Category Archives: Family

Will ya turn off that TV!? by Susan Day


Since the invention of the moving picture box, parents have been yelling at their kids to turn it off, and go outside and play.

Today more than ever, kids are so heavily connect to screens we may have to ask ourselves is technology hindering or helping our children and grandchildren to read books. And by books, I mean real ones made with ink and paper!

Parents are allowing their young infants and toddlers to use tablets and smartphones. Why? Because there are thousands of games and apps which entertain and educate them. But is this the right way to learn because it’s cheap and easy to use?

Without doubt many parents and grandparents are concerned that their children are spending too much time in front of screens, and not enough time playing outside or reading story books.

Too Much Screen Time?

What is ‘screen time?’ While many of us grandparents certainly spent time in front of the big screen of our televisions, there certainly wasn’t a term for it. Now, children are spending so much time in front of the television experts and researchers have coined a new phrase – screen time.

We all know kids need to learn how to use computers, and that safely engaging online is an important part of building skills they will need in their careers. However, spending too much time playing games, texting, and watching videos will have an effect on a child’s ability to learn the fundamentals of their language. This, in turn, can have an impact on their ability to learn to read and write, and their careers later in life.

How many words should a child know?

An average vocabulary for a four year old, for example, is 3,000 to 4,000 words. Children learn the majority of words they are ever going to learn before they get to school. Sadly, there are children beginning school with a vocabulary of only 500 words. This means they may never develop the language skills needed to do well in life. While you may not want your child to grow up to be an author or a journalist; you would want them to be able to put a complaint letter together or create a thorough resume for a job.

What can we do to help children develop a love of reading and books?

There are many things which you can do to help. Share reading times with a child or visit your local library together. Talk about books, and the types of stories which are available. Go to bookshops or reading events, and make books a big part of your shared lives.

It’s up to all of us to engage children with quality “off-screen” activities so they can learn to grow and develop as best they can.

Who is Susan Day?

Susan Day, children’s author and writer, has developed a 7 Step Guide to Help Children Fall in Love with Books and Reading. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips to help parents and grandparents engage children with books. You can download the guide here: http://www.astrosadventuresbookclub.com/

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. Apart from writing and reading, she loves painting, and gardening.

Finding a Sanctuary for a Novel by Steve Lindahl

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I dedicated my latest novel, Hopatcong Vision Quest, to its setting, Lake Hopatcong, NJ. The story takes place at the same location, in two different eras: the present time and the early 17th century, when the area was inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans. My history with Hopatcong is important because it helps me understand the feel of riding a power boat across a crowded body of water, the serenity of paddling a canoe on smooth waters, the fun of searching for freshwater mussels in shallow water , and the thrill of competing with a best friend for the most skips of skimming stones. The lake has been a friend for most of my life.

I wonder how many others have a sanctuary near water: a different lake, a place by a river or a creek, or perhaps an ocean beach. If you’re one of those people, you understand the meditative pull of gentle water as well as the power of a storm or a flood.

My family bought the lake house in 1928. My grandfather wanted a country home, to get his family out of Brooklyn during the Polio season. He had a place in Connecticut for a time, but wasn’t happy there, so he relocated to an island on the largest lake in New Jersey. The family’s been there ever since.

Lake Hopatcong is where I spent summers when I was a child. I Learned to swim there, to sail, to explore the woodlands, to paddle a canoe, to drive a motorboat, and to take an outboard motor apart and put it back together. I grew up with my cousins and some of the best friends of my life, people I’m still close to today. When I grew a little older, it was at that lake where I met my wife.

In Hopatcong Vision Quest there is a scene where two nine year old children, a boy and a girl, go into a wooded area between a road and the shore of the lake. They are searching for an entrance hole to a muskrat burrow. This is an example of a section of the book that required research as well as a general knowledge of how it feels to approach a lake through a place where people seldom go.

The Lenape people of the late 16th, early 17th century felt a sense of respect and reverence for animals that lived both in and out of water. One of their clans was called the Turtle Clan, named after an animal that fits the description. In the book, the otter, another animal that fits, is the spirit guide of one of the main characters. So a muskrat, a third fit, was a logical animal to include in my story.

I remember, as a child, how I watched a muskrat swimming in front of our dock to a nearby shore, then disappearing into a hole in the ground. This happened many times and is an example of an experience that led to a plot choice. I never went looking for the animals with a flashlight to peer into their burrows, but I did go to the shore though the woods many times for other reasons.

