Category Archives: Book reviews

First Time Moms: Books for Birth and Beyond

By | Birth Week, Book reviews, Natural Health | 2 Comments

Speaking of birth…If you are expecting a sweet bundle of love or already have one, here are a few great books to add to your library.

Preparing for Birth

Birthing from Within by Pam England – Good resource for preparing for the spiritual and physical reality of childbirth without creating anxiety in the reader. It’s one of the only books I read on the subject that explores a woman’s expectations of childbirth and offers a review of options without condemning the reader if she has chosen a hospital birth. If you’re going to buy a book on the topic, skip the “What to expect…” books (they list everything that can possibly go wrong – like your mind doesn’t explore these possibilities already!) and just read this one.

If you’re looking for a month by month or week by week update on what’s going on with your body and your baby, there are some great – FREE – online tools that aren’t so scary!

The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk, Foreward by Martha Sears, RN – I realize this is not technically a birth book but it’s something you should read before having your baby. Breastfeeding may be natural but that doesn’t mean it’s always a walk in the park. Speaking as a mom who wanted desperately to breastfeed but had some major issues both times, I fell in love with this book and only wish I’d had it before my babies arrived. It is the most comprehensive guide to the mechanics of breastfeeding and supplemental options that I’ve ever read (and believe me, I’ve done my homework!!). If you buy one book on breastfeeding, this should be the one.

Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Susan Weed. Great book on healthy herbs for moms before, during and after pregnancy. Susan Weed is definitely a very earthy person but has an encyclopedic level of knowledge about herbs. I refer to this book frequently.

After your baby arrives

The Baby Book – Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears R.N. – I love this book for those middle of the night moments when your baby is crying and you’re trying not to freak out. It is a sort of middle of the road book – empowering parents to understand basic stages of growth and common baby ailments. Dr. Sears does advocate immunization but also gives parents great advice on what to do before heading to the doctor. I’ve saved a lot of money skipping unnecessary doctor visits (you know the, “It’s just a virus” ones?) with this book. Besides running their own successful pediatric practice, this couple has raised eight children of their own! One of their sons is on the show called “The Doctors“.

Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child – Zand, Roundtree and Walton. My sister-in-law bought this book for me. It also lists common childhood ailments and different treatment modalities for each ailment, including Herbal, Nutritional, Homeopathic or Allopathic (what an M.D. would prescribe). Fabulous book!

Herbal Recipes – Rosemary Gladstar. For those of you who would love to venture into using herbs for beauty or basic health, Rosemary Gladstar is a good place to start.

I am passionate about being educated about health. We moms are our families’ best doctors. Our intuition gives us insight into our kids’ health even before we can physically feel that they have a fever. Our love for them gives us the strength to stay up all night when they’re sick. But education give us confidence that we know the best course of action for a sick little person – whether that’s a home remedy and rest or a trip to the doctor. Now that’s a good feeling.

Blessings on you as you “doctor” your family. Hope these books help!

Organic Mama Book Review – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover

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This Christmas, probably the best present Robert and I received was from his Uncle Sam. Don’t laugh – it’s a book about money. Specifically, Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. I’d heard of Dave Ramsey before but hadn’t ever listened to him. I’d heard he was pretty hard core about his financial guidelines but reading the book, we realized we already follow most of his plan.

What words come to mind when you think about your money? Are you – Excited, confident or secure? Or do you feel fearful, anxious, defensive or angry? I’m not going to lie. Though we pay cash for everything – no credit cards, there have definitely been times that I didn’t really want to know the balance in my account. Unfortunately, we can’t escape money in our present culture.We need it to live. So, what if instead of feeling afraid or unsure of ourselves when we think about how our actual net worth, we could know exactly where we are and where we’re going? If that’s what you’re looking for, this book is for you. We loved it.

If you can’t afford to buy it – guess what? It’s available at the Phoenix Public Library – and I’d venture to guess it’s in the local library of whatever town you call home. But, in the meantime, here are some of the highlights of the book.

