Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Saturday 7

1. Lucy only has 9 more days of school, and I am so ready for her to be done! It's hilarious to see how my standards have fallen between the beginning of the school year and now. I've given up on her hair. She half-brushes it every morning, but it's mostly a tangle of curls and toothpaste and I don't even care. Lunch is a bust. I alternate Easy Mac with a pizza Lunchable every other day. I don't even care about being on time anymore. I used to majorly stress about her being tardy. At this point, I'm like, "Meh. So what if she's late?" I can't wait for the care-free days of summer! Sleeping in. No schedules. No homework. No strictly enforced bedtimes. No whining and crying and fighting to get out the door on time. And yes, I will be craving the routine again by about July, but let me enjoy my fantasy while it lasts!!

2. Lena's question of the week has been "What is the highest number?" She asks me at least once a day, and cannot fathom that no one knows and that numbers just keep going.

3. I read 4 books this week: Write Me Home by Crystal Walton, You'll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher (my second booklookbloggers book), True to You by Becky Wade, and Beyond Bathtime by Erin Davis. The first two were fine, but nothing special. I loved the last two. Becky Wade is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite writers. She is so good at creating lovable characters with great chemistry, and I love her humor.

4. Beyond Bathtime is a Christian mothering book that someone recommended to me a long time ago. I bought it on clearance at Baker Book House 6 months ago, and finally made myself read it this week. I was surprised by how much I liked it! This is my goodreads review:
I've read a lot of parenting/mothering books and at first I was worried this one was going to be the same old same old. But the more I read, the more I loved. It's a short, easy read, but is filled with nuggets of truth, challenging insight, and practical applications. I especially appreciated the application questions at the end of each chapter.
My favorite chapter was probably chapter 7: Blessing or Burden? It was very convicting for me. "Our behavior toward our children and our conversations about our children send a message in one of two directions. Either we communicate that our children are a blessing, or that they are a burden" (92.) I love Davis's call to ministry in our homes and insistence that motherhood is a holy calling. The book left me thinking and re-evaluating the way I treat my kids and parent them. 
5. One interesting part of Beyond Bathtime was the chapter on "Choosing Childlessness" and how it's becoming such a trend in our culture. The author originally didn't intend to have children, but then she came to this conclusion: "When it came to the issue of family planning, I simply didn't trust God's sovereignty to provide for my good" (55). Essentially, she's saying that it's not up to us to plan our families; it's up to God. She didn't elaborate on whether that means we should never use birth control, but it got me thinking . . . If we didn't use birth control, I would be the next Michelle Duggar. Although with my history of losses, I probably wouldn't make it to 20. And with my history of huge, painful pregnancies, I'd probably die before 10. But is it "playing God" to decide how many kids we're going to have?

6. At the end of the "Choosing Childlessness" chapter, Davis poses this question, "Do you know anyone who thinks that parenting is nothing but a big roadblock to 'real life'? If you could say anything to such a person, what would you say?" I wrote down, "It's hard, but sanctifying and the joy outweighs the bad!" A huge part of it for me is considering the future. Don't get me wrong. I didn't have kids to take care of me when I'm old. I just can't imagine choosing to not have a family. To forgo family Christmases with your kids and grandkids, to miss out on birthdays and holidays and family gatherings. And for all my whining about discipline and potty training and sleeplessness, the smiles and milestones and chubby legs and toothless grins and "I love yous" make it so so worth it.

7. Sorry to use up so many of my points on that book, but I don't have anything else. Except pictures! Enjoy.

Silly kids enjoying the warm weather. Levi was eating the dirt.
Trying out the new birthday bike.

Just a couple days after we had highs in the mid 80s, temps plummeted and it got cold in our house!
Everyone piled in bed with Mommy.
I was trying to get a picture of Levi's curls, and I got this instead. Lol.

Reading with Grandma (I love how he crosses his feet like that!)

That dimple!
I <3 Snapchat filters . . .
Lucy got a bunch of new clothes for her birthday and she insisted on doing a fashion show . . .
I think she's got the knee pop mastered . . .
So then, of course, Lena wanted to do a fashion show too. Her modeling poses are significantly more unique . . .
Lol - Oh that girl . . .



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: I'll Think of You by Robin Lee Hatcher

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This is my second book review for Book Look Bloggers. I received a copy of this e-book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Brooklyn Myers escaped a terrible childhood by eloping at the age of 17. When her new husband finds out she's pregnant, though, he leaves without a backward glance. Fast forward 11 years and Brooklyn gets a letter in the mail from her husband's attorney. It turns out the deadbeat husband died of a heart condition and left his house back home to her.

I've read Robin Lee Hatcher before and never been terribly impressed. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I feel the same way about this book. I read it all in one day, so it obviously wasn't awful. But it suffered from the dreaded "Singular Plot Syndrome" - the singular plot being Will they fall in love? Of course we know they will, so it's just a matter of finding out how. There was very little conflict throughout the story, the characters were a little too perfect, and the drama a little too boring. I also take serious issue with the fact that the husband's heart condition was never addressed. If I found out that my 32 year old ex-husband died of a strange heart condition, the first thing I'd do is have our child tested to make sure she doesn't have it too!

