Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Christian Mama's Guide

The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler
By Erin MacPherson
Thomas Nelson, 2013
English, 224 pgs

What's a mom to do when her sweet baby's smiles and snuggles turn to tears and tantrums? This take on everything toddler—from throwing food to potty training to massive toddler fits—is filled with sanity-saving advice every mom wants to hear. Helpful tips include how to:
  • stop a tantrum in its tracks (or at least survive the tantrum without breaking into tears of your own)
  • discipline your child in a way that demonstrates Christ's redeeming love
  • make your marriage a priority when your kid is a squeaky wheel that always seems to need your time and attention
  • introduce your child to Jesus in a way that leads to authentic faith
  • convince a one-and-a-half year old that broccoli really is better than cookies—even if you don't believe it yourself
Moms will be entertained and encouraged by the amusing anecdotes and godly advice of this comprehensive, topical approach to parenting one and two year olds.

 I wish I'd read this before my oldest turned two. My youngest is now 3 and I still found lots of great tips and tricks that I can use. Because we all know the Terrible Twos does not just last one year.

I found the potty training chapter particularly funny. Especially since she tells you that she doesn't know all the answers, but here's what she has found that works. And doesn't.

Erin writes with a sly humor that I love and appreciate. Being a Mom is hard, but there are more moments of laughter than anything else in our lives and it's nice to see a book that isn't all serious.

Some of her tantrum tips for when you're in a store are still going to be handy for me since my son is in the "gimme" stage.

My number one favorite part of the book, though, is that she emphasizes over and over that our number one job is to lead our kids to Christ. We are to discipline with justice, grace and mercy, just as we are disciplined by God.

I'm going to try the tips on getting a toddler to eat. Mine seems to think that only bread and cheese are acceptable. There are really easy toddler approved meal ideas that I'm going to start adding into our diets.

I received a copy of the book from Book Sneeze in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Organic Outreach

Organic Outreach For Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse
By Keven G and Sherry Harney
Zondervan, 2012
English, 192 pgs

In Organic Outreach for Families, Kevin and Sherry Harney share insights from the Scriptures and give practical advice from their own experience to help you learn how to transform your home into a lighthouse of God’s amazing grace.

The Harneys discuss five ways you can naturally share your faith with others:
  • Reaching your own children with the message of Jesus
  • Sharing God’s grace with your extended family
  • Raising your children to be beacons of light in their schools and in the neighborhood
  • Opening the doors of your home to make it attractive and welcoming
  • Shining the light of grace into your broader community
The Harneys balance a concern for developing your home into a safe, secure environment with the biblical mandate for believers to be salt and light in the world. Pastors and parents will discover creative ways families can become a natural and winsome presence in their schools, through community activities, and as a witness in their neighborhoods.
I requested this book from BookSneeze with the purpose of reading the middle section: Raising Children of Light in a Dark World, but I have received so much instruction from the whole book!
The first section, Reaching Your Own Family, really resonated with me because so many of my family are not Christians and I have been praying for them for so long. This book reminded me that each person comes at their own time and in their own way. Each person should be met where they are and related to in ways that are meaningful to them. It also reminded me that it's not up to me to save anyone. It's up to me to spread the seeds of the Gospel. I many only be one part of their salvation experience.

The second section, mentioned above, gives advice on raising our kids to know that their home is a safe place, to know that to know that our home has rules, to know that our home is a believing home where right and wrong are taught in accordance with God's Word. Our home can be a place where anyone who is hurting can be loved and consoled. Our home is a place where family, truth, grace and mercy are practiced daily. It is a place where we play together and pray together daily.

The third section, Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse, is focused on being a place in your community where people are comfortable. It's welcoming, it's loving and it's a place where the love of God is practiced for everyone. Impacting our neighborhoods is one of the major ways the Gospel can spread. There was a reason Jesus commanded the Disciples to GO first to their area, then out into the world.

As a pastor's family, our home is often a place that is seen as "off limits". A lot of people tell us that they don't want to bother us at home or "be in the way" or be here too much. But that's what we want! We want people coming into our home. We want to have meaningful relationships and conversations around the fireplace. There is a lot in this book that I'm going to practice and I really hope that this book is useful to you as well.

I received a copy of the book from BookSneeze for the purpose of a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: A Cast of Stones

A Cast of Stones
By Patrick W Carr
Bethany House, 2013
English, 432 pgs

An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers
Will Love

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.

I will do my best to not include spoiler information, but that may be difficult. Fair warning.

