Thursday, May 28, 2009
I stayed up entirely too late last night to finish reading Bryson City Secrets, the third book in Dr. Walt Larimore's Bryson City series. I hadn't planned on blogging about it or the second book in the series because I had blogged on Bryson City Tales, the first book.
But I changed my mind after I finished reading them both. I found myself mentioning Bryson City Seasons to a couple of my friends in our conversations. And then, Bryson City Secrets moved me to tears. Perhaps it was the late night, perhaps because I consider Dr. Walt & Barb friends, perhaps it was the topic, or a combination of all three - but whatever it was, I just had to write about the rest of the Bryson City series.
Bryson City Seasons includes more stories of Dr. Walt's time in Bryson City. Some of them were so hilarious I found myself laughing out loud. I mean, he won the Miss Flame competition! I read that one out loud to my husband, who also enjoyed a good laugh. I say that Dr. Walt is a really good sport to include that in his book.
But the reason I recommended Bryson City Seasons to my friend was the story of Dr. Walt's daughter, Kate. I knew both Kate & Scott when we lived in Florida, and I enjoyed learning more about Kate's miraculous story. I knew some of it because she was featured in the newspaper when she graduated from high school. She's a remarkable person, with a remarkable story. My friend's son has cerebral palsy too, and I thought reading Kate's story would encourage her as she cares for her son. It encouraged me.
Bryson City Secrets includes more stories from Dr. Walt's practice and relationships with the people in Bryson City. It also explains the reason why he and Barb felt compelled to leave the town and move to Kissimmee, Florida. I am not going to go into details, because it's best explained by Dr. Walt. But I agonized with him, cried with him and Barb, and felt some measure of the pain of them leaving the town and the people they had grown to love.
Dr. Walt has a wonderful sense of looking at the people with whom he comes in contact (not just their ailments) and talking with them compassionately and graciously - or calling them on the carpet if needed. I admire him and Barb, Kate & Scott and am thankful to be able to call them friends. I've learned a lot from his books - not only about him and his family, but also from his examples of how to relate to people, value what's important, and maintain a proper focus in the midst of every circumstance, both good and evil.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We got a tour of the waste management facility. Or suffered through? This room stunk, but Anna looks pleasant enough. :)
Monkeying around at Papa & Nana's, waiting for a birthday party for Isaac's friend to start.
While Isaac was at the birthday party, Anna requested Mommy-Daughter time with ice cream and watching Annie. So, one library & Jewel stop later, we were enjoying our ice cream mid-afternoon while watching a movie. Such decadence! Anna loved it. Quite frankly, so did I.
On Monday, we went to the Memorial Day parade. I was hoping to clean the boys' room, but the kids remembered it was parade day (twist my arm!).
Yes, it was THAT cold. At least at 9 am, when we arrived at the parade. By the way, it didn't start until 10. Oh, and we were at the end of the route (my clever trick in bringing home less candy), so we sat for a good long time before we actually saw the parade. Anna & Isaac were amazingly patient. I, of course, brought a book to read. They people-watched.
But we were busy. These two wanted to do every single special thing they could think of this past weekend – the Public Works open house and a birthday party on Saturday, the Memorial Day parade and a bar-b-que at a friend’s Monday. And, Anna begged, begged, begged to go to the beach over the weekend.
All our outside activities in the sun got me to thinking about stocking up for our summer. My Anna is quite responsible, so she dug out our sunscreen and slathered it on her brother and herself, leaving me to deal with the faces, tops of ears and back of necks.
Summer is almost here – even if today is a bit cool and rainy – and now’s the perfect time to prepare. Here’s what I’m keeping on hand for our summer fun:
Performance: Shaklee’s rehydrating drink. It comes in a powder, since Shaklee doesn’t believe in shipping water when you have that at home. Easy to mix, with exclusive Opti-Carb formula that gives you carbohydrates for energy to finish what you start, and electrolytes for quick rehydration. Comes in lemon-lime or orange (my family prefers the orange).
Cinch Snack Bars: Great to throw in the backpack for your day at the beach or park or on the go. Full of protein to keep you satisfied, with no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors and no trans fats. We love the Chocolate Decadence and Peanut Butter Crunch.
