Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reading Wrap Up 2014

So I did a reading preview at the beginning of the year, so it only seems fair to do a reading wrap-up. I'm sure I will do a best of post at a later point in time. And probably on my other blog, but for now, I'm going to update you on the books I mentioned earlier this year.

River's Deep was better than I expected. Soul of Storm has been delayed, but I'm okay with that because I would rather it be late and be written right.

From my bookshelves: 

I did not get to Mere Christianity. I have a feeling this is going to be a deep read and I want to be ready for that. I haven't been yet. So once again, I'm okay with a delay if it means I get it right.

Introverts in Church - Some good, some was more for church leadership. So I guess if I get to that place, I will be rereading this one.

The Slaves Have Names: Ancestors of My Home - This gave me a great sense of real people in real places that really lived. I wouldn't go so far as haunting, but memorable.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World - Practical suggestions in short and easy to ready chapters. There is a ton of information here though. You can read through it, but you could just as easily refer to the chapters you need when you need them.

A Salty Piece of Land - It was pretty good, but there were a few parts that were way too wordy and others that were way too explicit. Things that were thrown in and seemed completely unnecessary. I read it and pretty much enjoyed it. It just left a bad aftertaste.

Gringos in Paradise: An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream House in a Seaside Village in Mexico - This one took me a while to read because there was just so much in this one. Not to the point of boredom or frustration. Just made for slower reading.

From my Kindle:

There were a couple from my Kindle that I started by didn't finish. One I might come back to if I'm in the mood for a romance. One had an awful narrator and I will not go back to that one.

Firefly Beach - Nice enough read. I admired the author's work more than the book itself. Not sure if that says good things or bad things.

Finding Poe - AMAZING!! An unreliable narrator submerged in a world of Edgar Allan Poe made for an enjoyable page turner. Love, love, love it.

Henrietta Street - I started this one. I will finish it in January.

From Goodreads:

I read less of these because some were hard to track down and some were more serious non-fiction than I wanted to read. I did not read Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, , Life After Art: What You Forgot About Life and Faith Since You Left the Art Room, , After looking at a couple of these again, I'm determined to read a couple in 2015.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Beautiful and haunting. This one makes you wonder what is the world really made of.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon - She is a story teller, so this is a fabulous book. I loved to just sit back and read this one.

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) - Um. No. I didn't finish it. I didn't like the author, or the way she sounded in the writing of the book.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore - Amazing! Even sitting here writing about it, I'm ready to read it again. Fabulous adventure.

Theology in Aisle Seven: The Uncommon Grace of Everyday Spirituality - I bought the book and have started to read it. I am LOVING it. There is so much that I'm highlighting. I'm glad I bought it, so I can come back to it over and over.

Asylum - I put this on hold at the library. I'm number 14, so it might be a while before I get it read. But I'll get there.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare - I put this one on hold at the library as well. I am number 2, so I will be getting to this one soon!

Author to rediscover:

Carol Goodman: After starting this post, I decided to see what the library had from North Carolina Digital Library. There was one, Arcadia Falls. I checked it out and enjoyed it. It is everything I expected from this author. It's great to know that I have several others to come back to when I need a for sure quick read winner.

Finish

The Charter - I went back and forth about liking and not liking this book. I'm glad I stuck with it, because I really did enjoy it.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Glad I finished it, but I don't think I love it so much that I will read the others in the series. (BTW, I am an awful reader of series' of books.)

Possible rereads:
Nope. I didn't reread anything. Not surprising. There are too many good books out there to go back and read something again!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Life Explosions

Life is going along just fine and then 5 different things happen and you aren't sure how you got here. That has been this week. It hasn't been anything horribly awful bad. It has just been a bunch of little things. 
Photo Credit: Umberto Salvagnin

Last week we were crazy busy. There was something every night from Monday to Saturday that kept us away from the house until 7 or 8 pm. So we were looking forward to this week being a little quieter. And it has been, but not based on our plan of quieter.

Sunday morning about 1 am, I woke up to hear Ben coughing and then running to the bathroom. That was followed by him vomiting. I got up and helped him as best I could and we went back to bed. This pattern continued about once an hour for the next several hours. Sometime around 7 or 8, Ben moved to the sofa. Needless to say church was out for the two of us on Sunday. Drew started getting ready and got Lily ready, but he felt awful himself. A lingering cold/cough/thing has left us worried that it could turn into pnuemonia. And Lily still wasn't over her cold virus either. So Sunday was spent on the sofa and in the bed instead singing and playing Marc's amazing Christmas song.

Monday was a little better. Ben stayed home from school just to make sure he was better. The gunk in Drew's chest was moving along and he was feeling better. Lily was still snotty and gunky sounding. I stayed home from work to keep caring for them all. Lily went to the doctor. She had a sinus infection. Since Drew took her, he didn't get done working until later. Since he didn't get done working until later, he didn't get to go to Bible study with me and the kids. However, the three of us made for the first time in months. It was good discussion and a couple points hit close to home. So Monday was looking up.

