Friday, January 30, 2015

I Am Trying to Talk to You

We have always said SJ would be some kind of detective because of how in tune she is to detail and facial expressions. Even the most subtle forms of body language do not go unnoticed by her. I have written before about language and neural pathways. They are formed very early in life (like in the womb) and are rapidly developing in the first couple years. That means that we are designed to make the most sense out of the world around us using what we have when we are born. For SJ, she was born without hearing and so she adapting extremely well by reading facial cues and gestures.

I am giving you this background because we have had a thing lately that I hesitate to say is unpleasant, but it is. Okay, it's down right annoying.

The first time I heard her say the words "Mommy, I am trying to talk to you." I was overjoyed. What an articulate sentence for her at this stage. It actually sounds like "I am trying-a talk to you". That's probably influenced by my lazy speech, because I am always trying "ta" do something. So anyway, it's so cute, until she starts tapping on you saying it over and over. Screaming "I am trying a talk to you!!!" You can respond, but if she doesn't have your undivided attention she will grab your face and make you look at her.

I am a multitasker. What mom isn't? So when I am putting on shoes, packing lunch, and looking for my keys while trying to be less than 15 minutes late in the morning I get a slightly perturbed that SJ doesn't settle for the answer of "I know! I am listening. What do you want?". Or even when we are in the car and I try to tell her "SJ I can't look at you, because I am driving, but I can hear you. Just say it." This has been going on for a couple months now.

Eventually I realized why it is so important for her to be able to see my face and know that I hear her. Her body is wired to listen through visuals. Does that make sense? We are working very hard at teaching her to be able to listen with her hearing devices. We want to convince her of how useful sound and language can be, but it's not natural. At this point in the game in takes a very conscious effort! That's why she is in a deaf-ed preschool full time.

I don't know to what degree she reads lips, but she does. She seems to do it very well actually. So for her, she listens best when she can see you and she probably thinks I am the same (and in some ways this is true). It makes sense that when she says she is trying to talk to me and I say I am listening, while simultaneously cooking dinner, she doesn't buy it.

As I was pondering all this the other day the Lord so graciously tugged at my heart. He always has a way of teaching us through our children doesn't He? I realized how often God is saying to me "I am trying to talk to you" and I say "I know God, I am listening". But he is not buying it and he continues to pursue me "I am trying to talk to you". "I know God, I know. I can listen and drive at the same time! I am not texting, just listening. Totally legal." Then He repeats Himself through Psalm 46:10 when he says "Be Still and know that I am God". That's when I realize I want to respond like David in Psalm 27:8 and say "Your face, Lord, I will seek." Not just reading or hearing words, but to seek his expressions. There are many ways to listen. Are we listening for God's voice with every part of us? Are we using our hearts? Are we using our ears? Are we studying His face and his movements on a spiritual level? I know that I have not been, but I am glad my heavenly Father has even more tenacity than SJ to keep calling to me and saying

I am trying to talk to you. 

This time I am listening. I am going to stop, and with every part of me I will listen.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Valentine's Craft

I know I titled this as a "Valentine's craft", but love and hearts are in style year round, which makes this project extremely versatile.  You could help your child decorate a card for grandma, you could make a nice painting to frame and hang, or you could use it as an object lesson while teaching Bible verses about love. It's inexpensive creative fun, and my favorite part is that it could work for almost any age. 

All you need is some paint, paper, bowls, and a couple empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls.

1. Choose your paint. I used Crayola washable paint and narrowed it down to 4 colors.

2. Pour a tablespoon of the paint into a bowl. 

3. Have the child bend the tubes into the shape of a heart and tape each one into place to help them hold their shape. I used a paper towel roll and cut it into thirds.

4. Dip the rolls into the paint and use them as stamps. That's it! 

You still have plenty of time before valentines day to start collecting those cardboard tubes. I will warn you that this craft can get a little messy, 

but the Crayola washable paint boasts that it is "washability you can trust" and it is. We've never had any trouble with it staining clothing, furniture, or anything else. 

 I hope your children enjoy this craft as much as mine do. 

Today I am linking up with the #showmethelovelinkup over at The Loflands
I would also like to say thank you to Rust and Sunshine for this fun craft idea. Lastly, I wanted to mention that these photos are a few years old (2012) and I have featured this craft before, but it's such a hit I wanted to share it again. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pinned It Spinned It

 I recently saw something on instagram called "Pinned It Spinned It". I thought the idea was to pick any pin you want from your "fashion board" (or in my case the "Inspiration for Thrift Stores and Clearance Rack Board") and try to recreate it.  But, it turns out that is not how it works. The outfits for the week are preselected and if you want to follow along you can view the pin for that day and then put your own spin on it.

Get it?

At first didn't think I would like that because I would rather pick outfits that I pinned personally, but in the end I really enjoyed doing it this way. It forced me think outside of the box and make different combinations using what I already own in my closet. I don't dress up everyday  hardly ever, so I only partially participated. I still had so much fun with the three that I did do.

