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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Two books keep parents & kids environmentally aware {3-book #GIVEAWAY}

Disclosure: The following books were provided to me for the purpose of review and inclusion in the giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please read my complete disclosure policy.

Some adults have a difficult time grasping the information and details about our environment as well as what we can do as good citizens. So imagine trying to explain those same details to children. Enter two new books to help both children and their parents get a grasp of the subject and have fun while doing it:

“How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor” by Gordon Hunter

“Mert, The Anxious Evergreen” written and illustrated by Claire Bowman

 

What’s going on with Mother Earth? Well, you won’t find out until she’s finished getting a checkup with the doctor. (Cute, right?) The idea for the book was birthed as the author sat in the waiting room of his family doctor. “I started wondering about who doctors the Earth? Her health is of the utmost importance to us as she provides us with the basic requirements for life.”

It was only two or three sentences into reading the book that I became intrigued with the idea. Parents should be able to glean points from it and relay them to younger children, but this book – in my opinion – is written for adults and older children of at least 8 and above. The author has definitely taken what can be a complicated subject and turned it into a relay of fun and interesting information. Without complicated explanations, the book focuses on global warming, climate change and natural energy consumption while putting everything in perspective.

The author, Gordon Hunter, is a true example of what he teaches through his book. “I drive a hybrid car, have solar panels on my house, I recycle, I use the latest improvements of low-wattage lighting, etc.,” he says. “I use every opportunity to inform the public of the dangers of global warming and climate change.” His proposal is that we – the public along with the government and corporations work together for such a worthy cause.

Taking the time to read How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor with your children can also help you to make changes in the way you live. I, for one, am hoping this book teaches my children even more about this subject and gives them ideas on what they can do to help our Earth. Along with letting them know that you’re never too young to make a difference.

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What about Mert? What is he so anxious about? From the back of the book:

“Troubled by encroaching land development, Mert hopes to be chosen as a Christ tree so he can save Hickory Flats farm and forest. Mert’s understanding of Christmas spirit evolves as he conspires with his friend John the cat to overcome new obstacles.

From a tiny evergreen seed to a family’s Christmas tree, Mert is entertaining, informative, fun and compassionate. As Mert grows he teaches his readers lessons he’s learning from his mother, his cat friend John Begonsen and from watching his humans Ol’ Joe, his grandson Cole and the girl Sally who likes him. There are also the developers wanting to destroy the forest and Ol’ Joe’s farm.

This isn’t a book that shares the complicated version of appreciating and caring for our environment; it’s a story of the lifecycle of one of the Earth’s important beings and how it effects us as humans. Well, that’s the story it is for me. We aren’t separate from Earth, we are its children and we must care for her as she ages.

Here is Information shared with me about the book:

In Mert, The Anxious Evergreen professional musician and children's author Claire Bowman brings her original Christmas carol to life for parents, grandparents, and kids. Mert is an anxious tree troubled by encroaching land development; he hopes to be chosen as a Christmas tree so he can save Hickory Flats farm and forest - but he's not quite sure how. He'll need help from his friend, John the cat, to find his true Christmas spirit and save his home.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Mert, The Anxious Evergreen offers lessons on friendship and camaraderie, finding humor in challenging situations, responsible land usage and environmental preservation, and what it means to have a true Christmas spirit. Bowman and her sister created the book with help from a successful crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter.

I’m honored to share these books with you through a giveaway. There will be two winners:

    • #1 – First winner will receive a copy of both books. “Mert, The Anxious Evergreen” by Claire Bowman and “How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor” by Gordon Hunter.
    • #2 – The second winner will receive a copy of “How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor”

Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My children haven’t had a chance to sit down and enjoy these books yet, but when they do I’ll publish another post to let you know what they think.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Children & horseback riding: A joyous adventure

A few weekends ago the children and myself set out on a little adventure. Every time I decide on an adventure, I keep it a secret because I love surprising them. And this time was no different.

We jumped in the van for a “long drive,” according to them, and two hours later pulled into Chattahoochee Stables. When they figured out we were would be horseback riding, their excitement was worth the drive that almost soothed me to sleep. They were stoked to see the horses – they talked to them, called my name a thousand times and posed for pictures, which I accidentally and sadly deleted.

After a bit of a wait it was finally time to mount up, but minutes before my 6-year-old daughter Anna expressed her fear. “I wanna ride with you.” I knew, given my health, riding with her would not be comfortable and it would cause me additional pain. I also wanted her to try to enjoy the experience on her own. I let her know if she’d been 5 years old she wouldn’t have been able to participate (despite their website saying all ages) and she should take the chance to have a big-girl experience.

