Weekend Thoughts

“Pick up the pretty pebbles, Laura,” Ma said. “and another time, don’t be so greedy.”

So Laura gathered up the pebbles, put them in the pocket, and carried the pocket in her lap. She did not mind very much when Pa laughed at her for being such a greedy little girl that she took more than she could carry away.

Nothing like that ever happened to Mary. Mary was a good little girl who always kept her dress clean and neat and minded her manners. Mary had lovely golden curls, and her candy heart had a poem on it. ~Little House in the Big Woods, p. 175


After a moment Mary said, “I think it is a good idea. It will help us to learn self-denial.”

“I don’t want to,” Laura said.

“Nobody does,” said Mary. “But it’s good for us.”

Sometimes Laura did not even want to be good…. ~The Long Winter, p. 175

We are watching the first season of Little House on the Prairie on DVD right now. Don’t get me started on how utterly different the charming books, and the over-dramatic series are; that will have to be another post. But we watched the episode “The Lord Is My Shepherd” last night, and I got to thinking about how the writers of the tv show did almost get one thing right: Laura’s constant self-incrimination. When she compares herself to Mary, she almost always comes up lacking in character. This particular show, in case you don’t know, is when Ma has a baby boy, and Laura gets jealous of her brother getting all Pa’s attention. When the baby gets sick, Laura refuses to pray for him. He later dies, and Laura thinks it is her fault, and proceeds to find a way to ‘trade’ herself back to God for her brother, thinking that Pa would rather have him. Late seventies drama at its finest- they haven’t succeeded if you aren’t shedding tears- but I digress.

The way I see it, Laura is rather normal as far as behavior goes, from what I have read of her in her books. It is Mary who I would wonder about, rarely acting up, “always doing what she was told” (from Little House in the Big Woods). And, in Laura’s defense, I would much rather read of her growing up years from her perspective, than Mary’s any day. Not that Mary wouldn’t have stories of her own that were just as interesting. I’m grateful for Laura just as she was.

There wasn’t anything in the books that gave me indication that the Ingalls were born-again Christians. If they were, maybe Laura would not have wrestled with this problem of ‘being bad’ so much. As it was, they served their religion as well as they could by trying to ‘be good’, when all that worthless effort could have been laid at Jesus’ feet, and a relationship taken up with Him that would enable them to live full abundant lives.


Make It! Monday

We are trying to keep the Christmas gifts for the kids at a minimum this year. I would like to play up the creative arts, and play down the toys. What joy didst fill my heart when I ran acrost this gift idea- a book making kit! So far I have collected cute mini-markers, stapled books together out of copy paper and card stock, and a clementine box to hold it all. I’m now on the hunt for stickers (dollar store), and unique pens and pencils- have you seen any cheap ones?

A-Major really enjoys writing stories, and Big-S will once she is reading and writing more. I must share a part of one of A-Major’s stories that she wrote for A-Minor last year. It is talking about a mermaid:

“…and her fin was blue. Her b**bs with the seashells on them were purple…”

(thanks for the reminder, angela!) When A-Major wrote the story, she read it aloud to me. I didn’t think I heard her right when she said that part, so I asked her to read it again. Sure enough, she was writing a Harlequin! I HAVE NO IDEA where she heard that word. Too funny.

Well, let’s hope my little authors stay G rated while using their Christmas present.

The Promised Review

I’m not done reading The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, but I have read enough to say a bit about what I have learned. The book is about how social epidemics (like the sudden re-popularity of Hush Puppies in 1995) get their start, and the factors involved. Gladwell talks about the notion of a tipping point- the moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior takes off, and begins to multiply exponentially. He explores the way ideas, tv shows, even crime rates in New York can be examined by being attentive to this phenomenon. One example I found fascinating was the story of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride. I didn’t know that another man, William Dawes, made a similar trek to Lexington that night, but was not as successful as Revere in drawing the attention of the towns’ militias as he passed. Gladwell explains why Revere is the one we remember, using elements of his philosophy of the tipping point.

Basically, there are three people involved in creating a social epidemic, those who cause a tipping point- connectors, mavens, and salesmen. The connectors are those kinds of people we all know- they have many business acquaintances or personal friends, and many people are able to say they met so and so through them. They are important to social epidemics because they are the ones who have the influence, that can spread the information to the largest group of people.
Mavens are the people who gather information on good deals and good quality products. A connector doesn’t usually spend time learning the information himself, he relies on the maven to tell him where to get the best deal. Then, a connector will pass this on to hundreds of his closest friends, and a tipping point may be reached.
The salesman is the kind of person who is able to persuade people to think or do a certain thing. These people are extremely expressive, optimistic types, and can’t help but spread the good cheer to those around them. They are contagious.
Then, there’s the ordinary folk, like me, who get to watch these three extraordinary people in action. I still contribute to the epidemic by googling Hush Puppies (in response to the mentioning of them in this book), and finding a really cute pair of brown ballet flats. If I was rich as well as ordinary, I would plunk down the $78 for some of my very own, possibly starting a re-re-popularity of the brand.

