Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Reality of It

It's been a rough winter this year. Everywhere I go, this seems to be the topic of conversation among people as of late. Even I must admit that February has been so long, harsh and cold, I'm counting the hours until it's just over.

Spring is slowly creeping into my reality, evidenced by the huge onslaught of gardening and home school curriculum catalogues nestled into our daily mail delivery.


Just paging through them over the past few days, thinking thoughts about April and May, put me into a Spring state of mind. Planning some new garden beds, thinking about where to place an apple tree in our yard, all had me feeling a bit giddy. Add in the time I spend reading some of the great gardening blogs written by all our Southern gals out there, and I was left itching to get my hands in some dirt.

This morning brought sunlight streaming brightly through the curtains by 6:30 a.m., with the faint sound of birds chirping. I instantly began daydreaming about just how many inches of snow would be melting off my yard today, how many inches closer I would be to that glorious black dirt.

Rolling over, I turned on the morning news. Reality hit hard. The first station listed the current temp as 5 degrees F. The second station, -1 degree.

Life here in the snowbelt sure can suck the life right out of you some mornings.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How to Create a Blog Book

www.blurb.com

I have been quite pleased with the results. If I could find my misplaced camera, I would post a picture. I initially started blogging so that long-distance relatives can keep up with our kids on a regular basis. I have found that it creates a wonderfully documented family journal. I can't sit still long enough to put together a scrapbook; I use up all my time and patience between homeschooling and blogging, plus I think that in the end, scrapbooking would have cost me more money.

I am attempting to scrapbook each boy's Lifebook, because then I can 'insert' pages when I find out info as it becomes available. I am questioning this plan, because my sanity may perhaps become compromised. I get nauseous at the thought of cutting a photograph, can't draw a straight line, and end up cussing like a sailor. Fortunately, I have really talented scrapping friends (Melanie, Debbie, Michelle--I'm talkin' about you!), and I am going to get on my knees and beg them to do it for me---oops, I mean, bestow me with scrapbooking wisdom.

One for the Books

This may seem like an odd thing to post, but given that at the end of each year, I have my blog printed into a book for the family history purposes, this news simply must be in there.

Today, February 25, 2008, Mr. Atticus is WILLINGLY eating a bread product. He ASKED for a delicious honey ham sandwich on a homemade kaiser roll. He is not lying on the floor, curled up in a fetal position, crying at the prospect of having to ingest a little flour, salt, sugar and yeast. He is inhaling this thing, and I am praying that his belly is full afterwards because it is the last of the ham and the last of the kaiser rolls.

And wouldn't you know it, I can't find my camera anywhere. I distinctly recall taking it away from Paloma and Atticus, and for the life of me, I cannot remember where I hid the blasted thing.

On a related tangent, last night we watched Atticus eat plate after plate of dinner. I think he had 3 servings. This morning, he ate two breakfast bars (they're heavy), one huge orange, a yogurt and two glasses of OJ. Just one boy, who's just 5. Cliff and I looked at each other and it hit us just how HUGE our grocery bill is going to be when these three boys are teens. Can you imagine? I know some of you certainly can, and if you posted your monthly grocery bill, I'd probably hyperventilate. Yikes. Mr. C, you better get that paper route back and find us a high-interest 60-month cd in efforts to prepare for this inevitable grocery inflation.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Can't-Sleep-So-I'll-Ramble-Instead

Funny how something can be on your mind, and suddenly, you keep bumping into that school of thought everywhere you turn, and often when you least expect it.

This is happening to me. The subject: discomfort. Lately, I have been feeling conflicted, confused, uncomfortable. For a variety of reasons. Adoption reading always involves intensive discourses on child abuse, neglect, trauma. Reading about Haiti and the experiences of Haitians can be exhausting and painful. In my personal realm, learning some heart-breaking information about one of our boy's family has left me feeling a sort of desperate helplessness that I’m struggling to process.

The realities of many in this world easily leave this white, middle class soccer mom feeling very uncomfortable and very confused. While in this state of discontented confusion, I read this incredible paragraph in Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder:

“How could a just God permit great misery? The Haitian peasants answered with a proverb: “Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe,” in literal translation, “God gives but does not share.” This meant, as Farmer would later explain it, “God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but He’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot. That charge was laid upon us.” Liberation theologians had a similar answer: “You want to see where Christ crucified abides today? Go to where the poor are suffering and fighting back, and that’s where He is.”

