In my Shopping Cart

I have been doing some shopping!

Online shopping is a wonderful invention, especially for the mom of little ones. I want to share some things I am purchasing this weekend, and some things that are going on my wishlist to purchase soon! The items from Target are affiliate links. If you click on the Target links, I get a little bit of the profits, so thank you for supporting my family in this way.

For the kids

I have been getting ready for spring and summer by keeping my eye open for graphic tees that my little man would like. He has an opinion about what he wears now, so here are four he said he liked. (Most kids clothes are 20% off at Target using the code KIDS20)

daniel tiger

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Short Sleeve Shirt

animal friends shirt

Elephant Short Sleeve Shirt

snake

Stripe Short Sleeve Shirt

crane

Time To Wreck Stuff Short Sleeve Shirt

We are also starting to potty train, so I plan to get these jeans that he can pull off and on easier than ones with a button.

jeans

Skinny Rib Waist Denim Pants

For my small one, I need to get another play yard sheet. He seems to have really sensitive skin, and two of the three sheets I got are too rough for his cheeks. This muslin sheet by Aden and Anais is so soft and doesn’t bother his skin too much.

He is also growing like a weed. My 5.5 month old is in 12 month old clothing (slow down please!) and I need a few more things for him to wear in that size. I loved the colors in these and felt they would go into spring well.

coveralls

Coverall Set (2 pack)

For the home

I also am getting a few things for the house. We need more Mrs. Myers hand soap. Basil is my favorite scent, so I am getting a refill of that. I am also getting Rosemary, which is a scent I tried at my friend’s house. (Select soaps are buy one get one 25% off!)

I bought these gorgeous stamps from the USPS. If you love sending notes, or having pretty stamps when you are paying the bills (because that job could always have more lovely things in it), GET THESE!

I am preparing for my first Whole30 and bought this spirializer off Amazon to give me more meal options. I also have my eyes on these two Corelle bowls. It seems like we always go through bowls first at my house!

Corelle Cereal Bowl (set of 6) and Corelle 28 oz. Bowl

I wish I were in the market for a rug, and if I were, it would be this one.

rug

Corbin Rug – Safavieh

For me

These work out capris and Francine River’s latest book The Masterpiece are the final items in my cart this weekend! (C9 Champion items at Target are 20% off with the code PRESDAY20)

work out pants

Freedom Mesh Insert Capri Leggings

What items have you had your eye on? Are you hitting any good sales this President’s Day? Feel free to share in the comments!

Elise

 

 

 

 

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New Goals for a New Year

With a new year, comes the opportunity to start fresh. Many choose to make resolutions, but I prefer to make goals. A goal has to be measurable and attainable. Resolutions are good-they are hopes and dreams-but frequently, they are only generic ideas. For instance: “I will eat better.” “I won’t spend as much money.” “I will be a kinder person.” These are all good things to want to do, but how do you know you are doing them?

goal

 

Goals work better for me because they provide a clear picture of my progress towards my dreams. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals.

Personal:
-Read twelve books
-Work out 2-3 times a week
-Learn a new skill
-Go on two getaways with my husband
-Blog once a week
-Complete a Whole30

Spiritual:
-Complete the Awaken devotional
-Read Scripture every day (no certain amount)

Financial:
-Save up a $500-1000 emergency fund
-Pay off one credit card
-Secure life insurance for Phillip

I made a bullet journal style goal page in my current journal to help me keep track of how I am doing on my different goals. It doesn’t look perfect, as my hand-lettering is still a work in progress, but it will be a fun way to keep up with my goals over the year.

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Here is a little bit more about each goal I am aiming for this year:

read twelve books
I have always loved reading. I remember keeping a book hidden behind my bed so I could sneak in chapters while I was doing my homework in my room. (sorry Mom!) I have a whole list of books I want to read, so I plan to include a mix of fiction and non-fiction books over the course of the year. When I get half of them done, I plan to do a separate post reviewing them.

work out 2-3 times a week
I danced my whole childhood, so I never had to think about being active. Now, after having two babies, I find that I am not as fit as I would like. I want to to be stronger and healthier. So, I used Christmas money to pay for a program at the YMCA called A New You (once again-I am just looking to be healthier) which provides me with an initial assessment, 6-7 personal training sessions and a final assessment. I am really excited to get some experience working out and have someone push me as I start this journey.

learn a new skill
I sometimes feel lost in motherhood. It isn’t that I don’t love my kids or that I don’t love being at home with them, but sometimes I feel like I have been consumed by being a mom. So this year, I want to learn to do something. I am considering learning how to use my DSLR camera or Adobe Illustrator, or maybe something else. I left this open-ended because I haven’t decided yet.

