Friday, May 08, 2009

Some Mother's Day Books

Of all the things I could offer the mothers out there this weekend I'd imagine "time" would be at the top of the list. More time for sleeping, more time for a shower without interruptions, more time for enjoying the sunshine--so I'm a little worried that adding some more reading material to your already-towering piles is the last thing you need but I'm going to risk it because some of these are really worth it.

Everyone Is BeautifulEveryone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center.
If you read momblogs to find solace from shared stress or joy from mutual success then I can say confidently that you'd like this book. It reads like a blog post--conversational and homey and with scenes that I swear I've seen others living out in real life.

This story, Center's second novel after The Bright Side of Disaster, follows Lanie Coate in her own personal pygmalion-esque journey.

The set up is familiar to many of you out there: she has three children (she's with them all day long) and while her husband hasn't hardly aged a day she, on the other hand, has become a little worse for wear after three pregnancies and too many "tubes of refrigerated cookie dough."

The family moves across country and in a chance meeting with an old acquaintance she decides that it's time to take her life into her own hands once again. The opening scene at the park where she's waiting for her husband while nursing the baby and one of the other children bites a stranger's child could have been written at any number of my favorite blog haunts but her journey of discovery is perfect for a Mother's Day weekend. I'm quite sure you'd enjoy her easy-going narrative style and sweet message--it's a great option for a Mother's Day weekend read.

The Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large FamilyA Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn.
Now while I was sent each of these books for review I need to confess that this was the one that I was already sure I would love before it ever arrived.

Many of you already know Mary Ostyn from her wonderful blog Owlhaven which I've read for three years now. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary last summer at BlogHer and I can assure that she's as lovely in person as she is in writing so perhaps I'm a little biased toward anything she writes.

But having said that I also have to say that this book is terrific. It does just what it says it does: gives you good advice for how to deal with raising a large family (and with 10 kids Mary knows her stuff) and I love it that someone is speaking out and saying "Yes! This can not only be done but done gracefully!"

How many times have I heard people spout off about how if you have too many kids that you or your resources will be spread too thin? Ostyn addresses these issues with great chapters such as "Is a Disney Vacation a Childhood Essential?" (I'll give you a hint: it's not. Vacations and family time are important but the expensive resort? Not so much) or "School Success: What If My Kid Isn't an Honor Student?" or "Celebrating Each Child: Will They Know How Special They Are to Me?"

In a time when large families are becoming more rare I love hearing from someone who's not only down in the trenches but winning the war against the myth that big families are only for the insane or the saintly. If you are thinking about the possibility of another child, wondering how you can fit another child into your life or even just looking for a practical insight into parenting with Mary's enjoyable style of writing then please grab a copy. Grab a copy for your friend who is thinking about having another one.

Better yet, leave me a comment here and I'll draw a winner for the extra copy I was sent. You'll love it, I promise.

Seeing the EverydaySeeing the Everyday
I'm going to again mention the new magazine "Seeing the Everyday" which has just produced its fifth issue full of stories, poetry, photographs and personal essays that celebrate the small and tender moments in life--so often those that center around our family relationships.

I mentioned last December how I teared up reading one of the articles before (and I'm not usually such a sap, really!) but the pictures and the whole feel of the publication convey quality and warmth and "old-fashioned" values that are not old-fashioned at all but are alive and thriving today.

There are no advertisements, just real stories and thoughts from real people and while you're reading it you feel the atmosphere of hanging out in your grandmother's kitchen while she's rolling out the biscuit dough for dinner.

The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential by Renee and Mike Mosiman.
And finally, if you're one of those parents (probably rather fresh off the assembly line) who is always analyzing your child and trying to gauge whether he or she is keeping up with her peers or if you're still changing diapers but wondering if you should be interviewing preschools this might be a good book for you to read.

Now honestly? After 16 years of parenting four children most of what the book had to say was stuff I'd already figured out or heard from other sources--for example, that children under the age of two really shouldn't be involved in any way with the television or that talking and reading with your child helps their mental growth--but if you're interested in a basic handbook on improving your child's mental development in a way that is readable and not too long to overwhelm then this is a good book.

It takes the approach that while it's rather trendy to get your child started in all sorts of lessons and curricula so that he or she can shine academically there are plenty of things you can do that are far more practical, affordable and beneficial as you interact with your child regularly.

While much of the material isn't a surprise--for example, that the fine arts are fabulous for developing creativity--the part I really appreciate is the practical way to use every day activities to foster that growth rather than having to hire a tutor. The authors give lots of examples of questions you can be thinking of and ways to talk with your child while you're driving in the car or out at the grocery store that help increase their mathematical or linguistic awareness which is the major selling point of the book and the corresponding website The Smarter Preschooler.

Anyway, it's a good handbook for helping brain development in small children and would be an excellent addition to a new mom's library. A good baby shower gift package item.

So happy reading and happy Mother's Day! I hope your weekend is filled with sunshine and good books and strawberry stuffed French toast.

Sponsored by Tiny Prints for the holiday party invitations for children.

