Monday, July 30, 2012

I recently finished reading The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer. The Orphan King,a quick, fun read, is the the first book in a proposed three book series titled "Merlin's Immortals." This book and series is classified as fantasy due to the Merlin references, but will be enjoyed by fans of historical medieval fiction as well.

This story focuses on a young orphan man who was raised in a monastery. After escaping from the monastery, he rescues several individuals from death by hanging, and heads toward the Kingdom of Magnus. Along the way, there are numerous hair-raising scrapes and adventures. There is some element of mystery in the story as the reader is not sure who is on which side.

Other information about this book indicated it was suggested for ages 12+. I would feel more comfortable recommending this book for 14+. There is nothing inappropriate about it yet there are some veiled references to sexual attraction between two of the main characters. This book would be enjoyed by both teens of both genders, but also has enough meat to be enjoyed by adults as well. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the second book in this series which is slated to be released in February 2013. Disclaimer: I received this book free through the Blogging for Books program from Waterbrook Press in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cleaning House

Wyma, Kay Wills. Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2012.

If there is a mom that hasn’t fought the battle of clutter and bedrooms that constantly look like they have been hit by a tornado, I want to meet that woman. As I do struggle with clutter, bedrooms that regularly do not pass inspection, and what those familiar with the FlyLady would call C.H.A.O.S. (can’t have anyone over syndrome) when the opportunity to read the book Cleaning House came along, I jumped. With the title Cleaning House, I expected, or maybe hoped for, another book that would help me be better organized and tackle the problem of my less than Better Homes & Gardens home once and for all. What I found when I opened this gem of a resource was even better.

Kay Wills Wyma’s Cleaning House does not focus on a 12-step, or 12-month, program on how to clean your house or tackle your clutter program. Instead, just as the sub-title indicates, Wyma focuses on the issue of youth entitlement she saw exhibited in her own children and rampant in society. From the first page, she opens the doors to her mini-van and home allowing us to peek in to her family. I’m so glad she did because now I know I’m not the only “mean mom” and that kids come pre-programmed to say certain things. As Wyma becomes keenly aware of the entitlement culture we live in and how we as parents have created, or at least contributed to, this culture, she decides to tackle these issues in her family head-on.

Wyma tackles one specific type of job or activity a month. For example, the first month of her experiment focuses on having her children clean their bedrooms. Later months focus on yard work, cleaning the bathrooms, and doing laundry. However, Wyma does not solely focus on cleaning tasks. Some months her emphasis is on “soft skills” such as hospitality, being a team player, serving others, and manners. Another month focuses on working outside the home in a paid or volunteer capacity. Frequently monthly activities, such as keeping your room clean, continue throughout the 12 months although not in the same focused matter.

Throughout the book, Wyma shares stories of real life events that occurred with her children to depict the events that happened during each month of the experiment. In addition to these real-life examples, Wyma includes research to demonstrate the problem of youth entitlement and stories of what has worked by other parents or individuals who work with youth. In this way, readers benefit not only from Wyma’s experiences but also the experiences of others. I particularly appreciated her list of what her children learned at the conclusion of each month as well as what she learned during the course of the month.

While reading Cleaning House, my new motto quickly became “Whatever the kids can do themselves, they are going to do (or at least attempt).” I’m looking forward the conducting my own 12-month experiment in our home which will most likely be the subject of future blog posts. My list of what kids should know before flying the coop may look a bit differently than Wyma’s, but there is quite a bit of overlap. In addition, I will certainly be borrowing numerous ideas such as the dollar a day in a jar (for more information see chapter 1). I have also started following Wyma’s blog, the MOATblog and encourage you to do so too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books . 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.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

More Than Enchanting

Saxton, Jo. More Than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

Before winning this book, I had not heard of Jo Saxton, but since I'm usually very pleased with books by InterVarsity Press (Go IVCF!), I thought it would be good. Now that I'm finished with More Than Enchanting, I am so glad I have been introduced to this amazing author and speaker and her work.

More Than Enchanting kept me enthralled from page one. As a woman working outside the home and having leadership roles in our church and community, the emphasis on being a leader, even when women leaders are not encouraged, was a breath of fresh air. My notebook quickly filled with quotes and thoughts as I engaged with this work. Saxton does an excellent job of including Bible study concerning the role of women as leaders and includes a variety of word study resources as the basic of this content. She then proceeds to cover a variety of issues related to leadership and how to increase your effectiveness as a leader. My one regret while reading this work was that I was reading in it alone. I hope to read it again soon with a group of other women leaders in the huddle format Saxton describes.

Beyond the content, which was excellent and thought-provoking, I loved the way this book was set up. Many book have discussion questions at the end of chapters or the end of the book. However, More Than Enchanting has discussion questions incorporated right into the text of the book. The end of each chapter also contains reflections written by many leaders, both male and female. The end of the book also contains discussion questions which encompass the content of the entire book and help to complete a study on this book. Author, Jo Saxton, also includes a nice, but not comprehensive, listing of sources for further reading and study.

I would highly recommend More Than Enchanting to any woman who is a leader or who wants to be a leader. I would particularly encourage this book to be used in a Bible study or book discussion group among college students or young professionals who are struggling with the issue of how to be a godly woman leader. However, I would not limit the readership to just that demographic. I'm well past that age group now (I'm about to hit one of those milestone birthdays)and found this quite useful and encouraging as I enter new leadership roles in my mid-life years.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through a giveaway from Margaret Feinberg's blog. I was not required to write a positive review or even to review this book at all. 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.”

4-H Adventures in Sewing

One of my daughter's 4-H projects is Sewing I. It's her second year in this project and she is making a top for her 4-H Home and Family show which is next week. So our big project over the weekend was to make the top. About a month ago when we went fabric shopping we bought two different fabrics because she couldn't choose which she liked best and we decided that having two fabrics would be a good idea so that one could be a "practice" shirt "just in case."

She worked on her shirt with supervision Saturday afternoon, took a break Sunday for an unexpected trip to grandma's house, and then worked on it some more Monday and Tuesday evening. Our goal was to have it finished for the Fourth of July as the fabric she chose was patriotic. She was zipping along quite well until she hit a snag Monday evening.

Monday evening she had put the facing in her bodice and was carefully trimming the seam allowance. I warned her to be very careful in cutting. All of a sudden, she cried out "Oh no!" Her scissors had slipped and she cut a hole in the back of her shirt near the nape of her neck. I encouraged her that it would be OK and she went back to trimming her seam. This time she turned the shirt around and was coming from the opposite direction. Then I heard "Oh no!" again! She managed to cut another hole at almost the same location.

She was sure her sewing career was over for good. However, since she also rides horses, I asked "What do you do if you fall off a horse?" As I expected, she responded "You get back on." So I steered her back to the sewing machine and sat her down to sew a seam on another section of her pattern.

Fortunately, the hole was easily mended by some zigzagging and is only visible if you know where to look. She finished the shirt and proudly wore it in the community parade.

We sure are glad we purchased extra fabric and that she has another week to make a new shirt.