Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: Bringing Up Boys

Bringing Up BoysBringing Up Boys by James Dobson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and found it to be very helpful, in that I am the mother of five children, four of whom are boys.  I really have to agree with most of what he says about our society and culture in America.  I only disagreed with two things he brought up in the entire book.  I would recommend this book to everyone--it's worth a read, whether or not you are raising boys, just to see all his points about how society is becoming and how it's affecting our parenting.  I give it two thumbs up and five stars.  Going to probably buy a copy for our home library.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Bitter Memory

My high school about had one formal date-dance each month. In September/October, it was Homecoming (guy-ask-girl). In November, there was a girl's preference formal dance. In December, we had a casual matching dance called Christmas Dance (guy-ask- girl). One year, in January, we had a girl's choice dance. In February was Sweethearts Ball (guy-ask-girl). In March was usually Junior Prom, which was guy ask girl, specifically for juniors, though anybody could attend. The prom court was pulled from the junior class though. In April, we had Girl's Pref, a casual matching shirt girl's choice dance. In May was MORP, which was just a casual dance that was typically guy-ask-girl. Some clubs and groups had their own dances as well--in cheerleading, we had Varsity Ball, a formal ball for which each of us cheerleaders were to invite a date and celebrate our year of cheering. That was typically in May. And seniors had Senior Dinner Dance. This dance was usually stag, meaning you didn't really go with a date. The school designed that so Seniors could have one last occasion to be with each other before graduation without the pressure of coming with a date--that way more people could attend.

That leads me to my point. I'm glad Senior Dinner Dance was stag or I may not have gone. I say that because out of the 20 date dances that occurred (I call them "date" dances because our school also had a "Stomp" once a month that was more like a stake dance--you just went and danced and hung out with friends), I only got asked to six of them. Out of the remaining fourteen, eight of them were guy-ask-girl, so I was able to go to the other six because I asked the guy on the date.

You might say, what's the big deal? Why bother writing about this now, some fifteen-plus years later?

It still bothers me to remember that when those guy-ask-girl dances came around, I usually didn't get asked. It hurt me very deeply back then and I still feel remnants of that pain today. The worst was Junior Prom when I was a junior. I even desperately attempted to ask a friend of mine just so I could go and be there with my friends. I tried someone from another school and even tried a couple seniors I knew from my school. I even thought about seeing if my older brother, a BYU student at the time, would go with me, but we were never very close. I even considered my dad.

My mom spent about six weeks before the event sewing me a beautiful prom dress, in case I got asked. When I didn't, she set up a professional photo session, made an appointment to get my hair professionally done as I would have if I had been going to the dance, and we did that. That night, we went out to dinner, my mom and I, and we had some quality mother-daughter bonding time.

But I felt rejected, unliked, ugly. I missed Homecoming that year too. Not only did I miss Homecoming, but I was the only senior cheerleader who did not get nominated for the Homecoming Court. I missed Sweethearts Ball also. I even got rejected twice when asking guys for Girl's Pref that year. But I did end up going and having a good time.

I had lots of fun in high school. I had fun at the dances I did attend. My senior year I went to all of them because I had a steady boyfriend. His parents had a rule that he couldn't take me to more than two of them in a row together. Fortunately, I still managed to get a date to the ones I didn't attend with him.

I still look back on occasion and wonder what was so wrong with me during junior year that made guys not want to ask me out.

It makes me sad to think that my daughter might have to endure the same thing. I hope not. I hope she makes lots of good friends and has fun in high school. But I know she will still face hurtful situations and she will still have to learn from them. I hope I can teach my boys to be the kind of gentlemen who will ask out a girl who might not otherwise get asked just so she can feel good about herself and have a good time, and maybe, in the process, they can find a good friend.

Remembering that kind of rejection still hurts. At least, in my memory, I can still remember the rejection I felt.

This was from the November formal girl's preference dance my junior year.

This was from the Girl's Pref dance my sophomore year, shortly after moving from out-of-state

This was from the Girl's Pref dance my junior year.  Yep, this is the third guy I asked who finally said yes.

This was the cheerleaders' Varsity Ball my junior year.  That was the dress that was intended for my Junior Prom that my mother worked so hard on.  

This was a girl's choice winter dance that they had my junior year.  The guy was a really good friend from my ward.

All of these dates were fun, but not one of those guys ever asked me out in return.  Not that they had to, but it would have been nice to feel like they enjoyed the evening as well and helped me to feel better about myself back then.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Parenting Crossroad

I think I have reached a parenting crossroad.  I've lost my effectiveness, probably because I've also lost my cool one too many times. I've noticed that yelling and screaming rarely elicits obedience.  But yelling and screaming is my first reaction when they are being deliberately disobedient.  I have to tell myself over and over again to remain calm, that screaming at them won't get me anywhere, that spanking them is even less effective, but I just can't seem to listen to myself.  Often, I let my emotions get the better of me and take control.

