Thursday, June 28, 2012

What To Say?

First, I want to remind you to visit this week’s guest post and leave a comment to be included in the drawing for Sarah’s e-book. And don’t forget to visit her site to ender the drawing for the Kindle Touch. It’s quick and easy, I promise.

I feel like knowing what to say has ended up being the theme of my life this week. There are many, many changes coming the way of Casa de Moi (don’t you love when people mix languages). My way-too-long stint of unemployment is coming to an end and will require me to relocate.

Yep, this little blog and the life behind it is moving to the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas! I’m very excited to be moving to a new place, but sad at the same time. I’ve built a nice little life here in Chattanooga over the last 11 years and I will miss the community and support system I have built. More than anything, I am dreading the packing. I have a whole house to move about 10 hours away…and into what? I have no idea. Will we rent an apartment, a house, buy a house, a condo???? So many questions need to be answered and so many books need to be packed.

But none of that will happen until I am well into working so I have a little time to think and plan, but will be bringing you all along with me. That’s the best thing about establishing online relationships…I can take you anywhere! Isn’t that fabulous.

So, be on the look out for moving and relocation blog and resources and please send those things may way. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

So many great things on the horizon...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Do I Say? (Guest Post & Giveaway!)

I’m happy today to be hosting Sarah MacLauglin on my blog. When I read the description of her book, I was immediately interested in what she had to say. I am not a parent, but as an aunt and a regular fixture in the homes of friends with children, sometimes they say things that you just don’t know how to respond to. I asked Sarah for tools for talking with these kids that are not our own and she provided the following guest post. Sarah is also giving away a copy of her book to a commenter and from her site, a Kindle Touch! Comment below and show Sarah some love. I will also be reading her book and reviewing it in an upcoming Reading Challenge post, so you will definitely hear more about this title soon.

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What do I Say?
Navigating Difficult Subject Matter with Other People’s Kids
By Sarah MacLaughlin, Award-winning Author of What Not To Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children

When I was a nanny, I ran into all kinds of subjects that I didn’t know exactly how to navigate. But navigating is a good metaphor. When you navigate, you are aware of your surroundings. You take your time. You check the map. You pay attention to where you already are. You listen. Take these concepts with you as a compass.

When you are discussing a hot topic with a young child, you want to keep their developmental age in mind. When you are talking to a child that is not your own, you want to pay attention to that, and the fact that the child does not belong to you. (Do our own children even really belong to us? That language could use some freshening up, but I’ll save it for a different post!)

There are the big three: sex, death and God. I’m sure there are others; divorce and war come to mind as not the easiest. But these are probably the most hair raising topics. I’ve bumped into all of the above in my work with other people’s children. Here are a few suggestions as you take your compass and embark on these conversations:


1. Acknowledge your own discomfort. This is such an important step. Even if you don’t say anything aloud, just take a few seconds to see, internally, that you are uncomfortable. This is completely okay. Your nephew asks why his parents are getting a divorce. A child in your classroom asks what happens after we die. Your niece is curious about gay marriage. Our culture has taboo and controversial topics. We help demystify them when we feel this discomfort and move through it—forging on with the dialogue. Pay attention to your body language. If you are extremely uneasy about the issue, you can say that aloud in a way that conveys ownership, then go from there.


2. Listen and ask questions instead of giving answers. If you close your mouth and open your ears, you are on the right track. You probably don’t have the answers anyway, which is perfectly fine. You can ask open-ended questions like, “Tell me more about that,” or “How do feel when you think about that.” You can also validate a child’s feelings if they name them, “You’re feeling nervous and upset. It’s okay to feel that way.


3. Use language that is not directive or definitive. When I was interacting with other’s kids, I found myself using broad language. My values and belief system were possibly not the same as the families. Useful phrases like, “People have lots of different opinions about that,” or “I’m not sure about that,” came out of my mouth often (and by the way, still do with my “own” child.) You can also suggest that a child ask their parents about it (whatever “it” is.) You could say, “I’m sure Mom would be interested in speaking with you about this too,” which is so much more open-ended than, “You better talk to your mother about that!”A last couple of statement that are good for a myriad of situations: “That is really such a mystery,” and my all-time favorite, “Some people believe…”


4. Check in with the child’s grown-up. This does not have to be a big discussion, but if you have a discussion with a child about any of these big subjects, I think it is common courtesy to let the parent know the overview of what came up, and how you handled it.
Tips and strategies for places where we feel out of our depth are valuable. You might not always know where you are headed, but it sure does help if you have that compass and map!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Special Giveaway!
Please comment on this post about what you say to other people’s children, so that you can enter to win an ebook copy of What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, in the format of your choice: PDF, epub, or Kindle format. Sarah will be giving away one copy at each blog stop and will announce it on the comments of this post tomorrow. (Other stops during this Blog Tour are listed on Sarah’s blog here: http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html) Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you in case you’re the winner!

Also, be sure to enter at Sarah’s site (http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/p/blog-tour.html) for the Grand Prize Giveaway: a Kindle Touch. Winner will be announced at the end of the tour after July 15th.


