Monday, May 28, 2012

Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD Review and Giveaway

When I was younger I loved watching a show called Blossom. You may remember it yourself. The 1990s sitcom starred Mayim Bialik as Blossom Russo, a teenage girl living with her father and two brothers. I remember loving Blossom's and Six's (her best friend) fashion sense on the show. I loved their flower hats and funky, vibrant-colored clothes. They had neat names too and liking them was probably one of the reasons I also picked unique names for my children. The star of the show Mayim Bialik now plays the role of the geeky neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on one of my favorite TV series, Big Bang Theory.

Before Big Bang Theory, Mayim did some unconventional things with her life. She didn't follow the typical child star life choices. She got a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, married her college sweetheart and had two boys. After having kids she sought answers on how to best parent them as they grew and found a parenting style called attachment parenting best suited her. She then wrote a book called "Beyond the Sling" to tell about her findings.

I was able to read and keep Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD for free for a review here on my blog. For those of us with a background in Attachment Parenting (AP) this book is a wonderful refresher. For the rest it is great parenting advice and for anyone wanting to know more about how AP works this is a great book. Mayim tells us her experiences with AP and what worked for her. This book isn't saying anyone has to be a perfect parent. Instead it calls parenting the most natural and instinctual event on the planet and that the principles of attachment parenting are innate.

Mayim says we should follow our instincts and try to learn to "speak baby". This made me think of Dr. Who, of which I am a big fan, where he tells Alfie's father that he speaks baby. Yes...I know I am a total geek :) I can't always understand what my littlest is saying in words but she does try to tell me what she wants or needs in other ways and I need to better "speak baby". You'd think after 5 kids I would have the baby speak down. Yes, even I need to be more in tune. I know there are definite areas that I need to improve upon in parenting, spending more time listening to my kids is one of them.

My kids love my attention, they relish it! They love for me to do things with them. This is one reason why I do Attachment Parenting, AP, and love it. AP usually means different things to different people. Some practice more extremely than others. I am not totally "crunchy" in my methods. What do I do? I keep my boys uncircumcised, breastfeed my babies usually until they self wean, baby wear, have cloth diapered and practiced co-sleeping, and homeschool. I am also trying out gentle discipline. I also practice natural parenting because I feel it goes hand in hand with AP. I love to buy organic, all natural, nontoxic, biodegradable, eco-friendly, local and/or sustainable products every chance I get; I teach my kids about reducing, reusing, re-purposing and recycling; and we grow our own fruits, vegetables, herbs and natural remedies in our very own garden with which we also collect rain water and compost for. This is all how I parent the best. I know that parenting is going to be different for different people.

Even though parenting is different for everyone it still shouldn't be rocket science. This book tells us that good intuition is all we need in parenting. Listening to what your family needs and adjusting around those needs, not the other way around. Prioritizing your life around your family is important. Your children need you now and you will never get the first years of life back. For some this is a guilt trip...it really shouldn't be.

This book also goes into birth, breastfeeding, babywearing and holding your child, co-sleeping, elimination communication, gentle discipline and so much more. I have had power struggles lately with my older kids and the chapter on gentle discipline really helped me realize how to better approach things. I really hadn't thought about it, but I was gravitating towards how my parents had disciplined me when I was young, a lot of yelling and fighting back and forth was therefore involved. I felt powerless because my kids wouldn't listen to me, but it was really that I wasn't listening to them and their needs. Yelling at them wasn't getting me anywhere. I am trying to now hold my temper and my tongue and listen more. Slowly but surely everything seems to be running more smoothly and efficiently in my home because of this little refresher in gentle discipline.

BUY IT:
Purchase it on Amazon.com for $14.62.

WIN IT:
Prize: Win a copy of Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Mayim's PR for sending me product for free to review and one to give away for free. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Food on the Table - Easy Meal Planning - FREE

Food on the Table is an awesome Meal Planning Service that is based on sales of well known grocery store chains to help you make your grocery lists, save money and come up with meals from their recipes. They have Safeway, Fred Myer, Albertsons, QFC, Save-A-Lot, and Whole Foods on their list of stores they work with.

Since I am shopping more frequently at Safeway now because of Safeway's Just For U savings program I am excited to use this also!

Use promo code: SPRINGFREE and you will get this Free For Life!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post because I thought you might be interested in knowing this information and taking part of this deal because I also have signed up for it. I thought I would share the savings. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any compensation for doing this post.


Friday, May 25, 2012

BabyLegs 50% Off Sale + Free Shipping

BabyLegs is having a 50% off sitewide sale now through Memorial Day. Just put in Code FAN50 and get Free shipping too! I just bought 3 pairs for my girls! All of the leg warmers marked down to $10 will not be making a re-appearance next season! So get yours soon!


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post because I thought you might be interested in knowing this information and taking part of this deal because I also took part in it. I purchased the Taffy Legwarmers, Hearts & Flowers Legwarmers and Flower Factory Legwarmers because they were on the $10 clearance. I thought I would share the savings. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any compensation for doing this post.




Saturday, May 19, 2012

Portland Oregon Safeway VIP Blogger Event Recap #Safewayj4u


On Wednesday May 16th, 2012 I was privileged to attend the Safeway VIP Blogger Event in Oregon at the Safeway Portland Division Office. This was my very first blogger event so I was thrilled to be invited! I met up with some other bloggers, traded information and socialized. We were also very well fed both breakfast and lunch. Safeway sure knows food :) The Signature Cafe Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad, O Organics Blood Orange Italian Soda and the Safeway Select French Berry Lemonade Sparkling Soda was my favorite for the lunch portion of the event. On the table beside the food Safeway showcased some of their brand name food items.


We sat at long tables and Tweeted, Facebooked and sent our readers quick messages about where we were and what we were learning. Safeway showed us a presentation about their new clip-less coupon program called Just for U.

Essentially when you sign up for Just for U on the Safeway website you can save roughly 10-20% more than usual if you add the coupons that you want from their website directly to your Safeway Club Card. This makes it so simple to save money. These personalized price offers in Just for U are even better than Safeway's Everyday Low Prices and great Club Card specials. For those of us that don't clip coupons because of time restraints this is a much easier method and isn't time consuming at all. For those of us that clip coupons religiously or just part time this is also great for you too because you can still stack coupons with the Just for U offers as well and if you have a better offer on a clipped manufactured coupon than the digital manufactured coupon offered or vise versa you get the better offer...so the higher discount always wins. I will go into the program in more detail on another post to try to answer all your questions. There are some questions already answered about the Just for U program on the Safeway website.


