Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady ProblemsDoes This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems by Rhoda Janzen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This made me laugh out loud several times. I truly enjoyed spending some more time with the Mennonite in a little black dress! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review e-copy.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My Boys

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: Hattie Ever After

Hattie Ever AfterHattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was happy to spend more time with Hattie and follow her to San Francisco as she pursues her dream of being a reporter and learns more about her mysterious Uncle Charlie. A very satisfying conclusion to the story begun in the Newbery Honor-winning Hattie Big Sky.

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I was provided a review copy by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Almost Home

Almost HomeAlmost Home by Joan Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joan Bauer has done it again. She creates absolutely wonderful characters, plunks them down in difficult (and realistic) situations, and lets them shine. There is lots of hard stuff here, but so much hope too. If you have a middle-grader who is always wanting to read things you consider "too old" for her, direct her to Bauer's work. She has the ability to create PG-rated stories set in an R-rated world. Oh, and make you laugh, cry, and cheer, too -- sometimes all on the same page!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Woolzies Dryer Balls

When I first started cloth diapering, I had to quit using dryer sheets.  Apparently they can leave residue on your diapers -- and toxic chemicals to boot.  I tried plastic dryer balls as an alternative.  While they do shorten drying time and reduce static, they are LOUD and apparently can damage the sensors in the dryer.  Next I turned to wool dryer balls, which I found on etsy, but unfortunately they shed and I got little bits of fuzz on all my diapers' velcro.  So I went back to the noisy plastic dryer balls. Then I heard about Woolzies.  They are handmade in Nepal from New Zealand wool, and they promise to reduce drying time by up to 25% and soften your laundry safely.  They also promise not t shed, so they are even safe for people with wool allergies!  I had actually put them in my cart at but before I purchased them, the Woolzies company put out a call for bloggers to review here I am.

While I did receive a 6-pack of Woolzies for free, my review is 100% honest.  And here it is:

My Woolzies came in the mail on the very day that I was playing laundry catch-up, so it was perfect timing to try them out.  I had regular laundry as well as diaper laundry to try them on.  The Woolzies are white and are larger than the wool balls I had bought from an etsy seller; they are even bigger than tennis balls.  They are so quiet; I can't hear them bouncing around in the dryer like I could with my plastic dryer balls -- even my husband commented on being glad NOT to hear them!  So far, no shedding.  I think they reduce drying time and static just as well as the plastic ones. 

What if you don't use cloth diapers?  Are Woolzies worth it?  They cost around $30 for 6, and they are supposed to last for at least one year or 500 loads.  I can't even remember how much I used to spend on dryer sheets, but I imagine it's comparable.  Of course, they are environmentally friendly, and they won't get any toxic chemicals on your laundry.  I would definitely recommend them to anyone who does laundry!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cloth Diaper Review: The bumGenius Freetime

So I have tried a bazillion cloth diapers.  (Okay, maybe not quite that many, but I'd say at least 20 different brands/types.)  And I have a new favorite: the bumGenius Freetime.

The Freetime is a very unique All-in-One.  (An AIO means NO stuffing, which I have really come to appreciate now that I have two in cloth and am doing diaper laundry every day to day and a half.)  Pockets made up most of my stash before Ben was born, but I've been branching out and I now have to say that, though I love the ability to customize (i.e. stuff and overstuff many different things into) pocket diapers, AIOs are sooo much easier. 

The Freetime has two microfiber flaps topped with a stay-dry fabric.  You can customize the absorbency of the flaps by folding them in different combinations or you can just leave them as is.  And with the Freetime, all I have to do to make it an overnight diaper is layer a couple of Hemp Babies doublers under each of the flaps. So easy!  Another bonus: the drying time is much faster than most AIOs I've tried.

