Bedtime Stories and Prayers

Last winter, when Scott and I first discovered that our family was growing, I finally had a better excuse  to buy and read children’s books.  I couldn’t wait to share them with our baby on the way! Turns out, we have a budding book worm on our hands who really loves her books! (Okay, she sometimes loves them a little too much! ;) )

Last week, I pulled out Bedtime Stories and Prayers to read with her before a nap. She was so excited about the new book that I had a hard time getting her to calm down and fall asleep!

Charlotte was a big fan of the big eyes in the pictures, the squeaky pages, and attempting to eat it when she couldn’t turn the pages.  Here’s what I think about the book.381114 DSC_7150

The book is filled with these adorable images of little ones and pets. I’ve always liked Dandi Dailey’s artwork for children, so it was easy to fall in love with the images in this book, too!

The poems themselves are sometimes a little forced in order to keep a rhyme going. But the sentiments are sweet and simple enough for tiny ones to grasp.

I wish the pages would have been made out of something sturdier so little fingers could more easily turn them without the danger of them tearing, but I have a feeling we’ll be reading this one a lot in the years ahead as we grow our little bookworm!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions by Tyndale House Publishers*

The Beauty of Broken—a book review

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“There’s no such thing as a perfect family.” If I’m honest,  I don’t like that sentence even a tiny bit. If I’m still honest, I’ll admit that it is true.

We’re all a little broken. Either by our choices, by our parents’ or grandparents’ choices, or sometimes just because life is broken. It’s ugly. It’s messy.

It can be hard to lift up your face and look the world in the eye and admit that you don’t have it all together. It is for me. 

But, the good thing about being broken? It is the perfect thing for finding The Source of inner strength. It’s the perfect thing for finding what true beauty really is—something that shines out in spite of the less-than-perfect way our live story often goes.

In Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan shares her story. And how brokenness shaped her story—and ultimately, how God used it to create a kind of beauty in her life.

I appreciated Elisa’s honesty, and the encouragement she gave to not be ashamed of our stories, even if they are broken. It could be that the brokenness that Satan meant to destroy us is the very thing that God will override and use to be one of our greatest blessings.  And that, I think, is really beautiful.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Book Sneeze. The opinions are mine entirely.*

Checkpoint January + Twitterature

Well, it’s February.  You know what that means: Checkpoint time!

I’ve written a lot of drab Reading Challenge updates in the past few years. I’ve felt like a boring Professor droning on and on about interesting things in the most uninteresting way.

I’m a kind of book blogger. I love books. I’m going to write about books. But there’s no need to drone on about every book I read or tried to read, right? So I’m trying something new.

One of my friends and co-writers for Kindred Grace, Emily Gardner, writes a lot about books too. Last year she did something called Twittature as a way to share her reading piles, and I like the idea. A lot. So, thanks to Emily and the Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’d like to .welcome you to Checkpoint January, Twitterature Style.

What I’ve Read

(This post may contain affiliate links.)

A Real Mother: Stumbling Through Motherhood—by Denise Malloy

The story, as told over the years through her column, about her motherhood journey as a woman who never really thought she’d want to be a mother. Some of it was hilarious! Even though I also don’t necessarily agree with certain family planning methods, I did have a problem with the somewhat downgrading way in which she poked fun at large families. It sort of tainted the fun parts of the book for me.

Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage—by Allison Vesterfelt

Imagine stepping away from your entire life and career and packing across the entire US in a Subaru in chase of your dream. Sound’s crazy, and Allison’s story was. Didn’t agree with some of her philosophy, but fascinating and inspiring story of doing whatever it takes to discover and follow your dreams and realize your calling—even if it means doing something a little bit crazy. Loved the open, honest way she takes us on her personal journey, emotionally and physically across the country and back again.

Current Books in Progress

Here’s what I’m currently pouring through. Check back for more in depth reviews on both of these in the near future!

My Listen Through the Bible Goal

I mentioned in my Goals for 2014 post that I wanted to listen to the Bible through at least once this year. Status check on that? I’m taking it slowly this first time. I’ve listened to the first 35 chapters of Genesis at least once. It’s been so good for me on the days I’ve done this to keep my focus where it belongs—even when I’m super tired! Looking forward to being more consistent and intentional about this in February.

Your Turn!

What are you reading this year?

