Our favorite books for six year old girls


One thing that has been consistent for Clarissa over the years is that she loves books. When she was 2 and 3 years old, she would tell me that she could not go to bed or turn out her light yet because “I’m still reading!” She is actually starting to read books on her own now, but for the most part, I still read to her at least a half hour each day. These are some of her favorite books right now.

  • Clarissa still enjoys the Berenstain Bears. We like that there are so many different books so you can read based on the season or whatever we are working on in school and not get bored.
  • Fancy Nancy is still a favorite as well. She likes that Nancy is in first grade like her and has a little sister. She also likes that Nancy uses fancy words and wears costumes like she does.
  • One of the books we earned during a summer reading program this summer is The Princess in Black. It is a series of six books (so far). Princess Magnolia has her own castle and friends. But she also has a monster alarm ring that goes off and tells her when the monsters leave Monster Land to attack the goats. She has to rescue the goats and send the monsters back to Monster Land. None of her friends know that she is the Princess in Black, they are just confused about why she randomly leaves events. It’s a cute series.
  • Another new discovery this summer was Katie Woo. Katie Woo has great adventures with her friends Pedro and Jojo. She’s just an everyday kid with friends who goes to school and does normal stuff. But Clarissa really enjoys these books as well.

I thought your second labor was supposed to be faster than the first?


In some ways, Tiffany and Clarissa’s birth stories are very similar. But there are also some ways that they were opposite. I went into labor with Clarissa about 10 pm two days before her due date. Tiffany’s started about 11pm on Thursday, two days before her due date. Both times, I didn’t realize it was labor immediately. With Clarissa, I realized I was having back spasms at regular intervals. With Tiffany it felt more like intense round ligament pain at regular intervals. I was honestly thrilled not to have back labor because I thought for sure that my labor would be faster and easier that way.

When I was pregnant with Clarissa, Tim and I took a class. The teacher said that warm baths were great for pain relief so I took several during my first labor. But really, the baths helped to stall my labor. I would get consistent contractions, take a bath, and the contractions would stop for a while. With Tiffany, I was determined not to stall my labor. I tried to relax and let the contractions come. I watched a lot of TV while waiting for the ac repair man.

As long as I was sitting or laying down, the contractions kept coming. If I started walking around or cleaning, the contractions slowed down. At about 3pm on Friday, my contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart. This was the only day that one of my aunts wasn’t available to watch Clarissa. I had another aunt to take her to but I had not packed Clarissa a bag because I really didn’t think I would need it that day. I called the ob, talked to my uncle and my neighbor, and then we frantically packed our bags for Clarissa and the hospital.

All of the running around stalled my labor again so after we dropped Clarissa and all of her things next door, I realized I had not had a contraction in about 30 minutes. So I sat down to rest a bit and the contractions started up again. It was Friday rush hour in DC, so we decided to go to the hospital anyway.

My contractions picked up in the car. They were between 3-4 minutes by the time we arrived at the hospital. But after we parked, got out our bags, and walked to labor and delivery, my labor slowed again. They monitored me in triage for about an hour. I was only dilated a centimeter. We had a choice. We could stay and try walking a bit to see if it would help, or we could leave and come back. It was after 730 pm at that point and we were starving so we decided to leave.

We kept Clarissa where she was and headed to Maggianos for one last dinner date. Of course my contractions picked up in the car, stopped for a bit while we walked into the restaurant, and then came back while we were eating. The food was wonderful, but I didn’t eat much of mine.

By the time we got home, it was after 11 and I was exhausted. I was going to try to go to bed without a shower but decided against it. After my shower I noticed thicker brown discharge on my underwear but didn’t think much of it because the nurse said that might happen since she checked my cervix.

At that point, I tried going to bed. My contractions were noticeably more intense and getting closer together. They had also moved to my back. By the time, Tim came to bed about 2, I was really struggling but determined to get some sleep. My goal was to make it to 6 am.

