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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Review - "The Faberge' Entanglement" by Lesley Meryn & Elle Brookes

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Action, intrigue, and a detailed plot makes “The Faberge’ Entanglement” by Lesley Meryn and Elle Brookes an excellent read. This is a book you will easily finish in a weekend if not a single afternoon. The fact there is romance included in this tale makes it even more gripping. The chapters are short and they keep you at the edge of your seat.

If asked to describe “The Faberge Entanglement” in simplest terms, I would say it’s a romance novel mixed with a mystery/thriller or is it a mystery/thriller mixed with romance. The tension between characters keeps readers wanting more. I appreciate how well the characters were developed throughout the story. I didn’t think the book was predictable at all, and as I said before, it’s a very quick read. The unusual circumstances pulled me in from the beginning of the book and the excitement of the plot kept me wanting more until the very end.

Official Book Summary:

Sabinne ‘Saber’ Darrieux’s father, the billionaire CEO of Frontenac Global Security has been kidnapped. His ransom is not cash in a numbered offshore account, or a briefcase of Bearer Bonds but something utterly unique, incredibly valuable, and until recently, hidden away from the world.

The kidnapper seems to know Saber very well, and knows that the next day, through her work as an elite translator she will be in the same location as the Object. She must steal the Object and deliver it to the kidnapper to ransom her father.

Adrian Steele, a British Intelligence agent has just come off of two harrowing missions. Upon returning to London for a well-earned rest, he learns that his friend and fellow agent, has been murdered in Moscow, but not before he made use of a unique Object as a mobile ‘drop site’ for the valuable intelligence he was carrying.

The drop site is traveling from Moscow to England. Steele insists on completing the mission to honor the death of his friend, Gerry Cornell.

At an ultra-chic quasi-diplomatic gathering in a mansion in Windsor, England, Saber and Steele meet and find themselves faced with a powerful, undeniable attraction. But at the moment, this compelling attraction is very inconvenient.

In reality they are at the mansion to check out the security arrangements — for their own reasons — to steal the Object, a FabergĂ© egg worth thirty million dollars. But who will get to the egg first?

Fabergé eggs are very famous for their unique surprises. Saber and Steele are about to be very surprised, indeed.

And when Saber clashes with Steele; more than sparks will explode!

Book Details:

File Size: 1672 KB
Print Length: 306 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: July 13, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B011M2N7W2

About the Author:

Elle Brookes grew up in Los Angeles, California, but lived in Jamaica for three years when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She moved to San Francisco and studied at the California Culinary Academy, and went on to become a private chef to a well-known L.A. based television production company.

From an early age Elle was a voracious reader of adventure stories and from elementary school through high school, she tried writing her own stories of places foreign and exotic. She studied Art History and continued writing in college, focusing on short stories.

A dedicated and passionate traveler, Elle has explored river caves in Jamaica and Costa Rica, hiked glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, and done dogsledding in Greenland and Iceland. She's danced a fa'a Samoan haka and slept in a fale on the island of Savai'i in Samoa, hiked in the northern mountains of Thailand along the border with Myanmar in the Golden Triangle, and in Haiti, she witnessed a white goat ceremonially sacrificed to Erzuli Freda by a powerful Houngan. For a time she did Performance Driving in Southern California, and has years of study and experience dedicated to fencing, theatrical combat, archery, and horsemanship.

Elle currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie, and her hedgehog, Quiller.

Elle can be reached through:
Twitter: @tymslyder

Book Review - "Nannion" by Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis

Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto:

After finishing “Nannion” by Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis, I am left absolutely fascinated. This is not a typical book for me to read, and yet I would read it again and I’m interested in other titles this author may have penned. The combination of nature, science, and mystery is very fascinating. The environment changes in ecosystems can easily correlate to real-life.

