Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion by Ilene Val-Essen

Parenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your FamilyParenting with Wisdom and Compassion: Bring Out the Best in Your Family by Ilene Val-Essen, Ph.D.

Imagine a new paradigm of parenting that dramatically changes the way we relate to our children. Doors open that were previously closed, freeing us to parent with a wiser and more compassionate heart. Dr. Val-Essen reveals a new vision of the parent-child relationship and provides a Six-Step Process to help us realize it. Powerful stories, proven skills, and practical exercises inspire and guide us to expand our minds and open our hearts. As we gain a deeper understanding of our children and ourselves, we’re able to parent with wisdom and compassion even when buttons are pushed and fear takes center stage. Children and parents flourish. Family life becomes deeply rewarding.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I agreed to take this book, it was for one reason. I liked the idea of a book about parenting with the word “compassion” in the title. In my opinion, as a non-expert on parenting and just a mum who loves her kids and wants what is best for them, I have thought many times about the lack of compassion in this world for the needs of our youth. We are always being bombarded on social media, in newsprint and on the television with all the things you can do to screw up your children, but rarely do we get any good advice for how to improve our skills as parents. That is where this book comes in.

Ilene Val-Essen takes a different approach with this book. Rather than slapping parents, educators or anyone else responsible for youth across the face with a message of “you are doing this wrong!” She takes the time to explain her gentle approach and really break down what she means in her title.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand more about why conflicts in families arise, and how they can be resolved. With the understanding that you don’t have to change who you are, what your values are or completely revamp your parenting style to appreciate this book and the advice given in it, you will find that the ideas presented here can work in nearly any situation, regardless of who you are.

There is far too much in this book to do an individual review on each section, or this review would never end, but there are some definite jewels worth mentioning. This book promotes the self awareness of the parent so they can identify with the child’s emotions, reactions and address any issues they might have that remain under the surface. There are tips here for recognising stress in the family and how to calm that stress. The author has included charts and easy steps to follow to defuse situations before they become major problems.

Honestly, I think this book has some very good specific and situational information, but it would work just as well if the principals set forth here were used in other, everyday situations. It is not just children that are affected by the way we view ourselves and how we treat others, and this book, in my opinion, is titled perfectly. We could all do with a dose of compassion, from others, for others.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a brilliant read and an honest and open message from an author who has lived what she writes about. Five stars.

If Animals Were People

Here is the latest offering in our color book series. I had a lot of fun with this one. I’m trying a new approach here as well. Adult color books tend to have a lot of very small spaces, and not everyone loves that. So this is the first book in the “Wide Open Spaces” series. For those who want to have the fun of an adult coloring book, but don’t want to deal with all the tiny little details.

I proudly present: “If Animals Were People”

Also check out our other color books available on amazon.com and over at J and I Publishing

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Ever wonder what the world would be like if animals were in control? If animals were people, what would they do for work? What would they do for fun? Follow these zany animals on their various adventures to work and beyond and color them in as you choose. This book is intended for an adult coloring audience, but was intentionally designed with wide open spaces to color for those who do not wish to color extremely small and complicated designs. Grab your favorite coloring tools and have a blast with these silly critters!

Get your copy HERE

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Zebra

She is crazy
He is sane
She is paisley
He’s solid black

She runs off without thinking
And he puts life back on track

Her head is full of ideas
Too big to be contained
He always takes time to listen
He never complains

She’s a pantser
He’s a planner
She never looks before she leaps

He is careful
Thinks things through
He prepares for the deep

She is angry
She is loud
She screams into the sea

He is calm
He is silent
He is what she wishes to be

He’s a poet
She’s an artist
She flies with fancy
He’s the smartest

She loves him
And he loves her
And somehow it works out
Because differences aside,
Love is what it’s all about.

I love you, Julian.
Happy random day anniversary, because you deserve to be appreciated just because.

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Roadtrip! How I love thee

So last week, the gang and I decided that it would be a good idea if I could see some actual landscapes other than boring Nevada, since I am illustrating a landscape book.

