It's been a little busy around here lately. I'm not quite sure why but the fact that I've only read 3.5 books in the last two months is indication enough that I haven't had much down time. Now, some of you may think that's a lot but let's keep in mind here that reading is my hottest hobby, my #1 pasttime. Some people watch TV, some people sew, some people bake, some people do Sudoku. I read. And when I don't have time to read I can get a little cranky. So that is why I try to make sure I have regular, healthy doses of literature year round. Thankfully books are always in season.
On the other hand, I do feel a bit guilty complaining that I'm busy, or that I need a break or that I don't get enough free time ... and then turn around and say I just finished my fourth book in 8 weeks. And just so you don't think that I'm lounging on my couch all day with a book on my lap while my 2 year old grabs the grated parmesan cheese off the counter and proceeds to dump it onto the floor and then sweep it back up again (this did just happen tonight but I was doing dishes, not reading), I thought I'd explain just when I indulge in my favorite hobby.
First of all, I should mention that I'm a fast reader. And I don't ruminate on sentences and paragraphs. I didn't realize people did this until I married my husband. He claims that he will read, and re-read a paragraph several times in order to fully grasp it's meaning. If something doesn't make sense to me ... I usually just keep reading. I do underline. I do not highlight. Something about painting flourescent yellow lines on crips black-and-white pages doesn't sit well with me. So I underline, in pencil. In case I change my mind someday and want to erase it. I can also read in the car. And with all the traveling we seem to do this allows me to catch up on lots of reading.
I do most of my reading at night. After the boys are in bed, the toys are all picked up, the dishes washed, the laundry folded, and while the hubby is busy studying. Some weeks I have lots of [real, paying job] work to do. In that case I don't get much reading done. But I do try to get at least a few pages in before going to bed. And if it's a really good book, like it's been lately, that may mean I stay up later than usual. Which means I try to sleep in as "late" as my boys will let me, which means I'm a little behind in the mornings, which means I may have skipped a shower once or twice this past week. Which means I fit right in with my sour-milk-clad baby and my "Look Mom I put the greasy popcorn bowl on my head"-hair-did toddler.
Oh, and sometimes I read while I nurse Jude. Although this has been increasingly more difficult lately. I noticed that he eats best when it's just me and him, in the quiet front room, on the left side of the couch, with a pillow on either side, when I hold him in tight, he twists his upper hand in my shirt, and I stare into his eyes the entire time. I noticed that he does not eat well when I'm on the computer, watching TV, in the same room as Jack, and even now - reading. Just the sound of the page turning makes his eyes go wide and his head fling in every other direction. Geesh, sensitive much?
I noticed one other thing when I would read and nurse Jude too, and Jon can back me up on this. The MOMENT I pull out a book, Jude's free hand flies straight up into the air, slaps the page, and immediately begins scratching. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Jude is totally my scratcher. He scratches my shoulder when I'm holding him upright. He scratches my chest when I'm holding him sideways. He scratches the bedspread when he's laying on the bed. He scratches his head when he's tired. And he scratches the stinkin' page when I'm trying to read!
"Learning to live with the tension of never getting all our work done and still being content is a worthwhile attitudinal goal as we serve our children" (p. 169).
It's nice to know I'm not the only one who never seems to get all her work done.
"... for children to develop a healthy attachment to home, there must be time built in for nurture, instruction, training, and just plain fun - together" (p. 173).
Oh be still my beating heart! This lady and I are so on the same page!
This was the chapter I was reading that convinced me I needed to let Jack play in the rain. :)
"... one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is exposure to this magnificent creator through the wonderful things he has made. Their appetites for life need to be built on those things that reflect the image of god through the work of His fingers" (p. 187).
"Homes that are being established and protected by mothers who have a clear vision of their God-designed role can bring refuge and life and hope to a generation of children who need to grow strong in order to be able to battle the storms they will one day face" (p. 225).
Seriously, I think the author had my number while writing most of this book. There are a few things we might differ on. And although she doesn't address it in-depth in this book, I think (from reading other things of her's) we would probably part ways on methods of discipline. That's where Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp comes into play. This was recommended to me by fellow Coastie wife, Lizzy and I have a feeling it's going to be my go-to book for the next, oh 30 years or so. I cannot say enough how much this book has helped me to better understand training and instruction and, ugh, discipline. I think I was caught a little off-guard by this phase of parenthood. And since Jude was born things have just been snowballing. And it's confusing. There are so many different philosophies and trends when it comes to childrearing, it's impossible to learn them all and even more difficult to determine which one is best. Or it was, until know. This is what we'll be doing and that's that. I won't go into it too much, because discipline is personal ... and controversial and we're not about wreaking havoc on this blog. But I will mention a few things that impressed me.
First, and this should be so obvious by the title of the book and yet it escaped me, is his emphasis on the child's heart. Not his behavior. In other words, a child's actions are the result of what's in his heart. "A child's heart determines how he responds to your parenting" (p. 16). For example, we've been having some issues with Jack unzipping the couch cushions and pulling out the stuffing. I thought the problem was he was being destructive. Nope, the problem was that Mommy had told him not to unzip the cushions and he did anyway. The problem was that he was being disobedient. Tripp also makes the point that parents are in authority because God has called them to be so, and has commanded us to act as God's agent when dealing with our children. And when we don't, we're the ones being disobedient. To borrow a word from my son, "Ouchies." I guess I never realized the responsiblity was so great.
Another area he discusses are unbiblical goals to childrearing, such as developing special skills, psychological adjustment, saved children, family worship, well behaved children, and good education. I think I've been guilty of most, if not all of them. There is only one goal to focus on, and that is "teaching your children to live for the glory of God" (p. 56). He also address unbiblical methods, distortions of biblical methods, and objections to biblical methods. And, as a comm studies major myself, I can't help but appreciate his emphasis on communication. It sounds cliche, but it really is the cornerstone to any healthy relationship, even one between parents and kids. The final three chapters are devoted specifically to training infants and toddlers, children, and teenagers. There are a whole lot of snippets and great quotes in this book too, but since I was holding Jude while reading the majority of it, I couldn't underline or take notes. I plan on going back through it again soon.
Parenting really is an awesome responsibility. We have a lot to work on with Jack, and most of that work has to take place within ourselves, but I really feel so much better about the direction we're headed and a lot more confident as a parent as well.