About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things I Am Hearing

Some funnies from Natalie:
  • Fairy-flies (her name for Fairies, like Tinkerbelle)

  • "This game is only for grown-up kids"

  • "Sometimes Grandmas are your Aunt"

  • To Daddy: "You are one crazy woman!"
  • "Mom? Is Pepsi junk food? Because you eat it all the time." (Insert embarrassed expression on mom's face)
  • After I said that my pop was a diet pop: "Does that mean it gives you diarrhea?"
  • "Can I please bring Bronco's head to church?" This said after the poor stick horse, Bronco, was unfortunately decapitated. There were many tears and much sadness. I had visions of the Godfather being replayed at church after this question. (No, I've never actually seen it)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: The Lightlings

The Lightlings
by Dr. R.C. Sproul
Published by Reformation Trust

The Lightlings starts with a scene almost all children can relate to. A mom is tucking in her boy, Charlie Cobb, and turning on the nightlight. He asks her why he is so afraid of the dark. Instead of answering, she tells Charlie he should ask Grandpa.

When Charlie asks Grandpa, Grandpa tells the boy that it’s normal to be afraid of the dark, and that many people around the world are. But he then tells the boy that many people are afraid of the light as well. Charlie asks why, and Grandpa says, “To understand that, I have to start at the beginning – in fact, at the very beginning.”

Grandpa tells Charlie the story of the lightlings, magical fairy-like creatures who lived in the light of a great King. Life in the King’s light was wonderful, until the lightling decided they wanted to disobey their king. The moment they sinned, their lights started to dim. They felt embarrassment, and ran from the king. They ran into the darkest place of the forest, and they were afraid of the light, because the light would bring he King to them.

The story continues and spells out the redemption story quite plainly. He King sends His son in the form of a baby lightling. Many of the adults were afraid of the baby, but the children were curious and crept in for a look. The light from the baby took away the darkness of the lightlings and caused their lights to glow again, but this time it was reflection of the baby’s light. They spread the word of the baby to their friends and family, and soon the lightlings remembered how much better it was living in the light than in the darkness.

First, let me tell you what I loved about this book. The writing is plain and the wording is easy for children to understand, without being too simple. I loved the illustrations by Justin Gerard as well. They fit right in with my daughter’s love of princesses and fairies, with bright colors and whimsical designs. The overall look of the book is very kid-friendly and appealing.

I also liked the parallels in the Lightling’s story and our own redemption story. In the end, Grandpa draws that parallel and tells Charlie that “someday, all of us who love this Son will live with Him forever in heaven.”

However, I feel that the salvation aspect was a little weak. I believe it takes more than just “loving the Son” to live with Him forever in heaven. We must also recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior and embrace Him as that Savior. This teaching could certainly be brought out when discussing the story with a child, but it is not intrinsic to the story and the parent would have to draw the conclusion for the child. However, for my child, who is not yet ready to make that decision, the level of doctrine and the parallel story is appropriate.

That said, this was a refreshing read when compared to the vast library of “Christian” children’s books that focus little on Christ and strongly on character traits. All in all this would be a welcome addition to our bookshelf. I would read it with the understanding that it does not directly point a child toward salvation, but does outline God’s plan for providing that salvation through His son. It would be a good conversation starter.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write the review of this book, and it is an honest review of my opinions. However, in return for the review, I may be offered a free copy of the book for our family’s bookshelf.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday - Tough Cookie

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Janna's theme for Feed Me Books Friday is books that inspire imagination. I have an extremely literal preschooler, so we don't read many imaginative books - she has wayyyyy too much trouble understanding pretend in books, although she will pretend in her play. I don't get it, but it's her.

Anyways, I have to share this book that I absolutely adore! I got it from the library for Natalie to see if she would adore it too, but I think it was lost on her. However, I picked up a copy (which has since been lost) when I was in college for my bookshelf when I was a teacher, and it's so very funny. My guess would be it's intended for the lower elementary crowd who could get some of the humor, but I promise grownups will love it too.

The book is Tough Cookie
This book tells the story of a cookie. At the beginning of his life he was at the top of the jar, but over time he fell to the bottom where the crumbs, "folks" other cookies look down on as less than ideal, reside. All of the cookies live in fear of "Fingers," and one day the cookie's old partner (did I mention he's on the police force?) was "grabbed" by "Fingers." The story follows the Tough Cookie and his gal, Pecan Sandie, as they head to the top of the jar to face Fingers once and for all. In the end, the crumbs help to save the day.

