Friday, September 23, 2016

uninvited {book review}

I have to admit, when I began Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst my attitude was a little smug: I don't need this book! I like the concept of it, but I feel great about myself and I love my friends! I am so loved!

Then I remembered there are moms I hide from, or avoid, or don't try to get to know because they scare me.

Last year I needed almost the entire school year before I would talk to a mom because she seemed so put together. Turns out she's really nice! And I can now say "hello" to her without feeling scared.

This year I watch little ones while their mamas attend Bible Study and a fellowship group. The mamas all look so fresh, their clothes are so cute, and they all have ankle boots (booties? is that what we call these?) and now I think I need a pair ... but please don't expect me to wear makeup. Please. I just can't. I don't know how.

And there I go again - assuming other moms won't like me because I don't look or dress like them.

So yes, turns out I needed this book, because maybe all of these feelings and thoughts inside of me come across on the outside without me realizing it and maybe, just maybe, people are scared to approach me.

Feeling rejected is hard.

Being rejected is hard.

In Uninvited Lysa steps into that hard, raw, really painful space of rejection and applies Biblical truth to deep wounds.

I read Uninvited as an e-book, which was really hard for me because I wanted to write all over it. I took four pages of notes instead. I know, I know, you can highlight and mark passages in e-books, but it's just not the same!

A few things I LOVED about Unvited:

The reminder that "people can't be our soul-oxygen." We have to fill our hearts with the truth that Jesus loves us, because expecting love to come from outside ourselves will just leave us feeling disappointed and rejected.

We need to be in His word before we get into the World and its messages so that what is at the forefront of our minds is His message. I've been getting up in the morning, leaving my phone on the nightstand, picking up my Bible and starting the day with that. I am not allowing myself to touch my phone until I get the Word in front of me, and the kids, because I want His word to be the first thing I encounter every day.

Scarcity Thinking vs. Abundance Thinking: We think, if she gets that - house, job, car, husband, life - what is left for me? whereas God promises He has a plan and path uniquely set out for everyone.

Being given Biblical tools and resources to help me understand rejection, relationships, and how to communicate better. I am not in the middle of any friendship crisis right now - YAY!! - but if I am ever again in a place where things are falling apart with a friend I am going to use this book as a guide to get us both through with intact hearts and souls. Uninvited has useful and applicable advice on how to handle challenging relationship situations well.

I received this book from BookLook bloggers in exchange for a fair review 

Monday, September 19, 2016

when mountains move {book review}

I have to be honest: when I see a Christian publishing house imprint on the back of a novel I usually put that novel back on the shelf, but after reading When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell I want to give more fiction put out by Christian publishing houses a try!

I didn't realize When Mountains Move is a sequel, so there were moments when I was a little lost, but I still found Millie's story engaging and interesting.

When Millie marries Bump Anderson she attempts to leave her past behind and begin a new life with him in Colorado. However, Millie is unable to bury the past completely and has to find a way to make her marriage survive the secrets she has kept.

Cantrell's honest writing about the difficulties of motherhood, especially in an isolated situation, rang true for me. The first year of a baby's life can be so hard on a marriage and Cantrell does an excellent job exploring the tension and troubles of that time between Bump and Millie.

When Mountains Move is a quick, enjoyable read. I was captivated by the story, and was surprised to find the story to be less predictable than I expected. I have to go back and read the first book so I can understand the full story behind Millie and her life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

thoughts on hearing loss, books, music and early intervention

 I was reading and singing to Ainsleigh before bed a few nights ago when the idea for this post popped into my head. When Ainsleigh was first diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss (she is profoundly deaf in her left ear) I didn't want to have anything to do with the community of parents raising kids with hearing loss. I was done being part of a parenting group that was set aside because something was wrong with their child. I'd been to Holland when I expected a vacation to Italy. I had no idea what country I landed in after Ainsleigh's brith, but I knew I didn't want to see that essay again. I wanted to raise my baby without being labeled a hearing loss parent. I was already a loss parent. I didn't want to add to my resume of perceived failures.

But even though I didn't want to join the community I was still pulled in because Ainsleigh needed support. Ainsleigh needed an audiologist and speech therapist. She needed regular testing and in home care to help her develop language. And even though I didn't want to need support, I did.