A welcomed bit of clarity, that paragraph, if for nothing more than the vain realization that I'm not alone in this belief. I’ve felt this for way since returning home from Haiti. That I have so much because it’s a test for me, not to see how comfortably I can live, but how I can use what I’ve been given to benefit others.

All of these subjects leave me uneasy. For a while I was able to kind of stick them in the far reaches of my mind, but that didn't last for long. The unease kept creeping up on me. Which initially made me wonder if my belief was wrong. If you don’t feel at peace with something, then you simply must not be where you are meant to be, right?

Well, maybe not. Read this great blog entry entitled “Channel Changers”, by Claudia of http://fletcherclan.blogspot.com:

Our society has programmed us to go through life as "channel changers." We watch life like we do our TVs. If I'm sitting there, watching TV, and a troubling show comes on that makes me feel uncomfortable, I just grab the remote. I don't have to watch that... let me find something I like better.

Until we started doing foster care, I thought I had a pretty balanced picture of the world. I knew there were some people out there who were less than wholesome, but I thought I had a good understanding of the way that life worked. I felt like I was a socially just person who cared about the needs of other people.

But then I was brought into this under-current of society by force, and my remote was taken away. All the sudden I was looking at lots of things that made me uncomfortable and, unlike most people, I could not choose to turn my face and walk away. I was hearing horror stories about the children who were now sitting on MY lap. I was wiping away the tears of kids who had, at young ages, faced incredible pain. I was kissing cigarette burns on the faces of MY son.

And as these past 11 years have gone by, my life has been without a remote. Day in and day out I have to face the realities of adults who neglect and abuse children. I have to face a system that is imperfect and watch how sometimes it makes kids lives worse instead of better. And there was no going back.

As with any social issue, we change the channel because we know that if we really understand the issue, we might have to do something about it. My TV is stuck on this one channel now. But there are many other channels I have avoided in the past -- the Aids crisis in Africa, homelessness, world hunger, you name it. As long as I could NOT think about it, I didn't have to do anything.

Is your life stuck on a channel that makes you uncomfortable? I certainly hope so. Because if it is, then that means you are doing something. If you are still flipping through and only watching shows that make you feel good, I challenge you to find a channel and stay there, even if it makes you feel scared and strange, until you decide if it is something you need to change.

Because changing the world requires people who will stop changing channels.”


That post was very good timing for me, and greatly broadened my view on how I am feeling. Namely, it can be a perfectly good thing to feel uncomfortable. Doing the right thing doesn't necessarily leave one feeling at peace.

How exactly does one go about putting this realization into reality? How does a stay-at-home, home schooling mother of 5 kids under the age of 9 go about this? I do not want to be one of these people who stands around venting about materialism, consumerism, chosen ignorance, but does nothing themselves. Right now, however, that is exactly the person I am. I need to figure out how, and where, and how deep, to jump in.

Adding to my frustration, I realize that tonight, while sitting here in bed, doped up on antibiotics and decongestants and Airborne, I’m probably not going to find the answers. BUT, to my great comfort, I found this amazing prayer. Is it the answer I’m looking for? No, but it’s a start. And you can’t begin any journey without moving forward from the starting line.

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hands to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."

Slowly. . . going. . . crazy

All through my adoption journey, I have heard the very common lamentation that adopters dread weekends because weekends=no news. I have always empathized with these folks, but must admit that I never truly felt dismayed at an approaching weekend.

That is, until now.

The past few weeks have been tough. Endless waiting. Endless snow. Endless cold. Endless winter.

And the icing on the cake is that this morning my doctor diagnosed me with infected ears, sinuses (would that be sinui? sinai? sini? Hope my college advisor isn't reading.) and tonsils.

Lovely.


My only reprieve is that I am reading the BEST book I have read in a long time: "Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World." Jill tossed it at me on Wednesday night while we were leaving her house, and it has knocked the other books down a rung on my reading ladder. I have barely set it down since. I'll review it once I'm done. All my Haiti friends: read it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hello from Haiti





Wish it were me saying Hello there along with them! Look at how big and healthy our boys look. Does a Mama's heart good to see that.

