1.07.2015

Best Books of 2014

I love reading it is a passion of mine.  Books are one of my favorite things.  It took me a long time to get used to an e-reader and to grieve the loss of holding a book in my hands.  More importantly it was so sad to not be able to pass a great book on to someone else.  I wish sharing books on Kindle was easier and more readily available.  Some of the best books are not lendable and that to me is so sad.  I have my mom, Emily, and my mother-in-law set up on my kindle account so that they get all of the books that I read too.  The one benefit of the kindle is that the electronic books are cheaper than buying a book in hard back so I no longer feel guilty for not waiting until a paperback comes out.  Also Bret notices significantly less how many books I buy a year when they are not stacked up on my night stand.

As I think about my past year I can't help but think about some of the books I read.  Some were amazing some not so great but even a bad book is better than no book.  With out further ado here are my favorite books that I read (note they may not have been written this past year it was just when I read them) in 2014.

#10 Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. This was a typical love story about a good girl and bad boy who fall in love with each other and figure out that somehow they work and make each other better.  I liked the characters in the book and felt they had chemistry.  There are a couple books that come after this one that I have not read yet because they are the same story told from the other main characters point of view.

 
#9 Fly Away by Kristen Hannah is a sequel written several years later to the book Firefly Lane.  I loved the first book and hoped that the second book would be as good.  It was a good book and little sad but it wasn't quite as good as the first book.  Maybe the story of adults and their real lives isn't as much fun as a couple of young teenage girlfriends who still think they could conquer the world.  Reminded me a little of the famous movie Beaches and I kept thinking of those main character actresses as the characters for this book too.
 
 
 
#8 End of Days by Susan Ee is the third book in this series.  I couldn't find a picture so I found the picture for the second book which I read this past year also.  This book and a few others took me into the world of romantic fantasy for the first time (besides Twilight).  This is a world is coming to an end and the angels are coming for a war.  There is very little romance in these books so far but I like the chemistry and hope that maybe there will be romance yet to come.
 
 
#7 The Reckoning by Laura Falter is the final book in the Guardian Trilogy.  Did I mention I read a lot of romance fantasy this summer?  I also read a lot of trilogies and this was one of my favorites.  I liked these books because they were about two angels that loved each other across centuries but were separated because of their obligation to protect innocents and fight demons.  Their love was a great story and the sacrifices had you cheering for more.
 

 
#6 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is one of the few NY Time bestsellers that I read this past year.  I read a lot of inexpensive and free books which kept me away from the top of the charts.  This was one of the exceptions and I really liked this book.  The story is about a guy who has Asperger's and he decides that his life would be better with a wife.  So he makes a plan to find one and the whole time he is looking for the perfect candidate Rosie (who is completely wrong) is standing right beside him.  While predictable the characters are funny and heartwarming.
 

 
 #5 War Brides by Helen Bryan is a different look at WWII told from the eyes of the women left to do what they could for the war effort from home.  I loved the stories they told about what they did to help and how everything was to support the men and the war.  Sometimes I think we forget that every little bit helped and that everyone made sacrifices.  I couldn't imagine staying home while my husband went off and not knowing if I would ever see him again.  I found that I could see a little bit of myself in each of the girls and I laughed with them and cried with them during it all.


#4 Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson is an easy read about a girl whose best friend disappeared for the summer and she gets left with a check list of things to do.  The mystery is fun and watching a girl come out of her shell and discover herself outside of the friendship was a light hearted read this past summer.  I was never a girl who had a best girlfriend but I desperately wanted one so often.  I loved that she realized so much about herself once forced to go it alone. 


#3 Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a book that I really enjoyed reading.  Sometimes it is hard to realize that adoption has not always worked the way it does now.  Kids were abandoned and were left with no family to care for and the way that people found them homes was fascinating to me.  I loved the connection between the older woman and the young girl and the common ground they found despite the age difference.

#2 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon felt almost like a tie with first place and only because it's sequel was even better and was read in 2015 does it lose the tie.  This book has been showing up on my recommended reading for over a year now and it took a TV series on Starz and a top review of said show to get me to finally sit down and read it.  I loved it and am so relieved that there are many more.  The story is about a woman who accidentally travels back in time to Highlands of Scotland.  The main story line never caught my attention and it felt like a very slow start (like 150 pages into the book) before I started to even like the book.  The romance that follows is what keeps the pages turning.  The love is so passionate and the fighting between them so intense that you can't wait to figure out what happens next.  Besides the love story my favorite part of these books is that you have no idea what is going to happen.  Just when you think you know what is going to happen something else entirely happens instead.

