Thursday, March 30, 2017

What I've Been Reading: Vol. 2

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about all the books I had recently read. I had intended to write one of these posts every so often, but I never did again. Until now! I'm not sure how many people find book posts interesting, but I always love getting recommendations for books. So, here is what I've been reading since about January! 

(Also, FYI, I go more with just telling about the books I've read and not really doing a synopsis. I figure you can read those anywhere.) 

  • The Connected Child was gifted to us by someone in our foster care circle based on some of the things we were going through and it was helpful to read! A lot of it was based on children who were adopted overseas and had lived in orphanages previously, but much of it was applicable to us being foster parents as well. I would recommend for foster/adoptive families who are going through certain struggles with their children. We learned a lot of things we can change to hopefully improve some things for our littles. 
  • Smitten is a collection of novellas written by 4 Christian authors. I LOVED this book. Such a light hearted, sweet, easy read. Each author writes the story line of one character so each of the short stories focuses on a different friend and you get bits and pieces of their stories through the other girls' stories, too. My only complaint about this book is that I wanted more! I loved all the characters and the short stories didn't give me enough time with each of them! 
  • The Goodbye Bride was the second story in a series that I started last year (that I didn't realize was a series when I started it!) This book was really good! I am falling in love with Denise Hunter's writing style. I can't put her books down. I could not figure out what was going to happen in so much of this book and it just kept me on edge the whole time. I will let you hop over to the link to read the synopsis. I would personally start with the first book in the series, but I think this also has enough information that it could easily be a stand alone if you didn't want the whole series. I just got the 3rd book in the series from the library last night and can't wait to read it! 
  • Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full  is a short little encouragement book about focusing on the gospel as a mother. I don't think there was anything hugely life changing in it for me, but I really enjoyed it. It has so many good little tidbits that had me thinking and encouraged me to focus more on the Cross on an hourly basis. 
  • Secretly Smitten is another collection of novellas by the same authors as Smitten. It takes place in the same town, but has different characters. The characters from Smitten show up in a few places, but not as part of the main story lines. Again, a cute, easy read. 
  • A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. The only other book by Rivers I have read is Redeeming Love, which was amazing. So I had high hopes for this one. I don't read a lot of historical fiction but I absolutely loved this book. She tells the stories of 5 women in the lineage of Christ-Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth and Mary. Each story brought these women to life for me so much. She did such a great job of making a picture of what each of their lives and struggles were like! 
  • My sister in law gave me Me Before You when she had finished it. I hadn't even read the back cover when I started reading so I had literally NO idea what it was about. Whew. I just finished it a few days ago so I feel like I am still processing it because wow. So many feelings.  Apparently I am living under a rock because it's been a very popular book and now movie so odds are you may have heard of it so I won't get into the details but it is a heart wrencher FOR SURE. (And don't watch the movie after you've read the book-my husband and I watched it last night and both thought it totally botched the book!) I have a lot of thoughts-good and bad-about this book, but like I said, I'm still kind of processing it right now. This is a really intense story, so if you aren't prepared for a lot of feelings, don't read this one. 
I am about half way through with 2 nonfiction books right now that I should finish in the next week or so and I have a few new novels from the library I'm looking forward to digging into next! What have you read lately? 
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sickies/Summer/Dentist/Kids Clothes/Outings

I just set a timer for 15 minutes to write about whatever random things pop into my head. I was having a serious case of writer's block. I have several posts in my drafts that need pictures, but I'm too lazy to take them on this gloomy day (I'll justify that by saying it would be bad lighting anyway...), so I'll write random. 

  • The funny thing about random writing/brain spew/old fashioned blogging type posts is that these are always my most viewed posts. I guess people like reading the random thoughts that are going through my brain! Should I do more of these? Less of these? What else do you want me to write about? 
  • Sick kids are the worst/best. It is so heart wrenching to see them feeling so miserable, but snuggles... So many snuggles. 

