Saturday, March 31, 2012

A-Z Mini-Challenge #4 - April

Where is this year going?! I mean seriously. April?! Already. Sheesh. 

This month's challenge is to read a book with over 1000 pages. 

Just kidding! April Fool's! 

In honor of April Fool's Day...

Read a book that makes you laugh. 

Another easy one. It doesn't have to be classified as humor. If at any point during the book, you laugh, it counts. Good luck! Let me know what you read. Since I read a lot of historical fiction, there's a lot of rape and murder and mayhem, not a lot of laughing. I could use a break. 

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Meme Friday

Book Blogger Retreat: If you could gather up a handful of book blogger friends to spend a weekend away talking books, where would you go? Tell us about it.
Let's go to the beach y'all. A nice warm white sand, blue ocean beach. We can do some reading, some chit-chatting, some swimming. It'll be a good time. Or we could go to England and find all the places written about. That'd be cool too.

What giveaway would you like to do on your blog? 
Sometimes I would like to give away my baby. I kid I kid. But everyone has those days right? Where you think about selling your baby to the circus? I'm not alone in this right?

If you had to choose between natural athletic ability or natural artistic ability, which would you choose? 
Definitely artistic ability. I figure that eventually, even if you are athletic, your body will start to wear down. Artistic ability is forever. Plus i've always wanted to be able to create beautiful art.

Do you ditch the coat the minute it becomes Spring?
I wish. Here in New England, you need a coat until about July. Yay. (sense the sarcasm?)

What would you do if you won the mega millions lottery of 1/2 billion dollars?
I would pay off Craig and I's student loans. Then I would take 1 million and put it directly in the bank. Never touch it until CJ goes to college. I would buy a new car, not a brand new crazy expensive car, but a nicer car than we've got now. Then we'd go about buying a house. Again, not a crazy fancy expensive house, but a nice house we can make a home in.

You are at a hotel by yourself, what do you do?

Do you read one book at a time or do you go back and forth? 
If I get really into a book, I read it  from start to finish really quickly. If I like it, but it is hard to read, sometimes I take a break with something easier. CJ (the baby) and I read books all day long, so there's that too.  Pin It

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Charity Hopping Around the World Giveaway Hop

 I am participating in yet another awesome giveaway hop. This one has a great mission. Each person will be doing a giveaway focusing on a particular charity. My charity is Mercy House Kenya. 

I've written about this amazing charity before (and I'll be writing about them again next month). The first time I heard about this charity, I fell in love. Kristen, the founder of Mercy House Kenya, writes a blog about her family called We are THAT family. I love it. In March of 2010, Kristen went to Kenya on a mission with Compassion International focusing on helping the children living in slums. There she learned about the horrific cases of back-alley abortions and the mistreatment of young women and girls in Kenya. She couldn't come home and not do something about it, so she founded Mercy House. Mercy House is a home for young women and girls who become pregnant. They receive healthcare, schooling, and receive a stipend when they leave to help them start new lives. You can read more about them here.
There are many ways that you can help these women, girls, and babies. You can pray for them. You can give your time and money. You can share their stories with others. You can visit them and help. You can even shop at their store. 

As part of their schooling while living at Mercy House, the girls learn various crafts. This helps them to become self-sufficient so that when they leave, they have a craft that they can sell. They make beautful necklaces, bracelets, placemats, and gorgeous ornaments. 

So that is what I will be giving away. You can choose from either the bird mobile above or the heart-shaped ornament seen below. In order to win, just fill out the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Guest Post - Keeping Your Child's Smiles Bright

Now that CJ has a full head of teeth, I've made his first dentist's appointment. We've been brushing his teeth and gums since he first got a tooth. As a first time mom, I was completely at a loss as to what to do about CJ's oral hygeine, so I just sort of winged it. But today, I have a guest post from Drew James, who is going to give us some pointers on how to keep your child's smile bright.

