Saturday, December 15, 2007

Baby Jamz!

My son loves anything with a melody or a rhythm. Cars with stereo blaring, mommy humming around the house, even the steady drumming of the washing machine or the pepper grinder - they all start him dancing. So when I heard of Baby Jamz I knew he would love it.

Created by Beyonce's father and sister, this new toy line includes a CD of favorite nursery rhymes "with a new hip-hop adaptation" as well as a Baby Jamz cell phone, dance mat, key chain, boom box shape sorter, and mix master chair.

My husband and best friend love hip-hop. My music tastes fit better with candle light than with flashing lights, but even I admit this is fun. My son enjoys "dancing" on the dancemat and hearing the fun sounds he can add to the songs (and I love that there's an "off" button when I'm ready for some quiet!). The CD of lullabies-turned-hip-hop is creative and fun, and great to dance to with your kids.

I think this line from Hush Little Baby sums it all up "and if that mockingbird don't sing, Papa's gonna buy you some new bling-bling."

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Vaccine Book

As soon as I read this book my first thought was: Where was this 16 months ago!

While I was pregnant I researched many things about parenthood, and vaccines topped the list. But try as I might, I was not able to find any information that I felt was helpful. There were definietly two sides to the issue, but they offered data in direct opposition to each other while each claiming that following their advice over the "propaganda" of the other side was a matter of life or death. This was insane, and utterly unhelpful.

So I turned next to friends, but found essentially more of the same. Some were strongly on one side, and others were strongly on the other. Many felt like throwing their hands up as I did.

Next, I turned to my Doctors and Chiropractor, all of whom I respected. They walked me through some of the pros and cons, and told me what they had done for their own children.

But in all of this, I never felt that I was being given well researched data. Opinions, repeated opinions, and some helpful perspective, but not what I'd been hoping for. We made the decisions we made, and I'm happy with them. But I was thrilled to now have Dr. Sear's The Vaccine Book.

Sears bends over backwards to not give parents yet another guilt trip and list of "shoulds." Instead, he speaks openly to both parents and doctors, acknowledging the limitations in all our educations regarding this issue. For each vaccine he gives a description of the disease, the risks of the disease before and after vaccination became standard, the ingredients and production method of the vaccine for each manufacture, any controversy regarding the ingredients, production methods, or side effects, as well as detailed information about the risks of each. Sears does not come down on either side of the vaccine debate, but does wrap each chapter up with a helpful summary, and documents his research thoroughly.

As I read, I did not feel that I was being pushed one way or the other, simply being given access to the data I've been wanting all along. With this information in hand, my options have increased. I now know specifically which vaccines I think are important, and why, and which brand I would prefer, and when I would like to get them for my child.

If you have a child still in the vaccination stages, I highly recommend at least a perusal of this book, if not making it part of your parental reference library. I wish I'd had it 16 months ago, but I'm grateful to have it now.

There's a whole book club discussion going on here if you'd like to know more about what others think of the book. Also, the Chicago Moms Blog and our sister sites had a fascinating discussion about breastfeeding yesterday; I posted my own story among others - come check it out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More contests to enter!

So a Blonde Walks Into a Review is hosting a fun holiday contest where you can win an autographed copy of Merry Christmas, America! Megawatt Displays Across the USA by Bruce Littlefield along with a vintage, Christmas treasure!

Deadline to enter is December 19, so click on over and enter quick!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Its almost Advent!

Its almost Advent! So come try to win the Children's Christmas book my best friend is giving away on her blog.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Here comes Santa Claus...

Feel like decorating already? Here's an interesting giveaway...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What about BOB?

Check out this very cool giveaway on Chicago Moms Blog. If you've got kids, and television/internet - this is for you!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

You won!

Congratulations are in order for Joanna (no blog listed) and Angela, who are the winners of a copy of The Other Mother. Congrats, and happy reading, ladies!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Other Mother - Review, Book Club, and Giveaway!

Gwendolen Gross' novel The Other Mother, in my opinion, does an excellent job of describing what it means to be a mother, and the bizarre "Mommy Wars" we inexplicably wind up in. The story is narrated by two moms - Amanda, a brand new mommy about to head back to her corporate office, and Thea, a stay at home mom of three. The two women happen to be neighbors, and while their common journey through the throws of motherhood bring them together, their different career choices hold them at a distance. And it doesn't get any easier when Thea ends up acting as a nanny for Amanda.

I always feel stuck in the Mommy Wars. I stay home with my baby, but I do have two jobs which I do part time, mostly from home. While in some ways I know I have the best of both worlds, it often works out to be the worst of both worlds, and judgment from both sides to boot. I've also been a nanny and I know what it means to be the person caring for the lives of another mother's child.

