Thursday, December 23, 2010
"May your hearts be full of gladness,
And the peace that covers sadness.
May your joy be overflowing
And your many blessings growing.
May you find the time you long for
With the people that you love.
May you have yourself a merry Christmas now!"
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
What's your favorite photo site? Do share!
Monday, November 22, 2010
I refuse to put up my Christmas tree until the day after Thanksgiving, and I am completely annoyed by the retail world's insistence on hauling out the Christmas- (er, holiday-) themed merchandise as soon as the Halloween candy is on markdown, but it's never too early to line up your Christmas reading! So I thought I'd share some of my favorites.
Katherine Paterson, a two-time Newbery winner and a fellow King College alum, is also the wife of a Presbyterian pastor, and Angels and Other Strangers is a collection of stories she wrote over the years to be shared at the Christmas Eve service. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill (read: sappy) Christmas stories, each one explores what the incarnation means to us fallen humans. Also see her second collection, A Midnight Clear.
I am Christmas by Nancy White Carlstrom, a picture book with beautiful oil paintings by Lori McElrath-Eslick, is sadly out-of-print, but it's worth tracking down a copy. The simple, brief text is profound, using the different names of Jesus to illuminate the Christmas story. The conclusion always makes me tear up: "I am beginning, I am end/the message foretold/scratched in sand/ etched in gold -- / I am the story, I am the song." Definitely not just for kids.
A sweet picture book to share with kids is Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, charmingly illustrated by Jane Dyer. A holiday-themed entry in the Cookies series, it defines Christmas terms like "celebrate" and "hope" in relation to cookie baking. It's sure to be at a Borders (or independent bookstore) near you.
A new picture book I'm anxious to get my hands on is Christmas is Here, with words from the King James Bible and illustrations by Lauren Castillo. It got excellent reviews and reportedly connects a modern family with what happened in Bethlehem all those centuries ago.
What are your favorite Christmas books? Anything you read year after year? I'm looking forward to starting Christmas book traditions with Evan!
Monday, November 8, 2010
But lately I've been doing even more than cutting out (and printing out) coupons and checking the Kroger ad. I've discovered a number of blogs that find the bargains for me. My favorite is Money Saving Mom (thanks, Amy O.!), but I also like Passionate Penny Pincher and Saving Naturally. I also print a lot of coupons from Coupons.com and Target.
By doing all this I feel less guilty about the fact that I am a Starbucks Gold Card Member.
What are your favorite penny-pinching tricks?
Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
When: When we're at home (except for overnight -- not brave enough for that yet) and on short excursions out of the house (I just can't bear to carry around dirty diapers with me).
What: I'm using a combo of BumGenius (one size pocket, fitted bamboo with waterproof covers, and fitted all-in-ones) and FuzziBunz pocket(one-size). I like all of them. Mike likes the BumGenius pockets and all-in-ones the best because they close with velcro just like disposables. I'm also using cloth wipes (I just get them wet) and bottom spray (for the messy diaper changes).
How It's Going: in spite of the extra laundry, which really isn't all that bad, and the ick factor of spraying off solids into the toilet before depositing diapers into the wet bag, and the bulkiness of cloth under clothes, it's been a pretty positive experience so far. I just keep reminding myself how much money we're saving.
I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about my cloth diapering experience. Ask away!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Evan is 14 1/2 weeks old now, and so much fun! Yesterday was a big day for him. We had his first visit with a physical therapist for torticollis (basically, his head is tilted to one side because of the position he was in inside of me, and we need to do lots of stretching to make sure he'll have full range of motion, plus, you know, not look off-kilter), and he discovered his feet, rolled front to back (twice!) and back to front (once). I'm so glad I wasn't at work when all of that happened!
I don't have the energy to compose a book review, but a book I recently enjoyed was Deb Caletti's The Six Rules of Maybe. She writes thoughtful fiction for teen girls; I'd compare her to Sarah Dessen. You grown-ups who don't read YA fiction are totally missing out!
That's all for now. I salute all of you working moms out there...and if you have any advice on how to keep up with the laundry, let me know! The smallest member of our family currently produces the most.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Collins is one heck of a writer, and for younger kids, there's her Gregory the Overlander series. Gregory is just a normal kid who accidentally follows his baby sister through a vent in the laundry room of his apartment building and ends up in an underground world populated by violet-eyed people and giant rats, bats, and cockroaches. A mysterious prophecy and plenty of action make these compulsively readable as well.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Then there's Megan Whalen Turner's latest, A Conspiracy of Kings. This is the fourth in the series started by her Newbery Honor-winning The Thief, and each of the books in this series are so complex I really don't think they should be limited to kids! She also creates vivid characters and sets them in a historical world complicated by politics, faith, friendship, romance, and a little hint of the supernatural. If you haven't tried this series, run to your local library and give The Thief a try.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. I feel sad that Evan will have to be exclusively formula-fed from now on, but, as my ob/gyn said, I gave it the "college try." She assured me that this experience doesn't mean that I'll have the same problems with my next baby. So I will continue to thank the Lord for sparing my life and Evan's, and enjoy giving him his bottles. (He gazes adoringly at anyone who feeds him.)
