Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Children's Book Review: God Gave Us So Much

Those of you who have read my blog for a long time know that I like to review books. It used to be the case that I primarily reviewed infertility and adoption books.

I recently joined a program called Blogging for Books, and I am using the opportunity to grow Matthew's library. I received our first book, "God Gave Us So Much." I am posting the review here, and will occasionally post reviews in the future, as part of my participation in the program.  Thanks for reading!


"God Gave Us So Much" is a collection of 3 separate books: "God Gave Us the Earth," "God Gave Us Love," and "God Gave us Heaven." In each book, an adult family member of Little Cub attempts to explain the origin and purpose of of the respective subject matters.

I considered reviewing all 3 books separately, but my compliments and criticisms remain the same for all 3 so I will address them as a unit.

On the positive side, the illustrations are darling. They are age-appropriate, artistically beautiful, and engaging for little eyes.

I also applaud the author for tackling these subjects for children. They are subjects that are easy to either ignore or explain away with platitudes when dealing with children. This author does not fall into either of these traps, which I appreciate. Her dialogues on the subjects are detailed and somewhat systematic.

There are lots of good "life lessons" in the book. The author coaches children to care for God's creation, to demonstrate love to those around us, and to look forward with eager anticipation to our reunion in heaven with God. The take-away points are a big strength of these books.

My primary criticism is that the books are a bit tedious in length. It is cute that Little Cub asks questions and follows a logical train of thought on a particular subject, but at some point, the reader's attention is lost due to length. Little Cub's question simply become excessive in number. The problem is that the length is too long for young children (who are the target audience), but older children would be bored by the illustrations and the folksy tone.

The same problem with maintaining age appropriateness exists in the way she answers questions. Sometimes the answers are far too old for the target audience, such as "God created our world and everything in it because it's in his nature to create." Elementary children do not understand a person's "nature."

On the other hand, some of her answers are oversimplified. In the heaven book, she uses the familiar analogy of Jesus as a bridge to describe salvation, but she doesn't really explain that "the bridge" is necessary and that there are consequences for not choosing to cross "the bridge." In a book so clearly designed to impart theology to children, I think this is a huge oversight.

There are other more minor theological sticking points, such as her suggestion that we can make God mad at us or her musing that we will take naps in Heaven, but I think these are simply victims of her attempts to oversimplify things for children, rather than actual doctrinal assertions.

Overall, I don't object to this book being in my son's library. I will read it to him, but I will do so only when I accompany the reading with important clarifying conversation. I really love the author's other book, "God Gave Us You" so in this case I was primarily disappointed because I think the potential was so much greater than what was actually realized.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Beautiful Post

Somehow, a woman found my birth story and left me a comment. I don't know how she found me, but I'm so grateful she did because it encouraged me so much. In her comment, she linked me to this blog entry that she had written. I think it's beautiful, and I think everyone who ever has or will have anything to do with birth should read it.

We're still alive!

I can't believe it, but Matthew turned 3 weeks old on Saturday! I'm so not ready for this! "They" are not exaggerating when they say that the time goes too quickly. My girlfriend was over with her 3.5 month old the other day and I couldn't believe how DIFFERENT she was with such a relatively short gap between their ages. I'm not ready for Matthew to be that big that soon! Plus, the first week in the hospital is so foggy that I sort of forget it exists and therefore I'm constantly thinking of Matthew as a week younger than he actually is.

So, why the silence. Well, it seems my little man LOVES to be held.  Basically, my hands are free long enough to shower, and to make meals, and to sleep a little at night. The rest of the time, he wants his mama! So I do a lot of READING on the internet. I read your blogs daily--usually during a 2:00am feeding fest. I do a lot of clicking--I've played more Rummikub than I care to admit. I can even do things like upload pictures, because it all only takes one hand. But typing anything longer than a sentence or two? Forget it!  He's not having it! I'm surprised he's tolerating his swing right now, to allow me this blogging time.

We're slowly adjusting to our new life. Last night I got 4 hours of sleep together with just one interruption, and I was practically celebrating. As one who needs a lot of sleep, 4 hours is not something I would have previously considered noteworthy--it's amazing how kids change your life and expectations. Yesterday my victory was getting out to get a few groceries.  Our life has become so much more complicated, and so much more simple at the same time. For Valentine's Day, we took a walk together, I made dinner, and DH made dessert. So simple, and yet the amount of time and coordination it took was surprising!  And I love every second of it...ok, maybe I don't love 2:00am, but I love all the rest of it!

I still think a lot about my labor and delivery. It's on my heart a lot. I guess I feel like there was so much I didn't know ahead of time, so much I beat myself up over, and I just have a heart for wanting other women to avoid going through it if possible.

First, I wish I would have known in advance that there could be legitimate medical reasons for an epidural that had nothing to do with an inability to tolerate the pain. According to everything we were "taught," epidurals are for wimps who can't hack the pain and who don't care about their children. So I struggled with so much guilt when I elected for one, even though I've never actually thought that about anyone ELSE who gets an epidural. I wish I would have known that there could be an outside possibility that my body would actually need it.  I think I would have wrestled a lot less if I'd known that there were reasons other than elective ones to get one. So I guess what I'm saying is get a better, more well-rounded education than I did. When I think about the $300 we wasted on that stupid class we took, I get so frustrated. That class didn't empower me. It scared me.

