Stacey Loscalzo

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Jul 15

Quick Lit: July 2016

by Stacey

I’m excited to write a Quick Lit post after a long, long break.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

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The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. There are many books that I have read only because they are a book club pick. And it’s books like this one that make me glad I join these clubs. I would have never picked up The One in a Million Boy were it not ‘required’ and I am so glad I did. It was the first pick in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Club. Anne has gathered tons of people together on the internet to read amazing books in community and I am having a blast discussing books with so many amazing readers. The One in a Million Boy is the story of friendship and grief and family. While the story is certainly fun to read, the writing in this book is what will stay with me. I am not typically an underliner when I read, but I marked passage after passage in The One in a Million Boy.

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolke. Wolf Hollow is definitely my favorite middle grade read in a long time. This one came recommended by Sally, the owner of our favorite independent children’s book store, The Curious Reader. In Wolf Hollow, we meet Annabelle who faces a truly evil bully. I do recommend this book for middle grade readers but I would suggest that a grown up reads it first. It might not be a great book for the sensitive souls in your house.

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. The Nest was the second pick in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Club. I had heard a ton about this book and I’m glad I read it. I liked it but didn’t love it. It’s the story of a dysfunctional family and the characters were fun to get to know. Many people in the book club couldn’t get past their dislike of the characters but I actually enjoyed them. I wasn’t able to join in live to our on-line discussion of the book but I am excited to listen to the replay. I only found this to be a fun summer read but I know others in the group got a bit more out of it and I’ll be excited to hear what they thought.

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This is the Part Where You Laugh by Peter Hoffmeister. This is another recommendation from The Curious Reader. This time from Chris, Sally’s partner. Initially, I really disliked this book. It took dark and gritty and sad to a new level. Each character we met had a problem and I just desperately wanted something good to happen. I was reminded though after discussing this book with Sally and Chris and other patrons at The Curious Reader that this book in an important one for people to read. It reflects the truth for many children and introduces others to the lives of many, many people in our country.

I’d love to hear what you are reading and loving this summer! Share in the comments.

 

 

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Jul 08

Happy 13th Birthday Sweet Caroline

by Stacey

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Dear Caroline,

As I scrolled through pictures looking for one to use for today’s post, I recognized and remembered many of them but I had forgotten about this one. We had traveled with friends to the Outer Banks for a week and spent an evening exploring gigantic sand dunes. This was you at this age, ready to go and hard to hold back. You had a wide open space to run and you were ready to go.

As I think about what to say on your 13th birthday, writer’s block has kicked in in a big way. There is so much to say but as you enter the teenage years, I know that protecting your privacy is really, really important. I don’t want to get mushy or sentimental but it’s really hard. You are the girl that made me a mom and every day we travel this path together succeeding and making mistakes in equal measure. Being the first born is hard. I am learning about this mothering thing right along side you. Every decision I make is new. Knowing when to say no and when to let you go is a constant struggle.

I know I should struggle less. You are an amazing girl. You make smart and difficult decisions every day. You are loving sister (most of the time!) and an amazing daughter. You are a devoted friend and thoughtful student. You are a dedicated and a talented soccer player and watching your love of the game on and off the field is inspiring.

I hope you know that even when I struggle to let you grow it is not because I don’t trust you. It is because I love those days when I could hold you close and I know that mothering now is different. Now it is up to me to show you how to be in this world as your own person. And you are doing an amazing job. You are figuring it all out and I couldn’t be more proud.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl. We love you so very much!

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Jul 06

What Should I Read Next

by Stacey

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About a year ago, I discovered podcasts and became immediately hooked. I have quite a few favorites including, Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s What Should I Read Next. I have read Anne Bogel’s Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s blog for years and love her book recommendations. We have very similar tastes. Therefore, you can imagine how excited I was when she launched her podcast, What Should I Read Next. I was so excited in fact that I submitted an application to be a guest on her show. I never expected to be chosen so I was thrilled when I got an e-mail a few weeks ago inviting me to join her on this week’s episode of What Should I Read Next.

I was super nervous in the days leading up to the recording. All of Anne’s guests have sounded so articulate that I worried I would never sound the same. It turns out that Anne is such a great interviewer and so easy to talk to that our recording really felt like a visit over a cup of coffee.

On each episode, Anne asks her guest to tell her three books they love, one book they hate and what they are reading now. She then recommends three books that she thinks her guests would love to read next.

Take a listen and see what you think!

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Jun 29

5 Things I Learned in June

by Stacey

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Inspired by the amazing Modern Mrs. Darcy.

1. I miss writing in this space. 

I’m becoming a bit like a broken record with this but here it is again. I have not been consistent here and I miss it.

