Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book #18: The Heist

I've had a string of bad luck choosing books to read this week. I got halfway through a James Patterson book before I realized the main character had cancer and the focus of the book was going to be his illness/death. I didn't read on. Then I started another one that sounded interesting, but was wayyyyy too political for me. I even started the sequel to The Rosie Project that I enjoyed so much. But I did not enjoy the sequel. I gave it a good try, but ended up abandoning that one as well.

So I was relieved to finally come across a good book after all those failures. The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg:

I've been wanting to read a few books by famous authors to see what the fuss is all about. Janet Evanovich is a pretty big name and the premise of this book caught me. It's essentially White Collar meets Oceans Eleven, which are two of my favorites. (If you haven't seen White Collar, splurge the $8.99 a month for Netflix and take a week off of work to watch all 5 seasons. You can thank me later.)

The other mysteries I've read for my 30 Before 30 venture have been entirely too British, and tried too hard to be "literary." This one is just good ole fun American fiction. I breezed through it, enjoyed it, and will probably read the sequels.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. I've written multiple times about how much Lena loves Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Well this week, she had another adorable moment quoting one of Daniel's lines. She was trying a bunch of dried out markers, and when she came across one that actually worked, she ran to me in the living room yelling, "It works! Tigertastic!!" Lol. So stinkin' cute.

2. I only read one book this week! The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I really liked it! I don't know why I didn't read any others all week. Very strange.

3. Yesterday we went with some friends to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. We've been trying to go for months, but one of our kids was always sick or the weather was nasty. We finally got around to it this week . . . and apparently so did everyone else. It must have been national field trip day. As we were walking up to the door, 4 buses pulled up. Oy. It was sheer madness. Lena hated it and begged to be held the whole time. The other kids had fun, I think, but it was stressful for all involved. We went to McDonald's afterward - 4 moms and 8 kids - and served as excellent birth control for the teenage boy who had the misfortune of sitting by us. Haha.  I love all our crazy kids.

4. I don't do parallel parking, so I illegally parked in the library's parking lot (it had numerous signs declaring the lot for "library patrons only!"). I was feeling bad about breaking the law, and itching a little bit to step inside the biggest library I've ever seen, so we made a quick pit stop to check it out. Holy cow. I want to live there. And I'm pretty sure I could get lost in it. Amazing. Someday I need to allot a few hours just to roam that huge, gorgeous book-lover's paradise.

5. I tried to post less on facebook this week. A few random people have mentioned in passing lately that I post a ton of pictures/articles/status updates on facebook. None of them were being negative, but I imagine most people get a little annoyed with my obsessive facebook presence. I just scrolled through my profile for the past week to see how I did. Not great. Haha. I'll keep trying . . .

6. We're hosting small group tonight, so I put off all my cleaning until this weekend so the house would be sparkling. Ideally, I would've done some cleaning last night, got a head start on my meal, and just left the finishing touches for today. But if there's one thing I tend to forget about myself, it's that I'm an insane procrastinator. I left all my papers and projects til the last minute at college. I don't do laundry until I'm out of clean underwear, even my 30 Before 30 - something fun that I chose to do - is going to result in some serious procrastination. Haha. I like to think that I work best under pressure. But the truth is that I'm incurably lazy. If the pressure's not on, if I don't absolutely have to do it, I won't. Not my greatest asset. . . .

7. Well people will be here soon and I still have food to prep and children's hair to make presentable, so I shall leave you with this epic picture. I'm disappointed that no one gave this to me on my birthday . . .

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book #17: The Rosie Project

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I'm on a roll with good books lately! I never would've chosen this on my own, but my friend Carrie recommended it, and likened the main character to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. I love Sheldon and I thought it was a fun premise, so I placed a hold through the library's e-book service. (So weird that they place holds on electronic books.) That was weeks ago and I just got it today, so apparently I'm not the only one who wanted to read it!

Here's part of the Amazon synopsis:
The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. 
I was immediately drawn in to the story. And of course I read it all in one night. Haha. You'd think a first-person-narrative by such a socially inept character would be a stilted, awkward read. But it's not. It's funny and heart-warming and brilliant. I loved it so much that I immediately placed its sequel on hold at the library, too. :-)

I'm a nerd and always read the "notes from the author" at the end of the book. In his notes Simsion reveals that he originally wrote The Rosie Project as a screenplay, which makes a lot of sense. I felt strongly throughout the entire story that this would make an amazing movie. I hope that it becomes one someday. (Mostly so I can be a snob and say, "The book was better than the movie.")

2 thumbs up! If you like Sheldon Cooper, you have to read this book. (And maybe even if you don't have a clue who Sheldon Cooper is. It really was a great read.)

