Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge - the final results

Here are the results of the reading challenge from this year. If you're interested in looking at the list for next year here's the link for Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge.

1) A book published this year -
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by JK Rowling

2) A book you can finish in a day -
What Now?
by Ann Patchett

3) A book you've been meaning to read -
Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith

4) A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller -
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

5) A book you should have read in school -
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

6) A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF -
Killing Jesus
by Bill O'Reilly

7) A book published before you were born -
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

8) A book that was banned at some point -
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by JK Rowling

9) A book you previously abandoned -
The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion - I kind of abandoned this one again - oops

10) A book you own but have never read -
by David Platt

11) A book that intimidates you -
Mere Christianity
by C.S. Lewis

12) A book you've already read at least once -
Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy 5th birthday, Amelia Jayne!

Happy birthday, Amelia Jayne!

Here is her 5 year old interview:

TV show - The Leap Frog shows (Counting on Lemonade)
Movie - Big Hero Six
Song - Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Musician - Adele
Food - sausage
Candy - I like all of the candies, really.
Toy - stuffed animals
Activity - draw pictures
Cereal - Fruit loops
Vegetable - carrots
Drink - pink lemonade
Game - Shimmer & Shine game I got for my birthday
Book - Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink
Restaurant - McAlister's
Holiday - Christmas
Animal - Elephant
Color - Pink
Vacation - going to the lake house

If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? Elsie

If you could have anything you want this year, what would it be? more tsum sums

What do you love most about Mommy? She hugs a lot

What do you love most about Daddy?  He goes with me to the store

What do you love most about Xander?  I get to play with him a lot

Monday, September 26, 2016

What I'm into these days

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to right now is fall weather. It's officially fall on the calendar, so let's bring on some cooler weather! It looks like this week will be in the low 80's and high 70's so we're getting there...albeit slowly...

TV stuff:
Season 3 of Blacklist - it's on Netflix so I'm down with it. At times I want to turn it off because it's a bit much, but then other times I can't wait to binge-watch to see what will happen - the storyline is brilliant!

I'm finally watching the last season of Downton Abbey. It's the end of an era...

Broadchurch - have you seen it? You should watch it!!

Stranger Things - creepy and nostalgic all at the same time - am I right??

A Chef's Life - Y'all. I want to go to this restaurant so badly!! It's located in Kinston, NC in the eastern part of the state. I just love how they use local ingredients and how the chef, Vivian, comes up with her menu items based on what foods are in season. Brilliant! Delicious! So fun!!

Food stuff:
See A Chef's Life above :)

I went through another Whole 30 last month. It was liberating! I have to admit that it's amazing. It's not easy, but totally worth it.

Coffee!! I am honestly an addict. I love the stuff. And I don't mean the froo froo stuff - just a regular ol' cup o' joe.

Nourish - my group went to lunch last week and we have 3 new members! Loving it! So great to get back in the swing of things with these ladies - schedules, predictability, routine. That is making my heart sing right now.

I went to a Wildtree party last week. It was great - and the food we prepared is so yummy! If you don't know about it you should look into it. So fun!

Brave stuff:
I gave up the book club. It just wasn't for me. I tried a lot of things last year to enter into community in my community. This was one of those things that just didn't pan out for me. I'm happy to say that some other things did, but I decided to let this one go and focus on some other areas of community.

I feel like I'm always doing this, but it's worth saying that one way I am being brave is by intentionally loving my husband. Trying not to complain too much. Trying to be supportive and encouraging when he has to work late or when he's stressed out. He's an amazing man and I want to help him in any way possible. The best way of doing this is by loving him unconditionally and with intentionality.

And that goes for my babies, too - loving my children is top on my list. Sometimes I have to be courageous and bold and brave to love them in the way that is necessary. I cry sometimes when I have to discipline them or give them consequences for their actions. That's the part of parenting that is really tough for me. I'm glad I have great kids that don't require too much of that - I don't think any of us could handle all the crying. :)

Being a more intentional friend is right up there, too. I have some very dear friends who I am trying to love on with real vulnerability and intentionality. It's not always easy - we lead busy lives - but it's incredibly necessary. And as I've said before, being brave means being vulnerable.

And I am asking God to reveal himself to me each and every day. This, my friends, is one of the boldest things we can do.

Church stuff:
Hope City Church - we've been going there for a few months. They're an amazing church who is doing amazing things for Jesus. I have been proud to be part of the ConnectHer gatherings, to meet new women, to take my kids to their Sunday classes, to listen to what's been said in the sermons, but it never quite felt like home. David and I attempted to make it home, but we've realized that our home is

Ridge church.

We're going home y'all. Last weekend the kids were gone to my parents' house and David and I had some time just us. We talked and shared our hearts. We decided that it's time. It's time to go home. We'll be headed back to Ridge church. Our only issue before was the distance and lack of community because of the distance. But honestly, I've found community in other ways. I'm not relying on the church to make community for me and I've been able to branch out and meet new people right where I am. My trusted friend, Crystal, helped me work through some of my concern in not being able to serve, volunteer or be as involved as I would like to if my church was near my home. David and I believe so much in what Ridge is doing for the gospel that I feel compelled to be part of it. God's got this. I looked back at this post and this one and I love seeing all the things God has done in and through us since these words were written.

Song stuff:
Take a listen. You'll be glad you did. These songs have, at times, been salve to my broken spirit and encouragement to get me through, while reminding me of the One I serve.

Friday, September 23, 2016


This has been a hard week. Charlotte isn't just a place to me. It's my home. The people here are my people. The streets that have been filled with violence and hate are streets my husband and I walk on almost every day when we go to work. A couple of my programs are in the area where Mr. Scott was shot and killed. Some of my friends and neighbors are policemen on these streets.

I am thankful for the people who have been encouraging and supportive. People have reached out and offered prayers and thoughts and love.

I have the privilege of working predominantly with the minority population in Charlotte, NC. In the Outreach department of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library I am tasked to work with the at-risk community in our area. I go to home daycares, preschools, Headstart programs, refugee support services and underperforming schools.

I also work in an extremely diverse department. There are nine of us total - five African American women, one Indian-American woman, one Mexican-American woman, one Venezuelan-American woman and one Caucasian. These people are my friends. I am incredibly thankful to have opportunities to speak candidly, ask personal questions, get opinions, and learn new things that I would never know as a white woman in this country. I am overwhelmingly grateful that they will share their lives and their truths with me. Yesterday we cried together, encouraged each other and found hope together.

