Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Product Review: Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap

Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap
Product Sizes: Preemie, Small, Large; Recommended for 0-3 Months
Products / Baby / Swaddling

Edition Reviewed: Standard Small Blue Fleece SwaddleMe - Review product was purchased by me.
*Photos are taken from the Amazon website



Perfect for : Use with new baby, Gift, Baby Shower


My Thoughts: I have experienced nothing but great things with the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap. I had originally purchased two with the birth of our first son, but didn't really use them for very long because I held him so much, and he wasn't very fussy.

This time around, our baby seems to be much more particular about being swaddled while sleeping... And even while he is awake!

After a few days of doing the more traditional swaddling with a receiving blanket, I remembered washing the small SwaddleMe wrap, so I went and pulled it out of the drawer and was able to quickly and easily swaddle my fussy little guy. He settled down pretty quickly after that and I've learned to keep them clean and handy!

The Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wraps are so easy to use! I simply place baby Brandon on the wrap, tuck his little legs into the leg pouch, gently pull the left side of the wrap over his chest while positioning his arms (I've found that he likes his arms folded on his chest, not by his sides), then gently pull the right side of the wrap on top and attach the Velcro so that the wrap is snug. It takes just a few seconds!

Additionally, I love that I don't need to undo the entire wrap to change baby's diaper. I just need to un-Velcro the leg pouch, leaving his chest and arms snugly swaddled. Change his diaper, then re-attach the leg pouch with the Velcro - again, just a few seconds not counting changing his actual diaper.

Another great feature is the little slit in the back of the wrap. It is designed to allow parents to use the wrap for swaddling while the baby is in his/her car seat, swing, bouncy seat, stroller, etc. Because of the slit, you can put the bottom of a seat/swing harness through it, then put the rest around the baby's waist, which is accessible between the leg pouch and the top of the wrap. Just adjust the Velcro after the baby is positioned and locked into the seat.

Now let me mention safety. Having had a preemie, I was worried about SIDS, and understand that babies can get tangled in their own blankets and smother, so I loved using this as it stopped him from accidentally pulling the blanket over his face. You can read more about this at the Kiddopotamus site here.

Things I Love About the SwaddleMe:
*Ease of use
*Quick to use
*Soft material
*Stands up to use by multiple children and lots of washing
*Don't have to completely unwrap baby to change diapers
*Has had a very calming affect when our baby is fussy
*May reduce risk of SIDS

Challenges With The Wrap:
*I'm finding it hard to find the larger size! I'll be desperate for a bigger one soon, so may need to order it online (no problems finding it there)
*Occasionally baby's legs break free from the bottom half of the wrap, but this hasn't happened often

About the Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap: (From Amazon)
From the Manufacturer
Wrap your baby in the comfort of the swaddleme and rest assured she will sleep safe, sound and secure. As the original fitted swaddling blanket, the renowned swaddleme soothes infants and reduces symptoms of colic by recreating the familiar, soothing snugness of the womb. It also reduces the incidence of the startle reflex, allowing babies to sleep for longer periods of time.

Product Description
Pediatricians recommend swaddling to comfort and soothe newborns, but loose blankets are difficult to keep snug. SwaddleMe wings have Velcrotabs, to wrap up your newborn and stay comfortably in place. As baby grows, wings readjust for a perfect fit. SwaddleMe wings are easily opened to prevent overheating, and the leg pouch can be popped down for a quick diaper checking or changing. SwaddleMe can also be used in the car seat, simply insert car seat harnesses through the access slits!

Product Features

*Soft fabric wings hug baby close for a secure, comfortable swaddle
*Self-fastening tabs adjust for a custom fit as baby grows
*The foot pocket pops down for easy diaper checks and changes, with no need to unswaddle your baby
*Our unique harness access slit allows the swaddleme to be used in swings, car seats and strollers so your baby can always have the comfort and warmth of the swaddleme
*Birth to 3 months

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Becoming Beauty by Dimitri James


Becoming Beauty: Professional beauty expert and creator of SKINN Cosmetics, Dimitri James, reveals secret tips, tricks and tools to unveil your astonishing beauty!
by Dimitri James

SSpreSS, a division of A Studio Z ~ 110 pages
Non-Fiction / Beauty

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of SKINN Cosmetics and Lisa Cocuzza PR / It's a Glam Thing ~ Many thanks to both for sending me a review copy!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift for teenager interested in makeup and beauty, Gift for anyone interested in beauty tips

My Thoughts: I'll start by saying that I've spent hours looking online for home-remedy type recipes for beauty issues such as smoother skin on my feet and elbows, teeth whitening the natural way, a spa-type soaking bath recipe, etc. Imagine my surprise when I opened this book and began to read, expecting another beauty book that uses large colorful pictures, and instead I found an absolute wealth of information for ALL areas of beauty, including the above mentioned beauty issues. To clarify, this is not a book packed with color pictures, in fact, the only full-color picture is on the cover, instead Dimitri James has shared a wealth of information covering all areas of beauty, and including everything from easy and affordable home remedies to products from his SKINN Cosmetics line.

I'm thrilled to be able to tell you that this book contains so many great tips and recipes for saving money in so many different areas of beauty,

When I first received this book I was SO excited, and I began to flip through the book expecting wonderful color pictures with plenty of help in applying makeup and some fun beauty tips. Let me warn you that while this is a beauty book, it does not contain color pictures, but rather loads of information and helpful tips that are sure to help you with many beauty issues and topics.

Content: Four main sections (Skinn is In! 1-2, Put Your Best Face (and Hair) Forward 3-8, Perfect Your Look9-11, and Total Beauty12-14) include the following chapters: Your Skinn Beauty Ritual, Beauty Recipes My Grandmothers Would Love, Hair, Eyebrows, Eyes, Contouring Cheeks and Face, Lips, Foundation, Attention to Details, Your Signature Style, Beauty for that Special Day, Diet, Exercise and Health, If you Must, Cosmetic Surgery, Absolute Beauty and Emotional Wellness. The Appendix includes: The Skinn Care System, Skinn's Color Cosmetics


About the Book:

Back Cover: Internationally recognized beauty, hair and skin care expert, Dimitri James, shares his 25 years of experience in creating total head to toe “make-over magic!”

Get the most out of your look by learning the simple building blocks of skin care, make-up, hair, clothing and accessories to build the best you possible!

