Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Links - March 31, 2012

Today I go a bit Hunger Games review crazy. I've read the books but I haven't seen the movie. I'm not sure whether I want to see the movies, though Philip really wants to ASAP. These books / movies have turned out to be more controversial in Christian circles than I had expected and I do not wish to be disrespectful to Christians who hold a different perspective. If you haven't read them or haven't formed your own opinion, these posts may be helpful:
And now on to our regularly scheduled links!
1. Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls. (Hat tip: I shamelessly stole this post from my friend Julie.)

2. Sounds like an interesting book: A Guide to Help Americans Speak the Queen's English. Here's my own contribution: "pants" mean VERY different things in the US vs the UK. (Pants = Underwear in the UK)

3. V2 Rocket found in Essex Mudflats. I love these stories about how the Second World War is still affecting life. (Note: that site has very questionable links in the sidebar so view at your own risk.)

4. Meg wrote a lovely post about the importance of the words "Proud of You".

5. Tigons, Liger, Leguars, and Jagupards, Oh My! (P.S.: If you'd like to see members of the zebra / horse family who have interbred just come visit the Creation Museum's petting zoo.)

6. I needed to read Brandy's post: Learning Not to Fear a Time of Rest. Our homeschooling is at what Melissa Wiley calls "low tide" right now. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

7. This sounds like so much fun: Organizing A Free Ladies' Boutique.

8. Two interesting posts for writers:
Just for fun: I loved this stop motion movie - so cute!

Pins of the Week:
Anyone remember the Liberty of London line for Target from a few years back? I wish I could find more things with this print (I have two boxes but that's it):

Doesn't this blanket look cozy? Someday, I shall make one. I hope.

So, what did you stumble on this week?
This post is linked to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci. Come share your links!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Things I Know at 20 Weeks

Today I would be 20 weeks pregnant.

Half way.

We would probably have our ultrasound today or maybe early next week. We'd all go: Philip and the girls and me, to see the newest member of the family and find out whether we went 5 for 5 (girls!) or whether there would be a little brother surprise. (Astonishment!) We'd watch the baby's antics on the flickering screen and laugh as the baby tried to kick away the people pestering him in his cozy home.

Only, obviously, that's not how it goes this time.

Time is passing and the first, stabbing, crushing, hurt has eased. But it doesn't go away. Because I know what's it like to be 20 weeks pregnant. I know that I would be wearing maternity clothes, definitely "showing". I know I would be feeling him kick and turn and I'd be sharing those kicks with his Daddy and sisters, urging them to come see or feel what he was doing.

That makes me miss him more than ever because I know. I know he'd be a part of me, always carried with me, rocked to sleep when I walked and awaking to play any time I sat down or went to bed. I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me. Job 7:3 ESV
Months of emptiness? That sounds about right. Time marches forward to August. Only I won't be giving birth in August. There won't be a new bundle of baby goodness at the end of this march.

And nights of misery? Nights are the hardest. They're not busy. No one needs my help or my attention or my presence. Sometimes sleep is illusive.

Half way.

Half way to what? I'm not sure yet. But I'm thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who is carrying me there.
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands...Isaiah 49:15-16a ESV
The best part, the one thing that encourages me most: the God who carries me is also carrying my tiny son. Maybe later I might post exactly why I believe this (and the Scriptures that give me specific hope) but for now, it's enough to know.
He's our son. He has a name (a name that means "God is my Salvation" and a middle name that connects him to his daddy, Pop, and great-grandfather). He matters, if only to us. At six weeks or fourteen weeks or twenty weeks and far beyond, he is loved and he is known, not perfectly now, but one day - I will meet him.

Even though I can't imagine it, can't imagine how it can be true, that passage from Isaiah reminds us that "even a mother may forget". I don't see how. Thoughts of my baby are always with me, even without the necklace I now wear. I miss him and it's a physical, near constant ache. But what a comfort to know, even if I forget - I, his mother! - God doesn't forget. Not ever.

