Thursday, May 31, 2012

His Brother's Baby

His Brother's Baby by Blanche Marriott

About The Book:
Illegal cigars. Mistaken identity. Heated passion on a cold stormy night. David Rutland has spent a lifetime covering for his errant twin brother and making things right. No more. Time for the irresponsible womanizer to grow up and face the music. But David isn’t prepared for his world to be rocked when he meets the beautiful redhead who mistakes him for his missing brother. David doesn’t know what’s worse, deceiving his brother or deceiving this woman he’s waited his entire life to find. Gabriella Santori knows the meaning of a rock and a hard place. Lured by the big tipping Damien Rutland to save cigar bands for him at the cigar lounge where she works, she eventually realizes he’s up to no good. She decides she’s had enough and arranges a meeting to tell him, but she’s taken back by the difference in him. He’s not the creepy, macho, unnerving customer from the cigar lounge and before she knows it, she’s smitten. When Gabriella later discovers she’s pregnant and learns that Damien is missing, she enlists David’s help out of desperation. As the family waits for news of Damien’s whereabouts, Gabriella can’t help falling in love with the wrong brother…or is it? Must David forego the love of his life because of his twin’s irresponsibility? And will they ever find his missing brother?

My Thoughts:
This is an excellent read. I thought for sure that I knew where the story was leading, and then it really surprised me. This is a story that keeps you enthralled and intrigued the whole time. I finished it quite fast, as I did not want to put it down. A perfect read for me during these last few rainy days. Also would be an excellent Summer beach read! The dialogue and characters are so well thought out and blended together. A very nice read!

About The Author:
Blanche Marriott began writing romance novels in 1991 while balancing her career as a wood products manufacturing manager. She often joined the troops in the factory, working on sanders, drills, and saws. It gave her time to "talk" to the characters in her head and figure out what they would do next. In 2001 she switched careers and now works for a CPA firm as an accounting assistant, specializing in payroll. She has completed 14 novels while staying active in 2 writing groups, serving on the Boards of Directors several times, and a number of conference committees. But the best part was the life-long friendships she's formed with so many writers, published and unpublished. Her first published novel with Avalon Books, Kaleidoscope, won 2nd place in the 2003 WisRWA Write Touch Readers' Award. Her second book, Way Out West, won the 2003 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award for Short Contemporary, was a finalist in the 2004 Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion Awards, and received a Rose Award Nomination ("books that are truly special, one of a kind, memorable for a lifetime") from The Word On Romance. Her third print novel, April's Fool, was released in December 2011. In the meantime she's concentrating on publishing eBooks. His Brother's Baby is available now and she hopes to have many more soon. Blanche lives in Rhode Island with her husband. She enjoys gardening, reading, and playing with her grandkids.

Buy this book at His Brother's Baby on Amazon.
 
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The World Runs In Seasons

Summer is upon us! I truly can’t believe this school year went by so fast – being baptized in the city so dear to my heart, going on a missions trip to Thailand, visiting {and loving!} Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and doing lots of Bible teaching. God worked in wonderful ways, most certainly!!! He reveals His love in all sorts of ways, and I am slowly learning the importance of finding His grace in the little things. Time flies by. Summer will come, and what promises it holds! But with a blink, I remember, it will be gone.

Just like life, the world runs in seasons. Each season offers something different. But just what does summer’s embrace hold? Does it promise relaxation and sunshine and vacation and socializing and a rest from chaos? Or, {if you’re like me} does it hold more volunteering and missions trips and slipping some schoolwork {or housework} in the gaps, trying to still savor Saturday and Sunday as cherished times to rest and finding that they, too, secretly store up additional demands on life? What, then, of summer’s embrace? Does life ever really slow down? Do we ever really feel that we have time to enjoy, to delight in God’s gifts?

Let me tell you something I’ve learned this year: life doesn’t slow down. Not really. It goes through seasons, some more stretched out than others. But something God’s been teaching me a lot lately is that adding more to my schedule or taking things away doesn’t necessarily mean a faster or slower life. No, I find that it’s sometimes the mothers with a dozen children running around the house who homeschool and clean and cook for a living who are the most content…..the ones who take life the most slowly.

I started teaching at my church recently. Of course, I love it – teaching kids is my passion, and it’s been great to get more practice! Yet between that and volunteering at a local ministry and trying to keep up with homework, my life feels like it gets sucked away. Time refuses to stand still, and I try to keep up with the rush and excel at what I do…..Then, I forget to praise God for all He’s given me, for opening the doors for the opportunities and providing strength. I choose to pursue the desires of my heart at my timing with my pace. So while I still have fun, nothing slows down. I get worn-out in the long run. My mind can’t keep up with my heart! It’s not exactly a successful relax-and-enjoy-life endeavor.

This summer doesn’t promise anything less crazy than what I have now. I’m learning, with my dear Lord’s help, that being busy doesn’t mean that I have to get worn out. Yes, it will be a stretch in my life, and I’ll need to savor my weekends. But He’s called me to it, and He does promise strength through it all. It’s especially effective when I stop, smack in the middle of chaos, and say, “Lord, thank you for these children…they’re fighting, yes, but they are so precious to You and to me. Thank You for this city…yes, it’s broken down. But Your hope shines through the cracks everywhere! Thank You for pre-calculus. I’ll never understand it, probably never even use it, but You somehow created all this. You are so much greater than I’ll ever know!”

To stop, and be thankful. To count His gifts, in the peace times, war times, or in-between times. My friends, one of the very best things you could do this summer is to take time with the One who so perfectly and beautifully fashioned you, and thank Him for all He’s given. Ask His counsel on what He has for you this summer – you might be surprised to find His plans are much different than Yours. But remember this. His plan is always to prosper, to give you a future and a hope. Thank Him, follow Him, thank Him, trust Him, thank Him some more, and obey Him…. Enjoy His embrace through His beautifully designed summer season!