By 430, I decided that I needed to try a warm bath to see if that would help me relax. It didn’t help at all. But while drying off, I looked at the towel from my earlier shower and realized that my water had broken. Oops. (Something similar happened in my labor with Clarissa.) After the bath, I decided to start timing my contractions again. Four in a row were less than 3 minutes apart so I decided to wake up Tim and call the ob, even though it was only 530 am.

This time, walking around to get ready, my labor got more intense. We went from being sent home the night before to being worried we would not make it to the hospital in time. Thankfully at 6 am on a Saturday, there wasn’t much traffic.

We didn’t start in the parking garage this time. Tim put his four ways on near the entrance. I was barely through the door of the hospital when I had to stop for another contraction. There was a nursing instructor there with her students. She introduced herself and helped us get to labor and delivery. I had three contractions before we got there and she told the ladies at the desk, “We need a wheelchair!” That made the admission process easier. Plus I had already filled things out the night before so they didn’t need to explain much, I just had to sign again.

Triage didn’t take long this time. I was at 6 cm dilated and my water had broken so they didn’t wait for the doctor to admit me. She had already called them anyway. They wheeled me down the hall and I met my labor and delivery nurse who was just coming on shift. The nurses from the night before were leaving as I came in. Jeanine was wonderful! She put in my IV and the order for the epidural before my doctor even got there. She had a nursing student that day as well, so she was introduced. My doctor arrived a little before 8 to go over something I had to sign and then she left because her on call was over at 8 am.

Dr Rohn came in right before my epidural. The anesthesiologist was great. He explained everything before and while he was putting in the epidural. Then there is a button to press if you need more epidural. I don’t remember that with Clarissa. My epidural was good though. After about 10 minutes, I couldn’t feel anything and I could barely move my legs. I did throw up though.

With Clarissa, I got to 10 cm pretty quickly after my epidural, so we settled in and thought Tiffany would come pretty quickly. I took a nap. By 10 am, I was at 9 cm, but my cervix was still really high and my contractions were slowing down. We decided to start a pitocin drip to get me to the end. I didn’t protest the pitocin because I already had the epidural so I knew I would not really feel it.

We tried the peanut ball next. I had to lay on my side with the ball between my legs. It was supposed to open up my pelvis. I was able to sleep some, which was great because I really had not slept much the previous two nights. Two hours later, we switched sides. At this point, my epidural was becoming less effective so I pressed the button for more and started throwing up so they gave me something for the nausea. By this point, I was at 10 cm, but my cervix was still pretty high.

Tiffany had turned herself to be sunny side up like Clarissa was. My ob tried to rotate her both ways but she kept going back to that position. For whatever reason, that is my body’s default position for labor, even though Tiffany didn’t start labor that way.

Next we tried the princess position. The hospital bed was pretty cool. It sat me straight up and then lowered my legs. It was supposed to use gravity to lower the baby into the birth canal. An hour later, my cervix was still high. I pressed the epidural button and started throwing up again. Clearly my body does not like anesthesia, at least not on an empty stomach.

We even tried pushing through a couple of contractions to see if that would push her head lower.

By 5pm, Dr Rohn said there were two more things we could try to make my cervix do what it needed to do. The first was trendelenburg, which is where they lay you back and put your head lower than your feet.

During that time, my aunt who was watching Clarissa called because Clarissa missed us and wanted to come home. I tried to explaining that Tiffany wasn’t here yet and also tried to convince her to stay one more night and come home in the morning after Tiffany was born. She wasn’t having it. Tim and I decided to change our plans. Tim would go home with Clarissa after the birth and Tiffany and I would stay at the hospital.

Tim did a great job during my labor. He got the puke bucket every time, brought me water, and helped position me each time I could not move myself.

When Tim called my aunt back, my doctor came in to check me again. There was one more thing to try but if that didn’t work, we needed to do a caesarean section because Tiffany’s heart rate was all over the place. Tim and I had already discussed a c section and so I told the doctor we would just do that. This way, Clarissa could just come to the hospital, meet her sister, and still go to bed at a decent time. I was concerned about being by myself in the hospital for recovery but decided that I would just have to depend on the nurses at night when Tim and Clarissa went home.

