a welcome distraction

In my first trimester of pregnancy, I was happily distracted from my early-pregnancy-sickness (aka. morning sickness, although mine was sort of all-day sickness) by the arrival of the PBS TV series “Downton Abbey” into my life.  It provided me a welcome distraction from my general ickies, and helped me get through a trying time.

Now I’m in the final weeks/days of my pregnancy.  I have been afflicted with pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel, which really limits how much I can/should type on a computer.  So this will be short.

But, I have found another welcome distraction.  I’ve discovered “The Hunger Games” book series.  Friends lent me the books, and I’ve sailed through books one and two, and am now trying to go a little slower through the final book, book three.  It’s happily engrossing, and since I can’t do much with my hands/fingers these days, reading a book is something I can still enjoy.  Of course, I can’t do much of anything with all the weight I’m lugging around these days, so sitting and reading is just about right for me.

My “adopted” sister AM came up for a suprise visit last weekend, and we even had the opportunity to take in the movie of “The Hunger Games” at our local budget cinema across the street from our church.  It was nice to get out.

Here’s hoping my new baby makes his appearance soon!

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a love story with obstacles!

I mentioned a while ago that I unpacked some favorite books.  One favorite book that I unpacked was The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.  I first learned of this book when I saw it on my Grandma Violet’s small hall bookshelf.  I was a bookworm, so I picked it up, apparently found an interesting place, and started reading.  I don’t remember the first time I read it, but I know that at some point in my high school or college years, I bought my own copy at a used book store.  Although, perhaps I actually have my Grandma’s copy?  I actually don’t remember.

Anyway, I remember watching the TV miniseries of “The Thorn Birds” during summer vacation in high school as I babysat for our neighbor’s kids.  She had recorded the entire miniseries (on BETA tapes!!!), and she didn’t care if I watched it.  So, for better or for worse, while the kids took naps and/or the older girls played with Barbies, I watched this movie.  And LOVED it!

(This gal was also the one who broadened my musical horizons considerably.  She had an insane amount of CDs of all different musical genres, and she let me borrow whatever I wanted.  Two artists I specifically remember discovering through her were Queen and David Lanz, which are about as opposite of the musical spectrum as one can get!  I never did buy a Queen album, although I learned some songs, but I loved the David Lanz album “Return to the Heart” so much that I eventually bought it.  It’s still a favorite, and it is my “driving long distances” music; last summer when we drove to Arizona and then to Oregon, that CD came along with us on both trips.)

Anyway, back to The Thorn Birds.  🙂

So, during my teenage years, I discovered this movie and the book at more or less the same time, and I fell in love with them.  As time went on, every few years or so, I would pull out the book again for a few weeks, reread most of the book (always finding something new that I had missed the previous time – or had forgotten!), and debated about whether or not I should rent/buy the movie.  I never did.

When I pulled The Thorn Birds book out two weeks ago, I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it.  I decided to give the movie another look, too.  I thought that perhaps it might be on YouTube, and it was!  So, I watched it on YT (if you’re interested in watching it, it starts here) up to the first half.   The rest of the movie is not uploaded to YT, but after watching that much I wanted to see it to the end.  So I went to the local used media store (it’s closer to my house than our new church is!) and found a used copy of the entire mini-series on DVD.  Score!

I am SO enjoying reading and watching this story again.  I know it’s more or less a melodramatic soap opera, but it’s great fun!  I thoroughly enjoy love stories with obstacles and sad endings, and that’s what “The Thorn Birds” is – a love story where the main couple faces nothing but obstacles.  In a good love story, the main couple is madly in love with each other, and yet, for whatever reason, they’re kept apart.  Oh!  I love those kinds of stories!

It’s ironic that I like these kinds of stories, because my own life is not anything like that.  I told my husband (who thinks it’s odd and humorous that I’m so into these kinds of stories) that if my own life WERE like these stories, I probably wouldn’t like them.  They would be too real.  But the fact is that my life is completely and blessedly normal; I live with a man I love and the man I live with loves me, we have kids and a mortgage and a job and a minivan – my life is so far removed from a tragic love story — THAT is why I love these kinds of stories so much!  🙂

This “Thorn Birds” kick will wear off sooner or later.  If you’ve got any good suggestions for another great love story, let me know!  🙂

favorite books

I finally tackled the boxes of books that have been stacked up in a corner of our family room ever since we moved.  We don’t have space to unpack all of the books, and I’m not sure that I even want to unpack as many as we could.  But, there were certain books that I wanted to unpack.