About The Author
Sarah MacLaughlin has worked with children and families for over twenty years. With a background in early childhood education, she has previously been both a preschool teacher and nanny. Currently, Sarah works as a licensed social worker with foster families at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine.

She also teaches parenting classes and consults with families. In addition, Sarah serves on the board of Birth Roots, a perinatal resource center, and writes the “Parenting Toolbox” column for a local parenting newspaper, Parent & Family.

As reflected in her book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children, Sarah considers it her life’s work to promote happy, well-adjusted people by increasing awareness of how children are spoken to today.

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In a busy modern life, while Sarah juggles her son, her job, her husband, her family, and time for herself, she’s also aiming for: mindful parenting, meaningful work, joyful marriage, connected family, and radical self-care. She is mom to a young son who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice about What Not to Say. More information about Sarah and her work can be found at her site: http://www.saramaclaughlin.com.




Monday, June 25, 2012

Stop and Learn-Automation

I have been trying to get myself back into the blogging rhythm, but I ran into a little snag when trying to get new pictures onto my computer. They kept disappearing on me and going right into the trash!

I have a program running on my computer called Hazel. I love Hazel. I considering her the little cleaning script that keeps my files all nice and tidy--or as much as I have told her to. One of things I have Hazel looking out for is repeat files. When she sees a duplicate in certain places, she goes to work and she sweeps them off into the trash. She’s so efficient at her little cleaning duties that it happens within seconds of the duplicate file hitting my computer. I was transferring the files from my cell phone to the computer using bluetooth so as soon as they came in, Hazel shuttled them right back out.

I don’t blame Hazel in any way. She is doing what I asked her to do and for that reason I’m not going to shut her down to bypass the problem. Nope, I’m going to fix the problem! That means re-naming hundreds (if not thousands) of photos that I have uploaded to my system. Needless to say this is beyond tedious, but I have heard that it is possible to do this in batches.

I consulted my friend Google and found several resources for using the Mac Automator program to do the renaming for me. I’m still in the thick of it so I won’t give any final words on it just yet. The video below will give you basic instructions on how my process is going.



Those of you that are professional or budding photographers or small business owners that supplement your online presence with nice photos really should learn how to use the Automator. I’ll do some looking around to see if I can find a similar resource on the Windows side of the house.

Stay cool this summer. The temperatures and humidity levels are rising!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wanda's Wedding



I didn’t get to take many pictures at my sister's wedding, but I wanted to share the few that I did get. I’m hoping my sister remembers to send me the wedding photo CD when she gets it so I can upload all the picture for our friends and family and you, of course. Enjoy.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Grey Discussion

Normally, I would not have purchased and read these books, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was when the libraries started banning the books that I really got upset about the whole thing. I think we are past the time of needing to ban books. If libraries think a book is of a sensitive nature, then they should put more controls in place. But don’t ban it outright. Especially when you’ve had them on your shelves for almost a year (the first book was published in May 2011)!

For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that all three of these books were gifted to me.

All books links provided (in the sidebar) are from Amazon where I am an affiliate, but please support the book seller of your choice.

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First, I’m getting a little tired (a lot really!!) of the female lead character that is always tripping over herself or running blindly into traffic when in the presence of a man she desires. The constantly-needing-to-be-rescued thing is exhausting and I really hope men don’t actually fall for that crap. But then again, I was told by one guy I dated that I didn’t seem to need him enough. Maybe I should have tripped in front of him a few times so he could attempt to catch me. And if the character is naturally clumsy, they need to be that throughout the book. It really comes off as fake and manipulative when the character never trips or falls after getting the man.

The story contains a lot of British speak, spellings, etc. I’m okay with this as a lover of all things British but the half-done American scrub gets a little confusing when you all of a sudden hit words that are not common in American speak. All was understood when I Googled the author and found out she is indeed British. This does not, however, give any passes to her American publisher.

The main character likes to sneak speaks at men through her lashes. I don’t know what image this puts into your head but this idiot is squinting all over the place in an attempt to be coy. That or she has extremely long lashes that curl down instead of up like the rest of us. Every time I read this, I wanted to throw the book across the room. But I did another Google search and found that phrase appears a lot in romance novels. I’ve even since seen it in another book I am reading. It’s a ridiculous image and I wish people would stop using it, but it seems it is now part of the romance-book-writing culture.

After a while, you get bored with the sex scenes. Half way through the second book, I started skimming the sex scenes and only stopped at dialogue or at point where it look like something new would be learned. I did the same in book three. You get so wrapped up in the plot and you are excited to see what will come next and you are immediately interrupted by a lengthy sex scene. The problem is the characters communicate and learn more about each other during sex so you can’t just cut them out completely.

Book three introduced a new story telling method, the flashback. Rather than going through the wedding and followup scenes from book two, the characters reflected back and brought in the necessary resolutions. This was okay for a couple of scenes, but then it became distracting. I skipped the last few flashbacks in the book because it just wasn’t helpful.

