Book Review: Harvesting Stones

Harvesting Stones by Paula Lucas 

Summary: This memoir is about a Catholic farm girl journeying through Europe and the Middle East with her international photographer husband. To the outsider, including her family, everything looked perfect – even fairy-tale like. In reality, though, she was surviving a nightmare and protecting her three children at the same time. This is the inside look of a woman beaten, bruised, and trapped and how she turned her experience into starting two organizations to help expat women who are experiencing domestic abuse. These organizations are Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) and Sexual Assault Support & Help For Americans Abroad Program (SASHAA)

My Take: I really liked Harvesting Stones. Though the first few chapters are a little slow reading, I do believe they need to be there to help you understand where Paula came from. After those chapters hang on because the ride she takes you on is, seriously one you won’t believe really happened. It is like something from the movies with all the twists, turns, and suspense. The difference is that after the movie, you can sigh and say, “Well, I’m glad that was just a story and not real,” but with this book it is real – and the sad thing is her story mirrors many other expat women. Women I may know by name, but not deep enough to know the hurts they are experiencing. This book forced me to open my eyes a bit wider, with not just the knowledge that there are women like this living overseas, but that there are organizations – people who care, support and help these women and children. I love how she describes how she was able to take the “stones” that were thrown at her and “harvest” them into something good. What a challenge to us all – to take whatever hardships we’ve been given and to harvest them into something that can help and encourage others.

* I received this book for review by the publishing company, Summertime Publishers. The views are strictly mine alone.

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Book Review “Expat Life: Slice by Slice” by Apple Gidley

Expat Life Slice by SliceExpat Life Slice by Slice

by Apple Gidley

Book Description: Apple Gidley is not only a TCK, but one that has parented and now grandparenting TCKs. She shares her life from the beginning in Africa with her pet monkey, to the various moves and boarding schools, to life as a young mother, and the challenges of elderly parents. She offers insights and tips throughout the book that all expats can use.

My Take: I received this book from Janneke, a fellow blogger-friend who writes at DrieCulturen. I was excited to read it after Janneke’s review because Apple has been an expat all her life. With a full understanding of the TCK experience, she shares her frustrations and excitement living and traveling around the world not only as a TCK, but also as a trailing spouse, or as she has renamed this group STARS (Spouses Traveling And Relocating Successfully). I enjoyed her humorous stories and related to many of her, let’s just say, interesting experiences. I liked this book because it wasn’t just a memoir of an expat life. At the end of each chapter (slice) she gives tips and thoughts that she calls the “Take Away Slice”. Although, I didn’t agree with everything that she writes, I do think it was a good book that made me think through some issues.

I must warn you now, I was inspired with a few ideas for posts while reading this book. So, you will be hearing more about this book later. So, I definitely recommend it to those who are about to venture into expat life, those who are in the midst of the adventure, or to even those who have left or about to return “home”. She has much to share.

Your Turn: Have you read this book yet? What were your thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

Thoughts about a TCK kind of book…

I just finished reading Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan and did a full review at The Fill in the Gaps site. You can click here to read more on it.

Rachel is a TCK living in Africa with her missionary parents. She loses them and must say good-bye to all the she knows and moves to England.

I think this would be a good book for a TCK to read because I really believe they would understand the feelings that Rachel has as she is trying to transition into the British way of life. Something that is part of her parent’s culture, but not completely her own. The ending I’m not totally agreeing with, but it could happen, just not always likely.

It was a perfect book for me to read right before our “return” trip to the US to visit family.  I was reminded that what I consider “normal”, they may see as strange or not get it.

Your Turn: Have you read this book or another fiction book that had a TCK as the main character? Please comment below.

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Book Review: “Home Keeps Moving” by Heidi Sand-Hart

by Heidi Sand-Hart

Summary: Heidi shares her life as a TCK/MK from India moving from country to country from continent to continent, and from culture to culture. She shares the joys, the excitement, and the hard ugly truth of the pain from her experiences. She uses many quotes from other TCK related books and then shares stories as examples. Some stories are her own, others are from fellow TCKs who have written about their own experiences. She discusses issues such as loss, grief, education, and “rootlessness”.

My thoughts: Loved it! I checked it out from the library and had a hard time not writing in it – so I am ordering my own copy soon. It’s not a “how to” book that gives tricks and secrets to making a TCK’s life work out perfect. Instead, Heidi gives the reader a glimpse of her journey in life. It gave me some insights to not only my children, but to my husband as well. She tackles some pretty tough subjects and I like that she doesn’t give a recipe on how to approach the difficult times. She reminded me that each TCK is different, so therefore the process for each is going to be different as well.

If you are a TCK and haven’t read this, I encourage you to check it out. It just might give you the courage to continue to seek out some unresolved issues in your life.

