Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Love of a Two-Year-Old's Life *Should* be His Mother

Bean woke up grumpy, even more so because he's been sick. He ran to me and we snuggled. I kissed his newly shorn head, softly brushing the stray hairs the clippers missed last night. My little guy's face seemed more angular and grown up--that's why I put off cutting his hair. Every time I do it's as if he goes through another phase of babyhood, never to return. I cherish these times with my baby, because I can't call him one much longer.

As we snuggled, I reveled in the sweetness of the moment (and tried to ignore his morning breath). I gazed into his beautiful blue eyes and asked him, "Do you love Mommy?" (I tell him all the time, but it's so sweet to hear him say it.)

"No," he said. Everything has pretty much been "no" lately, even when he means "yes."

My eldest sat on the couch across from us, so I inclined my head his direction and asked Bean, "Do you love Professor?"

"No." Not even a moment's hesitation.

I decided to try a different tactic. "Do you love ice cream?"

His eyes lit up. "YES! I wuv ice cweam!"

We snuggled some more, then I decided it was time for breakfast. Strangely, he didn't want anything I offered. Usually he demands his red bowl, as he loves all things scarlet and vermilion. I was baffled as to why he was refusing everything, until he came out with two words: "ice cweam." I admit, had I any ice cream in the house, I would have been sorely tempted.

Bean had his short fit, then settled on a piece of whole grain rye bread for breakfast.

Thanks to him and my slightly sore throat, I want ice cream. Rocky Road, to be exact. This afternoon, I think a trip to the grocery store is in order . . . for the baby. Yep, ice cream for the baby.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Faithful, Fit and Fabulous--or Get Your Rear in Gear While Making it Nearly Painless

Connie E. Sokol says it all with the book title: Faithful Fit & Fabulous--get Back to Basics and Transform Your Life in Just 8 Weeks! Naturally, I'm skeptical when I read a cover like this. After all, self-help books are a dime a dozen, right? I usually read them, feel inspired for about twenty seconds, then get on with my disorganized life.

Then I opened the book.

If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you'll appreciate how the author sprinkles in pertinent quotes and scriptures throughout the book that, like a dash of pumpkin pie spice, really adds to the flavor of the book. If you aren't, you can substitute the spiritual section for what works for you. This book is a wonderful tool if you are organizationally challenged.

Like me.

Basically, there is a chapter in the beginning that you use as your goal for the first week. Then you build on that by choosing something from the other chapters to work on in subsequent weeks. I love how Ms. Sokol takes off the pressure by encouraging and giving us tools to truly help change our lives, and I believe her methods will make for lasting change. Along with setting accomplishable goals, we are given advice on what to do when life happens to our goals (As it always does!), and we have to adjust in order to reach them. The author teaches us that being flexible is key to reaching our goals, which is something that I appreciate very much.

I loved most of the advice and suggestions, and found the recommendation easy to tweak for me and my family, where needed. I felt very uplifted and encouraged by Faithful Fit & Fabulous, and highly recommend it to anyone (especially women) who are having a difficult time finding balance in their lives.

I rarely gush over a book, but this one is truly gold. It spoke to me and the point where I am in my life. I tend to get overwhelmed very easily, and this book helped me feel like I could breathe and figure out and accomplish my goals at the same time. I'm so grateful I had the chance to review it, and plan on following the program myself beginning next week. If you are looking for a simple, no frills plan to help you get where you want to be in your life, this is it!

Buy Faithful Fit & Fabulous at Amazon in paper or for Kindle. (The Kindle version is a steal at $3.99, and if you don't have a Kindle, you can download the app for free and read it on your PC! The paper version is reasonably priced as well.)

The author's website is: If you go to her FAQs, you will find a downloadable packet for those who have purchased the book. If you read it on an e-reader, this will be invaluable for following the program.

Thank you, Connie Sokol, for this wonderful tool!

*I have not been paid or compensated for this review. I received a copy of the book for review purposes only, and no, you can't have my copy. This baby is mine. Forever. Well, at least until I die. After all, I can't take it with me.* 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

This is Not Your Grandma's Book Review

I don't do book reviews that often, and I'm such a picky reader that it's hard to really wow me with a book. I blame this on my mother, who took me to the library when I was a little tiny sprout, and allowed me to check out upwards of fifty books at a time. Then when we'd get home, I'd sit myself down and take book after book out of the scratchy woven satchel with the tan leather (or vinyl, I don't remember) handles, and read until I was done. It wasn't uncommon for me to read for hours and hours. Other kids' parents had to beg them to read. I got in trouble for not doing things I should have been doing because I had my nose in a book. My parents were justified. Sometimes I'd feel an eerie stillness around me, then look up to see my family watching me read.

Apparently I'm an expressive reader.

All my years of poring over and inhaling books taught me to recognize plot elements without thinking. The result of this is that I am rarely surprised at many plot "twists." I can usually see things happening from a mile away. Not much surprises me.

I love to be surprised.

So, I was very pleasantly surprised to find an author whose books made me feel, laugh (she has a great sense of humor), cry and feel like I was on a journey of discovery throughout the pages. When I read books by this author, I know I'm in a good storyteller's hands, and I can sit back and enjoy the ride. So, I'd like to introduce you to, instead of a single book, one of my favorite authors.

I met Karen Hoover at the 2010 LDS Storymakers Conference, a fantastic place to meet fellow writers with similar values. Karen taught one of the classes, and I loved her presentation. When I got the chance to read her first book, The Sapphire Flute, I was hooked and flew through those pages as fast as I could.

Once I'd read The Sapphire Flute, I couldn't wait for Karen to finish the next installment, The Armor of Light. Usually a second book isn't as good as the first in a series, but I think The Armor of Light may even be better! My favorite part of Karen's writing style is the little touches of description that feel as good as gulping an icy glass of water on a hot summer day. The plot twists and new ideas make me do a mental fist-pump, a "Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' bout."

If you haven't liked fantasy before, give Karen's books a try. If you do like fantasy, you'll find more to like about it.

Karen has become a dear friend, but I'm still in awe of her writing skills--she's a fantastic storyteller. If you like original stories with depth to the characters and cool twists along the way without having to resort to graphic violence, sex, or language, I highly recommend Karen's books.

You can find her stories in e-book at Smashwords, and paper or e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Karen has some Christmas specials going on through December 31st! Go to her blog here for e-book specials, and here for paper book specials, as well as a list of books available through Createspace.  I got to read her latest book, Two Souls are Better than One (The Misadventures of a Teenage Wizard) in the beginning stages, and was so captivated that I'm going to purchase it to put on the e-readers my eleven-year-old son and I are getting for Christmas so I can enjoy it in the final version. (Watch for an upcoming review on that book!)

So, if you like clean fantasy with unusual plot twist and cool magic, I highly recommend books by author Karen E. Hoover!