CAM00065

One of the guides brought out Anna’s horse, which was a gentle-looking, cream-colored mare named Pocahontas. Anna hesitated, but with the guide’s assistance she mounted the mare beautifully albeit stiffly. Along the trail Pocahontas followed the guide without veering left or right as if sensing my daughter’s apprehension. Halfway through the hour-long ride Anna was finally getting comfortable enough to look around and really enjoy herself. Her horse sensed that as CAM00055well and started venturing around a little to get snacks from bushes or grass on the side of the trail. Eventually I saw the guide explain to her how to get Pocahontas back on track and Anna tugged the reigns as instructed. You should have seen the delight on her face.

Andre, my 10-year-old son, and Amareah who’s 9 both acted like they’ve been riding horses forever. Andre rode with his hands in his pockets, which caused me to say every few minutes, “Please hold the reigns, just in case.” He was in front of me and the two of us chatted, laughed and pointed out the scenery to each other: a stream, a shack in the woods, a cliff and anything else we found intriguing.

I found the ride to be very relaxing except when my horse, a large female named Dixie, started getting mad at me. Regardless what I did she stubbornly did the opposite and went so far as to huff at me. She even took off at a gallop when I gently kicked her. I could only laugh even when her antics had me last in line with the others out of sight. (I had been fourth in a line of eight.)

Near the end of the trail I started singing to her and she behaved the rest of the way. They later told me she’s very stubborn to which I thought, ‘I wish they had told me that first.’ That too was funny.

horseback stable logo

My thoughts on Chattahoochee Stables:

I could complain about the wait, the ranch hand bathroom or any other petty thing, but it isn’t necessary because we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the stables. The best part? The relaxing ride and the opportunity to absorb the beauty of nature.

The following contains a referral link:
Today I noticed the horseback riding deal for the stables is still listed on Groupon.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Permission Granted: 5 Ways to Find Rest this Holiday {guest post}

Does the thought of hanging Christmas lights and attending holiday work parties make you want to grab your sleeping bag and run for the nearest cave? This year many of us have felt overscheduled, overworked and we rarely got the chance to unplug. We navigated career and life transitions and had little time to integrate the changes. We’re ready for rest. Not a relaxed evening by the fire, but a serious stretch of lazy days, long naps, walks in the woods, deep nourishing slumber and joyful, easy, simple connections with friends and family who feed us emotionally and spiritually. What we need in the coming weeks is not the latest iPad or a shopping trip, but permission to do nothing.

3D_webnurturing_the_soulBut with the holidays, all the activity and invitations, what’s a person to do? I challenge you to take the road less traveled and take a radical stand for what you most need this year.  Consider the following five ideas:

  1. Schedule downtime now. Block out periods on your calendar for “dedicated relaxation,” where your only job is to rest. Make it a priority and schedule now so you can honor your commitment to deep to-the-bones self-renewal.
  2. Just say no.  Decide what’s most important to you and let everything else go. If it’s not absolutely yes then it’s a no. Check out the 9 Ways to Say No list from my book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.
  3. Ask for help. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive help whether it’s cooking, gift giving, socializing or hosting family. Be willing to let go of tradition for the sake of enhanced emotional well-being. This way you can create more space for yourself and your family to just “be.”
  4. Do less to experience more.  We create stress when we cram too much into our schedules and then try to control everything we’re juggling. Do you really need to chop down your own Christmas tree, make your mom’s famous stained glass cookies and host your husband’s department dinner?  Do less, so you can experience more.
  5. Unplug and spend time in nature.   I call nature the ultimate antidepressant and re-set button. If anyone in my family is exhausted or out of sorts, off to the greenbelt we go. Being in nature offers nourishment and renewal on the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental levels. It’s a powerful, restorative and healing force. Use it!

There is an innate push and pull that many of us feel during the winter season.  As the winter solstice approaches – the longest night of the year – our natural rhythms are calling us to slow down, reflect, go inward and contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go. (Think of our friends the bears, they’ve got it right!) 

crop-options.inddI challenge you: do it differently this season. If the call to making rest and renewal a priority resonates with you this holiday, make it #1 for yourself and for your family. Then, you can bound — instead of crawl – into 2014 fully present, refreshed and ready for the New Year.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/speaker, author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her newest release is Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. Join Renee this January for her new 2014 life balance telecourse New Way of Being: Learning to Go with the Flow. www.ReneeTrudeau.com.

Before you go, take a look at the book review I published about Renee’s book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, earlier this year.

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