In “The Total Money Makeover”, Ramsey reminds his readers that if they are willing to “Live Like No One Else, Later They Will Live Like No One Else”. Meaning – if you’re willing to be a little (or a lot!) frugal now, you’ll find you have so much more to spend later down the road whether it’s for vacations or homes or for your kids’ college education. Dave explains that, as with excess weight, most of the problems people have have with money aren’t due to lack of knowledge but force of (bad) habit.

I love that Mr. Ramsey is honest about where he gets his ideas. He makes no claim to having created some kind of new system. In fact, he credits our depression-era grandparents for his plan, which includes the following novel ideas (for our society).

1. Save an emergency fund. If you have one of these, you won’t be tempted to spend on a credit card when crisis hits.
2. Don’t use credit cards. If you can’t afford to buy it with cash, you probably don’t need it. And, if you have an emergency fund, you don’t need them in emergency.
3. Pay off the debt you incurred rather than choosing bankruptcy or foreclosure. In the long run, he encourages you that it IS possible to pay off the debt and be free from that burden.
4. Contribute to your own retirement. It’s no secret that Social Security won’t fully fund all the living expenses of old age.
5. Pay off your house and invest the money you’re now free to use each month!

If these ideas sound crazy or out of reach in our culture, be encouraged. Not only are they possible, these are the ways our grand or great-grandparents survived what they called the Great Depression. They didn’t survive it by spending money they didn’t have to create an artificial “consumer confidence” index. They grew their own food, used and reused the same things over and over (original recycling), mended their clothes (and sheets) instead of tossing them and bartered or traded for things they needed. My grandparents definitely lived this way and I picked up a lot of their frugal habits from my parents, who also used them. Though, Robert did draw the line when he discovered I was saving old bread bags. Maybe a little extreme…hahaha!

The truth is, so many people in our culture are slaves to their credit card bills, to inflated mortgages and insecure natures that require them to try to keep up with the Jones’. Robert and I have never wanted to be stuck in that rut. As Dave says, the Jones’ may not have enough to live like they’re living either. Where Robert and I have fallen down on the job is in the area of savings. Since reading the book, we’ve decided to take on extra work that will allow us to have the margin we need to create more emergency and retirement savings.

While these are some of the basic ideas of this book, it’s worth buying or borrowing. Taking the time to read this and commit to the plan Dave outlines will give you the time to shift your mind into a new way of looking at money.

Since this is such an important topic to us, we’ll be exploring different ways to save money and use it wisely over the next few months.

Have any of you read this book? What have your experiences with saving money or getting out of debt been?

Organic Mama Reads: Children’s Book Reviews

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It’s been a while since we had a book review. Of course, we’ve not stopped reading at our house. If I try to go a night without a story or 2 books (one for each girl – and sometimes more), I hear about it. And, truthfully, relaxing with my kids and some funny little books is one of the best parts of my day!  Here are a few of the recent books we’ve read.

The Chimpanzees of Happytown – Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees
What I loved best about this book was the colorful illustrations and the rhythm of the text. This is a book in rhyme about a Chimpanzee named Chutney who comes home to his town, Drabsville, USA. While everyone else is used to the dreary gray architecture and dreary day in an out of an unimaginative life, Chutney changes everything by planting a tree washed in color. At first, he gets in trouble but eventually wins everyone over, one by one. The end of the book seemed a little preachy as Chutney lectures the former mayor (who liked his world dreary) about how Chutney’s way of life is better. But overall it was a good read. My kids loved it.

Quiet in the Garden – Aliki
This story centers on a little boy who loves to sit quietly in his garden and observe everything growing and moving in it. He hears the little creatures of the garden talking to each other and in the end, they all share a picnic, using food grown in his garden. I love the idea of teaching children to be still and observe all that is around them in the outdoors – finding treasures in the natural world. Incidentally, the illustrations are beautiful – and somehow – quieting. A great book for just before bedtime. Thumbs up from my girls too.
The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School – Laurie Halse Anderson & Ard Hoyt
I don’t know what it is about hair books but we keep running into them. And, maybe because both my children are girls, they LOVE them. In this story, Zoe Fleefenbacher has a ton of fabulous red hair with a mind of it’s own. Instead of just sitting quietly on her head, it tends to get into everything around it in a rather incredible way. While her kindergarten teacher didn’t mind Zoe’s wild hair, her new first grade teacher insists that “School has rules”.