Enfuselle SPF 30 for Body: Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream, which is why I choose Shaklee’s sunscreen for my family. It has UVA and UVB protection, plus Shaklee’s patented Vital Repair+, which has antioxidant vitamins and botanicals to protect your skin from premature aging. Plus, it’s safe for the most sensitive skin.
Enfuselle Lip Treatment SPF 15: I wasn’t sure it was worth the extra cost – but then I tried it. Wow! Shaklee’s lip treatment is nourishing, soothing and protects your lips from sun damage. It works so well, I use much less of it than other brands, making it cost effective. Plus, it’s Shaklee, so you know it’s safe.
There you have it - my summer favorites. Can't wait until it's actually warm enough to go to the beach. Anna will be thrilled.
Friday, May 22, 2009
In case you forgot, here's a before picture:
Working on the door
A view from the inside. I'm still struck by how bright the living room is now. We still have work to do: trim, changing the light (since the door hits it now).
The outside now (Dad has since replaced the white siding and caulked around the door):
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
My children are voracious readers. In search of something that would capture my oldest's attention, I discovered The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence, the first in her The Roman Mysteries series at our local library.
I made sure I read it before Nathaniel, because I was concerned about the character treatments, plot, and any philosophies espoused. What I found delighted both me and Nathaniel.
The Roman Mysteries are based around the lives of four children in the Roman era - it starts in the reign of Emporer Vespasian. Ostia is the port city of Rome, where Flavia Gemina, a Roman sea captain's daughter, lives. Through the course of this book, you meet the other main characters: Jonathan, a Jewish Christian, Nubia, an African slave, and Lupus, a mysterious boy who cannot talk because his tongue's been cut out (quite a mystery that is solved in one of the later books).
I honestly was a bit nervous about how Lawrence would treat the subject of religion in her book, but she handles it with honesty and tact. I especially enjoy the respect she gives to Christianity - a rare thing these days.
I was delighted when I read this passage toward the end of the book. Lupus attempted to steal from Flavia, which made her obviously angry, so she didn't invite him to her birthday party. Mordecai, Jonathan's father, is speaking.
"Can you find it in your hearts to forgive [Lupus]? I admit he did something that was wrong. He was tempted to steal and he gave into that temptation. But haven't you ever given in to temptation? Haven't you ever done anything wrong?"
None of them spoke. (...They all end up admitting they've done wrong.)
"Well," said Mordecai gently, "our faith teaches that if you say sorry to God for the wrong things you have done, and if you forgive the people who have done wrong things to you, you will be forgiven. Would you like that?"
Nubia and Jonathan nodded immediately. After a moment, Flavia did, too. It sounded suspiciously easy.
"Are you sorry for all the wrong things you've done?" asked Mordecai. They all nodded this time. "Then say sorry to God."
"How?" asked Flavia.
"Jonathan?" said his father.
Jonathan closed his eyes and said, "I'm sorry for all the wrong things I've done, Lord," and then added, "Amen."
Right away, Nubia closed her eyes and imitated Jonathan. "I'm sorry for the wrong things, also. Amen."
"What does 'amen' mean?" Flavia asked cautiously.
"It's like saying 'I really mean it,'" said Mordecai with a smile.
Flavia closed her eyes and tried to imagine which god she was speaking to. Finally she settled on the beardless shepherd with a lamb over his shoulders.
"I'm sorry for all the wrong things I've done," she whispered to him, and then added, "amen." When she opened her eyes a moment later she felt lighter somehow.
"And now," said Mordecai, "will you forgive Lupus?"
They all nodded.
Nathaniel and I are rereading The Roman Mysteries and introducing his nine-year-old sister to them as well. She told me she wasn't sure if she'd like them, but gave them a try. Now, she's devouring them at the pace of about one book a day! It won't take her too long to get through the series - depending on how often we get to the library.
It's a rare thing to find a book that captures the interest of an 11-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl and their (uh-hem)-year-old mother. These books are keepers for sure!
Monday, May 18, 2009
I have to admit, I picked up and put down this book a half-dozen times at the library last week. Did I really want to read a book with the title Celebutards, The Hollywood Hacks, Limousine Liberals, and Pandering Politicians Who Are Destroying America? "Looks interesting," I thought, "but not thrilled with the title." I don't like calling people names. But, still, looks interesting.