[Small disclaimer: there was a fair amount of profanity and plenty of references to sex throughout the story, though never anything explicit.]  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. This is old news, but I want to record it here. Last Saturday, Lena was running through the house, crashed into the corner of a tall table and fell to the ground screaming. I picked her up, looked at her forehead (where she told me it hurt) and didn't see anything, so figured she'd just have a nice goose-egg. She laid her head down on my chest and I consoled her for a while. When she sat back up, I noticed blood all over my sweatshirt. I turned her head a little bit and saw blood streaming down the side of her head. I pride myself on being pretty laid back. I don't freak out. I handle problems. But all that blood made me immediately woozy. Justin stepped in, told me to calm down and put pressure on Lena's head. It turned out to be a tiny little gash, but as I've learned, head wounds bleed viciously.
FYI: hydrogen peroxide works like magic for removing blood from clothing! Thanks to all who suggested it on facebook! 
2. I read 4 books this week. The first was The Great Gatsby. Blech. Then Perfectly Matched by Maggie Brendan. It was so dumb. I read the Amazon reviews after I finished it and was outraged that so many people actually liked it and gave it 5 star reviews. It had almost no plot. The main conflict throughout the book was the newlyweds adjusting to each other's personalities. They fought frequently, but then the guy would be overcome by the girl's beauty, they'd fall into bed, and he'd give into whatever she wanted. Maybe I'm just not that pretty, but that is not how conflict is resolved in my marriage. Lol.

I also read Love Unexpected (Jody Hedlund) and Dear Mr. Knightley (Katherine Reay). I loved Dear Mr. Knightley and stayed up 'til 1:00 am to finish it!

3. I did my "Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom" thing again this week. It's my 3rd year in a row. I love seeing written out for me where my day goes every day. Most of my time is spent cleaning up messes and refilling cups. Haha. Or so it seems.

4. We did ok with my new "school sticks" program:
On Monday, Lucy drew Leap Pad Math Game which worked out well since Monday was chaos with running errands and getting groceries (no puking in Meijer this week!). Tuesday, she drew workbook and did one page in her new workbook with very little whining. Wednesday we were busy all day again. Thursday she drew craft and flashcards. And then yesterday we were busy all day again. For flashcards, I wrote a bunch of sight words, letter blends (ch, sh, th), and some random numbers (16, 34, 79, etc.) on flashcards. She amazed me with how well she knew the numbers. And flabbergasted me with how she still can't identify the word "the." That was our very first sight word back in September, and we have been practicing it for months!!

5. A random Lena update: she cracks us up daily with the things she says. Her new thing is that she hates her freckles. She has one on her knee that she notices every time I change her diaper. She always begs me to "get it off." I have told her repeatedly that freckles don't come off, but it doesn't stop her from crying about it. Ha. Her other cute phrase lately is, "I want you show me something." She says that when she wants to show me something. She just gets her pronouns a little confused. :-) One more thing: it warmed up this week so we spent a lot of time outside. She adores it and spends allll day begging me to go outside. She and Lucy are getting a little braver, and have actually spent some time playing on the deck without me. I didn't think that day would ever come!

6. On Monday, I cleaned the moldy food out of the fridge and thought to myself, This is so disgusting. This must be my least favorite chore. Later that day while emptying the dishwasher, I thought to myself This is so tedious. This must be my least favorite chore. On Tuesday, I vacuumed and thought again I hate vacuuming. This must be my least favorite chore. It dawned on me then that perhaps all chores are my least favorite and I just despise cleaning in general. Haha. #lazyhousewife I will say, the one chore I don't mind is doing laundry. I actually have to do very little work. Throw the stuff in the washer. Come back an hour later to throw it in the dryer. Come back an hour later and throw the clean laundry on my bed. Watch Gilmore Girls while folding and putting everything away. Gilmore Girls makes everything better. ;-)

7. The other big piece of news for the week is that I got my hair chopped! I have a habit of growing my hair out long, getting sick of it, and chopping it all off. I've been doing it for years. It's actually only been just over a year since my last hair cut, but all I ever do with it is put it in a messy bun, and it was getting so long that I had to use 3 ponytail holders to keep it all on my head. I toyed around with the idea of getting it permed, but figured even if it was curly, I'd still put it in a messy bun every day. Then one of my facebook friends posted a picture of herself where her hair looked so cute. I sent her picture to my stylist and said, "This is what I want. Cut and color. And please teach me to style it like that." Haha. Yesterday was the big day.
This picture isn't totally fair. It's not just the haircut that makes me look so much better in the second picture than the first. There's also the issue of lighting, the big bulky sweatshirt vs. lightweight tank top, make-up and an eyebrow wax. Haha. But, my hair does look pretty amazing if I do say so myself. ;-) I got highlights added and about 8 inches removed (and donated to Children with Hair Loss). I'm admittedly uncertain about my abilities to curl my own hair to look that cute, but I also like how it looked straight, so it should be ok. :-) People are always so amazed at my boldness when I chop all my hair off, but it's seriously not a big deal to me. As long as I can still get it in a ponytail, I don't care how long it is. It grows back ridiculously fast anyway!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book #16: Dear Mr. Knightley

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Every once in a while, I spend a couple hours browsing the library's e-book selection and adding things to my "wish list" as they strike my fancy. Yesterday, I was going through my wish list looking for something different to read and stumbled upon this book. I can't remember if I found it in the inspirational fiction section or just general fiction, but while it was decidedly clean and had Christian principles and discussion, it was way different than my usual inspirational fiction, so I'm including it in my 30 Before 30.