Unfortunately, Zoe has very little control over her unruly hair. After a series of mishaps, Zoe and her hair finally convince her teacher that after all, this crazy hair is useful and helpful! Personally, I think the whole “hair with a mind of it’s own” thing is a little creepy. But my daughters, particularly my two year old, loved this book. My smallest keeps asking, “Can we read Zoe Fleefenbachie, mommy?” I may have to buy it.

Jack and the Dreamsack – by Lawrence Anholt, Illustrated by Ross Collins
Jack is a curious little boy who thinks it’s a real bummer he can’t remember his dreams in the morning. So, he tries to capture them by placing them in a sack during the night. He has some fun and typically bizarre dreams during his midnight adventure, collecting all he sees. Will he have anything left in the morning? Guess you’ll have to read it to find out!

That’s it for today. Go read a book with your little people!!

Organic Mama Reads: Children’s Book Reviews

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If you have a small person in your life who needs a Christmas gift, why not consider a book? Here are some of the fun ones we have read lately.

Fannie in the Kitchen – Author Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrator Nancy Carpenter
If you’re thinking that Fannie and the word kitchen sound familiar together, you’re right. This is the story of Fannie Farmer – as in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. Credited by some as the inventor of the modern recipe, Fannie was among the first people to create written guidelines for cooking and baking with exact measurements. As a mother’s helper in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shaw, she teaches their young daughter Marcia how to cook by writing her a gigantic book of recipes. Of course, she’s soon on her way to being a published author. Very cute book with old fashioned looking dresses and a bonus recipe for griddle cakes in the back. That’s pancakes, in case you didn’t know. I just like the name griddle cakes better.

The Brave Little Seamstress – Author Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrator Giselle Potter
I picked this book for nostalgia’s sake because I recognized it as a take on an old Grimm’s fairy tale – The Brave Little Tailor. When her shop is overrun with flies, the little seamstress smashes 7 in one blow. She is so proud of her accomplishment, she make a vest with the boast written on the back, “Seven in One Blow!” Of course, no one realizes she’s talking about flies and she’s soon making a name for herself across the kingdom as a kind of super-knight. What happens when she runs into the king who is intimidated by her accomplishments? Read it and find out!

Jack and Jill’s Treehouse – Author Pamela Duncan Edwards, Illustrator Henry Cole
The illustrations are what drew me to this book. They are colorful and, I think, pencil drawn. The words have a rhythmic quality and follow the pattern of “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly”. Jack and Jill build a lovely little tree house with simple tools and proceed to invite their friends over to play. The story was simple enough but the pictures made it was one of my daughter’s favorite books this week. She keeps telling me she wants to build a tree house and I keep explaining that a quarter-mile tall pine tree is not an ideal spot. Regardless, if you like the illustrations in this book, check out Henry Cole’s site at

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous – Author Leslea Newman, Illustrator Peter Ferguson
The star of this book is a little boy who possesses a unique joie de vivre. He is so captivated by the wonder of life around him that he tends to be late to everything. His parents decide he needs to quit dawdling so they tell him he can no longer say his favorite word, “Fabulous!”. He only mopes for a moment before he realizes there are plenty of other words to express his delight at the world around him. Thankfully, his parents realize how wonderful he is and pronounce him, “Fabulous!” The illustrations in this book are nostalgic and remind me of the movie, “Up.” Very cute.

What a Good Big Brother – Diane Wright Landolf, Illustrator Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Another book whose illustrations captured my attention. Big Brother Cameron’s face covers the front of this book and he is darling with earnest brown eyes, wide lips and a freckled nose. He loves his new little sister and spends his time helping mom and dad change diapers and feed her. In the end, he is the first to make her laugh. This is a great book for those of you who are either getting ready to welcome a new baby into the family or might be experiencing a little jealousy over a baby whose already arrived. Nothing like reading with your toddler-preschooler to let them know they’re still important after the baby arrives!