I need to be more effective.  I need to let my children reap the consequences of what they sow.  I think that part is hard for me.  If they do not clean up the room like I asked and I've given them a time limit and the consequence is getting something taken away, I need to take it away.  It's far too easy, for the reason of avoiding tears and further conflict, to just give them five more minutes.  But I need to be firm.

When my kids get home from school, they are supposed to empty their backpacks, so I can see any important paperwork, they can put away or throw away returned work, and they can clean out their lunchboxes so I have them ready for the next morning.  Yesterday I spent about twenty minutes yelling at them to do it.  They still didn't.  I finally realized that I need to let them sink or swim.  If they don't do the required task, they will reap the natural consequences.  If their lunchbox wasn't cleaned out the day before and they don't put their ice pack in the freezer, then they will have no ice pack and I will send them to school with trash in their lunch.  If they don't give me the papers they need signed or get their homework done, they will reap the consequences.  You want your child to be successful.  The thought that not turning in homework, something that you could make sure they get done, could affect their grade substantially, is quite painful.  It's hard to let go.

So today I make a commitment.  I commit to stop the yelling and screaming.  I commit to tell them once, perhaps give them one last warning, and then let them take the consequence.  Sometimes I will have no control over the consequence and that is what scares me, but I need to let go and let them learn in their own way.

Sometimes, it's tough to be a parent.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Chalked Up

Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic DreamsChalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams by Jennifer Sey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really gave an inside look at elite gymnastics, some of which I was familiar with and some that I never really knew. I thoroughly enjoyed it, having been deeply involved in the competitive element of the sport from the age of about eight until I was about fifteen/sixteen. It sort of made me glad I stopped when I did, that I had the experiences I had but quit before it became as intense as it did for her.

For me, this book was a good read because I was so familiar with the feelings she had. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the inside world of elite gymnastics.

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Seeing Myself Through His Eyes

I wish I could see myself through another person's eyes. Often, we talk about seeing ourselves through our Creator's eyes. That's definitely a good perspective to consider, since He loves us more than we can know and even understand. He sees our strengths, strengths we don't know we have. He knows how to make our weaknesses strengths also, something we don't really know how to do.

But I'm not talking about seeing myself through Heavenly Father's eyes, or even the Savior's eyes.

I'm talking about seeing myself through my 6-month-old baby's eyes. The way he lights up when I'm around. How he's always grabbing at me. How he's always smiling at me and staring at me. It's quite obvious he thinks the world of me. Sometimes I look at his smiling, chubby face and want to tell him, "You don't even know the real me. You only know the mommy me."

Apparently, that's good enough for him. So why can't it be good enough for me?

Maybe if it was good enough for me, I wouldn't have such a hard time with insecurity and self-esteem. Maybe if I could see myself the way that my six-month-old sees me, I would be happy to be who I am and not always wishing to be someone else.

And now I must go and feed him.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: The King's Daughter

The King's DaughterThe King's Daughter by Christie Dickason

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm torn between how many stars to give this book.  In reading, as in any other entertainment, I like it to be clean.  This is why I tend to gravitate toward juvenile fiction (young adult/teen) because generally, there is no outright sex.  That is my disappointment with this book.  The story is really good and I enjoyed the read, mostly.  I skimmed the chapters that were mainly about sex, though (chapters 39-44) and even though it was alluded to throughout the book (she is a princess whose primary purpose in life is to be wed to produce heirs, so it was a topic she wondered about), I was disappointed that the author felt she had to go into such graphic detail about it when such details were completely unnecessary to the story.

However, I was intrigued by the historical aspect of the book and am now curious to do more reading and research into the European royals and the history there.

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Entitlement and Growing Up

A book is out by Linda and Richard Eyre called The Entitlement Trap. I have not yet read this book, although it's definitely on my read list, but based on the articles published about it, I've had some thoughts.

It is very obvious to me that we live in an age of entitlement, that much is certain. My husband and I have tried in our parenting to steer clear of this "entitlement trap" by saying no, by expecting our children to earn things they want, by requiring chores as a contribution to how the family runs, etc. But I'll admit, it's not always easy. It's fun to buy stuff for the kids and see how excited they get.

I don't think that I do it so much because I want them to be happy or to have what I might not have had as a child. I think I had a pretty darn good childhood and don't feel deprived really over not owning anything. Although, I must admit, I have purchased some toys for my daughter because they were toys I always wanted but never got. (I need to explain about that. I never got those particular toys probably because I never asked for them for birthday or Christmas and nobody ever knew I wanted them. When I wanted them, I was supposed to be too old for such toys, so I was even too embarrassed to go out and buy them with my own money that I earned from baby-sitting.)

I think that the reason I want my kids to be involved in activities and have fun playing with toys and all that is because I want them to enjoy being kids. I remember when I was a kid, all I wanted was to grow up as fast as possible. Being a grown-up seemed like so much fun.