Then Tuesday morning at about 2 am Drew and I were each in a bathroom getting sick while Lily played in the floor of our bedroom because she thought that was a good time to play. So a minor bump in the road became a minor life explosion. This was one of those awful can't move off the couch because it will make me sick stomach bugs. And that's not really possible with two kids in the house. I was able to get Ben to school and get myself back home before I got sick again. Lily slept quite a bit that day, which she needed and so did we. Nana and Aunt Terry took for a little while too. Drew got Ben home from school and later went to go get him food. I pretty much stayed on the couch trying not to get sick anymore. So Tuesday didn't go as planned.

On Wednesday I get back to work and discover that several others had been sick in my absence and there are 3 Christmas meals planned for the end of the week. I also found out that there was water damage to the parsonage of our church. The music minister had to work late on Wednesday. And there are several student absences due to sickness this week. There was a computer crash that derailed a student project.

So the family dinner and Christmas movie didn't happen this week. The looking at Christmas lights didn't happen. The special Christmas music didn't happen. The Christmas meals at work are sort of happening. The group projects for this week are only sort of happening. The music at church sort of happened. 

All of this sort of happening and didn't happens could really throw me off and stress me out, but I decided that what will be will be. I don't need to make anything different happen. God is in control and not me. I can only do what is in my control, which isn't as much as I think. I can rework some things and give up on other things. It is all okay. These little life explosions are not the end of the world. They aren't even unexpected events because God knew what was going to happen anyway. So I lean in to Him and away from me. 

"God's in his Heaven and all's right with the world." Anne Shirley

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Here I am again

Attribution: Alice Popkorn


So after unintentionally taking a 2 month break, I'm finding myself wanting to blog again. Let me start by saying THANK YOU! So many of you still read what I have to say even though I only say it every great now and then. I really would like to get back to doing this regularly. I want to look at my world again though the lens of my blog. I want to see the stories that happen in life because stories are important. Stories connect us to each other. Stories challenge us. Stories encourage us. Stories stick with us. Stories make us better people.

I look back through past posts and I laugh about some stories. I cringe about others, but even those are memories. And those memories are recorded here for you and me to see and remember. So as this year is coming to a close and we begin to reflect on what has been and start thinking about what will be next year, this blog is on my mind. I am happy with what I have written because it was good stuff. I am happy with my One Word for this year, rest. I think have done well with that. I even thought about keeping it for next year because I need to remind myself to rest so often.

But more than just reminding myself to rest, I need to remind myself that I am living a story. Some days I live it well and some days I live it poorly. This blog really does help me live it well. I know I want to encourage people with this blog. In order to do that, I have to look out for stories of encouragement in my life. I can't look at a situation and only focus on the negative in that situation. I have to see some positive because I'm going to be back here telling you guys about that positive.

I'm going to be honest. Right now, my positivity sucks! I'm not positive. I'm not the light I have been called to be. I'm a dark complaining void of a person who is caught up in all the 'if you just did it my way' thinking that I should be getting rid of. Hello, Romans 12:2. I think we need to be friends again.

So here I am again saying thank you for sticking with me and I promise to do better. Not just for you, but also for me. I need to do better here because these stories make me a better person in my real life. Feel free to call me out if I'm not spending time here with you guys because that probably means, I'm not being the person I need to be in real life either.

Love you all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What NaNoWriMo Success Means To Me

I have attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo since 2012. I had heard of it before that, but was too scared to try. In 2012, I got to 30,000 words. However, I had a huge section of the story that I hated. In 2013, I got about 32 words. So yeah, I basically forgot about it, but I was pregnant and stuff like that happens when one is pregnant. So this year I wanted to participate, but October was closing and I had nary an idea. I had all the characters, like 9, I had created in an attempt at the 31 days of blogging. Surely in 9 characters there would be an idea somewhere. But no. There wasn't one idea.

Then we went to lunch at Wendy's as a family on October 31. As I sat there waiting on our food, I looked around at the people eating there. I wondered what their stories were. I saw some by themselves reading. I heard frustrated conversations. I heard laughter. There were people of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic statuses there. Then I got to thinking that this would be a great story. All of these people gathered in this place and then going out to finish living their stories. That was the entirety of my idea.

So the next day was a Saturday. NaNoWriMo month could not have started any better for me. Saturday morning is the one day I have a few hours to myself and no where to be. So I started writing about this diner on a highway somewhere in America. I had took some of the characters I had created and added a few new ones via a Random Name Generator. I picked a table and started writing. I didn't have a story planned for each person. I didn't even have an ending planned. I just wrote about that table until the story came to an ending point. Then I went back to another table and wrote about it until there was an end. Some characters eked out a few meager words just because I wasn't going to edit anything out. Some characters got just a few words because I hadn't really connected with them yet, but I had to get something on paper. Other characters got several pages because I started to fall in love with them. One character even got 40 pages. It is safe to say that she is my favorite. Then on November 29 I crossed the finish line! I wrote just over 50,000 words.



So after a month of writing and planning (Yes I did them in that order most of the time.), I learned a few things. NaNoWriMo is about writing. I have to have words before I can edit them. And that is where most of my problem lies. I start editing in my head before I have the words written. So I need to stop listening my inner editor and just write. The words have to be there before the editing.

I also learned that I am a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. I like not knowing where the story is going. The more I plan the less I want to actually write. And if I don't know where the story is going and there is no plan, then my inner editor can't tell me not to write it.

