5 Minutes for Books — Under Pressure

by Jennifer Donovan

I have long advocated the “one activity at a time” policy for my children, or at least I thought I did. The “one activity” policy has morphed into a much broader “one activity not including church and school stuff.” A typical week last year in Amanda’s fourth grade year included soccer practice (in the spring and the fall), a Saturday soccer game, church on Wednesday nights, Bible study with me on Monday nights, school newspaper before school one day a week, and Girl Scouts right after school every other week. That doesn’t even take into account the playdates, birthday parties, and other family activities that insert themselves into our schedule each month–and that’s just one child!

My son Kyle is over five years younger than she is, so he doesn’t have much to do–yet. For that reason, I’ve allowed Amanda to do a bit more since it doesn’t negatively impact our family as a whole.

So, here I am thinking that I am limiting our family’s involvement (and compared to some of her friends who can’t even squeeze in a playdate, I have), and yet, there are weeks that I feel like my whole family is Under Pressure.

Carl Honore wrote Under Pressure (a follow up to In Praise of Slowness), as a means of trying to deal with the desire that kept assaulting him — to “encourage” his young son’s artistic talent and interest to a level of genius. He was stopped dead in his tracks when his son said, “I don’t want to go to a class and have a teacher tell me under-pressure.jpgwhat to do–I just want to draw. Why do grownups have to take over everything?” (page 3).

That led Carl Honore to explore the changing role of parenting.  The introduction explores the involvement that parents have had in their children’s lives over the years.  His examples are drawn from many nations of the world who pressure their children in different ways.  If you enjoy sociological data and situations (as I do), you will find these examples fascinating:

  • An affluent town in New Jersey that has taken the bull by the horns by proclaiming certain days to be set aside, in a “Ready, Set, Relax!” campaign
  • A play-based preschool in Hong Kong that is bucking the norm of having two-year-olds involved in rigorous academic instruction
  • An Australian family who had been so “high-tech” that the mom sent emails to the family members upstairs to call them down for dinner who put their family on a diet from all the high-technology
  • A return to discipline (as opposed to child-centered homes) in families from Ohio to Edinburgh

I am such a fan of subtitles in non-fiction books. This one has two blurbs on the front cover: “Rescuing our children from the culture of hyper-parenting” and “The new movement inspiring us to slow down, trust our instincts, and enjoy our kids.”  Do you feel the pressure of those in your circle to get your child involved in so many extra-curricular activities that they end up crying, “I don’t want to go to ballet.  I want to go home and play,” as one child profiled in the book told her family (page 165)?  Perhaps in spite of what you know is best for your child and your family, you find yourself succombing to that desire to see your child wear the labels, “Champion.  Gifted.  The best.”  Maybe you’ve always held firm to the belief that “children should be children,” but like some families in the book, find yourself giving in to the child’s desire for a more structured childhood.

If any of these are true, you might enjoy taking a closer look at our children who are Under Pressure.

If you’d like to win one of three copies of Under Pressure, leave a comment here. We’ll post the winners in next week’s column.

Last week in my review of Kate Jacobs’ new novel Comfort Food, I asked you what your favorite comfort was. I loved reading your responses. The winners (with their favorite comforts) are

#178 Shar (a cup of tea and a good book)
#85 Sean (a hot cup of tea and a good novel)
#62 Tonya Keener (spending time with my daughter)
#98 Sharon Jones (potato chips, orange soda, and the Red Sox)
#155 Denise (mashed potatoes and gravy, just like grandma used to make)

You should have an email from me. If not, check your spam filter.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paper Bridges June 30, 2008 at 7:46 am

yeah, NJ! what town was it, Snap?

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2 cheri June 30, 2008 at 8:08 am

I would love to win a copy of this book… Just what we need!

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3 The Gang's All Here! June 30, 2008 at 8:36 am

I’d love to win this. I’m so interested in reading more about the ideas and the “movement!”

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4 Brooke June 30, 2008 at 8:40 am

I have three small children, and only the oldest has any activities. She goes to gymnastics once a week, but I’ve found that *I* don’t like being on a schedule. I would like her in Girl Scouts and music lessons, but it all adds up to too much stuff!!
I’d love to read this book!!