The preparation for a c section really doesn’t take as long as you would think. We decided on the cesarean about 630 pm. Dr Rohn explained what she was going to do and asked if there was anyone I wanted to call to be in the operating room since Tim was not going to join me for that. The anesthesia nurse came in, introduced himself, and explained his role. The nurse shaved the site of the incision. Everyone put on scrubs and we headed to the operating room.

They put up a cloth screen and did their prep while the nurse gave me more anesthesia. I, of course, started throwing up again and shaking until they gave me more nausea medicine and a heated blanket. Once my body calmed down a bit, the doctor did the surgery pretty quickly.

Tiffany Grace was born at 7:15 pm on Saturday, September 21. She was 22.5 inches long and weighed 8 pounds 10.6 ounces.

I heard her cry and they showed her to me briefly before they took her to her corner of the room to do their thing. I was vaguely aware of them doing a lot of suction and things in between my throwing up, shaking, and falling asleep. I couldn’t see much from the angle I was laying, but when I asked if she was okay, they said yes.

They then wheeled Tiffany and I back to our labor room where Tim, Clarissa, two of my aunts, and my uncle were waiting. Everyone was able to see Tiffany and Clarissa touched her, but she was laying on me for some skin to skin. I was falling asleep and was so worried that Tiffany would fall off but the nurse assured me that she would not.

After the family left, my wonderful recovery nurse helped me nurse Tiffany. Then they moved us to our postpartum recovery room.

My next nurse was great too. I couldn’t really get out of bed, but I still had a cathedar so it wasn’t a problem. I could get Tiffany out of the basinett but I couldn’t put her back in. The nurses were great about coming when I pressed the call button so they would put her back and swaddle her for me.

On Sunday, they did some blood work and decided that I needed a transfusion because my iron was very low after my c section. After my transfusion, they took out my cathedar and I was able to start getting out of the bed.

Tim and Clarissa came to visit for the afternoon. I woke Tiffany up so that Clarissa could interact with her. But Tiffany was fussy so Clarissa wanted to leave.

Monday was a pretty chill day at the hospital and then Tuesday we went home. Clarissa has decided that she likes Tiffany now. She has tried calming her down when she cries and tries to make her laugh. She likes to hold her sometimes too.

My labor with Clarissa was about 51 hours. Tiffany was about 44 hours but ended in a c section. Tiffany was much bigger than Clarissa, so I think pushing would have been a problem anyway. If my ob with Clarissa had been as attentive as this ob, I probably would have had a c section the first time as well.

The nurses and staff at this hospital were way more friendly and attentive. So although I had a c section and I was by myself for the majority of my hospital recovery, I think this was a way better experience than my first labor and delivery.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World


I heard Kristen Welch on a podcast once. She and her family run a nonprofit called Mercy House that helps pregnant girls in Africa and provides jobs for these women through their Fair Trade Friday program. She has also written a few books. I recently read Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Kristen wrote this book with her thoughts about how she is trying to do this with her three teenageers and has some great thoughts.

The most convicting thing I read was probably this:

“As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”

My kids aren’t going to learn to be thankful from watching tv or hanging out with their friends. They are going to learn it (or not learn it) from me. I need to get back to my blessings jar or thankfulness journal and help Clarissa do something similar.

She quotes Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, “The only thing a child is really entitled to is his parents’ love. Not to keep up with the Joneses. Not a brand new bike or iPad. Just love. Every child deserves to be loved by his or her parents. If a child has your unconditional love, he has the greatest asset in the world. If we as parents can realize that it’s love that our children need most, and not things, we will stop trying to buy our children’s happiness with possessions.”

We all want to give our kids good things. The struggle for me as a mom is figuring out how much is too much. I want to bless my children, but I don’t want them to be spoiled brats either. I want them to be thankful for what they have and want to help others.