Now that I'm a grown-up, I realize that being a kid was carefree and, in a lot of ways, more fun than being an adult.

Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Phoebe and Rachel are going to go running together, but then when Phoebe runs, she just lets it all go and runs like she did when she was a kid? And then Rachel is embarrassed by how Phoebe runs, so she sneaks around to go running to avoid running with Phoebe. I think the writers really hit the nail on the head on that one--how it was to run when we were kids. It's the same for any type of play. We might have the occasional moment where we get into the playing like we did when we were kids, but that is rare. More often than not, when involved in imaginary play, we are sort of the directors, giving ideas and watching from the sidelines, not really involving ourselves in the actual play.

So I think that often when I'm buying my kids toys I know they don't need and it's not a birthday or Christmas, I think I'm just wanting them to enjoy being a child because it doesn't last long and it's the only shot at childhood they get.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not disagreeing with the notion of an "entitlement trap". I'm just realizing that not everything we do as adults or parents is to try and make our kids' lives easier. Sometimes there's another reason.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Incivility and Marriage

I've been thinking a lot about the problem of incivility these days. It's so rampant. People are loud, obnoxious, and completely uncivil toward one another in the world today. I know incivility has always existed, but now it's the norm.

Don't like how someone is driving too slow? Cut them off.

Don't like how the McDonald's employee got your order wrong? Cuss him out.

People seem to have forgotten the saying my mom always used to tell me: "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Do people even know what that means? That if someone isn't treating you right, treat them right and they will come around. This works with customer service people.

Now, I make mistakes and have had those days where I'm totally ticked off and I call the customer service line and give them an earful. I'm not shy enough to admit that. But let me tell you something. I have had much better success with customer service by being polite and kind than by being rude and harsh.

It's amazing how when you're nice to someone, they are much more willing to be nice back.

I was thinking how this applies to marriage.

In our world, children do not always get an example of civility from their parents and sometimes they are not taught kindness in the home. Some siblings are expected more to stay out of each other's ways than to become friends. They aren't expected to help each other out or to serve each other or to really even be civil.

If this is the case, how can they learn to be civil to a spouse?

I think that one reason marriages fail in today's world is because people simply aren't civil to one another. The Golden Rule has been thrown out the window. People think "why isn't he treating me right?" instead of thinking "what can I do to show him more love and treat him better?"

I started thinking this when I learned of yet another failed marriage of an acquaintance. The reason? I don't know all the minute details of their marriage or what else was going on, but I do know that this particular lady is no lady at all. She's crass and rude and is generally not a nice person, so it's almost not surprising that her marriage failed. If she is that horrible to people she is not married to, how does she treat her spouse at home? Usually we are worse at home than we are in public.

I think we need to stop and teach our young people to treat each other kindly. To always try to look for the good in people and to live by the Golden Rule.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tutorial: Making a High Chair Pad

In 2003, when our oldest was a baby, we inherited a high chair from my husband's mother.  She was living with us, so we all kind of shared it.  When we all moved on from that place, we took it with us.  She had actually gotten it from my husband's brother, who had the only grandchild for a while, so she could use it at her house.  When we first got it, it was in pretty good condition.

However, three children later, the vinyl pad was pretty torn up.  So, in 2007, when our 3rd was one and we were expecting baby #4, I bought some super cute fabric with the intention of making a whole new pad.  The cushioning of the first pad was also completely shot, so I'd have to start from scratch.  Then I had baby #4 and then we moved twice and it kept getting shoved aside.  In fact, I had to save the high chair a few times from getting tossed out by my husband each time we moved and each time we cleaned out our garage. 

Now, baby #5 is starting solids and ready to start sitting in the high chair.  Since I already had the fabric and the batting, it would cost nothing to make a new pad, whereas buying a new high chair, even used, wouldn't be free.

So, yesterday, I pulled the old vinyl pad out (which we'd also been carting around with us, so I could use it as a guide).  I traced the pad onto some quilt batting (2 layers), then I traced that batting onto the fabric, leaving a 5/8" seam allowance all the way around.  (Materials: about 2 yards of fabric, thread, quilt batting)

Then I started sewing, wrong sides together, around all the sides and top, leaving the bottom open to put the batting in.  Unfortunately, I realized after I had already sewn the pad cover and put the batting in and was getting ready to sew the bottom shut that I'd forgotten to make a slip-cover to pull the top of the pad over the back of the high chair to secure it in place.  So I had to unpick the whole top of the pad cover and then figure out how to sew in that slip-cover.  But I managed to do it.  After I had sewn the pad closed at the bottom (after re-sewing and putting the batting in), I used the custom button hole stitch on my sewing machine to make the hole for the seat belt to come through.  I also stitched a few lines in the fabric to hold the batting in place for when I have to wash it.

And the finished product look pretty great!



Pretty cute, huh? Now, all I need to do is find some belt fabric and re-do that and the chair will look practically brand-new. Doubt I'll do that, though.


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