Archives For family

 

Looking forward to reading this book!

Watch for our review in next week’s issue…

Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules
and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure In Search of Christian Living
.
Craig Goodwin.
Paperback: Sparkhouse, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com]

 

Topsy Turvy World
William Brighty Rands

[ One of the poems set to music on
Natalie Merchant’s recent Album: Leave Your Sleep
Read our review…  ]

If the butterfly courted the bee,
And the owl the porcupine;
If the churches were built in the sea,
And three times one was nine;
If the pony rode his master,
If the buttercups ate the cows,
If the cat had the dire disaster
To be worried, sir, by the mouse;
If mamma, sir, sold the baby
To a gypsy for half-a-crown;
If a gentleman, sir, was a lady-
The world would be Upside Down!
If any or all of these wonders
Should ever come about,
I should not consider them blunders,
For I should be Inside Out!

 

“Just What the Children Ordered.

A review of
Sewing School:
21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make
.
By Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle
.

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger Smith
and Miriam Smith
.

Sewing School:
21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make
.
By Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle
.
Hardback: Storey Publishing, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

SEWING SCHOOL - Plumley and LisleA few years ago I taught a beginning sewing class, 4-H style, for some 3rd graders.  I shelled out the money for the approved text and set about teaching the kids all about their machines, how to make a straight line, how to backstitch, etc.  The kids were somewhat interested, but what they really wanted was to get their hands on a machine. How I wish I had Sewing School by Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle back then!  This book is delightfully hands-on.  It’s written in a such a way that a child who can read can also do most things on his own with only occasional adult help.

When we received the book, Miriam (7) sat down to look through it.  These are her words: “At first I thought I’d never make anything, because my mom sometimes forgets things. But it was easy because I didn’t need my mom’s help much. I want to make the doll skirt and one for me to match!”

There are so many things that impress me about this book.  The pictures/layout/illustrations look as superb as any modern crafting book out there—in other words, it will appeal to craft-loving adults and children alike.  It’s not cutesy or childish, but very appealing and child-appropriate.  Another thing I love is the authors and photographer (Justin Fox Burks) use items that children have actually made.  Any parent who crafts with children knows that the “finished object” pictures in books and on websites often differ incredibly from what a child is typically capable of producing. This leads to great frustrations for new crafters. The projects pictured in Sewing School were created by children—and they are lovely and child-like.  Miriam wanted to do just about every project in the book!

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of

The Impact of Attachment.
Susan Hart.
Hardback:  W.W. Norton, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Josh Morgan.

 

Attachment theory is one of the most well-respected psychological theories in the mental health fields. Focusing on the effect of relationships on people’s behaviors, moods, attitudes, thoughts, etc., attachment theory has influenced many professions and subsequent treatment modalities. Rooted in psychoanalytic theory’s history, attachment work tends to be longer-term and less concrete than managed care-friendly modalities, like cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Increasing neuroscience research has focused more efforts on understanding the role of the brain, its structures, neurotransmitters, and hormones on thoughts, moods, and behaviors. With the rising medicalization of mental health and improving psychotropic medications, longer-term and more transformative (rather than symptom-focused) therapies have faced greater challenges and less respect.

Susan Hart, a Danish psychologist, attempts to tackle many of these in her ambitious volume, The Impact of Attachment. This thick text is a comprehensive explanation of attachment theory, particularly connecting it with modern neuroscientific findings. The fundamental thesis of her work is that “a dichotomy of brain/mind, biology/experience, nature/nurture is not very productive, chiefly because it hampers the development of a theory that is capable of fully embracing the complexity that characterizes human psychological development” (xi). As a psychologist, I can attest to the fact that the increasing debate that polarizes qualitative and quantitative like modern American politics is creating more conflict with the mental health fields. Such conflict does not help build better treatments if we were all to work together to bring our unique areas of expertise to elucidate the shadows of the mind.
Continue Reading…

 

“Beauty and Serendipity Amidst the Hum of Daily Life”

A review of
Ideal Cities: Poems
By Erika Meitner.


