My Family for the War

Catch-up 2 of 2 …

This book won the Mildred J. Batchelder Award, which is awarded to an American publisher for a translated title. My Family for the War was originally written in German, and the original title was Liverpool Street.

This book I am putting under the section for “a book in translation”, though it could easily fall under “a book about a topic or subject you already love” as I enjoy fiction children/young adult novels that center around the Holocaust and Jews in hiding during that time. That topic became popular in my head after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in high school.

My Family for the WarMy Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One historical fiction topic I enjoy reading about are those of children during the Holocaust period. It started with ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. I was looking for a book that had been translated into English for a reading challenge and seeing this on the Batchelder list of award-winning translated novels, my interest peaked and it was at the top of my ‘to-read’ list.

I imagine the struggle Ziska/Frances had as she grew to love her foster-family is one that many Jewish children experienced during WWII, but also one I think that children in foster families or who are adopted must feel also – that torn feeling of wanting to be loyal to their birth family, but also a new-found loyalty to their foster-family.

Never having gone through war time or being torn from my family, it is not something I can relate to personally, but I still admire those who go through those struggles and come out on top.

There were two passages, or words of advise, that stuck with me …

1) The first is from Ziska/Frances’ friend Professor Schueler when she tells him about her dead father and missing foster-father, and her regret of not working harder to bring her parents to a safer country. It is part of his advice in response to her parents sending her away – “Live! And live well!”

2) The second is in the second to last paragraph of the book as Ziska/Frances and her family remember the dead – “We belong to those who live with the dead. They depend on us. As long as I have a voice and as long as there is someone listening, I will name them, and tell our story.”


It seems I haven’t shared two books I’ve read for my yearly challenge, so this is catch-up 1 of 2 …

This book meets the category “a book published before you were born”. I actually have had this one my shelves at home for several years, but haven’t yet read it. My mother-in-law had it first I believe, and when I saw the title shared my name, it somehow became part of my shelves. And it fits the category as this book was published back in 1979 originally (my birth year, for the record, is 1983). Needless to say, I finally got around to reading it.

It was one of those classic girl feels out of water in her family but finds a way in the end to fit in and feel accepted type stories. I remember reading it though, that it probably could have used a few more edits before publishing, not because of spelling, but it didn’t flow right to me in some parts. Nonetheless, it is one I would read again, and knowing there’s a sequel, would read that as well.

Here’s my goodreads review for you as well…

StephanieStephanie by Joan Austen-Leigh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was first drawn to this title because it’s my name! Yet this book has sat on my shelves for several years without being read … until now.

Upon reading it, I found myself drawn to the main character. She doesn’t feel as though she belongs in the world she is growing up in and turns to books and writing as an escape. As she grows up, she needs to decide if she will live in the world of her childhood, or follow her childhood dreams.

I feel for her, as my original plan seemed to have changed from childhood dreams, and I almost feel as though I’m reinventing myself as I get older and find what makes me happy now.

It felt as though it was an early draft of the book, or at least in the early stages of a writer’s career, but nonetheless still enjoyable.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Continuing my reading plan for the year (check out the list and previous reads here: 2017 Reading Challenge) … the next box to be checked off is – a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.

This also fits into the upper section as a genre I usually avoid as I don’t read much in the way of poetry, but I have another book in mind for that…

Anyways, below is my review as posted to goodreads, then I will share pieces from her book I enjoyed.


Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry is not something I normally read, but having read some of Jacqueline Woodson’s picture books, specifically Each Kindness, I decided to give one of her non picture books a try. As well, it was something I’d been wanting to read since it was announced as a Coretta Scott King Award Winner.

I loved reading about Jacqueline’s history through her poetry. She made it feel like I was with her in South Carolina on her grandmother’s porch, or with her as she explored writing and school in New York. And she makes me want to try my hand at poetry.


My favorite poems or passages from the book …


“on paper”

Letters becoming words, words gathering meaning,


thoughts outside my head

becoming sentences



They’re just words, I whisper.

