Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spanking is not a laughing matter

Spanking is defined as the striking of the buttocks, thigh or hand of a child to cause temporary pain as punishment for unacceptable behavior. Spanking is a hot topic among parents. Some parents believe that spanking is the only way to get their children to behave. I, however, do not believe that spanking or corporal punishment works in the long run. Spanking is for the here and now and does not deter future misbehavior. The most disturbing aspect of spanking is that some parents still use corporal punishment when their children are well into their teenage years. There is a point when spanking stops being effective. I have also heard many people make jokes about the corporal punishment they received as kids especially the objects they were hit with. This is not a laughing matter. As someone who sees the effects of such punishment every day, it is not a topic you can joke about.

Studies have shown that corporal punishment has long term psychological effects on a child and on his or her brain. A recent study out of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has shown that corporal punishment can effect a child’s cognitive development and may reduce the grey matter of the brain. Other studies have shown a link between the use of corporal punishment and aggression in children. Long term corporal punishment has been shown to cause lasting emotional damage as well as inhibiting the learning process. It can undermine the trust between parent and child and can breed hostility toward authority figures. Despite what the picture below states, spanking doesn't teach respect for others. You can teach respect by showing respect. 

I believe that a quick smack on the thigh or hand to warn the child of danger such as getting too close to the stove or to get their attention for a bad behavior is OK. However, a parents needs to talk to their child to explain why he or she is being punished and why the behavior is unacceptable. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “Parents should explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt.” For my husband and I, we feel spanking is the last resort when punishing our two year old daughter. For instance, she has a toy broom that she likes to play with as we sweep the floor. But lately, she has been swinging it around like a sword and in danger of hitting someone or breaking something. We first take the toy away for a period of time while we let her know why the toy has been taken away. After maybe a day, we’ll get it back to her. She has continued to swing the broom that we have taken the toy away permanently. Has she learned her lesson? Maybe not but she can have the toy back when she understands that she cannot swing toys around and hit someone or something. And when she’s older, she’ll lose privileges for misbehavior.

I have spanked my daughter when I was angry and I immediately regret doing so. I hate that I may be teaching her to hit when she’s angry instead of talking it out. If I do spanking her, I immediately kneel down so we see eye to eye and I calmly talk to her about why I hit her and what she did was wrong. I also apologize for hitting her that I don’t like doing it.

Parenting is not an easy job. You have to make decision that you may not know the lasting effects. I know that parents are doing the best job they can. Some parents will quote Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." However, this is verse is talking about careful discipline and does not give parents license to beat their child. The point is to discipline your child in a way that they learn correct behavior. I believe that spanking as the only form of punishment sends the wrong message and confuses children that they never learn what is correct behavior. People will also try and say that the Bible says, "spare the rod and spoil the child" which is not true. This phrase never appears in the Bible. It is actually from a poem by Samuel Butler called Hudibras published in 1664. 

My point is if a parent is going to use spanking or corporal punishment, please do so with careful consideration and understand what your limits and boundaries are. The last thing you want to do is go to far. Our children are the best legacy we can leave to the world. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Two new children's books reviews: "If you were me and lived in Australia" and "The Unlucky Teacher and her Koalas"

Today I have two new children’s books to review. Two books I would highly recommended to teachers and parents to introduce children to very important lessons. 

The first is from the “If you were me and lived in…” series by Carole P. Roman. Ms. Roman is a former teacher when she and her husband started a successful family business. She enjoys time with her grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Her teaching career is reflected in this book due to the fun way she introduces the country and its culture.
This book is about the country of Australia. I really enjoyed this book. I think is a fun way of introducing different countries and cultures to children. The illustration were simple and colorful. The author included the phonetic pronunciations of new words such as Australia and Aussies. The book also introduces different aspects of the culture such as its major cities, the natural wonder like the Great Barrier Reef and a national holiday, January 26th. This is a great book to introduce children to different counties. Ms. Roman has already published a book about Mexico and a new book about France is in the works. I look forward to getting these books and any new ones in this series. The recommended age for this book is 3-8 years old. I feel that 8 might be too old. I would put the age range at 3-5.  

Second book is “The story of the Unlucky Teacher and her koalas” by Nina Johnson. Ms. Johnson is a passionate teacher who taps into her students’ natural ability to learn. She is currently working as an academic literary coach for the Southeastern Region of Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. She uses her knowledge about the challenges facing students today and transforms it into a delightful story about meeting the challenge. 
The story takes place in a quaint little village called All-We-Do-Is-Test. She was the Unlucky Teacher because she taught children who weren’t “normal” and wouldn’t be able to pass the annual Big Mountain Climbing Contest. But on the day of the contest, the Unlucky Teacher’s students revealed something special and passed the test!
This book teaches the lesson of using the tools one has been given in order to meet a challenge and prevail. According to the author’s description, this book represents the challenge in America’s public schools. It illustrates the importance of having teachers who believe in their students to achieve their goals despite the challenges or limitations. The illustrations are beautifully done. The message may be too deep for younger readers. I would recommend 5-8 years old as the recommended age range. However, younger readers will story the story of the koalas despite not understanding the deeper meaning.

