Sunday, August 26, 2012

Some Other Books I'm Reading...

...or just finished reading.

Since I'm recovering still, I've gotten to read quite a bit.  I'm on a WWII reading kick currently. Here's the latest:

The Tiger in the Attic: So-so. I liked the style of it: stories from the author's life during WWII weaved together chronologically. At times, it was pretty wordy. It also was disheartening at times in terms of faith (or rather the lack of). I wouldn't recommend this book.

Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account: It's informative and scary. Pretty graphic in parts, but I'm glad I read it. Just because something is unpleasant doesn't mean we need to shy away from it and pretend it didn't happen.

Was God on Vacation?: I'm not done yet, but it's a great true-life adventure! It's about a Dutchman sent to a concentration camp during WWII. There's more to tell, but I don't want to spoil anything. It's a bit rough throughout - sorta choppy. The author isn't an experienced writer, but a man relaying his part in history. The story is worth reading though, and I like his honest struggle with his faith in God. I'm anxious to finish the book and see how (and if) the author makes his peace with God.

I finished Was God on Vacation? There's some concluding remarks about how the author makes peace with his enemies.  I wish there had been more about how he reconciled his faith after the war. Nevertheless, it was a good read.

Clara's War: I have about a hundred pages left, and I'll probably try to finish it tonight or tomorrow. This is a story about a young girl who goes into hiding during WWII. A polish family hides 18 jews. It's based upon the diary the author kept during the hiding. This author is truly a gifted story-teller. I've cried, laughed out loud, and gasped with my heart racing. There is also a lot of discussion about faith and courage. This book will make you think about your faith and ability to stand up for what's right.

I finished Clara's War last night. I loved it. I probably would re-read this book. It's up there with Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.

Bringing Up Bebe

My friend Pam literally would not shut up about this book. As fellow mothers who work outside the home, we discuss parenting and books quite a bit. My curiosity was piqued when she told me that their French friends actually do what French people supposedly do in this book. I had to check it out.

I read the book quickly.  It was an easy-to-read book, but thought-provoking. It's researched and full of citations, but not wordy and full of flowery language. Just the kind of book for a scientist.

I think why I liked this book so much was that some of it describes what we do in our family.  From experience, I know at least some of it works.  And who doesn't feel good when their efforts are validated by research? If some of it works, maybe other ideas work, too. I should at least think about it.

The book opens up describing the author (an American), her husband (a Brit), and her eighteen-month-old going to eat out in Paris (where they live).  The scene she describes of them eating is common in America - loud, picky eating, making a mess.  She looks around and realizes that all the other families (French mind you) are the opposite. Quietly talking. No food-throwing. Everyone eating everything (no "kid foods"). It got the author to thinking about the differences between American and French parenting. The book is a collection of observations, some short history lessons, cited research, and core parenting practices in France.

Many of these practices resonated with me because on the whole, French women get their pre-baby identities back pretty quickly after they give birth. Many French women work outside the home. Even those who don't work outside the home, send their children to a daycare at least part-time. I feel like this is such a big debate here in America - should a mom work outside the home or stay home with her kids? It's become so heated; some people cite scripture and/or research. It's no wonder that working-oustide-the-home-moms and moms who send their kids to any type of childcare (e.g. from day care to Mother's Day Out) have some level of guilt. It was refreshing to read a "parenting book" that didn't criticize my decision to work outside the home. As one friend related to me after we both read the book, "I also like the no-guilt working mom attitude. Kind of liberating - it's who I am and I'm proud to do it all. And because guilt is not productive." There also was a respect and quiet awe for the women discussed in the book who do not work outside the home. Mutual respect on both sides - the way it should be. Each woman not being judged for her decision to work or not work outside the home.

