Friday, May 31, 2013

is there a Doctor in the house?

Natalie had this dream where Sarah was sick, and we left her at home while we went to visit my parents.  I asked her who took care of Sarah while we did this.  "The doctor was taking care of her!" Natalie proclaimed.

Now of course she meant our lovely pediatrician.  But Sarah heard this and got excited.  "The TARDIS was in our house?!"  She of course had heard, "The Doctor was taking care of her"--very different thing.

Natalie rolled her eyes at such an assumption and corrected her older sister. 

But I got to thinking...a doctor making house calls?  In this day and age?

Yeah, I do think maybe a TARDIS and a time-traveler would have to be involved in that somehow.  ;)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

book review: surprisingly...unstuck

I snag a lot of books when they're free for the Kindle.  Even if it ends up being terrible, I'm not out anything (and I've read a few that weren't even worth the price as a freebie).   But once in awhile you come across a real gem; that's always a nice surprise.  So anything that even looks like it might possibly interesting, I grab it.
A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed this book called Surprisingly...Unstuck by Maria Brilaki.  I wasn't expecting much when I started reading it, but boy was I surprised.  This is one of the best books I've come across on starting new habits.  It deals specifically with diet and exercise (and yes, I do need help in those areas), but you could apply it to anything really.  It delves into why it can be so hard to make the changes you want, why willpower and motivation often aren't enough, how the brain works, how to break goals down into small steps and even "ridiculously small" steps, how to set up triggers to work for you instead of against you, and more.  It covers a lot, and it does it well.  It's both practical and inspiring, which is a great combination. 

I actually think I'll end up rereading this one; it's that good and that helpful.  I highlighted and made notes and began making plans. 

Obviously, your mileage may vary.  Maybe this book won't resonate with you as much as it did with me.  But I do recommend it heartily. 

The free period is over now, so there is a cost to the book.  The link above is my affiliate link (hopefully it's working properly).  If you want to check your local library, many do offer Kindle books for checkout now.  I've done that a few times, and I love the convenience of borrowing a book while sitting at home browsing my library's website.  :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

wrapping up the school year + Memorial Day weekend

Yep, we're still here.  :)  It's hard to believe we're heading into summer already, but we are.  Sarah and I are almost done with the school year (we're finishing up this week), but she wants to keep doing art and science throughout the summer.  So her art curriculum (which is on DVD) and an online science camp will satisfy her "summer school" needs while still giving me something of a break.  I'm going to spend some of the summer planning next year--Sarah will be in third grade, which I find more intimidating than I can adequately express here.  I fully admit that this is mostly due to my own issues with my own third grade year, but I'm hoping that preparing ahead of time will help.  I also am going to be planning preschool for Natalie--this will be my first year homeschooling two!  Plus, we have adorable "part-time adopted baby brother" (as the girls have dubbed our baby-sitting charge) to add to the mix.  Yes, a summer off for me sounds heavenly as I plan for next year.  Sarah can enjoy her art and science independently.  :) 

In a couple of days, I have another post planned.  It's another book review.  Stay tuned.  

And happy Memorial Day weekend.  I've seen some lovely tributes on Facebook.  Do take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday weekend.  I'll be thinking of a some friends of mine who have lost loved ones in service to the country.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

she says the darnedest things

Just because it's been awhile since I've posted any "Natalieisms" doesn't mean she hasn't been saying them.  In fact, over the last few weeks she's had some doozies.  

My child has no filter, as they say.  None whatsoever.  Whatever she's thinking in any given moment is exactly what comes out her mouth.  Now it's funny.  Someday it won't be, so we're trying to talk about kindness and good manners and all those important things.  I'm not sure it's really getting through yet.

Still, you may get a chuckle out of some of the things she's popped off with lately.  

The first one comes from our annual end-of-the-year picnic for the homeschool co-op.  One of the older boys had a mohawk.  Natalie had never seen a mohawk before, so naturally she commented on it.  Specifically, she told him he had "squirrel hair."  Thankfully, both the boy and his mother found this hilarious.  

The next incident came at a church brunch as I sat chatting with one of the ladies.  A lady who just happened to have white hair.  Natalie said her hair was old.  Not the lady herself, mind you--her hair.  

Since we're baby-sitting a baby boy during the day now, we have baby boy diaper changes.  And yes, Natalie has noticed the difference in baby boy parts as opposed to baby girl parts.  She asked, "What's that purple thing on his bottom?"  As I explained the difference between boys and girls, she said, "So it just popped out?  Like a belly button?"  

Yeah, sure.  Just like that.  

Of course, when Sarah first saw a little boy getting a diaper change at my parents' house, she asked why he had a tail on his bottom.  ;)  

We're working on that filter, really.  But in the meantime, if you know us personally and Natalie pops off with something in your presence, please don't take it to heart.  :-p  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

p.s. to yesterday's post

Yesterday I posted a review of The Christian Parenting Handbook.  Check it out if you haven't read it yet.  If you decide to purchase the book at a local Christian bookstore, you can print the form found here to take with you and get some special free bonuses.  These bonuses are valued at $400, so it's definitely a good deal. 