“If you were me and lived in Australia” is available at and

“The Unlucky Teacher and her Koalas is available at

P.S. I would like to thank Carole P. Roman who sent all the goodies with her book. It was a awesome surprise and my daughter enjoys playing with them. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A few of my favorite books

“He was fond of books, for they are cool and sure friends”
Les Miserables

Books have been my escape since I was 12 years old. Books about times long past and place I’ve longed to visit. I’ve read books in all genres except horror. I took an online quiz recently which asked the all-time questions: my favorite book. It’s hard to pick just one even with the criteria of a book I’ve read multiple times. It’s just so many books! I have books that I’ve read so much that the binding is falling apart and I’ve afraid to reread because I can’t replace them because they are out of print. So, I’ve decided to write about my top 3 favorite books (these are in no particular order):

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
I first fell in love with the story of the Phantom of the Opera one summer when I was 12 years old. I was visiting my Aunt Nancy’s and she had the original London cast recording of the musical. She let me listen to it and I did. Over and over and over again. So much that she would take me to see it for my 13th birthday. Ever since then I can’t get enough of this story. I found the book in which the musical in based on and I enjoyed the mystery and the tragic love story of the Phantom of the Opera. It is a story of a love triangle between Christine Daae, a young ballet dancer who dreams of the Angel of Music, Erik, a disfigured man who lives in the shadows of the Opera House and becomes obsessed with Christine and Raoul, Christine’s childhood playmate and love interest who returns to her life and offers her a life away from the horror of her Angel of Music. It was also inspired by real events at the Paris Opera House. This is the book that inspired me to learn French and visit the famous opera house. Even though I never mastered French, I still dream of going to Paris and seeing the opera house. I still love this story. I’ve read the book so many times. I’ve listened to the musical soundtrack so much that I have the lyrics memorized. I love the 2004 movie adaptation of the musical. It’s a great story!

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I’ve watched the movie Gone with the Wind all my life. When I was 12 years old, I decided that I wanted to read the book. I first read it in the 7th grade and enjoyed it so much that I read it again. My reading teacher was so impressed that I was reading books beyond the recommended reading that she gave me a Reading Award for the Fall Semester. I love the history of the book. The picture of pre-Civil War Georgia to the devastation of Reconstruction. My favorite character is Rhett Butler, the dashing gentleman who walks the line between the genteel society and the taboos they so desperately avoid. He is the wild spirit to Scarlett’s fire. He represents the realization of what one had when it’s gone. Rhett realizes that he longed for the south of his childhood and not the world he came to be in. “Gone with the Wind” is a love story of two people who aren’t destined to live happily ever after. It’s also a story of death and survival. The death of a world with so much pride that they felt invincible and the survival of the ones who saw that they weren’t. It’s a story of remembering a world long past and learning to live in the world it had become. It’s a story of how hardships can make or break a person. Some people become stronger after struggles while others wither and break apart.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
I read “Les Miserables” for the first time in the 7th grade after I had finished “Gone with the Wind.” I was drawn to the story of Jean Valjean, a man who struggled to live a life in poverty, strived to live a holy life and escape his criminal past. The story of Fantine who fell in love, became pregnant, abandoned and left to find a life for herself and her child. The story of Cosette, a child who was left in the care of a family who abused her, raised by a mysterious man and learns the missing parts to her story. There are themes of love and forgiveness, social injustices of the French society of the 19th century and society’s inability to eliminate the rigid class system. The haves still had a lot and the have nots still struggled for their place in the world. The story of a group of students who saw these injustices and fought and died for the resolution. I was given the original Broadway cast recording by my Aunt Fran one Christmas after reading this book. I enjoyed it so much that I also have it memorized and recently enjoyed the movie adaptation. I have not seen the musical on the stage yet but it’s on my bucket list. “Les Miserables” is a story of struggles and injustices but, most importantly, it is also the story of hope, faith and love.

“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Les Miserables” are just three of the books that I love and enjoy after many years of reading. Books have been my constant companion. I love books. I introduced books to my daughter at birth. When she’s a little bit older and can understand how to take care of books, we will take trips to the library and she can pick out her favorites. Then she can start her own list of books that speak to her and stay with her as she grows up. I love when I have a stack of books waiting for me to pick it up. I love going to the library and checking out the maximum number of books. When I got the opportunity to review newly published books I jumped on it. I love reading new books and reviewing them for future readers. I love books!