Some other common "French" themes that I appreciated in the book:

  • Kids have bedtimes so adults can have time by themselves: I love having adult time at night. As much as I've missed my kids, I'm ready for them to go to bed in time that gives me an hour or two with Josh.
  • There's no big push for kids to learn skills early.  It's okay to let them "explore" and play.
  • There's a big thing about Waiting. Pausing before you pick your baby up. Is he crying because he's hungry? Is he just making noises and will go back to sleep? Teaching a child to wait 30 seconds if you can't pick them up right at that moment.
  • You have the right to do some things. You don't have the right to do other things (e.g. hitting).
  • Eating is handled with moderation. Sweets are okay, but you don't overdo it. No snacking between meals.

I don't do all these things, but I thought there was some wisdom behind these points.  It's okay to at least think about some of them. There was also some "French" ideas that I don't subscribe to:

  • Breastfeeding isn't encouraged for the most part. It's looked down upon if you breastfeed over a few months.
  • It's probably related to the whole "getting your pre-baby identity back", but there's an understanding that women need to look a certain way. Pregnant women are discouraged from gaining too much weight and highly encouraged to get their bodies back quickly. That's a lot of pressure on a woman. There's already a lot of unrealistic standards out there for women.  
  • France is one of the least religious European countries. You can imagine the results.
  • One of the concerns the author voices is the freedom teenagers have in France.

Despite some of the ideas in the book, it was an interesting read. There were other ideas that I didn't mention. I just mentioned the ones that grabbed my attention because I thought, Oh, that could be a good idea, or What? That's ridiculous.
If you're a parent or soon-to-be-parent, you'll probably like this book.  You might not agree with anything in the book, but it's thought-provoking. And even if you don't have any kids or plan to have any children, you still might find this book engrossing.  Cultural differences are always educational.

Thanks to Courtney for her blog post about how to write a book review

*I had to add Pam's comment to the post (she commented on my FB page):
"This wasn't mentioned in the book, but I learned this from our French neighbor experience: kids all even out about 4 to 5 years old. The French potty train really early (at 18 months) but let their kids keep a bottle and pacifier until 4 or 5 years old. We do just the opposite here. I realized it that kids will figure it out along the way and I don't have to stress about it."
I loved her comment because sometimes as mothers (and fathers, too) we stress out about our parenting decisions. Relax. Love you kids. Try your best. Figure out what works for your family. Accept help. Things that I need to remember, too. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Soreness, Reading, and Sleeping

This is what the last 24 hours or so have consisted.

Soreness: Is this how women who have c-sections feel? Like you did fifty million crunches? If you have had a c-section and your gall bladder removed, please tell me. Is it the same pain? If c-sections hurt worse, my deepest sympathies!!

Thankfully, as soon as I got to eat a meal and sleep a little yesterday, my nausea passed. I've heard some people's nausea is awful. I hate nausea. But what person doesn't?

Reading: I've gotten to read A LOT.  It helps me to rest, recover, and pass the time.  I was hoping I would read a lot this week because I got a whole slew of books from the library this past weekend. My friend Pam just dropped two more off for me, too.  Reading is making up for all this soreness.

Sleeping: I've done a lot of this due to the anesthesia and pain pills I'm on. After being back at work for two weeks, I was missing my afternoon naps. I guess getting to nap is another positive of the surgery.

I ended up having the surgery someplace different than where I've delivered L Child and had two other procedures done. This is because I have doctors in different hospital networks. In the future, I probably will try to stick with the hospital I've always gone to before this one. The place I had the surgery was very crowded and loud, ran late, and didn't have very sympathetic nurses. When I about fainted yesterday after my surgery, Josh had to tell the nurse to catch me please (he was across the room while she was right behind me helping me to the bathroom). The nurse seemed annoyed by my fainting spell. (Going over 12 hours without eating wasn't working for my hypoglycemia.) At least though the nurses were quick about getting me pain medicines and anti-nausea medicine.

Despite the experience at the hospital, I am thankful that I got to have this surgery, especially before classes begin. After months of feeling bad, I'm sooo ready to feel energized, pain-free, and well again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's Been Going On

Some ramblings besides the usual blogging I do...