Some of my other favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “All children need to be bored… Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own.”
  • “I believe one of the ways children learn submission to God and doing what He says is by being taught to submit to the authority of their parents. So yes, require it, but do so with love and grace because deep down, I think our kids want rules and guidance and the structure obedience brings.”
  • “The bottom line is this : All the right from wrong teaching, character building, faith instilling, intentional parenting that you’ve made a priority in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with children who sometimes feel left out, different, alienated, and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we have failed them. It’s through this kind of struggle that their own faith is forged and deepens and their relationship with us – – bumpy days included– grows. But mostly, it makes them aware of the costs of following Jesus.”

M. O. M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem book review


M.O.M. Master Organizer of Mayhem can be a quick and easy read. I was on the launch team and got behind so I read the whole thing over a weekend. It’s doable and there are some great suggestions in here. But, I don’t recommend reading it this way. Each chapter has an action step. When you breeze through the book, you don’t have time to do all of the action steps that will really help you organize things for your family. I recommend taking your time to get through this book so it is more beneficial. She gives great suggestions on decluttering, organizing, meal planning, laundry, and getting kids to do chores.


Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “Being organized does not mean we have to have the perfect home, sterile and clean, at all times. Clean is good, but dust bunnies, crumbs, and spilled milk happen…organization is about increasing the efficiency in our home so that we can maximize our time with our family and for other priorities.”
  • You can’t have everything perfect all the time. Ask your husband what things are important to him. Focus on those things. (I need to ask Tim this again.)
  • Keep a master list of projects room by room to refer to instead of just reacting to problems you come across. Pray for God to give you a vision for each room.
  • “Creating efficiency in our home is all about finding the right rhythm so that our family can productively perform the tasks, chores, and routines that need to be done regularly.”
  • “The basic principle for toy management is that every toy in the house needs a home – and your child needs to know where that home is.”


Easy Grammar Review


Clarissa really just started to read this summer, so we haven’t focused much on grammar yet for her schooling. Then I saw that Easy Grammar Systems had a first grade curriculum available for review. We decided to try Easy Grammar: Grade 1.

We received the Teacher Edition for Easy Grammar: Grade 1. There is also a Student Edition available, but if you only have one student you don’t really need the Student Edition, as your child can write in the Teacher Edition. If you have multiple children of the same grade level, you would need to buy the Student Edition for them to work in though.

The Teacher Edition was very helpful. It had several sections. The first part explains the different concepts that will be covered in each lesson: capitalization, punctuation, lesson, and sentence. The next section gives some suggestions for teaching each concept. Then there is a Scope and Sequence included for each concept. Each day also has a more specific lesson plan listed for each day. The Teacher Edition concludes with the answer key. The answers for each lesson are written out for you.

The Student Workbook is in the middle of the Teacher Edition (before the answer key). It has 180 days of work for each of the four concepts: capitalization, punctuation, lesson, and sentence.

There were several things that I appreciate about this curriculum. First, it is predictable. Clarissa knows that there are going to be four parts to each lesson and they will come in the same order each day. Second, it builds appropriately for the child’s development and grade level. At least for first grade, it starts off easy and gets more complex. The student has the option to trace the sentences and words in the beginning which is appropriate for the beginning of first grade. By lesson 50, the student needs to copy the sentence, which they should be able to do a few months in to first grade. In lesson 90, the student starts to combine sentences, which they can learn to do halfway through first grade.

Clarissa actually enjoys this grammar curriculum, which is great. I didn’t know what she would think since we have not really done much in the way of grammar before this review. She thought it was pretty easy to learn and each lesson was quick. The first few lesson only take about five minutes to complete so it builds her confidence and doesn’t take long. She was also happy that there were things to trace so she didn’t really have to think about how to write each letter. For a beginning writer, that is a big deal and makes the lesson more enjoyable.

Because Clarissa and I both liked this curriculum, we’re going to continue using it for the remainder of  first grade. There are 180 lessons in all so that will take us through the entire school year. Because Easy Grammar Systems makes multiple grade levels of this curriculum, this may be something that we can stick with for several years.

We worked on the first grade curriculum, but there were several other grade levels and other grammar curriculum available from this company. You can read about the experience of other families and grade levels here.