These issues are so complicated, not as cut and dry as they appear to be when looking from only one perspective. Having at least a foot in the Stay Home World, the Career World, and the Nanny World, I believe that Gwendolen Gross has nailed all sides of this issue. Her perspective is nuanced and insightful, right on.

Over at ChicagoMoms, we're doing a book club featuring The Other Mother this week. And right here at Opinionated I've giving away not one but two copies! So, enter to win by leaving me a comment anytime between Monday, October 29th and Friday, November 2rd. I'll choose two lucky winners at random and announce on Saturday, November 3rd.

This Giveaway is also in conjunction with Fall Y'all Giveaways, so once you've left me a comment, surfed over to for the book club, don't forget to check out the other giveaways going on! (And if you don't win one, stop by Amazon to buy your own copy!)

Oh, and stop by everyday life as lyric poetry for my main blog and my other giveaway...and click here, where my best friend is giving away a ring sling baby carrier!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, October 19, 2007

The latest from Barefoot Books

The perfect choice for storytime, bedtime or anytime!
Receive a FREE copy of Storytime with any purchase of $30 or more until October 31st!**

Following the success of The Story Tree and in response to our customers' demand for a comprehensive preschool collection, this anthology brings together a cast of characters that kids and adults will love - from the Gingerbread Man to The Ugly Duckling and The Three Little Pigs. While it is tailored for two- and three-year-olds, this collection will entertain everyone with its dynamic storytelling and vivid illustrations.

**It will be automatically added to your order when it is shipped from the warehouse. It will not appear in your basket when you check out.

Thank you!

At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, inspiring them to read deeper, search further, and explore their own creative gifts. Taking our inspiration from many different cultures, we focus on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning, and sharing of the world's diversity. Interactive, playful and beautiful, our products combine the best of the present with the best of the past to educate our children as the caretakers of tomorrow.

October 2007 Specials

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And the winner is...

...BreeniBooks! But the rest of you should still read this if you get the chance...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Broken: My story of Addiction and Redemption

When I received William Cope Moyers' book BROKEN: My story of Addiction and Redemption I picked it up before bed to read a few pages. My intention was to read the first chapter and be asleep early. 150 pages later when I first set down the book, it was after midnight and I was entirely hooked.

William Cope Moyers - the son of the famous Bill Moyers - tells a vulnerable tale of his brokenness, his lifelong addiction to cocaine, and the long hard road to redemption. I dare you to make it to bed on time once you've begun!

I'm giving away a copy, so if you'd like to enter leave a comment by midnight on Wednesday, October 17th. One lucky, soon to be sleep-deprived winner will be chosen at random and announced on Thursday. Don't forget to leave your email address or website so I can find you if you're the winner, and a link back to this post would be nice too!

To peak your interest, read the excerpt reprinted below:

The following is an excerpt from the book Broken
by William Cope Moyers with Katherine Ketcham

Published by Penguin Books; August 2007;$15.00US/$18.50CAN; 978-0-14-311245-7
Copyright © 2006 William Cope Moyers and Katherine Ketcham


October 1994

There was a sharp rap on the door, followed by a muffled but unmistakable command from a voice outside in the hallway.

"We want the white guy, just the white guy. We know he's in there. He comes out now and there's no trouble for anyone later."

I was the "white guy." I knew in that instant that my family's desperate search to track me down had ended at this decayed two-story apartment in a violent pocket of Atlanta's inner city. Terrified, I rushed around the room, trying to warn the other crack heads to sit still and keep quiet.

"Don't panic," I whispered. "They'll go away." But nobody was listening because everybody was as high and as scared as I was. We bumped into one another as we tried to find a way out, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. We were like wild animals trapped by a wind-whipped forest fire.

Who was out there banging on the door? Was it my father? My mother? My wife? My mind flashed back to the morning four days earlier when I left my house in suburban Atlanta. I remembered kissing four-month-old Thomas and two-year-old Henry good-bye. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I told Allison I needed to run some errands before dinner. I drove to the parking lot on the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon, approached a drug dealer with a thick scar running from his left ear to the corner of his mouth, and paid him one hundred dollars for six marble-sized rocks of crack cocaine. I held them in my hand and thought, "These will keep me going for a day or two." They were gone in four hours.

The knocking became a relentless pounding that shook the door frame. I thought about escaping out the back porch door to the vacant lot and just running, running, running. But where could I go? They would find me, just like they had in Harlem and St. Paul. I'd been running for five years. Now I had run out of options.

I sat down at the old wood table in the kitchen, the place where the deals were made, the pipe was fired up, and the crack was consumed. I couldn't run anymore -- my legs felt weak and shaky. I couldn't hide -- there was no place left. I couldn't think, but I could still react, and with the instincts of the addict I did the only thing that was left to do. I reached into my sock and pulled out the cellophane cigarette wrapper with the rocks carefully stored inside like precious stones. My hands were shaking and I noticed for the first time that the tips of my fingers were scorched and blistered from lighter burns. I loaded the pipe, flicked the lighter, and inhaled deeply.