The interesting part won me over. I picked it up, and I read it.
At first, I wasn't thrilled with Andrea Peyser's sarcastic tone throughout the book. (I don't read her column in the New York Post, so I wasn't familiar with her style.) But I grew used to it, and started feeling a bit sarcastic myself.
I mean, who do these people think they are?
I admit - I am not one who follows celebrities. First, I figure I have enough drama in my own life without adding theirs. Second, I figure I have enough hang-ups with my own body image to continually compare myself to them. And third, I don't find their lives all that interesting.
In her book, Peyser has chosen 32 well-known people (and one town), given us a little background 'from whence they came' and then quotes from their public record, allowing them to hang themselves with their words. As you progress through the book, the chapters get shorter and shorter - the people hanging themselves so obviously little commentary is necessary to explain why that particular person is so obtuse.
It's honestly a little scary when you realize that these people really think 'they're all that' and more... and that the American public is dumb enough to believe them.
As much as the title still disturbs me, I found the book fascinating as Peyser takes on Hillary Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Stewart, Jimmy Carter, among a host of others.
Let's just say, Peyser didn't make many friends writing this book. I applaud her - we all need to be accountable for our words and our actions.
Friday, May 15, 2009
As a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), I knew I had to read Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms the minute I spotted it on the shelf in my library.
It was well worth the read! I love that Dr. Laura focuses on people in her book, not studies, reports or statistics. In her preface, Dr. Laura says, "I am personally moved by and interested in the lovely stories of warmth, love, and sacrifice told by families who've structured themselves to focus on enjoying every possible moment of their child's journey in development..."
And she shares those stories with us - quoting from e-mails sent to her from stay-at-home moms all over. She also shares her own experiences as a stay-at-home mom to her son. I think that's why I enjoyed the book so much - she identifies with the feelings most SAHM's have.
"For some women, a sense of invisibility strikes once they are at home with children; all of a SAHM's "work responsibilities" are within the walls of her residence, where she is generally alone. Since no goal is ever really accomplished for good - no kitchen cupboard stays stocked, no diaper stays unfilled, and no bathroom stays clean - her repetitive efforts can feel thankless and unnoticed" (pg 41).
Now, if you're a stay-at-home mom, don't tell me you never felt that way! I sure have.
Dr. Laura takes her readers through the good, the bad, and the unforgettable aspects of being a SAHM... letting us realize that we're not alone in our struggles and our joys, and reminding us that it is all soworth it.
Dr. Laura emphasizes that it not only OK to enjoy being at home, but that's great for our children, for our marriages and ourselves.
She's also realistic, especially for those who transition from careers to being at home. "To paraphrase an e-mail from one SAHM, you'll have to relax your exacting standards, surrender the dream of a perfectly organized home with everything in its place, and give up your ideal of perpetually well-behaved children. You have either assume that attitude and perspective - or go nuts!" (p 45).
Ain't that the truth?!
If you're a SAHM feeling a bit discouraged in your role, feeling a bit isolated or wondering why you quit working for this - read this book. It will uplift you, encourage you, and help you realize you're not alone. Plus, Dr. Laura has all sorts of resources at the back of the book to help you connect with other SAHMs - even if you're the only one in your neighborhood.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
On Saturday afternoon, Mom & I went to see Molly speak and read from her book in Chicago. She did a great job, and we got to say hi to my neices and nephews. My kids were jealous, because they didn't get to go. But, that's the way it is when Mom and Nana want to have dinner in the city with Aunt Carrie - sorry kids!
Sunday we decided to try the Botanical Gardens. Um, never again on Mother's Day. The traffic was awful. But the gardens were beautiful. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed taking pictures of the beautiful flowers - Anna especially.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I heard on the news this morning that another person has died as a result of complications from the H1N1 (swine) flu. It seems that we’ve (as a nation) sufficiently recovered from the initial panic of the flu, although new cases continue to crop up.
With the spat of recent pandemic scares (remember SARS? Avian flu?), concerns about our personal immunity seem to be near the top of people’s minds these days. Although, the news reports I’ve seen tend to focus on preventing the flu from spreading (which is good) rather than how to bolster your personal immunity (which protects you at a whole different level).
