Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

A young boy goes Christmas shopping with his father and learns a lesson in giving from a store Santa.  This is not exactly the traditional Saint Nicholas story about a man that lived 300 years after Christ and gave to the poor and needy.  The story related by the store Santa gives a somewhat modern spin on the old tradition making Nicholas into a young boy.

I was hesitant at first to read and review this book since we will not be doing Santa with our children.  I was pleasantly surprised though by how much I enjoyed it.  I loved how they incorporated the story of the birth of Jesus and Nicholas’s prayers to God for guidance.  There were beautiful illustrations throughout the book as well.  I think the age range of four to eight that is on the back of the book is probably accurate.  This book will be a regular read for us during the Christmas season. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door written by Denette Fretz; illustrated by Gene Barretta

Conrad has a lot to learn during his summer at cowboy training.  He also finds a challenge in the know-it-all cowgirl that lives next door.  Conrad endures many mishaps along the way and learns what it means to love those who aren’t always so lovable. 
I love the illustrations in this book.  My son also loves the colorful pictures.  Conrad is so cute and quirky with his Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit and his misadventures at cowboy training are a lot of fun.  There is also a great lesson to be learned… love your enemies.  Fretz has also included scripture and discussion questions in the back of the book.  I love that it challenges you to go a little deeper with your kids so that they understand the Biblical lesson of the book.  The age range on the back of the book recommends ages four to eight which I believe is accurate.  I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Noah and the Mighty Ark by Rhonda Gowler Greene

Noah and the Mighty Ark is a delightful children’s book of the Biblical story of Noah and the ark.  The story begins with God’s command to Noah to build the ark and ends with everyone departing the ark and the rainbow.

Nice rhyming in the book.  I also enjoyed the opportunities to make sounds for the rain, plip-plop, and other elements.  My son especially enjoyed those parts.  I would estimate that this book would be best for those three years and up.  The illustrations were nice and colorful.  All in all, this book was a good children’s version of the classic Biblical story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monthly Updates

I need to get back on track with my monthly updates for the boys.  They are growing so quickly!  Klive will be two years old in less than a month and Kalvin just turned four months. 
Lets start with Klive. 
Klive has had a lot of changes take place in his life.  He has to adjust to staying at home instead of going to daycare.  Yes, I am so thrilled to now be staying home with my boys.  It is such a blessing that I am so incredibly thankful for.  He has also had to adjust to sharing his Papa and Mommy.

Klive is a great big brother.  He often pats Kalvin or kisses him.  And if Kalvin is not in the room with us he looks at me and says, "baby."  He likes to bring me burp cloths for the baby.  Klive also adores his Papa.  He imitates him often and looks forward to wrestling with him in the evenings.
Klive is extremely social and we are seeing this come out more and more.  We have to walk through the church on Sundays before we take him to his class.  He loves saying hi to people he sees and roaming around.  Our Children's Minister is just waiting for the day he can be a greeter at the front doors.  It makes this Momma proud to see the smiles that my joyful boy brings to peoples' faces.
Of course nearing two years old also comes with some challenges.  Klive has been testing boundaries just like all toddlers.  It's definitely been interesting.  His facial expressions crack us up.

Klive still is obsessed with fruit and cheese.  His favorite veggie right now is broccoli.  He would rather be outside than just about anywhere else.  And he loves Thomas the Train.  In fact that is his favorite word.  He says "Thomas" constantly.  It's pretty cute the way he says it too.  He's added quite a few new words, such as Grandpa, Mimi, strawberry, and cold.

Kalvin is a very happy baby.  He also loves to eat and take cat naps.  Unlike his brother, he is not crazy about his swing or his bouncer.  He does enjoy his playmat though.

Kalvin watches Klive like a hawk.  You can already see that he adores his big brother.
These pictures were taken on Easter Sunday.  My sweet little men.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kalvin's Birth Story

My due date was February 19th.  I’m not sure why, but I really had a feeling for the last several months that Kalvin would arrive after his due date.  Until…  I went to bed on Monday, February 10th and did not sleep well.  I hadn’t been sleeping well anyway considering that I was so close to the end of the pregnancy but that night I was even more uncomfortable and restless.  I had been trying not to take off from work and save my sick leave, but I was so exhausted that I decided to stay home Tuesday and get some much needed rest.  I decided to take a belly shot; the first intentional one of the pregnancy.  I had a feeling that if I didn’t take one then, that I wouldn’t have one. 

When Kevin came home from work that night, I asked him to go ahead and put the birthing pool together so that it would be ready when we needed it.  I couldn’t shrug the feeling that things might be starting to happen.  I didn’t share that information with Kevin though. 

I slept well Tuesday night and woke up feeling great.  I had more energy than I had in days and was ready to head to work.  At work I worked hard to wrap up loose ends just in case.  I convinced my friend and co-worker that we should have Mexican food for lunch because that might be my last time we would be able to for quite some time. 

Wednesday night I went to sleep in the guest bedroom knowing that I would be up quite a few times during the night (my joints had been aching and I needed to get up during the night and stretch).  It was a restless night of sleep.  At 4:10 a.m. I sat up in bed trying to adjust my sleeping position and felt a gush.  My water broke.  I jumped up and went into the bathroom and contemplated what to do next.  I couldn’t think straight and I was getting very excited.  Our baby would be here soon!  I went to our bedroom and woke up Kevin.  He was immediately awake.  He called his parents to let them know so they could get on the road.  They would be keeping Klive at his aunt and uncles for us.  I called my midwife, Jenee, to let her know that my water had indeed broken.  She told me to try to go back to bed and get some rest as we did not know when labor would start.  I did try to go back to sleep, but my mind was going nonstop with excitement.  I called my mom to let her know what was going on and she decided to get ready to make the three hour drive.  Unfortunately my dad was sick and would not be able to come.  I was having contractions here and there but nothing painful or that I could time.  In an hour or so those quickly fizzled out. 

We got Klive out of bed that morning and spent some time with him.  We called the daycare to let him know he would not be coming in that day.  I kept staring at my little boy realizing that he would soon be my big boy.  I was mindful to enjoy that last bit of time with him as my only child.  Kevin’s parents came to pick him up an hour or two later and take him to Kevin’s aunt and uncles for the day.  Kevin and I spent the day cleaning and getting things in order for the birth. 

We left the house at 11:15 to head to my standing appointment with the chiropractor.  I had my adjustment and hoped it would get my labor started.  My appointment with Jenee was immediately afterwards.  The baby sounded great and was very low.  Since my waters had ruptured I was not checked so as not to introduce any bacteria that could cause infection.  We talked about what would happen if my labor had not started by the morning and had a plan in place.  I walked out hopeful and prayerful that we wouldn’t have to have that conversation in the morning.

Kevin and I relaxed all afternoon and since I was still not having contractions, we had my mom, in-laws, and Klive come over for dinner.  We picked up take-out and as we were eating I had my first contraction.  It was 6:00 p.m.  Probably about 10 minutes later I had another.  We decided to let Klive go with my in-laws since it seemed like labor could be starting up.  Everyone left and I started timing.  I texted Jenee to let her know that contractions had finally started.   She told me to keep her updated and she would check back in with me later.  I took a shower and then bounced on my birth ball.  Kevin decided to start filling the birth pool so that it would be ready (it had a heater on it that kept the water hot).  Soon contractions were getting more uncomfortable and I found myself having to stop and sway through them.  I tried lying down in bed to rest, but that was extremely uncomfortable.  I was also having chills and my teeth were chattering.  I spoke with Jenee and she decided to stop by and check me on her way home.  She arrived around 10:15 p.m.   I was extremely tired but didn’t want to lie down.  Jenee insisted that I get some sleep.  I have to admit that I thought she was crazy.  How was I going to sleep with contractions going on??  I had read plenty of birth stories of women sleeping in between contractions, but for some reason in my case I didn’t think it was possible.  Jenee helped me get comfortable in the bed with the help of quite a few pillows, and told me to relax through the contractions.  She went to the guest room to get some sleep herself.  The first contraction was a doozy, but I did manage to relax through the next one and before you knew it I was asleep.  I slept in between contractions and relaxed my body during the contractions.  That made them so much more bearable.  It is amazing how my body did that!  I slept from about 11:00 p.m. till 1:15 a.m.  At that point I was having trouble relaxing and sleeping as the contractions were coming every four minutes.  I told Kevin to go wake up Jenee.  She checked me, but I can’t remember where I was at.  I was getting very close though to meeting my baby. 

