Sunday, August 9, 2020

How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen

Title: How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen
Author: Joanna Faber and Julie King
Pages: 385
Finished: August 8, 2015

Summary: Dinner's over and you ask your kid to put their dish in the dishwasher. They say no. You push back. Next thing you know, kid is upstairs screaming in their room during a time out and you're taking deep breaths to calm yourself all over a stupid plate. Why couldn't your kid just put the plate in the dishwasher. It would have taken less energy than that test of wills. 

Joanna Faber and Julie King daddress how we can talk to our kids in ways that will acknowledge their feelings and encourage them to cooperate rather than frustrate.

Thoughts: While we ran a parenting book discussion with this book a few years ago, I did not partake either as a staff member or a patron. But boy do I wish I had. Pandemic and new baby has made things hard for Kid 1. Suddenly we were noticing behavior problems up the wazoo. Battles of wills over plates or washing her hands or putting her shoes by the door. Some of it absolutely was an anxiety response, and we reached out to a family counselor for help there. But some of it was just good, old-fashioned boundary pushing. So I picked up this book. 

Within minutes of reading the first chapter, I started putting Faber's and King's ideas into practice. And our fights decreased by about 50%. Each successive chapter, I added in the new techniques and we acheived a mostly peaceful household. 

That's not to say we still don't have boundary pushing. And there's still a lot of anxiety, but we can deal with that. And without the help of the counselor. Unfortunately, she was not a good fit for our child and I get to make the phone call Monday to stop seeing her all together.

But what was it about the book that worked so well? Honestly? I liked how the authors kept remidning us how would we feel if adults talked to us the way we talk to our kids. We'd hate it. We may do as we're told because we're adults, but we'd be resentful, angry, and likely looking for new jobs. 

The first chapter is all about acknowledging feelings. One of those things that makes so much sense when we hear it, but that most people don't put into practice. Kid falls on the sidewalk. Parent: Oh... you're okay. It's not that bad. See? You're not even bleeding. Of course the kid's going to feel even more hurt. Since doing this, we've been able to get her down from most of her temper tantrums.

The authors go on to discuss ways to encourage cooperation. For example, changing the order into a reminder. So instead of, "Put your plate in the dishwasher," we can just go, "Dishes!" It works! Every. Single. Time. Or describe what we see. "Oh... I see a plate sitting on the table." Or be playful. "Kid! You plate's begging for a bath. Do you hear?" *make plate voice* "Please Kid. Please let me have a bath. I need to be clean for tomorrow."

Each chapter has the tools, sotires from a parent group the women worked with, cartoons to show the steps, and then an outline of hte tools. 

The book can be repetitive. Many reviewers mention that it could be an article instead, but I feel people don't read and retain articles the way they do books. I liked the cartoons not for me, but for people who may be more visual learners. The stories were fantastic because we could see real world examples. 

Many reviewers complained that the author doesn't believe in punishment. I can't speak to that as I agree with the authors on this one. When we send our kid to her room, the situation is made 10,000 times worse and the behavior continues the next day. Upping the ante just gets worse. Even before reading the book, I was trying to come up with different things to punishments because I was questioning the why behind what we were doing and whether it was actually useful. The solutions presented here were really helpful. 

Also, the authors do believe in limits and boundaries. Just the way they handle the breaking of the boundary is less draconian. 

I can't find the exact quote, so I'll paraphrase. The bit that stuck out to me the most was when one of the parents in the group complained about how exhausting all of this was and either Joanna or Julie replied with something like, "Sure, but I'm going to be exhausted at the end of the day either way. At least this way I'm exhausted and happy." 

And that's ultimately it. I'd been going to bed at night resolving to figure out a better way tomorrow because I was feeling like a horrible mother. Crabby and yelling all the time. Stretched thin. Stressed. Exhausted from all these battles of will. Since reading these techniques, I'm still tired, but I don't feel so worn out. Everyone is happier and the anxiety levels in the house have dropped. Amazing how that works. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Classic Club Spin 24

EDITED! Spin number is 18: Twelfth Night for me! I've never read this one before, nor have I seen any adaptation other than She's the Man. Just put my preferred edition on hold at the library and hope to pick it up in a week's time!
  1. Winter's Tale 
  2. East of Eden 
  3. Pride and Prejudice
  4. Study in Scarlet 
  5. Martin Chuzzlewit
  6. Persuasion
  7. Endless Night 
  8. Sanditon and Other Tales
  9. Peter Pan
  10. Persuasion
  11. Study in Scarlet 
  12. Sanditon and Other Tales
  13. Peter Pan 
  14. Winter's Tale 
  15. Twelfth Night 
  16. Endless Night 
  17. Anna Karenina 
  18. Twelfth Night 
  19. Handmaid's Tale 
  20. Pride and Prejudice
Hoo boy! Last Spin crashed and burned hard, but that's understandable as I was in my third trimester / just had a baby. 