 Michelle blogs at agapelife13.wordpress.com. Go visit her!
 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Extreme Back To School

I’m hosting a FREE blogger event for Back-To-School. It is never too early to start thinking about these things! Getting ready for Back-To-School takes a lot of organization and planning, no matter what grade your children are entering. This event will run for TWO months! Every 2 weeks there is a different category. So for two weeks you will be promoting one theme. This can include reviews and giveaways, guest posts, etc. but it all has to pertain to that theme for those weeks. You will be hosting 4 giveaways (or your choice of one big giveaway at the end of the event) for each theme. Giveaways should run for two weeks each, and preferably use Raffle copter for the giveaway entries and to choose a winner. The terms of the giveaway are up to you, but please make the prize worth at least $20. To control sign-ups for this event, there will be a page on my main blog. You must post about this giveaway – in your own words - linking back to Extreme Back-To-School Event and then send me via email (callansparents@yahoo.com) the link to your post, and your interest in participating, and I will add your blog to the page. That page will be the page (and link) to add to all your posts that pertain to this event, so the readers can “hop” to whichever blogs they want.

Again, this event is FREE to sign-up, but you must make a promotional post announcing this event. Deadline to sign-up is July 13th.

July 15th – 29th School Fashions
July 30th – August 13th School Supplies
August 14th to 28th School Lunches
August 29th to Sept. 14th School Accessories & Misc.

Theme 1 Items: Clothing, shirts, pants, jeans, jackets, hats, gloves, shoes, boots, school bags, hair care; shampoos, conditioner, hair accessories, hair stylers, brushes, combs, body care; lotion, soap, makeup, perfumes, shavers, razors, undergarments, socks, uniforms, gym clothes, etc.

Theme 2 Items: Books, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, folders, paper, journals/diaries/planners, school bags, binders, arts and crafts supplies, calculators, glue, scissors, rulers, staplers, etc.

Theme 3 Items: Lunch bags, snack items, new foods, beverages, sports drinks, lunch organizer containers, water bottles, food storage, utensils, after-school snacks, easy meals, etc.

Theme 4 Items: Electronics; computers, tablets, calculators, USB drives, locker decorations, desk accessories, home storage, etc.

Start gathering your sponsors, and have fun!
 

Gamer Soda

Gamer Soda: The World’s 1st Beverage Brand created specifically for you – the video gamer. A hybrid of sorts, Gamer blended a kick of caffeine to pure cane sugar, and added a touch of B vitamins to help metabolize the natural carbs. They stayed away from artificial colors, and packaged the gamer inspired flavors into glass bottles with pure filtered water & light carbonation for a very refreshing soda experience. Stay in your game!
There are 4 flavors of Gamer Soda. Citrus: A unique blend of 3 all natural citrus flavors. Caffeine enhanced. Grape: Artificial grape flavor. Caffeine Free. Cherry: A delicious blend of natural cherry and other natural flavors. Caffeine enhanced. And Orange: A yummy blend of natural orange and other natural flavors. Caffeine free. My fave flavor was Grape, with Orange a close second. The other two flavors were pretty good too. You can now buy Gamer Soda online at Thirst Monger!

Check it all out at Gamer Soda on Facebook!
 
I received products from Gamer Soda in exchange for a review on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Lolita Store

Designs by Lolita is the brand that offers more than just hand-painted glassware, candles, acrylic drinkware, pajamas and many more fun and flirty accessories, it's the brand that offers a means to celebrate every one of life's moments the Lolita way - with style! The Lolita Store offers •Hand-Painted Glassware •Acrylic Tableware •Candles •Ceramic Mugs •Bathrobes and Pajamas •Aprons and Kitchen Accessories •Napkins and Gift Bags •'Martini Moments' Entertaining Book •Bottle Stoppers •Wine Bottle Wraps •Bags and Totes •Beach Towels •Boxed Recipe Cards •Yearly Calendar •Board Games •Canteens •Coasters •Laptop Skins •Purse Hangers, and so much more!
I was lucky enough to receive the October Birthday Month Wine Glass! Celebrate all month long with the Lolita Birthday Month Wine Glass. Each month features the birthday month Gemstone and flower on the back side of the glass and has a special birthday month recipe on the bottom. I love love love mine! Part of me did not want to use it, because it is glass (delicate) and such a cool design, and I did not want to ruin it. But I did use it, and it held up great, and now I can't wait until it is my birthday so I can show it off more!


I received a product from The Lolita Store in exchange for a review on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What's Become Of The Brokenhearted?

Have you ever loved someone who, in turn, broke your heart? 

I have. You can call him S. He is my cousin. Our relationship, though a close one, has never been of a romantic nature. But as I am sure you are aware, one doesn't need to be in love to have one's heart broken.

We were kids together. He was always coming up with new ways to enliven our childhood experience, most of which got us into trouble. One time he convinced us that we could sled in the summer by greasing my grandparents' hill with Crisco. Needless to say, that misadventure didn't end well: the grass on the hill withered and turned black, and Gramp yelled at S for about ten minutes straight. We used to look back at that time in our lives and laugh. I guess I didn't think then S's childish trouble-making would portend a greater issue later on.

My story begins on Thanksgiving Eve two years ago.

We were slated to gather for Thanksgiving dinner the next day, the whole family. Then we got the call. S had confessed to an unthinkable crime. My grandparents were beside themselves. And I was...confused. It wasn't that I didn't believe he had done it. Throughout his teenaged years and into his adulthood he had gotten himself into many a scrape. No, I was confused about how to feel. Here was this man, whom I loved, who had admitted to an act for which I would have condemned any other man.

A question was nagging at my heart: how will you treat this man?

And I didn't know. In the coming weeks, S would deny his guilt, stating that he had never signed the confession. He borrowed money to take a lie detector test, which he failed. Within the year, he was at a correctional facility. He asked us, the cousins, to visit him there. None of us did.

Months past, a year. Still, the same question...

I am ashamed to admit that I sat on that question for as long as I did. In fact, this post is timely because I am just now beginning to see the meaning behind what Christ has been asking all along, "How will you treat this man, TW? "

How many of you pray every night? And how many of you say the words "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us..." (Luke 11:4) I do. Every night. And yet, while I wanted to be forgiven, it was so hard for me to forgive. Hey, everybody wants something for nothing, right? And the man broke my heart - he deserved my scorn.