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5 Andrea June 30, 2008 at 9:21 am

I’d love to get my hands on this book! This the kind of reading I really enjoy! :)

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6 Happy Mama June 30, 2008 at 9:57 am

Wow this sounds great. We are in the midst of simplifying our home. this would help simplify our schedules as well!! Trust me we need it! And we don’t even have kid activities yet.

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7 Alicia June 30, 2008 at 10:03 am

My oldest turns 5 tomorrow, and I would love to be proactive in this arena. Sounds like an interesting read!

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8 Jill H. June 30, 2008 at 10:11 am

I’d love the chance to read this…so many folks around here are doing the “superbaby thing”…Foreign language preschools, ballet, art, music…all for kids under 5…it’s crazy…..my kid just wants to play…and I don’t think that’s so wrong!

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9 Tracey June 30, 2008 at 11:24 am

Well, well, well….. very interesting post today! My 9yo son is currently playing 3 sports, two of which competetively, and has weekly church choir practice. Not to mention my other son’s activities as well! I can’t even recall our last family dinner together as we are constantly on the go. I am officially a taxi service. Thanks for this book recommendation! Have you read Game On? I haven’t but it’s another book detailing the pressure we parents have and put on our kids to excel in sports. I’m dying to read that one, too.

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10 Dolls Clothes Gal June 30, 2008 at 11:26 am

There’s definately a requirement for this type of book – I’ll look it up. Reading is so important for kids to develop their mind and character. Our daughter is an avid reader and we post her book reviews regularly.

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11 RefreshMom June 30, 2008 at 11:30 am

Sounds like an interesting read. We’re doing ok so far because our church has limited opportunities for young children (outside of Sunday morning) and they’re little enough that it’s not too difficult to keep the “extracurricular” stuff under control. I can see though that this area is definitely kind of pre-disposed to that kind of lifestyle–probably especially the school my 5 year old will begin in the fall. It might be helpful to be armed with some good information (for the kids as well as other parents and such) to support the balanced, low-key approach we’ll try to take. Thanks for pointing this one out.

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12 Perky June 30, 2008 at 11:37 am

Sounds interesting! I’d read it!

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13 Courtney June 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

Sounds like a great book. I’d love to read it!

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14 Amanda D. June 30, 2008 at 11:45 am

sounds great, thanks!

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15 Angela Horne June 30, 2008 at 11:47 am

This looks very interesting …
I’ve learned some of these lessons on my own, after parenting two sons and then having a gap of 13 years until our youngest…. watching the big boys grow up has made me savor every single moment and choose to enjoy my little boy as he becomes a young man.

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16 stacey June 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

i think this would be a great read!

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17 Nodins Nest June 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm

I know I could learn from this!

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18 Courtney June 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Sounds like a wonderful

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19 Stacey June 30, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks!

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20 Patty P. June 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Sounds like a great read.

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21 Gabriela June 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm

We try to keep our schedule simple, a lot of activities trickle over and affect things like getting dinner on the table at a decent hour, the basic upkeep of the house, bedtimes at a decent hour and not trying to squeeze things to do until 10:00 pm and have kids that have a hard time getting up in the morning.

This sounds like a great book!

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22 SJ June 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I would love to read this, sounds like a great book.

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23 Joyce June 30, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Sounds like a great book. I tried to limit my children’s activities…but it really is easy to slip into all the activities and pretty soon your running all the time. Now my sis is fighting that battle. If I win a book, Ill pass it along to her

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24 Beth/Mom2TwoVikings June 30, 2008 at 3:41 pm

As someone who feels pressure DAILY from those around me to parent differently, I could really use some encouragement to “stay the course” that I feel is right for us.

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25 charline s June 30, 2008 at 3:46 pm

I need this book sooooooooooo bad.

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26 c. clemens June 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm

enter me enter me!!!!!

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27 Sheri June 30, 2008 at 3:51 pm

This is exactly what I need to be reading right now! We’ve got 2 boys and trying to find balance is tricky. Thank you.

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28 Louise Brouillette June 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm

This sounds like a really good book.

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29 susan varney June 30, 2008 at 4:33 pm

lovely idea

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30 Linda June 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Looks like a great read.

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31 Erica G June 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm

I’d like to win!