Keeping Smiles Bright

When it comes to dental care, parents sometimes get caught up in a bit of confusion. How soon should a child start flossing? When is it time for braces, and how do you identify that need? How do you pick the right group of children’s dentists and when should you schedule the first visit?
Cavity prevention is only one part of the process. Parents usually know a bit about what is needed, but they don’t always understand the best way to get it started. Here are some pointers that will make the decisions come easier.
When Dental Care Should Start
See that first tooth. It means that dental care should already be in process. By the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby’s teeth are already forming. By birth, your baby is likely harboring twenty primary teeth and some of the jaw teeth, although not yet visible, are already fully developed within the jaw.
Advice from the American Dental Association (ADA) says your child should visit the dentist prior to his or her first birthday. The basic examination will help you understand the proper techniques for flossing and brushing a baby’s teeth. It will also help get your children comfortable with dental visits.
Here are some things you should learn from this first visit:
  • Feeding habits: Putting your baby to sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth can lead to enamel erosion, bottle mouth, and pitted and/or discolored teeth.
  • After feedings: Prevent bacteria buildup by softly wiping your infant’s gums with a damp washcloth.
  • After teeth begin to show: Brushing begins. Use gauze or a soft toothbrush. Do it once at the end of the day and more often if circumstances indicate the need.
If you aren’t already taking your child to a dentist, get started right away. Locate a dependable children’s dentist. Your family dentist can help in the selection.
Dealing With Early-Year Dental Decay
Babies are not immune to teeth and gum problems. Feeding habits are important and while it may be convenient to prop your child on a pillow to feed with a bottle in his mouth, it is not expedient to good dental care. Cavities and even early tooth extraction can be the result of poor feeding habits.
As your child ages, the dental care process needs to be adjusted so that even toddlers begin the process of learning good dental care. Help your child establish specific times for drinking and feeding. Make certain that your child care providers follow suit.
Focusing on Special Dental Care
The modern age has created a world of specialization. Not every family medical practitioner has the extended learning that translates from adults to kids. Perhaps your child can benefit from the skills associated with pediatric children’s dentists. These practitioners are especially trained in treating kids. They may not have greater skill than your family dentists, but pediatric dentists are trained to focus on the dental issues that are specific to children.
Like your family dentist, your pediatric dentist knows how to help you ward of potential dental complications. By providing routine maintenance such as checkups, cleanings, and early recognition of special problems including overbite and complication with jaw alignment, your pediatric dentist can help you keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy. If necessary, he or she will direct you to the proper dental specialist.
The Long Range View of Cavities
By age 2-1/2 or so, most of your child’s primary teeth should be in. Your dentist may begin to apply topical fluoride. By hardening toot enamel, fluoride helps ward off cavities and other common childhood oral diseases.
  1. Food left on the teeth results in bacteria.
  2. The bacteria result in acid collections on the tooth.
  3. This softens the enamel and eventually leads to a hole in the tooth.
  4. This hole is called a cavity.
  5. By toughening the enamel, fluoride helps make the teeth more resistant to acid penetration.
Some towns dispense fluoridated tap water. Most toothpaste also includes fluoride. If it seems that your fluoride resources are less than desirable, ask your childrens dentist about fluoride supplementation. Note that too much fluoride can result in discoloration of your teeth.
For older children with permanent teeth, consider having your dentist apply resin to the back of the teeth. This sealant helps keep bacteria from settling in the crevices of your child’s teeth, which in turn seals out decay.
Closing Tips
  • Be sure they brush twice a day
  • Be sure they floss
  • Supervise your kids dental care
  • Brush after the intake of any from medical consumption, including antibiotics
  • Model good oral care and teach your kids to follow the pattern.
Drew James works for an Indianapolis pediatric dentist. When out of the office, you can currently find him working in raised-bed gardens, going for long runs, and making travel plans.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Gardening

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

MG Book Review - Indian Captive by Lois Lenski

Do you have any extremely vivid memories of reading from when you were a child? Like the first time you read one of your favorite books? Well, I have a few. One of which I'll share with you. My family and I were camping (staying in a cabin not a tent though) in Maine. I remember that the room we were staying in had bunk beds. I'd brought a couple of books along for the stay. I remember being completely engrossed in this amazing story about a girl named Mary who was abducted by Native Americans and came to live with and love them. I never forgot the story, but I never could remember the name of the story. Until now.

I was on Netgalley, and I saw that a bunch of books by Lois Lenski were being re-released. I remember that I loved Strawberry girl so I requested it. Then I saw another book called Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. And it all came rushing back to me. THIS IS THE BOOK!

It begins with Mary, or Molly as her family calls her, on her family farmstead. The Indians come one day and take all of them hostage. Along the way, Molly and another boy are separated and brought to Fort Duquesne. She's kept there for a few days until two Indian women come and take her away. Molly later learns that she was taken to replace an Indian who was killed by a white man. At first Molly resists the Indians and their way of life. Eventually, with the help of an old man and a young boy, she learns the Indian language and comes to understand their way of life. Throughout the book, Mary struggles to reconcile her white history with her Native American lifestyle.

