Sleepy Kitty and Sleepy Puppy

Part of our bedtime routine is to read books with all four kids. Sometimes it is a struggle to get the big kids to do the whole “PJs, potty, and brush teeth” deal in a quick fashion. They do enjoy a asking for all.the.things right at bedtime. So, it’s no surprise that they had schema for Sleepy Kitty and Sleepy Puppy, two new bedtime story books on our shelf.

Sleepy Puppy
Source: Barnes & Noble
Sleepy Kitty
Source: Barnes and Noble

These two photo books share the story of a kitten and puppy who are trying to stay awake. Like my kids, they want “one more” ‘lil bit of attention before they shut their eyes and catch some zzz’s. The big kids (ages 6 and 4) were able to read the books to the twins (who are too young to appreciate the adorable photos of cats and dogs). Both books quickly became a favorite and we read them over and over a few times (oh, the sneaky way to extend bedtime) the past few nights.

 

Sleepy Kitty tells the story of mischievous kittens sneaking in requests before bedtime while Sleepy Puppy tells the story story of rascal puppies begging for more time in their day. Both are brought to us by Sterling Publishing and are available for a suggested retail price of $6.95. The fact sheet I received suggests these board books are for kids up to 3 years old; however, because my big kids still like to grab a picture book (especially ones they can read the words in), it’s on our shared shelf and not just in the nursery. Pick up this pair for your next baby shower – and tell the mama it will come in handy when their firstborn refuses to just go to sleep. (Both books are available at book retailers and through Sterling Publishing.

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MOMOSAS

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Back in October, just after I announced I was pregnant, we were sitting in the pool at Disney and my cousins left me with all the kids and hopped over to the bar for a drink. Admittedly, I was a little sad – not because I was left with 6 screaming and splashing kids (one who was repeatedly kicking me in the stomach) plus the two in utereo, but because I would have given anything to have a sweet, fun [non-alcoholic] drink along with them. If only I had taken my copy of MOMOSAS along as a guide to come up with a fun drink I could have asked them to bring me back.

Source: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Source: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

MOMOSAS (Fun Alcohol-Free Drinks for Expecting Moms), by Paul Knorr, is a book filled with over 130 non-alcoholic drinks for anyone who might be like me and want a fun drink without the alcohol (expecting moms, nursing moms, supportive dads, people in training, people abstaining).

With everything from Punchless Piña Coladas and Virgin Banana Daiquiris, to smoothies, shakes, sparklers, and spritzes, pregnant women can finally enjoy happy hour instead of sitting on the sidelines for 9 months.

I love the names (and tastes) of these drinks. Yeah, many of the names are a bit baby-based, but that is pretty much all I have on my mind these days anyhow. Doesn’t a Pitter-Patter or Smooth Delivery sound good? I mean, I know it’s cold out there in Pittsburgh today, but sometimes kicking back and relaxing with a fun drink can warm up these cold days, right?

You can find these fun recipes in MOMOSAS by picking up the book (published by Sterling Publishing) for a suggested retail value of $12.95 – a nice addition to a “Congrats” card for the newest expecting mama in your life, right? (Here it is on Amazon.) BUT, I’ve been given a copy to give away  and  a recipe to share with you!  (Scroll down for the giveaway – it ends 1/18 at 11:59 PM and there are options to enter daily.)

POOH BEAR

1 Part Lemonade

1 Part Apple Juice

Splash Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain over ice in a tall glass.

Pooh Bear Page 81

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“Love and Respect in the Family”

Disclaimer: I was provided with a book to review and one to give away in exchange for this review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Love and Respect in the Family
Source: http://loveandrespect.com/family-book/

When I was asked to review “Love and Respect in the Family” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs, I was overly excited. Something has been eating at me for months. I’ll go right out and say it, because you all are my safety net: I don’t feel like I am a great mom. I feel like a fraud. Reading the pitch for this book, I knew I had to take up the offer and learn some tips.

Here’s what I was told about the book:

Written by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, it is not just for parents of young children – it is also great for those whose kids are grown, but with whom their relationship may be broken or hurting. Either way, it gets families off of the ‘crazy cycle’ (parents feeling disrespected and treating kids unlovingly, kids feeling unloved and treat parents disrespectfully and around and around it goes…).  

