Monday, October 25, 2010

Making Your Home a Haven: Week #4

October 24 - Keep the candle going, the music playing, and add some tender moments with your family. Have a pillow party in the family room and get out every blanket and pillow in the house and be cozy with the kids or your hubby! Even if you live alone you can do this. Enjoy a cozy evening of hot cider and caramel corn. Give a 5 minute back rub to every single person in your house...and for a double challenge- try to give one every day to each family member! During your tender moment with the family, ask them how they feel about this challenge. Are they enjoying it? Is it helpful? Is there anything they would change. Give your family listening ears. I think you will be blessed by the positive feedback you will receive!

I know that we need to find some time to kick back as a family.  I hope to make this week extra special with fun and relaxing times with my two favorite men!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sixty Minute Family Book Review and Giveaway!!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Lion UK (July 9, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Rob Parsons is an international speaker on family issues and the author of many best-sellers including The Heart of Success and The 60-Minute Father. Over half a millon people have attended his live seminars.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.95
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Lion UK (July 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0745953832
ISBN-13: 978-0745953830

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

The Hospital Waiting Room

It is midnight. I am in the waiting room of my local hospital. I’ve brought a neighbour in because he’s had a fall, and I’ve now been sitting for over four hours on plastic chairs that were designed to cause as much discomfort as possible to every part of my anatomy.

      I get up, stretch my legs, and wander across to the coffee machine. A young woman of perhaps twenty-four years old is there. She is obviously distraught and drops the coins she is trying to feed into the machine. I suggest she take a seat, pick up the money, and get her coffee for her.

      We start chatting and she tells me that her father is seriously ill, and there is some doubt that he will make it through the night. As we sip our drinks I ask her to tell me about him.

      She brushes a tear from her face, smiles, and says, “My mum and dad were brilliant - our family life was wonderful. I didn’t know how good it was until I went to college and heard my friends talk about how life was in their homes. It wasn’t that we didn’t argue – we did, lots of times. We were all so very different. I was the rebellious one. I have two sisters and a brother. Sometimes we’d practically come to blows. But we laughed a lot and always knew in our hearts that when it came down to it, we’d be there for each other.”

      I say, “It sounds like a great family.”

      She nods. “Dad was from a poor home, but he did really well in his career. In fact in the early years of my parents’ marriage he put in such long hours at his office they nearly broke up. After that he changed. It wasn’t that he didn’t continue to work hard, but unlike previously, he was always there when we needed him. I’d be in a school play and suddenly I’d see him slip in at the back. He was sometimes a little late, but he hated missing any of that stuff; it was the same with my brother’s football matches. After he and Mum went through that hard time it seemed his priorities changed.”

      I ask, “Is your mum still alive?”

      “Oh yes,” she says. “She’s up in the ward with him now...”

      I say, “Tell me more…”


It was after two in the morning when we stopped talking, and it had all been about her family life. She told me of holidays and Christmases, of good times and harder ones, and of conflicts that were finally resolved with tears and forgiveness. She spoke of silly things they’d done – like giving each other names from the Jungle Book film for a whole week. She said, “The only problem with that was that we were all teenagers!”

      She said, “My mother always used to say the same thing whenever we’d done something silly together, or scary (like when we went abseiling once and my sister got stuck upside down), or even when we’d come through a tough time. She would say, “We made a memory.”

      She swallowed hard and I said, “You have lots of them, don’t you?”

      “Yes,” she said. “I have hundreds.” She smiled. “Well, I’d better go back up to the ward now. Thanks for talking to me. It helped.”

      I eventually left the hospital at nine a.m. As I was approaching my car I noticed a young couple in the parking bay next to mine. They were gingerly loading an obviously brand-new baby into their vehicle, together with various bouquets of flowers. I shouted, “Congratulations!”  The father smiled at me.

      As I got into my car I found myself thinking of the young woman at the coffee machine and wishing that her father could have shared some of the lessons he’d learned with these new parents at the start of their family life together. And as I let my mind wander, I felt I could almost hear the older man talk of things that make families strong: the need to make time for each other; the power of laughter; the creating of homes where forgiveness is always on the heels of conflict; and the ways to make a memory.

      For over twenty years I have travelled the world and listened to people tell me the stories of their families. From Moscow to Melbourne, from Durban to Doncaster, they have shared with me what made their families strong - and sometimes what destroyed them.

      My own children are now at the start of their own family life. If they let me - a big if! - what lessons would I love to share with them? Perhaps things I wish I’d done differently - what seemed to work and what didn’t. But these are not just my lessons – they are gleaned from talking to families across the world, sometimes listening to people who often said, “I wish I’d known that earlier in my family life.” So, whether my children ever read them or not - and acknowledging that somebody else’s list may be quite different - here, at least, are my ten life lessons for a strong family life.

      This is a “Sixty Minute” book, which means that if you are quick, you can read it in an hour. An hour? What can be said of value that can be read in less than four thousand seconds? Well, something at least... And I know this: whatever size and shape your family is - mother and father, single parent mum or dad, stepfamily - this short book contains things that have the potential to make your family stronger and perhaps even save it from break-up. I’ve known families whose relationships were changed, saved even, by putting into practice just one of the lessons in this book.

      If, at the moment, you are going through a good time in your family life, I hope these lessons will make it even better. However, you may be going through a difficult period right now. In my work I see too much of real life to believe there are easy answers to the problems of families in pain. But I hope you will still find something that will help –  even if it’s simply the realization that whatever you are experiencing, you are not alone.


Here's my review:

The Sixty Minute Family by Rob Parsons was written so the reader could read these ten life lessons in one hour. Rob Parsons is the founder and executive chairman of Care for the Family which is a charity in the UK that helps to strengthen the family. The Sixty Minute Family highlights ten life lessons focusing on parenting, marriage, traditions, tough times and more. Each lesson has real stories and several other practical points to consider. Rob is very personable and proactive in his goals for strengthening the family.

I personally was not able to read this book in an hour due to being a parent of a toddler, but I can see how it can be possible. I was very impressed with the life lessons Rob chose to share and feel that these are great and easy to implement in the family right away. Even though most of these are common sense, I really like how they were presented because they made me step back, think and evaluate where I am in using these life lessons.

Win it: I am having a giveaway for this book. Open to US only and giveaway ends Friday, November 5.

To enter: Be sure to click on all the links before filling out the entry form.




1. Mandatory: Be a follower on my blog (2 entries)
2. Put my button on your blog and provide the link.
3. Subscribe to my blog by email (top right corner)
4."Like" The Knowlton Nest on Facebook (link on my blog).
5. Follow on Networked Blogs (link on my blog)
6. Follow me on twitter (@shondaet)
7. Post about this giveaway on another site (your blog, facebook, twitter, etc) (1 entry for every site)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Giveaway at Kaufman's Cottage!


Melissa at Kaufman's Cottage is having this cute fall giveaway!  Go enter now (Just click her blog button above)

Giveaways over at Live, Learn Love!

My friend, Annette, over at Live, Learn, Love
has 5 great giveaways going on this week:
*CSN $45 Gift Cert
*Baby book
*Parenting giveaway
*Pumpkin Patch Parable
*Chicken Soup for the Soul

Check it out!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Broccoli Braid (adapted from Pampered Chef)



SOOOO tasty!!