Editing is important, but not as important as the writing. Now that I am done with the novel, I know there are several places that need to be trimmed away and there are places that need to be filled out. There are characters I need to make less harsh and monologues that need to become dialogues. There are large sections of telling that need to be more showing. And I'm excited about doing that. I'm excited to go back and fix these things and make a better story. Now that the words are on paper, I don't have to stress about them. They are there, now I can just focus on making them better.

NaNoWriMo success = writing breakthrough.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to get Free Books and More

You may or may not know that I have another blog where I review books and post some creative stuff as well. I am currently participating in the 31 Days Challenge and blogging about 31 different characters that I have created, but not written into any stories yet. So click over and enjoy that. You can also snoop around and see some of the books I have read.

You will notice many of them are from the website Story Cartel. Story Cartel is pretty awesome because they give you free books! You get the book for free if you post an honest review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, etc. You read it and tell other people what you think and you get free books. And that's not all.

You get other free stuff too!





Last month I got this box of great stuff for book readers. A classic novel, moleskin notebooks. candles, tea, coffee, headphones, and a gift card to buy more books! I reviewed a book and was entered in the giveaway. And I won! Even the box they sent it in is cute!  How amazing are these people!

(In case you can't tell by the exclamation points, I'm really excited about it.)

So go check them out, get some free books, review them and get free stuff. It really doesn't get any better.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

River's Deep by Erin Keyser Horn

If you have been around here or my Facebook page for any length of time, you know that I love the books this lady writes. So this one is no exception. In fact I love it so much that I'm going to post a review on here and on my other blog site.

RIVER'S DEEP front cover


So here we go with my review praise. (I might as well be honest.)

The character of Kasia  is one of my favorite people. She is honest and fierce in her love of people and protection of them. She is not afraid of the truth, but isn't always willing to share this truth with others. It is that protection thing again. She is trying to find faith, but has trouble loving herself  to believe God can help her. Thankfully she has a strong group of friends around her to push her to be better. Blay, Jen, and Scott never back down from the challenge. They are with Kasia every step of the way. These 4 people will make you believe in love, friendship, faith, and hard work.

The author, Erin Keyser Horn, did an amazing job with this book. She was not afraid to take her characters to hard places and push them through to become better people. The characters don't have an easy journey in front of them, but they really have no other choice. They have to walk through this. Sometimes as a reader it is hard to read as characters go though the hard stuff. This is not one of those books. They go through the hard stuff and we can read that without drowning in the pain. And for me, that is huge!

Some might be hesitant to read a book about the supernatural and God. You shouldn't be! Horn does a fabulous job balancing faith and fantasy. The characters of Slavic mythology fit into the rivers of Illinois and the overall Christian worldview. Some might find the final battle to be telegraphed, but I would disagree with that. The enemies are compelling characters and the heroes areas well. You care about who wins and who loses. The how doesn't matter as much as the who.

The who is the best part of Erin Keyser Horn's novel. These characters will become your friends and you will want to come back and visit them several times.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

You can buy it here. And you should buy it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 9-6

You may have noticed that I haven't posted a Good Stuff Saturday in a while. I find that I have less time to read blogs these days. So this might become a monthly feature instead of weekly.

Photos

Blue!
Flames and trees
Beautiful land
Bear swimming
Fall beauty
Mountains

A good reminder that what we say and do can make a difference.

This one really made me think about brokenness and holding on.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Musically Significant Moment

Thanks to today's post from Carl's blog I have a story to tell.


Photo Credit: Chris Moore

This is the story of the day I discovered Jimmy Buffet.

As a grown up looking back on my childhood, I have a few snapshots in my mind of various events. There is the first time I remember throwing up, my Pink Panther cake, and waking up from the surgery on my adenoids. But today's story is the day I discovered Jimmy Buffet.

It was Father's Day around 1986. Well it was before Father's Day. My mom took my brother and I to a record store. Do you remember what those were back in the day when we actually bought physical copies of music albums? Anyway my mom was a brave woman and took a 5 year old and a 3 year old to a music store. I remember being in awe of all the albums they had in the store. I was equally in awe with my mom for being able to go right to the one that she wanted. I had no clue how she managed to pick that one album out of all the ones they had in that massive store.

She went right The Last Mango in Paris. It was a black background with some red words on it by a man named Jimmy Buffet. The words seemed fantastical. I couldn't imagine what story would bring mangoes and Paris together. I couldn't even imagine what a mango was or what Paris was. Who was this person that could use such fun words like mango and Paris in a song? And what were the other songs like?

I'm sure within a day or two we gifted the present to my dad and I know we listened to that tape a lot in the coming years on vacation especially. To this day that is one of my favorite albums. It brings me back to when I was kid and reminds me that songs can tell stories too.

Here are a couple of the amazing songs from this album.




Friday, September 5, 2014

Dear Maggie

Dear Maggie,

I work at Discovery this year. As I have told people where I work, they say, "Isn't that where that teacher...?" They never finish their sentence because the words are too hard to say out loud. The words are even too hard to say in my head.

This week was your birthday. We celebrated at Discovery. We wore pink ribbons and pink clothes because that was your favorite color. They were hoping to get enough cupcakes for everyone to have one. That's about 200. We had 800. That's a lot of cupcakes because there's a lot of love for you. You may not be there physically, but you are there. Your words and guidance still echo through the halls. Your actions still influence our decisions. You seem to roam the halls of the building like a guardian angel watching out for all of us.