One of those random, Jules and I are sitting at the park kind of moments when we decide we need a change of scenery, so we go home and toss everything into a pile in the back of the family wagon (or in this case, Dodge Journey–named appropriately) and just go. With no thought to what we actually should have brought or if this was a good idea. Welcome. To. Us.

We decided on Northern California and Southern Oregon as our destination. Love Highway 101 especially during the time of year when it floods, blows a million miles an hour, snows and the fog is thicker than Trump’s skull. So off we went.

I quite enjoyed the drive up. By the time I reached 299 and then cut over to HWY 101, there was no traffic to contend with. 2 in the morning is a pretty good time time to drive the coastal highway if you want to avoid stopping because of all the dips who pull out in front of you.

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Really, the only thing I had to contend with were the multitude of skunks who made my eyes water and kept me rolling up the window for safety.

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Helloooo, Mr. Stinky.

So the trip up was mostly uneventful. Most of the rest areas were open for once, so no one had any accidents. (I’m talking to you, Englishman.) The kids and Jules had all fallen asleep, so I was humming “Highway to Hell” to myself and quite pleased with my driving skills at such a late hour. I was taking up both sides of the road since nothing was coming.

Then out of nowhere, right beyond the sign that says “Elk Crossing” (apparently they don’t know how to use a cross walk…

This appears in front of the car.

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If you think the picture is big, you should have seen the real thing. I slammed on the breaks and woke up everyone in the car, slid a bit on the wet road nearly into an embankment and ended up stopping, looking at the business end of a stop sign. Everyone is fine, thank you for asking.

What pissed me off, wasn’t the elk in the middle of the road. Elk were there before roads were, so okay he has right of way. What pissed me off, was the nonchalant way he continued to chew his grass..cud…whatever they chew. His elk tobacco. Whatever. Num. Num. Num. Seriously. He just stays in the middle of the road, not overly bothered by the idea of becoming a hood ornament, as I am white knuckling the steering wheel, panting in terror and re-swallowing my heart.

Num-fucking-num. At least his mates had the good sense to look afraid for him.

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So what does he do? He moves over about a foot, directly into the middle of the road and continues to chew. He remained unimpressed.

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Num. Num. Num.

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I was here first. My berries. Asshole Nevadan.

Eventually we made it to our destination and for the next day, other than a flooding rainstorm that made us take refuge in the car instead of going on the nature hike we had intended, things settled down. The weather was beautiful the next morning, we went to a couple of beaches, had some good food and then went to the pool at the hotel. The kids had a great time splashing around and my oldest boy broke his fear of the deep end…thanks daddy for helping with that.

So all was well, as I decided I’d had enough pool water in my ears and left the kids and the hubby behind so I could take the poodle for a walk. Brookings, Oregon is a cute little town. The kind of place where a woman feels safe with her tiny dog, even after dark. The worst you are likely to encounter is possibly a stray dog, or maybe a racoon digging in a bin looking for something interesting to eat. Off we went in search of an adventure, or maybe a bush to pee on–for the dog, not me, I don’t have the balance for that.

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Nearly ten o’clock at night and we are walking along in front of an auto parts shop, when Salem decided the bushes out front look like a good place to hike a leg. The bushes start rustling and I’m thinking it’s a bird. Then the bushes explode and I’m thinking it is a dog. A big dog. Maybe a rabid racoon out for blood on unsuspecting tourists. Oh hell…Maybe it’s this guy…

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You know, they say he lives in the area and I almost could have understood that. Instead, the dog freaks out, pees on my shoe and tries to climb my leg before deciding if he can live with four boys he can take on anything and goes after the…

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Wait? Monkey? The hell is a monkey doing attacking me and the poodle in a car park? Yep. Of all things in the world, a pissed off monkey in a small town in Oregon. Not what I would have expected. Didn’t think they grew those here.

I did what any fearless, strong woman would do. I cursed at the dog for pissing on my Sketchers and turned tails (mine and the poodle’s) and ran like the devil was chasing me. Because he was. Fucking Monkey.

Later, we learned that the monkey was an escaped convict. The thing was someone’s pet that had escaped and they had already had a warrant to seize the animal. Well guys, I found it. Want it? Go get it. This girl is done.

