Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A while back I mentioned to my friends that I did not like the latest in technological advances in the eReaders.  I like paper.  I love the smell of paper.  I love the feel of paper.  I love the sound of paper as the pages flip when you run your thumb across the edge of a book.  I have always enjoyed this.  As a child, I would come home with my scholastic book flyer and beg my parents to order books.  Most of them were never read.  I collected books. (It is not until I have become and adult that I have really started to read.)  But every time (even to this day) when I picked up my new books, I would flip through the pages held close to my nose so I can smell the paper.  Even when I read a book I hold it so that I can flip the pages I am not reading and smell the paper while I read. I use the hand not holding the book to feel the paper as I flip the pages... reading for me is a multi-sense experience!  To this day, I still love to collect books and as a homeschooling parent the opportunity to increase my collection of books has grown exponentially.  

Recently, I started to read a book at the Scholastic warehouse and wanted to finish it when I got home.  In an attempt to be frugal, I did not buy the book but came home and tried to reserve it from the library. I was around the 400th person in line for the book.  I figured sometime in a couple years I would have my hands on the book.  I was desperate to finish the book.  I thought of going and spending a couple days in Barnes and Noble reading it but my family would not appreciate my absence.  So, I gave in and asked my husband to use the lending library on his Kindle.  I was frustrated.  The paper smell was not there.  The softness of the pages was missing.... But I was determined to make the best of it and try to give it a fair chance.  After all, they are very trendy, the price of eBooks is cheaper, and it takes up a lot less space in the house to have 300 eBooks instead of paper book and is definitely less of a fire hazard!

So, armed with my husband's Kindle, I began to read.  eInk is definitely easier on the eyes than the iPad.  However, as I read further into the book I realized that I was not totally enthralled with the experience.  It was not just that my other senses were left out.  It was more than that.  I like to look back and sometimes re-read a page or two to see if I missed something or to refresh my memory.  I am a very VISUAL person.  I can't remember the page number I want to re-read but I will know that the text I am looking for is on the bottom left of a page about 1/3 of the way through the book.  With the Kindle I was having a terrible time finding what I was looking for.  There was no reference point.  Yes there is a % read at the bottom of the page but I did not pay attention to that on every page.  I did not know where the text I was looking for was.  I had to click back so many pages to find what I was looking for that I would get lost trying to find my way back.  I can't imagine if you were trying to read a book that you cross-referenced a lot-- I could never use a Kindle to read my Bible!

I also like a clean screen.  I saw a piece of dust on the screen and tried to brush it off.  I somehow flipped through 2 chapters with that attempt!  I called my husband over.  He told me I found a "feature" he did not know about.  Oh joy... I knew what chapter I was in but not the page in that chapter so I had to skim and turn page by page to find where I was.  I was not happy.

I am sure there are ways around some of these features, but for me I would rather allow all my senses to enjoy reading and skip the electronic version of the book.  I can see the benefits of the Kindle though.  If you are a reader who travels a lot it will cost a lot less to bring a Kindle full of books on the plane then all the suitcases full of the paper versions. :)

So, now I am working on my next home remodeling plan.  I have wanted for some time to turn part of what is supposed to be a dining room but is just an extension of our living room into a home library. I want to line of the walls full of bookshelves for all these books that I have here.  I had picked out shelves from IKEA but funding for that is not there right now.  I have been watching craigslist.  I even have an alert set up for when they appear on craigslist but I can't find what I am looking for.  Hopefully at some point I will have the library I am dreaming of... until them I have books EVERYWHERE!  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I will be upfront and tell you that this post will be a spoiler.  If you have not read "The Hunger Games" series but plan to, you might not want to read this post.

