turn your back for one minute….

We are still finding our summer rhythm… 5 weeks into our ‘summer’. The Hubby finished with his teaching duties back in the beginning of May, but with moving people out of houses and apartments and just general life, we never found ‘normal’. This week is finding a ‘normal’. And its so refreshing and nice.

Apart of finding normal is figuring out our daily rhythm when we are at home all day (Little Man and I, that is. Hubby is going into school to read and write that dissertation — home stretch!). This morning, Little Man declares he wants to finger paint. I’m totally good with this — fine motor skill development, creativity, a sensory experience and who-knows what other benefit is to be found in finger painting. He started smearing the paint up his arms (yes, I can handle this…) and I decided we’d go outside to clean up. I step away for about a minute (maybe 2) and come back to find….

Look what I can do!

Look what I can do!

Paint in his hair and all over his face. :::sigh::: After I took the picture he says “I want to see it!” Its a bit scary how much he knows about how the camera and phones work.

Last summer, we spent a lot of time out under the trees. These are huge Live Oak trees and they tend to sprawl outwards as much as upwards. And they cast a deep, deep shadow on the area underneath, which can easily be 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the areas in the sun. After the rain we got on Sunday morning and 2 cool nights, the breeze is still cool, which makes sitting out under the trees a very enjoyable experience.

Summer days

Summer days

I’m thinking through what ‘science’ activity we might do this week. Maybe we will just focus on the general experience and less on any sort of discovery. I picked up to browse “The Well-trained Mind: A guide to classical education at home”. Its been good to read and remind myself of what is come and general expectations (knowing it could easily be a year or two off for any one child). At the same time, I picked up Natural Born Learners (free from amazon kindle last week. $3.99 now), which is a series of essays on unschooling. I’m philosophically attracted to both theories, and there seems to be one, very important, underlying assumption that is different between the two. In fact, I think its the assumption that sets unschooling apart from every other educational philosophy. The assumption is about how children learn (of course!), unschooling assumes that a child will learn. You put the information out there, you provide some interesting question and a child will learn. No teaching needed, no special methods needed, no formal sit-down-and-work needed. Children will learn whether you want them to or not. Every other philosophy assumes that if you (or someone) doesn’t “teach” it, the child won’t learn it. How you “teach” it varies from theory to theory. I put ‘teach’ in quotes because in some theories, its not what we imagine when we use the word ‘teach’, but its some form of active presentation of the material to the child. I suspect that I’m drastically simplifying the assumptions here and it might be that this basic assumption creates a continuum along which philosophies lie — some at extreme ends of you have to beat it into a child and the other end of not being intentional about presenting any new material. As I explore this, I hope to write about it. I feel like there is plenty written about all these things so I don’t need to add it, but I have this quite voice in my mind saying I can present a different view point which might help someone. Who knows… though we will find out!

Of course, the book I’m currently devouring is ‘The History of the Renaissance World’, but S.W. Bauer (same author as well-trained mind). I totally plan on purchasing all her history books… Ancient, Medievel and Renaissance is out. I’m hoping “modern” or some version is to be out soonish. Though it will take me a while to get through these three. The Renaissance book is *fat* at about 2 inches thick and 688 pages of text. The last 1/2 inch is notes, works cited and index.

And, if you are on goodreads.com, look for me (https://www.goodreads.com/friend/i?i=LTM2MDQ2MTUzNTg6MzY1) and if you aren’t on goodreads.com — you should be as its a great way to keep track of what you’ve read, what you want to read and what you are currently reading.

Homekeeping resources: ebooks

This is really a huge topic, but I will try to be succinct. (all links given here will open in a new tab/window)