If you don't have a Christian bookstore near you, the link also provides an online retailer who can honor this promotion.  You won't miss out. 

This offer is valid May 10-11, 2013.  So time is definitely of the essence!  :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

review: the Christian Parenting Handbook

My basic parenting philosophy is probably best summarized by a quote I found on the internet years ago:  "There is no way to be a perfect parent.  There are a thousand ways to be a good one."  Basically, I see a whole lot of freedom and flexibility in this whole parenting gig.  What works for me may not work for you, and I don't see any problem with that.  Parents are all different, children are all different, families and circumstances are all different.  My biggest pet peeve in the world of parenting books is probably any cookie cutter or "by the book" approach, where certain steps guarantee a certain result.  Sorry, I think as human beings we're all a bit more complex than that.
That said, I like parenting books, and I like having a variety of parenting resources from which to pull ideas.  There is a whole lot of wisdom out there, from people who know a whole lot more than I do.  I received a copy of The Christian Parenting Handbook by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller to review, and I was excited to read it.

Parenting books tend to fall into one of two extremes: highly theoretical or extremely practical.  The theoretical ones put so much time and explanation into the overarching philosophy that it can sometimes be difficult to even imagine how to make it work in practice.  How does it work in the real world?  However, sometimes the immensely practical are so caught up in giving you specific steps to follow or situations to apply that you don't have any long term goals and you lose all ability to think outside the box.  Plus, they can lead to frustration if you follow the "steps" and it doesn't "work."

My favorite parenting books are always the ones that find a balance between these two extremes.  Yes, give me the "big picture."  Let me understand the principles so that I can creatively apply them to my own circumstances.  But also help me out with a few practical suggestions or ideas, just to get the ball rolling.

The Christian Parenting Handbook strikes me as leaning more to the theoretical, but it in no way neglects the practical.  Overall, I think it strikes a pretty good balance.  I plan to go back and read through it more slowly when I'm not on a deadline (paying attention to the places I highlighted especially), but I am pleased with the book and I do recommend it.

I think probably my two favorite parts of the book (at first reading anyway; I reserve the right to change my mind) are the sections on consistency and on tasks vs. problems vs. conflict.  Why?  I'm so glad you asked.  ;)

Consistency is the holy grail of parenting in almost every parenting book out.  "You must be consistent!" may as well have been thundered down from Sinai given its prominence.  And for those of us who are fallible human parents (ahem), it can seem daunting at times.  If you aren't consistent 100% of the time (and let's be honest--no one is consistent 100% of the time), you can feel enormously guilty.  Clearly it's your fault that your child is still having a problem with XYZ.  If only you were more consistent!

But this book rightly points out that our children are not Pavlov's dogs.  "Consistency" is a very behaviorist approach to child rearing.  Is it important?  Sure.  We all know that.  But is it the be-all end-all of the world?  Not so much.  I won't summarize the whole chapter here (after all, I think my job is to make you want to buy the book!), but I will tell you I found it very freeing.

I also appreciated the chapter on the difference between tasks, problems, and conflict.  Ever have one of those days where every task feels like a problem, and every problem feels like a conflict?  Nah, me neither.  Clearly this chapter was written for someone else.  But if you run into that someone else, here's what you can tell them.  Tasks are the basic to-do lists of your day.  Wake up.  Make coffee.  Get children dressed.  Teach children obedience and godliness and basic addition.  Etc.  Problems are the things that are preventing tasks from being completed.  You're out of coffee.  The kids can't find their shoes (that's never happened here).  They also can't remember basic addition, and they're not too interested in obeying.  You know--problems.

Our job as parent is come up with ways to ratchet the problems back down to tasks--not escalate them into conflict.  Yep--that's on us.  How I do that may differ from how you do that.  It may involve consequences and discipline and training, but those things are tasks when are parents--part of our basic job description.  Maybe it's just a mental shift, but viewing problems as a thing I need to get back down to a task does seem to help with it not becoming a big conflict. 

So, yes, I do recommend this book as a worthwhile read. 

The book is available in both paperback and Kindle edition on Amazon. I believe has it as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm still here

No, I'm not dead.  :) And yes, tomorrow I will be posting the review of the parenting book.  It's selling like hot cakes apparently, so I'm glad I got to review an early copy. 

We're very busy here, trying to wrap up our school year.  We've had several end-of-the-school-year socials--picnics and parties and such.  We got Sarah glasses, and we celebrated Nelson's birthday.  And...I started a part-time job, of sorts.  I'm caring for the infant of a friend of mine.  She brings him over in the morning, and he hangs out with us during the day while his mother works.  He's an adorable baby (aren't they all?), and he's very sweet, laid back, and content (knocking on wood).  Sarah and Natalie are referring to him as a "part-time baby brother."  Since he's not my child, I won't violate privacy by sharing his name.  I'll try to think of a clever internet nickname for him, but for now I'll just call him Baby Boy.  So if he shows up in future stories, no, I didn't sneak off and have a baby while you weren't looking.  ;)

But those who know just how tight our finances have been can guess what a huge blessing this is and how much an answer to prayer.  Besides, I think I said when I was six years old that I would follow in my mother's footsteps one day; it's about time I made good on that. 

Book review coming tomorrow!