Thank you, friends, for walking with me on this path. God has used so many people to encourage, comfort, and just "be" with me on this journey I did not want to take.

Monday, March 26, 2012

20 Questions Parenting

This post on Misreading Daughters from the Femina Blog really got me thinking. Philip and I have four daughters (which you well know if you've been reading my blog for any length of time and yes, I know, the above picture is quite out of date now) and there are a few things we've noticed along the way.

While all our girls occasionally have difficulty explaining what is wrong, we have one daughter which requires what we call "20 Questions Parenting" when disputes arise.

"Are you sad?"
"Are you angry?"
"Well, why are you angry?"

She cannot seem to frame the perceived offense against her into words or explain why she is reacting this way to it. She becomes increasingly frustrated with her inability to make her obviously dull parents understand why her indignation is righteous.

We will not allow physical retaliation (and yes, we've had some from all of our daughters, even the youngest, at different times). We will not allow, as far as we are able, sinful reactions no matter what the provocation. The difficult thing is not all altercations have a "good girl" and a "bad girl." It's not always easy for a parent to unravel the situation. And then someone will play the "feelings" card: "Well, she hurt my feelings!" As though that was the ultimate trump card.

One thing you'll learn raising daughters: feelings are complicated. And they are not easily ignored.

A recent discussion wound down like this:
Us: "So, were you scared when your sister turned off the basement light?"
Her: "Yes."
Us: "Are you angry with her for turning off the light?"
Her: "Yes. Because I think she did it on purpose!" *Bursts into tears*

It took many questions to get to this point. We had to have the offending sister apologize. And then we had to hold and comfort our daughter who could finally see why she was so upset. She had to calm down before she could apologize in her turn for retaliating against the sister who had left her in the dark basement alone.

As easy as it would be to become frustrated with our less articulate daughter (or her sisters, when they have similar difficulties because they all do at times), I have to remember that sometimes I don't know why I feel a certain way either. Maybe I'm hungry or didn't get enough sleep or I want my husband to understand that when I am saying I am angry about something I'm actually sad about something I can't quite express and can't he just figure that out already?!

Just as my husband is not a mind-reader (he occasionally has to remind me of that), neither are my daughter's parents.

So I guess we'll keep asking those 20 questions. Or more, if that's what it takes.

So, friends, do tell: is there anything similar in raising sons? Have you ever felt like you were playing 20 Questions while parenting?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Links - March 24, 2012

1. Do you battle depression? Shannon does. Maybe her post about her battle will encourage you.

2. Sarah has a great post on Games as Essential Curriculum. I've never heard of some of these (and I'm married to a game designer!) but I will definitely be referring to this post the next time my girls put together their Christmas lists.

3. These pictures are interesting: Sarajevo, 1996 / 2011.

4. Powerful post: Perhaps You Should Sue God. (And yes, having just lost a baby who may or may not have had a neural tube defect, this post touched a very raw nerve. I love our baby and I cannot imagine, had he been born with a serious health condition, looking into his tiny, beautiful face and saying, "You should not have been born." I wish he would have been born. I wish I could have held him, even if just for a few hours. I'm his mother. I love him. I love him no matter what.)

5. Maybe the Ritalin debate is Asking the Wrong Question.

6. Just for fun: Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch. (If you have to ask, "Who?", then you probably won't find this funny.)

7. More just for fun: If the Downton Abbey Characters were Canine Actors. Bates is spot on, I think. Not sure about Mary.

8. Bad Parenting - Why Americans Need to Toughen Up. (Hat tip to my m-i-l.) Repeat after me: I can just say "no". I am the parent. I can say, "Because I said so." I am the parent. I can say, "You can do it!" (Whether that means tying their own shoes, picking up their toys, or learning to fix their own breakfast.) I am the parent. I will BE the parent.

9. More interesting pictures: Fifth Avenue Windows, 1942.

10. And, just in case that previous link inspires you to get all vintage-y and whatnot: How to Do Victory Rolls. I would love to figure this out for myself. So pretty!