I knew before I started reading the series that many people did not like the way Collins ended the series.  As I started to read the first book, I started to decide in my mind how I wanted the series to end.  I knew that I wanted Katniss and Peeta to be together in the end (yes, I am a hopeless romantic.)  So, knowing that people did not like the way the series ended I was preparing myself for them to NOT end up together.  To my surprise they did end up together.  I was so delighted!  I understand that many people probably did not like the way that many characters were killed in the last book.  It is sad but I think it makes the book more realistic.  This is a war.  Many people do not come home from war.  My cousin was in Iraq with her husband when he died.  She, thankfully came home to us with a beating heart, he did not.  It is a sad reality.  While the ending is not a fairytale it does bring the realities of war to light.  Perhaps if we sit back and think about it we will realize that part of the reason we may not like the way the book ended is because of the fact that it is too life-like.  I find it interesting that so many people did not like how the book ended because they thought it should be happier.  Maybe it is that people want books to be happier than life.  But, the thing about fiction is that we are not the author.  We can't dictate how the author should or should not have written the book.  It does not make it so Collins is any less of a great writer because she chose to kill Prim.  Now, all this being said, I would have been very sad had Katniss not ended up with Peeta in the end.   Maybe that is why I am so pleased with the books because I only had one thing I wanted out of the book in the end and I got my desire.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In my opinion, Suzanne Collins is a brilliant author.  I plan to write an entry another day that will have spoiler warnings but this one will not have spoilers.  If you don't know the names Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark you have not been introduced to "The Hunger Games".  I did not know what all the hype was about and I did not want to get involved.  I am not/was not a reader.  But I was working at a Scholastic book fair in a part that I was allowed to read between customers.  I did not know this before I got there so she told me I could go find a book from the shelves that I could read.  The first thing at all that caught my eye was "The Hunger Games".  I was not in the mood for "The Magic Treehouse". :)  During my shift I read the first 3 or 4 chapters of the book.  I was totally hooked.  I came home and had my husband get it on his Kindle Lending Library for me to finish (yeah for those who KNOW me you know that I am just dying to write about that experience due to the fact that I totally love paper!).

I think Collins has a brilliant writing style.  I know this is my opinion but let me tell you why I like her style so much.  I like books that make me want to keep reading.  I want to be drawn in.  I want to hunger for what happens next.  Collins executes this magnificently.  I am the type of a person who likes to read to the end of a chapter and stop there -- yep, totally OCD about it.  Collins did not allow me to do this.  Every single chapter is a mini cliff-hanger and you just want to turn the page and keep going!  I could not stop at the end of a chapter.  I had to do mid chapter stops where I found out how the cliff-hanger ended but got out before she brought on the next one.  To me that just indicates a great writer/writing style.

If you are looking for some summer fiction that grabs you and keeps you going all the way until the end I would recommend these books.  I am not saying you will like everything that happens in these books but you will be sucked in.  You will root for certain characters.  You will be emotionally attached to others.  I would like to read some of her other series but I don't want to be drawn in just yet so I have returned to some of hte non-fiction books that I wanted to read before I look more into her books.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today is my daughter's dance recital.  She will be receiving her 6 year award.  I am so excited for her!  Yesterday was the dress rehearsal.  The girls have all worked so hard!  Four of us mothers who have had our girls in the same classes for four years, some more, were all sitting together while we watched the girls all practice.  We were discussing the class selection for next year.  Each year the girls dance the classes become more and more specialize.  I would love to allow my daughter to take several classes to do all the disciplines but as my mother told me growing up, "Money does not grow on trees" so we have to narrow the options down to two classes at most.  My daughter expressed an interest in hip hop for next year.  I think I had a heart attack.  Hip hop?  Really?  One of the teachers told me a couple routines to watch for beginners and they were fine but the problem lies in the first routine I watched which was high school age girls doing hip hop.  They are great dancers but some of those moves... I am sorry but my 8 almost 9 year old will not be doing those.  One of the other mom's leaned over during the routine and said to the rest of us "And THAT is why my daughter will NOT be taking hip hop!".  I had to agree.   The girls were actually dressed modestly, however, they really needed poles!  It was appalling!  When I talked to my daughter about it later she said that she told the girl sitting next to her (it was this girl's mother that made the above comment...) that I would not allow her to take hip hop as I had stated some of the moves were inappropriate.  The other girl said "What was wrong with that?  I did not see anything inappropriate."  My daughter did not know what the problem was but that mommy said there was something.  I will have to explain it to my child at some point but it is sad that the kids do not see that moving their bodies in this way publicly is not a good idea.