I feel the pain on both sides. I empathize with my black friends and what they're going through. I understand the fear and mistrust. I cry that we live in a world where people are treated unjustly.

I don't really know what to say except that LOVE is the answer. And, since I can't do anything greater than that, LOVE is what I'll do.

Please take some time to listen to this sermon by Andy Stanley. It is incredibly moving.

And please:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Books I've Read - May-August 2016

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
1. A Voice in the Wind
2. An Echo in the Darkness
3. As Sure as the Dawn
I've read these before, but I thought it was time to reread this series. It didn't disappoint. My mom still hasn't made it through the first one, but I just love this series. To each his own, I guess, right? I like the historical elements Francine Rivers brings into her novels. She must've done a crazy amount of research for these books. Quite fascinating to me.

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen
Eh. I don't think I'll be reading anymore Klassen. It's not very well written, the storylines are only okay and the character development is poor. This was my second attempt - I read another one of her novels earlier in the year. In theory this is exactly what I would like - she writes period pieces typically set in the 1800's or early 1900's, British, and Christian. But they're just not that good.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
This was the last book in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy. It was definitely my favorite of the three. By this time the characters and plot line had developed nicely. I enjoyed it - weird for sure, but definitely worth the read.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
I was skeptical of the style of writing (it's a screenplay), the fact that Ms. Rowling shared the writing with others, and that she was revisiting such a beloved series that we thought had been completed.  I mean, don't mess with perfection, am I right? But let me tell you - do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK! If you like the series (and who doesn't??), you'll love this story. It was a fast read, captivating from the beginning, intriguing to get a glimpse of Harry Potter's future, and just downright good. I loved it.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
The kids and I have really started getting into chapter books. I loved The BFG when I was growing up, so I thought we should give it a try. Xander loved it. Amelia Jayne liked it but on certain nights I could tell she was growing restless. She always asks lots of questions, though, so I know she's paying attention. We finished that book and went to see it in the theater as a family. It was a tiny bit scary for Amelia Jayne (but I really think she was just tired and feeling restless that afternoon), but it was pretty good overall. The book was better.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Since we made it through The BFG, and my kids love Harry Potter, I figured we could go ahead and start the first book in the series. It's been slow-going, but we're making it through. We haven't quite finished it, but I'm adding it here because I think we'll be done in the next couple of weeks. The kids are having a good time comparing the book to the movie. Xander is typically enraptured, but it doesn't hold Amelia Jayne's attention as well as I wish it would - I'm pretty sure it's just too old and too British for her. ;)

And the kids and I have REALLY gotten into audiobooks! Xander told me that his first grade teacher read The Absent Author by Ron Roy to them in his class last year and that he really enjoyed it. I told him I would grab a couple for us to read. This was just before we headed to the beach, so I thought this might be a great opportunity to try out some audiobooks. The kids LOVE it! They ask as soon as we get in the car if they can listen to their books. We've made our way through the entire A to Z Mysteries series. It's been a really fun experience and I think Xander's concluded that he loves mysteries now. I highly recommend this for families - it's given us things to talk and laugh about and something fun to do together, especially in the car.

The A to Z Mysteries
A - The Absent Author
B - The Bald Bandit
C - The Canary Caper
D - The Deadly Dungeon
E - The Empty Envelope
F - The Falcon's Feathers
G - The Goose's Gold
H - The Haunted Hotel
I - The Invisible Island
J - The Jaguar's Jewel
K - The Kidnapped King
L - The Lucky Lottery
M - The Missing Mummy
N - The Ninth Nugget
O - The Orange Outlaw
P - The Panda Puzzle 
Q - The Quicksand Question
R - The Runaway Racehorse
S - The School Skeleton
T - The Talking T-Rex
U - The Unwilling Umpire
V - The Vampire's Vacation
W - The White Wolf
X - The X'ed-Out X-Ray
Y - The Yellow Yacht
Z - The Zombie Zone

Special Review:
Xander and I (and Mimi at one point) read Captain Awesome and the Missing Elephants by Stan Kirby and Xander gives it two thumbs up - he's going to read some of the others in the series soon.
A big hallmark moment - he finished reading his first chapter book all by himself!! It was Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks and he highly recommends it! They're cute graphic novels that are appropriate for his age and, according to Xander, very funny. There are three more books in the series that I recently placed on hold from the library. He is currently reading Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. He thinks it's super-funny, too. I'm looking forward to seeing what he picks next! :)

I snuck these two pictures this morning while he was at the bus stop. It makes this book-loving Mama's heart sing!!

Oh, and GO PANTHERS! (We're still die-hard fans even if their first game didn't end so well...)

First Days of School

Xander's first Day

His new teacher, Ms. Ni

The many face of Amelia Jayne:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

She gave up the swimmies

Amelia Jayne learned to swim underwater this summer! We went to my dad's a couple weeks ago and she didn't wear her swimmies once while we were there - even in the deep end! (Be still my quickly beating heart.)

My girl is independent. She can buckle her own seatbelt without help. She gets up and picks out her clothes and dresses herself each morning.  She runs out and gets the mail all by herself. 
And this independence has hit me like a ton of bricks. She's a big girl. She's not starting kindergarten this year, but she's only 2 months away from turning 5.

It's a weird thing moving out of the preschool years. I've been in them for so long now and they are truly a part of who I am. I feel like I've been down in the trenches for the past 7ish years. And it is a hard place to be, y'all. Maybe not for everyone, but it sure was for me.

I won't lie. There are things I miss about the baby stages. Their sweet smell and soft skin. Their funny dances and silly word pronunciations. Their littleness that cuddles so easily. Their amazement at anything new or different.  Rocking them to sleep at night. Oh, so many beautiful memories.
The kids and I found some old videos of them on my phone just the other night. We watched until my phone died - just silly things, but stuff that made me tear up and reminisce and count my blessings all over again.

But you know what? I really like where we are now. I like that everyone can use the bathroom by themselves and clean up their dishes after a meal. I like not having to schedule activities around nap times and not having to pack up the whole house just to go to the store. I love how I only have to get up a couple of times during meals to get something for the kiddos, instead of the 72 times  per meal I used to get up for them as toddlers. I love the conversations we have and how each day brings new questions and a different kind of curiosity than they had before. I like that we honestly like a lot of the same things and can sit down and really enjoy conversations with one another.