And someone did tell me about "Milkshare," where women donate their extra breast milk, but I just can't imagine taking breast milk from someone I don't know. It is a bodily fluid, after all! So I did my research on formula choices, and Parent's Choice Organic it is!
Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
When we did try nursing, it did not go well. Evan seemed to latch on but then got frustrated and screamed. The lactation consultant at the hospital was not very encouraging. Leaving aside her pronouncement on my shortcomings (inverted nipples, if you care to know), she informed me that Evan's mouth is too small to keep a latch and as he gets older and bigger he may be able to nurse (and we keep trying!), but it's not happening now, so I should just pump.
And pump I have, with the hospital-grade pump Mike rented for me, every 3 hours around the clock, since I've been home. At most I am getting 2 oz. at every pumping, and Evan needs at least 24 oz. a day, so, if you do the math, you will see that we've had to supplement with formula. I've tried to boost my production by taking herbs, eating oatmeal, drinking lots of water, even drinking beer, but nothing seems to help. My doctor called in a prescription for Reglan for me yesterday, and I was told that if I followed the dosing schedule, my production should double within 5 days. Alas, I am allergic to Reglan. I took my first dose last night and woke up with a red, itchy rash all over my neck and chest.
So now I feel like I'm at a crossroads. Do I keep pumping for that measly amount? Is it worth it? Or should I give up and just give him formula for all his bottles? To me, formula feels like failure. I know lots of people were given formula and turned into healthy, contributing citizens (I'm one of them, actually!), but I also know that breast milk is best.
Any advice? I'm all ears.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I had a lovely shower on Monday night that they threw for us (it was a couples shower) at church. Mike and I were so humbled by people's love and generosity. We are looking forward to bringing Evan to worship with us! And there is a family shower planned for me this coming Saturday. (Hmmm, why does it feel like I just did the shower thing? Oh, yes, because a little over a year ago I was having wedding showers!) So, my feeling is, I can just enjoy the final shower and then go into labor and give Mike a son for Father's Day. Wouldn't that be nice?
I don't have any shower photos to post, but I am feeling huger than huge at this point and would probably not want to share if I did. So thanks for reading, and if you have any tips for inducing labor (besides the eggplant, gingerbread cookies, and castor oil ideas), let me know!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The good news is, my doctor gave me permission to attend my cousin LynnAnn's wedding on Saturday as long as I sit a lot. I assured her that it's a Baptist wedding -- there won't be any dancing. (Will there, LynnAnn? If there is, I don't mind -- I'm a Presbyterian now -- but I won't be participating.) :o)
Speaking of Evan, his heartbeat is good and he is exactly the right size. I will have an ultrasound on Wednesday to check on his position. In the meantime, I am going to be lying around monitoring my blood pressure. Feel free to call!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Wee Little Bunny, Wee Little Lamb, and Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by John Butler. For any little animal lover.
All of Baby, Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. A delightful exploration of baby anatomy!
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. I told you Mem Fox can do no wrong! In this one she explains how babies all over the world (beautifully depicted by Helen Oxenbury) are essentially the same.
Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated byPolly Dunbar. A collection of more than 60 poems about a toddler's world.
Global Babies from the Global Fund for Children. A beautiful board book with photographs of baby faces from around the world.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
34 weeks today. I am feeling bigger every day but am still going to put on a bathing suit for my AquaMoms class tonight. (No cape, though.)
I had my first baby shower on Saturday night! It was a complete surprise! Mike was supposed to take me to my boss Connie's house, where all my Youth Services co-workers would be waiting, at 6:30 on Saturday for a surprise couples shower, complete with dinner. He put an "X" in his Blackberry to remind himself...well, he forgot what the "X" meant! I got home from work about 6 on Saturday, and he had made dinner, so we ate together and then I was getting ready for an evening with my (swollen) feet up when he suddenly decided we should go get a special dessert "surprise." (He had gotten a phone call while I was in the bathroom!) Thankfully I at least insisted on brushing my teeth before we went! It was past 8 when we pulled up in front of Connie's house, me with my eyes closed (at Mike's insistence), thinking, "This better be some really special dessert, and are the other customers looking at us like we're crazy?" Anyway, it was a lovely shower, with yummy food, delicious cake, fun games, good company, and a great gift -- the jogging stroller we registered for. (Not that I jog, but we do plan to take brisk walks!) And it was definitely a surprise. Thanks, ladies!!!
