Saturday, April 2, 2022

March Book Review

 


I read 5 books during the month of March. They differed greatly in genre; two novels - one historical fiction, one psychological thriller, one memoir, one self-help book and a book of short stories. This was a wider variety than I have done in one month before. 

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult - A friend of mine recommended Jodi Picoult books so I picked up this one as well as couple others that are in my TBR (to be read) collection. This book has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with over 20,000 reviews. I am calling it "historical fiction" because it takes place in 2020, which is history now! As the pandemic was unfolding and we were faced with "unprecedented" everything, I told my husband that someday we would be reading books set in that time. "Pandemic Lit" is a thing now and this was my first pandemic lit read. The book begins with page one - March 13, 2020...


You know that historical recall type of thing like "where were you when you heard about 9/11" or "where were you when Kennedy was shot?" And now, those of us experiencing the pandemic have that now too...."I remember where I was... what I was doing... what happened... on March 13, 2020." Having just lived through this time, I was drawn in immediately with the book beginning this way. 

This story has a huge twist in it that I did not see coming which was a nice surprise! I love that kind of thing. I feel that the author's opinion on the pandemic, including political views, shown through her characters in the book. I did not love that. Though some of it I do agree with, I am so worn out from everyone's opinions and arguments about all of that. I am so sick of everyone trying to convince others to believe what they believe. That part really turned me off on this one. The story itself was great and again, that twist was clever. I would give it a 4/5 stars.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover - This book. Whoa! Tara Westover, born in 1986,  shares the story of her childhood and how she went from living a childhood completely isolated from mainstream society to going to school for the first time at age 17 and then onto Harvard and a PhD in history from Cambridge.  Tara's story is nothing short of a miracle. Growing up in a survivalist family with violent father and brothers, abuse, neglect, a victim of distorted reality, gaslighting... just horrible. One thing that sticks with me is how, once she was finally out of that situation and in college, she faced a whole world that she had been isolated from and in doing so, was shocked and sometimes embarrassed about what she didn't know as well as what she had been taught differently than it actually was - again, distorted reality. For example, in chapter 17, Tara asks her professor (in front of the rest of the class) what the Holocaust is? The professor as well as the other college students assumed she was joking and didn't find it funny. Later she googled "Holocaust" and was mortified by the mistake she had made. This was a significant turning point for her as she was realizing how isolated she really had lived and how little she knew about the real world.  

Educated is a New York Times Bestseller and has won many awards. Interestingly, Westover's mother, LaRee Westover, wrote a memoir too in an effort to tell her side of the story. Her book is called, "Educating" and gets poor reviews. I notice that LaRee has promoted the book HERSELF. This indicates she didn't get much attention for her book. She is trying to sell it herself and it isn't nearly as well received as her daughter's memoir. Nonetheless, I am itching to read her book too! I do not want to spend $18.00 on a book that has not been well received by others so, I'm thinking someday I'll just stumble upon a copy at a used bookstore. 😉 I highly recommend Educated: A Memoir. Excellent book! 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear - Another New York Times Bestseller! This book is #1 on the Amazon Charts and has a 5 star rating with over 74,000 reviews. It is an excellent book. James Clear gives real-life, applicable, doable strategies for implementing good habits and breaking not so good habits. He gives the neuroscience behind each approach and breaks each strategy into smaller components that build on one another over time to accomplish the overall goal. 

A couple key things that stuck out to me: "Gateway Habits." Gateway habits are small, quick things you do to get you started on the bigger goal. For example, put on your running shoes. That's it. Now, the act of putting on the shoes will open the door for that bigger goal of actually going out running. Or, opening a book with the intent to read just one page. The act of opening the book with just a few paragraphs to cover makes reading a whole chapter that much more attainable. Taking the first step, first SMALL step, gets you all revved up for the bigger race ahead of you. Another thing that I took from his was that having difficulty sticking to habits or breaking a bad one is not YOU, it's your system. Good habits must be obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. Clear shows us how to make that happen. I highly recommend this book!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides - Another New York Times Bestseller and Amazon's Editor's Pick for Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense! Oh, boy! This one I just couldn't put down. I had been hearing a lot about this book and saw it popping up all over as a "must read." So, of course, I had to read it. SO GOOD! It has a twist in it that made me have to take a minute to review/rethink all I had read up until that point. It is the author's first novel and I'd say he is off to a great start. Highly recommend this! 