I loved re-reading this book. It was totally a trip down memory lane. Lois writing is very simple and easy to understand, even though this story is in no way simple. Molly is taken away from everything she knows and loves, but learns to make the best of her situation. She grows from a young girl into a woman. Lois writing isn't biased on one side or the other - white man or Native American man. She just tells the story. A lot is known about Mary because when she was an old woman, she told her story and the biographies still exist today. Lois obviously did a ton of research because there are a ton of historical facts in this book. It doesn't at all read like a history book. The whole story brings the past back to life.The illustrations are simple, as you can see from the cover, but beautiful.

I would recommend this book to all middle graders. When I finally get my own English class, I would love to have them read this. For younger kids, I think it would depend on their maturity level. While there is no violence really shown in the books, it is presumed that the Indians killed Mary's entire family, including a baby. So I'd use discretion with younger kids. The wording is a little old-fashioned, but that is to be expected. Because of that, I would probably not use this as a read-aloud. That being said, I loved this book, and it is a welcome addition to my family library.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Silent Sunday

This is a totally different type of Silent Sunday.

Isn't that sweetest thing? Note: This is British Sign Language, not American. It is completely different. Isn't it amazing how many words she knows at just 2 years old? Pin It

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Preview - Historical Fiction - The Winter Palace

Here is an excerpt from a new historical fiction book that I absolutely cannot wait to come out! This cover is to die for. Let me know what you think of the excerpt. The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak (Excerpt) Pin It

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Meme Friday

What is the longest book you've read? What are your favorite 600+ page reads.

Gone with the wind is one of my favorite books, I've read it numerous times. It clocks in at 1011 pages. To me, it doesn't seem that long because it is so well written. Other long favorites of mine are the last few Harry Potter books (I'm sure everyone will have that answer.) I just finished A Dance with Dragons, the fifth Game of Thrones/Song of Fire and Ice book and it was 1041 pages. It was my least favorite of all the Game of Thrones books. They're all over 1000 pages, but they are all really good. I never want them to stop. DO YOU HEAR ME GEORGE?! The Lord of The Rings are awesome, but technically those are three 400 page books. Anything by Alexandre Dumas is amazing, like The Count of Monte Cristo (1200 pages, wtf?) and The Three Musketeers (which depends on your edition but is almost exactly 600 pages).

1. If you were free to just hop in a car or a plane and go, where would you go?
I would go to Colorado to visit my aunt. I missez her. 
2. What's your most recently read favorite book?
I finished A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin a few nights ago, and it was awesome. Obviously. George is still evil. My favorite characters are still alive. For now. (I'm not keeping my hopes up that this will continue.) One did actually end the book being stabbed, so he might be a goner.
3. What's your favorite Spring break memory?
I never did anything fancy for Spring break, so nothing much.
4. What do you put in your child's Easter basket?
My grandmother always made our baskets herself, instead of buying the ready-made wrapped in plastic ones. She didn't make the actual basket herself, she just filled it herself. So I'm going to do the same with CJ. I'll probably buy a basket, then go to Target and the dollar store and fill it up with goodies. I'm also going to fill eggs (with something besides chocolate since that will kill him) and hide them. Can't wait!
5. Do you get a summer haircut?
Usually, but my goal this year is to go an entire year without cutting my hair. I'm probably going to have it permed around my birthday (in June), so we shall see. 
What are some bookish trends you are noticing in the literature world today? Are there any that you'd like to see more of?

Sooooooooooooooooo much YA. Almost too much. It is fine if they are well-written and good stories, but it seems like everyone wants to be the next Harry Potter or the next Twilight. Which brings me to the next trend. Too much paranormal romance. If well-written, they can be awesome. If not, they are just horrible. I can't even read paranormal romance anymore. I think had I been a teenager when this trend started, I would've been all over it. But now it just annoys me. A trend I really like, are books for kids that adults can enjoy. Harry Potter is the best example obviously, but then there's Hugo Cabret and some others. So I'd be ok with more of that.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Movie Review - Safe House

So this past weekend, hubby and I went on a date night to see Safe House. It is an action movie starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.
The movie starts with us learning that Matt Westin (Ryan Reynolds) works for the CIA. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a cool field job, his job is to sit in a safe house and wait for criminals to be brought there. He's been doing this job day in and day out for 12 months and hasn't had a single "visitor". Then one day, a former CIA agent named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), who has been on the run for 10 years, walks into the US consulate in South Africa, where Matt is. He is brought to the safe house by an expert team of interrogators. When the safe house is attacked, all hell breaks loose. Westin must now protect Frost until the CIA can get him and learns the shocking reason that Frost left the CIA.