1. Let's start with the biggie. I'm having surgery in a handful of hours to get my gall bladder out. I am ready. I started having pains in March, but they would go away. I was fatigued, but I thought I was just tired with school and having two little energetic boys. But when May turned into June and I was feeling worse more frequently, I went to my doctor. Finally. As one collegue told me, "You're a scientist, you know better than that." True. But like most moms, I think I forget to take care of myself thinking I'll catch up later. Well, lesson learned. After four doctors, blood and urine tests, two ultrasounds, an MRI, a cystoscopy, and a HIDA scan, they finally figured out it was my gall bladder. In their defense, my symptoms have been very unusual for gall bladder problems. As time went along, my symptoms started expanding and matching gall bladder issues. It hit me again yesterday, and I'll be glad when it's out and I start to feel better.  It's a simple procedure. Prayers for an easy procedure and quick recovery that is successful would be appreciated!

2. I've mentioned it a couple of times about bedtime issues lately. For the most part, our kids have gone down for bed pretty easy.  Even if we were at someone else's house, we could get them down and still have grown-up time. Ah, I guess we needed to experience the other side. A few weeks before school started, C began fighting going to bed. Each night got worse lasting longer, and L Child decided to follow big brother's example. I was missing my time with Josh and my time to de-compress. The boys were exhausted during the day so there were more fights and tears, more fighting sleep, and the cycle would repeat itself. After one particularly rough night, Josh and I brainstormed.  I talked to Mom the next day, and she had some ideas, too.  So here's what's been working for us (and what we told the kids):

  •   If C and/or L have had a good day (that means minimal whining, no fighting, obeying, etc.), that must mean they aren't that tired.  So they get to play a game.  Sometimes, we all play together. Sometimes, they get one-on-one game time with Josh or I.
  • If C and/or L have had a bad day, then that must mean they are tired and need extra sleep.  They go to bed early or at least on time. Definitely no games or special things (like the park) right before bed.
  • Sometimes, if C is having a good day and acting non-tired at all, he gets to stay up later than L.  He gets to play a game with just Josh or me.  This works best when L is so tired, he doesn't care that C is still up, and L falls asleep quickly when one of us puts him down.  
  • If C and/or L had a good night, then they earn a shape. It was going to be a star, but since C (aka Mr. Independent) likes different shapes, we went with his request. One time I had to draw an octagon.  Needless to say, it took two attempts and didn't really look like one. After 5 shapes earned, C got a reading lamp for his bed and L got a new game.
  • If C is having a good night, he gets to turn the lamp on after bedtime and read for awhile. He LOVES his lamp.  So much so that losing his lamp has been an effective consequence for bad behavior. The lamp is bright so usually L reads too when C does, but not as long.  He usually falls asleep before C. 
  • Most nights, we usually try to read books all together.  This used to always work, but didn't for awhile when the boys were challenging bedtime.  It's working again to calm them down which is good.
  • We are watching sugar intake, especially afternoon and evening.  We think it's helping with C.
  • We thought that once C started school, he would be so tired at the end of the day, that bedtime would be a welcome like it used to be. Not so much. That kid has so much energy. If he is having a good day and it's obvious that he is really not sleepy (not just fighting sleep), we are letting him decide when to go to sleep. He has to be in bed and can read or quietly play laying down.  But he can decide when to turn his lamp off. He can decide when to go to sleep. He has used this freedom wisely.  Most nights when he is allowed to do this, he ends up going to sleep within half an hour of us tucking him into bed. My mom had suggested this idea. That's what they let my brother and I do growing up, especially my brother. The rule was as long as you got up in the morning for school with no fighting, then you could decide when to fall asleep. I also think C is a lot like my brother and I are: need some time alone to de-compress. Reading is a great method of doing it.
So overall, bedtime is much, much smoother.  And Josh and I are very, very thankful. Watching my kids run around the house creating havoc at 10:30 at night wasn't my ideal evening.