"An unforgettable―and Hollywood-bound―new thriller... A mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy."
Entertainment Weekly

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg - This book of short stories was fun and different from what I normally read. Some of the stories were very funny and a couple of them made me a little teary. My favorite story from this collection was, "How to Make an Apple Pie." This story is written as a handwritten letter to Ruthie from her old neighbor lady, Flo. The story begins with Flo telling Ruthie she had recently run into her mother and that her mother asked her to send Ruthie her apple pie recipe. The whole point of the letter to Ruthie is the actual recipe which Flo had never written down ever in her life so her directions include things like, "...a half a squeeze of a half a lemon" and "you must not let the crust know you are afraid of it." Flo continually goes off on tangents in her letter to Ruthie and it is just delightful. You can't help but love Flo. I laughed out loud several times. Very cleverly written. The was a quick, easy read and convenient as you can read one whole story and then put it down for quite some time and when you jump back in, you're onto the next story. This book has won many awards as well and gets high ratings on Amazon. 

Ruby does not like my attention to be anywhere but on her. 



I am looking forward to spring and warmer mornings where I can enjoy my coffee and books outside. I have already begun my first April book, One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serve. I began it yesterday (April 1st) and have it almost done! I am on spring break so.... it's justified. I am loving this book so far and inspired by it, had to make pasta for dinner last night and am planning my (someday) trip to Positano, Italy. 





Saturday, March 5, 2022

February Book Review



This past month I read 8 books. I have had some ask when I have had time to read. I did a lot of reading in the car riding to wrestling meets on the weekends. I was sick and home for a week so I had some extra down time to read then when I felt well enough. We had some February snow days in which I would get up before my family and take my time reading and drinking my coffee. Then, of course, there were a few nights I stayed up too late for "just one more chapter." I have begun a habit of having my current book in my bag with me at all times. I sneak in a few pages here and there and have found great comfort in getting lost in a good story as a way to decompress.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins - This book gets over 65,000 reviews on Amazon with an overall 4.5 star rating. It has received many awards and is a New York Times Bestseller as well as an Oprah Book Club pick. It is highly recommended and talked about. Stephen King said, "I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it." He's right. It's true. It pulls you in immediately and you are emotionally invested right off the bat. You can't help but keep reading. It was an excellent book and very well written. I have to warn you though, this is not an uplifting book by any means. It is deep and dark and heavy. I found myself traveling right along with Lydia and Luca and my gosh, it was so stressful! It is also hope and perseverance and determination and strength and resilience and the depth of a mother's love. 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover - Well, my friend Rebecca has me hooked on Colleen Hoover books. I have read several books now by Hoover and they do pull me in. This book is steamy! Steamy! 🔥 It is also complicated and emotional. I found myself wanting one thing to happen then changing my mind, then reconsidering... It is a popular book on Amazon. It has over 30,000 ratings and while published in 2014, it is #20 on the Amazon charts this week. My friend Rebecca has read so many Colleen Hoover books - maybe ALL of them! Go check out her book lovers Instagram account:  bookobsessedmommyBecca’s Book Shelf 

Verity by Colleen Hoover - Yup. Another Colleen Hoover book. THIS BOOK!!! WHOA!! Just, whoa.  I couldn't put this book down. The beginning is shocking right away then takes a turn. From there it was all so heartbreaking and devastating, mysterious and addictive. And then, THE ENDING! Whoa! Again, just whoa! I was very much taken by surprise and truly needed some time after closing the last chapter. I had to have time to process, reflect, recover. It has such a twist. This is such a cleverly written book. Very creative and shocking. This book, too, comes highly rated and reviewed. It is intense and was one of my favorite reads this month. Prepare yourself. 🙌

Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen - this was the only self-help type of book I read this month. I actually was re-reading it, as I first read it in 2020. This is an excellent book - the kind of book you will want to read, highlight, allow to sink in and then pull it out again in the future. I often read a book and then pass it onto a friend but this is one I will be keeping. Allen reminds us that the Bible instructs us to "take every thought captive." She shows us applicable strategies for taking hold of every thought and reminding us WE HAVE A CHOICE whether to entertain every thought or let it go. We don't have to believe everything we think. That's mind-blowing to me. I love the biblical premise of the process she suggests and the constant reminder that we can control our mind and, in doing so, prevent the enemy from infiltrating our lives with overwhelm, helplessness, hopelessness, etc. I highly recommend this book! This is a top seller in Christian self-help reads, rightfully so. Go grab a copy for yourself.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner - I loved this book. It is suspenseful and exciting. I thought it cleverly written with a dual timeline of current day and the 1790s. The storyline sends us to the past then in the next chapter, the story is paralleled but in present day. It is healing and murder and secrets and scandal. It is peace and turmoil. It is magic and mystery. It is filled with twists and turns and surprises as the main characters' lives weave together over the centuries. This book gets marvelous reviews, however, critics of the book argue that the story contains inaccuracies of historical London, is off on its 1790s use of English language and phrases used, as well as geographical discrepancies of London. This is an American author writing a story (a wonderful story, in my opinion) set in London. I have no idea if the arguments are true. Probably. But I only leave my own little world here through books so I don't know London well enough to agree or disagree with those reviews. I think it's brilliant! I did do a little research and found Sarah Penner loves to travel and London is one of her favorite spots, so that's something, right? You all should read this one.

One True Loves - by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This story was highly entertaining and kept my attention. I found it quite heartbreaking though. Like, I FELT it physically. More than once, I finished a chapter then had to go hug my husband. Ugh. My heart hurt while deep into this story. The author makes you fall in love with each character to the point where you just don't want anyone to be sad....but how could there possibly be a happy ending under these devastating, complicated circumstances?! I was on board - following passionately right along with the storyline until one point, about 3/4 of the way into the book. Then I was like 😟. Ugh! This does not sit well with me. I had put myself "in" the story up until this particular point. Then I found it, well, shall we say, straying far from my own morals? I don't know... just disappointed with that turn but Reid wrapped it up well in the end and it was a happy ending after all. This book gets good reviews. I would have to give it a 4 out of 5 stars though. That one part just wasn't something with which I could connect.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig - my friend, Danielle recommended this book to me a few months ago and a family member got it for me for Christmas. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! Amazon reports it as "The #1 New York Times Bestselling Phenomenon." Yup! That's accurate. It is really amazing. It starts out sad, devastating, hopeless, depressing but then!!! So clever! The enemy of hopelessness meets its match when the main character finds herself caught somewhere between life and death at the Midnight Library. She is provided the opportunity to rewrite her story, to see where a single choice at any given point in her life could steer everything she knows in a whole different direction. All the "what ifs" right there in the stacks of books! It is just extremely creative, introspective, clever, emotional and thought provoking. It makes you examine your own life and consider the paths you've taken and how they may have been based on one simple choice at one little time in your life that seemed rather insignificant at the time. Great book! I HIGHLY recommend this as do 100,000+ other readers. Go get it!

