Archive for June, 2008

Novel Review: The Next Thing on My List

Title: The Next Thing on My List

Author: Jill Smolinski

Summary ( From Publisher’s Weekly):
Smolinski follows up her debut, Flip-Flopped, with an airy, hit and mostly miss novel about one rudderless woman’s accidental journey of self-discovery. After a Weight Watchers meeting, narrator June Parker offers a ride home to newly svelte Marissa Jones, and the two hit it off until Marissa dies in a nasty one-car accident. When June runs into Marissa’s hot brother at the cemetery six months after the crash, she makes a rash promise to carry out the dead girl’s list of 20 things to do before she turned 25 (even though June is 34). The challenges that follow—running a 5K, kissing a stranger, “dare to go braless”—serve less to improve June’s life than to highlight how unfortunate it is that she’s taken up a stranger’s goals instead of her own. Smolinski’s Los Angeles is a well-executed set—June tilts at windmills as a writer for a ride-sharing nonprofit—but the most human characters in it are June’s tyrannical and calculating boss and her secretly sensitive, underused brother. Though completing the list is a transformative experience for June, the leadup fizzles. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Postive Elements: Ms. Smolinski pens a story that all of us can relate to. We have all at some point wanted to accomplish something important. The characters are ordinary people who live their lives just like the reader(s) that the author is targeting. I enjoyed the flow of this story and thought that it “read” very quickly. I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Sexual Content: There is a teen pregnancy in the story.

June has to complete a task on the list that involves “kissing a total stranger.” There are also several sexual references made to her not having had sex for a long time due not having a boyfriend. Finally, she openly lusts after a man to whom she is attracted.

Violent Content: None

Profanity: I recall a few instances of profanity in this story. They easily could have been left out.

Drug Content: None

Conclusion: This novel is a great summer read. I enjoyed the theme of the story, as well as the characters. I only wish the ending was a little different. This story got me thinking about things. Should I have a list of things that I want to accomplish before I meet God? I decided the answer was no. I was just going to do better about living my life day to day. Taking care of and loving things that are important — family.

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God is Awesome!

Our church held our annual Vacation Bible School this week. The theme reinforced throughout the week was “God is Awesome.” What powerful words are contained in that three word sentence. Is it even possible for us to understand and fathom the awesomeness of our Creator? I had a glimpse of the awesome work of God this week.

My family faced a battle this week. Without going in to a lot of details, part of our fight occurred in the public forum. It was truly and Joshua vs Jericho battle. We, along with many friends and family prayed that God would be glorified and His good and perfect will be done in this situation. God intervened for us and gave us success in our battle. The fight continues though, and even if the end does not result in a positive outcome for us, I will continue praise and thank God for the amazing way He has shown himself to me this week. God is Awesome!!

If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither angels or demons, neither heights or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31b, 35, 37-39

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Organic Strawberries

It’s strawberry season! We all love strawberries in my house which is why we recently set out to a local farm to pick our own. They were good — much better than the “woody” store bought ones. Then we ran out. The grocery store had organic strawberries on sale, so I grabbed them. (Strawberries are one of the dirty dozen, you know.) Oh my! The flavor was better than the hand picked ones from our local farm. Wow! They were gone in a day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Buying organic isn’t just to avoid pesticides and save the environment. Organic produce often tastes better. Well-balanced organic soil grows stronger, healthier plants that taste better and contain more nutrients. At any rate, this isn’t the first time organic has tasted better than conventional produce, but I was quite frankly shocked that the organic ones were better than our local farm’s strawberries, which were eaten right from the plant, rather than a few days later. So, if organic strawberries are on sale at your local supermarket, give ’em a try. Or maybe you shouldn’t — you’ll be hooked for life!

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Breakfast of Champions — Feeding My Toddler

I love to cook and come up with new recipes, especially in order to make them healthier while still maintaining taste. Cooking for my son is no exception! Because experts recommend that babies eat iron fortified cereal starting around 6 months (source) and because only 4 T. of it gives them 45% of their daily iron intake, I have felt pretty good about spending the money on those expensive little boxes of Earth’s Best Oatmeal for my son. Now that’s he’s 18 months old and he doesn’t need the consistency of the baby cereal, not to mention that he’s now eating almost everything, I make him a homemade oatmeal concoction that even Grammy loves. I still use ingredients with iron in them, but not the same amount, of course. (He likes peas and spinach and other sources of iron, so I’m not concerned about his iron intake.). And I must say, my oatmeal goodness is much cheaper than those little yellow boxes! Here it is if you’d like to try it out.

Oatmeal Goodness

1/4 c. cooked oats groats (I get it at our local co-op; contain small amt. of iron)

1/2 mashed banana

1/4 c. plain, whole milk yogurt (I use Stoneyfield Farms)

1 T. flaxseed meal

2 T. wheat germ (= 0.5 mg of iron)

1 T. cinnamon

organic whole milk to desired consistency (I use Horizon Organic Ultra-Pasteurized)

Combine and heat for 30 seconds. Serve warm.

Notes:

* I cook my oats groats once a week. I use 1 c. dry oats groats to 4 c. water. Simmer on the stove for 45 minutes or until water is soaked up (just like you cook rice).

* If our bananas go bad before I can use them, I peel and halve them and freeze. They defrost easily in the microwave. That way I always have bananas nearby to use in our Oatmeal Goodness.

* I store the flaxseed meal in the freezer and the wheat germ in the fridge.

* Buy the Ultra-Pasteurized whole milk because it lasts much longer. Well, that is, unless you like drinking whole milk, too. Ew!

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Boosting Breastmilk Supply

Over the course of a nursing career, there may be times when you recognize that your milk supply is not what it was or what you desire. This can be caused by illness, hormonal changes, stress, supplementing with formula, using artificial nipples, or changes in a child’s routine. Fortunately, the milk-making process in our bodies is flexible and adapatable. There are several ways to increase one’s milk supply but you must remember that it is not an instant process. It often takes as long to increase a supply as it does to decrease one.

  • NURSE, NURSE, NURSE: The very best method for increasing supply is to nurse more often and until baby has completely emptied the breast. If you are certain that your baby is nursing effectively and has a good latch and suck, simply offer the breast more often; switching from approximately every 3 hours to approximately every 2 1/2 hours, for example. Unlimited access to the breast for baby would be the ideal situation. Additionally, always offer both breasts at each feeding. If you remove more milk, your body will produce more milk. Milk production is an almost purely a supply=demand=supply=demand situation and by extracting more milk, your body is triggered to make more milk.
  • INCREASE INTAKE: You can try increasing the amount of milk that baby is taking in while at the breast through switch nursing and breast compression. To use switch nursing, watch baby closely as they eat. The moment they fall asleep, lose interest, or switch to “comfort” sucking, switch sides. A new let-down and fast ejection of the milk will renew their attention and increase the amount of milk they are taking in. Use both breasts at least twice during a nursing session to assure that baby is getting adequate hind milk. The additional fast sucking stimulation will trigger an increase. You can also use breast compression to boost the amount of milk being taken in. This involves stimulating a milk ejection by squeezing the breast after baby has stopped sucking on their own. Dr. Jack Newman, a leading expert on breastfeeding, has a “Protocol to Increase Breastmilk Intake in Babies” which is posted on KellyMom.
  • UP YOUR PROTEIN: Milk production needs water, fat and protein. Making sure to keep your water intake up combined with our bodies FABULOUS ability take the fat from itself if its not readily available (yee-haw!), protein may be the thing that’s lacking. Grab a big spoonful of peanut butter or cottage cheese, fish, eggs, etc.
  • TRY A GALACTAGOGUE: A galactagogue is a substance that increases milk supply. These should be tried only in combination with the other methods listed. Think and research before trying one. The average nursing mother shouldn’t need a galatagogue to maintain an effective supply. If you chose to use one, there are many out there: both ones that have a proven effect and other’s that are “old wives tales”. They effect production in different ways so you might need to try a few before you find one that works for you. KellyMom is a wonderful resource for dosage and side effect information. The two most common galactagogues are fenugreek, and oatmeal.

Ideally, you’ll never have a supply issue. But if you do, first NURSE, NURSE, NURSE and then try some of these other effective methods.


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