Stacey Loscalzo

Latest Posts

Apr 10

Happy 12th Birthday Katherine!

by Stacey

Dear Katherine,

Today you are twelve. Each year when I start these letters, I get stuck after that first sentence and go back and read my letter from the year before. This year was no different. In reading last year’s letter, I was struck, as I always am, by how much has changed in 365 days and by how much has stayed the same. Last year I wrote of your strength, of your perseverance and of your love for your family, your friends and of course, for dance. All these loves hold true and if anything, over the past 365 days, I have seen you loves strengthen.


This year though, I feel like more has changed than has stayed the same. To the outsider, this change would be hard to spot. To those of us you know you well though, you have grown so very much. Of course, you have grown in height this year- I do now have to look up to make eye contact- but this is not what I mean.

You have always known what you want but this year you have learned to ask for it out loud. You have asked for space in conversations and for roles in decision making that would have passed you by just a few months ago.

You have always worked hard but this year, I have seen you grow to feel proud of this work. You have begun to acknowledge, to yourself, that your work ethic is unique and you have begun to feel proud of this.

As a student, you have always wanted the best but this year I have watched you grow to take charge of your education. Gone are the days of running back to Somerville for forgotten homework. You have navigated the transition to middle school like a star- planning ahead and organizing your weeks to make sure everything gets accomplished.

You have always been surrounded by great friends and this year has been no different. I love watching you with your dance friends and your school friends as these relationships shift as you each get older. What I love the most about your friendships is how even in these middle school years, kindness reigns.

You have always been an amazing daughter and sister and this year, we continue to love having you around. You make us laugh. You make us think and you make us want to be around you more.

Happy Birthday sweet girl. May this day and year be all that you want them to be!


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Mar 19

Winter Reading Round Up

by Stacey

In January I began documenting my reading on Instagram and Goodreads. Since then, I’ve realized something. I enjoy those sites (come join me here and here if you haven’t already!) but I really, really miss blogging. My writer friend Nina Badzin said the same last week which for some reason was just the kick in the behind I needed to get back at it.

So here goes… missing months and months of blogging, calls for a reading round-up. Here are the books I have read so far in 2018.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. Far From the Tree is a story of adoption, teen pregnancy and foster care but most importantly of family.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. After starting the year strong with Far From the Tree, I fell in to a mini reading slump but this thriller got me right back in to my groove.

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro.  I honestly do not know what to say about Fire Sermon. I do know I have never read anything like it. Faith, infidelity, truth and art all told through gorgeous lyrical prose.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. A novel about immigration and class set in 2008 New York City. And local friends- Behold the Dreamers will Be our library’s One Book :: One Village this year. Be on the look out for more info in the spring!

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I knew Jason Reynolds was a genius before I read Long Way Down but this book is a must, must read for everyone. Told in prose, the feelings of a young boy surrounded by gun violence came to life.

The Light We Lost by Jill Stantopolo. I have yet to meet a Reese Witherspoon book club book I haven’t loved. This one is a page turner for sure. More romance than I usually read but full of some big questions at the same time. If I’d read this on vacation, I would have read it in one day.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. An American Marriage has already gotten a lot of great press. Sometimes I worry that a book is overhyped but this one is not. A story of marriage, race and incarceration in America. I hate to use the word ‘important’ when I describe a book because I know that can make the read seem boring but believe me this book is both important and fast paced.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. My review of Only Child is my first at the brand new book site, Bookclique. Please check out my review here before you read. And of course, I want you to check it out because the site is great but also because this book comes with many warnings. Learn why in my review.

A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis. After the heaviness of Only Child, I needed the type of book that I call a palate cleanser. Not that A Map of the Dark was light in topic but it was a quick read. Think Patricia Cornwell or Harlan Coben.

Ok. Your turn. What have you been reading and loving? You know I always love to grow my to-be-read list!


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Nov 08

Reading for Empathy

by Stacey

“Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.”
— Neil Gaiman- Fahrenheit 451 Introduction

I wrote a post this weekend about an ugly incident in our town and some adult’s ugly reaction to it. I am thankful that good friends shared this post widely and I am very proud of the conversations the post sparked among so many people in our community.

In an effort to continue the conversation, I want to do what I do best- recommend books. Over the course of my next few posts, I will share my favorites on some of the issues I feel are most central to our community’s situation.

Empathy seems like good place to start.  All of us, children and adults alike, could spend some time considering empathy which by definition is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” So much of what has happened might have been different if everyone had taken a deep breath and thought about how their actions and words might impact another person.