A Pop of Pink! 

SCARF: The Limited (although I bought it used)
DRESS: Target (my friend tried it, but it didn't work for her so she gave it to me)
TIGHTS: Target girls department
SHOES: Yard Sale

Last time I did a fashion post I  gave each outfit a rating according to how practical it is for a stay at home mom with small children, so I thought I would do that again this time.

 This dress is made of soft, stretchy tshirt material that isn't even hemmed, so it's super casual and comfy. Also, the neckline is low and stretchy enough to breastfeed in a dress. I just have to keep the score kind of middle of the road because it's always tricky to chase little ones in these boots.

 I still love them though!

Go For the Gold

JEWELRY: The necklace used to belong to a friend, but she was getting rid of it so I scooped it up. Over the weekend I wore it long,

but this pin inspired me to double loop it to make it shorter.

The bracelets were a gift from my brother from Africa.
SHIRT: Gap outlet and the white tank is Forever 21
SHOES: Lucky Brand. Also a reject item. I don't like that word! Regift? Recylce? Eh, whatever. They were my sister in laws, but she was giving them away so I took them. Anyone else starting to see a pattern here?

The only reason it's not perfect for my scenario is the jewelry. Shiny jewelry with my children is just no the best combo. This outfit is still very practical, although for the record I changed to boots before I left the house because it's freezing cold and I am not walking through ice and snow in flats!

Business Casual Layers
Shhhh! This is technically the pinned it spinned it Friday outfit. You are getting a sneak peak.

SHIRT: Denim shirt from Target and the grey sweater was from a  yard sale.
COAT: Thrift Store

This outfit was so fun because I NEVER thought about putting these pieces together, but when I tried to think of what I owned that could spin this look, this was the winning combination after some trial and error. 
The jacket is a tad bit restricting and the pants are dressy so I might not take this one to the playground, but I would totally wear this to a parent teacher meeting, or lunch with J. 

So that's it for my first ever pinned it spinned it. 
If you want to joint in on the pin it spin it weekly challenge you can follow the pinterest board and follow Amy and Jamie on instagram. And if you don't already follow me, but you want to connect on social networks then by all means follow me at or messymom, or twitter/themessymom. Oh, and I have a brand new Facebook page too if you want to go like it I wouldn't mind one bit. In fact, I'd be ecstatic! 

One more link and then I'll leave you alone. Check out What I Wore Wednesday at the Pleated Poppy for more inspiring outfit ideas. 

Have a great day everyone! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's Potty Time

My husband and I potty trained willingly at 18 months according to our mothers. So 7 years ago when I had Z I thought that would be how it would go. When he was a year and a half I bought the fancy little toilet that starts singing when you pee in it. I also got a package of big boy underwear, a potty training doll, and M&M's for rewards. I took pictures of everything and documented the whole process because I would most certainly be blogging about this in a month, teaching other mothers all of the secrets of how to successfully potty train their children.

One month later I was cowering in the linen closet eating a king size bag of M&M's. I quit!

I tried again about 6 months later because I was pregnant and I was not about to have two children in diapers at once. Not me (typical thoughts of a first time mom). Not long after that I was devouring M&M's in-between feedings and changing two sets of diapers. That's right, I had quit round two of potty training Z. However, it wasn't long after changing a tiny newborn's diaper that I decided that Z was too big to be in diapers and he was surely ready to be wiping his own bottom. You know how having a newborn makes your other children instantly double in size? It's a crazy phenomenon. At that point I decided Z was done with diapers, and it turns out this time he finally was. Although, let's be honest, it was not because I decided it.

I regret almost everything about that experience. He wasn't ready and I was really pushy. If I learned anything in the midst that whole year of on and off attempts it would be that I need to calm down and have a lot more patience. I have seen moms struggle with potty training a 4 year old, so I am not in the camp that says "wait until they are ready and then they will never have an accident and the whole thing will be effortless". Sometimes waiting a little longer helps, I've also seen it back fire. There is definitely no one right way to do it. You just have to go by what works for you, your child, and in some cases the child care provider even has a say.

Now that I am doing this potty training business for a third time I am experienced enough to know that I have no idea what to expect. I have decided to at least TRY round one with Ezie when he is 2 and a half, which is in a week. I have one week left to do my regular household duties without having to panic about where Ezie is going to do his doodie. The truth is, having a child that can take care of their own toilet needs is glorious, having a child that needs their diaper changed really isn't that terrible when you are used to it. It's the in-between stage that will cause an otherwise strong warrior mother to beg for mercy and wave the white flag. Alas, I have one more week before potty training purgatory. I guess it's time to stock up on M&M's.

I hope these photos don't offend anyone. This is a classic shot of brother sister bathroom time before they were old enough to be modest.