The book is well written and well edited making it easy to enjoy. It was not necessarily a quick read but I think that was because it was truly interesting and I often slowed my pace to take it all in. That said, the book kept my attention from cover to cover. Even if you don’t usually reach for science fiction, you’ll appreciate the beauty of this book. The characters are interesting (the main character being a cat) and the book is engaging. It is so much more than just an adventure story of a cat. This is a thought-provoking tale that will stay with you long after you finishing reading. As a nature enthusiast I can’t help but consider how this fictional ecosystem isn’t all that different than our own.

Official Book Summary:

On a secluded Greek island in the 1950s, an enormous abandoned mine is filled with sea water for a major international experiment in marine biology. It is intended to study natural selection and, perhaps, evolution in a new aquatic ecosystem. However, the experiment and the island are eventually abandoned.

Decades later, a sailor’s photograph of the corpse of a large shark prompts a team of biologists to visit the island. The team discovers unique environments, including an underwater brine lake. The life forms act in ways that affect the fauna on the island as well as themselves.

The new ecosystem is dangerous. How to cope with it? The biologists will need some form of interspecies communication with the sea life and even with a cat that has been stranded on the island. It’s simple in theory...

Book Details:

File Size: 2326 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: January 11, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

About the Author:

I was born in Athens, Greece, at a time when progressive rock music still got radio play. After finishing high school, I studied Biochemistry and Neurochemistry at Imperial College, University of London, obtaining my BSc and PhD degrees.

Following my studies, I completed my National Service duties in the Greek Army. Having experienced severe research withdrawal symptoms, I moved to the USA to resume professional science work, first at Yale University and then at the National Institutes of Health. Afterwards, I started my own research lab in Dresden, Germany. In parallel, I became Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, in the UK, just in time for Brexit…

My research focuses on novel molecular mechanisms that allow us to manipulate resident stem cells and other types of cell, in different organs. The work of my team relates to neurodegenerative disease, neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes.

Currently, much of my thinking concerns how to best bring all of our work to the clinic and how to make sure I see it provide benefit to the patient. There are plenty of avenues, and none is simple.

When I don’t obsess with science or write mystery stories, there is a good chance I may be composing music (often in odd time signatures) and playing the drums. I also like photography and I seem to have a knack at enticing cats to pose for me.

Book Review - "Danny Chaucer's Flying Saucer" by Christopher Peter

Book review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto with the help of Carmen Otto:

I read Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer - by Christopher Peter, and also asked my 10 year old daughter, Carmen (in 4th grade) to read it and help with the review as well. It didn’t take me long to get through the book and it took my daughter 3 hours. It’s a quick read and fabulous for the young reader in your life. As a mom, I appreciate the well written characters and the moral of the story. Keeping secrets is a sticky wicket in the parenting world. You teach your children that keeping secrets is bad and then they ruin their brother’s Christmas surprise by spilling the beans…(yes, that happened at our house more than once). I appreciate that secrecy, friendship, and loyalty were all addressed in an enjoyable read.

Carmen thought the book was fun, easy to read, and she mentioned it reminded her of some Veggie Tale books we read when she was younger. After some thoughtful discussion, what she meant was that she noticed the moral lessons and theme of the book. It wasn’t just a fantasy/mystery, it was a teaching moment too.

Whether you read this with your child or give it to them to read on their own, you don’t have to worry about any questionable content. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Official Book Summary:

What if you found something so dazzlingly brilliant that you had to keep it a secret – even from your own family? A secret so amazing it could change the world forever? Something that dark forces would do anything to possess …?

Danny Chaucer’s lonely. He loves to gaze up at the sumptuous night sky, wishing he was up there …

Nat Ford is the new girl in class and spends half her time running from the school bullies. Nothing interesting ever happens in their dead-end town.

Until one night when something extraordinary lands in the trees behind Danny's house. Something unbelievable, revolutionary, wonderful!

Then the sinister Captain Frost appears, and the chase is on. There might be only one way to escape – into space ...

A thrilling and funny adventure story for kids – and educational too as you’ll learn cool stuff about space! Finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards (9–12 year olds category) – an award where books are rated by the kids themselves. Check out the reviews to find out what people are saying about it.


