Friday, March 30, 2018

The Young Man's Guide to Awesomeness

Young Man's Guide to Awesomeness
The Young Man's Guide to Awesomeness: How to Guard Your Heart, Get the Girl and Save the World is a book I've been looking for for years.  Barrett Johnson has written a guide for Christian teen boys outlining, in a direct and serious tone leavened with a healthy dose of humor, the challenges they face in their relationships and attempts to succeed in life and how to overcome those challenges.

The three major sections of the book cover How to Guard Your Heart, How to Get the Girl, and How to Save the World.  Within each section, chapters outline different areas of focus.  In each chapter, the topic is explored within several subsections.  A pithy Big Idea gives a piece of advice.  A body part is highlighted along with an explanation of how that body part affects this topic.  Typical responses or situations are described.  Advice is given for how to respond differently than the norm.  A related lesson from the life of the biblical king David provides an example.  The Take Action subsection gives a short list of concrete steps to take.  Talk About It has discussion questions, and there's a QR code that links to a video.

Johnson's advice and admonitions here are direct and earnest but not overly explicit.  Sex is discussed quite a bit, but in an appropriately tactful way.  The humor in the book will appeal to older pre-teen and teen boys but isn't crass. 


Latch: A Handbook for Breastfeeding with Confidence At Every Stage is a straight-forward, encouraging resource for moms who would like to breastfeed. The book is organized by the stages of the process, starting with prenatal preparation and ending with weaning.

*Preparing to Breastfeed
* Establishing Breastfeeding
* Breastfeeding Through Changes
* Weaning from Breastfeeding

The tone is matter-of-fact and supportive, and the author does not make judgmental statements. Moms facing typical breastfeeding challenges will find practical advice along with suggestions for where to go for additional help if that is needed. Many testimonials from breastfeeding moms are included, giving a multitude of perspectives on the process and the types of challenges moms face. I have nursed five children, so I found much of this information familiar, but I still saw some new and helpful facts and ideas.

I would have liked to see more testimonials from moms who had a smooth experience or at least a bit more recognition that breastfeeding, once established, can be a relatively simple and uncomplicated process. Also, proper hydration wasn't emphasized as much as I would have liked, but that may be simply that my own personal experiences have made me overly cognizant of that factor.

This is a friendly, functional guide to breastfeeding. This is absolutely a book I would buy for an expectant friend who wanted to breastfeed or for someone who was experiencing challenges in the process. It's a book I would have liked to have had when I was first trying to breastfeed.

(I received a free copy of this book to review.)

Sacred Search

Whenever I find a copy of Gary Thomas' books Sacred Marriage or Sacred Parenting at a discount price, I buy it.  I love to give these books to other people when they are facing challenges in their marriage or their parenting.  I recently learned that he had written Sacred Search, about choosing a marriage partner, and I bought the paperback and the ebook.  I have teenagers now, and I'm always looking for excellent resources to help them transition to adulthood and the new challenges it brings.

Sacred Search tries to set the focus of the dating relationship on the purpose of the marriage relationship.  Thomas hopes that Christian marriages will become support systems for lives of ministry and training grounds for new generations of Christians who will form the same types of marriages.  From the beginning and throughout the book he reminds readers that Christian lives should be focused on the kingdom of God, and this means that Christian marriages should be focused on the kingdom of God. Therefore choosing a spouse needs to focus on that component of the relationship too.

Thomas covers much more than that, though.  He talks about the pitfalls of infatuation and how to avoid being deceived by feelings.  He discusses many other deceptions that lure people into marriages they later regret.  He suggests considering each person's expectations for the marriage relationship, giving examples of different types of expectations people have and the potential pitfalls of each one. His chapter on premarital sex wonderfully combined mercy with firm warnings backed by information.  He also explains how to develop the relationship constructively and look for common ground.

The intended audience for this book seems to be single adults, primarily.  Most of the book is suitable for older teens, and none of it is inappropriate for most older teens who are interested in pursuing serious dating relationships.  Some of the material isn't as relevant to teens, such as the advice for going out looking for a mate when options seem limited.

I am using this book with my older teen now, and I intend to have my other kids read it as they get to an appropriate age.  Sacred Search helps set the right tone for dating in an intentional way as a means for selecting a life partner who can really be a partner in walking with God.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Physics Lab in a Hardware Store, Part III

In planning for our upcoming AmblesideOnline Year 5 Term 2, I'm adding in the optional science book Physics Lab in a Hardware Store by Bob Friedhoffer.

I scheduled out Term 1 and Term 2 already.  For this third 12-week term, we'll divide up the readings like this:
pp. 78-80
pp. 80-81
pp. 81-82
pp. 83-85
pp. 85-87
pp. 88-89
pp. 89-90
pp. 91-92
pp. 93-95
pp. 96-97
pp. 97-98
pp. 99-100


Items to View

(These aren't necessarily required in person, as the book has illustrations of them and they aren't needed for activities.)
  • window shades
  • compound pulley
  • adjustable wrench
  • vise
  • vise grip
  • bolt cutters
  • plumb line
  • fisherman's scale
  • level
  • various saws
  • box of nails
  • automobile jacks

Items to Use

(These are needed for observations and activities and may be required more than once.)
  • two strong wooden poles about 1 yard long
  • 30 piece of strong rope

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Day by Day

I don't remember ever considering having children until I was 30 years old or nearly so.  It's possible that the thought crossed my mind, but it wasn't something I dreamed of or planned for.  Exactly why my husband and I decided to begin to plan for children, as we neared 30, I really don't know. Maybe it just seemed like the next phase, just like finishing high school, going to college, getting a job.