• Become your own brand by discovering your personal unique style.
• Make a powerful impression by discovering the secret language of color.
• Look like you stepped out of a magazine cover on your wedding day.
• 50 ways to beat acne for good.
• Disguise figure faults by choosing the right clothing for your body type.
• Strengthen your internal beauty and project a stronger more powerful image.
• Never have to ask “how do I look” ever again.
• Look 10 years younger with skin care recipes you can make in your own kitchen.
• Learn the right hair style and hair color for your personal face structure and never have a bad hair day again.

Excerpt:

"Split Ends Mask:
1 mashed ripe banana
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon honey

Mix all ingredients together. Apply to hair. Leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Finish with a cold-water rinse."

~ page 26 “Becoming Beauty" by Dimitri James

About the Author & Skinn Cosmetics: (From the Skinn Website)

Before starting Skinn Cosmetics, I worked for twenty years with the largest cosmetic houses in the world. I found myself constantly frustrated with the way they did business. Unfortunately, the big cosmetic companies never seem to care about making quality products that actually help the consumer. Their "formula" was always the same: make a cheap product, put it in a fancy jar with a nice box and charge as much as possible. After learning that I was never going to change how those big companies do business from within, I realized I needed to change the nature of the very industry in which they operate.

When I launched Skinn in 2002 the question most asked was "How are you going to do it Dimitri? How are you going to give us more products, better products, and keep them at a comparable price?" The answer was really quite simple. After working at the highest levels of the big cosmetics houses, I learned that the money they spend does not go into the product. In fact, it seems to go everywhere but the product: ad campaigns, department store counter space, Park Avenue offices, and, most of all, packaging. Believe it or not, most companies spend more money on the container and fancy boxes than on the product that's inside. I used to sit in meetings in those Park Avenue offices to talk about how to improve the company's products. Those meetings always seem to end the same: "Let's change the packaging." Upgrading the product was always deemed too costly as it would require re-educating the consumer about what constitutes a quality product. In essence the secret would be out that water does not have to be the first ingredient in every product.

Skinn offers its products only through televised home shopping, the internet and exclusive, privately owned spas throughout North America. This has allowed us to reach the maximum amount of people, while keeping overhead very low. We don't have expensive retail shops or New York office suites; you won't see costly magazine or prime time TV ads. What we do have are some of the finest cosmetics ever made. You'll see the difference!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Us - A User's Guide by Daniel L. Tocchini


Us: A User's Guide
by Daniel L. Tocchini

David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2010) ~ 208 pages
Non-Fiction / Religion / Christian Life / Relationships

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of The B&B Media Group, Inc., and the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Bible Study Group

My Thoughts: I found this book to be very interesting, and it made me ponder some points throughout the day as I read it. Daniel Tocchini has really written a book to help improve your marriage or relationship by concentrating on communication and conversation, and by helping and encouraging readers to talk with their spouse about those subjects that tend to cause conflict when not handled carefully and openly. In Chapter 1, Tocchini shows us carefully that we may be making assumptions about our spouse based on the fact that we think we know them, how they will react, and what they are thinking... then pointing out that we are not allowing there to be any mystery in the relationship with that type of thinking. He then explains that if we allow there to be mystery, to ask the questions in our head and not make assumptions, we may be surprised, and we may experience new areas of our relationship/marriage because we are giving it a chance (this is how I understood his examples and notes, you may read it differently). To me, this was the foundation of the book, and it set the reader up to be able to be successful in the remaining chapters.

One point I found particularly interesting was in Chapter 2, when the author talks about the conversations or comments we have in our own minds... you know... when someone says something, and we have a snappy comeback or thought that we may or may not share. He really emphasizes that these thoughts can have a profound impact on our relationship even if we don't actually voice them out loud. I really started to pay more attention to my inner thoughts, and was amazed at what popped into my mind... and how I was able to start changing my impulse thoughts when I was more aware of what I was doing. This has been really helpful to me.

I'm not going to recap every chapter here, but I will add that the book is made up of six chapters, a conclusion and notes. The chapters are: The Consumer vs. the Kingdom, Say What?, But What About Me?, Welcome to the Unprecedented, Breaking the Cycle, and What's Next?.

The author used real-life examples, and a conversational tone to help the reader understand his points. Then he recapped the chapter using bullet points.

Overall, the book is written in a very positive and supporting tone, and Daniel Tocchini has included many topics and skills to help couples communicate and work together in a more positive and open manner.

About the Book:
From the Back Cover: Daniel Tocchini doesn’t want to improve your marriage. He wants to transform it. Or, rather, to show how some simple changes in your marital conversation—the way you talk to yourself and each other—can open your relationship up to God’s transforming power.

Drawing on his personal experience and stories of couples he has coached, Tocchini offers a wealth of practical guidance to help you learn to live your marriage “in the light”—talking honestly, listening generously, confronting tricky issues, tuning in to each other’s needs and yearnings, and breaking free of the self-centered “consumer thinking” that infects us all. Innovative, insightful, and thoroughly biblical, Tocchini’s approach has helped thousands in his popular seminars.

Whether your marriage is in deep trouble or just coasting along, you’ll be amazed at what happens when you finally read the User's Guide that God intended.


Excerpt:


The Consumer vs. the Kingdom

“The level of thinking that created the problem is not sufficient to solve it.”

Albert Einstein


This book is about challenging the marriage assumptions that have prevented you from seeing new possibilities in the unchartered waters of Us. The first assumption that simply must go is that you or your spouse needs to change in order for your marriage to improve.


As difficult as it may seem, I want you to consider the possibility that nothing about you or your spouse needs to change.


Nothing at all.


Beyond this, I ask you to consider the reason that you began thinking that one of you needed to change. Could it be that you have unwittingly embraced the consumerism of our culture and applied it to your precious wife? Your precious husband? Such that you began to think of that person as a commodity? That's exactly where Mark and Rene were at when they came to see me. (I should mention that there are times couples are counseled by me and my wife, Aileen. We do this on an as-needed basis.)


Mark and Rene, a forty-something couple with fifteen years of marriage under their belts, spewed venom back and forth at each other during our marriage coaching session. The verbal onslaught was tough to listen to, even though I’ve worked with hundreds of couples and heard it all.


Mark furrowed his brows, glared at his wife, and then looked at me. “You know Dan, I can’t stand being married to Rene any longer! If I had known this marriage was going to be like this I never would have gotten married. Now we have four children and I feel like I’m trapped!” Mark’s rage bubbled over. It was obvious he was purposely trying to hurt his wife with his words.