I enjoyed thinking of people I knew (very few, as I am not a connector), and seeing if they showed signs of being close to any of the above personality types. Luke, I think, is almost a Maven, as he really likes getting good quality at a good price. My childhood friend, Jon, is definitely a connector. I gotta tell you one neat story-
We were still doing Hope Community Church, and a couple came to visit one Sunday. After the service, we were talking, and the girl was saying she went to Worthington Christian High School. I brainstormed people I knew that went there, and asked her if she knew any Michael’s. She answered that she was a Michael, which left me stunned for a minute. She was Jason’s sister, Jason (himself a connector) was a friend of Jon’s. I wouldn’t have known Jason apart from Jon, and, while I would have met Jenny sooner or later, I wouldn’t have that particular connection to her without Jon. Interesting stuff. This is where “six degrees of separation” comes from- the idea that any person is connected to another by an average of six people. And it so often is less- about half the time (ha ha ha). As you can see, this was my favorite part of the book to think about.
There is so much more to the book, but this is getting long, so I’ll quit here. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in sociology, psychology, or just modern trends and how they come to be.
Also on the subject of books, I’m thinking it is time to start the Mitford Series again. I soooo enjoyed reading them by Christmas tree light last year. I’ll try to highlight my favorite parts here on the blog this time. Anybody with me? Angela?

First Day Thoughts

1 Timothy 1:19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

“People feel a drive to “do something for society,” to undertake huge projects- having been liberated from the “limitations” of their homes and families. What society needs more than anything else is a glimpse through a window into the family life of people who are becoming creative in amazingly diverse ways and who haven’t time to be bored. The natural sequence is a spilling over into a wider area affecting other people, even without meaning to do so.” ~Edith Schaeffer

Read Any Good Books Lately?

It is raining- just the kind of day for a trip to the library. I’m wanting to get a few new (to me) books that I can have on hand during the early part of labor. Any suggestions? No, Charley and Sara, this is not the time for me to start Harry Potter. Yes, I should finish Heaven, but that book requires a bit too much deep thought, for a time like labor. Compelling fiction or feel-good-story non-fiction would do the trick.
Leave a comment or email me with a current favorite of yours.

For My Reading Pleasure

I’m finally getting to start a book recommended by Meredith, called Making The Most Of Every Move, by Garner Dodson. As you can see, it is a relic. Meredith quoted so many interesting things from it as she was reading it, though, that I am pretty certain I will enjoy it and it will be helpful in our upcoming move. It was on my ‘Spring Reading Thing’ list, but I knew I wouldn’t read it until I had a reason to do so.
A couple of tips totally unrelated to this post:
I cannot substantiate this with a web link, but Tim Horton’s is offering a free iced coffee today, July 19th. Get on out there and get your fix. While it is free.
To increase overall performance at your computer, and improve time management skills, make sure when you sit down to do your work, you have to use the restroom sorta bad. Works every time for me.

Reading Challenge Update

With Dr. Falwell’s death, and the memories flooding back of going through all that with Don, I am spurred on once again to blow the dust off of, crack open (really, this time!) read Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. Judging from the boarding pass I found between the pages dated 26JAN2006, it has been a while since I picked it up from the shelf. I have it listed on my ‘Spring Reading Thing‘ book list, and really might have gotten to it after I finished The Mommy Survival Guide last week, but Meredith had to go and recommend this book, The $64 Tomato, on her blog, so I started that instead. It is a hilarious book. I was really enjoying reading it, but now feel like I shouldn’t be spending time finishing a book about a man and his expensive garden, when I could be reading about the Man preparing The Garden To End All Gardens. So, just a note here, to tell you I am back on my reading list, and going at a good pace to finish by June 21. That way there’ll be two things to celebrate. Hmmm, wonder what the other thing is?