PS- I never mentioned anything about potty training SJ, because as many of you know, I didn't. She was like me I guess, in that she hopped on the toilet as a one and a half year old and never looked back. Sure, she had accidents, and it was always the worst timing when she did. But at least she was self motivated. I already know Ezie does not share the same zeal for the bathroom as his sister did.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby race is one of the biggest events of the year for Cub Scouts and this was Z's first year to participate. With help form an adult, the scouts are expected to build their own car out of wood. Sure you start with a kit, but it's more than just something you would find at Ikea with minimal assembly required. They actually have to carve, drill, nail, and paint the thing. 

I was so happy to see these two working as a team. J and Z have a wonderful relationship, but I know J hates how much he has to be away since being in school full time.

The pack has a tune up meeting the week of the race to weigh in and make sure your car meets all the specific qualifications. 

They expect a lot out of these little Tiger Cubs. It's not just about assembling a car to roll down a track. They are expected to craft it in a way that will improve the performance level. So they are not only learning basic carpentry, but they are also implementing lots of scientific components like momentum and aerodynamics. You would be surprised at how much goes into these races, unless you have been a part of Pinewood Derby. In which case, none of this surprises you at all. 

The track is on a slope like this. 

They line up 6 cars at a time and all of the names of those on deck show up on a big screen. 

That's Z's batman car in the middle. At the end of the track is a timer that shows the speed and rank of each car. They race multiple times and at the end they average all the times to find the winner.

I was worried about Z not ranking very high. They put so much effort into all of it and I knew he would be disappointed if he lost, but I just wanted him to learn good sportsmanship. We would always pray about the upcoming derby day and I would try to really emphasize "Help Z to do his best" "Let your will be done on the race track" "We commit to having a good attitude and to be a light no matter what happens with Z's derby car". You might laugh at such a silly prayer, unless you have been a part of a Pinewood Derby. In which case, again, none of this surprises you. 

In the end Z actually got third place, so he did get a trophy and he was super proud. This isn't one of those everyone gets a trophy deals. Plenty of 6-10 year old boys were in tears over defeat that day. I am sure I will be wiping those tears away for another competition. We've been there before, but this time he beamed. 

His grandpa and dad were by his side for whole thing and I am sure this is a moment he is going to remember for a long, long time. 

Z has never participated in any sports or competitive activities yet, so I am really glad he got to have this opportunity. This quote taken directly from really sums it all up. "At the heart of this event's success is the process itself- bonds are strengthened as the Cub Scout partners with a  parent or adult mentor to design, carve, paint, weigh, refine, and race the car."

Win our loose, this was priceless bonding time for a dad and his first born son. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Messy Mom's Tidy Daughter

My blog title is Messy Mom for a reason. I am messy by nature, so is my mom, and so is my best friend. I have referred to our entire family as The Messies before. That's what I was used to, until SJ. She's only four years old and is already very structured and orderly. But can I really label her as fastidious at such a young age? Yes. I can. Let's back up.

When SJ was one she taught herself to go potty. She dressed herself including buttoning and zipping.

When she was two she started to prepare her own meals. Granted they were a bit eccentric, but I swore if there were ever some kind of apocalyptic situation where the world was in crisis SJ, our deaf toddler, would be one of the last survivors.

At age three she could fold clothes better than most men. I know that's not saying a lot, but trust me, she is precise.

At four years old SJ is now able to wash her hair, brush it, and pull it back into a pony tail. She also cuts her own finger nails. I don't like this idea, but after observing her with the baby nail clippers several times, I am convinced that she can handle it (with supervision). 

These stories give you just a glimpse of how she has always been very independent and has some serious fine motor skills, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's clean and tidy. Except for the fact that now that she is coming up on 5 years old it is really starting to manifest. SJ is very thorough and detail oriented when it comes to cleaning. She sees something out of place and she is going to fix it. Lately I have been trying to keep things clean around the apartment. This behavior is not to be expected the other 11 months of the year (it's a new years tradition I guess). Anyway I washed the couch cover and swept/vacuumed and mopped the floors. And while most children wouldn't notice (and my husband certainly did not) SJ came into the living room after school that day and without a second thought she exclaimed "It's clean!!" Then she went to her room where I had vacuumed and she said "Carpet is clean!" and stroked it with her hand. It's embarrassing for me to admit that this was something that was out of the ordinary. The point is, it mattered to her. She noticed and she got really excited. 

I won't tell you all the stories of how she loves to put things away, wipe down counters, scrub little crusted pieces of food off of the table, or help me clean my room, but she does all of that with skill and precision. Yesterday she insisted on vacuuming and let me tell you, when she was done she wound up the cord back into it's place and then put the vacuum (which was bigger than her) in the closet where it belongs. Why can't I do that!? I think about unplugging the vacuum, but then what if I decide I want to use it again, then I'd have to get to start all over. That's my thought process you guys. It's bad. I am thrilled to have a little helper around the house though.

Unlike her brother. With Z I have to walk him through the whole process step by step. It is like pulling teeth. Of course it would be easier to do it myself, but the chores are for his sake so that he can learn. With SJ, even though she's so tiny, she really does pack a lot of punch in the cleaning department and it has been beneficial to me. She gets the job done! I'm serious. It's awesome.