The sizzle of the crack and the euphoric rush exploding inside my head were suddenly all that mattered to me. The banging on the door was like thunder on the horizon. I heard the warning, but I didn't feel threatened anymore because I was back in my element, that faraway place where nothing on this earth could touch me. The rush hijacked my brain, and the knocking, scurrying, and fear disappeared. The memories of wife and children were gone. I was gone.

I tried to grab on and hold tight to the high, and for a few moments time stood still. I was a Roman candle on the Fourth of July, bright colors and showers of sparks. This, I thought, is what it's all about -- stopping time, going higher and higher, explosions of light and heat, one after another after another. The rapture filled me for a minute or two, and then it began to fade, the sparks died down, the flame became a dying star far, far away.

I folded my arms over my chest, longing for comfort, for peace. I was so sick. So sick and tired of it all. In that moment I realized the hopelessness of my situation, and in a sudden, brief flash of clarity, I asked myself: Now what? I stared at the filthy wood floor littered with half-empty beer cans, cigarette butts, and used syringes. The answer wasn't here in this room anymore. It was all over. I was done.

I stood up and made my way past BJ, the Old Man, and the other addicts with whom I was living and slowly dying for the last four days. My steps were deliberate but out of my control as I walked into the hallway and out the front door, flanked by the two armed off-duty policemen who were part of the intervention team hired to get me out of the crack house and back into treatment.

A hard, steady rain was falling as we approached the gray van parked on the curb. The sliding door opened, and I collapsed into the backseat.

My father was sitting in the front passenger seat. Turning around to look at me, he saw a thirty-five-year-old crack addict who hadn't shaved, showered, or eaten in four days. A man who walked out on his wife and two young children and ditched his promising career at CNN. A broken shell of a man, a pale shadow of the human being he had raised to be honest, loving, responsible. His firstborn son.


"You're angry," I said. I didn't know what else to say.

"That's hardly the word for it." His voice was harsh and cold, like the rain outside.

More silence.

"There's nothing more I can do," he said. "I'm finished."

All these years later, he tells me that's where the conversation ended. But whether I imagined it or not, I heard him say something else.

"I hate you."

And I remember looking in his eyes and speaking my deepest truth.

"I hate me, too."

Copyright © 2006 William Cope Moyers and Katherine Ketcham

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And the winner is...

...Jodee, you're the lucky lady!

Monday, October 1, 2007

More good news about Barefoot Books

As if I weren't already excited about Barefoot books, I've recently gotten to know a local seller right here in Chicago! To contact her about stocking your child's bookshelves, click here.

Now, scroll down to read more and enter to win!

*Giveaway!* Barefoot Books: Celebrating Art and Story

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I love to read. It won't take much for you to guess that I already love instilling this same enjoyment into my son. And if you've been paying any attention to the kinds of books I enjoy, it will come as no surprise to you that I'm head over heels in love with Barefoot Books.

Their website says it perfectly: Taking our imagination from many different cultures, we focus on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning, and sharing of the world's diversity. I couldn't have said it better myself.

I wish I had a whole bookshelf full of barefoot books. And maybe someday I will. But right now I have two and, in the spirit of Mama Panya's Pancakes I'm excited to share one with you.

Here's what to do: To win a copy of Elephant Dance: A Journey to India written by Theresa Heine, illustrated by Sheila Moxley, and published by Barefoot Books, sign in using Mr. Linky below, and link back here on your blog between Monday, October 1st and Wednesday, October 3rd. Once the contest ends, I'll choose one winner at random. If you don't have a blog, just sign Mr. Linky. Be sure that I can contact you via email or your blog!

Then, tell all your friends to visit this contest, and start reading Barefoot Books I know I will be. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Name your tune!

When I was a kid, I loved to have things with my name on them. Pencils or bookmarks or wall hangings - I couldn't get enough. My favorite was a set of books my cousin bought me for a birthday present - the publisher had come up with a great idea - tell a story, and insert the name of the individual kid into the story. The main character in my copies shared my name, my town, my age. I loved them, and I've kept them to this day!

While I didn't have an unusual name, most Catherine's went by Cathy, or spelled their name with a "K." It was the rare item that was marketed to "Catherine." So when it came time to name my son, I kept this in mind. Ironically, the name we settled on is much less common than mine was.

Which is why I'm so excited about Name Your Tune. Now, you don't have to rely on what's popular - you can have items custom made with your child's name. You can purchase a CD full of favorite children's songs, specifically with your child's name inserted! Instead of McDonald having a farm, its your child. There are fourteen fun songs on my cd, and the best part is seeing my son raise his head curiously when he hears his name being called out from the speakers.

