Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book review: Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews

"Henry Hodges Needs a Friend" by Andy Andrews is a fun children's book that will entertain a wide variety of young children with its rhymes and illustrations, though its intended message may miss the mark a little. Henry is a lonely, little boy whose parents decide to help by finding him a pet. His imagination runs wild as he imagines what kind of "one-of-a-kind" pet his parents have in mind. A trip to the shelter later, we meet Hap and they live happily ever after.

The illustrations, imagination, and rhyming lilt of this book are all enjoyable and I had fun reading it to my son. However, the implications of the story never quite sat right with me. First, Henry really has no friends that are willing to make the drive down his long, dead-end street to see him? Just because friends don't live nearby doesn't mean you don't have friends. Also, it just seems wrong to me to imply that a pet can take the place of a human friend. I'm glad to see adopting pets from the shelter promoted but there's something to be said also of learning to overcome our loneliness and boredom and learn to be a friend and make friends.

Saying that Henry needed his "one-of-a-kind" friend just like the reader's friends need them makes me feel like I'm being compared to a dog. So while the composition and illustration of this book is bright and engaging, I think I'll be taking the opportunity to discuss the issues further when we read this book in the future.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stockholm Motherhood

Wikipedia defines "Stockholm syndrome" as this:
"Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors."

I think there is just a little bit of Stockholm syndrome involved in mothering. Yes, the majority of what we put ourselves through to raise our little ones and minister to our families is because of how much we love them. Love is how we can change the fifth blowout diaper of the day, clean up the highchair for the umpteenth time, and snuggle our little ones when the thermometer reads 101°. In my experience though, there are times when something else seems to be at play.

Case in point: several months ago (probably 5-6 months at this point, but it's taken me awhile to write this), there was one evening where Little Man screamed his head off the entire time I was preparing dinner. He had a clean diaper and was not hurt, just wanting to be held at a time when I was unable to and Daddy wasn't home from work yet to play with him. So I put him in his jumper where he could see me in the kitchen and went about my business. Even though I knew I was doing something totally reasonable and ultimately for my son's good by not giving in to his demands, it was SO. HARD. He can get LOUD! And part of my momma heart wants to rush over and sweep him up, but the wife and homemaker part of me knows that I needed to tend to other matters at the moment. And eventually, he settled down a little and only protested his imprisonment occasionally until Daddy got home and rescued him.

Later that evening, I was going to run out to deliver some boxes to friends that were moving and then run a quick errand. Little Man was getting his bath so I laid everything out that my husband would need to get him ready for bed. As I prepared to leave, I kissed my freshly washed babe and said goodnight. That's when the tears started. I didn't want to leave! Despite being in capable hands, my little munchkin that had terrorized me just a few hours previously was holding sway, not only over my emotions, but seemingly my logic as well!

Please don't misunderstand. I love my son dearly. And in not saying every new mother feels this way. But I think anyone will tell you that the first year of your child's life is HARD and that it doesn't get easier really, just challenging in different ways. Especially with a first child, there is a significant amount of adjustment and sacrifice to the point where I felt I was losing part of myself.

I'm slowly learning to not feel guilty about leaving him for the occasional date night or errands, to not feel like I'm abandoning him even when he hasn't had a difficult day. He now has a few babysitters that he absolutely adores and who love him too and for that I'm extremely grateful. At almost one year old now, I feel like I'm finally discovering more of the new me and seeing that she does still have glimpses of the old woman in her. Thankfully, God is not finished with me yet! Whenever I feel trapped, I know I can run into his faithful arms and remember who is really in control.

Philippians 1:6 ESV
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Soli Deo Gloria,

Monday, May 18, 2015

Showers Galore

I was blessed recently to be a part of planning two baby showers and one bridal shower in a six week time frame at our church. We are thankful to be a part of a Sunday School class that has several young couples and families which means there can be a lot of life changes happening in a short time! It was a privilege to bless these new families as they celebrated the changes in their lives. I really enjoyed having the chance to stretch my creative muscles as well, something that's taken a bit of a backseat since Little Man was born.