Reviewed by Brittany Buczynski

Ideal Cities: Poems
By Erika Meitner.

Paperback: Harper, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

IDEAL CITIES: POEMS - Erika MeitnerWhat is a “modern” poet? How does he or she differ from the poets of the past, from Shakespeare and Browning, Keats and Shelley, Yeats and Eliot? In the twenty-first century, amidst the ubiquitous distractions of smart phones, gas station cable TV, and constant information overload, where does poetry fit in? How does one find those quiet moments to contemplate the precious, intangible elements of life? How can something as fragile as a poem survive the crushing weight of skyscrapers? Is it possible for a poem—or a poet—to breathe in an atmosphere thick with car exhaust and frenetic stress?

Erika Meitner answers these questions in a way that affirms both the legacy and the future of poetry. Her collection entitled Ideal Cities explores the ways modern culture intersects with ancient human emotions. Built around a familiar infrastructure of trademarked brand names, highway traffic, and memories thick as concrete, Meitner’s poetry reminds us that poems can fit anywhere. They are like water, taking the shape of their surroundings. They do not need to be pastoral or sanitized or delicate or euphemistic. And hers are not. They are less about “stopping by woods on a snowy evening” and more about crawling bumper-to-bumper through an urban commute. They are less a flowery meadow and more a city parking lot—with a stubborn dandelion poking its head through the asphalt.

Meitner’s strength is in her animation and invigoration of what many would consider throwaway moments. She picks up the cold instruments of everyday monotony, and in her hands they become breathing portraits, symbolic of human adaptation to many different environments and less-than-ideal circumstances.

Continue Reading…

 

“Learning from the Children

A Review of

Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey:
Guidance for Those Who Teach and Nurture
.

By Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May.

Reviewed by Josh Morgan.


Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey:
Guidance for Those Who Teach and Nurture
.

By Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May.

Paperback: baker, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

As a child psychologist with a particular passion and speciality in spirituality, particularly spiritual formation, I was very excited to review Catherine Stonehouse and Scottie May’s Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey. This book discusses the results from multiple projects exploring childhood Christian spirituality. Before thinking it may be boring, allow me to assure you that it’s not. While it could definitely be used in an academic setting (the publishing house emphasizes that), it really is meant for laity, not academics.
I recently began a spirituality group as part of my organization’s child partial hospitalization program for psychiatric problems. This book was helpful in developing some activities to initiate discussion on spiritual topics. However, it really is meant for a parents and church-based ministries rather than therapists. And it is focused on Christian spirituality. So if you’re looking for ways to explore the spirituality of atheist children, this book is probably not what you’re looking for (although I would also argue it’s techniques could be altered for the appropriate spiritual context).

 

A Review of

Children’s Nature:
The Rise of the American Summer Camp.

Leslie Paris.
Hardback: NYU Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Enstad.

I, more or less, grew up at a church camp. Starting in third grade you could find me up on the North Shore of Lake Superior at the church camp my congregation had the foresight to organize and build in the 1950’s. By the time I began attending “our” camp it was already well-established with cabins, a lodge, a chapel, and traditions going back decades. Every camper knew that the “biffies” stunk; but some stunk more than others. We knew that the “cool” kids figured out how to sneak out at night to meet a camper of the opposite sex at “the Rock” presumably to sit together scared of being discovered but, of course, the stories became embellished by morning. There were ghost stories and disappearing camper stories. Underneath it all we developed a deeper relationship with each other and, through twice-a-day chapel and daily Bible study, with God. I was the second generation of my family to attend that camp and it is amazing to know that there are third, fourth, and fifth generation campers up there as I write this.

