Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life with 3 children

My husband has been on a trip for work so I try to make the most of the time he's away when he travels.  A lot of times I pick a household project to do, but I've felt pretty tired the past 2 months.  My body won't let me sleep past 6 am no matter what time I go to sleep and I honestly can't remember the last time I slept two nights in a row without waking.  So, maybe that's what it is =)

Anyways, I decided to finally make sure I took time with each of the girls this week.  It takes extra effort on my part to coordinate child care so I know I drag my heels some times.  But, I knew my friend had a light load at her daycare this week so it worked out perfectly.  On Tuesday, I took Autumn to Ollie's to look for activity books for this weekend and a scrapbook (which we weren't able to find), to Dunkin Donuts (I had free coupons =) ), and then to Amazing Glaze to paint pottery.  She picked a princess statue to paint.  She didn't expect it to look perfect and I felt amazed (literally) at how she did not feel stressed or pressed for time even as I did inside because I knew we had a time limit because of Eli's speech therapy apptmt.  I was thankful for God's grace to her in these things.  She thoroughly enjoyed it and spoke of what she would like to paint next year.  It was a very expensive one hour adventure, but well worth it.  I will try and take her again next year.  Then we went to Chikfila and had chicken nuggets and she had an ice dream cone on the way home.  It was an interesting morning.  I realized that I'm not very good at carrying on conversations with Autumn when it's just her and me.  This surprised me and made me realize that I really want a car next that will put all 3 kids right behind me when possible.  With the girls in the back seat, I really don't talk to them that much when we're driving (which is a good opportunity for talking =)).  Autumn missed Sami and she thought of Sami and sharing what she had with her--that's her heart.

This morning, I got to take Sami out.  I chose Storyville for her, which is like a miniature children's museum in a local library here.  We went to Dunkin Donuts first, too, because she wanted to do what Autumn had done.  She even asked for chocolate milk since Autumn had had some.  Then, we went to Storyville and spent an hour there.  She enjoyed it, but I saw how much she engages with Autumn in her play.  But, she was okay being without her and being with just me.  Then, we went to the mall and went on the MerryGoRound, the Disney Store, and to Chikfila.  She enjoyed all 3.  I was proud of her in the Disney Store.  She enjoyed looking, but didn't demand and ask for a lot of things.  I've been working with her on that.  We talk a lot about needs and wants and what we can afford =)  After the mall, we went to Big Lots in search of a horse for her.  We weren't able to find the right one, but I told her we'd go this afternoon.  So, that's where we're going to go in a few minutes--to Target for a Barbie Horse.  It was a blessing to see Sami's greatest strength--her exuberance and energy.  She has such a life in her!

I am thankful I had this time.  It is amazing to me how different my girls are from each other and yet how much they compliment each other in their differences.  Although it was very easy to go everywhere with only one child, I wouldn't trade my 3 for the world.  I do need to work on my stress level though! =)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mercy Watson

I'm always looking for good early chapter books and read alouds for the girls.  Last year, we read the first of Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series about a a pig named Mercy.  The girls enjoyed it.  I had forgotten to look for more in the series.  On Saturday we were at the library and I found an audio recording of two of the books in the series so I checked it out.

Friday night we all ended up sitting down on the couches and the chairs and listening to the story.  We all laughed and the girls were drawn in.  They loved it and it was nice family time.  Eli was in his room, though, looking at a book saying "wa wa wa" like the Peanuts teacher as if he was reading.  But, he was happy doing what he was doing.

I did get the second book for Autumn to read on her own and she has now decided that she prefers to read silently.  It's hard for me to believe she's already doing this!  So, I check her comprehension to make sure she really read the book since she tends to like to look at pictures more than words =)  But, indeed she did sit down and read through the book in about 15-20 minutes.  She knew everything that had happened.  Good for her!

I'm going to try and find some more audiobooks that we can enjoy as a family and that the girls would like to listen to.  Any suggestions for this age?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thankful for a lesson I learned a long time ago

When I first got married, my husband was in the Army.  I remember several pieces of advice that veteran Army wives shared with me.  One was to always go with your husband if you could go--even if it was only for a few months.  Make the sacrifice.  Go.  It may not be what you want, but it's the best thing for your marriage and it gives Satan the less opportunities to come between you two.