2 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I make chicken adobo- in frying pan place chicken and cover with 1/2 c. soy sauce and 1/4 c. vinegar- cook until done turning over once)
1 cup steamed broccoli, chopped
1/2 steamed carrots
4 oz. (1cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. dill
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
2 pkgs. (8oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white, lightly beaten  
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Chop chicken and broccoli using food chopper; place in 2 qt. batter bowl. Shred cheese using cheese grater and add to vegetable mixture; mix gently. Add sour cream, dill mix, and salt/pepper; mix well using scraper. Unroll 1 package of crescent dough; do not separate. Arrange longest sides of dough across width of 12" x 15" rectangle baking stone. Repeat with remaining package of dough. Using roller, roll dough to seal perforations. On longest sides of baking stone, cut dough into strips 1 1/2 inches apart, 3 inches deep using a pizza cutter (there will be 6 inches in the center for the filling). Spread filling evenly over middle of dough. To braid, lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip on turn. Continue alternating strips to form a braid. Tuck ends under to seal at end of braid. Brush egg white over dough using pastry brush.  Bake 25-28 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pear Tree Greetings Thank You Cards Review and Giveaway!!

Pear Tree Greetings

I absolutely love the quality and variety of Pear Tree Greetings stationary.  I recently received this selection of thank you cards for review and I love the colors and sizes of the different cards.  Each one is unique and is made from heavy 100 lb matte card stock and is 100% post-consumer recycleable.  Wouldn't you love to send out these beautiful thank you cards?  What I really love about Pear Tree Greetings is the way you can personalize your cards and also pick colors.  It's so fun to create your own personal notes!  Another great feature is that you can prepare your shopping cart, but can wait to send in your order within 90 days.  You may add more items to your shopping cart so you can pay all at once.  Also, after you make a purchase they send you a survey to earn a 10% coupon on your next purchase.  There are also lots of specials that you can find in my side bar every month.  And this month my giveaway is for you to win a set of thank you cards.  So take a look and let me know what you would like to win!


Win it:
One reader will win a set of thank you cards (up to 16) from the Pear Tree Greetings selection.  Check out their selection and let me know what you would choose if you won. Giveaway open to US and ends Friday, October 29!!

To enter: Be sure to click on all the links before filling out the entry form.  Thanks!


1. Mandatory: Be a follower on my blog (2 entries)
2. What set of thank you cards would you pick if you won? (required)
3. Put my button on your blog and provide the link. 
4. Subscribe to my blog by email (top right corner)
5."Like" The Knowlton Nest on Facebook (link on my blog). 
6. Follow on Networked Blogs (link on my blog) 
7. Follow me on Twitter (@shondaet)
8. "Like" Pear Tree Greetings on Facebook
9. Follow Pear Tree Greetings on Twitter
10. Make a purchase at Pear Tree Greetings(+5)
11. Post about this giveaway on another site (your blog, facebook, twitter, etc) (1 entry for every site) 


Make Your Home A Haven Fall 2010: Week #3

October 17 - List a few of the spots in your home that make you visually stressed because of all the clutter. Now go buy something for that spot - like a basket to put it all in! Work on cleaning up clutter - throw things away and encourage the children and your hubby to do the same in their bedrooms or offices or work areas this week. While you're at it - clean up some clutter in your spiritual life. What gets in the way of your peace spiritually?


I have lots of spots that are cluttered!  Right now I'm working on the kitchen.  Another spot is our bedroom!  Ugh!  I just hate messes, but lately I've felt so tired that I don't feel like cleaning.  But I've come to the conclusion that something is better than nothing.  What makes me feel best right now is if I do ONE small thing a day to bring my home to a clutter free area where I can feel refreshed.  It's going to take some time.  I'm opting not to buy anything, but just having a place looking freshly clean is good enough for me.  As for my spiritual life, yes, I am trying to spend more quality time with God in His word and in prayer.  I try to take the first 30 minutes of my day for God and then as I look at my candle or hear the soothing music I can pray through my day.  What's cluttering up your life?

Oh, I had a rough week last week and I forgot about being gentle with my son during dinner one night.  I asked God for forgiveness and I also asked my MOPS group to pray for peace and patience for me as I try to navigate through my toddler's erratic eating.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lady in Waiting Book Review and Giveaway

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc., for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Susan Meissner has spent her lifetime as a writer, starting with her first poem at the age of four. She is the award-winning author of The Shape of Mercy, White Picket Fences, and many other novels. When she’s not writing, she directs the small groups and connection ministries at her San Diego church. She and her pastor husband are the parents of four young adults.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458830
ISBN-13: 978-0307458834

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Jane

Upper West Side, Manhattan

ONE

The mantle clock was exquisite even though its hands rested in silence at twenty minutes past two.

Carved—near as I could tell—from a single piece of mahogany, its glimmering patina looked warm to the touch. Rosebuds etched into the swirls of wood grain flanked the sides like two bronzed bridal bouquets. The clock’s top was rounded and smooth like the draped head of a Madonna. I ran my palm across the polished surface and it was like touching warm water.

Legend was this clock originally belonged to the young wife of a Southampton doctor and that it stopped keeping time in 1912, the very moment the Titanic sank and its owner became a widow. The grieving woman’s only consolation was the clock’s apparent prescience of her husband’s horrible fate and its kinship with the pain that left her inert in sorrow. She never remarried and she never had the clock fixed.

I bought it sight unseen for my great aunt’s antique store, like so many of the items I’d found for the display cases. In the year and half I’d been in charge of the inventory, the best pieces had come from the obscure estate sales that my British friend Emma Downing came upon while tooling around the southeast of England looking for oddities for her costume shop. She found the clock at an estate sale in Felixstowe and the auctioneer, so she told me, had been unimpressed with the clock’s sad history. Emma said he’d read the accompanying note about the clock as if reading the rules for rugby.

My mother watched now as I positioned the clock on the lacquered black mantle that rose above a marble fireplace. She held a lead crystal vase of silk daffodils in her hands.

“It should be ticking.” She frowned. “People will wonder why it’s not ticking.” She set the vase down on the hearth and stepped back. Her heels made a clicking sound on the parquet floor beneath our feet. “You know, you probably would’ve sold it by now if it was working. Did Wilson even look at it? You told me he could fix anything.”

I flicked a wisp of fuzz off the clock’s face. I hadn’t asked the shop’s resident and unofficial repairman to fix it. “It wouldn’t be the same clock if it was fixed.”

“It would be a clock that did what it was supposed to do.” My mother leaned in and straightened one of the daffodil blooms.

“This isn’t just any clock, Mom.” I took a step back too.

My mother folded her arms across the front of her Ann Taylor suit. Pale blue, the color of baby blankets and robins’ eggs. Her signature color. “Look, I get all that about the Titanic and the young widow, but you can’t prove any of it, Jane,” she said. “You could never sell it on that story.”

A flicker of sadness wobbled inside me at the thought of parting with the clock. This happens when you work in retail. Sometimes you have a hard time selling what you bought to sell.

“I’m thinking maybe I’ll keep it.”

“You don’t make a profit by hanging onto the inventory.” My mother whispered this, but I heard her. She intended for me to hear her. This was her way of saying what she wanted to about her aunt’s shop—which she’d inherit when Great Aunt Thea passed—without coming across as interfering.

My mother thinks she tries very hard not to interfere. But it is one of her talents. Interfering when she thinks she’s not. It drives my younger sister Leslie nuts.

“Do you want me to take it back to the store?” I asked.

“No! It’s perfect for this place. I just wish it were ticking.” She nearly pouted.

I reached for the box at my feet that I brought the clock in along with a set of Shakespeare’s works, a pair of pewter candlesticks, and a Wedgwood vase. “You could always get a CD of sound effects and run a loop of a ticking clock,” I joked.