The Amazon synopsis says:
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.
But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
As I recently admitted, I'm not necessarily a fan of the classics like Sam's character is in this book, so I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book. I had nothing to worry about, though. I. Loved. This. Book. I loved it so much that I stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish it.

It was much less preachy than my usual Christian fiction. I didn't even realize it was a Christian book until I was at least halfway through. (Although I should've known as soon as the non-Christian character refused to sleep with her boyfriend. Haha.)

At first, I didn't identify much with Sam's character. She was a foster kid with a rough past who has some serious defense mechanisms in place to keep herself from getting hurt. I had a picture perfect childhood and am a pretty open book about everything. Very few defense mechanisms in place here. But as the story continues, I found myself with more and more in common with her. She grew up lost in books. Check. She was an English major. Check. She got thrown into journalism school instead of writing fiction and was completely disillusioned. Check-ish. No graduate school for me, but the journalism classes I took shredded my self-esteem and made me seriously question everything I'd ever written.

The majority of the book is written in letter form as Sam writes to "Mr. Knightley" - her mysterious benefactor. I thought the style would bother me, but it was really natural and seamless. I loved it.

One other parallel I drew between Sam's life and mine is that she finds comfort in the anonymity of writing to a man she doesn't know (and who doesn't respond to her letters). Yet, she's mortified at the idea of meeting him in real life because he knows so much about her. I sometimes feel that way about my blog. Sitting in my house with an empty screen in front of me I have no problem pouring out my thoughts and feelings into blog entries. Yes, I get replies. Yes, I know people read them. But sometimes I'm embarrassed at who reads them and how much people know about me. Haha. Don't get me wrong. It's also a huge benefit. I tend to be a little socially awkward in person, so I love that people have the chance to get to know me through my blog and we have a jumping-off point when we meet in real life. But it's also a little unnerving that people know so much about me when I don't always know as much about them. Rabbit trail . . .

Back to the point, this book was incredibly written. The story is beautiful. The romance is wonderful. There's a fun twist that I admittedly saw coming, but still enjoyed. I highly, highly recommend it!!

3rd Annual Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

It's that time of year again! I love doing these and seeing how different things are from year to year. (2013. 2014.)We've been busy all week, but yesterday I knew we were just going to stay home, so I figured it'd be a good day to represent our daily life. I was completely honest about how much screen time my girls have and how many no-bake cookies I eat. Try not to judge me too harshly. ;-)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

