Friday, January 30, 2015

Book #9: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Amazon Link

Justin and I drove to Auburn Hills for a little getaway this weekend. It's a 2.5 hour drive and I am a horrendous traveler. I can't handle being bored and I'm a very anxious passenger. Without fail, I get a stomach ache an hour before we leave, filled with anxiety about dying in some gruesome highway crash and leaving my girls orphans. All that's to say, I was looking for something fun and light to keep my attention on the drive. This book fit the bill. (And reading it on the Kindle prevented the usual sickness I experience reading a real book while riding in the car.)

It was silly and fun and interesting. There were definitely parts that had me laughing out loud and reading through tears trying (and failing) to convey the humor to Justin. My favorite parts were her list of what makes a good best friend, and this description of herself as a kid that I hugely identified with:
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with listing my favorite things. I kept an index card with all my favorite foods folded in my wallet, just in case anyone asked me what they were. Then when people walked away, I imagined they'd say: "Whoa, Mindy Kaling is so cool and self-actualized. McDonald's pancakes are her favorite food and she was able to tell me right away." I was prepared for all kinds of potential fun situations when I was [a] kid. I kept a bathing suit in my backpack in case I went anywhere there was a swimming pool . . . I planned excessively.
I don't know why I found that so hilarious, but I did. Haha.

I read for about half an hour more once we got to the hotel, so I read it start to finish in about 3 hours. It was cleaner than I expected and a fun, fluffy read.

Child of the Mist

Amazon Link
I broke my rule about branching out from inspirational fiction to read this book. It was one of my bookbub recommendations earlier this week and when I saw it was about an arranged marriage, I was hooked. I'm a sucker for arranged marriages. Haha.

There's not much to say about this book. It was a great read. It's more than just romance. There were a lot of historical elements and I enjoyed the setting and time period (Scotland, 1500s). There was also a fair amount of mystery that had me guessing throughout the book. My one complaint is that the main character, Anne, was way too perfect. She goes through all these horrible circumstances, but knows how to respond every time. She's the perfect Christian, the perfect sister, the perfect wife. Don't get me wrong. I don't want my fiction reads to be totally realistic. I like to read as an escape. But it'd be nice to be able to relate a little more to the character. Haha.

Two thumbs up from me! I read this book in one day. But that's not saying much, since that's pretty much my norm. Haha.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book #8: Loving God With All Your Mind (And some of my depression story)

Amazon link
One of my friends recently starting writing a beautiful and thoughtful blog. In one of her entries, she mentioned this book and inspired me to put it on my Christmas list. Justin's mom bought it for me, and after all the frivolous fiction I've been reading lately, I decided to start it last week. The first half was interesting and practical, but nothing I really struggle with. So I started to lose interest. Then on Monday, I got bad news about my car and started my downward spiral into depression. I forced myself to pick this book back up just so I could finish it and move on to some more frivolous fiction. Lo and behold, the second half was all about trusting God and growing through our trials. It's funny because I "bragged" about my ability to see the big picture and trust God's goodness throughout my trials when I got the initial bad news about my car. But when the second wave of bad news came through, I suddenly lost sight of that. This book brought it back into focus.

After a couple days of wallowing I was able to see that it's just a car and things could be so much worse. But after talking it out with some godly friends, I was also able to see that the car situation just brought to light my deeper issues with depression. For so long, I've resisted it. I've always been anxious, but I never struggled with depression until Lena was born. It certainly wasn't Lena's fault. I just experienced a lot of change around the time she was born. We moved in with my parents and encountered a certain amount of embarrassment at admitting our financial failures. And I became a stay at home mom and realized it wasn't as fulfilling as I expected.

All of this led to some intense feelings of failure and inadequacy that I still experience daily (hourly!). And despite upping my Prozac dosage, trying crazy amounts of vitamins, and doing all the practical things I can think of to dispel depression (have a routine, get out of the house, sing worship music, find "the good"), it's not going away - which just makes me feel like more of a failure.