I started to write this entry BEFORE the recital and then had a busy weekend.  The recital is now past.  I had warned my husband of this first routine and asked him to play the ipod with my 6 year old during the routine to keep him from seeing it.  My son sat there and watched.  I leaned over and said "Aren't you helping Daddy with the game?" After all my son is a video game addict in training if it weren't for us limiting him.  He looks at me and says "I know you only want me to play because you don't want me to see this."  And he turned and stared at the stage more.  So frustrated.... His little eyes and mind do not need encouragement to watch these things.

It may seem harmless to some but we really do need to protect our children's innocence as long as we can.  That being said, I finished a book yesterday called "Six ways to keep the 'little' in your girl" by Dannah Gresh. This was a great read.  And while I do not agree with everything her family did, I am really having to pray and think in depth about some things.  She explains that part of keeping them innocent means we may have to have "the talk" with them sooner than I imagined.  I see her points... it is all just so scary.  I do feel confirmed in my thinking about this whole hip hop class though.  Some of those moves are just too much for my LITTLE girl!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sadness. Pain. Inadequacy. Failure.  These are all feelings I am having right now.  I am on day 7 of using crutches and inability to take care of things around the house.  Yet, my house is cleaner than it is on a regular basis.  Many people feel that men can't handle things... well it is not the case in my home.  My husband has gone to work 10 hours a day this week, come home to be the driver to t-ball and softball AND cleaned the house each night.  I am a failure.  He has told me over the years not worry about the house since my job is to school the kids and play with them.  However, he is doing it all.  If I am 100% honest with myself, my house could look like a mess if I really spent all that time with my kids.  But, too often I am sitting in front of the computer refreshing the e-mail, checking Facebook and instant messaging my husband.  I went through a weaning stage on Facebook.  I had over 200 "friends" and the did not always appear in my news feed so I went checking walls to see what I missed.  I cut back on friends and weaned myself from that habit.  Now, I have added many friends back and successfully not checked every wall... However, I still spend too much time on my computer. I am letting my kids grow up while I sit here in front of the pixels that rot my mind and dirty my house.  I fear that I will have regrets later in life.  I need to change now.  Maybe my house will be cleaner but even if it is a disaster I need to make sure I am doing my job so that at least it is a mess for good reason!  It is time for me to pull the plug and only check e-mail and Facebook once or twice a day and be with my children before they are gone!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I am just about to finish another great book.  This time is it non-fiction.  It is "Choosing to SEE" by Mary Beth Chapman.  She has not had an easy life.  Her book is stirring so many emotions in me.  My desire that I have had for so long to adopt is being stirred up again.  I even started looking at agencies and places to supply grants.  I know I should not be looking at this time (I even told my husband I would not...) but I so want to adopt.  I am yearning to hold another baby in my arms.  I am torn up by the fact that my little guy is 3!!  On one hand, I am so grateful that he is three and alive and healthy on the other hand it saddens me that I won't be having another baby.  It is so bitter-sweet to watch him grow.  My husband has mentioned many times that God blessed us with a baby who stayed more like a baby longer than the rest so we could enjoy these moments longer.  He is right, however, at some level I still feel like I missed out on the time somehow.

Then there are the chapters of the book that go through their intense pain when their son accidentally hit and killed their 5 year old daughter.  My heart aches for her.  I am reminded of the loss of my own son.  He was stillborn and it hurt and still does at times.  I can't even imagine the pain and anguish a parent goes through at the loss of a child they lived with and laughed with for 5 years.  The constant reminders in the house... oh the grief.  The intense pain -- I can't even fathom it.  And then to have other children who need you to be there for them.

One of the striking things to me was the comments that people made to her.  For some reason I thought the thoughtless, stupid comments that were made to me were somehow unique due to the people who were making them.  But, clearly there are more people in this world that don't realize how the things they say sound.  People told her they knew what she was going through because they recently lost a parent or grandparent.  I am sorry, while these losses hurt and cause extreme pain for those close to these loved ones I truly do not believe that losing a parent or grandparent matches the pain and grief you experience when you bury your own child.  Most of us plan to die before our children... there are not really things in life that can prepare you for the tiny casket when a life you hoped to outlive is taken before you.  But as I continued to read I felt rage... anger I had felt at some of the comments made to me about my son, as I read that some people actually told her that they knew what she was going through because their cat or dog was hit by a car!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can't believe those words left people's mouths.  I wanted to jump into the book and find those people and yell at the top of my lungs to them!  There is just no comparison.  I understand that dogs and cats become part of the family and some people treat them like kids but no way, there is just no comparison...