Then there are times that I worry about how her personality will affect our relationship later in life.

 Is my laid back, do it later mentality going to drive her insane? Is her slightly obsessive attention to detail going to make me loose my cool? I hope not. My plan at this point is to take the Frozen approach to the whole thing and teach my little queen Elsa how to control her powers and use them for the good of our own personal Arendelle.

Or maybe she will change as she grows up and she won't turn out like Monica from Friends.

I doubt it though, she's pretty hard core right now and it's only grown over the years. Have any of you seen this type of behavior in a child before? Or maybe you were that way as a child? Are you the neat freak type, or are you like me and let's just say your strengths are in other areas? I think we can all learn and benefit from each others differences. The world needs both type of personalities and apparently my family does too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Am I Doing?

If you couldn't see this blog yesterday you are not alone! One minute it was fine, and then the next thing you know it said "server cannot be found" (or a variation of that message depending on what web browser was used). For 24 hours came up blank! I panicked and immediately recruited my IT husband to get to the bottom of it.

It seems like every few years I run into a situation like this, but it's usually because I fail to pay my bill. 5 years ago I went from to just because I lost my domain name to some poachers the day it expired. Then two years ago I had my bank card compromised and cancelled, so the automatic draft didn't go through to renew my site. The next day some nasty, I mean NASTY photos and web links took over my blog for a day until I got it all sorted out. That was fun. Not really.

This time wasn't as bad. After some inquiring on Facebook I had dozens of people respond saying they could access this site just fine. Everyone except for those using a certain internet service provider. Which is weird. We still don't know for certain, but I guess it was some technical problem with a DNS server... thingy... I think. I dunno. I'm back now, and that's what matters.

So now that I'm back what am I doing? I am glad I asked. Every year I say this is going to be the year I make some big changes to my blog and it never happens. One of the issues I ran into when my site was down was that I had little to no control over the inner workings of this blog and no way to contact the people who do. is a free site, so you can only be so picky. On the other hand, if I want to go to self hosting we are talking about venturing out to an area beyond my expertise. Not to mention I don't have any extra money to spend on a hobby right now so if I am going to pay to play then I need to be bringing in some return on my investment. In other words, if I am going to dump any money into this blogging thing then I need to figure out how to get some money back.

J and I talked whenever this debacle happened and he encouraged me to consider making that step. I agreed, and looked at this server nightmare as a bit of a confirmation that now may be the time to pursue some of the ideas I have been tossing around for the past 7 years of this blogging journey. It's exciting and nerve wracking. We'll see if I actually do anything about it, but I just posted it on the real live internet so that's worth something right?

Effective immediately, I have been networking a little. I was featured in the 4 Real Moms newsletter this month! Remember my blog post about Taking Pictures Alone VS. Taking Pictures With Your Family? Here is a little cutout of my spot in the newsletter-

You can view the entire newsletter HERE and subscribe to the monthly 4 Real Moms newsletter HERE. That was an exciting opportunity that I hope to do more of. Then next month, on Tuesday February 24th, I will be doing a guest post on Holly Barrett's blog sharing some of my testimony. This will be a first for me and I am definitely looking forward to it. On top of that I just scheduled some guests post on this site as well, and I am super pumped about that.

Lot's of stuff in the works. I could use all the prayers and encouragement I can get and if you are a WordPress user or you monetize your blog then please comment, message, or email me! I would love need to hear from you.

That's all for this little announcement, but stay tuned as the proverbial ball slowly starts a rollin'.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Through Mother's Eyes

This week I have been talking about books. As I already mentioned I recently read Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan and Surprised By Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker . The authors themselves and the main premise of each book is very different. However, they both take a deep and personal look at their mothers in hindsight after becoming a mother themselves. It is amazing what truths are unveiled to them that were there all along, but it's different when you look back. It's different when you are a mom.

In Baker's memoir, Surprised By Motherhood, she looses her mother when she is 18 years old.  Nearly two decades later she is looking at her young daughter and she begins to see herself through her late mother's eyes. So much healing takes place in that moment. It really is a moving story that I highly recommend. That particular part of the story truly resonated with me. Because in that moment she feels like she has a glimpse of what her mom felt. It is then that she knows that she was loved and she knows that she was known. She couldn't have experienced it in a way that was so intricate or detailed until she applied it to the relationship she has with her own daughter.

I didn't loose my mother, but I did loose a brother. Zeb was diagnosed when he was 3 years old. He had Leukemia. He died when he was about to turn 7 and I was 9. We were very close. I grieved the loss of my little brother, the baby of our family, my best friend. I had closure though. I knew he was in Heaven, and the way that I missed him evolved over time.

Then I became a mother. Sigh. Motherhood changes everything doesn't it? And much in the way of these two authors who saw their mothers in a different light after having kids, I did as well. I understood now the price that she paid, willingly and lovingly, to raise her four children. I also felt like I had a new understanding, although I could never know completely, about what she went through with my little brother Zeb. I hesitate to say that it opens up a wound, but the good news is that God is gracious and merciful and that His presence is a balm for these feelings. He can soothe even the deepest abrasions.