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan: a review

“Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan is the story of the Kelleher women who gather together one summer in Maine. Each woman brings with them past family issues and current family secrets. Each chapter is told from the prospective of one of the Kelleher women: Alice, Kathleen, Maggie and Ann Marie.
            Alice is the matriarch of the Kelleher. She is an old school Irish Catholic with old prejudices and deep secrets of guilt and pain. Alice hides her guilt with alcohol instead of revealing the pain and regret that she carries with her. Her alcohol problem contributes to her inability to loving raise her children. She refuses to take reasonability for her actions which has caused pain for her children. Her husband, Daniel, was the glue that kept the family together and since his death the family seems further and further apart.
            Kathleen is Alice’s oldest daughter who is divorced and a recovering alcoholic. She has deep hatred toward her mother about family incidents. Kathleen has faced her own alcoholic demons and has done well to move on with her life. She is considered the black sheep of the family. The one who got divorced, moved in with her boyfriend and started a worm fertilizer farm in California. Despite being very successful, the family makes fun her new endeavor.
            Maggie is Kathleen’s daughter. A young woman who is writer for a magazine and is working on her first novel. She is pregnant and has yet to tell anyone. She is the typical oldest child of a divorce family. She has learned to be the peacemaker and wants to get to the bottom of every conflict despite the family’s desires to brush it under the rug. She struggles with the realization that she will be raising her child on her own and she drives into the preparation with determination and excitement.
            Ann Marie is Alice’s daughter-in-law, married to Alice’s only son and favorite child, Patrick. Ann Marie is the daughter Alice always wanted. She, too, had secrets of her own and desires that go beyond her husband and the life they now have. She has found success building dollhouses which her husband does not take seriously even when she gets a very big surprise about one of her dollhouses.
            The story begins with Alice cleaning out the beach house in Cape Neddick, Maine. She is remembering how she and her husband had acquired the beach property and built their home there. Each chapter deals with a segment of the woman’s past as a part of the family and away from the family. Slowly, each chapter reveals a bit of the secret that Alice refuses to tell anyone. Although the reader does find out Alice’s deep secret, the characters do not. I can’t reveal too much because it will give away the surprises in the book. As each secret is revealed, the bitterness and guilt of Alice will become clearer.

            I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters and their various issues felt real and don’t resolve in a nice little bow. I find myself relating the Maggie because I, too, am the oldest child in a divorced family and I took on many of the roles that Maggie does. I was the peacemaker and tried to make everyone happy so there was peace in our house. I highly recommend “Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan. It keeps your attention without being overly dramatic and it’s true to real life problems and family issues. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Christian view on homosexuality and homosexual marriage

                I write this opinion with great trepidation because I know once it’s out there, I can’t take it back. That being said, I can’t keep it to myself any longer. This thought has been rolling in my head for a while now and I've been trying to figure out how to write it down. Many of you know that I am a Christian. I have been since I was 17 years old and with each passing day my faith in my Lord Jesus Christ grows stronger. He has shown me that He is in control and provides my family with our needs. Lately, I've been reading that the Christians have no right to claim that homosexuality is a sin that the New Testament does not talk about homosexuality.  The Bible speaks very clearly about homosexuality. It is wrong. I don’t understand why the uproar about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty when he was asked a very specific question about sin and he quoted the Bible. Why does the world ask these questions of a Christian knowing full well what their response will be and then call them intolerant? A similar incident happened to Kirk Cameron on the Piers Morgan show.
I will address three arguments that I have read that Christians are wrong about homosexuality and the Bible. First, the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. This is false. There are quite a number of verses that speak against sexual immorality. Due to the sheer number of verses which deal with sexual immorality in general, I am referencing the verses which speak of homosexuality specifically.
  • ·         Romans 1:25-27 “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their woman exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
  • ·         Leviticus 18:22 “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”
  • ·         1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers not men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor the drunkard nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
  • ·         1 Corinthians 7:2 “But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”

These verses are very clear DO Not. Sex is to be between a man and a woman within the bond of marriages. That is how God created us and any other way is a sin.
                Second, I've read that a few gay advocates that cited that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality and in turn homosexual marriage. But he did. Matthew 19:3-6 sets the scene between Jesus and the Pharisees, who are trying to test Jesus. The Pharisees ask “It is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (verse 3). Jesus then replied, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and  said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (verses 4-6).  Therefore, marriage is between a man and a woman.
Third, Christians are using the Bible to justify hatred against homosexuals. Unfortunately, this one is true. It pains me to see that Christians are using God’s words to justify their own hatred and it’s been used in the wrong way for centuries. The Bible does not give Christians license to discriminate or vilify anyone. There are countless verses in which God is telling us to love our neighbors and the Christians are not to judge one another:
·         Hebrews 13:1 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters”
·         James 4:12 “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you –who are you to judge your neighbor?”
·         John 8:7 “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’”
·         Matthew 7:12 “So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
·         Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
·         Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge others, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye?”