So if you're in the market to try one of the easiest cloth diapers out there, check out the bumGenius.  And, for two more weeks, there is a buy 5 get 1 free sale, which makes them a little over $15 apiece - a very decent price on a great diaper!  My favorite place to buy online (fast, free shipping) is Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique, or you can always shop local at The Little Seedling in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm Featured in a "Formula Feeder Friday"!

My last book review (which, I notice, was quite a long time ago...excuse my sporadic blogging) featured what I think is a very important book: Bottled Up by Suzanne Barston.  Barston blogs at, and every Friday she features the story of a formula feeder.  Well, this past Friday's story was mine!  If you want to check it out, here's the direct link

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: Bottled Up

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’tBottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t by Suzanne Barston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would recommend this to all moms-to-be. I so wish I had had this book BEFORE I had my babies and encountered breastfeeding "failure." It would have saved me a lot of grief and anguish. A balanced look at the science and politics behind breastfeeding, and a call for a little more compassion and understanding...and maybe a little more research.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ben then...and now!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I am not head over heels in love with historical fiction as a general rule, but I love Elizabeth Wein's Mark of Solomon series, set in sixth-century Ethiopia, and when I saw that she had a book set in WWII Europe coming out, I knew it would be good.  And indeed it was.  It was excellent.  It was the best historical fiction I've read in a long time, the best friendship story, the best adventure story, the best short, the best book I've read in a long time, period. 

Here's the publisher's description:

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
If that doesn't make you want to go immediately to your local library and track Code Name Verity down, I don't know what's wrong with you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

That's Not the Way It Was Supposed to Happen, Part Two

Most of you know that my second son, Bennett William, decided to join us 10 weeks early.  You may not know the details.

If you don't care, stop reading now.  If you are male or have a weak stomach, it's not too late to turn back.


Due to my uterine rupture with my first son (read all about it here), Bennett was to born via a planned C-section at 36 weeks.  My OB did NOT want me going into labor again.  At my 30-week check-up, I mentioned some pressure that I had been having that I didn't remember having with Evan.  My OB decided to do a cervical check and found that I was 2 cm dilated (not terribly concerning at this point) but also 70% effaced (bad).  She sent me straight to the hospital for 24 hours of magnesium (which I would not wish on my worst enemy) and steroid shots (to jump-start Ben's lung development just in case).  I would be checked on Friday and if I hadn't made any more cervical changes, I could go home on "couch rest."

Fast-forward to Friday.  I had had some contractions off and on, but they were able to stop them, first by turning up the magnesium drip (again: awful), and then with valium (not so bad!).  So my OB was all ready to discharge me, just needed to do one more check to make sure...and I was dilated to 4.  I was going to have to stay in the hospital until Bennett arrived, which we were hoping would be a long time.

Unfortunately, I went into full-blown labor (with no pain relief!) around 2 a.m. on Sunday, and by 7 a.m. I was fully dilated and feeling the urge to push.  Mike had just gotten there; the nurses monitoring me didn't seem to be aware that I was progressing so quickly, and I don't think they had notified my doctor, because her instructions were to not let me get that far for fear of another rupture.  They let me push a few times just in case he would come out quickly, but no such luck, so I had to hold still during a contraction (!) while they put in my spinal for the C-section.  My doctor arrived and Ben was delivered at 7:19 a.m.  I was so relieved to hear him cry, but I just caught a glimpse of him as they wheeled him by on the way to the NICU.  And then I had to wait for a very long repair -- my bladder had exploded (my doctor's words!), my vagina had torn away from my uterus, and my uterus was so thin that I may not have made it to 36 weeks.  Thank God I was in the hospital.  If I had ruptured at home, Ben and I may not have made it.