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32 Ana June 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm

so cool

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33 Angel June 30, 2008 at 5:16 pm

enter me

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34 Maja June 30, 2008 at 5:16 pm

neat prize

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35 Tonya Keener June 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

I really need to read this .Please pick me. God Bless

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36 Denise June 30, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Count me in!

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37 Amanda K June 30, 2008 at 6:13 pm

looks like a good book.

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38 Tonya Froemel June 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm

like to win this

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39 Linda Moeller June 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Great prize.

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40 Megan B. June 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Sounds great, thank you!

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41 Catherine copeland June 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

this book sounds like one I really need to bring home. thanks for brining it to my attention

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42 Anne June 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I’m really interested in reading this book! I believe we, as a society, do need to slow down and take better care of our children. Bigger, faster, shinier isn’t always better!

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43 Amanda Daybyday June 30, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Would love to win this book. I agree with the one activity rule and hate being too busy. My oldest is 5 years and I’m just starting on the journey with 2 more behind him.

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44 Nancy June 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I’d love to win!

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45 Michelle Rosborough June 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

I’d love to read this

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46 Dan Smith June 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Please enter me

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47 Megan June 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Sounds like a great book, thanks for the giveaway!

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48 Karen Gonyea June 30, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Sounds great !

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49 Dawn June 30, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Ooohhhh…these are the books I love to read! Awesome giveaway!

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50 Megret June 30, 2008 at 10:26 pm

I own and thoroughly enjoyed reading his book “In Praise of Slowness” — especially the chapter on children/parenting — so this book would be awesome with a capital A!!

Yippee!

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51 Jane June 30, 2008 at 10:48 pm

This book looks wonderful! And yes, I have a US mailing address.

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52 Tara R June 30, 2008 at 11:03 pm

I’d like to win if you’ll ship to Canada!

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53 Melissa Reeder June 30, 2008 at 11:07 pm

This looks like a great book to take to the beach with me this summer. Thanks for the fun giveaway!

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54 Forgetfulone June 30, 2008 at 11:37 pm

I would like to enter a copy of this book.

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55 Tammy June 30, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Would really like advice on this subject.

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56 Belinda A. July 1, 2008 at 12:26 am

Yes! This is indeed a great topic to address in today’s world, I’d love to read more.

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57 Terra Heck July 1, 2008 at 12:41 am

This looks to be an interesting read!

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58 christopher h July 1, 2008 at 12:48 am

this looks good

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59 Zakiya Williams July 1, 2008 at 2:37 am

I love to read. That is the only way I can drag myself to the gym because I know I get to read a good book on the treadmill ;)

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60 Stephen Saunders July 1, 2008 at 5:47 am

I want to read a book. lol

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61 david basile July 1, 2008 at 7:15 am

sounds like a good read

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62 Deborah Wellenstein July 1, 2008 at 9:48 am

Thank you for this giveaway!

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63 Kathy Scott July 1, 2008 at 10:18 am

I am very lucky that both of my boys love to read. Especially since we have a 67 mile drive (each way) to go shopping.

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64 Janet July 1, 2008 at 10:21 am

Pick me!

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65 Susan C July 1, 2008 at 10:28 am

This sounds like a book I truly need.

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66 Thomas Gibson July 1, 2008 at 10:53 am

Nice prize.

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67 Mya Brooks July 1, 2008 at 11:13 am

What a greatly needed prize!

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68 Patty July 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

Thank you for having this contest. I really appreciate it.

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69 Tina July 1, 2008 at 11:33 am

This sounds like a great book.

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70 tim brown July 1, 2008 at 12:39 pm

THANK YOU GOD BLESS

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71 Angela J July 1, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I’d like to give this to one of my daughters

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72 Anita Yancey July 1, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Would love to read this book. Please enter me and thanks for this giveaway.

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73 Susan Allles July 1, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Great contest

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74 kristi blackstone July 1, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I’d love to be entered! Great contest!

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75 Carolyn July 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I would love this book. I have long been an advocate of lazy summer days, lounging with books or at the pool.

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76 Anna July 1, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I’d love to read this! Thks for the giveaway.

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77 Carliss Williams July 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I would love to win , count me in !!!

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78 Mike Weisberg July 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I want to win

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79 Kari Follett July 1, 2008 at 5:19 pm

love to win this!

