Ketchup: On Reading Challenges

You know how sometimes your favorite red condiment stubbornly refuses to come out of the bottle onto your burger or dog? You shake it, you use a knife to move it along, you shake it some more, you squeeze the heck out of it, only to get a very unsatisfactory "sphflllttt!" and a few little red splatters? So you repeat the process and then almost without warning, "PLOP!" an enormous blop, enough for two burgers and three dogs, lands on your plate and probably a bit down the front of your shirt. Yeah? Well, welcome to my blog today. And bear with me...this is Ketchup Post Four (of Four).

First of all, I've surpassed my goal for the Spring Reading Thing, which was to read on book a week for the thirteen weeks. The goal date isn't until June 21st, but I got on a roll reading like crazy and finished more than thirteen books already.

Huge thanks to Katrina at Callapidder Days for hosting the Spring Reading Thing! (Click on the Spring Reading Thing button to go there for more info.) I look forward to her Fall Into Reading later this year.

This last week I started nesting like a mad woman, and we leave for London in a month, so I'm not sure how much reading I will squeeze in before we go. But here are a few comments on the books that I've most recently finished:

My First 300 BabiesThis came highly recommended from a couple different sources, especially for bringing a newborn into busy families. But I wasn't twenty pages into it before I thought I would gouge my eyeballs out. Three children into parenting, I firmly believe in "something has to give." I'm all about structure and routine - nothing contributes more to pleasant temperament and general health of mom and children - but this book was just a leeeetle over the top. I didn't feel like it could work in the 21st century for one thing, and for another I felt like it was forceful and rigid, especially for newborns. I definitely prefer (and can unequivocally recommend) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child as a better sanity and life saver than this book. I find myself admiring the author but at the same time completely discouraged by the methods she described.

Parenting With Love and LogicLove the principles behind this parenting theory and believe they are solid. However, the "real-life" examples fell totally short and left me feeling like the whole idea was for the parents to constantly remind the children how much they are an inconvenience. It was just the flavor of it that got to me. Unfortunate, because truly, the foundational concepts totally jive with my understanding of choice, consequences, responsibility and trusting relationships. I just needed a better demonstration of how it works on the ground.

Bonnie's Household Organizer I will keep this book forever. Simple ideas, simple implementation. Published in the 80s but still very helpful and inspiring without being fly lady intense or Polly Perfect overwhelming. I've already done a couple of the things and feel enthusiastic to add more. Great suggestions for laundry, money, dejunking, and helping your kids learn to help. I can totally understand why I've read about this book on so many blogs and in other books. I'm glad I now own it.

Supernanny: How to Get the Best from Your ChildrenI just love Supernanny. This book is not rocket science but I liked the consistent review of things to say and do for different situations, and the underlying feel of love and patience for children. A light and helpful read. Kinda helped me get a grip and put things in perspective. Although I still think time-outs do not work. So we'll figure something out.

Sailing to Sarantium
and Lord of Emperors These books hooked me. Lots of decadence, debauchery and tense adventure, they made me want to know more about Byzantium and to become a mosaicist. I liked getting lost in the story. A lot.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyJust read it. It is precious. And I might just have to go to Guernsey while I am in England. I never knew that the Germans occupied these little islands in the English Channel, so it was fun to learn more history. The whole book is written as a series of letters between the characters and you fall in love with every one of them. The heroine is peppy but real, and I came away with a strengthened admiration for those who lived through World War II. it's a quick and endearing read that you should totally do.

I was looking over the list of books I ended up reading and almost all of them fell into three categories: Parenting, Fantasy, or Books About Reading Changing One's Life. Kinda funny that it happened that way. The parenting books mostly fell flat for me (maybe because I feel like I need some REAL help right now?) and Fantasy is a genre that surprised me this time because I've never gotten into it before (all you have to do is say, "Lord of the Rings" and my eyes irrevocably glaze over), and I think for just pure enjoyment and soul satisfaction, Books About Reading Changing One's Life really do it for me.


And now, a month late: How did my Read Together goals go? Well...

My main goal was to make sure each of my boys was getting something at their own level for their individual enjoyment during bedtime reading. We started the month out with Calvin reading Harry Potter with David. I would choose a few board books to read with Charlie, put him down to bed, and then read a book or two to Henry.

Partway through the month, some friends loaned us The Tale of Despereaux and I started it with Henry, even though he has lost interest before in chapter books. Despereaux entertained him thoroughly UNTIL Calvin caught wind of what we were enjoying just as he finished Harry Potter with his dad. So he started sitting in on the Despereaux reading. It seems that Henry, more than anything, wants one-on-one. So he started asking his dad to read to him while I finished Despereaux with Calvin.

At any rate, both big boys are now regularly getting individual reading. Charlie gets read to every time one of us sits down (if there is a lap, he will bring his little self and at least on book - if not ten - and demand, "Weed!"), so he is getting plenty of book time. I think I will work on bedtime reading with him a little more later.

I also wanted to say that finding books especially appealing to Henry has been a lot of fun and based on some of the ones we read during this challenge, he has asked for books for his birthday more than anything else! He's fallen in love with the Scaredy Squirrel books, as well as Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Incredible Book-Eating Boy - all recommendations from you when we started our goal. So, thank you!

And thank you to Jennifer at Snapshot for encouraging us to read together! (Sorry to be so lame on the follow-up posts...but we were still participating!)


And finally - if you are still with me, or read this post in the first place, bless your beautiful hide - I'd like to know: What is one of your favorite "escape" books ever?

1 comment:

Sir Nottaguy-Imadad said...

Just wondering if you had gotten to "First Light" yet. I haven't seen any comments about reading it yet. I couldn't put it down.