There are a ton of ebooks out; a fair number are good quality books. I, in my tightwad ways, might notice a book I want to read and will wait till I see it free on amazon, or a sign-up-for-this freebie, or somesuch. Most of the ebooks I have, I got for free. Legally. Some have been pretty bad, and some quite good, and the majority in the middle. Occasionally, I’ll pay for an ebook, such as when, last spring, there was an offer of a huge swath of homkeeping-mothering-parenting-and-all-other-topics-that-an-adult-woman-in-the-US-might-be-interested-in ebook bundle. I’ve found the best way to find ebooks you’ll be interested in is to find the blogs that cover the topic you are interested in. Of course, if you just want free ebooks, a site like http://www.free-ebooks.net/ might be what you want.
In general, ebooks tend to be shorter and more focused than bound books (at least in my experience), such as ‘time management’ or ‘scheduling’ in one book, while another book discusses the documents that are helpful in homemaking (to do lists, calendars, etc).
Here are the ebooks that I’ve found most useful in my quest to better my homekeeping skills.
Organized Simplicity, by Tsh Oxenreider (http://simplemom.net/books/) — I got this book as a free amazon book in Jan 2012. She walks you through establishing your own family’s mission and vision, and then helps you figure out your priorities such that what you do lines up with your family’s mission (purpose statement is what she calls it). This is a great book for figuring out how to go about living simply
Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule so you can Live Free, by Annie Dillard (tellyourtime.com). Wow, this book was awesome! The author walks you through defining your roles, using those roles as a guide for establishing priorities, then uses those as foundations for setting up a weekly schedule. This has been the best book I’ve read, so far, about scheduling and how to go about it.
Organizing Life as Mom, by Jessica Getskow Fisher (www.lifeasmom.com). This book is the nuts and bolts of homekeeping and general parental organizing. The book is a compilation of “worksheets and planning pages to help you get your act together”. I use several pages from this book, which I’ve laminated, for my weekly planning. When you buy the book, you get a monthly update with new worksheets and planning pages and a new monthly calendar jpg you can use for your desktop background. I really like this.

Other useful ebooks

There are other ebooks that I enjoyed, learned from, or have good information, but aren’t one my MVB list.
The Homemakers Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule, by Amy Roberts (raisingarrows.net). She walks you through establishing a schedule for your home. It was straightforward and useful information, ideas, and guidance.
Hula Hoop Girl, by September McCarthy (hulahoopgirl.net). This book more deals with our own tendency to get overly involved and too busy. Are you trying to keep more hula hoops spinning than you really ought? Or perhaps you are trying to keep more plates spinning than you ought? Either way, this book was really good at taking the reader through these issues and focusing one’s efforts.
Do the Funky Kitchen, by Laura Coppinger (www.heavenlyhomemakers.com). My kitchen is the control center of my home. And I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and in the dinning room. This book walks you through getting your kitchen into shape to work for you, which the author admits that she needs to do on a regular basis. I should probably do this again soon.
Next up: What I actually do!
Yep, finally, after how long? I’ll walk you through what I’ve done in the past and what I’m doing and what I’ve found works and doesn’t work and what really doesn’t matter. At least in my life.

Book Review: Memory of Light

And another one!

A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14; A Memory of Light, #3)A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

:::sniffle::: the series is over. I loved these books. We got to see the characters start as immature young adults in book 1 (the eye of the world) and in this book we see them ‘grown up’ and ready to what was needed to be done.

This book is all battle, but that’s not surprising. Its well done, though.

****SPOILER ALERT!!!******
On completely unneeded bit that only a dedicated reader would notice: all through the books, only Callandor is Sa’angreal with a buffer, and its presented as the only one of this type (buffer-less). All of the sudden, I think to give Egwene a fantastic death scene, the Sa’angreal she is using doesn’t have a buffer either. What! Really it wasn’t needed, Egwene had already made known how very tired she was and in an immediately preceding scene we’d seen another channeler burn herself out by channeling when she was really tired. And all previous wow-that-was-a-huge-amount-of-power moments (Lews Therin creating dragon mount, Queen Eldrene destroying all the trollocs and the city of Manetheren) were done sans-sa’angreal. Why should Egwene moment be any different (and in her death she achieve a huge bonus for the good guys).

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Book Review: Dear Birthmother

Its been a while since I’ve reviewed any books! Goodness, must get back on that bandwagon.

Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our BabyDear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby by Kathleen Silber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My overall impression is positive. The book is an introduction and argument for open adoption. Not semi-open, but open. The authors are attempting to overcome ‘myths’ common in American society about adoption and offer a new definition of adoption.

The authors suffer from the common problem of imprecise language. At one point the authors state ‘the fourth myth is also designed…” The myths are designed??? As in someone sat down, thought it out and said, ‘ya know, I think these are the things about adoption I want American’s to believe’. I don’t think the authors really mean ‘design’, that just seems absurd. But if they don’t, why did they use that word?