I unpacked all of the children’s books.  I want my kids to have access to lots of good reading material.  Now that their books have all resurfaced, the girls are LOVING it!  Lyd can read better and better all the time, so she’s happy as a clam.  Jujubee loves to look at books, and will sit quietly with a book for half an hour on end, slowly turning the pages and looking at the pictures.  I’m glad my girls enjoy books so much!

As for me, I had to decide which of my books to bring out.  After deciding on certain non-fiction titles that I wanted easily accessible, I decided on what fiction I wanted to have out.  Here are a few of my choices of series:

  • the Little House on the Prairie series
  • the Anne of Green Gables series
  • the Betsy-Tacy series

I did NOT choose to get out my Harry Potter series.  I like them, but they’re big and bulky hardcovers, so I decided to keep them packed away.

In other books that I love, I brought out:

  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion
  • Jane Eyre – and my new book of Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Gone With the Wind
  • The Thorn Birds
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Posession by A.S. Byatt
  • The Kite Runner (haven’t read it yet)
  • The Girls from Ames (haven’t read it yet)

I have LOTS of books, and I could easily bring out a lot more, but I chose to leave them packed away for now.  Why leave them packed away?  Well, various reasons.  Mainly because our new house is half the size of the old house, and I don’t want it to feel more filled with stuff than it already does.  It won’t hurt the books to live in the garage for a while, and when they do finally come out again, it will be like Christmas and birthdays all wrapped up into one.  And, if need me, I can always bring them out sometime in the future.

With that in mind, I labeled the boxes of books in the garage a little more specifically.  If, by the grace of God, I ever do get pregnant, the box with the pregnancy and childbirth books is clearly labeled.  If I do decide that I want to re-read the Harry Potter books (and they’re good books!), I know what box they’re in.  If I ever want to pull out my old Janette Oke books (I had a hard time deciding whether or not to unpack her Love Comes Softly series), I know where they are.

It was nice to find these old friends waiting for me in boxes.  I’m looking forward to having them readily available to me once again.

Thank you, Mr and Mrs Feldhahn

Two years ago, I started a women’s online book club.  The first book we read was called For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn.  It was a fascinating book for me, and I learned a lot about my husband, as well as most men, by reading this book.  This book has had a very positive impact on our marriage, and I learned useful information about how men think that I might not have otherwise learned.

A few weeks ago, our local evangelical Christian bookstore was having a “going out of business” sale, so I made a point to stop by to see if there would be anything that I would be interested in buying.  As I was perusing the shelves, I happened to see the book For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti Feldhahn and her husband Jeff.  Without any ulterior motive other than to have the companion book to For Women Only, and because it was 50% off, I bought it.

I paged through it when I got home, and I was impressed by the ideas that the authors, mostly Jeff, presented about how women think.  Most of it seemed to fit me pretty closely.  When I next saw my husband, I showed him the book, told him the story of how I’d found it, and asked him if he’d be interested in reading it.  “Sure,” he said.  I wasn’t sure if he actually would read it or not, but he actually did read it.  I noticed him reading it at bedtime more than once, and I noticed the book left open on his nightstand.  However, like Jeff Feldhahn predicted in the book, JJ didn’t talk too much about what he’d read.  When I read For Women Only, I kept peppering my husband with questions and asking, “Is this true?” every time I discovered something new in the book.  But it seems that men tend to think and process quietly on their own.  JJ never asked me any, “Is this true?” questions, but I noticed a subtle shift in some ways he acts towards me.  When I mentioned the changes, he said that those changes were suggested by the book, and then the opportunity was created to talk about what he’d read.

JJ and I had not been having the easiest time with our marriage in recent months.  External stressors took their toll on our marriage, plus we haven’t always made our marriage the priority it should be.  However, I feel very blessed that I just happened upon this book when I did; it has been a positive factor in slowly shifting our marriage back to a happier place.