All of that's to say, this book made me realize that the depression itself is my trial. Not the car. Not the financial woes. Not my feelings of inadequacy. God is using my depression to draw me to himself. In the book, George says, "Everything - every person, every event - that touches us is for the purpose of making us like Christ." (204) I love knowing that the depression isn't necessarily my fault. It's something God is allowing to grow me. I'm also coming to accept that it's probably not something that I'm going to "snap out of." I've been waiting for my hormones to settle or my Prozac to kick in. But I've been done breastfeeding for a year so there's no reason for my hormones to be out of whack any more. And I've been on the Prozac for months. It definitely helps, but it doesn't totally eliminate the problem. So I loved this quote as well. "This is not temporary. This is not . . . short -term . . . So have something to show for it! Focus your energies on something positive - your growth and betterment." (214)

And George's book gives practical applications of how to grow that I really appreciated. In discussing Paul's many trials she says, "How did he maintain his energy and zeal? . . . Paul focused on the object of his love - the Lord Jesus Christ - and kept on keeping on, even through pain." (221) I love that concept, but still struggle with how to make it real. George elaborates: "Delighting yourself in the Lord means choosing Him each day, and that means choosing to make more time for His Word than any other kind of input." (226)

I'm at the tip of the iceberg in my realization, but I want to use this for growth. George has another book called A Woman After God's Own Heart that I want to look into next. Maybe I'll be reviewing that one soon. Although I'm still planning on reading some fiction first . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lena's 2 Year Interview

Favorite Color: Red/green (I asked her what her favorite color was and she said, "Ummmm, red. Green! She doesn't actually know her colors. Just their names.)
Favorite Food: Macaroni and Cheese or cheese roll ups
Favorite Song: "Wheels on the Bus" or "Let it Go"
Favorite Book: "The Oops Book" (Blue Hat, Green Hat by Boynton)
Favorite TV Show: Daniel Tiger (she calls him "Neighbor") 
Favorite Animal: Kitty
Favorite Game: ?
Favorite Snack: Cheese
Favorite Fruit: Strawberries
Favorite Drink: Apple juice
Favorite PJs: Elsa jammies
Favorite Toy: Her babies
Favorite Outside Activity: Slide and swing

I copied and pasted this from Lucy's 2 year update and kept a lot of the same answers! Haha. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. Week 3 of being stranded at home. I didn't handle it as gracefully this week. I lost my mind on Wednesday and didn't know how I'd ever make it through Thursday. But my marvelous sister brought me Olive Garden and sat and chatted with me for a few hours. Amazing what good food and adult conversation can do for the mood! I called about my car and it's not going to be finished until the end of next week, so if anyone's up for bringing me Olive Garden . . . Haha. No, the repair shop said they would get me a loaner vehicle. 

2. In the midst of my doldrums this week, I was encouraged by this article. I love how she writes, "just do the next thing." She actually posted a poem earlier this week by the same title. It's such a simple but important sentiment. When I'm overwhelmed by the state of my house or the months of homeschooling yet to plan and carry out or the utter lack of spiritual growth in my life, I start to panic. So I have to remember to just do the next thing. Clean one room at a time. Plan one week of school at a time. Pick up one book to encourage my walk with God and read it whenever I can. Which leads me to point three . . .

3. I started Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George this week. A friend recommended it, and I thought it would be good for me. So far, I don't identify with it a ton, but it has a lot of good, practical advice. I thought it was interesting that George wrote pretty much the same thing the blogger in my previous point did. George says, "make a plan and carry it out. Don't get stressed by the big picture. Do all the little things that need to be done." (Paraphrased by me.) It's ironic because this week for the first time, I dusted off my planner and really planned out my week: what we're going to do for school each day, what chores I need to get done each day, what we're having for dinner each day, etc. I knew this week would be hard on me with being trapped at home, so I made myself a concrete plan so I wouldn't lay on my bed crying about how bored I was. Haha. It worked to an extent. ;-) I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on the book once I actually finish it.

4. Our week finished on a much better note than it began. Justin has Fridays off and he knew I was going stir-crazy, so he let me sleep in then take some time for myself. I spent 2 solid hours in the library all by myself making lists and writing Lena's 2 year update. Then I went to Meijer and the dollar store alone! It was glorious!

5. Friday was also Lena's 2nd birthday. She was adorable the night before, telling me as I put her to bed, "Almost birthday! Open presents!" I knew she'd wake up at 6 demanding to open her presents, so I told her she could open them after Lucy woke up. On Friday morning the first thing out of her mouth was "open presents!" Haha. But she waited patiently until Lucy woke up at 8, then promptly tore into her presents. We got her an Elmo potty chair that she's not real thrilled about using, but loves to play with. Haha. (She's getting the rest of her presents from us at her family party tomorrow.) We continued her birthday celebration with lunch at B.C. Pizza. The girl loves pizza and Justin and I love B.C's buffet which is only available at lunch during weekdays so we don't often get the chance to go. Lena's a big fan of the cinnamon sticks:
She took a long afternoon nap, then we watched a movie in my bed and ran around the house giggling and screaming and having tickle fights. Perfection.