31 comments:

branda50 said...

"A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family" sounds like the perfect book for my niece who has 7children..
"Seeing the everyday"..Sounds interesting...I'll be looking for it at the book store...

Jennifer said...

Are you really offering to fly to FL and cook me breakfast? I can't possibly accept your offer of strawberry french toast when you have 4 of your own to care for. :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Chele said...

All of those books sound wonderful. "A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family" is something I really need. I have 4 children and everyday I wonder if I'm doing a good job with them. Sometimes I see that I am and other times, it's hard to see! Especially when we cannot afford to do a lot of things that other parents are doing with their kids. Thanks for the book ideas! Have a great Mother's Day!!!

Jolanthe said...

Have a great weekend. :)

Jolanthe

JoAnna said...

The large family book sounds wonderful! I have 6 children from 16 mos. to 15.5 years old and I'm always searching for inspirational reading!

chelle said...

hmm I wonder if three is large? I am sure some days it will feel like that! I read Owlhaven, she is amazing!

So checking out the rest at the library!

jacjewelry said...

Wonderful suggestions! Happy upcoming Mother's Day!

mannequin said...

I think Everyone is Beautiful sounds like a terrific escape. On the breezeway in the porch swing. With iced tea. And no litter boxes to clean.

Suzanne said...

I probably could have used "A Sane Woman's..." when I was in the throws of raising my brood. The one that really caught my eye was "Seeing the Everyday" -- sounds wonderful and relaxing. These are all great suggestions.

Maddy said...

I like the sound of 'seeing the everyday.'
Cheers

Patricia Linehan said...

Everyone is Beautiful is on my to-read shelf at goodreads. Thanks for suggesting the other 2, I'd never heard of them. Happy Mother's Day.

CWDkids said...

Thank you for the great list of books. I can't wait to read some of them!

I hope you have a great mother's day.

Ashley, with CWDkids
http:\\kidbits.cwdkids.com

elizabeth said...

I follow Owlhaven too and I think she's great. I really want to get my hands on a copy of her book. If I win, I will give you an Oregon address and you can first send it to my BFF who's raising 7 and doing a fantastic job of it, and then she'll pass it on to me when she's done. Two for the price of one! How can you resist? *winning smile* ;)

planetnomad said...

er, that last one was me...edj at Planet Nomad. I forgot to switch to Open ID. Sorry. I was just so excited ;)

Sharmista said...

All of those books look great. I don't know if 4 qualifies as a large family compared to 10(!) but I would definitely love to read "A Sane Woman's Guide"... "Seeing the everyday" looks so inspiring too. :-)

Flea said...

My weekend reading is a Ted Dekker novel. I wish it wasn't, but it's what I have right now. He gets old fast. Thanks for the read ideas!

katherinecenter said...

Thank you so much for posting about Everyone Is Beautiful! It's such an honor to be featured here! Many, many good wishes to you--and Happy Mother's Day!
Warmly,
Katherine Center

Michele said...

I liked your comment about every Mom wanting "time". My mothers day gift this year? An evening out with my girlfriends. That was my request and my husband was very happy that I knew what I wanted!

Mean Mommy said...

Thanks for some fun suggestions! All are new to me...

Leah said...

Thanks for the book recommendations! All seem like good reads. I heard about "Seeing the Everyday" earlier this year and hope to find it locally.

annie said...

since I have 6 kiddos, I could use a good read!

cndymkr / jean said...

Ok, I'm sure this post has some great words of wisdom, but I missed them. I am too busy drooling after that cupcake in the first photo. Can you say PMS?

Mrs. Team S said...

"A Sane Woman's Guide" sounds like a wonderful book! I will have to go check out OwlHaven. Sounds like a great book.

home@teamsoutherland.com

april said...

These books sound like great reads! That "raising a large family" one would be especially helpful...

Serena said...

I've been trying to get my paws on Mary's book for a while now. I need all the sanity I can get around here.

Wendy said...

I keep entering these contests to win this book and it keeps not happening. I'm gonna just have to break down and buy it. Unless...
Thanks for the chance.

Wendy said...

I'm gonna just have to buy this book, unless....

Thanks for the chance.

Ally said...

I am due with baby number 5 in a month. You should hear the comments I get from people who can't believe I have more than 2. I am thankful for the large family I come from and the large family we're building. I would love to read about another "Sane" woman. Thanks Michelle!!

TJ said...

not like i need yet another book added to my to-read list, but i would love that sane woman book. i could use all the help i can get.

Wild Squirrel said...

I love reading books like Sane Woman's. And, of course, I'd love to win a copy! I also liked I Didn't Plan to be a Witch: And Other Surprises of a Joyful Mother. If you haven't read it, it is worth picking up, IMHO.

Terresa said...

What a lovely blog post. Thanks for the book reviews, now I fear, I'm off to Borders or Amazon (online, that is) to find some of these puppies.

Seeing the everyday...now that's a magazine that's a keeper. Never heard about it until now. Thanks for opening my eyes.