I found myself very put out by the ‘myths’ that American’s believe about adoption. I know that we (Hubby and I) tend to be rather counter-cultural in some areas, but I think the general myths are a bit outdated. The first myth says a birthmother/parent doesn’t care. If she didn’t care, she’d just abort the baby. End of story. But she choose to carry the baby to term — she cares. The second myth says it all needs to be kept secret, but the need for secrecy just isn’t there any more. Adoption isn’t what it was in the late 90s and with a growing number of inter-racial adoption its impossible to keep the adoption a secret — its a bit obvious! Myth 3 (birthparents forget) and 4 (adoptees searching for birthparents doesn’t mean they don’t love the adoptive parents) might still hold as myths, I don’t know, so I withhold judgement on those.

Now, beyond that section, I found the book helpful to my own thinking. I realized I had a few notions that were inaccurate, e.g. that NO ONE could love my child as much as I do (sans all context). And the authors did a good job at showing me the need for birthparents/mothers to remain a part of the child’s life and that I, as an adoptive parent, shouldn’t be afraid or intimidated by a birthmom’s presence. A birthmom (and dad) have walked into this decision voluntarily and have reasons for believing this is the best option.

I really liked the ‘new’ definition of adoption that the authors present. It accounts for a great deal that I hadn’t thought about before. I let you read the book to learn what this new definition is.

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Poor morals in children’s books

So, I’ve noticed in a fair number of books that I’ve read with Doctor Destructo that the morals that are taught (as in the moral of the story) are pretty poor. As an example, I shall present “Curious George Rides a Bike”.

First, George is called a monkey, but he doesn’t have a tail. That means he’s an ape. Ah, the misrepresentation of facts.

Now, George gets a bike on the anniversary of when the man with the yellow hat took him from Africa. George can do tricks (yea!), but gets bored and disobeys by leaving the immediate vicinity of the house. Then the newspaper boy pawns off his work of delivering papers to George. (that was very not smart of him). George doesn’t follow directions and doesn’t delivery all the papers, and then folds all the papers in to boats. While watching his boats, he hits a rock with his bike, and messes up the front wheel (some regret occurs here). Then George sees a tractor pulling trailers (the animal show you find out). The most-certainly-not-creepy director gets George to come along to be in the animal show. Bob fixes Georges bike and they head off. The next major event is George disobeying direct orders to not feed the ostrich (he was curious!), and then again disobeying when he leaves his bench to save the baby bear. But because George saves the day, all is forgiven (the lost newspapers, all the disobedience) and he gets to be in the animal show. (I’d just type out the text of the book, but I fear that would violate copy right.)

Now, please don’t tell me that its just a children’s story, so I shouldn’t be so hard on it. That’s Doctor D really isn’t learning anything, its just a story. I don’t buy it. We learn a great deal from the ‘stories’ we hear and see. But that is not my topic here, per say.

First, I’m bugged that irresponsibility is excused in the name of curiosity. It is possible to be both curious and responsible, and George never suffers for his lack of responsibility. But others suffer the consequences of George’s irresponsibility regularly. The man with the yellow hat must spend time looking for George and the folks on the other side of the street never get their newspapers. And that’s just this book.

Next, it bugs me that George’s disobedience is all forgiven and forgotten because he saved the baby bear. Forgiveness IS NOT earned, it can only be given freely. Or at least true forgiveness is like this; God’s forgiveness is like this. We cannot earn His forgiveness, nor His favor. In the same way, Doctor D cannot truly earn my forgiveness when he disobeys. There is a debt, a payment for that disobedience (just as we have a debt to God, “for the wages of sin is death”), and if the pay back is earned, well then that is more like justice.  But when I forgive that debt, it is done with mercy and grace, which are freely given and never earned.

I think these are big issues and big deals that I want Doctor D to understand. And, so, I often edit the story a bit. I will use the words ‘justice’, ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’. When consequences seem reasonable, they are handed out (for example, I will have George pay the folks who didn’t get their newspapers for the newspapers he made into boats or, from a different book, Bambi gets grounded after staying out too long). I will change words so that its not because George rescued the baby bear he gets to be in the animal show, but the director will thank George for rescuing the bear, forgive George for disobeying, and to be gracious and let George be in the show.