5:10 Lola is standing by my bed crying pitifully. Get up and lock her out of my bedroom.
5:43 Lola is banging on my door incessantly. Get up and feed the stupid cat.
5:47 Back to bed.
6:39 Lena starts calling “Mommy! Wanna get up!”
6:40 Get Lena and her menagerie of stuffed animals out of crib as she tells me she soaked through her jammies.
6:41 Grab her some clean jammies and head downstairs.
6:42 Change Lena’s diaper and clothes.
6:44 Get Lena a cup of juice/water. (75% water, 25% juice)
6:46 Back in bed with Lena. Turn on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on Netflix.
6:47 I doze off
6:54 Lena throws her cup at my head and declares she’s all done.
7:00 Lena says, “I wanna sit by you” which means she wants to lay on my pillow. Re-arrange all her stuff and snuggle up next to her.
7:08 Lucy starts shouting for me. (Very early for her) I get up to see what she wants. She wants me to carry her down the stairs.
7:09 Carry Lucy down the stairs, deposit her in my bed, climb back in between her and Lena.
7:15 Lucy finds my Kindle and starts watching incredibly annoying Disney Toy Collector YouTube videos.
7:18 Lena wants to “watch eggs” on my phone. Find my phone, search for “kinder eggs” on YouTube.
7:19 I doze again while Lena climbs on me.
7:40 Lena starts yelling that she “really wants to get up.”
7:43 I finally get up, get some clothes on
7:46 Type “My Little Pony” into YouTube for Lucy
7:47 Put my contacts in and brush my teeth while Lena yells unintelligibly for me from the bedroom.
7:49 Go to my room to see Lena standing on my bed with her arms full of stuffed animals yelling, “Get me up, Mommy!”
7:50 Change Lena’s diaper while she sings “hi-ho-derry-o”
7:52 Get Lena more to drink
7:53 Put a bagel in the toaster
7:54 Warm up the coffee my dad made for me this morning
7:56 Put butter on my bagel while Lena begs me to hold her.
7:58 Sit down with my breakfast, coffee, and computer.
7:59 Find “eggs” on my phone for Lena again while I wait 10 years for my computer to turn on.
8:00 Type up everything I’ve written down so far this morning.
8:04 Notice Trouble [the cat] sniffing my bagel. Move it before she starts to lick it.
8:11 Facebook
8:14 Type in “My Little Pony Apple Jack” on Kindle/YouTube for Lucy. Back to facebook.
8:17 Look up “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on my phone/YouTube for Lena. Back to facebook.
8:19 Lena wants to watch “balls” on my phone. I have no idea what she’s talking about. Search for stuff until she’s satisfied.
8:21 Lena steals half of my bagel. Back to facebook.
8:27 Check and respond to emails
8:37 Make Lucy some breakfast (waffle and a cup of milk). Make Lena another bagel.
8:41 Dig a coupon out of my purse for my mom.
8:42 Catch up on my blog reader, read my past two years’ “Day in the Life”
9:04 Tell Lucy to turn off the TV/Kindle and start doing her chores. Lena begs to go outside.
9:08 Check my credit card and bank accounts. Enter a few expenses in my budget.
9:14 Check my TimeHop
9:16 Text Niki about babysitting my girls tomorrow.
9:18 Search for index cards. Make flashcards for Lucy while girls play upstairs.
9:24 Bring Lena down the stairs. Take her binky away. She throws herself on the floor crying. Finish flashcards.
9:27 Search my Pinterest boards for an easy craft while Lena begs to go outside again.
9:30 Start Lucy on her craft.
9:33 Set out some frozen ground beef to thaw for dinner.
9:38 Flashcards with Lucy while Lena plays with Easter eggs
9:46 Clear table and get Lucy some construction paper and glitter glue. Throw eggs on floor for Lena to play with.
9:48 Throw my hair in a bun
9:49 Change Lena’s diaper
9:51 Set Lena up at the table to play with glitter glue. Do her hair.
9:53 Turn on radio. Clean Lucy’s desk/homeschool area
10:05 Get Lena down, clean the glitter off of her
10:06 Put Lena’s paper up high so she can’t smear it. She hangs on me crying for it.
10:07 Lucy finds a CD in one of her workbooks. I determine that it’s a computer game. Put it in computer for her. Resume cleaning.
10:14 Help Lucy with game.
10:15 Help Lena stuff books into a box
10:16 Back to cleaning.
10:22 Lucy insists she’s starving. I get both girls a banana.
10:26 Take out the overflowing trash.
10:28 Search for Lucy’s My Little Ponies
10:30 Try to throw away some of Lucy’s old crafts. She notices and insists on saving every scrap.
10:31 Throw Lena’s uneaten bagel in the trash
10:32 Take care of the glitter glue, wipe down the table.
10:36 Go to the bathroom. Lucy stands outside the door asking when it’s going to be time for lunch. Lena peeks under the door yelling, “I want you come out!”
10:37 I come out of the bathroom to Lena handing me a piece of chewed up banana. Finish cleaning.
10:40 Sit down to read with Lucy.
10:42 Lena wants to color. Give her some paper and weed the “non-washable” markers out of the container. Sit her at Lucy’s [now clean] desk to color.
10:44 Back to reading to Lucy
10:58 Lena joins us to read
11:09 Done reading. I put the tops back on Lena’s markers.
11:10 Help Lena color in her giraffes for the 1KBK thing. Find her cup.
11:11 Lena breaks Lucy’s craft. I struggle to fix it and Lena sings, “Keep trying, you’ll get better!”
11:12 Sit down at computer to type this stuff up. Computer decides it’s time to install updates and restarts.
11:13 Lucy gets all up in my face begging for lunch and for me to play with her. I tell her to please leave me alone so I can do my computer work for a few minutes. She runs away crying.
11:14 Lena carries a huge book into the living room. Lucy follows her and Lena screams at her to leave her alone.
11:15 I read an article on my phone and tell the girls to be nice to each other. Lena throws her book on the floor.
11:16 Lucy goes into the school room to do some workbooks. Lena picks up her book and says, “I not sad now.”
11:22 Computer has finally restarted. Sit down to type. Lena puts on a stethoscope and says, “I stethoscope you.” Lean forward to let her check my heart.
11:26 Lena runs past me yelling, “I poopin’!”
11:27 Lena comes back and declares “I got it out!”
11:28 Change Lena’s diaper. She notices her freckle on her knee and whines at me to “get it off!” I tell her for the thousandth time that freckles don’t come off.
11:31 Check facebook
11:34 Take a quiz about Disney movies on my severely lagging computer. 12/12!
11:38 More facebook while girls act crazy and silly, laughing together.
11:46 Get Lena some cheese
11:47 Help Lucy find tortillas
11:48 Clear counter so Lucy can make cheese roll-ups
11:49 Get Lena’s step stool, break up a fight between the girls
11:50 Snatch Lena off stool after she starts spilling cheese everywhere
11:51 Pour myself a glass of Dr Pepper. Help Lena push “start” on the microwave.
11:53 Help Lucy roll up and cut her roll-up
11:54 Refill the girls’ drinks, get napkins, get the girls to the table, tell Lucy to pray.
11:57 Wash grapes and put them in bowls for the girls
11:58 Read to the girls
12:06 Make Lucy another roll-up, get her some more grapes
12:08 Back to reading
12:11 Take a phone call
12:15 Get Lena more grapes
12:17 Back to reading
12:20 Make Lucy another roll-up
12:22 Clean kitchen
12:27 Make Lena another roll-up, back to cleaning
12:30 Lena declares her roll-up too hot, asks me to put it in the fridge. Make another one for Lucy (they’re small tortillas!)
12:33 Give Lena her now-cool roll-up, finish kitchen, start picking up the rest of the house.
12:39 Pause to do a puzzle with Lena, finish cleaning
12:45 Get dressed
12:49 Come out of my bedroom to see Trouble sitting on Lucy’s stool licking her lips. Take care of girls’ dishes.