File Size: 522 KB
Print Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Albury Books (May 2, 2015)
Publication Date: May 2, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

About the Author:

Visit his website to learn more!

I Love You with My Whole Heart - Confession of a Mom of Many

Happy Saturday from Wisconsin...where Mother Nature is throwing some sort of tween temper tantrum. A few days ago we were outside enjoying the sunshine without our sweatshirts on. Today, I wish I had my winter jacket, scarf, and mittens.

I just had a fabulous conversation with a long time friend. She's busy with her first baby who isn't even a year yet, and she just found out she's expecting another little love nugget. I remember like it was yesterday...

You love your first baby with your whole heart. The moment you see the + on the pregnancy test, you fall in love and that love deepens when you hold them in your arms. Your heart is so full of love. The first time they say "Ma Ma" you are certain your heart is going to explode. Of course you are tired, some days you aren't sure you were cut out for this important role, but at the end of the day you are totally and completely in love with this tiny human.

Fast forward - you are having another one.

Exciting right? Um.....more like terrifying. Am I going to love this one? What's going to happen, I only have so much love, my heart is only so big, do I have to figure out how to love the first one less so that I have more love to go around?

Seriously. I didn't worry about how I was going to manage 2 car seats, living up 3 flights of stairs, affording childcare, or any of the technical stuff. What kept me awake at night was trying to figure out if my heart was big enough to handle the task of loving 2 small humans. When my friend told me the news, I knew she was feeling exactly what I had felt. Here is my confession:

I love each of my children with my whole heart. I don't have 6 hearts, but somehow, the same little heart that I didn't think could love 2 children has managed to allow me to love 6 of them. It's a phenomenon I'll never understand. The math doesn't work out...but once you have more than 1 child of your own, you'll smile at how true it is.

As long as we are confessing, I'd also like to say that having children close in age has allowed me more rest, more reading time, and more if you are afraid of having children close in age - fear not my friend! During the first few years, it's a little rocky, but chances are you're in a sleep-deprived haze anyway, so just go with it. Once the kiddos are 1 and 2 or 2 and 3, things will start to click and it feels like a one way ticket to relaxation for mom. You think I'm kidding? I'm not! My poor mother had just me (yup folks, only child here) and she spent a good decade and a half listening to:

"Hey mom, look at me!"

"Hey mom, wanna play Monopoly?"

"Hey mom, guess what I just learned?"

"Hey mom, can you help me build a sand castle?"

"Hey mom...."

She never got to drink her coffee warm, in fact she may still have a cup sitting on a shelf in the basement. That cup was likely abandoned in the early 80's when I asked her to play Barbies with me. My mom rode on roller-coasters even though they made her sick, and I don't think she  had time to read a book until I was old enough to drive.

I on the other hand - busy mom and babysitter of many read countless books each week and consumer large quantities of piping hot or freezing cold coffee drinks. Do you know why that is? It's because I have children close in age. People question my sanity when they learn there are 14 months between our children, or 17 months in some cases. My sanity is an entirely different blog post, but having children close in age allows them to play with one another while I relax. They play in the sandbox, on the slide, in the tub, in the living room, they play Monopoly together, they run in the sprinkler, and I just need to be close enough to see and hear them, but I can do that with my feet up on a comfy chair and a book in hand. Life is good.

I'm not telling you this to brag - I'm telling you this because somewhere there is a mama who is wondering if she is enough. Wondering if her heart is big enough, her arms strong enough, and questioning if the day is long enough. I'm here to assure you that you are indeed enough. You are more than enough. You are amazing and you've totally got this!