 #1 The One by Kiera Cass is the book that my mom read in one night and asked me if there was going to be one more.  It was sad to see the conclusion to The Selection series.  I am heartened to learn that she is writing another series that has some of the same characters involved.  I told one friend that these books is like the Hunger Games meets the Bachelor.  LOVED it!



Most of the books I read this past year were just OK with a few exceptions.  I am looking forward to some new ones coming along in 2015.  What were some of your favorite books of 2014?


1.06.2015

Logan is 5!

In the ten years that we have had children every now and then they turn an age that is harder or more surprising than other years for me.  Logan turning five is one of those years.

Dear Logan,

You are five years old!  That is quite an accomplishment and I know that this year will be one of your best.  You told your dad and I that you are excited to turn five because that meant in the fall you will get to go to kindergarten all day.  This means you will no longer have to eat lunch at home but at school, get to go to recess and play with Palmer, and go to church twice a week.  I am so excited that you are excited and that you love school.

It makes me a little sad though.  You were the first child that really got to stay home with me.  Although I got a babysitter every now and then for the most part it was you and me until Easton came along.  I will miss our quick trips to the store where instead of asking me how long it was going to take you asked how many things we needed to get and then you kept track.

You are the best story teller and you remember everything!  We were a little worried starting preschool this year because you refused to work on learning your letters or practicing your writing at home.  It did not take long for you to catch up at school and you have loved every minute of it.

We can all tell that you are a middle child.  This past weekend on our family vacation you drove all of us crazy with your "my birthday, my rules" motto.  It was so fun to see you having such a good time with Palmer and your cousin Greyson.  I have still not figured out why you are not crazy about your little brother Easton.  We have talked multiple times about how important being a big brother is and you adore your big brother Palmer but you want nothing to do with Easton and the two of you fight constantly.

I have to be completely honest with you bud, this was not our greatest year together.  Although we made significant improvements in your desire to hit or tackle especially when you are mad we are still struggling with using the right words when you are upset.  I can't tell you how many times you have told me that you hate me, that I am the worst mom EVER, and even though I know it is out of frustration and anger it still hurt.  We are working on things.

Out of all four of my children you are the child that has me pleading to God for help, patience, understanding, and guidance.  You are so strong willed and stubborn.  You have a hard time getting along with other people put in charge of you (except your teachers surprisingly, although you told my 75 year old aunt to go home).  You throw fits and go to bed hungry because you refuse to eat the food I cook for you.  You tell me that I am a terrible cook and that you don't like anything I cook and would rather eat pizza always.  You refuse to listen when you don't want to and can be mean to your siblings.

On the other hand you are best cudler and you love as fiercely as you are willful.  You give the best kisses and your love language has always been touching.  No matter how mad we are at each other we can heal everything but just sitting together usually with you on my lap.  It seems like the only one with enough patience for you is Palmer.

On one my bad days as a mom I was so upset by all the mean and hateful things that you were saying I told you that I would be happy to pack your suitcase for you.  When you asked me where you were going I told you I didn't care but you couldn't stay in my house if you didn't want me to be your mom anymore.  After a few minutes thought you told me that you couldn't leave because Palmer would be sad and miss you.  He is your safe place and your refuge and he loves you as much as you love him.  Easton and Emily love you too but they don't understand you the way Palmer does.

I think the reason God made you so strong willed and stubborn is because he knew that you would need this tenacity to face the world with only one hand.  You face every challenge and obstacle straight on with no fear or hesitancy.  We signed you up for baseball this summer not sure how it would go.  I almost died when at one of the first practices you were struggling with putting the glove in your arm and pulling the ball out to throw back to the other player.  Not paying attention the coach yelled at you (not rudely) to hurry up and throw the ball back.  You threw the ball back but not without yelling back at the coach "I only have one hand and am going as fast as I can!!".  The coach I don't think had realized who he was telling to hurry up and felt awful but you never gave it another thought.

As you have gotten more involved with sports and with school I am reminded of a conversation I had with a pediatric hand specialist at the Shriners hospital in Philly only a month after you were born.  The doctor there told us that your hand was amazing and that there wouldn't be anything you couldn't do.  I was shocked and a little upset that he was so happy and that he wasn't seeing what I was seeing which was only what you were missing.  This doctor knew what I didn't yet and that was that you had so much to be thankful for.  The thumb you were born with lets your hand be completely functional and capable of anything.

The Lucky Fin Project organization has been such a great resource for all of us this year.  I love that this organization has given you confidence by showing you the many kids around the world that have hands just like yours.  It has helped us to find a name for it and given you the words to explain it to the many curious preschoolers.  I love that you tell people that a famous boxer has only one hand, a girl that surfs only has one hand, and that a famous baseball pitcher only has one hand.  I have seen in your eyes the encouragement that has given you.

