Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Puppies for Christmas

Remembet Storm? Look at her now!

I wasn't sure about mating her, not knowing the state of her insides, but I would rather have German Shepherd puppies then random street dog pups.

If all goes well, we'll have puppies mid-December. I plan to sterilize her after that, but I wanted Raccoon and Kitty to have the fun of a litter of puppies.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Happy Day

We stayed home today. It was nice to visit our little cornfield to check on our sprouts, to water our flower and tree seeds, and just be at peace. The kids played well together. We did outside school and imaginary play for a little break from bookwork.

I am using my nights to write, working on an idea I've had for awhile now, so in the mornings I'm still a bit stuck in my head, even as I get them breakfast and start our day.

Our two German Shepherds are in heat. We're going to try to mate Storm with a beautiful male down the road tomorrow, and Jewel on Monday. Maybe it will be puppies for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Raccoon!

This month you turn five. Yes, I bought you the carnivorous plant kit you picked out, but I also have something else to give you.

I was talking on Sunday with a friend who is having serious trouble with her 8 year old son. I have been thinking about fear, and how children get so many negative messages. As parents, I think we all fear for our children's futures at some point. We wonder if we're doing enough, too little, or too much. Bad behavior points to bad parenting, right? Fear pushes parents into anger, shaming, and in some cases, violence.

There has been a lot of anger and exasperation coming out of me lately, and I want to break that cycle. I wrote the affirmation below for my friend to tell her son when they are struggling. When we fostered N and J, I would tell them a similar version whenever they were at their most difficult.

I want all of my children to grow up with this written on their hearts. That will only happen if they hear it over and over. My hope is that by affirming what I know to be true, and what I hope for, in those moments when I'm about to lose it, my perspective (and my friend's) will be restored to deal with the problem at hand:

"You are special. God loves you so much and so do I. I am glad you belong to me. You are kind, respectful, compassionate, helpful, patient, and resilient. You are capable. You can express your feelings. Your abilities will grow with practice and hard work. You are a wonderful child. God has great plans for your life. We all make bad choices sometimes, and there are consequences, but I will be here with you and I will always love you."

So Raccoon, my gift to you is to yell less and say I love you more, to tell you often how amazing you are, to help you follow your dreams, to hug you, and to spend time together (trying to hit all 5 love languages).

Happy 5th birthday to my buddy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Only 7 Plots

So I'm reading this book and at chapter 8 I'm wondering when the author is going to get to the point. Turns out the book has 45 (!) chapters. I click over to Amazon to see how many pages it has (528!) and I stumble across a review on a different book that says there are only 7 plots in all the world's stories.

What? I must know more about this and google it. Wikipedia lets me down (all I want is a list), but I found the old and new descriptions here.

Old ones:

Man vs Man
Man vs Nature
Man vs Himself
Man vs God
Man vs Society
Man in the Middle
Man meets Woman

New ones:

Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return

I love this quote from that same blog post:

"Star Wars is a rags to riches quest where the hero overcomes the monster on a voyage and return while the Villain experiences rebirth at the end."

No wonder it's popular, it's got them all in there somewhere.

This post, on the other hand, mentions 20.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Something to Make You Smile

An eyewitness account of a miracle by Jesus from a Roman historian.

Pretty awesome.

I mean, I know my faith is true, but it's still fun to see a glimpse of the surprises God has in store for us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grumpy Mommy

Low energy mom. High energy kid. Introvert. Extrovert. Things have not been going well in mommyland lately. "I should be a better mommy," I tell myself frequently. Will my children even like me, or will they just remember that I was tired and grumpy all the time?

Get more sleep. This is going to be my new mommy super-secret. Things are not as bad as they seem. My son is four and my daughter is one, there is time to fix this. This is my pep talk to myself. And this post is my brain-dump so hopefully I can get some perspective.

Other things making me grumpy:

1) Teddybear almost killed a neighbor's chicken today. We rescued it from his mouth. That was my one fear with getting a puppy, that it would grow up into a chicken-killer. Teddybear is the worst eater we've had so he's still skinny despite my best efforts. Even Storm (picture below playing on the trampoline) has made a full recovery and now this skeletal puppy just won't fatten up, except apparently on my neighbor's chickens. Ugh.