She gave up the swimmies. And honestly? Though I feel the overwhelming nostalgia at times, I'm pretty happy about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What we're into...

I love doing a recap on what my kids are up to, and even what we've been doing together as a family! When they were little I was documenting more of their milestones and developmental processes, but now this seems more appropriate.

Star Wars. But the desire and love has waned a bit over the last couple of months. I'm sure it will have spikes when new movies come out or new books are found.

Pokémon Go. Yes, the craze has hit the Little Family! I think it's cute, but I'm not crazy into it. My nephew knows all kinds of stuff, though, so I had him give me a tutorial so Xander and I can do it together. David and Xander even went uptown early before a soccer game to go Pokémon hunting. :)

Soccer. David and Xander recently went to a soccer game uptown between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. They both enjoy going to sporting events so much - I hope these professional soccer games can become a tradition and teams will play in Charlotte annually so they can do it each year. This is their second year in a row to go. I haven't yet asked Xander if he wants to play soccer this fall because I know he'll say yes. Our schedule looks fairly full already and I don't relish the idea of adding anything else to it. We'll have to wait and see.

Legos. He wakes up most Saturday mornings and goes directly into the game room to tear apart his latest creation and make a new one. He has a Minecraft set that can be made into 8 different things, so he's enjoyed following the instructions and making each one on his own. He's starting to branch out a little bit and get more creative with some of his freehand structures, and I love seeing that. He's such a rule-follower that it makes me smile when he goes rebel and does his own thing. Ha!

Just this past week I was home with the kids by myself and put them both to bed. When this happens I always lay down with Amelia Jayne first and then with Xander (he's better at occupying himself alone while he waits). When I went in to lay down with Xander he was reading a book. I think it was the first time since he could read well that I've found him reading a book for pleasure. Either he's ready for school to start or the love of reading has found its way into my son's heart. I hope it's both, but I certainly want the latter. Of course, I immediately went to work the next day and pulled some books for him that I thought he might like. Right now he's settled on the Captain Awesome series by Stan Kirby which is silly, dumb and completely ridiculous, but means it totally appeals to his little 7-year old brain. :)  I haven't seen him giggle that much in a long time. It made my heart sing.

Amelia Jayne:
Dolls. All kinds. As long as she can change their clothes she's happy. She has an American Girl itty bitty baby that she's named Rosie. They have a lot of matching outfits that she likes to change in and out of. She also loves changing the outfits on her barbie-type princess dolls.

People. My little social butterfly continues to be a huge people person. She is so cute! (And mortifying at times, I won't lie.) She loves being with people - those she knows and loves, strangers, acquaintances, and basically anyone off the street - as long as I talk to them first. She doesn't usually run up to people and start talking to them, but if I start talking to them then they'd better watch out. She not only talks, but hugs, touches and clings. Have I mentioned that her love languages are quality time and physical touch? Yes, even at 4 years old this is obvious.

Her brother. Oh man does she love that boy. She wants to marry him. She wants to do whatever he's doing - karate, soccer, even scouts. She looked over at Xander the other day and said, "You're my best friend." Of course he informed her that they were siblings and that they weren't really friends. Oh, brother.
But he also wrote her a note telling her he loved her. He can be sweet sometimes, too. ;)

Swimming. She's great at swimming on her own now and has taken off the swimmies! I still put them on her in the lake (but I still make Xander wear a life jacket in the lake, because murky waters are a bit terrifying to me.) but outside of that, she's swimmy-free!

They've been to karate camp for three weeks this summer and love it. Xander tested this past week and is now a blue belt - his seventh belt. Amazing.
Amelia Jayne isn't officially in karate right now, but she has been accompanying Xander to his classes since they offered a "bring your friend to class for free" all summer long. In fact, she could also do classes the weeks she was at camp and often would do two classes a day - on top of camp! Boy were they worn out!

The Olympics! We've had so much fun talking about the different countries, looking at their flags (hello, vexillologist), discussing the different events and the amazing abilities these people have, and just generally being together while we do it. That's what I think is so fun about the Olympics, it's meant to unite people, right??

Family Time - I have really coveted our time together this summer. It doesn't matter if we're at home helping each other with chores, putting legos together, having Family Movie Night, or out on the town. We have had so much fun together this summer! I love my sweet fam. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

12 Things I learned this summer

1. The Avett Brothers still rock my world.
Have you heard their new album, True Sadness? It is so good! Squeeee! It is folk-y and moody and blues-y and rock-y and beautiful. There's even some yodeling, y'all. This is some good stuff.
I love that we've been following them for over 13 years and that we "knew them when." I love that they're local (from Concord, NC, baby!). I love that mine and David's first dance at our wedding reception was one of their songs and the last song played at our reception was one of theirs, too.  I love that we've been to see them in concert almost a dozen times and that we still love listening to their music. I love that this is one more beautiful part of mine and David's history together.

2. I have amazing willpower. I don't always use it, but when I do - it is freaking amazing!
We did Whole30 back in April. I'm on day 18 of my second time through. I feel so much better when I eat fresh fruits and veggies, cut out the dairy and sugar, and lay off the grains and alcohol. I'll admit it's not the most fun experience and going out to eat is a nightmare, but it feels so good to exercise that willpower and have some restraint. I've found a load of great recipes that I have in my repertoire and can pull out at random. I feel like every time I do this I'll get better at it and reinforce in my own mind that I CAN do it. Eating healthy is the new ice cream. Or something like that.

3. I truly love what I do.
Just see this post if you're wondering what I'm talking about.

4. I enjoy a challenge.
See #2, first of all. But also, one of my business partners posted a challenge to use our face regimen every morning and night for 30 days. And I only missed ONE night! If you challenge me to something, especially if it's something I love and believe in, then I will do it. Also, I need reminders. My brain sometimes forgets about things.
My 2016 Reading challenge is another example of enjoying a challenge. I'm almost finished, but I need a few reminders to help me along the way. Phone reminders are super-helpful, btw!

5. Erin can never be replaced.
Our babysitter graduated in June and left for NC State last Saturday. Her first day of classes were yesterday. (She did well, btw.) Before she left, I took the kids over to say goodbye and to give her a little something. Xander almost cried. The boy who never really seemed to care when or if Ms. Erin was coming over, broke down in tears the week before she left when I told him I was going to the store to pick up a going away present for her. She has left a big impact on my kids. And I'm so thankful we had that time with her. Now I'm working on finding another sitter. Not another Erin, but another sitter. Cuz Mama needs her date nights!