I immediately was brought to tears and responded with a yes. Now, that was about a month ago. The shipping was super fast, but my eyes, ears, and heart weren’t quite ready to read. I got sick, I got busy. I pushed it to the side of my dresser and figured I’d get to it. I apologized to the rep, and dug my heels in and started to read.

Truth be told, I was having a really hard time reading it because I really want to be a good parent and break the cycle of craziness in my house…and in my relationships. I wanted to learn how to handle conflict, but I wasn’t exactly ready to listen.

Once I dug in, I appreciated the framework that Dr. Eggerichs puts around the book. His childhood was not perfect. He didn’t raise his kids perfect. God didn’t make us perfect, either. It’s all really okay. He takes a look into his own raising and how he and his wife Sarah raised their three children, inserting Biblical references to guide us as parents.

Speaking of guide, there is a section of the book, “The Family Energizing Cycle”, that is based on the acronym “GUIDES”, a way to parent as set forth in the Bible. We need to give our children enough to meet their needs (which affirmed for me why I can’t stand the kids being spoiled and why we’re working on them being givers). We need to understand our children (I am working on this – it’s hard for me to understand that a 5 year old does not think like a 30 year old). We need to Instruct our children (like when I talked to the kids about why there are stoplights/rules for a reason). We need to Discipline (but not PUNISH) our children so they know when they’ve made a poor choice (we talk about this a lot). We need to Encourage our children and help them with the things that God has given them (I”m going to work on this with my smart kiddos – we need to enrich their brains more and more). And finally, we need to Supplicate in prayer for our children (I’ve already started praying that God is raising them a good partner, just like my parents prayed the same for me).

It’s not easy, this parenting thing, but it wasn’t intended to be. When we as parents can understand that our children speak in love and we speak in respect and need to meet in the middle, we can have the balance that God intended.

If you’re interested in reading this book yourself to guide your parenting skills, you can find a copy on http://loveandrespect.com/family-book/ for $14 plus shipping.

One lucky reader will be sent a copy of this book – enter through next Sunday 1/19! (Note – this is a new to me giveaway tool, so please let me know what you think.)

“The Miner’s Lady”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Miner’s Lady” in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Oh, how I wish I had days to sit and read books like I did today. Isn’t this just a glorious moment?

The Miner's Lady

Sure, it helps that my vacation days allow for this, and the fact that I get to review books like this are quite the added bonus.

Anyways, to my thoughts on The Miner’s Lady by Tracie Peterson. Set in the 1890’s mine town of Ely, Minnesota, the book follows the lives of two sisters and two brothers from feuding families as they try to end the feud. A historical romance, I am pretty sure you have a good idea where this one is going. Little sister Panetta falls in love with little brother Calarco and their big sister and big brother try to stop the romance due to the feud.

Isabella and Orlando do not care about the silly feud (which began generations ago in their homeland of Italy), and continue to pursue a marriage, even if it means eloping and then telling their fathers about the new family connection. Several events happen that only draw the couple closer together, making them willing to risk being disowned.

Love and faith in God are interlaced throughout the story as the romance grows and the feud softens, just like the lace that Chantal (big sister Panetta) and her mother create.

While a somewhat predictable happy ending is eminent, this story is not free of adventure, risk, and moments where you’ll suck your breath in, hoping for the best. I was able to read it in three hours (sadly, not all of it in the hammock), and was glad I didn’t have the need to put it down.

To make a long story short, I definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes historical romance with a Christian twist.

Book Review: Undeniably Yours

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Undeniably Yours” in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

I’ve never been one to be jealous of those with wealth beyond measure — you’ve heard of “More Money, More Problems” I am sure — but I’ll admit I was a tad bit jealous of Becky Wade’s Undeniably Yours leading lady Meg Cole. Daughter of a a wealthy oil tycoon, Meg is left with 51% of her father’s company when he passes away. She is left with the task of cutting out the fat of the company and keeping things running smoothly. The problem? She wasn’t really interested in this

Undeniably Yours
Source: Bethany House

life path.

 

Upon returning to her home to manage the company, she decides to get rid of the thoroughbred farm that her father started on their land. She doesn’t expect to be challenged by the manager, Bo; however, he asks her to give him six months to prove the worth of the farm. She hesitates, but gives him what he wants. I could tell right from here that the two were going to fall madly in love and make beautiful memories riding horses, but I stuck with it. 