She turned to me, childlike determination in her eyes. “I wonder how hard it would be to find a CD like that!”

“I was kidding, Mom! Look what you have to work with.” I pointed to the simulated stereo system she’d placed into a polished entertainment center behind us. My mother never used real electronics in the houses she staged, although with the clientele she usually worked with—affluent real estate brokers and equally well-off buyers and sellers—she certainly could.

“So I’ll bring in a portable player and hide it in the hearth pillows.” She shrugged and then turned to the adjoining dining room. A gleaming black dining table had been set with white bone china, pale yellow linen napkins, and mounds of fake chicken salad, mauvey rubber grapes, and plastic croissants and petit fours. An arrangement of pussy willows graced the center of the table. “Do you think the pussy willows are too rustic?” she asked.

She wanted me to say yes so I did.

“I think so, too,” she said. “I think we should swap these out for that vase of Gerbera daisies you have on that escritoire in the shop’s front window. I don’t know what I was thinking when I brought these.” She reached for the unlucky pussy willows. “We can put these on the entry table with our business cards.”

She turned to me. “You did bring yours this time, didn’t you? It’s silly for you to go to all this work and then not get any customers out of it.” My mother made her way to the entryway with the pussy willows in her hands and intention in her step. I followed her.

This was only the second house I’d helped her stage, and I didn’t bring business cards the first time because she hadn’t invited me to until we were about to leave. She’d promptly told me then to never go anywhere without business cards. Not even to the ladies room. She’d said it and then waited, like she expected me to take out my BlackBerry and make a note of it.

“I have them right here.” I reached into the front pocket of my capris and pulled out a handful of glossy business cards emblazoned with Amsterdam Avenue Antiques and its logo—three As entwined like a Celtic eternity knot. I handed them to her and she placed them in a silver dish next to her own. Sophia Keller Interior Design and Home Staging. The pussy willows actually looked wonderful against the tall jute-colored wall.

“There. That looks better!” she exclaimed as if reading my thoughts. She turned to survey the main floor of the townhouse. The owners had relocated to the Hamptons and were selling off their Manhattan properties to fund a cushy retirement. Half the décor—the books, the vases, the prints—were on loan from Aunt Thea’s shop. My mother, who’d been staging real estate for two years, brought me in a few months earlier when she discovered a stately home filled with charming and authentic antiques sold faster than the same home filled with reproductions.

“You and Brad should get out of that teensy apartment on the West Side and buy this place. The owners are practically giving it away.”

Her tone suggested she didn’t expect me to respond. I easily let the comment evaporate into the sunbeams caressing us. It was a comment for which I had had no response.

My mother’s gaze swept across the two large rooms she’d furnished and she frowned when her eyes reached the mantle and the silent clock.

“Well, I’ll just have to come back later today,” she spoke into the silence. “It’s being shown first thing in the morning.” She swung back around. “Come on. I’ll take you back.”

We stepped out into the April sunshine and to her Lexus parked across the street along a line of townhouses just like the one we’d left. As we began to drive away, the stillness in the car thickened, and I fished my cell phone out of my purse to see if I’d missed any calls while we were finishing the house. On the drive over I had a purposeful conversation with Emma about a box of old books she found at a jumble sale in Oxfordshire. That lengthy conversation filled the entire commute from the store on the seven-hundred block of Amsterdam to the townhouse on East Ninth, and I found myself wishing I could somehow repeat that providential circumstance. My mother would ask about Brad if the silence continued. There was no missed call, and I started to probe my brain for something to talk about. I suddenly remembered I hadn’t told my mother I’d found a new assistant. I opened my mouth to tell her about Stacy but I was too late.

“So what do you hear from Brad?” she asked cheerfully.

“He’s doing fine.” The answer flew out of my mouth as if I’d rehearsed it. She looked away from the traffic ahead, blinked at me, and then turned her attention back to the road. A taxi pulled in front of her, and she laid on the horn, pronouncing a curse on all taxi drivers.

“Idiot.” She turned to me. “How much longer do you think he will stay in New Hampshire?” Her brow was creased. “You aren’t going to try to keep two households going forever, are you?”

I exhaled heavily. “It’s a really good job, Mom. And he likes the change of pace and the new responsibilities. It’s only been two months.”

“Yes, but the inconvenience has to be wearing on you both. It must be quite a hassle maintaining two residences, not to mention the expense, and then all that time away from each other.” She paused but only for a moment. “I just don’t see why he couldn’t have found something similar right here in New York. I mean, don’t all big hospitals have the same jobs in radiology? That’s what your father told me. And he should know.”

“Just because there are similar jobs doesn’t mean there are similar vacancies, Mom.”

She tapped the steering wheel. “Yes, but your father said . . .”

“I know Dad thinks he might’ve been able to help Brad find something on Long Island but Brad wanted this job. And no offense, Mom, but the head of environmental services doesn’t hire radiologists.”

She bristled. I shouldn’t have said it. She would repeat that comment to my dad, not to hurt him but to vent her frustration at not having been able to convince me she was right and I was wrong. But it would hurt him anyway.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” I added. “Don’t tell him I said that, okay? I just really don’t want to rehash this again.”

But she wasn’t done. “Your father has been at that hospital for twenty-seven years. He knows a lot of people.” She emphasized the last four words with a pointed stare in my direction.

“I know he does. That’s really not what I meant. It’s just Brad has always wanted this kind of job. He’s working with cancer patients. This really matters to him.”

“But the job’s in New Hampshire!”

“Well, Connor is in New Hampshire!” It sounded irrelevant even to me to mention the current location of Brad’s and my college-age son. Connor had nothing to do with any of this. And he was an hour away from where Brad was anyway.

“And you are here,” my mother said evenly. “If Brad wanted out of the city, there are plenty of quieter hospitals right around here. And plenty of sick people for that matter.”

There was an undercurrent in her tone, subtle and yet obvious, that assured me we really weren’t talking about sick people and hospitals and the miles between Manhattan and Manchester. It was as if she’d guessed what I’d tried to keep from my parents the last eight weeks.

My husband didn’t want out of the city.

He just wanted out.



Here's my review: 
 
Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner is the converging story of the historical Lady Jane Grey and the modern Jane Lindsay.  Jane Lindsay is an antique store owner who one day opens a package sent to her from England that contains a box with a rosary and a prayer book.  Inside the prayer book is a betrothal ring with Jane in the inscription.  Jane is fascinated with this find and as her marriage crumbles, she seeks to find answers in this mysterious ring from long ago.  Lady Jane Grey is a royal heir in the mid 1500's who secretly loves young Edward Seymour.  She confides in her dressmaid, Lucy, who tells the story of Lady Jane's tragic life.  Lady Jane becomes almost engaged to Edward and he (supposedly) gives her this betrothal ring (not a historic fact) which she wears with love in her heart.  Both Jane's struggle with other people making decisions for them.  For Lady Jane, she ultimately chooses to stay loyal to her faith and for Jane Lindsay, she learns to find what makes her happy.

I couldn't put this book down.  I was instantly drawn to Jane Lindsay's story and intrigued with the mysterious ring.  The author has a very natural writing style and kept a hook in me throughout the entire book.  Lady Jane's story was a little confusing at first because in that era there were so many people with the same name and I had a hard time keeping them all straight, but eventually I figured out all the relationships.  I really liked the tie between the two Jane's and even though much of the story is sad as each woman experiences heartache, there is also an element of hope.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get lost in romance and mystery both contemporary and historical.  Lady in Waiting has it all!