Working at Discovery has reinforced an idea that has been roaming around my brain. I am sad that I never really got to know you. I saw you around district functions. I could tell from the way that you carried yourself that you were a good teacher. I could tell that you really cared about the kids. Now I have heard from so many people that you were a really good person too. I find myself missing you even though I never really knew you. I am left with a quote from a student, "Today we celebrate how beautiful she was and how beautiful she made us all feel."

Thank you for making us all feel more beautiful even if we didn't really know you.

Andrea





Monday, September 1, 2014

Beyond Uganda

I recently discovered a company that does good in the world and provides good stuff.

Beyond Uganda


They have purses, stuffed animals, backpacks, and more. They provide training for women in Uganda who then make the items that are sold. With the money they make the women can then buy the sewing machine they are using and eventually go into business for themselves. They also sponsor children that most other sponsor organizations would not. Often the children they sponsor are orphans or handicapped in one way or another. All of that is exciting and I needed a backpack, so I ordered one. I waited to get some confirmation that it was shipped and I didn't get any. So after a few weeks I emailed to ask about it.

I got a SUPER nice email in response that my order had been overlooked as the team had just returned from Uganda at the time of my order. They sent my backpack out right away, but they didn't stop there. They sent me 4 other products because of the delay. How nice is that! I was blown away by the gesture. Then one day last week I actually got my backpack. It is padded and absolutely perfect for me to tote around my work computer. Even the straps are padded so when I have papers to grade in it, they won't hurt my shoulders.




The little purse I got is perfect for my church needs. I never carry a full purse to church because I have to carry a diaper bag and sometimes a bag for the Bibles and other whatnots. I don't need a full purse on top of it. The purse fits my phone, my keys, a couple cards I might need, a pen, chapstick, and my little notebook. It is padded as well.



The little stuffed giraffe is so cute!! I can't wait to order an elephant as well.



I also got a beaded necklace and earrings as well, but I don't have a good picture of them yet. And with the necklace, I got a little card that told me about the woman who made it. A few more things that these amazing people do. They provide clean water as well as educational grants and a classroom adoption program. What don't they do is probably a better question?

So go to http://www.beyonduganda.org and check out all of the stuff they do and the stuff that you can buy. And then support them if you can. They are nice people doing great work.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 8-30

 

Life has been crazy with getting ready to go back to school and actually going back to school the last two weeks. I have some great blog posts in my head and I might even get them written down this coming week. Thanks for being patient.

Photos

Island in Maine, Aspen trees, Disney Princes


Articles

Maybe we are supposed to be over the Ferguson tragedy by now, but my heart is still breaking for the whole thing.  These are not the definitive words on the situation, but they spoke to me. And this too. I just keep hoping and praying that as a teacher I can do something to make a difference.

When Ferguson, Iraq, depression, murder, missing, diseased, and death get to be too much and threaten to overwhelm me, I can find a little happiness and a little hope in Disney.  Frozen: the feels, Anna and Kristoff, Hans. And this song.

Less liking is a good thing

Small colleges are too.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 8-16


Photos
Norway, Tea fields, Waterfall

Articles
Patience - I'm not so good at that.

Depression isn't for the weak.

Pray for who?

Hashtags are fun.

And among all of the other horrible things that have gone on this week, to me this one seems to be the one that needs to be discussed most.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heavy Laden

There has been a lot going on in the world lately, as well as my world. The genocide in Iraq, the racial issues in Ferguson, the murder of a teacher, a teenage runaway, the response to Robin Williams' suicide, the poorly dealt with state of mental health in this country, a friend in pain, a friend struggling with addiction, my son starting kindergarten, a sort of new assignment for me at work. Those are in no particular order because they are all swimming through my head and heart.

It has all left me feeling hopeless and helpless. I doubt there is anything I can really do as a middle class white American living in a small city in North Carolina. I don't think my prayers are strong enough. I'm not sure that God is big enough to fix it soon. I worry about all of those that will suffer before these problems are fixed. It is enough to make me want to just sit and cry. There is an overwhelming amount of pain. It takes my breath away, but it also takes my hope away. Life is hard. Then we add the injustices forced upon so many to the difficulties of simply living and I just want to curl up in a dark place and forget about it all.

I wish I had a positive thought to end on, but I don't. I'm heavy laden today and leaning on God.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Failure Sucks

 Photo Credit: Dimitris Papazimouris


This week has been a rough one. It wasn't one of those weeks that you expect to be rough. It was one that sneaks up on you. It creeped behind me just out of sight and just out of reach. More than one my husband has asked me if everything is okay this week. I've said that I'm just tired. And I thought that was it. I was just tired.

And last night in the middle of the night I realized that I'm not okay this week. I feel like a failure. Not like I just failed at one thing, but I've failed at multiple things. The failure is quickly followed by guilt. I think of all the people I have let down with my failure. And I start thinking of all the things that should have been and now aren't because of my failure. I start believing that my failure can't be rectified and that the whole course of events on the earth have been changed because of my failures.

