Book Review: Motivate Your Child

I’m always looking for books that can help me on this crazy, fun, exhausting journey called parenthood. I am especially drawn to books written from a Christian perspective, as I seek to share my faith with my kids.

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN are the founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, and have a lot to say about parenthood, discipline, and family faith.

Their newest book, Motivate Your Child, is essentially broken into two parts. The first half of the book focuses on teaching kids internal motivation. In other words, not doing something because they will be rewarded or punished for it (external motivation), but because it is the right thing to do. It gave a lot of practical advice on what a “conscience building” interaction would look like, and how kids can get out of the mindset of “what’s in it for me”, and into the character building “who can I bless by doing this?”

The second half of the book is about incorporating Family Time, or family devotionals into your schedule, why they’re so beneficial, and different ideas for keeping it enjoyable for young children. One thing that struck me was how the authors made sure to encourage the reader to use an age appropriate Bible translation and to follow up Family Time with a shared activity. This was to teach the child that God isn’t just something that becomes relevant once you get to be an adult, but that time with Him should be exciting and anticipated at all ages.

I gleaned a lot of good ideas from this book, and I’m excited to start putting them into practice. I’m hoping that some of the strategies will help Tater from all the whining and dawdling when I ask her to do something. I don’t plan to remove all external motivations…I think her getting allowance, for example, can teach life lessons as well, but at the advice of Motivate Your Child, I’m definitely going to minimize external rewards, and instead work on getting my kids to learn honor, compassion, and integrity.

*Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Our Road Trip…Zion National Park


Earlier this month, my husband had a convention for work in Nevada, and we were able to go with him for the road trip. Since the convention ended Thursday, we decided to head a little north, and hit Zion National Park for the weekend. I’m SO glad we did. It was stunning, had perfect weather, and we practically had the Park to ourselves!

Driving Into was 65 degrees all weekend!
Driving Into Utah…it was over 60 degrees all weekend!
We stayed in Springdale…a charming little town right at the edge of Zion National Park. Think the setting for “Cars”.

Tater hadn’t been feeling good for the first half of the trip (she gets car sick), so we tried to take it easy and do short walks instead of hikes when we first got into the Park. Which, by the way, there was no one at the Park when we arrived Thursday at lunchtime. We literally had the place to ourselves!

Our first little walk took us over the Virgin River to a bridge lookout.
Our first little walk took us over the Virgin River to a bridge lookout.
They call these the Emerald Pools. The water has a green hue!
They call these the Emerald Pools. The water has a green hue!

We checked into the hotel and decided to check out the little town of Springdale. Most of the restaurants were closed for the winter (downside of coming in the off-season), but we managed to find a few little gems. The weather was unseasonably warm. Despite bringing our snow gear, the temperature actually hit 70 at one point, and hovered in the high 50s and low 60s.

The next day we did a few more walks/short hikes. The kids loved hanging down by the river. They skipped stones, dug in the sand, and played for a couple hours.

What little boy wouldn't want to spend the day throwing rocks (and not getting in trouble for it??)
Every little boy’s dream…throwing rocks without getting in trouble!
This was our favorite place over the weekend. We had the "beach" to ourselves!
This was our favorite place over the weekend. We had the “beach” to ourselves!

We also went into a little ghost town, called Grafton. It was a rocky, non-maintained road (we kept praying Tater wouldn’t get car sick!), but it was really neat. There was an old school/church, home, stables, and even a well-preserved cemetery of a handful of people who succumbed to a 19th century diphtheria outbreak.

The church/school in the Grafton ghost town.
The church/school in the Grafton ghost town.

Grafton sits against private property farmland. How cute was this cow?!

308Here are a few more photos…I wish I had brought my “real” camera, but it was one more thing to carry. My phone did a pretty good job, but there was just no way to completely capture the beauty.

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It took us 10 hours to get home…over the course of the week we spent over 20 hours in the car and drove over 1000 miles, but it was still an amazing opportunity. (Also “amazing”, driving through the Park at 3am every morning because Junior refused to sleep.)  Thanks to homeschooling, I turned it into a “field trip” and Tater learned all about geography, geology, and even history.

When a Doctor’s Words Gave Us Strength

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After Junior was diagnosed with profound deafness, we had little time to grieve before we moved into the process of trying to get him qualified for cochlear implants. My husband and I were set to meet the surgeon pretty soon after diagnosis, but I’ll admit I went begrudgingly, still in denial, thinking it was all a bad dream. Hoping that maybe if I ignored it long enough, one day I would wake up next to a typical, hearing baby and he could spend his days playing and smiling and making memories with his big sister, and not in some a cold, sterile room waiting for doctors and specialists to come and go.

After a brief eternity trying to keep Junior sitting as happily as possible in his car seat in the surgeon’s waiting room, we were escorted back to an exam room overlooking the parking lot. On the wall hung several posters of ear anatomy and cochlear implant workings. I grimaced at the thought of finally accepting that my child was deaf, and aimlessly looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows.