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave - This book, also a New York Times Best Seller with more than 74,000 Amazon ratings, continues to be very popular and very talked about. It is love story, crime, mystery, and thriller. I was caught up in it right front the start, addicted and pulled right in to the excitement. Gotta admit though, later on in the book, I was a little less immersed. I couldn't see authenticity in some of the choices the main character made in attempting to protect her step daughter and unravel the mystery of her husband's disappearance. At some points, I was just like.... hmm, no, I don't agree with where that turn ended up. Like, one of the biggest, scariest enemies in the book is someone they befriend, cautiously so, but still.... if in reality a man did what this guy did in no way would you subject your child to him again nor set foot in his house to get to know him better... nah. Dave lost me at those moments and at those points in the book, I was much more capable of putting the book down and doing housework. I'd give this book a 3/5 star review but it's currently #14 on the Amazon charts so, clearly, others enjoy it very much!


Always a dog nearby when I'm reading. 


As I've shared before, the winter months are my time to sink into books. It's a huge element in making winter tolerable and ENJOYABLE for me. A good book, a cup of tea, my dogs snuggled up close and snow falling outside is just the ultimate cozy for me. As we look forward to spring (and I am SO looking forward to spring) I can't promise that I'll read 7 or 8 books a month but for January and February, these stories have helped me enjoy our Michigan winter in my own way.





Friday, February 4, 2022

January Book Review



Every year after Christmas, I look forward to snuggling in for the winter months with some good books. I received several books for Christmas from my ongoing wishlist and got a Barnes & Noble gift card from my son, Hugh. When January 1st arrived, I was well prepared. The following is a little personal review of what I thought of each book I read this past month. Each title is a link so that you can find the books on Amazon.



 1) The People We Keep by Allison Larkin - This book caught my attention on the first page when it stated that the story begins in 1994. That was the year I graduated from high school so I already felt I could connect in some ways to the main character, April, who is a teenager. I could at least imagine what school might be like for her but couldn't relate to the fact that she was living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Her father, however, is never around having left her on her own while he began a new life with another woman in a real house. After a fight with her dad she "borrows" her dad's girlfriend's car and leaves on an adventure all her own with not much more than her guitar. The story continues with the challenges she faces, the people she meets, and the connections she makes along the way. It is a sad story but inspiring as well as April's fierce independence and determination leads her to many new people who each play a part in her life. It was a good story. 


2) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I kept seeing this book pop up on "Gotta Read" type of lists and ads. As I write this, it has over 48,000 reviews on Amazon with 4.5/5 stars and #4 this week on the Amazon Charts. It's a popular one! 

I was expecting a story about a glamorous, maybe manipulative, woman who had 7 husbands. Judging a book by it's cover, I expected she went through so many husbands because she was a gold digger but I was off on my prediction. The main character, that glamorous lady in the emerald green dress on the cover, did indeed go through husbands one right after another but for very, VERY different reasons than I was expecting. It was heartbreaking but uplifting as well. I LOVE the way the story unfolded as the woman is telling her life's story to a writer, the only writer she will allow to hear her story, Monique Grant. The book jumps back and forth from Evelyn's life in the past to Monique's life in the present. The story implies there is some connection between Evelyn and Monique but the connection is not revealed until near the end and it is quite a surprise! This book reveals the stresses of keeping up appearances living in the spotlight. I have never been famous so I have no idea if the depiction of it all was accurate or not but it did make me think. And it made me feel sorry for those living under the close eye of adoring fans, paparazzi and critics too. Between the first page and the last, I felt sorry for Evelyn, hated her, loved her, hated her again and then ended with a "oh, I feel so sorry for her.." feeling. It was a good read. 


3) The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel - Oh, my goodness, I LOVED this historical fiction story! I couldn't put the book down. I read that it is inspired by a true story. It takes place during World War II and is about a woman who takes part in a secret library system to keep track of children who were separated from their parents during this tragic time. This book is so clever and heartbreaking and exciting and tragic and romantic.... all of it. Surprise ending. Melt my heart. All the feels! LOVED it! 


4) It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - this book was recommended to me by a friend. As I write this, it is #2 in the Amazon Charts this week and has over 58,000 reviews and 4.5/5 stars.  