6. I love eaudiobooks!!!
I don't know why I resisted for so long. Actually I do. They are not always the most user-friendly. However, when there was a book I wanted to read and I couldn't find it at the library on disc, but it was an audiobook, I decided to try it again. And now I'm hooked. I can listen to it anywhere - while I'm cooking, doing dishes, in the car, walking from the parking lot, shopping. It's fantastic. I highly recommend checking it out at your local library. I use hoopla, one click digital, and overdrive mostly. Fan-freaking-tastic!

7. Frozen watermelon is the bomb! (And frozen grapes make me happy, too.)
So, if I could have a popsicle while on Whole30, I might. A fudgsicle? Even better. However, I'm not allowed to have sugar. But you know what makes a great substitute? That's right. Frozen watermelon. It's cold, it's sweet. It's yummy. We've been eating frozen grapes for awhile now, so this just adds a little variety. :)

8. It's not so bad reading a screenplay after all.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Who's read it yet?? The format wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I just wish I could get into their heads a little more. I'm not even halfway through, so no spoilers, please!

9. I really don't like scary things.
David and I started watching the show Stranger Things on Netflix. It is so creepy. I had a love/hate relationship because I really don't like being scared. But I do love an intense, interesting story. So to make my way through it I just talk to the TV and tell the characters all the stupid things they're doing and why they shouldn't do them. David laughs at me. I'm thankful for him because he could easily have told me to shut up or resisted watching with me, but instead he chooses to laugh.

10. Camp Mimi and Camp Grandma get 5 stars! (Reviews by both me and my children)
The kids favorite camp this summer was their week with their grandparents. They really cherish each other. I think they all had fun (although everyone was exhausted by the end of the week). My kids and their grandparents are making memories that will last a lifetime. I don't take that for granted and  I realize just how blessed we are. Also, there is really something to be said about getting some time away from your kids. I love my kids and I enjoy them immensely, but after a week away from them I enjoy them even more! This post shows just how much fun David and I had while the kids were away.

11. Who knew sparkling water was good?
I don't really drink sodas anymore. The only time I do is if I have to share a drink with David (and most of the time he's willing to get tea for me if it's available) or if I'm mixing a little something else in it. (My favorite mixed drink is Diet Dr. Pepper and coconut rum, FYI.) However, since I can't have anything except water, tea and black coffee while on Whole30, I've gotten kinda bored with it and wanted something new. A colleague of mine brought in some lime flavored sparkling water (mostly because she's pregnant and needed something for indigestion) but offered one to me. I figured I could have it so I might as well try it. And guess what? I actually like it! I don't like seltzer water or any soda water that's unflavored, but I really like the flavored ones! And they're naturally flavored, so - Bonus! My faves are lime, black cherry and lemon. I don't love the coconut one, surprisingly.

12. It's okay to ask questions and not always follow the rules - even self-imposed ones.
Man, this is a hard one for me. I'm a question-asker, but also a rule-follower. I'm not a yes-man, but I don't buck up against the system too much. But let me tell ya, as I get older this is changing. I want to know why and what for and what's the purpose and who's involved. I want to learn more for myself and not just take everything at face value. I am still struggling with the church thing - not so much because we haven't found one, but I'm more cautious, skeptical and firm in my opinions. I'm not as easily swayed as I once was. I've been reading the book, Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and it has rocked my world. I'm going to go back and read Jesus Feminist next. Also in my queue is The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. There are so many things that I think we Christians have gotten wrong. So many things that, if the disciples and Jesus were living on earth now, would make them sad or angry or both. I don't know y'all. And I don't think I'll ever know all the answers, but what I do know is that Jesus commanded us to love God and love each other. So, right now, that's what I'm going to do.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pondering what I "do"

There have been so many opportunities over the last couple of months for me to ponder my situation and to be thankful for what I've been given. There have been many times when I wish I was a stay-at-home mom. (Thoughts of full-time work only enter my head when I'm thinking of making more money - and that usually means I'm just being greedy and it's not worth it.) But then I go to work and I'm reminded of all the wonderful things I do, have done and have been a part of.

Recently we met David's cousin, Justin, and his wife Thea with their two young children at ImaginOn, where my office is located. And it was magical. I saw the building through new eyes. Thea kept going on and on about how amazing the place is. And how great it must be to work there. She's not wrong.

I had lunch with an old friend and colleague of mine earlier this week whom I hadn't really seen in a year or so. She's now the manager of ImaginOn and used to work right alongside me in Outreach, doing the same things I still do. She's a real go-getter, that one. She asked me what my future looks like and if I think I want to go to work full-time. I quickly told her that I wouldn't go back to work full-time while Amelia Jayne is still in preschool and I realized that this is my baby's last year. That can't be my excuse any longer once 2017 rolls around. But I also remembered what a great setup I have. Twenty hours per week, benefits, library perks. That's fairly unheard of these days, or so everyone says.

A new (full-time) position came available in our department not that long ago and someone asked me if I wanted it. I immediately said no, and then contemplated it briefly. And then remembered that I still get to be home with my kids a lot and am able to get Xander off the bus or pick Amelia Jayne up from preschool and watch her run around with her little friends there. I take her to dance and Xander to karate. I get to watch them grow and get better and learn and become who they're becoming - amazing little human beings.

I recently asked one of my friends and co-workers if she would go full-time if she were me. She confessed that she is jealous of my schedule and ability to work part-time. She's a single mom. She HAS to work full-time. Which means she misses out on a lot of time with her son. What she wouldn't give to have more time with him.

I had a conversation with one of my old colleagues on the phone last week - she's been gone from CML for 6 years and we haven't really spoken in about two. She's the director of the small library system where she lives - she asked me what my goals are and if I would consider doing anything different. I had to be honest and say that I really don't want to.

You see, I get to go into daycares and preschools where these children aren't always made the priority. They may get more TV time than book time - in a daycare, people. Isn't that crazy? Sometimes they children rush at me to give me hugs and I realize they may not get too many hugs. They may have never had interactions with a white woman before, but especially not one who loves on them and cares about them, one who remembers their name and asks them about their day.

I see children who possibly got dealt a rough hand - their parents struggle to make ends meet, they may not eat once they go home, there's not a lot of laughter or fun in their lives. I get to open up a whole new world of magic to them in the form of books.

