Archive for September, 2009

Book Review: Intimate Conversations

So, I was able to read the theme devotional for MOPS this year Intimate Conversations by Alicia Britt Chole. There are 52 wonderful devotionals, while I only had a few weeks to read the book, I would have preferred and would encourage you to take 52 days (or weeks) and read this book. There are 12 sections, which lends itself nicely to reading one section a month and one devotional a week. That would probably be a very realistic reading schedule for the intended audience – busy mothers of young kids. Each section is titled “Dear God…” as a prayer for various phases or seasons of life.

I found that the devotionals were perfect for me: I could easily relate to her stories and examples; they were the perfect length for reading while nursing or between various activities and interruptions; they were deep and meaningful and most importantly relevant to daily life and struggles. And that wasn’t even my favorite part, I really loved that application section. Often I find the application section of devotionals to be a bit contrived with questions that are too obscure or too obvious as to not be applicable, but Ms. Chole was spot on with the simple verse followed with three or four points for discussion and reflective journaling. These really are intimate conversations – between me and God. I loved that so many of the points were to wait, listen, pray to God. I wouldn’t want to go through this with a group unless it was a very intimate and safe group because the questions are hard and really get to the root issues in life.

That said, some of the sections were a little too much for me – mostly because I am not at that point currently. I really appreciated the section entitled “Dear God… Why Do I Feel So Unproductive?” because that is exactly how I feel so many days. But, I am not fully at the end of my rope and didn’t get as much from the section “Dear God… I’m Not Sure That I Can Keep Going.” The single devotional entitled “The Call” was the probably one of most personally profound devotionals that I’ve ever read, dealing with the lie that only full-time ministry pleases God rather than obedience to whatever He calls you.

I’m a little bit surprised that this is the MOPS theme devotional as it seems very much geared towards those who have been in a relationship with Jesus for a long time and want to grow more intimate, but not for the wide range of MOPS moms who are not even believers in God. This is not an intro to God, but a dig deep and get real with God type of devotional.

I will definitely re-read this devotional over a much more spread out time period and journal and grow still more in my walk with God.

Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Book Review: Ender’s Game

This is one of the books that Brian has had me read for him and then summarize so it’s like he read it but without the effort or time wasted… He is very efficient in that way. He is already compiling a list of what he wants me to read next.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card took a bit to get involved in. It is a short science fiction novel about a kid genius who is chosen and trained to fight and command armies to fight aliens and save the human race. It is a bit of a coming of age book, but not really as it only covers Ender’s life from 6-12 years of age. It is very much about the power of love and friendships as well as compassion and the power of fear, isolation and death. I found the way that the book started and continued without setting up the scene to be annoying rather than a fun puzzle to put together. I also found myself irritated at the interest in preserving the whole at the cost of the one – sort of a Jesus figure without giving him the choice. But Ender wasn’t the sacrifice per se as it was the aliens who died, but Ender became what he hated as he hurt others to get what he wanted/needed so he did die in a sense. It’s a bit heavy as a kid’s book and as usual Eila asked me to read her some, but I found that I could read her much less of this book with all of the violence and fear-mongering than I could of Twilight – a vampire book.

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Book Review: Have a New Kid by Friday

I read this book about a month ago for my MOPS group book club and enjoyed it and the discussion that accompanied it. The title follows current book naming trends with a good subtitle = How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days. Dr. Kevin Leman is a retired psychologist who has written gobs of books including The Birth Order Book that I really loved and found to be an accurate description of my family growing up. His style is witty, but unapologetic. He thinks his way of doing the parenting thing is the only way and that really turns me off. I agree with most of his ideas and techniques, which really focus on being consistent, loving, and logical.

In this book, he starts out by assuming that you must have totally screwed up and need him to set you straight so that’s why you are reading the book, which may be true for lots of his readers. He says that his strategies will work for anyone, anywhere, at any stage/age. I just don’t buy that. So, the basic plan in the book is this: Say it once. Turn your back. Walk away. I could see this working great with older kids, but my 3 year old, who may or may not be typical in his behavior, is not afraid of being left in the grocery store or at the park and will happily wave goodbye and return to his play – glad to be rid of me and my plan to tear him away from good times.

There were also several other points in the book and these are the ones that I use and will continue to use. It’s always nice to have a reminder of good ideas and new ways to implement them. These are really hard for me to do in everyday life when I get tired and bogged down in the details of mothering.
1. Let reality be the teacher.
2. Learn to respond rather than react.
3. B doesn’t happen until A is complete.
4. Be consistent and follow through on what you say.
5. Don’t threaten or get angry. (My friend, Janet, had a great post summarizing this as I was really struggling with the difference between threatening and giving honest choices while reading this book)
6. Keep my attitude and behavior ones to be modeled!