It was super good. I immediately found it to be an easy read, a fast read, a book I couldn't put down. I felt so proud of Lily, the main character, and so sad for her too. I was frustrated with her at times and empathized with her at others. It was good, and I know it will really resonate with some readers in a very specific way.  This book made me go in search of other books written by this bestselling author. Good stuff!


5) The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon - Oh, my good gracious! THIS BOOK!! It is a suspense thriller which is not usually my favorite genre but this caught my attention. So here is me reading it....a few pages in...."Umm, maybe I shouldn't be reading this. Am I going to end up having bad dreams?....I'll just read a few more pages...." Then I couldn't put it down. ADDICTED! So then a little further in, I would be like....."Ugh....is this good for my mental wellness? Is this too scary? Too creepy? Too psychologically disturbing? Too ghostly and thrilling? But then again, I kind of like ghostly and thrilling..."and then I'd keep reading and again, couldn't put it down. It is spooky and heartbreaking and scary and exciting and dark. I'm not going to say I loved it because it is so tragic and stressful that it is hard for me to "love" any part of it but I was for sure hooked on it. If you like psychological thrillers, you will enjoy this one for sure!


6) Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper - This is an Amazon "Teacher's Pick" young adult novel with over 9,000 five star reviews and a repeat New York Times Bestseller! 

One of my 6th grade girls mentioned it to me as a book she enjoyed. In an effort to connect with her, I immediately grabbed the book from our school library and read it in under 24 hours. The Denver Post said of this book, "If there's one book teens and parents (and everyone else) should read this year, Out of My Mind should be it." I have to agree. The story is about Melody, an 11 year old child with cerebral palsy. Melody is incredibly smart but is unable to talk, walk, or move much at all and is therefore, unable to communicate well with anyone - her family included - and she is "stuck" in her head basically just observing life around her but unable to express her own thoughts. I felt such intense frustration for Melody because, of course, I, as a reader, could see what was in her mind and I SO wanted her mother, teachers and classmates to understand. There is an incredible change that allows her to "get out of her mind" as the story evolves and I felt like cheering right out loud! I can see why my 6th grade student recommended this book and I'm glad she did. And that leads me to the last book, Out of My Heart which is the sequel to Out of My Mind.


7) Out of My Heart by Sharon M. Draper - When I looked up the book my student had recommended I found that there was a book 2! My student didn't know this! I ordered it and read it before giving it to her. I hope she has been reading it during our snow days this week. 

This middle school novel was very good too! In the sequel to Out of My Mind, Melody has the opportunity to attend a summer camp meant for children with disabilities. She makes new friends, finds some independence, learns a lot about herself and discovers personal strengths she didn't know existed. I love a good summer camp story but I admit, I liked Out of My Mind better. I can't wait to discuss these books with my 6th grade student. 


Anyone else use the website, Goodreads? I kept coning across books that had Goodreads recommendations or that stated they were on the Goodreads Choice Awards List. I was curious so I hopped on over to goodreads.com and checked it out. It's fun! You can keep an ongoing list of books you want to read, books you've read, books you are currently reading, etc. You can set a reading goal for yourself and it tracks your progress. You can do your own reviews and even post those reviews to a blog or social media. 

It is February 4th and I have finished two novels this month, so far. Thank you, Mother Nature, for the snowstorm!  What are you currently reading?


AN 



Monday, March 27, 2017

Bedside Table Makeover

I purchased this small bedside table at our local antique store a couple years ago. I paid $20.00 for it and have been very pleased with how strong and sturdy it is. My daughter has used it as her bedside table since the day I brought it home. It was cute, as it was, but I always intended to paint it. 



Several weeks ago, I purchased Annie Sloan chalk paint in the color called Antoinette. It is a chalky light pink color.
Photo Via
 I began the makeover by removing the drawer and removing the original knob on the drawer.






I painted the entire piece including the front of the drawer. I allowed it to dry. This chalk paint dries very quickly! I then applied a second coat of paint and allowed that to dry.