This movie was so action packed. Ryan Reynolds was amazing, and gorgeous obviously, but Denzel Washington stole the show. This man can't just walk into a room, he saunters. As my friend said, he just floats on in. There's a scene where he literally strolls by and shoots someone, all while getting shot at. He's just calm as a cucumber. Every scene that Denzel is in, he is the star of the show. The movie was extremely action packed. There were car chases and shootouts and everything that you expect from an action flick. There was a tiny bit of romance, but it wasn't central to the plot. It was actually just a little distracting. That is really the only negative thing I can think of about the movie. I gave this movie 5 stars and Denzel's performance 10 stars.

All images are copyright of Universal Studios.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
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Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day and Dog Fights

Don't worry, you aren't about to find out that I am secretly a dog fighter. :)

So how was everyone's St. Patrick's Day weekend? Are you hungover? Just a little bit? Well, then, I'm glad you had fun. Ours was pretty low-key. We hung around the house all day and then the hubby took CJ grocery shopping while I took a nap. When they came home, hubby made a delicious corned beef dinner. Yum! Oh and we watched Boondock Saints. Obviously.

Yesterday, the weather here in Massachusetts was freaking goooorgeous. So we had to get out. After hubby turned the corned beef dinner into a delicious corned beef hash for breakfast, we met up with Craig's sister at the park. The first thing CJ did when we got to the park was climb a set of stairs up to a woman he'd never met before and sit down on her lap. She was nice and didn't mind at all. She and CJ had a little conversation. Then CJ played on the swings for a little while. Kami, our dog, came with us and so we walked her all around the park. This is where the dog fighting comes in.
CJ's new friend. 
There was a dog, a little collie mutt thing. It was bigger than Kami, who is about 25 lbs. This dog was probably about 40-50lbs. Not a huge dog, but bigger than her. He was barking the entire time from where he was sitting by the benches. Well when Kami walked by, about 20 feet away from the dog, the dog FREAKED out and ran so fast that the woman dropped the leash. The dog lunged at Kami and just attacked. It was on top of her in a matter of seconds and was trying to bite her neck. I did everything that you shouldn't do in a dog fight. I jumped in the middle to try to shove him off of her and pull Kami away. Luckily, the woman ran over to and was able to grab the leash and pull him off. Kami wasn't injured, just scared out of her mind. As were we all. The lady was so horrified, she couldn't stop apologizing and asking if Kami was ok. There wasn't anything to be done, it was just a freak dog thing. Kami either smelled wrong to him or reminded him of another dog he wasn't too fond of or something. But Kami is fine now. He didn't manage to bite her, so it was just her pride that was hurt. She did fight him off as best she could though. Poor pup.

After the dog fight, CJ was being so protective of his doggie. Another little dog came over to sniff around her and CJ stood between the two of them so it couldn't get to Kami. Then when it got too close, he gave a little kick at her. He didn't hit it, was just warning it not to get too close. Such a good little brother, protecting his sister.
CJ and Auntie. He alternated between laughing like this and looking like he was going to vomit. 
So this weekend, CJ rebelled against napping. He didn't nap on Saturday just because he was busy hanging out with daddy. Then on Sunday, instead of napping, he threw a full-on fit. He didn't stop crying and screaming for an hour. I know he is getting another tooth, but I don't know if that is what was going on. We tried everything. We snuggled with him in bed, dada snuggled with him in the chair and then on the couch. I finally got him to sleep for about 20 minutes in the bed, but the second he woke up, he started screaming. Any advice on getting a 20 month old to nap?
Attempt #1 - 70 degrees and he needed all of the blankets. All of them. 
Last night hubby and I had a date night. We went to Wendy's (fancy huh?) and then to the movies. We saw Safe House with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Suuuuch a good movie. I'll be reviewing it later this week.
Attempt #2 - As you can see, he wasn't at all tired....
So that was our super-exciting weekend. Now we are back to our regularly scheduled week. Tomorrow, we'll be going to look at the house we might be buying with Craig's mom. We haven't seen the inside during daylight, so I'm hoping we still like it. We shall see. I am also going to be trying to get CJ back on his regular sleeping/eating/napping schedule. I think that is a big part of why he didn't want to nap this weekend.