They’re not trying to hurt anybody!


“how to listen #7”

Even the silence

has a story to tell you.

Just listen. Listen.


“each world”

where You decide

what each world

and each story

and each ending

will finally be.

Teachers Write 7.21

So, if you happen to follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, then you might remember I had mentioned completing a story (this is the picture that was shared at the time if you need a memory jog)…


So, it’s not a published story, though I did share it in whole with a friend and invited a few others to read some of my stories stored on google docs (don’t know if they have, but that’s okay).

Anyways… as recent posts on here suggest, I joined a writing group for the summer called Teachers Write. It seemed like another good opportunity outside of NaNoWriMo to gain writing tips and insights from published authors in the age group that I work with.

One of my goals as part of Teachers Write is to break from my silent shell and share my writing.

Today there were two blog posts to TW participants. In one, author Erica Perl shared why we should read our writing out-loud, even if its not a picture book. I liked her suggestion and may find a snugly kitty to read to one of these days.

On the other post, Gae Polisner allows readers to share their writing and possibly receive some feedback (from her editor of all people today). Below you actually get to read part of that story I finished above. Admittedly it could use some more polishing up, but it is my most complete story thus far, and probably the one I would strive to get published at this point, should I ever choose to go that route. (No, I’m not planning on being published, though it has crossed my mind to post on a website that lets people share short-stories.)

Without further ado, the start of the first chapter …

It was a bright August day, and Olivia was at the mall shopping for new swimwear, beach wear, and any other summer clothing she could think of, as well as a few nice evening gowns. Sure she probably had enough already in her closet, but this trip coming up practically begged for a new wardrobe, and Olivia never turned down a chance to go shopping for new clothes.

“Good enough for now,” Olivia told herself after her fifth store, her arms loaded with bags.

After a quick stop at the local coffee shop for a double latte, Olivia made her way to the car and headed home. After unloading the car, Olivia sat at her computer and browsed the trip’s itinerary, double checking her lists to make sure she wasn’t missing anything. She then finished her last load of laundry and finished packing her bags as she was leaving in the morning for Miami.

The last load in the dryer, Olivia made a quick bowl of pasta and sat in front of the TV to relax a bit when her phone rang. Checking the caller id, Olivia answered the call.

“Oh my god, I am so excited for this trip!” she told Nick.

“I know! It’s been forever since I’ve seen you.”

Teachers Write 7.20

The prompt for today was to write a scene that takes place in a waiting room. Here is a peek into a scene from my life, a scene that already happened and is set to happen in the future I’m sure, as I’m due for some more work on my mouth…

I walked into the office and headed straight for the desk.

“Hello there,” the receptionist greets me. “Have a seat. They’re getting ready for you.”

I turned and sat in one of the chairs in the lobby. I grabbed a magazine and tried to clear my mind. I have a fear of shots, and was about to let someone drill in my mouth to take a tooth out. It was like my fear was moving from the outside where I could see it happening, to inside.

I put the magazine down and my leg starts bouncing, my mind racing. I turn to look at my husband next to me and take his hand, hoping he’ll help put my mind at ease, but it doesn’t help as the anxiousness of being in that lobby are reading on his face as well. I know he’s there only because they were going to numb me and we weren’t sure if I will be able to drive afterwards.

I take deep breaths. I can feel my anxiety rising. Hubby reaches over and starts rubbing my back, trying to help calm me down.

“Stephanie,” the receptionist calls out.

I take a deep breath as I rise from my seat, following her to the back and have a seat in the dentist’s chair, gripping the handles in anticipation for the procedure to come…

DIY – Earring Holder

I have a holder I picked up at Wal-Mart a while back and I was never quite happy with it, as, like many earring holders, I have to take the back off of studs to hang them up.

A shot of my old earring holder

This was annoying to me as it made it easier to lose earring backs and it seemed like more work than I was really wanting to put in. I wanted something like you would find in a jewelry box for rings.