Your dad and I and all of our family love you so much.  You are such a cool little dude in glasses.  I cannot wait to see what this next year will hold for you.



Love,

Mom

12.19.2014

The Holidays

Are you ready for Christmas?  That seems to be the question that everyone is asking these days.  The question is usually referring to whether you have all your presents bought and wrapped.  Is your house decorated with lights and a tree?  Have you finished your holiday baking and mailed your Christmas cards?  Are we ready?

As a mom of four small children the question I am constantly trying to ask myself is that are we remembering what Christmas is really all about.  Am I keeping enough focus on Christ and his coming?  Is the nativity sets, the advent wreath, the many messages of scripture we display around our house and the traditions we keep to remember the season enough?  Do we have room in our crazy, messy life for Him?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in buying gifts for the kids, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, parents, and the long list of coworkers, teachers, neighbors, and friends.  Making sure we have a picture to put on our Christmas cards and getting them mailed out in a timely fashion.  Hosting and going to Christmas parties.  Baking the treats with my kids that Bret and I baked as children.  Continuing the traditions of going out with PJ's on and looking at the lights and all of the many joyous parts that we considered our Christmas traditions.

We even try to focus on giving back by buying food and gifts for those less fortunate.  Letting our kids take food and clothes in for their school food drives.  Teaching them that to give is better than to receive.  That they are so blessed in life and that some have so much less.  That sharing is God's way and that we have a responsibility to those less fortunate.  Still is it enough?

Logan and I were at the store looking for a mini tree skirt for a small tree in his room.  He couldn't find one he liked and asked me "mom, isn't there one that says Happy Birthday Jesus?".  The reason for the season.

I used to think I got it.  I understood the nativity story and the birth of Christ and that this was really the reason we celebrated Christmas.  The older I get and the more I study scripture the less I really feel like I know.  More than ever I think about Mary.  Having carried 4 kids of my own I think about her trust in God, her journey, and her faith that gave her such strength.  Each of us as a mom worry about our babies and to know the scripture the way that she did and to know what was going to come for her precious baby boy.  The example of Joseph and his love and obedience.  His faithful service and trust.  These are the examples of the parents I want us to be for our children.  The love, joy, and faithfulness that the birth of Christ still is for us is something I awe at.

Every year I tell myself that we are going to go simpler this year.  We are going to spend less, buy less, do less, and really focus on our faith.  When Christmas is over I never feel like we have quite accomplished this.  I can only hope that we are still moving in the right direction.  That I am still teaching my children about God's love and the joy that Christ's birth brings to us.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas with much blessings.

12.13.2014

Writing

It has been so long since I wrote on here that I almost forgot the website to log on.  That is terrible.  Logan is now going to preschool three days a week and both he and Easton go to a mom's day out program for half a day on Fridays.  I am once again starting to find myself with time without the kids.  Next year Logan will go to all day kindergarten and it will just be me and Easton.

Sometimes when I hear "mom" ten thousand times a day and I am cleaning up the 50th mess of the day I can't wait.  Other days I think about how all too soon all of my babies will be in school and then what.

As a stay at home mom the questions about what we are going to do with ourselves once all of our kids go back to school come flying from all directions.  In fairness I remember when I first contemplated staying home at all and thought surely it would be temporary because what would I do with myself once they were all in school for the majority of the day.

It is a trying question to answer for myself more than for everyone else.  I am lucky in that my husband wants me to be happy no matter what I decide to do and because we are financially stable enough that me working is not a necessity either.  I know what a blessing both of those things are.  It does open up possibilities that feel daunting.  What do I want to do?

For now I wait and hope for inspiration and focus on the present.  I have started writing a novel again and have a close friend with writing ambitions also.  Everything that I have read said that even if you are not working on your book you should still be writing everyday.  Remember when I used to do that?  Yeah, me to.

Adriana

6.24.2014

Update

It has been a long time since I have written here.  Seems kind of crazy because I have written a million posts in my head.  I feel like something is missing when I stop writing.  So here is a quick recap of what has been happening in my life lately and hopefully I will be back here much more regularly.