You see, I lost a brother and that was tough. I cherish the memories I have of him. However, I pray that I will never know what it is like to loose a son. As a young girl I had NO idea what my parents went through. Looking back at it with my new perspective as a mom I have to grieve all over again. Every once in a while I will hear stories about that time in our life. I treasure these stories. It's a part of my life and I want to know everything there is to know about my brother Zeb. I take it all in. Even the hard stuff. It might be stories about his treatment, the chemo, and bone marrow transplant. Or pictures of how young my mother was when she had to endure all this at the age I am now. Or just the look in her eyes when she talks about it. The wholeness and peace that comes from above, along with the empty space that never goes away. And you never want it to.

It's been 23 years and she does cry every once in a while. Now that I am a mom I totally get that. I am sure she's crying right now reading this (I am too). It's weird the way life imprints dates, ages, places on your heart so that you can't go pass them without tripping a wire. I am sure all of us have those times that serve as a memorial. For me, I think of my mom when my children (especially my oldest son) turn 3 and then 7. Z is seven now actually, and there was one night in particular, after putting him to bed and watching him drift to sleep, I just had to weep over the thought of what that would be like to lose him. I certainly don't want all this to come across as an obsessive state of hopelessness and depression. It's quite the contrary. On the occasion that these memories do arise I am reminded of the Savior's sacrifice. I am reminded of the promise and the hope that we have through Christ. It's also like rereading the living testament that my parents walk out daily as they prove the redeeming and powerful love of God in the midst of the storms. Lastly, I am honoring a precious little boy's legacy.

As I read Lisa Jo Baker's words and saw the healing that was evident through the pain. I also saw that at work in my own life and I am sure it can be true for you as well. We all experience different forms of loss and grief, and the way we grieve is as diverse as each one of us.

To bring this back to becoming a mom and seeing our moms in a new light I would like to share this little quote from Glitter and Glue,

“And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”

I don't like to describe myself as exhausted, but if it looks like I am I can attest that this would be why. As these authors have described being a mother means feeling deeply. It's braving the unknown only to feel your way through it. It's not always easy, but of course it's worth it.  

There is More Than One Way To Read a Book About Skinning a Cat

Thank God for the printed word! This world would be a very different place without it.

I am one of those old fashioned readers that loves to hold a book in my hand. I like pages. I like libraries. I enjoy taking notes in the margins and spilling coffee on the cover and having wavy pages. A stained tome with a bent up spine that smells like dust makes it all the more valuable, if you ask me.

I am also a sucker for instant gratification and multitasking which can sometimes trump my love for the nostalgic. So while I may be marching along with the librarians screaming Long live the hardback! I also may not be as committed as I sound. I'll admit it. I am a fan of digital and audio books. If I decide I want to read a book and I know I can download it and read it right now rather than order it and wait for it to arrive in the mail. Or even worse try to figure out how I can contain my children while hunting down the desired title in a presumably quiet environment, like a library or book store.

Then come the times when I am trying to engineer some sort of concoction that can hold a book in front of me while I cook, fold, or bath. I've never really been successful with any of these attempts so that is where the audio book comes in. Perfect for car rides, exercise, baths, reading in the dark, and yes cleaning.

There are just a few problems that I have with the audio book though.

1. Sometimes I don't like the voice of the narrator.
2. There are times you really want to read your book, but headphones aren't really appropriate.
3. I like to stimulate my mind when I read and I feel like audio books interrupt that benefit.

The good news is the more I have tried audio books the more I learn ways around some of these pet peeves of mine.

1. Some voices just rub me the wrong way and when you have to listen to it for let's say 12 hours, it's important. The voice should be hearing the story not the voice, but it doesn't always go this way. I am an a battle with right now over an audio book that sounds like a chipmunk is reading it. I won't go into the details, but I was told I could exchange the book. Then I was told I couldn't. Then I stewed for a few days. Then I sent out one last email and we'll see how it goes. Either way I am not going to finish the audio version. It's AWFUL. To avoid having to go through that again I think I will listen to the preview on iTunes first so I know what the narrator sounds like.

2. I posted a funny instagram about this predicament once. Because sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.

 I have heard that there are ways that you can maneuver back and forth between audio book and digital book seamlessly with a kindle and that sounds fabulous. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one dealing with this problem and there are smart people out there inventing solutions. Now I just need a kindle!

3. It turns out when a book is being read to you, your brain processes all of it the same. There is no dumbing down with the audio route. Obviously reading is important, but from all the research I've read so is listening. There are some things that are better about actual reading, for example learning the spelling would be an obvious benefit. Then there are other things that would come from listening to a  book being read that you wouldn't get other ways. Take enunciation for example. There is more to it than that, but it encouraged me to know that I wasn't going to miss out with audio books. I still count them as books that I've read, and according to this article from Forbes and many others I read  that is totally fine.

