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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cookies for Dinner by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen, authors of Cookies for Dinner!

Author Guest Post

When Mothers Become Authors ... Watch Out!
By: Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen

Pam: When Kae and I first decided to write this book about our experiences as mothers, I thought I had tons of funny stories about life as a mom. What I came to realize while working on this book though is that being an author has shifted the balance of power in my household. The fact that when my kids misbehave or act as if they were raised by wolves, they now know that somewhere around the corner is their author mommy ready to document the event. And what about my husband? He prefaces nearly every move he makes with “is this going to end up in your next book?” We’re talking major mommy power here! In the past, I used to have to nag, plead and threaten in order to get my kids to pick up after themselves or to stop bickering. Now, all I have to do is quietly say “if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my office, working on my book.” There’s only one problem with this newly discovered power though. If my family shapes up too much in terms of behavior, what the heck will I write about?

Kae: Anyone that knows me, is very aware of “the Allen Children” and their many exploits. For the last 30 years I have been regaling my friends, family members and clients with the various adventures that life seems to throw my way. My main characters are always my children and my adorable, yet somewhat quirky husband, David. When Pam and I decided to write Cookies for Dinner I thought it would only be proper for me to ask my children’s permission. My youngest daughter put it best, “What are you asking us for, it’s not like you haven’t already told anyone who would listen all these stories anyway.”

About The Authors

Pam Johnson-Bennett

The one thing you can’t say about Pam Johnson-Bennett is that she’s a chicken. She certainly loves a challenge! After paving a career in the then-unheard-of field of cat behavior consulting and becoming a leader in the profession, she has decided to throw caution to the wind and defy the advice of family in order to reveal the REAL Pam…the Pam who is a worrying germophobe mother of two. In her “other” life, Pam is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and best-selling author of 7 books. She is the star of the upcoming television series “Psycho Kitty” that is set to air on Discovery UK channel later in 2013. She is a former Vice-President of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is the founder of the IAABC Cat Division. She is one of the most well-known experts on cat behavior and her ground-breaking “Think Like a Cat” approach to cat behavior has been featured and profiled in numerous magazines and television shows. Her books are considered the “cat bibles” when it comes to understanding felines and what makes them tick. Her parenting skills, however, are still in question.

Pam and her husband have been married for 15 years and have two children. The family lives in Tennessee with a dog, cat and three goldfish.

Kae Allen

One thing you can say about Kae is she likes to laugh. No matter what the situation, you can rely on her to find the humor and share it with all around. In Kae’s professional life she has dedicated over 21 years to building her own accounting practice. In her personal life, she is the mother of three wonderful children. She has been married to her husband, David for 26 years. Kae’s favorite playtime passion is bowling. She may wish for a higher average but is thrilled at the sound of crashing pins and friendly laughter. She is the secretary of two bowling leagues and the association manager for her local bowling association. All of Kae’s children have graduated from college and have so far avoided the need of a therapist couch. She spent three years enjoying her empty nest having time to travel to bowling tournaments, play golf and dote over her husband and her female goldendoodle dog, Fred. As of the writing of this book, Kae’s empty nest has filled back up with her in-laws moving in. For Kae, the best day is one that has her house filled to the brim with family, friends and, of course, lots of laughter.

GOODREADS - Pam Johnson-Bennett
Cookies for Dinner by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Cookies for Dinner by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen
Publisher: White River Press
Publication Date: July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback - 200 pages / Kindle - 466 KB / Nook - 388 KB
ISBN: 1935052519
ASIN: B00584HV4G
Genre: Parenting/Motherhood/Families

BUY THE BOOK: Cookies for Dinner

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the authors in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Pam and Kae are good friends but total opposites. Pam is a worrying germophobe and Kae stands by the philosophy that everyone will eat a pound of dirt in their lifetime. In this collection of humorous essays, Pam and Kae come clean on motherhood...

No one tells you that your breasts will be treated like a fast food take-out window or that a ravenous infant can create more suction than industrial-grade vacuum cleaners.