I had to follow the decision to use muskrats with research. I used YouTube to be sure I understood how they swam and other sources to check on their eating habits and the time of the year when the kits are with their mother.

Hopatcong Vision Quest is a past life mystery, a story of two suspicious deaths and the use of past life regressions to discover clues. It’s about the past and present characters and their relationships: friendships, betrayals, and love. It is both a modern mystery and historical fiction, but it is also a tribute to a place for peaceful withdrawal from the troubles of the world, my own Walden Pond.

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Steve Lindahl’s first two novels, Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions, were published in 2009 and 2014 by All Things That Matter Press. His short fiction has appeared in Space and Time, The Alaska Quarterly, The Wisconsin Review, Eclipse, Ellipsis, and Red Wheelbarrow. He served for five years as an associate editor on the staff of The Crescent Review, a literary magazine he co-founded. He is currently the managing/fiction editor for Flying South, a literary magazine sponsored by Winston-Salem Writers and is also a board member of that organization.

His Theater Arts background has helped nurture a love for intricate characters in complex situations that is evident in his writing. Steve and his wife Toni live and work together outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. They have two adult children: Nicole and Erik. Hopatcong Vision Quest is Steve’s latest novel.

Look a flower! By Yves Johnson

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My wife and I just purchased a Fitbit. The device measures your steps and it allows you to join in fitness competitions with others throughout the world.  My wife and I have worked out together for 20 years. It has been great. Now we have a device to help us become more physically fit.  We decided to go for a walk.  Two of our grandchildren wanted to “walk” with us because they’re fast walkers.

I have learned “fast” is a relative word. Our two-year old granddaughter decided to stroll, I mean walk with us. Mind you, we were on a bit of a time schedule. Our fast paced 10-minute walk got us at least 30 feet from the starting point.  Yeah, we were blazing a trail.

Admittedly, I like to stop and look at my surroundings. I want to marvel at God’s creation. Today was not one of those days. It had been a long day and I wanted to simply get in a workout. My granddaughter had other ideas.  She looked at every flower on the ground. She tried to pick up every flower on the ground. Did I say, “Flower?” I should’ve said, “Weed!”  Yet, those flowers were new to her. In fact, they fascinated her.

As the ingenious grandfather, I hatched a plan to encourage her to start running or at least walk fast with us. I played the, “Hey, let’s catch Nana” game with her. It lasted about 1.2 seconds. I bet you saw it coming. She said, “Look, a flower.”  Thus we stopped yet again to pick up weeds. I think I might just send a bill to the city since we cleaned up half the city.

The story I just told you is true. Yet, it has a real life application to everyone. First, enjoy the time you can with your loved ones. Schedules are great and so are accomplishments. Yet, they cannot compare to the memories created when spending quality time with loved ones.  Second, there is beauty in most things. My granddaughter, like her sister, saw beauty in weeds that laced the ground before us.  They found beauty in things that I walked right past.  I encourage you to make some memories with your loved ones. Cherish those moments. I encourage you to see the beauty in your surrounding. I encourage you to, “Hey, look….a flower!”

 

Yves Johnson is a Speaker an Author.  He has written two books and a varied collection of articles and blogs. He is the President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Consutling.  He’s a sought out speaker and offers a wide range of leadership and development seminars for both Faith Based and non-Faith Based organizations. You can find his books at http://ow.ly/B4aGp

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About family …

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What makes a family?  Our group blog begins with a poem about a man and his wife sharing quality time on an autumn afternoon. And then there are children. The next two pieces are true stories that will make you smile, if not laugh out loud. And if you’re a parent of small children, let this encourage you. You might be pulling your hair out right but someday you’ll look back and laugh.

The next contribution takes a look at parents and their feet of clay from the (now grown-up) child’s perspective. Then, on a more serious note, a man whose family moved all over the world reflects upon what family truly means.  Our last contribution is a movie lover’s praise for her favorite cinematic dysfunctional families—and for unconditional love. After all, isn’t that family at its best?

Rowan tree. Perthshire.

AT THE MARKET by Clayton Bye
The north wind is back
To cleanse both mind and soul
As a far away sun
Paints a pastel sky.

Elk sticks thicken breath,
A rich welcome to friends
Beneath a yellow tent
Of country wonders.

Pulled pork sandwiches,
Corn-wrapped parking meters,
Bright orange Rowan trees–
Make a pleasant lunch.

My heavy pumpkin
Offsets white and purple
That frost has left untouched,
Petunias in air.