6. I loved all the Timehop reminders of Lena's actual birth day two years ago. So many precious memories of the anticipation of meeting her, giving birth and seeing her for the first time, Lucy's reaction to her, and all those pictures of her as a newborn. It gives me major baby fever. I had easy deliveries and loved giving birth. I loved those first few weeks/months of having a newborn. I want that again so badly. But I know I see it all through rose colored glasses and conveniently forget post-partum recovery, mood swings, emotions, nursing problems, babies that won't sleep and learning to juggle multiple children. Still giving my body and my mental state time to strengthen and heal before I'm ready to tackle that again. Haha.

7. Today was also a big day: Justin's 30th birthday! His birthday has been overshadowed the past few years by my miscarriage and Lena's birth, so I made it a point to celebrate him today! I toyed with the idea of throwing him a surprise birthday party, but couldn't think of anything relatively cheap to do, so kind of gave up on it. But in the past few days I decided I really wanted to do it, so I made sure a bunch of our friends were available and threw together a little shindig at home. I already had plans to go to a baby shower today, so I told Justin I'd take the girls with me and he could spend a few hours ice fishing. I made a big deal about how long the shower would be and how my parents were busy and couldn't babysit until later tonight so he should just take his time. I told him to be home around 6 so we could go to dinner and a movie. We picked a movie. (I looked up times and lied to him about when it was.) We picked a restaurant. I had him totally fooled. ;-) I did go to the baby shower but left early to come home and decorate. I had my sister pick up pizzas and everyone met here just before 6. The weather was perfect for ice fishing, but I was sooooo nervous that he'd get bored or the fish wouldn't be biting and he'd come home early. He did come home 10 minutes before 6, but pretty much everyone was here by then and he was genuinely surprised when he walked in the door. Woohoo! Mission accomplished! I made him this Big Bang Theory inspired cake (thanks to an idea from Pinterest, of course):
It's a terrible picture, but it's supposed to be Sheldon in the ball pit shouting "Bazinga!" If you haven't seen this show/episode, that will mean nothing to you. Haha.

I hooked up YouTube on the TV and searched for "free bass fishing shows" to have playing in the background. Haha. And I made a playlist on Spotify of some of our old favorite songs. (Kutless, Evanescence, POD, Kenny Chesney, Phil Vassar - mostly high school songs.) We had a blast just hanging out with our friends. Everyone brought their kids (per my suggestion), so they all left by 8. It's apparent you're a parent . . . Haha. It was probably for the best, though, because tomorrow is Lena's family party at our house, so I had to clean up and get everything ready for that! It is just party central around here!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Lena: 2 Years Old!

I hate writing these entries because I feel like my limited writing ability can't possibly capture Lena's personality and character. But I'll hate myself even more if I never do it, so here goes . . .

Lena is 2 years old today. She is hilarious and naughty and sweet and quirky.