Have you ever broken the heart of someone who loves you?

I can guarantee you have. He is your Bridegroom. He is the Lover of your soul. His name is Jesus, and he's got it bad for you. So bad that He died to free us from our sin! If you don’t believe me, ask Paul: "But God shows his love for us in that while were were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) 

There's a point to this post, and here it is: We are all like S. In our disobedience to His Law, we have brought pain upon the One who loves us. The difference between Jesus and me in this particular circumstance is that there was never any confusion on His part about how He would treat me in the wake of my crimes. Jesus chooses to forgive. It is His good pleasure to accept us back into His heart, time after time after time. In turn, He calls us to do the same to the people who we feel have wronged us. With forgiveness, a broken heart never stays broken for long.
 This guest post was provided by Erin from Thy Word. You can also visit her on Facebook at Thy Word, and on Twitter at Thy Word.
 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Madagascar Movie Party

I got the chance over the weekend to invite some friends and their kiddos over for a Madagascar Movie Party! Thanks to the amazing folks over at MomSelect and Children’s Claritin we were sent a movie package that included both Madagascar 1 & 2 on DVD, Popcorn containers, Madagascar 3 stickers and Children’s Claritin samples.

The new Madagascar movie - Europe’s Most Wanted will premiere in theaters nationwide on June 8th, so this movie party was great timing to refresh the kiddos and parents on the storyline and characters with the first two movies. Some of us are getting together to go see Madagascar 3 in the theater together, too! Fun! We ate Madagascar Munch Mix (trail mix basically) and everyone got their own container full of popcorn, just like at the theater. After the kids giggled and squealed and made it through two movies, we all got to have some ice cream, and just visit. It was a ton of fun!

Both Madagascar 1 & 2 DVD's are available in stores. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted will open everywhere in theaters June 8th, 2012.

For some fun activities of your own visit MadagascarMovie.com, as well as Claritin's Madagascar 3 Facebook page.
 
I am a Claritin Mom’s Crew member and I received the above mentioned products as part of my collaboration, any opinions expressed are my own.

The First Steps In Homeschooling

Make a Decision:
There are several steps that a person should follow when they are first starting off with homeschooling their children. The first step is to figure out whether or not homeschooling is going to be right for your child or not. Whatever decision you make is going to affect the future of your child immensely. You have to be sure that you can provide every single benefit that they would receive in traditional schools. Are you up for the challenge, and will your child excel at home? If not, it might be wise to enroll them elsewhere.

Know the Process:
Homeschooling is a very long process. You have to be aware of all the pitfalls out there – are you prepared to deal with potential learning disabilities? Are you able to abide by state laws regarding homeschooling? Each individual state is going to have its own laws. Though it’s possible you can just homeschool for a couple years and then send your kids to public school, you should really be in this for the long term. Have you got what it takes to teach your kids everything they need to know about the world until they leave the house? If not, can you get there over time?

Connections:
Look for a homeschooling support group in your area. People in these groups can help you prepare and perhaps even share resources. It would also be prudent to make acquaintances with professionals at local schools, so that you can have connections if you ever run into a road block. You might even be able to borrow materials if you get in with the right people.

Be Organized:
You need to make sure that you have both the space and time on a daily basis to teach well. You probably also need quite a bit of space for incidental materials, such as arts and crafts, textbooks, etc. You want this space to be comfortable, but also appropriate for education. It’s time to WORK, not relax or play.

Learning Style:
Learn how your child learns things. This is going to help you decide which type of teaching style to use. The best way to do this is to test the child a few times on different methods. You can find dozens of tests like this online. Are they a visual learner? Audio learner? Physical learner? Also, find out what interests they have. If they love science, you’re going to need to find interesting ways to bring language arts and foreign language to them.

Capitalize:
Since you’re teaching from home, make sure that you are providing your child with things they wouldn’t get in school. Take this opportunity to teach them more about the developing world and the role of other countries in world history, something that’s lagging in public schools. Also be sure to broach controversial literature that’s avoided in public schools – you’re in the comfort of your own home, so your kids should be able to discuss freely. People always argue that home schooled kids are too sheltered – take this opportunity to prove them wrong. Make it your business that your kids know WAY more about the world than other ones (from day one)!

Tyquonda Reynolds writes about education, international travel & saving money at www.backgroundcheck.org.

ADHD and Young Children: Unlocking the Secrets to Good Behavior by Dr. Robert Myers, Child Psychologist

For the parents of a child with ADHD, everyday tasks turn into battles - from getting the child out the door in the morning to getting him to bed at night. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6, so I remember what it was like to have a daily tug of war with an attention disordered child all too well. Parents look for help everywhere. They may read one book after another and hear a parade of behavioral experts speak who give them parenting tips that don’t seem to work. The more books they read and experts they seek out, the worse their child’s behavior seems to get.

"ADHD is a 'brain difference.' Your child’s brain works differently than 95% of his peers. So 'one size fits all' parenting techniques won’t necessarily fit your child."

In my practice and in my work with my own son, I discovered a number of techniques and strategies that can help parents improve the behavior of a child with ADHD.

ADHD Secret #1: Parenting Techniques Must Be Adapted to Kids with ADHD. What works for adolescents with ADHD may not work for a seven-year-old with this diagnosis. Likewise, if a behavior modification technique works for 95% of children, that doesn’t mean it will be effective for the 5% of kids with ADHD.

The time out is a classic example of a behavior modification tool that is often misused with children who have ADHD. Timeouts are often recommended to help children with ADHD learn to control impulsive behavior such as talking back, hitting or hyperactivity. However, standard application of this popular intervention may not work in the presence of ADHD.

Parents are usually told to apply 1 minute of timeout for each year of age, thus 6 minutes for a six year old. For a child this young with ADHD, this may be too much time. Psychologists suggest applying the 30% rule to kids with ADHD and learning disabilities, which means that social-emotional development for these kids may be 30% less than their peers. Thus, a 6 year old should be considered to react more like a 4 year old. Therefore, 4 minutes would be more appropriate.

