The Baby Lottery -Totally Not Chick Lit

Kate Trueblood understands the complication of balancing a career and family. She is the mother of two children, a writer, and an Associate Professor at Western Washington University.Trueblood’s most recent novel, The Baby Lottery, was chosen to appear as a Book Sense Pick in 2007, and she was selected for the Jack Straw Writer’s Series in the Northwest. This book deals with many of the issues facing women today, including pregnancy vs. abortion, career vs. family, and marriage vs. divorce. The story follows five old college friends as they struggle to come to terms with their lives.

Kate sees The Baby Lottery as a piece of literature that challenges social questions and does not fit into the category of chick lit, and we totally agree.

How would you feel if one of your oldest and closest friends chose to have a late term abortion? How would you react? Would you support her? Would you judge her choice? And, what about your own choices; are you content with the choices that you have made?

Kathryn Trueblood’s second novel, The Baby Lottery, is a piercing, insightful examination of the decisions women make about motherhood. Told through the voices of five different women, the story centers around one of the women’s choice to terminate her pregnancy. The bonds of friendship are tested and strained as each woman reacts to the abortion based upon her own circumstances and experiences. Each perspective is profoundly different, but each reaches the same conclusion; there are no easy answers.

Kathryn Trueblood is a truly gifted writer. She has crafted a story that grabs you and won’t let go; each page leaves you hungry for the next. Also, the language in The Baby Lottery is stunning. I found myself rereading passages just to savor the words. The characters are well developed, and I could relate to each of the women in some way. Entertaining and deeply provocative, The Baby Lottery definitely deserves a spot on your reading list. – By Kelli

Nan, the non-judgmental nurse; Jean, the bitter and opinionated ex-social worker; Virginia, the overworked and underappreciated lecturer; Tasi, the detached career-oriented professional; and Charlotte, the alcoholic enigma – this is their story. Their friendship has survived over the years through turbulent relationships, lost loves, life changes, career upheavals, motherhood and failed pregnancies etc. But when Charlotte announces her decision to have a late-term abortion, it acts like an earthquake, arousing varying reactions among her friends and shaking their friendship to the core.

With poetic language and realistic imagery, Author Kathryn Trueblood takes the readers on an unforgettable journey into a woman’s life – the choices she has to make, the consequences she has to endure, and most importantly, the life she can bring into this world or take out. The viewpoints and experiences of the friends provide an intelligent and varied perspective into the hot topic of abortion and other issues close to a woman’s heart. The characters all act and react in a way that feels so true to life. It’s easy to relate to them, finding a bit of Jean’s longing or Nan’s pragmatism in ourselves. Their pain is our pain, their lives are our lives. What I liked most and what felt very real to me was that the problems weren’t resolved in a bid to provide a happy ending, but rather the hope of a better future was conveyed.

Simple and elegant, this is a story that will live long in my memory for being one of the most engaging books on female relationships and motherhood. – By Rashmi

Play Food That Won’t Give Your Kids Lead Poisoning If They Chew On It. (Not that my kids would do that.)

lillybeanlunchStarted by crafty mom Hilary Seabolt in 2004 when her son asked what kind of food his new stuffed animals were supposed to eat, Lilly Bean Market creates what is by far the nicest and most solidly constructed felt play food I’ve seen to date. She works closely with a small group of Amish and a machine seamstress to ensure that her business remains solely based in the USA.

It’s so great to have an option for the ever popular kitchen play that doesn’t involve plastic, wood with potentially lead laden paint or spit soaked cardboard. It’s amazing – almost so nice that you’ll be tempted to not let your kids play with it because it looks so nice arranged among the toy dishes. But that would be silly. I had Granny’s Breakfast just this morning, and it’s delish. Or, as my son says, “Petend delisus!” (That’s “pretend delicious,” for you non-parental types.)

Lilly Bean Market play food is available individually or as meals. Having played with these myself…I mean, with the kids (ahem), I can tell you you’re going to want to go with at least a meal. Chances are, you’ll get your first order and end up going back for more. I know I will.

Keep an eye on the new items – there are sure to be more cool creations coming soon!

KidsSave by Kidnexions

kidssaveKidnexions has developed a children’s money management program called KidsSave. I love the idea of teaching kids to manage their money while they’re young and guiding them in a way that will encourage financial success when they’re older.

From the website:

KidsSave is a kids’ savings and money management software program designed for ages 6 and up. KidsSave helps you and your child keep track of money, encourages saving through Reward incentives, and helps your child set and track goals. With KidsSave, kids can make deposits and withdrawals, receive automated allowances and Rewards (interest and/or matching funds), count money, and view their statement history over time.

The KidsSave program handles all Account management automatically so once the Account(s) has been set up, the Banker (typically the parent) has little to do. Unique features allow the Banker to have access to all Accounts, define interest, allowance, and/or matching funds, enable savings locks and require confirmations of all transactions.

Check out what some opinionated parents had to say about the program.

I am always looking for great ways to help teach my kiddos about money management. It’s important to teach them how to set financial goals and track their progress. Kidnexions has a wonderful program called KidsSave, a money management software program for the 6 and up crowd.

The account was super easy to set up and my twins have had fun tracking their savings, which to be honest, hasn’t been much. They currently do not receive allowance here at home, but they do each receive $2 whenever they loose a tooth… Something that is happening quite frequently these days! Every little bit have they added to their account, watching their balance slowly increase. It will be a happy day when they reach their financial goals!