3. Since C started school, L has become quite the "class clown". Up to this point, he tended to be Mr. Funny Man, doing whatever it took to get a laugh. Or at least I thought "whatever it took." He has increased his efforts. I'm pretty sure it's like watching Josh grow up. Josh has told me some stuff he did or said to get a laugh, and it sounds similar to Liam's antics lately. Here are just some of his sassy examples:

  • We told Liam that if he didn't stay in his bed, we would turn it back into a baby bed (a crib). As to which he says after running back into the livingroom, "I want a baby bed!" He called us out - seeing if we were bluffing. Two nights in a row he slept in a crib.
  • The baby bed threat is L's most effective consequence. Yesterday in the car, he was spitting and would not stop.  We told him that he would sleep in a baby bed if he wouldn't stop spitting. Without pausing, he replies, "If you turn my bed into a baby bed, Mama and Daddy will sit in time out." (one of the consequences he hates)
  • After explaining to him that he doesn't sit people in time-out nor should he tell us that because it's disrespectful, he says, "I'm going to count to three. You have to turn my bed back into my bed. 1..." (counting is another common tool we use) I didn't know whether to cry or laugh. Josh handled that one. 
I have a feeling that L Child is going to have to figure out what's okay to say in all places, not just at home.  On the up-side, L is quite hilarious at times. And sometimes, an exasperating little boy. I say exasperating because if you know me, you probably know that I'm pretty uncomfortable with bathroom humor. So of course, I have to little boys who find all bathroom humor HILARIOUS. Yesterday in church, Liam was talking about something having two. I whispered back, "Yes, there's two, too." Liam starts cracking up exclaiming, "Mama said toot-toot." (what they call farting) (And I can't believe I just wrote about farting on my blog. I really am a mother of boys.)

4. Despite the latest challenges for being four and half, Casen's prayers are so heartfelt. He tells God what's on his mind. It makes me ashamed of my own lack of innocence and doubly-protective of his.
Things I've heard in the last couple of weeks:

  • "Dear God...please send rain. But not too much where it will flood everything. That wouldn't be nice."
  • "Dear God...thank you for the rain. Don't let it rain too much so we don't die." (Can you tell he figured out what happened during Noah's flood? Pretty sure he gave his teachers a run for their money with all his questions in bible class.)
  • "Dear God...thank you for my dogs. They are good dogs. Well, Newman is a wild dog. But thanks for him anyway. I love my dog Padme."
  • "Dear us to die one day...we will get to live with you in Heaven."
When life is hard or uncertain, I need to remember what it means to be like a child. A child that puts his faith in God.

5. Finally, on a not-so-heavy topic, I've gotten to read a lot this summer. I usually read in the summer since I don't during the school year. I finished the Gregor the Overlander series. I read the Shadow Children series. Both are great children series with good life lessons. I'm currently reading Bringing Up Bebe. I'm so enthralled by it; I can't wait to finish it. I just finished two WWII books so I decided to continue in the theme. I highly recommend I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree. I read another biography, but I didn't like it as much nor can I remember the title. I'm reading The Tiger in the Attic right now and liking the style of it. I have several other novels; I'm hoping I get to read during my recovery and into the school year.  I love reading.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is Dad's birthday.  After so many years of being so far away from Mom and Dad, it's nice to be able to celebrate together.  This year we celebrated a couple days earlier. Dad picked Red Lobster.

Casen wrote in Bunny's card for the first time; he didn't just draw.  He wrote Happy Birthday Bunny with just a few letters written by me.  He was pretty proud of it!

My aunt sent Mom and Dad a Happy Birthday Banner (Mom's birthday is Sunday). They've had it up a week now!  Isn't it awesome?!?

The boys got Bunny a new game: Pop the Pig.  One of Liam's rewards (from having five good nights..I'll blog about that later) was a new game.  They got some chicken game that they LOVE.  They also saw this game at the store and have been asking for it. I told them that maybe they could get it for Christmas or birthdays.  Uh, yeah, that's what they picked to get Bunny for HIS birthday.  It's funny and disturbing at the same time.  You stuff hamburgers into the pig.  As he "eats", his belly grows until finally his belt bursts open.  No joke. I'm not sure what's more disturbing: the idea that the pig is eating cow or the fact that the winner is the one that force-feeds the pig the most and succeeds in popping the pig.