Now, it's been no secret that my reading has stalled mightily as previous blog posts state. Classics definitely haven't been much in my wheelhouse at the moment. Perhaps the spin will give me that push! 

This time around, I curated my list with the remaining books on my club list plus a couple classics from other challenges I wanted to sign up for this year. That resulted in 15 books. I doubled the list, sent it through a randomizer, and then curated from there. While we do have 8 weeks, I took some of the longest books either off my spin list entirely, or just made sure they only appeared once. 

Most looking forward to? One of the Austen novels. 
Hoping it's not? Anything over 400 pages. Also, not really in the mood for a dystopia.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Revisiting Children's Literature Week 1

Book 1: Excuse Me! 

This book came to us through a box of hand me down clothes from the neighbors across the street. A short rhyming book about using the words excuse me. Cute enough pictures. Back matter "quizzes" the child about when to say the words excuse me. Nothing earth shattering, but worth keeping for revisiting manners with Kid 1 and introducing them to Kid 2 when she's old enough.

Book 2: Mouse Match by Ed Young

This book was acquired from the library after it was withdrawn. Ed Young is a Chinese-born American author and illustrator. Mouse Match is a Chinese folk tale. The pictures are a striking collage. The story itself is your standard folk tale affair. The book itself is really cool. It's set as an accordion style. So if you had the space, you could open the whole thing up and it follows like a giant tapestry. Flip the accordion over and you can see the tale written in Chinese characters. (I'm unsure if there are different characters for Mandarin or Cantonese.) Kid 1 is definitely old enough for this tale so we'll keep it on the shelves in her room for rotation.

Book 3: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

A childhood book that ended up at my house. It's an easy-going story about a little girl who wants to travel to far away places, live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful. She manages all those things. The pictures are gorgeous and I love that this is a girl in the late 19th, early 20th century who travels. That being said, the portions to deal with far away lands feel very white Imperialistic. I'm not sure the names used for the people's who live there are PC anymore. I know we have other books that serve the same purpose that don't have those issues, so this one will make it's way to a donate pile. 

Book 4: The Fool and the Phoenix: A Tale of Old Japan by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

A withdrawn library book. A quasi-folktale that tells of a mute bird catcher who finds a phoenix and fights a bandit. The story is interesting and the pictures are gorgeous. However, I later found out the author took inspiration of the phoenix legends and wrote her own tale. She's a scholar but she's not Japanese. Keeping the book for the pictures at the moment, but if I find I need more space for new stuff, this one will likely go.

Book 5: The Hidden Folk by Lise Lunge-Larsen

Withdrawn library book. This is a collection of Faery stories from Northern Europe. There's stories about water horses, fairies, sprites, dwarves, and selkies. The introduction talks about them as though they are real. Each creature is introduced and then we get a story or two. The author mentions at the end that the stories were basically told to her in passing as fact when she was a kid, so she had to take her time to make stories from them. Kid 1 is definitely the right age for this book at this time, so we'll be keeping it.

Friday, July 17, 2020

New Blog Series

I've decided to add two new series to this blog. The first one is going to be a review of the various children's literature in my house and the second is going to be a quarterly review of the Our Shelves subscription box.

Series 1: Revisiting Children's Literature

What: I'm going to read and review most of the children's books in our house.

Why: So many reasons. 1. I'm finding myself just not that interested in adult literature at the moment. I have two unfinished novels going back to the library. They've been checked out since mid March when Shelter in Place started. I have three unfinished adult novels from my shelves. I'm just not focused. I suspect Covid and having a newborn are part of that. At the same time, we have a lot of children's books. Most of them are either books from my childhood home that my mom was getting rid of, or books from my library that were weeded. We buy books for our kids and are running out of room on our shelves. I hope to get my brain ready for reading again while weeding out some books.

How often: I'm not sure. I think what I'm going to do is put up a post once a week with comments on all the children's books I read that week. Of course, I may revisit this decision once I start. Not sure what day yet.

Tag: Children's Literature

Series 2: Reviewing OurShelves Subscription Box

What: Basically exactly what I'm calling this. I'm reviewing the books that come in our box.

