Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Father's House: In Search of a Lost Past by Matthew Carr

Let me start this review by saying that I have not finished the book yet. Story Cartel wanted me to post my review by May 1, so I'm going to share my impressions so far. When I finish, I will post another review. Having a newborn and a 5 year old and a full time job doesn't leave a lot of time to read! Even though I have not finished, I do have a lot to say about the book.

  Available at: Amazon

So far a few things have impressed me about this book:

The Setting 
I love reading about new places. So when I read that this was set in Guyana, I was ready to pick it up. Being a Spanish teacher, I have studied and read quite a bit about South America. However, Guyana was never included in that. This book is helping to fill in that knowledge gap. Carr does a good job of giving a history of Guyana without overwhelming the reader with details and background that derails the story. I am looking forward to learning more about this small and complicated country as I finish reading.

His Courage
I think it takes great courage to embrace the fact that parents are actual people. It is so easy to feel like the entirety of your parent's world is wrapped up in you. Carr courageously faces the fact that other people knew his dad differently than he did. That may not seem like a big deal, but the disparity between who he knew his dad to be, an abusive alcoholic who became an absent father, and who others knew him to be, a fascinating professor and political advocate, is a wide gulf that many would not have courage to cross. As he is hearing this disparate accounts, he takes them in and genuinely considers how these stories have an affect on who his father was. He does not shy away from any stories and he is very honest about the struggle he has to make all these facts fit into one human.

The Search
As you would imagine attempting to reconstruct the life and psyche of a person after they are gone is not easy. It involves lots of discussions with many different people. Carr does not get bogged down in details about the people he is interviewing, but he does not completely ignore their personal interest in his father either. He balances who the person is with what their information is. So we are introduced to a vast number of people with very different stories without becoming confused about what is going on.

One minor note of caution
This book is not one that can be read with distractions. The information and writing style is such that it takes focus to understand and enjoy the material. For me personally, I love that aspect of it. However, it does mean that my reading time is cut down. I have to make sure that everyone else is in bed or that I am by myself to find the time to read it. So don't expect to pick it up and start reading it in the middle of your busy day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 4-26

Photos: A pony, Paris from the water, jellyfish, the sky, lightning, a few cool looking places, some rocks

It is important to say some things out loud. Like this and this .

Confronting, resting, and preparing. These were things that I needed to hear this week.

I really think I'm going to print this for my students to read.

And a poem that really spoke to me

Friday, April 25, 2014

Meeting the Tooth Fairy

I want to write something, but I have gotten out of the habit of capturing ideas and pondering them until they form words. So I think about what has been happening in my life recently and there is nothing extraordinary. It is just daily living.

I have gotten into a habit of taking a photo a day and posting it on Instagram. I've grown quite fond of Instagram. Even though my photos are not award winning and mostly of my kids, I take them anyway. As I look back though, I find that they are better than I thought they were. So maybe my writing is that way too. In that spirit I'm  going to tell a story from yesterday just to tell a story. There's no deeper meaning or bigger context.

Having 2 kids had helped me be a better mother to the one I already had. When the baby is asleep, I seek out the 5 year old and we play. It had been so great to connect with him in a while new way. However when the baby is awake, things are not so wonderful. I find myself saying 'no' and 'don't touch her' a lot I also .find myself feeling guilty a lot. So when he goes off to play by himself while I am trying to put her to sleep, I rejoice. I don't worry about what he is doing or the mess he could making.

Yesterday, I should have worried.

I can't even remember how I knew there was a problem. I don't know if he yelled out or if I heard him crying. Either way I headed to the back of the house skeptical
about the severity his need. I got you the bathroom and he said, "I broke my tooth." I went immediately into panic mode and my brain cleared of any rational thought. I yelled for my husband as I got a wet washcloth to help stop the blood. We both questioned him about where he was and what he was doing. Eventually we ascertained that he was in his room and attempted to open a Play-Doh container with his teeth while he was ironically playing with the Play-Doh dentist set he got for his birthday.

Drew went to go find the tooth while I tried to keep him calm. After finding the tooth, the possibility of him losing his first tooth crossed my mind, but I dismissed it. We called the dentist to make an appointment. Then tried to figure out where we were going to get the money to pay for the visit. We also called Nana because anytime something goes wrong we call her. She has an amazing ability to stay calm and figure out what to do next. We went to her house and she looked at the tooth. She thought it was his first lost tooth. She also talked to him about the tooth fairy and good dental hygiene. V (See isn't she amazing.)

We canceled the emergency appointment and scheduled a regular visit in a week or so. We also managed to convince him that the tooth did not need to go back in his mouth. And after a little more time, I even got a good picture.

The Tooth Fairy did visit last night. She got his baby tooth and checked to see that he had been brushing his teeth and driving his milk. He passed the test and got a Hot Wheels car in return.

I was not prepared to meet the Tooth Fairy quite so soon. All these parenting milestones just keep sneaking up on me. I keep hoping I will get better at being prepared for them. Maybe the second time around I will be. Until then, I will keep depending on my husband, my parents, and in-laws. I'm so glad that I'm not doing this alone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#DangerDays Guest Post: The Danger Of Staying Home

Unfortunately, my fickle heart and scattered brain have difficulty holding on to some concepts. So when I saw someone on Instagram taking about his family moving overseas, I thought about how he was really living out a dangerous faith. Then God derailed my train of thought. He emphasized the notion that staying home can be just dangerous.

How so?

Read the rest over at Carl's blog.

And you can check out other #DangerDays stories as well.

And if you would like to share your story of living out a bold faith and being dangerous for God, contact Carl though his blog or Twitter.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 4-19

Photos of the week: Boats and Strawberries

Human trafficking is a complicated situation. Jaime does a good job of trying to talk about it the right way.

#37 on this list is something I need to tell myself every day. #3 and #7 on this list is something Drew and I could work on. #10, #11, #17 and #19 stuck out to me on this list.

So evidently, I'm like Elsa. What about you?

Losing a childhood hero isn't easy, but that hero has a family and that would be way harder.

Kim said this best and I'm so glad that she did!

I love, love, love that Jason told us the other stuff that went on during Holy Week. It makes the attitude change from Sunday to Friday make more sense.

Friday, April 18, 2014

30/30 : 12 Interesting Facts About Me

1. My grandpa influenced my eating habits. It is due to him that I put peanut butter in my chili and eat slices of American cheese by itself.

2. Speaking of food, I only eat one food at a time on my plate. I eat as much as I want of that one thing and then move on. I never knew I did that until my friend Brittany pointed it out in college.

3. I had to debate long and hats work myself before I got Lily's Yankees wrap. It was the first time I have bought a sports item from a team I am not passionately committed to. I guess I will have to become passionately committed to them.

4. Yesterday I was Facebook stalking a conversation on a friend's wall about a lost dog. Considering it was lost in Illinois I didn't need to be reading it, but I had to know if it found its home. I love a good mystery and I should probably stop stalking other people's conversations. It is a bit creepy.

5. I don't like to admit I am sick. So I try to keep going even if I shouldn't.

6. I am much more sarcastic and snarky than most people know. I keep most of those comments in my house because I don't want to be that rude in public.

7. My favorite animals are a moose and an elephant. I don't really know why.

8. I am a sucker for Carmen's songs/stories, like this one. 

9. I am a huge fan of Jessica Fletcher. I would live in Cabot Cove if I could.

10. I don't wear make up because I think it is too expensive.

11. Bacon, mushroom, and black olive is the perfect pizza.

12.I suck at selling things, but I am a Scentsy consultant because I love it that much and it is that great of a priduct.

I'm not sure if they are all interesting, but I tried to tell you new things about me. Now you can head over to Carl's blog and see what he has to say.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lessons in parenting

After being a parent for 5 years, one might think that I am used to certain things. If one thinks that they would be wrong. Having two kids makes me feel like I am starting over again. After a month, I am often still surprised that I have two kids. I feel completely inadequate to parent two kids. Actually, I feel inadequate to parent one kid.

Some things don't bother me much, like Lily crying or fussing. I know there are a handful of things to try and one of them will calm her down. So the other day when I was at the grocery store and she started crying, I wasn't worried. I knew she was hungry, so I planned to go to the bathroom to feed her. Before I got that far though, a lady came to me. She asked me if I needed any help. If she could take my cart for me or anything. Not being worried about it I said no and thanked her. Afterward it occurred to me that I suck at accepting help. Yes I could handle it by myself, but a very kind lady was offering to push my cart, so I could hold Lily. Why not do that? The only thing I can come up with is because I am too independent for my own good.

I learned a little something though because the next day when Ben, Lily, and I went to a local bakery for lunch I accepted help. I was talking to my mother in law in the car when Ben said he had to go potty. So while trying to finish the conversation, I got Ben out off the car and then got Lily out of the car. I led Ben inside while carrying Lily. Managing her and him and the door was not easy. When someone offered to get the door, I waited and accepted his help. I thanked him for the help, finished the conversation, and got Ben to the bathroom. It was much easier to manage with help. I probably need to remember that.

Since Lily arrived Ben had asked to read stories, sing songs, and rock again. He hasn't wanted that for awhile. So maybe my 5 year old isn't as old as he seems. Maybe he still needs mom and still wants some cuddle time.

Some might be wondering about how we are feeding Lily. I am breast feeding her, but she is getting some formula. I an having trouble finding time to pump. When she is sleeping and in theory I would have the time, Ben wants my attention. If I have to choose between playing with my 5 year old and formula, I'm going to pick Ben because that is the healthier choice to me.

Today Ben had been sick, so he had been sleeping a lot and also needing extra cuddles. So at one time today, I was holding Lily in my arms trying to get her to sleep while Ben was resting on my shoulder. And moments like that remind me that it is hard, but it is all worth it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 4-12

This is a light week, so you should be able to enjoy all of these links.