Seagulls overhead,
No boats on the water…
Quick kisses and a smile
To end our summer.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009

 

Clayton Bye is a writer, editor, and publisher, and the author of poetry, essays, short stories and novels. He now focuses on his work as a ghostwriter who listens carefully to the customer and then skillfully draws out the story they want to get on paper. Learn more at http://www.claytonbye.com and http://shop.claytonbye.com

 

Family Matters by Dellani Oakes

 

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. We’ve heard that often enough. I guess I’m fortunate. With very few exceptions, my family members are people I’d associate with even if we weren’t kin. They are wonderful, funny, intelligent people who make me laugh and feel good. We may go years, if not decades, without seeing one another, but we always have a great time when we get together.

 

The importance of strong family ties, is something my husband and I have tried to instill in our children. For the most part, I think we’ve been successful, though our children’s logic might have skewed our meaning somewhat…

 

When my oldest son was in third grade, he was more the size of a first grader. My daughter, two years older, wasn’t large either, but feisty and very protective. One day on the playground, a bully decided to assert himself by picking on my son. He accosted him on the playground, pushing him around. Before my son could move to protect himself, the bully pushed him again, knocking him down.

 

Suddenly, a banshee like scream grew louder and a little, brown haired missile shot across the playground. She tackled the bully, sending him face first into the dirt. She then proceeded to hit him, screaming, “No one beats up on my little brother but me!”

 

The assistant principal, who had witnessed it all, called me—laughing. “I’ve got your daughter here in my office.” He explained and added, “She’s mostly sorry.”

 

“Mostly sorry?” I asked, puzzled.

 

“Yeah, she’s not sorry she beat him up, she’s sorry she got caught.”

 

The assistant principal told me later, “She hit him with a flying tackle. Clipped him right in the knees. It was the prettiest take down I’ve ever seen.”

 

By some miracle (and the fact that the assistant principal and principal both liked my daughter) she wasn’t suspended for fighting, though the bully was. We had a talk about how that wasn’t the way to handle the bully, which made no impression whatsoever. She swore if it happened again, she’d do exactly the same thing. That was her brother and no one was going to smack him around—except her. She is still fiercely protective of all her brothers, though she’s the first one to give them hell if she thinks they deserve it. No, you can’t choose family, but given the opportunity, I surely would choose mine.

 

Dellani Oakes may not be a native, but she considers herself Floridian, and her writing reflects that. She’s written everything from historical romance, set in St. Augustine in 1739, to contemporary romantic suspense set in and around Daytona Beach. She enjoys writing, not only about family, but on a variety of other subjects as well. You can find more from Dallani at www.dellanioakes.wordpress.com and on Amazonhttp://tinyurl.com/kwt3ne9

 

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A Family Portrait by Micki Peluso

 

I smiled to myself when they told me about their plans. As a mother I believe even grown children should learn by experience. They kept talking, and I had to hang up the phone before spasms of laughter overtook me. My two daughters thought that taking all of their children to a professional photographer would make wonderful presents for the grandparents. They thought it would be easy. Ideas are always best in their infancy.

 

On the hottest December day in decades, the children were dressed in their winter finery, and off we drove to the Mall. Kelly is blessed with three boys, a good-natured five-year-old, a tyrannical terrible two-year-old, and a one-year-old with attitude. All three were all sick with low-grade temperatures and noses running like Niagara Falls. Endless nose-wiping with tissues on gentle skin resulted in red faces and grumpy dispositions. Makeup partially solved that problem.

 

Nicole, has a nine-year-old, Nicky, already protesting the humiliation of posing with his “baby” cousins, and a daughter, Bailey Rose who, at four, believes that one cannot be too rich or too beautifully dressed. Local clothing stores know her by name.
The photograph studio is seasonally crowded, with tykes of assorted ages running amok and babies wailing—not my choice for a fun day. The temperature, and parents’ tempers, keeps rising as appointments run behind. One-year-old TJ takes a power nap, while his two-year-old brother, Brandon, makes several escape attempts, one almost successful. At long last, my family is called for their shoot. Nicky, still disgruntled, is itchy from his woolen Christmas suit and has broken out in livid hives. He announces that he may throw up. His sister Bailey, the ‘Calvin Klein’ of the four-year-old set, insists that the tights she’s wearing are certainly not the ones she chose with her outfit and begins to remove them, much to her brother’s chagrin and Nicole’s horror.