After the presentation we were handed a Safeway $50 Gift Card and were told we would be going to one of their Safeway stores to shop so that we could get the feel for exactly how the Just for U program worked. First we needed to sign into our Just for U accounts on the Safeway website and add coupons we would use to our Safeway Club Card. So I added a few to my card that I thought I would buy, but when we reached the Safeway store by shuttle I found that I forgot to add a few of the offers. Fortunately they have computer consoles at the store with printers so you can load your cards with the offers there too and print out your lists. This is handy for those like me that have forgotten to add a few of the offers or those that do not have a home computer and need to add them before they start shopping. You can also add them from your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad or Android.

When we arrived at the Safeway we were going to shop at there was a press conference held and Steve Frisby, Safeway Division President for Seattle & Portland spoke about the program to the media and answered their questions. After the press conference some of the bloggers were followed around by media and filmed for the news. I now wish I had been bold enough to have done this too as my blog could have used the media attention.


The Safeway sponsored shopping trip was a whole lot of fun even though I didn't buy too much because I didn't want to have to carry it all to the shuttle. I saved a nice 36% on my purchases although along with the Just for U savings I used a manufactured coupon I found beside the Tazo Giant Peach Drinks for $1 off and am also getting a rebate back for the 6 pack of Snapple. See how I did on my shopping excursion on my receipt.


After we got back to the division office we had a question and answer session. Then we were given a Safeway reusable tote full of Safeway swag goodies to take home with us. I was the last blogger to leave so they gave me the 5 red mylar balloons that were tied to the railing outside to give to my kids.


Here we are, the Portland Safeway VIP Bloggers. I am the shortest one in the front, with long brown hair wearing purple, green and blue. I really enjoyed my day with the other bloggers, Safeway personnel, and PR. It was fun filled and I hope to do it again soon!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I went to this event because I was invited. I wanted to let you, my readers, know of the savings you could get by signing up for the Safeway Just for U program so I wrote this post. Thanks to Safeway and their representatives for providing me with the information and inviting me to this event. I received free swag for attending. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Birthday and Teela's Visit at her Babu's


My birthday was May 10th. I didn't get to do a lot because my husband was working, but here is a recap of my day.

Here is what my kids did: Jaedan made me breakfast in the morning. He made me a breakfast burrito with sauteed green peppers, potatoes, and cheese. It was very yummy! Delbin gave me a necklace he made and some pieces of really neat pottery he found to make a mosaic with. Teela came home from visiting her grandparents, Babu and Papa, and she got me a small pretty fabric gift bag and made me a card that she put in it. She also colored a picture of Pinky Pie (a My Little Pony) and while she was away made me the following special program called Teela's Visit to Babu's 2012...



My parents (aka Babu and Papa to my kids) took me shopping at Ross Dress For Less and I purchased 3 awesome shirts, a beautiful long missoni skirt and a Wilton Mini Rectangle Pie Press with money allotted for me from my husband for my birthday. I also received a very nice dress also from Ross Dress for Less from my parents.


After shopping for my birthday we then had a late picnic dinner with BBQ chicken and potato salad. My mom brought her yummy homemade cinnamon rolls that I ate this morning for breakfast :) I also received a $10 Amazon GC (just another great perk for being a Purex Insider) that came on my birthday from Purex in the mail (actually for Mother's Day, but a very nice treat anyway). My other gifts were a pretty Shamballa bracelet and a bronze floral deer necklace.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oprah Magazine 12 Issues for Only $10 Deal!

I'm reporting to you as your friendly Purex Insider. Purex has teamed up with Oprah Magazine to bring you a fantastic deal: 1-year subscriptions to O Magazine for only $10! That is 12 whole issues of this awesome magazine! I believe this is the lowest price for O Magazine available anywhere on the internet, during this promotion window.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the O Magazine promotion I will get a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card for every 5 subscriptions I generate. Thanks to Purex for providing me this promotion information. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Purex Let’s Be Honest Campaign, Sweepstakes And Sample

I'm reporting to you as your friendly Purex Insider. Starting today, Purex launches their new Let’s Be Honest promotional campaign. Every few days through mid-July at www.purex.com Purex will feature Second City Comedian Molly Erdman in a series of funny, short videos sharing honest moments from everyday life, laundry, etc.

The best part is that you can also enter their sweepstakes to win a full year of Purex laundry detergent. I really love their Free and Clear Detergent!!

Have you gotten and tried a free Purex sample yet? If not, go HERE to get a free sample and try it for yourself!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the Let's Be Honest Purex Campaign I am getting coupons for Purex. Thanks to Purex for providing me this promotion information and free coupons. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gardening with Little Miss Greenfingers: Growing Culinary Herbs In Containers by Anja Koch Ebook Review

Did you know that May 5th 2012 is Herb Day? What better way to celebrate than to plant and grow some culinary herbs in some containers for your kitchen or outdoor area!  'Gardening With Little Miss Greenfingers: Growing Culinary Herbs In Containers - Healthy & Delicious!' by Anja Koch is just the ebook to give you the perfect amount of information you need to do this in an easy and affordable way.

This ebook is the first of a series called 'Gardening With Little Miss Greenfingers' by Anja Koch. It covers all aspects of growing culinary herbs in containers indoors and outdoors. It contains all the information needed for growing herbs including: where to grow your herbs, stuff you need for container herb gardening, growing herbs from seed, culinary herbs suitable for container growing, how to look after your herbs, dealing with pests and diseases, harvesting and preserving herbs, make your herb garden attractive, annual herbs, perennial herbs. Seventeen popular culinary herbs are described in detail with growing instructions and tips for cooking and preserving. The ebook has a total of 85 pages.

I found this ebook very informative and useful for anyone who wants to grow herbs in containers. This ebook is great especially for the person who wants a kitchen window, patio, deck, balcony, or rooftop container garden. Perfect for those of us that are renting and cannot have our own backyard garden or haven't the space to do anything else. It also gives you ideas on how to make the most of small spaces.

My children love to garden and gardening is a great homeschool teaching tool too. I had my boys read this ebook too because they love to learn and I thought it was the perfect thing for them to get to know more about so we could start our own kitchen herb garden together. I also love to cook with fresh herbs and so having them on hand to give that recipe perfection right in my kitchen is fabulous for me! I just wish I had an awesome garden or greenhouse window in my kitchen to place them in like I did when I lived in Reedsport, Oregon...maybe in my future home.