  • I feel like our summer is already filling up quickly. So many fun things to look forward to...vacation with my family in Branson, first year of VBS, camping trip with friends, more possible family visits, church family retreat. I'm sure lots more things will fill up our schedule. Summer always gets so busy, but there are so many fun things going on, too! 
  • I took my girls to the dentist this morning. My oldest fell a couple years ago and has a gray tooth in the front, which the dentist has already checked out and it's fine. But the last month or so she's been complaining that her front teeth hurt. So I told them about it at the cleaning and they did an x ray just to be sure it wasn't becoming infected. It was fine, but all this to say that he did say those don't look like they'll be coming loose soon, but her bottom ones could sometime in the near-ish future. Which is so crazy to me because SHE JUST GOT THOSE TEETH. I am not ready for my kids to be this old. 
  • I was just purging some kids clothes recently, and opened up a bin that I was pretty sure was much bigger clothes for the boys, and found some stuff in their current size that they should have been wearing the last few months. WHOOPS. This is what happens when I am buying things ahead for 4 kids. At least it was only a few outfits and not an entire season's worth! Maybe everything will still fit them in the fall. 
  • Speaking of kid's clothes. The girls have always pretty much switched up to a new size at the beginning of a season. But the boys have been switching mid season. In the fall when it started to get cold I tried to buy them one size, tried a few things on which were literally falling off of them, so I returned it for a smaller size, and a couple months later everything is way too small. My husband put some pants on one of the boys for church last Sunday that were legitimately capris. You couldn't even call them high waters, they were offically at capri level. I was embarrassed for him. Which led to me purging their clothes this week! So, does anyone else have kids who switch sizes mid season? Am I going to have to buy 2 wardrobes of clothes every season for them?! With the girls I always go with the size they're going to be in next and even if it's a little big, it's just a little big. But like I said, it went from actually falling off the boys to being capris in a few months. I can't have them wear clothes that literally fall to the ground when I put them on! *sigh* I know this is such a first world problem. 
  • I am so ready for spring to actually be spring. It has been so up and down. We had 70 degree days in February, and got snow in March (which we don't usually). Even though most of this winter was pretty mild in comparison, it has seemed SO gloomy this winter. Just overcast all the time. I am ready for sunshine! Even 50 and sunny is fine! 
  • I feel like my kids are starting to get in a sweet spot with outings again. Depending what the outing is. When we first got the boys it was so hard to go anywhere. Then it was really hard but I did it. Then it was only hard to go to certain places (like restaurants). Now it is getting to be more freedom. They don't need to be in a stroller, and will mostly come when I tell them to. We still have a ways to go, but I am glad we will be able to get out a little more this summer than last! They can all officially do park playgrounds by themselves which is a GAME CHANGER because I can't help everyone at once. (And by do parks themselves I mean won't jump off the edges....they still need help with swings and certain climbing things). 

Ok, 49 seconds to spare! Those are the random thoughts swirling my brain this afternoon! What's on your mind? 
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Happy List

Sometimes you just need to sit down and make a list of some things that make you happy. This is a random compilation of whatever happy things popped into my head when I sat down to write. The little, in between things that bring a little smile to my face throughout the day :) 

  • Long bike rides
  • A fresh haircut 
  • Clean sheets
  • Finding a new product I love
  • Lazy weekends

  • The slightly sore but strong feeling after a good workout
  • Photo books
  • A book you just can't put down
  • When my husband comes home early from work
  • Weekend getaways
  • Late night brussels sprouts
  • Grilling out 
  • Freshly bathed kids in footie pajamas
  • "A-ha" sermons
  • Sunshine after multiple cloudy days
  • Birthdays

  • A clean house
  • Finding that perfect diffuser combo
  • Online grocery ordering
  • Fresh Off The Boat 
  • New office supplies
  • Adoption/birth stories
  • Adoption/pregnancy/birth announcements 
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in a waffle cone
  • Hilarious snap chat filters
  • Late night heart to hearts
  • Capturing that perfect photo
  • Looking back at what God has done in certain situations
  • Ice cold water
  • Cuddles
  • Listening to my kids play
  • The Trolls soundtrack 
  • New makeup
  • Spontaneous kisses and "I-love-yous" from my kids
  • Date nights with my love 
  • Group chat with my siblings
  • Running into an old friend 
  • Counting down to an anticipated event
  • Finding the perfect gift for someone
Tell me some things that make you happy :) 