I stuck with it so much that I finished the book in one day — and I work a full time job.  You see, while Undeniably Yours is undeniably a romance novel story line, there were so many twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. Take Meg having an abusive ex, for instance. Or, said ex having a son (and ex-girlfriend) who show up on Meg’s doorstep, eventually prompting Meg’s decisions about the company and her future of doing what makes her happiest. Enter my jealousy — she was able to compose her dream in a few months and get it off the ground and running with the man of her dreams’ help. 

Even when obstacles from the past threaten their relationship, Bo and Meg prove out that they truly are undeniably each other’s.

The charming cast of characters, intriguing plot, and well-written text will make you not want to put this book down. Definitely put it in a vacation bag!

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Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade is published by Bethany House and retails for $13.99.

Book Review: Fearless Daughters of the Bible

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary copy of  this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Fearless Daughters of the Bible
Source: Chosen Books

J. Lee Grady, a man who (with his wife) raised four daughters shares the stories and lessons learned from “22 women who challenged tradition, fought injustice and dared to lead” in his book, Fearless Daughters of the Bible. Isn’t that subtitle just inspiring in itself? When I think of the Bible and the lessons I learned in Sunday School, church, and Bible School, how many of them were about the men? As a feminist who is challenging tradition by being the bread winner, I knew this book was going to be an inspiration not only on my faith journey but also in my day to day life.

I was right.

Grady explores the stories of powerful women in recent history and in today’s faith world and explores the comparisons between them and these Fearless Daughters of the Bible. As expected, women like Mary (mother of Jesus), Ruth, Sarah, and Miriam are included. I, however, was introduced to some women this pastor’s kid had never read about (or may I just didn’t pay attention?) — Priscilla, Jehosheba, and Deborah (among others).

Following a connection between modern day fearless daughters of faith and a discussion of the biblical daughter, Grady presents appropriate challenges / thoughts to guide the reader to consider their faith (and in some instances prompt us to become stronger, more fearless women). The chapters conclude with discussion questions (these would be great in a Bible Study) and a message from God, tying it all together.

As a woman who hopes to break molds and use the gifts God has given me, Grady’s book was definitely an empowering read. It’s a good reminder of the things that I hope to do in this world.

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Fearless Daughters of the Bible by J. Lee Grady is published by Chosen Books and retails for $14.99.

Book Review: Firefly Island

Disclaimer: In exchange for the review below, I was sent a copy of a book. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

I can’t help it, I am a sucker for a good love story. Even if they are mildly predictable, Christian-themed romance novels (especially those based in the South) are my go-to books. Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate was no different.

Firefly Island
Source: Bethany House

Typical girl meets guy in a sweet setting, they fall head over heels in love. When D.C. girl Mallory falls in love with Daniel on Capitol Hill, I am quite sure she doesn’t picture that within months she’ll be a stepmother, a “Pioneer Woman” living in Texas. Top it off with the mystery of her husband’s new boss and the acres of land they are living on.

My heartstrings were pulled as Mallory encountered the poverty-stricken areas nearby. It’s always humbling to consider that others may not have what we have, and gentle reminders that God loves all are sometimes just the thing we need.

Also, like me, Mallory becomes a blogger as she ventures through life in Texas, blogging about her stepson, recipes, and adventures de-varmitizing her new “home”.

As these stories go, Firefly Island is not free of mystery, adventure, and a turn of events that of course leads her to fall deeper in love with her husband. While I am sure she didn’t want to make Texas her forever home back in her Capitol Hill days, the final chapters of this book make her realize that sometimes God has a way to find exactly what we want…although it may not always be where we think we’ll find it.

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Firefly Island is published by Bethany House and retails for $14.99.

Pocket Your Dollars

One of the hardest lessons in life I learned was managing money (every young adult does that, no?). A few weeks back, I was sent Pocket Your Dollars (by Carrie Rocha). This book covers “5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, & Keep More of What You Make” and is something I wish I had read before I started charging every cent I was spending.

source: Bethany House

Carrie’s lessons are simple to read and understand, it’s the actual execution (changing your attitudes and habits with money) that are tough lessons. And if you’re not in debt and wondering if this book could be for you? The answer is yes. Carrie reminded me of lessons that I needed to learn to change and to build that savings. (For instance, the past few weeks we eliminated dinners out in exchange for building our patio, a lesson learned from Pocket Your Dollars, a challenge of do we want this now or that in the future.)