*This book was provided to me free of charge by FIRST wild card tour for purpose of this review. This is my honest opinion of this book and no monetary compensation was received for my opinion.*
 

Win it:  I am having a giveaway for this book.  Open to US only and giveaway ends Wednesday, Oct 27.

To enter: Be sure to click on all the links before filling out the entry form.





1. Mandatory: Be a follower on my blog (2 entries)
2. Put my button on your blog and provide the link. 
3. Subscribe to my blog by email (top right corner)
4."Like" The Knowlton Nest on Facebook (link on my blog). 
5. Follow on Networked Blogs (link on my blog) 
6. Follow me on twitter (@shondaet)
7. Post about this giveaway on another site (your blog, facebook, twitter, etc) (1 entry for every site) 


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eat This and Live for Kids Book Review and Giveaway!!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Don Colbert, MD, is board-certified in family practice and anti-aging medicine and has received extensive training in nutritional and preventative medicine. He is the author of numerous books, including two New York Times best sellers, Dr. Colbert’s “I Can Do This” Diet and The Seven Pillars of Health.

Joseph A. Cannizzaro, MD, has practiced pediatric medicine for thirty years with specialties in developmental pediatrics, nutrition, and preventive medicine. He is the founder and managing pediatrician for the Pediatricians Care Unit in Longwood, Florida.

Visit the author's website.

Here's a video about the adult version, Eat This and Live!:



Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381388
ISBN-13: 978-1616381387

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

EATING HABITS OF

THE NEXT GENERATION 


Eating Habits and Our Future



How Has an entire generation of hefty eaters changed the face of the world? By starting young. And once again, this unflattering trend originated in America. In the United States, 17.1 percent of our children and adolescents―that's 2.5 million youth―are now reported to be either overweight or obese.


As a result of childhood obesity, we are seeing a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes throughout the country. And because of the connection obesity has with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and heart disease, experts are predicting a dramatic rise in heart disease as our children become adults. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reports that overweight teens stand a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, and that is increased to 80 percent

if at least one parent is overweight or obese. Because of that, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expected to begin at a much earlier age in those who fail to beat the odds.2 Overall, this is the first generation of children that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and they will be more likely to suffer from disease and illness. 


If you do not take charge of your food choices for yourself, at least do it for your children. Children follow by example, by mirroring the behavior of their parents. Don't tell them to make healthy eating choices without doing it yourself. I'm sure most of you love your children and are good parents. But ask yourself: Do you love your children enough to make the necessary lifestyle changes? Do you love them enough to educate them on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid? Do you love them enough to keep junk food out of your house and instead make healthy food more available? Do you love them enough to exercise regularly and lead by example? 


If you answered yes to those questions, it is important that you not only take action right now but also that you make changes for them that last a lifetime. 


But let me be honest; this is not an easy fight when it involves your children's lives. As the little boxes of information on this page illustrate, the culture in which your children are growing up is saturated with junk food that is void of nutrition but high in toxic fats, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates, and food additives. Consuming these foods has become part of childhood. 


You can do it, but you must be prepared to stand strong! That's why I am ecstatic that you have picked up this book. I believe you now hold a key to truly changing your life and your children's lives. 




Stand Strong!

If you're planning on taking a stand against this garbage-in, garbage-out culture, expect some opposition from every front. During the course of a year, the typical American child will watch more than thirty thousand television commercials, with many of these advertisements pitching fast-food or junk food as delicious “must-eats.” For years, fast food franchises have enticed children into their restaurants with kids' meal toys, promotional giveaways, and elaborate playgrounds. It has obviously worked for McDonald's: about 90 percent of American children between the ages of three and nine set foot in one each month.


It's All Part of the Plan

Fast-food establishments spend billions of dollars on research and marketing. They know exactly what they are doing and how to push your child's hot button. They understand the powerful impact certain foods can have. That is why comfort foods often do more than just fill the stomach; they bring about memories of the fair, playgrounds, toys, backyard birthday bashes, Fourth of July When your kids can't visit the Golden parties, childhood friends . . . the list goes on. Advertisers have keyed into this and products―most of which are brought learned to use the sight of food to stimulate the same fond childhood memories. 


School Cafeteria or Fast Food Franchise?

When your kids can't visit the Golden Arches, it comes to them. Fast-food products―most of which are brought in by  franchises―are sold in about 30 percent of public high school cafeterias and many elementary cafeterias.



An Alarming Trend in Children's Health 



By teaching your children healthy eating habits, you can keep them at a healthy weight. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults. The challenges we face are imposing. The state of children's health today is, according to recent measures, at its most dire. The rise in rates of complex, chronic childhood disorders has been well profiled. Here are some concrete examples of the current state of children's health: 


Cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children.5

Obesity is epidemic.

Fifty percent of children are overweight.6

Diabetes now affects 1 in every 500 children. Of those children newly diagnosed with diabetes, the percentage with type 2 (“adult-onset”) has risen from less than 5 percent to nearly 50 percent in a ten-year period.

Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease affecting American children, leading to 15 million missed days of school per year. Since 1980, the percentage of children with asthma has almost tripled.

Approximately 1 in 25 American children now suffer from food allergies.

From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18 percent among children under the age of eighteen years.

One in 6 children is diagnosed with a significant neurodevelopmental disability, including 1 in 12 with ADHD. Autism affects 1 in 150 U.S. children, an extraordinary rise in prevalence.

Babies in one study were noted, at birth, to have an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants present in their umbilical cord blood.


These statistics are sobering indeed, and perhaps the most sobering is the rise in childhood obesity. Why? Obesity plays a part in several other chronic illnesses that are also on the rise among children. And there's an unwelcome side effect―more kids are being put on prescription medications for obesity-related chronic diseases. Across the board, we are witnessing increases in prescriptions for children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and asthma. There must be a better way. 


      Top Three Tips for Parents 


      1. Lead by example. Your child will have an extremely difficult time making healthy eating choices and exercising

      regularly if you don't consistently show him or her how.

      2. Take baby steps that lead to lasting changes. If your child is overweight, avoid diets that promise instant

      3. Take your time as you replace your child's old habits with healthy ones. This goes hand in hand with tip #2.  


You're in this for the long haul. It takes time to adapt to a new lifestyle. Be patient as he or she adjusts to the new eating habits and activities that you will be introducing.


What we need now is an absolute paradigm shift. No longer are the “one drug, one disease” solutions of the past appropriate. These are times that demand out-of-the-box thinking. That's where this book can help. If your child is overweight or you want to lower his or her risk of becoming overweight down the road, there are many positive, natural ways you can address the situation. In this book, Dr. Cannizzaro and I provide you with information and ideas to help you help your child. 



Understanding Childhood Obesity


Now that we've shared the bad news about the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, let's make sure you really understand the terms overweight and obese. Many people have a general sense as to how these words are different, yet in recent years the delineation has become clearer. Various health organizations, including the CDC and the National Institutes

of Health (NIH), now officially define these terms using the body mass index (BMI), which factors in a person's weight relative to height. Most of these organizations define an overweight adult (twenty years of age and older) as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, while an obese adult is anyone who has a BMI of 30 or higher.12 For children and teens, BMI is measured differently, allowing for the normal variations in body composition between boys and girls and at various ages.

For ages two to nineteen, the BMI (or BMI-for-age) is pinpointed on a growth chart to determine the corresponding age- and sex-specific percentile. 


· Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile.

· Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. 