Pins of the week: None. Zip. Zero. Nada.
I am the world's worst Pinterest user, apparently.
Maybe next week?
Until then, I'll share this picture my friend Tarah pinned (which I think you can buy on Etsy):
Source: via T on Pinterest

This post is linked to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - My TBR Stack

1. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 Philip just finished this and he's talking about it ALL THE TIME, so I guess I better read it so we can discuss it properly.

2.Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots: This one both my dad and my husband have read and they keep telling me I have to read it. One of these days I'll get around to it...

3.The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice I can't tell you how long this has been in my stack. It keeps getting pushed down but I really do want to read it.

4.All in One Basket by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire. Continuing my fascination with all things Mitford Sisters related.

5.A Watershed Year: A Novel This one was passed on to me by my mom. Haven't gotten around to it yet.

6.The Pity Of War: Explaining World War I by Niall Ferguson. 462 pages of not so light reading.

7.Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age This one has been in the stack for a few weeks.

8.Bismarck and Germany: 1862-1890 Doesn't everyone have a book about Bismarck and German unification in their TBR stack?

9.A Presumption of Death: A New Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mystery I love Sayer's creation, Peter Wimsey. And I enjoy the continuation of the series by Jill Paton Walsh because she is a talented writer in her own right and treats these characters well.

10.The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour I saw a glowing review of this somewhere around the 'webs. It sounds like a book I would enjoy.

So, what's in your stack? Any suggestions for things I should add to my own?
This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish. Come see what other folks are planning to read.

All book titles in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. I have not yet read any of these book and cannot testify as to their contents.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Booknotes - What Was Lost

One thing that is fairly predictable about me: if I am experiencing something new, or interested in something new, I will probably be looking for a book about that experience. (Pregnancy, homeschooling, parenting...just to name a few examples).

Well, our recent miscarriage is no exception. And this, so far, is the best book I have found yet:

What Was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett.

I'm not going to tell you that I can wholeheartedly endorse all the theology of the book (the author is a Methodist minister) but it was otherwise exactly what I needed. The following excerpts are just a few things that resonated with me:

The impulse to bargain with God comes from our own pain, not from a desire God has for you to strike a deal with the Devine.
Although we may not understand it well, embryonic life is still life lived fully in the presence of God.
God is big enough to receive your doubt, your anger, your bitterness. God does not need to be protected from real grief and emotions.
Miscarriage robs you of the excitement of getting pregnant the next time. Many women find both the process of trying to become pregnant after a miscarriage and any subsequent pregnancies to be fraught with fear and anxiety. The entire process seems tinged with grief.
It is often when everything else is stripped away that we can see and sense God's presence and care most clearly.
 Your child's life mattered, both to you and to God. It is right to find ways to mark and recognize the significance of that loss in your own journey.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a recent miscarriage (or not so recent - many women do not fully grieve their lost babies until many years later), I highly recommend this book.

The above book image is an Amazon affiliate link. Action taken with this link could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend Links - March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And now, on to the links, because posts of links are apparently all I can manage right now. (And don't worry, it's not because I've taken to my bed permanently or anything like that. I'm actually doing quite well, considering. The main reason for my blog silence is we just got new carpet this week, in our continuing effort to make this house ready to sell. This caused an unbelievable amount of upheaval in our every day life. We only did school work 2 days but I'm trying not to think about how "behind" we are right now. Life keeps getting in the way...)

1. Love these pictures: Growing Up In India 1923-1933. What a different time and way to live.

2. I want a tiger cub now: Taking Care of Tiger Cubs 1944. Who knew it was so exciting to be a zookeeper's wife?

3. This post helped with some of my current homeschooling guilt: Living Learning Lists. Because that kind of thing we actually do right now, unlike, say, opening our Latin textbook. And I'm sure it was educational to help Daddy pull up three rooms of carpet, right?