I also love the fact that this ebook goes into storing and preserving the surplus herbs that you grow so that you can have them on hand year round. I would love to have a pantry full of herbs and other plants/flowers hanging in tied bundles upside-down to dry or preserved in jars of oil or vinegar. I also love the idea of ice cubed herbs to throw in soups, dishes, or beverages. I had never heard of salt preserving before and this was also quite interesting.

I also learned a lot about pest and disease control and a little secret about milk I didn't know. Pests and disease can be a nuisance to gardening and this ebook helps you defeat them.

Anja goes into even more detail with the individual herbs that she talks about. I just wish that all of the pictures were showing up in the ebook PDF version I received to download (there were blank spots where pictures should have been, but no picture). Regardless of that small oversight this ebook has a lot of really good information in it. I have never tried chervil and cress so these are going to be very interesting to try out in containers and to also cook with. I am really excited to get going planting, sowing and growing seeds. This was the perfect guide and ebook for adding to my Spring Gift Guide!

BUY IT:
Purchase this ebook in PDF file format from Little Miss Greenfingers at $14.95 or from Amazon.com in Kindle format for only $2.99!!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Answers for the 4-A Epidemic by Joseph Cannizzaro, MD FWCT Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Siloam (April 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Joseph Cannizzaro, MD, is the founder and managing pediatrician for the Pediatricians Care Unit in Longwood, Florida. He received his MD from the University of Bologna Medical School in Bologna, Italy, and has practiced pediatric medicine for thirty years with specialties in developmental pediatrics, nutrition, and preventative medicine.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


A groundbreaking integrative treatment program for autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies.
In the last two decades, the incidence of the 4-A disorders--autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies--has increased so drastically that many now call these four conditions "the new childhood epidemics." In this book, integrative pediatrician Joseph Cannizzaro lays a foundation for understanding the cause of all four conditions and then provides a comprehensive treatment program for each of them.

The medical community has generally overlooked the commonalities that link the 4-A disorders and, in most cases, has limited treatment to suppression of symptoms. Dr. Cannizzaro has focused his pediatric practice on the treatment of the 4-A disorders for the past five years. He and his colleagues are currently securing a research grant that will provide funding and national peer recognition of their groundbreaking treatment program, which is the first to combine traditional medical approaches with a full range of natural healing modalities.



Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Siloam (April 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616384840
ISBN-13: 978-1616384845



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction
There IS Hope!
What has gone wrong? As even a casual reader or listener of the news knows, the statistics are alarming. Autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies––all four of which happen to begin with the letter “A”––are on the rise, especially among children. In fact, it is not stretching the definition of the word epidemic to use that term for the way these disorders are sweeping the Western world. None of them is communicable in the classic understanding of the term, but all four sets of disorders, as you will see throughout this book, share common root causes that contribute to the development of current epidemic proportions. Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (with and without hyperactivity—ADD/ADHD), asthma, and allergies—these are the new childhood epidemics.
A tragedy of this magnitude would be overwhelming except for a salient fact: These new epidemics can be defeated. After twenty years of treating patients, I have found that beneath the surface there is an unmistakable, unshakeable web of interrelationship among the 4-A disorders, and I have learned to recognize the patterns. Toxicity in the brain and body causes metabolic dysfunction, which cascades with other factors to produce one or more of these disorders. Often they overlap with each other in the same person. By uncovering and treating the common causes of these 4-A disorders, we can embark on a common (and hope-filled) path to recovery.
You are already aware of this epidemic or you would not have picked up this book. Most likely you are a parent of a child (or more than one child) who carries a diagnosis of one of these disorders. You may be overwhelmed with your situation at home, while your search for help merely seems to bury you in information and saddle you with enormous medical bills.
I want to empower people like you—parents of 4-A children—with comprehensive and effective tools. With you, I want to advocate for the health of your kids. At the same time I want to increase your skills to recognize your own body’s ongoing responses to disorder and stress so that you can make an ongoing and accurate assessment of how you’re doing as a whole family.
Holistic-Integrative Self-Medical Care
This book is a guide, not a cookbook. It will teach you principles as well as facts and point you in the right direction as you search out the best path. Recovering from any of the 4-A disorders is a journey, replete with side trips and even dead ends. But together with others you can make tangible progress toward the healthy, even contented, lifestyle you want for yourself and your loved ones.
What you as an individual do with this information is up to you. I want to teach you how to “self-practice” self-care in a holistic, integrative, and natural way. I want to introduce you to upstream medicine, in which we all play a role in searching out the causes of disease and eliminating them at the root.
The causes of this particular 4-A epidemic (and if I were not a pediatrician, I might add a fifth and more mature “A” to the list: Alzheimer’s disease) are omnipresent in our man-made, inevitably toxic environment. The detrimental effects of our environment have been causing all sorts of damage and disorder that is initially imperceptible and can remain so far varying durations within a person’s lifetime. In the case of many of our children the damage has manifested early on as the 4-A disorders, although some children escape.
All disease processes begin with changes in functional systems, imbalances that our bodies can bring back into balance up to a point. We cannot tell at first what damage to cells and tissues may have been initiated; for a time, we remain unaware of tissue damage or dysfunction.
But after a point of saturation, months or even years down the road, a point which varies from one individual and family to another, an invisible threshold is crossed, beyond which perceptible symptoms of a disease begin to appear.
When I use the term “upstream medicine,” I’m using it to communicate two ideas: (1) the way in which we can learn to trace symptoms of a disease back to common and basic metabolic roots, so that we can weed out toxicity and improve the health-promoting aspects of our environment, and (2) the way in which we can learn to anticipate damage or dysfunction long before actual disease symptoms begin to manifest, so as to keep our lifestyles as free as possible of disease-producing contaminants. An intermediate period exists wherein perceptible signs and symptoms of a potential disease are still “brewing,” and during which, if appropriate measures are taken, the full definitive disease will never come into being.
My Unique Qualifications
I am an established medical doctor with a pediatric specialty. As the parents of young patients have come to me for answers over the years, I became convinced that my medical toolbox was insufficient. I could help but only to a degree. Why should I spend my time and the hard-earned money of my patients’ families simply trying to suppress symptoms of a disease, especially life-consuming ailments such as these 4-A disorders?
I needed to be able to do more. I needed to learn to bring together all that I had learned in medical school and in my pediatric practice along with as many other valid healing modalities as I could learn. I needed to become an integrative doctor, one who incorporates a holistic (mind, body, spirit) awareness along with a natural, nuts-and-bolts comprehension of basic biological principles. I needed to go back and relearn basic information about bodily systems (immune, digestive, nervous, etc.), in order to determine what it takes to establish and sustain the human body’s natural ability to develop, grow, and thrive. Besides all of that I needed to become aware of the bodily effects of our toxic environment so that I could make reliable recommendations to my patients.
In short I needed to learn to practice medicine in a way that actually eliminates the causes of illness.
This book reflects my journey, and I am very glad to be able to take you on board. I have written it to provide you with solid information, so that you can come to understand the causes and effects of your own child’s health concerns––and so that you can move together in the direction of healing. You will find here a detailed summary of what I have learned, and helpful applications of that information that you can adjust to suit your personal family situation.
A glance at the Table of Contents will serve as an introduction to the “menu” I have prepared for you. Some of the chapters may not apply to your situation, because you may be dealing with only one or two of the 4-A disorders in your family. But you will find that I have repeated key concepts throughout the book, so you will not miss them if you skip a chapter or two.
My desire is to put into your hands a transformational book, one that can transform your presuppositions and partial information so that, with me, we can create evidence-based solutions for some of society’s most perplexing ailments. I want to bring you to the brink of discovery, where you can survey a variety of explanations and solutions and find the ones that align with your own physical, mental, and spiritual paradigms.
Each of my own patients and their families has gained greatly from what you are about to read. Now it’s your turn to receive the same benefits!