2. The Kale Broccoli Salad from Trader Joe’s with grilled chicken makes me like salads for lunch. 

I know that I should eat more salads but when I have them for lunch I feel so unsatisfied that I snack all afternoon long. I recently found the Kale Broccoli Salad kit from Trader Joe’s and it is so good! I have had it with our own grilled chicken but I have also added the Trader Joe’s grilled chicken for a completely cook-free lunch.

3. Taking pictures while walking makes the walking much more fun. 

I am on a constant journey to find exercise that doesn’t hurt my back. I keep thinking I’ve found just the thing and then I throw out my back, my shoulders get painfully sore or in the case of last week, I just tweak my back but it worries me enough to stop doing what I’m doing. When this happens, I come back again and again to walking. I’m pretty sure I am not getting enough exercise for my mood (or my over 40 metabolism!) when I walk but it is the right thing for my back these days. Having a camera with me at all times, thanks to my iPhone, makes the walks much less boring. I love spotting interesting things along the way and capturing them.

4. Reading ‘assigned’ books in community is one of my favorite things to do. 

I joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Club and I am loving it. We recently finished The One in a Million Boy and it was so great to read and discuss a book I wouldn’t have chosen on my own with a community of people who love reading as much as I do.

5. The Overcast app makes podcast listening super easy. 

I’ve been listening to podcasts for awhile now but I only started using Overcast this month. I’ve heard lots of people recommend the app as a way to streamline podcast listening and they were right. The system is easier (and prettier!) than the native iPhone app.

How about you? What did you learn in June?

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Jun 27

A Step Back in Time

by Stacey

IMG_2294Caroline had a soccer tournament this weekend in Albany (well, really Schenectady, well really Scotia) but the point is, it was far away. Caroline joined a new club this summer and with the increased rigor of this club comes increased travel. This weekend’s tournament was already the second of the summer. Caroline and Rob went to the first tournament on their own but this time, we decided we should all go to support her and because if not, we were going to have a lot of weekends apart which made us sad.

Traveling two hours to watch two soccer games was tough to see to Katherine so I promised her an adventure, telling her that at some point during the day, we would leave the field and explore. I wasn’t sure what I would find in Scotia, NY. In fact, I never had heard of Scotia until we arrived but I figured we could find something interesting. Truth be told, I had imagined a lake or a waterfall or a park but instead, we found a library.

We drove away from the field to find ice coffee and adventure and as we left Dunkin Donuts, I spotted the library above. This tiny building, erected in the 1700’s, houses a few small rooms and many, many books.

Initially, it felt like a step back in time. The children’s department had a Fisher Price school house and Playskool puzzles that had to be as old as I am.

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IMG_2298But they also had shelves and shelves of books.

IMG_2297I’m not sure where our next tournament will take us but we certainly enjoyed our first adventure.

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May 05

8 Reasons Why People (and I) Buy Books

by Stacey

The other day, while listening to the Book Riot Podcast (one of my favorites!), I was directed to this article, 8 Reasons Why People Buy Books. While I agree with the hosts that the categories aren’t perfect, I still thought it would be fun to see if I could think of a time when I had purchased (or borrowed) books for each of these reasons.

Here goes…

1. Entertain Me Now

I recently e-mailed a friend who I share book tastes with because lately I haven’t really loved anything I have read. She recommended The Nest and while I just started it, I can tell it will be the definition of entertaining.

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2. Entertain Me Later

I can’t quite figure out how this is different than an impulse buy but the article seems to put e-book purchases in this category. You know, those books you buy and then totally forget are even there. Thank goodness for the ‘sample’ feature on my Kindle or I would have run out of money long ago.

In scrolling through my Kindle the first one to pop up that I had forgotten getting was Sorcerer to the Crown.

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3. Inform Me

Whenever I start a new adventure, I turn to books. The launch of my Rodan + Fields business was no exception. I have found a whole new category of books to provide practical business tips and also pure motivation and inspiration. My favorite so far is Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of your Own Way by Steven Pressfield.

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4. Obligation to Read

Text books are in this category and sadly, I don’t need these anymore. I used to love going to the college bookstore and buying all those new books. Dorky, but true!

5. Social Pressure to Read

The writers of the article include titles like 50 Shades of Grey in this category. Books that everyone is talking about. I definitely do read these books when they come out because I love nothing more than talking about books with lots and lots of people. I wish I could think of a recent title that would fall in to this category but I can’t. Where’s  the next big thing hiding I wonder?

