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The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir
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The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  2,320 ratings  ·  548 reviews
The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet ...more
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Published September 7th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published August 20th 2009)
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Melissa
I didn't love this book... I felt like there were some great insights and thoughts, but I also felt that it was way too long and that she rambled a bit. She would make the same point over and over using different words or thoughts... honestly, it was like reading an insanely long blog post. There was a story line hidden in the meandering thoughts, but it was hard to keep track of as she jumped from past to present so often.
There were some good things. But not enough for me to like the book or t
...more
Lara Hulzen
On the precipice of having one son in high school and the other in middle school, Katrina Kenison decides that maybe it’s time for the family to make a change. On the cusp of mid-life, she feels a tug for a simpler life. A smaller house, more open space, and the ability to focus on the next phase of life, one that entails mothering young men instead of little boys.

However, when she and her husband decide to sell their home, move to a small town in New England and renovate an old farmhouse, life
...more
Carol
As a mother, I felt this was the best book out there that has been written, regarding the truth of being a parent. Katrina Kenison does a wonderful job of laying it all out there in the wide range of emotions; some are painful, beautiful, endearing and some are just plain as raw as they can be described. While reading this book there were times that I became jealous, because this woman did what I have always felt needed to be done; she took the control over her life and her family's that needed ...more
Lain
I picked up this book expecting a ho-hum collection of musings on the meaning of motherhood, the need to grab on to the present, and the desire to have just one more "ordinary" day with your offspring. What I got was so much more. In the hallowed tradition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea," Katrina Kenison offers readers a glimpse of the world we wish we could capture on our own; one in which each day and each moment is treasured like the most valuable of jewels and described in lum ...more
AnnaMay
This book took a looooong time to get through. As I thought of why, I can only guess it's because of the writing style. Kenison is very 'thoughtful' in the way she puts things, so I could only read a few pages before being saturated.

There were a few 'long-stretch-reads' I was able to accomplish and that got me through the book. I asked myself a few times why I was still reading it, why I didn't just take it back to the library unfinished? Well, the 2 or 3 real 'glimpses' I was awarded made the r
...more
Dana
My daughter came home from school last spring and told me that the salutatorian at a nearby high school had missed being valedictorian because she had taken orchestra, which is not officially an honors class and therefore not worth 5 points on a 4 point GPA scale. True or not, my daughter internalized this story and wondered aloud if taking band and art this year would hurt her life prospects. As someone with no –torians to her credit, I told her that I hoped she would take band and art every se ...more
Marnie
A must read for any mother who loves mothering her children, and who struggles daily with loving them enough to prepare them to one day leave home. This book provides great encouragement to parents who want simply to raise their children up to be who they are intended to be, not what prevailing society thinks our children should be.

So often it can be hard to escape societal noise about what "should" be important to us as parents, and to decide for ourselves what truly matters as it relates to o
...more
Michelle
Wow. This book was an excellent but wrenching read for me right now. I loved Kenison's earlier book, Mitten Strings for God, and loved how it reminded mothers to focus on the moments while parenting young children. How much more we need the lessons in the teen years and while we are struggling to learn how to parent almost-adults who are about to leave. I identified so strongly with the emotions and the feeling of impending loss that I cried all to often during this book.
A few quotes that were
...more
Celestia
This book is so lovely. I read the author's first book Mitten Strings for God (about life with little children) when I was postpartum with baby #4. It affected me greatly, by planting a seed in my mind to stop watching TV and listening to news on the radio in the morning. Now this book, the sequel, is about the author with children who are teens. How fitting for me to read it now that my oldest are up there too and I was postpartum again, this time with baby #7. (I was disappointed to read in th ...more
MaryBliss
It was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end but I don't think I'll recommend it highly. Her earlier book had much food for thought about a mother's efforts to simplify and slow down a hectic life with younger children. This book read more like a mother goes off the deep end in anxiousness about time and location angst as her children become teens and it takes her three years to come to grips with her anxiety and to remedy the upheaval it has created. She's aware and articulates, by t ...more
Jessica
I would have given the first half of this book four stars. I felt inspired by Kenison's forging through large changes in her life with confidence and some degree of optimism. I feel the older I get the more frightened of change I become. She helped me to think outside of that fear for a moment.
Later in the book Kenison's writing became too monotonous - writing ad nauseam in a self assessment, minutiae laden, universal truth sort of way. Too many pages that said the same thing again and again. A
...more
Shirley
I loved Katrina Kenison's previous book, Mitten Strings for God (such an unfortunate title for marketing purposes - it wasn't really about God so much as a spiritual, deliberate way of living), which she wrote when her kids were young, about living less-scheduled days with less hurry. That book, along with Simplicity Parenting, are probably the two books I'd put on my "this is how I want to parent" shelf.

