes and prejudices around me and I try very hard to avoid giving them any credence. I also get upset when my husband uses them, even as a joke, because I would like my children to be part of the first generation to be free of stereotypes and prejudices. Although they will probably learn them on their own, I want them to know that everyone doesn’t fit in the same box. There are always exceptions to the rule, that one outlier which doesn’t fit the pattern and it is wrong to assume that everyone of a certain group is the same. It will take a little work but it can be done.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Immigrant: the untold story of an indentured servant

The Immigrant by Alfred Woollacott III is a story of his ancestor, John Law, who under circumstances beyond his control, was brought to America. It is a story of survival against all odds, against prejudice and discrimination. It is story of how one man’s strength to survive influenced the generations that came after him.

The story opens in 1775, Reuben Law is in the midst of the opening battles of the American Revolution. While marching away from Concord, Massachusetts, he thinks about the stories of his great grandfather. The reader is then transported to Doon Hill, Dunbar Scotland in 1650, where 14 year old John Law is fighting in the Scottish Royal Army against the English. He is captured and taken to London where John is sold as an indentured servant and sent to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. When he arrives, he is met with prejudice and discrimination as he tries to learn this strange new land. When his indenture is over, he is given a parcel of land, which he calls New Scotland, and builds a home. He makes friends with the Indians who teach him about the land. He catches the eye of a local Puritan girl named Lydia Draper and dispute ridicule and social shunning, they marry and start a family on the farm against the struggles of nature and political strife.

I really enjoyed this story because it is full of history and shows the ugly side of early American history. The hostility and discrimination that was such a part of America then, simply because John Law was Scottish, he was not to be trusted. It also shows the strength of one man to overcome this treatment and gain the respect of a number of his community, even though some never do. The book covers major historical events with vivid detail from the Battle of Dunbar to King Philip’s War to the American Revolution. If you want a book which details a story so often untold, I highly recommend The Immigrant.
The Immigrant by Alfred Woollacott III
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $15.99 and
subscribers of Kindle Unlimited for free.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fall Out Boy: more than just a punk rock band

Fall Out Boy is an American rock band. The band members, Patrick Stump (vocals/guitarist), Peter Wentz (bassist), Joe Trothman (guitarist) and Andy Hurley (drums) were the product of the hardcore punk scene in Chicago. According to one interview, the band got their name from fans who yelled out “Fallout Boy” at a concert. They liked the name never realizing that Fallout Boy is the sidekick of comic book hero, Radioactive Man on the TV show The Simpsons. The band has been going strong since their debut album, Take This to Your Grave (2003). Fall Out Boy isn’t just another rock band. They use their music to bring awareness to an important issue: mental health and many of their fans have found comfort and support in their lyrics.

The bassist, Peter Wentz, was diagnosed with bipolar depression with rapid cycling. This means his moods swung from depression to manic states fairly quickly. In 2005, he attempted suicide by overdosing on Ativan. He claimed Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah saved his life. The song, Hum Hallelujah, was written describing the night he tried to commit suicide and the moment he thought he knew what he wanted to do. The chorus says “So hum hallelujah,/Just off the key of reason/I thought I loved you/It was just how you looked in the light./A teenage vow in a parking lot/"Till tonight do us part"/I sing the blues and swallow them too.” In my opinion, the chorus speaks of someone who has survived to look back on that moment and say I thought I knew what I was doing. The title may come from a repeated line in Hallelujah, “Sing Hallelujah.” I think the use of the word “hum” is significant. Humming is a song without words and many people who are depressed claim they are without words.

Many people of the general public don’t realize that mental health and drug use often go hand-in-hand. Individuals who with mental health issues will often self-medicate. The song, The (After) Life of the Party, is an example of this issue. One line sticks out to me is “I’m a stitch away from making it/And a scar away from falling apart.” As I listened to this line, I see an individual who is hurting. Stitch his or her life back together and being aware that one more scar could cause him or her to fall apart. As someone with her own stitches and scars, I see a person who is struggling and knows there is a fine line between surviving and falling apart. A person who is one hit from death or one day from survival. While researching this song, I came across several message boards where fans have reported feelings of peace and calm. As I listen to the melody, it is easy to see how they could feel this way.

A third song which speaks to many fans is Short, Fast and Loud. The song is about someone who is in a constant battle with his or her own mistakes and wishing that he or she could be better. The song describes a relationship where one individual continually belittles the other. “The battles only halfway done/I might look young/But I’m no less defeated” defines the internal battles that everyone often has with themselves. Some are better for it and some are not. The repeated line “Good God, I wish I was tall” is not to be taken literally, in my opinion, the line means I wish I could be want you want me to be. The closing line “Go figure, I was bigger than that” speaks to the person realizing that he or she is more than he or she thought.

In conclusion, Fall Out Boy has a legion of fans from their debut and each day their lyrics speaks to the listener in a way that only music can. While Fall Out Boy is not my kind of music, I can appreciate their honest and transparency while bringing important issues facing young adults today. Whether it be for mental health awareness or other social issues, Fall Out Boy speaks to their fans and reaches deep in their souls. And for the length of one song or even one album, they can help bring peace or realization to the listener who may need help and searching for answers. I recommend giving Fall Out Boy a listen, you might be surprised by their music and their message. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

King Raven trilogy: a fresh and exciting adventure of the Robin Hood legend

The King Raven trilogy by Stephan R. Lawhead is a new and exciting twist on the Robin Hood legend. I’ve read Mr. Lawhead’s work before and I have truly enjoyed them. When I heard he was writing this trilogy, I wanted to read it. I never got the chance and other books took priority. I forgot about the trilogy until my aunt gave me the first book and the anticipation grew.

