Tuesday, 2 September 2014

5 for 30 (September 2014)

Five goals to focus on for the next thirty day:

1. Potty training at nap and night.
James is all but potty-trained at nap (occasional slips) but I gave up the night-training in favour of much-needed sleep. He night-weaned a bit ago and then after a few particularly restless and aggravating nights we insisted that he was not to leave his bed until morning and he didn't because he is very good but he was still waking enough to wet and thus awakens soaked. I even abandoned the reusables last month in favour of disposables as his pyjamas and bed were wet each morning from leaking.
So I know he can't make it through the night yet without a trip to the loo, therefore if I want rid of nappies I'm going to have to take the "emptying" approach at least to begin with.
A week or more ago I told him that we were going to get rid of the nappies for good and I began yesterday (Monday the first) by reminding him that today was the last day of nappies. Typical that this followed a night when he'd wet the bed after soaking his disposable, pyjamas and linen (within the first few hours of sleep). So with the bed double-wrapped (as well as his pillow), the pyjama drawer full and Mama (being in a state of insomnia) ready to roll and launder we began this month's challenge with a view to "emptying" him at half ten and again at half four.

2. Dusting Tuesdays - dusting is sadly neglected in my house so I need to make a day to dust, wearing my fashion-conscious dust mask of course!

3. List Writing - unlike many of the other goals I don't intend this to become a daily or even regular habit. My goal is to write twenty useful lists across the month that will help make my life easier. E.g. snack foods, dinner menus, car boot checklist, picnic checklist)

4. Lights out by midnight
With exceptions for visitors or time with the Hubby, I'm giving myself a bedtime. I've gotten good at getting into bed by eleven but am still struggling to lie down at a sensible hour. So strict I must be!

5. Food Diary - keeping a food diary of everything I eat (and drink, excepting water) because monitoring helps you change habits. Also noting the times I eat/drink.

I'll also be continuing with my daily stretching, independent reading and post-nap story times with James, my daily habits (tidying, emptying the diswasher etcetera) and chocolate intake limiting as per last month.

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Book List - September 2014

I've organised this month's reading list according to when it'll be read, with only two days a week of lots of chopping and changing between titles and the rest working through a book until it's finished. I'm intrigued to see which approach best suits me.

"Morning Time" with James (Monday-Saturday)
- The Book of Romans
--- alongside our commentary, re-reading in depth, we're hoping to read through to about chapter fourteen
- Westminster Shorter Catechism
--- I'll begin to put James over the first four/five questions and answers (one a week) along with the next title
- Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism (PB, Starr Meade)
--- Six days a week of short devotionals about each Q&A of the WSC (one a week)

"Morning Time" is sometimes at lunch rather than breakfast ;)
It's a homeschooling term/approach that I only just found but the execution of it had developed organically already for us. I'm choosing to add Catechism this month as I feel it is important to look at the over-arching themes and teachings of the Bible as well as the individual books/chapters/verses. Whilst I know James is young to be beginning on this, getting him into the habits of learning is good training and knowing that that which he learns will always be accessible to him (for when he is older and more able to understand it) is a huge motivator for me. Also there are 107 questions and answers so he won't be so young by the time we finish ;)
MT also includes memory verses, prayer time and nursery rhymes or learning rhymes or songs such as those teaching the books of the Bible, days of the week or months of the year etc. this certainly does not happen everyday and won't, such is life.

Sunday Morning/Evening with James
- The Book of Proverbs
--- a chapter or a section of a chapter read-aloud and discussed

Independent Reading Time (between lunch and naptime)
- James
--- Three different picture books each day
- Mummy
--- (Mon-Sat) Something Other Than God (HB, Jennifer Fulwiler)
--- (Sun) Beyond the Sling (HB, Mayim Bialik)
--- If I finish SOTG my next choice is another Christian autobiography, Kisses from Katie, HB, Katie Davis, about the founding of Amazima, a Ugandan ministry and charity.]

Read-alouds (during nursing)
- Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know (free e-book, Edited by Hamilton Wright Mabie) and
--- I continue to read-aloud to James during nursing (before nap and before bed) and we'll continue our way through Fairytales before continuing on to Mother Carey's Chickens...
- Mother Carey's Chickens (free e-book, Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin)
--- A classic American children's novel about the life of a family following the death of their father and near destitution, it is filled with much love, respect, community, thrift and character-building morals and they are a wonderful picture of joyous family life, and hospitality.

Naptime Reading/Learning for Mummy (Monday-Saturday)
- Westminster Shorter Catechism
--- With the advent of the new "school year" I'm going to spend this month reviewing (the only ones I've memorised) the first 25 questions and answers (and reading through their Scripture proofs) by myself (which this wonderful set of CDs will definitely help with)
- Breastfeeding Matters (La Leche League UK magazine)
--- One article at a time as I have the time. (I got two new magazines at my August meeting.)

Storytime (post-nap)
- I'll read James' independent reading books to him directly after nap

Bedtime Stories
- Daddy takes charge of bedtime stories unless he's working and they involve reading through J's (current) children's Bible and three picture books

Mummy's Evening Reading (Monday-Saturday, except Wednesdays)
- The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette (free at the time e-book, Susie Kelly)
--- An interesting travelogue of cycling, French Revolution history, random tid-bits of local knowledge and finding vegetarian fare in French restaurants, nine chapters to go so I'll begin the month by finishing this book off
- Dying to Run (purchased e-book, Cami Checketts)
--- Short sequel to Dead Running. I'm hoping this will finish off the romance storyline of its predecessor.
- Thirty Days Hath... (e-book, Chautona Havig)
--- Because how could I not read this book in September y'all? I may not "Southern" but that needed a y'all in my head, sixty-three short chapters in all
- The Giver (PB, Lois Lowry)
--- I read the sample of this more than a year ago and am looking forward to reading this as the sample story has never left my mind. The movie version came out this summer but I wanted to read the story first so held off seeing it. The tale concerns a boy living in a colourless, emotionless so-called utopia; Jonah lives in an assigned family unit and people who do not fit are dispatched with or so my impression of it reads, twenty-three chapters in all
- The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (purchased e-book, Jonas Jonasson)
--- This is the second novel from Jonasson following "The Hundred Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" which I bought on a whim in a twenty pence sale and devoured over our trip to Australia. It was amazing and I expect no less of this (unrelated) follow-up. I suspect the twenty-four chapters will leave me wanting more as Jonasson's last book did. Again this one seems to wind the main character's story around major (recent) historical events and world leaders. A fascinating way to overview the history of a particular year with the everyday man.

Mummy's Evening Reading (Wednesdays)
A chapter or so from each title:
- Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother (e-book, Joyce Swann)
--- A how-to as well as an encouragement to homeschoolers. The Swann family took a rigid approach to school hours, year-round and used a private-school-linked-curriculum but only worked for about three hours a day. Fascinating to read the words of someone who has completed their journey of teaching their ten children through to Masters level in some cases (perhaps all)
- 100 LB Loser (purchased e-book, Jessica Heights)
--- Short auto-biographical chapters that challenge you as you consider your own weight-loss journey
- ConDeceived (free e-book, Cindy Dyer)
--- Available here, this e-book tackles the subject of what I always refer to as "God family planning" and giving your fertility over to the Creator who gave it to you. Cindy's blog-writing is challenging, thought-provoking and forthright so I think this should be a contemplative read.
- 50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share... Things We Wished We'd Known (PB, Edited by Bill & Diana Waring)
--- Re-reading in tandem with my Hubby
- The Happiness Project (PB, Gretchen Rubin)
--- I began looking at my own level of happiness/contentedness through Gretchen Rubin's writing/videos/links on her blog and it's been fascinating looking at the theories of happiness through the lens of her thoughts and those she links to or quotes. A fascinating, subjective but deeply researched, project that should help me as I seek to do battle with my black dog using the science of analysing what makes me happy and focusing thereon. Sometimes you just need someone else to word it differently to "hear" what you already heard.

Mummy's Evening Reading (Sundays)
- Why Love Matters (PB, Sue Gerhardt)
--- I borrowed this title from my La Leche League library. It concerns a gentle approach to parenting and discipline. I definitely could be more gentle in my disciplining! Here's to learning and growing.
- Homeschooling Day By Day: A Thriving Guide for Mothers (e-book, Kirsty Howard - Editor)
--- A chapter or so and associated Scriptures, these are very short but encouraging articles
- ConDeceived (free e-book, Cindy Dyer)
--- See above
- 50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share... Things We Wished We'd Known (PB, Edited by Bill & Diana Waring)
--- See above
- The Happiness Project (PB, Gretchen Rubin)
--- See above

I'm *hoping* that assigning a time to each section of reading will make it easier to follow my plan. Over the last couple of months I've read up to four different titles each and everyday and it involved lots of switching between books so this month will be an experiment. Will only a couple of nights a week of switching between (the more intensive/challenging/thought-provoking) books and otherwise just working through books start to finish be more suited to me?

The Happiness Project book and accompanying blog is actually part of the reason for this series of book lists. I realised that although I love to read and learn, I wasn't making the effort to do so. Reading was always being pushed aside by blogs or television viewing (often inane) so I made a plan and it has helped so much. I'm reading more and viewing less and I no longer feel guilty about the shelves of unread books, instead I just can't wait to read them.

The Happiness Project also led me to my 5for30 challenges and signing myself up for a few stickk.com contracts (only one of which has a monetary forfeit). Stickk contracts with a forfeit send money to your choice of recipient (I chose my sister) if you fail at your goal (my main one is weight-loss). So far the contracts are working though I'll blog more about the particulars at a later date.

My 5for30 post for September will be up tomorrow.