The Stats

  • She has most of her teeth. Still waiting on all 4 eye teeth and at least one more set of molars. 
  • She's still tiny. She has a doctor's appointment at the beginning of February, but my best estimate is that she's around 25 lbs. She is just starting to grow out of her 18 month shirts. But 2T pants are huge on her (way too long).
The Fun Stuff
  • She can count perfectly to 11.
  • She sings the alphabet (loudly and often).
  • She can identify heart and star but doesn't know any other shapes.
  • I wrote in Lucy's 26 month update that she was starting to identify letters?! I've never even tried to work on letters with Lena. She definitely can't identify any of them. Haha.
  • She loves to sing. She knows Let it Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, Jesus Loves Me, Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle, Let it Shine (This Little Light of Mine), Laurie Berkner's Fishy Song, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and more.
  • She talks non-stop. She carries on conversations, tells stories, and can say pretty much anything she wants to. For the most part she speaks pretty clearly, but there are definitely a few words she says her own special way. She calls Lucy "Oo-eez." It is adorable and I don't even want her to say it correctly. She says "huh" for yes. (Short for uh-huh I think. Haha.) 
  • She is very attached to her lovies. We call them "Ellies" because the original one (that was Lucy's) is an elephant. But Lena added a bunny as well. She calls the bunny "other one Ellie." She also has to have her baby and puppy. Those 4 things go everywhere with her and must be present at bedtime. I have to sneakily wash them every once in a while because they get so filthy. 
  • And she's still quite obsessed with the binky. She's been doing better with only having it at bedtime or in the car, but she still cries every time I put it away. 
  • I wrote in her 18 month update that she wasn't interested in TV. My how things have changed. Haha. She loves TV and has figured out how to work the PBS Video App on my phone. Anytime she gets her hands on it, she immediately starts looking up Elmo or Daniel Tiger or Caillou (her three faves). She also really loves Pingu - which is some strange Swiss show on Netflix. 
    She's actually using my Kindle in this picture. She's a pro at that too.
  • She's starting to love reading. She's still picky about what she'll read, gravitating toward lift the flap books or books with baby faces or TV characters, but she's slowly broadening her horizons. I got her a book about potty training at the library that she is obsessed with. She listens so intently when I read it, and always wants to read it multiple times in a row. I usually end up saying, "Why don't you read it to me?" She'll flip through it saying, "Girl wear diapers. Eena [Lena] wear diapers! Girl play toys. Eena play toys! Girl go potty and poop in potty chair. Put in toilet. Flush. Big girl! Wear big girl undies! Take undies down. Go potty. Uh oh. Go potty on pants. Floor gets wet." Haha. Maybe that doesn't mean as much if you haven't read the book yourself, but it's a pretty good gist!
  • Speaking of potty training, she opened her new Elmo potty chair this morning. She loves that it's little and makes noise when you press the button and loves to talk about how she has a potty chair, but she is not interested in using it. We're going to take it easy for a couple weeks and just try it out before and after bed, before the bath, etc. I've been making her sit on it for 10 seconds at a time. After a while I'll start to get more serious. I think she's ready. She's very verbal. She tells me before she poops that she's going and then immediately asks me to change her. She occasionally wakes up from her nap dry and I've noticed her diaper is much less soaked overnight lately. She loves the concept of wearing Elmo undies, etc. We'll give it a try, but back off if it goes horribly. Lucy was more like 2.5 before she was trained, but she was way less verbal. 
  • She's become a pretty picky eater. Her favorites are mac n' cheese, cheese roll ups, and pizza. She strangely loves beans (like in chili - not green beans). She loves most fruit, but will not eat vegetables. She's obsessed with dipping things in ranch or ketchup and I constantly have to yell at her to "take a bite! Don't just suck off the ranch!" She's also obsessed with pop. My bad. I don't ever give it to her in a sippy cup or anything (unless it's not caffeinated and is a special occasion), but she is relentless about drinking mine if she ever sees me with it. 
  • She still has a bottle of warm whole milk every morning, but I'm going to cut that off starting Monday. She doesn't drink milk any other time of the day and refuses to drink it out a sippy cup, so we'll see how well that goes . . .
  • She is a ridiculously early riser. I do not understand the kid. Lucy always slept in until at least 8. Lena is up before 6 every single day. I've pushed her bedtime back to 8:30 at night in an effort to make her sleep longer with no luck. She has one 2-3 hour nap during the day, so it's not like she sleeps a ton during the day. I refuse to get her out of bed before 6:00. So on the days she wakes up at 5:30 or 5:45 I either go upstairs and lay her back down, or I ignore her. Once in a great while, she'll fall back to sleep until 6:30 or so, but usually she just continues to scream for me until I can't take it anymore. Haha. I'm reeeeeallllly hoping she grows out of that. Lucy sleeps 'til 8:30 or 9 these days. How wonderful would it be if they both slept that long?!
  • She's so much more fearless than Lucy ever was. She climbs on everything, gets into everything, and is mischievous and sneaky. I can't take my eye off her for a minute. One day she colored a huge section of Lucy's wall with a variety of different colored pencils. Another day, I heard noise in the kitchen and saw she had pushed her stool up to the counter and was digging into the butter dish. I regularly find her on top of tables. It's a fight every single night to keep her in her high chair during dinner. She and Lucy have really started to fight over things and annoy each other. Lena loves to be destructive and knock down Lucy's lego creations or dump out buckets of toys or throw her food off the table. And she does not like to clean up. Yesterday she dumped out an entire bucket of Legos. I told her to clean them up and she shouted emphatically, "No!" We spend a lot of time cleaning up together and talking about "obeying and talking nice to Mommy." Haha.
  • But for all her obstinance, she can also be so sweet. She's a major snuggler. She will often climb on me lap and hug me or lay her head down on my shoulder. Sometimes she can be very helpful. She sings, "Clean up, clean up, errybody errywhere!" and says "Me helping, Mommy!" She adores Lucy and loves to play with her. She often says to her, "Ooo-eez, go upstairs? Play toys?" and they take off together up the stairs. She calls her "sister" sometimes which melts my heart. 
  • She adores my mom and follows her around like a puppy dog. 
  • She wants to be held all the time and spends a fair amount of time clinging to my ankles crying, "Up please!"
  • She loves Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. :-)
  • She is a total goof. She does this funny "Grandpa walk" kind of hunched over like my dad after he's been sitting in his chair too long. Haha. She makes this face multiple times a day and insists, "Picture!"
  • She's also quite adept at snapchat and takes many forehead selfies:
  • She loooooves babies, both imaginary and real:
    With baby Ryder
  • She loves to play pretend. Her favorite is playing with the babies, rocking them, singing to them, feeding them bottles and giving them baths. But she also loves to play kitchen: 
    Safety first! She always wears her oven mitt when putting cookies in the oven. :-)