BMI is the most widely accepted method used to determine body fat in children and adults because it's easy to measure a person's height and weight. However, while BMI is an acceptable screening tool for initial assessment of body composition, please remember that it is not a direct measure of body fatness. There are other factors that can affect body composition, and your child's doctor can discuss these with you.

If you think your child may be overweight, start by talking to his or her pediatrician. (See the box on the next page for some suggested questions to ask your child's doctor.) After determining your child's BMI and targeting a healthy weight range for your child, make a plan together as a family. It's a good idea to include any regular caregivers in this plan as well. Set a goal for the whole family to get lots of exercise and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Keep reading for more ways to help your

family! 


Wondering About Your Child's Weight? 


Five Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician 


I understand that you probably don't want to talk about the possibility that your child may not be at a healthy weight. To help make this as painless as possible, I recommend asking your doctor the following questions to get the conversation started. 


      1. What is a healthy weight for my child's height?

      Your doctor will use a growth chart to show you how your child is growing and give you a healthy weight range for your child. The doctor may also tell you your child's body mass index (BMI). The BMI uses a person's height and  weight to determine the amount of body fat.

      2. Is my child's weight putting him or her at risk for any illnesses?

      Based on your family history and other factors, your doctor can help you to determine what health risks your child  may be facing. Overweight, inactive children with a family history of type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of  being diagnosed with the disease. High blood pressure can also occur in overweight children.

      3. How much exercise does my child need?

      The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends at least one hour of exercise a day. Your  doctor will be able to suggest specific ways to help your child, such as walking the dog, playing catch instead of  video games, and other forms of activity.

      4. Does my child need to go on a diet?

      Although an overweight child's eating habits will probably need to change, I don't advise using the word diet  because it focuses on short-term eating habits that are rarely sustainable for long-term health. Children (and adults)  who become chronic dieters are setting themselves up for problems with their metabolism later in life. A healthier  approach is to put your whole family on the path to a healthy lifestyle with gradual but permanent changes. The  recommendations in this book are a great place to start.

      5. How do I talk about weight without hurting my child's feelings?

      Your child might be sensitive about his or her weight, especially if he or she is getting teased. Above all, the  message must never be, “You're fat,” or “You need to lose weight.” Instead, it should be, “Our family needs to  make better choices about eating and being more active so that we all can be healthy.”


Why Food Choices Matter


All men are created equal, but all foods are not! In fact, some food should not be labeled “food” but rather “consumable product” or “edible, but void of nourishment.” Living foods―fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts―exist in a raw or close-to-raw state and are beautifully packaged in divinely created wrappers called skins and peels. Living foods look robust, healthy, and alive. They have not been bleached, refined or chemically enhanced and preserved. Living foods are plucked, harvested squeezed―not processed, packaged, and put on a shelf.

Dead foods are the opposite. They have been altered in every imaginable way to make them last as long as possible and be as addictive as possible. That usually means the manufacturer adds considerable amounts of sugar and man-made fats that involve taking various oils and heating them to high temperatures so that the nutrients die and become reborn as a deadly, sludgy substance that is toxic to our bodies. 

Life breeds life. Death breeds death. When your child eats living foods the enzymes in their pristine state interact with his or her digestive enzymes.  The other natural ingredients God put in them―vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and more―flow into your child's system in their natural state.  These living foods were created to cause your child's digestive system, bloodstream, and organs to function at optimum capacity.

Dead food hit your child's body like a foreign intruder. Chemicals, including preservatives, food additives, and bleach agents place a strain on the liver. Toxic man-made fats begin to form in your child's cell-membranes; they become stored as fat in your child's body and form plaque in his or her arteries.  Your child's body does its best to harvest the tiny traces of good from these deadly foods, but in the end he or she is undernourished and overweight.

If you want your child to be a healthy, energetic person rather than someone bouncing between all-you-can-eat buffets and fast-food restaurants, take his or her eating habits seriously. Now is the time to help your son or daughter make the change to living foods.


Isn't it Really Just Genetics?

For every obese person, there is a story behind the excessive weight gain. Growing up, I would often hear it said of an obese person that she was just born fat, or he takes after his daddy. There s some truth in both of those. Genetics count when it comes to obesity. In 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Danish study that observed five hundred forty

people who had been adopted during infancy. The research found that adopted individuals had a much greater tendency to end up in the weight class of their biological parents rather than their adopted parents. Separate studies have proven that twins who were raised apart also reveal that genes have a strong influence on gaining weight or becoming overweight. There is a significant genetic predisposition to gaining weight. Still, that does not fully explain the epidemic of obesity seen in the United States over the past thirty years. Although an individual may have a genetic predisposition to become obese, environment plays a major role as well. I like the way author, speaker, and noted women s physician Pamela Peeke said it: Genetics may load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. Many patients I see come into my office thinking they have inherited their fat genes, and therefore there is nothing they can do about it. After investigating a little, I usually find that they simply inherited their parents propensity for bad choices of foods, large portion sizes, and poor eating habits. If your child is over weight, he or she may have an increased number of fat cells, which means your child will have a tendency to gain weight if you choose to provide the wrong types of foods, large portion sizes, and allow him or her to be inactive. But you should also realize that most people can over ride their genetic makeup for obesity by making the correct dietary and

lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, many parents forget that to make these healthy choices, it helps to surround a child with a

healthy environment.


Here's my review: 

Eat This and Live For Kids by Dr. Don Colbert is a full color, informative and doctor approved resource for parents to help children eat what is healthy for them.  Dr. Colbert collaborates with Dr. Joseph Cannizzaro on many of the medical issues that are addressed in this book concerning nutrition.  This book begins with basic nutrition and focuses on the good feeding of children from birth to teens.  Many pertinent questions are answered and many surprising facts surface such as bottled water is less regulated and more toxic than tap water.  Dr. Colbert gives recommendations for supplements as well as benefits for regular exercise for children called FUN!  He gives a great list for food to have on hand at home and what acceptable meals to purchase when eating out.  There is also a chapter on special diets.

I was amazed at the abundance and practicality of the information in this book.  I was really enticed by the wonderful photos of food and all the little charts and boxes that explained things in simple language.  This was very parent friendly and very encouraging especially for those who have not made an effort to train your kids to be healthy.  It's never too late to start.  This is a wonderful resource to have in your cookbook section.  I highly recommend every parent and grandparents to read this book for a better understanding of why feeding your kids healthy food is so essential.

*This book was provided to me free of charge by FIRST wild card tours for purpose of this review. This is my honest opinion of this book and no monetary compensation was received for my opinion.*
 

Win it:  I am having a giveaway for this book.  Open to US only and giveaway ends Wednesday, Oct 27.





To enter: Be sure to click on all the links before filling out the entry form.





1. Mandatory: Be a follower on my blog (2 entries)
2. Put my button on your blog and provide the link. 
3. Subscribe to my blog by email (top right corner)
4."Like" The Knowlton Nest on Facebook (link on my blog). 
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7. Post about this giveaway on another site (your blog, facebook, twitter, etc) (1 entry for every site) 


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pear Tree Greetings Christmas Cards Review and Special Offer

Pear Tree Greetings


I recently received this package of sample holiday cards from Pear Tree Greetings to review.  I was instantly taken with the vivid colors on each card.  I was impressed with quality of the photos and the unique design of each card.  As you can see I only have a few cards, but there are hundreds of brand new designs for Photo Christmas cards, Christmas Party Invitations and Christmas Thank You Cards.

Here are a few facts about these cards:
*Heavy 100 lb Matte Card Stock, which is also 100% post-consumer recycled!
*You should get your order within 4-9 business days, which includes 2 days for processing time.