I can’t put her down

Sometimes, hands filled with a wiggling, bouncing not-quite-five month old, I find a corner of my mind running lists of  things I need to do, should do. There’s another list for the things I should have done and the deadlines that like to sneak up on me.

I smile and play pat-a-cake and don’t get me wrong: I love ever moment of it. I love the wiggles, and the giggles, and the little grabby hands that try to help me type while I’m working and send emails for me when I get up to grab a glass of water.

I don’t want these days to ever end. I just can’t seem to keep up with it all. So I think about nap time. Those sometimes 30 minutes (if I’m lucky!) of not having to worry if she’s about to roll herself into some disaster or to be distracted by baby talk and books when I “should” be working to keep ahead of a deadline.

But then she falls asleep. Snuggled against me, with a tiny hand holding onto mine. Fuzzy little head, nestled against my shoulder or chest. Perfect little nose.  Little sleeping eyes.

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I’m tired, maybe. I could type and work with two hands for a few minutes, yes.

But I just can’t do it. I can’t put her down.

the bugs were right

We had a record breakingly rainy summer. It was so damp and so cool and I almost feel like Summer never happened at all.  Followed up by a rainy fall, the bugs decided that they had had enough.

By dozens, stink bugs began to invade the house. If there was a crack to be found that they could squeeze through and get in, they found  it. If I opened the door for a few minutes, they would fly in. They were literally everywhere and on everything, looking for somewhere to huddle down for the winter. I can’t tell you how many I vanquished with the vacuum cleaner, or how many times I woke up at night to a disturbing feel of crawly feet and the unmistakable scent of stink bugs. 

We’ve had a problem with sweet ants for years. This rental is more or less an ant farm with sweet ants living in millions (I’m only guessing here) in the walls and sneaking in whenever they can to get into everything. But even though they were annoying, they were always manageable. Not this year.  The ants acted frantic. They got into the fridge even in their attempts to snag food for the winter. It was a loosing battle to keep them out of the pantry—even with the bug spray.

The lady bugs were the least disturbing, but they too tried to find a few nooks and crannies to stuff themselves into.

It was THE year for bugs. And when the invasion was at its peak, Scott and I started to think that they were on to something. The winter ahead was going to be really cold, we decided.

Turns out, the bugs were right.

All last week, all I wanted to do was drink hot chocolate and hide under a pile of blankets. Temperatures dropped down down down. Much lower than “usual”. When my thermometer said 2 * F, and the wind chill made it feel like –5*, I realized I’ve long since lost my Alaskan blood.

All I can say is I hope that Springtime comes sooner than soon. I think the bugs and I are more than ready for it!

My 2014 list

I love New Years. I love it because it is all about fresh, new starts. New chances, new opportunities, new experiences—and all the potential tucked into 365 days of another year.

At the beginning of the year, I like making a few resolutions. I am painfully aware of how easy it is to make resolutions and how un-easy it is to follow through for an entire year. I know how good intentions don’t necessarily equal a flawless performance of all the resolutions all the time.

But I think everyone needs a few goals to reach for every year. It gives a person something to aim for, something to motivate them to keep reaching high. 

So with the new year just a few days old, I came up with a list—my 2014 list of 14 things I’d like to do this year.  It’s a little random and maybe a little less lofty than some I’ve written.  Who knows what 12 months of living is going to do to the goals I think sound good now, but here’s to trying.

My 2014 List

  1. Listen to the Bible through at least twice.
  2. Read at least 12  books and review them.
  3. Read to Charlotte from the Bible every day.
  4. Make a Soufflé.
  5. Grow my business and reach my goal of xhrs/week
  6. Plant a spring garden.
  7. Eat more raw foods.
  8. Blog at least once a week.
  9. Start intentionally counting blessings again.
  10. Go camping again.
  11. Write one real letter a month.
  12. Sell our truck.
  13. Take a trip for our Fifth Anniversary.
  14. Try to find a perfect cinnamon roll recipe.

What’s on your list?

Reading Challenge 2014

It hit me when I sat down to write about Reading Challenge 2014. I launched the Reading Challenges on a whim. Seven Years ago.

I wrote the first reading challenge introduction with no idea where it was going or what I wanted from it. It was just so much fun that I wanted to keep doing it! So, here we are. Seven years later, it’s still been fun. 

It has been a fairly quiet last couple of years. I know that’s due to my own short comings as the Reading Challenge leader, and the changing face of the blogging community. In spite of spotty posts and a chaotic season of life that hasn’t made it easy to do all the things I wanted to do with this idea, I still get a lot of enjoyment out of reading and sharing about books on my blog.

