Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Baby Prez: 8- 9 Months

Dear Baby Prez,

This is your update for months 8 and 9!  And what a couple of months it was!  You are growing and developing like a superstar!  In the past few months, you have reached some milestones like learning to sit and crawl, experienced several firsts like flying on an airplane, and grown into quite the big boy.

Baby mohawk!


Milestones

Just a few weeks after you hit 7 months, you began sitting up on your own (for more than a few seconds).  Mommy was a little worried because all the books say that 7 months is the upper end for learning to sit up.  Sitting up was one of your coolest developments to date.  It completely changed how you interacted with objects and played.


But then...

Only a week or so later, you mastered the art of crawling!  Mommy definitely thought that she would have more of a gap in between sitting up and mobility!!!!  And she was a little scared of you crawling.  Not scared in the "Oh my goodness, I hope he doesn't get hurt" way, but more of the, "Oh no!  I have to watch him every single solitary second so he doesn't get into anything bad, gross, dangerous, dirty, etc." way.  So Mommy was quite surprised when crawling wasn't so bad at all.  In fact, close some doors and add a gate to block the kitchen, and crawling was great.  Instead of just crying or falling over trying to get a new toy, you could just crawl over and start playing with it!


But then...

Only a few days later, you began using the furniture to pull yourself into a standing position.  And Mommy, said, "Oh No!" because now you really do have to be watched every second.  And even though you figured out how to stand, and were quite proud of yourself, it took you awhile to figure out how to get down from standing without just falling over.


And then...

Well actually, around the same time as crawling, you got your very first tooth!  And your second tooth!  It was about three weeks of new developments and accomplishments every time we turned around.  The first few days while that first tooth was cutting through your gum and growing in were pretty tough, but you made it!


And then...

You learned to wave!  You wave at everything and everyone from the puppies to the ceiling fan, from Mommy & Daddy to your toys.  It's pretty much the most adorable thing ever.  


video



Your "Firsts"

Beyond your developmental firsts of first time sitting up, first time crawling, first time standing, and first tooth you also experienced more firsts!

In about a week's time, you had your first illnesses - the flu bug, a cold, and an ear infection.  One right after the other in January.  First it was the flu bug.  Mommy got sick, so Daddy took over while Mommy felt miserable, but then the next day, Daddy started feeling sick.  So we called Mimi.  You went to Mimi's house for a few days, and Mommy and Daddy hoped that you wouldn't get sick.  But no.  Instead, not only did you get sick, but we also passed the bug to everyone at Mimi's house.  About three days after Mommy got sick, Mommy and Daddy also went to Mimi's house to take care of you and everyone else that was sick.  It was not the best week of your life...for anyone involved.  This earned you the affectionate nickname: plague rat.  And you are my favorite little plague rat.  Right after you got over the flu bug, you caught a cold.  Poor baby.  And right after that, an ear infection.  Thank goodness for the pink medicine (i.e. antibiotics).

You also experienced your very first airplane rides.  We were all very sad because your Daddy's aunt passed away, so we traveled to Pennsylvania for the memorial service.  And yes, we traveled by plane.  Before the trip, Mommy did lots of research about flying with babies, and the research paid off.  You were a very good boy through security, all of the flights, and even while we were delayed on the tarmac.  In fact, you slept through the majority of our four flights.  Mommy and Daddy sure are blessed with an amazing baby -- You!

You also got to meet many of your cousins on Daddy's side of the family.  Your Mimi has five siblings, so there were lots and lots of cousins through their kids and their kids' kids.  You were the baby though, and that meant that you were in high demand.  You got passed around and cuddled and tickled and cooed at and loved on.  Baby Prez, always remember that there is no measure for the love of family and that family is always a priority (right after God and your wifey).

During the same trip, we stayed in a hotel with you for the very first time.  I think you missed home, but you also got sick the second night we were there, which meant that you cried.  All.  Night.  Long.  You had been sleeping through the night pretty well since December (6 1/2 months), so not sleeping through the night was unusual.  And not sleeping at all was crazy.  Mommy got about two hours of sleep that night, and Daddy got zero sleep that night.  By about 3 or 4AM (and a hour and a half before we needed to leave for the airport), your forehead felt too hot.  Oh no!  A fever!  Luckily, your Daddy is a hero.  Despite getting no sleep, he ventured out in the middle of the night to find you some baby advil.