I went into labor with my first child four months after my soon-to-be ex-husband moved out to live with his girlfriend, six months after my 20th birthday and precisely the morning that I was having my house tended for ticks. Yes, ticks.

Jumping off the cliff into potty training makes you realize that you didn't truly appreciate the diaper years. Once you begin potty training, a toddler's backside becomes a loaded gun, ready to launch its missile in whatever direction it happens to be pointing.

No matter how we got on this ride, at some point we all end up standing on the checkout line at Walmart, totally unaware of the fact that we're still wearing our pajama top.

Pam and Kae are living proof that even though every mother is different, we're all on this roller coaster without a seatbelt. Scary? You bet, but it's the ride of our lives.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 7

Clean-Up on Aisle Four

Supply and Demand

By Kae

Nursing your child is one of the most natural acts a mother can perform. By the time my second child was born, life had provided me with a wonderful husband and a stable home life. I was going to be a good mother and nurse my child. I read the All the Goofy Advice About Nursing books. There were several items of importance that seemed to have been left out of the ones I purchased, though. I also felt betrayed by all the women who came before me in the nursing hall of fame who had led me down the rosy path to believe nursing was a wonderful natural bonding experience for mother and child.

For example, no one really tells you up front that your breasts will become throbbing masses of engorged flesh. No one tells you that you will spend the next year wearing the upper-body equivalent of a maxi pad in your bra. No one tells you that your breasts will be treated like a fast food take-out window at noon. No one ever tells you that a ravenous infant can create more suction than most industrial-grade vacuum cleaners. No one ever tells you that by the time you are finished nursing, your breasts will bear no resemblance to the breasts you had going into this little adventure. All the unsuspecting first-time nursing mother sees is the romanticized version on the covers of the All the Goofy Advice About Nursing books, which show a happy woman wearing a beautiful dressing gown, gazing lovingly at the face of a perfect little child suckling gently on her breast.

Reality set in for me the day after Christina was born. I went to sleep with my standard, fairly small breasts and woke up with jugs the size of over-inflated footballs. I couldn't move my arms or shoul- ders. My breasts were on fire and trying to consume the entire top half of my body. When I called the nurse, she just laughed and said, "Oh, good. Your milk has come in." Good lord! My milk has come in. It was more like my breasts had acquired a dairy farm overnight and we were open for business.

The nurse brought Christina over to me and said, "Now hon, some babies just don't know how to suck right off, so don't get discouraged if she doesn't nurse the first time. We can bring you a pump to relieve your breasts and you can try again next time." At this point anything that would provide relief to my aching upper body was okey-dokey with me. All I cared about was deflating the footballs on my chest so I could take full breaths again.

Childbirth in and of itself can be quite a humiliating experience. First, you have your nether regions splayed out for everyone in the room to see- even yourself if you have the guts to look in the mirror they so politely set up so that you, too, can get a bird's- eye view of the carnage. Christina was born in a teaching hospital, so we had at least five people in the room not related to the child being born. Later, the fun really began when the doctor brought all the students along for his daily rounds. By the time I left, everyone on staff at the hospital-including the janitor, I think-had gotten a peek at my nether regions.

Even with all of this attention, nothing prepared me for the nurse reaching down and pulling my breast out of my nightgown and then flicking my nipple to see if she could get the baby to latch on. In all the years that have past, I have never figured out exactly what that woman was trying to do. It's all well and good that she was a lactation nurse and saw hundreds of women's breasts every year. But this was my breast and she needed to keep her lactation nurse hands and flicker to herself.

After about 10 seconds of this less-than-acceptable attention from Nurse Flicker, I said, "Maybe I could just give it a try and call you back if I have any problems." Nurse Flicker left the room less than thrilled but sure she would be back to help me in a few minutes when Christina grew tired of waiting for her meal.

