November 5, 2016

Book Recommendation: Raising Maidens of Virtue

If you are close friend of mine, and you have a daughter, then I have probably already recommended this book to you at some point or another. But of course, I couldn't just stop there, I had to write a blog post about it too to really reinforce how much you need this book in your life.
I believe that I was a teenager when my mom picked up this book at my church's old bookstore on 10th Avenue back in the day. She read it through with my sister and me, and now that I have a daughter (two daughters!) of my own, I have found myself pouring through its pages once again. I really can't recommend this book enough to mothers who want to cultivate a virtuous, godly, submissive, and pure spirit in their daughters. Even though Ryenne is very young yet and her sister is in utero, David and I want to be as well-equipped as possible when it comes to the task of raising these virtuous women that God has entrusted to us.
Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald is written at such a practical level, and it is ideal for going through with your daughter when she is old enough to grasp the concepts discussed (I'd say around 10 years old). When I pulled it off my mom's shelf and brought it home months ago (sorry I haven't returned it yet, Mom), I didn't know that it would mean even more to me now as a mother than it did when I was in the "daughter" role. I read one chapter, then two, then three - I just couldn't put it down. A couple of chapters focus on being "Daddy's Fair Maiden," and so I asked David if he would want to read those chapters. He took it to work one day and ended up reading almost the entire book himself in one shift! It's just one of those books that are so hard to put down and the principles are so pure and godly and counter-cultural, it's easy to eat it all up as a parent with high hopes and dreams for their daughter!
Some of the chapter titles:
"Modern-Day Maidens"
"Homemade Homemakers"
"Love Your Nest"
"Daddy's Fair Maiden"
"Dwelling in Unity"
"The Cheerful Voice of Hospitality"
"Knight in Shining Armor"

Disclaimer: I will say that some of Stacy McDonald's points can be a little over-the-top or extreme (some might think this book is too legalistic), but I personally tend to gravitate to these types of authors or writing styles because I can take the good behind their principles and then even it out a bit as I apply it to my own life. So, that being said, I'd just recommend reading it with a grain of salt.
I know I don't usually (as in ever) do book recommendations on here, but since I've picked this book up once again in the last week, I felt compelled to share it with a broader audience than just a couple of close friends. There are so many key issues discussed in this book that our daughters will probably face one day, and the fact that they are spelled out and then looked at with a godly lens makes it almost fool-proof for a mom trying to raise a daughter in today's culture.
I so look forward to the day that I can go through this book with Ryenne and Aubrey Isla, but in the meantime, I'll just be over here reading it over and over again til it falls apart ... ;)
Oh, and I even did you the favor of finding it for you on Amazon should you decide to buy this gem of a novel for yourself:
Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald

November 3, 2016

Our "Reset" Weekend

A typical Monday in the Graef household consists of prenatal appointments, toddler doctor check-ups, auto-related errands, Costco grocery trips, library visits, Goodwill donation drop-offs, post office runs, and probably another 500 miscellaneous errands. Sound exhausting? It is. Mondays are on one hand a nice day because we are together as a family, but on the other hand, it's easily one of the most stressful days of the week because it's our major errand day. Life with one car and a hubby who needs it to work 2 jobs means that all errands get pushed off to the weekend. Needless to say, many, many times we are exhausted before the week has even officially begun :(
About a week ago I came across a blog post which shared about one family's way of combating a chaotic rut - it's called "When Life Gets Chaotic." As the weekend was approaching and I could already feel the oncoming stress associated with it, I was naturally drawn to a blog post written with that title. I shared it with David and it immediately appealed to him as well. We would both strongly encourage you to read it because it is what inspired our family to shoot for a "reset" weekend of our own. Just as we had our own version of it, I think each family would tweak a "reset" weekend to meet the needs of their individual family as well.
For us, our "reset" weekend looked like this:
- No errands
- A clean and orderly home
- Lots of hugs and kisses
- No screen time/phone time
- Lots of praise & worship music (we love Jadon Lavik's Roots Run Deep and Roots Run Deeper)
- Calming oils diffusing in the background (Lavender + Eucalyptus are a new favorite, and Clove + Orange are an old favorite)
- No "heavy topic" discussions
- Reading together
- Games we can play as a family (Ryenne LOVES Bingo)
- Plenty of transition time between "sections" of the day (Ex. starting the bedtime routine early rather than rushing it later)
- Rule reinforcement (we took the time to really reestablish the rules and boundaries we have in our home, especially in regards to quick obedience and cheerful attitudes)

David and I have already seen so many positive things that have come from this past weekend. On Tuesday, both times that David came home from work, I noticed immediately that he seemed relaxed and rested - something that isn't always the case with a fast-paced job like Starbucks or a stressful one like valet. He has also commented several times throughout the week how much he looks forward to being home with us - which I think is because of the relaxing and positive family time that we had together this weekend, and the fact that the house was off to a good start rather than a chaotic, disorganized one as it is many times.
Ryenne was complacent and obedient from the get-go, and I can see that she looks at Mommy AND Daddy as having equal authority. Because I'm home with her every single day and David is out working so often, Ryenne tends to listen to Mommy a lot more readily and can attempt to get away with more around Daddy - despite my attempts to communicate that she needs to obey Daddy too. Because she saw the two of us in union and had plenty of time with us both this weekend, I think it helped to reestablish in her mind that Daddy is the leader in our home.
I have been a lot more relaxed this week and I attribute that again to the orderly start our home had. Sometimes I really dread Tuesdays because it usually equals MAJOR clean-up day since on Monday we are in and out of the house so often and things get out of place so quickly. But the house has been so much more manageable for me this week because we started off with a clean and organized home. Likewise, my little daughter has been a lot more manageable as she had the same calm start to her week that we did.
David and I agree that we've been able to handle hiccups in the week a whole lot better and in a spirit of unity, which in turn made the entire week a smoother ride and gave us a happier home :)

There was a lot we've taken away from just one simple day of staying home together as a family. Obviously we can't have a "reset" day every weekend because there are errands that need to be handled, but we hope to have a "reset" weekend once a month from now on, and there are also several habits that we plan to set into motion in our home that will hopefully ensure that we have less chaos and more peace in our lives.
We're so thankful that God put it on our hearts to do this as a family and for the lessons He taught us along the way. We want to cultivate a peaceful, relaxing rhythm of life rather than a chaotic, frazzled one, and this has definitely helped us greatly in achieving a more harmonious home and family. Hope it can be of benefit to your home as well!