2) October is my son's birthday but money is tight this year. He wants a venus flytrap growing kit he saw at the store. He's happy with such small things, his birthday will be a success as long as we do something. I know things work out. I never used to worry about money until I had kids. Working nonprofit and taking care of a family can be hard to balance. We work with people who are so poor, my money worries don't even compare, yet I have them anyway.

3) November is coming, a month that reminds me of painful things.

4) We're not doing the fun stuff I thought we would for homeschool.

5) No rain. Dusty wind.

6) Deep down it's all connected to my struggle with perfectionism and the fear that I'm not good enough, as a mom, wife, person. Except that actually, none of us are good at all. Only God. So instead of being afraid of it, I should embrace the truth and trust in God's grace. The truth is that He loves me anyway, no matter what, just like I tell Raccoon. I don't have to get everything right today, just one thing.

Lord, help me please to let go of fear and anger and be filled with Your joy instead. In Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Notes: Dancing on the Head of a Pen

by Robert Benson

My Favorite Quotes:

"Most of the time, writing a book more closely resembles digging a ditch than participating in some transcendent creative experience. Who in the world needs another book anyway? There are thousands of good ones already, and some of the best ones have not been read by very many people at all... Last week while reading Buechner, I realized that if I wanted to make a contribution to the literary world, I should do his laundry and mow his grass so he would have more time to write."

"They push me to tell the truth, the hard truth about my life, as someone may be dying to hear it."

"The spiritual life is not so much about answers as it is about better questions. Writing can be the same."

Sylvia Plath, in a letter to a friend, passed on the quiet news of the weekend: “We stayed at home to write, to consolidate our outstretched selves.”

What I Thought:

This is not a book about how to write; the author assumes that you already possess the necessary skills. Instead, it is a heartening talk from an accomplished author to a newbie with a dream. He shares about his life as a writer in an honest and humorous way. I love his hat illustration for roles of the writer: artist, editor, and business man or woman.

His main point is that each of us have to find our own way, but there is hard, consistent work involved. To be published, the book does not have to be a masterpiece, but it does have to get written. Six hundred words a day, perspective, and a strong connection to the outside world are some of the things that work for him. If I ever get published, I will thank him for the encouragement.

And his book lists in the back are fantastic.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest (and they hope insightful) review.

Friday, October 3, 2014

So Well Said

This article sums up modern parenting and captures the fear of how it will all turn out:

"My generation, it seems, had the last of the truly low-tech childhoods, and now we are among the first of the truly high-tech parents."

I found it sad somehow to think that we are the last generation of parents to have grown up without the internet. Like childhood has been lost somehow. I think technology is amazing, don't get me wrong, but there are things I want for my kids that can't come from a screen. It is a brave new world.

I think part of my choice to live overseas and out of the city comes from this desire to give my children a simpler life, for now. My son has an iPad, but he also has a spider collection (live!) that he caught in our neighborhood. Push and pull. The world will come rushing in soon enough.

I remember another article I read about how much change humans can tolerate in a lifetime. The author wondered if there was a limit, if eventually the world became too strange for the elderly and they could no longer adapt. Will change keep coming faster and faster, things becoming obsolete before they are even popular? Every generation has feared the changes of the next, but humanity still exists.

Then there is hail and piglets and puppies, and I trust that we are going to be okay, by the grace of God.

P.S. The same day I posted this I read the essay "The Surrender of a Cockney" by G.K. Chesterton. It's funny how life connects. Here is an excerpt:

"If you will take my advice," said my friend, "you will humbly endeavor not to be a fool. What is the sense of this mad modern notion that every literary man must live in the country, with the pigs and the donkeys and the squires? ...Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson came to London because they had had quite enough of the country... You hunger and thirst after the streets; you think London the finest place on the planet."

There is definitely something to be said for the modern, technology-filled life as well. Balance.