I'm sure you're getting the point that she is wonderful and hilarious and amazing and I could go on and on forever about her. We're so proud of her and love watching her grow. Our prayer is that she grows up to love Jesus and her family and that she and Lucy will always be best friends. Happy 2nd birthday, Leany Bean!! We love you!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. The car saga: I brought my car to the shop on Monday night. They called me Tuesday morning and said they couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, and it needed to be looked at by a transmission specialist. My dad drove me back to the shop so I could drive my car down the street to the Ford dealership. They called me on Wednesday with the great news: the transmission has something majorly wrong with it and either needs to be rebuilt or replaced. Of course, it's some special kind of transmission that Ford only made for a few years before realizing it was more trouble than it's worth. So the parts are hard to find and very pricey. The estimate to rebuild is $2500. That's more than half of what I paid for the car a month ago. The Ford guy said this problem has undoubtedly been happening for months and the guy who sold it to me had to have known about it. :-( I'm entirely too trusting and think that everyone is honest. Maybe the craigslist guy genuinely didn't know about it, but I doubt it. Lesson learned about buying a vehicle off craigslist I guess.

2. As a result of my car being in the shop, I left the house exactly twice all week: once to go to Bible study Monday night and once to drive my car one mile from one body shop to another. I didn't even make it to church on Sunday because I was sick. Suffice it to say, I have a little bit of cabin fever!! Fortunately, my friends were nice enough to come to me on Wednesday for a playdate. And I've done surprisingly well with being stuck at home. Very little depression to be seen. Even despite the horrendous news about my car. I'm very much a big picture person. I know that this whole car situation is part of God's sovereign plan. He is allowing this to happen for a purpose, whether it's to remind us that we have to rely on him just when we start to get comfortable financially, or just to grow me, I'm accepting of that. That said, I have the encouragement that we'll be getting our tax refund in a few weeks that will totally cover the cost of the repairs, so I'm not really stressed about it - just annoyed that the money couldn't go elsewhere.

3. I posted this picture on facebook this week:
Part of me totally wants to do it again, and the other part remembers how painful that huge belly was. Haha. It got me thinking, though, that since my first pregnancy in 2009, this is the longest I've gone without being pregnant!

4. I bragged about my Trivia Crack prowess on facebook and got a whole slew of new people wanting to take me on . . .and take me down. Lots of them succeeded. Haha. Although here are my most recent stats:
Not too shabby. The fact that I can get 70% of the sports questions right is a testament to my observation skills over that past 9 years of marriage. Haha. Justin helped me on very few of those questions.
I'm unhealthily obsessed with this game, though. I've been playing it for a week and a half and I'm already on level 57. Why can't I do anything in moderation? I have such an addictive personality. It's a good thing I don't like the taste of alcohol . . .

