Expectant Mamas: Giveaway!

DSC_6373_WEB  I have never been a huge fan of e-books and e-readers, or at least the idea of them; I am such a book lover and the tactile experience of a real book is just priceless to me.

Now, I did take my husband’s first, old Kindle on some work trips and vacations, and the convenience of many books in one slim gadget is invaluable. But I maintained that use as an outlier, not the norm.

DSC_6414_WEBThat said….since the babies were born, I’ve been reading almost exclusively on a Kindle. (It’s a Kindle Fire handed down from my MIL.) An e-reader has turned out to be one of my favorite post-baby tools! There’s not much happening online during a 4am baby feeding, so you might as well get lost in a book for a few minutes.

DSC_6392_WEBThe convenience of reading one-handed, in the dark if need be, is amazing. The ability to shop online for a library or new book, click a few buttons, and have it appear on your device instantly…well, it’s downright magical! Lord knows you won’t be taking a leisurely stroll through a bookstore or library with a brand new baby–with an e-reader, the library is in your hands. Like I said, MAGICAL.

DSC_6396_WEBMy husband was gifted a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, so his older Kindle Touch is lonely and needs a new home. So guess what–we want to gift someone else the magic convenience of an e-reader. We’ll also include a booklight so you can read in the dark without disturbing baby or partner!

If you are expecting a baby, or have just had one (or more!) within the last month, please leave a comment below to enter. Leave your due date/baby’s birth date, and a book that’s on your list to read. Last day to enter is Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11.59pm PST.

Legal: You must be over 18 years old and a resident of the United States. Make sure that your email address is on/in your comment ID so I can contact you. The prize of this giveaway is a used Kindle Touch. This giveaway sweepstakes is NOT affiliated with or sponsored by Amazon.com or Kindle.

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Helpfully seasoned by Malcolm.

I will randomly select a winner using random.org on March 1, 2014. I will be sending the winner the Kindle and booklight, plus maybe a surprise. 🙂

UPDATE: And the winner is….Jenni! Congratulations! And congrats to everyone on their pregnancies, I can’t wait to see photos of all the new babies. 🙂

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Book Review and Giveaway!

I bought several pregnancy books (including What to Expect When You’re Expecting) so I could keep up with my babies in utero. To prepare for outside babies, I got several more books, each with a specific focus (twins; sleep; medical stuff; soothing techniques; developmental leaps). I wondered if there was some kind of all-encompassing book that would tell me everything in one place. However, I didn’t even attempt to find out if there were such a book, because it just seemed too overwhelming. And once they were born, I certainly didn’t have time or energy to pore over crowded shelves at a bookstore.

So when I was contacted recently by What To Expect and asked if I would be willing to do a review and/or giveaway of their book series, I was pretty psyched to learn that there IS an all-encompassing book! What to Expect the First Year talks about everything new parents want to and need to know about their new and growing babies.

The bulk of What to Expect the First Year is organized by month (the first month, the second month, etc), so it’s easy to pick up and find the information relevant to your current baby needs. Included in the month chapters are mini information sections about things you need to know and things that you might be concerned about. Within the Fifth Month chapter, for example, there’s a section on feeding. [That organization is actually my least favorite thing about these books (I noticed it in the pregnancy one too)–a lot of information is kind of scattered all around the book. I suppose I just need to remember to scan the Table of Contents in case there’s something of use in a different section than wherever I’m reading.]

The book is very even-keeled and non-judgmental, which is much appreciated. It rationally and objectively discusses both sides of hotbutton issues like formula vs breastfeeding, cloth vs disposable diapering, circumcision, and immunizations. It’s clear that this book is not a parenting philosophy book, it’s a book about helping you do your best with your baby. It’s also prone to silly extended metaphors.

There are some sections at the beginning that talk about foundations like baby gear, doctors, feeding, and babycare basics. If you’ve ever read *anything* about babies, you’ve likely already read plenty about some of those topics–but again, I definitely appreciate having everything in one place.

There are also several appendices: One is a collection of baby food recipes, which, as a non-cook, I definitely appreciate. Another is a list of childhood illnesses. It’s all too easy to wonder and worry and obsess and worry about baby health, so I will probably be skipping that section, personally. However, there’s also a collection of easy-to-understand ‘home remedies’ as well as a medicine dosage chart. Knock on wood, my babies haven’t been sick yet, but when it happens (and it surely will, over and over again), I will be glad to have a resource to refer to.

So far, I’ve read a few full chapters and skimmed other bits and pieces. The parts I read had information that I had probably already seen in various other places, but again, I like having everything all in one place and in print (as opposed to online, where it’s so easy to go down a rabbithole of links). And every source has slightly different information, so it’s still good to read ‘again.’

So overall, I think a book like What to Expect the First Year is a great addition to the new parent’s bookshelf, as a starting reference guide at the least. I’m sure I’ll be picking it up each month to scan for development expectations, milestones, and assorted tips.

Now on to the giveaway–my very first one! Exciting!

The books available are:

What to Expect Before You’re Expecting

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

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What to Expect the First Year

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To enter, leave a comment with the title you’d like to win (make sure you include your email when you ‘sign’ your comment, so I can contact you).  Open to residents of US and Canada.

The deadline is Friday, June 14, 2013 at 1159pm Pacific time. Two winners will be chosen at random.  I will update this post with the names of the winners by Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Winners are Rabi and Glogirl! Congratulations and thank you all for playing!!

For more, visit the What to Expect website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received the books for review, but was not compensated. All opinions are my own.

2012 Reading Roundup

I am a reading fiend. I love to read, and can often be found reading while doing other things, like walking, exercising, or waiting. I’ve been keeping a list of all the books I’ve read since 2002, and last year I read 112 books (tracked with the Goodreads challenge widget). This year I figured I wouldn’t want to push so hard, especially once I found out babies were on the way and that we would be moving, so I set a more reasonable goal of 80 books. I met that goal in the fall and am ending the year with 89 books. Not too shabby! 🙂

A few folks I know wrote up lists of their favorite or least favorite books read this year, and I was inspired to add a few books to my to-read list, as well as to summarize my own reading for the year. I am notorious (to myself) for being tough to please–I read so many books that my standards have gotten a lot higher. So bear in mind that I’m picky. 🙂

Fiction that I liked a lot (I read mostly Young Adult fiction this year [again]), with haiku summaries:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefveter

Horses from the sea

Island boy and girl ride, ride

Ocean gives and takes

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart —

Boys will be boys, but

What about the girls? Sidelined?

This one is sneaky! 

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock —

Shy farm girl athlete

Works hard, questions what she wants.

There’s a cute boy too

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta —

Boarding school, boys rule.

Girl feels lost, struggles.

Unlikely friendships can help.

Non-fiction that I really enjoyed, with prose reviews:

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton —

Partway through the book, I actually got a pencil and started underlining sentences and phrases. I loved this book. This book is a perfect kindred spirit for me. I love to travel, and I love to learn things, and this book completely satisfied those yearnings without ever leaving home.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot —

You’ve no doubt heard of this book if you haven’t actually read it already. It’s a fantastic read about science, but also about history, ethics, and people.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

As soon as I read about this book, I knew I wanted to read it and that I would love it. It didn’t disappoint. A story of travel, solo adventure at that, plus overcoming obstacles/adversity? I’m so there.

I’m giving myself a very conservative goal of reading 40 books for 2013. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to even do that with two babies, but I seriously can’t imagine going an entire year without reading much. This will no doubt be a very busy year, but I hope I can carve out some reading time for my own peace of mind.