Friday, August 1, 2014

7QT (Vol. 96): Recommended Bible Stories and Read-alouds for Children

You know why bloggers love to have questions from their readers? It's not really about the validation that someone does indeed read what we write, though admittedly it is a nice ego boost. But primarily, we love questions because it gives us something about which to write when we stumble to the computer at 10:30 pm! So, many thanks to Ginny who asked if I had a children's Bible to recommend. We don't use a Bible with our kids right now, but I do have some collections to recommend.

My favorite Bible for young children (ages two to six?) is My First Bible in Pictures by Kenneth Taylor. First of all, it is beautiful, which is important for little ones. The book is alternating pages of text and full-page pictures by Richard and Frances Hook. It contains 125 Bible stories, including some of the more challenging ones like Cain and Abel. It does not include the sacrifice of Isaac, which I appreciate. One of the best things about this Bible is that each one-page story concludes with a very simple comprehension question.

Illustrator: Richard Hook

Another collection I recommend is Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories. This collection of stories and a few Psalms uses the NIV translation, which I wouldn't recommend for Scripture study, but is accessible for children while still conveying the important Truth of the stories. These stories have also been chosen to be short enough for young children. I would recommend this for children ages four through... ten? It is verbatim selections from the Bible, so it's not like we outgrow reading them. At the same time, older children should be encouraged to read the stories in context.

The last collection of Bible stories we use for our kids at this time is 101 Read-Aloud Bible Stories, which is currently out of print. This is definitely a loose translation of Scripture, truly a read-aloud story rather than a Bible excerpt. The stories have a few illustrations and take about ten minutes to read. The longer stories do challenge the attention span of most little ones, so I would recommend this for ages five and up. It is a nice option for reading to children of various ages.

Speaking of reading aloud, I have really been enjoying reading to Peter recently. While we still do quite a few picture books, he has become interested in longer stories, too. Our first chapter book was Charlotte's Web, which was one of my favorites as a child. I wondered how my sensitive little guy would do with (spoiler alert) Charlotte's death, but he seemed to accept it as part of the story. When we finished, he immediately asked to read it again! For reading aloud to little ones, it is definitely worth getting a hardcover copy. It stays open much more easily.

We also have a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, which our whole family loves. Anne likes seeing the animals, Peter likes the stories, and Jeremy and I appreciate the sophisticated humor that goes right over Peter's head. I must say, though, that I get a bit teary during the last story in House at Pooh Corner, so ready yourself for that one. :-)

Just this past week, we started - and have almost finished - The Original Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. Peter likes the adventures, which have just a hint of danger (like when Raggedy Andy gets stuck in a drainpipe) without enough to scare him. There are fewer illustrations in this collection, but he is interested enough in the story without pictures to attract his attention. Your turn: what book should we read next?

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Parade and Presents

Fun story about a present Peter received. He thought it was very funny when he opened it, because we already had a copy of that book (Little Blue Truck). Then he noticed a companion book pictured on the back, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, and said he wished we had that one. Background information: since Memorial Day, he has been crazy about parades; he and Anne have at least one every day around the house, playing instruments. So, we went to Barnes & Noble, where he exchanged it. He was loving every minute of the new book, and THEN, we turned the page and there was a MARCHING BAND! Having a PARADE! He was through-the-roof excited about it.

She wears her drum on her head.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Should my mother be in the delivery room?

People tell a bride that her weddings is her big day. Do what you want! Make whatever choices you like best! But in reality, brides make choices not only based on personal preference but on the preferences of her guests. A bride is hosting a party; a gracious hostess cares about her guests' comfort.

When you give birth, though, it really is all about you. :-) No one else is carrying that baby for nine months or bringing him or her into the world. So, should your mother be there as you give birth? Only if YOU want her there. There are women who want to share their birth with their mother, husband, children, and maybe even other family or close friends. If that's you, go for it! The only note of caution I would add is to remember that this baby is yours and your husband's, not your mom's. Dads can sometimes feel pushed to the sidelines, so do be sure that he is involved and knows he is wanted.