5. I didn't read any books this week. You'd think opportunities to read would abound since we were housebound all week, but I think Trivia Crack took precedence over reading. Although I'm also trying to read something non-fiction now after all the fluff reading I've been doing. I just don't get as hooked and zip through those kind books.

6. I spent two days this week sorting through the totes of clothes in the basement, pulling out size 2 for Lena and purging her closet to make room. I went through the 2T tote and was surprised to only find two pairs of jeans. I made a mental note to tell Niki she needs jeans for her birthday, made room for all the new clothes, went downstairs to put some of the old stuff in the 18 month tote and discovered another whole 2T bin that was literally bursting at the "seams." I found eleven more pairs of jeans in that tote, bringing the 2T total to 13! What two year old needs 13 pairs of jeans?!?! Not to mention the plethora of dresses and skirts and GAP hoodies. Oy. I had to put half of Lena's clothes in Lucy's closet, and I still have a pile of stuff on her dresser because I ran out of hangers. Ridiculous.

7. Lena's turning 2 next week, so I decided it's time to get on the potty training wagon. I've been preparing her that soon she's going to stop wearing diapers and go potty on the potty chair. She is absolutely terrified. We dug out the Elmo undies this week and she loves wearing them over her diaper, but any time I ask her about going potty she says, "No!" I've even told her that she gets to have candy if she goes potty, but that's not winning her over either. This might be harder than I expected . . .

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. This week was brutal. It was so freezing cold/snowy all week that I refused to leave the house. We drove 6 miles to the library on Wednesday and it became apparent that something is wrong with my car. I couldn't get it to go above 30 mph and the RPMs were jumping all over the place. Transmission, right? Exactly what was wrong with the van I just got rid of. Oy. We have an appointment to have it looked at on Tuesday. 

2. Since we never made it farther than the library, I never got groceries this week. I decided to take it as a challenge and see what I could scrounge up for dinner every week. One day we had canned soup and a freezer burned Lean Cuisine, but the rest of the week wasn't too bad if I say so myself! Monday was homemade mac n' cheese with ham, Wednesday was chili (made with spaghetti sauce since I didn't have tomato sauce, but with enough cumin, no one was the wiser ;-) ), Thursday was chicken fried rice, and yesterday I dug out an ancient frozen pork tenderloin and an expired box of mashed potatoes. I even made gravy for the first time in my life. It was surprisingly good!!

3. By last night, though, I was going a little bit crazy from being cooped up in the house all day. Honestly, people, what do you do with your kids all day? After my terribly emotional/depressed week last week, I made myself a daily schedule. In the morning, we do an hour of screen time, school, I do some housework, and I set aside an hour to sit and intentionally play with the girls. AFter that is lunch, naps, one hour of screen time for Lucy while Lena's still sleeping, and then I'm done. I don't know what to do with them for the rest of the day. I usually do a little more housework, make dinner, and do more playtime with the girls, but they spend most of the evening hanging on me, whining about being bored, and begging to watch more TV. It makes me crazy!! It's been way too cold to play outside or go anywhere. This is why winter is bad for depression.

4. All that's to say, by today I had to get out of house. So I put on my fleece lined leggings and fourteen layers of sweatshirts and we headed to the store. We've been trying to do a cash system since selling our house, but we went $16 over today and put it on the credit card. At first, I was beating myself up for it and trying to figure out where to make up for it in the budget, but then I realized I never bought groceries last week, and the ones we bought today are for next week, so I'm actually way under budget!! Woohoo!

5. I did my first ab workout this week in my quest to repair my broken core. I found a 20 minute workout specifically geared toward women with diastasis recti on youtube. I did it on Monday, and I'm still sore! Hopefully that means it's working! But I also really need to do it more than once a week. Ugh. Exercise is the worst.

6. I discovered "Trivia Crack" this week. I'm slightly obsessed. You should play with me. Although, be forewarned, that I'm a cheater when it comes to the sports category, and Justin helps me. Haha.

7. I'm really struggling to make it to seven this week, so go check out my book reviews from the week and my homeschool recap.

Have a great week, everyone! Here's to hoping for warmer weather!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book #7: The Ship of Brides

Wednesday is library day at our house, and has quickly become "Mommy's reading day." I am incapable of stretching a book out over any length of time, but instead find myself allowing hours of TV time for the girls simply so I can read "one more" chapter. I did it again, yesterday, with The Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes. I know I've already read one book by her (Me Before You) in my 30 Before 30, and I really should be branching out more, but I happened upon this one at the library and the premise intrigued me. Once again, it was about World War II - my third book in a row set in this time period. Ha. But this had very little to do with the war, and was actually about life after it finished. Here's the Amazon synopsis:

1946. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime.