Now for the Special Offer: FREE Address Labels!

  • Step 1: Personalize and add $49 of Christmas cards, Birth Announcements or any personalized items excluding address labels to your cart.
  • Step 2: Then personalize and add address labels to your cart ($5.98 minimum).
  • Step 3: Enter code FREELABELS and $5.98 will be removed from your cart.
  • Step 4: Continue to place your order.
Offer good for up to 48 free address labels. Actual number depends on the size of the address label selected. This promotion applies for up to two sheets of address labels.  Offer expires 12/31/10.



**As an affiliate I receive a small commission from each sale at this website.  Thank you for shopping!**

Booking It 2010: October

Here's my list that I read last month:

*This Fine Life: A Novel by Eva Marie Everson (I will put this in my must read list at the end of the year)
*It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen
*Loving God with All Your Heart: Keeping the Greatest Commandment in Everyday Life by Susie Hobson
*Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart
*Whisper on the Wind (The Great War Series, No. 2) by Maureen Lang
*Also finished reading the Old Testament.  I'm going to read the New Testament starting next year at a more relaxed pace.


I have some SUPER great books for review/giveaway coming up this week so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Outnumbered Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Kregel Publications (July 2, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Laura Lee Groves is a high school teacher. The mother of four redheaded sons, she has written for Moody Magazine, Focus on the Family’s Focus on Your Child, and Coral Ridge Ministries.


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825427398
ISBN-13: 978-0825427398

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Great Expectations

You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

2 Samuel 22:29–31



All moms all enter parenting with some preconceived notions. Most of us hope to have a mix of blue and pink in the household. We may have expectations for our child’s behavior or personality. We may be especially baffled by a little boy whose actions and reactions are so different from ours as a child. A valuable lesson for the mother of multiple boys is that expectations can be a trap. Expectations say, “I have this figured out. I know what will suit me, what I want, what is best for my life.” Check that verse again at the top of the chapter: “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”

   Scripture can help us through the trap of expectations, the snare of “I know best.” The prophet Samuel has some reminders for us:

• God is our lamp. He lights our way, no matter how large a flashlight we try to carry.

• God helps us advance against a troop and scale a wall. We can do it, but we don’t do it on our own.

• God’s way—not ours—is perfect. He gives us what we need, not what we expect or desire.

• If we hide in Him, He will be our shield. He will protect us.

He provides light, help, a shield, and refuge. And His way—not ours—is perfect.

Maybe You Were Expecting . . .

. . . a Girl!

   Maybe you were expecting a girl the first time . . . or the second time . . . or . . . !

   I know how it is. I had the “girl name” all picked out, too—four times. I haven’t given up hope, though. I’m hanging on to it for the first granddaughter. The first shattered expectation a boy mom often faces is that she’s outnumbered in this whole thing called family. With two boys and a husband in the picture, the opportunity for female companionship grows pale. Those little blue bundles tend to destroy the maternal expectations fraught with pink ribbons, lace, and tutus.

   I tried to stave off those pink expectations the second time by preparing myself for another boy, figuring I’d be ready for the inevitable . . . but pleasantly surprised if a girl came along. That did help me prepare a bit. I’ve continued to repeat the mantra, “The Lord gives us what we need, and no more than we can handle” and I’ve read and reread 1 Corinthians 10:13: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But in the face of four boys in the house, I’ve been tempted to throw my hands up and shout, “I give up! I just don’t understand boys.” I’d grown up with one sibling, a sister, so my frame of reference didn’t exactly include this boy thing.

   Many mothers face this same dilemma. Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, in Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, write that many women are challenged in mothering a son: “They feel they don’t understand boys, because they have never actually experienced the world as a boy or they have expectations about boys . . . which color the way they view their sons.”1 But we moms can’t afford not to bridge that gap and connect emotionally with our sons. In his landmark book, Bringing Up Boys, Dobson calls the disengagement of parents “the underlying problem plaguing children today.”2

   Today’s mothers, though, face an additional challenge from our culture. James and Thomas write in Wild Things that it’s all too easy to “absorb cultural messages about ‘real masculinity’” and push your two- or three-year-old son away emotionally. But, they advise, “A boy needs a connection with his mother all the way through adolescence. Be sensitive about invading your son’s privacy, but separating from him prematurely will do him more harm than good.”3

   Even though our blue bundles may seem like alien life forms to us, we still know that children are blessings and the Lord does give us what He wants us to have. We just have to figure out how to raise and nurture what He has given us. Although ultrasound was available to predict my first son’s gender, we decided to be surprised. We were thankful for a healthy child, though I did allow myself to think about the little girl who “might come next”—my first big mistake. But I settled in, with all my expectations and preconceived notions, to enjoy my firstborn. Babies are babies after all, and most moms learn to be happy and thankful for a healthy baby. In the beginning, though, you don’t know what you’re up against. Those little blue bundles differ greatly from the muddy ten-year-old boy with a frog in his pocket!

. . . or a Quiet, Calm Baby

   The second set of expectations I dealt with related to my sense of peace, quiet, and motherhood. Perhaps the Lord was preparing me for the next twenty years, because the words peace and quiet usually don’t appear in the boy mom vocabulary. I never considered the possibility that Jonathan would be a colicky baby. In my research for this book, I found no statistics indicating that boys are more prone to colic than girls, but Susan Gilbert’s Field Guide to Boys and Girls does state that, as infants, girls as a group are more alert and more easily consoled. As infants, boys are more easily stressed. In other words, boy babies cry more often when upset and have a harder time calming down.4 Mothers of boys may be surprised at how much their sons need them.

   It never crossed my mind that Jonathan would not be one of those “angel babies”—you know, one who sleeps all the time. Those expectations were shattered. Before long I discovered that he was, indeed, a colicky baby. I remember the afternoon I took him to the doctor and said, “He’s slept fifteen minutes today; that’s all. Something has to be wrong.” The doctor did a few tests and quizzed me, only to pronounce that Jonathan simply had an immature digestive system and most children grew out of it—by three months of age!

   Suddenly I flashed back to a chance meeting with a mother and baby months ago. While shopping, I’d stopped to admire her beautiful baby. When I asked how old the baby was, mom replied, “Three months old, and not a day too soon.” Now I knew what she meant.

   That first three months with Baby Boy #1 were the longest of my life. He was not at all the angel baby I’d expected. He cried so much, I told my husband, “I’m afraid he’s not going to be a happy child.” I could just see him frowning the rest of his life. I began to wonder if I could go through this with future babies. At one point, I held Jonathan up in front of my face and asked him, “Don’t you want brothers and sisters?”

   The doctor told me I was fortunate because he slept at night and cried all day. What he failed to realize was that I had no help during the day. At night I had help in my husband, but I didn’t need it because little Jonathan was snoozing away. When my husband left for work in the morning, the wailing began. On some days I’d meet my husband at the door at five o’clock, thrust Jonathan into his arms, and go for a drive around the block or just take a walk.

   Then I’d feel guilty! I had a healthy baby but I spent my time wishing away the hours with him because he just wouldn’t stop crying. I began to feel woefully inadequate as a mom. Think about it—Jonathan cried when he was alone with me but was an angel baby when Dad was there.

   I knew other mothers who wouldn’t take their newborns to the church nursery until they were two or three months. Not me! I had to have a break. I knew the sweet lady there loved babies and had tons of experience, and I had no qualms about leaving him with her. When I asked her about the wisdom of leaving him when he was so fussy, she replied, “Well, honey, he’s gonna cry for you or cry for me. Might as well let him cry for me a few hours and give you a break.” Those were wise words—precious words to this mom! At least I didn’t need to feel guilty about missing church that first three months.