Photos:  Mountains, Flowers

A couple good stories. Hamburgers and service stations

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 4-5

Photos: Americans don't know Europe, Glaciers, Girls, Paris, London, Volcanoes, Snow

Church is complicated, but we have a place and we shouldn't be cynical. And sometimes the old way of doing things still works.

Sometimes we get God mixed up with our ideas or even Biblical truth or we stop talking to Him all together.

A quote I love - Walker said, ”We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. If they do, it is our duty as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children. If necessary, bone by bone.”

and several more good ones.

A picture is worth 1000 words.

A new way to look at broken things.

And a great reminder for me and others with little ones

Friday, April 4, 2014

30/30 - Where I would like to go

My friend Carl is doing this 30/30 thing on Fridays on his blog. I have wanted to join him, but haven't found the time to do it. Today I am making that time.

A couple places I would like to go to again:

1. Chicago - deep dish pizza, the Art Museum, Navy Pier, Sue the T-Rex, and some great friends. What's not to love?

2. Mexico- No particular city. Just anywhere would do. It had been several years since I have been there and I miss it.  There is an atmosphere that is just so Mexico and it feels like a home away from home. So I would like to visit my second home again.

A few places I would like to visit for the first time:

1. New York City - Pizza, Delis, Bagels, Hot dogs, and more food. I really just want to go there and eat.
2. The Greek Isles - Olives, hummus, and that gorgeous water.
3. Acadia National Park - It's in Maine and Maine is cool. The photos I have seen of this place are so amazingly gorgeous.
4. Prague - It is Europe, but it is reasonable in price. The buildings are amazing and they have apple strudel.

You may have noticed a food theme in the places I want to go. I like for and u like to visit places with good food.  It is probably a good thing I don't travel more than I do. Otherwise I would be much larger than I am now!

Traveling is really about learning how other people live and eating is a major part of living. So I want to travel and eat.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Labor Story

Warning: This will be an honest account of my labor and delivery experiences. If you don't want to know what goes on or might be freaked out, then don't keep reading.

I suppose God had popense of humor. Just about every time in my life when I told him thatdn't want to do something, He called me to that very thing. My labor and delivery have been no exception.

Everything I didn't want to happen did.  I didn't want an episiotomy, but I got one. I didn't want to tear, but I did. I didn't want an epidural, but I asked for one. I didn't want to poop on the nurse or doctor, but I did. I didn't want to pee all over the place, but I did. I didn't want back labor, but I got it.

I have long said that I don't remember the pain of giving birth. That is true. I can't but sit here and describe it for you. I remember pushing with my first child, but the pain of contractions is a void. I do remember a smidge of pain when I was getting sewn back up after my episiotomy. I think the local anesthetic was wearing off. I was in active labor for 4 hours after they broke my water and pushed for 45 minutes. most women who hear that are jealous. I had a Bible verse and a name of God to call on. Those ran through my head during the whole experience. I will freely admit that I had it easy the first time around.

The second time around was a different story. My water was broken again. This time my membranes were stripped. I did have contractions come at regular intervals. Labor started in front and then for some reason it moved to my back. That is when the pain began. My husband was right by my side again. This time applying pressure to my back to help me through the contractions. And I could not have done it without him. With his help I thought I was doing okay, then the pain moved lower and it wasn't going away. Now I know that's because it was almost time to push. Then I didn't know that.  I just knew that I couldn't keep doing this.

So I asked for an epidural. The nurse told me it might take up to half an hour. That sounded awful, but at least I had an amount of time. She left to get it ready and then suddenly I had to poop. So my mom called the nurse who basically got there in time to wipe me up. The doctor came in and suited up between my pushes. Somewhere around this time the pain had me whimpering and then screaming. The nurse thankfully was tough and told me to hold my breath and push. After a couple pushes the doctor said her head was coming through and asked if I wanted to touch it. I'm pretty sure I screamed something like, "I don't want to move." A couple pushes later she was all but out. The doctor asked if I wanted to pull her the rest of the way out. I did and that was one of the most memorable experiences in my life. I pulled her feet out and laid her on my chest. It was a bit weird to feel her umbilical cord still attached.  But she was here and the pain and pushing was fine. My mom got to cut her cord. My husband has belly button issues, so the cord is way out of his comfort zone.

A little over two weeks later I am sitting in the rocking chair with her asleep in my arms. I can not remember our describe for you the intensity of the pain. I remember the whimpering, the screaming, my husband's elbow in my back, but the actual pain memory is gone. Another thing that does remain is knowing that spiritually I was not prepared for this labor.

With Ben, I had verses and prayers prepared to get me through. This time I didn't. I thought I could handle it because I had done it before. I didn't bother asking God into the experience until I was in lots of pain. This time around labor was much harder and there are any number of reasons for that to be true. In my heart, I know I wasn't as spiritually prepared for this one. I am in no way insisting anything about either one of my children because it really doesn't have much to do with them. It is a story about how my spiritual life affected my physical body.

So when you go through some physically trying experience, invite God into it. It will work out much better that way.