Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: Surprised by Motherhood

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a MomSurprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely memoir of losing and becoming a mother. As I read this book, many tears were shed and much head-nodding occurred. This is a beautiful book that I will be sharing with every new mom I know from now on. As a mom and a librarian, I have read many parenting/motherhood books, and this is among the very best of them. It's not a "how-to," but a "why" -- and don't we need more of those?

*Thanks to the publisher for providing an e-galley for review through NetGalley.

P.S. For more from Lisa-Jo Baker, check out her blog.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mommy Guilt vs. Mommy Shame

I shared this in my Real Moms group a couple of weeks ago and thought I would share it here, too.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought the choice to breastfeed was a no-brainer.  After all, how many times have we heard that “breast is best?”  I did everything I could to prepare  -- read books, took a class, and stocked up on all those nursing necessities (who says breastfeeding is free?).  But when Evan came along, it just didn’t work.  I got help from lactation consultants and my aunts and even La Leche League, I tried everything from herbs to prescription drugs to a hospital grade pump, but after six weeks, I gave up.  That’s how it felt, too, like giving up, like failing, like being a bad mom from the very beginning.   I think I spent those first six weeks crying.  So when I got pregnant with my second, I was determined that things would be different.  I made an appointment with a lactation consultant to find out what I could do to prepare to “succeed.”  Of course all my plans were upended when Bennett came along ten weeks early, and it was back to the pump.  This time, though, I saw the NICU lactation consultant, and she diagnosed me with what amounted to a physical inability to nurse.  Anyway, I’d spent the first two years of Evan’s life beating myself up over something I couldn’t help.  And it got me to thinking, don’t all of us do that?  Isn’t that what “mommy guilt” is all about?

Not too long ago I read an article that discussed guilt vs. shame.  I don’t remember what the article was about, and I don’t even think it was a Christian article, but it really struck me.  It said that guilt is feeling bad about something we did or didn’t do. Shame is feeling bad about who we ARE. 

Guilt isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It can be a nudge from the Holy Spirit, encouraging us to change.  But when guilt turns into shame – when a thought like “I am going to try harder to breastfeed next time” turns into the thought “I am a bad mom who can’t even breastfeed her babies” – that’s not the Holy Spirit, that’s Satan.  Shame has no place in the life of a Christian, because who I am is a forgiven child of God. 

So the next time you experience mommy guilt, whether it’s over losing your temper, or not doing enough crafts with your kids,  or letting them watch too much TV, take that guilt and use it constructively.  Don’t let Satan turn it into shame.   Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recipe Success: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

My boys love Mimi's pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  She uses the Trader Joe's mix, so for muffins they're relatively healthy, but I hate how crumbly they are because, well, I'm the one who cleans up the crumbs!  So I've been searching for an even healthier recipe that they will actually eat instead of whining that they want Mimi's muffins instead.  And I finally found one!

I discovered a new recipe site, the Meal Makeover Moms, when consulting Google, and adapted their recipe.  The original recipe can be found here.  My adaptation is below.  I hope your kids enjoy them just as much as mine do.

And hey, chocolate chips count as healthy in my book.  I use bittersweet (60%), so, you know, antioxidants.

1 c. all-purpose (unbleached) flour
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt
1 c. canned pumpkin
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c. coconut sugar (can use brown sugar)
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (can use other milk)
1/3 c. grapeseed oil (I'm going to try coconut next time)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350. I used paper liners in my muffin tin.
2. Whisk together the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk pumpkin, eggs, sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla until well-combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from tins and cool on rack for another 5 minutes before serving.  (I like eating them warm, when the chocolate chips are all melty and gooey.)
5. Feel virtuous that your children are getting fiber, omega 3s, veggies, and, of course, antioxidants from something so delicious.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Notes from a Blue Bike

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic WorldNotes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a casual, occasional reader of Oxenreider's blog, and the subtitle of this book was what really drew me, since I'm trying to live more "intentionally" this year, whatever that means. And there's the rub -- it may mean a million different things to a million different people, and I found it very hard to relate to Oxenreider's lifestyle, with all of her international travel with children and online ordering from farmers' markets. I appreciated what she was trying to do in encouraging and inspiring her readers to make choices congruent with their values, but unfortunately I felt like her tone came off as a little bit superior, and many of the choices she and her family made seem completely out of my family's financial reach. (She did address the issue of finances in an afterword, and I think if that had been addressed in the forward, I would have found her advice to be a lot more relatable.) Overall, the book did offer some food for thought and might be a worthwhile read.

*Thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced e-copy for review.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: The Tyrant's Daughter

The Tyrant's DaughterThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An intriguing view of life in an oppressive Muslim country vs. life in America through the eyes of a teenage girl who barely escaped her home country with her life. Laila's father, the non-religious King of her nameless homeland, was assassinated by his ultra-religious brother, and what's left of her family is offered asylum in the U.S. -- but in exchange for information and political wrangling, as she soon learns. As she tries to adjust to American high school, take care of her little brother, and figure out just what her mother is doing for the C.I.A., she is also piecing together her own history, and learning the truth about her father's legacy. Laila is brave and resourceful, and her story is well worth reading.

* Thanks to the publisher for providing an e-copy for review through NetGalley.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

DangerousDangerous by Shannon Hale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Shannon Hale and would follow her into any genre, including sci-fi...but this one wasn't her most successful. Maybe it would have worked better as a trilogy. The initial set-up was slow-going, but then the rest of the plot proceeded at breakneck speed. The love triangle was pretty weak - the (very) bad boy or the (literal) boy next door? I'm no scientist, so I can't comment on that aspect of it, but I managed suspension of disbelief just fine. Overall, it was entertaining enough, but a bit of a disappointment.

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an e-copy for review.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

eBook Review: Worth the Fight

Worth the Fight - Kayse PrattIf you're like me, you've read your fair share of Christian marriage books and might not want to invest the time in another.  But Kayse Pratt's brief eBook, Worth the Fight: Lessons Learned in a High-Maintenance Marriage, is a great little primer on bolstering a marriage.  While I found nothing earth-shattering in its chapters, I did find plenty of helpful reminders and strategies for making my marriage a priority.  And as a nice little bonus, it includes some pretty Bible verse printables.  You can buy your copy here.  And, today only, receive 20%  off with the code worththefight20.