12:50 Take girls upstairs. Change Lena’s diaper. Get her dressed. Sing 2 songs, say a prayer, pop her in bed.
1:00 Read one chapter of Junie B. Jones Has a Monster UnderHer Bed to Lucy. Turn on her CD.
1:10 Come downstairs. Grab a piece of cold leftover Pizza Hut pizza.
1:12 Climb into bed with pizza and computer. Turn on Gilmore Girls.
1:13 Facebook, email, Trivia Crack
1:32 More pizza!
1:40 Start reading book on my Kindle.
2:05 Lucy comes downstairs
2:10 Lucy asks me to help her open the battery compartment of her Dreamlite.
2:13 Lucy searches for batteries, gives up, and turns on a Tinkerbell movie. I go back to my reading.
2:25 Justin gets home (it’s his short day). I go out to say hi to him, check the mail he brought in, grab a few no-bake cookies to share with Lucy.
2:31 Give a cookie to Lucy, eat mine while reading.
2:56 Justin brings Lena downstairs. She sits on my lap and watches “Neighbor” on my phone while I finish my book.
3:10 Done reading.
3:13 Facebook
3:26 Clean up the paper plates and glasses that have accumulated on my night stand. Clean cookie crumbs out of the bed.
3:31 Fold and put away a load of towels and sheets I left in the dryer overnight. Lucy finishes her movie.
3:37 Change Lena’s diaper and take her binky away. She falls on the ground crying.
3:38 Tell Lucy to get dressed so we can go outside.
3:40 Take Lena outside. Play with the ride on toys. Blow bubbles.

3:58 Lucy comes outside. More bubbles. Watch Lucy on the slide.

4:12 Go inside to make dinner. Justin goes out with the girls.
4:16 Pour myself a glass of Dr Pepper, turn on some Selah and start making cheesy potatoes.
4:24 Make meatloaf. Put it in the oven.
4:33 Clean up kitchen.
4:48 Take a shower while dinner cooks and Justin is entertaining the girls outside.
5:11 Trivia Crack. Sit on couch talking to Mom. Play with crazy Lena while Lucy plays on her Leap Pad.
5:31 Clear table.
5:33 Force Lucy to put down the Leap Pad and set the table.
5:34 Pull dinner out of the oven.
5:41 Cut up some meatloaf for Lena. Spread liberally with ketchup.
5:42 Lucy declares she’s not going to eat.
5:44 Sit down to eat. Lena actually eats all her meatloaf and asks for more! I could cry!
5:58 Justin reads a short devotion.
6:00 Lucy reads her sight words
6:03 Clear the table. Justin puts the dishes in the dishwasher while I put leftovers in Tupperware and wash the pans.
6:18 Puzzles with Lena
6:44 Lena reads books to me
6:52 There’s a knock at the door. It’s our neighbor delivering girl scout cookies!
6:55 Eat cookies while watching Wheel of Fortune with Mom
7:11 Help Lucy get a game out of the closet. Play it with her.
7:30 Jeopardy
7:37 Lena climbs on my lap and reads me another book.
7:53 Lena starts crying to go to bed so she can have her Binky. I tell her no and hold her while she cries.
8:00 Trivia Crack and Big Bang Theory
8:17 Get sick of Lena’s crying. Change her diaper. Bring her around to kiss Grandma, Lucy, and Daddy goodnight. Give her her Binky, take her upstairs. Change her into pajamas. Rock and sing 5 songs, say a prayer, put her in bed with a kiss on the head.
8:31 Pick up house while my mom reads to Lucy.
8:37 Bring Lucy upstairs. Read one chapter of Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, say a prayer, sing The Hokey Pokey (?? Her request). Turn on her CD. Kiss her good night.
8:45 Grab two no-bake cookies, pour a glass of milk and sit down with my Kindle. Facebook, Trivia Crack, Spades, download a book from the library’s website.
9:02 Lucy calls for water. Bring her a cup.
9:14 Start reading Dear Mr. Knightley
9:46 Hear scratching and thumping from inside the wall. Both cats run to investigate. I run to the bedroom and jump in bed telling Justin to protect me from the mouse.
9:58 Watch one episode of Parks and Rec with Justin while reading my book.
12:54 Finish my book. Oops!
12:55 Take pills, take my contacts out. Go upstairs to check on girls.
1:01 Finally get in bed! Know that I’m going to regret this in the morning . . .

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book #15: The Great Gatsby

Amazon Link
I have a secret to tell you. I consider myself a bibliophile, but I'm actually kind of a poser. I love libraries. I adore bookstores. I dream of Belle's library in Beauty and the Beast. If I could go back to school, I'd get my masters in library science. But I don't actually love literature. Haha. I was an Education Major for a brief stint of my lackluster college career. I intended to be an English teacher, but dreaded the literature classes I would have to take . . .and ultimately teach. It's what propelled me to change my major . . .