In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever.
This is a fictional account of a real historical event, wherein brides were shipped from Australia to England on a warship. I was shocked that there were that many women who married servicemen after knowing them for a few weeks and then left their families and homes and countries to go to a new land, knowing so little about their husbands. Some of their husbands died before they made it to them, some of their husbands already had wives and children at home, and some of the men changed their minds while the women were en route, sending telegrams saying, "Not wanted. Don't send."

It was a fascinating book, with well-thought out characters and interesting twists. I wouldn't say it was the best book ever, but it was definitely a fun read. I struggle a little bit with Moyes' writing style. I don't know if it's because she's Australian or if it's strictly her style, but often times her wording is confusing and I have to read a paragraph a few times to figure out what she's saying. (Or maybe I'm just dense.) But her characters and storylines are intriguing and dynamic. She kept me up 'til 1:00 am to finish the book and left me with questions, which I suppose a good author is supposed to. (Although I'd prefer that everything wraps up neatly.)

And now I'm going to have to let my girls watch hours of TV again so I can take a nap . . .

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book #6 The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion (Fannie Flagg)

After finishing Unbroken, I wanted something more lighthearted to read. I also wanted to try reading a book on my Kindle for the first time, so I went to the library's ebook catalog and browsed until something jumped out at me. My friend Cara recommended Fannie Flagg to me when I first asked for book suggestions, and I know I've read something by her before, though I can't for the life of me remember what it was. (I also saw Fried Green Tomatoes as a kid, which gave me nightmares about the old lady with long white hair, and forever terrified me of train tracks.)

The downside to the library's website is that there's no synopsis of the book. You just borrow it and hope you're gonna like it. Haha. I had no clue what this was about before I started, but it immediately pulled me in.

It was actually kind of ironic because it's set during World War II, and is largely about pilots - just like Unbroken. Although the pilots in this book are women, known as WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots). I loved learning the history of the oft forgotten/overlooked branch of service, and I really enjoyed the whole book. It was funny and sweet and uplifting. I predicted nearly all the twists, because I'm awesome like that, but it was still a great read. :-)

Only 24 to go!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. Despite my claims in the 2014 Year in Review about Prozac changing my life, this week was rough depression-wise.  I'm blaming it mostly on PMS, but also the disruption of my routines. I love Christmas and New Year's, but they totally threw me off my game. I'm looking forward to getting back to normalcy next week. 

2. Lucy has a new obsession with watching Youtube videos. It started with her searching for Frozen videos. Then she found the "Disney Collectors" series, where adults show off new Disney products and act out stupid scenarios with Barbies and Peppa Pig and Frozen characters, etc. She's also latched on to Play-Doh demonstrations. They're almost all sales pitches to get you to buy a certain play-doh set, but she loves them. This, in turn, has led to her creating her own videos and pretending she has an audience every time she plays with her toys. She dictates everything she's doing and demands that I pretend to be "one of the kids in the audience." One day, I got the bright idea to set up my camera for her and let her record herself. The video function on my camera maxes out after 20 minutes, and she made 3 videos in a row. So she literally videotaped herself playing with play-doh for an hour. Haha. And then she spent another half an hour watching the videos of herself with a huge grin on her face.

3. I finished a couple more books this week: Before Amen (Max Lucado) and Unbroken (Laura Hillebrand). I linked to my reviews of both of them, which I'm sure you've already read if you care. But now I'm ready for something a little more fun and light-hearted. Haha. I got a few books that I asked for for Christmas, but they're all theological/parenting/learning books. I just need some fun, easy fiction. I'm tempted to go back to my good ole Christian fiction. I just bought a Lori Wick book (The Hawk and the Jewel) from the library for 25c. It doesn't get much cheesier than Lori Wick.

4. Actually, I need to find a book I can read on my Kindle. I've loved using it for facebook and Pinterest and such, but I want to try it for actual reading. My friend Kami hooked me up with a website ( that sends me an email every day of free or deeply discounted e-books. I'm cheap and will only get the free ones, so I've only gotten one so far - one that I've already read, but loved. (Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann - it's still free!)

