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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Last week in Bible Study we studied anger. I resolved to work on my temper and count to ten before reacting when feeling anger build.

The next day I discovered Joe at the table decorating my Bible. My first reaction was to cry, as this was a new leather bound "Mother's Bible" that I had purchased for the Bible Study. My second reaction was to get angry ("Can't I have one nice thing?!") but I counted to ten first to calm myself.  
During those ten seconds I found the irony in the situation. My little boy had written "I Mom" on my "Mother's Bible". Fitting, indeed.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Be Strong & Courageous

Courageous and Strong are words that described Jacob to a "T". I wrote this post last year all about Jacob's courage.

Joshua 1:9    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

The verse hangs in my office, right next to a picture of Jesus. I glance at it several times a day, taking courage and strength from the fact that my sweet little boy is now with Jesus.
This verse has been special to me since the very day of Jacob's cancer diagnosis. As I put this picture together earlier this year I described to Jacob that this was his verse, and that he was the strongest and most courageous person I know. His smile was priceless as I hung it on the wall.

The morning Jacob passed away I sat outside alone in the dark and prayed. Prayed for comfort and peace...and strength and courage. A few hours later I log onto Facebook to update Jacob's Ladder page and the very first thing at the top of my Facebook wall was a verse that a local Christian Radio station had just posted.

Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Coincidence? I think not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forever Friday

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis interested me as it is a love story mainly set in the 1920's.

After the first several chapters I glanced back at the front cover to see the author's name again and wasn't surprised to realize I was reading a romance book written by a man. The style seemed a bit off. For example, the two main characters meet for only a few minutes (at most) at the beginning but can't stop thinking about each other and go so far as to think thoughts like getting a better job to be able to provide more when they get married? It seemed so unrealistic.

One of the main points of the book was the concept of "long division" and how things like work, children, and daily life can push married couples apart from each other. Instead of showing a romantic story about how to pull all these things together and make a great marriage the author made it seem as though the only reason that this relationship was able to stay so passionate was because there were no children involved. I actually felt, several times, that this couple was a bit selfish.

I didn't fall in love with the characters in this book or the exact story line. With that said, I did like how the book showcased our guardian angels as maybe strangers that we meet throughout life and the book did keep me entertained.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ipsy October Bag Review

I have been canceling subscription boxes left and right this month. I think I have it narrowed down to four favorite boxes each month now and Ipsy is one of the keepers. Each month you get a fun makeup bag filled with 5 sample and full size items for $10. Each month there is a mixture of around 10 items that your bag could be made up with. Your mixture is personalized just for you with ipsyMatch (a survey you take). I was happy with most of my items this month but really wanted the cupcake hand lotion (which I did not end up getting).
This months theme is "The Art of Beauty".

*I love this makeup bag - I'll find some fun items to stick in it to throw in my purse.

*Zoya nail polish in Mason ($8) Such a pretty color

*Nourish Organic Coconut & Argan Body Lotion ($1.50)

*Style Sexy Hair Spray Clay ($5) I'm really curious how well this will hold my unruly hair together - look forward to trying it out!

*Ofra Lipgloss Plumper ($5) This is a pretty color but I do not like plumping lipgloss so will put in my Christmas pile.

*h2o Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment ($5?) This smells delicious and the reviews are great for it.

Total value of the bag is about $25, though I guessed on several items. I've received bags with over $50+ values. It's a fun surprise, I've found several new to me favorites with this bag, and whatever I can't use I'm able to pass on to others. For $10 a month it makes a great gift for a teen or any woman in your life. Think Christmas stockings as well - save these items throughout the year and make some awesome gift bags up! There is a waiting list right now but some people have been lucky to get off it within a month so you may still be able to get the December bag if you sign up now!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Beauty of Broken

They say not to judge a book by it's cover but I sort of did. This beautiful cover is what made me choose this book. I'm happy I did.

Elisa Morgan is the former CEO of MOPS International. She finally decided to tell her story, or frankly, to tell the truth.

We women do a disservice to each other. Most of us do not tell each other just how hard parenting is, how difficult marriage turned out to be, how exhausting our day to day life can be. We sugar coat everything - and then look at all the other perfect woman around us and feel like a failure. All because they aren't honest about their life either. It's hard. No one is perfect. Every family is broken in their own way.

Elisa decided to tell the story of her broken family, and in the process, shows the truth of most families. Alcoholism and drug addiction, infertility and adoption, teen pregnancy, divorce, homosexuality, and death. Most of us have to deal with one or more of these issues in our own families.

The fact is, we can see the beauty of broken.

This book kept me company on a dreary day and I was so interested in it that I completed it the same afternoon that I started it. I think all women, whether Christian or not, can take from it that all we can do is do our best and just go with the flow of our family.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Little Book of Great Dates

Little Book of Great Dates by Dr. Greg & Erin Smalley looked like a book that I could really use right about now. Admittedly, my husband and I can count on one hand the number of times we have gone out alone in three years. That's bad but it's also life with a sick child.