As long time readers of my blog know, picture books are my first love. Even now that the girls are long past their picture book reading days, these books still cover the flat surfaces of our house. I still buy new picture books and collect them like others do shoes. So, whenever I think about a topic that I want to explore, picture books are where I start.

Below is a list of some of my favorite pictures books that delve into, subtly and not, the idea of empathy. If you have others that I should love, please let me know so I can keep my list growing.

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev (the photo above inspired this brilliant book)

Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry

Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose & Hannah Hoose

The Other Side by Jacquline Woodson

Chrysanthemum by Keven Henkes

And then just a few lists from some of my favorite book places.

What Do We Do All Day: Picture Books to Teach Empathy

Pernille Ripp: 10 Picture Books that Spark Empathy

Common Sense Media: Books That Teach Empathy

New York Times: You Can’t Teach Empathy But These Picture Books Inspire It

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Nov 04

Lessons I Hope We Learn

by Stacey

Last weekend two high schoolers in our community fought on back to back days. The second fight ended in a significant injury to one of the students. Many other students watched. Those students did not intervene. They videotaped the fight and posted it on social media.

These are the only facts that the public has. Because the students are minors and because we live in country with a robust legal system, these are the only facts that the school district and the police department can legally pass on to the public. There are rumors of cyber bullying. There are rumors of inappropriate pictures. There are rumors of racial undertones.

If I wrote a fictionalized story of what we believed happened during and leading up to this fight, an editor would reject it. The story would appear implausible. How could all the issues that plague our teens coincide within one story? And yet, it appears that this story is, at least in part, true.

As a family we have talked through many issues since last weekend. Violence and threats of violence. Taking and sending inappropriate pictures. The fact that there is no such thing as an ‘innocent bystander.’ Reminders that if you see something, say something. The importance of smart media literacy. The list could and will go on and on.

Of course, all of this weighs heavily on me as mother. What is weighing almost more heavily though is the behavior of adults in our community as we react to this awful story. I am a member of a number of local Facebook groups and conversations about the fight have dominated those groups in the past few days.

I have read on as parents, using the same social media tool that they vilify, pass judgment on the students and their parents. The names that have been levied and the judgements on parenting that have been passed are truly unbelievable. It is true that there is only one boy in the hospital which makes the story appear very clear cut. And of course, that part of the story is. What is not clear cut to us as outsiders is what led up to this situation and what is even less clear is the parenting that went on in these children’s homes. The fact that people write in one sentence about the evils of cyberbullying by teens while in the next sentence actively cyberbully fellow parents is shocking to me.

If I have learned anything in my fourteen years as a parent it is that we should never judge what another parent does unless we have lived an identical life to theirs which, of course, is impossible. Before having children, I swore that I would cook one meal that everyone would eat, that my children would stay in bed until I was ready to get up and that I would limit their screen time to 30 minutes a day. Anyone who knows me knows that those promises did not pan out and now, neither do the promises I made about raising teenagers. As parents we set the tone in our family. We lay the groundwork and instill the values we hope our children will embrace. And we hold them accountable when they make mistakes. What we do not control, because we never did, is what our children will do out of their own free will. We are, after all, raising them to be independent people.

There are so many lessons that our community will learn as the result of this horrible incident. I hope at least two of these lessons are that we, as adults, should refrain from judging without facts and that we as adults should always refrain from public judging on a social media platform. Social media is never, as some hope, going to go away. That toothpaste is out of the tube and it will not go back in. Our children are going to live their social lives on their devices. It is our job as adults to navigate this world along-side them and to model the on-line behavior we would like to see our children demonstrate. My hope, of course, is that the injured boy is healed and the outcome for the others involved is appropriate. And beyond that, my hope is that we as parents will learn all we can from this terrible situation.

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Nov 02

What I’m Into (October 2017 Edition)

by Stacey

Last month I jumped into Leigh Kramer’s fun round up of posts titled, What I’m Into and had a blast thinking about the past month. I promised myself I would keep better notes and take more detailed pictures of what the month brought this time around but I can’t quite say I did… but here a few musings on the month that just passed.

Currently Reading

I am currently reading Dan Brown’s latest, Origin. I swear I really like it but for some reason it is taking me forever to get through. I’m not sure if this is commentary on the book or on our ever changing schedules. The girls are going to bed later than ever and for sure, this is cutting in to my reading time.

Currently Listening

All my regular podcasts that I mentioned last month are still in the rotation but I have added a few new ones,  like #am Writing with Jess & KJ and Fully Booked, as well. And for anyone wondering how I listen to so many podcasts, I have two words for you. Dance Mom. Katherine dances at a studio 20 minutes from home and she is there six to seven days a week. I log a lot of driving (and listening!) time.