Yes that sounds over dramatic, but lets be honest. In our moment of failure when the chains of what could have been are hanging heavily on us, aren't we all over dramatic. There are plenty of cute sayings about the good that failure does in our lives. And we know those words in our heads, but our hearts don't believe a word of it. Our hearts aren't looking for optimism. Our hearts are hurting because we found out that we are not the person that we thought we were. We didn't live up to a standard that was set before us. Often it was a standard that we set up for ourselves.

So here I am at the end of the week. I am not okay. I feel sad. Several things didn't go the way that I had planned on them going. To me that feels like failure, but maybe it isn't. Maybe it is God reminding me that it isn't about me or my plan. It's about Him and His plan. So today I'm going to take some time and look at all the things are going right. I'm going to give myself some grace and I'm going to attack some things with renewed vigor.

I might be a little down, but I'm not out.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 8-2



Photos:

Penguins, Nature reclaiming its territory, Green and more green

Articles:

Famous Castaways - It isn't as unusual a phenomenon as you would think.

Planning where you are headed. That is a rather new idea to me. But make sure I am planning in the light.

We are now fighting over kids sharing? Really? These thoughts make sense to me.

Just who is a slave and who is free? Good question.

It does my heart good to hear someone speak so normally about beauty.

Parenting is hard and then going to a different culture. She is brave.

I love these thoughts about God and school.

The world is heavy with anger and darkness, but it doesn't end that way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Doubts about Motherhood: Sleeping


Photo Credit: David J. Laporte

Sleeping is probably the most hotly contested issue surrounding newborns. Everyone has an opinion and most people are certain that their opinion is the right one and the only right one at that. Many mothers, myself included, feel shamed into silence. At least for me, I'm going to be silent no more.

In my lifetime the recommendations of the best thing to do have changed a lot. When I was a kid, babies slept on their tummies. Then sometime in my teenage years I think, babies slept on their side. And now as an adult, babies sleep on their back. All of this information and the tips that parents get from various people in their life can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And on top of all of that, your newborn isn't sleeping!

I firmly believe that parental 'instinct' is really the voice God. God formed your child in your womb. If he made your newborn, then he knows what makes them tick. He know the quirks about them and he will share those things with you. So when your instinct tells you this kid doesn't want to be swaddled and hates his bassinet because he doesn't wants his arms free and doesn't want to touch anything when he stretches out (Ben), then God just gave you a hint about your child. When your instinct tells you this kid loves a blanket to sleep with because she wants to be cozy and has something to grab (Lily), then God just gave you a hint about your child.

Those hints can go a long way in figuring out what sleeping arrangement is best for your child. Every child is different and their specific needs are different. You can ask your relatives, your friends, and your pediatrician. They will all probably give you different answers. All of those answers can't be right for your child. In fact, none of those answers might be right for your child. After you have gathered many ideas and opinions, then ask God which one of them is best for your child. Asking others for their opinion is not a bad thing, but make sure you are able to detach their opinion from their attitude. If you can't, don't ask.

With a newborn, sleep is precious and you often don't get enough of it. When you don't get enough sleep, your normal ability to handle people and situations is lowered and your stress level is higher. So don't put yourself in a situation to get more stress. Do put yourself in a situation to get more help. Ask family or friends to help out with the baby for a few hours or a night, so you can get some rest. The more tired you get, the more exhausted you are and when you are exhausted you are more dangerous. Ask for help and get some rest.

Now that you are asking for help and you are rested, you can figure out the exact combination of things to help your child sleep. For example, Ben slept with us in our bed for two or three months. Then he slept in his car seat that was in his crib for a month or so. And finally he transitioned to sleeping in his crib on his belly with nothing around him. Lily slept in her bassinet for about half of the night and finished the night sleeping on my chest on the couch. We did this for a couple weeks. She then slept in her car seat in her crib for a few more weeks. And by 6 weeks old she was sleeping in her crib on her back on top of a pillow with a blanket over her.

Yes I have broken 'rules' with both of my children. I haven't worried about it either because I trusted what God was telling about my child was more important than the general rules that are given by society. What works for my children may not work for your children.

I am NOT advocating one particular method to help your baby sleep.

I am advocating for you to listen to God.
I am advocating for you to ask for help.
I am advocating for you to get some sleep.

I think those things are what is best for you and your child. After you have done those things, then you can work out the best way to help your child sleep.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Place of Wonder and Magic


Photo Credit: TechSoup for Libraries'

I have been hesitant to tell this story. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe some stories and some moments are so special that they lose something in the telling, so we keep it to ourselves. So I have been keeping this one to myself, but I don't think I should keep it to myself. So today I'm going to tell you about going to the public library with Ben.

The above library is the library we go to. There are others around, but this one has a special something ... a puppet theater! Ben loves puppets, so this is a pretty hands down winner for us. So we go to the library and I get to pick out a book or four and then we go to the kids section and Ben plays in the puppet house. We took a very long break that was filled with Lily. And in the last few weeks we have gone several times.

The library has always been a wonderful place for me to go. Growing up the public library in town was a few blocks from my house. I often walked or rode my bike up there. I went there to do homework and find new books to discover. The staff were so kind and lovely. I fell in love with the shelves, the smell of the books, the crinkle of the covers. Then I went to college and discovered the stacks and wanted to build a fort in there and hide away from the world.

