Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Books, Books and More Books

I LOVE books. I really do. I love reading alone, to my kids, listening to others read. I love the story, the different worlds, the collision of lives, the way you can lose yourself in a book and come out a different person.

As we continue to expand our library and make it more multicultural, I love to find new lists of books. And because I love reading so much, I love when OTHER people love reading. So, naturally, I wanted to share the lists I have found, with much thanks to the online transracial adoption group to which I belong. 

Enjoy! And if you have any go-to lists of your own, would you mind posting them in the comments so I can expand my own lists? Thanks!

Multicultural Children's Book Lists

Chinese-American: 

http://www.momsrising.org/blog/top-10-chinese-american-childrens-books-ages-2-14

Korea/Korean American: 

http://www.amazon.com/lm/RNC8U85ZBMLX3

Latino-American: 

http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2010/09/top-10-best-latino-american-childrens-books-ages-2-16/

Native American: 

http://www.amazon.com/lm/31LIOHZ6LVOAU

Black: 

http://www.niamagazine.com/childrens-books-with-black-characters/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mallorymcinnis/black-history-picture-books#.gb45qAVGw

http://www.homegirlblog.com/2014/03/childrens-books-featuring-black-kids.html

http://www.binoandfino.com/blog/2015/8/11/a-list-of-childrens-books-that-celebrate-black-boys

Young Adult

http://www.bustle.com/articles/18681-5-amazing-young-adult-novels-starring-characters-of-color

Multicultural: 

http://abooklongenough.com/blog/2015-multicultural-award-winners-in-kids-books-african-american-latino-asian-american-jewish-international-jewish-titles

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/82680.Multicultural_Christmas_Picture_Books

http://www.tfcbooks.org/about-us

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/books-with-characters-of-color

Books on Specific Countries/Regions

Africa: 
http://delightfulchildrensbooks.com/2011/03/31/africa/

Ethiopia

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/kids-ethiopia

https://www.goodreads.com/list/user_vote/993475

Guatemala: 
http://www.amazon.com/Books-for-Guatemalan-Children/lm/T95UM1JGWV4F

Haiti: http://libwww.library.phila.gov/faq/viewsummaryAsk.cfmcid=494&pid=228&category=Haiti&FAQCategory=103

India
http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/50-indian-books-every-parent-must-read-to-their-child/


Books on the Civil Rights Movement/Social Justice

http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2012/01/top-10-childrens-fbooks-civil-rights-movement/

http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2010/01/15-excellent-civil-rights-books.html/

http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/prejudice-discrimination?cat=71

http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/civil-rights-history


Books on Talking to Kids about Race/Racism

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2013/01/resources-for-talking-to-kids-about.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/calamityamberlacoloradaj/25-contemporary-picture-books-to-help-parents-tea-vl4p

Friday, December 11, 2015

To Do: Simplify

Two years ago, as we were closing out 2013, I signed up to do a simplifying challenge. To get rid of 2014 items in my house during that upcoming year that we didn't need or weren't actually using. Just stuff, you know.

Then my middle child came home. And as most people with small children know, infancy is NOT the time to get rid of stuff. You are inundated with gifts, diapers, wipes, new furniture, carseats, toys...well, you get it. We were in intake mode, not purge mode.

But as our (likely) move approaches and I look at the reality of trying to sell a house with 3 boys and their accompanying paraphernalia underfoot, I am more than daunted. I can barely get dinner on the table- how in the world will this place ever look presentable? Is that poop on the floor? What?!!!

Because I am someone who loves a challenge, though, I decided that rather than wonder how I will do it when the time comes, I'm going to be proactive. I am laying down a challenge for myself and anyone who wants to join and thrives on a little accountability.

Here it is:

Starting now through January 11, I am going to do at least one of the following every day (and yes, during the holiday season when new things are coming into the house):

  • Throw away a bag of unused or trashed items. 
    • (You know what I mean, those matchbox cars with missing wheels, socks with holes in them or, um...expired products in the pantry...)
  • Pack a bag to donate to someone. 
    • Do you know someone who could use some clothes that you would otherwise let sit in your closet? Or have an extra coat for your kid because someone passed it along to you? Pack up some of that "extra" stuff you own and give it to someone who can actually use it. 
  • Pack a box for storage. 
    • Since we are likely moving this summer, I am already thinking about which things I don't need to use in the next 6 months and boxing them up. Books that Nate has outgrown and Jayce won't need yet. Toys that no one is using but will eventually. Fancy kitchen dishes because, let's be honest, we ain't having many dinner parties at this stage of life.
  • Work on a repurpose. 
    • I had a bookcase sitting downstairs holding movies but I also had somewhere else I could move those movies. So I moved the bookcase upstairs into our hall closet to create shoe storage rather than buying something new we didn't actually need. What do you own that gathers dust but could be used for a new, helpful purpose right now?  Does it need a fresh coat of paint? A new location?
So, that's it. Every day, 15 minutes, one thing done. 

And yes, there's grace. I know there will be days with illnesses or no nap overlaps or social events that prevent this from happening. But for me, having a tangible goal every day is very life-giving.

So, anyone in? 

Comment and let me know if you want to join me! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

All the Change

In 2009, we moved from Virginia to NC. I went on sabbatical and Reed started grad school.

In 2010, I started a new job.

In 2011, I started a different new job.

In 2012, Reed applied for his post-doc and we began to dream, again, of what could be next.

In 2013, we moved to Wisconsin and I quit my job and started taking classes at UW. Neither of us had ever lived further than 2 hours from the beach.

