Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: Mackenzie Goes Adventuring: J.L. Baumann


SYNOPSIS: J.L. Baumann’s new book, Mackenzie Goes Adventuring, takes place in the happy town of Snookton, full of Snookies, snooking all around. The main character, Mackenzie, decides to take a different path home after school one day. After convincing another friend to adventure with her through the enchanted woods, they soon find out why their teacher told them to “stay on the right path.” From the dangers of the Snarfling Snarfle to the delights of the Snookberry jelly roll at the Snookie Exchange, they encounter a whole new world. But after having met a whole new set of friends and learning the value of paying attention, they still have to find their way home.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Mackenzie’ is about 90 pages long. Although the rhyming format is catchy, it is way too long for pre-k to K readers. They simply can’t sit still that long. However, it is perfectly suited for the elementary school scene. The illustrations are fabulous. Mackenzie and her friends are larger-than-life on every page.

The basic message is simple enough for young readers to understand. ‘Do what you’re told’. While their adventure initially seems fantastic, they soon learn how dangerous it can be for them to wander off on their own, with no adults. While the story’s villains are ‘mean’, they’re not too over-the-top that nightmares will be a problem. They are more like cartoon ‘bad guys’. It can become a teachable moment for the adult reading to or with the child. Avoiding ‘bad guys’ is a good thing. Stay with a trusted adult.

My only concern was the Shaman character. He took the story in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I felt that Mackenzie, despite her Snookie world, would have had a more real world feel without all the additional magic. It just didn’t strike the right chord with me.

If your kids are big into rhyming books and characters with off-the-wall names, Mackenzie would be a good choice for you. I give it 3 stars.
Available via http://www.snookton.com. Pic & Synopsis belong only to the Author & Publisher.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Health, Parkinson's Disease

When Your Diagnosis Becomes Real

Receiving a diagnosis for a disease is a whole lot different from having a doctor tell you that you have strep throat or a sinus infection. With those, an antibiotic has you feeling better within a few day. No, a diagnosis leaves you with that feeling in your stomach (like you just ate too many pancakes). Your mind whirls and you feel flushed. Then, the gears of your brain start immediately switching to combat mode. How can I get out of this? What do I do?

While every diagnosis is uncomfortable, the worst, to me, is receiving a diagnosis of a disease that A.) has no cure and B.) is progressive. For awhile now, I have lived with the knowledge, albeit in the back of my head, that I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Because my visible tremors aren’t that bad, I often forgot I was dealing with it at all.

Most days, when pesky symptoms popped up, I blew it off as something entirely unrelated. That all ended yesterday. For the last 2 weeks, I have gotten very little sleep. On average, I’ve been getting 2 to 2-1/2 hours nightly. I sucked it up and plowed through. I pushed myself daily, refusing to nap or even sit. Instead of sleeping, I was constructive, doing things that wouldn’t wake the family or reading up to 3 books a night. The reason for my restless nights was easily explained, I thought. Each night, an hour after I fell asleep, I was awaken by full body, muscle spasms that not only constricted my body, but hurt beyond belief. One night, I even begged God to either manifest a healing in me or take me home. Home as in Heaven. I couldn’t take the pain. I’m not even embarrassed to admit it!

Buster was my rock through it all. When I broke down crying, he must have thought some ‘thing’ was hurting me. He ran literal circles around my body as I lay on the floor. Growling and barking at invisible force that was hurting his mommy, he, too, spent the last couple weeks without sleep. I so love him. But, this isn’t something Buster can chase away. No, it was time to admit that I needed serious help.

I should add that my doctor ordered a battery of tests back in January. I have found every reasonable excuse to not get the tests done. Then, I began to rationalize that some magical blood test held the cypher to my pain. Of course, they didn’t. But, on Thursday of this past week, I got the tests done. Having a lab in her office building allows my doc to get results fast- usually the same day. But, again, I procrastinated until yesterday. I called and was told that yes, she had the results and I needed to speak to her.

Initially, all was good. She called right away. My A1C has dropped to a non-diabetic level. Sweet! My cholesterol was great. Awesome! Then, she asked as she always does, how I felt. I took a deep breath and told her the whole ugly truth. Being that she has a heart of gold, she didn’t say ‘I told you so’ or ‘Duh’ or any thing even close. She simply said, ‘Are you ready for some help?’. Yes, yes I am.

She knew right away that everything I am feeling is PD-related. So, we had to take a step I hadn’t been ready for at this point. I am going to start taking meds specifically for my disease. Am I happy about it? No, no I’m not. Am I scared? Yes, yes I am. Mostly because I know that once you begin a dopamine regime, you’re stuck with it. There’s no turning back. No second thoughts. My body doesn’t do it’s job in the dopamine arena. So, now, it’s official and real to me.

I had to tell my husband, who didn’t take it well. I know he’s worried about the future. So am I. But, the sun still rose this morning. God is still on the throne. He can still manifest a miraculous healing in me. Even if I have to wait for complete healing until He calls me home, I’m holding on to that promise. I will have my weepy days and my pity parties. But, I will take one day at a time.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Spotlight: Brave Beauty: Lynn Cowell


SYNOPSIS: What will my life be like? Who will I be? Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You. For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to. Lynn will also prepare girls to:
Overcome confidence-defeating thoughts and stand on who Jesus says she is.
Shape her self-worth on Christ and overcome the temptation base it on environmental factors.
Build a strong foundation to face the fickle and flippant opinions of others.
Find approval of herself even when she lacks the acceptance of others.
Find security by turning to Christ as she steps through the exciting, yet scary world of growing up
Formatted as theme-based mini chapters, these moments can be read as one-a-days, one-a-weeks, or at the reader’s own pace. Simple and empowering, Lynn’s voice is relatable and conversational, making it easy for girls to feel like they’re spending time with a friend. This inspirational read will be set as a gorgeously decorated hardcover, with beautifully formatted pages in line with the well-known and loved Faithgirlz look, and with an easy-reference index to look up any topic.
MY THOUGHTS: In today’s world, girls are under pressure like never before. In an age group where girls struggle to learn who they are, they’re often bombarded with what others think they should be. While we as parents try to build them up, peers and media often provide them with a louder voice of cynicism. ‘Brave Beauty’ is a timely, and incredibly relatable book.

Parents of tweens know that they hate to be preached to or talked ‘at’. Lynn’s tone in the book is one of understanding without condescension. She’s captured the fine art of getting through to tweens while still be a nurturing, affective role model. While we surely do our best as parents to build self-confidence, it is a fragile thing easily broken. ‘Brave Beauty’ offers real world inspiration and encouragement to remain steadfast in an uncertain time in their lives.

I have 3 sons and no daughters, but, many of the reflections in the book easily apply to both boys and girls. Along with their faith in Christ, the one gift you should give your children is a feeling that they’re loved. Show them they support their self-esteem by gifting them a copy of ‘Brave Beauty’. I will become a book that’s re-read over and over again. I give it a full 5 stars.

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.