So, what should you be doing to increase your immune function? Here are 5 things to do to keep your body fighting off those germs:
- Make time to get enough sleep. Our lives and lists these days don’t seem to allow for enough sleep – but sleep is important to the proper functioning of your immune system.
- Manage your stress level. Stress lowers your body’s ability to fight off colds, infections and flus. Stress Relief Complex is a simple way to start.
- Cut out the refined sugar snacks & sodas. “Just eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.” (Dr. Sears, Habits that Weaken the Immune System)
- Supplement wisely and consistently. Making sure your body gets more than enough of the right nutrients will help it deal more efficiently with the germs which attack. A simple plan is Shaklee’s Vitalizer and NutriFeron.
- Wash your hands. A vast majority of the germs we fight are killed with simple soap and water. Sing the alphabet to yourself while you scrub with soap before you rinse to kill the most germs. Shaklee’s Hand Wash Concentrate is a soap-free cleanser which will not dry out your skin, and does not contain any potentially harmful anti-bacterials.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
I'll warn you from the start, The Bipolar Child by Demitri Papolos, M.D. and Janice Papolos is not light reading. In fact, I did not even attempt to read the entire book.
The Papolos' delve deep into the subject of Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder - apparently a topic which most medical professionals don't believe exist (the authors explain why). They cover diagnosis, treatments, what may be happening - or not happening - in the child's brain. Overall, this is a very technical book which the average layperson would have problems understanding.
What you can understand, or at least realize, is the tragic circumstances these families find themselves in. The Papolos' have included stories from different families covering what they've experienced, how they've coped - or not coped, and their emotional journey in dealing with the various aspects of having an ill child.
Here's just a taste:
I cannot imagine what my two friends have gone through, are going through. Reading this book gave me a slight taste of what life may be like for them. It's given me an insight into their life, into how to pray for them, and if possible, be a support for them.
Friends, teachers, and the outside world cannot fathom what the parent is talking about (if the parent talks about it al all). But one mother who managed to catch an entire rage with a tape recorder wrote:
'Many of our friends and even some of the professionals who work with us have not seen Robby in his full glory. They cannot believe that this sweet, charming, affectionate, and outgoing child coudl possibly be violent or bipolar. They just assume we are not firm enough with him, or pay too much attention to him.
So I got it on tape from start to finish - the screaming and yelling that he's going to kill me, kill the cats...
Now anytime a friend says: "But he's so wonderful whenever we see him" I can pull out the tape and say, "Have a listen to this."
If you, as a parent, wonder if there's something wrong with you because your child is behaving the way he/she does, please read this book. It may be as simple as a discipline issue. It may be much, much more.
If you are a teacher, pastor, or other professional who works with children, please read this book. One of my friends says since she read this book, she realized her children needed to be evaluated for early-onset bipolar disorder. She also says after she spends time in a classroom she can spot the child who needs further evaluation.
Friday, May 08, 2009
I picked up Peaks and Valleys, Making Good and Bad Times Work For You - At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson because it was a lean-looking book. You know - one I could read through quickly to glean something from without taxing brain cells too much. (I needed a break from another very in-depth book I'm reading - more on that one in another post.)
I was right. The book is short, and easy to read. Plus, I gleaned quite a bit from it. In fact, it helped me earlier this week.
Spencer Johnson also wrote Who Moved My Cheese? which I've not read, but probably should. Peaks and Valleys is written as a parable - the story of one man's journey. It is a story of what he learns from an older gentleman, what he learns from his own journey, and how he passes that wisdom on to another person.
Scattered throughout the book (and quite helpfully, compiled in a 'cheat sheet' on page 90) are short proverbs that bring home the points of the parable. For example, "You can have fewer bad times when you appreciate and manage your good times wisely" is one I've been pondering on lately.
The one that really helped me this past week was "Make Reality Your Friend." Wednesday I was feeling really down - the rain and some other circumstances made me feel badly about myself. But as I reflected on my day, I asked myself, "What is reality? Was today as bad as I feel it was?" Then, I realized many good things had happened that day. To shake off the 'ucky' feelings, I sat down and practiced piano for a few minutes. That helped my attitude tremendously, and I was able to have a productive evening.