The other thing I was completely unprepared for was the post-partum mass exodus of hormones from my body. I'm not normally very hormonal. My periods are pretty even-keel, and from a hormonal standpoint, so was my pregnancy.  So when he was born and suddenly my body is freaking out, I was completely unprepared. I would burst into tears all the time.  I cried because I didn't have my conditioner. I cried when DH said something about the light switch in our bedroom. I cried when I woke up one night and found my living room full of people eating ice cream. I felt completely out of control. I felt like a different person who was totally enslaved to these unreasonable fits of sadness. And it scared me. Not in a I was going to hurt someone sort of way but in an "oh my goodness, what is WRONG with me??" sort of way. I had never experienced anything like it and it caught me completely by surprise. That, combined with a level of fatigue that no one can possibly describe to you just had me feeling very afraid and overwhelmed. I know my feelings were exacerbated by exceptionally long labor, physical trauma, and surgery, but still, no one can really prepare you for what's coming. So I guess what I would say to my soon-to-give-birth friends is just to be prepared to feel so, so, SO different than anything you've ever experienced. Everyone talks about baby blues and post-partum but I don't think anyone ever talked much in depth about what it actually looks like in an average person--we hear plenty about extreme cases where someone who goes crazy and ends up on the news, but not much about those of us who live somewhere in the middle of normal and nuts.

Well, little dude is up now and eating, making this typing much more difficult so I guess I need to sign off now. Be back when I can!

Til then, pics...

Superbowl Sunday!

Valentine's Day

My 2 Valentines

Ha ha, 42 weeks ;)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Recommendations

I've only had Matthew for 10 days, so take these recommendations with a grain of salt, but I thought I'd pass on a few things I've learned.

First, from my packing list for the labor and post-partum bags.

This was my original list:
Birthing Tub with pump
Cord Blood Kit
Birthing Ball (hospital said to bring your own because they don't have enough)
Camera with extra memory, and battery charger
Massage Aides with extra batteries
Cell Charger
Corn Bag (bag full of corn kernels-you microwave the whole thing for heat)
Scriptures and scotch tape
Warm Socks (I hate cold feet!)
Flip Flops for Shower
Bra/Bikini Top to labor in
Bathing Suit for DH
Ipod with charger and little speaker
Baby Book to stamp his footprints and handprints in
My pillow
Water bottle
Battery operated fan (I'm always hot!)
Disposable camera
ETA: Snacks (I had this on my list but forgot to type it)

For post-partum I have:
My meds, DH's meds
My own pjs, undergarments, etc
PJs and change of clothes for DH
Clothes for Matthew
Going home clothes for me and Matthew
Scrapbook paper for hospital visitors to sign
Receiving blanket
Phone numbers to call (in case we forget our cells)

DH originally laughed at me, but you know what, I used almost everything on my lists. The only things I didn't use were the Tucks because I had a CSection, and a water bottle because the hospital gave me a water mug. I also didn't use flip flops for the shower because I was too tired to care! But I used everything else!

However, the most useful things were these things--so if you have to limit your stuff, these are my top picks!
*Depends--SO much better than the hospital underwear and pads!
*My tub--check and see if your hospital allows you to labor in water-we just brought our own inflatable kiddie pool and put it in the hospital bathroom
*My own robe-so nice for walking around and not having to worry about jerry-rigging two hospital gowns together
*My own pillow and blanket (not on my original list but mom went home and fetched them for me)

The only thing I wished I had and didn't was something to smell in labor, especially if you're prone to vomiting. Some of the instruments, medications, sterilizing solutions, etc can really stink and several times, their smells caused me to be sick. I would have loved to have something to smell like a candle or an oil or lotion or something to mask the odors. I also would have paid $100 for a piece of sandpaper or something else to scratch itches with. The epidural made me so itchy all over and DH (like most men, I imagine!) keeps his nails short so while he offered to help me, he couldn't help that particular issue. So, bring something like a back scratcher or something just in case.

Now, there are two things I've picked up as a mommy since his birth:

The Itzbeen Baby Timer. It times the intervals at which you change diapers, feed the baby, the length of nap, and a 4th thing of your choosing that you want to time--I use it right now to time the frequency at which I take my pain meds. It also has an indicator to keep track of which side you nursed on last. This little gizmo is so handy, especially in the middle of the night when I'm tired--I just hit the little button and then I don't need to really be alert!

The other thing is a

Milkies Milk Saver

You slip it in your bra to catch extra milk for when you're leaking. I guess you could wear it all the time--for me, I just use it on the opposite side when I'm nursing--I can catch more than an ounce from just leaking! It's definitely nice to be able to preserve that milk rather than watch it go to waste in a breast pad!

My little man is currently passed out on my chest and I'm loving it :) We're off to go to bed now because we're still trying to get our nights and days straightened out. My hormones seem to be stabilizing. I haven't burst into tears in two days ;) My mom went home on Monday and my mother in law has been here the last 3 days to help--tomorrow we're on our own 100% of the time for the first time--hopefully we do well. It's been so nice to have their help and it's helped me get out from under feeling quite so overwhelmed and exhausted. I'm a bit afraid of tomorrow, but less afraid than I was a few days ago. They've been such a blessing to me. So, we'll see how we do tomorrow!

We got some pictures done yesterday at Penneys:

FYI, here's a coupon you can print--free sitting fees for everyone (not just one person like on their regular coupons) and $3.99 per photo sheet. Link. Enjoy!

It was freezing in Phoenix today--literally! We had to go to the hospital to get his PKU test done so we bundled up and headed out. I love this little pout on his face. He was mad at being put in his jacket. Isn't he just the cutest thing?

That's all I've got for tonight! We're off to bed! Goodnight!