ADHD Secret #2: Use Reward, not Punishment. One of the most important things to realize about children with ADHD is that they respond much better to reward than to punishment. So here’s how to adapt the time out to a child with this diagnosis so that the tool is more effective. If your 6 year old won’t sit quietly in timeout, tell him the timeout is 8 minutes (double the time based on the 30% Rule). But he can reduce it to 4 minutes by sitting quietly. Then watch how hard he tries to earn the “reward.” By moving away from punishment and giving the child a reward, albeit a simple one, you are speaking the language that an ADHD child understands.

Helpful tip: Don’t nag! Help your child to correct errors and mistakes by showing or demonstrating what he should do rather than focusing on what he did wrong.

ADHD Secret #3: Leverage the Child’s Desire for Positive Attention. Children with ADHD usually crave positive attention while being more likely to have a severe over-reaction to negative attention or punishment. Using what is called “selective attention” can be very helpful in increasing appropriate behavior while decreasing inappropriate behavior. Begin to pay attention to appropriate behavior through praise while ignoring inappropriate behavior. For example, your child is wiggling around and making silly noises while you are helping him with homework. Ignore the behavior and say, “Let’s see how fast we can get this work done.” When he settles down you can say, “Wow, you are really working hard and look, we’re almost done now.” This may be difficult at first because it’s usually the opposite of how parents tend to respond to behavior. It’s our instinct to jump on irritating behaviors and try to correct them, simply to make them go away. But without knowing it, we are rewarding the inappropriate behavior because, with these children, any kind of attention is better than no attention at all. Even worse, when we ignore appropriate behavior, we don’t reinforce it. So the child with ADHD doesn’t learn that appropriate behavior often leads to positive attention. When you use selective attention, rewarded behavior will increase while ignored behavior will decrease. It’s a parental 180-degree turnaround that can work wonders with a young child who has attention and hyperactivity problems.

Helpful Tip: Inappropriate or irritating behavior should be ignored 100% of the time while appropriate behavior should be praised 70% to 80% of the time at first, and then to less than half the time as things improve. The goal is for the child to gradually be able to control their behavior on their own.

ADHD Secret #4: Teamwork Works with ADHD. You + Your Child = The Team. Most programs for kids with ADHD focus on training parents, which is very important, but these programs do not speak directly to the child. Instead, I recommend that parents and kids work together as a team. For instance, in the Total Focus Program, the parents and the child are shown ways of working together on relaxation exercises that improve concentration and reduce frustration. The exercises are fun, and a chart is kept to track progress. They end up having a good time, improving their relationship and learning new skills together.

Many of the programs for kids that are on the market focus on improving only one skill. But they offer no magic cure. In my practice, I’ve had success using a broad spectrum of approaches (cognitive rehabilitation, behavior modification and relaxation therapy) that are integrated together with a new-found “I Can” attitude to produce results that lead to major improvements in behavior and learning achievement. When I work with kids and parents, I teach problem solving skills and social skills to improve motivation and self-esteem. By doing this, the child learns to put in the work to achieve the major skills he needs to master: improved attention, concentration, and functions including memory and self-control. As a result, the whole family benefits.

ADHD Secret #5: Young Children with ADHD Respond Well to Touch. Most kids with ADHD need lots of physical contact. Love them by touching them, hugging them, tickling them, wrestling with them.

ADHD Secret #6: Focus on the child’s strengths daily - and more than you would with a child who does not have ADHD. Look for and encourage their strengths, interests, and abilities. Help them to use these as compensations for any limitations or disabilities. Reward your child with praise, good words, smiles, and a pat on the back as often as you can.

ADHD Secret #7: Practice Motor Skill Improvement to Reduce Frustration. Make a game of practicing motor activities that will stimulate them in their development. For example, skipping to music, playing catch or tossing a bean bag at a stack of blocks improves coordination and the ability to follow directions without frustration, giving the child more self-confidence as well.

ADHD Secret #8: Consistency Pays. Being consistent is good advice for any parent. For parents of young children with ADHD, it is vitally important. Exhausted parents crave a “quick fix” to impulsive, unmanageable behavior. So they tend not to stay with one strategy long enough to see it work. When you use the techniques suggested here, remember that consistency is important to achieving success with a young, attention disordered child.

ADHD is a “brain difference.” You child’s brain works differently than 95% of his peers. So “one size fits all” parenting techniques won’t necessarily fit your child. Your parenting strategies may need to be administered in smaller doses with more emphasis on rewards and on your child’s strengths. I teach parents how to understand the unique traits and behaviors of their child and how to adapt “tried and true” approaches so they will work for their child. I also help parents to develop a positive approach that helps them to be able to develop patience and insight that will result in happier days for parent and child.

ADHD and Young Children: Unlocking the Secrets to Good Behavior is republished with permission from Empowering Parents.

Dr. Robert Myers is a child psychologist with over 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disabilities and is the creator of the Total Focus Program www.trytotalfocus.com. Dr. Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Dr. Bob" has provided practical information for parents as a radio talk show host and as editor of Child Development Institute's website, 4parenting.com which reaches 3 million parents each year. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Monday, May 28, 2012

How to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has reached an all-time high. Today, 17% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are obese or overweight. This is a serious medical condition that requires serious attention. Because we live in a world that promotes such extreme intake of food than in the past and so little activity and exercise, it’s not a surprise that obesity continues to grow in our country. The fact is that childhood obesity, if not stopped, will lead to major health issues. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have all been linked with childhood obesity and it’s time to put a stop to this dilemma. Not only do obese children have medical issues, they are also more likely to have low self-esteem, and suffer from depression. This has become an unfortunate pattern, and children that remain obese tend to grow into adults who are obese.