Now, I figure the day will come when Doctor D actually recognizes the words on the page and will ask “Mommy, why did you change the words?” I look forward to that conversation. And until then, I will unabashedly change the words or completely remove the book from the reading options if its bad enough. We had one book that was a counting book that had little monkey’s disobeying and being trouble makers all through it; it had other problems as well. That book was removed from the collection. And I’m finding that many of the books I grew up with are like this, and books published now are often the worst. I guess I’ll either need to edit or stick with older books.

Books that get READ

So, some book you just read. And some books you READ. I’m currently working on two books that one must READ.

First up, I’m reading On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.

Wow, this book is amazing. I started it the summer of 2011, so that means I’ve been reading it for a year, and only the 600s (pages) of 800 some-odd. I have minor in chemistry from undergrad and am unceasingly hungry for knowledge. This book meets both needs (chemistry info and knowledge), plus food. There is history of all types of food, information on the chemical changes that occur as you mix, cook, sear, bake, grill or whatever you might do to the food you are working with. He discusses the traditional ways of doing this, that and the other, and the more common modern or industrial ways. He explains why somethings just aren’t done at home any more. I’m currently in the chapter about sauces, and I suspect I will want to experiment with the next sauce I make. Hubby won’t like that, I don’t think.

I’m also working on Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Its different from Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, but I’m still thinking through how they are different. The two books do overlap in some ways, and it seems, intuitively, that Home Comforts is more timeless (and Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook more bound to current times), but I’m not able to articulate exactly what makes me think this. The two books are organized quite differently, and Home Comforts, despite being thinner, is a full 120 some-odd pages longer. Home Comforts has many, many fewer and smaller pictures and smaller text, while the Handbook has some very nice, large black and white pictures. The text is more non-academic-reader friendly (its a bit bigger), but Home Comforts never struck me as “academic”.

So, when I finally finish the Handbook, I plan to write a nice detailed discussion of how the two are different. I suspect that to happen in a month or so.

Anyone else working on books that need to be READ?

Book Review: Wild Things, The Art of Nurturing Boys

I have discovered the joys of a Kindle. First off, there are a slew of free books available and I’ve found several that I’ve gotten and enjoyed.

And, with amazon prime, you can ‘borrow’ books! For free! Woot!

Recently, I borrowed the book “Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys”. I generally enjoy the books that talk about relationships or psychology or sociology or some such. And my desire to read about parenting was began about 2 years ago, and my desire to read about parenting boys has peeked recently. Peanut is a handful these days. He’s not quite walking, but he is cruising with confidence and is amazing mobile. More than once, he’s dashed out the garage door and he’s halfway out the garage before I can catch him. He loves to be outside and pine at the back door looking out the window for 10 to 20 minutes at a time several times a day. A a girl, who only has a sister, boys baffle me. I’ve learned a great deal from Hubby, but his memories of being a 1 year old boy is vague.

So, after reading “Bringing up Boys” a second time, when I saw this book, I thought ‘go for it’.

I’ve really enjoyed the book. The authors have some good things to say that resonate with stuff I’ve read before. They are fans of “Wild at Heart” which is about what true masculinity is, and this book is about parenting your boy so that he is comfortable and confident in his masculinity and you maintain your sanity while doing so. Though the book isn’t specifically written to just moms or dads, several times they address the single mom directly.

My first frustration with the book hit when they defined the first stage of being a boy, the ‘explorer’, as ages 2 to 4 (or so). Well, I thought, what about the pre-2 year old!?! That is my primary frustration with most books these days… their parenting strategies don’t start till the child is 18 months to 2 years old. The one book I have that addresses the pre-2 year old is “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”, and they only say “teach the child that he is under authority”. Okay, makes sense, sounds good… how? Yes, yes, I understand that you can’t give specific instructions like “at 9 months your child will…” because kids don’t work that way. But to hear “we did [this] with our kids and we saw [this]’ would be really nice. Come on folks, lets get down and dirty when talking about disciplining and parenting.

Okay, back to this book.

It is split into 3 parts with an appendix called “Hot topics”. Part 1 is about the stages of development a boy goes through as he grows up. Part 2 is about what a boy’s mind is like, and part 3 is about a boy’s heart. Unfortunately, these author’s also conflate the mind and the brain, but that is such a common error, that I wonder if its worth really taking notice of.