  • We are moved into the new house!  We have all been super sick with the worst summer cold we have ever had.  Moving when you are sick is not recommended but we are pushing through.  We have been living in the house for a week now and although there are still plenty of boxes we are starting to settle in and we are pinching ourselves because this really is our dream.
  • Bret and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and went to Mexico with friends.  We had an amazing time and got lots of R&R by the beach.  Minus a little gastro issues and family drama it was the best trip.
  • The kids are all doing great and keeping busy with swim team, golf, and swimming lessons.  I feel like our summer is flying by way to fast.  The oldest two kids made a summer bucket list and now that we are starting to settle into the new house I am ready to start tackling that list!  However, I have thoroughly enjoyed our lazy afternoons at the pool.
  • MY SIL is expecting her second baby next month and I cannot wait.
  • I am feeling itchy about getting my new craft room up and going and starting some fun new projects.
  • I am taking a cooking class this whole summer that my husband bought me at a fundraiser.  I have loved it so far and am learning a lot.  My last class we learned how to make our own hollandaise sauce and pouched eggs to make eggs benedict.  It was hard but fun.
  • I have started to say no much more often to volunteer opportunities.  Last year I really started to feel very stretched and it was not fun anymore and taking time away from my family.  I have truly committed to a few events/organizations and want to take more time for the kids and myself.  I feel good about this but selfish at the same time.  It is hard to make this transition but very necessary.

That is pretty much catching you up to date.  I have a few back posts that I want to write (like Palmer's birthday, etc) and some posts about the house and our trip.  Feels good to have a post written.  Sometimes the beginning is the hardest part.

1.09.2014

Happy New Year!

Last year at this time I really set my goals for the year to focus on faith, family, friends, and fun.  I think that I accomplished that a lot.  However I am surprised in how much these focuses centered around just me.  I feel like 2013 was year of personal growth for me in way I have never experience before.

I started doing more volunteering with my church and really spent some personal time praying the rosary and just praying in general.  I made God and faith a big priority in my personal life and I cannot begin to tell you the joy and peace this has brought to me.  I feel a hunger for my faith that is completely new and I am excited to continue my growth.  As I continue on my own personal journey I can see in my husband and children their understanding and support.  The kids are excited and are learning right along with me.  Bret is still more supportive of me rather than wanting to move on his own growth in his personal faith.  That is OK for now I will continue to pray for him and drag him along with me as I go.

Beside faith my health has become a bigger priority both physically and mentally.  While I added a lot of new things in some areas I started cutting other things out.  I said no to some volunteer activities and choose to spend more time at home with my kids.  They are young for such a short time that I want to spend every moment I can with them.  I feel less stressed when I give myself more time to clean up the house, cook meals, do laundry, and even the simple things like play with my kids and read to them more.  I am happier with these changes.

Each year has been different and some years I was ready to see go.  2013 was a good year.  We started building our house, took a trip just the two of us, and spent a lot of time as a family enjoying life.  We are so blessed to be healthy and I hope that 2014 is a great year too.

When I think about my goals for 2014 I think I want to focus on just a couple things.  I want to continue my personal growth and hope to be more generous to Bret with time and opportunites for him to experience this for himself too.  Personally I want to work on being humble and having more patience.  Neither of these two things are easy for me but I am hoping that trying to focus on them more and having them as personal goals will help and each tiny step is still a step in the right direction. 

Happy New Year!

33

Recently I celebrated my 33 birthday.  When I think about this past year I think about how truly blessed I am.  I am so humbled to have been given the amazing gifts from God in my children, husband, family, and friends.

Last week we all had a terrible stomach virus.  It ran through one kid at a time and on Wednesday night I finally got it bad.  I was up sick all night and Thursday morning I ran between the bathroom and trying to get my kids up and around for school.  Sometimes when my kids need me the most like when they are really sick and they just want their mom to hold them I feel most humbled to be their mom.  To know that you are so loved and needed is just such an honor that I sometimes forget.  Palmer sat outside the door when I was getting sick and was really worried.  He was worried first about me and if I was OK but also about who was going to take him to school.  Logan took care of me all day bringing me water and crackers and asking me how I felt a million times.  Each one of my children is so different from each other and they are each so very loved. 




My husband and partner in crime is my greatest blessing.  So much of who my children are come from him.  We first started dating when I was 19.  At the time so many people told us how young we were.  So young to get married and even so young to start a family at 23.  They were right we were so young and looking back I can see that now.  However all these years later we love each other more than ever and even though we have had to grow up a lot together I could not choose anyone better to do so with.




We always knew that we would move home to Kansas when Bret finished residency.  We are so close to our family and knew that we wanted the same for our kids.  Having both of my parents so close by is such a gift.  My kids miss my mom like crazy when they go longer than a week without seeing her.  My sister and I are closer than ever and we are so thrilled that our kids are so close also. 

They tell you that when you get married that it is important to have couple friends and to have friends period.  When we moved to PA it was hard to make friends and we often times felt very alone.  My favorite thing about living here in KS is the friends we have made.  We have so much fun with them and they are such a great support.  It was amazing when I had Easton that our church and community brought us meals for a month.  I have friends that I know I could call at a moments notice and they would pick up my kids or watch them for me or help with however I might need it.  You know they are real friends when they feel the same way and have called me for help to.  It is such a strong community here and we feel so very blessed to be a part of it.