Along with the above, there are several questions that Dr. Leman recommends asking and have really helped me to evaluate and decide how to proceed.
1. What’s the purpose of the behavior?
2. How do I feel about it?
3. Is it really a big deal?

The second part of the book is an A-Z listing of normal parenting dilemmas and his ideas on how to handle them. Some things were good, but my real struggle is currently bedtime (and naptime) and he says in essence: don’t sweat it; kids sleep when they’re tired. Again, maybe they do, but Josiah does not. Instead, he destroys things and people (not an exaggeration) when he is tired and whines a LOT, so it is problem for everyone not just him, not something we can just wait out until he falls asleep.

If you haven’t read a lot of parenting books, you may find the ideas new and helpful especially if your kids are crazy, but I’d get it from the library if it were me. But, I know some people found the practicality of the book priceless.

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This is what I’ve been up to recently…

Me: (opening the door and getting a big whiff of calendula cream) Josiah, where is Thad’s diaper cream?
J: In there. (pointing to the air vent at the bottom of the wall)
Me: Where did you put all the cream? (finding the container, two marker lids, some paper and a few other toys in the vents)
J: On my arm.
Me: Wow. (feeling how smooth and soft his left arm is)

Me: Josiah, do you have to go to the bathroom?
J: No. (doing the pee-pee dance)
Me: Are you sure?
Me: Okay.
J: Mommy, I have to go potty! (very desperate)
Me: Then, go to the potty! You know, I just asked you. (I’m now sitting down nursing TJ)
J: Mommy, you come! I can’t do it.
Me: Yes, you can. GO!
Me: Josiah!
Me: You can do it. (I’m walking to the bathroom, watching him dance in front of the toilet). Pull your pants down.
J: I CAN’T. (holding a small key in one hand)
Me: Give me your key, and GO POTTY!
Me: GET ON THE POTTY! (taking his key and pulling down his pants – yes, while still nursing)
J: Don’t yell at me, Mommy.
Me: (shaking my head and feeling very relieved that he went on the potty, but a little guilty for yelling, even though he did most of the yelling…)

Eila: When I grow up and I’m a mommy, you’ll be a grandma and you will be my mommy.
Me: Yup. That’s right.
E: I will drive a motorcycle.
Me: Oh, really. I’d rather you didn’t.
E: But, when I’m grown up I’ll be big and can drive a motorcycle and go really fast.
Me: That’s just what I’d rather you didn’t; I don’t like motorcycles. They scare me; people get hurt really badly on motorcycles.
E: Well, I won’t get hurt. Maybe I won’t drive a motorcycle… Does Trillion drive a motorcycle?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe, but I doubt it.
E: When I grow up and I’m a mommy, I’m going to name my daughter Trillion.

Along with countless amounts of preparing food and cleaning up and also watching Thad creep all around, spitting on everything…
It’s been good.


Summer Fun

I kind of feel like I fell off the face of the earth this summer. I didn’t do any of the normal things that I anticipated this summer. We didn’t do a regular zoo trip with my girlfriends or meet-ups at the village with other girlfriends or playdates in the park or music in the park or sprayscape playtimes or backyard BBQs or camping or whatever I had thought we would do this summer. But, just because we didn’t do these things with our friends like expected, I am not at all disappointed with how we spent our time. We had so much fun enjoying time with our family, learning to ride bikes, taking swim lessons, shooting rockets, playing in our backyard, experimenting with different foods (mostly Brian), and just being together.

While the weather wasn’t terribly hot this summer, we were able to spend a LOT of time outside and are currently loving the return to school and the emptiness of our favorite hangouts (zoo, village, parks, etc.) Eila and Josiah are not ready for the end of summer so we will continue with summer fun for as long as possible. We may even do somethings with our friends, but coordinating requires just that little bit of planning and energy that I can’t muster. So, we’ll probably continue to be out in space somewhere.


Some Things Never Change

In my younger years, I was an avid reader. I was always reading something and most often it was simply fun fiction. As an adult, I’ve continued in my love for reading, but almost always non-fiction to learn something that I’ve been curious about. Occasionally I will still enjoy a fiction book, but it is the exception.

I think in the last 7 years I’ve read a handfull of fiction books – J.K. Rowling, Francine Rivers, and now recently Stephanie Meyers. One of the reasons that I don’t read a lot of fiction is because of the way that I get involved in a book… I tend to immerse myself rather completely in the fictional world and neglect all other aspects of life. This was fine in high school, but as a mother and wife it can be a bit reckless – not just for my own life. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the fiction series that I’ve indulged in (even if Brian didn’t) and Twilight proved no different.

I read 2560 pages in about 6 days; I really did try not to read during the day when I was responsible for the care of three small children. Since I so thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the fictional world, I’m debating what to read next. Any ideas of great (and short, for my hubby’s sanity) works?

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