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day In The Life

I've been meaning to do a day in the life for a few months now! I love doing these once or twice a year and I LOVE looking back on them to remember what life was like during certain seasons! This is Wednesday, March 8, 2017. 
*This ended up not being a super typical morning, because I slept in a little, and so did my littles...usually morning/breakfast time is a lot more hectic*
7:00- My alarm goes off so I can get up to work out. I snooze it (like usual). My husband's schedule has been a little off the last few days which has affected my sleep a little so I am pretty tired this morning. I end up turning off my alarm the next time it goes off and falling back asleep. My husband had gotten up for work and the girls got up so he put on a show for them. 
8:00- I finally force myself to get up , get dressed (into workout clothes so I make sure I workout) and mentally note to push my workout to nap time because I don't have time to work out and shower now. The girls are finishing up a show, and miraculously, my little ones are still asleep, so I start on the morning routine that I normally am fitting in in between feeding all my people and putting out fires in the morning. So I: pick up a few things, make our bed, tidy up our room, unload the dishwasher and put a few dishes in, start a load of laundry. 
8:20ish-The girls are done with their show and are still hungry (my husband had been out of town near a Krispy Kreme last night, so he brought donuts), so I get them some fruit and go wake up the little ones. 
8:30- Get my little ones up, dress them and come out for breakfast. 
9:00- The kids are playing and I'm doing breakfast dishes and cleaning up from breakfast. 
9:15-I sit down with the girls to read some library books we got last night. I tell them to each pick 2, but somehow between what they chose and the little ones keep bringing more over, we end up reading 7 or 8. 
10:00-I start on cleaning the kitchen. Wednesdays are the only day of the week we don't have any commitments, so I fully intend on having a lazy day at home and getting some things done today. The kiddos are playing in the living room and they go downstairs to play for a little bit while I am cleaning, vacuuming, and picking up. 
10:45-The kids are begging to read more library books, so I finish up cleaning and we read a couple more. 
11:00-I am blanking what we did during this hour. Must have just been playing and house stuff. 
11:45 or so I start getting lunch ready. 
12:00-lunch! The kids are having what they like to call "snacky" lunch, where I just throw a mish mash of things on their plates. Today it's lunch meat, cheese, pistachos, "packing peanuts" as they call them which are these little gluten free white cheddar puff things from Aldi, bell peppers, clementines...I think that's it. I have tuna with peppers and pickles. 
12:30-I am cleaning up from lunch and the kids are kind of playing/kind of losing their minds. It has been a long morning for the little ones and I am wondering if there's a full moon or something-they are awfully crabby today. 
12:45-I take the littles to bed because they are just done. They go right to sleep, which doesn't usually happen at nap! 
I read a couple books to the girls and they head into their room for "quiet time". They recently stopped napping, so now they play quietly in their room for 90 minutes. 
1-2:15-I have my quiet time, then I jump straight into my workout, otherwise I know I won't do it once I sit down. I do arms and shoulders today, and abs. I fold the laundry quick and then hop in the shower. 
2:15-I sit down to start on this blog post. 
2:30-I get this far in the post and am going to go dry my hair now and read for a little while. 
3:00-I ended up getting sucked into reading my old day in the life posts, so I didn't read my book, but did dry my hair. 
3:20-3:45-Practice piano with the girls

3:45- Get the littles up from nap and fold the load of towels I put in sometime morning.
4:00-Read more library books. We do read a lot, but usually not this much! We did manage to read all the books we got, though! My voice is tired from all the reading. 

