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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Center of Gravity

"Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand. Or is it? When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss."

The synopsis on the back cover does not do this book justice. As a matter of fact, Ava's mother and her back story is hardly mentioned in the story. Ava very quickly realizes that her relationship can't be fixed. Basically, reading the back of the book makes me feel as though it's talking about a different book.

This is a thrillingly creepy book. It reminds me a bit of Gone Girl with the twisted mind at work. While the storyline itself is pretty predictable it did keep me reading from the time I started it to the time I finished. Yep, a one sitting read. Thankfully it's a fairly quick book to get through at about 310 pages or else I would have been up all night. 

The book revolves around 5 different character's point of view. Luckily, each character was defined enough that the back and forth between people was not confusing and actually well played out. It was interesting seeing this come to life through everyone's eyes.

If you need a book that grabs your attention this one is it!

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Girl Power

101 Things Every Girl Should Know by Faithgirlz is not your "typical girl fluff". 
The editors of Faithgirlz! and Girls' Life have collected their best advice to help girls take charge and feel confident in a variety of situations, from changing a bike tire to talking to your teacher about a bad grade, from being threatened by a bully to falling down the stairs at school. What do you do when you're at a party and you don't know anyone? What's the formal way to set a table (and why does it matter)? This random collection of problem-solving strategies helps with everyday stuff, big and small. With tips, advice, and lots of humor, this is a book every girl needs.

I hesitated before picking this book, because I'm leery of most advice books for teens. Too much focus is put on boys, make-up, and clothes. This book is the complete opposite. It is filled with situations that every girl will encounter in life and has real life lessons. 

It is quite random, which annoyed me a bit, but my daughter didn't complain about that. It makes it easy to pick up and put down as time allows. The perfect read for any girl!

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Links I'm Loving

While I've never read, nor watched Joel Osteen, this article is a good one showing why people need to understand grief better, especially those who should be tending to the grieving.

With my husband's blood pressure being quite high recently, I've been wanting to see if we can get it down naturally before resorting to pharmaceuticals. In just three weeks time, with supplements such as garlic, magnesium, and potassium his systolic number has dropped by 20 points and his diastolic number by over 20. It's getting down there. It's still high though, so I was happy to run across this article which mentions a natural supplement for heart health that has rave reviews. I researched it and he will be trying it.

This is my sister's book blog...and I found this article so funny!

If you have a little girl who loves Star Wars, you need to buy her this bow. Amy's arrived last week and you should have heard her scream "Boba Fett" when she opened it up!! So sturdy and well made too!

I'm not a Duggar fan. I don't watch their show, read their books, or keep up with their life. But found this article interesting. The media loves to see Christians fall. But guess what...all Christians fall from time to time. I'm not condoning his behavior, but TLC pulled their reality show because of this coming to light...but still showcases a show of a man with four wives, fetish shows, etc? Sounds about right.

John Schlimm, author of Five Years in Heaven, sent me this beautiful signed copy after my mom told him about how hummingbirds are special to me. What a treasure!

What are links you are loving this week?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dear Jacob

Dear Jacob,

   A few weeks ago, while folding laundry, I ran across this shirt.
It's the shirt that you wore a lot in the summer of 2013. The summer you were sick. The last summer we had with you.
It was hot and you enjoyed the thin cotton. You also wore them a lot in 2012 when you got your hickman line in, because these undershirts kept the tubes from bumping around as you ran and played.

I bent to pull the shirt from the basket and silently said your name. I wanted it to still be your shirt. Clean from the line after you dirtied it with little boy play. Except you wouldn't be little anymore. You would be a ten year old boy today.

The shirts are your little brother's now. Half the clothing in his drawers are ones that you wore. Joe often asks, "Was this one Jacob's?" and loves to wear his big brother's clothing. My heart still aches when I wash and fold clothing because I'm folding clothing that was yours but no longer is. I haven't had to scramble to buy some jeans when you had a growth spurt or start looking at pre-teen boys clothing because you aren't here. I never got to mother the pre-teen Jacob. Piles of clothes - daddy's, mommy's, Becca's, Joe's, and Amy's litter the bed as I fold. That space, that glaringly empty space is where your pile should be. 

Becca tries to pretend that she's strong but I know she misses her little brother, her best friend. She's had you in her life since she was 11 months old, when you were in my tummy and she used to poke and play with "baby", she was age 21 months when your presence was in every minute of her life. From piling stuffed animals on you to playing birds in the yard with you to going to Bible Camp together. You guys were buddies. Constants in each others life. And then gone. She misses you terribly. I catch glimpses of you in her face, especially when she's sleeping is when she looks so much like you.
Joe reminds me of you at times. Hearing him play I hear the noises and sounds you used to make. When he puts on your Army hat or the Boba Fett costume my heart hurts. Sometimes his movements are like yours were.  He wants to be like you. I hate that he doesn't get to grow old with his big brother.

Amy points at your pictures and says "Jacob". She brings you flowers at the cemetery, rearranges your graveside decorations, and then kisses your picture goodbye on the headstone, along with the Boba Fett helmet on the other side. She was only 4 months old the last time she saw you, she couldn't remember you. That will be a heartache as well...never truly knowing how magical you were. But she's following in your footsteps. She loves Star Wars, and super heroes. Probably because she had the greatest super hero as a brother. I know that she will recognize you within blessings throughout her life. And without a doubt she will know you and your light when she meets you in Heaven someday.