Now things have gotten better between my husband and I.  We’re the most “in sync” with each other that we’ve been in quite a while.  It makes me glad that we chose from day one of our marriage to stick together and make our marriage work, no matter what.

I’m also thankful for little interventions by God.  I’m sorry that this bookstore closed, but had it not been closing, I likely wouldn’t have gone in that day.  Yet, I did, I found that book, and it’s proven to be quite a blessing for us.

a trip to the library

After getting the girls to bed last night, I managed to sneak over to our local library for about half an hour before it closed at 9pm.  I picked up a number of interesting books.  Here’s what I got:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon — I have a few girlfriends who practically swear by this book, so I thought I’d at least give it a look-through.  My first impression is that it’s a HUGE book!  It doesn’t seem to be laid out in a very reader-friendly way; the initial paragraphs have pages and pages of writing, with no bolding or italics or headings or anything like that; it is visually overwhelming.  So far all of the recipes involve at least one ingredient that I’ve either never heard of or that makes me go “Eww.”  In my skimming, I also noticed the author making lots of claims, but when I looked in the back to see her sources, none were listed.  Sooo, I’m not as excited to read this book as I expected to be.  But, I’m still hoping to find some good ideas for feeding my family healthier than I do now.  I read the bad reviews of this book on Amazon (whenever I look up a review, I always read the negative reviews.  Anyone can write a positive review, but I can tell when a negative reviewer really has a point as opposed to just wanting to vent.)  I’ve decided that if I’m going to go hog-wild on healthy food, I think I should read some other books, too, to round out my research.  I’m definitely considering a Michael Pollen book sometime in the near future…

Girlfriends who love this book, I’d love to hear what you’ve liked best about this book, and what you’ve found least helpful about it.  Thanks!

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce — From skimming through this book, I can already tell this author is a liberal who is lumping all Christian conservatives together.  My husband looked up “Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod” in the index, and he found that the author consideres the LC-MS ultra conservative.  My husband wondered aloud, “What would this author say about the WELS?”  The author doesn’t seem to realize that there are many different types of “ultra conservative” Christians!  That said, I’ve heard some awful things about the Patriarchy movement, especially when it’s taken to the extreme (For example, did you hear about the death of Lydia Schatz, a young seven year old adopted girl whose parents strictly followed the parenting advice of Michael and Debi Pearl?  If not, check this out.  It’s an example of the Patriarchy’s parenting philosophy taken to the extreme.)  I also follow some blogs of people who subscribe to the Quiverfull philosophy, Vision Forum products, and other elements of the Patriarchy movement.  So, while I think this book will take a bit of an extreme viewpoint, I suspect it will still have some elements of truth in it.  I’m interested to read it, especially since it is only copyrighted 2009.

Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell — This is the book that the movie Julie & Julia, which came out last summer, was based on.  I’m sure it will be interesting, although, my word, does that author have a salty tongue!  I looked up this book on Amazon, too, read the negative reviews, found that others also noticed the author’s liberal use of four-letter words, and was surprised to hear many people say that the movie was much better.  I was already planning to watch the movie at some point, so I don’t feel like I have to slog through this book now.  We’ll see how much of the book I actually read.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective — This is a new pregnancy book for me, and I couldn’t resist checking it out.  So far, it looks pretty good.  It’s got a nice emphasis on natural pregnancy, natural childbirth, and breastfeeding.  I’m sure I won’t read it cover to cover, but I’ll certainly skim through it and see if it has anything new to say that I haven’t heard already.  (I doubt it.  ha ha!)

Ah, yes.  More books with which to distract myself and waste time rather than getting my work done… 😉

reading materials

I read this post over at Molly’s blog “Adventures in Mercy,” and thanks to her review, I now definitely want to read the Christian parenting book Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk from which these quotations were taken:

The false belief that you not only can, but are responsible to, control your children contributes to elevating the inferior priority of obedience and compliance in the home. The danger is that it not only leads to disrespectful interactions, but it also blinds you to what is really going on inside your child, especially if your child is compliant. It’s easy to mistake obedience for a good relationship. As long as the child is doing what you say, your relationship is fine. The moment obedience is threatened, the relationship is threatened. Therefore, in order for your children to be around you, they must become you.”