I find that most of the books I've read with really helpful ideas or proverbs are basically restating Biblical truths. The Bible is full of references to the battle we fight in our minds, renewing our thinking, and looking at the world & circumstances from God's perspective. Biblically speaking, I could have started with Philippians 4:4-9 "Rejoice in the Lord always. ... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, ... with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ... Whatever is true, whatever is noble, ... think about such things." Once you start doing that, then reality smacks you in the face (so to speak).
While Peaks and Valleys isn't necessarily new thinking, it's certainly helpful in evaluating our reactions, attitudes and thinking about the valleys - and the peaks - in our lives.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Here's Anna waiting for her sister to be done in the shower Saturday night. She was convinced to go with us on errands Saturday night by a dinner out at Noodles & Co. Poor girl - such a trooper!
One of the items on our list Saturday night was an early birthday gift for Lydia. Her 16" bike was WAY too small for her, and Daddy decided that it was time for a new one. Since her birthday is in September, it made sense to get her one now so she could use it this summer. She's been riding every day since then. She loves her brand-new bike!
Ever since we bought our house, I've dreamed of taking out those ugly evergreen bushes in front of our house. My husband harbored similar thoughts, but didn't want to take out ALL the bushes until we are able to get new siding. (We need it, don't ya think?!) However, since we had to get a couple trees taken out of our backyard, he agreed that we should take out the front row. Quite a change, isn't it? Just wait until we get our new door put in at the end of the month. I'm so excited!
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
I absolutely adore Inter-Library Loans! I've been wanting to read Dr. Walt's book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook since it first came out. This past month, I finally got the chance.
FYI: The picture is of the recently revised version of the book. I read the original version, from 2001.
While I'm a firm believer in chiropractic care, massage, vitamins & supplements, I do have concerns about other forms of alternative medicines, and looked forward to getting Dr. Walt's perspective (and that of his co-author Dr. Donal O'Mathuna) on the topic.
The authors did a great job of laying foundation in the first three parts of the book. They discuss the history of alternative and conventional medicine in the first part; a Christian perspective on health, healing and suffering in the second part; and lay out criteria for evaluating alternative medicine and their practitioners in the third part. The fourth part of the book is a reference section, where you can look up different therapies and practices and read their perspective on how safe or dangerous they are.
I particularly appreciate the spiritual approach they take to most of their evaluations. They give the history behind the method, and many times the philosophy so we can make wise choices about what we're allowing into our minds & spirits. They also refer back to studies evaluating the effectiveness of the therapies. They put any "Christian" therapies through the same evaluation process - so things like the "Hallelujah Diet" do not get a free ride from them.
Chapter 10, in Part Three is called How Science Tests Therapies and Remedies. In it, the authors walk through, in an understandable way, the importance of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in evaluation of what works and what doesn't work. If you're not familiar with what that means, it's a great place to start gaining an understanding.
I didn't read the whole book - it's more of a reference book than a reading book - but did glean information about different alternative therapies my friends have recommended to me. If you're looking into an alternative therapy, I'd recommend picking up this book from your library to check out what Dr. Walt & his co-author say about it.
(To which, they would say what the scientific evidence says about the particular therapy - but every study needs interpretation, and this book includes their interpretation of the currently available studies.)
I want to thank my friend Beth G. for this great picture & story.
I have a confession... it's the relationship I had with my stove. I've disliked her from the beginning. She's the OTHER women in my life. Let me explain... she's canary yellow, 40+ years old and often ran too hot or not hot enough, her burners would work, when they so desired. My husband however enjoyed her looks and often took her side whenever I had a complaint.
I began to plot.... if I don't clean her she'll go away. I was going to win this battle, or so I thought. The time came when we needed to purchase a new freezer/refrigerator, so my husband decided to purchase a suite of appliances. HOORAY, I'm going to get my new stove.
The method to my madness was paying off, or so I thought. I had been dreaming of the day when I could do my victory dance out on the curb, in front of my house on garbage day. When one day, my dream was shattered... my husband was going to install her in our basement.
She's not going away. I thought if we're going to keep her, I better clean her.
I used Shaklee's Basic H2 and Scour Off to clean her. All natural, all powerful with NO toxic fumes.
She now looks beautiful.
If Shaklee's Scour Off can do this with her, imagine what it can do to your pots and pans, bathtub, grill or the OTHER women in you're life.
I was going to have the last laugh... or so I thought.