Rene looked disgusted. “Married? Really? You really believe we’re married? If that’s true, you don’t act like it at all!” She spoke with contempt in her voice. “For starters, you have a girlfriend in New Mexico. If you think you can continue to carry on with that woman, I want a divorce.”


Mark escalated the attack. “Well, you drove me to her. She pays attention to me when I’m around and actually cares about what I do. All you do is gripe at me for not being enough. Besides, you kicked me out so what am I supposed to do? Just wait around until you feel like inviting me back home?”


I was silent and let them duke it out with their words for a bit. I knew exactly where this conversation was going.


In a soft voice, as tears dripped down her cheeks, Rene turned to me. “Dan, I just got tired of waiting for him to do the things he said he would do.” Then she whipped her head around and faced her husband. “When you were home with us, you would get up early in the morning and go to the office, where you worked all day with women. Then, while I was stuck at home with the kids, you would go out to dinner with them. I got tired of feeling abandoned and so I decided since you were never home and always out with other women, we might as well make it official. That’s why I kicked you out. I hoped that you would soon realize what you had lost and begin to court me again. That never happened. You seemed glad to have left. Anyway, even while you were here, there wasn’t an ounce of romance left in our marriage! How do you think that makes me feel? I want a man who will put me first in his life. Honestly Mark, when we first met twenty years ago, I believed you were that man, but now I don’t even know you.”


Mark bristled and took a deep breath, doing his best to maintain some semblance of composure. “Dan, I’m in the fashion business. Most of the people I work with are either gay men or women. I can’t help that! Why can’t Rene support me? After all, I’m the one who provides a great home and pays for the kids’ private school, the medical care, food, clothing—geez, nobody has had to go without anything. I wasn’t seeing anybody until I realized that I just couldn’t go on like that any longer. I was beginning to feel like a hermit. All Rene was doing was getting back at me for what she felt I owed her. When she kicked me out I got an apartment and, sure, a girlfriend on the side. But I needed a companion, somebody who made me feel like I mattered. I just couldn’t take the nagging and complaining anymore!”


Rene turned away so that Mark couldn’t see her cry. Then she said something I’m sure many of you either say yourself or hear from your spouse.


“But what about me, Mark? What about my needs?”


It was the classic “I-need-I-need-I-need” complaint. Yet each one was only listening to their own needs.


The frustrating part for me was that Mark and Rene had the tools they needed to turn their marriage around. It wasn’t like they didn’t know what they needed to do. Though I had worked with them for about two years, they were not getting anywhere. If there was any chance of this marriage not ending in divorce, one thing needed to happen.


They needed to renew their thinking.


Specifically, Mark and Rene had to come to a transformation of how they viewed their marriage. It had nothing to do with changing their behavior or actions towards themselves and each other. Change in that sense is superficial and many times it is temporary. God has called us to rely on Him, not for changing even what we consider “wrong” with us or bad, but in how we relate to God, ourselves, and each other, as well as what we cannot not change. We don’t need to change, fix, or better the bad stuff about us, we need the kind of change we call transformation—changing how we view ourselves, our spouse, and our marriage. In other words, the way you view your spouse or a particular situation you are in—whether you are fighting again about the same thing you fought about yesterday, or your kids are rebelling in the worst way, or there has been betrayal—is what determines the quality of your life together.


This is what Mark and Renee needed to do. They had to look at their union in a completely new way. If this didn’t happen, all the tools and applications and skills they had learned to save their marriage would be useless. Why? Because they had begun to view one another as products—something they thought needed to be different or better. Therefore, they would use those tools, applications and skills to try and “fix” what they thought needed to change, like a defective product, radically distracting them from what could be new without having to fix anything. In fact, if you pay close attention to the language they use, it is not much different than the language we might use when researching a purchase. It was time for them to stop tallying their expenses and start counting the cost.


Luke writes how Jesus was once followed by a large crowd. Jesus tells these folks something very powerful about what it really means to follow Christ and His Kingdom.

“Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple. Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you're going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn't finish.’” (Luke 14:25–30 MSG)


Jesus was saying that before we even consider getting into relationship with Him, we need to count the cost. He clarified His statement by specifying that the potential cost could be loss of familial affections and those close to us, as well as the death of the traditions and habits that are a part of these relationships. Jesus pulled no punches. The cost is great.


Marriage is one of God’s tools for building His kingdom, and if we are to pioneer the possibility of a kingdom life together we must prepare to make life-defining sacrifices. We must prepare to change the way we view life or change our purpose for living together.


This call doesn’t make any sense when it comes to our culture. Why? Because we live in a “consumer”-oriented culture. It is a part of who we are because it is what we were born into. Our relationships, in particular, are immersed in consumerism.


A consumer views marriage as if it exists for individual fulfillment. If a spouse isn’t being fulfilled, then that “consumer” looks for another relationship or even falls into an addiction to fulfill their particular needs—whether to look good, feel good, be right, or be in control. Mark and Rene’s marriage is a prime example of a consumer marriage. Remember some of their complaints?


Mark talked about his reason for dating a woman in New Mexico. He said, “I needed a companion, somebody who made me feel like I mattered. I just couldn’t take the nagging, whining, and complaining!” Mark wanted to feel good by being appreciated and not be asked to live up to what he had promised. He also wanted to be right and in control, so he used his interpretation of Rene’s asking him to move out as a way to justify his going out with the other woman.


Rene remarked, “I got tired of feeling abandoned and so I decided since you were never home and always out with other women, we might as well make it official. That’s why I kicked you out. I hoped that you would soon realize what you had lost and begin to court me again.” She also wanted to feel good and be in control. She longed to be romanced, and her way to control that outcome was to kick her husband out.


Notice the price Mark and Rene were willing to pay to manipulate the other to get what they wanted—the looming dissolve of their marriage. Many Christian couples approach marriage this same way, as a consumer, because they don’t know or understand what God intended marriage to be.


And Now for Something Completely Different


Mark and Rene had entered the death spiral of the consumer marriage. For all their talk about their “needs,” they were missing their real need: A new way of understanding what marriage is all about for them as citizens of the kingdom of Jesus.


Jesus steps on the scene and says, “Where's My kingdom in all of this? Your personal fulfillment and satisfaction are the means to the end. There's nothing temporary about your marriage, and it is not disposable. You stick with each other and work diligently to develop your oneness, even if it is deeply dissatisfying and unfulfilling for long periods of time. Abandon your consumer marriage mindset and come and follow me. I will train you in how to stick with something and not be stuck with it!”