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland


I was a senior in high school on 9/11. I was in my high school government class when the first plane hit the twin towers. I didn’t know anything had happened until third block when the principal made an announcement on the loudspeaker. At that point, the TVs went on and we started discussing what had happened in New York and the Pentagon.

I didn’t know anyone currently living in New York. I was sad for the people involved but never really stopped to think about all of the repercussions for everyone traveling that day since my life didn’t really change.

I was listening to a podcast this summer where the host recommended the book The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede. My local library had a copy and I decided to check it out. I was so fascinated by this book that I read it in a few evenings.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

After the planes hit the twin towers, US airspace was closed for several days. I never stopped to think about what happened to all of the planes that were in the air at that time. Most of the planes heading from Europe to the United States were diverted to Canada. Several of them went to an airport in Gander, Newfoundland.

Gander used to be a big airport. Due to it’s location it was a very popular fuel stop for planes heading from the United States or Canada on it’s way to or returning from Europe during the World Wars. The runways are actually the biggest in the world because of the types of planes that would go through there. With the advance in technology, the airport isn’t used very often anymore because planes don’t need a fuel stop there on their way to or from Europe.

On 9/11 38 of the 250 planes that were diverted to Canada landed at the Gander Airport. There was one hotel nearby that slept about 500 and that was to be reserved for the pilots and flight crews so that they could be near the airport, rested, and ready to go at a moment’s notice once the airspace opened up. The passengers were bused (by school bus drivers who stopped their strike to volunteer to drive them) all over the island to small town churches, schools, and lions clubs. Each flight of passengers was sent to the same location. The population of the island doubled the day the passengers landed.

The people on the island were so hospitable to the passengers on these flights. Everyday citizens brought food, sheets, and towels to the makeshift shelters for these passengers that they had never met. The pharmacies donated the medications that the passengers needed free of cost. The local stores donated things like the toothbrushes, shampoo,and  diapers the passengers needed.

The book is divided into chapters based on each day during the week following the tragedy of 9/11. The passengers arrived in Gander on Tuesday and the last passengers left Monday morning. It chronicles several different people over the different days from a couple who was bringing their daughter home after adopting her from Kazakhstan to a couple on their way home from a trip to Ireland who had a son who was a firefighter in New York City.

I was fascinated by the stories of the passengers as well as how the town interacted with them. One plane was on it’s way from Europe to Orlando and several children were planning to go to Disney World for their birthday. When the staff of the school that those families were staying heard that, they set up a carnival for those kids, complete with a birthday cake and presents so that they still had a good birthday. Several families opened their homes to let passengers come in and take showers. People volunteered to drive passengers anywhere on the island they needed to go to run errands (think buy underware from walmart).

Most families in the book had a happy ending. They were incredibly inconvenienced but their lives mostly remained the same when they eventually made it home. There were a few stories of families who lost loved ones in the attacks but didn’t know for sure until they were home weeks later.

Say Kimchi: Tips and Tricks for Living in South Korea


We lived in South Korea for four years and when new people met me they asked me so many questions. I answered the same questions all the time. There are many forums and facebook pages for military spouses. There aren’t as many resources for civilian employees and families. You can ask questions on the active duty pages, but the answers are sometimes different than what you need. People kept telling me that I should write a book. So I did.

Say Kimchi: Tips and Tricks for living in South Korea by [Faust, Suzanne]

Say Kimchi: Tips and Tricks for living in South Korea gives you the information you need to know before you arrive in Korea about things like insurance, schools, and what to pack. It also includes random things you wouldn’t think of like:

  • You need a VPN to watch Hulu (or American Netflix).
  • Don’t choose media mail for shipping unless you are willing to wait 6-8 weeks for your items to arrive.
  • Shutterfly pictures and Christmas cards ship by media mail, so you will need to order by the end of October if you want them to arrive early enough for you to send them out on time.

This book was written specifically for DoD Civilians (GS and NAF employees) but it also includes helpful information for active duty and contractor families. If you have a friend thinking about coming to Korea, show them my book (available on kindle and paperback). It’s easier than reading every blog post I have written about Korea; though they are welcome to do that too.