SECTION I:
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Chapter 1
Four New Childhood Epidemics
Billy was born ten days after his due date after a very long labor, and he had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice. This did not seem to affect him negatively, though. At home he was a beautiful baby, always very active. All of his growth and developmental parameters were normal and on track. He was engaged with his family and communicative.
As an early toddler, however, he began to have temper tantrums and became very fearful of noises, which would make him cling to his mother for long periods of time. He gradually lost interest in his toddler play group. Billy continued to become more distant. Soon he would no longer respond to anyone calling his name, and eye contact slowly disappeared. By the time he was three, he had sustained numerous injuries while walking, running, or climbing, because he seemed to have no sense of danger.
All along his parents were reassured that their little boy’s behavior was within a normal range for his age. And yet he could not tell them if he was thirsty or hungry, happy or sad, or why he was upset––it seemed that he could not convey any emotion. Also, he had had bowel problems since he was six months old, but his mom had been told that it’s normal for children to have one bowel movement per week.
When Billy turned four, his preschool teacher suggested that his mother take him for a developmental evaluation conducted by a pediatrician. This caused her to begin to do some research on her own and her studies soon revealed that a pattern of behavior similar to Billy’s was typically seen in autistic children. Her fears mounted. Her Billy, who was once a healthy, happy little boy, now looked like a sad, helpless, clumsy boy who couldn’t express himself verbally, who would get upset very easily, and who was losing friends faster than he could make them.
Refusing to accept that nothing could be done, Billy’s mother located the website of the Autism Research Institute and found a holistic, integrative physician. He diagnosed Billy with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with severe food allergies and constipation, and he initiated biomedical treatment. Billy started a gluten-free, casein-free, and soy-free diet along with supplements that included probiotics, enzymes, and a whole food concentrate to help turn around his “leaky gut syndrome.”
After four months, his parents could talk to Billy and he would listen. Another practitioner was enlisted and he diagnosed oral candidiasis (“thrush”) and heavy metal toxicity. As his digestive, immune, and nervous systems came into balance and Billy’s overall health improved, he gradually achieved developmental milestones in academics and social skills. Now he was able to make friends at school, to interact and play with them. He had good eye contact and his speech was clear. Remarkably, he once again enjoyed life. He was back to being a happy boy who could tell his parents what he wanted.
As time went on, however, he became overly gregarious and extremely hyperactive. His mom remarked “Well, it’s just that he likes to do so many things. He’s all over the place. He’s a bundle of joy but he can be very disruptive in a group.” By then Billy was six and had entered kindergarten. He maintained good grades. The comments on his report cards were upsetting, however, comments such as, “despite my best efforts I cannot persuade Billy to pay attention and he remains a constant disruption in class.” He was taken back to the doctor for a full evaluation. This time, the diagnosis was ADHD (attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity).
What could have happened? Were the dietary and lifestyle measures that had brought so much healing no longer working? This prompted a systems review with laboratory studies, dietary history, and supplemental program analysis, along with a measurement of his toxic burden, which revealed that Billy and his family had lapsed back into a lifestyle marked by an inappropriate diet that was devoid of proper supplementation, along with a disregard for their exposure to toxins.
I am happy to report that once Billy’s parents successfully reinstituted and maintained those lifestyle changes (nutrition, supplements, and a detox program), Billy no longer suffered from the effects of the ADHD. As long as he stuck with the lifestyle improvements, he could be considered healed and healthy.
Is This a Real Epidemic?
We are living in the midst of a colossal, quadruple epidemic. This epidemic has developed insidiously over decades and it has escalated rapidly during the past thirty years.
How is this possible? Isn’t an epidemic defined as a specific disease that spreads rapidly in a definable geographic region? How can four seemingly distinct disorders (autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies) share the same “epidemic” umbrella?
It’s really not a stretch to call this a modern epidemic, even though the symptoms can vary greatly and even though the escalation seems to cover all of the developed nations of the world. This is because this diverse population of children (adults too, but these problems start young) are united in what underlies their many overlapping symptoms—and they face the same health-challenging environment.
We are involved in this epidemic with four faces simply because we are all exposed to the same cause. Toxicity permeates our ecosystem. The human body responds to the threat in particular ways. When you add other factors of our modern lifestyles, you get a spectrum or array of disorders that are interwoven with each other. The reason this epidemic came to light in children is because they are the most vulnerable.
Although we characterize what’s happening as an epidemic, the children themselves must be evaluated and treated as individuals, because each person is affected in his very own specific way. We can see patterns and cause-and-effect, but many factors make each child’s situation unique. Once we begin to understand where this epidemic came from, we next need to determine just where each individual fits. Only then can we pursue healing.
Definitions
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Candidiasis (oral): Commonly known as “thrush,” yeast overgrowth, or yeast infection, candidiasis indicates that the opportunistic Candida albicans fungus has caused white spots on the tongue and inside of the mouth.
Quadruple Epidemic
Within the past forty years of medical history, we began to realize that not only were rates of autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies growing into epidemic proportions, they are also connected to each other at the root. Not only do they share overlapping symptoms, they also often appear in the same individual.
My personal experience with patients and that of all the integrative physicians with whom I have worked is that we have not met one child who came to us with just one of the four conditions. The parents of a child with allergies would describe asthma attacks as well as their child’s learning problems (problems with concentration and attention span). Children would be diagnosed with autism and then with ADHD, and we would find that these hyperactive autistics also had severe allergies and asthma. Our conventional medical categories consisted of separate diagnostic boxes. But these kids could not fit into just one of them.
We have not met one child who came to us with just one of the four conditions.
How are these disorders related? What is their commonality? What element unites them all? The answer: the state of the digestive system. Every 4-A patient has an abnormal digestive system, which in turn impacts the immune and nervous systems, producing a familiar litany of symptoms.
“All diseases begin in the gut,” declared Hippocrates 2,400 years ago. He was describing our current epidemic.
Current Rates of 4-A Disorders
How many children and adults have been hit by this epidemic? Twenty-five million individuals, and most likely more than thirty million, when psychiatric conditions and the disorders in learning, behavior, speech and language, sensory integration, and motor skills are included. This certainly qualifies as an epidemic.
Is it an epidemic of genetic origin? While autism and the three other A’s have a clear genetic component, that cannot explain everything. These are not purely genetic diseases. Undoubtedly these patients were born with a genetic predisposition or susceptibility. Yet genetics alone does not cause epidemics, and it may not be as important as we thought it was. As Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project, famously said, “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”
Environmental changes occurring to a genetically predisposed child sound like a more plausible explanation to me. But what are the specific triggers?
“Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.”
I believe that environmental factors are of paramount importance. Autism has increased 6,000 percent in twenty years, ADHD more than 400 percent, asthma more than 300 percent, and allergies more than 400 percent in the same time period. Two disastrous environmental changes have caused all this to happen: overwhelming toxicity and nutrient depletion.