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80 valerie mabrey July 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

love this one

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81 victoria lynch July 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm

This book would be wonderful to have. We try to keep things simple in our house but it is hard sometimes. thanks for the contest

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82 Susan July 1, 2008 at 8:02 pm

This book sounds really good. My children are young (2 and 4) and already I feel pressure to have them participate in many activities. I don’t do it, but it would be nice to feel like that choice is a good one instead of feeling like I’m not doing “enough” for them.

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83 Kimberly July 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

This is on my wish list at Amazon. I would love to win a copy.

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84 Erika July 1, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Oh my, oh my! We need this book! I was just having a conversation with a friend about feeling so much pressure to have our children be the best at everything, go to the “best” schools, etc. This contest is coming at a great time. Hyperparenting, be GONE!

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85 Kathy Conley July 1, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Sounds interesting – I just hope I don’t feel pressured to read it right away!

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86 Pauline M July 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Sounds like a good book, with three kids, I know it can get very hectic and I need to be creative with them to make sure they all get the opportunities to try out new things. I know this would be handy on getting some new ideas.

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87 Cindi July 1, 2008 at 11:33 pm

What a wonderful book! I really enjoy non-fiction books like this one. It sounds like a book many parents should read. I believe in letting a child be a child! Human beings grow up too quickly and face the real world! It would be fun to glean some ideas from this kind of book. Thanks for the wonderful review. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

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88 Wendy July 2, 2008 at 7:56 am

I would love to read this!

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89 Rodney K July 2, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I sure hope I win thanks

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90 Jill Miller July 2, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I hope I win this!! :)

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91 jan koontz July 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

just to cool

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92 Valerie Mitchell July 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm

What a wonderful prize!

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93 Jacqueline O. July 3, 2008 at 12:21 am

Wow, what a cool prize.

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94 Noelia Gutierrez July 3, 2008 at 2:48 am

I love books and I love reading so this is done my alley, Thanks!

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95 Jennifer McLaughlin July 3, 2008 at 11:50 am

Great prize.Thank you for the contest.

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96 william causey July 3, 2008 at 2:00 pm

please count me in

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97 Anthony Hedden July 3, 2008 at 10:10 pm

enter me

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98 Tiffany G July 3, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Awesome book:)

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99 Alice C July 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

perfect title

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100 Mia J. July 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Sounds like a great book.

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101 Cheryl Free July 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

I’d love to read this :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

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102 Carissa D. July 4, 2008 at 9:29 pm

This sounds like a great book.

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103 Cassandra July 4, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Sounds like a good read–thanks!

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104 L McLendon July 4, 2008 at 11:19 pm

I can never have enough books to read. Thanks for the chance to add one more to the pile and my home library!

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105 Nancy July 5, 2008 at 12:54 am

Would love to read this book. Sounds great

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106 Alecia Gibson July 5, 2008 at 2:51 am

Two fish were in a tank. One fish says, “How do you drive this thing?”

Thanks for the giveaway!! I’m definitely interested in reading it.

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107 kathleen Yohanna July 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm

We all feel the pressure to perform and it is sooo hard to relax. I hope this book has some answers to the problem.

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108 kathy pease July 6, 2008 at 11:05 am

count me in please :)

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109 Jennifer Schroeder July 6, 2008 at 11:40 am

I’d love to win this book! My oldest son starts kindergarten next month and I’d love to be prepared for it. Thank you for the great contest!

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110 Jean July 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Thank you!

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111 Judy Y July 6, 2008 at 1:22 pm

would like to win.

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112 Kayce C. July 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm

I love this kind of information. Count me in!

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113 Jane Hoh July 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm

This book couldn’t have come at a better time

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114 dawn July 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm

This sounds like a good book to read

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115 Frances Watson July 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I would love to win this book thanks

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116 Gloria Dornin July 6, 2008 at 6:52 pm

I would love to have this book, thanks

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117 Donna Kozar July 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I think the ideas you listed above are good. I would like to read the book. Thanks.

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118 kerri July 6, 2008 at 10:16 pm

would love this i always feel the pressure of other parents and i cant stand the competivness sometimes you feel like youre back in highschool with some parents i would love to read it

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119 Lily Kwan July 6, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!

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120 Lonnie July 6, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Sounds like a good read–thanks!

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