When it came to eating, though, Christina's Allen ancestry made itself known. David's grandmother was always somewhat distressed that Matthew was a skinny little string bean and constantly used to tell him, "Eat, you'll get big." Grandma Allen was a strong, stout woman with a formidable constitution. When Christina was born with cheeks so round she couldn't get her eyes open and three rolls of fat on her little thighs, Grandma Allen was delighted. Here was good Allen stock.

True to her heritage, Christina needed no prodding. She latched right on and started nursing greedily-and nosily. I began to giggle. This little ruddy-faced baby latched to my breast was moaning delightedly with each mouthful of milk, her little legs kicking like crazy.

Christina's first near-miss on a medical emergency was the day we were going to bring her home from the hospital. David had come to the hospital to bring us home, but I was in the middle of nursing Christina when he arrived. David sat in a chair and we discussed all the things we hadn't had time to discuss because I was in the hospital and he was home with Matthew. When Christina was finished eating, I set her up for the post-luncheon burping. One little pat on the back and the child spewed a stream of recycled mother's milk five feet across the room. Christina's little baby face was frozen with her eyes wide and her mouth making a perfect little O. It seemed like the shear force of expelling the milk from her stomach had created a vacuum that was now pulling the air out of the child. She began to turn slightly blue. "Get the nurse," I said to David, but he was already halfway out the door. I put Christina on my lap and gave her back a firm pat. Something in that pat must have broken the vacuum seal, because she inhaled sharply and began to wail. Hearing the screaming, David came back in the door. All was fine. It scared the poop out of both of us, but no harm was done-except to the floor.

Christina continued to wail. At first I thought she was scared and would calm down with some bouncing, swaying, and cooing on my part. I was wrong. She wasn't scared at all. She was ticked off that her lunch had escaped and she wanted it back. As a last resort, I pulled out my breast and offered it to her. To my surprise, she took the breast greedily and nursed a full meal. When she was done, I tentatively set her up for the after-luncheon burp. This time we were treated to nothing more than a resounding belch that any man would be proud to produce.

We took our precious daughter home and began our life as a family of four. Christina continued to projectile vomit after the majority of her feedings, then demand another full feeding that always stayed down just fine. At her two-week checkup I mentioned this to her doctor. He said it wasn't uncommon for a child to be born with what he referred to as "immature bowel syndrome." Basically, the valve between her esophagus and her stomach was not yet closing properly. He assured me this would eventually correct itself. There was nothing for us to do or worry about.

But with Christina, the problem wasn't just immature bowel syndrome. It was also gluttony. Christina loved to eat and delighted in partaking of her daily meals in large, moaning gulps. Take the fact that the child ate twice what she probably should be eating, packing her little tummy to literally the bursting point, and couple it with a leaky valve between the holding tank and the outside air, and you have the perfect recipe for projectile vomiting.

One other important thing no one told me was that when your milk lets down, it can spray out of your nipples with enough force to take paint off cement. The first time I experienced this was a few days after I brought Christina home from the hospital. By then, her cycle of nursing, vomiting, then nursing again had already been established. It was apparent that I was nursing twins in the same body. My breasts stayed full and swollen. I called the lactation nurse at my doctor's office and she told me I could pump the remainder of the milk from my breasts and save it in the freezer for times when I would not be able to nurse the baby.

What the lactation nurse neglected to tell me was that the more milk you remove from your breasts, the more they make. It is a perfect supply and demand system. Your child initiates a demand and your body supplies it in full-sometimes with a little extra to spare. The long and the short of it is that by both nursing and pumping, my breasts had received an order to supply the milk for a small third world nation. I was over-engorged again within days and just as sore and swollen as ever.

Another unwitting consequence of putting in such a large demand order was that the build-up of milk with only the narrow outlet of my nipples created a tremendous amount of pressure. The first time this happened, Christina had latched on and took her first long pull on the nectar of life. This signaled the breast that it was time to let the milk down, and down it came in a torrent. Christina's eyes flew open wide and she began to sputter and choke as milk began escaping from her nostrils. Obviously, this was not normal, so I pulled her off my breast and the milk sprayed like an untended fire hose. I grabbed the burping towel and put it over my breast in an attempt to save Christina from being flogged and/or drowned by her daily meal. After a few minutes, the pressure decreased enough that Christina could latch back on without fear of drowning. Christina nursed, projectile vomited, then nursed again. Finally fat and happy, she slid back into the blissful sleep that only babies can achieve.