Definitions
Commonality: A shared set of attributes or features. In the context of this book, the word refers to an aggregate of environmental conditions and influences that have caused the epidemic of 4-A disorders.
Allergy: An exaggerated response of the immune system to specific substances that normally pose no threat to the human body, involving the elevation of specific antibodies due to antigen stimulus.
Asthma: A chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes characterized by symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
Autism: A developmental disorder that encompasses speech development, social development, physical capabilities and tendencies, and cognitive development.
Maria Rodale, CEO of the family-named multimedia healthy-living company, writes in her book Organic Manifesto:
Autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), diseases virtually unheard of a few decades ago, are now diagnosed regularly. Of every 100 children born today, one will be diagnosed with autism before the age of 8.* About 4.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Rates of asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity are at all-time highs and scientists can’t explain why the number of children with food allergies has increased 18 percent in the last decade.** Is it a coincidence that the prevalence of these problems has increased as we have increased the use of chemicals to grow our food?”1
Toxic chemicals in our food chain are just one of the triggers. Let’s take a look at each of the epidemic disorders in turn before we go on in the rest of the chapters to describe all of the possible triggers, as well as specific and comprehensive strategies for dealing with them.
Autism
It would not be an exaggeration to say that autism affects everything in a child. Broadly defined, it is a severe developmental disorder characterized by significant disabilities in social interaction, communication, and behavior.
Autistic children range from those who appear to be normal to those who cannot speak at all or make eye contact, and who engage in repeated and disturbing physical actions. In less severe cases children may be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome or one of the other four recognized disorders at the “high-functioning” end of the autism spectrum. These children may have near-normal speech capabilities, but many autistic social and behavioral problems persist.
Autism affects about five boys to every one girl, and it is usually diagnosed at a young age. Autistic children have serious social impairments, and many lack an intuitive sense about other people, misreading social cues and not being able to learn from mistakes. This seriously inhibits normal growth and development. If they are verbal, some autistic children characteristically repeat others’ words or reverse pronouns. They may have trouble engaging in imaginative play, a key aspect of normal development in non-autistic children.
Because autistic children can display such different symptoms, autism must be considered a “spectrum” disorder. Many people (and I am one of them) are convinced that ADHD carries the mildest form of the symptoms on the autism spectrum. Still milder would be “borderline ADHD,” or various learning disabilities. Autism spectrum disorder is often referred to as ASD.
Children with autism, as well as those with ADHD, tend to suffer from asthma and allergies. Many also contend with other comorbid conditions, such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sleep disorders, and more.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Like autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects more boys than girls. ADHD can be characterized by age-inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and often hyperactivity.
ADHD is further subdivided into three types, as follows:
1. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. These children (more boys than girls) are in constant motion and find it hard to wait or listen. Instead, they act and talk impulsively.
2. Predominantly inattentive ADHD. More girls than boys have this type. They have difficulty staying focused and attentive, and they do not tend to “act out” or stir things up.
3. Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD. Most children with ADHD have this type.
Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD, although it can be difficult to draw the line at where normal levels of childish inattention and fidgety behaviors end and ADHD levels begin. These symptoms can lead to problems in academic, emotional, and social behaviors.
Sometimes other factors appear with ADHD and can make diagnosis confusing, such as depression, sleep deprivation, specific learning disabilities, physical tics, and overall behavioral issues. In fact we find that most kids who have ADHD also have one or more significant psychiatric, physical, or behavioral problem, including bipolar disorder. Because ADHD has so many different faces, parents should always seek out professional help to sort out the reasons for their own child’s behavior.
Although people with ADHD can become quite successful in life, the opposite can also prevail: school failures, discipline for unruly behavior, rocky relationships, and eventual substance abuse. Children with untreated ADHD can grow into adults who are depressed, anxious, minimally employed, and generally unhappy with their lives.
Throughout this book, when I refer to children with a kind of shorthand as “spectrum” children, I am referring to children whose symptoms put them somewhere on the autistic-to-ADHD continuum.
Asthma
The word asthma comes from a Greek word that means “panting.” It is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes characterized by symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The inflammation is triggered environmentally by reactive substances or activities, including allergens, physical exercise, and cold air. The chronic inflammation causes swelling and therefore narrowing in a person’s airways. Most treatments focus on reversing this swelling to relieve the labored breathing.
When a person’s asthmatic symptoms become worse than usual, we call it an asthmatic attack. Without treatment the person’s bronchial tubes can close so that the person dies of suffocation.
Treatments include quick-acting medicines to give relief from asthma attacks and maintenance medicines to prevent symptoms over the long term.
Asthma ranks as the number one chronic illness in children today.
Definitions
Autism spectrum disorders: Five disorders with distinctive symptoms of autism: (1) autistic disorder, (2) Asperger’s syndrome, (3) childhood disintegrative disorder, (4) Rett’s disorder, and (5) pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
Allergen: Environmental substances that are normally harmless but which provoke a range of symptoms in reactive individuals.
Anaphylaxis: A severe and rapid allergic reaction involving many parts of the body, sometimes fatal.
Bipolar disorder: A mental disease characterized by cycles of depression and mania.
Allergies
People with allergies have hypersensitive immune systems that react to outside substances in an exaggerated fashion. The word allergy indicates an altered reaction, deriving as it does from the Greek words allos (different, changed) and ergos (action).
Besides causing discomfort and illness, allergies can trigger asthma attacks and can contribute to the severity of many other disorders. A person’s immune system is supposed to fight genuine microbial threats. In most allergic reactions, however, the immune system is responding in an exaggerated way to a false alarm.
Common substances to which people have an allergic response include pollen, dust mites, insect stings, pet dander, molds, as well as specific foods and ingredients in medicines. These normally harmless environmental substances are known as allergens when they provoke symptoms such as nasal congestion and sneezing, itching or swelling, rashes, digestive disturbances, or full-blown asthma. Most of the time allergy symptoms are annoying but not life-threatening, although an intense allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis affects multiple internal systems and can result in death.
Allergies are very common in the population at large.
Putting Them Together
In the next chapter we will explore how these four seemingly unrelated disorders, autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies––each of which has mushroomed statistically in our lifetime and which affect our children disproportionately––combine into one sweeping epidemic. I will offer encouragement to parents of 4-A children as I propose potential solutions. For the sake of our sons and daughters (who represent our future), let us not rest until we have brought this 4-A epidemic to its knees.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harlem Globetrotters New Basketball Clinics and Blog Opportunity