As responsible parents, it’s our job to stop the trend and help get kids on a better path to a healthier and happier life. Here are some great tips for any concerned parent.
Breakfast: Everyone has heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This couldn’t be more true. Starting a child’s day off with a healthy breakfast will get their metabolism moving early in the morning and help the brain to function better. When a child is resting or sleeping for about 8 hours, their metabolism slows down a lot. Breakfast is going to jump start that metabolism, so that it’s up the whole day. Eating breakfast every day also establishes a routine, which can also help to maintain a healthy weight (less snacking on junk food before lunch). Establish that morning routine ASAP, for a filling breakfast that can keep them going until lunchtime.
Limiting Servings: From the moment your child begins eating solid foods, parents have control over what their children put in their mouths and what they do not. Make sure your child realizes the importance of small servings at a young age. After all, the size of a child’s stomach is extremely small, so smaller servings are appropriate. It is very hard to break the habit of over-eating, so nip it in the bud. Offer more water to your children too. Even flavored waters are good for kids versus “juices” and soft drinks that are loaded with sugar.
Less Television: Children tend to live what they learn, and that includes being active. If children don’t see their parents sitting in front of the television all day and night and DO see them being physically active, the children will tend to behave the same way. Pediatric reports have recommended that kids be limited to one to two hours of television a day, max. Instead, take a long walk with your children. Go outside and throw the baseball, or play a game of kickball. Go for walks, take your kid to the gym, whatever it takes!
Regular Physicals: Take the kids regularly to have physicals. The doctors can measure a child’s weight and BMI (body mass index) and give you useful information for healthy habits. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about your child’s weight issues and let them suggest ways to make good changes. They can also let you know if you should look out for things like diabetes or other serious conditions.

We can take positive action to prevent childhood obesity, and today is just as good a day as any to start taking the actions that will make it happen!!

Marissa Ford writes about fitness, finance & frequenting www.lifeinsurancequotes.org.

Newman's Own Organic Sour Licorice

With the commitment from his daughter Nell, Paul Newman established an organic food division of Newman’s Own in 1993. Newman’s Own Organics became an independent company in late 2001. All products are third party certified by Oregon Tilth to ensure they meet or exceed all organic standards established by the USDA. Through the sale of its products, Newman’s Own Organics generates money for The Newman’s Own Foundation to donate to a wide range of charitable organizations.
A New SOUR Twist To The Licorice Line! Newman’s Own Organics introduces the first sour licorice twist made with organic ingredients. Licorice twists are the most popular kind of licorice candy and the organic sugar and sour crystals, derived from natural citrus sources, on the surface of the twists provides the special taste for four tantalizing new flavors: Sour Strawberry, Sour Cherry, Sour Mango and Sour Apple. With the popularity of the regular twists in Black, Strawberry, and Pomegranate, Newman's Own Organic felt their customers would also enjoy the chance to try these sour ones that offer a different taste experience.

They sure are good, but really sour! Actually, I did not think the strawberry sours were so bad, but the others are sour....but in a good candy way! Yum!

 
I received products from Newman's Own Organics and Shepard PR in exchange for a review on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Are We Addicted To Food?

A couple of nights ago we were at a friend’s house for dinner. And what a feast it was: succulent roasted chicken, rice pilaf with roasted veggies, crisp market greens, all followed by a selection of New York State artisanal cheeses. As you can imagine, we were all pretty satisfied and full when the meal was over. A few even commented on how they “could not possibly swallow another bite”. So what do you think happened when the luscious chocolate cake made the appearance on the table? Did we all politely say “No, thank you, we had enough food”? Ha! Everyone took a piece and happily ate it all! Were we still hungry when we saw the cake? Far from it. What happened is called “hedonic hunger” – a primitive reward mechanism that has been used by human bodies for thousands of years to protect us from starvation. This means that even if we are full we can be still “hungry” when faced by foods with high hedonic value. Very often they are some kind of combination of fat, salt and sugar. We are programmed to eat more than we need when this kind of food is readily available and accessible, like it is in most Western countries.

And it is not getting easier from here. Some studies show that as we eat more of these foods and gain more weight, we need still more food in order to “get a kick” or feel rewarded for doing an evolutionary correct thing. Sounds familiar? Yes, food can elicit a response from the brain that is very similar to the one elicited by drugs. Of course it is too early to speak about clinical signs of food addiction. It is also unclear whether the ability to feel satisfied with smaller quantities of food diminishes when we gain weight or it is genetically too low in for some. But scientists already know that this mechanist makes it very difficult for us to maintain or lose weight in the current environment of plenty because it requires a lot of willpower in order to resist the ubiquitous cues leading to overeating.

Here are some practical ways to deal with conditioned overeating described by a former FDA commissioner Dr. David Keissler in his book “The end of overeating. Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”:
1. Replacing chaos with structure. Establish a structure in your meals and snacks and follow it religiously. Uncontrolled snacking or skipping meals compromises your ability to make good choices and control the amount of food you eat.
2. Just-right eating. Learn what a serving size of food should look like, serve it on your plate and eat slowly, enjoying every bite, trying to gauge what amount of food truly satisfies you. You might be surprised to find out that you are able to leave some food on the plate.
3. Choosing foods that satisfy you. Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, beans, soy, nuts and seeds and fiber-rich whole grains, fruits ad vegetables will help you feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time. Sugar or refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, can trigger overeating or chaotic snacking, as they are less satiating. Ideal menu suggested by Dr. Keissler to prevent you from overeating can look like this: an omelet for breakfast, a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch, two snacks, such as a piece of cheese and a cup of fruit; and fish with leafy greens for dinner.
4. Seizing conscious control. Notice the feelings make you reach for food and find ways to have your emotional needs met in other ways. Try yoga or meditation when you are stressed out or call a friend when you are sad or anxious.
5. Getting out of the path of cues. Stay alert to the external stimuli leading to overeating. Whether it is a happy hour on Friday night or passing by a French bakery on Monday morning – limit your exposure to the food you find tough to control.

So what would be the proper way to deal with that chocolate cake temptation? If you know that you have a hard time controlling yourself around sweets, volunteer to provide a dessert for the party and bring a fruit salad. If you are faced by a “trigger” food, ask yourself how much you are influenced by the environmental cues rather than by your own desires and try to resist the urge to indulge. If “no, thank you” is not an option, serve yourself a small portion and slowly savor each bite you take, paying close attention to your satisfaction level. As soon as you notice enjoying the food less, put the fork down, push away the plate and distract yourself by engaging in a conversation with other guests, for example.

Natalia Stasenko MS, RD is the owner and Registered Dietitian at New York based Tribeca Nutrition created to provide professional help for your family's everyday nutrition. Her mission is to help parents raise healthy eaters, resolve picky eating, eat well with food allergies and enjoy family meals while taking better care of themselves, too. Check our Facebook page and Pinterest boards for daily fresh and healthy lunch ideas, feeding strategies, healthy eating tips and much more.

References: Joe Vinson, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, University of Scranton, Scranton, Penn.; Endocrine Society, May 3, 2012, news release; June 2012 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. www.yaleruddcenter.org David A. Kessler The end of overeating. Taking control of the insatiable American appetite.
 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Anne Taintor *Giveaway*

Anne Taintor has been making smart people (and you know who you are...) smile since 1985! Her fabulous products are delivered with the quirky, contemporary humor and retro graphics that you'll love. I was lucky enough to receive an awesome Anne Taintor Shopper.
Save the planet while you bring home the bacon (or tofu) in Earth-friendly Shoppers. Strong, reusable, water-resistant Shoppers feature interior pocket, nylon shoulder straps, and matching piping. My bag is the one you see pictured, and it says "Wow! I get to give birth AND change diapers!" Hee hee. I totally love it. I also received the hilarious and fun Anne Taintor book - Someone Has To Set A Bad Example!
Where's the fun in being well behaved? This book is a collection of more than 150 of Anne Taintor's best and funniest images combines whip-smart attitude and vintage illustration to tell the truth about dating, marriage, motherhood, friendship, money, and more. You can't be good all the time. I love love this book! I laughed out loud reading it, and nodded my head to the truth in the pics! Fantastic!

One extremely lucky reader will receive the book and a shopper! Here's how:

1. Follow this blog via GFC, the newsletter, or Networked Blogs.
4. Promote this giveaway.

Giveaway ends June 9th. Good luck!
 
I received products from Anne Taintor and Clare Hertel Communications in exchange for a review on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer For A Military Family

Summer is on everyone's mind. The days are warmer and longer, the nights perfect for grilling and bonfires. The kids are getting antsy counting down the days until the end of the school year. Moms are busy trying to get all of the last minute things done that seem more impossible with children in tow. Summer is a time to catch our breaths, sleep in, enjoy company, and just play. When I think of summer, this summer in particular, I feel my chest tighten with emotion. This summer we are moving...again. Yep. We are one of those military families. The ones who pop into your lives for a moment, plant roots {sometimes deep, sometimes shallow} and then pack up, say goodbye, and look ahead to our next assignment. I have often wondered what it must be like for those we leave behind. At our current assignment, we will mark 11 months on the ground here when we drive away behind the moving van. Eleven Months! The shortest time yet. It blows my mind when I think of the fact that even though we have only been here 11 months - we have planted deep roots.

My boys' school. It is a family - We share morning worship together, we pray for the children, the teachers really know my kids, my kids actually miss school on the weekends. These roots are deep. It will be hard to say goodbye.

Our church. We are there every Sunday when possible and we warm the seats up front! Worship, Sunday School, Fellowship. That has been our Sunday morning routine for the entire 11 months. These roots are deep. We will miss this church home.

Our neighborhood. Weekends in the cul-de-sac riding bikes, roasting s'mores, throwing the baseball, and our new love - playing dodgeball! We will take with us many wonderful memories. I hate the saying goodbye part. I especially do not like saying goodbye to the "home-towners" who have taken the time to get to know us, extended hospitality, and taken an interest in our family. What is it like for them to let us go? To invest in a relationship with us, and then to wave goodbye? It can't be easy. Yet, they are willing to risk the pain that comes with fostering a friendship with us. For that I am deeply grateful.

When we learn of a new assignment pending on the horizon, I begin praying. I pray that the Lord will show us the home/neighborhood He has chosen for us. I ask him to show me how he will use us four to serve him in that new community. I pray for wisdom for choosing the boys' school. I pray for our new church home believing the Lord will provide. I imagine it all. I imagine us there. I imagine the Holy Spirit hovering over that place orchestrating everything, and putting it all into place for our arrival. I don't believe there are any accidents. I believe the neighbors we live by are our neighbors divinely appointed. I believe the base we are sent to is for a specific reason. I believe the school and church we feel led to is for a specific purpose. I keep praying, keep believing until the peace and stillness rests inside of me. I take hold of the promise that I know is to come, and I wait expectantly. I here Him say, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10).

Upon arriving at our new location, I watch with hopeful expectation knowing God has a purpose for it all. And, what unfolds is awesome. I can look back now and see His hand in every single assignment we have had and know that all was purposed for His glory. The roots were allowed to grow deep because our purpose for being there was bigger than we can possibly understand. I know it must hurt those we leave behind. We hurt saying goodbye to them and leaving the memories and some of the roots behind. I find my comfort in knowing that for many it is just a "see you later" for I will see them in eternity. And, in this promise, I find my comfort.

Jana blogs at Jana's Three Dresses. Check it out!
 

This Carousel Called Life

I made it to my first Heritage Festival here in Southeast Texas. What fun! My favorite part? Fried mushrooms and pork kabobs. I did not, however, enjoy the rides. I didn’t even get on the rides. In fact, the constant spinning in my view as I walked through the fair reminded me of a few weeks ago when I had vertigo. If you’ve never had it, be thankful. For twenty-four hours, the world was literally spinning, even if my eyes were closed. I was sick to my stomach, my head hurt and I had to pretty much crawl or hold on to the wall if I needed to get out of bed. I’ve only had vertigo a couple of times but as I am getting a little older, I can’t handle a lot of motion.

Sometimes I feel like my world is figuratively spinning out of control.

Today I couldn’t even make a grill cheese sandwich successfully. The bread was sticking to the pan and I seemed to be dropping everything. There are times I wake up with a mile-long list of things to do. I carefully fit my thirty eight chores into the fifteen hour time-slot for the day. Ready to juggle all the balls life throws at me, someone unexpectedly throws another ball in my mix, ending my juggling sensation. That one ball too many might be someone who asks me to do something I don’t want to do. Someone giving me bad news could do it too. Say something to hurt my feelings? All my balls dropped! I’m left empty handed and heavy hearted.

In each case of motion mayhem, I find myself searching for something to cling or hold on to - like the wall that upheld me in my dizzying days. When I’m wise, it’s God. Some of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms talk about God being our rock. The safest place in a storm is near something strongly anchored. Our God is immovable. He’s not going anywhere.

When I have one of those actual crazy spinning spells like the one I mentioned, I also get in a dark place like under a pillow. You might say this is my refuge. It’s my hiding spot where I block out the light and sound which makes my head hurt worse. God is my refuge for the things in life I want to hide from, and believe me there are plenty. I remember early in my elementary school days, finding refuge in an unexpected place. My class was on the playground one day and someone hurt my feelings. There were two tire tractors stuck upright in the ground for us to crawl on and crawl through. But that’s not what I did. I curled up inside one of the tires sort of like the letter “C” and hid; from that girl and everybody else. Jesus is our hiding place; a place where we are safe. He’s like base.

Have you ever played the relay game where the runner keeps her head on a bat that’s standing between her and the ground? She spins ten times or so, then runs and tags someone down-field. It’s a real kick to watch as she can’t run straight. She’s lucky if she doesn’t fall. Don't the participants realize it’s unnatural and unsafe to revolve around a bat? Likewise, when we choose to structure our days running around trying to be the super-girl we think everyone expects us to be - things don’t always go so well. When life revolves around anything but Jesus, we run off-course even if we’re able to stay on our feet. It says in Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” If we spend enough time being still thinking about and thinking TO God, we’ll find our path more straight and steady. And remember when you’re feeling small like I did on the playground that day, God provides the best hiding place-in him!

Next year when I go to the Heritage Festival, you better bet I won’t be on one of those rides. No ma’am! My eyes will be focused on what is still. And every day between now and then and every day after; I'll look to my immovable God - the one who is steady; the one who holds me up.

1. Life’s clock doesn't stop. When you find yourself dizzied by its commotion; be steadied, upheld by His hand. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. -Psalm 63:7

2. Try using a commonly held motto - in reverse: You can't run, but you can hide. While you can't run from your problems or harried life, you can and should hide {in Him}.

3. Its ok to be still. Purpose over Productivity. More is often accomplished by simply being in his presence than by running around trying to be productive.

Author Kristi Burden writes at Gods Girlies. Check it out!
 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Zebra Pen Review & *Giveaway*

Zebra Pen Corporation was founded in 1982, and is a leader in writing instrument manufacturing and sales. Their mission, “To Create Users”, drives them to challenge their selves, to listen to customers, and to deliver a promise of quality, value and innovation.
I received one of the newest pens from Zebra; the 301-A ball point pen. The classic 301 design, with fashionable metal barrel colors! The 301-A steel ball point pen touts a steel pocket clip and non-slip grip for writing ease (ARV $3.29 each). Available in the following colors: -Blue -Gray -Maroon -Gold. Zebra Pen products can be found nationwide at Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Walmart, K-Mart, and other office supply stores, discount chains, food and drug retailers, stationery stores and wholesale clubs. I love the way these pens write. They are fine point with black ink. I am always using pens - I write a ton during the day, for various reasons. And I love trying new pens. More often than not, I am disappointed in the way some pens write. But these pens are great! I love them!
One lucky reader will win a package of Zebra Pens. Here's how:

1. Follow this blog via GFC, the newsletter, or Networked Blogs.
4. Promote this giveaway.

Giveaway ends June 8th. Open to US only, sorry. Good luck!
 
I received a product from BML PR and Zebra Pen in exchange for a review on my blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Time Saving Beauty Tips

As a busy mum, there are two things I rarely have enough of: time and money! So I’m always looking for ways to save, whether it is time-saving make up tips or how to recreate the latest fashion without spending a small fortune. I thought I would share few of my time saving beauty tips with you, so I hope you find them helpful.

As with all aspects of motherhood and family life, one of the easiest ways to save time when it comes to your beauty regime is to be organized. A great tip for when you’re simply too shattered to wash your face at night is to make sure you always have face wipes on the bedside table. This way you really have got no excuse for not taking your makeup off before you go to sleep!

Combining beauty routines with household chores can be a really effective way of saving time whilst still looking after yourself. A good tip is to put a rich, moisturizing hand cream on before putting your rubber gloves on to tackle the washing up or other household job. This will help the moisturizer sink in while you’re getting things done.

To save time in the mornings, invest in beauty products that can perform several tasks in one. For example, a detangling spray or serum that also acts as a heat protector. This will ensure your hair is easy to comb through, so it is quicker to style, and is protected from hair dryers and hair straighteners.

When it comes to make up, find a good cream blusher that you can apply with your fingers; you can then use this on your lips, eyes and cheeks for an instant dewy and fresh look without messing around with lots of different products. You can perform a similar trick with lipstick warmed under a hair dryer for a few seconds!

During the day you probably want your hair up and out of the way, but for an evening look that doesn’t require hours of styling, simply turn your hair upside down when you blow dry it to easily create lots of body. Pin back sections with hair grips for a tousled look.

Post provided by Kieron Casey.
 