As far as reading, I've got a bunch of picture books that I'm reading to review in the coming weeks. I've got some netgalley books to read. I'm listening to the audiobook  of The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. I read half of this book and I really liked it, but the writing is incredibly flowery and descriptive that it started to give me a headache. Hearing it read is much easier. The narrator is doing a wonderful job. I might review this when I'm done too. I have 10 hours of it left since I only get about an hour of it a night. OH! And I'm almost done reading A Dance with Dragons, the 5th Game of Thrones/ Song of Fire and Ice book. I'm so sad! I need George to finish writing book 6 right now. I put off finishing it for months because I didn't want to have to wait years for the next one, but I needed more Tyrion, Jaime, and Jon Snow in my life.

So that's what is going on with us. What are you guys reading these days ? How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Don't forget to enter my giveaways this week.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase from amazon, I will receive a percentage of the price. This money goes towards books and products for giveaways and is much appreciated.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway - Fish Tank Comic Series by Carl Ray

The Fish Tank comic book series were originally published as online comics. Each one is about 120 pages long, but they are really quick and funny reads. Before I give my review, let me introduce you to the three main characters.

Meet Angelo, an angelfish. Angelo isn't the brightest angelfish in the tank (even though he's the only angelfish in the tank) but he's loyal and generally willing to go along with his pal Ted's schemes.

And here's Hoover, a plecostamus. That's an algae-sucker in case you were wondering. Hoover is rather pessimistic, a little sarcastic, and generally wants nothing to do with what he considers to be Ted's hare-brained schemes.
And now there's Ted, the de facto leader of the fish tank. Ted is kind of like Brain from Pinky and the Brain. He is a genius and can McGyver his way out of every situation. Which is important since they happen to get into quite a lot of predicaments.

Carl sent me the first three comic books to review. In the first book, The Dawning of the Age of Aquariums, we are introduced to the three fish. We learn that Ted has managed to create a TV remote from inside the tank and he may have accidentally gotten Angelo and Hoover addicted to Lifetime. Ted goes on to invent a few other things which generally lead to more trouble. In Something Whiskered This Way Comes, there's trouble in the neighborhood, when the fish discover that a cat has moved into their place. They don't know where he came from, but they know that is them vs him, or her, the fish aren't really sure. Ted comes up with a series of plans and maneuvers to get rid of the cat. These include, but are not limited to a tazer, a grappeling hook, and home-made aspirin (which apparently is poison to cats, who knew?) And finally, in A Tale of Mothic Proportions, a mysterious blinding light appears which keeps the fish awake. They suspect is is something of sinister intentions and it turns out they are right. Who will win - the fish or their telepathic invaders?

These books are really funny. I found myself laughing out loud a bunch of times. You can read each book in one sitting and they don't have to be read in any particular order. The comics are simply drawn and yet very detailed. Carl obviously does a lot of research on how things are made, as evidenced by Ted's ability to create complex machinery while trapped in a fish tank. Nothing is really inappropriate in the books but the humor would appeal more to adults than kids. I recommend the book for mature pre-teens to adults. I look forward to many more adventures of Ted, Angelo, and Hoover. The books are available from Carl's website, the link is below.

About the author, Carl Ray. Carl is an Air Force veteran and computer programmer in Illinois. He is happily married with two children, two dogs, and ironically, no pet fish. I can tell you from our emails that Carl is one of the genuinely nice and funny people. He had the nicest things to say about my blog (and he wasn't even fishing [ahem] for a good review.

To win all 5 of the books in the ebook type of your choice (kindle, epub, or pdf), just go to Carl's blog and then come back and leave a comment with something that you learned or saw. Extra entries if you become a fan of Carl on goodreads and if you follow my blog.  Pin It

Friday, March 16, 2012

Luck O' The Irish Blog Hop

If you click on the picture above, you will be taken to ALL of the many prizes you can win. Wahoo!

In addition to the rafflecopter form below, where you can enter to win all the AMAZING grand prizes, I'm going to give away a little gifty-gift of my own. You can win a hardcover copy of Barefoot Books' Tales from Old Ireland. I looooooove this book. It comes with a CD where the stories are read by Maura O'Connell, an AMAZING Irish-born singer. Love her. The stories are all based on myths and legends of Ireland. If you want to buy your own copy, just go here

To enter, just do at least one thing in the rafflecopter below, so you can enter to win one of the main prizes, then leave a comment telling me the luckiest thing that ever happened to you. Make sure to leave your email address or a link to your blog so I have a way to contact you. Extra entry if you are a follower of the blog! 