Moving Right Along…

***This is the second book I have completed from Callapider Days’ reading challenge. A review of the first book, Thundering Sneakers, can be seen here.
I read a fair bit of Jewel this past week, and wanted to share my thoughts.
First of all, it was labeled “Inspirational” on the book’s spine, so I assumed it would be relatively clean, as every other so-labeled book I have ever read has been. Well, that book must be mislabeled, in my opinion. It is definitely not something I would want someone stocking in or picking off of the Christian Fiction shelf! I thought I remembered hearing it was an Oprah’s Book Club selection; this helped it not be so much of a surprise when I first encountered questionable material.
Aside from it being labeled wrong, the plot itself seemed to drag. I like for a book to get to the good stuff, and get there fast. It is a wonder that I ever got through At Home In Mitford, and subsequently read the whole series more times than I can count, because that book took forever to get going. I remember initially liking the character of Father Tim, but it was a few chapters before I could ascertain why a whole book would be written about such a boring fellow, let alone a whole series. (Don’t worry, he gets less boring, and a lightbulb should be going on in your head as to the reason my blog is named, Consider It Done, if you, too, have read any of the Mitford Books. They are only some of my favorite books in the whole wide world!)
So, this book, too, had me at a loss for why we should care about this woman, Jewel. Yes, she has just found out she is pregnant with her sixth baby, and there is a hint that this baby will be important to the plot, but, ay yi yi. I thought it dragged.
I wouldn’t describe myself as officially ‘hooked’ on the story until Jewel has her baby girl, who, as it turns out, has Down Syndrome. Now, this happened in the 1940’s, when they called children with this condition “Mongolian idiots”, and didn’t expect them to live past age two. When Jewel was told what was wrong with her baby- who was five months old but had rarely woken up from sleep, not rolled over, not done anything normal babies should be doing- the doctor recommended she put the baby in an institution to be cared for the rest of her (they thought) short life. Can you imagine? Like Jewel is just going to give up her child she bore and had nursed for five months. But Jewel does spend some dark days after that diagnosis, going back and forth in her mind between keeping Brenda Kay, her baby, and having to eventually watch her die, and what she called “an escape”: the option of giving her up and putting her in an institution. She concluded that neither choice was really an escape, either choice would be difficult. It appeared to her that God’s will was for her to keep her baby and take care of her the best she could, so she did.
I read on, and discovered the happiness that Brenda Kay lived a lot longer than the doctors’ predictions, and the drain of her medical expenses that took a toll on their marriage and family. To remedy the situation, Jewel got this thought in her head of moving the family out to California; I don’t know what they would have pursued out there, or why there, or if they even got there, because that is where I stopped reading the book.
Here is where you get to laugh at me. I didn’t know if this author, Bret Lott, was a man or a woman. I didn’t bother looking inside the back of the book jacket to see; I avoid reading book jackets because I feel like they give away too much of the story. So I start this book and as I am reading along, every once in a while, I get this feeling like, this isn’t how adolescent girls/women/mothers really think, is it? Many parts of the book were overly sensual, and Lott brought up things that, I believe, a female writer wouldn’t have, because she wouldn’t think that way. Lo and behold, I look and discover that Bret Lott is a man, a hot-blooded male, apparently, by the way he writes. This was the last straw for me- I don’t need to be reading stuff like this, stuff that ultimately will not encourage me in my daily life and struggles. Therefore, after reading a good portion of Jewel, I can heartily discourage you from picking it up at your local library. Go on past that one to the next one on your list of books you’d thought about reading. And, never judge a book by its “Inspirational Fiction” cover.
The one thing I gained from what I did read was to learn a little of the history of Down Syndrome. How difficult it must have been in the past to deal with this and other birth defects, not having all the information, and medical breakthroughs, that we now have. For all our advances, however, I came across a startling statistic that I’ll share tomorrow: one that proves we as a nation are still looking for that way of escape when we think trouble has come our way.
It deserves its own post.