I don't have a program to prescribe, or a list of marriage pointers to post on the fridge. I want you to enter something completely new, together. Set the past aside. Don't even look back there, not even as a frame of reference. What I'm offering is total transformation, something truly, completely new. Something unprecedented, unparalleled.


Surrendering Certitude


The question before us is, Will we take Jesus up on His offer or will we allow our precious marriages—our families for generations to come—to go down with the ship of the consumer mindset? Let's focus in and look at the difference between the two types of marriages in greater detail.


The consumer marriage says: “I will be who I ought to be as long as, and to the degree, that you are who you ought to be.” The kingdom marriage says, “I will be who I ought to be whether you are or not.”


If you are anything like me, you're probably asking, “Why would I be who I ought to be if the other person is taking (or may take) advantage of me?” or “Why should I change if my spouse doesn’t (or may not) want to change?” or “Why should I do all the work if my spouse doesn’t (or may not) want to work just as hard as I am?” These questions are all grounded in the fear of the unknown, which is a huge part of consumer thinking.


Here is what I mean: The one thing we as consumers want from products is predictability. We want to know exactly what we will get, how they will work, who will be delivering them, when they will arrive, and how much they will cost. In short we want to have as much control as we can possibly get, with the most efficiency and convenience possible. Anything outside of that is unknown, uncertain, and definitely uncomfortable. Therefore, we strive to maintain control at all costs and eliminate any risks of encountering or dealing with the unknown.


Surely it is no accident that because of our innate need for this type of certitude, God calls those of us who desire to be united with another to be married. This union, in His eyes, depends on submission instead of control. In marriage, when we submit to the unknown we become open to the rewarding depths of its mysteries. One of my favorite passages about this concept is found in Ephesians and is a pictorial example of a kingdom marriage that counters the consumer lifestyle.

Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already “one” in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” (Eph. 5:21–31 MSG)


What strikes me most when I read this Scripture is the way Christ treats the church—through loving, honoring, respecting, and giving. This illustrates for us the manner that each husband is to treat his wife and how each wife is to honor her husband. Paul’s commission to us powerfully aligns with Jesus’ words in Luke about counting the cost. In both passages we are called to submission. If we want to be Jesus’ disciples, we must submit to Him and follow His example. If our marriage is to be a blessing to us and our community, we must submit to each other.


While our culture has taught us that the highest reward is to be served and be the master of our own destiny, we are told something contrary in the Bible. God reminds us that the greatest value in life is to submit and give ourselves over to God and one another. Becoming a servant will bring forth a greater blessing than this consumer world could ever give us. As it relates to marriage, submission is an opposing force to certitude, our need to be in control, and our beliefs that we know everything. The bottom line is that being a know-it-all is an obstacle to embracing mystery in marriage.


Think about this. Do we know everything about God? Of course not. Actually, the one thing we can be certain about is how inexhaustible the mystery of God is, as Job declared.

Do you think you can explain the mystery of God? Do you think you can diagram God Almighty? God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, stretching farther than earth's horizons, far wider than the endless ocean. If he happens along, throws you in jail then hauls you into court, can you do anything about it? He sees through vain pretensions, spots evil a long way off—no one pulls the wool over his eyes! Hollow men, hollow women, will wise up about the same time mules learn to talk. (Job 11:7 MSG)


The foundation of life is God, and He has revealed Himself as mystery. This characteristic and the way He has invited us to discover and experience who He is reflects the very nature of mystery inherent in marriage. When we abandon our certitude and instead submit to God and then to one another, we open the door to the possibility of continual renewal. We stop pigeonholing ourselves, our spouse, and our marriage into what we think we know about them. And it is only by embracing mystery that we can begin to experience a transformational kingdom marriage.


Possibilities?


One night, Mark showed up at my house with steam pouring out of his ears. It was obvious he was desperate. “Dan, I need to talk to you. I can’t take Rene’s nagging any longer. All she wants to do is try and control me. She is so insecure that I can’t stand being with her! I can’t do this anymore. It’s over.”


Frankly, I was taken back by his certitude about where Rene was coming from, so I asked him how he knew she was insecure. For the next hour, Mark and I talked about that supposed surety. Mark also remarked that there was more bad than good in the marriage.


I reminded him about the “for better or for worse part” he uttered in their marriage vows and asked, “Isn’t that what you promised her? That you would stick around for better or for worse?”


Mark thought for a moment and said, “Sure, but she just won’t submit to me!” (Ah, spoken like a true consumer. I have heard this same thing from so many people of faith.)


After talking with him a bit, I learned that many of Mark’s Christian friends thought Rene was rebellious. I asked him to consider another point of view. I brought up the passage in Ephesians about submission and asked him what level of submission men are called to.


Mark replied confidently, “We are to be the head of the family!”


“Actually,” I pointed out, “it says we are to love our wives as Jesus loves the church and gave Himself as a sacrifice for her. My question to you is, if we are to love our wives as Jesus loves the church, who actually gave themselves first, Jesus or the church?”


“Jesus did.” Mark said in low tones.


“And who was crucified for the church to see her resurrected?”


“Jesus was.”


“The Bible says Jesus’ love was ‘marked by giving not getting,’ yet when we talk about your relationship with Rene,” I said. “You dwell on what you are not getting. I wonder how anybody would tend to feel if they were constantly reminded of their insufficiencies?”


“I get your point,” Mark retorted. “But the bottom line still is that all she does is gripe.”


I probed further, “Are you certain that is all she does?”


“Okay, not all the time. I know it isn’t healthy to use the words “always” and “never,” but she does it most of the time!”


I asked Mark if he was certain what Rene was doing was complaining. Could she, in fact, be doing something else that he was not able to see because he was so blinded by what he was so sure he knew?


Mark thought about what I said for a moment and then looked at me. “I am so tired of this relationship and how hard it is to just connect on anything. I think I just want to be done with it.”


I paused for a minute, weighing my response. “Mark, I do get you are being honest about how it feels for you, but do you think your certainty that the relationship is what you have described has anything to do with your despair? I mean, if Rene is who you are certain she is, and there is no possibility that she could be any other way, then I understand your despair. But what if things were NOT exactly the way you have them set in your head? Would it matter? If there was another possibility, would you like to know about it?”