Just to be clear, leaving a comment on my blog enters you to win Tales from Old Ireland. Using the rafflecopter form enters you to win the grandprizes from Romance at Random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apologies then Moving On

I just wanted to apologize that my blog got a little meme-crazy in the past few months. I sort of lost my blog focus for a little while, but I didn't want to abandon you all, so I just did every meme there was. But who wants to read a blog that is nothing but memes? If you wanted that, we'd all still be on myspace, am I right? I'll still be doing memes from time to time, but I won't be doing Meal Plan Monday then Top Ten Tuesday then Wordless Wednesday then Fun Meme Friday. It is just ridiculous.

My goal is to review every week, one children's book, one middle grade book, and then one "other" book. Obviously this won't happen all the time, especially with us moving next month (more on that in a future post) but it will help me to have goals.

I'm also going to stop saying yes to every single review request. I end up reading books that I don't want to read and I just drag my feet getting to them. Not that all the books I am reviewing right now are that way. I am genuinely liking most of the books I review, I'd tell you in the review if I didn't like it, but  I have to wade through some meh books that I have no interest reading to get to the good ones. So I'm only saying yes to books and products that I GENUINELY want to read and/or review.

So now that I got that out of the way, here's some news. We might be buying a house. What!? Serious, this came out of pretty much nowhere but we might be getting a house. I don't want to jinx it until it is absolutely official, but look forward to more information. Pin It

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Children's Book Review - Gabby's Stick-To-It Day

I am pleased to be a part of the official Gabby's Stick-to-It Day blog tour. I got to review the first book in the series about Gabby last year, and I loved it. So I'm super excited that I got a chance to review the second book.

Gabby is one of God's guardian angels in training. In the first book, she learned about her first assignment, a little girl named Sophie. In the first book, she learned how to take care of Sophie. In this second book, Gabby has discovered a little problem. While Sophie is a good little girl, she has trouble sticking things out and finishing what she started. She starts to give her dog a bath, but then gets distracted when the dog jumps out of the water. Gabby reminds her of a bible verse that Sophie had learned earlier that week. It is Galatians 6:9 "We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up."

I love the Gabby books and I really hope that there are more. They get their message across in a simple way that children can understand without being preached to. I don't think any little kid reading this story would even know there was a lesson in it. It is just an adorable story about a little girl and her guardian angel. The illustrations are absolutely adorable, CJ loves them. He loves the pictures of the dog splashing and the pictures of Sophie with noodles on her head. You have to read the story to see how that happens. I recommend this for any children ages 7 and under. It is a quick easy book for a read-aloud. It would also be great for a Sunday School class. The author, Sheila Walsh, is actually a Bible teacher.

In honor of the release of this new Gabby book, Sheila and her publishing company are giving away tons of prizes. See below for more information. Thanks for stopping by!

For the full details of the blog tour, go here :

Sheila and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have put together a "Gabby" prize package worth over $200! Click one of the icons below to enter!

One lucky winner will receive:

    A brand new Kindle Fire with  Wi-Fi
    Gabby, God’s Little Angel
    Gabby's Stick-to-It-Day

But wait! There’s more …

The winner will be announced on the Gabby Landing Page on 4/2/12. In the meantime, enter to win the Kindle Fire then head over to the Tommy Nelson site and download the Gabby coloring sheets, watch Sheila's Gabby video, sign up for updates about upcoming Gabby and Thomas Nelson products, and much more.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Numi Tea Review

It is kind of a stereotype. Those who like to read also like to sip tea. I think this particular stereotype rings true, at least for me. There's nothing like curling up with a nice cup of tea and a good book. So when I found out that Numi Tea was looking for people to review their teas, I said uhmmmm hellz yes.

Let me tell you about Numi Tea. They are an amazing company, run by a brother and sister, that does everything fair trade, fair labor, and eco-friendly. You can go to their website and see the places where they get their teas and the people who they get it from. All of their teas are organic and delicious. They use 100% recycled material on their boxes and their filters are even biodegradable.

They sent me an box with 6 different types of their amazing teas, but I'm going to tell you about my favorite three.