So I jumped to read this book, which she wrote some years later. It is a bit more unsettled
...more
Anne Mcarthur
I feel like I've come full-circle with Katrina Kenison. I read "Mitten Strings for God" when my children were younger. Now with one out of the nest, one nearly there and mid-life staring me in the face, I read this beautifully written book. As much about mid-life as nearly-grown children, her words spoke to the places in my heart having similar struggles with mid-life and what's next. The journey towards the end of high school and college searching made me smile in solidarity and anticipation.
Stephanie
I found it hard to decide on a rating for this book. On the one hand, I found the writing style maddening -- it was extremely repetitive and went back and forth in time frequently for no apparent reason. I was so frustrated with it that I put the book down twice, intending to quit it completely. But I don't like to leave things unfinished, so I picked it back up...and ended up loving the book's message, which seemed to be:

- See your children for who they are and support them in being themselves.
...more
Jen
A few months before my grandmother died we were talking one day on the phone about the fact that my life was crazy and we were trying to find a house to buy. Grandma lived a pretty simple life on a beautiful farm in the country. The one place you can go to leave your cares behind, eat well, and relax in the beauty of nature. Long country road walks and hikes through the woods, daily views of the wildlife, and the songs of birds in the trees that sound exactly like something you would overpay for ...more
Margaret
If you like sentences like "Contenment and grace may be two sides of the same coin." or "One reason I am happy here is because I've decided to be." or Mend the part of the world that is within your reach.", you will probably like reading The gift of an ordinary day.

Katrina Kenison decides to leave the hectic world of suburban Boston for the simple life in rural New Hampshire, dragging her 3 "men", sometimes kicking and screaming, with her. When her long time book editing job ends, and she finds
...more
Heidi
I bought this at my 4th grade son's Scholastic Book Fair in December 2010, for myself. I read it over Christmas vacation and savored all the lovely, true parts she mentions that come with being a wife and a mother. I read slowly so that I could drink in every moment and feeling the author shares with her reader. It was wonderful to connect with her on many levels. I too left the city for the country with my husband, children and pets, and have never regretted the decision and choiced we've made. ...more
Tracy
This book grabbed me as the premise was a mother watching her children become teenagers and eventually college bound. That is many years off for me, but this passage caught my attention and held it throughout the book:

"It seemed to me during those early years of child raising that my sons' childhoods would go on forever. I couldn't imagine any life other than the one that consumed me right then, a life shaped by the joys and demands of raising young children."

What the author conveys is that it
...more
Jonelle
I have been a fan of Katrina Kenison since Mitten Strings for God. This book(The Gift Of an Ordinary Day)took me almost a year to read. Not because it was boring or anything negative, but because of where I was in my life. I would pick it up frequently though, never going for more than a few weeks between readings. The premise of the book is that her boys are getting older, and heading towards leaving home. She describes with such power and simplicity the feelings that those changes bring to a h ...more
Caroline Roberts
Kenison does go on a bit - saying the same thing in 5 different ways, but as mum who is the same age as the author with three teenagers I did find myself brimming up on several occasions and identifying with her thoughts and feelings. It made me feel guilty for not being the 'Supermum' she seemed to be (although part of me was thinking 'you need to get out more love and stop living your life through your children!') nostalgic for the days of cutting and sticking and sad that I didn't make the mo ...more
Julie
Alright, so I'm only 10 pages into this book and already feel a kinship with the author - now if I could only express myself so eloquently, ahhh, the dream of becoming a writer . . .

I connected immediately with this book and wanted to share a portion from the introduction: "And so I offer the story of my midlife searching and mothering over the course of five unsettled years, in the hope that other mothers will recognize aspects of themselves in these pages and remember that, unique though our
...more
The Reading Countess
Katrina Kenison's in depth (perhaps too lengthy?) look at what it is to parent nearly grown sons, how to fashion a life worthy of living in midlife, and to live in harmony with those around her spoke to me from page one. Though admittedly a bit long and repetitive, I found myself sticky noting too many pages for the sheer beauty of the words.
Slow down. Enjoy. Don't over parent. Be in the moment. Seek who you are.
I needed to read this book.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons a
...more
Carol
Another gem by Katrina Kenison, though I like Magical Journey a little better. This is a book about a time in her life when many changes were happening, her boys were growing up fast and she discovered that, in her words, "The memories I find myself sifting through the past to find, the ones that I would now give anything to relive, are the ones that no one ever thought to photograph, the ones that came and went as softly as a breeze on a summer afternoon. I has taken a while, but I know it now- ...more
Rebecca Young
LOVE her writing. This is a book I will be giving to SO many of my friends for a gift. Each day I took it to the gym, I would ALWAYS end up getting off my machine and running to grab a pencil at the front desk because I had to mark something.