What I love, love, love about this book is the writing style. You have to read it aloud and you have to do your best 1950s detective movie voice, because that is exactly how it was written. Think Dick Tracey in a cookie form. It's so funny. And Fingers is, in fact, the fingers reaching into the cookie jar for a snack.

I am sure my description is not doing this book justice, so grab a copy from the library. Even if your kid isn't ready for it, I promise it will make you laugh out loud. Me and my college roommate would often read the book to each other (Ok, we were a tad weird and we were elementary education majors, but seriously, it's that funny).

If you would like to participate in Feed Me Books Friday, click on the button at the top of this post to read the rules.

Check back Monday as I have a book to review that is also an imaginative one with a spiritual meaning. I can't review it as part of this link up but I will be doing so over the weekend.

Disclamer: if you purchase a book from Amazon using any of my links, I will earn a portion of the sale through the Amazon Affiliates program.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need to Stop . . .

. . . and hold your sleeping baby. Today was one of those days.

But let me back up for a minute. Yesterday I had more paying work than I could possibly do. Normally Mondays are school days for the kids, and so I would have been fine, but yesterday was out of the ordinary and they did not have school. Then, Megan is fighting a cold and only slept for about 45 minutes because her coughing was preventing her from sleeping. Needless to say, I could not accomplish my work load. I became frustrated. My attempt to be supermom was failing.

Do you ever have days like that? Days when you honestly cannot accomplish everything assigned to you. For me, when I have days like that I wish I worked in an office. It's not a long lasting wish, but I do wish I did sometimes so I could have 6-8 hours to sit and work, without interruptions, without my messy house staring me in the face, and without the tyranny of the urgent preventing me from working. I love what I do, and sometimes I wish I had more time to actually do it.

Today, Megan made up for lost time. Tim helped me find a solution to the work problem, and I was much calmer.

Megan woke much later than normal, and I went in to pick her up. She was rubbing her eyes and obviously still tired. So to the rocking chair we went. I held her and rocked her and watched as her eyes drifted shut again. I held her as her limbs twitched the rhythm of sleep. For 30 minutes, I just sat, rocked my baby, and prayed for her. I prayed for a friend who is fighting to keep her foster child. I prayed for Natalie. And I prayed for me. I prayed that I would have the patience I need to deal with my children. I prayed that I would find the right balance so I can be a good writer, mom, mother, housekeeper, Christian, church member, etc.

Today, holding my sleeping baby was the "one needful thing." We both needed it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Favorite Time of Day


My favorite time of day is not the moment of silence when both children finally fall asleep, although I do appreciate the quiet moment to work.

My favorite time of day is not when Daddy walks in the door to relieve me of my parenting "duties," although I adore the sight of my husband coming home and the sound of my children greeting him joyously.

My favorite time of day is not giving my children a bath, although I do enjoy the splashing and squeals and smell of freshly washed children.

My favorite time of day is just after dinner, and just after Daddy has showered from a long day of work.

While mommy cleans the kitchen, she secretly watches over the ledge into the living room.

At this time of day, my children almost always get along.

At this magical time of day, my children play tag, happy squeals and shrieks coming up and down my hallway.

At this time of day my children and my husband, the three people I love most in the entire world, wrestle on the floor. I marvel as my husband lays on the floor letting over 60 pounds of girls jump on his belly, launch themselves from his knees, and otherwise beat up on their daddy.

At this time of day the computers and television are off, the phone rarely rings, and we are a family.

This is my favorite time of day.

As our family ages, I am sure the activities of this time of day will change. Perhaps we will be working on school projects together. Perhaps we will be attending a sporting event, supporting one member of the family as she strives toward an athletic goal. Perhaps we will be having family movie nights over freshly popped pop corn. Or maybe we will be reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe together, watching our children as the magic of the story unfolds for the first time.

I don't know what this time of day will bring in the future, but I am sure it will still be my favorite time of day, because during that hour before cleanup and bedtime beckons, we simply stop, relax, and enjoy one another.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday: Family Love

This week's Feed Me Books Friday is themed Love in honor of Valentine's Day. I have two books to share, and both are on the theme of "Family Love."

The first is new to us. We got it through Paper Back Swap, an new site I've been on to unload my old books from college and my years as a teacher, and swap them for new to us books. for the price of shipping a book to someone else, I can pick from thousands of children's books to stock my own girls' library. Here's the link if you want to learn more:

PaperBackSwap.com - Book Club to Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free.