I see children who are refugees. They were forced out of their country for various reasons and now live in a new city, a new country, with a new culture and language. They don't know what to expect in school and their parents don't know English well enough to help their children in that way. I'm able to come in, talk to them, read to them, play games with them, laugh with them, dance with them, sing with them and generally act silly. It's a FUN job!

AND I get to be home with my kids. How is that even possible? How have I landed the sweetest gig of all time? I am so incredibly thankful.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This last week

The kiddos spent the week with their grandparents so David and I had a week to ourselves! We still had to work, of course, but we made great use of the time we had together. Out of 5 nights sans kids we went on three dates, I had dinner with a friend one evening while he had volleyball, and he ran some errands and worked late one evening while I had my Nourish group over. It was ah-mazing! I LOVE my husband even more after this week - we talked and shared and connected. It was exactly what I needed.

David and I couldn't have timed it better if we'd tried (and we didn't try). It was Charlotte restaurant week last week, so we were able to try two new restaurants that we'd never been to, which was so fun! That's one of our favorite things to do together - try somewhere new and different while catching up and chatting about life. We also went to see the new Star Trek movie - Beyond - one night. I just love those movies and we had a nice time rewatching the previous movies the week before. I'd been anticipating this one!

I caught up on some housework (read: my floors got mopped! YES!) and some reading and some alone time.

And I miss my kiddos now. I'll admit that it took me a couple of days, but now I'm so ready to see them! So, let me get off this computer and go pick them up. Absence makes the heart grow fonder - I love those two with all my heart. Can't wait to hear of their adventures with grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. Peace.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Inner Struggles

I don't write a whole lot about my inner struggles. Today, I will. With everything our country is going through right now, I am uncertain. I am disturbed, saddened, dumbfounded and, frankly, embarrassed. From the shootings in Orlando, Minnesota, Baton Rouge and Dallas, to our political situation with the presidential election coming up in November. What is going on?!?!

I could probably break this into many posts, but I only have it in me to write this one.

As far as our country's unrest, I've struggled over the last few weeks with understanding what is right. I want to hear everyone's side and make the decision to choose the one that seems right to me.
I am a white woman.
I have family and friends in law enforcement.
I have friends and co-workers who are African American, Mexican American, Latin American, and Indian American.
What choice do I make?

And then it hit me.

The question I ask my kids multiple times a week:

Is it better to be right or to be kind?

And that's just it. It doesn't even matter if I'm right or wrong. The only choice I want to make is love.
Do I reflect the love and kindness of my Creator? Or do I judge and show mistrust and hate?

Honestly, I'm not sure there is a right or wrong. We all have beauty and we all have evil inside of us. We're all capable of doing wonderfully amazing things AND horrific acts. And I'm sure the blame falls somewhere in the middle.

This article, though. She has a way with words, I tell ya.

And Trump? Or Hillary? Please, God help us.

I won't go into how I feel about Donald Trump. If you've been around me at all for the past several months then you probably know anyway. (Lord, keep reminding me of Proverbs 10:19!) This letter does justice to my heart's feelings, though.

This article about Hillary and democrats is very interesting.
It closes with these incredibly insightful lines:
"Third, you’re going to have to answer hatred with love. Your tendency so far in your career has been to answer hostility with distrust, and secretiveness.
You’ve ended up projecting coldness but also weakness and hurt. People who build emotional walls amid conflict do so out of fear, not strength."

And that's where we are. Let's answer hatred with love.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Whole30 experience

First of all, if you don't know what Whole30 is, I recommend you read up on it.
In a nutshell, Whole30 is an elimination diet. For 30 days you cut out dairy, alcohol, sugar (real and artificial), grains, legumes (including peanuts), and soy.
For thirty days, you consume foods that are real, whole, and unprocessed.

This was a game-changer for me. I had moments that I didn't love the whole process. There's a timeline that amazes me with it's accuracy. Especially on the "kill ALL the things" days. But overall, this experience was extremely encouraging and gratifying. I was so proud of myself when I made it through all 30 days. Without cheating even once.

So, here's the thing.
It takes a lot of work: the meal planning, grocery runs, chopping and dicing and cutting and peeling, not to mention the actual cooking. But here's the other thing -the food is delicious! We've found some amazing recipes that I will continue to use. I'll share a few of them with you. In fact, just check out my whole30 board on pinterest for all of the recipes.
Some of our favorite meals:
Hearty Vegetable Soup
Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Shepherd's Pie w/sweet potato topping
Breakfast Pizza Quiche
Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce (I added Chicken)
Whole30 White Chicken Chili
Whole30 Breakfast bowl
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole (this was probably our all-time favorite breakfast - don't let the picture fool you. It's delish!)

I purchased a spiralizer through this whole process and we have been loving zoodles, curly fries (baked of course) and sweet potato noodles. It's been a fun new way to cook!

We have been finished with Whole30 (officially) since May 4th. I've mostly stuck with it though I've added in some honey on occasion, eaten a few grains here or there, a couple of sweet treats, two or three alcoholic drinks, but overall we've been sticking with it.

My goal is to continue eating this way as much as possible, but not stressing if I want to eat a piece of cake at a wedding or have a popsicle with my kids at the beach. However, I want to be intentional about what I eat and not have multiple treats in one day and eat unhealthily at most meals. It's a balance that I am far from mastering, but that I am striving toward.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reading Challenge

I started a reading challenge on facebook with some of my mom's friends. Makes me laugh that they're the ones who jumped on the band wagon, but I absolutely love having this group of older women to share and laugh and gain wisdom from.

Here's my list so far...
1) A book published this year - Love Warrior (comes out in August)
2) A book you can finish in a day - The Practice of the Presence of God
3) A book you've been meaning to read - Career of Evil - COMPLETED
4) A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller - All the Light We Cannot See - COMPLETED
5) A book you should have read in school - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - COMPLETED
6) A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling child, or BFF - ??
7) A book published before you were born -
8) A book that was banned at some point - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
9) A book you previously abandoned - I am Malala
10) A book you own but have never read - Radical by David Platt - COMPLETED
11) A book that intimidates you - 7 by Jen Hatmaker
12) A book you've already read at least once - Redeeming Love - COMPLETED

Friday, May 13, 2016

Books I've Read - January-April 2016

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
This was a good book. So beautifully written. It got slow at times, but I truly enjoyed it. I would recommend it for sure.

A Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith
Def my fave of the Cormoran Strike novels. This was a great detective novel. A bit more personal with the characters, which I liked. I think that's what made it my favorite. I liked getting to know the main characters even more.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Beautiful. I loved it. The language is exquisite. The story, fascinating. If you love literary fiction please go get this book. If you love World War II stories literary fiction then you'll be in heaven over this book.

Out of Sorts
Sarah Bessey
Y'all. To think that Sarah and Jen Hatmaker are friends makes so much sense. I am so challenged by and incredibly grateful for this book.

Jesus > Religion
by Jefferson Bethke
Read this for my book club. Go read it. It's so true. It is so hard for me lately to love Christians, but I love Jesus and followers of Jesus. It's those folks who call themselves Christians but act nothing like Jesus that are driving me a bit crazy lately.

by Jen Hatmaker
Oh, Jen. Let's be friends. She is amazing. Challenging. Hopeful. Real. This book did not disappoint. And it has certainly caused me to step back and take a look at my life. She's wrecked me all over again. My friend, Crystal, and I are going to start a Bible study together around this book. So excited!

The Lake House
by Kate Morton
Great read! Goes back and forth between early 20th century and 2003, plus it's a detective novel. Kind of like two of my favorite genres put together - a period piece and mystery. I recommend it.

Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers
I know I've read this book half a dozen times, but I cannot express to you how great it is. I glean something new from it each time I read it. I absolutely love the story, what it's about, and how God loves us enough to allow us to go through pain so we can grow closer to Him. My book club read this for March, so that's why I picked it up again, but I am so glad! It's always a book I recommend so, of course, my book club wanted to read it. It's been a few years since I read it last (before Amelia Jayne was born, I think) and it hits home to me in a new and different way each time, just as it did this time. LOVE. IT.

Radical by David Platt
Whew! This book was intense! Intense because it was so challenging and real. I enjoyed it immensely. I am thankful to have read it and am continuing even now to reflect on it.

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
Nothing has topped Redeeming Love for me as far as Francine Rivers books. This one was good, but it lacked the depth and emotion that RL evokes. I wouldn't say "run out and get this book right now," but I would say that it was worth the read.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Date your kids

I think spending time with each of your children individually is extremely valuable. David and I struggle with even going on dates with each other at times, but we're trying to make that a top priority and along with that, time alone with each of our kids.

In February I took Xander to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He was beyond thrilled to see it and had been waiting for months! David and I made a big deal about it being a date and getting to spend time with just Mommy. David was so sweet to let me have this moment with Xander. He easily could've taken him and Xander would have been equally as excited, but I am so glad that this was a memory that Xander and I get to have.

Sporting his Star Wars hoodie.

So excited!!

On our way!

We parked behind this car which Xander thought had the best bumper sticker ever. 

Paying for our tickets. Such a gentleman. :)

We just had to visit the Lego store while we were in the mall.

He loves making the lego sets come to life!

I couldn't help but sneak a couple of pics during the movie.

While Xander and I were out, David spent time alone with AJ. They went to see The Good Dinosaur and spent some time at the Disney store. :)

This was one of those moments that I just had to document. Since then, we've taken the kids separately to a couple of other things. I took AJ to the Lego convention, I've eaten lunch with Xander a couple of times at school, and I've taken AJ to the park. Possibly a couple of other things that have left my brain. 
Though it can be difficult to make the time during some seasons of life, it's so worth it!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What my kids are into...


It's a family thing.

This post is a long time coming and we've been into Star Wars for an incredibly long time, but where I thought the interest would wane, we're just getting deeper and deeper into it.

I really cannot tell you how many times we've watched this...

Xander has lego sets, easy readers, chapter books, video games, clothes, figurines, etc. all pertaining to Star Wars. He loves the whole franchise. He even loves watching the remade trailers for the older Star Wars movies. He's in love. He even has his own theories about what will happen in the next movies. (Insert eye roll. But I'm honestly impressed and pretty excited when he geeks out.)

Amelia Jayne, unsurprisingly, is still into TV. She doesn't even really care what it is, she just wants to watch - constantly. I have to set pretty strict boundaries for that one. Her favorite shows right now are Justin Time, The Cat in the Hat, Octonauts, Super Why and Jake & the Neverland Pirates.

Xander, on the other hand, rarely watches TV. He really doesn't have time to watch much TV, but when he does he's more into video games. He loves Minecraft, Mario Kart and Star Wars. But he really only has time to do this on the weekends because of homework and extracurricular activities.

Both kids started their soccer season a couple of weeks ago and are both LOVING it!! Amelia Jayne's team is adorable. She's on the team with one of her best friends. They spend the majority of the game/practice holding hands. The coaches have to separate them sometimes. It's the sweetest thing. Xander's league is much tougher this year. They play actual positions and have strict guidelines. It's perfect for Xander and his rule-following, strategic and statistics-loving personality.

Xander is continuing karate and is now on his 4th belt. I am so proud of him and have loved seeing his improvement, his joy and his dedication. That kid continues to amaze me with what he can do and the amazing attitude he has in everything he takes part in.

Xander is also in Cub Scouts. (I'll probably be writing a separate post about overcommitment - geez!) I don't have much to do with this one since he goes with his daddy each week. Amelia Jayne and I have been to a couple of ceremonies and the Christmas party, but overall this is their thing. David is an Eagle Scout, so he's waaaaaayyyyy more qualified to participate with Xander in this. Plus, he's a boy. :)

Amelia Jayne is finishing up her second year in dance. She has her recital on Saturday! She's enjoyed it and I'm excited for next year when they will be adding a tumbling component. She says she doesn't want to do dance next year, so we'll see what her thoughts are in the fall. I certainly won't push the issue.

Xander is still loving the Mandarin Immersion program. He has flourished in both Chinese and English this year. He's reading English well above grade level and amazes me with what words he can figure out by himself. We're working more on reading comprehension at the moment, but he's even above grade level in that. I've really been impressed with what he's learned and how much he's grown up this school year. David's cousin, Justin, is married to Thea who is from Taiwan. Her first language is Mandarin and she told me a few weeks ago that she is very impressed with what Xander knows and how well his reading, writing and pronunciation is in Mandarin. I was so relieved to hear that! I know his teacher would tell me if he was struggling, but to hear it from a native speaker greatly eased any concerns I have.

We have taught the kids a couple of fun games lately during our Family Game Night - Mexican train (which is a dominoes game) and War are two of their favorites right now.