Another piece of advice really came in the form of the examples I saw.  I heard from my husband about wives who complained about their husbands' jobs and the hours and I saw it in person.  I also heard about wives who didn't complain and supported their husbands and saw examples of this.  My husband spoke to me several times about how much a wife's disposition towards the Army could affect a husband's attitude about his job.  He would mention it the course of a conversation about how bad morale was at times.  I took from that the lesson that I would strive not to complain about the demands of my husband's job.

A few weeks ago on Memorial Day, my husband had to work.  The 24 year old son in law of my host quizzed me asking if he really had to work.  He was skeptical.  I told him that indeed he did have to work that it wasn't optional, but that I'm thankful for his job.

Just a few minutes ago, my husband told me he has to work tomorrow.  I said okay.  I told him that was fine.  And the good thing is that my heart really is okay with it.  I am truly thankful that he has a job and I want to support him in the work that the Lord has set before him to do.

In the Army, there's a myth that people think it's easier on the outside--that the demands are less.  But, the reality is---that myth is just a myth.  My husband works just as long and just as many hours in many ways.  The grass always seems greener on the other side, doesn't it?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Awesome Bible Study About Love!

Often books about love address one aspect of loving--the act itself, but not what is behind the love. It is the heart that is behind the love that matters and this is what Cynthia Heald digs into in this study. She addresses what love is, what it looks like, what it means to love one another, forgiving one another and reconciling, as well as how to speak to one another in love. I was blessed by this study as I have been by the others studies I have done by her. Her studies point you to the Word not to yourself or to popular psychology. This study would be a wonderful one to do to by yourself or with a Bible study. Often I find that small groups actually do "book" studies with questions attached that point people to the Word and to their own hearts and experiences. I would describe this book as one that points you to the heart of God--a loving heart. This study focuses much more on reading the Word than Ms. Heald's words. There are wonderful quotes and short stories which she shares, but the majority of the study is questions and reading the Bible to see what it says. 

I use Cynthia Heald's Becoming a Woman of series as part of my morning devotionals and I highly recommend them. They are biblical and don't read into the Word and infer things. It is hard to find good Bible studies that don't ask you to infer how the people in the Bible are feeling or expand what the Bible says. But, Cynthia Heald doesn't do that in her studies. She points you to the Word and has you read a lot of passages in the Bible (sometimes singular verses, but also a lot of passages).   This one did include a lot more verses than passages, whereas the other books I've gone through had me look up a lot more passages.

I enjoyed this study and I hope it will encourage you if you go through it!  I know I've written about this series before and it has been a blessing to me =)  So far, I've gone through the books on Prayer, Faith, Grace, and now Love.  And I've really enjoyed each one of them.

Please note that I recieved a complimentary copy of this book for review from NavPress.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The power of our words for our children

This is a story from the chapter I read in Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson:

One day while ministering in a prison, Ed asked the inmates, "How many of your fathers or mothers told you that you'd end up in a place like this?"  Guess how many prisoners raised their hands?  Every single one of them.    p.194
Later in the chapter she shares about a time in a store when a lady in a store said about one of her sons that he would end up in jail some day.  She got down right that minute next to her son and told him that the lady was wrong and that God loved him and had great plans for him.

It breaks my heart to think of some lady speaking of a young boy that way.  Even now it brings tears to my eyes.  That story spoke to my heart about how powerful the words are that we speak to our children and how much they need to hear instead how much God loves them and so do we!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Enjoying every moment

I often think about savoring the moments with my kids.  I love to sit with Eli and just make him giggle.  I love to tell Autumn and Sami I love them and break out into a silly dance in the kitchen as they're eating breakfast and lunch.

I want to enjoy those moments.  But, life often feels so stressful trying to get them to the activities we've signed them up for.  I'm very lucky that the kids' preschool doesn't fine me if they're late the way several preschools I know of do.  I'd be in big trouble!  Sami was late more times than not last year, I think.