Related image
Found via google search for ‘earring holder’

I searched for a how-to on making my own holder, but all I could find were YouTube videos, and I would have preferred to have it in picture and print format. Thus the nature of this post – fulfilling a void I saw, a picture and word how-to instead of in video format.

Let’s get started, shall we?

First up, materials …

That’s it! That’s all you need for this project. Easy peasy, right?
The box I did sand and paint first, only so it would go with my color scheme, but if you already had a painted box or drawer from a jewelry box you wanted to use, that would work just as well.
The foam curlers I found at the dollar store. Just make sure you get them all the same size, as I ended up getting two different sizes. The amount you’ll need depends on the size of your box.
The fabric I picked up from the local fabric store and it’s about a yard.
And of course, your handy dandy glue gun.

Now to the nitty-gritty part of the project, making the box.

As I mentioned above, I sanded and painted my box. If your box is good to go as is, then skip this step.
My color theme I’m working with is purple and grey (it’s the same as the rest of my house and it’s slowly working its way into the bathroom as well, and I wanted this box to fit with that scheme).

Once your happy with your box, or even before you paint, if you are going that route, you will need figure out how many rollers you’ll need exactly. It’s easier to do this before the gluing starts…
For this box (about 8 1/2 x 11 in size), I needed 5 and 1/4 going across, and 7 and 1/2 going down.
Once you know how many you need, the gluing can begin.
I started with gluing the rollers together end-to-end.

Once all my rows were glued, I measured them on the fabric to make sure it was long enough, and cut the extra as needed. I then put a row of glue at the top to hold my rollers in place. Keeping things tight, I rolled the length of the fabric until my foam rollers were covered, adding a row of glue on the edge to seal it.

When I did my box, I didn’t glue the fabric at the end of the rows, though you could if you wanted to.

Once my rows were all wrapped in fabric, I then stuffed them in the box. Yes, you do want it tight. For added strength, you can glue the rows to the bottom of the box.

And voilà! You have an earring holder! Here is mine with and without earrings so you can see how it all fits together. Now, no more taking backs off. Just slip them in the space between the rows and you’re good to go.

I designed mine to go lay or hang horizontally, but if you wanted vertical, I do believe you would get more rows, though they would be shorter in length.

This box is designed to lay flat or be propped up. To hang it, you would need to add a backing (like for a picture frame) or use some 3M strips. I can’t verify which is stronger or a better choice as I haven’t tested that theory yet. Admittedly I’d probably choose the backing, because it seems more durable to me.

Any questions, let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your new earring holder! And please share with others you think might be interested in it.



Teachers Write 7.18

So, posting my writing snippets the day after the past two days it seems. Sorry, that’s partly what happens when I post to the blog post at 10:30p as I’m crawling into bed, only then realizing I’ve been thinking about it all day but never actually posted anything.

Anyways, here is your post in response to Tuesday’s Quick Write. The author Loree Griffin Burns shared how she gets in the moment to help her writing out (for example, when writing about bees, she actually visited a bee hive.

Our task for the day was to put ourselves in a scenario, then describe it to you, the reader. My husband and I went for a bike ride (our longest to date, but not for long as I am already planning another one that has been on my radar the past year or two). Below you have a snippet into my brain the last mile of our ride …

“Yes, half a mile left,” I call to my husband behind me. I am so ready for this ride to be over. I raise my self slightly on my right peddle, giving my sore, almost tingling rear a break. Oh, not much of one as there’s another hill. “Come on, you can do it,” I tell myself, giving myself a pep talk as my legs struggle to climb the hill. I turn the knob on my gear shift. Click. The gears shift, giving my legs a slight reprieve that final hill, then it’s smooth sailing on flat land the rest of the way. Finally we make it back to the car. “Oh,” I groan as I slowly slide off my seat, my feet touching the pavement. Boy can I feel those 29 miles we just biked.