go on two getaways with my husband
Time away is especially important as the parents of two little ones. We don’t get space and time to ourselves much during the week, so these getaways are important times to be able to look in each other’s eyes and simply talk without interruptions or play games without fending off an enthusiastic three year old who wants to join in. We have talked about the plans for the first one in late March/early April. The other will probably be sometime in July/August.

blog once a week
I really enjoy writing, so I want to make a goal to work on this creative outlet. Hopefully, I will find fun and meaningful content to share with everyone. (If you have something you would like me to blog about, feel free to post in the comments.)

complete a Whole30
I have cut various foods out of my diet over the last few years, but I have never done a complete reset. I am interested to compare how I feel with it all out, and how different foods effect me as I add them back in. If you want to join me so I have a Whole30 buddy, let me know! I plan to share this journey on here whenever I start. (I am thinking March.)

complete the Awaken devotional
My dad got me this devotional for Christmas, and I am enjoying the little, but deep moments Priscilla has in her book.

read Scripture every day
I didn’t want to stress myself out by prescribing a certain amount, but I do want to challenge myself to be IN the Word more consistently. I haven’t succeeded over the past two weeks, but having the goal and doing it half the time is an okay place to start.

save up a $500-$1000 emergency fund
Ever since my husband lost his job a year and a half ago, we have been battling our credit card debt. It isn’t out of control or anything, but I would prefer to have NONE. The first step of this is having an emergency fund, so that we don’t feel like we have to turn to the credit card if a large, unexpected purchase comes up.

pay off one credit card
This goes with the one above. I want to pay both off, but I’m not sure that is a financially feasible this year. So if it happens awesome, but tackling just one is what I am shooting for.

secure life insurance for Phillip
I hope this doesn’t seem morbid, but if something were to happen to Phillip, I would have no option but to go back to work full-time immediately. So I want to get insurance which would allow me to live for a few years without making any major changes, if God decided to take him home.

What are some of your goals this year?

Books I’ve Been Reading…

I love to read, but I struggle with trying new authors. I am nervous that I will start a book, but then not jive with the story line or the author’s style. Then I have to choose whether I finish the story for closure or just not know how the story ends – and that is a hard choice to make. I could struggle through writing I don’t relate to, or leave the ending  out there just hanging and unfinished.

book quote
image from here

So, I went on Pinterest and scrolled through different pins of book recommendations. I wrote down the ones that sounded interesting based on the description and the pinner’s comments about why they liked the book. Maybe if you are like me and struggle with branching out in the book area, this list of books I have read recently will help you try some new authors.

1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

“Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.” (from the Amazon book description)

What I loved about this books is that it took me to a part of American history that I wasn’t very familiar with and wove a beautiful story in it. It bounces back and forth between the past and the present, but does so with clarity. I devoured this book!

2. Wonder

wonder

“August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Told from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others, these perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.” (from the Amazon book description)

I adored this book. Since it is a children’s book, it was an easy read, but brought me to tears none the less. It is a beautiful story of friendship, looking beyond appearances, and the resilience and strength of children. READ THIS and your kids should read it too! (The movie is coming out soon too!)

3. The Fill-In Boyfriend

the fill-in boyfriend

“When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
The problem is that days after prom, she can’t stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?
Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West’s talent shines in this tale of one girl’s unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.” (from the Amazon book description)

This was a wonderful young adult book. I find that many love stories in the young adult section can be inappropriate in regards to sexual content and language. Kasie West’s writing is clean, which I loved! This would make a good vacation read while lounging on the beach or on the porch in the mountains! I also read her other books By Your Side and The Distance Between Us which were good teen love stories without all the unnecessary stuff as well!

4. Lunch in Paris

lunch in paris

“In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman–and never went home again.
Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavé au poivre, the steak’s pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce? Lunch in Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs–one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Peppered with mouth-watering recipes for summer ratatouille, swordfish tartare and molten chocolate cakes, Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home. In the delicious tradition of memoirs like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, this book is the perfect treat for anyone who has dreamed that lunch in Paris could change their life.” (from the Amazon book description)

This book was a fun look at how cross-cultural love can be an amazing, though challenging adventure. It touches on love, career struggles, and the marvelous thing that is French cuisine. If you have never eaten French food, you certainly will want to find some (or cook some) after reading this book. She also has another book out called Picnic in Provence, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It is on my list though!

5. After the War is Over

after the war is over

“After four years as a military nurse, Charlotte Brown is ready to leave behind the devastation of the Great War. The daughter of a vicar, she has always been determined to dedicate her life to helping others. Moving to busy Liverpool, she throws herself into her work with those most in need, only tearing herself away for the lively dinners she enjoys with the women at her boarding house.
As Britain seethes with unrest and post-war euphoria flattens into bitter disappointment, Charlotte must confront long-held insecurities to find her true voice . . . and the courage to decide if the life she has created is the one she truly wants.” (from the Amazon book description)

Historical fiction is by far one of my favorite genres to read. This book was no exception. It discusses class issues, the devastation of the war, and PTSD. If you like stories set against a historical backdrop, Jennifer Robson’s book is for you. I couldn’t put this one down!