Sin is sin, regardless of type. God hates it all and as a sinner, I must worry about my own soul and my righteousness with God. I am commanded to follow Him and teach His teachings to my children and the world. Being Christian doesn't make me perfect, far from it. However, I will not support something in which the Bible clearly speaks against. I don’t understand how Christians will say murder is wrong because it says so in the Bible but will say that homosexuality is natural when the Bible clearly speaks that it is not. Believers do not have the option to pick and choose the verses we chose to believe. I know some who would call themselves Christian who quote the nice verses and yet ignore the hard time, gut wrenching, take your breath away verses. I must follow the commands given to me by God. God has clearly forbidden homosexuality. We all have to answer for the decisions we've made in this life. I still think homosexuality is wrong but that doesn't give me the right to condemn homosexuals. I have known several gay people in my life. Some were classmates, co-workers and even second mothers. Even though I do not agree with their lifestyle, I do not wish harm to come to them in any way. I am commanded to treat them as I would want to be treated. So, I will treat them with respect and dignity. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Unless by Carol Shields: a review

“Unless” by Carol Shields is the story of a woman, Reta, who faces a crisis when her oldest daughter, Norah, who decides to drop out of college and panhandle on the street corner in Toronto. Norah says nothing and only has a sign which reads GOODNESS. This book would be Ms. Shields’ last book as she passed away on July 16, 2003 after a battle with breast cancer at the age of 68.
The story opens in the summer of 2000. Reta, a writer in her mid-forties, lists her writing accomplishments and the life events that occurred alongside them. The birth of her children and her friendship and working relationship with fellow writer Danielle Westerman. Her husband, Tom, is a doctor. It was confusing as to what type of doctor Tom is. She writes in one chapter: “Tom, who is a family physician and has a broad scientific background” and throughout the rest of the book, Tom is researching trilobites, a fossil group of extinct marine arthropods. Why would a family physician be studying trilobites? Is this a hobby? Ms. Shields doesn’t make this clear. The main story is Reta’s mission to figure out why her daughter, Norah, would drop out of college and panhandle on the street. Her mission as well as her writing a second novel. Reta begins to realize that women authors aren’t named among the great minds and resents her editor when he suggests that men protagonists make for better sellers.
“Unless” was a very difficult book to read. First, Reta is very unsympathic. As I read, I couldn’t help but realize that I didn’t care about her, her writing or her mission to have women author be counted among the greats. Ms. Shields’ assumption that women seen as good to write “domestic” subjects such as romance novels and that women writers have to have a male protagonist. When she is clearly ignoring many women authors who write female protagonists outside the domestic scene. For example, Patricia Cornwell and her Dr Kay Scarpetta. Second, Ms. Shields likes to use big and obscure words with little clue as to their meaning. I have a fairly good vocabulary and if I don’t know the words I’m usually good at figuring them out by the sentences around them or I look the word up just to clarify my understand. However, in this book, there were 4 words that were so obscure that the sentences around them did not help in their understanding. For example, lachrymose was used in this sentence, “’She is such a lachrymose woman.’ I once heard a man say that disdainfully about his sister; he might have been talking about me in my present state.” For those who don’t know, lachrymose means to cause tears or cry often. What about that sentence helps the reader understand the meaning if he or she doesn’t already know? Third, Reta’s “feminist” mission irritated me. It was a constant borage of “what about women?” The character’s letters to various authors and even one man’s obituary about their omission of women authors was overdone. Reading it, I was thinking “Ok, I get it. Women don’t get the same acknowledge as men.”
The letter to the man who just died was a little creepy and just wrong. The only aspect of this book that I did like was the reason behind Norah’s crisis. The author does give a little foreshadowing but if the reader isn’t reading closely, he or she will miss it. Unfortunately, the rest of the book, the characters are so bland that I kept looking and saying “how many more pages?” and when I do that I know it’s not a good book.
Before writing my review, I wanted to get the impression of other readers, in case I was missing something about the book. I went to and while those who liked the book were already fans of Ms. Shields, many of the reviewers had the same problems I did. One reviewer wrote “I didn’t like the idea that flowed thru this book that women are oppressed and of no significance to men.” Another wrote, “self-congratulatory and trite.” Lastly, a reviewer wrote, “The character was too self-absorbed.”
“Unless” was a boring book about a woman struggling with her life, her writing and places the blame on the men who do not acknowledge the accomplishments of women.