I don't know if it was just bad timing or the actual book but I didn't get a lot out of it. Apparently the dates should go in order of the book since many chapters reference the previous one with "On your last date you ". And with 52 chapters it seems as though the authors are insinuating that you will have a weekly date night (the first chapter starting with a New Year's date). For someone who went from roughly one date a year a weekly date night seems to stretch it.

Couple that with the fact that while some date night suggestions are relatively inexpensive (to downright free, such as a nature hike), it still begins to look unattainable from a budget standpoint. Babysitting is expensive - so unless you have a willing friend or relative to do it for free or you are more financially set these weekly dates can become quite expensive.

I'm not knocking weekly date night for those who do it but I wish this book would have had a little more leeway in terms of the suggestions or order in which to do them.

I also felt some of the suggestions were the same thing, over and over again, and quite frankly there were very few that actually sounded fun and/or exciting. With that said, it may be more of the timing for me (nothing sounds fun right now) than the actual book itself.

I, personally, think this book would be great for empty-nester couples. A way to connect on weekly date nights and get to know each other all over again. For me many of the suggestions seem unattainable for a couple with many small children who also live in a small town (trying Opera or ball room dancing would 1. not excite my husband, 2. involve a good amount of money, and 3. involve a trip to a much larger city which would also require more money for the date for gas costs and extra babysitting charges).

I did enjoy reading some of the questions spouses should ask each other on their dates and how these will also strengthen the Christian bond between the two. It may be better to use the book as a reference guide and pick and choose which ones work best for you.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heaven Revealed

Heaven Revealed by Paul Enns looked to be just the book I needed. While we know that our loved ones are in Heaven knowing what Heaven is like is a mystery to most of us. I needed some answers.

While I found the descriptions of Heaven lovely I began to feel as though I had to trudge through the book. Paul has written a Theology book previously and I felt as though this book continued with that writing style. I found it a bit textbook-like for a lay person.

There was a lot of repetitive writing as well. In at least three different chapters he answered the question of whether we would be able to recognize our loved ones in Heaven. While it is an important question, I felt the first time it was answered was sufficient. Many times I felt as though I was reading the same descriptions again and again.

I think this would be a good reference book for specific questions but reading it straight through was a bit of a chore.  

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Fluffy Mail

Any cloth diaper mama could tell you that a box like this in the mail would make their heart skip a beat.
Colorful, soft, and fluffy. I have the bestest friends. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Escape

I've been keeping myself busy these past 8 weeks. With a newborn, two hyper children, and a neglected house that is easy to do. A busy mind doesn't have much time to dwell.

Yet, it doesn't work. Organizing a kitchen drawer finds me with little pieces of Legos, Jacob's favorite restaurant's menu, a Nintendo game. Folding clothing and finding a random item of Jacob's. Going through school things and noticing the lack of third grade items - since they won't be needed this year.

Even a job as simple as cleaning off my desk turns into a journey down memory lane. A drawing, a picture from 2010 from Chuck E. Cheese, a birth announcement that never got taped into his baby book. Hospital papers and chemotherapy information (which went immediately into the trash can, I can't stand memories of that).
I don't want to forget Jacob. I don't want to forget our happy memories. But there is no escape from this ever presence reminder of his absence. It is a not even formed scab ripped off hundreds of times a day. The wound grows deeper, more painful, as the days go by. 8 weeks without him; 58 days to be exact.

Science says you can't live without air after 3 minutes. Without water after 3 days. Without food after 3 weeks. All these seem less important than living without Jacob. And yet, 8 weeks...58 days later we are still here...without him. An amazing feat? Or just testament to how grief shapes us, changes us, keeps us going after our loved ones have passed?

There is no escaping. Death. Loss. Grief. Pain. It happens to the best of us.

Monday, October 14, 2013

This Week

*I finally, finally, finally finished painting Becca's room (well, except for some areas that need touch ups). I was reminded why I don't do projects like this. With a six month old this project took 5 weeks to complete! The paint was just the beginning, now I need to gradually find items to decorate it with. The color theme is mainly grey and yellow but I'll be adding other pops of color. Pictures to come as the room comes together.
*It's getting cold. I awoke this morning to a house that was 59 degrees. I have an odd rule that I try not to turn the heat on until November but had to run it once this morning to take the chill out of the air.

*I found a group online of other "subscription box addicts" that trade items they don't want from their boxes. This week I've already set up several trades - I'm getting some "Clinique Happy" in trade for some gift cards, a Christmas present in trade for a gift card (all of these are from subscription boxes for places I won't use), and some dog treats in exchange for an apple dish. How fun!

*I'm beginning to think that coffee and I don't get along. I've been dealing with anxiousness recently and find it to be much, much worse after drinking my morning coffee. This makes me sad. I'm going to test it for a week, drinking tea in the morning instead and seeing how I feel. I'm really hoping it's not the coffee, but know that it probably is a big part of it. :(

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Little Things

It's the little things that get me through each day.