The ‘hot topics’ are various specific topics that parents will, perhaps, deal with as their son grows. For example, spanking, screen time, sensitive boys, competition, ADD, emotional literacy, and several others.

Now, my opinions… First, I appreciated getting a glimpse of how a boy’s focus and tendencies will change as they get old (part 1). As they talked about the age 2 to 5 year, the explorer, I could see some of how Peanut is.  And it was enlightening to see a bit of where Peanut is heading — development wise.

Much of what they said in part 2, about a boy’s mind/brain, I’ve heard before. I don’t think there was anything new in that section.

Part 3 was particularly interesting. The author’s discussed specific ways of interacting with a boy that will nurture his heart and ways of interacting that won’t.  The example that stuck with me was one where a boy is 15 minutes late. Dad has been waiting in the car for those 15 minutes. When boy comes out, Dad proceeds to berate the boy, “Do you realize you are 15 minutes late? I’ve been sitting in the car, waiting for you. Do you realize that your coach is also waiting? What will he think?” Don’t spar with the boy, says the authors. Instead have him suffer natural consequences. Perhaps he doesn’t go. Maybe he owes the coach or Dad time. Maybe this is the first time, so he just needs a warning “when you are more than 5 minutes late, you aren’t going to go”. I know my tendency would be to lecture. I must break that. ‘use only a few words’ say the authors. Goodness, I am a woman of many words, that’s not going to be easy.

I also enjoyed several of the ‘hot topics’.  Specifically, ‘screen time’, ‘masturbation’, ‘ADD and ADHD’, and ’emotional literacy’. I thought they had some good thoughts and got me thinking more about each topic. I know a fair bit about the first 3 topics, and I thought they presented the material in an effective manner. I’d never thought about emotional literacy as something to be learned (even though Hubby and I have talked about learning to use the f-word — feelings), so I learned a lot about teaching emotional literacy and the value for doing so.

One reviewer on amazon said something about “wish I’d know it was a religious book”. In part 3, the authors discuss giving your son something bigger than himself to believe in. Other than God, I’m not sure what would be, and the authors make the assumption that you, the reader does believe in God (of some sort, at least). But I’m not sure how that makes it a religious book. Well, I can guess.

I don’t know if I want to buy the book. Haven’t decided if its worth it. But, if you can get it at the library, I think its worth a read if you are one who likes to read these kinds of things. If you generally don’t like such books, it might just drive you crazy.

Book Review: King Rat, by China Meiville

King RatKing Rat by China Miéville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m impressed with Mievills’s creativity in taking the story of the Pied Piper and translating it into a modern story. Its creative, its intreging.

I really enjoyed the story. It took me over halfway through the book to figure out that it was the Pied Piper story retold. And it took a fair bit for me to get over the utter grossness at times — and I have a pretty high save against “gross”. I am reluctant to recommend this book, even though its a good story, as the f-bomb is dropped regularly and repeatedly. The violence is a bit OTT at times, but I can still see its place in the story.

At first I was rather turned off by the narrative…. tatooed silence and vampiric sights (or some such, I forget exactly). But once I got past it, I guess I can deal and still enjoy the story.

I’m kinda interested to find some jungle on youtube, just to see what it hears like (funny that I can say “see” what it “hears” like). Who knows if I will, though.

If you can handle regular f-bombs, a good bit of gross, and gratuitous violence, this is a good story.

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Book Review: the good girl’s guide to great sex

Yep, I’m gonna talk about a book that is about sex! Married sex, of course.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Sheila’s blog, tolovehonorandvacuum.com; she writes about marriage, mainly, encouraging women, wives, to live how God has called us to live. This book, her second (I think), is a discussion about all that sex is — all three sides of it: the physical, the spiritual, and the emotion.

Sheila’s desire is to “see families stay together”. Sex is a huge part of keeping married couples together. She says, “If Good Girls could just embrace God’s idea of what sex is suppose to encompass and work on their friendship, their spiritual connection, and the physical fireworks, we’d end many of the problems families face before those problems even begin. We’d be stronger. We’d be happier. (p. 241)”

When we first got married, we read , where the author’s suggest that for the first year, neither person should say “no” to the other when they initiate. We also had , which gives the nuts and bolts. But neither spend time speaking to a woman about how sex works through out her marriage, and how her view of marriage should differ from popular culture. Sheila takes the discussion of sex beyond the wedding night, and beyond the bed, into the reader’s heart.