If you ever encounter someone going through this grief and pain, it is more appropriate to admit you don't know what to say and to hug them as tight as you can.  Let them talk to you and listen but if by all means all you can say is that you know how they feel about the death of their child due to the loss of your pet... please do not say a word!  There are so many people I wish had not said things... their silence would have been better and as I read these words last night I was reliving some of those comments that I heard years ago...  If I could I would give Mary Beth a huge hug... for now it will have to be a virtual one {{HUG}}

Monday, June 4, 2012

Skirts, as it turns out, can be handy thing.  I personally do not like to wear them.  They seem a little too girly for me.  I remember one year in high school I tried to go the entire year without wearing it and I chose to wear one on my boyfriend's (now my husband's) birthday -- I thought it would make it a "special occasion".  But, I am going to be wearing a skirt everyday for the next two weeks.  You see I have found that using crutches and going to the bathroom can be a challenge.  Pulling shorts down while balancing on one leg then figuring out how to sit is rather complicated.  So, it seems to me that a skirt is the way to go.  I can pull it up and tuck it down the front of my shirt to hold it in place.  Who knew I would find such a good use for a skirt?  Now I sort of wish I owned more. :)  I am sure my friends will think me crazy as they see me on crutches in my skirts given I am rarely wearing them in the first place!  Another thing crosses my mind... these skirts that I am wearing also have elastic waist bands which as it turns out are comfortable... perhaps I need to rethink the "girly" factor and just wear skirts more often -- after all I am a homeschooler... I should be wearing denim jumpers all the time anyway!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I only intended to put up one post a day but I just finished a very good non-fiction book and I want to write about it while it is VERY fresh in my mind.  It is called "UnPLANNED" By Abby Johnson.  She was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas and she left to go to a pro-life group.  The book is not an easy read in terms of emotions.  She tries to point out the thinking on both sides of the fence.  She does a good job at it.  I, personally, have been feeling called to volunteer at a pro-life group and I wanted to read in a non-threatening manner what others feel and believe so that I could be more well informed.  Well this book was an eye opener!

Upon her resignation from Planned Parenthood she was taken to court!  I could not believe it!!  People who were her friends turned on her!  But most startling were the reactions in two different churches she attended.  I could see the reason that the one church would not allow her to be a member but I agree with her that they fell short on their communication and follow-through with her after they made their decision.  But the second church who basically threw her out because she decided that she could no longer work for an abortion clinic?  Really?  These are Christians throwing out a person because they are pro-life?  Does anyone else think this is, well... um... backwards? I am still in shock by this.  I mean I know there are some churches out there that lead people astray but I have to say I did not see this one coming...

This book opened my eyes in ways I did not see coming when I started to read it. And it further solidified my resolve that my daughter would not participate in Girl Scouts whose cookies help fund Planned Parenthood!
It has been a long time since I read fiction.  I have been reading so many parenting and home school books that I forgot that some books are just plan for fun!  A friend of mine and her daughter were reading these books that she seemed really interested in.  I did not pick them up at first but then one day at our trip to the library I picked them up -- all 10 of them!  I started to read "The 39 Clues".  I was sucked in.  I am a very slow reader but I read 9 of the 10 in one month.  They are an easy read and are not very long.  I let my 8 year old daughter read them as well.  But she was only allowed to read them AFTER I did.  For many of them she was waiting for me to finish because she reads so much faster than I do.  But, there are some topics in there that I wanted to read about so I could talk to her about and honestly I did not want her to accidentally reveal anything to me ahead of time. :)  The thing that amazes me most about these books are that they are written by different authors, yet they all seem to flow together.  I would love to know how they did this.  I mean did the dude that wrote the second book have to read the first one before he wrote his or how did they schedule this.  At first as I read the first chapter of the second book I thought it was going to be obvious that there were different writing styles between the books but as I continued on, it was pretty seamless.  To me, this is a huge accomplishment.  I think it would be hard enough to write a series let alone with several other authors involved but they did it -- very well I might add!