I then used a block of sandpaper to rough it up a bit. I did this to the edges, corners and raised pieces that would naturally show wear over time. I was just "antiquing it" early! I then dusted the chalk away that had fallen naturally from the sandpaper. The next step was to use the Annie Sloan wax to cover the entire painted area. I used the clear wax and the Annie Sloan wax brush (which I highly recommend.)


Inside the drawer I used a Sharpie permanent marker to add a Bible verse that I chose for my daughter. I thought 1 Peter 3:34 was especially appropriate for a young girl to have in a pink drawer in her bedroom. Having it "tucked" in the drawer by her bed makes me think of her having it "tucked" in her heart as well.


I then added a new knob - a cream and black Paris knob! My daughter is a big fan of the Eiffel Tower and all things Paris! I purchased this knob at the same shop where I picked up the paint. It was $3.99.


And done!



And one more look....





My daughter was delighted with her new custom made piece of furniture and I sure enjoyed bringing this great piece of furniture back to life. I am also now hooked on chalk paint!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

101 Things I Want My Daughter to Know


 


  1. You are responsible for your own happiness.
  2. A hot cup of coffee, next to an open window, listening to birds is a great way to start your day.
  3. Talk to God. A lot. All the time.
  4. What matters in high school will matter very little in the future.
  5. A good night’s sleep really does help most anything.
  6. Eat whole foods, organic whole foods, as much as possible.
  7. You can be strong and lady-like at the same time.
  8. Taking time for yourself will make you a better wife, mother, colleague, friend.
  9. Don’t ever feel guilty about making time for yourself either!
  10. It’s more important to have good friends, true friends, than it is to have lots of friends. Choose carefully.
  11. Human touch is very important. Accept hugs and be a hugger. Hold hands with loved ones.
  12. Ask God for wisdom and direction in all that you do each day.
  13. Be a good listener. Listen more than you talk.
  14. When someone is talking to you, look them in the eye. Show them that you care about what they have to say.
  15. Smile at strangers.
  16. Pay cash whenever possible. Stay out of debt.
  17. Don’t follow fads. Develop your own style that is comfortable and represents you.
  18. Get a career, not just a job.
  19. Keep your promises.
  20. Be careful what you promise.
  21. Go barefoot.
  22. An education is something no one can take away from you.
  23. Clutter weighs you down. It’s just stuff. Get rid of it. Clear surfaces = clear thinking.
  24. Remember that most of what you worry about will never happen.
  25. See the world. There’s so much out there.
  26. Always wear a seatbelt.
  27. Go for a walk in the woods whenever possible.
  28. Fall in love with someone who really looks at you and listens to what you have to say.
  29. Keep dancing.
  30. Don’t underestimate the power of music.
  31. Keep a journal. It is so good to go back and read the thoughts of a younger you.
  32. You may think you know what you want, but God always has the best plan.
  33. It’s okay to say “no.”
  34. Enjoy your youth. Being a grown-up isn’t all it's cracked up to be.
  35. Smile and laugh. Laugh a lot!
  36. Drink lots of water every day.
  37. There is nothing you could do now or ever that will make me stop loving you.
  38. Spend more time looking up – at the sky, trees, birds, a loved one’s face – than you do looking down at your phone.
  39. Keep doing yoga. It is so good for you.
  40. It’s okay to cry. Even for no good reason.
  41. Some people are dead-set on being miserable. Avoid these people but pray for them and be kind to them.
  42. When you’re wrapping a gift for someone, say a prayer for them.
  43. When passing by little kid lemonade stands, stop and buy some. Buy painted rocks too.
  44. Attend concerts, the theater, art museums, and high school football games too.
  45. When you’re a mom, learn to trust your motherly instinct. It will amaze you.
  46. Do something CrEaTiVe every day.
  47. Remember you have to do what is best for you. Don’t worry about what other people think.