Why: I've long decided that all new books we buy for our kids will have diverse representation. Most books for kids are written with white characters or animals. I want to have better representation on our shelves for my child. I started doing this two years ago. This year, while prepping for her birthday, I started looking over my various lists. But life with a newborn is difficult, and I was having trouble picking. I'd had OurShelves bookmarked for a while and decided to just order it for her birthday. We have a quarterly subscription for one year, but based off the first box, we will likely keep this one up for a while. I'm really excited to share these books with everyone.

How often: Quarterly

Tag: OurShelves

Sunday, June 7, 2020

New Books!

Fun fact, His Dark Materials are the first books I've bought solely for my own pleasure reading in five years. I've bought my child plenty of books. I've bought myself a few books for study or for Dungeons and Dragons purposes. But pure just to read for fun books? Nope. 

I have a lot of rules for buying books. They must be books I'll read over and over again. They must be the right edition. There must be space for them on my shelves. So as it is, there are very few unread books on my shelves. The ones that are unread are my spouse's. 

But I've been mulling on these ones for a while. I decided they would be my next book purchase, but I had no space on my shelves. Last year, I weeded the Little House series. This year, I took the time to search for the editions I wanted. And on Friday, I clicked submit on a purchase that arrived today! I love these books and am so happy they exist on my bookshelf! I have a couple others in a cart that I'm mulling over, but I need to shift some things around on my shelf to make sure they will fit properly.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Girl holding book and looking in mirror

Title: Heart's Blood
Author: Juliet Marillier
Pages: 402
Finished: June 3, 2020

First Sentence: At the place where two tracks met, the carter brought his horse to a sudden halt.

Summary: After her father's death, Caitrin flees from an abusive homelife. She finds herself a position as a scribe at Whilstling Tor. A place full of mystery, Caitrin is set to transcribe the writings of the Lord Anulan's ancestors. Amidst her work, she finds out information about the strange ghosts who seem to haunt the Tor, the curse that surrounds the place, and how it all came into being even as Norman invaders threaten to take control of the area.

Thoughts: A vague retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This was a great book to start reading again. It was fairly quick to read with a subject matter I find fairly interesting. I've liked Marillier's other retellings that I've read. 

In general, I enjoyed this, though I found the writing somewhat weaker from some of her other novels I've read. I discovered the adversary early on in the book. I don't know if it was supposed to be obvious as it was. Some of the characters felt a little too much like they were filling a specific part. And I'll admit, the climax was... anticlimactic. But for an easy read that kept me interested, I definitely recommend it. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

My Personal Canon

This is an interesting topic to noodle on. Many years ago - maybe around high school - I wrote a top ten list of my favorite books. I can't find it now but I remember it had the following books on it:
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White
  • The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
About five years ago, we did a display at work called Librarian's Favorites. Each of us had to pick five children's books for said display. Mine were:
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Peter Pan
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • The Golden Compass
  • Anne of Green Gables
My gut reaction is that books on my personal canon are books I own. I have a very slim book collection at home for a great many reasons. For a book to earn a spot on my shelves, it has to be one I read over and over. So when I started thinking of my canon, I was going to make that part of the criteria for consideration. But there are books that fall on my canon that I don't own. Yet. I have plans to buy them once I find the right edition. And there are authors who fall on my canon whose books I don't own. But I work at a library and can (usually) get them. So ultimately, owning the book is not part of the criteria. Here's what I've come up with. You'll find many similarities to the above lists.

    These are authors who I will read essentially anything they've ever written. While I don't universally love all their stuff, nor have I read everything they've written, I do tend to enjoy their style of writing, their handling of language, and their storytelling ability. 
  • Jane Austen
    • Pride and Prejudice
    • Persuasion
    • Mansfield Park
    • Northanger Abbey
  • Charles Dickens
    • A Tale of Two Cities
    • Nicholas Nickleby
    • A Christmas Carol
  • Charles De Lint
    • Jack the Giant Killer
    • Dreams Underfoot
  • Erin Morgenstern
    • The Night Circus
    • The Starless Sea
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman 
    • The Golden Compass
    • The Subtle Knife
    • The Amber Spyglass
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (specifically the first three books)
    • Anne of Green Gables
    • Anne of Avonlea
    • Anne of the Island
  • Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  • Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix 
    • Sabriel
    • Lirael
    • Abhorsen
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - first classic I ever read
  • The Once and Future King by T. H. White
  • Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susannah Clarke
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Movies Based on Books
    So, there are a few movies that have been part of my identity forever. The book versions don't do much for me. I'm grateful they exist for the movie to happen, but the movies are the more important part for me
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • The Wizard of Oz