I’m The Queen of Crap + “The Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly

20160411_093550There are days I feel like I am the Queen. The Queen of Crap. Every where I look in my house, there is stuff. Big stuff. Little stuff. STUFF. Every. Where.

I guess it’s part of being a mom and a family. At least this family. We’re kind of crap collectors. Broken crayons, empty prescription bottles, old dog collars. It’s everywhere. And no one in this family wants to throw it away.

Every few months I purge the junk drawer and my office along with other gathering spots for ‘treasures.’ I do it secretly often, because my girls (especially Katy) hate to lose these things. And they are everywhere.

And then there’s the crap that isn’t toss-able. The tools that my husband leaves in the counter or the dining room table. The sports equipment that never makes it to its assigned spot. The clothes that are too small, but still good (sell? give away? sell?). I purge and purge and purge, and it still is there!!!

But, back to my office. It’s full of stuff. Look at my shelves (pictured)!!! Essential oils. Crayons. Index cards. Ibuprofen. Deodorant. Inhalers. A screw driver. Mind you, my office is in my house, so it’s not these things in my office. I don’t need deodorant for that crazy busy day when I’m stuck at work too long. No, I have it there because my younger daughter (Katy) has Down syndrome, and loves deodorant. And she’s at the age where she needs it. So I have an extra in my office, because that’s where it ended up.

The crap in my office is organized enough for me. I know where the deodorant is. I know where I have a hidden stash of inhalers (two asthmatics in my house who really only need them when they are sick or allergy-ridden). I know where the OTHER crayons are (not those in the picture–I always have some hidden, because my girls LOVE crayons).

The minutia sort of fuels our family. Sometimes we have an abundance of fuel, and we have to do a burn off, but we like the crap (sort of). I kind of like coming across a treasure from my girls, knowing that at the moment they found something beautiful one day.

And there’s this. My younger daughter made this last year, as a mother’s day present. My 20160411_104127.jpgolder daughter saw it sitting on my treasure shelf (pictures and handmade stuff from my girls), and she asked me about it (where it came from, how did Katy make it, etc). Today it was sitting on my little note holder next to my laptop (where I live during the day), with a note under it that said, “This. Me.” Just a little note. Just a little move of one of my treasures. Something that someone else would call crap.

If I stored this little treasure away, put it in a box to be opened in a few years, this little moment from my near-teen (less than two months!!) would never have happened. It’s not always easy for her to speak her kindest words (she’s almost a teen, so you get it), but she can do little things like this, because I leave the treasures around.

So I will take my title as Queen of Crap and wear it proudly. For today, at least. Tomorrow, I’ll be purging again, and trying to to hand the crown to someone else.

And now, book review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.


Somewhere in the corner of our hearts we are always 20.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly



The Premise

Manhattan socialite Caroline Ferriday is a busy woman, working as a volunteer at the French Consulate prior to the United State’s entry into WWII. She’s attempting to care for French orphans as well as helping those with foresight attempt to get to America as Hitler’s army begins its march across Europe.

And then Hilter invades Poland. And France. And her world changes.

Across the Atlantic, Polish teenager Kasia Kuzmerick is drawn into the Polish Underground after her town is invaded. One small, nervous move causes her world to come crashing down, and she and those she loves are shipped to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women in Germany. She, her sister, and her mother all do what they can to survive.

In Germany, Herta Oberheuser, a young female doctor, is given a chance to shine at Ravensbrück, turns of all emotion in order to move her profession forward. Participating in horrible experiments on the Polish women and girls (the Rabbits), Herta achieves notoriety, but at what cost?

All three stories are separate until they aren’t. World’s collide as the women try to find peace and hope in a post-war world, and justice is sought in an attempt to find some kind of order. Can there be love and life after both are tainted by war?

My Thoughts

I almost didn’t read this one. It seems like I’ve read a lot of books about WWII and strong women that I really thought it would be another story along those lines.

And it is, but it’s not. It’s of the same time, but it’s a very different side of WWII. Although it does tell the story of strong women, and some weak ones, as well.

Martha Hall Kelly does a wonderful job building a story from real people and real events. I knew nothing of the Rabbits of Ravensbrück, but this story informed me in a way that is real, informative, and beautiful.

Caroline Ferriday was real, as was Herta Oberhauser. Kasia Kuzmerick is based on one of the real Rabbits, Nina Iwanska, but Hall Kelly drew upon many of Rabbits’ accounts for Kasia’s story.

I loved this book. Told in alternating voices, it switches beautifully from New York to Germany to Poland. Their worlds’ collide in the way they did in history, which is fitting and wonderful. The experiments and surgeries Herta Oberhauser undertook were horrific, and don’t look her up on a full stomach. What people do in war can sometimes be explained away, but not this.

Any way, I give this story 4.5 stars. Beautiful, wonderful, and honest.


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