Anger, Frustration, Hopelessness, Sadness, Fear, or Joy?

Share your feelings with someone today. Listen to someone today. Empathize today. And try again tomorrow. Teach your children to do this by modeling love.



January Reading

I hit my reading goal this month, easily! I know there are many January-haters out there, and as much as I do not enjoy freezing temps, I love how much I can accomplish this month!

Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
Fourth in the Outlander series, this is set primarily in America before the American Revolution. Like the other Outlander books I’ve read, this installation in the series is exquisite in detail, romance and daring. And like the others, I always proclaim the last one I read to be the “best”. It’s just long, so carve out some time.

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes
Let me preface this by saying I am a big fan of Jojo Moyes. But this one was slow. So slow in fact I had both the audio and digital version of this last fall, and never got past the first two chapters. But I persisted and borrowed a library copy and ended up loving it in the end. It is romantic in a realistic, modern way. Driving the story is Sarah, an orphaned teen, and her survival story.

Perfect Plates, John Waite
This is a perfect gift for a cookbook lover. The recipes are well-photographed and mostly simple, with known ingredients, yet he pulls together some very unique combinations. The Banana and Blueberry Dutch Baby Pancake is the perfect Saturday morning breakfast, and I’m bringing the Rye Soda Bread with Egg Butter to my next lunch meeting.

Gem & Dixie, Sara Zarr
This young adult selection certainly pulled at my heart. Gem & Dixie are neglected teens with a complicated family system. Both the mother and father do their fair share of loving these girls but yet they continually manipulate them for their own selfish gain due to their own flaws and addictions. My heart breaks for any adolescent that is robbed of the chance of adolescence. Her characterization and dialogue of the teens seem near perfect, and the book highlights the importance of the school support system in a vulnerable teen’s life (all the way from teachers, counselors, to even school cafeteria workers).

All Grown Up, Jamie Attenburg
Someone recommended this one as being funny. I don’t think funny would describe it well. It was ironically humorous at times, but I mostly found it depressive and narcissistic. The character’s lack of identity and struggle to find passion and purpose was insightful, but definitely not funny.

And we’re off?, Dana Schwartz
The premise of this story is a teen artist is offered the opportunity to study abroad, but the mother decides to tag along at the last minute. This one is funny and a bit nightmarish, at least from the teenager’s perspective. She gets an opportunity of a lifetime for some self-discovery, and her broken mother decides to both physically and mentally anchor her. The mother seems less like a helicopter mom, and more just discouraging, pathetic and lost.

Pioneer Woman Cooks, Come and Get It!, Ree Drummond
These really are normal, delicious recipes for a busy life. The Overnight Muesli is easy and delicious, and the Sheet Pan Tofu and Grilled Cheese & Veggie are my new favorite lunch favorites. I’ve never made salmon before, but my daughter and I are going to try to cook the Honey Soy Salmon together the next opportunity. Not all of the recipes are perfectly healthy, but in this cookbook Ree makes healthy also look easy and tempting, a considerable feat.

Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman
Rules of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic (which I haven’t read or seen the movie, but I’m reading it next). I will be the millionth person to echo that you don’t have to read Practical Magic before reading this one, and it’s such a beauty that it can stand alone if you wish not to read how the family progresses, as hard as it might be to try. It’s the Owens sisters backstory set in 1950’s New England, and it’s masterful storytelling, capturing both the spirit of the time and the fantasy of magic. I’ve heard the audio version is outstanding, although I only had a library copy and was blown away. I loved it, and would put this on any must-read list.

A Letter to my Congregation, 2nd Edition, Ken Wilson
I believe that most Christians would agree that a defining issue for this generation of believers is the church’s path forward through embracing or excluding people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Whether you agree or disagree with the author’s conclusions, I found it was a worthy journey. I was especially moved by his discernment process of prayer, counseling and research, and the afterword he wrote for the second edition, a true “what happened next.” His generosity of spirit and openness touched me. He wrote, “I can appreciate anyone disagreeing [with] me because I have lived long enough to disagree with myself.” I hope I can approach my calling with such humility.

Have you read anything wonderful that you would recommend?


What’s Working

Whether at church or with my neighborhood friends, something that I’m always keen to talk about is best practices- best mom practices especially. While everyone has different kids and different circumstances, there are always commonalities shared that sparks inspiration for me. Why reinvent the wheel?
Sometimes you’ll find a mom with some kids that are about 5 years ahead of you, and her mom best practices are truly little golden nuggets. And other times, you can help a mom with younger children find the perfect sippy cup, share your perfect bedtime routine, or just in general gain some perspective and appreciate that not every phase lasts forever.
Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint, and just like a running buddy will help encourage you to finish the race- your mom tribe will also!

