Monday, June 14, 2010

Booking It

So, Life As Mom is hosting a book carnival once a month during 2010. Participants are encouraged to share what they've read in the month before. This is all in an effort to be more intentional in our reading. Sounds cool to me. So, we're nearly halfway through 2010 but I'm going to join in like I've been doing it from the beginning. Here's a link to FishMama's June update, looks like she read a couple of good ones!

So, here's a secret: I love to read. I probably read too much and, actually, I've been working on limiting myself this year. I can easily spend too much time in books and neglect the other important things that I do. Still, I read a lot and I can't honestly remember all the books I read last month so I'm just going to mention 3 here.

NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman was fantastic. Seriously, I think it should be read by every parent. Bronson and Merryman boil down some of the most recent child development research and bring out some very interesting conclusions that parents can easily put in to practice. For me, one of the most challenging chapters was about how to praise my children. I am always telling Helen that she is "so smart." According to the research cited in NurtureShock, this isn't how I should be praising her. Rather, I should be specific and praise efforts. This is something I've been working on a lot since finishing the book. I also loved the chapters about the importance of sleep, when children notice differences of race and why kids lie. Very interesting stuff.

I honestly can't say I liked My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. It was well written and an engaging read but I just couldn't get in to the story (not that that stopped me from finishing it). The story is about two souls who reincarnate for 1000 years. They are in love with each other but that love is never least until they meet again in the present day. I didn't like the characters, I don't like the premise of the story. Can't really recommend this one.

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar is a wonderful novel. Most of the novel is set in India and I'll tell you a secret, I love novels set in India. I don't think I've ever read a novel set in India that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. So, that was probably enough for me. The story was engaging too and the ending was such a surprise! The novel tells the story of a couple mourning the loss of their seven year old son. They are in obvious pain and that pain is taking a toll on their marriage. Rather than cling to each other through the difficult time, they are blaming each other for imagined faults that led to the child's death. In an effort to save their marriage and escape their memories, they decide to relocate to India for the husband's work. In India they are faced with questions of how to heal. The husband bonds with a young boy who lives near them, almost in an attempt to replace his lost son. The wife throws herself into helping the desperately poor people they are surrounded by. The novel deals with questions of globalization, wealth and poverty and is really very well done. I'll be checking out other books by this author.

Incredible Marriage Advice

Sometimes the strangest things sparks moments of introspection. My daughter was watching The Incredibles a few days ago. It's a cute movie about super heroes who are forced to keep their abilities hidden because of a government edict against heroes.

The mother seems okay with this turn in her life. She focuses on keeping her home and caring for her children and doesn't seem to mind that she can't fully realize her abilities. The father, on the other hand, is clearly dissatisfied with his life. He goes to work doing something he hates and occasionally sneaks around with his friend to secretly do super hero things. The movie heats up when the father is lured into a trap by his former enemy and the whole family is forced to put on their hero personas and save the world. It's a Disney movie so, of course, there is a happy ending.

Okay, so, here's where it sparked introspection. The husband was dissatisfied and, so, was easily tempted to do what he shouldn't have done. The wife was dismissive of the husband's feelings and a bit harpy. She just wanted him to accept their life and forget everything else. But, I don't think she was helping him toward that goal. Was she making him feel like a hero in his house? Not really.

Now, obviously the husband bears responsibility for giving in to temptation. But I think the wife has some responsibility too. Isn't part of our role as wives to help our husbands find fulfillment? We can't encourage our husbands to do illegal things but, perhaps, we can help them see the good in what they have.

So, it was just a cartoon, nothing life shattering. Still, it caused to me stop and think about my life and my marriage. Do I build my husband up? Or am I constantly harping on him to suck it up all while ignoring that he is miserable? I hope not.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Here comes the sun!

This has been the strangest spring. We've had almost no sun or warm weather. Usually things start warming up in May. This year it's the middle of June and the kids are still wearing footie pajamas to bed! Today it is finally supposed to break 80 degrees and I'm so excited. Off to a lovely day outside. The garden needs to be weeded (that's the thing about all this rain, the weeds are growing like mad). I think I'll harvest some spinach and lettuce. Hopefully the sun is here to stay so that later this summer we can eat some garden tomatoes!

I've been thinking a lot about our summer plans. I really want to mark the seasons with my children. Sometimes that is difficult to do. I'm a stay at home mom of two young kids...our seasons are basically the same. My kids aren't in school yet so we don't have that natural marker of time. My husband's job gets a lot busier in the summer (he's a farmer) so we won't see him as much. So, I want to plan activities that will help pass the time but that will also emphasize how special summer is.

I'll be thinking about that a lot in the coming weeks.