So often it feels very stressful trying to get them to ballet, Awanas, PE, piano, and other places.  But, I know this is their childhood and I want them have good memories of enjoying these things.  I don't want to do too much, but I do love to see their smiles after each of the activities.  I know how much they enjoy all of them.  And that makes the stress worth it to me.

Now, I just need to deal with that stress better =)  and trust the Lord that He's going to help me order my day and get me and the kids where we need to go!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Interesting explanation

I received notice of a book today available for review.  Although I don't think I'm going to review it, it was very interesting to me what the author had to say about why he writes about crime and evil in the world...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Decent Sequel

This year I've read several romantic books written by women.  The forward of this book made me think that this book was going to have a lot of romance in it--"To my wife, Cindi, my one and only love and inspiration behind any and every romantic thought I've ever had."  I was curious how it would be similar to and different from romantic fiction by women.

Back in December, I read the first book in this series titled The Unfinished Gift.  It was the first novel by Dan Walsh and I was impressed that it was written so well for being his first novel.  The end of that book did wrap a little too neatly and quickly for my tastes, but all in all I enjoyed the book a lot.  The sequel is titled, The Homecoming.
I knew that this book would pick up where the first left off and the first does portend a relationship between Katherine and Captain Collins, the two main characters.  And indeed that is at the crux of the plot for the second book. 

In this story, Captain Collins comes home.  He has reconciled with his father and their relationship has begun to heal.  His son, Patrick, is home safe and sound.  Then he gets assigned to a War Bond tour and needs a nanny for Patrick.  He asks Katherine, the social worker who had helped Patrick when his mom died, to be that nanny.  She says she will and the story goes from there.  All of this is explained on the back cover, so I don't think I'm giving too much of the plot away. 

This book is classified as historical fiction, but I would probably call it romantic historical fiction.  There is enough of a story outside the romance of the characters, but it is an ever present thick thread through the story.  It is a lot like a made for tv movie. 

So here are my thoughts...
The Story:  Good, not amazing, but good.  The story is a lot like a good romantic made for tv movie that you might watch on the Hallmark Channel.   

The Writing:  The writing is good.  This is where this book differs from how a woman would write a romance.  There is a gentleness about their relationship and descriptions that help you picture the scenes, but the writing isn't gushy or overly flowery the way many Christian Romance stories written are today.

The Romance:  If you enjoy reading romance stories, I would definitely recommend this one over others I've read this year.  It doesn't exaggerate how men and women look at each other and it doesn't go near the fine line between romance and lust.

Strengths:  It is an easy book to read.  The story and characters are engaging.  I read this book in 2 days. 

Other thoughts:  The one facet of this story is how quickly the relationship between the Captain and Katherine progressed--all things considered.  (sort of a spoiler!)  I don't know if people got married that quickly back then.  I do remember that my great grandmother had 3 husbands (2 of them were brothers) in a matter of a few years.  So, maybe the mourning period when a spouse died back then was shorter then.  

In Conclusion:   Though parts of the plot weren't always believable to me, I enjoyed the book and thought it was a good book for one of those nights when you want to curl up and forget about life and read.

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Haven't posted much...

I haven't posted much lately.  I also haven't read much lately.  Honestly, I've been very tired.  Since we finished our homeschooling year up, I've had so many errands to catch up on.  We had a garage sale and then I had to take care of the disbursement of leftovers =)

My husband did go to a wedding in Nebraska this past weekend and met a dear couple that he enjoyed getting to know.  The wife suggested two things to him for me.  One was Teaching our daughters to keep home, a home education curriculum for girls about homemaking and Sue Gregg's cookbooks.  I'm looking into both.  Please let me know if you've used either and what you think of them--I'd love to know!

But, the biggest blessing of his trip to Nebraska?  My husband learned to fry amazing fried chicken and came home very thankful for our family.  That's always a blessing =)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wonderful Parenting Book

A dear friend of mine was telling me that she hasn't found any Christian parenting books that she loves.  When she said that to me, I had to think about which ones I really like.  My very favorite is the Parent's Handbook for Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp.  I like it even more than the book, actually.  It is a Bible Study about what God's Word says to parents.  Aside from those two books, though, it often feels as if Christian parenting books are more self help than biblically based instruction.  