Her writing is very soothing and calming to me. She has a way of speaking about the changes in life, that just reassures the reader that things will be ok. That we don't have to push and pull and worry so much. We can TRUST that life will work itself out, th
...more
Denise
I have entered the mode of reading books about children growing up and leaving, in keeping with my tendency to reach for a book to prepare for life's changes. Katrina Kenison's memoir got off to a slow start for me, as she wrote a lot about moving homes when she had the yearning to leave suburbia for the New Hampshire countryside. But there was much more about her feelings about her son's leaving for college in the middle and end of the book, and it all actually tied nicely together. One of the ...more
Ashley
I believe this book had good intentions, but it just didn't leave a great impression. While I enjoyed the insights the author had to offer on motherhood and all the grief and triumphs that go along with the title, it was rather monotonous. Several of the authors insights, while initially good, lost their passion when reiterated again and again.
The fact that I am facing family transitions much like the author is the only thing that kept me interested in finishing the book.
On the positive side,
...more
Angela
I have picked up this book at least a dozen times at school book fairs over the last couple of years. Something about the title, the color and the cover always draws me to it. Each time I read the back cover, though, I know that it is going to be one of those books that you have to be in a certain place for. Guess I was there, because I finally purchased it just before school let out. From the first chapter to the last I felt like this author was living inside my head! Don't think I've ever crie ...more
Julie
I really enjoyed this very thoughtful memoir of a mother with two high school age boys trying to enjoy her time with them, while at the same time, letting go as her oldest enters college. I could identify with many of the things she feels -- trying to create an identity outside her role as mother and wife, feeling unneeded as her boys grow older, trying to appreciate the many little things that create our life. I found myself highlighting many gems along the way. Overall, I felt a sense of calm ...more
Janet
When this arrived for me yesterday, a day when I listened to the heartbreaking tales of many of my co-workers'empty nest sadnesses, I thought, oh, this similar mother's story is just not something I want to read right now. As much as I can appreciate a sad tale of woe, it's just simply not my story. But immediately I am already struck by how eloquently the author is describing change, transformation and heartache. It applies to any change, loss, heartbreak of any variety, or to anyone who is at ...more
Debbie
"The Gift of an Ordinary Day" is a piece of art in word form to me. Mrs. Kennison's words resonate to my soul, just like the sweet song of a robin in the morning. It is journaling at its disorganized but ordered Best. Her random reflections at certain times in her life of still another reflection reminds me of my own lifetime of journaling. Her words chronicles the changes of a family and as the surrounding change so do each of her men and herself. It reminds us to be present everyday of our liv ...more
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"I write to remind myself of how I want to live and who I want to be," says KATRINA KENISON, author of three beloved memoirs that, together, chart the seasons of a woman's life.
Her first book, MITTEN STRINGS FOR GOD: REFLECTIONS FOR MOTHERS IN A HURRY, now a classic for parents of young children, is a compelling invitation to do less and enjoy life more -- in a culture that urges "bigger, better
...more
More about Katrina Kenison...
Mitten Strings for God: Reflections  for Mothers in a Hurry Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment The Best American Short Stories 1992 Mothers: Twenty Stories of Contemporary Motherhood The Best American Short Stories 2005

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“Not a day goes by that I don't still need to remind myself that my life is not just what's handed to me, nor is it my list of obligations, my accomplishments or failures, or what my family is up to, but rather it is what I choose, day in and day out, to make of it all. When I am able simply to be with things as they are, able to accept the day's challenges without judging, reaching, or wishing for something else, I feel as if I am receiving the privilege, coming a step closer to being myself. It's when I get lost in the day's details, or so caught up in worries about what might be, that I miss the beauty of what is.” 33 likes
“When we focus on what is good and beautiful in someone, whether or not we think that they "deserve" it, the good and beautiful are strengthened merely by the light of our attention.” 19 likes
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