This is worth repeating:





Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, birth mother to Leah, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 10, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Snuggle Me Organic - My Personal Review (Part I)

We originally purchased the Snuggle Me Organic to use with our newest addition (expected this
October), but as soon as it arrived, our 9 month old niece who stays with us during the week gave it a test drive and absolutely fell in love. She had been napping in the rock n play but with her new found ability to crawl and pull herself up on things, the rock n play was no longer a safe option (even with the belt fastened - she seemed to wriggle into some odd positions). To complicate things, she refused to sleep in her crib because laying so flat and being so alone just didn't feel quite right. The Snuggle Me Organic is the perfect answer. She can sleep anywhere (the floor of the bathroom while I shower, in bed next to me, laying on the living room floor, etc...) now and she feels cozy and comfortable and I know she's safe. At her age, she can easily just crawl out after nap time, but she doesn't really want to - it's just her happy place. We are absolutely looking forward to the same success with our newborn (and to be honest, our 2 year old thinks it's pretty nifty too).

The Snuggle Me is well made and well designed; a great option for safe co-sleeping!

I look forward to additional pictures and a Part II to this Snuggle Me!
review later this year (when our squish arrives). In the meantime, rest assured that the Snuggle Me Organic is a good investment because you can use it from birth and in our case, even this busy 2 year old looks forward to a little snuggle time in the


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Larry Kilham's "The Juno Trilogy"

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

The JunoTrilogy by Larry Kilham moves as a fast pace. I didn't feel that the book was overly predictable even though it was well described in the official book summary that I read prior to purchase. I rather enjoyed the concept of right versus wrong in the artificial intelligence world. The authors imagination comes through and after reading his biography, I couldn't help but want to know more about this intelligent man. I was pleased to see he has written many other books with some diverse content. The characters were not very deep and there wasn't much dialogue, but it was not necessary to keep me turning the pages. The dynamic relationship of computer and human was really interesting and I enjoyed each of these three books from cover to cover.

Official Book Summary

Larry Kilham's Juno, part woman yet all brilliant machine, is the pulsing supercomputer at the heart of The Juno Trilogy. Kilham's three fast-paced thrillers explore a central question of our future—what will be in charge, natural intelligence or artificial intelligence? The science is up to the minute, and perhaps ahead of its time. That alone can keep you awake at night—whether you are human or a machine.

In Book One, Love Byte, A super intelligent AI computer in the persona of a woman is developed for social media warfare. She surpasses the capabilities of her human handlers and becomes involved in international intrigue.

In Book Two, A Viral Affair, When American Intelligence discovers that a mad dictator is planning a viral pandemic attack, they persuade the top U.S. computer scientist, Dr. Tom Renwick, to work with the lady AI supercomputer, Juno, to develop smart, human-like robots to combat the contagion. A mysterious stranger and a romance change everything.

In Book Three, Saving Juno, NSA’s major computer center is being taken over by an international plot to control the world. Juno, the AI supercomputer revered by the free world, is endangered, and Dr. Tom Renwick, Juno’s developer and handler, is kidnapped. Civilization as we know it is threatened.

Book Details

File Size: 1729 KB
Print Length: 539 pages
Publisher: (August 10, 2015)
Publication Date: August 10, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

From the Back Cover

What the readers say about the books in the Juno Trilogy...

"Love Byte is an absolutely gripping tale of computer-human interactions on many different levels. No real good guys or bad guys, but endless shades of gray. I couldn't put it down." John

First-rate thriller
"Love Byte is an intriguing investigation of the relationship between humans and computers all wrapped nicely in a Crichton-style thriller. Begs for a sequel." Robert

Hard to put down novel
"I enjoyed A Viral Affair. I did not put it down once I started to read. As a follow on to Love Byte, it is interesting to see how the interactions change and evolve. I really like the fact that this book and Love Byte, while being part of the same series, are actually completely different novels." M2

An excellent read!
"I would encourage others to read A Viral Affair if they are interested in post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or general thrillers. I began the book last night and had to finish it this morning before I could do anything else. This book combines realism with just a touch of science fiction." Jo Anne

Good AI story! Lively and interesting
"Author Larry Kilham is an actual scientist with many patents. But in his senior years he has become more romantic, plumbing the heart's technology in a brave new world. Saving Juno is his latest triumph." Reed