With all this growing up that my kids have been doing, the thing that they still love most is playing pretend with each other. They make up elaborate scenarios and act them out. Whether it involves a grocery store, pet shop, restaurant or sporting event, they have vivid imaginations. I absolutely love watching them play together.

Both kids will be attending multiple camps this summer, mainly because I need the childcare while I work, but they're super-excited about it. They're both going to karate camp, soccer camp, and some themed weeks at the YMCA. They'll also be going to see their grandparents for one week + we'll spend a couple of weeks at the beach. We're gearing up for a crazy, but exciting summer!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Vulnerability continued...

I am learning more and more about stepping out in vulnerability since my declaration to "Be Brave" this year. God has given me a glimpse of what this looks like - and I've only just scratched the surface.

Last week at my women's Bible study I was vulnerable when I shared a prayer request for myself that I've never really shared with anyone. And I didn't even give the back story. One day I hope to share that, too.

I've invited women I've never met before to my house for dinner. The Nourish group is going great. I am so excited to host for the third time at the beginning of May. These women have been so brave to show up and meet each other. I'm so proud of them.

I have stepped out and talked to parents at Amelia Jayne's school and just chatted about life while our kids run around together outside.

I have been brave at work, trying some things that we've never tried before and persevering even when it was hard.

I've been brave by starting my own business. Want to know more about it? I'd love to share it with you!

David and I have done Whole30 in April. Today is day 25. I could write a whole series of posts on this, and perhaps I will, but it has been an amazing experience. If doing Whole30 doesn't take courage, I don't know what does!

David and I have grown closer as we continue to look for a church - and we've been vulnerable with each other, sharing things that we love about church and the things that we really hate about it. I think I'm most proud of this and so joyful to see the closeness between my husband and I through this whole process. Anything that allows me to know my husband better is a good thing.

I have opened up to both my mom and my husband about some things in my life that are hurting me and things that have hindered my growth in relationships and for myself.

And I've been honest. I've been honest to God, to my husband, to my family, and to myself.  More than ever before.

And these things are beautiful.

The Power of Vulnerability

Take a moment (or 20) to watch this TED talk. Brene Brown gets it, and thankfully shares it with us.

Brene Brown could be my soul sister. (Actually she seems a little bit like my real sister.)
Fully embracing vulnerability is hard and I'm so glad she shared what she's learned.

Check out these points that she makes:
We must have -
Courage to be imperfect
Compassion to be kind to ourselves and others
Connection as result of authenticity

Fully embrace vulnerability
Stop controlling and predicting

Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, connectivity, belonging and love

The power of vulnerability - and being connected to one another - is a mighty thing.
But don't forget that it all boils down to love.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I will share this with you, though. Just a tidbit of what I got to experience last weekend.

Be brave!!

This conference was amazing.
Glennon is amazeballs. I really don't even have the words. She is hilarious and real and vulnerable and strong and beautiful.
The other speakers were great, too. The food was yummy and the people were so special.
I heard about it and immediately invited my mom. The two of us had the best time together. I could do just about anything with her and be thrilled about it, but this kind of thing is right up both of our alleys. I hope we can do it again next year...and maybe invite the rest of our girl-fam.

God is truly showing me how to be brave.
I am so happy to be part of Nourish. We have our first dinner at my house tomorrow night. Yes, you heard that right. I am hosting a dinner each month at my home. And I couldn't be more thrilled about it. Scared? No doubt. But, brave? Absolutely.

God is teaching me so much. I want to share it all right here, right now. But since I can't really go into great detail about it at this very moment, I'll just leave this scripture here. But please check back - I hope to share much more in the near future.

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. 1 John 3:18-20, The Voice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Xander's birthday interview - Age 7

TV show - Peep & the Big Wide World
Movie - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Song - Dynamite by Tao Cruz
Musician - Ed Sheeran
Food - candy
Candy -Reese's
Toy - ocelot (from Minecraft)
Activity - art
Cereal - honey nut cheerios
Vegetable - carrots
Drink - diet coke
Game - Minecraft Wii U edition
Book - The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems
Restaurant -McDonald's
Holiday -Christmas
Animal -snakes
Color -Blue
Vacation -Beach
Sport - Soccer
If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? I think I like my name
If you could have anything you want this year, what would it be? karate gear
What do you love most about Mommy? I get to love on her and be with her
What do you love most about Daddy? I can play soccer with him
What do you love most about Amelia Jayne? I can play kitchen with her

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How I choose books

This article got me thinking...
AHHH! This is so difficult for me! I choose books mostly based off of recommendations. And I get a LOT of recommendations. Not sure if it's because I work in a library or if I just love so many different genres. I read a lot of bloggers who have great recs. I am also friends with a lot of readers who know my interests. I love all kinds of genres - for fiction I love: historical fiction, literary fiction, sci fi, fantasy, Christian fiction...

Honestly, the majority of books sitting on my desk to be read are non-fiction. I love books about Jesus, the church, health, personalities, leadership, parenting, memoirs and biographies.

I am truly inquisitive. I just want to know so much.

Therein lies the rub. I mustn't just be a "hearer of the word", but also a doer. That is my hope over this year that I will read many books where God will speak to me and teach me new things, but that I won't just let it soak in and walk away, forgetting all I've learned. I want to dig deep, apply the principles and knowledge, give that wisdom away and share the riches.

I've already read a ton of books this year and I am having so much fun doing it! I'm part of a book club at a local church. I started a facebook group (from the encouragement of one of my mom's friends) to track our reading challenges for 2016. And I'm having so much fun learning! Join me, won't you?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Funnies from the littlest Littles - November-December 2015

AJ: Do dragons have to have wings??
Me: I don't really know. You know dragons aren't real, right?
AJ: Yeah, they don't live here anymore.
Me: Well, they're not like dinosaurs. They never lived here. They're made-up or fictional.
AJ: Yeah, God took them away to live on Mars or something.

AJ: Mommy, you have a lot of boo boos.
Me: I do?
AJ: Yeah, or maybe you have a lot of nipples.
Me: Nipples?!
AJ: Yes, here and here and here.
Me: Oh! Those are freckles! Not nipples.

AJ: Do you have any straight candy canes?
Me: I don't have any candy canes.
AJ: But do you have straight ones?
Me: No, I don't have any, not even the ones with the crook on the end.
AJ: What's a crook on the end?
Me: You know when it looks like a J?
Me: Sweetie, the only thing I have are peppermints in the bowl downstairs.
AJ: But do you have any candy canes that are red and white?
Me: No.