I have really, really been struggling the past two weeks with the unknown wait. Laughable, truly, when compared to the waits of some dear friends trying to get their kids home. Somedays it is just so difficult to watch them grow from afar.

Monday, February 18, 2008

You Know You're an Adoptive Parent When

YOU KNOW YOU'RE AN ADOPTIVE PARENT IF ...

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.

2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love & family.

3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.

4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.

5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who've experienced the blessing of adoption.

6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child's "real" parents.

7. You've been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth.(2 years!)

8. You'd no idea how you'd afford to adopt, but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing He'd provide. (& He does!)

9. You've taken an airplane half-way around the world with a child you just met.

10. You believe God's heart's for adoption.

11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart & family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.

12. You know what the word "Dossier" means & you can actually pronounce it correctly!

13. You've welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.

14. You shudder when people say your child's so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you're the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

Courtesy of:
http://theboysadoption.blogspot.com/

Little Ashley

I have been following baby Ashley's blog for some time now. A remarkable little girl, with a remarkable family, in need of prayer. Take a moment and scroll through their incredible journey. Little Ashley physically looks so much like our Paloma, and I check on her blog at least 4 times daily, hoping for encouraging news.

http://ashleyadamsjournal.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 17, 2008

10,000 Hits!

10,000 Hits on my little ole blog?!? That fact nearly snuck under the radar.

Okay, maybe it didn't really sneak under the radar. The Mister is laughing hysterically at that previous statement, and in between snorts he's relaying that the last 99 hits were probably all me, stalking my own blog to see if it hit 10,000 yet. Thanks, dear!

So who are all of you? Please, take this opportunity and de-lurk! I'd love to hear from you and check out your blogs too. . . I've made some good friends, discovered new ways of looking at things, cried a lot of tears and laughed myself silly over postings I've stumbled across. So come on now, take a moment to say hello :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Big "Duh"

If I were to create a business card, one which truly reflected the most successful of my abilities, it would read:

"Expert in Turning the Simple into the Difficult"

It has taken me 33 years and a lot of swallowed pride to articulate such a revelation.

I think it's time for a new job title.

My new, all-time favorite resource books is The Organized Homeschooler (see lower right). A great book for homeschooling, most definitely, and I'm extending these applications to all other areas of my paperwork life: bills, child activities, taxes, etc.

I've thrice read the book cover-to-cover. The wonderful organizing ideas hit you, one after another, and I soon felt myself getting caught up in a giddy, hyperactive state, planning the fabulous overhauls I was going to do as suggested in the book.

The giddy state evaporated as I gazed upon our looming bookcase/hutch where I have been stuffing--err, placing-- all homeschooling materials. In the past, I would have dismantled everything, starting over from absolute scratch, convicted with the toxic thought that if I couldn't do the project in its entirety and perfectly from the onset, it wasn't worth doing at all.

This book, however, encouraged me to try a different approach. To start nowhere. To walk through my home, assessing all the areas. To think about things. To pray. To ask God for guidance. To listen. To let it all digest.

Praise God, for it is working.

The simplicity of it all is humbling. "Duh!" is the only thing I felt as I have been hit, time and time again, with the realization of how I should be doing things.

Having the children's paperwork spread throughout the bookshelf, in different areas and with different methods, was simply not working. Not working with only a 3rd grader and a preschooler. How the heck was that going to work with 5 kids, once they are all in school? I could see a little red flashing "abort" light in my head, and I knew it was time to get it all together.

I incorporated the author's suggested filing system: manila folders with metal prong fasteners. I don't know what it is, but there is something about these prong fasteners. Papers end up exactly where they belong. Something is very purposeful about hole punching a piece of paper, then sliding it onto a prong fastener; you are purposefully claiming the paper as valued, so you then purposefully place that paper where it belongs. Nothing ends up just shoved into a folder where it doesn't belong with the intention of filing it "later" when there's "more time."