3 stars for being an entertaining, sweet read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Saturday 7

1. A few years ago, I signed up as a book reviewer for a Christian book website (booklookbloggers.com). But I never actually reviewed any books for them until this week. I requested a book, it was sent to my kindle for free, then I read it and posted a review on my blog - which I linked back to them. The book itself was nothing special, but how cool that I got it for free?! I think I'm going to start doing it more often.

2. I started another of my parenting books this week: Beyond Bathtime. I'm only a couple chapters in, but one of the study questions at the beginning was, "How are you a good mom?" I felt like that was kind of a stupidly profound question. I never pause to think of how I've been a good mom. I usually focus on my faults. It was kind of nice to give myself a little pat on the back this week and list some of the things I do right. One of them is that I love birthdays and celebrations and making my kids feel special. This might also qualify as a fault, because I can tend to go overboard, but I'm choosing to label it as a positive thing! Haha.

3. Lucy turned 7 on Thursday. I say this every year, but it boggles my mind that I'm old enough to have a 7 year old. And as I alluded to above, her birthday celebrations got a little bit out of control. Haha. She got the idea in her head that she wanted to go to a hotel for her birthday. We told her we could either go to a hotel or have a birthday party with her friends. She chose the hotel, I cashed in my credit card rewards, and we only ended up paying $35. But that was this weekend. We had to celebrate on her actual birthday, too!

4. On Thursday, I brought Subway to her at school for lunch. We went to the park after school, then opened presents when Justin got home.

More books! Yay!
Then we went to "the play McDonald's" for dinner.

We wrapped up the birthday extravaganza by renting "Sing" and watching it at home with popcorn.

5. On Friday, Justin took Lucy out for their annual "Daddy-Daughter-Birthday-Date." She chose shopping at Justice. And because Justin is awesome, he took her, let her put on their complimentary make-up, let her try on clothes, and bought her an outfit. She loved it.

6. Yesterday, we packed up half of our belongings for a one night stay in a hotel. I had to seriously pare down Lena's collection of doll clothes, books, and jewelry boxes, while reminding her to pack pajamas and underwear. Haha. Priorities. We got to the hotel at 2:30 and immediately jumped in the pool. Well . . . some of us did. Levi was terrified of the water and didn't stop crying until I got out and held him.



We went to Applebee's for dinner, where Levi very much enjoyed a juice box.

Then we found a really nice park to play at.








Finally, it was back to the hotel for more swimming:
Very nervous . . . please don't make me go back in there!


The girls love the hotel room and being allowed to eat snacks and play on their tablets in bed.

Levi went to sleep amazingly well in the pack n' play, and Lena fell asleep like this around 10:30:
Nose smushed  against her tablet.
7. Today we celebrated Mother's Day with swimming at the hotel, a stop to see Justin's mom, then home to celebrate with my family. We had pizza because the moms weren't cooking, played cards, celebrated Lucy's birthday, and enjoyed each other's company. My kind of day! Justin took the girls to Meijer to get me some presents, and they came home with cookies, Dr Pepper, Riesens, and a sweet card. They sure know the way to my heart! I'm so grateful to be their mom!

8. Bonus point for more pictures!
Sisters who cook together stay together . . .
He was fascinated by that toe peeking out of his jammies.
My new favorite past-time. Levi plays so nicely with his cars while I sit in the rocker and read.
Lena sleeping with the puke bucket on her head.


Sweet sleepy boy.

Walking outside



Working hard with Grandpa

Wishing he could help.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lucy's 7 Year Interview


What do you and Mommy do together?
Play games and clean together a lot and sometimes she helps me with my homework

What do you and Daddy do together?
Play outside and wrestle


What is your favorite thing to do?
Read or do screen time

What makes you happy?
Seeing Levi laugh

What is something scary?
I don't really want to answer that one

What are you really good at?
Reading and swimming

Who is your best friend?
Presley

Who’s the prettiest person you know?
Me (herself)

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A librarian and a mom

What do you think about before you fall asleep?
I don't really think about anything, but I read . . . or I think about the next day ahead of me, if it's going to be fun and exciting and stuff


Favorites:

Color 
Baby blue

Book
Boxcar Children

Movie
Hannah Montana

Food

Frozen pizza

Treat
Popcorn and doing something special

Favorite drink
Milk or pop (root beer)

TV Show
Maggie and Bianca

Toy
I spend most of my time reading, so I don't really have a favorite toy . . . But if you really want to know, then probably Baby Alives or American Girl Dolls

Animal
Cats and if it has to be sea creatures dolphins . . . and butterflies

Song
Thrive by Newsboys

Day
Either last day of school, my birthday, or Christmas

Number
17

Breakfast Food

Peanut Butter Crunch or Eggo Waffles

Store
Justice 

Where’s your favorite place to go?
Chuck E. Cheese

Favorite way to wear your hair
Down

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Review: Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Amazon Synopsis:

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain that follows when justice is not served. It’s why she became an attorney and why she’s so driven in her career. When she’s assigned a wrongful death case against the government, she isn’t sure if it’s the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there. Further complicating matters is Andrew Wesley, her roommate’s distractingly attractive cousin. But Andrew’s father is a congressman, and Hayden’s currently taking on the government. Could the timing be any worse? The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to kill the case—or her. Logic and self-preservation indicate she should close the case. But how can she, when justice is still just beyond her reach?