That was nearly the end of the drama, until we decided to stop and go to a lookout point, where we encountered this sign:

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Everyone agrees that this guy appears to be having fun. And apparently my poodle can understand the meanings of these things, because he decided to slip right outside the guard fence and make a break for it, off the cliff edge. Thank goodness for dog leashes. We got him back, after what was nearly our second heart attack of the trip.

Still, overall, we had a good trip. I got some good images, we had some laughs and we made some new friends.

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Oh, and I met someone famous.

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull

That Seals it.

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We must do this again.

Let’s have some fun

Drop a line in comments below and quote the most memorable line you can recall off the top of your head in a book or movie. Then you will be entered in to win a copy of “Crossing Bedlam” by Charles E. Yallowitz.

I will choose one lucky winner this weekend to receive their copy, I can only gift to US residents via Amazon, but everyone is welcome to play just for the fun of it. Help out an author and share this post if you have a chance. Book details below .

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Available HERE

The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the truth behind the attack and revive this once great nation?

It certainly won’t be Cassidy and Lloyd since they couldn’t care less about that stuff. She is a young woman on a mission to honor her mother’s dying wish, which is to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is an infamous serial killer she broke out of Rikers Island since hiring a bodyguard wasn’t working out. Not the perfect plan, but having an insane, oddly charming murder-junkie on your side is a plus in the Shattered States.

Bullets and swear words are going to fly as Cassidy and Lloyd travel coast to coast, facing one challenge after another . . . including Nebraska.

Occupational Hazard

My first post on J & I publishing. All about “the finger”

J and I Publishing

I’m not a lefty or a righty most of the time, I’m a bothy. When it comes to illustrations, however, I use my right hand exclusively, as it is the steadier of the two and just makes working with different mediums a lot easier.

The thing is, after a while, the finger (and yes, I mean The Finger) that the pens rest against begins to resemble mince. So what do I do about this? The most mature thing possible. I go and find bandages that will help protect the poor finger.

I refuse to walk around with an ugly-brown-plaster-finger because I, folks, am a lady and I must be fashionable at all times. Except on Sundays when I look as though I have fallen out of bed and into life, but that is another matter.

Either way, no plain band-aids for this kid. So here’s a current sampling of…

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A Legacy

My dad taught me to draw. In the beginning it was just doodles and random things. We would go out on nature walks and he would point out animal tracks and different patterns in the bark of trees, the shape of leaves and clouds in the sky that resembled animals. He taught me to create reflections by looking at water and watching the way it rippled outward as it was disturbed. He taught me to find beauty in the most barren of places and to appreciate the things we tend to overlook with an artist’s eye.

We would go home after these adventures and he would pull out a sketch book and show me how to transform the natural world into detailed pictures, and as I grew older, I took the things he taught me and made them my own. He was always telling me that there is no “wrong way” to express your creativity.

When I set out to create “The Beauty of Random Things”, it was with my father in mind. I hope that you will take a moment to thank the people in your life who have taught you things you wouldn’t have learned without them. Dedicate something to them, give them a moment of your time. These things you know, these special skills you possess are something you can leave with your children, a mark you can make upon the world, and are possible because someone cared enough to give you a part of themselves, and the most important commodity we have…time.

Now for shameless promo.

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now available on Amazon.com

and Amazon UK

 

F*cking, F*ck, F*ck, F*ck!

J and I publishing (click to visit our spanking new blog–no, not new spanking blog…dirty minds) has been busy. I apologise that I haven’t been around much answering comments and dropping in to see how things are going, but I’ve been creating another Ionia masterpiece. (Really I’ve been messing around with art supplies like a little kid in kindergarten.)

For those of you who have had one of those days recently, or know someone who has, here’s a little something fun to do. Sorry, Chris. I’ve tried to curb the swearing, but it is an addiction.

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Amazon US

Amazon UK

J and I Publishing Author Page (We have tons more color books and this is the only truly adult one…kittens, puppies and all things innocent in the others.)