4:30- Daddy is home! 
4:45-Start on dinner. Husband is grilling steaks and I'm making couscous and honey carrots. 
5:30-Start cleaning up dinner. 
5:45-One of my littles needs a hair cut (I have to cut it about every 2 weeks, so he is overdue) so I throw him in the tub to cut his hair and then we start a bath with both of them. 
6:20-I head downstairs to work on editing a newborn session. The girls are playing with my husband and the boys are still playing in the bath. 
6:40-Some of the kids come down to play while I work on editing. They are kind of up and down playing all over the house for awhile. 
7:30-My husband gets the kids a bedtime snack.
7:45-The boys get to bed and I finish up with editing for the night. 
8:00-I pick up around the house with the girls and tell them goodnight. My husband puts them to bed and I start wrapping my daughter's birthday gifts. 
8:30- I am on the couch finishing this post up and I think I'm going to read for awhile, maybe watch a show, and then go to bed a little early tonight since I've been a little short on sleep. We'll probably head to bed between 10-10:30. 
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

13 Year Travel Goals

My husband and I have been going over a lot of our financial goals, and hopes and dreams lately. We have really been thinking about what kinds of things we value and want to put time and money in to. One of those things is travel! We travel semi-frequently, but we almost always go to the same places because we have out of state family. Which is fun! Lately, as we've been thinking more and more about some of these dreams and goals for the future, travel has been coming up more and more. We talk often about how we want our kids to have those experiences, and how we would so much rather invest in giving them something with lasting memories, life experiences, and time together, than fleeting things that they won't care about in a month. Traveling is so beneficial in so many ways and we really enjoy it (and our kids really seem to, far!) . 
Though I have traveled quite a bit in my life, and been to a few other countries as well, there is so much of our country I haven't seen! I've never been anywhere on the East side of the country (do you count Florida as East, or South? Because I've been there, but I think of it more as South I guess). There are so many other places we've never been to and that we really don't know a whole lot about. So we decided to try to take our kids to every state by the time they leave our nest! That gives us about 13 years before our oldest graduates from high school. Some places we will probably visit more than once (like Colorado and Texas, where we have family and go every year or two), and some places we might only visit for a couple hours. But we want to see it all! 

We decided that to make it "count" as a visit to that state we have to DO something there. We can't just pass through on our way to another state and never stop. We have to, at the very least, stop and eat a meal there, or see some kind of sight or do an activity. Some states we will vacation to for an entire week or more. Some places we may only stop at for lunch and to get a post card. I would really like to at least spend one night in all of the states, but I know it might not be do-able with some.  We plan to do a big East Coast trip when our kids are tween-teen age and can appreciate a lot more of the landmarks and historical sites. I'm guessing we will probably hit 10-12 states on that one trip. Since we live in the middle of the country, we have so many states within just a few hours from us. We'll have to hit about 4 states per year on average, to make it work. But like I said, since some years we will probably tour around whole regions, we will also probably have years where we only do one or two states close by. I am not yet sure if we will realistically be able to do Hawaii and Alaska, so we haven't decided for sure if we are going to make this the 48 contiguous United States, or all 50. I would love to do like a big Alaskan cruise or Hawaii vacation to end the whole thing with a bang, or something. We will see! 

We would also like to mix up how we travel and stay a lot of the time. Some times we may rent an RV and hit a bunch of states. Other times we may get a cabin in the mountains for a week. Maybe we will do a few weekend camping trips in other states close by. 
We are also starting our count from 2016. So even though we have been to a lot of states before, our kids haven't been to a lot of them, or don't remember seeing them. 

If you have any awesome places or landmarks that we should be sure to hit over the next 13 years, let me know! I am excited to see a lot of the places I have heard about and learned about! And so excited to give my kids these experiences, learning opportunities, and to get more opportunities to focus on time together as a family. 

Now I need to figure out a way to document/display the states we've visited as we mark them off! 
I thought this map was kind of neat. You can put a photo in each state which would be a fun way to document what we saw/did in each state and also be able to display in our home. If you have any other cool/unique ideas of how to document where we go, let me know! 

Do you have any travel goals? How many states have you visited? 
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