Now as a mother, I'm going back to the library and sharing the wonder and magic with my kids. (Well, I'm not sure Lily really gets it, but still.) Ben goes with me through the shelves to find the books I want to check out and he is a little antsy because he wants to get to the puppets. He knows on book visits that we get books first, so he puts up with it. However, there are times that I take him for non-book visits. Those are times when he can go and play right away. Often while he is playing in the puppet house other kids will come by and play as well. It does my heart good to see him play with so many different kids. Kids of different ethnic backgrounds, kids of different races, kids of different ages, kids of different socioeconomic stature. We see a little bit of everyone in there and he plays with them all. There are a couple other stations that he plays at, but the puppets are hands down his favorite.

So right there amongst the worlds hidden inside the covers of the books, Ben is discovering a creative world of his own alongside kids of all types. The public library really is a wonderful and magical place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 7-19



Look at this:
Zebras, Horse Mommies, Venice Reflections, Amazing Climbing, Autumn, Sunbird, Cloudy Bridge

Read this:
This nearly made me cry. Having a daughter is so much more than I thought it would be.

This made me want to jump around and say Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

This one made me stop and think about stuff in my life.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reflection on a Decade

As of Thursday July 3rd, my husband and I have been married for 10 years. I can't believe it has been 10 years. It simultaneously seems too long and too short. As I look back to our first year or so together. I can't believe we were so young and stupid. I can believe we made it. There were a couple bad fights, but we came away from those thinking how stupid we were and communicating better.

I suppose I should have some wise advice and caring words. But I really don't know what to say. I love him more now than before because it is more real than it was 10 years ago. I love myself better because of the love he has given me. And there is no one else with whom I would rather spend this time.

So I will give you guys a few photos.










Monday, July 14, 2014

One Word Update: Rest

My 2014 word of the year: Rest



In an effort to rest more, I find myself doing less and spending more time with family. I am finding ways to worry less like using Wunderlist for my to do list. It has been rather freeing. I find that I am more confident in myself. I am happier with the things I accomplish. I feel more confident in what am I doing. I accomplish quite a bit in one day because I am doing lots of little things around the house. So maybe that doesn't seem like a
lot of rest, but rest on some areas had given me the ability to do more in other areas.

However as I reach the halfway point, my heart isn't at rest. It is torn into several pieces by what people are suffering. There had been so much heartache around me. A murdered teacher, a missing teen, a family from Canada that is missing, the family that lost their toddler because he went to play in the car, and more. Admittedly many of those things are in the background and don't weigh on me at all times, but Maggie, the teacher, and Megan, the teen, are with me constantly.

But if I wasn't at a place of rest physically and even spiritually, I wouldn't be able to handle these things. I wouldn't feel that my prayers are enough. I wouldn't know that even through the pain God is in control and has a plan to use these things for good. Don't get misunderstand me. My heart is broken, but my hope is not lost.

My time of rest has restored my faith in God's timing and my ability to serve my family. My time of rest has restored my faith in God's supremacy even in the bad times.
Rest has been healing and freeing. I am ready for rest of this year.




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Doubts About Motherhood: Meltdowns

Crying is okay here. from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 A National Acrobat, Flickr | CC-BY  | via Wylio

Ben had a dentist appointment today. Confession: We are awful teeth parents. So this appointment was not a regular check up. It was for two fillings after having a tooth extraction last month. He did awesome at the extraction, but I think this time he knew what was coming and therefore was afraid. Or Mommy was with him and he really wanted Daddy. Or maybe some of both. He basically screamed the whole time and only one filling got done. The dentist was getting frustrated and I was worrying about Ben and the dentist and the other kids in the office and Ben.

Kids have meltdowns sometimes. They worry about stuff and have bad days because they are sick or tired. I doubt that there is a mother alive who had not experienced a meltdown. Some days those meltdowns happen at home, but more often than not they happen in public. Then what do you do?

Personally, I am always torn. Ben needs to know how to behave in public even on bad days. However he also needs to know how to work out stressful stuff. So I can't simply tell him to hush or else. I don't want to tell him that either. That isn't a healthy response to stress. He can't just bury it and go on about life. So he needs some comforting and some talking. After that he might need to be told to hush and not wallow in it. I have to make sure my response to his meltdown is about him and not me. I can't respond out of embarrassment.

I don't call these times tantrums because these are responses to stress, sickness or fear. Tantrums are responses to not getting my way. Ben has those too and he gets disciplined for those. Tantrums and meltdowns are not the same. Every mother knows the difference between her child's tantrum and her child's meltdown. It does not make you a bad parent that your child has a meltdown. It does not mean there is something terribly wrong with your child. It just means your child is having a bad day. It happens to all of us, but children don't know how to deal with it. So as a parent, I need to help him deal with those. I am comfortable with this. What am I not comfortable with is what everyone else is thinking while I'm trying to help Ben through it. I don't worry about it to the point of abandoning one of my most cherished parenting beliefs. It is just a worry that bounces around my head. I doubt that other people really understand what I'm doing or appreciate that I am parenting good in that moment.

So if you see one of my children crying or maybe even acting out and I'm not disciplining them, now you know why.
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Previous posts in this series:
Breastfeeding
Pain Medicine
Identity
Self-Care
Too Much

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Ben View

Last week I talked about Lily. So it only seems fair to talk about Ben this week.