“Yes, I would want to know if I am missing something.” Mark let out a frustrated sigh. “But it just doesn’t seem worth the time!”


“According to who? You? Rene? Your kids?” I asked with an edge in my voice.


“You’re right. I guess there can’t be much possibility if I am so certain about who she is, how she will respond, what she says, and what she wants.”


(Bingo!)


“Mark, what if the loss of your romance for Rene had little to nothing to do with her?” I inquired.


A sense of surprise came over his face and he inquired, “What do you mean?”


“If you think you know who she is, what she will say and think, as well as how she will react, then there are no new possibilities available. There is no mystery in the relationship and therefore no sense of anticipation for what God may be doing between you. No mystery equals no romance!”


“Perhaps that has something to do with the despair I’m feeling,” Mark mused.


I wondered out loud and asked, “Do you think seeing Jennifer contributes to that sense of despair?”


“Why would you say that?”


“It seems obvious to me that the more you see her, the more you will need to be right about these judgments you have about Rene so you can justify seeing Jennifer. That way you don’t have to be open to who you and Rene can be together. But sooner or later, Mark, you will have to explain this to your children. The prices are huge for the few fleeting moments of self-satisfaction you are gaining with Jennifer. Now that is a real formula for despair.”


Mark sat still for a few moments and then came back strong. “All this wondering about my certitude about Rene seems like a waste of time. I have been with her for fifteen years. I really do feel like I know how she will react.”


“Mark, I am asking you to consider and explore what you are making up about her reaction. When she complains about things, do you investigate her complaint? Have you stopped and wondered what she is trying to communicate by her complaining?”


His answer was immediate. “Yes. She is trying to control me because she is insecure.”


“Are you certain she is insecure? Perhaps part of submitting to another is being open to who your spouse is outside of your prejudice of them. I know you have your historical evidence to validate your judgment of why Rene reacts the way she does, but how much time have you spent questioning that certainty?


Mark still wasn’t fazed. “Dan you don’t understand what it is like to live with her and her nagging. She doesn’t care and I don’t see any good what could come out of this. This is just too much suffering to have to go through.”


I made one last attempt. “Mark, you know the suffering Aileen and I have gone through in our marriage, right?”


He nodded his head in acknowledgment while I reminded him of my story. “My wife and I were discussing divorce and were separated in our own house for a year. We saw no possibility that we would ever care enough for each other to ever be intimate again. But we decided that our son deserved the chance of us trying. We needed to at least try and trust God. We needed to at least try to devote some time to exploring our own judgments of each other. We needed to at least try and understand where the other was coming from outside of the record of wrongs we had built up to bolster our judgments of each other.


“Our hope and prayer was that God would somehow draw us into some new possibilities for each other. We realized we had loved one another once before. We experienced great passion for one another, much like you and Rene have shared in the past. We kept believing that God would open possibility in the suffering if we were willing to love each other as we wanted the other to love us. We were determined to get out of the consumer mindset that had done nothing except ruin our marriage.”


Something hit home. Mark promised to think about it and we ended the conversation.


Mark needed to abandon the what’s-in-it-for-me mentality and discard his certitude about Rene’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. He needed to embrace the possibility that could emerge from exploring the mystery of who she is and who they could be together.


I know this because this is what saved my marriage. I gave mystery a chance. The second I was able to allow mystery to seep into my thought process about my wife … the second I was able to admit that perhaps I didn’t know what she was thinking or the reasons for how she would react to particular things … the second I was able to allow God to intervene and transform my heart to give without expecting … was the second that the possibility opened for transforming our relationship.


Letting Go of Yesterdays


Experiencing this renewal and other possibilities that emerge from embracing the unknown is impossible until we let the past die. We need to let go of yesterday. The record of the past is the foundation upon which we built up a structure of false assumptions. The more we attempt to recapture the past, the more we miss the “new” God is doing now.


In the Bible God tells us, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun” (Isa. 43:19 NLT). Part of counting the cost and picking up our cross is trusting God in letting the old die so He can begin a “new.” This is what it means to embrace the kind of mystery Jesus talked about of losing your life in order to gain it (see Matt. 16:25).


Embracing mystery and letting go of the old is never a comfortable process. It is ambiguous and uncertain. But this is what prompts us to cling to our faith in God. And this is what demands His intervention.


You may be thinking I don’t know if I can let go of feeling neglected or I’m not sure how to stop thinking about my wife’s infidelity or Can my husband and I really find peace in the middle of this tumultuous marriage with all we’ve been through?


The beauty of a kingdom marriage is that the designer is God Himself. He is the one who is able to renew our marriages by eclipsing the past with new possibilities. Even in the midst of the suffering, pain, and brokenness of a failing marriage, if we submit to God instead of submitting to our selfish, consumer-oriented desires—wanting to be in control, be right, look good, and feel good—He can renew our inner being and, ultimately, our marriage. This only happens, however, if we reinvent our relationship to the past, which will transform the power it has over us and give Him permission to bring about transformation.


When we allow God to get into the middle of our marriages and submit to His will, He not only transforms our character, but He transforms the value of the very things that caused us harm or were unhealthy in the past. God’s intervention in these things creates an opportunity for healing and renewal. Even our failures as spouses can be turned into learning lessons that can bless our marriage and even those around us.


Sure we have to designify our past—the hurts we’ve been caused, the hurts we’ve caused—but there is more to transformation than just that. God has the power to take the bad things, even what we consider our character flaws, our lapses in judgment, our bad decisions, and turn them into blessings in disguise. God transforms us by taking those things we judge as bad or evil that we have thought, said, or done and turning them into strengths or gifts, if we are willing to live in the light. This is what spiritual transformation is all about.


A year or so after counseling Mark and Rene, they shared with my wife and I how God transformed a particular aspect of their marriage that relates exactly to what I’m talking about.


Mark admitted that he finally realized how selfish his need for Renee’s attention had been, especially when it came to their sex life. He said they had a breakthrough in this regard because not only had their sex life increased in quality and quantity, but their intimacy in conversation had been dramatically heightened during this time.


Rene nodded her head in agreement. “When Mark turned that sensitivity from himself on me,” she explained, “I was completely overwhelmed by his love and appreciation. He recognized things about me I didn’t know anybody could see or appreciate. It transformed the way I view him and I began to experience respect where I formerly experienced contempt.”


Mark chimed in. “In the beginning, I couldn’t take Rene’s sharp edge and eye for detail. To me she seemed critical. But as I began to understand her perspective and she made room to investigate her own assumptions, her griping transformed! The ‘edge’ that I viewed as a threat was really a powerful commitment to integrity and congruity. Instead of hearing her as if her intentions were solely to criticize and knock me down, I started considering what she was seeing. This transformation opened up my eyes to other areas that we had been lacking in, like finances and our relationship with our kids. Though our willingness to be so open initially made us uncomfortable and even hurt in some ways, I realized how powerful it is to have a friend who cares for our future more than just living in the status quo. We are truly becoming a family because we can see specific situations we can pray into and discuss that make a real difference in our way of being together!”


Mark and Renee both agreed that this kind of transformation came through their willingness to suffer through being misunderstood, making mistakes, and feeling alone—all the emotions and feelings that are endured when we let go of past and allow God to step into our suffering and bring light to our darkness. Standing in the middle of challenges like these pays spiritual dividends far beyond what we know is possible.


What’s my point? Suffering in a hurting marriage can bring possibility. It can transform your union and yield the passion to bring you closer to your spouse. It can lead us to love as God has ordained it. Here, in the mere shadows of this world, faith hangs on to the possibility that what looks temporally harsh and horrible can be transformed into something that is eternally passionate and life-changing. Faith is the antithesis of the consumer mindset, which says that anything unpleasant should simply be discarded and replaced.


A New Beginning


Before Mark and Rene made the turnaround in their marriage, they had gotten to the point where I was mediating their divorce instead of trying to fix their marriage. Two years of hardcore counseling seemed to be worth nothing as I did my best to wisely help divvy up their assets. It was a gut-wrenching process to orchestrate.


When the subject of the custody of their children came up, the mood transformed from bitterness to sadness. Mark and Rene burst out, almost simultaneously, that they didn’t want to go through with the divorce. It was a surreal moment. It was as if all the things we discussed came alive in one moment for the two of them. They wanted to give their marriage another chance. They wanted to really listen to each other. They wanted to let go of what they thought they knew about the other person. They wanted to allow God to intervene with His love.


Mark and Rene have now been married for twenty-four years. They are very much in love and are enjoying their renewed, God-designed kingdom marriage. As a matter of fact, they recently shared with me that their romance continues to increase as they maintain their trust in God and embrace mystery while working with the other tools we originally practiced in our sessions. They say no to the temptation of being a consumer spouse. They resist asking, “What’s in this for me?” and continue to let go of their addiction to be right and in control. In doing all of these things, they are influencing the kingdom of God in a powerful way.


When will that surreal moment of surrender come for you in your marriage? What will it take for you to realize that God has called you to a mystery not a purchase agreement? That He has invited you into a conversation, not stump speech to promote your personal agenda? Be encouraged that no matter how bad you think your marriage is right now, there is hope. All is not lost.


If your marriage is not ailing in any way, use these lessons like a business person might use the Wall Street Journal or Forbes Magazine to build their foundation, keep an eye on the market or to better get a grasp on the trends that may be coming up. You can use this book to check, strengthen or expand the foundations of a kingdom marriage so you are better prepared when tough times do eventually come. Understanding how to live marriage in a way that expresses the kingdom will help weather future storms.


HIGHLIGHTS


A consumer-oriented marriage teaches us that we are the focal point of our marriage. It’s about our needs getting met. It’s about us.


God commissions us to live a kingdom marriage where the relationship is the highest good. We are called to be who we ought to be, even though our spouse may not be who they ought to be.


The first step to experiencing a renewed and transformational marriage is to look at it and start living it from a kingdom perspective. Otherwise whatever tools you apply will be used to accomplish the purposes of a consumer, not a servant in the kingdom of God.


Being in a kingdom marriage means submitting to God and your spouse. We are called to give of ourselves in a sacrificial way.


When we submit in this fashion, we embrace mystery. God is part mystery and so we, created in His image, are part mystery. When we understand that we don’t know everything about ourselves, our spouse, or our marriage, we open the possibility to experience our marriage and our spouse in new ways.


Letting the past go is critical to moving forward into a kingdom marriage, where God is the focal point. He is the one who can bring transformation, even out of our pains and suffering. He is the one who can turn what we thought were curses into blessings.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Us by Daniel Tocchini. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.



About the Author: (From the publisher's press release)

Daniel L. Tocchini has worked with more than 5,000 couples through personal marriage coaching and the unique and life-changing marriage seminars offered through his organization, the Association for Christian Character Development. An ordained minister, chaplain, author, and highly successful speaker/coach, he lives with his family in California.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther
by Ginger Garrett

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010) ~ 304 pages
Fiction / Biblical / Historical Fiction

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift, Book club pick

My Thoughts: Chosen by Ginger Garrett is the remarkable story of Esther, a young orphan girl in Ancient Persia, raised by her Uncle during the reign of King Xerxes. Ginger Garrett has brought the story of Esther to life in a manner that immediately draws the reader in and captures their rapt attention from the first pages to the last.

Esther longs for a life of love and adventure until she is taken by the King's men to his harem, where she is prepared for one year for her one night with the King.

Against the odds, she captures his attention and his heart and becomes his queen.

Battling palace politics and intrigue, she strives to see what God has planned for her life.

Ms. Garrett has included many footnotes expanding on the facts and providing insight to readers, thus bringing even more color and life details to an already amazing story.

Loved it! ... and talked our book club into reading it next month!

About the Book:
From the publisher: Don’t just Study the Story of Esther—Live it!
Ginger Garrett’s retelling of this classic story gives new perspective to one of Scriptures most beloved figures.

“The guard stepped into the room I was in and held out his hand. Seeing him in my bedroom, his armor and sword reflecting the breakfast sun, was a nightmare I could not shake myself from. I was led past Mordecai to the entrance of our home, where several men stood with scrolls. The commissioner rode on a horse and judged me from his perch. A knowing glance passed between him and the guard, and then the men began to write.”

“I had been chosen.”


Chosen is the first release in beloved author Ginger Garrett’s new Lost Loves of the Bible trilogy. Chosen tells the story of Queen Esther, the young woman with the future of her nation in her hands. Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living. Quick of mind and strong in spirit, she refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him as queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future—and that of an entire nation.

Based on the historical account of Queen Esther of Persia, Chosen, by Ginger Garrett, is a contemporary account of this beloved and ancient story. Uniquely written in first-person diary format, renderings of Esther’s thoughts and experiences are interspersed with current-time news excerpts, which show how Esther’s tale is woven into our own lives.

