Monday, May 31, 2010

Tying the Family Knot - Terri Clark

Perhaps it’s just because I’m tired of reading these stepfamily self-help books that don’t seem to offer me real solutions, but this book really annoyed the tar out of me. The author just seemed really inconsistent in several areas:

• At the beginning of the book she states that the marriage is the most important thing to protect and focus on but then the rest of the book is about compromising with the kids and making sure they are comfortable with everything so their wounds can heal. [Note: I know that kids of divorce are definitely wounded. I was one and still deal with some fallout and I have two step-kids. And there does need to be some sensitivity to what they are experiencing. However, kids also thrive on stability and boundaries…even though most would state they don’t like them and try to push them every chance they get.

          • At one point she states that the biological parent should be in charge of all discipline and instruction. However, later she talks about both parents being respected and seen as an authority – which doesn’t happen if they are not both able to enforce discipline. Also, how does that work when the person spending the majority of the time with the kids is *not* the biological parent? Do you just keep a list of the offenses for the bio parent to deal with when they get home? That’s not much fun plus can lead to conflicts in interpretation.

          • In the first part of the book, the author talks about having consistent rules that are always in place and apply to everyone paired with specific consequences when those rules are disobeyed. However, later in the book she is talking about her kids versus her husband’s kids. She was naturally stricter than her husband, and so her kids were used to stricter rules and they kept that in place with them. However, her husband’s kids were used to more lax standards having only been with their dad for visitation before he got custody a year after their marriage. And her husband felt that it was better to be more lenient on rule and consequence enforcement than to risk having the girls return to their mom’s home. This caused a lot of resentment in the author (and I imagine her kids) until she decided to compromise with her husband and go with leniency on his kids. WHAT?!?

Also, her “blended” family was a two step-parent home. Both brought children into the marriage and that is certainly a different dynamic. As a result, most of the applications applied a lot from a biological parent standpoint that I just really stretch to grasp since I’m not one.

Their family had clear custody with every other weekend/summer visitation. So a lot of the ideas, again, were not practical for a home like ours where the kids go back and forth every 2 – 4 days. For example, my MIL loaned me this book to read (no, that’s *not* why I’m finding fault with it) and specifically pointed out the way the author solved the “clothing dilemma.” I’m sure it happens in every house. It seriously does in ours. I go through the girls clothes with them each season to see what fits, what doesn’t fit, and what we need to purchase. Then go out and purchase new clothes. New clothes that are then worn to their mother’s house and we never see again because they are returned to us in clothes I either need to dispose of (don’t fit, stained, torn) or that I make sure to send back to that household or the younger one is sent in the older ones clothes that week or vice versa. So I’m left without clothes and trudge back to the store to purchase another wardrobe for that season…or at least stop up the gaps again. Case in point: summer clothes this year. I have already had to go purchase more shirts for the older one because most of the ones for school have vanished over the last month. The author’s solution is a great one. In the suitcase she puts a list of everything her step-kids take with them for the weekend so they can pack them up to bring back at the end of the weekend or month (during summer). Fabulous idea! Doesn’t work for us. We don’t use suitcases. The girls get taken to school by one household and picked up by the other on transition day. And so we continually buy clothes.

I do have to say, what this family did clearly worked for them. Their kids are all grown up and they all still like each other. Kudos. But my take away from the book wasn’t really practical. Just the reminder that I need to keep praying and communicating with my DH.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D? - Gina Pera

I read this book at the request of my husband, who was diagnosed before we met with adult ADHD but does not receive treatment for it.

It was both a frustrating and educational read.

It was educating in that it clearly identified several issues in our lives and family as far as forgetting, lack of follow through and consistency, hyperfocus alternating with no focus, etc. To know that it’s not just me being a stickler or going crazy but there’s an actual diagnosis causing it to be.

The frustration comes into play in that there’s not a lot to do about it except go on medication which he has tried and the side-effects apparently outweighed the benefits.