First there was the Aged Earl Grey Tea. This is very high in caffeine, so I only drank it first thing in the morning. For me, it was a perfect breakfast tea. It was strong, but not as strong as coffee. It was the perfect smack in the face I need when the baby wakes up at 7am. The only ingredients in this tea, is tea. Specifically, organic Assam black tea with Bergamot. There is a slight citrus taste, but it is still almost manly in its taste.

The second tea that I absolutely loved was the Chamomile Lemon. This tea is pretty much the exact opposite of the Aged Earl Grey. This one is perfectly soothing and gentle. It has no caffeine, so I like to drink this one at night before bed. It is supremely relaxing. The only ingredients in this tea are Lemon Myrtle and organic
whole chamomile tea. Drinking this feels like you are sitting down with an old friend. They call this one a "teasan" not a "tea" because it comes from herbs and not a tea plant.

Finally, there were the two green teas that I enjoyed. I tried both the regular Gunpowder Green Tea and the Jasmine Green Tea. Personally, I found the jasmine green tea too flowery for me. It seemed to overwhelm the subtlety of the green tea. Green tea is delicious by itself, and it doesn't really need anything extra. So then I tested the Gunpowder Green Tea, which is just tightly curled green tea leaves. This was freaking delicious. It wasn't overwhelming, but you know you are drinking some green tea.

So which was my favorite? It was really hard to choose, but I think that the Aged Earl Grey was my favorite. I'm surprised because I really love lemon in my tea and I assumed that my favorite would be the Lemon Chamomile. But the Aged Earl Grey surprised me with its deliciousness. If you would like to purchase some tea to try, head to their Shoplet website.


I received free samples of this tea to try. This did not affect my unbiased review. All images courtesy and copyright Numi Tea (except the top one). 
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Breastfeeding & Weaning

Let's talk about breastfeeding for just a bit. If you can't or choose not to breastfeed, more power to you. I do not judge. If you are or were breastfeeding, more power to you. I do not judge.

There, now that I got that out of the way, I can talk about my breast-feeding journey.

I knew as soon as I got pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I figured, why the heck would I have been carrying around 38DD's for the last 12 years of my life if they weren't met to feed my baby. I thought it'd be easy. Pop a boobie in the mouth and boom, milk. If you have started breastfeeding, you know that it isn't always that easy.

Right after I had CJ, I was sent to the ICU for a few days. CJ was able to come visit but I was for the most part, upstairs with Craig in the maternity ward. No one mentioned to me that I should try to pump and CJ was upstairs being fed from a bottle at all times. So when I finally got back to the maternity ward and back to my baby, he was already taking all of his milk from a bottle. And lots of them. He was a formula fiend.

The first time I tried to nurse, the nurse who was there "helping" was the exact opposite. She was sighing and telling me I was doing it wrong and then she said "He's gone with formula too long, it is going to be impossible to get him to nurse." I started crying, so obviously CJ started crying too. I felt like such a failure. First I almost die giving birth, then I am separated from him for days, and now I can't even nurse him?! What kind of mother was I?!

I continued to try to nurse him along with giving him formula from the bottle for the next day or two that I was in the hospital. He would nurse for a bit then scream for more because I only had the colostrum which wasn't as filling as the bottle with 3 ounces of formula. Then, on the day we left, it happened. Craig was bringing the car to the front door and he had taken everything from the hospital room. It was just CJ and I waiting to be picked up. CJ started crying hysterically. I had no idea what to do. So I just lifted up my shirt and put him near my breast. He latched on like a champ and that was it. From then on, he was a strictly nursing baby. We nursed for a long time he and I. I thought it was going to last forever.

I didn't have a time limit in mind for how long I would nurse. I figured I would keep nursing until he decided that he was done. I thought I'd be nursing until he was at least 2 years old, maybe 3. But CJ had other plans.

When he was a newborn, he nursed whenever he felt like it. Eventually, that settled into a routine of nursing when he woke up, nursing at naptime, and nursing to sleep. He did that until about 14-15 months. Then he decided he only needed to nurse at night. He kept that up for about 4-5 months.

Then one night just a few weeks ago, we settled down to nurse to sleep like usual. I had him on his boppy, blankies all snuggled around him, lovey in his arms. He latched in like usual, and then stopped. He took his head off and just let it rest on my breast like it was a pillow. I said "Do you want milk?" and he signed back "milk". I put my breast in front of his face and he looked at it and then turned away. I was baffled. I signed milk, he signed it back. He wouldn't even look at it! So I got up and got him a cup with some of his soy milk and gave it to him. He put it in the crook of his arm, lay his head on my shoulder, and fell asleep. I was so confused. I figured it was just a fluke and the next day he'd be back to nursing.