These are the top 5 things that are working for me right now:

  1. Getting up earlier than my kids. It sounds so simple, but in that 30 mins or hour, I can take a long walk, enjoy some coffee and devotional time, and be ready to give my kids attention to get them to school on time and start my day more peacefully.
  2. Using a bullet journal to write down my goals and create action steps to complete them. I journal my weekly progress, as well as success/fails of the week. I love making lists, so this works well for how my brain works, but it also lets me see big picture progress which helps me in turn be more realistic.
  3. The Think Dirty app is helping me to be choose greener beauty and household products. For many years now, I’ve tried to keep a greener home, both for my family’s health and to be a better steward of our world’s resources. I use many of the Norwex cleaning cloths and my laundry routine is probably as green as I can make it, but my makeup and beauty products need an overhaul. My current rating on the app is a 6. This app helps me identify my biggest offenders (my mascara, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, & body wash) so that when it comes time to replace them, I can make a better choice.
  4. Choosing to unsubscribe from so many retail e-blasts. With budgeting continuing to be a top priority for our family, I have found it easier to spend less by unsubscribing from so many eblasts that prompted that “oh, I need that” reaction.
  5. Activating the “move” function of my Garmin. I don’t want to be bossed around by my watch, but I work a 9-5 office job and sitting all day long is deadly. Keeping water at my desk helps too, then I’m forced by my bladder to move, haha. You could set an alarm on your phone too. Thankfully I work from home, so that I can dance to Timberlake for a few minutes in the privacy of my own office.

I would love to hear what is working for you too! Let’s lift each other up so that this motherhood journey is a little easier!



Every year, I try to set goals for myself. While they almost always include losing 15 pounds and eating more vegetables, I try to include something creative that pushes me.

Last year was no picnic, but it was made easier because I had a plan. Our family stuck to a budget and accomplished some important financial goals. I ran a half marathon without injury. And I strongly believe I was a more patient wife and mother.
This is what I am pushing myself toward in 2018:

More knitting. Stretch myself and knit something impressive, and find the inspiration to design something unique. I know this sounds vague but I don’t want to put too many limits on this one just yet.

More reading. Putting a number out there makes it sound like I am going for quantity over quality, so I want to stay away from that. But I read 72 books in 2017, and many were magnificent. I would like to read more magnificent stories, and you need to listen to many voices to do that.

Tackle some home projects. The interior needs to be painted, and the patio and backyard needs a makeover. Veggies seem to always fail me, so this year will have a flower focus.

Cook with the kids more. We stopped our kid night cooking because of our busy schedule last year and I want to restart this. I don’t think it is realistic for me to do this every week with each girl, but I think we can do it once a month. (And if it broadens our horizon with new food choices, it would be welcomed with open arms. Mac and cheese, I’m talking to you!)

With everything, I want to fit within the frame of family-first. Whether it is here for the blog, at work, or for play, I want to make sure my decisions are building up my relationship with my husband and girls.

Staying real and sharing the success and failure is what connects us together. What are you planning for 2018?

My November Dinner Plan

This month I am trying out something different.

I decided to give each day of the week a theme according to the time and effort I have for cooking dinner.

Then I filled in a month’s worth of dinners so the Saturday grocery list is easy to compile, and a good starting point if I wanted to buy some food items in bulk.

  • Sunday: Roast Something
  • Monday: Beans-Soup Night
  • Tuesday: Salad Night
  • Wednesday: Out
  • Thursday: Quick Grill
  • Friday: Leftovers-Pizza
  • Saturday: Pasta

november meal planI am sure we will adjust slightly as the month bears on us, but it made my heart happy to have a plan.

How do you meal plan?



This past spring, our family attended a church retreat and the retreat theme was “allowing God to break in.” We came home motivated and strengthened, and Sabbath was one of the biggest things I felt my family was really missing.
Saturday was the fun day, packed full of friend time, ballgames, and travel. Sunday was the “catch up” day. Grocery, laundry, hustle/bustle of leftover things. Leaving church early to tackle the to do list.
So I made myself another list. What does Sabbath mean to me; what is my goal? What are the barriers to my goal and steps I can take to meet my goal?
My answers were spiritual rest, time to meditate on God’s word, and more time to ponder gratitude. The barriers were easy to pinpoint. Obviously leaving church early isn’t helping me to learn more of the Bible. And weekly grocery planning and prep, and house cleaning is necessary so it took the priority when I procrastinated until Sunday. But what could I do differently?
Tidy during the week, a little laundry every day and doing the grocery planning on Saturday was an obvious fix. I could not only attend worship more regularly, I could take sermon notes and truly stay engaged. As a family we talk about the sermon and worship songs, especially since our kids are young but too old for the children’s worship class.
We also decided to be intentional about how we spend our time on Sunday with less electronics. And when we are thankful or the spirit moves us to pray for others, we act on it and send a thank you note or text.

Does it happen every week? No. Does it have to be Sunday? No. Sometimes it’s an hour on Tuesday night, or a Saturday afternoon. Transition times are especially hard (like the start of the school year).
But ultimately, the effort is worth it for my family. Is Sabbath a spiritual practice you enjoy? How do you make it a priority?


Summer Reading Plan

With the school year ending, I’m not going to lie- I am very excited to see the end of the reading log for the kiddos. We love to read! However, the requirement to log in a certain amount of time a day truly steals the joy.

So this summer, the reading plan is very loose. I am taking them to the library on Fridays, to let them pick anything they want. They have their own library card, and I let them usually choose 5-10 books. And together (bedtimes and car trips mainly) we will try to read a few chapter books.


These are some of the ones I’m looking forward to sharing this summer:

The Boxcar Children

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Red, White, and Blue

Hattie & Hudson (not chapters but so beautiful)



And for me-

The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a dark, dark wood, in thriller preparation for The Lying Game (coming out July 25!)

More of the Outlander series

Pure, White, and Deadly 

Always and forever, Lara Jean 


And some other new releases that I heard about on Bookpage: How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays and Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel

Do you like to make a plan for yourself and your kiddos?