A fresh examination of one of Scripture’s most inspiring personalities, Chosen has been described by bestselling authors Brock and Bodie Thoene as “A story that is sure to be a classic! Exciting, dramatic, and filled with truth. A great read from the first page!”

Chosen is being released as part of Garrett’s series based on the great loves of the Bible:

·Esther, who loved a king who refused to give his whole heart to her
·Jezebel, who loved Ahab but destroyed him in pursuit of her own dynasty
·Delilah, who loved Samson but sentenced him to die because of her fear


Excerpt:
Prologue

Fourth Day of the Month of Av

Year 3414 after Creation

If you have opened this, you are the chosen one.

For this book has been sealed in the tomb of the ancients of Persia, never to be opened, I pray, until G-d1 has put His finger on a new woman of destiny, a woman who will rise up and change her nation. But we will not talk of your circumstances, and the many reasons this book may have fallen into your hands. There are no mistakes with prayer. You have indeed been called. If this sounds too strange, if you must look around your room and question whether G-d’s finger has perhaps slipped, if you are not a woman with the means to change a nation, then join me on a journey. You must return with me now to a place without hope, a nation that had lost sight of G-d, a girl with nothing to offer, and no one to give it to.

I must introduce myself first as I truly am: an exiled Jew, and an orphan. My given name was Hadassah, but the oppression of exile has stripped that too from me: I am now called Esther,2 so that I may blend in with my captors. My people, the Hebrew nation, had been sent out of our homeland after a bitter defeat in battle. We were allowed to settle in the kingdom of Persia, but we were not allowed to truly prosper there. We blended in, our lives preserved, but our heritage and customs were forced underground. Our hearts, once set only on returning to Jerusalem, were set out to wither in the heat

of the Arabian sun. My cousin Mordecai rescued me when I was orphaned and we lived in the capital city of Susa, under the reign of King Xerxes.3 Mordecai had a small flock of sheep that I helped tend, and we sold their fleece in the market. If times were good, we would sell a lamb for someone’s celebration. It was always for others to celebrate. We merely survived. But Mordecai was kind and good, and I was not forced into dishonor like the other orphans I had once known. This is how my story begins, and I give you these details not for sympathy, but so you will know that I am a girl well acquainted with bitter reality. I am not given to the freedom in flights of fantasy. But how can I explain to you the setting of my story? It is most certainly far removed from your experience. For I suspect that in the future, women will know freedom. And freedom is not an easy thing to forget, even if only to entertain an orphan’s story.

But you must forget now. I was born into a world, and into this story, where even the bravest women were faceless specters. Once married, they could venture out of their homes only with veils and escorts. No one yet had freed our souls. Passion and pleasure, like freedom, were the domain of men, and even young girls knew the wishes of their hearts would always be subject to a man’s desire for wealth. A man named Pericles summed up my time so well in his famed oration: “The greatest glory of a woman is to be least talked about by men, whether they are praising you or criticizing you.” Our role was clear: We were to be objects of passion, to receive a man’s attention mutely, and to respond only with children for the estate. Even the most powerful woman of our time, the beautiful Queen Vashti, was powerless. That was my future as a girl and I dared not lift my eyes above its horizon. That is how I enter this story. But give me your hand and let us walk back now, past the crumbling walls of history, to this world forgotten but a time yet remembered. Let me tell you the story of a girl unspared, plunged into heartache and chaos, who would save a nation. My name is Esther, and I will be queen.

1 Out of respect for God, Jews write the name of God without the vowels, believing that the name of God is too holy to be written out completely by a human. God is referred to as either “G-d” or “YHVH.”

2 The name Esther is related to the Persian name of Ishtar, a pagan goddess of the stars.

3 Esther refers to the king by his Persian name. In the Hebrew texts of antiquity, he is also referred to as Ahasuerus.


1

Eleventh Day of Shevat

Third Year of the Reign of Xerxes

Year 3394 after Creation


Was it today that I became fully awake, or have I only now begun to dream? Today Cyrus saw me in the marketplace haggling gently with my favorite shopkeeper, Shethana, over the price of a fleece. Shethana makes the loveliest rugs—I think they are even more lovely than the ones imported from the East—and her husband is known for his skill in crafting metals of all kinds. When I turned fifteen last year, he fashioned for me a necklace with several links in the center, painted various shades of blue. He says it is an art practiced in Egypt, this inlaying of colors into metal shapes. I feel so exotic with it on and wear it almost daily. I know it is as close to adventure as Mordecai will ever allow.

But as Shethana and I haggled over the fleece, both of us smiling because she knew I would as soon give it to her, Cyrus walked by eating a flatbread he had purchased from another vendor. He grimaced when he took a bite—I think he might have gotten a very strong taste of shallot—and I laughed. He laughed back, wiping his eyes with his jacket and fanning his mouth, and then, oh then, his gaze held my eyes for a moment. Everything in my body seemed to come alive suddenly and I felt afraid, for my legs couldn’t stand as straight and steady and I couldn’t get my mouth to work. Shethana noticed right away and didn’t conceal her grin as she glanced between Cyrus and me. I should have doubled the price of her fleece right then!

Cyrus turned to walk away, and I tried to focus again on my transaction. I could not meet Shethana’s eyes now—I didn’t want to be questioned about men and marriage, for everyone knows I have no dowry. To dream of winning Cyrus would be as foolish as to run my own heart straight through. I cannot dream, for it will surely crush me. And yet I can’t stop this warm flood that sweeps over me when he is near.

I haven’t told you the best part—when Shethana bought her fleece and left, I allowed myself to close my eyes for a moment in the heat of the day, and when I opened them again, there was a little stack of flatbread in my booth. I looked in every direction but could see no one. Taking a bite, I had to spit it out and started laughing. Cyrus was right—the vendor used many bitter shallots. The flatbread was a disaster.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Chosen by Ginger Garrett. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.





About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
Focusing on ancient women’s history, critically acclaimed author Ginger Garrett creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. In addition to her writing, Garrett is a frequent radio and television guest. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Giveaway and Heads Up: Kroger's Cart Buster Saving's Event $25 Gift Card

From MyBlogSpark and Kroger:


Saving money on groceries is top of mind these days, and with the Cart Buster Savings Event EXCLUSIVELY at Kroger and the Kroger Family of Stores, the prices are so low you can stock up on all your favorite brands without breaking the bank (though you might bust your cart!)