But, I am so thankful when God breaks down my stereotypes and my cynicism!  Growing Grateful Kids did just that for me.  It truly encouraged me as a woman and as a mom.  Susie Larson shares so many stories about her kids and her own heart that made this book a very easy read.  Every chapter I read left me pondering and chewing on something.  Many of the things she says were things that I've thought about and considered, but have not articulated very well.  She says things well and poignantly.  

I've quoted from this book several times over the past few months--which is an indication to me that I really am enjoying a book I'm reading.  

If you desire to cultivate a grateful heart that loves the Lord in both yourself and your children, I highly recommend reading this book!  One of my biggest struggles with the culture that we live in today is the entitlement mentality that is fostered and encouraged.  This book takes aim squarely at that mentality and hits the nail on the head.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishing for review.

Blog Spam

I'm so thankful that I put the moderating comments feature on my blog.  It is crazy the spam comments I get!  Once there was one for Viagara, another for Harley Davidson clothing, another for clothes for your pets, and so many others.  I'm sorry I have to moderate the comments on this blog, but please know that this is why I do it.  I would feel so ashamed if these ads got posted as comments on my blog.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

good quote...

I like good quotes.  Someone emailed me about a self-help book.  I'm not keen on self-help books.  I think they put the emphasis on us and our efforts, rather than God.  But, I clicked onto the author's blog and found two quotes that I did like.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. —Helen Keller

Definitely food for thought.  I suppose security in the traditional sense doesn't exist in nature because life does change.  Nothing stays the same.  But, there is always security in Christ.  God is always in control.  Still, the quote made me think that we do have to take chances and make attempts at things even when we get older.  Someone commented to me once about being over 30 and saying that they couldn't pick up knitting or drawing, I think.  They said they were too old to pick up a new hobby.  Well, I'll be 36 in two weeks and as crazy as this sounds, I'm going to take a Motorcycle Safey Course (the Basic Rider Course) in July.  I'm trying not to get scared!

Second quote I liked:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” —Henry Ford

I don't think there's any huge spiritual implications about that one (although it could definitely be twisted and be unbiblical), but I think that if we are negative from the get go, we won't be able to make it and get done whatever it is we're attempting to do.

Choosing Friends

I have really been encouraged by a lot of ideas and thoughts that Susie Larson shares in Growing Grateful Kids. One of the ideas that she shares is this:

They wanted their kids to be friends with believers and non-believers, but they set this rule for them.  If their friends didn't believe in God, they told them that they could be friends with someone they could stand up to, but if what their friend thought was more important than their convictions, then it wasn't wise to be friends with that person.

I thought that was wise advice for adults and children alike.  I do desire my children to be friends with other kids who know the Lord and children who don't, but I wasn't sure how to go about it wisely.  So, I appreciated this advice and I thought I'd share it on this blog.  

This story was shared in the chapter about restraint.  That chapter has really stuck in my head ever since I read it.  She articulates several thoughts I've had but hadn't put together.  One of the things she shares is that if we find that we need something (and that it causes us to behave selfishly) then that is a clue that we need to let go of it. It is wise to fast from it "not for legalism's sake, but for freedom's sake" (her words in Growing Grateful Kids).  I had never heard fasting spoken of that way, but it makes a lot of sense.  I had just been feeling that I needed to not watch the show "The Good Wife" next year.  I didn't like the feeling that I needed to watch it.

She also talked about applying this idea to our children.  If our children "need" a toy or a video game, or the telephone, then that is a clue that it is an unhealthy need.  She spoke of taking away a toy from her children for a time and then giving it back when they have let go of it.  When the toy was returned, the children had a sense of gratefulness and appreciated the toy without "needing" it.  

That is what we did with television 2 1/2 years ago with Sami.  I'm thankful we did!  Her behavior was horrible because she "needed" television.  We fasted for several months from it.  Her behavior improved drastically.  Ever since then, we have only watched television periodically and we only watch videos.

But, I think I'm going to keep this in mind if we run into this issue with other toys.