My Favorite Escape

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I survived a 2 1/2 hour IEP (Individual Education Program) meeting today! Truthfully, it was one of the kindest and gentlest IEPs I’ve ever attended, and I’ve attended A LOT of them over the past 17 years!

Not only were all of Hope’s services continued (speech, OT, Adaptive PE, one on one time with a special ed teacher), but a new service was proposed and enthusiastically agreed upon by everyone present.

Even so, going through all of the testing, reading the assessment reports and preparing my part of the IEP was stressful and exhausting. I need a little fun!

We all need to take a break sometimes. Even if you can’t get away for a little time on your own, it’s important to be able to take a break in the middle of the chaos. Just a little down time to de-stress and gain a little perspective.

Some of my friends get this break by crafting. They have beautiful things they’ve knitted, crocheted, painted or in some other way created. I tried it, and I ended up with a bunch of Pintrest fails that actually stressed me out even more. Not my thing!

Sometimes, I like to take a break with TV. But I only really like a few specific channels, and after a while, it seems like I’ve seen it all and everything is the same. There’s only so many home-renovation shows you can watch before the houses all start to look alike.

My all-time, go-to long lasting favorite is reading fiction. I love to lose myself in a good story, to learn about places I’ve never been and to see life through someone else’s eyes. There is no end to the creativity of writers and if one book isn’t working for me, there’s always another one.

So, if like me, you’re always looking for a good book, I thought I’d share a few of my all-time favorites with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

I’m a big fan of Francine Rivers, and have been for years. She tells the story of Sierra, a  young wife and mother who’s very happy with her life in Northern California. Suddenly, her husband informs her that he’s quit his job, accepted a new position and the family is moving to the Los Angeles area in the next two weeks. Sierra is left reeling, hurt and resentful.

Coincidentally, about the time this book came out, I was a young wife who wanted to stay with my family in Northern California, but my husband had just been offered a great job in the Los Angeles area. I really related to this book!

Even if this book doesn’t EXACTLY parallel what’s happening in your life, it’s still a great story. I loved Sierra, flawed as she was, and the embedded story of her relative, Mary Katherine, who made a similar move back in the 1800s. I highly recommend it!

 

This is a beautifully written book about Leila, a young Indian woman who enters an arranged marriage and emigrates to the United States with her surgeon husband, Neel, in the 1970s. Leila is expecting a conventional marriage, while Neel has other ideas.

I wish I could hang out with Leila and have a cup of tea. I love how comfortable she is with herself, while navigating a strange country, new customs and a disappointing marriage. She’s an incredibly strong, warm woman and her story is captivating.

The descriptions of India and San Francisco are amazing as seen through both Leila and Neel’s eyes. But I warn you, if you read this book, you’ll need to go out for Indian food. It’s just non-negotiable!

I love to read about different cultures, and I love just about anything I’ve read by Naomi Regan. I’m still not completely through her library, but I’m close.  Sotah is the story of Dina, a young Hassidic woman living in Jerusalem.

Like most of her peers, she marries just out of high school to a man chosen for her by her family and a match maker. She’s having some trouble adjusting to life as a wife and mother, and then she loses her own mother.

Reeling, Dina makes a choice that has terrible consequences for her entire family. The story of how she comes to terms and takes responsibility for her own life is amazing. I’ve read it several times and it makes me cry every time. Seriously, check it out!

Imagine waking up from an accident, frantic with worry about your unborn child. Desperately asking for someone, anyone, to get your husband. And then finding out that your unborn child has, in fact, been born and is now 12 years old and you no longer are married. The last 12 years have vanished from your memory!

This is the predicament in which Alice finds herself. Actually, not only does she have a surly 12 year old daughter, but she has two other children. And a life more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

Alice has to navigate through parenting, work and a myriad of social obligations while trying to figure out how her life has ended up in such a mess. Her story is frustrating, funny and heart breaking all at once and you should give it a read.

There are now about 22 books in the Hannah Swenson murder mystery series, but this is the one that started them all. I love these stories because they are full of descriptions of delicious food and recipes. I hardly ever make any of them, but if I wanted to, I could.

Hannah is the owner of The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota. It’s an idyllic small town full of kind, eccentric characters, wonderful food and beautiful scenery. I would totally want to live there, if it were not for the exorbitantly high murder rate.

Luckily, when a murdered strikes, Hannah is on the scene and has a knack for hunting down the killer. She brings peace and order back to her community while serving delicious desserts and hot dishes.

These books are light, easy reading and weirdly addictive. I promise that you’ll almost definitely guess the murderer well before the ending, but they’re entertaining fun. And again, the food!

I hope that if you’re a lover of fiction, you’ll enjoy these stories as much as I do. Do you have anything to add to the list?

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