5. When I went through my journal to write up my year in review, I jotted down every TV show that I mentioned. I didn't have room for it in my 2014 recap, but you're in luck! I'm going to share them all with you today. These are the shows that I followed faithfully, whether on Netflix or live TV:

Bones (I just finished season 9 today and am trying to figure out how I can get season 10!)
Royal Pains (Watched all that Netflix has. Waiting for the next season!)
Parks and Rec (Finished)
Raising Hope (Finished)
One Tree Hill (I tried, but I couldn't get into this show. Abandoned it partway through season 1.)
Community (Finished)
Hart of Dixie (Abandoned partway through season 3. Might pick it up again now that I'm done with Bones.)
Project Runway
Downton Abbey (The newest season premiers tomorrow! Can't wait!)
Master Chef
Gilmore Girls 
Parenthood (I'm behind a few episodes . . .)
Wheel of Fortune 
Big Bang Theory (I bought season 7 "for Justin" for Christmas because we've seen everything up to that. Loving it.)

I just saw on Netflix that season 5 of White Collar is available! So that's going to be next up for us. 

6. Last night, I snuck away to the new Biggby in Sparta for some precious alone time. December was a big fat fail homeschool-wise, so I needed to get away and focus on planning for the rest of the year. I think I can safely say after 4ish months of homeschooling that I'm not particularly enjoying it. I probably should have gotten a curriculum because I just feel lost and unsure. Lucy can identify all her letters and their sounds. She's getting short vowel sounds down and putting CVC words together. She can count to 49, can count to 100 by tens, and can do basic addition and subtraction. Now I'm stumped. So that's what I was working on last night. Basically, I've decided to spend a month doing blends like sh, th, ch, ck, etc, then move on to long vowels (which seems daunting). For math, we're going to start making addition and subtraction a little more difficult and work on telling time and learning about money. Hopefully by the end of May she'll be able to read a little bit and have some basic math skills. Then I can send her off to real school in the fall to learn the rest! Haha. Kindergarten roundup is in March - two months away. Holy cow. 

7. So Lena's birthday is in 20 days and I've hardly given it any thought. Haha. I'm not sure if that's second child syndrome, or "birthday so close to Christmas" syndrome. The good news is I over-bought for Christmas and then hid one of her presents so well I forgot about it, so I'm all done shopping for her birthday! Haha. But I should probably put together some kind of party or something. Oh, and there's also this little detail of Justin turning 30(!) the day after her birthday. I should probably acknowledge that significant milestone in some way, too. Wowza, we're getting old!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book #5: Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
I started this book knowing nothing about it. A few of my friends had given it rave reviews, as did my dad. All I knew was it was about an Olympic runner who joined the war. Since it encompasses two of Justin's favorite things - sports and war stories - I decided to buy it for him for Christmas, and then when my curiosity was piqued I broke it in for him.

Wow. I did not know what I was getting myself into. For some reason, I didn't expect it to be a gruesome war story. At first, it was an easy enough read. It was interesting and incredible to read about the way these men survived on a raft in the Pacific for 40some days. When I realized how much of the book I had left to read, I assumed it'd be about the men surviving alone on an island for years or something. I had no idea it was about POW camps and the unthinkable horrors they encountered. 

I purposely don't watch war movies because I can't handle them. Justin once spent a couple weeks watching Band of Brothers on DVD. I sat beside him on the couch engrossed in my computer with headphones in my ears so I wouldn't have to see or hear any part of it. 

Reading about it was horrendous. I know I fall dangerously into the "ignorance is bliss" camp, but I can't handle the truth. I don't even like to watch sad movies or read books with unhappy endings. This stuff was real! Thousands of men were tormented and didn't have a redemptive ending like Unbroken. I walked around in a depressed fog during the two days I was reading this book. There was this hideous part about a duck that I cannot shake from my mind. It makes me sick every time I think about it. 

Honestly, though, it was an amazing book. Louie's story is unbelievably incredible. It's unfathomable that one man could survive so much and not be consumed by anger and bitterness. My friend Bethany pointed out that Louie has written his own autobiography. Part of me would love to read it, just to hear it from his own point of view, but the other part of me can't bear to read about his torment again - which is the same reason I won't see the movie. But I'm glad I read it. I learned so much and have astoundingly more appreciation for veterans.
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