The book is based off Carrie’s personal experiences with money upon marrying her husband, and how they both had to change to make it work. This was something I totally understood. Greg came into my life with no debt, but on the flip side no savings, living with cash day in and day out. We both had habits to change, and are still working to make sure 1) the family has what we need and 2) our dreams can come true.

What a great book this would be to put with a card for a recent college or high school graduate or newly married couple. It’s an easy read, and worth the time.

Beyond Carrie’s book, she has a website (www.pocketyourdollars.com/ where you can find deals, shopping lists, and freebies to expand your practice of saving. Definitely worth a visit once or twice a week.

You can find Pocket Your Dollars on Amazon or through Baker Publishing. The price is fair, considering the money you’ll save from lessons within.

Book Review: “To Honor and Trust”

Add this book to your “to read” list if you love period romances set in the south. Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller’s “To Honor and Trust” was an easy, enjoyable read with interesting characters and a plot that you expect…and then one that you can’t see coming from a mile away.

Source: Bethany House

Governess Callie Deboyer accompanies the Bridgeport family to their winter home on Bridal Veil Island in 1913. Her family came from money, but now her parents are missionaries in Africa. Her winter is spent trying to figure out where her heart will lead her next…and I am sure she never expected a man like Wesley Townsend to step into her life. She believes he is the golf instructor, but there are a few secrets he has kept from her. The title is so fitting…is Callie really able to trust him?

While on Bridal Veil, Callie also meets Maude, the family’s newly hired nanny. She’s lived in Pittsburgh, but her stories of being a nanny for other families just never adds up right. In the end, there’s an interesting twist with Maude. Although I expected something fishy was up with her, Peterson and Miller wrote the story so well that I had no idea what Maude was really up to during her time on the island.

I could tell from the cover of the book that there would be a wedding and just had a hunch that Callie would make the life-changing decision regarding Africa that she does, but other than that, this book wasn’t as predictable as I thought. How two authors can put together a descriptive, flowing work amazes me…but Peterson and Miller did a great job with this one.

If I have you intrigued, you can go out to Bethany House to pick up your own copy (retails from $14.99, including an e-book version).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to read and review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Finding the Willpower

A new year brings new goals and resolutions.  For me, it has been a renewed energy to meet the goal I have been working on, losing weight. After a holiday plateau, I have admittedly struggled mentally.  Good thing BlogHer sent me The Willpower Instinct to review. Perfect timing.

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This book, written by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., takes readers on a journey of self-control…essentially how it works, why it is important, and ways to (kid you not!) get more of it. She teaches a Stanford University course titled “The Science of Willpower”, and this book uses many of the principles.

McGonigal asks readers to think about “the three powers”: I Will, I Won’t, and I Want and how these three will help or hurt your goals…whether it be weight loss, getting out of debt,  or starting a new career.

For the purpose of this review, I took an overall perusal of the lessons first (not the recommended path) and for the past two weeks dug deep into the first two chapters and engaged in the exercises (willpower experiments) suggested. The book, ideally, would take 10 weeks to read. As an avid reader, that takes willpower to take it slow! 😉 But, McGonigal does it for a reason. Once you get into the experiments and reflect on the microscope questions she presents, you will understand.

In Chapter 1, the hardest thing for me to add to my busy life was meditation. I tried to add five minutes at the end of my workout or before my shower,  but I love my sleep. This hasn’t been easy, but on days that I do it right, I definitely feel I have more willpower and self-control.

This past week, I have been working on analyzing my stress spikes and sleep (which has not been great this week, thanks crud). The lessons have been befitting, mainly because I often let my stress reactions protect me from what is best for me.

I know the lessons ahead of me will be beneficial too, such as investigating how social networks play on willpower (where are my living healthy buddies? Bueller?) and looking at giving in and failures. So far, I have liked what I have dived into and hope that (based on my quick read) I continue to devote the next 8 weeks to this journey.

I mean, c’mon. Look at what this next week holds for me. How perfect!

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Hopefully you will follow along the next few weeks as we discuss this book more over at BlogHer. I am excited to share my journey there and hope it will lead to added weight loss, too! You can follow Dr. McGonigal on Twitter (@kellymcgonigal) or pick up your own copy at your favorite book retailer (suggested retail is $26). I am sure all of you have a goal you’d like to reach this year…what a great way to work on it!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a paid review through BHBC, but all opinions are 100% my own.