After a few minutes, Dr. C walked in. She was tall, young, and wore a smile. I doubt I returned the smile at the time, too aware of why we were even there, but she soon moved her attention to Junior. She gushed over his chubby little legs, commented that he was going to be tall like daddy, and beheld him with tenderness. After checking his ears and again commenting on how adorable he was, she got down to business. She discussed the results of his hearing test, scribbled a few notes for follow up appointments (ophthalmology, cardiology, and radiology to name a few), and sat down. She brought up details about the cochlear implant surgery, but I don’t remember much because it was information overload at that point. (Plus, I was still holding on to the hope that it was all just a bad dream.)

My husband spoke up first: “Why should we do this? Why should we trust you with our son?”

Her response was perfect: “Because I promise to treat him like my own child.”

It was as if a weight were lifted off my shoulders. Not just for the short term of putting our son in good hands for surgery, but because I realized that there might actually be good to come from this special needs journey. Good people, good friends, good experiences…the deep kind of good that can only come out of something painful. The kind of good that once you’ve reached the end of the road you look back and realize that everything happened for a reason and in some strange way, you’re grateful for it all.

The kind, heartfelt words of this doctor stuck with us, and gave us strength to push forward into a new unknown. Junior still sees her 3 or so times a year, and always runs to her and wraps her in the biggest bear hug he knows how to give. He never heard her promise to treat him as her own some 2 years ago, but somehow he knew. Somehow her words bypassed his deaf ears, beyond his infant comprehension, and settled in his heart. The language of kindness doesn’t need to be spoken or seen. It must be felt. We continue to feel that kindness as we look at our son, now able to hear using cochlear implants, and think of the doctor that first gave us hope.

Read Junior’s Story here…(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Book Review: In The Heart of the Dark Wood

Billy Coffey was an author I had never heard of, but after reading In the Heart of the Dark Wood and falling in love with his rich language and familiar writing style, I now want to read the first two books in the series.

In the Heart of the Dark Wood, like all Coffey’s novels, takes place in Mattingly, Virginia, which is not actually a real place, but judging from the characters, would probably be located in the southwest part of the state. A year and a half earlier a large tornado tore through Mattingly, killing many, and taking 11-year old Allie Granderson’s mother, Mary. Without any real closure since Mary’s remains were never found, Allie has spent every day hoping that her momma will return. Her hope and faith are tangibly placed in two items: a Nativity Set that has sat outside her home since the Storm, and a toy compass that her momma gave her just before the Storm took her.

The novel opens the week before Christmas with Allie sitting in her 6th grade class, having stomach pains, and going to the restroom only to be shocked and appalled that she has started her first period. Allie’s menstruation is a major theme of the book, and while it symbolizes her maturing from a girl into a woman, I have to say it made me very uncomfortable reading, and was quite awkward, especially knowing the author was a man. The book would have read better to me had Allie’s journey to maturity been spiritual or emotional instead of physical.

That said, after that traumatizing event occurs, Allie returns home to her father, Marshall, who hasn’t been the same since the Storm. He has turned to alcohol, and is not there emotionally for Allie. The next morning, the Mary statue in the Nativity goes missing, and Allie’s toy compass starts working, leading her somewhere. She wants to find Mary and bring her home.

Allie grabs her dog Sam, finds her best friend, Zach Barnett, and together they head off to find Mary. The rest of the book chronicles their time in the woods. The creepy, dark, spiritual-warfare-laden woods. Allie and Zach must brave the elements, the unknown terrors in the woods, and their own fears if they want to survive and bring Mary home.

I really liked the author’s writing style, and overall, it was a thoughtful book. I came to really like Zach…Allie annoyed me at times, but Zach was the rock of the book. The only downsides were my aforementioned issue with Allie’s period being such a major theme of the book, and the fact that the days in the woods seemed to drag on and on and seemed a bit repetitive.

Bottom Line 4*/5*

*I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

February’s Monthly Menu

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Last month I experimented with a monthly menu plan rather than my usual weekly menu plan. It actually worked pretty well–better than I was expecting, so I decided to plan a monthly menu for February as well. I know it’s already the 9th, but we were gone all last week (more on that in another post), so I’ll start with today and have 3 weeks to plan instead of 4.

I try to clean out my freezer regularly so I always keep things fresh, and here’s what I plan to use from my freezer this month:

Pork Roast
Stew Beef
Salmon Filets

Fruit and Vegetables
Assorted Frozen Fruit

Homemade Precooked Meals 
Spanish Brown Rice
Spaghetti Sauce

In addition, we are getting about 18 eggs a week from our chickens, so I have one meal every week that uses eggs as the main protein. I just purchased some organic chicken breasts, organic ground beef, and bacon at Costco. What I don’t use this week, I will put in the freezer for future meals.

Since I like having options, I’ve been planning 6 meals for the week, and choosing which day gets which meal depending on what I feel like, time, appointments, etc. One night a week I either prepare something simple (sandwiches, frozen pizza, leftovers, etc), or have take out.

February’s Monthly Menu:

Week of 2/9-2/15

Week of 2/16-2/22

  • French Toast and Fresh Fruit
  • Spaghetti, French Bread, Green Salad
  • BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw, Chips
  • BBQ Shredded Pork with Coleslaw over Corncakes
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits
  • Beef Stew and Biscuits (this is always better the next day!)

Week of 2/23-3/1