This year, with an infant and growing a business, I know I’ve got to keep it simple if I want it to succeed. I hope to post monthly updates. I hope to review more books than I did last year.  I hope to read lots and lots of books to Charlotte. And I hope some of you will still want to jump in and join me.

If so,  by now you probably know the drill. Set yourself a personal reading goal. Challenge  yourself a little. Pick good books. Read them. Share about them. Learn from them. And as always, whatever you read, love doing it.

My personal reading goal is going to be 12 books. I’m setting it low and hoping that I’ll get to next December and impress myself by the fact that I’m several books beyond 12. But if not, 12 is a pretty nice little number, right? And this year, I have a book worm to grow, too. So I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of stories about little trains that could and spotted dogs to be read over and over again.charbooks

If you want to read more about the Annual Reading Challenge, you can get all sorts of info and read most of the past years’ worth of reviews and posts by visiting this page.

So what do you think: are you up for the Challenge this year?

Here’s to lots of good books in 2014!

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until next year, Christmas

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I took it all down today—the sparkly lights,  the ornaments, the garlands. They were all tucked into their boxes again, wrapped up in bits of paper and with another year of memories reflected in their Christmas shine.

Tomorrow is brand new 2014. I’ve long since stopped trying to chart out my year with too many specifics. But as I tuck away the last Christmas Sparkles I can’t help but look forward to the New Year with hopeful anticipation.

So, until next year, Christmas…

a tradition is born

It’s been a while since it’s looked like Christmas here.

Last year we were in California. I had only just dragged in the Christmas Boxes when we got our tickets and I had to drag them back out to the shed again. The year before that I had worked a super stressful job and was too exhausted to feel much Christmas energy.

But this year…this year was different. It’s Charlotte’s first Christmas. We don’t celebrate in all the same ways that a lot of people do. But there’s something about lights and sparkling things that make winter much less dreary.  Scott loves Christmastime.  I love creating memories and looking forward to our little traditions. That’s what makes it so special.

We hauled in the Christmas boxes last Sunday and decked our little halls with lights and christmas cheer. It takes a long time to unwind the lights and hang the sparkles on the tree, even if it is small.

When the l ast the last candy cane is hung, and the last bit of garland is wrapped around the tree, THE moment of the evening arrives: we light the tree for the first time and put the gold star at the top to remind us of the Angels who sang at Jesus’ birth.

Charlotte gets to do the topper, Scott says. He took her in his arms and helped her tiny (grabby) fingers hold the gold star for a minute and then they put it on the highest little twig right at the top. She likes the sparkle and babbles in approval.

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Our tree is done. It’s beautiful. And just like that, a tradition is born.

three months of charlotte

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Today at 11:29 pm, Charlotte will officially be 3 months old.

Becoming parents is a huge adjustment. It is one of the most amazing adjustments of my life. I’ve alternately thrilled over new accomplishments, and inwardly been amazed that we made it three months without any giant mishaps.

We’ve weathered the first cold, We’ve gotten going to town down a little better. We have found and lost night time routine at least a dozen times.

Charlotte weighs in at 14 lbs, and is officially wearing 3–6 mo clothes. I never get tired of the snuggles, and the smiles.  The 1200 pictures on my iPhone chronincal  the gradual change from squishy infant into wriggling, chubby babyhood. My heart begs for time to slow down. My sleep deprived body looks forward to the first night of more than three hours of sleep at a time.

Without a doubt, motherhood is the most time consuming thing I’ve ever attempted. I’ve floundered through days after sleepless nights. I’ve come face to face to to the reality of a true never ending laundry pile and the monster of the perpetually unmade bed.

I’ve gained new awe for work at home moms who keep a whole family fed, clothed and somewhat on track while bringing in an income as I’ve battled my way to deadlines these last three months.
I’ve found first hand that there are few rules in mothering. What works for one, won’t work for another. Instinct, prayer, and precious advice to just do what works for us, regardless of what the books say have helped to keep me sane.

But in spite of the crazy days, the sleepless nights, the never ending laundry and the house that doesn’t get vacuumed as often as I wish there is no doubt in my mind that these last three months have been some of the greatest moments of our life.

Being a parent isn’t easy. We’re learning as we go. But there is nothing we’d trade for these moments.

And today, we’re thanking God for three months with our girl.