You can read a run down of the book at her blog and on amazon. I have found this book has challenged my thinking about relating to Hubby, as wife and as friend. I want to encourage every married women to read this book, and think about their role as a godly wife.

Sheila is now giving away a chance to have her at your church (or my church) to speak to women about being wives and, gulp, about sex. I have done all the entries that I can, and will be back each day to do the ones that can be done daily. I would love to meet Sheila and hear her speak! If you attend Fellowship Bible Church of Waco, will you go and do some entries, too? That will up our chances of winning! Of course, if readers who attend other churches do the same, that lowers our chances (I think), but I guess that is okay.

Book Review: the world of Pern

When we were cleaning out for the garage sale, Hubby found he didn’t want to get rid of these books, by Anne  McCaffery. I’d read most of the series that I love, so I started in on these that Hubby loved. Since you can find the basic story run down on amazon (follow links in the pictures), I’ll just offer my opinions here.

First, I read The Harper Hall Trilogy — , and .  Yes, it was a fairly standard story line… young person being persecuted for a gift/talent he/she has, young person struggles and then escapes, then is rescued, and finally triumphs. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the books. McCaffery creates characters with enough depth that I got quite involved in the story. The story is clean, as in no over violence or sex, and endearing. I’d be happy to hand this triology to any young teenager or, perhaps, tween.

From there, I ventured into the main series — , and .  This trilogy is geared more towards older teens and adults. Though there aren’t any overt sex scenes, its certainly behind there off screen and plenty of minor violence.

Finished off this round of fiction reading with . Again, geared towards adults — plenty of sex (if all off screen) and minor violence, plus a dose of social commentary! That was unexpected, but got me thinking. Its the traditional “we thing advancing technology is bad” versus “advancing technology is good”, but made for a good story.

Overall, if you enjoy fantasy/sci fi style stories, these are fun ones to read. Be prepared to get swept up into a set of characters that you will follow through most of the books, and you will find you feel as if you actually know them. I found myself a bit repulsed by some of the assumptions made about sex, but that is fairly normal as I read popular fiction. There isn’t any gratuitous violence for the sake of violence. I wouldn’t give the main series, or any out side of the Harper Hall series, to anyone less than 15 or 16. And if characters being loosy-goosy about sex bothers you more than a little, you might not enjoy the books.

We have three more Pern books that I’ll read, but first I need some non-fiction in me.

Book Review: Wicked Bugs

Wicked BugsWicked Bugs by Amy Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! But then, I love living things, including bugs. The author covers a slew of nasty, hurtful and rarely helpful small, multi-legged creatures. She discusses more than just insects (of which “bug” is a particular type of insect), but also spiders and small crustaceans that have impacted mankind. If you are one who gets the heeby-geebies when reading, be careful of this book, and don’t read it at night.


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Book Review: Scream-free Parenting

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your CoolScreamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the parenting book for my generation. Most other parenting books assume that you, the parent, have actually grown-up and are, at least, a fairly mature individual. This book does not make that mistake.

To sum up the book: Don’t expect your kids to ease your anxiety. Deal with your own anxiety.

I think Runkel has some good thought and good recommendations. Our kids should not be the center of our worlds, but they should be apart of the world we live in. (as in the bit of life that you live) Your child is his own individual, let him be who he is and don’t expect him to not try for independence.

At the same time, Runkel doesn’t really talk about actually discipline. He just says that once you decide on some method, know why you are doing that, and stick to it. He doesn’t really address training or disciplining your children. What he does do is talk to a generation who are still kids themselves and before they can train or discipline their own children, they must finish their own growing up.

Add in “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” and “Dare to Discipline” and I think you’ve got a set of books that address the various aspects of parenting.


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Book Review: Lord of the Rings

On Sunday, Hubby woke up feeling pretty puny. So, we stayed home (no church, no small group). I decided I wouldn’t try and make it a “productive” day, so we just napped and laid around and read.

Here’s what much of my afternoon looked like —

Wrapped in the afghan that Hubby’s grandma made, reading “Return of the King”.