Currently Watching

Ok. I fully admit I have a problem. I have not even started watching Stranger Things because I can’t stop my Criminal Minds obsession. Between the stress of the news of the world and the anxiety of all the newness (high school, middle school etc) in our own house, I crave the predicability of this procedural. I am going to run out of seasons soon but for now, Criminal Minds is where I’m at.

Favorite Instagram

Last month, I spent a lot of time on Instagram getting to know Bookstagram and meeting lots of new readers. And then the Instagram algorithm changed and I got grumpy about it so… this month I was there less but definitely missed it so I plan to jump back in soon.

I would say, though that I did love this picture from last month.




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Oct 31


by Stacey


I’ve never liked Halloween.

When I was little, I would go to the parade in my grandparent’s neighborhood and that was sort of fun. But I grew up in New England so it was cold and I always had to wear a coat over my costume which seemed to defeat the whole purpose of the costume.

When I was older, I hated the idea of dressing up. Frankly I still do. I don’t like being uncomfortable or wondering if my costume is ‘too much’ or ‘too little.’ To this day, wearing costumes makes me feel an insecurity I don’t feel over-wise.

When the girls were born, Halloween was fun for a little bit. What’s not to love about a baby pumpkin or duck? We would walk through the neighborhood with friends and collect all my favorite candy. We lived in Virginia at the time so the weather tended to be perfect.

And then we moved to New Jersey and Halloween became cold again. In fact, Halloween was canceled in our town two years in a row. First due to early snow that fell and took down power lines days before and then thanks to super storm Sandy that left our neighborhood without power for two weeks.

And then the girls got older and wanted to trick or treat with different groups of friends so we would divide and conquer. Rob would go with one group and I with the other, the whole time wondering how people have more than two children.

And then the girls got older still and Halloween meant a day full of fun but also different schedules. The girls came home for lunch during elementary school and then back for the Halloween parade. I tended to miss my routine and felt all out of sorts.

As the girls got older still, Halloween only got harder. Suddenly, Halloween became about social groups. Who was wearing a group costume and who wasn’t? Were you trick or treating with these friends or those friends? The social pressures took all the fun out of the day.

I still feel many of these feelings about Halloween. Today though, things feel a little bit different. This is our first Halloween without an elementary schooler. I have no Halloween parade to attend and that makes me sad. Caroline will certainly trick or treat without us and chances are good that Katherine will too. Fortunately, Katherine and a few of her sweet friends will come to our house after school for pizza and to drop off their back packs but then they will most likely be out on their own until dark. Maybe then, Rob and I can trail them at a tween approved distance for a bit?

I know we still have many more years of hands on parenting ahead of us. On days like these though, I can feel the nest getting less and less crowded.





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Oct 19

What Made Maddy Run: A Review

by Stacey


Earlier this week I wrote a post about a few of my recent reads and commented that the book, What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan, deserved it’s own space. I am still not entirely ready to talk about Maddy but I guess I won’t ever be so here goes.

I read this book as part of a program launched at our middle school called Beyond the Book. Each month the group reads a book that thematically represent the mission and core values embraced at our school. Topics will include resilience, grit, inter-personal skills, the whole child and more. Our first book was What Made Maddy Run and our principal, vice principal and approximately twenty parents sat down to discuss it last week. If you are a long time reader of this blog, you will know that sadly, our middle school community experienced a suicide a year and a half ago so unfortunately, this book seemed like the right beginning place for our discussions.

What Made Maddy Run is the story of Madison Holleran and her death by suicide (a term I only learned after reading this book). Maddy grew up in Allendale, just a few towns away from Ridgewood. The descriptions of Maddy, her life and her surroundings are all eerily familiar. Maddy was a perfectionist. A student. An athlete. And a social butterfly. She seemingly had it all and wanted more. These phrases describe Caroline and Katherine to a tee along with practically all of their friends. We live in an area, that despite many parent’s efforts to the contrary, rewards, consciously or unconsciously, perceived success over happiness.

There are many things that I could write about Maddy and the experience of reading her story and talking about it with my peers. What struck me the most though were the conversations that I had with Caroline as she read What Made Maddy Run. And yes- I did let her read it although I was hesitant. I would strongly recommend you read it before your child but if you feel they are ready (and maybe even if you don’t) the conversations that came from jointly reading this book were worth the fear I had to experience in order to allow Caroline to read it. In case this helps… one thing we did talk about last week was that books, television shows and conversations about suicide do not plant seeds in our kid’s minds. Instead they create a safe place to discuss a scary topic.