“In summary, limiting the freedom of our children in order to teach them external controls, smallness, constraints, and fear of punishment is not a strategy that works in the long run. Instead, we must teach our kids what freedom looks like, feels like, and how to prosper in it. This is the model of Heaven. This is what our Father in Heaven is doing.

The best way to prepare our children to handle the multitiude of options they will have as children of the King of Kings is to invest in developing a heart-to-heart connection. This connection replaces the disrespect factory and introduces the honor factory. The practice of honor will revolutionize the family system, because honor brings power to relationships and the individuals in those relationships. Honor is the antidote…

One of the primary ways we show honor to one another is by sharing power and control in our relationships. When we help our children practice power from the time they are little, they become powerful people who are not afraid of the forces outside of them. They learn to think and solve problems. They learn to draw on the power within them, the power of the Holy Spirit, to direct their lives toward their goals in life. They become skilled at wielding decisions…

…Therefore we introduce freedom to our small children, and we allow them to practice messing it up while they have a safety net in our home. We create a safe place for them to fail and learn about life…”

Doesn’t that sound interesting???

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Another book that has intrigued me is A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn, who blogs at OwlhavenThis review by Carrien at She Laughs at the Days made me think that this book might be interesting, even though my family would not qualify as “large.”

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Finally, I recently got linked to here in regards to my “Why I am Not a Proverbs 31 Woman” post.  It’s flattering to be thought of well by people I’ve never even met. 🙂

fiction reading

I’ve been reading a bit of fiction lately.  I recently finished reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  My book club read Kingsolver’s non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I thought I would read one of her works of fiction on my own.  The Bean Trees was Kingsolver’s first published novel, and apparently it has become a standard in college English classrooms.

The Bean Trees is set in the mid-1970’s in Arizona, and is sort of a historical fiction novel, although not exactly.  It has quite vibrant characterizations, an unusual but very believable story, and the main heroine is a spunky, likeable girl.  I’m not as much of a liberal as Kingsolver is, so her arguing for a cause by presenting an extreme example made me roll my eyes a bit.  But overall, I really enjoyed the book, more so than I was expecting.  Kingsolver’s writing style definitely drew me into the story right from the start, and it had me rooting for the heroine the entire story.

Kingsolver’s most famous fiction novel seems to be The Poisonwood Bible; I may give that a try later this summer.

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While perusing books on childbirth on Amazon a few weeks ago, I heard of a novel called The Birth House by Ami McKay.  It sounded interesting to me, so I put it on hold through my library and picked it up a week ago.  I’ve already skimmed through the entire novel and am even more intrigued, so I am now going through and actually reading each chapter.  The novel is essentially a historical fiction about the state of childbirth in the 1910’s in America, just as doctors were attempting to make inroads into childbirth not only by advertising “pain-free childbirths” but also by criticizing and attempting to marginalize midwifery.  The novel is a bit more “earthy” than I was expecting; the characters are quite human and sinful, and Christianity plays no role, positive or negative, in the story.  But, that said, it is fascinating to me to get an idea of what childbirth was like before doctors came into the picture.  It is also interesting to see why midwives were often thought of as witches and seen as having magical powers.  I’m looking forward to legitimately finishing the story over the next few weeks.

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Also during my recent library trip, I noticed the book The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff on display.  It was recommended highly by a friend of mine, so I grabbed it.  If I have my facts correct, it’s a historical fiction novel about the 19th wife of a prominent Mormon leader in the mid 1800’s who left her husband and went public about the abuses that were going on in the Mormon church.  I’m looking forward to reading it, too.

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Finally, on my recent trip to Wisconsin, I picked up the book Christy by Catherine Marshall from a used bookseller.  I remembered watching the TV show in the early 1990’s, but I had never read the book.  I still haven’t read the entire book, but I have read various parts and chapters here and there.  The Christianity espoused in the book is rather vague and mystic, but the stories of life in Appalachia are fascinating.  Those stories are based on fact, so it seems that life was really somewhat like that for people in that part of the country in the early part of the 20th century.  That kind of life seems so bizarre to me – how could people actually live with the deprivations and the little material goods and horrible health practices?  And how did they ever survive?

I’m a big believer in non-fiction; I love learning more through reading.  But, I must say, I’m enjoying my fiction reading immensely! 🙂