This trilogy really doesn’t need me to endorse it, most know that it is worth the read. And these aren’t books that can be read through half thinking about other things. They require thought and effort of the reader. These books will be a challenge to most Americans, as they are written at a High School (or so) level. “The Hobbit” is more written at a Jr. High type level, and the “Silmarillian” is at a college level. So, don’t expect to breeze through this trilogy quickly.

I certainly enjoyed the books, and have 2 observations to present about them.

First, the title is deceptive. The story isn’t about the ring, its about the hobbits. Yes, the ring is what prompts the adventures, but the story is about the hobbits and their adventures, of which the ring is a part of, but is not the center of. The movies make the books out to be about the ring, and its story arc, which is why the scouring of the Shire is left out of the movies. “Its anti-climatic”, says one. Well, sure, if the story was about the ring, its is. But the hobbits haven’t reached the climax of their story arc. They don’t come into their own until they return and rescue the Shire from those who have sought to destroy it (which the primary individual seeking to destroy the shire does so because of the hobbits and their involvement in his downfall).

Second, I found it interesting at my own reaction to the story. I enjoyed the books, but my heart leapt as I read about Sam replanting the trees in the Shire. And each time Sam thinks about his garden and planting things, my emotions are drawn in. Upon finishing the book, I started working my own spring garden plans.

About reading out loud — I think reading out loud is a wonderful thing and is particularly great for children. I think it is especially helpful to read something (out loud) that is just beyond the child’s reading level. Listening to the story makes it more accessible and introduces them to vocabulary and writing styles that they might not have encountered before.  These are excellent books to do this with, keeping in mind that the fight with Shelob (in the 2nd & 3rd boook) is particularly gruesome and could be very scary. She is a giant spider after all and the passages are rather detailed in now nasty she is. Otherwise, I think the stories could be appropriate for most children starting about ages 6 to 8 (for reading out loud and, perhaps, not right before bed). I’m thinking about this a lot these days, and I can’t wait for Peanut to be ready for me to read chapter books out loud to him.


Sleep Training — the other plunge

Day time naps have been a bit of a battle with Peanut. He didn’t seem to like sleeping during the day, and would sleep for 30 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. At 2 months, that didn’t seem quite right, but then, every child is different, right? Plus, at 7 months, he was still getting up every few hours at night to nurse. Talk about tiring for a mama.

I am a reader, so I read lots on this. My three primary resources were
Breastfeeding Made SimpleBaby Wise, and The Baby Whisperer.

And I got to talk with one of Hubby’s cousins who is a pediatrician with 2 kids of her own. Her youngest is only 5 days younger than our Peanut.

I received Breastfeeding Made Simple at a baby shower (Thanks Susan!) and really enjoyed reading it. It walks the reader through 7 “laws”, which are the basic principles of how the breastfeeding relationship between mom and child works. Principles like ‘the more you nurse, the more milk your body makes’. So, when Peanut wanted to nurse, I let him nurse. And, to be honest, I was worried about my production at first (which I shouldn’t of been). I learned from this book that the first 40 days is when your supply is established, letting baby demand-nurse helps increase your supply to match his needs, and babies know when they are hungry, thirsty, or need comforting… the clock doesn’t.

When I read Baby Wise years ago, when we were first trying to get pregnant, I though it was a great idea. When I re-read it a month or so ago, I thought… what was I thinking? The author starts with presenting all these testimonial’s about mothers giving up breastfeeding from exhaustion, and that his system solves that. so, he says, nurse your baby by the clock. (he doesn’t say it quite so bluntly, though)

Though the Baby Whisperer says her method is different, its still a nurse by the clock. She does talk more about routine and less about schedule though. Eat, play, sleep… repeat is her thing.  Yep, looks a whole lot like the Baby Wise method. Anyhoo, we are more of  eat, play, eat, play, eat, sleep kind of family, even Peanut.

Though I think both Baby Wise and Baby Whisperer ignore some basic facts about babies and nursing, there are some other principles that both present that seem to make sense. First — what I think is wrong. Do you always get hungry and thirsty at the same time each day? I don’t. My hunger and thirst schedule can vary depending on activities and even weather. Add in the facts about nursing, baby’s appetite, and baby’s stomach size and maturity, and you realize that some of these methods just don’t fit what I understand reality to be.