When Caroline first started reading about Maddy she said something really important. I had underlined passages like “Words meant little. Only excellence helped chip away at self-doubt. And so she excelled.”  Caroline’s comment to me was that she would have underlined different passages. She is not an underliner and I did not want to stop the flow of her reading so I’m still not sure where her focus lay. Of course, as a child, she would read this book differently than I did but we did take away one similar and very important message. Living in a world of social media had a huge impact on Maddy and how she lived with depression and anxiety. When she was about half way through the book, Caroline said, “Emoji’s killed Maddy.”

At first I was confused. She went on to say, “She was able to hide behind the haha’s and the lols and the emojis. It all didn’t seem so serious when she texted lol at the end of her messages.” Maddy did tell her friends and family that she was hurting. She told them something wasn’t right and they did everything they could to support her. They did not ignore her because she ended her texts with emojis but it is true that her messages may have read slightly differently because of them.

There is something super valuable in Caroline’s emoji comment. None of us are talking enough. And we are all hiding behind emojis and text shorthand. I am guilty of this personally and I have allowed the girls to both become very dependent on their phones. Fortunately, the girls still do talk to me, Rob and their friends face to face often but I know that there are times they don’t. I immediately thought back to text exchanges I have had where I have thrown in a haha or an lol myself to downplay the emotion in my message. And I know that I have felt relieved when Caroline has done the same.

Caroline did also say that a line that stuck with her revolved around Maddy’s mental illness. The message she mentioned was that we, as emotionally healthy people, will never be able to rationalize what Maddy did simply because we are emotionally healthy and Maddy was not. I am in awe of the access that Maddy’s family gave to Kate Fagan. Their openness allowed for this book to be written and I am grateful. Being able to talk openly about teenage anxiety and depression is huge. It is scary as can be that Maddy talked and her parents did all they could and she still died. I know though that by telling Maddy’s story, her parents have opened up conversations with countless children just like theirs. And I know because of these conversations, children like Maddy will be saved.

Thank you to the Holleran Family for sharing and to Kate Fagan for writing such a powerful story.


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Oct 16

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

by Stacey


Today I am linking up with the amazing Modern Mrs. Darcy to tell you What I’ve Been Reading Lately. This is a super fun link up that I used to participate in monthly but it has been ages since I have so… I am just going to talk about a few of the books that I have read and loved this fall.

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

I finished this title awhile ago but I’m still thinking about the characters and the world in which they lived. This story, set in apartheid-era South Africa, brings two families together through tragedy. I learned a lot while reading and the story really made me think.

Young Jane Young by by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young is a fun page turner based loosely on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. This was my first selection from the Bookshelf Thomasville Shelf Subscription. I did really enjoy it but I wanted it to be more like The Hopefuls which was a favorite of mine from the summer.

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

This book deserves a post of it’s own and it will get one later on this month. Gretchen Rubin touched on her personality framework in an early work and I had myself pegged very clearly as an obliger (a person who meets outer expectations but resists inner expectations). After talking about this framework with a friend last week, I came to an alarming discovery. I am pretty sure I am a rebel. Who knew!? As I said, more to come on this one.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I loved Ng’s latest so much that it got it’s own review. Click here to see what I thought about this family drama.

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

We discussed this book as part of our middle school’s parent-teacher book group. I have to admit that I probably would have avoided reading this one were it not for a bookclub. Fagan tells the true story of Maddy, a young girl who dies by suicide. Maddy grew up a few towns away from ours and until the very end of her story, she could be any one of many girls we know. I will also be writing more about Maddy down the road as this story has filled my mind ever since I finished the last page.



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Oct 12

Mother and Reader: Two Sides of the Same Coin

by Stacey


Mother and reader. These are the two descriptors that I use most often to describe myself. And I’ve come to realize that these two roles have an awful lot in common.

For both the mother and the reader:

You can never choose a favorite.

Every time my girls ask me who is my favorite, I try to be clever and say, “You are my favorite first daughter and you are my favorite second daughter.” Of course, they each roll their eyes and continue to believe that I love the other more but so goes sibling rivalry.

It is the same in the world of books. Choose a favorite book? Never. But my favorites of the year, I may be able to do that. Favorite picture book? The Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio. Favorite middle grade read? Real Friends by Shannon Hale. Favorite young adult novel? The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. And favorite novel? Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

There is never enough time.