Photo credit: David Beyerlein

If you're unsure, here are some reasons your mother should not witness you giving birth:
You want to patch a tense relationship. If you and your mom are not on great terms, the delivery room (or other birthing location) really isn't a good place to mend fences. Giving birth requires 100% of your concentration; you won't be able to spare the mental effort to keep up social niceties. Instead, consider having your mother be the first visitor, or have a special song for Grandma and her new grandchild, or some other way to make Grandma feel special and wanted (since she is!).
Your mother is a Negative Nelly. For a great birth experience, you want anyone in the room to be positive and confident. Your body was designed to give birth, but stress and fear cause you to tense your muscles, working against the natural flow of things. If you mom will be doomsaying, critiquing, or complaining, she's not going to improve your birth.
You'll feel uncomfortable having her there. There could be any number of rational or irrational reasons for you to feel that way, but if you have a nagging feeling that you'll wish she would leave, it's much easier to not invite her than to tell her to leave halfway through!
Your mother is a Chatty Cathy. Now, if you have a great relationship with your mom, you might want her talking to you through the early stages of labor to keep your mind occupied and then leave. Once you get to the transitional stage, though, odds are good that you won't want any distractions. Let me repeat: giving birth requires 100% of your concentration. If you want mom around only in the beginning, be sure both of you are clear about how you will ask her to leave and that she will respect your first request.

Now, none of those are true of me and my mom, but I still didn't want her in the delivery room. She didn't particularly want to be there, either, so thankfully it wasn't a touchy situation. I just didn't want another person in the room. This is the same reason the idea of a doula doesn't appeal to me. I don't want anyone talking to me or touching me during labor other than my husband. I asked my midwives (who were awesome) to direct everything through him when practical. I am introverted and fairly reserved by nature; being in labor really amplifies those traits in me.

Should your mother watch you give birth? Sure, if you want her there. And if not, that is perfectly OK, too. She will have many more opportunities to bond with your baby! :-)

Friday, July 25, 2014

7QT (Vol. 95): Wanting Revenge

Last night, Anne and Peter fell asleep at 8:30 and 9ish, respectively. For the first time in a very long time, Anne slept through the night. She woke at 6:30 to nurse, then went back to sleep until 10:15. Peter came into my room about 7:15, then fell asleep next to me until almost 10:00. Neither of them are sick, but they had no naps yesterday and are stressed about Daddy being out of town. Still, I took the 13 hours of sleep as a portent of a good day.

They had breakfast and got dressed in enough time to get to the 11:15 communion service, where they did fairly well, until the very end. Peter got mad at me and took off his sandal in protest. (It's just something he does. Maybe because at some point I'll put it back on?) I ignored him, then scooped up him and his sandal after the closing song, took Anne's hand and power-walked out of the sanctuary. He was thrashing all the way, then let go an ear-piercing squeal just as we got to the hallway. A woman (who has made pointed comments in the past about me bringing my children to church) gave me a dirty look and - to her credit - muttered, "God bless you," and stalked out.

The day didn't particularly improve. He was pushing every limit and encouraging Anne to do the same all afternoon. We made it through dinner fairly well, had a fun and happy bathtime, and then it was bed time. For over an hour. The initial trigger was my refusal to read a book after he threw it on the floor, then escalated when he kicked me and I left his room. He followed me into my room, screaming and pulling things off the bed.

I should have physically stopped him and helped him regain control, but I'd had it by that point. What I wanted to do was slap him, so what I did was barricade myself in our walk-in closet and pray. I prayed for grace to get through this and for the ability to let go of my anger. What I wanted was revenge, but that would teach him nothing. When God had helped me regain control and restored my relationship with Him, I tried to do the same with Peter.

When he reached another calm in his storm, I told him it was time to fix the bedroom. I gave him one instruction at a time and helped tuck in the sheets and straighten the comforter when he asked politely. Then we moved into his room where we repeated the process with the toys he had strewn during a tantrum earlier this week. As he put the environment back in order, he got himself more in control, too. Finally, we were ready to snuggle and talk.