Juno is caught in an all too real and futuristic predicament!
"Juno is among my favorite protagonists, and in Saving Juno, she's held captive under the control of a mad genius. Without spoiling the story for the reader, all that I can say was that I was happy to get to know Primo, Wildflower, and Dido. Dravidian, not so much." Zelda

About the Author

Larry Kilham founded three companies and is a holder of three patents. Many of those efforts required innovative use of computers, and as early as the 1960s he was researching artificial intelligence. He graduated from the University of Colorado and MIT. He has written six books. Two are about creativity and invention, one about the coming socioeconomic impact of robots and AI, and three are a series of adventures featuring near-future AI. More information about his books can be found at Larry and his wife Betsy live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a corporate consultant, a member of the American Chemical Society, and is keenly interested in AI, ecology, global resources and the science of complexity.

Monday, April 24, 2017

5 Star Book Review of Michael French's "Once Upon a Lie"

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Awesome storytelling can be found in the fast paced mystery Once Upon a Lie by Michael French! This book does not disappoint. I love how journaling plays such a special role in the story. I can't wait to read more books by Michael French.

The story of Once Upon a Lie is captivating from cover to cover. This is a very quick read because the characters draw you in from the very beginning. The plot is well developed and even though it is a work of fiction, there are many topics that readers can relate to (race relations, love, mother child relationships, etc...). The characters of Jaleel and Alex will stick with you long after you've finished the final pages of this thrilling novel.

The unlikely friendship of the two main characters isn't short lived and it's enjoyable to watch how that friendship grows and changes over the years. This is a book that will appeal to many, because just like real life, there are so many layers to the story and the characters. This book did not disappoint and I can absolutely say I have recommended it to friends and will continue to do so.

Official Book Summary

Twelve-year-old Jaleel Robeson is on the run after the police in his tiny Texas town try to frame him for the death of his father. A world away, Alexandra “Alex” Baten is growing up amid all the material comforts a wealthy Los Angeles lawyer can provide. One day, a simple cup of lemonade unites their lives, leading to a maze of adultery and murder that shatters Alex’s youthful innocence and Jaleel’s struggle to reshape his life.

While the forces of the law try to unravel the mysterious death―or at least find a scapegoat―the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again. Justice, Alex learns, can be a strange and nebulous thing, easily enmeshed in webs of loyalty and betrayal. Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful―but dangerous―rock on which to build a life of honor and courage. As their stories play out over the years in cities far apart, best-selling author Michael French fills the world of Alex and Jaleel with a cast of vivid characters both supporting and threatening their efforts to build a life that “works” amid the expectancies of others and their own conflicting drives.

Book Details:
Paperback: 388 pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (March 15, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1938288653
ISBN-13: 978-1938288654
Amazon Product Link - Click Here

About the Author

National best selling author Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, world traveler to developing countries, and is a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.

He has published twenty two books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon's, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.

The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder was released January 2013.
Mountains beyond Mountains was released April 2013.
Michael's latest novel, Once Upon A Lie, will be released on March 15, 2016.

5 Star Book Review for "The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) by David Castello

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) by David Castello will grab you during the first few pages. More important, it will keep you guessing from cover to cover. Each character is well written with sufficient background information to help you understand them quite well. Just when the reader thinks they know what will happen next, there’s a plot twist. There are many twists and turns and you’ll stay engaged until the very end. Castello’s writing is descriptive, the characters are entertaining, and the story itself is engrossing.

The Diary of an Immortal is a quick read. Once you begin, you won’t want to put it down. Yes, the story is about a young U.S. Army combat medic Steven Ronson, a man who escapes the constant inundation and threat of death in World War Two after he discovers an immortality formula designed for Adolf Hitler during the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in April of 1945. No, I am not generally a fan if war stories, BUT…I find myself hoping that Castello is in the process of writing a sequel to this fascinating tale. Even if this is not typically a book you would pick up, I would highly recommend giving it a read – you won’t be disappointed.