AJ (about an "I spy" book): I guess this book isn't very fun because I can't find these things.

Xander was always extremely articulate, from the day he was born. He definitely says some funny things, but he's very precise with his words. Amelia Jayne almost has her own language at times. She says words and it doesn't matter if we correct her or not, she still uses her own words. She struggles with the hard "th" sound and it often comes out sounding like an "s" or "f" or the soft "th" sound that can sound like "d."  For instance: I want to go to da store wif you. Or, movie fe-ater. Or, twelve, firteen, fourteen...
She also mixes her words up a lot (see the freckle/nipple discussion above if you need an example). Plus, the girl asks a gazillion questions and pretty much talks constantly, especially if her brother isn't around to take up much-desired talking time.

Here's an example of a conversation I had with Amelia Jayne recently -
AJ: Da friends at my table can play aside me uhcause we can share uhcause we are all at a table. We play wif lots of different fings, like play dough and trucks and dese blocks dat stick togedder.
Me: Like legos?
AJ: No, dey have black fings dat make dem stick togedder.
Me: Oh! Magnets?
AJ: Yes! Dey're magnets uhcause dey stick togedder.

I know it won't last forever, but until then, I'll soak up each and every little mispronunciation she has. She's so precious!

And a Bonus funny from last week:

I was sick last Thursday when Mimi was supposed to come watch the kids, so she ended up not coming since I was home. I met Xander at the bus stop and he immediately started crying, upset that Mimi wasn't there. He was definitely distraught, but I couldn't help but laugh when he said,
"This is the worst thing. That's ever happened. On a Thursday!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Books I've Read - September-December 2015

The Small Backs of Children
by Lydia Yuknavitch

Oh, weird. This was too weird. It was beyond artsy and way over my head. I almost didn't finish it. I kind of wish I hadn't. I didn't leave this story feeling better and it was hardly thought-provoking or uplifting. So bizarre. I Definitely the strangest book I've ever read.

by Craig Groeschel

Well, this book was weird, too, but in a completely different way and I pretty much expected that with the title. :) This was a totally different type of weird. This was one I could relate to. I love being weird and I love following Jesus who was weird, too. I loved this book - definitely would recommend it. As with many Christian books, there were some hokey parts and a couple of chapters that felt really "church-y," but overall a book with great information and thought-provoking pages.

The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
This was a recommendation from Munro Richardson. This was a genuine, yet simple story. It has stayed with me. I listened to this on audiobook read by Jeremy Irons (you know, Scar from The Lion King) which was probably the way to go. Mr. Irons has a fantastic voice and it fit so perfectly with this story. I recommend this book, not because it's brilliant or new, but because it is us. It is relatable and simple and sweet.

Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
I expected a little more from this book. Perhaps my expectations were set too high when I started, but I felt that it took me awhile to really get into this book. If I hadn't been listening to it on audio I may have put it down before finishing. It was intriguing in some ways as you reflect on your own relationships with people and how we affect each other. I will say that it made me think. Overall, just okay.

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Technically a children's novel, but it intrigued me, so I checked it out. I'm so glad I read it! Such an interesting story, unique and unusual. I really enjoyed the story itself and it was told in a masterful, Neil Gaiman kind of way. One of the reasons I love children's books is because of the simplicity the story holds, but the complexity that it can bring up. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by Neil Gaiman. He didn't disappoint in The Ocean at the End of the Lane and he certainly did not disappoint here. Read it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo
At first, I listened, intrigued and ready to clean my life up, literally. I wanted to be tidier, more organized and just downright cleaner. But when Marie started talking about feeling each objects' power and strength I just had to put the book down. I can't personify each object to make them that integral to my life. So, although she says anyone who's ever hired her hasn't gone back on their commitment, I just can't do it. They say creatives are messier...sooooo, is that it?? Ha!

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
I really enjoyed this book! It is sci-fi (cue the aliens), teenager-y at times (it is a YA novel), but totally kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. I already checked out the next book in the series, The Infinite Sea. Hopefully it won't disappoint. I originally picked this book up because they're making it into a movie. Glad I did! And look for the movie to come out later this month!

In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume
Okay, so, I don't know about you, but I grew up with Judy Blume. I LOVED her writing. I snatched up everything I could find written by her - Freckle Juice, Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, Double Fudge, Blubber, It's Not the End of the World, Are you there God? It's Me, Margaret., Then Again Maybe I Won't, Just as Long as We're Together, Forever. My all-time favorite book in middle school was Just as Long as We're Together which I must have read four or five times. (I still have that old beat up copy on my bookshelf.)
Her works got me through elementary and middle school. I have to admit that I never read any of the adult books - Summer Sisters, Wifey, etc. (Except for Forever, but what young girl can resist the steamy teenager-y love of a young couples' first love? I have a whole other story about that book - ha!) Anyway, I've heard good things about her adult novels, and though I'd never read any of them, was highly excited and curious about this new book - In the Unlikely Event. People from work had spoken about how great it is and how intriguing the storyline was. Anyway, there'd been a lot of hype in my world over this book.
Then I began to read it. I had high hopes and kept thinking surely it would get better. It wasn't until I was talking to my supervisor about it that I almost felt like I had permission to stop reading it. I put it down about 3/4 of the way through, y'all. I just couldn't do it. It was soooo boring. I was soooo disappointed. I had forgotten my own rule - if a book hasn't grabbed my attention by page 50 or so, stop reading and move on. I just kept thinking it would pick up, but Meryle told me it never does so I gave myself permission to let it go. Sigh. Perhaps I should just go back and read Just as Long as We're Together.

The Infinite Sea

by Rick Yancey

For the Love
by Jen Hatmaker
I cannot say enough about how much I love this book. I love Jen Hatmaker and her honesty and how relatable and real she is. If you are a woman in your 30s and 40s I think you will be able to relate to her. And laugh. A lot. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but we must live with those people. Jen shares her heart about people, how to show them grace, how to be real and how to live out the gospel. I will definitely be reading this one again!

Soul Keeping
by John Ortberg
This might have been a bit ambitious after reading For the Love. John is a bit heady and waaaay less funny. But it was a good book with valuable information about taking care of our souls.

At Home
by Bill Bryson
While this was intriguing and interesting, it was incredibly boring at times. The history is fascinating, but as history often is, it is also tedious, detailed and hard to get through.