So, in one trip, you had your first plane ride, first hotel room, and first fever, and you met many new people.


Another new experience for you is daycare.  In January, you started to go to daycare twice a week, right next door.  It has been so nice to be able to walk you from door to door in about a minute.  Mommy was a little nervous about doing daycare, but Mommy and Daddy knew that Mommy needed some extra time to work on her dissertation and other schoolwork.  And aren't all mom a little worried on that first morning of daycare?  But daycare has been great.  You have so much fun with Lisa and the kids.  You even have a best friend, Henry.  Henry is not quite a year older than you, but still the closest in age to you.  Since he can walk, when you are playing in the walker, Henry will bring you toys and play with the walker toys with you.  You also play patty-cake with him!  And Nora, who is about a year older than you, has a little crush on you.  She will give you hugs and bring you toys.

Right before you turned nine months, we started on table foods.  And at nine months you still weren't very interested.  We tried bananas, macaroni noodles, grape halves, etc.  But you thought they were just for playing.  (A sneak preview of your next update is that you're starting to like table foods!)




More 8-9 Month Highlights

In January, Mommy and Baby Prez traveled to Oklahoma to visit Gramma, Grandpa, and Aunt Kiley.  You were spoiled while Mommy worked like a crazy woman to catch up on schoolwork.  You even got to watch your first basketball game.  Even better, you got to meet Pistol Pete!

Go Cowgirls!

And in February, you got to attend a birthday party for the first time.  Along with a the party, you got to go to a roller skating rink (no, you didn't get to skate) and see a balloon for the first time.  Went to a birthday party for the first time at the skating rink for cousin Chanel



At your 9 month checkup, your were:

20 pounds 9 ounces 
and 
29 inches tall.

Learning physics with Daddy

Snow!

Good night

Mommy and Daddy can't wait to see all of your new accomplishments in the next few months and beyond!  You are a very special little man, Baby President.


Love,


Mommy


Friday, March 21, 2014

Echoes of Mercy: Book Review

Being a part of an author's launch team is an incredible blessing for someone who loves to read!  My last review was back in September of What Once Was Lost.  And then there was the short fiction, Just As I Am, which bridges between What Once Was Lost and my newest book, Echoes of Mercy.  So, I was excited to find Kim Vogel Sawyer's newest historical Christian romance novel in my mailbox.  And the only thing I like more than a historical Christian romance novel, is a historical Christian romance novel with a hint of suspense.  And Echoes of Mercy certainly delivers!

Buy it on Amazon HERE.

Echoes of Mercy follows the adventure of Caroline Lang, a young woman driven to uncover the ills and misfortunes of child labor.  I think I am a woman who is passionate about God and that God has called my heart beyond just compassion for the children of the world who lack for love and comfort.  So Echoes of Mercy really spoke to me and pulled on my heart strings.  

I don't often review books here at Harvey Ever After and there are a couple of reasons for that.  The first one is that I simply enjoy reading, and so I like almost all books I read.  But the second reason is that if I were reading a review, I'd like to come up with some objective criteria through which I can compare books.  So, with this review I'm starting a scoring system along with some "vital statistics".  Like anyone trying to find an answer, I googled book review criteria, and there are all kinds of systems out there, but honestly, none of them really worked for me.  My inspirations, however, were from JeriWB, Mother, Daugher & Son Book Reviews (yes, one for children's books), and BookLook Bloggers.  My new book criteria are: organization, voice, word choice, character development, plot, and the faith factor.  (And a short summary!  I almost forgot that.  Oops!)

Vitals Stats 

Genre: Historical Christian Fiction/Romance
Setting: Kansas, 1904

Summary

After a suspicious death at the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory, Caroline Lang takes on an undercover assignment as a factory employee to investigate the working conditions for children as well as the death itself.  Caroline is especially suited for the work through her background, passion, faith, and compassion, and fervently believes that children should be able to go to school instead of working in factories.  

The heir to the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory, Oliver, is also undercover at the factory.  He pretends to be a common laborer and takes a janitor job.  His goal is to fully understand the business before he takes over from is father.  Oliver and Carry hit it off immediately, but their bond is strained because each is trying to keep their identity a secret from the other.  They are brought together to help a destitute family, but discover that they have very different views on a key issue - child labor.  Will their differences keep them apart?  Or will God lead them down a path together?