Hopefully you've heard the phrase "There is more than one way to skin a cat" if not, than my title must seem pretty grotesque. The point is whether you choose to eat your macaroni with a fork, or spoon, or your hands it's still macaroni and the same goes for literature. There is more than one way to consume a book. I like to dabble in a variety of options depending on my need at the moment. So now I want to hear from you. How do you like to read? 90004dfa9a564dc562c95f1138954fd7caaa9d278ec5e25fcf

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Non Fiction Reviews

I shared the first 5 books yesterday and here is the second half. While the themes are very diverse they are all non fiction. 

1. A year without sugar 
by Eve O. Shaub

I wasn't head over heals for this memoir, but it did inspire me to think about my health and my eating habits. I am definitely drawn to the theory that in the future processed sugar will be likened to cigerettes and alcohol. In other words, something that can be highly addicting and should be handled in moderation and responsibly, or avoided altogether. It bothers me that sugar has such a hold on me. Whether or not I will ever do anything about it is a another story. Anyway, the writer is really laid back (with the exception of her strict anti sugar challenge which is super intense). I can't say that I would recommend the book, but I didn't dislike it either. 

Mom Rating: PG. I almost put G, but if I remember correctly there are just a few cuss words and some spiritual stuff that is common in Vermont's territory which is where the author lives. 

2. Bossy Pants
by Tina Fey 

Bossy pants is the autobiography of Tina Fey and if you get the audiobook it is read by Tina Fey and she really customizes it for your listening pleasure, so that earns extra points in my book. They even insert a clip from SNL to listen too. You wouldn't get that in the hard copy! However, there are some gaps because the book actually has a few pictures in it and Fey will say something like "refer to the PDF to see the photo", but I didn't get a PDF that I know of with my copy. As far as my review about the actual content of the book, I feel like Tina Fey is brilliant. I love her writing style. I do not regret reading the book. I definitely laughed out loud. On the flip side, we have nothing in common. She's very liberal. I'm not even a 30 Rock or SNL fan for that matter. So it's a great book. It's a bestseller. I'm just not going to put at top of my list.

Mom Rating: R. That's one of the things that turned me off to this book was the language. At one point she calls another woman an extremely offensive word and I was shocked because she's so feminist throughout the rest of the book. 

3. Seven
by Jen Hatmaker

This book was about a project that blogger/writer/speaker Jen Hatmaker implemented in her war against excess. Each month there was a different area that they would sort of fast in order to give back and focus outward. One month she only has seven articles of clothing to wear. That means she has to wear the same jeans all the time and no coat in the winter etc. Another month she can only eat seven foods and all the while she's learning about social justice, poverty, and her faith in general. It's similar to "A Year With No Sugar" in that it is written like a blog and it's pretty much about self deprivation. Other than that they are totally different.

Anyway, everything I have ever seen of Jen Hatmaker I have loved. I love her voice, literally. FYI she does not read her own audiobook which is huge points off for me, but to each their own. Here is the thing I DON'T want to address. This book was not for me. At risk of sounding so holy, or desperate, or both, I will admit that I am just not living in a place of excess right now. 

At the end of the book Hatmaker even says who she thinks her readers are, and she describes them as middle to upper middle-class moms that have all their needs met and are struggling to find out how they can give back and where the balance is. I can understand that because that social class is all I've ever known. Until now. I am one of the richest people in the world statistically speaking, but as far as compared the Hatmaker family and the majority of her readers, or my old life- I'm just plain poor. I don't have the luxury of buying fair trade, or local. I don't even have a yard to keep a garden. I don't have cable or a dvr. We rarely eat out We certainly don't feel led to downsize (perfect time to plug my series on how the 5 of us manage just fine in under 800 square feet). These are just some of the things she addresses. I don't want to sound like I'm so deprived because I am typing this on my MacBook Pro (it was a gift and it is for business, but it's still a very nice amenity). I have my needs met. I'm just saying that while reading 7 I personally found myself very much like an outsider amongst her cool group of friends that she called the council. With that said, read it I'm sure you'll love it. It's not where I am at right now and that's okay. 

Mom Rating: Definitely rated G. Totally appropriate for a variety of people and situations, there is even a study guide to accompany it. 

4. Call the midwife 
by Jennifer Worth
Where do I begin? I am the biggest call the midwife fan! I hesitated to start the show without reading the books first, and in this case I think I started the show and the book about the same time because the book was on hold at the library. The books are true life memoirs written by a woman who lived in the slums of England while still recovering from the hardships of world war II. The first book of her series was graphic and haunting, but so touching and insightful. The second book was equally as riveting . It focused on the absolutely diabolical, unlivable conditions of the work houses that existed back then. However, I feel like it went too far. There are some artistic liberties that were taken verses documenting actual events that happened and I have to say that in the end I did not like the book at all. I never read the third one either because it left such a bad taste in my mouth. See the mom rating notes for details, but be aware it could contain spoilers. 