This book was not my favorite. The legal jargon was excessive and confusing. Putman obviously knows her way around the legal system, but I do not, and I found myself skimming entire paragraphs to get past the "lawyer-speak." The plot itself was ok, if not a little cliche. I feel like certain elements of the mystery were not sufficiently resolved at the end. I also had some major pet peeves with Putman's writing style:

- She very rarely described her characters' appearances. All I know about Hayden is that she had black hair and shapely calves. And the only description I remember about Andrew is that he had blue eyes and a preppy political look.
- She "name-dropped" other author friends. I hate it when authors attempt to casually throw in phrases like this: "She cozied up in her chair with the newest Denise Hunter romance."

Overall, the story was fine, but the writing was a little flat. Putman obviously set up an opening for a sequel with Emilie's story, and I'm guessing the other girls in their friend group will have their own stories down the line, as well, but it's unlikely that I'll read them.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Saturday 7


1. Lena loves to add numbers and tell me, "Mommy, 3+4 is 7!" or what have you. When I applaud her she says, "I figured it out with my helpful fingers!" Lol.

2. Yesterday Lucy asked me why Justin and I wear wedding rings. I told her it's a sign for other people to know that we're married, but she kept asking, "But why?" So I finally said, "So other people know they can't marry us. Like if a girl looked at Daddy and thought, 'Wow. He's cute. I want to marry him" but then saw his wedding ring, she'd be like, 'Oh bummer. He's already married.' Or if a guy saw me and thought he wanted to marry me, my ring would show him that I'm already married." She nodded thoughtfully and responded, "Yeah, I can see how that would happen to Daddy." Lol. Thanks for the vote of confidence, girl.

3. I finally finished re-organizing Levi's room upstairs so we spent lots of time up there this week. Levi adores sitting at the low window and waving frantically, shouting "hi" at every car (and glorious tractor or semi) that goes by.



4. I finished Hawaii 5-0 this week. I was tempted to sign up for a free trial of Hulu so I could watch the next season, but I figured I should probably have a little self-control instead of getting sucked into another season. With all my free time, I decided to start reading some of the huge pile of parenting books I've amassed.

I started with one that many of my friends have raved about: Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. I've read one other book by Furman, but try as I might, I just can't fully grasp her message. She's got an amazing passion for the gospel, but her writing style is too wordy and abstract for me. I feel like understanding is just barely out of reach most of the time. She really makes me feel dumb. Lol. I was also a little put-off by the title and marketing of this book. In actuality, it has very little to do with motherhood. I would love some practical advice about how to breathe the gospel into my kids, but this book contained almost nothing about that. The entire first half of the book is a meta-narrative of the Old Testament. Many of the reviews I read were annoyed by it, but I thought it was fascinating. Thanks to my years of Christian upbringing and education, I know the major Old Testament stories inside and out. But Furman was able to re-tell them in a way that made them feel new and different (while still being Biblically sound!). She weaved the gospel and the need for Jesus into each story, reminding me of The Jesus Storybook Bible. The second half is theoretically about how to be missional as mothers, but she's adamant that all women are called to be "mothers" regardless of whether or not they have children. She posits that "mothering" is a verb meaning simply making disciples. So the second half of the book is basically a call to worldwide evangelism and making disciples - which of course is honorable and true, but not what I was expecting.

Flipping through the book, now, to find quotes, I will admit there were tons of nuggets of truth. But her overarching theme was hard to grasp and apply to life.

5. I also read the sequel to the book I shared last week. I liked this one even better.
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It feels good to be reading again! Even though I do miss Steve McGarrett . . .

6. In the continuation of the potty training saga: I buckled down and forced Lena to wear undies again this week. She got a pull-up at rest time and bedtime. It was traumatic at first, but by Tuesday she was crying less and we even went out shopping for 4 hours in undies. So we're back to making progress. Whew!

7. Everyone's favorite part: Pictures!

Justin and I went to a Cinco de Mayo dinner at church last night, and our kids don't eat Mexican food, so they got to spend the evening with Justin's parents and Uncle Jesse:

Bonfire


Arguably their favorite person in the world.
The lilacs are blooming!
Lucy goes goth

This is what Levi does when he's tired: rubs his binky with his thumb and index finger


His new favorite face. Haha.

Happy boy!
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