The book I want to introduce you to was recommended to me by a college friend. It's called I Love You Stinky Face

In this book, a mother is tucking in her child. She says, "I love you my wonderful child," The response is one most mothers can relate to, a classic delaying tactic, yet with a clear meaning and need being expressed: "But mamma, but mamma, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?"

Love is shown in Mamma's response, which does not dismiss the concern but addresses it in a loving, reassuring way:

"Then I would give you a bath and sprinkle you with sweet-smelling powder. And if you still smelled bad I wouldn't mind, and I would hug you tight and whisper in your ear, 'I love you, Stinky Face."

The story has several other "But Mamma's", and each time she reassures the child that she would love the child no matter what. I love theme of unconditional parental love. The illustrations are wonderfully beautiful as well.

Natalie LOVES this book. We had it from the library as a book on tape first, and she listened to it over and over and over. I asked her why she loved it so much, and she couldn't dictate the reason, but I like to think that it's the comfort of the message.

The other book is about siblings. It's called Honey Bunny Funnybunny (Beginner Books(R)).
This story is about the Funnybunny family, and their little girl named Honey Bunny. Honey Bunny is tired of her brother's (P.J.) constant teasing. Finally, when he paints her face green during the night, her parents lay down the law and say no more teasing. P.J. stops teasing Honey Bunny, but Honey Bunny feels sad. Eventually she thinks her brother doesn't love her anymore. Then one morning she wakes up to realize he does - becuase he painted her face again!

Ok, maybe this doesn't teach the right lesson about teasing, as I don't think P.J.'s actions were right, and we do talk about that. But, as someone who has a brother I can honestly say that sometimes siblings do show love in a strange way, often through teasing. It's one of those things we have to learn to handle as we grow, and I like the funny way this book points it out. Maybe it only makes sense to me, but I enjoy this book and its message, as well as the cadance of the words.

If you would like to participate in Feed Me Books Friday, head on over to Janna's blog and jump right in! Just click on the picture to join!


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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Healing After Emotional Abuse: Moving Forward

If you are new to this discussion, please visit these posts: Healing After Emotional Abuse, Signs of Abuse, and The Pain of Words.


I haven't posted on emotional abuse in a while, well, because I have been caught up in caring for my growing/ill children, going on vacation, and such. I have been thinking on one thing about the topic though. Recently when talking to my friend, she said, "Yes xyz (a topic we were discussing) hurts, but I am moving forward."


Later I was thinking to myself, Well, it's good that she is ready to move on, then I realized that was not what she was saying. there is a huge difference between moving on and moving forward. She is still working towards reconciliation with her spouse, but she is not going to sit on her duff and do nothing while she waits for him to step up.


If you have been abused or know someone who has, there may not be a "moving on." The scars that were created, the hurt that occurred, and the void left in the life by the missing spouse may not be able to be healed or filled, outside of the love of Christ. In fact, the person may not want to move on. The person may wish to reconcile with the abuser if the abuser can change. Encouraging them to "move on" may not even be biblical advice, depending on the circumstances. There will always be repercussions from this event, and God has a reason for this. However, what you can do is encourage your friend (or yourself) to move forward. This is a positive action that will aid in healing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hard Questions

Today, we were in the car and Natalie was listening to some Christian music. She blurted out, "I don't want to go to Heaven!"

What?

You heard that right. I said a quick prayer for wisdom, turned the music off, and asked why.

N: "I don't know, I just don't"

M: "Are you afraid?"

N: "I don't know."

M: "Are you afraid because you don't want to die?" (For some strange, creepy reason, my child is obsessed with death and dying)

N: "Yes, I don't want to die."

M: "Well, most people don't want to die, but when we die if Jesus is our saviour, we go to heaven. There are mansions there, which are like beautiful palaces (remember, princess mode here), and Jesus is there and we can see what God looks like."

N: "I don't want to go there Mommy! I don't want to die!"

I tried hard to assure her that unless God had another plan, she wasn't going to die for a really long time, and when that time came she would be ready.

She hasn't brought up this conversation again. Did I handle it right, I keep wondering? Should I have delved deeper? Reminded her of her need of salvation? I feel like I am going to mess up!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What I Learned When My Kids Were Sick

The past two weeks have been a tad trying in the Harms household. Two weeks ago today Natalie refused to eat her usual bowl of cereal after Sunday night church and asked to go right to bed. That's usually not a good sign in our house. Sure enough, she woke Monday morning sick, with a cough and slight fever. Megan had been dealing with the cough/runny nose thing that seems to last all winter so we stayed home. They were still sick on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday running on and off fevers, coughing, and overall being miserable. Long story short after two trips to the doctor, an early morning coughing attack followed by respiratory distress and wheezing, a breathing treatment for N and an inhaler for her as well we got a diagnosis of bronchiolitis most likely from RSV. Whatever it was, it was a long-lasting bug. Friday (this week) they were better for the first time. We were home for two weeks, with the occasional trip to the store and one venture out to the library (which was a mistake but I thought they were better). During that time, as I fell farther and farther behind on work, I learned some things.