This program has some wonderful features. Your child sets up an account by depositing his current stash. He can then make additional deposits and withdrawals, as well as receive his allowance and rewards, count his money, and view his statements. Mom and Dad act as Banker and can set KidsSave to automatically deposit allowance and rewards, including interest, so it’s easy for us, too.

Just the other day, we went through the twins current savings bank. They took turns adding bills and coins in to their KidsSave account using the money counter to help sort and count their money. They had a blast and learned so much at the same time. What a great way to reinforce what they have learned in their math classes. I love it when it works out that way!

Another feature with which we had a lot of fun was in the “What if?” section where we have played around with the endless possibilities… What if they earned this much allowance? What if they made this much in interest? It’s been neat to see what would happen should things change and what their little minds can fathom!

The Kidnexions KidsSave program would be a great addition to any money management system you currently have set up. And if your kiddos don’t currently have a plan, this would be a great place to start!

By Christine

I’ve been trying out another software program for The Opinionated Parent. This one is called KidsSave from Kidnexions. It’s REALLY cool!

Designed for ages 6 and up, it helps you, and your child, keep track of THEIR money. You can also set up numerous accounts so the program is good for more than one child. There is no limit to the amount of accounts the banker (parent) can set up! It has an allowance feature that you can set to automatically show the amount that they receive each week/month.

While kids don’t actually deposit their real money, they do make deposits into the program and statements are given each month to keep track of what they’ve saved. Kids can also make withdrawals and set goals. Goals can be for saving enough to buy something, save a certain amount, or reach a certain account balance.

There is a neat money counter to help kids know exactly how much they are depositing. All they have to do is click on a picture of the bill or coin they have in hand and the money counter adds it for them. But don’t worry, there is an “undo” and “clear” feature in case they mess up!

There are 6 fun colors that kids can choose from to make their account more eye appealing. Positively Pink and Posh Purple being my girls’ favorites!

Also included is a “What If?” feature that allows your child to see what would happen to their account over a year if they were to get a raise in allowance, deposit “x” amount of money each month, withdraw money, or earn “x %” interest. I, personally, LOVE this feature. It really lets a child see what they are able to save.

We have thoroughly enjoyed using KidsSave. It is well worth the $29.95.

By Gina

The KidSave program by Kidnexions is a great tool for teaching youngsters how to manage their funds. My seven-year-old son really enjoyed using the program!! We found it very user friendly and fun to use.

By Andrea

You can download a free 35 day trial of this program from the Kidnexions home page to try before you buy.

Scootababy – Natural, Comfortable & Hands Free Carrying

scootababyIf you read TOP regularly (and why wouldn’t you?) you know we’re all dedicated child wearers. There’s no shortage of great carriers out there, and each one serves it purpose and different carriers work for different people.

For the last few days I’ve been wearing my new Scootababy and have fallen in love. So has my 2 year old son. When it arrived, my baby was sleeping and he, who hasn’t been worn in almost a year because he’s refused since he learned to walk and became Mr. Independent, insisted in hopping right in. For being a 35 pound kid, he was surprisingly easy to carry! And it’s a good thing because he now considers it his so I haven’t had a chance to try it with my little one yet. When I want to wear her, she’s in the Ergo because he’s staked his claim on the new one.

The Scootababy, designed by babywearing mama Audra Meng, has a very comfortable padded waist strap that places most of the child’s weight on your hips and an easily adjustable shoulder strap with a fleece insert on the section that’s actually on your shoulder so there aren’t any of the usual pressure points that you often feel with a one sided carrier. It was notably easy to get on. Simply fasten the waist belt, pick up your child in their natural position at your hip and flip the body of the carrier up behind them. The shoulder strap then pops over their head and yours, and you can easily adjust it to support your child and be comfortable for both of you. Nothing to it!

It’s made of sturdy black denim, with your choice of a fleece or cotton liner, matches any outfit (like that matters when you’re that comfortable) and is machine washable.

I especially like the comfortable side carry position. It feels very natural and yet takes no effort to carry even a large child. I have other carriers, such as the Ergo, which allow for a side carry position but it takes so much work to adjust the straps that I never bother. It’s front, back, or not at all. Sometimes, though, the back isn’t ideal and you need the space in front of your belly for other things (and, honestly, once they hit a certain weight they don’t feel great centered in the front). With the Scootababy, it’s just like picking up your child as you always would, but they’re infinitely lighter and your hands are free. I love it!

A Revolution in Brilliant Colour

girlsnotchicksIt’s well known in my circle that I won’t allow Barbie or Bratz in my home. I won’t tell my kids what they can and can’t play with when presented with a selection of toys, but I’m sure not going to encourage them to play with small plastic prostitutes by having them in our home.

With the continued proliferation of the princess persona and the mainstream media’s portrayal of what little girls and little boys “should” become, I was excited to hear from Jacinta Bunnell who, along other independent artists, has designed and published two feminist coloring books like nothing I’ve ever seen. The images in “Girls Not Chicks” are anything but what you’d expect to find in a children’s colouring book. Appropriate for both boys and girls (because, isn’t anything?) “Girls Not Chicks” and “Girls Will Be Boys Will Be” are a great alternative to Barbie and Bratz and the princess saturated Disney. Each page is original enough to get a rise from some and make others laugh. Either way, they’ll get you thinking and challenging, and that’s what it’s all about. “For every girl who tosses out her Easy-Bake oven, there is a boy who wishes to find one.” Hell, yeah.

Girls Not Chicks and Girls Will Be Boys Will Be are both available from Jacinta’s etsy shop for under $10.