Every day I wake up with a to-do list. By the end of the day, I may have crossed off a few items but most likely I have added more to-dos than I have accomplished.

The same principle applies to my to be read list. Today I may have finished Shadow Man by Ian Drew by but I added The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnvich, Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge and Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It. It seems likely that there will never be enough time to complete either my to-do list or my to be read list.

It’s important to choose your battles.

The girls spend lots of time on their iPhones. They both watch re-runs of Friends over and over again despite the repeated sexual references that I hope (but know aren’t) going over both their heads. And I do in fact make multiple dinners every night despite knowing, without a doubt, that this is a bad idea. There are simply too many battles to fight every day to fight every single one so I have prioritized as a mom.

I do the same as a reader. I should read more non-fiction, fantasy and short stories. I should keep better track of what I read and what I thought of those books. I should write my name in the books I lend but I don’t do any of these things. I suppose these are the book battles that, for today, I have chosen not to fight.

The is no right way to do things.

Caroline had terrible reflux as a baby. During her first few months of life she slept many more hours in her car seat than she ever did her crib. We have yet to figure out an effective way to get our children to complete chores. And I’ve let our girls quit way more extracurricular activities than I would care to admit. While many, many moms would disagree with these approaches, Caroline iis now a sound sleeper (car-seat free), both girls clean their rooms every so often and they both love the activities that they have chosen to do.

And again, it is the same in the world of books. Did I love The Goldfinch? I did not like it at all (especially the Las Vegas part) but I know that many did. Do I understand the fascination with comic books? No. But I do enjoy watching the faces of people who love them as they talk about their favorite issues. Can I finish any of the many, many audiobooks that I have started? Nope. But I continue to write down reader’s favorites because so many people love them. Like in life, there is not one way to be a reader.

Your tribe is important.

I was lucky that Caroline was born just two weeks before one of my closest friends gave birth to her first child. Talking with Elizabeth about sleep deprivation, tummy time and swaddling got me through those early months. The topics my tribe discusses may have changed. The past few weeks alone, we have talked vaping and college essays and curfews. But the power of the group of women that surrounds me remains the same.

The same can be said of my community of readers. Sure I look forward to my book club meeting each month but now, thanks to social media, I am in touch with my reading tribe each and every day. I check in on the Twitter hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. I scroll through the many posts on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club Facebook page. I listen to bookish podcasts and I pour over bookstagram. Checking in with my tribe and on my reading community is a highlight of each day.

So there you have it. Mother and reader. Two sides of the same coin.



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Oct 02

What I’m Into (October 2017 Edition)

by Stacey


This month I decided it would be fun to link up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into Series so here goes…

September was… well, it was September. Every year, parents of school aged children know it’s coming but it seems to knock us on our backside every single time. This year, Katherine started middle school and Caroline started high school so the adjustments felt even bigger. Now that we have turned the page on the calendar, I hope that the world (our personal world at least) starts to feel a tiny bit more settled.

Here are a few things that have been keeping me sane-ish during this month of adjustments.


So apparently one thing that suffered this month was my tracking system for the books I finished. And needless to say, my memory did not stand up to the task. I know I read Hum if You Don’t Know the Words, Young Jane Young and Little Fires Everywhere but I am almost certain there are more…


Caroline is playing on her high school soccer team which means that she practices right after school and takes a bus to games so there is way less soccer driving than their used to be. That said, Katherine is dancing a ton so there is still plenty of time in the car to listen to our favorite music. Current favorites include Praying by Kesha, All About Us by Pink and Gallway Girl by Ed Sheeran.


I really don’t know what my issue is but right now the only thing I seem to be able to watch on TV is the news and Criminal Minds. I wrote this post recently about my Criminal Minds fixation and I am pretty sure I am watching it obsessively in a way to feel in control of our otherwise out of control world.


I am still listening to my old favorites including All the Books, Get Booked, From the Front Porch, What Should I Read Next?, Pop Culture Happy Hour, The Popcast and Sorta Awesome. And then a new to me is Bill Simmons Rewatchable in which the commentators discuss some of the most ‘rewatchable’ movies. I am now dying to re-watch movies like A Few Good Men and Silence of Lambs. If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I highly recommend it!

Favorite Instagram:

I have been on and off Instagram for years. In September though, I decided to jump in with a renewed focus on books and reading. I am having a blast and meeting a lot of fun new bookish friends. If we aren’t connected on Instagram yet, come find me! I am @staceyloscalzo.

My favorite Instagram from the month has to be the one in which I am reading with my favorite cat wearing my favorite shoes 🙂 




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