Nope. Since that day, he has refused to nurse. It has been over a month now. No more nursing my baby to sleep. No more nursing snuggles when he is having a bad day. I'm not going to lie, I cried. I told my husband "Waaaah, CJ doesn't love me anymore."

I realize that this is a natural thing, and that I was right to listen to CJ's cues and not force the issue. But did anyone else feel sad when their baby weaned on their own? Tell me about your breastfeeding journey. How long did you nurse for?

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 People Who Helped Me Become Me - Listable Life

I saw this today over at Counting My Kisses and I decided to join in. She got the list idea from Listable Life. I think about this often, how people become who they are, and how I became who I am. The easy answer is "your parents" but it is so much more than that. They say it takes a village, and I feel like that really is true. This isn't an exhaustive list, I think that everyone who knows me has impacted my life in some way, so these are just a few. So anyway, here's my list.

5 People Who Helped Me Become Me

1. My former best friend - When I was 12, my best friend killed himself. That in itself can have a huge impact on your life. Not knowing what happened or why almost defined me. But because of his death, I grew up, maybe too fast. His death caused me to decide to go to the high school on the other side of town where I didn't know anyone. I didn't want to be that girl whose best friend killed himself. Deciding to go to that school greatly impacted my future. It is where I participated in JROTC, which led to me going to military college (and just going to college), and eventually joining the military. Since I didn't know anyone, I was able to get over being the shy, quiet, weird girl and grow into who I was going to become. That may have happened if I'd stayed on the other side of town, but maybe I would have just gone deeper into my shell and become a completely different person.

2. My grandmother - I call her my grandmother, but she's my former step-dad's mom. She doesn't have to be involved in my life at all, but she chooses to be. For most of my life, she was my hero. We call her Pope Joan for her devout Catholicism. I used to think she had a direct line to the Pope. We've had our moments where we didn't get along, and as I've grown up, I've seen that she isn't the perfect infallible person that I thought she was. But she's human, and a beautiful person, and I'm grateful that she was brought into my life. When I met her at three years old, she said to me "Hello Lindsey, I'm your grammy." I didn't say a word, I just climbed up into her bed and took a nap with her. That says something I think.

3. My Uncle Bob - I realized just the other day that I am at the age now that my Uncle Bob was when I went to live with him and my aunt. I don't know how he did it. At 27, I can't imagine having an obnoxious 16 year old just thrust into my life and having to parent her. Luckily, I have the most awesome uncle ever. He became a father figure without trying. His sense of humor probably saved me from having the worst teenage years ever. He became someone to talk to about anything really. We would talk about crazy things like the JFK conspiracy theories on the way to school. (School that I was supposed to take the bus to, but would miss it and have to wake him up to drive me.) He read me from The Hobbit while I was sick in the ER with SARS. I still remember how he kept giggling because the medicine made me twitch. His letters to me during military school and basic training kept me laughing when I thought was going to die. My aunt says that it is eerie how similar we are considering we aren't genetically related at all.

Uncle Frodo (Bob) and I

4. My first boyfriend Joe - Before Joe, I couldn't even look at a boy, let alone talk to one. He encouraged me to come out of my ridiculously shy shell and get to know people. He introduced me to a whole different set of people that I never would have met and helped me to learn the power of being a woman. That probably sounds corny, but it is true. When someone tells you everyday that you are beautiful, you start to see yourself differently. You start to think, oh, maybe I am an attractive person. Joe isn't really a part of my life anymore, but I am grateful for his having been in my life.

5. Mr. Hancock - At least, I think that was his name. When I was young, I was a "troubled" kid. I got in trouble and fights and raised hell in school. Mr. Hancock was the school therapist. We never talked in his office though. We would take walks around the neighborhood while we talked, we would go get a slice of pizza and talk, we would go to a playground and talk. He was the first adult that I felt listened to me. I can't even remember what he looked like, but I still appreciate his being there for me when I felt like no one else was.

So that's my list. Like I said I could go on and on. My son, my husband, my aunt, my mom, my sister. So many people have come together to make up my amazing and wonderful life. I'm grateful for each and every one of them.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

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