Hey fellow bloggers! USFamilyGuide.com has a great opportunity for you with the Harlem Globetrotters. They would like to give you and your family free tickets for a game this season! They have a family four pack voucher for you and your family to see a future Globetrotter game this season if you can help spread the word about their new Basketball Clinics. This is a new program and they are excited to get the word out. Your family's tickets would be valid for any game all season. In order to take part of this opportunity though you need to sign up to become a *USFamilyGuide.com blogger. When USFamilyGuide.com accepts your blog you will get an email and then they will send you information to fill out to get the free tickets.

About Harlem Globetrotter's New Basketball Clinics:
This Summer the famous team will be hosting a series of Basketball Clinics in 11 cities. Kids will actually learn from the players! The 2012/2013 Harlem Globetrotters Schedule will be published soon. The season opens up Dec. 26 in Pittsburgh.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the Harlem Globetrotters I am getting free tickets for my whole family to go. Thanks to USFamilyGuide.com for providing me this promotion information and free tickets. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

*USFamilyGuide is a nationwide network of over 500 online family guides generating over 600,000 visitors each month. Your blog will be highlighted in their searchable Moms Connect Directory, a primary feature on all of their 500+ sites. Plus as a permanent feature as one of their "featured local bloggers" on the US Family Guide site closest to you. As a member you will be able to take advantage of their national contacts providing you FREE tickets to performances such as Sesame Street Live, Curious George Live, Disney on Ice, Ringling Brothers Circus, family movie screenings and other attractions when they come to your town and will provide updates on a regular basis as FREE opportunities arise in your area.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley FWCT Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ruthie Dean of Thomas Nelson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After earning a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University, she spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry before beginning to write fiction. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome and Persia, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past.

She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar's Daughter.

For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.

Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent but oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes her newfound independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own is freedom threatened.

As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family's secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.



Product Details:
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140168680X
ISBN-13: 978-1401686802



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

Babylon, 570 BC

My name is Nebuchadnezzar. Let the nations hear it!
I am ruler of Babylon, greatest empire on earth. Here in its capital city, I am like a god.
Tonight, as the sun falls to its death in the western desert, I walk along the balconies I have built, overlooking the city I have built, and know there is none like me.
I inhale the twilight air and catch the scent of a dozen sacrifices. Across the city, the smoke and flames lift from Etemenanki, the House of the Platform of Heaven and Earth. The priests sacrifice tonight in honor of Tiamat, for tomorrow she will be wed. Though I have questioned the wisdom of a marriage with the captive Judaeans, tomorrow will not be a day for questions. It will be a day of celebration, such as befits a princess.
Tiamat comes to me now on the balcony, those dark eyes wide with entreaty. “Please, Father.”
I encircle her shoulders in a warm embrace and turn her to the city.
“There, Tia. There is our glorious Babylon. Do you not wish to serve her?”
She leans her head against my chest, her voice thick. “Yes, of course. But I do not wish to marry.”
I pat her shoulder, kiss the top of her head. My sweet Tia. Who would have foretold that she would become such a part me?
“Have no fear, dear one. Nothing shall change. Husband or not, I shall always love you. Always protect you.”
She clutches me, a desperate grip around my waist.
I release her arms and look into her eyes. “Go now. Your mother will be searching for you. Tomorrow will be a grand day, for you are the daughter of the greatest king Babylon has ever seen.”
I use my thumb to rub a tear from her eye, give her a gentle push, and she is gone with a last look of grief that breaks my heart.
The greatest king Babylon has ever seen. The words echo like raindrops plunking on stones. I try to ignore a tickling at the back of my thoughts. Something Belteshazzar told me, many months ago. A dream.
I shake my head, willing my mind to be free of the memory. My longtime Jewish advisor, part of my kingdom since we were both youths, often troubles me with his advice. I keep him close because he has become a friend. I keep him close because he is too often right.
But I do not want to think of Belteshazzar. Tonight is for me alone. For my pleasure, as I gaze across all that I have built, all that I have accomplished. This great Babylon, this royal residence with its Gardens to rival those created by the gods. Built by my mighty power. For the glory of my majesty. I grip the balcony wall, inhale the smoky sweetness again, and smile. It is good.
I hear a voice and think perhaps Belteshazzar has found me after all, for the words sound like something he would say, and yet the voice . . . The voice is of another.
“There is a decree gone out for you, Nebuchadnezzar. Your kingship has been stripped from you.”
I turn to the traitorous words, but no one is there. And yet the voice continues, rumbling in my own chest, echoing in my head.
“You will be driven from men to dwell with beasts. You will eat the herbs of oxen and seven times will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men. To whom He wills power, He gives power.”
The tickling is there again, in my mind. I roll my shoulders to ease the discomfort, but it grows. It grows to a scratching, a clawing at the inside of my head, until I fear I shall bleed within.
The fear swells in me and I am frantic now. I rub my eyes, swat my ears, and still the scratching and scraping goes on, digging away at my memories, at my sense of self, of who I am and what I have done, and I stare at the sky above and the stones below and bend my waist and fall upon the ground where it is better, better to be on the ground, and I want only to find food, food, food. And a two-legged one comes and makes noises with her mouth and clutches at me but I understand none of it and even this knowledge that I do not understand is slipping, slipping from me as the sun slips into the desert.
And in the darkness, I am no more.