If you'd like to buy one yourself, or get more information, here's where to go!

Name Your Tune

NAME YOUR TUNE The Personalized CD for Children is an iParenting Media Award Winner for Outstanding Product 2006!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

i heart my in-laws

i (heart) my in-laws: falling in love with his family - one passive-aggressive, over-indulgent, grandkid-craving, streisand-loving, bible-thumping in-law at a time. By Dina Koutas Poch

The cover of this book promises "a practical, laugh-out-loud guide to adopting your man's family" and I couldn't think of a better description.

Laugh out loud? Definitely. I lost count of how many times my husband said "what's so funny?" or how many times I said "OK, I just have to read this to you!" Practical? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, if I'm really struggling to forge a relationship with my in-laws, I probably already know not to dye my hair purple and wear a short, tight skirt to the first meeting. And if I'm wondering how to broach the topic of a pre-nup, this is not exactly the information source I'll turn to.

But "his family" really is something we all need to learn to adjust to, learn to love, learn to understand, learn to make yourself understood. And it can be a complicated and intimidating process. Poch discusses real troubles and real fears and real disappointments in such a light-hearted and disarming way that you feel safe to evaluate what you need, what you hope for, what you've lost out on, and what mistakes you may have made. And you realize once and for all that you're not alone.

Its a quick and easy read, not a lot of deep wisdom or new ideas, but you'll feel encouraged to keep learning and loving your in-laws.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


A ring sling is something I recommend to absolutly every parent, without exception. This one piece of baby-gear has been a life saver to me again and again. When my baby was a newborn, this was a place he could sleep, or just hang out, close to my heart and curled up tight and close to me. During a stage of colic that he experienced, it was the only place and time that he would not cry. Whether he was awake or asleep, he was cared for, we were close, and I still had my hands free to do other things.

Now that he's older, we use it differently. It helps to carry him long distances when my arms are tired, gives him a place to hang out when he can't be running around (like in church!), or a place to sleep if we don't make it home for naps.

At any age, I really can't imagine what having a baby would have been like without my sling.
My friend Farrah makes and sells slings like the one I have. She sells them near and far, so don't worry if you live far away. If you are pregnant, have a little one, or even a bigger one, or just know someone who does, click here for more information.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Media update


Life of Pi. by Yann Martel
This book was referred to me by my friend Mary, and it blew me out of the water (please scroll down for my disclaimer on referrals). In so many ways, this fictional narrative met my criteria and surpassed my expectation
s. Throughout the pages you find yourself swept away by a well told story, beautiful at times, difficult at times. Only within the final few pages do you realize that there was so much more going on. The punchline hit me like a...well, a punch, and it stayed with me for months. I laid in bed for weeks ruminating, and re-read the book before finding peace. This book was just what I needed, just when I needed it.

Eat, Pray, Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was also referred to me by Mary, and it did not let me down. This is the true story memoirs of a thirty-something woman who spends a year traveling in Italy, India, and Indonesia searching for pleasure, devotion, and balance. Her honest, witty, and insightful writing kept me glued to my seat. It also reminded me deeply of who I am, and why, encouraging me to be true to this and not to lose sight, ever. I savored every page of this book like a ripe nectarine on a cool summer day (can you feel it?). Again, just what I needed, just when I needed it.

So Much More: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality. by Debra Rienstra
This book I actually found on my own (although, only after my friend Ashley got me hooked on the author). Whil
e neither fiction nor narrative, this book served as the perfect completion to the trilogy of Life of Pi and Eat, Pray, Love. Debra, an English professor/author I've grown to love summarizes her faith and the impact it has on her beliefs and lifestyle in the tone of voice you would expect to hear from a friend. As a theology buff, I typically approach books like this with a gleefully critical eye; Debra, however, is winning me over with every point. It is both a casual, easy read and a deep and impacting explanation of Christian faith. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in, new to, or old-and-comfortable-with Christianity.


The shadow of your wings: Hymns and sacred songs. by Fernando Ortega
I've always been a Fernando fan, but he has really outdone himself on this one. It only took one listen through to fall in love with these songs. Grace and peace to you, from God our Father. Listen to it, if you can.


An Inconvenient Truth (Documentary)
Whether you are "into" documentaries or not, this is absolutely one you must see. It is well done, informative, never boring, compelling, factual, without manipulative techniques. Inconvenient, yes. But true. Watch this. Visit this website for more information.

One review I read stated that this movie is a "sensual and spiritual experience" and it is certainly that. There is no language or spoken word in this movie, yet you sit spellbound throughout and wish it would continue when it is over. Created in 1992, I managed to live 15 years without knowing of it; I am grateful to have found it at last. HBM writes of "puncture"; there is no better way to describe this movie, and puncture is what it is from start to finish. Breathtaking. Beautiful.