If you are a parent to a TCK – I recommend it just to be able to hear views from a TCK who is open and honest. You just might be get a few insights of your own.

You can get the book here at Amazon. Or if you want possible free shipping click here at Book Despository.

Your Turn: Have you read the book? What were your thoughts?

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Interview with the Lai’s, authors of “I Am Special”

As promised, the interview with Lai Yit Loong and Catherine Lai, parents to a special needs TCK. All answers are from Catherine unless otherwise noted.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Singapore.  Loong was born in Malaysia and went to Singapore for education when he was 15 years.  We met each other in Singapore.
How old was Benjy when you began to notice something was different?
Benjy was about 8 months old when I noticed that he was not meeting the milestone of babies that age.  I sent him to the doctor regularly to follow up on his progress and we all thought he was a late bloomer.  I enrolled him at Tiger Tots when he was 2 years old.  About 6 months later, his class teacher suggested that Benjy might be autistic and told me to look into it.  Benjy was diagnosed as ASD at about 2 years and 10 months.
How did you react to the diagnosis?
From the suspicion that he was autistic to the final diagnosis, I was just very anxious and I was scared.  I was sad too because he was our only son, the son that everyone in our family (especially my in-laws) was waiting for.  It was difficult to accept but I knew that God has a plan for us and there is no reason why I should question Him.  Loong and I accepted this very well and we were more interested to know how we can help our son.  Sometimes I do feel sorry that my husband could not have a regular son that could rough it out with him, but I am sure Loong does not feel that way.
(Loong’s input) He has made me a better father. I have become more sensitive to and aware of Benjy’s developent, attentive to his needs, and become more involved in his life. Benjy has also bonded the family closer together. He has become the center of our universe and focus of everything we do. I have learnt to do many things which I have not attempted before, such as changing his diapers and cooking his meals. He has also inspired me so much that I wrote a book last year just for him.
You have three other children. How did they react to the news?
In the beginning, my girls could not understand what Autism was.  They were very curious about their little brother and they tried so hard to help him achieve the different milestones.  To teach him to crawl, they would literally be on the tummy, wiggling around to demonstrate to Benjy how to crawl.  They love their little brother very much and they are extra gentle, caring and patient towards him.  They allow him to get away with many things.
Did you ever think that you should move back “home”? Why?
I did not want to move back to Singapore because my husband’s job is in Taiwan.  I was afraid that moving back might affect his employment.  I believed that God has given us a special child and He will provide a way for us to be able to help Benjy.  I pray a lot and make use of all the resources that God has put around us.  Loong and I were prepared to move back to Singapore should we fail to find resources to help Benjy.
What has been the hardest part with raising a special needs child in a foreign country?
It was easier to handle when Benjy was a baby because he did not display behaivour that tells him apart.  As he gets older, it becomes more obvious and Benjy sometimes will behave odd in public and it can be a little embarrassing because people stare, judge and sometimes become excessively ‘helpful’.  Taiwanese are outspoken. They like to come forward and tell you what to do.  There are also people who come and openly criticize us because they think we spoil our son.  In the beginning I try to explain his condition but I got tired of it and realized that I did not have to justify my son or my action.  It is more and more challenging to bring Benjy out without causing a scene.
Do you have any advise for others who are raising special needs TCKs? Please share.
The earlier we can accept their special condition, the better it is for parent and child.  Your spouse and you must agree to accept, move on and work together to help your child.  Read as much as you can about it.  Be open about it, the more I talk about him to my friends, it actually made me feel better.  I mostly find my strength from God and in the bible.  Attending a good bible study class (like BSF) helps me whenever I feel depressed.  Whenever I am depressed, I seek God.
If you are more interested in reading more about the publishing side of “I Am Special”, check out this interview I did with Yit Loong here.
I’m so thankful they were willing to come and share what they have learned as a parent to TCKs, and to a special needs TCK.
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“I Am Special” Book Review

“I Am Special” by Lai Yit Loong and Catherine Lai is a picture book about their son, Benjy. Benjy is special because he is the youngest of four TCKs and the only son, but more so because he has autism. Written in first person, the reader gets a glimpse into Benjy’s life and the journey he is on. His parents write that, “through this sharing, [they] also hope to reach out and encourage many children out there who are on the same journey as Benjy.”

I believe this book does encourage other children. My daughter who has special needs likes to look at the pictures. I believe that she understands the message of the book, that she is special, too.

If  you are interested in getting a copy for yourself please know that all proceeds go to the organization Taiwan Sunshine. You can buy a copy of the book here.

*Next week, watch for an interview with Yit Loong and Catherine. It will be encouraging and inspiring as they share about raising their TCKs!