I had a dear friend at Spring Arbor, who was appalled by my disinterest in (more aptly, my abhorrence of) classic literature. She bought me a set of the greatest classics, but I'm not sure I ever actually read them all. (Sorry, Rachel!) I read and hated Jane Eyre, but other than that, I'm not sure I've ever read anything that could be classified as a "classic." So, when I started this 30 Before 30 venture, I decided to try it one more time. I browsed the "classic" section at the library and eventually landed on The Great Gatsby because 1. I'd heard of it. 2. I knew my brother and sister-in-law liked the movie enough to buy it. 3. It was blessedly short compared to so many of the other novels weighing down the "classics" shelf.

I just spent the last 3 hours reading it and to say I'm underwhelmed would be an understatement. (Sidenote: I know you can be overwhelmed and underwhelemed, but can you ever just be whelmed? Lol. Name that movie.)

Here's my problem with literature: I don't appreciate symbolism or metaphors or figurative language. Haha. Does that statement alone disqualify me from calling myself a bibliophile? I like action and dialogue and compelling storylines. I don't like having to think about what is meant beyond the surface of the written word. I don't like reading between the lines. Just give it to me straight.

The Great Gatsby was fragmented and confusing and bogged down by what I assume was deep symbolism about the American dream and wealth. Or something. Haha. As seems to be the common theme in my branching outside of "inspirational fiction," I found it depressing. People are drunk most of the time, the main characters are embroiled in extramarital affairs, and then of course everyone dies. It's like Nicholas Sparks all over again. Haha. I did not enjoy it in the least and was glad when it was over. 

That said, I told my brother I want to borrow the movie. Maybe I'll like the modern adaptation better . . . Please don't stone me . . .

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The Saturday 7

1. We had a nice Easter. We actually all made it to church and Lena lasted for the whole service in her class!! That hasn't happened in weeks!! We alternate every other year for Easter with our families. This year was the VanderKoddes, but Justin's wonderful mom didn't want to cook, so we went to Olive Garden instead!! Glorious! We've got a good system there. I order one meal for the girls. Lucy eats the macaroni and Lena eats the sides (grapes and fries). Haha. I actually got something different (!) even after my post last week about how my tastes never change. I've been a little underwhelmed with their chicken alfredo lately (my usual), so I got the chicken carbonara instead. It was amaaaaaazing, but expensive! Thank goodness for gift cards. Here are the girls in their Easter best:
I tried to talk Lucy out of the ice cream dress, but she insisted. Haha.
Lena was not in the mood for pictures, so this is the best I could get. Haha.
2. On Monday, I took the girls to KFC for lunch. Lucy ate half her weight in mac n' cheese, then we went to Meijer. Lucy was in rare form at the store. In and out of the cart, running in circles, jumping around, repeatedly crushing Lena in hugs. We were almost done with our shopping, standing in the yogurt aisle, when all of a sudden she stopped, grabbed her stomach and said, "I'm going to puke." I glanced all around, looking for something/anything for her to puke in, but came up short. I finally said, "Ok, let's run to the bathroom." She clamped a hand over her mouth and started running, but only made it a few steps before puke started spewing out from between her fingers. Lol. Lucy is infamous for puking. She's puked in more restaurants than I can count. She's puked in the car and her bed and even the toilet a few times. She's great about letting us know when it's coming, so we always catch it in something. This is the first time she's puked all over the floor of a public place. It was horrifying . . . and hilarious. She just kept puking and puking and I didn't know what to do, so I just kind of stood there laughing. Lol. Another customer saw the whole thing happen and smiled compassionately at me before saying, "I'll go find someone to clean that up." I got out the baby wipes and started cleaning Lucy up. As I was scrubbing her shoes, another customer came up to me and said, "Don't you clean that floor. That's what they have maintenance workers for." Lol. Finally a worker came over and started calling for a bio-hazard kit in her intercom. Haha. She assured me they'd take care of it, so I apologized profusely and walked away. So sorry, Meijer! We finished our shopping without incident and Lucy was totally fine the rest of the day. The only thing I can think of is that she ate too much and then was being too wild. Although she did have a free cookie from the bakery. She never takes one because she does't like their usual sugar cookies. But this week they were giving out M&M cookies, so she ate it. Maybe something in it upset her? Ugh. And then, while I was at Bible Study that night, Justin texted me that she puked again. So who knows???

3. I've still been majorly slacking with school. I finally came up with a new system that we're going to start next week. Every day, Lucy will draw one of these sticks:

I bought a workbook from the dollar store that she'll start doing page by page. I've also been searching the Teachers Pay Teachers website for free phonics worksheets. I scoured Pinterest for easy crafts. I still need to make some flashcards of blends, sight words, numbers, etc. And I need to get some sight word games ready. Some she's going to enjoy more than others (LeapPad math game, crafts). I'm anticipating a bit of pushback on a few of them (counting to 100, handwriting). But since it's just one a day, I'm hoping it'll be doable. I'll let you know how it goes . . .