So we set out to have children and parent them.  Seems simple, if you've never had any.  And although we had no idea what we were doing, we muddled through pretty well for a few years.  Frequently we found ourselves totally surprised by challenges we faced, and we discovered that our lovely plans for how all of this parenting business was going to go were pretty much useless. But eventually we'd figure something out and move forward, feeling pretty confident.

We exemplify the Peter Principle for parenting.  Instead of being promoted to the level of our incompetence, we had children to the level of our incompetence.  If you have more children when you think things are going well with the children you already have, eventually you add one more child and discover you didn't have things together as well as you thought you did.

By the time our fourth child was born, we realized we weren't managing the older three as well as we'd thought.  Our fourth was desperately needy, with incredible food sensitivities that caused him severe discomfort and kept him (and me) from sleeping or being at peace for days at a time.  Months of extreme sleep deprivation do not enhance a person's ability to cope with stress.  I was done.  We gave away almost all of our baby and maternity supplies, because I was not going to go through this again.

But God had other plans.  God had been real in my life since I was a very young child, and although at various times I pushed Him away so I could pursue my own priorities, I always recognized His presence and eventually came back to listen to Him.  And at this point, when I was finally ready to take control of my life and move on with as much competence as I could manage, God kept touching my heart with a feeling of unease.  I remember praying at the park with a couple of friends one day and telling God that if He really and truly wanted me to have more children, he'd have to convince my husband because I wasn't going to try.  Not long afterward my husband mentioned how nice it would be to have another baby.

I didn't know why God was asking us to have another baby.  We were happy and overwhelmed with the four children we already had.  Deciding to leave this up to Him was hard, and we set out with more fear and trembling than excited anticipation.  Almost immediately I was pregnant. About the time I had finally come to terms with the idea, I learned that the baby had died.  So we endured our first significant miscarriage, one that was far enough along to really be noticeable. Twice more I was pregnant and then not pregnant anymore, and we found ourselves realizing that we really were willing to parent another child, despite our misgivings.  We mourned each lost little one and wondered what God was doing.

The next pregnancy was hard, with physical challenges for me and concern over possible complications with the baby.  For several months, we wondered what lay ahead.  We braced ourselves for various difficult outcomes and tried to envision how we would cope.  The delivery was the most difficult of the five, and our little one spent three weeks in the hospital before she could come home, followed by several challenging weeks as we taught her to nurse.  Our whole existence was more complicated and less comfortable.  Most of our fears turned out to be groundless, but even still this little one required more of us than we thought we had to give.

Christians often say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  I think God does give us more than we can handle so that He can show us our need for Him.  Before having kids, I thought I had a pretty good handle on my life.  After each child came along, I struggled, but as I began to get things together I again started to think I had a pretty good handle on my life.  By the time our fourth was a few months old, I was realizing that I did not have a pretty good handle on my life, and I was trying to do my best to regain control when God said, "Let go and see what I will do."  I did not want to let go.  I didn't want to see what God would do.  I wanted to get my life back into the path I envisioned for it.  But God still said, "Let go."

Daily, as I try to fulfill my responsibilities to each of the people in my life, I see how short I fall.  Daily, I realize that I cannot do this.  Daily, I see that I do not have things together.  Daily, I'm confronted with my need for a Savior and my utter dependence on God.  Daily, I see His loving grace.  I have no doubt more extreme challenges lie ahead, and I know I do not have what it takes to meet them.  But God does, and I can trust Him to help me through.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Corn Tortilla Treats

I needed a gluten-free dessert, but I had very few ingredients on hand that I could be certain were not contaminated. Looking online, I found these oven-baked corn chips. But all my spices were potentially compromised, so my friend and I started experimenting.

Turns out, pieces of corn tortilla, topped with hazelnut spread or with butter and brown sugar, then baked at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes are pretty tasty!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Physics Lab in a Hardware Store, Part II

In planning for our upcoming AmblesideOnline Year 5 Term 2, I'm adding in the optional science book Physics Lab in a Hardware Store by Bob Friedhoffer.

I scheduled out Term 1 already.  For this second 12-week term, we'll divide up the readings like this:
pp. 51-54
pp. 54-57
pp. 57-59
pp. 60-63
pp. 63-64
pp. 64-66
pp. 67-68
pp. 69-70
pp. 71-72
pp. 72-73
pp. 73-74
pp. 75-77


Items to view

(These aren't necessarily required in person, as the book has illustrations of them and they aren't needed for activities.)
  • claw hammer
  • pry bar
  • various wrenches
  • spring clamps
  • wheelbarrow
  • casters
  • screwdriver
  • circular saw
  • brace
  • hand drill

Items to use

(These are needed for observations and activities and may be required more than once.)
  • 24-inch piece of lumber
  • 6-inch piece of lumber
  • ruler
  • 5-pound weight (bag of flour, etc. will work)
  • fisherman's scale
  • heavy string
  • pliers
  • yard stick
  • outdoor faucet
  • screwdriver
  • screw
  • pen
  • drill with 1/16th bit
  • wood screw