Jenee got in touch with her assistant and the other midwife and told them to come on over.  By this time it was close to 2:00 a.m.  Then she helped me into the birth pool.  That water felt amazing.  She showed Kevin how to do hip squeezes for me as this was the thing that helped me the most with the pain.  Kevin put on the playlist I had made for labor (praise music and hymns from Selah, Amy Grant, and Chris Tomlin), and Jenee put some lavender essential oil on my wrists and diffused it in the room.  I felt very relaxed.  Soon Lauren, Jenee’s assistant, and the other midwife arrived.  We chatted it up between contractions.  It is truly amazing how completely normal I felt in between contractions.  What a blessing that was. When a contraction would hit, Kevin would come over and do hip squeezes and Jenee would encourage me.  Sometime after 3:00 a.m. I started feeling pushy and also started feeling like I might vomit.  I was on my knees in the birth pool holding on to one side.  I knew this was it, and I started to feel a little scared.  I tried pushing a little and started feeling out of control; that is the only way I know how to describe it.  The moments after are pretty blurry.  I remember feeling his head crown and the “ring of fire” that I had heard about.  I now know why it is called that.  I also remember yelling and Jenee telling me not to be scared of the pain.  It was the most intense pressure I have ever felt.  She told me to make low tones, and I remembered my reading from Ina May’s books.  I started making low groans and that felt more productive.  I remember her telling me the head was out and to reach down and feel it.  I wish that I had, but I had a death grip on the side of the pool .  With the next push my baby was out and in the water.  I was told later that he was out in three pushes within five minutes.  Jenee gently guided him in between my legs and into my waiting hands and I pulled my baby up out of the water.  He was covered with quite a bit of vernix and was perfect in every way.  He started crying immediately and after mere moments on my chest, started rooting around. 

Kalvin Ray Jackson was born at 3:36 a.m. and was 7 pounds 8 ounces and 19 inches long. 

I am so thankful to God for such a wonderful birth, and incredibly thankful for a wonderful husband who was so supportive.  I am also thankful for an amazing midwife who took such good care of me, believed in me, and encouraged me.

Kalvin in his herbal bath about an hour after his birth.  He was so happy and peaceful.

Klive meeting his brother for the first time.  Unfortunately, it was right about the time for his lunch and nap so he was a little grouchy.  He was all smiles when he saw him again after his nap.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Introducing... Kalvin

Kalvin Ray


7 lb. 8 oz., 19 in. long

The first picture was taken only a few hours after he was born.  The second he is almost a month old.
My next post will be Kalvin's birth story and lots more pictures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Goodnight Angels by Melody Carlson, Pictures by Sophie Allsopp

For those that know the children’s book Goodnight Moon, this book will seem familiar.  Goodnight Angels follows a child as he goes through his evening getting ready for bed, saying goodnight to his surroundings as he goes. 

I received this board book hoping that it would be one that my toddler would enjoy.  My son is almost two.  I think this book is better suited for three years and up.  I look forward to reading it to him more when he gets a little older.  It is a sweet book and ends with the little boy saying a prayer.  I think the illustrations are also well done.  This is a good addition to a small child’s bedtime routine.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."