4. Lena watches a lot of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. It's the only show she watches, and she watches a lot of TV. Haha. But lately, I've noticed she's picking up a lot of positive attributes from the show. When she struggles to do something, she always sings to herself, "Keep trying. You'll get better!" And if I ever offer to do something for her when she's struggling, she says, "No mommy. I big and strong!" I use the songs on her sometimes too. I sing "grown ups come back" when I drop her off at nursery. I sing "You can take a turn and then I'll get it back" when she and Lucy aren't sharing. And we've been singing "If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!" a lot lately. (It doesn't help, in case you were wondering.) Haha.

5. I didn't read much this week. I told myself I had to finish one non-fiction book before I could read anything fun, and it took me 3 days to read the one I chose. (Ordinary by Michael Horton) Then I read When I Fall in Love (Susan May Warren) and Beyond This Moment (Tamera Alexander). I didn't make my deadline of 15 non-inspirational-fiction books by April 10. Maybe I'll try to read something today . . .

6. I took Lena to the movie theater for the first time this week. Celebration Cinema does a Family Flick thing where certain movies are free for kids, $5 for adults. This week was Big Hero 6, which Lucy really wanted to see for some reason (even though it's totally not her kind of movie). Both of my sisters (aka free babysitters) are soaking up the sun in warmer areas of the nation for Spring Break this week, so I decided just to try bringing Lena with us. I did end up bringing my nephews (who are 15 and 17) along so they could sit in the theater with Lucy if I had to leave with Lena. We purposely went to the 12:45 showing, thinking maybe Lena would fall asleep. But she stayed awake the whole time, and did great!! She sat on my lap mesmerized until the last 15 minutes, when she got down and stood in front of me. (It might have helped that the boys brought skittles. Lena ate about 16,000 of those little rainbow colored candies. Haha.) At the beginning, when the lights first go down and the volume goes up, Lucy always claps her hands over her ears for a while until she gets used to it. Lena, however, wasn't phased. She never acted nervous at all. #theaterpro
Bright flash.
Oh, Lucy . . .
7. I read an article this week about postpartum practices in other countries. Those women get 40 days of "lying in" where other women come in and do their housework and childcare and food prep! They're encouraged to stay in bed for weeks and rest while bonding with their baby. Wow. Sounds good to me. The author contrasted that culture with our American culture that encourages women to get right back to life. It's a sign of weakness to stay in bed or to rely on others for help. Reading the article made me thankful for the care I received after having my girls. I didn't get 40 days, but I had people bringing me meals for 2 weeks. My mom and sisters came over often to let me sleep or drive me to the doctor. I even had a nurse stop by once a week free of charge after Lucy was born to weigh her and help me with breastfeeding/answer any questions I had. (Not sure if I qualified for that because we're poor, or if that's something the hospital does for everyone.) That article also made me thankful for our my Christian community. Our church has a meals ministry for new moms/people recovering from surgery, etc. And my small group stepped up immediately with meals. I love how every time someone in our small group has a baby (which is often - haha), we ooh and ahh over the facebook pictures, then an email starts to circulate with "Who's going to bring a meal when?" Yay for community!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book #14: Ordinary

Amazon Link
A facebook friend recommended this book to me. I ordered it from the library and stared at it on my nightstand for 2 weeks, but finally made myself pick it up and read it this week. It was . . .  ok. I have a ton of notes from the first few chapters, but he lost me after that.

His basic premise is that Christians today are so busy looking for the "Next Big Thing" that they don't take the time to build a deep, authentic, sustainable faith. I agree, and found comfort in his encouragement that growth takes time and we don't need to rush it with "radical" life changes.
And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day - an afternoon with a colicky baby . . . without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I've done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that is enough. (20 - quoting Tish Harrison Warren)
He talks about how a recent movement in the Christian faith is to be radical and bold and take drastic measures to stand out from the crowd, when not all of us are called to such a dramatic life. Instead, he posits, that we should carry out our faith as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 "(make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands . . ."). And, he points out, God uses us in small ways throughout our entire life. He doesn't always work through big miracles and dramatic conversions.
It's easier to pour myself into a service project for the needy than it is to give a little more to my wife and kids. That's ordinary. I can't see the impact of the dozen or so little conversations, corrections, laughs, and tasks that happen in a day - or even a week, month, perhaps even a year. I can't measure the ordinary stuff. But I can measure (supposedly) how many souls were saved or how many people were fed or how much money came in for a special project. (194)
And tied to that point, he says this, which I appreciated:
What did you do for the kingdom today? How did you impact the world for Christ? Our tendency might be to hesitate at that point, trying desperately to recall something worth reporting. Yet every day, in all sorts of ways we're not even aware of, the kingdom is growing and our neighbors and being served. 
I just scratched the surface of what this book is about, but those were the parts that were meaningful to me. There was also a lot of deep theology that went way over my head, and a little too much "reformed theology" for me. He made some points about infant baptism that I disagree with, and put a heavy emphasis on sacraments and the Sabbath that I don't necessarily agree with either. (Although I'm kind of a doctrine nerd and like to read differing opinions to sharpen why I believe what I do - I'm already planning on looking up every reference to Baptism that I can find in the Bible. Haha.)