Mom Rating: R. It's definitely based on some heavy material. That doesn't bother me. I did however feel like this book implied the justification of men having sexual behavior with boys in the work house as well as somewhat detailed depiction of a sexual relationship between a brother with his sister. It was painted very poetically, but deceptively. The show on the other hand touches on nearly all the stories from the memoirs but handles it in a much more delicate manner. 

5. Surprised By Motherhood 
by Lisa Jo Baker

I was pleasantly surprised with surprised by motherhood. Up until this point my luck with blogesque books was not fairing well. I loved hearing Baker's story though. She reads her own audio book, South African accent and all. Some parts made me laugh, while others of course brought me tears, or an exuberant reaction that I never meant to say out loud.  The story is mostly about going from a somewhat jaded independent woman who was still struggling with loosing her mother to a place of healing. A transition takes place along her journey that softens her and gives her a new calling and a restored sense of hope. In short, I really loved this book, enough to want to own the printed copy as well. I have already recommended the book to several people and saw this on a friends wall on Facebook tonight.

"A Facebook friend gave this a good recommendation so I started making it the subject of my "Feeding time, Reading time". So far an amazing read with fantastic insight for a new mom like me. Thanks for the tip Natalie! "  

I have a little bit more to say about the book, but I am saving it for another post. Hopefully that will be up later this week. 

Mom Rating: G The only warning I have for you is that she does talk a lot about birth and breast feeding in detail. I am not shy at all about these topics. It made me like the book more, but I saw one review online from someone who didn't like that part of the book and said she just doesn't get into birth stories. So if that is not your cup of tea then at least now you know. You're welcome. 

These reviews are not all that I read in 2014, but I didn't want to bore you with all the parenting self help stuff. I am reading Orphan Train right now and I have been researching all the books you guys have done such an amazing job of recommending. Keep them coming. I love hearing from you! 

I will leave you with this quote from Surprised By Motherhood, that really stuck out to me. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Story Reviews

I previously mentioned that I am not much a nonfiction reader. I feel bad about it. I can only blame myself  my dad. I grew up with a mother who devoured non fiction. My dad on the other hand is all about true stories. This includes movies. I am the same way. So I categorized my 10 book reviews into two parts. I was going to do fiction and non fiction, but it was too uneven. That is why I am calling this category "stories" because even if they fall under non fiction they are in story form. As I promised  yesterday, I will also rate how family friendly (or conservative-christian-mom friendly) they are. Don't hold it against me if you think that I am off on some of the details here. I am just going from my memory and it's been a while since I read most of these. 

Alright, here are my personal opinions on 5 of the stories I read in 2014. 

1. The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green  

There was such a buzz about this book. I couldn't avoid hearing about  it, so two years after it was published I actually snuck in reading it cover to cover just before the movie was released.I actually liked this book. The young adult side of it was hard for me to relate to personally and made me roll my eyes here and there. Call me heartless, but I did not cry, and what's crazy is that I am a cryer. I even enjoy crying sometimes. I might be vague here to avoid spoilers, but I thought the ending was brilliant except for one part, which was actually modified in the movie. So as far as that one little part I liked the screenplay better, other than that I liked the book better. 

I would rate it PG-13 just like the movie. It is typical high school stuff. There are some theological views that are touched on. It also has a few sexual things in it and some language. 

2. Divergent 
by Veronica Roth

Here goes. Despite what it may look like from this list so far, I am not usually into YA books. However, since I did enjoy the Hunger Games trilogy and what I already mentioned about Fault in Our Stars I thought I would jump on the divergent band wagon. For those that have read it you'll know what I mean when I say I must not be dauntless because I couldn't stick the landing with this book and ended up falling off the wagon. I finished the first one and I intended to continue on to the rest, but honestly, I probably never will. 

Mom Rating: PG-13. Again just like the movie. It was a clean book, but I wouldn't listen to the audio version in front of my young children for what it's worth. 

3. Glitter and Glue 
by Kelly Corrigan 

This book is the memoir of a women telling how her adventurous exertions to Australia get hijacked when she had to get a job as a nanny for a young family that lost their mother. It's kind of like sitting down with this woman and hearing her story. It's not that complicated, but I liked it. It's the kind of story that mother's are going to relate to in at least one way or another. If you are familiar with Surprised by Motherhood, it is a very similar theme. A women disenchanted with the idea of motherhood, suddenly finds herself "reconsidering her relationship with her mother, turning it over in her hands like a shell, straining to hear whatever messages might be trapped in its spiral." 

Mom Rating: PG-13 I know you think you see a pattern here, but I may surprise you at the end! This book is very clean, but it is written from a secular perspective and there is some language and innuendos. I feel like such a prude for even saying that, but I know some of you are like me and would like to know up front. 

4. Unbroken 
by Laura Hillanbrand

You have probably heard of this book or movie by now. It's the true story of an Olympic runner who became an airman in World War II which led to crashing at sea only to be rescued by the enemy. I'm not saying it is a book everyone would love, but I'm already fascinated with the World War II era. This is me at the Historic Union Terminal in Cincinnati for 1940's weekend. I know, I am such a nerd! 

