Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: NATURE ANATOMY BY JULIA ROTHMAN

I break my blogging hiatus for only the best of the best. And this, my friends, is just that. I don't know when I've enjoyed a book so much. If I'm honest, I don't know when I've enjoyed a book. I'm not an avid reader. I like pictures. That's why this book, Julia Rothman's Nature Anatomy is great for me. It's sneaky, because while I'm looking at all the pretty illustrations,  I can't help but devour the oodles of information about nature that is included alongside the beautiful eye candy. It's one of those books that makes you want to read and know stuff. 

As is the plight of all crazy homeschoolers out there, I'm always looking to find great informational books that make you want to jump in and learn. Well, look no further, fellow crazies.

I asked Enid to sit down with this book so I could snap some photos of her looking at it. She of course was all huffs and puffs over having to do something SO demanding, but I loved watching her bad attitude melt away once she opened the cover and started getting lost in the pages of this wonderland of a book. I mean, look at these faces! Totally sincere.



And in came her brothers... Not many books are so captivating as to draw in an 8 year old and 3 year old alike!  



My kids have asked me countless times about the sun and moon and Earth and why there are seasons, etc. Typically, I respond with, "We need to look that up," because I can never remember this kind of information! And it honestly is just really hard for me to comprehend. I need someone to draw me a picture! That's precisely what Julia Rothman has done for her readers in this book. And it's simplified so even dummies like myself can understand it and relay it to my kids. It's not super duper in-depth, but it's basic. It's the stuff you remember after studying in-depth about subjects like this.

I highly recommend getting this book. Be it for your mom, your kids, or yourself, it's a purchase you will not regret. And if you homeschool, it's a no-brainer. 

Find her book here, and check out her other publication, Farm Anatomy while you're at it. It's on my book order short list! 


Monday, January 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: CHILDREN ARE NAUGHTY

Tom is 2. And he acts every bit of it, some days worse than others. And, honestly, I often don't have a clue what to do about it! Now, that's not to say he doesn't have his supremely sweet moments. He most definitely does, but when he is bad, he is very, very bad.

When I was a kid, my mom created a story about a bad kid and a nice kid, highlighting the differences in how they reacted in certain scenarios. Being the fab artist that she was/is, she made a little story flip chart with coordinating pictures and would read it to us when we were needing a little behavioral reminder. One day I'm gonna get that story published, but until then, I have found this little gem: Children are Naughty by Vincent Cuvellier and Aurelie Guillerey, published by Flying Eye Books. 

This book hits the spot, for sure. I can actually see it clicking in Tom's head when we read about how some of these naughty children act. He realizes that they are him, that he is they. 


Naughty kids draw all over the house...



Naughty kids pull hair and push...


 Naughty kids don't obey...




Naughty kids yell and scream...


For us, this has been a fantastic book to add to our little library! It teaches a lesson that kids desperately need to learn and parents need help teaching! And my older kids also love it and love copying the illustrations. As you can see for yourselves, the illustrations are out-of-this-world incredible! For parents of small children, this one's a must. To order a copy of Children are Naughty, click here, and don't forget to check out the other quality material published by Flying Eye Books while visiting the site! As for us, Tom is currently having a meltdown, so we will be giving this another read ;) 

Monday, January 12, 2015

BEING SELFISH IN 2015


Well, it happened. My mom and sister have been saying it would. They were correct. I hit the wall. 
As it turns out, there really is only so much one person can take on. Parenting, wife-ing, keeping up a house, homeschooling, blogging, social media-ing, running a business, being an active part of society... it can't all be done. Not for long, anyway, and not all that well. I've been juggling for a long time. And juggling, while often fun and interesting, is exhausting. We all are required to juggle. It's just part of being an adult, but to some extent, we choose how many balls to include in that rotation.

After the Little-Biscuits portraits holiday rush and the Christmas pressure that goes with being a parent, I hit the wall. I had zero desire to blog, to create, to enjoy, to cook, to play, to DO ANYTHING. I kid you not. I sat in bed for a good couple days over the holidays with no idea what my kids were doing. I mean, I'm fairly certain they were just watching movies and a lot of Netflix. I was binge watching The Good Wife, eating dessert for breakfast (for weeks), and dropping all the balls. I've never really been depressed, but I wondered if that was what I was experiencing. Being on the other side of it now, I think it was just pure exhaustion. I had given of myself A LOT. Like, too much. I had finally hit the wall.

What now? What is the answer, now that my pants are officially too tight and I've watched five seasons of Julianna Margulies being a good wife? You know, I believe that being selfish is the root of a lot of ugly mess, but completely ignoring yourself and giving of yourself around the clock can create a different kind of mess, one in which I've been swimming or, rather, drowning. While I can't afford to stop juggling altogether, something that would probably help me do my jobs more efficiently and effectively is being a wee more selfish. I'm going to make an effort to make time for myself in 2015. I'm starting with things like taking the time to floss my teeth and wash my face at night. I'm 100% serious. I've neglected everything. I'm also going to buy myself a razor, my very own razor (I've been using Heath's), and shave my legs and lotion my limbs on a more regular basis. You know that whole dressing for success idea? I believe it. Even if I look somewhat put together, I feel horrible about myself when underneath my clothes my skin is cracking and I have the legs and underarms of a hippy. And I can feel it affecting my performance. I'm also gonna try drinking more water and adding a little exercise to my days - nothing too overwhelming, but something -  getting out of the house more often, having adult conversations, face to face, maybe once a week. I have ignored myself for way too long, and I'm not ready to give up.

