I'm a mom of 3 kids, and I love to read and watch movies, and I'm picky about what my kids read and watch.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

BOOK: Heaven is For Real

Heaven is For Real
by Todd Grupo

In case you don't know me personally, I will tell you this about myself;  I am a person of faith.  I am religious.  I believe that God is our Heavenly Father, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.  I believe that this life is not the end.  I believe that HEAVEN IS REAL.  (If you want to know more about what I believe, go here.) 

So, with that in mind, I had already accepted the premise of the book and didn't need any "convincing" (not that this book tries to convince anyone).  Most of the time I found myself thinking "yes, that's what I believe about heaven" and "yes, that's consistent with what we know from the Bible."  So, for me there wasn't anything shocking or revelatory.  It was merely interesting but not necessarily faith-promoting, and I doubt it would be so for anyone reading it who doesn't already "believe."

Actually, I found the story of this family's journey and their son's ordeal with illness more interesting than the story of the boy's visit to heaven.  Their personal growth from the experience seems real and touching.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

BOOK: The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques

The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques
by Margaret Wehrenberg

I worry about reviewing this book for fear that I might offend anyone who suffers from depression.  But I would like to be honest about my thoughts on this book, so here goes.

This is not a book I would ever have thought to read, but my well-read cousin suggested that this book was for everyone, and not just for those with "depression."  I think most of us who aren't "clinically depressed" still have times when we "feel depressed" for various reasons (life can be pretty stressful!).  This book offers some great advice for those times, as well as effective at-home techniques for those working with a therapist.

As a parent of a teenager, I feel like it offered some great tips that can be shared with those struggling with emotional ups and downs during those times of, well, tumultuous hormonal changes.  I realized many of the suggestions seem like "common sense" and yet I might not have thought to apply them in the way the author suggests. 

I'll be honest... this is not an easy read, and I thought the writing style was pretty boring (I found the author a bit verbose). There is quite a bit of technical jargon which I found difficult; in fact, I skipped most of it.  I guess I'm not particularly interested in the scientific aspect, just what to do about it.  :)  I think it's probably a great resource for those with serious depression, but is much too lengthy for those just looking for some tips to help during difficult times.  (Full disclosure:  I skimmed a lot.)  Here are a few examples (summarized in my own words):

- Make a "To Do" list of tasks that take 5 minutes or less.  When negative thoughts come, do one of the tasks to take your mind off it.

- Rephrase your thoughts to indicate that you have a CHOICE (e.g. "I choose to/not do that," "I could.... but I choose....", "I don't like it but I will do it.").

- Utilize your future energy:  pick a task to do, imagine how you will feel when it's complete, focus on the outcome, do the task, notice the pleasure you feel when it's done.

- Do something with your hands (build/repair something, draw, paint, play the piano, knit, etc.).

Some of the ideas are pretty obvious, like:
- eat well
- exercise
- get enough sleep
- be social, connect with people
- take deep breaths
- count your blessings

Yes.  Obvious.  BUT how many of us actually do all of those?  Especially when we are feeling "low."  It's a good reminder.

So, do I recommend this book?  Well, if you are interested in understanding the "why" and what is happening in the brain to cause depression, the answer is a resounding "yes."  If you are clinically depressed and/or are working with a therapist, the answer is "yes."  If you have times when you just feel like being a couch potato and don't have any energy to "get things done," or "feel depressed" at times, then the answer is also "yes."  BUT be sure and skip over the "heavy" parts... they can be pretty depressing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BOOKS: My Favorite Christmas Picture Books

One of my favorite Christmas books for children is "Merry Christmas Big Hungry Bear." If you are familiar with the original "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear" then you will appreciate this one all the more. It is a very sweet story that will take you by surprise.

We all know the old poem "The Night Before Christmas" but I especially love this version with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. [I grew up with a fascination for her lovely book, "A Time to Keep."] She was well into her 80's when she illustrated this one, and it shows, but it's still lovely.
My sister gave us this delightful book a few years ago, and it's been a hit. It's a fun imaginary tale of the adventures of the neighborhood snowmen when no one is looking.

And of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without "The Grinch," as it is usually referred to around our house. I hated the live-action film with Jim Carrey (who I usually like), but I thoroughly enjoy the old animated version. However, nothing can compare to reading the wonderful words from the book!

So, grab your kids and snuggle up on the couch with a few good books.

Age Recommendation:  1-100