I went to the bathroom to clean up and put on clean clothes, just as I did after every feeding. When I pulled my bra off, milk was literally dripping from the cups. I had soaked through not only the two nursing pads, but also the fabric of the bra itself. Something had to give. This was too much to have to put up with every time I fed my baby!


Chapter 5

Public Humiliation

Public Restrooms

By Pam

Once your toddler gets over the fascination of what should and shouldn't be flushed down the toilet, and the fact that he or she can climb onto the step stool by the sink and turn the faucet on and off and on and off or squeeze every last drop out of the toothpaste tube, your home bathroom becomes just another room in the house. Public restrooms, however, hold a never-ending fascination for the toddler mind. Public restrooms have a variety of flushing configurations, varying sink heights, adventurous hand- drying options, hypnotic echoes, and other people!

Public restrooms also provide mothers with yet more opportunities to fear for our children's health and become hopelessly embarrassed by what our children say and do. It's also during the countless trips we make accompanying our little ones to the rest- room that we resign ourselves to the fact that it will be years before we will once again be able to enjoy a hot restaurant meal.

My children had particular favorites when it came to public restrooms. They knew exactly which ones had automatic flushing and automatic hand dryers. For Jack, the fact that the toilet "knew" to flush whenever he stepped away from it sent him into a fit of giggles. The "magic eye" of the toilet was something he was determined to outsmart. For my daughter, telling her that the toilet had a magic eye created hysterical crying and fear that the toilet was watching her poo poo. My mistake. I explained to her that it wasn't really an eye, but rather, a sensor. That frightened her just as much because she was sure a monster was putting laser beams in her back while she sat on the toilet. So mommy had to put her finger over the sensor the entire time we were in the stall.

The first time Jack realized that other people could use the rest- room at the same time as him became an opportunity for social interaction. "What 'cha doin' in there?" Jack whispered to the stall divider. There was no response. "I see your feet, I know you're there," he continued.

"Jack, ssssh. Everyone deserves their own privacy. Now do your business and let's get going," I said. Just then, there was an unmistakable plopping sound in the toilet next door. I looked at Jack, put my hand over his mouth, and shook my head. It did no good. I knew Jack's comment was inevitable. Poop commentary is too irresistible for a young boy.

"Ooh, mommy, that person made a big stinky," he announced as he pried my hand away.

"Jack, ssssh," I repeated. Then I waited until I was sure that person had exited the restroom before we came out of the stall.

The independent streak in Gracie was fueled by public rest- rooms. Even though she lived in mortal fear of the toilet's magic eye, she loved the sensors on the faucets and hand dryers because it allowed her to act like a grown-up in front of other people. The same sensor that terrified her on the toilet amused her at the auto-matic paper towel dispenser. Apparently, when you have your pants around your ankles the sensor is more sinister, but when you're fully clothed, you've leveled the playing field. She was convinced that just jumping up and waving hello to the dispenser caused it to send a towel down her way. The future little bathroom attendant loved offering to get towels for anyone approaching to wash their hands.

During potty training, an outing to restaurants was a game of mommy-jump-up whenever my kids even hinted that they might have to pee or poo. There were many outings when my husband spent much of the time alone at a table set for four, eating his dinner Public Humiliation by himself as I spent much of the evening in the restroom. It got to the point where we would always invite Scott's parents out to dinner with us just so he'd have someone to talk to while I was gone.

When dining out, we also learned to ask for the table nearest the restroom. We'd forego sitting at the lovely table with the view just to cut down on how much walking I'd have to do through the restaurant with two wiggly children. As far as I was concerned, I defined optimum table location by whether I could clearly see the restroom signs.