   My expectations had crumbled so much, I couldn’t even listen to the stories of those moms who had twenty-four-hour angel babies. Such things just could not be true. Babies who ate and drifted off to sleep without a peep? Surely those mothers were lying. Things could not be so idyllic for them. They had no clue what life was like at our house. And how do you share that with friends? “My baby cries so much that I worry he’ll never be happy.” “I stand at the door at five o’clock and wait to pass him off to my hubby.”

   I quickly came to the conclusion that the only person who could understand my life those first three months was someone who’d had a similar experience. For some reason, though, those moms don’t go around gushing about Early Life with Baby. That’s one reason I vowed to share those hard months with other new moms. Maybe that would make them either appreciate those golden hours with their angel baby or sympathize a bit with a friend whose expectations weren’t fulfilled.

   If your expectations for motherhood include peace and quiet, keep those verses from 2 Samuel handy. You’ll need a shield and a refuge. Although Gilbert’s research sounds a bit daunting, remember her statement that boy babies, as a group, are easily stressed. That’s not to say that all boys are like boys as a group. But even if you have a quiet, placid little guy now, don’t hold too tightly to those expectations for peace and quiet. Babies grow, and toddlerhood ensues.

. . . That Boys Are Boys

   My third big expectation was waiting to trip me up after we added another boy to the picture. When Jonathan hit two years old, we looked at him and said, “Oh, he’s not a baby anymore. We need a baby.” Several months later, we found we were expecting number two. It was an exciting period. Enough time had elapsed, and Jonathan had turned out to be such a charmer, the memories of colic had faded to oblivion. Besides, hey, we handled that—couldn’t we handle just about anything?

   We decided against learning this baby’s gender; again, we wanted to be surprised. Yes, daddy did want a little princess, and I thought it would be so much fun to dress a little girl. And like most people, we thought, “A boy and girl would be nice,” even though we still intended to add to the family portrait. I tried to prepare myself for a boy. I figured that way I’d be pleasantly surprised if number two was a girl.

   But as you already know, another boy it was. We named this one Matthew. He had the same characteristic fair skin and red hair as Jonathan, but the similarities to his brother as an infant ended there. Matthew was the angel baby. It was a whole new world. Now I knew that those other moms weren’t lying. Some babies really do eat and sleep and don’t cry much at all. That was Baby Boy #2.

   I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that two children were, in some ways, easier than one. Baby Matthew had someone to watch, and Jonathan had an instant audience. This proved quite helpful. I could actually get farther than the mailbox before noon, which was unheard of with Boy #1. Of course, my standards for some things likely changed a bit, too. It’s incredible how much more quickly one can apply makeup when there’s a potential for chaos in the next room.

   So far, so good, but the expectation snare was looming. By the time our second son came, we had weathered the terrible twos with the first one. We felt we’d hit upon a successful system of discipline for raising Groves boys. We had read all of Dr. Dobson’s books and watched all of his tapes, and I think we felt we had it all figured out. We thought, Oh, this is the way you handle that. We’ll do that with the second child, too. We knew how to handle rebellion with Boy #1; we’d just apply the same techniques to Boy #2. We expected that he’d react in the same way and all would be well.

   We were in for a rude awakening. With Boy #2, we learned there is no magic formula. This wasn’t a quick and easy lesson. No, I had to learn it the hard way. Little did we realize that, though our reactions to disobedient behavior remained the same, this child was a different boy. His reactions to us and our discipline would be different. Aye, there’s the rub. What to do now?

   Looking back, I wonder how I could have been so naïve. I’d taught public school for about nine years, had taught siblings in my classes, and I realized they wouldn’t all be the same. I’d taught exceptionally bright students and later their siblings who didn’t have the same abilities. But when it came to my own boys, who looked so much the same and were treated in the same way, I just expected their reactions to be the same as well.

   There’s that word again—expected. Maybe part of the problem was a little bit of parental pride. After all, we’d hit upon a successful system and, by golly, it had worked with Boy #1. It was hard to accept that things didn’t work the same with Boy #2. A preschool teacher was instrumental in getting something through my thick maternal skull that I should have realized all along. She said to me, “God has made your sons this way on purpose. It’s not an accident. As parents, we have to thank God for the children He’s given us and ask Him to help us grow them up to be the adults He wants them to be.” It finally began to sink in that different is not worse. It just takes a little more work on Mom’s part.

   That early lesson became so important later. With a houseful of kids of the same sex, the temptation to treat them all the same is great. After all, they’re boys. Discovering their differences—their own individual bent—helped me mother them more effectively. You’ll read more about that process in chapter 3, “Intentional Parenting.”

The Expectation Trap

   No matter what our expectations, our infant sons manage to surprise us. Here are some common elements of the expectation trap. Watch out for them!

• Regularity. We may expect regular sleeping and eating times from our infant sons. Some babies seem to be born on a schedule while others defy it. Then there are babies who keep to a schedule for two days—just enough to fool you into thinking you have it all figured out.

• Activity. It takes a while to figure out your son’s activity level, and that can change with age. Gilbert notes that after the age of one, boys spend more time “on the move” than girls do.5 Although most boys are a bundle of energy, not all are. If you’re open to change as you determine your son’s activity level, you’ll be able to decide how best to structure his active times and sleeping times.

• Passion. Some might call this intensity. This is often hard to gauge from an infant, but some little boys seem able to concentrate on one thing, and that ability follows them throughout life. Others are easily distracted. Again, this differs with age, so don’t label your son at three months.

• Responsiveness. Some infants respond overtly to stimuli, but others are more easygoing. Some boys get more “amped up” in a crowd, while others seem to get wound up in a quiet environment. Be sensitive to your son’s responses to different settings.

• Temperament. If I had gauged my colicky firstborn by his first three months, I would have believed that he would never smile. He’s such a people person today! Don’t fall into the trap of labeling your son’s temperament or expecting him to turn out one way or another.

So how do we avoid these traps?

Trust Helps Trump Expectations

   I’m convinced the answer to the expectation trap lies in trust. If we truly trust the Lord, we know His way is perfect even when we can’t see why or how. I couldn’t have imagined why He would give me a colicky son, but I had to trust that the Lord knew what He was doing. I’ve wondered—at tough times—why He gave me four sons. Why not just one little girl to take to all those mother-daughter outings I’ve had to sit out?

   But I’ve learned I have to let Him be my “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Trusting in Him means staying close to Him. With a houseful of boys, my home did not exactly resemble an ivy-covered chapel. Quiet time was rare, and reading Scripture could be challenging. Here are some ways I discovered that can help you look up instead of in, even in a house hopping with boys:

• Try listening to praise music or hymns—that’s great for you and the boys.

• Socialization helps, too. When you isolate yourself, you tend to turn inward and focus on your own problems. Get out and take those boys. Take a trip to the library or the park, and enjoy God’s creation together.

• Try to get out alone once in a while, even for an hour or two. Call a friend and indulge in some girl talk, e-mail someone supportive. Don’t miss opportunities to worship.

Remember, expectations blind us to our blessings. It took me a couple more boys to learn that.