So being more selfish in 2015 I will be. Or maybe it's not selfish, it's just healthy. I'm gonna relax in areas I can, put less pressure on myself while still working hard, and I'm not going to take on unnecessary tasks or, in keeping with the juggling metaphor, balls. (I'm now wishing I had chosen a metaphor that didn't involve using the word "balls" so much.)

Any other overdoers out there in the blog reading world struggling with finding/making time for yourself? Do you have any methods you use to assure you're taking care of you and aren't hitting the wall? Do tell, cause I'm not interested in hitting that wall again. But just in case I do, go ahead and tell me what shows to add to my binge watching agenda. I'm going through The Good Wife withdrawals!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

LESS OPINIONS, MORE CONTEMPLATION, MORE FRIENDS



My whole life I've struggled with being head-strong, stubborn, and opinionated. Such traits can be molded into great, character-building qualities, but, in my case, there's been a lot of eating my words and apologizing and, ultimately, life-altering (not in a good way) self-centered decisions. So much so that if I ever have opportunities to talk to younger people about the things I've learned along the way, I tend to give them this little tid-bit of advice: YOU DON'T KNOW IT ALL! I'm still, every stinking day, having to learn this. But what compels me to keep on keeping on with my efforts is when I talk with someone who is full of impetuous opinions. Everything is black and white, right and wrong, and they are obviously on the side of right. In these conversations, I see myself, and I don't like me. It takes a good degree of arrogance (and ignorance) to believe it's your way or the highway and that you've figured it all out.

I know cause I've been arrogant and ignorant. I used to know exactly how to be the most amazing parent ever, BEFORE I HAD KIDS. Now that I have four and am in the depths of it, I have no clue what to do and find myself backing all kinds of methods and just wanting to hug anyone who is trying their darnedest to raise healthy individuals. Also, I've been wrong one too many times and have learned it might be best to keep my mouth shut more often than not. For instance, I used to be an avid public school proponent. Now, while I still love public school, I have chosen to homeschool my kids cause I just want to be with them. I never (again) wish to act like I know how other parents should educate their kids. My way is NOT superior. My way is nuts and breeds a whole lot of crazy. It breeds a whole lot of great stuff, too, but I have loads to learn from other parents doing things a different way than I. Do I struggle with thinking my way is the right way? Sure. I also struggle with thinking I'm a failing idiot. And through all my arrogance and ignorance, the one concrete idea I've become certain of is, the quickest way to comprehensive knowledge or competency of any one subject is to realize and admit you don't have it.

I'm sure my parents and many of my friends and acquaintances will be thrilled to read this, but I'm learning that, in my conversations with others, I want to have less opinions and more contemplation. This is the motto I've sort of adopted for myself. The reason being, I want to be better. I want to grow. I want to have more friends and less opinions. That's not to say making friends is more important than standing up for what you believe. But sometimes, and please don't stone me for saying so, standing up for what you believe is less important than your relationships. Sometimes we fail to be kind because we get so engulfed in our opinions or beliefs. We (I) can miss the forest for the trees and end up losing respect of others because we fail to listen and consider different views. We perhaps are so emotional about a particular subject that logic and reason and compassion escape us.

You know, being married sucks sometimes cause you have to learn stuff about yourself that you wouldn't learn if it weren't for another person, day in and day out, witnessing your issues and lovingly bringing them to your attention. Something Heath has brought to my attention is my impulse to throw around the word hate. "I HATE when the kids do that. I HATE that kind of music. I HATE grapefruit. I HATE...." I really do say it a lot. Like way too much. Like my kids are now saying it. And it's so hyperbolic! Really? You HATE that, Hannah? Geez...so quick and eager to exert my strong emotions. I hate myself. Not really. But seriously, we (and I mean ME especially) have such strong feelings sometimes and are perhaps too quick to let everyone know.  Heath has said to me time and time again, "You don't have to let everyone know exactly how you're feeling, all of the time." I hate when he's right.

Please don't hear me say that I believe nothing is wrong and everything is right, that it's wrong to have opinions and hold fast to them or to feel strongly, even passionately, about any one issue. That's not what I'm proponing. But I AM proponing the idea of checking ourselves and considering the possibility of being wrong, of keeping our emotions and logic in balance. ME ESPECIALLY!!!

You see, I'm a little tired of reading about how much some people love guns. It's not that I hate all guns or anything, but it just seems like some people REEEEEALLY love them and have made it their cause. I just don't get it. And you know, I kinda dislike people shoving their love of guns in my face. So guess what,  I don't want to shove an equal distaste of guns in anyone's face (except right now to illustrate a point. I just randomly chose guns. Please don't attack me with second amendment comments.) You know, as is the case with most controversies, the real truth with the firearms topic likely lies somewhere in the middle, but we feel we have to choose sides, pick a team to back, and wear the jersey on each and every Facebook post every bleeping day.

This brings me to my theory. You can all prepare yourselves for a good laugh, because I'm about to make a poor man's effort at being philosophical. I have come up with this over-simplified theory that involves, and this is where the good belly laugh comes in...football. It's a highly educated theory, folks, one that came to me while watching Gilmore Girls or surfing Instagram I'm sure, and I'm 100% positive I'm not the first person to form such a theory, but I've given it a name and call it the Tendency to Team theory. We are a society of people who love to be on teams.  It's the football mentality, and it spills over into all areas of our lives. We are driven by the competition of it all. Cheering. Taunting. Winning. Red team. Blue team. Democrat. Republican. We pick sides or teams and love fighting for the win. "But fighting for and choosing sides of an argument concerning beliefs is different than backing a football team," you might say. Very true. At least, I can only hope we would agree on that, and while football is only a game (sorry to burst your bubble), sometimes we unintentionally make larger matters a similar sort of game. We want to choose a side and win and can forget the layers of an issue for being so caught up in the fight. If we are honest with ourselves and one another, we will see and admit that, oftentimes, political and even spiritual issues are very layered and are embedded in more grey area than we want to accept.

Unfortunately, issues are never quite as simple as we would like to make them. And unfortunately, we can do ourselves and others a disservice by failing to entertain different perspectives. You know, if I sat down with some of the gun-happy Facebookers out there and had a real conversation about firearms, one that I wasn't bound and determined to win, I'd probably learn something. I might even somewhat shift my perspective by the end of our discussion, but ONLY if I check my head-strong opinions at the door. If I go into the conversation with the football mentality, the "we play to win the game" mentality, I will leave with my same near-sightedness and, most likely, one less friend. But if I come to the table with less of a desire to be right and more of a desire to further contemplate the issue, I might gain a friend. I might even gain some new knowledge or a different perspective. And guess what! We probably won't fully agree with one another in the end! But we can coexist with some degree of mutual respect rather than barking at one another, "GUNS, GUNS, GUNS!" or "NO GUNS, NO GUNS, NO GUNS!" Less opinions. More contemplation.

All of this is such a complicated concept. Actually, I'm stupid for even trying to take it on. It's such a complicated issue that it deserves pages and pages of research and doctoral level scholarly consideration. I mean, let's be serious, I am not a scholar. I'm simply a self-reflector and observer with an analogy involving a sport I don't even really understand. And, for the record, I believe in right and wrong. I believe in taking a stand, but I believe in doing so with less hurried opinions and more serious contemplation. Here's something to think about...some synonyms for contemplation are: attention, study, heed, reflection, regard, examination, review, discussion. Now check out the antonyms: disregard, ignorance, neglect, thoughtlessness, disdain, disrespect, negligence, omission. I don't know about you, but if I'm choosing teams, which, according to my fancy pants Tendency to Team theory, is our customary way, I choose the synonym team. I don't want anything to do with that other stuff. Who in their right mind wants to become more negligent, thoughtless, and disrespectful? I've been part of that team too many times, and I just end up feeling foolish like a losing football fan with a painted chest and one of those number one foam hands dragging the ground. So here's to the betterment of self. To the respect of others. To using the word HATE less often. To less opinions, more contemplation, and to being friends.

Monday, December 1, 2014

MY NEW FAVORITE PRODUCTS FROM START CREATIVE

I don't know when I've been so excited about a product or blog post! I'm serious. I'm practically bursting at the seams over these notebooks from Start Creative. You see, when I was a kid and was bored in church, my mom would play this game with me where she would draw a squiggly line or series of lines, and it was my job to make her seemingly insignificant scribbles into something like a face or an animal or whatever those lines looked like to me.  I LOVED the game then, and quite honestly, love it today. So when I was approached by Start Creative about their product, I think I freaked them out with my exclamation points!!!!!  (Beware of an overabundance of exclamation points ahead!) Each page of the Start Creative notebooks has a little something to boost creativity and get your little ones imagining and creating. It's the game my mom and I used to play! These are so great for traveling or anytime you need some peace and quiet. I kid you not. You gotta have 'em. 

I showed Enid the notebooks, and she jumped right in without any directions and started drawing and coloring and having a blast. She said, "This is so FUN!"



Sometimes all kids need is a little push to get creative, and these notebooks are PERFECT for this!


I was getting some photos of Enid drawing and the other kids were waiting on the sidelines, begging to draw in their own. 




Silas said this is Ringo Starr. 



They all, ages twelve, eight, and five, enjoyed these little doodle notebooks so very much. I'm telling you, if you don't put these in your kids' stockings this Christmas, you're a sad excuse for a Santa. They are PERFECT stocking stuffers!



Thanks so much to Start Creative for opening my eyes to their fantastic products!!  I sincerely mean it. Now y'all go order some notebooks for your kids and enjoy a 10% discount with code MUMSY10 now through December 5th. You will NOT be sorry!