A baby's first love.
A cup of hot tea and a good book.

Two boxes of Polly Pockets for free from FreeCycle which taught the kids how to play together nicely and kept them busy all day. 

Sitting on the porch in the sun.

Getting one single cupboard organized in the kitchen.

It's all so simple, yet so satisfying. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

PopSugar Must Have October Box Review

I'm whittling down my subscription boxes but PopSugar is one that I just won't cut (at least around the holidays!). It's just too much fun to receive and this month did not disappoint!
The October box theme was a mixture: "Pink" for breast cancer awareness ($1 of every box was donated to breast cancer research), as well as "Halloween" and "kitchen" (with the holidays around the corner).
*NYX Cosmetics Liquid Liner ($6)

*NYX Smokey Shadow Palette ($7)

*Julep polish and top coat For PopSugar Duo ($14 and $18 when sold individually)

*Jane Tran BobbyPins ($12) These are a nice size and who can't use bobby pins?!

*The Wet Brush ($14) With wavy/curly hair I can always use a brush that helps to get rid of the tangles fresh out of the shower
*Gorjana Charity Bali Bead Bracelet ($45) Such a pretty color!

*Stitch Fix $20 gift card - I've heard a lot about this personal styling service and may have to try it out with this gift certificate.
*The Can't Cook Book by Jessica Seinfeld ($16) This is a brand new cookbook (just released this week!) and I love it!

*The Crispery Halloween CrispyCake ($4) This was soooooooo good! It tasted like a freshly made rice krispie treat and was huge!

All in all the value of this box is close to $150! PopSugar is usually $35 a month but in November they raise the price to $39.95 so if you want to subscribe do so now before the price increase. The holiday boxes are usually amazing (and if you can't use some items yourself think Christmas! for those special people in your life!). To subscribe go here and use code SQUAD5 to get $5 off your first box or SQUAD10 to get $10 off your 3 month or more subscription.

Disclaimer: Referral links are included in this post.   

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Double Take

I think I finally birthed a baby that looks like me. :)

Beyond Tears

I picked up the book Beyond Tears by Ellen Mitchell at the library this past weekend. It's subtitle is "Living After Losing a Child".

I didn't know if I would get anything out of it. After all, the nine mothers in the book who tell their stories are grieving their adult or older teen children. Not that it makes it easier, but it makes it different.

When Amy went down for a nap in the evening I opened the book and I didn't put it down until I was finished. It spoke to me that much. Maybe it's because I can't always put my feelings into words just yet. I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with much of what these woman spoke of.

Maddy: "You have reached a new level when your first thought is of your child's life rather than a replay of their death." (I long for this day.)

Rita: "I needed to touch my son. It was a universal feeling. We all constantly looked for our children, as if they were misplaced somewhere." (My heart aches knowing I will never hold his hand or gaze at his sweet face again on this side of Heaven.)

Phyllis: "I was so exhausted; it was an effort to live." (Some days I'm so tired that the thought of doing the smallest thing makes me exhausted. Living is an effort these days.)

Carol: "I had difficulty breathing. I was constantly sighing out loud. There's no refuge from the pain. You crave peace and there is none. It's an awful place to be. The pain is unrelenting." (The pain never stops. That is the most exhausting part.)

I could go and on with all the quotes that hit the nail on the head. This is not a book of answers, of how to get through it, but rather a book of how these nine women got through their own struggle. Each journey is a different one and this book does an excellent job of showcasing how each and every person grieves differently. There is even a chapter from the husbands (surprisingly, all nine marriages remained intact, when studies show that 90% of couples who have lost a child eventually end up divorcing) and a chapter from the brothers and sisters of the departed. It just gives a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

Yet, at the end, you see that a parent never gets over losing a child. That it completely changes that person forever. Because of this, I not only recommend this book for parents who have lost children, but also for anyone who has a friend or family member who has lost a child. It gives you a glimpse into their thoughts. A reasoning behind their actions. A tiny taste of the pain that will never go away.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

10 Years

10 Years ago, to the day (8:48pm, to be exact), Becca came into this world and made me a mother.
It's a wild ride, this thing called motherhood. As Elizabeth Stone put it: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

It's so worth it.

Happy 10th birthday, Becca!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I can't

"Hey Mom, take a picture of all of us on the swing!" yelled Becca as she ran towards it.

Joe quickly followed.

They waited with anticipation. They waited for me to place Amy in between them.

I glanced down at Amy and swallowed the lump in my throat.

"How about we leave Amy in the stroller where she is happy and I snap a picture of you two?"
I can't do it. I can't snap a photo of my children together because there is one missing. Three children together makes the missing one even more obvious. For the past two months the pictures of my children involve one, or two, but never all three together. I can't handle that yet.  

Because never again will I be able to capture all of my children in a picture.


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