Discarding Expectations

   As Boys #3 and #4 came along, I became convinced that expectations were, indeed, a trap. I didn’t shed them without struggle, but they had to go. Our third son, Andrew, was due on New Year’s Day, but he decided to make his debut on, of all days, Christmas Eve. I had the holiday all planned, and I didn’t expect this. I remember my tearful words before we left for the hospital: “I really didn’t want to have a Christmas baby,” to which my husband nervously answered, “Honey, I don’t think we have much choice here, so let’s just go.” Then three years later our fourth son, Benjamin, made an unexpected and dramatic debut via C-section—after I’d had natural deliveries with the first three. That really upset my apple cart, but this time it was my mother’s wise words that helped me pitch my expectations. She said, “Honey, you’re just paying a few extra weeks of recovery in return for a healthy boy.”

   Discarding expectations allowed me to grow beyond my own fixed ideas and see what God, in His wisdom, had for me. In the raising of our four sons, I’ve discarded expectations time and again. Our first son was quite compliant to authority, a preschool dream. Matthew, on the other hand, had a bit more stubborn nature. Imagine my dismay when I arrived to pick Matthew up from preschool one day. He’d been playing in a big box, and the teacher had called him to Circle Time several times. The last time she encouraged him to do the right thing by saying, “We need to choose to obey.” Matthew calmly and matter-of-factly replied, “I choose to disobey.” I was appalled, certain that he’d be a juvenile delinquent—then his principal reminded me that stubbornness isn’t always a bad quality. She added, though, that we must teach our children to be stubborn for the right things, a lesson that has served me well as my boys have grown.

   Discarding expectations is hard, but it results in growth for our sons, for us as moms, and for our relationships with our sons. Our boys need to know that even if much in the rest of their lives is performance-based, our love isn’t. We love them because they are ours and they were crafted by the Father and given to us as gifts. As we endeavor to raise our boys to be godly men, we need them to see their uniqueness and their potential. If they’re taught to be cookie-cutter boys who fit neatly within Mom’s expectations, they’ll never find out who they really are and what God’s unique purpose for them is.

Beyond My Expectations

   As the boys grew and multiplied, so did the noise and the activity—beyond my expectations. Unless you had brothers, you don’t really expect the racket, the constant motion, the physicality that comes with a combination of boys. And even if you did grow up around brothers, you likely weren’t in charge of them. But noise and activity come with the territory, so one of a boy mom’s first lessons is to relinquish those expectations and free ourselves to look at life from a different perspective—a boy’s perspective. What if . . . I could climb from the top of that tree to the roof of the house? What if . . . I buried ants in mud; would they suffocate? What if . . . I could slice a banana with the ceiling fan?

   Most boys will not only ask these questions, they’ll experiment to see if they can answer them. In Wild Things, James and Thomas discuss the differences between the mind of a boy and the mind of a girl. They note that on the whole, boys tend to be

• spatial instead of relational. They understand the lay of the land, for example, and how things are connected.

• aware of objects instead of faces. They’re more attracted to objects than they are to people.

• action-oriented instead of process-oriented. They’re oriented to movement rather than to emotions.

You see the differences. Moms relate to faces and emotions; our boys generally relate to things and movement. Armed with this understanding, it may be a little easier to determine why that little boy did what he did. At the very least, being aware of the general differences can make a mom aware that she needs to step back and assess her son through different eyes.

Chaos, Creativity, and Control

   My best description of a household of multiple boys would be this: controlled chaos and creativity. Boys do have to be allowed to explore, to try the boundaries, to create—but with controls. All children need creative outlets, but with a boy’s penchant for movement and his innate desire to figure out the process (What makes that toaster glow?), controls are imperative. I’m not saying that chaos is preferred or necessary; it’s simply a foregone conclusion with multiple boys. Perhaps chaos isn’t exactly the right word. Maybe the word upheaval is more accurate. Upheaval can indicate anything from change to explosion . . . and both are likely in a household of boys. Upheaval and change are unsettling words for most moms. We prefer predictable and manageable.

   Boys can be very manageable if you sit them in front of the mesmerizing television all day. But eventually you have to turn it off—and then you pay for it . . . at bed time and later in life. Boys need to be able to entertain themselves safely, and they need to exercise creativity to do that. Provide them with toys that will foster creativity:

• Manipulative toys. Your first purchase for your sons should be blocks. Boys need tactile toys, and they love things they can take apart and sometimes even put back together. Toys that teach cause and effect are important—turn this, and that pops out; push this, and something else happens. Remember, they’re process-oriented and love movement.

• Books. Don’t wait until your boys can read to provide books. Start them with cloth and plastic books when they’re infants. Look for books with pull tabs and doors that open, or books shaped like trucks with wheels. Try to appeal to what boys innately adore in a creative, interactive way. Reading is a challenge for many boys later, so use these early years to engender a love for books and stories.

   What about control? Some moms do more controlling than anything else. If you’re guilty of that, you may need to sit back, sit on your hands if necessary, and let your boy try it on his own. You should be present, however, even if you seem to be in the background. Even though my sons are pretty much grown up, I still put on my makeup at the mirror in the front hall. That started when there were two boys in the den; I could keep an eye and ear on them more easily from that vantage point. When we looked for a house, we simply planned for the family room to be for the boys, and I wanted an adjoining kitchen. I figured I would be spending most of my time in the kitchen, and I could be there while keeping an eye on the boys. You’re the mom, and some control is obviously necessary.

   Creativity can be messy, though—I won’t deny that. But keeping boys occupied and productive is worth the mess, at least temporarily. That’s why I suggest you keep a few things around for the boys:

• String

• Sticks

• Boxes

• An “art box” full of markers, stickers, paints, and so forth

You have to be careful, of course, and age-appropriate with these things. If you happen to have a boys-plus household, your girls will enjoy creating as well. Whether they work together or on separate projects, a creative outlet will be good for sons as well as daughters.

   My boys still remember some of the masterpieces they crafted from such materials—boxes taped together to build a robot, string used as an imaginary dog (or lion) leash, sticks laid end to end and parallel to form a highway . . . and they all tell the story of the huge appliance box that served as a fort, a pirate ship, a skyscraper. The day it fell apart in the rain was perhaps the most fun, as they slid down a hill on the leftover pieces.

A Healthy Expectation

   Although expectations can be a trap, there is one expectation you should hold on to. This is an essential piece of advice for the mothers of multiple boys. Greet each new day with the expectation that it will be a wild ride. Then you’ll be ready for anything! If for some reason things are calm at day’s end, you’ll simply be pleasantly surprised.
Here's my review:

I'm Outnumbered by Laura Lee Groves is a book that addresses the impact a mother can have in raising sons in this world today.  Laura Lee is the mother of 4 sons so she has figured out some ways to teach them what they need to know before they move out on their own.  This book covers the beginning years through adulthood.  It has some fascinating facts about the ways boys think and act.  There are many practical tips that Laura Lee gives for handling sibling rivalry, how to get boys to talk, teaching them about order and organization and training them to be discerning about the media.  She cites many authors and books and also gives a comprehensive list of those resources in the appendix.  This book is for moms, both married and single, but it does not mean that moms are the only ones that raise the boys.  There are chapters for the dad's part as well as what the boys had to say about growing up in this household.  There are also some chapters that talk about what it is like if you have a girl in the mix as well. 

I was so pleased to be able to review this book.  I just have one son, but so much of what Laura Lee shared helped me to understand my little one and start to think about what to do when he gets older.  It's tough being a mom of boys, but Laura Lee's honest approach and many doable ideas are inspiring.  Her main focus is what God wants us as moms to do to be a great model to our sons.  It is a great privilege to be the mother of a son and I really appreciate the insights that Laura Lee provides to moms for this great task.  If you are a mother of one son or more, you will want to read this book. 

Be sure to check it out soon: I'm Outnumbered!: One Mom's Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys.