Simplemama

What I’ve been Reading {A Big Book Updated}

One of my favorite memories of summer break as a child was all the time I had to read! Some days, I’d wake up, start reading a new book, and finish it by the time my mom called us for dinner. Best. Day. Ever.

Now, I’m lucky if I can get through one page (or even a sentence) without an interruption. Still, I decided that I would dedicate this summer to more reading time – not just for the kids but me as well!

I also decided to take a break from any Book Review Hang Outs or Podcasts while the kids are all home this summer.

In the mean time, here’s a review of what I’ve read and am reading and even some books the older two are reading.

1. Love the Home You Have: Simple Ways to…Embrace Your Style *Get Organized *Delight in Where You Are by Melissa Michaels

I read this one back in May, coincidentally at the same time I decided to start a family room/kitchen room update (which I’m excited to share about soon!) so it came at just the right time. Again, I will save a full review for a its own post but I also liked this one a lot, it gave me a lot of fun and practical ideas for how I can update what I already have instead of wishing I had a different house.

2. Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You by Sonja Corbitt

I received this book as part of the CatholicMom.com Unleashed Book Club and am so glad I had the chance to read it. I’m only half-way through and have already gleaned a lot of wisdom. I lead the reflection on chapter Two about trying to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me more instead of just running with my own ambition and hoping He’ll catch up. It’s something I’m constantly working on. Even if you haven’t read the book, I invite you to join the reading club if only for the great reflections and following conversations.

3. What a Girl Needs From Her Mom by Cheri Fuller

This is another book I received via NetGalley (a book reviewer’s dream) in exchange for a review. I’m still only in the first part of the book and am really enjoying it. As my daughter gets older and enters into the scary “pre-teen” age of life, I’ve found that she actually needs me more even as she grows more independent.

What my daughter needs from her mom – is me, her mama. With 3 younger brothers who are much louder and more obnoxious, it’s hard to find time for just her and me. This summer, I’ve tried giving her more time to just be with me and to listen to her. I can tell she loves when I do this so I hope I can continue working on carving those special times out for just us.

4. Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday by Pope Francis

This is another book I just received from Image Catholic Books. They said the only downside is they probably will not be able to arrange a Hang Out interview with this one’s author, bummer. I joked back that you never know, Pope Francis has been known to surprise people! I’m excited to open it up and dig into this soon.

5. I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really): Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison by Kay Wills Wyma

I’ve mentioned this book in the Be Happy for Me post and the Comparison Parenting Trap one and, though I haven’t written a full review yet but I can say that I did like this book and think others would like it too, if only for the chance for a healthy self-evaluation of how you do or do not have an unhealthy comparison issue.

6. Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Gregory K. Popcak

I shared my review about Broken Gods here on the blog, along with the Hang Out video and Podcast but I wanted to mention it again because it was such a great book that I’ll refer to often.

Since reading Popcack’s book, I see how much his message plays a role in the global current events and also here in our own home. I see what others are doing and then try and look for what it is they are really longing for. It has helped me in many ways to take a step back from a situation and think about what is really going happening on a deeper level.

I really hope everybody can read this book and use it as an aid not just to better understand themselves, but to to better empathize with others’ behaviors and offer merciful compassion instead of reactive judgement.

7. So B. It Sarah Weeks

After all that great non-fiction, I decided it was high time for a Fiction break! Last year my daughter participated in her school’s Battle of the Books program and read a lot of cool-sounding books. I fully intended on reading along with her but I can’t keep up with her.  So B. It was the first one she read, one day I came in to check on her and she was balling while reading it – it was that good. So far, I can tell I’ll probably have my own eyes to wipe by the end of it.

8. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This book is on her Battle of the Books list this year and it looked interesting to me so I’ll jump into that after  So B. It.

9. The Macallan Story: Sarah’s Story.

I can’t link to this post because it hasn’t actually been published yet! I recently discovered that a good friend of mine had written a novel and so I asked if I could read it. I LOVED it. It’s a romance novel, on the same spectrum as something like The Notebook but maybe not quite as gushy or sexual. I hope one day I can come back here and link to her book so everyone gets a chance to enjoy it.