Overall, the book was kind of dry and I had to really force myself to get through it, but I'm glad I did.

P.S. If I did it right (which is doubtful), the above Amazon link is an affiliate link. As much as I link to stuff, I figured I better at least try to make a few cents off it. If by chance you purchase this book through my link, I'll make a tiny percentage at no extra cost to you! :-)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Saturday 7

1. This week, I read Within My Heart (Tamera Alexander), Take a Chance on Me (Susan May Warren), It Had to Be You (Susan May Warren), and Instant Prairie Family (Bonnie Navarro). I realized that on April 10, I'll be halfway to my 30th birthday and my deadline for 30 Before 30. As of today, I've read 13 books, so I need to read two more (non-inspirational fiction) before Friday to keep up. I have stacks of books I could be reading, but all I want to read are sappy romances. Oy.

2. The other day, my dad asked me to return some of his books to the library. He said, "I'd ask you to pick up some new ones for me, but I don't trust your taste. I don't understand how you can read the same genre all the time." I was thinking about that, and decided it's actually pretty understandable. I have a very obsessive personality. And I don't like to try new things or take risks. I've been getting the same meal at Olive Garden for 10 years. I've been obsessed with Dr Pepper for 19 years. My closet is filled with grey and white striped clothing. Haha. I find one thing I like and stick with it for years. It's just how I roll.

3. You know how some bloggers have cutesy names for their kids to protect their identity? I tried once to call my girls Big L and Little L, but that was way too confusing. I decided this week, that an appropriate moniker for Lena would be The Leech. Haha. She's finally getting over her sickness, but still, by about 4:00 in the afternoon, she starts begging to be held. I got out the Ergo this week to see if that would pacify her, but she hated it. I usually spend 4:30-5:00 making dinner with her attached to my leg crying, "hooooold me!"

4. A couple weeks ago, while we were grocery shopping, we walked past an Easter display and Lucy said, "ooooh! Look at all the Easter stuff!" I nonchalantly asked her, "Why do we celebrate Easter?" She answered, "Because of the Easter bunny?" At least she had the decency to question it, but I about passed out in the yogurt aisle. I have failed as a Christian mother!! Haha. So this week, I was intentional about discussing the real meaning of Easter. We read Christ-themed Easter books, we did the Easter lesson in her Cubbies book, and we did this mini-resurrection eggs activity. (I actually hid the eggs around the house to make it more of a game. The girls loved it.)

5. We also dyed Easter eggs, which has nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter, but was just a fun family activity. Neither Justin nor I have ever dyed Easter eggs, so it was a new experience for us all! Lena lasted about 4 seconds, but Lucy was in her glories.

6. Something else new we tried this week was a chore chart. I've been meaning to make one for months, but finally got around to it.  I found a free printable via Pinterest, laminated it, and made up some daily chores for Lucy. She enjoys doing the easy ones (refilling the cats' water, brushing her teeth), but so far has avoided the harder ones (aka cleaning her room). I told her I'd pay her 10 cents for each chore she completes, so it's up to her how much she earns. I'm hoping after her first "paycheck," she'll have more incentive to do more chores. We're going to get all Dave Ramsey-esque and make her split her earnings into "spend," "save," and "give back to God." When I told her that, she said, "How am I going to give God money??" Haha. We had a little talk about the offering at church and giving to charities. She told me she's going to start saving for Disney World. One dime at a time . . .Haha.

7. I've been having some major baby fever lately. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and inadequate with the two kids I already have, I think I'm crazy for wanting to add more. But I realized recently that that's partially the reason I do want another one. I'm good at mothering a baby. I love being pregnant (at least for the first 30 weeks or so). I adore the newborn stage. I can do the rocking and snuggling and nursing. I love how babies stay in one spot when you set them down, how they don't disobey or talk back or require discipline. Babies are easy. You feed them, change them, bathe them, play a couple rounds of patty-cake and so-big, then put them down for a nap. Babies sleep like 20 hours a day. In my mind, they only get harder as they get older. There are so many decisions to make: Should I let them eat candy? Should I be teaching them more about the Bible? Where should we send them to school? Should I let them watch make-up tutorials on YouTube? Should I force them to do every chore on the chore list? Is it time to take away the Binky? Should I force the potty training? See what I mean? I want another baby so I can feel better about my parenting abilities. Haha. Logically, I know adding another one will only add to my feelings of inadequacy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I seem to remember waking up a million times at night, being unbearably sleep deprived, listening to a baby scream for hours on end and not knowing what to do with her . . . But the bigger part of me remembers the chubby cheeks and soft skin and the way their hands are always clenched in fists. I remember them sleeping peacefully in the swing, snuggling against my chest after nursing, smiling up at me and cooing so sweetly. I'm in trouble . . .
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