It’s hard for me to imagine that as early as the late nineteenth century there was no such thing as children with leisure time. With the rise of urban life on the East coast came a desire to hold on to the pioneering, outdoor spirit of the recent American past. In Children’s Nature: the Rise of the American Summer Camp, Leslie Paris, Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, has written a part-historical, part-anthropological study of this phenomenon. In doing so, Dr. Paris gives great insight into how summer camping became such an important part of so many people’s lives and, indeed, American culture itself.

Continue Reading…

 

“A Story of Mystery,
Much Larger Than We Are”

A Review of
Rosing From the Dead: Poems
by Paul Willis

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


Rosing From the Dead: Poems
Paul Willis

Paperback: Word Farm, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Rosing from the Dead: Poems by Paul WillisRosing from the Dead, the newest book of poetry from Paul Willis shares its title with a poem about halfway through the volume, in which Willis reflects on his young daughter’s description of Jesus “rosing from the dead” on Easter Sunday.  In that phrase, spoken peculiarly as children are wont to do, Willis considers the possibility that perhaps the resurrection is not unlike a rose in its beauty, wildness and mystery.  These three themes of the title poem run throughout the collection, reflecting a deep reverence throughout for the abundant life not only of humanity, but of all God’s creation.  The poems here are organized into three sections: “Faith of our Fathers,” “Higher Education” and “Signs and Wonders.”  The first two sections, reflect on various aspects of human experience, the third focuses on themes of nature and wilderness.  Specifically, the poems in the book’s first section address family relationships, from naming to dysfunction.  One of the most striking poems here, “Nuclear Family” sketches the story of a nuclear physicist, so fixed on his career and the pursuit of nuclear technologies that could destroy all humanity, doesn’t see the destruction that his own pursuits are wreaking upon his own family.  The poems in this section are written from a variety of perspectives – children, teenagers, parents – and taken together they weave a rich, vibrant tapestry of the complexities and joys of family life.

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of

Souls in Transition:
The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.
Christian Smith with Patricia Snell.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

Swiss authorities studied how religious traditions are passed from generation to generation.  The results published in 2000 were staggering.  When the father of the home attends weekly services, 4 out of 10 children will regularly follow his example as adults.  But when dad’s participation is taken out of the equation, only 2% are committed to church or synagogue later in life.  Adult relationships in the life of a young person’s religious commitment can be described in simple “make or break” terms.

Christian Smith’s latest research advanced in the book Souls in Transition, confirms both the Swiss findings and biblical foundations.  Perhaps the most important statement in the book appears not in the text but in a footnote.  “One of the most common, if not the most common, among the variety of answers that teenagers offered was that they wished they were closer to their parents” (344).  Over and over again qualitative and quantitative sociological analysis reached the same conclusions: “Parents matter a great deal . . . in shaping religion during the emerging adult years” (246).  Of course, Solomon was ahead of the curve.  Timeless truths are drilled deep into ancient Scriptural practices.  The fear of Yahweh provides a family refuge when the righteous man sets the standard for his children (Proverbs 14:26; 20:7).

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of

Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father At 14,000 Feet.
Nathan Foster.
Paperback:  IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.

My idea of an outdoor adventure is taking a leisurely stroll on a well-groomed path through a Chicagoland forest preserve, and frankly, even that’s a stretch for a life-long suburbanite like me. Our Wisconsin neighbors scornfully call us Illinois residents “flatlanders”. Mountain-climbing is not on my nature radar screen.

I’m not sure it was on author Richard Foster’s nature radar, either. But the invitation to climb one of Colorado’s 54 “fourteeners”, given him by his struggling 22-year old son Nathan offered the two men an opportunity to begin untangling their difficult relationship:

As I became a young adult, my father and I seemed to have no time or interest in getting to know each other. We had nothing in common…The strain of our unresolved arguments, and silence when words should have been spoken, had taken their toll. The distractions of life numbed my hurt, which over time hardened into apathy. The little I knew about my father I didn’t much like.

Continue Reading…