4. Great post by Katrina on false modesty and pride: This is Probably Wrong, But...

5. Most of this goes over my head, but it was thought provoking (query: does the fact that something "goes over your head" actually make it thought provoking?): I Killed the Internet.

6. Some helpful advice: Keeping From Losing it in the Chaos of a Larger Family. Those "trigger messes" she talks about in the post are the bane of my existence as a mom.

7. Just for fun: 20 Tips on Snagging a Husband, from the leading ladies of period films. This is my favorite (from the British miniseries North and South):
Hang out at train stations.
There's no telling who might turn up.
8. Great post from the Common Room about Dorothy Sayers and "Christian" Fiction. I deplore the state of what passes as Christian fiction: most of it is trite, far-fetched and tedious. There are exceptions, of course, but I suppose that's a post for another day.

9. Here's a tutorial for replacing a broken zipper. One of my accomplishments this week was repairing (though not replacing) a zipper on a suitcase that the girls use for their dress up clothes. It wasn't that big a deal but they were impressed and I will take what I can get.

10. I live in the US, not the UK (alas!), but this video designed to inspire Brits to vacation at home really makes me want to go there. Again. Now. (But, since that is not likely to happen, Philip has already said that we will have to consider it for our 15th anniversary which is just 2 years off. I can't wait! (Because, I've already "considered" and yes, I want to go!)

I didn't do much pinning this week. But I'd love to see what you've stumbled across this week. Do share!
This post is linked up to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend Links - March 10, 2012

Quite a backlog of links so I'll be sharing some on the Candid Diversions Facebook page as well.

1. Speaking of Facebook: having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives. I'm in the clear because I have about one hundred and thirty less than that number. I am not a "friend" collector (although I do admit it makes me a little sad if someone "drops" me).

2. I love these amazing Book Sculptures by Guy Laramee.

3. Compare your favorite Dickens adaptation to these pictures of London Street Life in 1876.

4. German Soldiers (WW1) Preserved in Shelter and Discovered after nearly 100 Years.

5. File this one under Weird News: Hitler had a Son with a French Teenager. Even if it's true, why on earth would you want to prove that Hitler was your father?!

6. 351 Year Old Will Sparks Bitter Dispute. And you thought your family inheritance was tricky.

7. Why Homeschooling is a Boon to a Liberal Society. Obviously, I think homeschooling is beneficial for many reasons and your mileage may vary, depending on how progressive your politics are, but this article attempts to explain why those on the political left ought not to react so negatively to homeschooling.

8. Berenstain Bear Co-Creator Jan Berenstain died. I have fond childhood memories of these books but I have to admit they are not my favorite as a parent. My girls all know they'll have to a) get an older sister or grandparent to read these aloud or b) read it themselves because Mom and Dad do not "do" Berenstain Bears.

9. This is old news now but that 1% tip story that went viral turned out to be (surprise!) a hoax.

10. And, speaking of stories going viral: everyone on Facebook will have heard about Kony by now. This is a real tragedy, but, as this author  points out in his post A Tragedy and a Wasted Charity:
The crisis isn’t anything like the video portrays, and there’s nothing one can do that hasn’t already been suggested and pursued.
Pins of the week:
I know I'd love these Cherry Cola Cupcakes:

This ribbon storage is brilliant. Plus, you would get to have all those sweet little Tic Tacs first (and I like Tic Tacs way better than Altoids, don't you know):

Another idea for built-in beds (with drawers):

So, what have you stumbled on lately?
This post is linked to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Books of 2012 - February

1. Death Comes to Pemberley. Fiction by P.D. James. I wanted to like this more than I actually did. P.D. James is a fantastic writer and I love the Jane Austen characters but this book is neither fish nor fowl: neither James' best work nor a believable continuation of the beloved Pride and Prejudice story. Plus some errors (such as which Darcy parent died first) just bugged.

2. The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and His Friends. Non-fiction by Humphrey Carpenter. Read during an intense phase of interest in the "between the war" years of Great Britain and also a phase of interest in the Mitford sisters and their compatriots.