I was well aware of which restrooms my children loved and which ones were just plain old bathrooms. Whenever we ventured out to a restaurant or store, I knew in advance whether we'd be making the normal single visit or if this would be a multi-visit venture, based on bathroom interest. At the restaurants with the best bathrooms, I simply ordered a salad and gave up any dreams of a hot meal.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that I should've put my foot down and announced that there would be one trip and one trip only to the restroom. That may have worked for other mothers, but the gastrointestinal tracts of the Bennett children defied logic. One night at our favorite restaurant Jack announced that he had to go poo poo. I sternly looked over at him and said that he had already been to the restroom twice and he'd have to wait until dinner was over. Moments later, an unmistakable odor filled the air and an unmistakable substance filled his underwear. Being stern wasn't worth the clean-up I had to do.

Public restrooms also created quite a challenge for the germo- phobe in me. Taking two children into the stall at the same time and attempting to help one out of their pants and safely onto the potty, while making sure the other one touched nothing, was quite a circus act.

"Don't touch anything!" I announced to the children as we entered the restroom. Once inside the stall, I pulled out a disposable potty cover to lay over the toilet seat. If you ever wonder why I carry such a large purse, it's because I have an entire package of potty covers as well as hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and travel-size Lysol spray in my purse. Does that qualify me as an official ger­mophobe? I think so.

My Book Review:

Cookies for Dinner is a humorous and touching collection of essays documenting two friends journey and quest to survive motherhood. Written in the first person narrative, Pam and Kae provide their own experiences into motherhood with lighthearted informative anecdotes that covers the joys, trials and tribulations, and pitfalls of motherhood from pre-birth/adoption through the early childhood years. From pre-baby plans, to newborn care and memorable firsts, to the inquisitive toddler and early childhood years, these two moms lets it be known that the journey into motherhood is all about making it up as you go along, it's a magical time filled with love, instinct, fear, frustration, mommy and child mishaps, and everything in between. With confidence and experience, these two sassy ladies reassure other women that you don't have to be perfect to be a mother, and that you are not alone on this journey called motherhood.

As a woman who wasn't blessed to go on this journey, as I suffered a miscarriage two decades ago, I have lived vicariously through the eyes of my best friends as they embarked on their motherhood journeys. With laughter, tears and smiles, I came along for the ride as their kids "Auntie Mame" ... they always knew Aunt Kathy was the cool adult who brought goodies and presents, yet I always yearned to be in my friends' shoes. Reading Cookies for Dinner brought back all the memories of long ago, since the kids are now grown and will become parents themselves, it was certainly a magical and fun time that I cherish. I am so glad that my friends allowed me the opportunity to go on their journey with them, even though I was regulated to the poopy detail more times than I can count! lol

Cookies for Dinner is a wonderful and entertaining story that will make you smile, laugh and cry. Pam and Kae's inspirational and often comedic journey through motherhood is the perfect book for all women: whether you are considering motherhood, are a mom-to-be, a young mother, an experienced mom, an empty nester, or a grandparent, this is a book that you will enjoy reading!

Cookies for Dinner is the perfect gift for anyone who will be, is now, has been, and always will be proud to be called ... Mom!


Cookies for Dinner - Book Trailer

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: May 6-27, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on Cookies for Dinner by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Kae Allen ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Cookies for Dinner before May 27 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

May 6 – Sarah Belle – Review & Guest Post
May 8 - Notes From a Rumbly Cottage - Review
May 9 – Samantha March – Q&A & Excerpt
May 14- Karma For Life Chick – Review
May 15- eBook Addict – Guest Post
May 17 – Brooke Blogs – Review & Excerpt
May 17 – Lavender & Camomile Press – Excerpt
May 20 – eBook Addict – Q&A
May 21- Thirty Mommy – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 22 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 24- Chick Lit Plus – Review
May 27- eBook Addict – Review
May 27 – Jiggity Jigg – Review


  1. Even though I'm not a mom yet, I still had a blast reading this book!

    1. Hi Samantha! This was such a fun book to read, it had a great mixture of poignancy and humor that everyone will enjoy reading it. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. :)