  48. There is nothing more important than family.
  49. Marvel at flowers blooming, baby toes, rainbows, snowflakes, our Great Lakes. There are so many miracles surrounding us. YOU are a miracle.
  50. Own a dog. Or three.
  51. Make wishes/prayers on stars.
  52. There is always, always something to look forward to.
  53. Count your blessings. Every single day.
  54. Spend time outside. Every single day.
  55. Sometimes you just have to take a mental health day. That’s okay.
  56. Your daddy adores you and always will. The way he treats you is how boys should treat you.
  57. There are so many good books. Read as many as you can and then share them with others.
  58. Don’t hold a grudge. It’ll eat at you more than it bothers the person who hurt you.
  59. Admit when you’re wrong. Apologize and don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry” first.
  60. Plant a garden. It is so rewarding in so many ways.
  61. Stand and applaud for veterans.
  62. Have a couple rooms in your house that do not have a clock in them.
  63. Use sunscreen. Being healthy is more attractive than being tan.
  64. Graciously accept bouquets of dandelions.
  65. If it makes you uncomfortable, consider avoiding it.
  66. Photographs make the best souvenirs.
  67. Marriage can be so, so good. It’s not always easy but it is so worth working at.
  68. Your thoughts and feelings matter.
  69. Vinegar and baking soda are the best cleaning supplies.
  70. Send handwritten notes.
  71. Be nice.
  72. Every day wake up assuming it is going to be the best day of your life!
  73. If your bananas go bad and you can’t find time to make banana bread, just throw them out and don’t feel guilty about it.
  74. Don’t forget how good it feels to go on a bicycle ride.
  75. As your brother Oliver says, “Follow your dreams and make things happen.”
  76. Pay attention to how foods make you feel. Avoid things that don’t agree with you.
  77. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know….
  78. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid of your ideas. Everything once began as someone’s idea.
  79. When you feel overwhelmed, make your bed and throw dinner in the crockpot. It’ll help you to feel that you are starting to get it all together.
  80. Greet loved ones with a big smile, a hug and kiss, and a warm greeting. Ask how their day went and genuinely care to hear about it.
  81. Allow your home to reflect you - filled with people and things that bring you JOY!
  82. Don't compare yourself to others. God made you unique. You are your own person and you are amazing!
  83.  If you can't find something, start cleaning. Once everything is where it belongs, whatever is missing will be what's left!
  84. Consider everything a gift from God: your family, your job, your home, your pets, your shoes, the food you have to eat....Give Him thanks for ALL of it.
  85. The happiest people in the world are those who give to others, not those who are just taking. Be generous.
  86. Your siblings are the greatest gifts your parents will ever give you. Really.
  87. Epsom salt, lavender oil baths, cozy pajamas and slippers, and hot tea are great ways to wind down after a busy day.
  88. Watch the sun rise and watch the sun set as often as you can.
  89. Memorize the no-bake cookie recipe. You won't regret it.
  90. When making decisions, you can consider others' opinions, but your opinion is what matters most.
  91. On summer nights, lay in the grass and stare at the sky. During summer days, lay in the grass and watch the clouds.
  92. This too shall pass.
  93. People may not see or know your good deeds but God does. That's all that matters.
  94. Be spontaneous sometimes. It's fun.
  95. Take a multivitamin.
  96. You are an artist. Everyone is an artist. It's just a matter of whether or not you are brave. Be brave.
  97. Be kind, patient, helpful and respectful to the elderly.
  98. Sometimes, choose to stay at bed and breakfasts. Get to know the owners.
  99. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  100. Being productive is great...but avoid multitasking. It messes with your head. Just start one thing, give it your full attention and then finish before moving onto the next thing.
  101. Remember - LOVE & KINDNESS in all you do. LOVE & KINDNESS!