The first shower was a vintage travel theme baby shower for a much anticipated little boy. Baby J's parents were some of the first people we got to know when we moved to Lincoln and we were both trying to get pregnant at the same time so I was extremely excited to celebrate Baby J's impending arrival with them. My Silhouette Cameo got quite the workout for this shower! I made several banners, including a simple pennant flag one, a sign for the gift table ("Luggage Drop Off"), and a piece of map art for the couple!
I learned how to fold a good, basic paper airplane for the garland ;)

The pennant flag banner now hangs in Baby J's nursery!

The map hearts encircle the places where the mother, father, and baby were born!
Baby shower #2 was a beach bash three weeks later for a sweet baby girl! Baby E was due just one month after Baby J and her parents were building and moving into a new home at the time as well! Whew! We had a fun time decorating for this beachy affair that ended up taking place in the midst of a snowstorm! At least we were thinking warm!
I had lots of fun and went a little crazy putting together the photo booth ;)
Michelle made these cute topiaries and frames! We wrote fun messages on the diapers for the mom-to-be.
Molly put together this absolutely gorgeous tablescape, complete with a miniature beach scene!
Finally, we switched gears and threw a fun, vintage burlap and lace bridal shower for a lovely friend and bride. Scheduling issues meant we held the shower at Michelle's house which made the gathering a little more intimate and homey which was a nice change. :) We used some of her vintage kitchen gear for decorating along with some burlap and a banner I made using my Silhouette that said "Miss to Mrs". We used treble and bass clefs to make a heart out of music paper since both the bride and groom are musicians. :) We also had fun filling a jar with date night ideas for the newlyweds and playing a "He Said/She Said" game where we had to guess who said which phrase.
Melanie gave a great devotion and presented the bride with a beautiful framed poem.

Opening gifts! (The banner I made is in the doorway)

It has been quite the eventful few months but it was such a privilege to have a small part in blessing each of these women. I'm glad now for the break in all the excitement and the chance to focus on planning some of our own personal events, like a little someone's first birthday! :D

Soli Deo Gloria,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: My Bedtime Story Bible

"My Bedtime Story Bible" is a darling children's bedtime story book filled with characters from the Bible as they settle down for a good night's sleep. It has tips for making the stories more personal for your little one along with "Tuck In" boxes that give suggestions on things to pray about at the end of every story. Each tale is very short, only 2 pages apiece, making them a good choice for a quick bedtime story. The focus on the character going to sleep also makes it a fun choice to help little ones identify with the characters as they get ready for bed.

Both my husband and I have enjoyed reading stories out of this book to our little boy. The illustrations are cute and brightly colored and the breadth of Biblical characters covered is impressive. However, there are a couple of drawbacks in our opinions. One, the stories seem way too short, especially when most of the board books you can read to little ones are longer than these stories. Two, sometimes the stories seem to lack content. We have found ourselves wishing that the story covered more of the actual Biblical story of the character being profiled instead of only vague references.

Overall a cute read with some fun little bedtime stories. Once Little Man can read, this will probably be a good pick to allow him to practice reading. :)

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Room of His Own

It's been forever since I've written! We are finally getting the hang of this stage of parenting...but who knows how long that will last! In the meantime, I am trying to find some time to blog a little bit again and I'm starting with the promised nursery pictures! I've shown you the paint job, now it's time to reveal the whole room! 

Now as I'm sure you'll understand, the room has changed a bit since we actually brought our little guy home. We lived with it for awhile and discovered we could make it work better for us so we did some minor adjustments. We also received a gift for his wall that required relocating one picture.

But without further ado, here it...was!
Believe me, it feels like a lot has changed even though it's not terribly different...

We added a dresser that we had in another room when we realized those bins under the changing table were better for items other than clothing. The lamp and book sling/"shelf" swapped as well so that I had a table surface near the glider. The aforementioned picture moved to add another one.

So now here's a more recent look at the nursery :) (Excuse the mess. I do have an 9 month old after all.) I want to do some name art for the wall above the crib, but I'm still deciding on what exactly.
We have already enjoyed many snuggles and giggles here along with some sleepless nights and tears (from both us and Little Man). This room is already full of so many memories and I can't wait to see what new ones we will fill it with in the coming months and years!

Thank you, everyone, for your patience in getting this up and getting back to blogging! Hoping to start posting more regularly again as we continue to settle into this stage of parenthood. :)

Soli Deo Gloria,