The author further suggests that ALL of the children's work goes into the folders. At first, I was not on board with that suggestion, because that is a forest full of paperwork. However, the merits of her argument slowly sunk in, and now I wholeheartedly agree. Everything is saved, and since the most recent work is always on the top of the pile, you get a concrete view of how the child is progressing in that area. Their best pieces get placed in their own "My Best Work" binders, but all other paperwork stays in the folder. One for each area of the child's schooling: subjects, projects, etc. The folder's labels list the folders content, plus the child's initials and grade level. Some of their work is kept in their workbooks; Hatfield's math and handwriting lessons. No need in undoing an entire book just to transfer it over into a folder. However, the rest is two-hole punched and filed appropriately.


My problem has always been taking the work and folders and actually filing it where it belongs. Our filing cabinets are in the basement, and my bookcase affords no space for such a system. So, at the book's suggestion, I utilized a portable filing crate for all of our homeschool papers:


So handy is this crate, and so effective is this system, that I have added folders in for all the children's activities, our household papers that are accessed on a regular basis and our bills. Riding high on the success of this system, I did the unthinkable when I went through 4 insanely stuffed, messing filing cabinet drawers and condensed everything down into one SINGLE basement filing drawer (where I keep tax records, legal documents, product registrations, etc.) and this filing crate.

Now, each morning, I set the file on the counter where I can easily access, file and store our papers. Simple. Shortly thereafter, my problem began to lie in the realization that I had no placed to put the portable file.

So after hauling it in and out of the front hall closet for two weeks, I had another, huge DUH moment: time to clean out the kitchen "junk" cupboard, residing a mere 24 inches from the homeschooling table.

It's quite humbling to realize that for 7 months now, I have schooled my children next to this little nook, never once thinking that I could somehow utilize it. Even more humbling is the fact that I threw away 90% of the contents of that cupboard. What the heck was I doing keeping all that junk for nearly 2 years? Only my laziness prevented me from tackling it before.

Two garbage bags later, I slid my neatly organized portable file crate into that sparkling clean and empty cabinet. So inspired, I then organized all of our markers (threw out the dried out ones), crayons (threw out the nasty ones) and art supplies. They all have a very nice home in this former hole-of-shame.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My sweetie gave me a huge surprise this year by sending me these beautiful red roses.


It probably seems silly that it was a surprise, but we have never done anything like this in the past for this day other than a small candy exchange. The flowers smell heavenly, and now our bedroom smells so fresh and lovely.

Paloma was an absolute sweetheart this morning and allowed me to fix her hair. Yes, this means she looked perfectly presentable when we met my folks and Cliff out for a Valentine's lunch.

Historically, Paloma has been a complete nightmare when it came to her hair. She would scream bloody murder if I got so much as 5 feet near her with a brush, and the few times I had tried to put in a barrette or a pony were nightmarish.

But look! You can see my baby girl's pretty brown eyes! And cute button nose! Thank you Paloma and Cliff, for two very nice Valentine gifts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's a Bird, It's a Plane. . .

Thunk!

That was the noise I heard coming from downstairs, while I was upstairs this morning changing bedsheets before we began schooling. I assumed that one of the cats was up on our fireplace mantle and knocked off one of my candles, which they do on a near daily basis, always sounding very much like the sound I just heard.

Atticus came running upstairs. "Mom!" he shrieked. "Something fell!"

Let me reiterate: SHRIEKED.

"Yes, I know, it was probably just the cat knocking something over." The little guy gave me a blank look and then tore out of the room. I could hear him consulting with Hatfield. Moments later, I could hear him thudding back upstairs.

"MOM! Something fell outside. Out of the SKY!" he shrieked, even louder than the first time, which I never would have thought possible.

I followed him back down the stairs, where Hattie met us. "Something landed on the deck," she confirmed.

My mind instantly flashed to the movie, Chicken Little, when the Ugly Duckling reminisced about the time when frozen pee fell out of an airplane. Please Lord, I prayed, don't let it be frozen airplane pee.

Unfortunately, it was this:


Our chimney cap.

The thought of the Mister, my honey who also happens to be Mr. Sole Wage Earner, climbing up onto our cold, icy, steeply pitched roof gives me major anxiety. The thought of all the ice, snow and melting snow slowly working its way into chimney as our very expensive heat shoots up and out the chimney and into the stratosphere, further ups that anxiety level up another notch or two.