Oh, and I packed my hospital bag this morning, just in case! Anything I absolutely need to take with me that I might not think of? Comment away!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Anyway, I promised a Babymoon update. It was very nice. I'd definitely recommend the Lodge -- very pretty, good food, soft towels, lots of surrounding nature (Mike was thrilled by a wild turkey spotting), and a great price. The only drawback is that it really is in the middle of nowhere. It's about an hour to Traverse City, but we didn't bother. I did make the one-mile hike around the lake, and I think Mike was impressed by how slow and breathless I was. ;o)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Lest you think I am just lying around at this point in my pregnancy (which, to be honest, is about all I feel like doing), I did start an AquaMoms class a few weeks ago. Mike thinks it sounds like a superhero gathering, but really it's just a prenatal water aerobics class. I go twice a week and it feels really good, plus it's good exercise! I might even sign up for the next 6-week session after this one ends, if I can fit it in around the childbirth class we're taking.
Well, that's my update for now. If I do get some reading done on this mini-vacation, I will post reviews when we're back!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Gr 4–6—Fifth-graders Lydia and Julie, best friends, decide to observe "the popular girls" at their school in preparation for junior high. Julie, who lives with her two dads, loves to draw, and Lydia, who lives with her mom and sister, loves to sing. In this Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Abrams, 2007) for girls, the story is told entirely in full-color drawings and in each girl's individual handwriting as they pass their notebook back and forth to record their observations. Of course, things don't go as planned—though the girls' quest for popularity leads them to new hobbies and new friends, it also challenges their own friendship. This entertaining look at the social hierarchy of preteens and the challenges of growing up will entice even the most reluctant readers.—Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
Monday, April 5, 2010
Then came Strep Throat: The Revenge.
I felt pretty good until late afternoon/early evening, when my throat, which had been barely tender up to that point, suddenly caught on fire. I spent most of the night waking up every time I had to swallow and then trying to go back to sleep. This morning I felt like I had that first-trimester fatigue all over again, on top of the sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, so I called the doctor and basically asked, "Aren't antibiotics supposed to make it better?" She assured me that strep often gets worse before it gets better (no one warned me!) and that I should give it one more full day, then call back in the morning if I didn't feel better.
Well, I do feel marginally better. Well enough to be online, which is saying something, since I barely felt like watching TV this morning, let alone reading or typing. I no longer whimper every time I swallow. And my appetite is coming back. (Yes, Laurie Suzanne actually had LOSS OF APPETITE, a very rare symptom in any of her illnesses in all her 33 years.) So I am hopeful. Penicillin, do your thing.
Thanks for reading! Hope to be posting some book reviews instead of complaints soon! And maybe another picture of my (ever-expanding) baby bump!
Friday, April 2, 2010
When I called my ob/gyn with news of my sore throat, she told me to go to a CVS MinuteClinic and ask for a strep test. It was great -- I waited for about 3 minutes and the NP was very nice. I just had to pay my co-pay and they will bill my insurance. I guess there are only 11 MinuteClinics in Michigan, but I would definitely go the next time I have a UTI or something similar. Very convenient.
Well, enough about me. I wish you all a blessed Resurrection Sunday! Christ is risen -- He is risen indeed!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
DOWELL, Frances O'Roark. The Kind of Friends We Used to Be.
Gr 5-8--This insightful sequel to The Secret Language of Girls (S & S, 2004) stands alone, but readers will want to go back and find out more about these engaging characters. Kate and Marylin used to be best friends, but sixth grade changed things.
Now, as seventh graders, they are trying to work their way back to the way things "used to be." But it's not so easy when they are so different; Kate's new passion is the guitar-and her heavy black boots-while Marylin, a cheerleader, is determined to be feminine and popular at all costs. Alternating points of view make it easy for readers to relate to both girls as they navigate friendship, romance, and family relationships. Dowell gets middle-school dynamics exactly right, and while her empathetic portraits of Kate and Marylin are genuine and heartfelt, even secondary characters are memorable. A realistic and humorous look at the trials and tribulations of growing up and growing independent.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI (School Library Journal 55.3)
PAULSEN, Gary. The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West.