Are you sorry you wrecked things?
Well, that was just me saying that even if you did still love me, I didn't love you.
Do you love me now?
Good. I love you, too.
Are you sorry you got angry at me?
Yes. I'm sorry for being angry at you. Will you forgive me?
[bedtime prayers and lullabies]
me: I love you. I'll always love you. (a prompt for what follows)
P: Even when I kick you?
Yes. I don't like what you're doing, but I still love you. I'll always love you.
P: Even when I'm angry at you?
Yes, I still love you. I'll always love you.
P: Even you're angry at me?
Yes, I still love you. I'll always love you. Do you still love me when I'm angry at you?
P: Yes, I still love you. I'll always love you. (ends that 'script') Do you know how much I love you?
How much?
P: Up to Heaven.
Oh good. Goodnight, sweet boy, I love you.
P: Mommy, will you love me until you and me both die?
Yes, always.
P: OK, goodnight.

I know he got off his sleep schedule, didn't eat much lunch, and desperately misses Daddy, especially at bedtime. I know I didn't respond well to the warning signs earlier in the day. I know I could have been a better parent. But tonight, I'm not feeling guilty or even particularly worn-out. I am grateful. I am grateful for God's grace and forgiveness. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach instead of punish. I am grateful for the love of my son, a love strong enough to survive even our bad days.

Forever my sweet boy

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Road Race and Birthday Party

So many great things happened this past weekend, it completely threw me off my schedule. The 5k road race and Peter's birthday party were part of a mini family reunion, which included dinner catered by Sticky Lips BBQ. In related news, if you want some leftovers, my parents still have plenty. :-) Here is yesterday's post for your viewing pleasure!

My brother finished 2nd, 17:40. He also ran a 50 mile race the week before!

Jeremy finished in 31:something, less than a minute ahead of me.

I finished in 32:43... I think I was handicapped by having to carry the car key ;-)
My very loving brother also looped back around to help me finish the race.

Peter's 1st race, completing a quarter mile

And he got a medal!

Grandma's amazing birthday cake for my construction enthusiast

Matching tongue faces

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gentle Discipline, Limits, and Tantrums

The kids were extremely well-behaved at Mass today, which makes my whole day run more smoothly. I'm not frazzled from trying to keep them in line and am filled with grace from being able to focus on God. Turns out I was desperately in need of that grace by the end of the evening. Peter seems to have entered another phase of limit testing. My little scientist is conducting experiments to see if the results can be replicated each time.

I try very hard not to take it personally, not to get angry at him. He isn't doing it out of spite, just trying to learn where lines are and if he can trust me to be consistent. Sometimes being the grown-up isn't fun.

On a more positive note, I have discovered an important question to ask when he is tantruming. What first comes to mind is, "What is your problem?!" But that's not particularly helpful. A more caring question is, "Why are you upset?" But when he is having a tantrum, that question usually makes it worse. He is struggling to maintain control and doesn't have a lot of cognitive resources left to ponder his motivation. Here is my new go-to line: What do you want me to do right now?

It has worked wonders! He doesn't have to process past events or explain anything. The answer to this question is a present action, very simple. Most of the time, it is something I am willing to do; the tantrum resolves quickly, then we can talk about what caused it once he is calm. Occasionally, it is not something I am willing to do, but then at least I can address the issue at hand, rather than trying to guess what is happening. I hope it proves helpful for some other moms of little ones, too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blowin' in the Wind

How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man?
That's silly, Mommy. A man doesn't have to walk down any roads to be a man. You're right.
How many seas must the white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand?
How many times must the cannonballs fly, before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind. The answer is blowin in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist, before it is washed to the sea?
What would it be then, Mommy? Just mud? Yes.
How many years can some people exist, before they're allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?
Why would he pretend that, Mommy? I don't know.
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind. The answer is blowin in the wind.

How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?
One time.
How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry?
Two. Like me.
How many deaths will it take 'til he knows that too many people have died?
I think just one, right, Mommy?

The answer is found in you and me...

Happy 4th birthday, sweet boy.