Reads for Me and You

A Heartfelt Journey to Motherhood: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

When I saw the call-out for parent bloggers to review Nia Vardalos’s book, Instant Mom, I jumped at the chance. Sure, I am a fan of her writing her way to Hollywood. And yes, I love that she is a Canadian girl. The real reason I wanted to read her book on finding her daughter was because her and husband, Ian, adopted through the US Foster Care system. As a former foster kid myself, I was intrigued.

Being very tenacious and assertive in all aspects of her life, Nia writes, “ I just never accepted the word “no.” The fact that I’m a working actress and writer is simply because I am incredibly stubborn.”

This memoir about her 10-year path to her daughter is raw and honest with a hint of her genuine humour. Before she was known for her role as the Greek Bride, Nia wanted to be a mom.  While her career soared, at home the treatments to get pregnant and the multiple miscarriages became roadblocks to motherhood. Her search for her child is similar to many moms-to-be around the world. While going through the experience of adopting, Nia pondered whether to be an adoption spokesperson or a blabbermouth. A social worker told her point blank, “We’ve been waiting for a longtime for someone like you.”

Nia reveals so many vivid moments, like finding out about her Oscar nomination for My Big Fat Greek Wedding while on route to the fertility clinic for yet another treatment. Her body was bloated with all the fertility drugs that were needed for the course.  Within the pages, she breaks the wall of infertility silence that many women hide. “Infertility has taken my confidence, drained the joy from me.” She reveals.

After attempting the various ways to have a baby, Nia learned about adopting through Foster Care in the US. By way of a connection through Rosie O’Donnell, she found out that there are as many prospective parents out there as there are adoptable children.  In fact, there are over 500,00 kids in Foster Care in the US., and over 129,000 of them are legally ready to be adopted.  The book gives many answers to tough questions about fos-adopt. The sobering fact is that there are many kids who eventually age out of the foster care system without a family to call their own.

Instant is such a poignant title as you read this book. The decade path to being a mom,then, whammo, she has 14 hours to prepare for her daughter to come home. In the first chapter, titled ‘Birth’, she writes about the moment she felt her heart beating with her daughter’s.

Nia talks about her marriage to Ian Gomez and how the Hollywood life and fatherhood has been for him. Not having family in LA made it challenging for her until she built her Core of friends. As her best friend, Kathy Greenwood, told her on the phone, “Giving birth is not what makes you a mom.” For Ian, after their daughter being home for a few days, had the realization that she is exactly who the two of them would of made.

Nia writes in the present tense, which makes the new mom moments very real and relatable. They are rich in detail, from sleep-deprived days, co-sleeping, weaning bottles and raising a daughter in LA. She does not like the term ‘adoptive mom’ because,  ‘once you’ve wiped a butt, you’re a mom.’ Every child comes with it’s own take on the world and challenges. An innocent child just needs love.

“ The fear of the unknown can be a powerful deterrent from anyone adopting.  Again, I am not suggesting parenthood is for everyone, so if you feel it’s not for you, I agree your life will also be wonderful without kids. But if fear is stopping you, please don’t let it.” Says Nia.

She also includes an informative resource section at the back of the book on how to adopt.

As a former foster kid, I can go on and on about this book. Proceeds from this book will go to charities who help kids get adopted.  It is a fascinating read as a gift to yourself, or anyone, regardless of being a parent or not. Nia does write about that one time John Corbett walks into a bar…

I Am So The Boss Of You

An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the “Business”

By Kathy Buckworth

Helicopter Parenting? Ferber Kids? Free-Range Parenting? Tiger Mom? Are you tired of all the parenting options and just want to be the boss? When you want to learn how to play tennis you go to a pro, when you want to learn how to run a fine-tuned-household you ask a mom of many. CEO of her family, Kathy Buckworth, has laid it all out in 8-step business plan.

“ You are not the boss of me.” Do those seven words sound familiar? While Kathy was in the middle of a business meeting, it dawned on her how to intergrate the business structure into her own household. Why do parents work so hard to find that perfect way to parent when the perfect model is right in front of us? It operates efficiently, effectively and yes, financially.

She asks the question, “ So why are some of us willing to hand over the reins of power to an Infant? A Toddler? A Preschooler? Public schooler, Tween or Teen?”

This is especially true as now the products of the original Democratic and Helicopter parents are entering the workforce. They can do no wrong. They get trophies and medals for simply ‘showing up.’

“It’s instructive to contrast the idea of Democratic Parenting with what I like to call, with some authority I might add, Autocratic Parenting. The kids still have some rights”

Kathy writes out the advantages of Autocratic Parenting, which includes: expectations are clearly laid out and consequences need to be followed through.  The book goes into depth about this way of parenting.

She takes you through an 8-step guide for being the boss of your family. From figuring out your family brand to structure charts to keep you organized, think of this as a management textbook for your family.

Kathy walks you through the Social Media world by breaking some of the popular platforms down and shows you how to make it work for you. It is simple.

With all the Parenting books out there, it can seem overwhelming on what to do for you and your kids. This approach is very easily attainable. There is something for everyone in the book to learn about. In particular, my sore neglect is putting ‘ME’ into the goal plan. Now off to do just that, with a glass of Chardonnay and a locked bathroom door.

Hot young adult novels to look up for in 2013

Ivy in the Shadows

By Chris Woodworth

Musician step father leaves the family after cheating on her mom. So a boarder named Caleb comes to live with 12-year-old Ivy, her brother and mother. Caleb’s parents are missionaries. The stories he tells at school makes Ivy think they are all lies. He is worshiped by her five-year-old brother, JJ. As Ivy peeks from the shadows, she shocked at what is unveiled.

Confessions of an Angry Girl

By Louise Rozett

Immersed in the mystery of high school, this story reveals the pain of summer when 14 year-old Rosie’s dad dies in Iraq. She has to learn to live in a world that deals with crushes and that it is okay to not have a cell phone.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larson

By Susan Nielsen

A Vancouver writer opens the story of 13-year-old Henry as he is taken to a therapist to deal with his emotions. The psychologist urges him to write in a notebook. What he pens surprises himself.

Sparrow Road 

By Sheila O Connor

“This summer Raine will have to learn to expect the unexpected.”

12-year-old Raine O’Rourke is forced to join her mother at her new job for the summer. Many hours are spent away from home to work at a mansion that houses an eccentric group of artists. Her mother is the cook and house keeper. While the daytime silence rule is in effect, Raine explores the estate wondering why they had to come here. A secret changes her world forever.

Young Adult Reads for Fall

Y by Marjorie Celona 

“My life begins at the Y…” so starts Shannon’s story, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the local YMCA. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon longs to uncover her roots. She has no clue as to where she came from or why her mother left her on the doorstep.
The answers lie in this haunting and heart-wrenching story of her mother’s family, and their flaws and all. Through the author’s intimate observations and unique wit, present and past together and shape a unique and lasting story of identity and belonging. A novel that asks us to consider the why and where we are in this world.

Who I kissed by Janet Gurtler 

Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in. She wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in front of her.
She was new to the school and didn’t know about his peanut allergy. Or that by having a peanut butter sandwich prior to the party would end lethal.  Overnight Sam turns into the school monster and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she struggles to forgive herself since no one else will.

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