I thought I had to be fine with Ainsleigh's hearing loss simply because she was alive, but once we were knee deep in hearing aid battles and delayed development fears I realized being fine wasn't going to be possible. Raising a child with hearing loss is hard and frightening, even if you've been through harrowing parenting journeys before.

There are parenting networks for parents who have deaf/hard of hearing children. I haven't joined one. I lean on our audiologist and speech therapist as well as my family, friends, church and husband.

Even though I haven't reached out to anyone beyond a pumpkin patch visit last fall for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children (which was actually really good for Ainsleigh) I wanted to write about my experience a little bit. Because maybe there's someone who needs to know they are not the only one who has struggled with putting a hearing aid on a determined one-year-old (tip: flip your kiddo on their side across your lap, gently hold them down with one arm, and get it in). And whether or not I want to be in the deaf/hard of hearing group I'm IN. And Ainsleigh needs me to be IN so that she can grow and thrive.

Which she is.

Ainsleigh is doing remarkably well with her speech and language considering she has significant hearing loss in one ear. I think some of that is up to me because I am the one who sat with her day in and day out and put her hearing aid in over and over and over when she was a baby. But I am also the one who left her hearing aid out for six weeks when we moved, so it's not all me!

Early intervention as well as exposure to music and books has been instrumental in helping Ainsligh succeed.

If you are dealing with a child who has hearing loss READ to them. Every. single. day. For as long as they will hold still, and even when they're not holding still. Don't skip words. Don't stick to board books because they're not yet 1 or 2. Turn on audio books when they're busy playing in their room. Take them to the library, let them pick picture books, and then read when they're at the table, in the bath, before bed, before nap, playing on the living room floor, etc.

Read beyond picture books. Read non-fiction, magazines, early chapter books and poetry. This evening I read poetry to Ainsleigh while we slowly drifted off together. I eventually had to lever both of us out of the rocker and put her to bed because we were so sleep drunk on soothing words and calm rhythms we could hardly keep our eyes open. It's a soothing way to end the day and it fills her brain with rich language right before she drops off to sleep.

I am not saying I am the most amazing parent EVER, but I have seen so much benefit in my children's lives because we inundated them with books from birth.

Along with reading every day, sing to your kids. All day. Even if you are like me and cannot carry a tune. We have been really lucky to connect with an amazing music program and teacher (Music Together) but if your family doesn't have that option you can still sing and expose them to music every day. I love ending the night with Ainsleigh snuggled in my arms, or in her bed, while I sing and she listens. When the house is quiet and Ainsleigh is listening to me read and then sing in very close proximity she can glean far more information about words and sounds than she can when it's midday and I'm trying to explain something and her brother is rocketing around the house.

I often tell my children that every single human wandering this earth is experiencing some difficulty or challenge in their lives, but it is also up to each individual how they deal with and grow from their particular challenge. I am hoping to teach my kids they don't have to be limited by their challenge (food allergies for my son, hearing loss for my daughter) through exposure to books and music, which in turn exposes them to the wonder and beauty of the world we live in.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

we remodeled a bathroom!!

Well, okay, we are mostly done remodeling the small bathroom. We're still trying to find the perfect shower door, but we are otherwise done!

This is what we started with. This is the best complete before shot I could find - thanks honey! It looks really bad!!

Then Jon took everything out. Except the shower. It is a custom size (very small) which earned it the right to stay.

Then Jon worked and worked and planned and created and built and built and built and I stressed out about EVERYTHING and didn't like ANYTHING and worried we would never find flooring. And then this weekend it all came together beautifully and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It's really hard to get a good picture of this tiny bathroom, so you'll just have to come on over and check it out!

Jon had so many problems with this shower! It is not what I had in mind, but it turned out great and I am so glad the brown and tan duck tiles are gone (unfortunately we do not have a before picture of that!)

I love the creative and beautiful vanity/mirror barn door solution Jon came up with. I couldn't find a mirror I liked so he came up with this idea. He built the vanity and mirror trim, then attached the barn door hardware. It required a lot of time and effort. I think he should be proud!

I was so happy when I discovered this multi-color and varying plank width floor! It was exactly what I wanted.

We extended the floor into the laundry area/hallway to the family room

We are going to take a couple weeks off and then it's on to the next bathroom!!


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