The book is about Errol Stone. He's the town drunk. He has nothing else on his mind but ale. He's given a chance to make money to get more ale and he takes it. Bet he regrets that decision...

He takes a message to a recluse priest and his servant, with a few dangers on the way. But that's just where his story begins. In the process, he escapes death a few times, overcomes his thirst for ale, gets stronger in body and mind and begins a journey for the kingdom.

The story moves pretty fast. One chapter they're in the city, running for their lives, and the next he's in the country barely alive. It's well explained though and really feasible in the plot lines. His time with a merchant caravan is interesting because we see him really becoming someone else in this time.

On the one hand, he tries to fight his "compulsion" to the church, but on the other I think it gives him something to reach for and hold as his own.

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, I've really only read a little of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were parts of the story I thought touched on the books I have read (the ferrals are similar to Trollocs in Wheel of Time) but it's a pretty original story and concept. I'm excited to start the series with this first book and cannot wait until the next is available!

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House in exchange for a review and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Bzz on Olia

Unlike traditional hair color, Oila uses an exclusive 60% oil blend, with natural flower oils, in the colorant. The unique oil-based formula maximizes the coloring process to achieve permanent color results. It propels colorants deep into hair, without ammonia, for pure, vivid, long-lasting color. Olia visibly improves and restores the look of hair, as oils help to reverse roughness and dullness for softer, shinier hair with bounce.

The information promises 100% gray coverage. Available in 24 different shades.

It comes with a drop-shaped applicator, which is supposed to help you maintain maximum control.

It promises a delicate floral scent and a non-drip creamy texture when applying.

I started with about 30% gray hair and a very mousy brown color.

I don't always perform the "patch test" when I color my hair since I've basically been using the same box for years (with about a year since my last coloring). However, since this is a new product, I did do the test on the inside of my left elbow.
I was a bit concerned with how my skin appeared lighter after I rubbed it on, but that faded really quickly and it does say in the instructions that can happen.

So, 48 hours later, there was no reaction so I got ready for color!!!

This is what you see when you unpack the box. There is an applicator bottle, a developer tube, a colorant tube, a conditioner tube, gloves and instructions. Neat little thing on the box:
There is a flap where you can record the date of coloring and have the number and name of your shade so next time you color you aren't standing there trying to figure out which one you used last! I chose medium golden brown. Seemed like that would be a brighter color than my mouse brown and I was hoping all my grays would end up looking like highlights. I didn't have much choice at my local Albertson's as far as color. However, I have seen large displays at Target and Wal Mart with all 24 colors available.

(Quick warning....when I opened the developer to put into the applicator bottle, it kinda popped out, like there was an air bubble in it. I got a pretty good sized glob of developer on the counter.)

Small thing...I like the gloves.
They fit well and didn't rip during use. I was able to take them off while the color developed and then put them back on for rinsing. Little pleasure, but still makes the whole process a little better.

Okay, after mixing the developer and colorant into the applicator bottle, I started applying to my hair. I worked in sections, starting at the top of my head, working down the sides, then the back and underneath. I found the applicator bottle very slippery and very hard to hold. I dropped it a lot. Thankfully though, only a few drops splashed out each time and I was able to wipe it quickly off the countertop and sink.

There are not pictures of my hair with the colorant on one needs to see that! My kids thought I looked like Medusa with my hair piled on my head! While it was processing, I was able to very easily remove any color that had gotten on the tops of my ears, back of neck and forehead.

Just a note...wear a really junky shirt. As with all coloring products, this stained my shirt and I was not able to remove it at all. No big whoop...expected that.

 So...the verdict...

The color had a lot more red than I was expecting, but I've always loved red hair so this isn't a big deal. It didn't completely cover my grays, but that may have been user error since it's a large patch that isn't covered. I may have missed a spot. The color on my forehead is very bright and the rest is a bit darker. Again, that was user error. I put too much there I guess.

All in all, I'm mostly happy with it. The smell didn't make me want to use the product outside for ventilation. The color isn't what I was expecting but I like it and will be purchasing another box really quickly so I can get the rest of the gray covered.

Sorry about the bathroom mirror/iPhone was the best I could do!

You can see more information HERE about the different shades available.  There is even a HOW TO section and a short video showing how to apply for both all over color and touch ups.

I received a coupon from BzzAgent for a box of color to test. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am not a professional hair stylist and have been coloring my hair for at least 15 years on my own. All opinions are my own.