1. What right do we have to complain about sickness? After talking with a friend who's kids were also sick with something more than just the common cold, she mentioned to me that her thinking was it is part of what God wants us to experience. I struggled with this, because the inhaler made Natalie incredibly grumpy, hateful, and angry. I struggled with not complaining and wishing to be free from sickness, but it was a good quote to think on.

2. Blanket forts make even sick children feel better.


3. I am an emotional mother after all. When Natalie woke in the early hours of the morning and couldn't breathe, I worried, and worry is an emotion. I was scared. and I hurt for them when they were so miserable.

4. This family needs to spend time at home more often. We don't stay home much, because there is so much that is interesting and fun to do in this town that costs next to nothing. But my children need to learn to play with their toys and each other. I'm going to try to stay home once a week, or once every other week, so periods of sickness are not such a shocker.

5. The junior high years may be torturous. Natalie behaved very much like a girl going through puberty when she was on the inhaler. I will need to pray!

6. Even when a child does not feel well, she must respect her parents and obey. However, extra love and attention is in order when they require discipline, but you must not slack on the discipline.

7. I cannot keep up with my workload without sending them to "school" at least once a week.

8. The most beautiful sound here on earth is my two children playing tag, laughing, and loving each other. Especially when I have not heard it for two weeks.

9. I really don't like not understanding what's going on with my kids' health. The doctor told me to give her the inhaler "as needed," but I had a really hard time discerning when "as needed" was, and that was very frustrating for me, particularly with the way it was making her feel.

10. I have the best friends! Some of my friends from playgroup brought us food and movies, and my friends from church supported us in prayer and sent notes via fb to assure us of prayer and help me understand what was going on. Even some fb friends that I do not really know well were able to help me understand about inhalers, wheezing, and such.

11. I need to pray that we do not develop asthma in this house! The inhaler experience is something I would rather avoid repeating. N is prone to it with being a preemie, and it runs in both families. God is able, though, and He can keep it from us!

12. And finally, I am So. Incredibly. Glad. we followed doctor's orders when Natalie was born during RSV season and kept her away from the world for the first two months of her life. I cannot even imagine my sweet little five-pounder with this horrible sickness. We had a fairly easy time of it because N is older and M is so big, but I cannot even imagine.

A Vacation to Remember


At the beginning of January we had the joy of taking vacation with my parents and one grandma in Orlando. I haven't posted pics or memories because I've been busy with work and taxes (yuck!) but I wanted to write down a few things before I forget. Here are some highlights of our trip:

Megan:

At the science museum, she loved squatting on the ground and growling at the dinosaurs. She also really enjoyed the water table and actually sat to listen to a story for several pages. If you have ever met my Megan, you know this is practically a miracle. Megan enjoyed seeing the characters at the character breakfast, until they actually came to the table. She then clung to her daddy for her life! We learned that Megan is not as brave as she thinks she is - when someone in a costume is around, she is not a happy camper.
Megan LOVES balls. When she discovered the mini-put practice range in the garage, and the bag of balls that were with it, she would beg to go out to the garage. Luckily she didn't discover those until the tail end of our trip.

She did enjoy the rides, and I just love this picture of her:

Natalie:

Natalie was so excited about going to the beach. After deciding we didn't want to drive two hours to go to one, not knowing if she would be scared of the sound of the waves, we were in a quandary. We promised her a beach, so what to do? Luckily, we found one at the Disney resort. When we were all done, she said, "Mommy, Daddy, Thank you for taking me to the beach. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" She thought the beach was the best thing EVER!

When Natalie first saw Goofy, she practically climbed in grandma's lap. However, after Minnie came around, she decided the characters were pretty cool!The highlight of the trip for Natalie was definitely the Magic Kingdom. When we met the princesses, I thought her face was going to freeze in a huge grin! After the session with the princesses, we left and a cast member (worker) pulled Natalie aside at the end of the exit ramp. She asked Natalie who her favorite princess was, and Natalie said, "Cinderella." Then the cast worker pulled out a bag of cotton candy and said, "Good, because Cinderella wanted me to give you this!" How cool!