 

The wannabe Ansel Adams, a smile permanently pasted on her face, manages to get all five children lined up. Brandon is sitting in the sleigh as the session begins. For reasons known only to her, the photograher decides this will not work and tries to remove him from the sleigh.

 

Did I mention Brandon has a bit of a temper?  He screams so loudly that the security guards rush in like Marines on a mission. TJ begins to suck his thumb, a habit he’s never exhibited before, and Christopher, his older brother, slinks to the floor in an effort to appear invisible. Nicky tries to pretend that he doesn’t belong with this family. Bailey has her hand on her hip, a glint in her eye, and one foot pushed forward—never a good sign. Now the future photo genius snaps the shot!

 

The photographer is determined to complete her job. She lines everyone up again for some final takes. It seems to be going well, until she snaps the picture at the precise moment Brandon, who now refuses to sit in the sleigh on principle, catapults backward off the platform. There are more blood-curdling screams, but he’s unhurt since he is a very tough
little boy.

 

By now the other parents are quietly moving away from my family, some actually leaving the store. The photographer makes one last attempt to catch the children on film. She is, if nothing else, courageous. All the kids are in place at last. It is a bit much to hope for smiles from them, so she clicks away at the exact moment Brandon once more falls backward off the platform. The shoot is over.

 

My daughters are not happy with the shots but I find them spectacular. TJ has a startled ‘Oh’ on his mouth, and it may take a while for him to recover from this experience. Christopher has a perpetual smile on his face, but it is rumored that he believes he was switched at birth. Nicky looks disgusted by the entire event, and Bailey is asking for a reshoot. All that can be seen of Brandon is his two legs sticking straight up—perhaps the best shot.

 

My daughters asked how I ever photographed all six of my kids.

 

“Are you crazy”?  I said. “I never took all of you out at once, except to church, until you went to school.”

 

Some things must be learned, not taught. Meanwhile my favorite picture with all the kids is a conversation piece, especially the kid showing only two legs.

 

Micki Peluso, author of the award-wining memoir . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang, is a journalist, humorist and writer of short fiction and slice of life stories, fiction and essays. ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog ‘ a children and YA story is about to be released, followed soon by her collection of short stories, called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck.’ See more from Micki at http://www.mallie1025.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AndTheWhippoorwillSang

http://www.amazon.com/And-Whippoorwill-Sang-Micki-Peluso-ebook/dp/B007OWPBGK/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8

 

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The Downfall of Diabolical Geniuses (aka My Parents) by Cody Wagner

 

If my parents wanted to rule the world, it would have happened. And you’d have no idea they were doing it. They wove a tapestry of sneakiness.  Case in Point:
Back in the 90s, there was no texting, no iphone; kids talked on the phone, landlines with cords. My family had one phone and five kids. Those are terrible odds. We fought over phone usage like crazy. Every second of second of every evening, someone was whining
about someone else hogging the phone.

 

So what did my parents do? Well, they could have sat us down and explained the rules. Or set up schedules of who could use the phone and when. Did they do any of that? Nope.

 

Instead, Dad installed a secret switch–at the back of their closet– that shutoff the phone.

 

I’m not kidding.  The phone suddenly and mysteriously started going out at 6:00PM every night.

 

The five of us threw absolute FITS. But what could Mom do about it? “It’s the phone company,” she’d say, shrugging. “I can’t do anything about it.”

 

And that was that.

 

At this point, you might be asking yourself: So what happened if a phone emergency arose?

 

Simple.

 

Mom would say, “Oh sometimes the lines get messed up. They feed into the walls just outside my bedroom. If I go mess with them, they may work.”

 

She’d disappear into the bedroom, shut her door, and we’d hear banging on the walls. After a few minutes, the door would open and she’d emerge, wiping sweat off her brow. “OK see if that works. If not, there’s nothing we can do.”

 

Lo and behold, the phone would work again! We thought Mom was an electrical genius. Little did we know she was a diabolical genius.

 

However, all my parents’ “geniusing” backfired my sophomore year in college. They had bought me a new car. By “new,” I mean a 10 year old piece of crap. But it was my piece of crap and I loved it.

 

My best friend at the time, David, lived out in the country. His house was off a long caliche road. For all you non-Texans who have never heard of caliche, it’s a firmly packed dirt road, not paved but the gravel is so firm, it’s the next best thing.

 

For some reason, my mom had an insanely irrational fear of caliche. Maybe she had nightmares about a caliche road hiding in her closet. Or perhaps she was molested by a caliche road. Either way, I was expressly forbidden from ever ever ever driving my car down that road.