The August 2014 Book Review

Here's my (amended) reading list, reviewed for the month:

The Book of Romans
- We've almost finished chapter nine and will continue this next month (and the one after)
The Book of Proverbs
- We've read up to the end of chapter five thus far

Breastfeeding/Attachment Parenting
Breastfeeding Matters (La Leche League Members Magazine)
- Finished up and thoroughly enjoyed and I then got two new mags at this month's meeting - yay!
Beyond the Sling (HB, Mayim Bialik)
- I've begun chapter two and will continue through this for the next few months a little at a time

Christian Autobiography
Something Other Than God (HB, Jennifer Fulwiler)
- Haven't read as far through this as I thought by now but definitely enjoying the short and succinct retelling of her journey. I'm almost through with chapter fifteen and will continue through this over the next month or two.

Sycamore: Near Future Dystopia (e-book, Craig A. Falconer)
- Excellent, followed the same theme as "Funscreen" (the free e-book to entice you to buy this one) but worked it out beautifully in how it would snowball through society. Amazing writing and a scary possible future. May even make me rethink my love of my iPhone/iPad...well maybe... I look forward to more from this author.

Homeschooling Day By Day: A Thriving Guide for Mothers (e-book, Kirsty Howard - Editor)
- More encourgaement albeit short, Which I'll continue with over the next few months.
Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother (e-book, Joyce Swann)
- I've read a lot more than I planned of this title but it's drawn me in so I couldn't help it. Although I wouldn't agree with her whole outlook (quite formal) it has obviously worked well for her and her family and clearly she was very together as a homeschooling mother and very organised. A very interesting read indeed but I doubt it's a style of homeschooling I could fully espouse but I hope to learn much from this book despite that.
50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share... Things We Wished We'd Known (PB, Edited by Bill & Diana Waring)
- I haven't even cracked this one in August (but I don't think Hubs has either) so next month I'll need to as I think it'll be travelling with my Hubby on his business trip ;)

Modern Christian Novel
Here We Come: Aggie's Inheritance Series (Book 3/3, e-book, Chautona Havig)
- A beautiful picture of courtship and the church family coming together to assist a family unit with a very nice side storyline about homeschooling. The last chapter floored me with its beauty and love and its picture of marriage in all its solemnity and romance and oh I cried a lot. A lovely, lovely read!
Get Cozy, Josey! (PB, Susan May Warren)
- Took me a while to get into this one but it really grew on me and I finished it early as I wanted to see what happened. Not your typical rom-com as the main characters had been married four/five years, a good lesson in submission but also a great case for communicating with your spouse.

Modern Secular Novel
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PB, Paul Torday)
- Very different style of book, with chapters of interviews, emails, letters, diary entries. Wonderfully organised and thought out, especially with reference to the modern joys of outsourcing and call centres, bureaucracy, civil servants and politics. A fabulous idea for a plot too. Political satire, comedy, romance (of a sort) and now I look forward to watching the movie. Also I liked the side-plot about a faith-based society versus a very atheistic western one with faith and belief winning out.

Quaint Christian Fiction
Becky Sue Cooper's Photo Album
- A short and sweet read which was easily a one sitting read. Not as moralistic or deep as I'd expected and was somewhat lacking but sweet nonetheless.

In the High Valley (5/5, free e-book, Susan Coolidge) and
Nine Little Goslings (free e-book, Susan Coolidge
- James and I finished our adventures with Katy and co. and it was sad to "leave" them though a fitting ending. We then waded back into the previously begun Nine Little Goslings - a collection of short stories of differing interests and skill. One story so intrigued my son he cried when it ended. Another ended with the death of a child and left this Mama in tears. Another shocked me with its of-the-day racism (including seeming to glory in the Southern Confederacy and its plantations and "glorious" history of slave labour). The sadness of an adoption which cut a child off from her loving family and which also came about because of the pity (corresponded about) over a previously-wealthy white child living in abject poverty which is portrayed as so much worse than the abject poverty of EVERYONE ELSE beside her who never knew wealth, who happen to be black so why would anyone worry for them anyway-this story reduced me to tears many times and required serious editing and censorship. I know the attitudes written of are of the time but this was a children's story and it taints my opinion of the author no end. The final story mixed a fairytale format with the reality of a father hitting a recessionary period and the struggles of the family - delightful - and a much brighter note to end upon. September will bring us a fresh read of fairytales from around the world which I look forward to.

100 LB Loser (purchased e-book, Jessica Heights)
- I've enjoyed the laid back down-to-earth nature of this book - that is until the author explained how she GOT UP AT 4.30AM to exercise before her kids awoke after six. NO!!! Just wrong!!!! I will continue to read it though :)

The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette (free at the time e-book, Susie Kelly)
- Continuing through this travelogue is fascinating. This is the first on my list to finish in September though as I've been reading it for a while now ;)

Dead Running (free e-book, Cami Checketts)
- A not entirely well-written book, the characters are a little one-dimensional and seriously the main one is a bit of a ditz but still an enjoyable read, especially for free. The theme of running was less-than-appealing (poor grammar but I digress) but interesting to experience through Cassidy's eyes. The whodunnit storyline was at times far-fetched and Cassidy seemed to take too much of it in her stride as if this was all normal. Despite all this as soon as I finished I bought the (very short) sequel and will read it in September.

I'll post September's reading list tomorrow, especially as I'm a little late posting this, owing in part to my need to finish up reading a couple of the books ;)