Chapter 1

Seven years later

The night her husband died, Tia ran with abandon.
The city wall, wide enough for chariots to race upon its baked bricks, absorbed the slap of her bare feet and cooled her skin. She flew past the Ishtar Gate as though chased by demons, knowing the night guard in his stone tower would be watching. Leering. Tia ignored his attention.
Tonight, this night, she wanted only to run.
A lone trickle of sweat chased down her backbone. The desert chill soaked into her bones and somewhere in the vast sands beyond the city walls, a jackal shrieked over its kill. Her exhalation clouded the air and the quiet huffs of her breath kept time with her feet.
Breathe, slap, slap, slap.
They would be waiting. Expecting her. A tremor disturbed her rhythm. Her tears for Shealtiel were long spent, stolen by the desert air before they fell.
Flames surged from the Tower and snagged her attention. Priests and their nightly sacrifices, promising to ensure the health of the city. For all of Babylon’s riches, the districts encircled by the double city walls smelled of poverty, disease, and hopelessness. But the palace was an oasis in a desert.
She would not run the entire three bêru around the city. Not tonight. Only to the Marduk Gate and back to the Southern Palace, where her mother would be glaring her displeasure at both her absence and her choice of pastime. Tia had spent long days at Shealtiel’s bedside, waiting for the end. Could her mother not wait an hour?
Too soon, the Marduk Gate loomed and Tia slowed. The guard leaned over the waist-high crenellation, thrust a torch above his head, and hailed the trespasser.
“Only Tiamat.” She panted and lifted a hand. “Running.”
He shrugged and shook his head, then turned back to his post, as though a princess running the city wall at night in the trousers of a Persian were a curiosity, nothing more. Perhaps he’d already seen her run. More likely, her reputation ran ahead of her. The night hid her flush of shame.
But she could delay no longer. The guilt had solidified, a stone in her belly she could not ignore.
She pivoted, sucked in a deep breath, and shot forward, legs and arms pounding for home.
Home. Do I still call it such? When all that was precious had been taken? Married at fourteen. A widow by twenty-one. And every year a lie.
“I shall always love you, always protect you.”
He had spoken the words on the night he had been lost to her. And where was love? Where was protection? Not with Shealtiel.
The night sky deepened above her head, and a crescent moon hung crooked against the blackness. Sataran and Aya rose in the east, overlapping in false union.
“The brightest light in your lifetime’s sky,” an elderly mage had said of the merged stars. The scholar’s lessons on the workings of the cosmos interested her, and she paid attention. As a princess already married for treaty, she was fortunate to retain tutors.
Ahead, the Ishtar Gate’s blue-glazed mosaics, splashed with yellow lions, surged against the purpling sky, and to its left, the false wooded mountain built atop the palace for her mother, Amytis, equaled its height. Tia chose the east wall of the gate for a focal point and ignored the Gardens. Tonight the palace had already seen death. She needn’t also dwell on madness.
Breathe, slap, slap, slap. Chest on fire, almost there.
She reached the palace’s northeast corner, where it nearly brushed the city wall, slowed to a stop, and bent at the waist. Hands braced against her knees, she sucked in cold air. Her heartbeat quieted.
When she turned back toward the palace, she saw what her mother had done.
A distance of one kanû separated the wide inner city wall from the lip of the palace roof, slightly lower. Tia kept a length of cedar wood there on the roof, a plank narrow enough to discourage most, and braced it across the chasm for her nightly runs. When she returned, she would pull it back to the roof, where anyone who might venture past the guards on the wall would not gain access. Only during her run did this plank bridge the gap, awaiting her return.
Amytis had removed it.
Something like heat lightning snapped across Tia’s vision and left a bitter, metallic taste in her mouth. Her mother thought to teach her a lesson. Punish her for her manifold breaches of etiquette by forcing her to take the long way down, humiliate herself to the sentinel guard.
She would not succeed.
With a practiced eye, Tia measured the distance from the ledge to the palace roof. She would have the advantage of going from a higher to a lower level. A controlled fall, really. Nothing more.
But she made the mistake of looking over, to the street level far below. Her senses spun and she gripped the wall.
She scrambled onto the ledge, wide enough to take the stance needed for a long jump, and bent into position, one leg extended behind. The palace rooftop garden held only a small temple in its center, lit with three torches. Nothing to break her fall, or her legs, when she hit. She counted, steadying mind and body.
The wind caught her hair, loosened during her run, and blew it across her eyes. She flicked her head to sweep it away, rocked twice on the balls of her feet, and leaped.
The night air whooshed against her ears, and her legs cycled through the void as though she ran on air itself. The flimsy trousers whipped against her skin, and for one exhilarating moment Tia flew like an egret wheeling above the city and knew sweet freedom.
This was how it should always be. My life. My choice. I alone control my destiny.
She hit the stone roof grinning like a trick monkey, and it took five running steps to capture her balance.
Glorious.
Across the rooftop, a whisper of white fluttered. A swish of silk and a pinched expression disappeared through the opening to the stairs. Amytis had been waiting to see her stranded on the city wall and Tia had soured her pleasure. The moment of victory faded, and Tia straightened her hair, smoothed her clothing.
“Your skill is improving.” The eerie voice drifted to Tia across the dark roof and she flinched. A chill rippled through her skin.
Shadir stood at the far end of the roof wall, where the platform ended and the palace wall rose higher to support the Gardens. His attention was pinned to the stars, and a scroll lay on the ledge before him, weighted with amulets.
“You startled me, Shadir. Lurking there in the shadows.”
The mage turned, slid his gaze the length of her in sharp appraisal. “It would seem I am not the only one who prefers the night.”
Long ago, Shadir had been one of her father’s chief advisors. Before—before the day of which they never spoke. Since that monstrous day, he held amorphous power over court and kingdom, power that few questioned and even fewer defied. His oiled hair hung in tight curls to his shoulders and the full beard and mustache concealed too much of his face, leaving hollow eyes that seemed to follow even when he did not turn his head.
Tia shifted on her feet and eyed the door. “It is cooler to run at night.”
The mage held himself unnaturally still. Did he even breathe?
