Here Be Dragons. Finished 1-9-17, 4.5/5 stars, parenting, 204 pages, pub. 2016
Before our three kids, we had been decent people. Interesting even. One of us had taught Shakespeare to gang members while the other flew reconnaissance missions off North Korea. But our own children had proven our biggest challenge. We were passionate and service-driven folks, except we were not demonstrating this to our kids. We spent so much time trying to be good parents that we forgot to be good people.
Something had to change.
Two parents challenge one another to find balance between work and family life. Their stories are both uproarious and poignant as they raise children and strive to leave their mark on the wider world. Filled with tender moments and plenty of laughs, Here Be Dragons recounts the adventures of a family trying to stay afloat, and offers a life raft to the rest of us in choppy waters. from Goodreads
When Annmarie emailed me about reviewing the book she had written with her husband it was plum luck that I read it. I confess that I am a book blogger who very rarely opens up requests from people I don’t know. For some reason I clicked it open and saw that that it was being published on my birthday and that Annmarie and her family live in the Cleveland area so I asked her to send me a copy. What fun it was to read about Annmarie and Ken’s journey to parenthood and beyond. I don’t usually use an author’s first name unless I know her but after reading the book I feel like I do and you will too.
Annmarie and Ken met in college and were friends who eventually saw a future together. Both independent and driven they each sought to make a difference in the world, sometimes that meant they were in the same place on a map, but often it didn’t. They married and had kids. Usually this is where the story would become all about raising baby and how life stopped, but that isn’t what happened. Amidst the trials of being a first-time stay-at-home mommy (been there and Annmarie made me laugh with her spot on observations) Annmarie and Ken still strived for more adventure, more purpose.
Their search for adventure and purpose has led them to live from coast to coast and in Ken’s case continent to continent, again, sometimes together and sometimes not. More babies came but that didn’t stop them from moving when they felt called to do so. They spent several years in the village next door (the one I’m always trying to convince Jason we need to move to) before heading to California with three kids and a packed car.
These are two parents trying to teach their kids what it means to be fully engaged by living a fully engaged life themselves. Their giving spirits come through loud and clear. They show the ebb and flow of a marriage with kids and they do it with warmth and humor.
The book is told in alternating voices. They are both skilled writers so the book is beautifully written. If you google them you can find links to some of their writing (Annmarie has quite a few pieces I loved on Huffington Post). They also have a blog.
Ken spends a chapter or so writing about his time with Team Rubicon. They put veterans to work in disaster areas and it looks like a great program that would do good things with a donation.
I really liked this one and think any parent will too. They have given me inspiration to do more (and move to Chagrin Falls ;)).