6. Makes Me Look Smart

I’m not sure I buy books to look smart but I think I do keep reading books that I might otherwise put down. I recently started reading The Little Red Chairs which I had heard amazing things about from lots of people who I respect. Little Red Chairs was actually one of the books that came to me by way of the Parnassus First Editions club that I am loving so I really, really wanted to enjoy this book. Just a few days ago, after reading it slowly bit by bit, I finally decided to stop. I know I ‘should’ love this book but I don’t. Perhaps I kept reading for so long because I felt like if I didn’t, maybe I wasn’t smart enough to read it…

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7. Need a Gift

I buy books as gifts all the time. I guess maybe a bit too much. Just today as Katherine and I read titles from my latest picture book haul thanks to the The Curious Reader she said, “What are we getting me teachers this year as teacher gifts? And no books!”. I might have to go for books despite her plea because This is Not a Picture Book is just about the perfect gift for all the teachers in your life.

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8. Impulse

I would say the majority of my book purchases fall in to this category. Rarely do I think for a long time about whether or not to buy a book and even if I do, that’s what the library is for. Just this morning, I reserved a few titles I had heard about from our library and downloaded a few samples on to my Kindle.

The Outliers was the first to catch my eye today.

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I’d love to hear which books fall in to these categories for you!

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May 02

On Writing

by Stacey

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I learned a lot last week. I learned that there is a lot of heartache in this world. I learned that people are kind and generous and loving almost all of the time. I learned that community trumps all else. And I learned that writing is what gets me through. I’ve had a bumpy few months of blogging. I’ve been swallowed up with volunteering, parenting and the launch my Rodan + Fields business. All these things have felt big and all consuming and I have let my writing slide. My writing always has seasons in which I will write more and then less but these past few months, I have written less than I have in a long time.

Last week though I realized that I process and think and work through writing. I hate that it is often the yucky stuff that makes me understand more about life but that certainly seems to be the way it is. And I know that the message won’t necessarily stay with me but for now, I hope to remember that I am a person that needs to write. I work better, think better, live better when I am writing.

Because…

“Writing is thinking on paper.”

Thanks for the reminder, William Zissner.

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Apr 27

To Find Peace

by Stacey

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On Saturday night, an 8th grader at our middle school committed suicide. I have sat down to write multiple times this week and just haven’t been able to do it. The words were too jumbled in my head. I think I feel ready now.

I have felt both blessed and cursed to be president of the home and school association over these past few days. Cursed because I have been in such frequent communication with the school and with my fellow parents that I can’t stop thinking about Alex and his family. I found that if people started talking to me about ‘regular’ things, I was shocked. How could anyone have any other thoughts?

But I feel blessed for two reasons. The first being pretty obvious. I was able to do something to help. Our community feels so helpless right now but I was able to act. I could ask and answer questions. I could arrange for meetings. I could communicate with parents. I could do. I feel lucky that I could.

And I  blessed because I was reminded again of how amazing our community really is. We are going through a lot of contentious discussions in town right now about parking garages and teacher contracts and hospital expansions. And village council elections and baseball fields. It has been easy to see the negative that surrounds us but this week I was reminded of the good. Everyone just wanted to help. We wanted to listen and to talk and to learn and to hug each other. We just wanted to be together. Differences aside. We were together as parents and teachers in a community that needed a lot of extra love and we were all there to give it.

I was reminded that the teachers and administrators at our middle school are an amazing group of people. They have loved our children and us as parents each day this week. Every parent I have spoken to has talked about lucky we are to have these adults in the lives of our children. They have let the children talk and they have brought them back to routine. They have listened to what the children need and they have provided it.

Alex’s services were today. A special service was held this morning for children, teachers and families. The chapel was overflowing. The rabbi asked for all the children to fill the seats while the adults stood in any space they could find. I had debated not going. It sounded hard. I know the family but only a bit. I told myself they would be glad if I was there but would’t miss me if I wasn’t. I was thankful that a friend convinced me go because it was a truly special time.

We heard from Alex’s friends and teachers. We laughed together hearing about his ability to beat his math teacher at chess, how he could solve any math equation given to him and how he could make his friends laugh. We learned about his wry humor and his smirk-ish grin. We learned that he is a soul who will be missed by all those who knew him.

And then the rabbi spoke and his message was beautiful and so important. He did not dance around the fact that Alex committed suicide. Instead he told the children about a secret he himself had kept for 25 years, feeling unsure that there was an adult in his life with whom he could share his truth. He told the children that no one will ever know why Alex chose to take his own life. But he told the children that they all need to know there are adults ready to hear whatever might be heavy in their hearts. He told them that their parents will forgive them if they choose to take their secrets to someone else. Your most trusted adult does not need to be your parent. He told the children that one day, a long time from now, when they are grandmothers and grandfathers, they may just be there because they learned from Alex that sharing your hurt is better than holding it.

This community will miss you Alex. Rest in peace.

 

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