6. Counting by 7s

counting by 7s

“Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.” (from the Amazon book description)

In this beautiful book, whose characters are kids who are amazingly talented and gifted, but struggle to fit in with their peers, you see how one girl who is exceptionally smart deals with grief and finally finds ways to connect with those around her. Once again, this was an easy read since it is a children’s book, but I loved it!

7. Two by Two

two by two

“At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down.” (from the Amazon book description)

Nicolas Sparks never fails to deliver a surprising story with relatable characters and situations. I adored this story about work, relationships, parenthood, and family. If you have never read Spark’s books, give him a try!

8. Talking as Fast as I Can

talking as fast as I can

“In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.” (from the Amazon book description)

I listened to this audio book on my drive to and from family vacation. It was neat to hear Lauren Graham read the book, and it felt like we were chatting over big cups of coffee. This is perfect for a road trip or a long flight. Her wit and delivery are just as evident in this book as they are in Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. By the way, if you haven’t seen these shows, do so now. I’ll wait while you binge watch them. You’ll thank me later.

9. Once and For All

once and for all

“Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.” (from the Amazon book description)

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. I have read every one of her books (except her first two which I didn’t prefer). I have also read most of them many, many times. I love her style and the way her characters struggle with things the rest of us have encountered. This one dealt with school shootings, divorce, and how losing love makes us jaded sometimes. If you have never read Sarah Dessen’s books, you should!

10. When God Doesn’t Fix It

when god doesn't fix it

“Worship leader and recording artist Laura Story’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their lives would never be the same. Yes, with God all things are possible. But the devastating news was that no cure existed to restore Martin’s short-term memory, eyesight, and other complications. The fairy-tale life Laura had dreamed of was no longer possible. And yet in struggling with God about how to live with broken dreams, Laura has found joy and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.” (from the Amazon book description)

I just started this one, but the Kindle version is still on sale on Amazon for $1.99, so I wanted to share it with you. I feel that this is one of the hardest parts of the Christian life, enduring struggles and trusting God even when your earthly circumstances don’t change.

I’d love to hear what are you reading! Share in the comments below!
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A Family Shaped By Grace

Have you ever spent a holiday with your family and wondered why it felt like such a chore? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around certain family members because you aren’t sure how they might respond to you? Are there some people in your family that you avoid because being around them is too challenging?

If so, know that there is a better way, and it’s all about grace!

A Family Shaped by Grace is a new book coming out on June 6th that I have had the privilege of reading before it’s release. Gary Morland, the author, had a crumbling family. Finally, he got to the point where he wanted to do something different. His way wasn’t working. He started attending Bible study and met a man named Harold. This man would slowly, patiently love on Gary and teach him a better way to relate to and bless his family. This book is about the things he learned. They have helped him have a family shaped by grace instead of duty, anger, fear, or disappointment.

AFSG

What I love about this book is the practical ways Gary gives you to gently change how you view your family and how you relate to them. If you are at all invested in a family (which is everyone) or working with families in a professional way (teachers, pastors, counselors, social workers, etc.), this book is for you!

P.S.-Right now, the book is 40% off if you pre-order on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! Purchase your copy now if you want to get along with the people in your life who matter most!

Monday Musings…1000 Gifts

For the past few months, I’ve been reading and studying the book 1000 Gifts: a dare to live fully by Ann Voskamp. It has been amazing to read through a piece of someone’s spiritual journey and resonate with it so much. The whole premise of the book is that a life overflowing with joy is the only full life, and this full life comes only through the numbering of gifts that God has given. The big, the small, the seemingly insignificant. Our lives are empty because we are always looking for more, looking for what we think we want. In reality, God sees our needs and our wants and meets them according to His grace. So, we already have everything we need, but just don’t have the eyes to see it.

Gratitude gives us those eyes. Paul knew. He practiced it. He called others to give thanks as well. We must do the same.

We must practice giving thanks. It doesn’t come naturally. Not since we were ungrateful in the garden for all that God gave. Since then, we have struggled to see what we have been given, the grace right in front of us, and focus on the things we believe we lack.

So, as Ann talks about in her book, I have decided to take the dare to write down 1000 gifts that God gives me.
Every Tuesday, I will be sharing a few that I have written down throughout the week.

I encourage you to become practiced in gratitude. I truly believe it does lead to the fullest life imaginable!

If you want to know more about 1000 Gifts and Ann’s ministry check out her webpage!

A Holy Experience

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.