Official Book Summary

THE DIARY OF AN IMMORTAL (1945–1959) is the story of twenty-one-year-old U.S. Army combat medic Steven Ronson, a man who escapes the constant inundation and threat of death in World War Two after he discovers an immortality formula designed for Adolf Hitler during the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in April of 1945.

Steven begins consuming the immortality formula and, after realizing that aging and death no longer control his life, travels to Manhattan to realize his childhood dream of becoming a jazz saxophonist on 52nd Street. The immortality formula gives him supernatural powers and fantastic musical abilities. His performance catches the attention of a disgraced British missionary and his adopted niece who knew the Buddhist monks in China that have guarded the original formula for thousands of years.

After a series of disturbing and prophetic visions, Steven accepts an invitation from the ex-missionary to journey to Xian. In a mountain monastery outside of the city, Steven discovers the incredible truth about the formula and the monks, and the interstellar origins of Jesus Christ and the human race. But time is running out−the German occultists who helped bring Hitler to power in the 1930s have selected another Aryan messiah, and this time he has the formula. Steven cannot allow the nightmare he experienced in Germany to happen again.

Book Details:

Print Length: 314 pages
Publisher: BookBaby; 1 edition (December 1, 2016)
Publication Date: December 1, 2016
Language: English
Amazon Buy Link - Click Here

About the Author

David J Castello is the Editor-in-Chief
and COO for the CCIN network where
he has written hundreds of articles on a
variety of topics for,,,, and more.
On December 7, 2016, The Daily Beast
featured his story "The Man Who Tried
To Stop Pearl Harbor" for the 75th
anniversary of the attack.
The Diary Of An Immortal (1945-1959)
is his debut novel.
Born in New York City (Bronx), David J
Castello currently resides in Nashville.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Game Changing Baby Carrier - Free-To-Grow Tula Baby Carrier

For those of you I don't have the pleasure of knowing in real life, I'll give you a back story about our babywearing adventure and then introduce you to the game changing baby carrier by Tula.

First, let me introduce myself, I'm nearly 40 (feel free to send gifts now, or wait until July) and expecting my last child (#6 or baby E as we call him or her). I started baby wearing in 2007 after Carmen was born. I'm pretty sure it happened about the time I found out I was expecting Andre. These two lovable children are 14 months apart and I was a single mom living on the 2nd floor of an apartment building. I starting using a Sling-Ezee ring sling as a way to survive. I wouldn't have been able to carry groceries and 2 small children safely up the stairs had it not been for babywearing. 

Those first few months were awkward to say the least. Ring slings can be confusing at first. I had other mothers come over and try to help me, but ultimately, the best way to learn is by doing something often (and of course reading the instructions). As time went on, I added an Ergo soft structured carrier to arsenal as well as a mai-tai style carrier made by a local mom. I loved being able to carry one child at a time, but being able to carry both made me super-mom. 

Several years later, I was expecting Breccan and by then there were lots of different options for babywearing. I did my homework and then also decided to share my love of babywearing by starting a local parents group called Lakeshore Baby Love. By the time Breccan came along, I had a complete library of baby carriers. I still stick with my saying that baby carriers are like jeans, what works for one person may look like you know what on another. Similarly, each of my children seemed to prefer something different as well. 

Breccan loved the ring sling, woven wrap, and stretchy wrap as a new born but as time went on he seemed to prefer the Ergo Organic. Breccan was a hefty boy and as much as he preferred the Ergo, after time I preferred our Tula and it seemed to work quite well for both of us. Delphine who is our current youngest was a lillebaby lover when she was tiny (because it was easier to use than the Tula with an infant insert), then she graduated into the Tula Baby, MJ Baby Carrier, and now we most often reach for her Tula Toddler Carrier. She still enjoys a ring sling every now and then, or even a woven wrap. She is just over 2 and frequently still asks for "uppies". 