Still, I’m hoping that my increased knowledge on the topic will at least help me understand him a bit better and be more patient while still upholding the boundaries I need for me.

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have loved the Laura Ingalls books since I was in elementary school and have owned them all since then as well. I am currently reading the series to my stepdaughters before bed – a chapter at a time. And they seem to be enjoying them as well.

Little House in the Big Woods is the first of the series and introduces us to Laura and her family. They live in the Wisconsin woods, a far bit from town and neighbors alike. The story details their family life, the perils of the wilds, and is very educational regarding what life was like back then (the girls and I plan to make clove apples this fall).

Take Three - Karen Kingsbury

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big Kingsbury fan. I waited several months for this book from the library.

In the third book of the Above the Line series, Chase Ryan and Keith Ellison have finally found success by Hollywood’s standards. But at what cost? When Chase determines the cost is too high, where does that leave their production company, the film they are releasing, and the film to come?

I enjoyed seeing the Baxters and Flannegans again. I won’t lie. I’m excited about Bailey’s series to come next and the prospect of the Baxters becoming a television show.

Things with the production company came together a bit too easily for me. And quickly. I absolutely believe that God has a plan and works all things together for the good of those who follow Him. When something unexpected happens, He can turn it for good. But for me it’s usually not right after I’ve had the bad or unexpected news. He usually makes me sweat it out a bit. :)

It was all a bit predictable this time around. However, with all her books, I still enjoyed the journey.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Go to Your Room - Shari Steelsmith

The subtitle of this book is "Consequences that Teach," and there is so much I like about that. 

There is no doubt that I am a bigger supporter of consequence systems that reward ones.  I don't believe kids should be rewarded for expected behavior.  Now, if they're learning something new, rewards are useful in the short-term. 

And I like consequences that are logical.  That's what this book is about.  It talks about natural consequences some...those results of your actions that just happen.  But focuses on logical consequences as implemented by a parent or caregiver.  Consequences that fit the misdeed.  Consequences that make sense with the offense and aren't just random.

The majority of the book is very practical as well.  It lists behaviors and several logical consequences that could be implemented.  I like that it gives more than one option because if there's one thing I've learned with just two kids is that not everything (okay, almost nothing) works for both of them.  They are completely different little personalities with motivations to match.

Now, sometimes I thought the consequence's suggested length was too short, especially for ongoing behavior issues.  Still, I feel the book was a good resource and got my wheels turning about what would work with the girls.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Legacy - Nevil Shute

Book club book for May.

The Legacy was also published as A Town like Alice. It is the story of a young woman who comes into a sizeable inheritance. Jean Paget returned to England after suffering through the war in Malaya. While working as a typist, she is notified of money in a trust for her left by her late uncle. Jean wants to do something useful with her money and returns to Malaya and the people who helped her. While there she learns more regarding the man who risked his life to help her. And so she sets forth to Australia and adventure.

This book seemed a little slow and somewhat predictable to me. But sometimes I like predictable. I think it was slow because I sort of knew what it was about (or thought I did but misunderstood some of that) and kept waiting for things to happen.

I really liked Jean’s “go get ‘em” attitude and how the story is told through the point of view of her solicitor back in England.

Verdict: Worth a read

Friday, May 7, 2010

Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House - Cheryl Mendelson

I stumbled upon this book while reading a magazine article on spring cleaning, and if it has anything remotely to do with the home, chances are it is covered by this book. I found parts of it rather interesting (or gross - like the bedbug/dust mite discussion). I enjoy details and minutia. It was inriguing to read about how I've been doing laundry wrong all these years and how long leftovers really are good for.

Home Comforts covers every area of the house from the kitchen to the bathroom to outdoor storage. And ever facet of home care: papers, safety, cleaning, book care, fabrics, lighting, laundry, etc.

While I don't recommend reading this book cover to cover as I did, it would certainly make a great reference book. I plan on ordering it (the one I got was from the library) to keep on the shelf for those times when I would like to look back at it.