Monday, August 19, 2013

Watch Your Tone of Voice ... Other People are Paying Attention

Matt and Linda are quite the team.
When I started this blog, I wanted to write honest, insightful observations about having Aunt Linda live with me. I've posted some photo updates and such, but I've avoided the more honest writings. Part of me doesn't want to offend. Part of me doesn't want to reveal too much. The writer in me, however, wants to be genuine. After chatting with Matt, we've decided to go ahead with the blog as planned. Nothing here is meant to offend or point fingers - these are merely observations about our new life.

I've known Linda my whole life. She changed my diapers, gave me bottles, and spent almost every July 4th at our family's house. Growing up with a handicapped aunt, I've never noticed anything odd or uncomfortable about her special needs, and I often forget that not everyone grew up with an Aunt Linda.

Matt and Linda met about a dozen times before she moved in with us. It's been an adjustment for both of them, but they're learning a lot about each other (and I'm learning too).

Generally Matt and Linda get along very well, but occasionally there's tension. The tension usually creeps in after a conversation, and it usually ends with Linda reminding Matt that she's not a child. After a few such episodes, I started paying attention. It didn't take me long to identify the problem.

Though he doesn't mean to, Matt talks to Linda differently than he does to me. If he wants to go to Kmart, he'll simply ask me, "Do you want to go to Kmart?" That's not the case with Linda, though. He doesn't mean to, but Matt's tone changes when talks to Linda. A simple question about going shopping turns into, "Hey, Linda! Do you want to go to Kmart?! We can walk around, see what's on sale. Maybe buy some candy?"

For Matt, like many people who didn't grow up around a handicapped individual, this weird instinct kicks in. My thought: Linda's childlike wonder and appreciation of life leads people to unconsciously talk to and coddle her like a child. Matt doesn't hear it, but Linda does.

There's a delicate balance between respecting her needs and respecting her age. Now that I've helped Matt identify this tension-causer, he's making an effort to change. He's paying attention to what he says and how he says it. We do sometimes need to explain things to her differently, but it's how you say it that matters.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Book Review: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by bestselling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.
Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.
The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.
Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.
I'm a casual fan of Rachel Hauck, and I love fairy tale love stories, so I couldn't wait to read Once Upon a Prince. I really wanted to like this story. I read it to the end, desperate to find that sweet, unexpected plot point; unfortunately, I never found it.
This is a fun, easy read, but it's quite predictable and slightly juvenile. I could overlook the long conversations about love and politics between the prince and his right-hand man (even though my husband would never talk like that; then again, he's not a prince). The love story itself was a little weak, but it's fiction. What bothered me the most was the predictability. Imagine Princess Diaries 2 and The Prince and Me, smash them together, and this is pretty much the story you'd read, complete with stereotypical characters (although those movies were marketed toward the YA crowd, not adults).
This book wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't what I had hoped. It's not going to surprise anyone, but if you're looking for a light story to pass the time, this book is a perfect fit.
*I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review as part of the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program. The opinions are my own.