 

“A stray rock could fly up and snap your axel in two.” Mom seriously thought a pebble could crack inches of steel. Let me just add to this little scenario the fact Mom didn’t even put gas in her car. She, who knew nothing about automobiles, somehow knew about “pebble axel”.

And there it stood. I couldn’t drive to my friend’s house.

So what did I do? I drove over there anyway—until the evening David ratted me out. We were all chatting in my living room.

 

“So you gotta hear what Cody said last night in my room,” David said.

 

Mom flew up out of her chair. “Your room?!” She glared at me. “YOU DROVE ON THAT CALICHE ROAD!”

 

David’s eyes went from normal to “deer trapped in headlights.”

 

I sat there saying, “Um…er…. Ummmmmm,” as my brain fumbled for an excuse.

 

The next morning, I had to work. I stumbled, half asleep, out to my car. Mom walked out with me.

 

“What are you doing?” I said.

 

“I have to run to the library.” She headed to her car and started it up.

 

Shrugging, I went to my vehicle. I turned the key and nothing happened. I kept trying, but still nothing.

 

A horn honked. Mom was waving from her car. “What’s wrong?”

 

I hopped out of mine. “It won’t start!”

 

“You have to be at work!”

 

I threw my arms up. “I know!”

 

“Well, get in and I’ll take you. Your dad can look at it later.”

 

Two weeks passed before my dad looked at my car. Two weeks to the day. And I was expressly forbidden from fixing it myself.

 

“I don’t want you or your friends messing something up!” Mom said. “You’ll wait for your father.”

 

Again, I had to wait exactly two weeks. And then, Dad fixed it in about five minutes.

 

The problem?

 

“The battery cable came loose,” Dad said.

 

Suspicious? Well, let’s examine the evidence:
  1. My car stopped working the day after Mom became furious at me.
  2. Mom just happened to be leaving at the same time as me so I wouldn’t be late for work.
  3. I wasn’t allowed to touch my car for exactly two weeks.
  4. The problem was a loose battery cable.
I think we an all know what happened: I was being punished. I was too old to be grounded, but, with a little Dad sabotage, my parents found a way.

 

I never looked at my parents the same after that. I’d always believed the random coincidences and excuses. But they’d taken it too far. Despite mom’s insistence the caliche road shook the cable loose, I knew what had really happened. And I wouldn’t let it go.

 

Years of needling later, Dad finally came clean. And my parents fell from their positions atop twin towers of diabolical genius.

 

Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and create. He writes about topics ranging from superpowers to literate trees (really). His debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, will be out October 27th, 2015. He’s handing out cookie dough to everyone who grabs a copy. Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at www.wagner-writer.com or find him on Twitter @cfjwagner, Goodreads at www.goodreads.com/wagner_writer, and Amazon at www.amazon.com/Cody-Wagner/e/B016NYGV40.

 

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MY FAMILY by Jon Magee

 

I am the youngest of six children. My father served in the British Royal Air Force, and my family moved frequently, from one part of the world to another. By the time I had completed my secondary schooling, I had studied in 14 different educational establishments. As a result, my siblings, along with my parents, were the core of my childhood relationships—how do you bond with a grandparent who lives on the other side of the world? With friends you see for a year or two?

 

My immediate family was the continuity from one experience to another. I remember the walks we took together through the hills and in and out of the caves that surrounded our home in Germany.  We lived under the threat from terrorism and military conflict in Aden. In Singapore, we climbed coconut trees to enjoy the fruit, along with the milk inside.

 

It was as a family that we would also develop a close bonding with people of different races and cultures. We shared picnics together, as if we were all part of a wider family. The colour of the skin was not relevant, but our relating together as people of the human race was.

 

When it came to Christmas, I recall soldiers being invited to the home to enjoy a family Christmas meal. They were stationed abroad, as we were, with no family at all to spend time with, not even brothers and sisters and parents. We had more than they had in terms of family, but together we shared some of what family is meant to be.

 

When returning from Singapore on the ship, the Empire Fowey, I recall my mum speaking of my gran and aunt, who we would be staying with for a few months. I looked from the ship wondering who these folks would be, what would they be like. My aunt met us, a stranger to me. I was not sure how I should be relating as a child, yet here was someone that was clearly important to my mother.

 

During those few months, I found there was nothing to fear. This stranger was not at all strange when I got to know her. She had warmth that would draw children to her, even if she never married and had children of her own. Then came the parting once more. I was a child that needed to move from country to country. A child that nevertheless discovered that family is not just siblings and parents, but also the people of the world wherever we meet and whoever they are, all seeking to know a bonding with the family of the human race.