Upon investigating the chimney cap, I deemed it truly trashed, short of us purchasing a welding tool of some sort. Now, if I don't even allow the Mister to use my vacuum, y'all know I'm NOT going to allow him to bring a welding tool into our home.

So, once again, we will be breaking the Compact. Which stinks, I know, but I'd rather break the Compact than create structural damage to the fireplace while losing all of our heat.

Funny how frozen airplane pee is suddenly seeming like a preferred falling object.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Warning: Excessive Caloric Intake Ahead

For The Mister, there is no greater way of showing him love than to cook for him. He loves to eat. I love to cook. We're a match made in heaven.

Now, add in Prairie Woman (see her blog link at the right), and my, my, my, we've created quite the menage trois.

Over the past week or so, I have sampled a number of her dishes. Tonight, we dined on her famous Chicken Spaghetti, or as she puts it, the only casserole both Marlboro Man and her kids alike will eat. The results were attractive; the taste, incredible.


The recipe is so simple, even Paloma had fun mixing it up:


Prairie's French Puff Pastries were so heavenly, Cliff asked me to marry him all over again. A light, soft muffin, drenched in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Could it get any better?

And on Superbowl Sunday, I made my man a huge plate of the Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs. Mmmmmm, mmmmmmmm. The Colonel should put a bounty out on Prairie's head.

Unfortunately, our caloric intake was not limited solely to the above dishes. In the past weeks, we've been busy making homemade bread:


unhealthy butter-Crisco chocolate chip cookies:


and my birthday cake (a layer of whipped cream/cream cheese/crushed Oreo goodness, sandwiched between two moist homemade devil food cake layers):


However, we weren't complete gluttons. All the heavy food has given me a major hankering for my pre-Mister vegetarian days. I've been working on perfecting my Haitian rice and beans so that the boys can have some familiar, comfort food when they arrive. That and the fact that they are soooo good: the rice and beans at Walls was just incredible! I am getting close to some extent, but I still have a long way to go. I think when we return to Haiti to pick up the boys, I'm going to beg Veniel to let me hang out with in the kitchen one of those afternoons.

So, last night I made Haitian rice and beans, topped with sauteed green peppers and onions, topped with cheese, guacamole and sour cream. As an added treat, we had a fun time frying up some plantains! And look: Mr. Carnivore liked it! He really liked it!





Strangely enough, I'm feeling an intense urge to go to the Y right now. The indigestion and caloric reality of the past few weeks is finally starting to sink in--right to my thighs.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time Warp

Sheesh. One whole week since I last blogged. This has been the fastest moving week in recent memory, and for no particular reason. With the realization that we're getting closer to bringing home the boys, I'm really making an extra effort to spend as much time with my kids here as possible. Probably seems like a funny statement coming from a homeschooling mom who spends 95% of each day with her kids. I'm just trying to cut out the time warp-y distractions while I'm with them: unnecessary phone gabbing, blogsurfing, overdoing the housework during the daytime. More undivided, quality-driven time.

More blogs to come. Soon. Promise!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm married to Mr. C, Ninja Vacuum Decimator.

Here is a photo of my beloved, defunt vacuum cleaner. One possession of which I easily was a good steward: I used it daily, cleaned it regularly and treated it with the honor and respect a good vacuum deserved.

Today my vacuum was knocked out with a deadly one-two punch. The first, shown on the left: the cat door that Mr. C. installed in the Man House door. The second, Mr. C, who refused to be photo'd with my poor vacuum carcass.

Honestly, could the timing be any worse? The replacement of the vacuum is creating a Compact Dilemma for me. With three kids, two shedding dogs, two kittens, one dusty furnace and reasonably nice carpeting, I consider vacuuming a need, not a want. Living meagerly is one thing; living in dusty, hair-ridden, dander-soaked filth is another story.

The compromise we have made is that we will purchase a new vacuum, but we will be doing so with a benefit program through Cliff's work called Star Points. Throughout the year, he receives points for reaching various goals, winning contests, etc., and those points can then be redeemed for the purchase of items in a Star Points Catalog. It has everything from tube socks to sports cars. Since we have more than enough tube socks and we're a loooonnnngggg way off (like a full career) from the purchase of a Porsche, we agreed to redeem our current total for the purchase of a new vacuum. In essence, we are most definitely breaking the Compact, but at least not at the expense of our checkbook.