Thundering Sneakers: A Book Review

This is a bit lengthy; my regulars can feel free to skip or skim.
Thundering Sneakers, by Prudence Mackintosh, is basically a compilation of articles that she wrote in the 70’s for Texas Monthly about the joys and humor of raising her three boys. Does everyone want to know what “thundering sneakers” could possibly mean? Maybe I should make you read the book and find out for yourselves. I don’t know if I found the book to be so humorous because a) I’m just glad these outrageous things haven’t happened to me (yet), or b) I’m getting good at knowing that even our family’s bad days will have their funny parts down the road when I look back.
The book is divided into three parts: part one looks like a collection of memories of the children before any were in school, part two begins reminiscing when the oldest starts first grade, and the final part shares chapters that showcase each child, the husband, and the father-son relationship they have.
I could relate to the first part most, I think because mine are all still that young, and the mishaps she shares are happening on our Center Street Stage daily. It truly was easy to identify with her and her struggles, in spite of this being written 30 years ago. Many things about being a mom never change.
The chapter about her her third son, William, in part three, was special to me. In her day, when two children were the average, she (in jest) called it “a perilous venture” to have a third child, and went on to describe the many joys William contributed to their lives. In our family, our children find welcoming each new sibling to be more and more exciting, the more we have. It is as Prudence once heard someone say, “Ain’t it funny how some babies jus’ show up bein’ comp’ny.”
Some descriptions she gives of clothing and decor date the book, but the overall purpose is timeless. I believe the purpose of Prudence’s book was to share that “life with children must be appreciated in the process.” Hoping for the next day, or grieving over what could have been- neither attitude works for a mother during those years she is at home caring for her children. One must be content in the moment, and look for the many things there are that bring joy and laughter right now, for this moment will soon fade into the next moment. Good advice I constantly need to hear.
Among the many thoughts shared in the book, Prudence mentioned two issues that still linger today as matters of debate- women pursuing careers instead of staying home with their children, and the erosion of community. It was a bit ominous reading her words because, back in 1970, these were relatively new concerns, and now the two situations are so much worse.
Her thoughts on mothers staying home:
“Now I’m all for women developing competency and self-reliance, but…Anyone who has worked longer than a year knows that eventually any job loses most of its glamour. And the world is no less “real” at home. For that matter, mothers at home may be more “real” than bankers or lawyers…How can reading a balance sheet compare with comforting a five year old who holds his limp cat and wants to know why we have to lose the things we love?”
What is changing about her neighborhood:
“There is no doubt that we are becoming a more affluent neighborhood… we tend to buy our privacy, not neighborhood togetherness… As the cost of heating and cooling has climbed, we are less likely to leave the kitchen door open… we enclosed the side porch. We needed the extra room and gave little thought to the role that porches play in binding neighborhoods. Neighbors who wouldn’t think of knocking on your front door for an informal visit can see you on a porch and not feel that they are imposing… fenced backyards are becoming almost compulsory… Locked in their own backyard, little boys might miss the… chance to retch and gag when the teenage girl across the street kisses her boy friend goodbye after school.”
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. Every once in a while I would tire of the attitude she conveyed that ‘this is how I hoped to raise these boys, but this is how it really turned out, and I couldn’t do anything about it’. The latter piece of that is what gets me. Yes, children will act out and surprise us from time to time, but for the most part, the product shows what we put into it. She could have done things differently in some scenarios, and wouldn’t have had such chaotic results. She was not so helpless as she tried to make herself out to be. But, as she said in her preface, she “never attempted to offer final solutions or pediatric advice-only the solace of shared experience.” If I look at the book with this in mind, I have to admit that she was quite successful.

Are You Up To The Challenge?

Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting a reading challenge. Here are my reading goals, to be accomplished by June 21, 2007. (Hmmm. Seems there is something else going on on that day; can’t quite put my finger on it…) Listed below are the books I’m reading (title, author, and a brief excerpt):

Book List

1 & 2 Corinthians- God

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Thundering Sneakers- Prudence Mackintosh

“…Our children’s early years were not just an interruption in a writing career or in a good night’s sleep, or a blur of mindless, boring tasks. To the contrary, they contained all of the loveliness, violence, humor, and mystery that we could handle.”

The Mommy Survival Guide- Barbara Curtis

“Our culture has really cultivated a sense in us that we’re somehow entitled to excitement, beauty, fun, and romance long after we’ve settled into raising a family. And that sense of entitlement battles against the very real demands of raising children and raising them well.”

Heaven- Randy Alcorn

“We are homesick for Eden. We’re nostalgic for what is implanted in our hearts…We long for what the first man and woman once enjoyed- a perfect and beautiful Earth with free and untainted relationships with God…Every attempt at human progress has been an attempt to overcome what was lost in the Fall.”

Jewel- Bret Lott

“I love you, Jewel, “ and he looked up at me. The words nearly knocked my wind out… They were words I hadn’t heard from him since Before, and all I could say, all I could offer him right there on the water, were my own words, ones I couldn’t remember offering up to him myself since then: “I love you, Leston,” I said almost in a whisper, and I made sure my eyes were square on his…I wanted him to know I was here, with him, not back on shore and worried with our baby.

Making The Most Of Every Move- Garner Dodson

“We have left behind us the most extraordinary succession of delightful dwelling houses each of which in turn once meant everything to us, but not one of which we now regret having left.” -Alfred North Whitehead

How ’bout it? Are there half-finished books collecting dust at your house, or am I the only one? Follow the link above to Katrina’s to add your list to the challenge.

Ready, Set, Go!