From now through March 14th, shop the Cart Buster Savings Event and find the hottest prices around on your favorite name-brand products in over 60 categories at the Kroger Family of Stores, which includes Kroger, Ralph’s, King Soopers, City Market, Dillons, Smith’s, Fry’s, QFC, Baker’s, Owen’s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Food4Less, Pay Less Super Markets and Scott’s Food & Pharmacy.

Here are just a few of the great brands participating in the event: Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Hamburger Helper, Yoplait, Progresso, Totino’s, Green Giant, Cascadian Farm, Tide, Charmin, Bounty, Pampers, Pantene, Crest, Iams, Febreze, Old Spice and many more!
For a more complete list of brands and individual products on sale with the Kroger Cart Busters Event, click here. You will be taken to a viewable/printable pdf checklist/shopping list.


One of my lucky readers will win a $25 Kroger gift card. Before entering, please stop by the Store Locator and make sure there is a store near you!

Want to win? Here's how!

1. Leave a comment and tell me some of the creative ways you save money when shopping! (1 entry daily, must leave a different idea per entry!!)

2. Post a link to the giveaway on your blog and/or Facebook and report it here (1 entry)

3. Become a follower (link is on the right hand sidebar) and leave a comment here (or "remind" me you are already a follower so I know you want to be included in this giveaway) (1 entry)

The drawing will be held February 18th. Winner: I will send you an email, please reply with your address so I can forward it to the wonderful people at MyBlogSpark!

This giveaway is open to residents within the United States, no PO Boxes.

~ Wendi

The Kroger Family of Stores and General Mills was very generous and provided me with a $25 gift card and information through MyBlogSpark, and they are allowing me to host a giveaway for one additional gift card to a reader!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Product Review: Fisher-Price® Rock n Play Sleeper™

Fisher-Price® Rock n Play Sleeper™
Fisher Price



Product Dimensions: 32 x 24.5 x 21 inches ; 8.5 pounds
Products / Baby / Gear / Rocker

Edition Reviewed: Standard Rock n Play - Review product received courtesy of the Fisher Price and MomSelect, many thanks to both for sending me a rocker to review!
*Photos are taken from the Fisher Price website



Perfect for : Use with new baby, Gift, Baby Shower


My Thoughts: This is a wonderful new product that has been tremendously helpful over the past few weeks with our new baby

Things that I love about the Rock n Play Sleeper:
* It is easy to put together
* It is very portable, both around the house and to other destinations (book club, grandparents, etc)
* It is designed so that the cover can be easily removed and washed as needed
* It has a small pocket at the head of the rocker that can hold a few small things such as an extra diaper, wipes, a Binky, a burp cloth, etc.
* The seat is inclined, which seems to calm our baby more than the flat surface of the crib
* It can be used as a bed-side sleeper for baby so that you always have him/her near
* It is easy to gently rock with your foot or hand
* It is easy to use next to a chair or couch so you aren't having to go to another room to put baby down when he/she is sleeping
* Our baby LOVES to be held! In fact, he doesn't seem to like to be put down and will fuss and cry when put in his crib. This makes getting things done around the house really hard... BUT, I've found that he will sleep in the Rock n Play Sleeper, which allows me to get a few things done!

Things I'd like to see added:
* I do wish the small pocket at the head of the rocker was a little bigger. I always seem to need just a little more room for storage of blankets, more than one or two diapers, etc.
* I would love to see the ability to add soothing vibration to the rocker that you can find on some other baby items.

And now... a little about me and how I've been able to use the Rock n Play Sleeper by Fisher Price:

In 2006 we had our first baby who was born one month early. I learned about the increase in risks and health concerns for preemies, which really gave me the desire to have the baby in the same room with me day and night.

I just gave birth early to another healthy and beautiful boy January 31st, after making it most of the way through a high-risk pregnancy just to have last minute complications throw in more challenges.

I had surgery at 13 weeks into the pregnancy and it went very well, but I was put on medical restrictions (lifting, etc). Things went better than expected, then on January 31st, we found out that I had severe pre-eclampsia (a pregnancy related hypertension problem that I could have died from). I was told I was lucky I had called the doctor and come in for observation. There was an emergency c-section and now I am dealing with the recovery.

The doctors are very impressed with how both baby and I are doing (both are recovering much better than expected), but they have placed restrictions on my activity and are asking family to ensure that someone is always home with me until my blood pressure returns to normal and my blood count improves (as well as normal issues from having a c-section!), which could be many weeks.

:) Now to get to the point. In trying to problem-solve sleeping arrangements and having the desire to keep baby within my sight around the clock, the new Fisher-Price Rock N Play Sleeper seems to be a perfect product for our family and circumstances, providing us with the benefits of keeping baby safe and near, as well as the added ability to work with my short-term physical and medical requirements. I'm able to move the sleeper on my own as it is only a few pounds, and it is a nice height for use next to the couch and/or bed.

One more huge benefit I've found while testing/using the Rock n Play Sleeper is going to other people's homes. The sleeper is easy to fold, transport and set-up, allowing me to have a place to put baby when he is not being held.

So, to wrap things up, I love the ability to have baby in the same room with me (including when we go to bed) by using the Rock n Play Sleeper, which fits nicely next to both the couch (during the day) and the bed (during the night). It is easy to travel with, and it has some great safety features (inclined, deep so baby can't accidentally roll out). I just wish the storage pocket was a little bigger!

About the Rock n Play Sleeper: (From Fisher Price)

Soothe, sleep or play night or day!

The Newborn Rock ’n Play Sleeper is a nighttime sleeper and playtime seat all in one! And it’s the only infant seat that meets industry safety standards for bassinets. So besides using it as a perfect place for baby to rock (with a gentle push from you!) and play during the day, you can also use it as a place for baby to sleep at night. It has an inclined seat, which makes sleeping more comfortable for babies who need their head elevated. Other features include three-point restraint to keep baby secure, a toy bunny for soothing and entertaining, and a washable insert for comfort and support. Plus it’s very lightweight, so it’s easy to move around the house.

Maximum weight: 25 lbs. (11,3 kg)

Developmental Guidelines: Use from birth until child is able to pull up or sit unassisted.

Better for Baby

• Comfortable incline for babies who need it.

Better for Mom

• Goes anywhere—folds flat for storage and portability!
• So convenient—take it from room to room!
• Versatile—baby can even sleep overnight in it.


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