Photo: Loving church fellowship.

One of the things that I love most about Ben is his acting ability. He watches his favorite shows or movies, at the moment Lilo and Stitch, Jessie, and Lake County Captains Mascot, Skipper and Skippy, videos, in order to memorize scenes. He then uses his stuffed animals, which he calls puppets, to act out that scene. This past week was VBS, so his puppets were singing the VBS songs. When we go in car anywhere, he starts quoting one of the above shows. Sometimes that can be a problem because I think he is talking to me about something. I'll turn down the radio and ask him to speak up over the road noise. Then he tells me that he was talking to Lilo and Stitch or to Bertram or to Skipper.

Sometimes he needs participation in these scenes. So Drew or I have to play along with him. When we do this, we have to get the lines right for the scene AND we have to enunciate everything right. So if it is Lilo and Stitch, then we have to make sure we have a slight Hawaiian accent when we are speaking. The enunciation includes his version of the words. So when he hears Evan Too Debashedy, it is the correct version. It certainly could not be EvanTube HD.

Another couple things about Ben's view on the world:

There are rules and everyone should follow them. So he reminds us of the rules or his classmates. He tries to be nice about it most of the time.

Recently he has become much more vocal about what he is learning at church and his prayer requests. Some very sweet ones. For instance, "my sister who fell out of her stroller" or Nana or another family member. Some funny ones. For instance, his stuffed animals, Rocky and Alicia, the sock monkeys, or a character on TV, Cena and Rollins who won the championship and Money in the Bank.

And one final thought about Ben. At PawPaw's house, he has a little pool. He 'dives' off of the stone bench next to it. He has taken to naming all of his dives. I think there is a 'hug dive', a 'Superman dive', a 'witch dive', and many more.

He is a remarkable little boy. We are very blessed to have been given the opportunity to raise him. God is so very good to us.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 6-28


Photos:

Cogsworth is just lovely. And so are dolphins and elephants and lighthouses.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Articles:

This idea is genius. We have do to do this at our house.
Sometimes we make rash decisions in the name of faith. But maybe caution would be better.
There is hope for us to make a difference for those in poverty. We must keep trying.
It is good to know that teacher theories are correct.
Lebron's legacy- It isn't what you think.

And finally, Michelle was wonderful this week.

Time is tricky thing. There is simultaneously too much and not enough.
Being weird is a bad thing, but we all are, so maybe it isn't so bad.




Thursday, June 26, 2014

Doubts about Motherhood: Too much

Mourning mother from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 jinterwas, Flickr | CC-BY  | via Wylio
As a mother you hear some odd things. One of the oddest things I have heard or maybe it is something I tell myself. I can't really place where these ideas have come from.

It is the idea of too much. If you hold a baby too much, you will spoil her. If you play with a child too much, he won't learn to play on their own.

But not all too much things are bad. If you give him too much sugar, it will rot his teeth. If you react to every tiny incident, she won't mature.

We need to be disciplined about some things, but other things require us to loosen up a bit and maybe even go so far as to have fun with them. How do we know when is the time to be disciplined or if it is time to loosen up?

I wish I knew!!

Ben has had some major tooth issues recently. I know part of it is our fault because there are times, maybe even lots of times, that we forget to have him brush his teeth. I know we don't say no often enough to sugar. So I have tried to be more disciplined about his teeth, but should I say no to all sugar? We had extra eggs and I made cookies. It is VBS week and of course there is candy involved. How much of that is okay and how much is a problem?

Lily is pretty great about going to bed at night. We can put her down and she'll just drift off to sleep. However, naps are a different story. Sometimes we walk with her to get her to sleep. A part of me wonders if we are doing the right thing. We did that with Ben and he isn't very good about going to sleep. Are we holding her too much or giving in to her by walking with her?

Ben does a pretty great job of playing by himself. He also does a pretty great job of playing with other kids. We are super blessed that he is so creative and so great socially. But some days he wants to play with mommy or daddy all time. He seems attached to our hips on those days. Those days I wonder how much playing with him is okay? How much indulging in his attachment is healthy?

Lily is a girl, obviously. That comes with a whole host of supposed traits and a lot of very real baggage. I'm already starting to wonder about just when this drama queen act is supposed to start. Is there something I"m doing wrong now? Like when I think it is cute that she wrinkles her nose and whines when she is bored or wants to be picked up, is that a problem? Is that somehow unknowingly creating a drama queen? Or maybe am I right that if I don't give in to drama that she will see that from me and avoid it herself?

How much is too much? How much is not enough?

And probably the most important question: How much am I over-thinking this whole thing?
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Previous posts in the series:

Breastfeeding
Pain Medicine
Identity
Self-Care

Monday, June 23, 2014

Adventures in Lily



Pretty much everyone I have ever talked to about babies is amazed that they have such a personality at such a young age. There are certain things that are particular to a child even in the womb. One thing about Lily is her hands. She is always grabbing something or playing with her hands. Even in the womb her hands were going all the time. And as she was being born, her left hand was right up by her face.