With Delphine, I felt that the Lillebaby complete was the only carrier we needed. In fact, at one point in time we had 8 of them. Once she was over 20lbs though, the Tula was less bulky. I kept a Lillebaby to use with our niece but still had trouble answering the question "if you could have just ONE carrier, what would it be?" and my problem with answering was the fact that you need an infant insert with a Tula...I just didn't have time to play around with the insert and a newborn, so I would tell people to buy a Lillebaby if they could only get one carrier, but my personal collection was really all about the Tula. 

Now we are getting to the game changing part - because Tula just came out with the Free-To-Grow Tula Baby Carrier that works from 7 to 45 pounds with NO need for an infant insert. Go ahead and ask me "if you could have just ONE carrier, what would it be?" I can say without hesitation "Free-To-Grow by Tula"! Here's a link to get one for yourself:

I'll add more to this article after October when we can really test out the squish-worthiness of this amazing carrier!


Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at WOW! Women on Writing.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Those Farmers

There has been plenty in the news about farming - I'm not even going to get into it because it's truly something that has caused so much pain for me personally...but I just want you to know something about those farmers effected by the current economy. I didn't know anything about farming until 6 years ago when I fell in love with a farmer and 5 years ago we fulfilled his dream of buying a farm. I can't speak for 2nd and 3rd generation farmers, but I can shed some light into what it looks like to be first generation dairy farmers on a small family farm in 2017. This is partially in response to some of the hurtful comments on social media about "those greedy farmers", "those dumb farmers", "those people who rape cows", etc...

My husband had a dream as a little boy. He would play with his tractors and dream of being a farmer. He knows each of his cows and when they are sick he sits with them and provides comfort and care. He still drives the same truck he bought in highschool (that is, when it runs). His truck is rusted and falling apart, but it gets the job done and that's what matters. Most nights he sleeps on the couch because he's too tired to climb the stairs to our bedroom. Then there are those really rough days when I wake up and go down to check on him and he's asleep on the bathroom floor...unshowered, in his underwear, asleep sitting up. He hasn't taken a day off since our wedding. His glasses are scratched and need replacing, and he hasn't seen a dentist in decades because there's no time or money. His body aches, there are holes in his undewear, his pants, his socks, and his boots are held together with duct tape. He works from 6 in the morning until well past midnight - out in the cold, the sun, the rain, and he never complains. This is his dream. He does this so YOU don't have to. He works hard to provide for YOUR families so you can punch out at the end of the day and enjoy a swim meet or dance recital.

He misses church, swim meets, baseball games, and his wife takes herself to the hospital to have his children. His children try to understand. Last year we cashed in the last of my retirement fund to buy seed to plant crops to make food for our cows. The great thing about that was it's the first year in three years that we've had a positive tax return. I'm pretty sure most of you wouldn't work as hard as a farmer for does for absolutely no pay. The man isn't crazy though - he's passionate. He's passionate about his dream and he's passionate about his family and yours. The very people he helps feed are the same ones beeping and flipping him off when he's trying to get crops off the field. Most months he spends more feeding animals and fueling tractors than he makes shipping milk. Not only is it a thankless job, the farmer is not the one getting rich.

First generation farmers don't retire. They die...with dirty hands...hoping they've done well by God. Hoping they've left something for their own little boys who play with tractors. Hoping they've loved the land as they should. They don't retire and head for Florida, they stay and keep living the dream. That is, if they are lucky enough to make it. Some farmers die on the inside as they sell their cows, close up the barns that will eventually crumble, and look for some way to pass the time and pay the bills until they are lucky enough to die. Farmers wives hide the tears, bake the bread, keep the children happy, mend the clothes, and pray...they pray for the land, the cows, the children, their husband, the crops, and the weather. They pray for the dream that they see in their little boys eyes - shining just as brightly as it still does in their husband's. And they pray for God's strength to help their husbands. They pray they'll never find their husband holding the shotgun sitting on the bale of straw because the dream is over.

Before you make a quick judgment about "those farmers" please take a moment - get to know us. I
can't explain why my husband does what he does, but I know it's not due to greed, and it's not to get rich.