As a child, Tia had believed Shadir could scan her thoughts like the night sky and read her secrets. Little relief had come with age. Another shudder ran its cold finger down her back.
Tia lowered her chin, all the obeisance she would give, and escaped the rooftop. Behind her, he spoke in a tone more hiss than speech. “The night holds many dangers.”
She shook off the unpleasant encounter. Better to ready herself for the unpleasantness she yet faced tonight.
Her husband’s family would have arrived by this time, but sweating like a soldier and dressed like a Persian, she was in no state to make an appearance in the death chamber. Instead, she went to her own rooms, where her two slave women, Omarsa and Gula, sat vigil as though they were the grieving widows. They both jumped when Tia entered and busied themselves with lighting more oil lamps and fetching bathwater.
In spite of her marriage to the eldest son of the captive Judaean king, Tia’s chambers were her own. She had gone to Shealtiel when it was required, and only then. The other nights she spent here among her own possessions—silk fabrics purchased from merchants who traveled east of Babylon, copper bowls hammered smooth by city jewelers, golden statues of the gods, rare carved woods from fertile lands in the west. A room of luxury. One that Shealtiel disdained and she adored. She was born a Babylonian princess. Let him have his austerity, his righteous self-denial. It had done him little good.
One of her women stripped her trousers, then unwound the damp sash that bound her lean upper body. Tia stood in the center of the bath chamber, its slight floor depression poked with drainage holes under her feet, and tried to be still as they doused her with tepid water and scrubbed with a scented paste of plant ash and animal fat until her skin stung.
When they had dressed her appropriately, her ladies escorted her through the palace corridors to the chamber where her husband of nearly seven years lay cold.
Seven years since she lost herself and her father on the same day. Neither of them had met death, but all the same, they were lost. Seven years of emptiness where shelter had been, of longing instead of love.
But much had ended today—Shealtiel’s long illness and Tia’s long imprisonment.
She paused outside the chamber door. Could she harden herself for the inevitable? The wails of women’s laments drifted under the door and wrapped around her heart, squeezing pity from her. A wave of sorrow, for the evil that took those who are loved, tightened her throat. But her grief was more for his family than herself. He had been harsh and unloving and narrow-minded, and now she was free. Tia would enter, give the family her respect, and escape to peace.
She nodded to one of her women, and Gula tapped the door twice and pushed it open.
Shealtiel’s body lay across a pallet, skin already graying. The chamber smelled of death and frankincense. Three women attended her husband—Shealtiel’s sister, his mother, and Tia’s own. His mother, Marta, sat in a chair close to the body. Her mourning clothes, donned over her large frame, were ashy and torn. She lifted her head briefly, saw that it was only Tia, and returned to her keening. Her shoulders rocked and her hands clutched at a knot of clothing, perhaps belonging to Shealtiel. His sister, Rachel, stood against the wall and gave her a shy smile, a smile that melded sorrow and admiration. She was younger than Tia by five years, still unmarried, a sweet girl.
“Good of you to join us, Tia.” Her mother’s eyes slitted and traveled the length of Tia’s robes. Tia expected some comment about her earlier dress, but Amytis held her tongue.
“I was . . . detained.” Their gazes clashed over Shealtiel’s body and Tia challenged her with a silent smile. The tension held for a moment, then Tia bent her head.
She was exquisite, Amytis. No amount of resentment on Tia’s part could blind her to this truth. Though Amytis had made it clear that Tia’s sisters held her affections, and though Tia had long ago given up calling her Mother in her heart, she could not deny that her charms still held sway in Babylon. From old men to children, Amytis was adored. Her lustrous hair fell to her waist, still black though she was nearly fifty, and her obsidian eyes over marble cheekbones were a favorite of the city’s best sculptors. Some said Tia favored her, but if she did, the likeness did nothing to stir a motherly affection.
Tia went to Shealtiel’s mother and whispered over her, “May the gods show kindness to you today, Marta. It is a difficult day for us all.” The woman’s grief broke Tia’s heart, and she placed a hand on Marta’s wide shoulder to share in it.
Marta sniffed and pulled away. “Do not call upon your false gods for me, girl.”
Amytis sucked in a breath, her lips taut.
Tia’s jaw tightened. “He was a good man, Marta. He will be missed.” Both of these statements Tia made without falsehood. Shealtiel was the most pious man she had ever known, fully committed to following the exacting requirements of his God.
Marta seemed to soften. She reached a plump hand to pat Tia’s own, still on her shoulder. “But how could the Holy One have taken him before he saw any children born?”
Tia stiffened and brought her hand to her side, forcing the fingers to relax. Marta rocked and moaned on, muttering about Tia’s inhospitable womb. Tia dared not point out that perhaps her son was to blame.
“But there is still a chance.” Marta looked to Amytis, then to Tia. “It is our way. When the husband dies without an heir, his brother—”
“No.”
The single word came from both her mother’s and her own lips as one. Marta blinked and looked between them.
“It is our way.” Marta glanced at Rachel against the wall, as though seeking an ally. “My second son Pedaiah is unmarried yet. Perhaps Tia could still bear a son for Shealtiel—”
“You have had your treaty marriage with Babylon.” Amytis drew herself up, accentuating her lean height. “There will not be another.”
Tia remained silent. Her mother and she, in agreement? Had Amytis watched her languish these seven years and regretted flinging her like day-old meat to the Judaean dogs? Did she also hope for a life with more purpose for Tia now that she had been released? Tia lifted a smile, ever hopeful that Amytis’s heart had somehow softened toward her youngest daughter.
“Jeconiah shall hear of your refusal!” Marta stood, her chin puckering.
Amytis huffed. “Take the news to your imprisoned husband, then. I shall not wait for his retribution.” She seemed to sense the unfairness of the moment and regret her calloused words. “Come, Tia. Let us leave these women to grieve.” She meant it kindly but it was yet another insult, the implication that Tia need not remain for any personal grief.
Tia followed Amytis from the chamber into the hall, her strong perfume trailing. Amytis spun on her, and her heavy red robe whirled and settled. Her nostrils flared and she spoke through clenched teeth.
“By all the gods, Tiamat! For how long will you make our family a mockery?”