Fireworks

A few years ago my family and I were sitting outside on the Fourth of July watching the fireworks being shot off around town. I got to thinking about how our own lives are like those fireworks. Every person’s life makes an impact on other people. Sometimes we are the ones setting off the fireworks so to speak. Some know it is us who are setting them off while others are only ones able to see the pretty display and enjoy it from a distance, never knowing exactly who it is setting them off and maybe not even caring (which is ok!). Other times we are the ones watching the display and enjoying what others are doing whether we know who set them off or not. The thing is that what we do on a daily basis not only affects us but it affects so many people around us. Sometimes it may even seem insignificant what we are doing, but I think about the years when we are in drought and nobody can set off fireworks and the Fourth of July just doesn’t seem quite right. It leaves a void. The same is true when we stop doing the things we are meant to be doing. There is a void where we know something should be. It may even be that some are not happy that we are setting those fireworks off, but that is also how it is in life. When we strive to do good, some are going to be annoyed, but that should never stop us from trying to do the best we can. It can also show that something good at the wrong place and time can be bad. I heard a sermon a while back on our legacy.....What will our legacy be? Will it be something that people from blocks away can look at and enjoy or will it be an empty void with the feeling that something great should have been there? Let us strive to leave a legacy that will affect (for the good) as many as we possibly can.

"In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden." ~1 Timothy 5:25

Author Cherise Bloodworth blogs at Ramblings Of A Happy Girl! Go check it out!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Using the Power of Questions to Be in Charge

The power of questions can literally divert the brain's focus. A person who is thinking or acting in one direction can suddenly find himself/herself thinking in a totally different direction when hit with a question. An example of this happened not too long ago. My friend Patty and her son Payton stopped by for a visit. Patty and I were talking and just about the time they were going to leave, Payton had a normal, tired, two year old meltdown. I asked Patty if it was ok that I respond to Payton and then I asked him "Would you like to go smell my magic flowers?” Through tears and some hesitation, Payton responded “yes” with a nod. So I scooped him up walked him out my front door and we knelt down under my tree in the front yard. There I encouraged him to take a deep breath “smelling” the stem of a lily yet to bloom. After whispering to him some made up story about how magic flowers can help him to follow his mommy’s directions, he happily climbed into the car which was where she was trying to get him to go. I then stated to her that the secret was that I had him take some deep breaths “smelling” the flowers to calm down. Really I just asked him a question that diverted his thinking and behavior so he could calm himself down with some deep breaths.

Most things we say can be turned into a question, putting us in charge of the conversation. Here are some examples of changing commands or statements into questions:

Command: "You aren't going to use that tone with me young lady."
Question: "Am I the right person for you to use that tone with? Thank you."

Command: "If you don't do your homework, you're going to get a bad grade."
Question: "What kind of grade do you think you'll get without doing your homework?"

Command: "You are not going to have that cell phone if you don’t listen in class.”
Question: "What do you think will happen if you don’t listen in class?"

Command: "You guys better quit fighting over that remote control."
Question: "Have you guys thought about what might happen to the remote if you keep fighting over it?"

Command: "Quit that bickering!"
Question: "Hey, guys, what do you think is going to happen if that doesn't stop?"

Another example of using a question to change a situation happened when I was teaching. I witnessed a teacher go over to three young boys in the school bus line becoming rowdy. She told them to settle down but they didn't. A few minutes later a different teacher went over to sit with them and asked, "Hey guys. Which one of those Pokemon figures spits fire?" As you can guess, the entire scenario changed as these kids started answering and talking. No discipline was needed. A simple question made a huge change occur. The teacher took the time to use a question to take control of the situation and she was able to take charge without using any kind of order. And as a result, I’m sure the children felt like she cared about their interests and would be more likely to listen to her in the future.

About The Author:
Paula Tobey is a passionate parenting coach dedicated to helping her clients attain a more balanced and satisfied life. She tends to help those parents who have children with special needs or circumstances that can overwhelm them the most. Paula was also teacher/instructor prior to being a coach and her numerous years experience working with children and adults has enabled her to be an energetic speaker to varying audiences. Check out her website for many tips and tricks when parenting. www.parentingspecialchildren.com
 

Katie's Gift

Bullying is out of control these days, but I think we sometimes take the wrong approach to dealing with it. When my daughter, Katie, was in elementary school, she was picked on relentlessly by a classmate named Patricia. Patricia wasn't your typical "mean girl." She was disheveled and unpopular and just angry in general. Soft-spoken Katie was an easy target. She would call Katie names and step on her feet as she pushed to step in front of her in line at the cafeteria. When I became aware of the bullying, I contacted the school and the counselor explained to me that Patricia's parents had been killed in a car accident the year before, and that she was having a hard time coping. I also learned from some other mothers that she was living with some relatives in a pretty rough environment - both emotionally and financially. The police were constantly being called to their home which was plagued with domestic violence. Child Protective Services had threatened to put Patricia in a foster home. I sat down with Katie and talked to her about Patricia losing her parents and how sad she must be. I told her that she probably just didn't know how to deal with her loss. Katie's golden brown eyes grew wide and filled with tears. She was instantly filled with compassion and spoke in a whisper: "Poor Patricia." I told her that the best thing she could do was to find some way to be Patricia's friend. She said, "I know! I could give her a present!" I told her that her idea might just work, but that she should understand upfront that there was a chance that the gift might be rejected. I suggested that the gift could be something homemade, or just something that she already had that she thought Patricia might like. She looked around her room and picked up a white porcelain swan that she kept trinkets in. She emptied the contents and dusted it off. As she carefully wrapped it and wrote "TO PATRICIA - FROM KATIE" on the outside of the box with a gold glitter marker, she told me how much she loved the swan and how she just knew Patricia would love it, too. The next day before it was time to line up for lunch, and with great anticipation, Katie invited Patricia to sit by her at lunch time. She told her that she had a present she wanted to give her. Patricia didn't believe her at first, but Katie insisted that she would LOVE it. They sat side-by-side as Patricia unwrapped the swan and then looked up at Katie with a smile. As their eyes met, Katie asked, "Would you like to be my friend?" - such a simple and direct question, yet so powerful. Patricia responded, "Why would you want to be MY friend?" Katie answered, "because I don't want you to be sad any more." From that day on, Patricia's attitude changed for the better. Finally, someone not only "got" her, but offered her a gift - the gift of understanding and friendship.

Sue Price Co-Founder of SOS FOR TEACHERS.
Reach For The STAAR's Blog.
SOS For Teacher's Facebook.
 

PawPurity #PetCare2020

PawPurity is the result of many years of working to make the lives of pets and their owners better, safer, healthier, and easier.  PawPuri...