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Linking up here: http://www.astrollthrulife.net/

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 Ways to Connect to God {for Busy Families}




I remember years ago, as a newlywed and not yet a mother, I sat in an adult Sunday School class at our church and one of the other ladies spoke about being so busy and so exhausted at the end of each day. She said, "I'm so whipped at the end of the day that all I can do is say, 'Thank you, Jesus' before I fall asleep." At the time she was a working mom of two teenage children. "Thank you, Jesus" is wonderful. And I'm sure Jesus was delighted. However, this worn out mom was desperate for a way to connect to God throughout the chaos of the day. She needed Him for strength, for direction, and for that calming connection in the midst of a regular day. Since becoming a mom myself, I have thought about this mom's comment so many years ago. I can SO relate now. Though I am still a work in progress, here are some ways our family has made connecting with God part of our busy days.

1. Sing - Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart!
I started this routine several years ago. On Mondays I pick up the neighbor girls to bring them to school too and my mom van is filled with children! We began singing this every Monday on the short drive to school. We even worked out special solo and duet parts that we consistently stick to and we end the song in grand fashion, belting out the last few words as I put the van in park. Even on the hardest Monday mornings, singing this lightens the mood and lifts the spirit!

Need a refresher of this song? Check out THIS VIDEO!

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30


2. Pray together before leaving for school/work in the mornings
Every morning before my husband leaves for work he calls us all together in the living room. We all hold hands, bow our heads and daddy prays for each one of us individually before we part ways to begin our day. I love this routine and love my husband even more for making it happen!


Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:19-20

3. "Thank you, God for________________"
I am a firm believer that finding a $5.00 bill in my pocket (that I didn't know was there) is totally a "God thing." I thank Him for little things. And my kids hear it - "Thank you, God, that we got home safely." "Thank you, God, that our homework is done." "Thank you, God, that we have a refrigerator full of food." The kids can also be heard randomly thanking God for the little things as well as the big.

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Pslam 7:17

4. Stop & smell the roses.
Throughout the day, just stop. Stop and watch a nest of robins hatch, notice the wind in the trees, the colors of the sunset. Point out these things to your kids. Marvel at nature together.

Listen to a piece of music with your eyes closed. Notice the different instruments, the dynamics changing,  consider the singer/composer's talent. Listen to music with your children and talk about what you hear.

Stop and look at your children. Really look at them. They are a gift from God. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. He chose the shape of their hands, the color of their eyes, their sweet smile. Tell your kids you are proud of them. Tell them they are the best gift God ever gave you. Remind them they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It's so easy (and so typical) for moms to just be on "auto pilot" doing what must be done. But if we take a minute and slow down and appreciate the simple beauty gifted to us by our Creator, it will reduce stress, put things into perspective and demonstrate gratitude to our children.

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number -
living things both large and small.    Psalm 104-105                            

5. Have "messages" all over the house.

I have a chalkboard hanging in our dining room. I write Bible verses or uplifting messages on it and change them every now and then. In addition to the chalkboard, wall hangings, knick-knacks, magnets, and wooden signs can be found in our home reminding us of Bible verses or words of wisdom. Two of my three kids are readers and the youngest is almost there! Whether they are reading or not though, these special words become part of our environment and therefore, part of our life. We may read them together and talk about what they mean. I have picked up my son and pointed out the "Fruits of the Spirit" wall hanging I have to remind him God calls us to be gentle and use self-control!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


2 Timothy 3:16-3:17


See HERE for the tutorial how I transformed this garage sale find into a family chalkboard.
This chalkboard was purchased at a farmer's market booth a few summers ago.
It is in our dining room.
I got this FAITH sign from Family Christian Store.  It is hanging in our living room.
This is business card size and I have it near my kitchen sink.
God is with me in all that I do - even dishes!
My daughter Claire picked out this cross at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. I ordered the "Family Routine" sign online many years ago but unfortunately, I can't tell you where.
With intention, we can add small "God Moments" to our day and make it a habit. In doing so, hopefully our children will see that saying a prayer before bed or a meal is not the only time God wants to hear from us but rather, He wants to be involved in all parts of our life throughout the day...even ordinary, crazy, hectic days!