Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose
Forge Books; Hardcover;
July 2010; $10.49 on
Amazon or free at your
locat library! 
If you have ever loved a dog, you must read New York Times bestseller, A DOG'S PURPOSE by W. Bruce Cameron. Written from the point of view of a dog who continues to be reborn until he finds his true life's purpose, this novel is so amazingly touching and witty--I laughed and cried the whole novel through.

Really, how lucky are humans that such a pet exists, one who lives just to make us happy and hear "good dog" from our lips? I put down this book with a new appreciation for every past and present canine in my life--and I made a promise to treat those around today with more patience and understanding. (After all, like the dog in the book, they truly don't understand why we leave to go to that thing we call "work" and why the delicious smelling "garbage" is off limits!)

And, just in case you're wondering if a book written from the point of view of a dog is juvenile or annoying, I must answer with a vehement "NO!" There are so many beautiful passages in A DOG'S PURPOSE, from the peaceful way the dog accepts each death, to his yearning for one special owner who he remembers and misses even as he lives other lives. And the innocent way the canine protagonist talks about cats, that peculiar "wrestling game" male and female dogs play, and more will make you laugh out loud.

Read this gorgeous book--it is one of those rare ones you'll carry with you in your heart and talk to all of your friends about! There's a website for the book HERE if you'd like to learn more. (You'll see that there is a rave review from Temple Grandin!)

**Disclosure: I received this book from a colleague at publisher Forge Books. I worked at Forge years ago, but the opinions in this review are by no means swayed by that fact. You'll realize this once you read the book!**

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-in

I have been so terribly bad about eating healthy and getting back into shape after having Andrew, so I've decided to punish myself with "Wednesday Weigh-in" posts. Sorry if it seems that I'm punishing you all as well, my blogger friends!

I should have listened to my OB/GYN and only gained 30-35 lbs when I was pregnant with Andrew. 40 lbs actually came off like a breeze after birth and breastfeeding. But, now I'm stuck with the extra 10 I gained and I've only got my bad eating and exercising habits to blame. My husband and I have had way too many trips to fast food joints recently and my exercise schedule is...  well, its non-existent. I mean, I totally did buy Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred like 4 months ago, but never even put it in the dvd player!

So, this week has started with me tracking my calories on (try it out--it is free and there are message boards and friends ala Facebook) and ordering hand weights so that I can start the Shred tomorrow. Please send lots of luck, willpower, and continued 2-hr morning naps for Andrew my way!

Here are the starting stats so that I am accountable (and embarrassed):

Current Weight: 144.2
Mini Goal Weight: 135 - pre-pregnancy weight [9.2 lbs to go!]
Ultimate Goal Weight: 122 lbs - wedding weight [22.2 lbs to go!]

Oh how I loved my wedding weight! What a dream it would be to fit back into my size 6 Abercrombie and Fitch jeans which the snotty 16-year-old salesgirl didn't even think I'd fit into (I brought them to her at the checkout counter BEAMING.)

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Product Review: Friendly Toys Little Playzone with Sound and Lights

As promised, here's my review of the Friendly Toys Little Playzone with Sounds and Lights!

I ordered this bad boy from for $99.99 (with free shipping because I have Amazon Prime) and it was totally worth the money. Our apartment is taking a super long time to babyproof because my landlord's home is old and the renovations they did somewhat haphazard, so we need a safe place for Andrew to play while we continue cutting carpet strings, sealing up random holes in walls, installing window guards, etc. (Grrr.)

A pack 'n play is great and definitely serves it purpose for travel, but I wanted a bigger area for Andrew to be able to crawl around in at home and I wanted to be able to climb in with him so we could play together. The Playzone is all that and more for us. Without an extension pack (available for additional $) the Playzone creates 13 square feet of safe play space which is just about all our tiny apartment can handle. If you have the space, though, you can add square footage with the extensions or even purchase two or more full Playzones (it seems full sets are a better deal for the money.)

Pros: The plastic of the Playzone is sturdy, but not hard so that Andrew cries when he bangs his head on it. It has a built-in activity wall that he loves, with a colorful piano that plays 7 full songs, a mirror, a detachable phone, and more. It also has a locking gate which I don't use at the moment, but which will be handy to leave open when Andrew is older and the Playzone is more of a fort he can go in and out of than a playpen.

Cons: We have our Playzone on top of a foam mat for extra cushioning and the walls seem to slide around a bit when Andrew pulls up on them. The movement is not enough to make him fall, but I can imagine that he'll be able to move the playpen around a lot more when he is older. (The playzone didn't move as much when it was directly on the carpet, but we definitely needed the cushioning.)

Also, two of our walls doesn't connect as tightly as the others. I don't know if this is a design feature for easy disassembly, but it will definitely get interesting when Andrew figures out how to disassemble it himself! Granted, the product packaging warns to never leave a child unattended when in the Playzone...

The verdict: The pack n play is still the safest place to leave your baby when, say, making a much needed bathroom break, but the Playzone is a lifesaver for a mommy who needs to keep an active baby occupied when she needs to check her email and he just won't get his legs in the darn holes of the jumperoo! We have a lot of fun playing in it together, and I don't have to worry that he'll fall over and hit a corner of the wall (we have many odd angles) or knock into the coffee table. Also, I think being able to stand on a solid floor is doing wonders for his standing skills (he pulls up, walks around, and sometimes lets go to balance for a few seconds.)

To put it short: I'm a fan!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I am a bad, bad mommy blogger

Oh, my poor neglected blog friends! Has it really been almost a month since I posted last? Caring for my super mobile little guy, keeping up the house (er, tiny apartment), and doing my freelance gig has kept me busier than I thought it would! How do other stay/work-at-home moms and dads do it with such ease and grace? I take my proverbial hat off to you all!

I've definitely been popping over to your blogs from time to time to keep up, though, and I hope that you are all doing well. Andrew is getting bigger and stronger by the day and, as baby-proofing this disaster of an old apartment hasn't gone so well, I purchased a gussied-up playpen for him. Behold the Friendly Toys Little Playzone:

Friendly Toys Little Playzone with Sounds and LightsWe definitely like it and I'll post a full review later, but I just wanted to say that its great because I can get into the darn thing and play with him, unlike with a pack n' play (which is great in its own way, of course.)

Anyhow, I'm just so glad that fall is on its way because I think Andrew and I will be able to get out to play more now that it won't be so hot. I'm still liking my City Mini single stroller for the most part except my front wheel keeps getting stuck in the locked position making it impossible to turn! Arg--I'll be calling up Baby Jogger tomorrow to see if they can send me a replacement wheel. I'll keep you posted on that hullabaloo.

Ahhh.... its good to be back! :)