Shockingly, this is NOT the first vacuum Mr. C has decimated. As such, I am hereby presenting Cliff with the following Vacuum Conduct Code Contract:

"I, Mr. C., do hereby vow and fully agree to conduct myself at all times in accordance with the following terms, conditions and regulations in regard to the New Vacuum:

1. At no time will the aforementioned New Vacuum, hereinafter referred to as "the vacuum," be used to remove wet cat litter from any surface in the home.

2. At no time will the vacuum be used in the removal of vomitous material, whether the vomit is ejected from a human or animal life form, from any surface in the home.

3. At no time will the vacuum be used in the removal of any industrial work material (including, but not limited to: wood shavings, wood splinters, metal bebes, metal shavings, plaster, wet paint, etc.) from any surface in the home and/or garage and/or transportation vehicles.

4. At no time will the vacuum be used in the removal of any material in the home if the vacuum is, at that moment, residing within a 10 foot proximity to a Shop Vac. If a Shop Vac is within a 10-foot proximity of the vacuum, then ONLY the Shop Vac is to be used in the removal of the aforementioned material.

5. At no time will aforementioned Mr. C. use the vacuum if he has any doubt, inkling or mere notion that the material to be removed could possibly create an imbalance in the delicate inner workings of said vacuum.

6. If at any time, Mr. C. has any doubts, inklings or mere notions referred to in point 5 above, Mr. C. will then take his concerns to The Missus, who has the Only power and authority to dictate the decision as to whether or not the vacuum may be used.

I, Mr. C., do hereby solemnly agree to follow the above 6 points of actions, to the letter of the law. I hereby fully acknowledge that if I violate any of the above 6 points, I am subject to a punishment to the fullest extent of the law, including, but not limited to: lectures, lashings, whippings, witholding of food and/or sex for a time to be determined according to the severity of said infraction."

Book Recommendation

Last fall our adoption agency sent us a huge box, loaded with books on adoption, parenting and Haiti. Added to my already significant accumulation of unread books, the pile soon teetered off of my nightstand, and landed in the drawers below since looking at the stack gave me a defeated feeling.

2008 has resparked my desire to read, and I'm putting a small dent in this pile. I just finished a book that I found so incredible I felt the need to recommend it on my blog:


Grace Based Parenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel. If somebody told me that I could only read one parenting book in my entire life, this one would win, without a doubt. Here is the Publisher's Weekly synopsis:

"Kimmel, author and founder of Family Matters ministries, likens many Christian parents' attempts at rearing children to putting together a puzzle without first studying the completed picture located on the box's cover. Kimmel states that families of faith tend toward extremes, either being overly permissive or overly legalistic. . . He says Christians frequently believe that the battle for a child's heart and soul is fought on the outside with rigid rules and boundaries when in fact just the opposite is true. He underscores the importance of communicating the unconditional love that Christ offers and affirming this timeless message of grace to one's family. Despite the numerous examples the author cites where parents fail, this text is overwhelmingly upbeat with hope and possibility: Parents who strive to live a life of faith characterized by daily trust in God will pass on this message of possibility and potential to their offspring."

Obviously, this is a Christian-parenting book. However, after being read by Cliff and myself, we both felt that the book offered many parenting ideas that could still be held applicable in the eyes of non-Christian parents, since so much of it touches on basic human nature.

Ever since I began homeschooling, I have become very conscious of the emotional atmosphere in my home. I want to make our home a safe, pleasant place for our children--one they love, feel safe in and grow in. I want them to live in a home where they can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and making mistakes. One in which they know they'll be encouraged to learn from their mistakes (because we will make poor choices), instead of only fearing the repercussions of them (although yes, repercussions are still part of life and not dismissed by Kimmel). I can see how dangerous running a purely legalistic home can be. The thought of having an unpleasant home environment for my children unnerves me; I would be devastated if years from now I learned that my children were merely counting the days until they could leave an oppressive hell-hole of a home. This book has really opened my eyes to the balance between creating an environment of safety vs. creating an environment of oversheltered oppression. So much food for thought, and I'm certain this book will be one I often return to again and again, for guidance in the years ahead.