What my 11-year-old daughter is reading:

If you’re curios, she’s also been reading the whole Ranger’s Apprentice Series and recently finished all the The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books! My little girl is growing up! Up next for her are the Harry Potter books. I never read the books but enjoyed the movies but maybe I’ll read this series with her just to see if they really are as good as everyone claims.

She’s also reading Twice Upon a Marigold, the sequel to Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris. This one also sounds good so I might check it out also.

What my 8-year-old son is reading:

1. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Yes, my son is reading! It’s been excruciatingly difficult to get him interested in reading on his own so I’ve been looking for books that might be interesting enough for him. He recently watched the How to Train Your Dragon movies and really liked that so when we found the original How to Train Your Dragon books I hoped it might be enough to get him interested.

He knows how to read but I don’t think he really knows yet how to read and enjoy reading. So I decided to make this a read-aloud with him and his five-year-old brother so that he could read along with me while listening to how I read it out loud. So far so good.

2. The Notebook of Doom #1: Rise of the Balloon Goons by Troy Cummings

I also found this series at the library and left them in our library basket, we’ll see if he take the bait or not. I haven’t read these or know much about them but it seemed like a subject he might be more interested in reading. It’s on my friend Joel’s Top Ten Children’s Chapter Books so I figure it has to be at least decent. ūüėČ

3. Superman: The Story of the Man of Steel

His favorite books to read continue to be super hero books. I can tell he is definitely ready to venture past the preschool level I Can Read Super Hero books but we have had a hard time finding age-appropriate super hero books. We ventured to our downtown library last week and discovered they’d been hoarding all the cool Super hero books in their children’s section, my boys were in heaven.

One thing that’s been helping him like reading more is letting him have the privilege of staying up later and having “reading time” before bed. His friends we stayed with in Colorado get to do this and I asked if he’d like to do that. I think giving him that extra privilege really made him feel “older”. It makes my heart swell to see him actually sitting down and reading on his own before bed!

Whew, that’s a lot of books! We’ve got two whole baskets full of other library books the kids have been devouring and leaving all over the floor (driving me ca-wazy!). I’m so thankful for books. I don’t know what type of world it would be without them. Not a good one.

Up next, a long overdue movie watching update! (Per Joel’s request.)

What books have you read or are reading?

Beauty in Erosion

Here are a few more beautiful pictures my awesome husband took from our Colorado vacation. We drove down to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and camped out one night, climbed the dunes with 4 adults, 9 kids, and 2 dogs, and lived to tell about it.

Great Sand Dunes Pano

It was really the highlight of our trip and I’m so glad we got to go. You wouldn’t think piles of sand would be all that cool but there was something just…awesome about it.

Maybe it was how little it made me feel, or the colors – my favorite color schemes!

Maybe it was just marveling in the fact that I was ingrained in the after-life of a time now gone.

While I was climbing the dunes, my feet sinking into the sand with each step, I felt like there was probably some huge life lesson God might be trying to show me, an analogy of erosion and beauty. I know there’s a lesson, it’s just on the tip of my mind but I haven’t quite seen the whole picture yet. It’s still loading.

Something about how throughout the history of creation, everything has constantly evolved from one thing to another.

There used to be a beautiful lake where we climbed up those sand dunes. I imagined a time-lapse video of how the terrain had changed over thousands of years due to erosion – wind, rain, and other natural elements.

One beauty of nature replaced with another.

I guess it just goes to show that even the world as we know it now will pass away and erode by the natural forces of the constantly changing world. We can’t see it now but over time, something new and beautiful in it’s own way will develop once again.

For now, I’ll soak in the beauty that exists where I am right now.

Something like that anyway.

Ok, enough talk, I’ll be quiet now and let you enjoy these pictures.

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

My favorite! I love the colors sooo much!

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes

The Comparison Parenting Trap

I’ve been thinking some more about the comparison trap and my fear of making other people envious¬†I blogged about a few days ago. In Kay Wills Wyma’s book that I mentioned,¬†I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really): Finding Contentment in a Culture of Comparison, towards the end she says something that stuck with me –

…this attempt to tame comparison began with my eyes being opened to its destructive and peace-stealing nature in the parenting realm…Though I think we’ve seen that comparison strikes everywhere, its effects concern me most in the area of parenting because that happens to be where I live…

Judgmental and envious comparison is most definitely a HUGE destructive force in the parenting world, or at least it has been for me and, from what I’ve observed, for many other parents out there.