Ben did very well right away.  He was a good weight for his gestational age: 3 lbs, 9 1/2 oz.  When I got to see him a few hours later, he was already off the CPAP and just on a nasal cannula.  He made amazing progress and got to come home when he was 5 weeks and 1 day old.  I was in the hospital until the Friday following his birth; I had to be on lots of IV antibiotics due to the bladder surgery, and I had to come home with a catheter and a leg bag (eww!) but other than that, I felt like my C-section recovery was much easier and less painful this time around.  My guess is it's because I had the pain relief in my spinal beforehand and was able to move around earlier -- with Evan it was such an emergency that I had general anesthesia and pain meds after the fact -- plus I didn't lose nearly as much blood this time. 

But no more pregnancies allowed.  In fact, they had to call a urologist in to repair my bladder and I heard him say to my OB, "You did tell her she can't have any more children, right?"  Like I wasn't right there, awake, hearing everything that was said.  Why, no, she hadn't told me yet, since she was too busy stitching me up.  But thanks for the heads-up.

I just have a bladder ultrasound next month to make sure it has healed completely, and after my hormones are back to normal, my OB wants to do some bloodwork to check for a connective tissue disorder.  She said she had never seen anything like my insides and they were definitely not normal. She also told me that she wasn't sure how I got pregnant so easily, since one of my fallopian tubes was twisted and scarred (I had a ruptured ovarian cyst several years ago). Well, I know that God is in charge of my fertility and I am so thankful for my two boys!

As far as the breastfeeding goes (see more on my nursing woes with Evan here), I am in the same boat I was with Evan, except that sweet Ben can latch and is a very good nurser.  I tried nursing him at first when he came home, then supplementing with what I pumped, but he was losing weight because he had to work so hard to get very little.  The NICU LC is the first one to tell me that my problem is not low supply, it's (TMI warning) the fact that my nipples are so inverted that I have an exit problem.  The milk is not able to exit, which signals my body to stop making so much milk, which means that even though I have been pumping religiously I am now down to less than 2 ounces every time I pump and the amount keeps dropping.  I am not beating myself up about it this time around, but I am sad that my problem wasn't detected before; apparently I could have had surgery to correct it, but it's too late now.  I must admit I will not be sorry to bid the pump adieu, and I am glad that Ben was fed breast milk exclusively for the first 7 weeks of his life before my supply was unable to keep up with his demand.

If you've read this far, you are a true friend!  Thanks for listening.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, of course I think this little guy is worth all of the above:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why I Haven't Posted in a While...

Ben made an early debut!

Stationery card
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brief Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the mood for a story with adventure, a little romance, and a strong female character? Check out this one by Rae Carson (from your local library or independent bookstore, of course). Lots of surprises and a rich fantasy world. Glad it's only the first in a series!

*I got this e-galley through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland

Midnight in AustenlandMidnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not a fan of Jane Austen, despite my English-major background, but I am a fan of Shannon Hale, especially her children's/YA novels. She didn't disappoint me with this thoroughly entertaining grown-up novel. Charlotte, a successful businesswoman and mother of two whose unfaithful husband recently divorced her, decides to take a well-earned vacation to Austenland, an estate in England where the Regency period is re-created and the guests can play along. It's certainly a full-immersion experience until a pretend mystery game leads Charlotte to an all-too-real corpse, and her vacation turns entirely too Gothic for her taste. Throw in some self-empowerment and romance, and even readers like me who care little for Austen will be happy to spend time in Austenland.

* An e-galley of this book was provided to me for review by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Babble's 10 Worst Books for Toddlers

While I actually like some of these classics (Runaway Bunny, anyone?), I found the commentary pretty funny. Read it here and discuss amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Evan Fall 2011

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Stab at Nursing

I am already planning to nurse baby number two if at all possible. (Some of you may recall my difficulties with baby number one, but my doctor assures me that this does not doom my chances with number two; number two should -- please, God -- be a less traumatic delivery.) However, if it doesn't work out, this article makes me feel so much less guilty about it. It's from 2009, but I had never seen it until a fellow mom posted it on Facebook today. If I had read it when I was struggling with Evan, I might have saved myself a lot of grief.

Click here if you'd like to read it, too. What do you think?