Had the Grey story been dissected and reconstructed properly, the author could have made a really good series out of these books. As they stand now, they are one long book that was cut into three pieces.

On the positive side, the books were very well researched. I know knew nothing about the BDSM lifestyle, but it seems the author is quite the authoritarian.

The author really excels at the email conversations (book one especially). I quite enjoyed the emails between characters. The changing subject lines and signature blocks added humor and wit to the conversations.

The best thing about this book series is the soundtrack. There is some great music mentioned throughout the story line. I take it this is really important to the author as she has a section of her website and a YouTube page dedicated to the music. Take a listen. If nothing else, you have to admit the author is fantastic at music.

90% perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head. -Jon Acuff, Quitter
I think this quote really speaks to the frustration so many people have with the Grey Series. It was rushed to publication and has many cultural translation and editorial issues, but it clearly struck a nerve at less than perfect and has garnered a huge readership. I think the story line was good and has a lot of potential. I can also say I think the author has a lot of potential. Depending on the genre of her future books, I may check them out. I’m a little tired out on the romance right now though.

I can say I recommend this series to the more open minded of us, but should it become a movie??? If you have to take away or tone down the BDSM discussion to make this a feature, it will take away from the storyline. But I can say, mainstream America is not ready to learn about butt plugs.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Little Time Away

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I’m back home in Mississippi for my sister’s wedding so I doubt I’ll be saying much for the next week. I am amassing more books, all free from my mother’s bookshelves. I know I didn’t need any books, but I just couldn’t help it.

Anyhoo, back to you soon with more books, crafting and wedding goodness.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

May Books-The Rest

You can find Part I of my May books here. Below are the rest.

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This book is perfectly the same as the previous book (Building Better Families) I read by Matthew Kelly. He even used some of the same stories and examples. I’m quite disappointed. Since I have both of these books as audio selections and not as physical books, it’s hard to quantify how much is duplicated but it still comes down to his underlying principle of becoming the best version of yourself, but he talks a lot about being yourself or rooting out the fundamental flaws in yourself. I think is a message that has to be taken carefully. Too many people seem to think in order to be your best, you need to be what they think is best and that is dangerous. I didn’t finish this book and don’t plan to read another Matthew Kelly title.

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I always appreciate it when Christian people admit that the problems they had as a single person can and most likely will follow them into marriage and need to be dealt with within the marriage unit. Both my fiancĂ© and I are bringing abuses into our relationship and I am so happy to say that we have been able to discuss everything with no shame or blame. We do plan to use our experience in our shared couple ministry. I encourage everyone to be honest in your marriage. You can’t hide your past. It is there whether you acknowledge it or not.

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This book really took me by surprise. The author has a way of weaving the story leaving out just enough to have you thinking one thing and then surprising you to know that all was accounted for. Does that make sense? If you find yourself yelling at the book after the first few chapters, keep reading. It starts to come together and gets quite interesting.

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I started this book quite some time ago and I’m glad to have finally finished it. Even though I will be reading it again soon enough. This is the kind of reference book that I think should be revisited annually or at least before a work goes into the editing process. I was hit with so many ideas while reading and I’m looking forward to really working through them and getting into something more solid. Some of my favorite authors contributed stories and advice for this book so I felt a little bit more connected with the material. I recommend this for anyone writing for women, even if you won’t technically be in the chick lit genre.

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This was an okay book, but it just didn’t grab me. Maybe I should watch a couple of episodes of the tv show and see if it changes my mind. For now, I can say I won’t be looking into other books of the series.

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This is a great summer read. I really appreciate that the author explored the happiness option that resulted from finding oneself rather than finding a rescue-man. It has a lovely ending and lovely message that ties in with the title.

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I started this book some time ago and I’m happy to finally have had the time to finish it. This is truly a story of courage and sisterly love and bonding. I’ve been following Lisa Ling since I was in high school and she was on Channel One. It is no surprise that her sister’s life is just as fascinating in terms of the travel and news stories that they do and produce. I remember the dread I felt when I heard she and a coworker had been captured but that was greatly eclipsed by the joy of Bill Clinton helping to get back home. I went back and watched some of the YouTube videos available of their return and I was brought to tears all over again. Euna Lee has also written a book on her ordeal in North Korea. I have that on my wish list as well. Since Laura and Euna were held apart during captivity, I’m sure their stories are quite different. And even though both ladies were married, Euna is the one that had a daughter at home. I am grateful they made it home.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Frog or Finish Friday-More Socks

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I started these during my sock craze of 2008. Since they are both the same pattern, I decided to try to make a decision about them together. The are self-patterning Berroco sock yarn and I have to say I hate the pattern. These were really popular at the time and I had seen other socks knit in it and thought it looked good. The problem may be the toe up sock pattern that I chose.

Since I have no idea what pattern I used, these had but only one fate. It’s a shame considering the blue pair had the second sock half done.

I had a lot of fun sending these socks to Froggy heaven. I think they will become socks again at some point in the future. I think I would want these as anything else.

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How are you knitters/crocheters out there doing with your unfinished projects?