And over the course of the last 3 months we have learned other things that are particular to Lily. She is proud of herself for learning new things. When she learned to hold her head up, she wanted to be held for two or three days, so she could show you that she could hold her head up. She has learned to make zerbert noises. She can entertain herself for several minutes at a time making those noises provided that you are looking at her. She also manages to get drool and spit all over herself in the process, but she is proud of herself and wants to let you know.

She is trying to so hard to keep up with her brother. She wants to walk so badly.
She is completely madly in love with her dad. More than once she has whined until Daddy picks her up.
She finds Ben fascinating. Most of the time when he talks, she will turn her head to catch every word.
She is a foodie. You can see her visibly relax and settle in to take her bottle.
She doesn't like trying new food things. She didn't like using a bottle at first, nor is she fond of a spoon.
She wrinkles her nose when she smiles.

One final story.

This past week when she slipped out of her stroller she was a trooper. It was one of those spilt second things. My husband unbuckled her from the stroller and reached to pick up the diaper bag. That was all it took for her wigglies to wiggle her right out. She hit her head on the pavement and scared us all half to death. Praise God that a good friend of ours was working in the ER, so when my husband, son and mother-in-law arrived it was a friendly and calming face that they saw. By the time I got away from work and saw her, she didn't have a bruise or a knot. She only had the tiniest of scrapes. So tiny that you can't even see it in the picture above. I'm not sure that she even knows anything bad happened to her. She didn't want anything special. No extra hugs or cuddles. Nothing. She has just gone about her life as always.

She is a rather remarkable little girl. We are very blessed to have been given the opportunity to raise her. God is so very good to us.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 6-21


Photos:
Owl baby, Norway, Elephants, 1920's swimsuit

Articles:

I have always wondered about this.

This list makes me so happy.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Everyone needs to be saying this more often.

This list made me laugh.

I need to remember this, so I can tell myself and Lily.

This one was a gut check to me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Doubts About Motherhood: Caring For Me

So I have been discussing some of the doubts I have encountered as a mother. I have discussed:

Breastfeeding
Pain Medicine
Identity


This week I'm going to talk about caring for me.

'Relax 51/52 2011' photo (c) 2011, Janet Ramsden - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
This one is hard for me. I really struggle with taking time for myself. I'm sure most mothers and frankly  most parents struggle with this. Even taking time for a long bath feels wrong. It feels like I am ignoring my kids and burdening my husband. He works from home and is with them so much time everyday. I want to be able to help him out and give him some time to himself. I feel selfish for focusing on me.

But when I take that long bath and put the 10 minute face cleanser on, I feel more relaxed. I feel ready to really be there with my family. When I take some time to relax with a good book or take a few extra minutes to fix myself a good breakfast, I feel more present with them. I don't feel like I'm scattered all over the place.

So which is more beneficial:

Taking care of me and then being really present with my family

Or

Being physically with them, but mentally stressed and scattered?

I think we all know the answer to that one. But actually living out that answer is so much harder than just saying the right thing. I have to remind myself multiple times that it is okay to go take a bath. It is okay to take a few minutes to read. It is okay to take time away for myself. I don't need to feel guilty or selfish.

I am still a good mother if I need a 30 minute bath. I'm still a good mother if I take an extra 10 minutes after work to sit quietly in my classroom with a book or a game. I'm still a good mother I go to bed early because I am exhausted after a long day. I'm still a good mother if I like going to work because it lets me be something other than a mother.

So for all of those of you like me out there, repeat after me:
I am still a good mother.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Good Stuff Satruday 6-14


Photos:

Mountains in China, Mountains in Italy, Fireflies, Swans

Reading Material:

This is the way I want to live my life.

A little bit of my husband's story.

It is hard to reconcile all the parts of me and figure out who I am. This seems to be good advice.

This is an amazing young woman with an amazing story. Read it and help if you can.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Doubts about Motherhood: Who am I?

A few weeks ago I started a new series about doubts I have faced or have heard others face as mothers. So far we have discussed:
Breastfeeding
Pain Medicine

'Who I Am?' photo (c) 2007, Tony Hall - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

This week might sound like an odd one, but it is something that I have worried about and then I've worried about worrying about it.

I worry about saying that I am a mother because if I say it and claim it on this blog and other places in my life, then that will limit me to just being a 'mommy blog' and not being able to contribute to other conversations. I love being a wife and mother. I love my family, so my reluctance has nothing to do with how I feel about them. On the contrary, how I feel about them has to do with my reluctance.

I worry that about inviting people to get too close. I want some things to be just us, to be sacred.

I also worry about alienating non mothers who read my blog. I don't want them to feel like they don't belong in this space with me.

I worry about being categorized as just a mom. Because it feels like people won't value my opinion as much. It makes me feel like people see me as an airhead when I am 'just a mom'.

I don't want to simply define myself as a mom. I don't want to limit my experiences that I share here and in life to only mom experiences. I want to be valued for more than just the fact that I have two kids.

And quite frankly I worry about becoming one of those perpetually happy moms that always have everything together and even when they are pouring out their heart it is still all together.

I want to share the messy times. I don't want to be unapproachable. I wasn't too be a mom and a woman. I want to be realistic and optimistic. I wasn't too be intelligent and goofy. And yes of course on paper, I can be all that. Today I can be alall that. But what about next week when I forget to fight? What about in real life?

I just keep talking to God about it all and try to listen to him more than myself.