That sparked a lot of questions for my little one. Here are some that I remember:

"Mommy, how did Cinderella give that to her? But how could she go out there. But I didn't see her."

Quickly realizing that Natalie was fully aware that the princess could not have sneaked out without our knowledge, I said, "Well, maybe she had her royal messengers take it to the lady." "Mommy, aren't messengers scary?" "No, they just send messages." "But I didn't see them? Where did they go? Where did they live?"

Obviously the princesses made quite an impression. When we were driving back to the condo for rest time, she had another bazillion questions.

"Mommy, where do the princesses live? Are they going back to the castle now? How will they get there? But only Cinderella has a Royal Carriage. How will she give them a ride? Where does Ariel live? But I didn't see any water. How will she get to the water? Are the princesses sleeping now?"

One of the last rides we rode was the Astro Orbiter. We thought the line was short, only to realize after 30 minutes it was deceptive. The ride was faster than I thought, since I've never ridden it. Afterwards, Natalie said, "Grandma, I didn't know what was going on!"

After receiving her Bambi toy (her souvenir from us) she said, "Thank you mommy! I have something to give you too - LOVE!"

It really was a magical trip. Just the right amount of activity versus rest, and we all had a blast. Megan is a bit traumatized though - when she saw some dressed up Disney characters on the TV, she freaked out and climbed on my lap to hid her head. Normally, she ignores the TV. I am sure she will be fine with some time to heal though!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday: Lift the Flap Books

Welcome to Feed Me Books Friday!



My youngest (Megan, 18 months) is not a book person. In the last month or so, however, she is turning into one and I couldn't be more thrilled. Lift-the-flap books are some of her favorites. I felt it was appropriate to open Feed Me Books Friday with an image of her and her homemade "library" - She piled all of our library books into the laundry basket and commenced to "read."



With a three year old and one year old, lift-the-flap books are still a big hit in our house. One of my favorite authors is Karen Katz, and almost all of her books are lift-the-flap. Where Is Baby's Belly Button? is one that we enjoy.
Each page has a large flap and a question like, "Where is baby's hand?" When you lift the flap it says, "Under her mitten."

The illustrations are so darling, and Megan loves these books. I got a nice set of them for her for Christmas on her first Christmas. My only complaint is if you have a rough baby, like I do, they will rip off the flaps. Megan has destroyed several of these, but she is unusually rough on things.

My second was a favorite of Natalie and is also a favorite Megan now. In fact, my husband recently said, "I am going to hide this one because I am so tired of it!"

The book is Wake Up, Little Tiger

It takes you through Little Tiger's morning with routines that all little ones can relate to, like brushing teeth, cleaning up, and eating breakfast.


Finally, I just picked up Double Delight Nursery Rhymes from Barnes and Noble for 75% off and Natalie (3) loves it.
I'm not sure why, as she's not really that into nursery rhymes anymore, but she does. Each page has half of the nursery rhyme on the top half, then you fold down the flap and the rest of the story is written with the image showing what happened. Quite cute and the flaps are big and fun.
So are you going to join Feed Me Books Friday? Just click on the link and join in the fun!

The Adventure of Motherhood

Disclaimer: If you buy a book through Amazon on one of these links, I will earn a few pennies. You can probably find it cheaper elsewhere, but I haven't had much luck buying lift-the-flap books used.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Disrespecting Daddy

My girls are mommy's girls. They have every reason to be, since I am a work-at-home mom and do meet most of the needs they realize they have. Also, due to the fact that I am with them practically 24/7, I do most of the "fun" things too. Isn't that how most families with stay-at-home moms are?

We have a problem, though. Natalie is not respecting her daddy.

She loves her daddy, but there are just some things she wants only mommy for.

And she says hurtful things, like "I don't want Daddy."

How can I teach her to love her daddy? We require respect, but even that is lost sometimes. I am sure this hurts daddy, although he is strong and it doesn't appear to.

Here is what we have done:

When daddy is home, I require most requests to be taken to him. If something is requested of me, "Can I watch TV/play this game/etc." I say, "What does daddy think?"

When Natalie asks me, "Why is Daddy doing xyz" when Daddy is standing right there, she has to stop and ask him.

Daddy has been taking Natalie on one-on-one activities, usually with something fun worked in like Culver's or playing at the mall.

Mommy and Daddy take turns at bedtime. This is where the majority of the fighting occurs-Natalie does not want daddy to put her to bed, although the routine is basically identical so there's not anything missing when he does.

Anyone with some great insight or a wonderful book/website/resource for us to explore? I want my girls to have a strong relationship with their daddy!