Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Giveaway!

I was recently given a copy of the book It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil by Kevin Leman to review. I am a big fan of Kevin Leman. His books have helped shape our parenting style in a way that we are in charge--not our kids (think about it; that's pretty rare among families). We don't always succeed, but we do our best, and keep working on parenting in a way that keeps us sane.

In this new book, Leman addresses the busy, stress-filled culture in which we're raising our families. He gives helpful and practical pointers for moving toward creating a happier and less-stressed home--something I think we all as parents desire. Of course, we can only move in that direction if we're willing to take the steps to do so. But if happiness and less-stress in your family is a desire, be sure to pick up a copy of It's Your Kid, Not A Gerbil by Kevin Leman.

And, the good folks at Tyndale Publishing have given me a certificate for a free copy of the book. If you're interested in receiving a free copy of the book, please leave a comment on this post. Be sure to include your email address or a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner. Winners will be chosen at random. One entry per person. The drawing will close at noon (CST) on Monday, September 26.

***UPDATE: I was informed that some people have been unable to post to comments. I am going to extend the entry deadline to noon on Wednesday, September 28. If you are unable to post a comment, please email david.wenell @

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Near the End of the Summer Harvest

It wasn't a great year for our garden. Several seeds didn't germinate. Squirrels took care of a number of things that did start growing. 

Tonight there is a threat of frost, so I covered up the vegetables that are left. Mostly tomatoes and a few beans. 

The boys helped pick some of the ripe tomatoes and beans the other day. Most of our vine fruits didn't grow at all--not cucumber, zucchini, pumpkins. But we did have a few cantaloupes that had started to grow. One was eaten by squirrels. One was on the outside of our fence and somehow managed to survive squirrels and everyone who walked by it. So we picked it and are waiting for it to ripen. 

We'll have a few more tomatoes and beans yet, plus the root vegetables that are left. I know we've got a few decent carrots and some parsnips, I believe. Next year hopefully the boys are up for doing more work in the garden. It's one of those memories I have growing up that instilled a good sense of pride in accomplishing a fruitful garden as well as hard work and time with my parents. Not to mention all the good eats. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Memorials and Remembering

I had the television on Sunday morning; most stations were airing the memorial services from 9/11. Our boys were both born several years after that event. They are probably oblivious that there is a war going on because of it (not because we intentionally keep it from them, but just because it really hasn't come up much in our daily discussions).

They were mesmerized by the coverage of the events in New York. And at that point it was mostly just names being read, but they didn't want the channel changed. Our 7 year old asked what it was about. So we explained what happened (actually my wife did as I was taking care of something else at that point). It was good for them to know that and see what was happening 10 years later. People were still remembered. That's important. They need to know that events and people will be remembered.

A few years back we were with my grandmother on Memorial Day weekend. We went with her and my sister to the cemetery where my grandfather, great-grandparents and other family members are buried. I never knew my grandfather. But it's important to remember and respect. It's important for children to see that as well. We haven't been able to get back for Memorial Day to a cemetery, but we still talk about our family members who the boys never got to meet. It's important that we remember.

We remember events and places, too. After watching a movie that brought Anders to tears recently because the family was getting too busy ("successful") to have time for one another after they had moved to a bigger house. We talked about our old places where we've lived. We talked about neighborhood friends and things we used to do in those places (walks around the pond, playing with neighbors in the pond, community events). we also talked about our place, friends and opportunities now.

Sometimes we try to protect children from death and loss. And while they don't need to see the horrors of war or other tragic events, death is a part of life. We can't hide it from them. Rather, it is good to remember. It is good to acknowledge. It is good for children to see that life matters as we remember those who have passed away, as we remember tragic events.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Long Day for a Four and a Half Year Old

Confession: There were a few points during this afternoon and evening when I need not to deal with my 4 1/2 year old. For his sake as well as mine.

It was the first full day of school for my 4 1/2 year old. He had 5 half days of orientation last week (to help new students begin to understand the Montessori approach). He did well last week. Today--not so much. The long weekend probably didn't help (we probably should have had a few more earlier nights and restful days, but we had a lot of fun with friends). There were a few tantrums (complete with kicking and screaming), plenty of crying, a bit of fighting with brother and friends, and other actions that aren't typical of our child (at least not in abundance like that).

He said he liked it, though. It was fun to get to eat at school and be there all day. He seems to be making friends and enjoying the learning exploration. So I'm hoping this is just a short phase of adjusting to things. We had our small group from church at our house tonight (which where half the breakdowns occurred, of course). So he didn't get to bed super early, but he did seem to go down fairly quickly. Here's to hoping that day two goes more smoothly.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to School

Our 7-year old started school today. Our almost-5-year old has had orientation all week for his Montessori Children's House (he'll start full days on Tuesday). And so summer is at an end. We were getting summer weather again today, though, so we packed a picnic and headed down to Lake Harriet for swimming and a concert. I will miss summer. I know most parents are ready for it to be over. I'm not quite there yet. There was so much I had planned on doing (visiting more museums for one--but it's hard to be indoors in the summer). But I am excited about one thing that comes with going back to school: schedules. Well, not all of the schedule. I like some freedom and ability to be spontaneous, but I'm excited to have an earlier bedtime again for the boys. 1) They do better at sleeping. 2) I do better at sleeping. 3) My wife and I have a little more "alone" time before bed to either get some things done or to have some time together. The family next door to us has their little ones up well after I'm in bed. I don't know how (or why) they do it. I think it's a single mom (possibly two) whom I would think would enjoy any down time she could get. I also know the importance of a good night's sleep for my boys' development and well-doing at school. We're exploring a new family schedule as it is. My wife is starting grad school. I'm looking for some work. Both boys are in school. I don't think we're going to pack in too many outside activities until we see how things go. So for now, we're enjoying getting back into the swing of things.