You'd be excited about today. Looking forward to it for weeks and planning what you wanted, what you wanted to do, where you would want to eat, what type of cake you want. It's a day that you would have been enthusiastic about.

I've dreaded it all month. It's a blessing that you were born 10 years ago. It's a blessing that we had you in our life for 8 of those years. Look at that smile...how can it NOT be a blessing?!   
Your smile was like no other. You were lit from within...your sweet soul shone for everyone to see. 

I wonder if you all celebrate birthdays up there? Or are the angelversarys the ones that are celebrated? The day you were born into eternity more important than the day you were born on earth?

Maybe June 24th is when you remember the day that started your journey and you celebrate August 19th as the day your mission was completed. 
Matthew 25:23:  
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."

I can only imagine how much heaven celebrated as you entered the gates. What was it like to see Jesus face to face? To reunite with Grandpa and Great Grandma? To see all the children that you now get to play with forever? Now each and every moment for you is a cause for celebration. Filled with joy. I'm so glad that you are better now. No more sickness or pain for you. 

It seems hard to believe that the last birthday we got to celebrate with you was two years ago. And yet it seems like forever ago.
 I can only imagine your hugs now. Try to remember our conversations together. Everything around us reminds us of you.

Star Wars

Root Beer

Doodling elaborate scenes on paper.

Full House (It's been Amy's favorite show as well. She watches it constantly.)

White "fuzzy" donuts, as Great-Grandma called them (you know, the Grandma you called "the Grandma with the mean kitty".) :) I haven't been able to eat them since you left. Though Becca, Joe, and Amy often choose them for their treat at the store.

You are everywhere.

But a piece of our hearts went with you the day you left to go home. A piece of us is missing because you are missing. 

You would have hit the double digits this year. TEN just sounds so old. 


It's not fair. I want you here on your tenth birthday. I remember 10 years ago...you coming into this world. How gentle and peaceful your birth was. How gentle and peaceful you were growing up. My sweet little pudgy baby boy.

My arms ache to hold you. It's your birthday and you aren't here. 

We will still celebrate. Celebrate the fact that we were chosen to be your parents 10 years ago. Celebrate getting to have you in our life for 8 years. Celebrate the fact that you are happy, healthy, and WHOLE now. 

Happy 10th Birthday our sweet Jacob.   

Monday, June 22, 2015

Create Porch Decor

When I bought a mirror with a pretty blue frame at a garage sale for 50 cents I had plans to put it up in the girl's room. It would match the yellow one already in there quite well.

Plans change when the mirror got broken (shhhh...don't tell Joe about the seven years of bad luck!). I decided to re-purpose it into a craft for the porch.  
After buying the letter F at Wal-Mart for $1.95 I had Ben paint it grey with paint that we already had. Then I used yellow washi tape that I already had to make stripes. We Hubby then hung them separately on the siding. A very quick (less than an hour) and inexpensive (total was about $3) project!

Instead of throwing something away, look at the item in a different way to see what it could be turned into instead. You know, when life gives you lemons...make lemonade. Or when children brake mirrors, get creative... 
Edited to add: a close up of the letter for Gill who asked in the comments. Excuse the raindrops on the letter...we had a huge thunderstorm right before I snapped the photo.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Until the Harvest

I picked up Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas because of the beautiful cover, much like I did for her previous book

"When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.
Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she's his grandmother's housekeeper and helper, so she's always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn't care about his loss, before beginning to understand she's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry's future and Mayfair's life are put at risk."

Yes, it's a romance, but not overly so. It wasn't eye-roll inducing so I was able to stand it. :)

My issue with it is that much like Thomas' first book, there was paranormal (or is it supernatural) activity that is never explained, never really even questioned. "A healer" who can just heal by touching seems a bit far fetched. Also, without giving away too much, there is a "situation" in the book that the big question is never answered. It's an important enough question that both Henry or Margaret should have asked it.

With those two issues aside, it was a good book. I'd recommend it for someone who wants an easy summer read. 

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Paid in Full

Years ago, when reading about someone paying their mortgage off quickly I always assumed that they must have a large income. After all, you need the additional funds to pay additional payments, right?

Then I read The Tightwad Gazette and realized that by being thrifty you could save money for additional items, instead of making money.

Nine years ago we bought a house within our price range. So it's no McMansion, but is a cute little house with a cute little yard and fits our needs. It was built in 1880, so has character, which means a bit of a fixer-upper. But it's solid. We've torn out carpets, replaced the fixtures in the bathroom, put on a new roof, painted, etc. We've made it ours.  

Yesterday we totally made it ours. We took a 30 year mortgage and paid it off in 9 years. How, on such a little income, you ask?

Savings. Scrimping. 

My best advice is to pay at least one extra house payment (applied solely to the principal) each year. That alone would cut 7 years off a 30 year mortgage. That is what we started off doing from year one.

Then, even if it was just an additional $25 or $50 a month, apply that extra to the principal when you pay the mortgage each month. It adds up.

Our biggest was when we received tax returns...to apply a big amount to the mortgage. Because we didn't have other debt (car payments, credit cards) we were able to use that to pay extra towards our only debt.

And now we are totally debt free. It's exciting! It made doing without some fun extras totally worth it and just takes a huge weight off your shoulders. To know that every single thing you own is truly owned by you, debt free. 

It's not impossible. Though there will be step backs (when Jacob was sick we didn't have any extra to work on paying off the mortgage...every extra penny went towards gas, food, medical, etc.), stay the course when you do have a little extra. Forgo the vacation, the big screen tv, upgrading your car. It will be worth it in the end!


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