In my Be Happy for Me post, I shared my fears of sharing about myself for fear it would somehow make others feel less compared to what I shared. But that’s only part of it.

I think another reason I hesitate sharing about my life or opinions or what our family is up to is the fear that others will compare to their own opinions or life ideas, and then Рthe worst part Рthat they will judge me based solely on what I said Рor at least on what I tried to say.

It seems there is nothing beyond ridicule or judgment these days. It makes it almost impossible to share anything about ourselves without someone feeling either offended or self-righteous.

I think this is especially true in the parenting world these days.

There is an opinion about everything parenting-related. From how/if/when to become pregnant to how to birth, feed, diaper, sleep, not sleep, dress, play, etc, etc.

I remember, as a new mom, how incredibly helpless and dumb I felt. I thought I would just know how to be a mother. How to give birth and how to feed my child or change her diaper.

But I didn’t know anything.

So I checked out all the books and then Рthis is where I may have gone wrong РI got onto the Internet and joined all those mommy parenting forums seeking answers.

Some of the information I read was helpful. But as I spent more time reading others’¬†ideas and experiences,¬†I looked and read and listened to all the different ways other parents were doing it and suddenly, I felt like I had¬†no idea what I was doing and that I was doing it all wrong.

I wish I could send tell my back-then self – “You’re NOT doing it wrong.

And I wonder now, had I not had as many outside influences to compare to, would I have eventually figured it out? Would I have been as overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about every.single. parenting decision I made?

I was talking with my mom about this and asked her if the comparison parenting judgement traps existed when she was raising us in a time without internet forums and social media.

She said yes, comparison and judgement have always been around and always will be. But she agreed it probably wasn’t as easy to see as it is now. All we have to do now is log on to Facebook or visit the blogs and we’re inundated with opinions and standards about everything we¬†should¬†and¬†shouldn’t¬†do for our children.

I look back at the past 11 years and realize how I entangled myself in all the parenting comparison traps. I look back and remember in disgust at myself how smug I became as I flailed around trying to figure out how to mother my children.

I’m not sure if it’s my age or the number of years I’ve now experienced¬†as a mother, but I feel like I’m finally wriggling out of that trap. ¬†As Kay continues to comment in her book,

I know I will be a parent for the rest of my life, but as the kids get older, I care less and less about societal noise.

And it’s so¬†freeing!

The more I stop comparing myself to what I identified as “better” mothers, the more I’ve become a¬†better¬†mother myself.

I think there is a time and place for looking to other parents to see how they do it. I’ve learned many valuable lessons from my community of mothers, both in my day-to-day life and even on the evil Internet. (gasp!)

But at some point, I, and all parents, have to figure out who¬†I¬†am as a mother and who¬†my children are. At some point, I have to stop looking at what others are doing and “pay attention to the unique¬†work God has given¬†me“.

And as I gain more confidence in this, I feel less worried or fearful about what others may think of how I parent.

It’s also becoming easier to hear and look at what others are doing without immediately comparing myself to them or judging them. Instead, I’m able to observe it and honestly say, “Hey, that’s a new idea, thanks for sharing,” and then decide whether or not it’s something that would be helpful for me to try. And if it’s not, then that’s great it works for them but that doesn’t mean if it doesn’t work for me that I’m a terrible mother.

The same goes vice versa. Instead of dolling out unsolicited advice to embellish my own ego or strengthen my own opinions, I care more about¬†listening¬†to what other mothers struggle with and –¬†if asked and if it is truly helpful –¬†then I offer up some words of encouragement or ideas that may or may not¬†work for that mother and that particular child or situation.

Or at least this is what I’m¬†trying¬†to do more of. ¬†I’m sure I’ll always be in progress.

Have you found comparison to be “destructive and peace-stealing” in your parenting life? Or have you always been confident and indifferent to others’ opinions? (good for you if so!)

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