3. The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters. Non-fiction edited by Charlotte Mosley. (See my January post for the books that sparked my interest in this family.) These letters, edited by the daughter-in-law of one of the sisters, demonstrate why the Mitfords continue to be fascinating.

4. The Missing of the Somme. Non-fiction by Geoff Dyer. Part travel book, part memoir. I think Americans have trouble understanding the enduring effect the "Great War" had on much of Europe. This book might help fill the gap.

5. The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War. Non-fiction by Andrew Roberts. 608 pages of compelling history. Not revisionist, this book is almost anti-revisionist and corrects some of the fallacies and moral judgments historians (falsely so-called, in my opinion) have allowed to flourish in their recent works on World War II. A fantastic, comprehensive one volume history (which is rare, in my experience).

6. The Soldier's Wife. Fiction by Margaret Leroy. I wanted this to be enjoyable (I suppose I wanted another like this book) but it wasn't. I never really cared about the main characters or what happened to them. And, I'm sorry, but stories about adultery really ought to have something to redeem them. (An interesting  and well acted British TV series about this subject - the occupation of the Channel islands - is Island at War but I'm afraid it is definitely not rated PG so viewer beware.)

7. Fall of Giants. Fiction by Ken Follett. I've heard that Follett is an amazing writer who knows his stuff (in other words: does his research). Alas, I was not impressed by this monstrously thick (985 pages) book. It's crude, the history is clumsy, the politics are heavy handed, and if the action drags (often) he throws in a scene better suited to a bodice ripping romance novel. Yuck.

8. A Piece of Justice. Fiction by Jill Paton Walsh. Series mystery. An enjoyable, well crafted mystery and I also think anyone who enjoyed the Jennifer Chiaverini series on quilters might enjoy this as a quilt plays an important part in this story.

9. Mrs. Tim Carries On. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Sequel to Mrs. Tim of the Regiment. This one covers the early years of the Second World War and was first published in 1941 so it offers an interesting contemporary perspective. Hester (Mrs. Tim) is a likeable heroine but the people around her can be ridiculously annoying to read about.

10. Inheritance. Fiction by Christopher Paolini. I read these books primarily so I could talk about them with my younger brother. They are not as finely written as I would wish and I found the conclusion unsatisfying but I really must tip my hat to the accomplishment it is for a young author to create this world, publish four lengthy books, and inspire so many loyal fans (even if I'm not one).

11. A Poisoned Season. Fiction by Tasha Alexander. This series is just not growing on me.

12. The Creative Habit. Non-fiction by Twyla Tharp. Inspiring stuff! I filled several pages of my commonplace book with quotes from this one, many of which will no doubt be shared on this blog in the future.

13. Mrs. Tim Gets a Job. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. The sequel to #9 above. My least favorite in the series. I think I would have preferred to read more about Hester's WW2 experiences.

14. Noblesse Oblige. Non-fiction edited by Nancy Mitford. A collection of essays on the use of language (and other defining characteristics) that separate the upper class from the lower class in England.

15. Crossed. Fiction by Ally Condie. Second book in a trilogy. OK, but it's no Hunger Games. I felt like most of this book could have been condensed into a few chapters at the beginning of the third book but it was a quick, enjoyable read nonetheless.

16. The Bronze Horseman. Fiction by Paullina Simons. Well researched, set in 1941 Leningrad. The first chapters are engrossing (considering the subject matter they could hardly fail to be, right?). There are the usual disclaimers: soldiers use bad language and some characters behave badly. If that were all I would {cautiously} recommend this book if you were especially interested in the time period or Russian history. Unfortunately, the later chapters descend into the worst sort of romance novel writing. I had to skip several chapters. I ought to have stopped reading altogether but I'll confess to reading the end to find out what happened to the two main characters. I was sadly disappointed in this book: so much research and historical detail just to be ruined by salacious writing. Why do historical fiction authors do this?! (See also #7 above)

Totals for February:
Fiction: 10
Non-fiction: 6

The images in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own.