In 2014, Nate came home. I stopped taking classes.

In 2015, Jayce came home. And we started thinking again of what and where is next for us.

So.

There has been a LOT of change in our lives the last 6 years. A LOT.

This morning I was at the gym, my baby sleeping at home while my toddler enjoyed himself at the Child Watch. A song I hadn't heard in awhile came on my ipod and it was one of those moments where life comes to a screeching halt and you see something.

I saw the changes we've been through. And I saw the coming year and how much more change was in store. And for one moment, I just wanted to weep. To stop. To stand still and just BE for a whole year.

But that's not going to happen. Things are going to change. AGAIN.

And I listened to that song and it was as if God himself was saying, "Um, hi? Remember me? I know it's hard for you to get up early and hear my voice these days, but I never went anywhere. And I will be in the changes to come. I always am. I hold your world in my hands. Trust me."

And as I breathed slowly in and out (because that's what you do when you are doing an inclined leg press), I tried to breathe in some calm. Breathe in some trust. Breathe out the uncertainty. Breathe out the fear of not knowing where we will live a year from now, the fear of starting over. Again.

I have a feeling this is going to be my SONG this year. You know. The one you have to listen to every day, the one that alternately makes you sob or laugh or just breathe, again, because you have, again, forgotten to do it.


All the change.

It'll be just fine. If we are in California, Canada or Florida, my world is in His hands. There will be new friends, good people.

Breathe in, breathe out.

And, you know, ask God if 2016 could please be the last year with a big change for a long time.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Nine Words I'll Never Say

Last week I found myself leaving our YMCA in the midst of dramatic spectacle. My 2 year old was upside down (I was holding him by his legs because he is so strong that once he decides he is IN IT, I cannot actually hold him by his body any longer.) He was mad because..well, actually I don't know. It came on suddenly and inexplicably and no amount of logic or talking was going to break it. We just needed to get the heck out.

So as I tried to stay calm (and thanked God that I had no other children along on this outing because HOW??), we walked through the foyer of the Y, my son suspended in midair, flailing about like a landed fish. People stopped talking, they stared.

One woman smiled and said "I remember those days!"

And I cringed...because I wondered if she was going to say it.

The words that ALWAYS make me feel worse no matter what kind of day we are having.

You know them. Maybe you've said them. Or been the recipient.

"Treasure these moments. They grow up way too fast."

Right.

Thankfully, in this instance, she didn't say it. I let out the breath I was holding, praised God for bicep curls that enable me to carry my 40 pounder with one arm and moved carefully out the door to the car.

So here's the thing.

I get that statement a lot. Sometimes verbally, sometimes people post articles telling me not to miss even one beautiful moment(which I click on for some inexplicable reason), sometimes I just see it in people's eyes.

And do you want to know my honest reaction?

Guilt.

Yep, guilt. Now, admittedly, I dabble in guilt more than the average person. It's my constant companion, the area of my life that I have to continually crawl back to God with and ask him to remove. It's not His fault I feel guilty. It's all my own. Self-forgiveness is a huge challenge for me.

But when someone looks into my life and tells me to treasure each moment, that they will pass too quickly, all I feel is terrible. Like I can never possibly do a good enough job because on top of feeding them, getting them on good schedules, changing them, wrestling them, loving them, enduring the freakouts and public humiliations, I am somehow supposed to find this magical all the time and remember every moment or I will regret it later.

That is a LOT of pressure.

And we almost never know the story of the person to whom we offer these trite phrases.

What if this was said to a woman suffering from post-partum depression? Or post-adoption blues? The parent who has a child with severe needs who is just beyond exhausted and doesn't know how he or she will do it again tomorrow? The father who cannot connect with his son or daughter and blames himself for somehow not being a good enough dad? The mom who battled her two-year-old from 7 am to 7 pm yesterday and had just enough energy to physically put herself to bed just after?

Yes, some day I will probably look back and miss some elements of when they were tiny. Heck, some days I manage to treasure it in the now, I really do.  When we are having a good day and the boys are reading to the baby or the older ones are tickle-wrestling and the giggles are abundant. Even when some of the moments are hard but I can see the progress we're making, I can find moments to pause, to reflect, to be thankful, to see the magic in childhood.

But on the days where I am just covered in spit up, when I've been kicked in the head trying to get someone in the car, wrestled two squirming humans through 12 diaper changes, forgotten what it feels like just to be a clean, reasonable woman...on those days, we just do life. Without magic or treasure.

Maybe the women who say this (and I have NEVER had a man say it) to me really felt in their element during the young years or maybe they are in the midst of it now and by speaking it aloud they are trying to remind themselves. But I've said it before and I'll say it again- we all have different gifts. I feel like I'm a pretty darn good mama some days, especially to my 9 year old. I am willing to play crazy games, chase him around the yard, shoot goals on him so he can practice soccer, paint cardboard to help him make a lego city, curl up for an hour reading Harry Potter together. I feel good at it.

But the younger years? Every day I wake up and have to ask God for deep grace and patience because the younger years don't come naturally to me. I'm not a "baby" person. I don't look at them and think "Oh, don't grow up!" I look at them and think "hmmm..if you could tell me rationally and eloquently using your words, we wouldn't be having this miscommunication." Or, rather, I would think that if my brain were capable of such verbiage in the midst of someone kicking me in the head.

All this to say, you can go on saying those nine words to people if you really want to. I, however, will not. I don't know their story, I don't know their gifts.

What I will say is this:

"I see you. You might be great at this right now or it might not be your strength. But you're trying and that's what matters. God's got the rest."