 So add that to my love for true stories this is book quickly won my attention and raced its way to the top of my personal charts as my current FAVORITE book. And I don't just have a bunch of favorites, so it's a big deal for me to say I love, love, love this book! It's written by the same author as Seabiscuit and it's just incredible how she paints the picture using TONS of historical and military facts accompanied with a 3rd person narration, and yet the whole time it reads like a novel not a text book. It's incredible I tell you. 

 I saw the movie too. I go to the movies maybe once a year, but I loved the book so much I knew I had to see it. As someone who read the book I felt like the movie was a great supplement to the reading material. I like the book better, but I feel like the casting and the accuracy of the movie was great! Although, I've heard complaints that it was slow, or that they never felt like they really felt a connection with the main character. I can understand that. It's slow because it was a really long time to be in captivity! There is a lack of dialogue because that's the nature of what he went through. I don't really see anyway around this. In other words if you are looking to have your entertainment bone tickled this may not be the movie to see. However, if you want to see a factual depiction of the heroic Louie Zamperini then yes, check it out. 

Mom Rating- R. Unlike the movie which is PG-13, I give this book an R rating. Only for violence though. The man the book is about was a devout christian. It is truly a redemptive and inspiring story, but it is intense. There were times I felt like I couldn't take anymore of the gruesome depictions, but then the story would move on. I recently came across this young adult adaptation. This seems like it would be a nice alternative if you have older children that are interested in reading the story, but you aren't sure about all the graphic details of torture in POW camps. 

5. The Time Traveler's Wife 

I know, I know, I am over a decade late to the party on this best seller, but I polled instagram to see what I should read and that one came up, so I thought I would see what all the hype had been about. 

This book is a romance, but it's also Sci-fi. It's written from two perspectives and many different years. It bounces around all over the place. The male lead (Henry) was thirty-six when he meets the other main character Clare as a six year old girl, but when they get married Clare is twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. This is all explained because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder which means he randomly without warning travels through time. Every chapter starts off with what year it is and how old the characters are because you don't know if it's going to be Henry from the past, or future, or present time. I found the story to be unique, intriguing, and engaging. I can see why it captured so much attention. The first half, or first three fourths, were definitely better than the last if you ask me. I felt like it could have ended MUCH sooner. After reading it I checked out the movie because I was curious how it would be interpreted and portrayed. In my opinion it was lame. I couldn't even finish it. So there you have it, I enjoyed the book more than the movie.

Mom Rating- XXX. Maybe that's extreme, but there is no way they could show the book in it's entirety in a movie form because it would have to be unrated. Most of the book was fine, or I would not have finished it. This isn't 50 Shades of Grey or anything, but the erotic scenes that it did have (and they were a very passionate couple, ahem) where super graphic. It's probably nothing to a lot of people, but I have pretty high standards and so for me it was just unnecessary and some of it really grossed me out. Let's just say it involves his future self time traveling to his past self when he was a bored. Yuck. There was also plenty of foul language peppered throughout.

So if you were curious about any of these books, I hope my little blurbs helped. Tomorrow I'll do part two, exclusively non fiction.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Last Year's Books

 I'll admit that more times that not I fall short when it comes to accomplishing what I set out to do at the beginning of the year. On the other hand there are some really significant changes that I have made amongst all of those New Year's resolutions. For example, for several years I had "read" (or read more, or read x amount of books etc.) as one of my resolutions. I just wanted to get into the pattern of reading, but it was often easier said than done. This is one of the first years I did not add reading to my list because I feel like I now have successfully made a habit out of it.

In all of the reading I have done this past year I haven't blogged much about any of the books other than the parenting ones that were a part of my 31 day series. This week I want to change that and actually discuss some of my thoughts on certain books. Now. I am no critique, so don't expect something too polished or professional. I often read these eloquently delivered reviews that are as thoughtfully written as the novels themselves. Not going to happen here.

One thing I do feel like I can offer that you may not find elsewhere is the rating for how clean the content is. I hate looking for a new book only to have a bunch of foul language and smutty content crammed into every other page. The only way I have really seen to get around this is when someone I know has already read the book. So, maybe I can be that someone for you. Or maybe you could be that someone for me! Please let me know what you are reading or plan on reading this year. Or feel free to suggest all time favorites. Even though I tend to lean toward non fiction I have ventured out a bit recently and I welcome any suggestions.

Here are the 10 I will be touching on over the next few days-

1. A year without sugar  

2. The fault in our stars 

3. Divergent 

4. Glitter and glue

5. Unbroken

6. Bossy pants 

7. The Time Traveler's Wife

8. Seven

9. Call the Midwife Shadows of the Workhouse 

10. Surprised By Motherhood 

Tomorrow I'll dive into what I thought about these books, but now it's your turn.

I REALLY wants some ideas about what to read for 2015. Let's Go!