At the same time, I know I craved a schedule, which is the main idea for both Baby Wise and Baby Whisperer. I wanted Peanut to be more predictable for my own sanity. What to do!!! So I cried at times, and I thought, and I prayed, and I thought some more. Then I realized I was being anxious in my own way, so I tried not to think about it too much. Then I made a decision. I really just wanted to be able to put Peanut down for nap without spending 30 to 45 minutes doing so (nursing) and then him only sleeping 30 to 45 minutes. And I wanted to get more than 3 hours in a single stretch at night.

Hubby’s cousin pointed out that its likely Peanut is waking up so much at night (which is normal), but doesn’t know how to go back to sleep on his own, so he cries to nurse. Start with bed time, she said, and let him put himself to sleep.

Here’s what I did… I took what I thought was right from Baby Wise and Baby Whisperer and left what I thought was wrong. When Peanut was nursing, I worked hard to keep him awake. That did take work, as we were in the habit of nursing to sleep. At first, I did this only for day time naps. Hubby was still finishing up school, so I didn’t want to mess with bed time yet, as that would disrupt his evening work hours. I tickled his feet, I talked to him, I scratched his back, I rubbed his head. Then, if I could tell he was sleepy, I’d change his diaper, pray with him, and put him down. But if he wanted to nurse, I let him nurse. Sometimes, it meant he nursed every 30 to 40 minutes, especially in the late afternoon. He decided when he wanted to nurse, but he didn’t nurse himself to sleep. Often this was an eat, play, eat, play, eat, play, sleep cycle.

For first few days, the day time naps were a tad rough. He cried. I went in every 5 to 10 minutes and comforted him as best I could. Sometimes he calmed down, and sometimes he just wailed harder. But I persevered. I used my nifty flylady timer to keep track of how long it had been since I put him down and decided that after 1 hour, if he wasn’t asleep, we’d call that nap time a wash. By the third day, it was all much easier. Peanut  was falling asleep on his own within 10 to 20 minutes of me putting him down! I started telling him that it was okay if he wanted or needed to cry for a bit, but that he needed to go to sleep.

A very nice side affect is that Peanut is more focused when he nurses, so we spend less time nursing.

At the grandparent’s house over Christmas, we went back to nursing to sleep, which was a big mistake. About 2 or 3 days in, we switched back to going down for daytime naps awake. At night, Peanut was waking up at least every 2 hours. We played with ways to keep him warm, which helped some, but it really came down to 2 things: (1) it was a new place and he just wasn’t used to it, and (2) at night Mommy was right next door, could hear any noise made very clearly and jumped at each noise.

When we got home, that very first night, Peanut was put down for bedtime awake. We went through our normal routine, but then I brushed his teeth after nursing, then put him in bed. I think he cried a bit, but it was late (we’d just driven in that evening), and nothing too difficult.

Plus, I wanted him to sleep longer at night, which meant letting him learn to go back to sleep without nursing. That meant crying.  In the middle of the night. I decided no nursing between 12 am and 5 am. Hubby and I would suffer together.

So, that first night, I let him cry 5 minutes when he woke up around 1 am, then I went in and let him nurse for a bit. The next night, I let him cry 10 minutes before going in to him. Third night? easy-peasy, he never cried more than 2 or 3 minutes when he woke me up. Night #4, though… I let him cry for 15 minutes before I went in to him, and then I didn’t let him nurse. That was a hard night. He woke up around 1 am and I let him cry, but he fell asleep within 10 minutes, so I didn’t go into him. The he woke up around 2 am, and cried and cried. I recognized the cry was different, so I went in to check and he was on his front. He does not like sleeping on his front and though he rolls fine, he won’t/can’t do at night. I picked him up, comforted him, rocked him, tried to help him calm down. After about 10 minutes, he was still upset, but I put him back down and went back to bed. He went back to sleep about 5 minutes later (I’m pretty good about checking my phone for the time).  And last night? I nursed him about 9 pm — a “dream feed”. And I heard him about 4 am, but he fell back asleep within 10 minutes. Then I heard him about 5 am, and went into nurse him. I got about 6 hours of most uninterrupted sleep!

So — I still let Peanut lead on when he wants to nurse, but he goes to sleep on his own. And its not been as hard of a transition as I imagined it to be. Goodness, I love being able to pick and choose from various theories.