I don't want this to be a spoiler, so I will just give basics here.  Dan and Amy Cahill are at their Grandmother's funeral and have to decide between $1million each or a clue that leads to a clue that leads to a clue... ( you get the point) to something that will make them the most powerful person alive.  The thing is there are many other family members trying for the same thing and only one can win. The books take them through many countries and the authors mix in historical facts with the fiction so that at some points you don't know what is real and what isn't anymore.  The family members are not nice to each other.  There are attempted murders and deaths and plots of death all over the place.   These books contain a lot of action and because of that I would think that boys who are interested in books that keep moving would like these books.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So, last year I attended a seminar at my homeschooling convention that made me rethink the TV shows that I watched.  The funny thing is that many of the shows had topics and things in it that made me uncomfortable.  I knew they went against my beliefs but I thought to myself that I was just watching them for entertainment and there was nothing wrong with that.  But as I sat their in this seminar the gentleman said "I hope none of you here watch 'show x' or 'show y'."  I sat there and pondered this for a moment because I did watch those shows and I was surprised that they were specifically called out.  "I don't have cable so these were not on showtime or one of those channels that produces those 'really terrible shows'", I thought to myself.  But I knew that between my discomfort as I turned them on each week and now this, that God was talking to me.  I thought back to those Bible verses that talk about how we are supposed to fill our lives with what is good and these shows certainly were not good.  Now that is not to say that you can't watch anything if it is not made for and by Puritans but really I was not even learning any great moral or anything from these shows.  So, I made the decision to stop watching these shows.  It was harder than I thought.  I just wanted to know how the story line was going to end in some cases.  I did not want to watch all the details, just wanted to find out what the writers had in store!  But, I did it.  I stopped cold turkey and decided at the beginning of this year that I was going to become more "well read". I think of all these people I know who seem intelligent and to know what is going on and I noticed they all read.  Now, I am a very slow reader -- VERY slow so I thought I would set my goal low and attainable at first.  So, my goal for this year is to read one book a month. It does not matter if it is non-fiction or fiction but I want to read some of these books that I bought! :)  So here we are in June and I have so far exceeded my goal.  Over the next several days I want to give some reviews of the books I have read for all of you to read my thoughts.  Some of them will be spoilers so I will label them as such -- I don't want to ruin it for others, after all, I hate it when that happens to me!  But, I have read some really good books lately and I want to share that with everyone!

But, today I do not start there.  Today, I start with my surgery from yesterday.  It was minor but the recovery is much more than I thought it would be.  I knew I could not drive for two weeks but I did not realize how important it would be to not bear weight on my foot for 2 weeks.  After all, the doctor only gave me a post-op shoe.  I was the one who said I would be using crutches to be safe.  Well, it turns out that bearing weight on my foot will lead to scar tissue that can be more painful than the issue itself. So, if I have to I will wait 4 weeks to walk on it.  I do not want to go back in two months to have the scar tissue removed!  But my real complaint here is that I did not find all this out until I was in bed waiting for her to cut me open.  I have a flood of people helping me to care for my children and I have the church bringing me meals. However, I originally thought this was all over-kill.  Now, I see I really do need this help.  I am glad I did not wait to put those things in place.  But, doesn't it seem that this should have been a discussion the doctor had with me PRIOR to surgery?  And when surgery was over I never saw the doctor or the residents again.  I saw a nurse.  He wanted to know if I wanted my visitor to come back in.  I told him I was tired and wanted to sleep so he left.  But a couple minutes later I realized that I needed to use the restroom because despite my lack of drinking the IV was pumping fluid in me.  As soon as I got back he decided that since I was up I could have visitors and then shortly later I could go home.  I really felt pushed out of my bed.  I slept all day at home which is by far more comfortable, but honestly, I don't like feeling rushed out the door.  I wanted my discharge to be from the doctor or one of her residents not this nurse who when I asked questions said "I don't think so, it is not written here." It seems to me that we pay a lot of money for our medical care but we don't get necessarily what we are paying for... just my thoughts.