Organization

Echoes of Mercy flows well throughout the story.  The voices are outlined clearly so that the reader always understands whose perspective we are seeing the world through.  The chapter beginnings and endings work well to move the story along.  And the appearance of the book cover, interior, chapter headings, etc. are pleasing to the eye.  

Voice 

I've noticed that in many of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books, the point-of-view, or voice, changes throughout the story among the primary characters.  The same is true for Echoes of Mercy.  I thoroughly enjoy this type of writing because I enjoy learning about the way each of the characters think.  There is a balance, however, in that the number of viewpoints is limited to two or three, which allows the reader to switch back-and-forth with ease.   

Word Choice 

The language used in the book is appropriate, especially given the historical nature of the book.  It is clear to me that the author has done extensive research and also understands the characters fully so as to maintain an obvious distinction throughout the story.  In Echoes of Mercy, I particularly like that the accents and speech tendencies are pointed out, and that they are consistent from beginning to end.

Character Development 

Caroline Lang - our heroine, who investigates child labor issues through undercover work at the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory
Oliver Dinsmore - heir to the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory, who is doing his own version of undercover work

Letta - a destitute teenager, who is desperately seeking work to support her brothers and father
Kesia - a sassy cafe owner with the biggest heart 
Gordon Hightower - factory manager, who has worked for the Dinsmore Chocolate Factor since he was a child
Noble & Annemarie - Caroline's boss and mentors who display incredible faith

Like so many of Kim Vogel Sawyers books, the characters in Echoes of Mercy are easy to like (and easy to dislike in some cases).  I could easily identify with the main character, Carrie Lang, in that we both are passionate about less fortunate children, though admittedly, our backgrounds are worlds apart.  Nevertheless, I found myself living out an adventure and a love story through Caroline's eyes.  Likewise,the male lead, Oliver, has a character that is endearing and admirable.  And the minor characters in this story are just fantastic - a sassy, compassionate cook/entrepreneur and three penniless, deprived siblings with the most adorable spunk, and determined, loving, and vigorous adoptive parents.  

Plot

As I mentioned above, the plot of this story drew me in at the start and didn't let up until the end.  I'm one of those people are so curious about the characters' lives after the story ends that I make up my own continuations of the story.  The plot builds up slowly enough so that the reader gets to know the characters before jumping into the action, and then the action is suspenseful with just the right climax.  In addition, the plot line and even the romance timeline are believable and probable.  So often characters are just thrown together and fall in love after meet a handful of times, but not here.  Not in Echoes of Mercy. 

Can loved ones keep secrets and still end up together?  In this tale, you will find yourself nervous and anxious for the characters.  Angry at others.  And still in awe at some of the incredible acts of faith and heroism.  Beyond that you'll wonder how the Caroline and Oliver can carry the burden of their secrets and how on earth they'll ever be able to come clean, especially to each other!  

Faith Factor

Since Kim Vogel Sawyer's books are Christian stories of hope and inspiration, the last criteria is the "faith factor".  I have read books in the past that claim to be stories of faith, but that seemed to pull a few verses in here and there all willy nilly at the last minute, almost as if the story wasn't written as a Christian novel, but that the author thought they'd have a better chance at getting published if they went that route.  I've never experienced that with a Kim Vogel Sawyer book.  And Echoes of Mercy was no different.  The faith of the characters and the stories of redemption and conversion were interwoven into the story as an integral thread.  Love it.  


Echoes of Mercy is truly an inspirational tale of love, adventure, redemption, trust and faith.  It now sits on with the books that I've read dozens of times because I plan to read Echoes of Mercy dozens of times.  The historical setting was believable and fascinating.  The characters were lovable and hateable.  The plot line kept me intrigued throughout the book.  I couldn't wait to get to the ending and yet I dreaded that the ending would be the end of the story.  And what an amazing message of God's mercy and grace.  Loved it!

You should also check out some of my other Kim Vogel Sawyer favorites - My Heart Remembers, Sweet Sanctuary, and A Promise for Spring!


Going forward, I'd like to start some sort of point system for each criterion above and an overall score.  Something like stars, but related to books.  What do you think?  Do have any ideas?  I'm thinking chapters, apples, fan mail . . .   




*I received this book from the author/publisher for my honest review, which is above. This post may contain affiliate links.