 

Jon Magee is the author of From Barren Rocks to Living Stones and Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey. His writings reflect the depth of personal experience, having lived at the heart of much of the major events of late 20th century history. You can find Jon at https://about.me/Jonmagee.author.minister  and

 

MESSY FAMILIES by Linda Varner Palmer

 

I love movies about messy, aka dysfunctional, families. I know that sounds weird, but the idea of being loved unconditionally—no matter what awful things you do—intrigues me, the writer who tippy-toed through life doing what she was supposed to do because she wanted her parents to be proud of her.  Now I’m not saying that my family would’ve tossed me out if I’d rebelled. I had wonderful parents that I love and miss very much. What I am saying is that fear of disappointing them kept me on the straight and narrow. So I like watching a movie about a family that is all over the place.

 

The Family Stone is my favorite Christmas movie. Set-up: Mom’s breast cancer has come back, and she hasn’t told anyone but Dad, who is doing his best to pretend nothing is wrong so they can have a last happy holiday with their five grown children—Susannah, Amy, Ben, Thad, and Everett.

 

Susannah is happily married and pregnant with her second child. Her husband will be arriving on Christmas day. Amy and Ben are both single. Thad, who is deaf and gay, is in a relationship with an African American named Brian, who has come with him. Everett is dating Meredith and has brought her to meet the family. He plans to get his grandmother’s diamond ring and propose.

 

No one but Everett likes outspoken, fashion-conscious, foot-in-her-mouth Meredith. Feeling outnumbered, Meredith asks her sister Julie to join them. Julie agrees, because that’s what sisters do, and hops on a bus.

 

As the movie progresses, we realize the family is right about Meredith. She and Everett are not a good match. Julie, her sister, on the other hand, is perfect. Perhaps that’s why Everett can’t take his eyes off her. Does Meredith notice? Not so much. She and Ben, who helps her escape to a bar, seem to be oddly in sync. Can you see where this is going? Meanwhile, Thad and Brian are trying to adopt a baby.

 

By the end of the movie (one scene a year later), we see that this completely dysfunctional family has somehow survived not only the death of their beloved Mom, but also a complete shuffling of the roles they once played. With love, forgiveness, and acceptance, the family Stone has become even stronger and bigger than before.

 

Another favorite movie is Moonstruck, which is about two dysfunctional families. Mama and Papa Castorini live in a big house with their adult daughter, Loretta, Grandpa Castorini, and several dogs. Loretta has just accepted a marriage proposal from Johnny Cammareri, who has to return to Italy to see his dying-mother. Before he leaves, Johnny asks Loretta to find his estranged brother Ronnie and tell him that he wants to end the bad blood between them.

 

Loretta finds Ronnie, but he’s still angry with big brother Johnny for distracting him, resulting in the loss of several fingers to a bread slicer. Loretta naturally wants to repair the broken relationship and fix Ronnie, who is definitely damaged goods. Somehow they wind up in bed.

 

While a big full moon shines down on them all, Loretta goes to the opera with Ronnie, who has promised he won’t ruin her engagement by spilling the beans.  At the Met, she runs into Papa C with a woman who isn’t Mama C. Papa tells her he won’t tell Johnny if she won’t tell Mama. Loretta, already annoyed because Papa C doesn’t want to pay for her wedding, doesn’t know what to do.

 

By the final scene, Papa C agrees to give up his floozy and is forgiven for straying.   Johnny, who promised his manipulative dying-mother that he wouldn’t marry, has returned to the US and the Castorini home so he can break the engagement. He finds all the Castorinis, and his brother Ronnie, at the breakfast table. That’s a shock, but Johnny manages to break up with Loretta. He asks for his ring back. Ronnie promptly borrows the ring and proposes to Loretta, who accepts. Poor Johnny—so confused.

 

The best part? Everyone celebrates the engagement with champagne, even Johnny, because they’re all family now and that’s what families do. There are many other movies out there with the same theme. And I always take to heart the message that acceptance, forgiveness, and love—unconditional love—are what family is really all about.

 

Linda Palmer has been writing for pleasure since the third grade. She was a Romance Writers of America finalist twice and won the 2011 and 2012 EPIC eBook awards in the Young Adult category. Linda married her junior high school sweetheart many years ago and lives in Arkansas, USA with her supportive family. Learn more about Linda and her writing at www.lindavpalmer.com