All in all, it was a nice evening celebrating Dad.  Love you Dad!

Lake Pics

Casen and Josh got up early and went down to the dock to fish. The rest of us got up and walked down to the dock to join them later in the morning. 

Casen showing Baby Jaylee a worm.

Liam fished a little bit.

C can cast quite the line.  He's better than me. Which really doesn't speak to his ability. But I was impressed with his ability and interest in fishing.  He was really proud of himself - he ended up catching 6 fish!

This is what L Child preferred to do. After trying the fishing thing for about 5 minutes, he went and sat with the Lairs.  He would rather talk sports.  That kid is a mini-Josh.

After Brian and I made pancakes and sausage, we went swimming.

These pictures warm my heart.  Dads not only lovin' their kids, but surrounded by others.

After a yummy dinner at the Albrights, Trey took us all out on the boat.

After the kids fell asleep, we played some Balderdash.  Funtimes. As always.

We got to worship with the Madill family and then back to home.  We love seeing the Trey and Lauren and Layne - we usually see them once a year.  It was an added bonus to bring the Brian, Tara, and Jaylee too this time.

First Night at the Lake

Two weekends ago, we made a trek down to Lake Texoma to see our friends the Albrights.  This year, we brought some other friends with us, the Lairs, so we stayed in a cabin.  This cabin is my kind of cabin.  It was a larger trailer house.  Air conditioning. Plumbing. A kitchen.  We each had our own rooms and the boys slept in the living room on the futon.  Definitely my kind of camping.

The trip down there was LONG. It took us an hour and half just to get out of the city due to two car accidents.  Then somewhere along the interstate, workers had the highway go down to one lane because they were repairing a bridge.  This stand-still delayed us even longer so the trip took double the time.  During the standstill, of course, C has to go to the bathroom.  There was no where to go.  No where to pull off.  We are trapped on a highway with a billion cars around us (or so it seemed). So Josh did what any father of a four-year-old boy does: gave him an empty gatorade bottle and told him to use it. Ugh. Once we finally passed the bridge work, of course, L Child needed to use the bathroom.  

Five hours after we left our house, we were relieved to reach our cabin!

The boys were awesome this weekend. Bedtime has been a challenge and brought a bunch of new consequences and rewards.  That weekend though, the boys were so worn out, they slept like logs.

These are some pictures of the boys falling on the bed.

After we got the kids down the first night, we played the Seinfeld game.  Somehow I lost even though my Seinfeld trivia is pretty good.  Actually, I know how I lost.  My Seinfeld knowledge wasn't as extensive as I thought it was.  Ha!

Then we played Hand And Foot Canasta.  Montana rules.  I prefer my family's rules, but we still had a good time.  I hadn't played in a long time so it was nice to shuffle several decks of cards again.

I think it was close to 2 when we finally went to bed.  I hadn't stayed up that late in a long time.  Nothing like laughing and playing games with friends until the late hours!

Fun Visit

When Jack's daughter and family flew into OKC a couple of weeks ago, we got to meet all of them for lunch.  We had never met Rick, Brody, or Shelby so it was nice to finally meet them! It was nice to visit and catch up.

All three little boys enjoyed looking out the window watching the boats go by the restaurant.

As usual, the boys loved the baby.  Shelby was a sweetie!

We ended the day by going on a boat ride.  Despite the three-digit-heat, we had a good time.  The kids LOVED it!

More School Pictures

In typical mom fashion, I took pictures of C the second day of school.  He was wearing a different color of uniform shirt.  I have to capture that, right?

Mom made a special after-school treat for C, too.  We ate it in the car because after L Child and I picked C up, we ran to McDonalds.

Mamaw had sent L child money for him to take us all out for a drink after school.

L Child got a mocha drink for Daddy.  We took the drinks up to his office since he had a break after school.  It worked out great.  The boys got to play in the play-therapy room and Josh and I got to see each other a little extra that day!