Hood is the first book and is about Bran ap Brychan, Prince of Elfael in Wales. His father is king who is brutally murdered by Count Flakes de Braose, a Norman nobleman who has begun to invade Wales. King William II has given land in Wales to various nobles in order to invade the land as his father, William the Conqueror, had done in England. This book is Bran’s journey from spoil prince to ousted prince who is trying to get his land and people back to outlaw. How he begins to steal from the rich Normans and gives to the poor of Wales.

Scarlet is the second book and is told form the perspective of Will Scarlet as he is in jailed awaiting execution. He tells his story to Odo, a monk who has been charged with writing down this tale. It has been a year since the ending of Hood and another Welsh king has fallen to the Norman invaders. His lands have been proclaimed as King William’s under Forest Law and a sheriff has been assigned to guard the land. Sheriff de Granville is evil and ruthless. Will accounts his adventures as a member of Bran’s band of outlaws. Will he be rescued in time?

Tuck is the final book of the trilogy. The story picks up right where Scarlet leaves off. The struggle is coming to a close. Bran is close to getting his home back from the evil Normans. He will not find allies in familiar places as well as find ones in the unusual places. Will he be able to persuade King William II to give him back his land or will he have a war with London now? The twists and turns, joy and sadness fill the pages and bring an exciting close to this trilogy. Tuck is a fitting end to a great telling of the Robin Hood legend.

It was a fun adventure to read about Robin Hood in Wales. I really enjoyed King Raven trilogy, although long and the names may be difficult to pronounce but once the adventure picks up, I was cheering for Bran and eagerly anticipated the next books. All the same players are here. Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John, Friar Tuck and an evil sheriff doing the binding of an ruthless king. I’ve read that many people were upset that Robin Hood wasn’t in Sherwood Forest but as Mr. Lawhead explains that there is evidence that the Robin Hood legend actually began in Wales following William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. I love how Mr. Lawhead gave a scenario on how the Robin Hood legend became English. The King Raven trilogy is a new and exciting take on the Robin Hood legend and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hoarding: more than not just taking out the trash

When A&E premiered their show Hoarders (2009-2013), many people didn’t know about hoarding. The show as well as TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive (2010-present) has opened people’s eyes to this devastating disorder. Hoarding is the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions regardless of their actual value. This behavior often has damaging effects on the person’s emotional and physical well-being and many aspects of his or her life. Commonly hoarded items include: newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, food and clothing. Some people will even hoard pets causing dangerous conditions for them and the animals. Hoarding can often be associated with psychological disorders and often needs professional help. A hoarders’ reasons and behaviors are very different from a collectors.

The symptoms and behaviors of hoarding are: the inability to throw away possession, even when the item has no value (i.e. empty pizza boxes). Hoarders suffer severe anxiety when attempting to discard items and have great difficulty categorizing and organizing items. Hoarders are also indecisive about what to keep and where to put things and feel distress or being overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions. Hoarders are auspicious of other people touching or moving items, even stealing items. They fear of running out of an item or needing it in the future. They will often have obsessive thoughts or perform obsessive actions such as checking the trash for accidently discarded items. There is often functional impairment of the home including the loss of livable space. Hoarders become social isolated and their hoarding will often create family or marital discord, financial difficulties and health hazards.

The most common reasons for hoarding are often simple. Hoarders often believe that the items will be useful for be valuable in the future. The items have sentimental value and the hoarder believes he or she will forget something or someone is the item is gone. The item is unique or irreplaceable. Hoarding may present on its own but it also can present with three psychological disorders. First, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness and efficiency. Hoarders with OCPD will have a hard time parting with items. Second, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions) with repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the anxiety produced by the obsessions (compulsions). Hoarders with OCD will have an obsession which they will hoard in order to deal with the anxiety. Lastly, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized with difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behaviors and hyperactivity. Hoarders with ADHD have a hard time focusing on the task of organizing their items.

Hoarding is different from collecting in that hoarders will have often have a sense of embarrassment with their hoard while a collector will have a sense of pride for his or her collection. Hoarders will often be uncomfortable with people seeing their hoard while collectors will have joy and organizing and display the collection for others viewing. Hoarders will often be ashamed when additional items are added to their hoard while collectors will feel satisfaction with adding to their collections. Hoarders will have clutter at the expense of their livable space while collectors will have a designated place for their collections.

In conclusion, hoarding is a dangerous, psychological disorder that requires professional help. If you know anyone or suspects someone is becoming a hoarder, please seek help. Hoarding has psychological implications that require help. There are nationwide organizations which could help with hoarding. Please check your local area for help. Hoarding is different from collecting and can lead to dangerous conditions for the hoarder, his or her family and even the neighborhood.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A great new children's book about love and acceptance

T-Bone’s Traveling Circus by Janice Virant is a story of overcoming bullying and celebrating our differences. Rita Bonita is a young horse who was very different from the other horse. She was teased and laughed at. One day she saw a covered wagon traveling very slow. Rita Bonita is invited by Tiny the Tortoise to join T-Bone’s traveling circus and stay for a while. She also meets Scorch the dragon, who explains that they are a band of misfits who are always the butt of jokes. Inside the wagon was different animals who were different than other animals in some way. Rita Bonita joins the group to learn to embrace her one-of-a-kind uniqueness.

T-Bone’s Traveling Circus is a great story that celebrates our differences and teaches to stand up to bullying. Through love and acceptance, bullying can end. The illustrations are brightly colored and beautiful. When the book arrived in the mail, my three old daughter immediately wanted me to read it to her and she enjoyed the story immensely. Young children will love the band of misfit characters with their differences. This story is a great way for parents to introduce treated everyone with love, kindness and acceptance. I highly recommend this book to families with young children.

T-Bone’s Traveling Circus is available on Amazon and Outskirts Press
in paperback for $11.95 and hardback $17.95