Gr 6 Up--Drawing on newspaper accounts and his own fertile imagination, Paulsen tells Reeves's story. Brief sections give the known facts of this hero's life, set in historical context, and longer, narrative sections (the longest being about his boyhood) fill out the details. The result is a compelling tale of the runaway slave who lived as a fugitive among the Creek Indians for 22 years, until the Emancipation Proclamation freed him to become a cattle rancher in Arkansas and, finally, a federal marshal appointed to help bring order to the Indian Territory. Bring order he did, with thousands of arrests and 14 gunfights to his credit. Paulsen doesn't romanticize the Wild West or flinch from descriptions of the lawlessness (including murder and prostitution) that was rampant in the Territory, but this dark backdrop only serves to illuminate Reeves's heroism. The protagonist is a fully fleshed-out character whose story is made all the more satisfying by the truth behind it.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
(School Library Journal 52.8)
SCHWABACH, Karen. The Hope Chest.
Gr 4-6--In America in 1920, "proper young ladies" are expected to behave in a certain way. But when 11-year-old Violet Mayhew discovers that her parents have been keeping her disowned older sister Chloe's letters from her, she abandons propriety and runs away to find her in New York City. There she meets Myrtle, a "colored" girl who is happy to leave her own training as a maid and join Violet in finding her sibling, who has left the city. Their travels take them first to Washington, DC, and then to Tennessee, where Chloe works on the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Here Violet and Myrtle join the fight for women's suffrage. The girls confront heavy issues such as racism and sexism, but the narrative is leavened with humor. The story is packed with period details--Jim Crow laws, Bolsheviks, Palmer agents, Prohibition, shell shock, autocamping, just to name a few--but Schwabach's attention to character and plotting ensures that it never bogs down. Readers will cheer along with the "Surfs" as the victory in Tennessee grants women the vote. The book concludes with historical notes and a voting time line that includes black-and-white photos. Illuminating a time period rarely featured in children's literature, this is a fresh choice for historical fiction fans.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI (School Library Journal 54.3 )
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling by Robert Kunzman. I found this look at six different homeschooling families by Kunzman, a public-school educator and administrator, very interesting, and I felt like the author used a well-balanced and respectful approach in his interviews and observations. I must admit that I skipped the chapter on the HDLA, so I can't speak to his coverage of that, but I always like reading an "outsider's" take on subjects I am somewhat familiar with.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Brief Book Review: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity by Kate Braestrup. I didn't enjoy this one as much as the author's first memoir (Here if You Need Me), but it was a quick read and I appreciate Braestrup's musings even if I don't always agree with her theology.
And the Breaking News: The final Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins, which comes out on August 24, now has a title and a cover! Behold, I present to you: Mockingjay!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. I enjoyed this peek into a different culture -- and Asha, the protagonist, is very relatable in spite of the differences. Set in India in the 1970s, Asha's roles as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and granddaughter are rigidly defined, and she chafes under cultural mores that American kids may have a hard time understanding. The ending, too, is not the expected happily-ever-after; it's more realistic than that, and about as happy as it could be under the circumstances. I do wish there had been more descriptions of the setting, but, like Asha, the action was mostly confined to the home. A coming-of-age story for thoughtful girls interested in other cultures.
A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper. Though the narrator and setting are very similar to one of my all-time favorite books, Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, the story is much different -- more of a historical adventure than coming-of-age. It takes place on a remote European island in 1936. Sophie's family has lived there for centuries -- they are royalty, and Montmaray is, in fact, their kingdom -- but they are fairly isolated from European politics until 2 German officers arrive. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there had better be a sequel -- lots of loose ends! Good for readers 6th grade and up.
Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel by Leslie Connor, illustrated by Mary Azarian. What a beautiful picture book, a quiet look at one woman's immigrant experience. When Miss Bridie moves to America from Ireland, she chooses to bring a shovel instead of a keepsake -- and then proceeds to put it to good use! Its tone reminds me of Cooney's Miss Rumphius, one of my all-time favorites. I think I'd love it even more if it were illustrated in a style other than woodcuts.
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. 6th-grader Abby is failing sixth grade -- so when she is offered the chance to earn extra credit by writing to a pen pal, she jumps at the chance. Her pen pal turns out to be a student from Afghanistan, and both of them have a lot to learn from each other. This isn't my favorite by Andrew Clements, but it's still a good read for 4th-6th-graders.
The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson. Paterson is one of my favorite authors, and as far as I'm concerned, all of her books are good! So even though I am only a little over half-way through listening to this one on audio, I feel comfortable recommending it. Meli and her family are Albanians living comfortably in Kosovo...until the Serbians start their campaign of terror against Albanians, and she and her family become refugees. A fascinating look at a recent historical event through the eyes of a 12/13-year-old girl.
Read any good cross-cultural stories lately?
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
First piece of baby news: I will have the fetal anatomy scan on Monday, February 1st, and hopefully find out the baby's sex! Yay!
And, a question for you: Any advice about which Beaumont (Royal Oak or Troy) to choose for delivery? We are planning to visit both of them one of these days, but I thought I'd solicit opinions, if any of you have any experience with Beaumont.
Thanks for reading!