 

Ever just have one of those days where you want to randomly shout swear words but resist because you are at work or surrounded by others and you can’t behave inappropriately? We all do. Here’s your chance to unwind and let a few choice words fly without anyone else knowing, unless you want to share, of course. Here you will find a collection of vulgar words ranging from common to creative for you to color and unwind with. So go ahead, pick up a colored pencil, marker, crayon, or whatever strikes your fancy and create some extraordinary expletives. This color book comes complete with adorable little animals (the perpetually happy little a$$holes.) Everyone knows there is no better way to say $#@& you, or *&$!%#@ %#$@ than a sweet, baby bunny. Have fun coloring and for anyone who says color books are only for kids… &%#@ them.

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The British version of this book will also be coming out soon. It was so much fun to draw, and fits well with the random F bomb this site has seen in the past. Grab some art tools and be a big kid with me? Meet you there:)

Also, check out the new release from Charles E. Yallowitz, Crossing Bedlam.

 

 

 

 

Northwoods by Bill Schweigart

NorthwoodsNorthwoods by Bill Schweigart

Some borders should never be crossed. From the author of The Beast of Barcroft comes a waking nightmare of a horror novel that’s sure to thrill readers of Stephen King and Bentley Little.

Ex–Delta Force Davis Holland, now an agent for the Customs and Border Protection, has seen it all. But nothing in his experience has prepared him for what he and the local sheriff find one freezing night in the Minnesota woods.

Investigating reports of an illegal border crossing, the two men stumble across a blood-drenched scene of mass murder, barely escaping with their lives . . . and a single clue to the mayhem: a small wooden chest placed at the heart of the massacre. Something deadly has entered Holland’s territory, crossing the border from nightmare into reality.

When news of the atrocity reaches wealthy cryptozoologist Richard Severance, he sends a three-person team north to investigate. Not long ago, the members of that team—Ben McKelvie, Lindsay Clark, and Alex Standingcloud—were nearly killed by a vengeful shapeshifter. Now they are walking wounded, haunted by gruesome memories that make normal life impossible. But there is nothing normal about the horror that awaits in the Northwoods.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I must now admit that I have been hiding a dirty secret. I am addicted to these books and I fear my addiction has no cure, so keep writing, Mr. Schweigart, I need my next fix.

If you haven’t yet read “the Beast of Barcroft,” what are you waiting for? Everyone needs a good monster/horror tale now and again to remind them how normal our lives actually are by comparison, and these books are not only entertaining, but a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

In this latest book, I was seriously impressed with the growth and development of Alex Standingcloud. He became my favourite character at the end of the last book, and then went on to prove why he is worthy of such a title in the second. I liked the Native American lore that was weaved into this story, and loved the action scenes.

If you can’t handle a little tension and some minor gore, then skip those parts and read the rest, but, read it none-the-less. You will surely find yourself entertained.

I am looking forward to see where these characters find themselves next. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Noah's WifeNoah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Mary McGarry Morris says it best: “Noah’s Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller…her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing.” Noah’s Wife is a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective fable-like novel.

Noah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.

When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.

As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide what to make of this book until I was nearly finished with it. It wasn’t overly religious as I had feared because of the title, so that was good as I have never really warmed to those books. I loved the concept this book worked with–a town where it never stopped raining.

I liked the small town atmosphere and the way the author allowed us a bird’s eye view of the people in the town. We got to know them as individuals and it allowed the reader to see the dynamic and unlikely connections between them.

This book has a lot of quirky characters, deals with a lot of different issues and retains the dismal atmosphere until nearly the end. I have to say, that for an author with the last name of Starck, this book was pretty stark for much of the reading.

The writing is excellent here, but I’m still not a hundred percent convinced I love this book. If I had to categorise it, I would say that this should be filed under “thought provoking.” The way the author used themes from the bible without trying to force a religious ideal on the reader was interesting. I liked the townspeople, but the use of Noah’s wife as a name for the character rather than giving her a name (on purpose) made me feel more distant from the main character than I was expecting.

Overall, this was an interesting book with a lot to offer the reader, but I can’t pick a specific group I would recommend it to. It is worth a read, most definitely–if you enjoy books that live outside the standard genre fiction groups.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews