Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Does it Mean to be "Set Apart?"

— set apart
:  to reserve to a particular use
:  to make noticeable or outstanding
(merriam webster)

There are many verses one might point to as evidence that, as Christians, we are set apart for God. But what does this really look like? All too often, without insider knowledge, I wouldn't be able to tell you which of my friends were Christians and which didn't believe. On social media, what is talked about and shared is, with few exceptions, the noticeable the same.

A few of my friends who claim Jesus say this is intentional because facebook (etc) isn't the right place to share anything about their faith. That's something to do in person. On some level I understand that. I mean, it's easy to misunderstand someone or come across wrong and not realize it if you can't read body language and hear the tone of voice. But is it an adequate reason? And, to be honest, many who claim that don't actually talk about Jesus or the Bible when they are face to face with people either.

The point is - your life on social media is an extension of your actual life.

If you can't tell a difference as to who is a Christian and who isn't on facebook, where can you?

If we are set apart for God, shouldn't there be a difference in our lives? Something that characterizes us, marks us, makes us different?

This question has been tumbling in the back of my mind for awhile.

When I picked up Leslie Ludy's book The Set Apart Woman, all I really expected was some nice sentiment and a pat on the back for being God's daughter. But you never know, so I read it in spite of my misgivings.

Plus, it had a pretty cover. That's always nice.


Sometimes I like being wrong.

I really appreciated the words offered in this book to help us be intentional about our set apart-ness. Leslie reminds us that our actions overflow from our hearts. That we need to make sure you spend time with God each day. As a busy pregnant mom with two little ones, it's easy to be "too busy" to pray or read the Bible. Leslie makes the point that particularly in those seasons we ought see it as being too busy NOT to pray! 

The problem isn't the busyness of our life, it's when we try to go about our lives on our own strength - like Martha, who was "distracted with much serving" instead of making spending time with Jesus her #1 priority. 

How true is that for many of us?

Recently, I've started being more intentional about how I spend my time, with the key areas being what I do right before bed and the first hour or two after I wake up. This has really helped me be less stressed and has created time where I can grow spiritually again. This has dovetailed beautifully with reading The Set Apart Woman

I highly recommend reading this book. It is directed to women, but that doesn't mean men couldn't benefit from it as well. May we all take steps so that when people look at us, they see Jesus.


Do you also want to have more peace, less stress, and feel more productive each day? Want to make sure you are able to spend quality time with Jesus every day? I found the Make Over Your Mornings ecourse extremely helpful in this regard. 

If you're unsure if you want to invest in this course or not, the first day of this 14 day course is currently available for free, so check it out. Also, if you aren't satisfied with your purchase, your money will be refunded if you let them know within 30 days! This is a win-win-win situation, where there's really only things to gain, and nothing to lose.

I received a complimentary ecopy of The Set Apart Woman in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

This post does contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive commission for referring business. Thank you for your support!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

9 Thoughts that Can Change Your Marriage {Book Review}

My husband and I have been married going-on-three-years. I know, ancient. We have a good great marriage. It's not perfect (neither of us are), but we've grown a lot and worked through things together. We understand each other better now, and we try to make sure we're fighting for each other, not with each other.

Even though we're blessed to be in our relationship and for it to be so strong already, I'm always trying to learn new ways I can better serve my husband. Because I love him. I thoroughly enjoyed Shelia's To Love, To Honor, and To Vacuum (of the website by the same name) so when I had the opportunity to review her newest book Nine Thoughts that can Change Your Marriage, I jumped on it.

What Shelia does in this book is very important. She gives you the tools you need to change your marriage. A change starts with you. Oh, she doesn't ignore the reality that your husband may be at fault, but she shows that by changing how you think in 9 areas, you can make a difference in your marriage regardless of if he changes or not.

It sounds lofty, but here's the lovely part: each thought Shelia makes totally actionable.

Take her first thought, as an example: My husband is my neighbor.

Here are her action steps:

  • How well do you know your husband? Every day for the next two weeks, ask your husband something new about him - and share something about yourself.
  • Show your husband he is your priority. Put on makeup for him, greet him at the door, or kiss him before you kiss anybody else.
  • Tell your husband daily why you love him.
  • Make confession part of your prayer life every day - and apologize whenever you feel an inkling that you have done wrong.
  • Practice random acts of kindness. Choose two to three from pages 28-30 to make into habits.
Now, the books is not just a list of thoughts and action steps. Shelia takes time to talk about each point and really make them applicable, candidly sharing her experiences and how these thoughts and actions helped turn her marriage from one of frustration to one of fun.

This is a great book regardless of if you feel you and your husband are at odds. My husband and I have already worked through some of this in our time together. When I read why and how Shelia recommended going about some of these suggestions, I really felt validated that my husband and I were doing a good job of working together.

But that's not enough.

I want to make sure I don't let things stagnate, and I found this book full of practical suggestions to make sure I'm taking care of my husband and our marriage, which, after my relationship with God, is my top priority ... and the best gift I can give to our children.

Highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
This post does contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive compensation for referring business. Thank you for your support!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books {Book Review}

While "Amazing Adventures" seems to overstate the case, this was a fascinating work about how one man, with some help, pretty much saved Yiddish books from extinction

I love books, and I'm a voracious reader. Just a look at my blog or goodreads or amazon review pages will tell you that. I love old books. It's really hard for me to pass up a pre-copyright volume at a good price. The thought of people discarding books of their heritage because their children are not able to read the language is heartbreaking.

Yet, that is precisely what was happening to books written in Yiddish. 

Yiddish is the product of the Jewish people having no homeland and incorporating Hebrew with the languages of the lands in which they lived. A hybrid language. Some would say an illegitimate language. While the younger generation just didn't know the language in America (their parents and grandparents saw that lack of knowledge as a way for integration to occur), there was a segment of the older population that abhorred Yiddish because it wasn't scholarly. These people actively refused to save Yiddish books, afraid they might corrupt young people. 

Aaron Lansky, the author of Outwitting History, grew up hearing Yiddish, but never learning it. In college he wanted a degree in Jewish studies and decided Yiddish was an important part of that education. It was during this time he realized that Yiddish books were scarce, and growing more rare by the day.

Some of this was because of the Holocaust. Entire groups of people had to abandon everything to flee or be sent to concentration camps. Their books, and indeed everything left behind that wasn't deemed valuable by their captors, was destroyed. When Aaron decided he needed to save Yiddish books from the destruction that was happening because young people weren't learning Yiddish anymore, scholars estimated that only 70,000 Yiddish books existed worldwide.

He recovered that many books in six months. 

Over twenty years after starting this journey, Aaron and the non-profit he founded have saved over 1.5 million Yiddish books, sheet music, and pamphlets including some volumes which were believed to be entirely eradicated. 

Outwitting History is a fascinating look into what went into recovering a significant part of history that was almost lost forever. Aaron's story is truly one of being in the right place at the right time - and taking the appropriate action.

While a basic knowledge of Hebrew or Yiddish is helpful for reading this book, it is not required. Translations are given whenever Yiddish is used, or context gives an explanation. 

If you like history, books, memoirs, Jewish culture, or David vs Goliath stories, this book is for you.

A highly enjoyable read. Definitely recommend.

PS - a nice little bonus? Finding out that Fiddler on the Roof was based off the Yiddish book "Tevye der milkhiker" (Tevye the Dairyman). Half my brain goes "There's a book?! I need to read that." and the other half goes "Of course there's a book. I need to read that." Told you I liked books. *wink*

This post does contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for referring business. Thank you for your support!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Make Over Your Mornings {Game Recap}

Here are my immediate take-aways from week two of the Make Over Your Mornings eCourse! To read my thoughts on week one, go here.

Day 8: Create a realistic to-do list
Really good tips here about creating a to-do list you can actually accomplish in one day! No, this isn't about "getting it all done" it's about prioritizing and realistically assessing your season of life and going "all of these are good, but what is best right now?" I've been frustrated too many times by NOT accomplishing what I had laid out, and I think this will help me in the future.

Day 9: Set up your morning routine
Now everything is coming together - up till now Crystal had given us pieces of the puzzle ... now we get to start putting it together! 

Day 10: What are lies you are telling yourself?
This is actually an easy day for me, because this is something I've actually been working through recently. I found there were two areas I was beating myself up in.

1) Not being in shape. OK so I'm not terribly OUT of shape, but I could definitely use some trimming up. I was 5-10 pounds over my "normal" weight when I married. We had a honeymoon baby, 18 months later we added a son, 13 months after his birth we're expecting another. In between these pregnancies there was 10 pounds I didn't lose over my previous weight. 

Growing up I always heard that breastfeeding just makes that baby fat melt away. I don't doubt this is true for some people, but I think it depends on who you are. For me, I think the OPPOSITE is true. I think my body goes "you're breastfeeding! MUST HOARD FAT ... just in case"

As I started thinking about this I realized something - old books and such talk about a "matronly figure" (matron = mother). This always indicated curves or a little plumpness, softness, etc. For HUNDREDS of years, this was considered normal enough it got a term. This whole we're-super-skinny-and-moms things is a relatively new development. If you can pull that off I applaud you, I've largely come to terms with the fact that I'm not unhealthy, and it's ok that I'm not as thin as I once was.

Some days are easier than others. I remind myself though - I don't have this extra weight because I'm not eating right. I DO eat healthy, and while I don't exercise the way I used to, I definitely stay active with little ones around. 

2) I can do it all. By this I meant - I can keep my house in clean and in order (with a 2 year old and 6 mo old) during some disruptive home renovations and cook all my meals from scratch (knowing exactly what was the BEST deals of the week and using those to maximize our money). 

While I do struggle with food from time to time (since we moved last August I haven't gotten back into a good routine for baking our bread) I've never had a problem going "oh that frozen pizza is on a really good sale. Between what it would cost and my time it's the better deal this week" I'm all for making things myself, but eating something already prepped from time to time isn't going to kill us. 

My big struggle is really keeping everything clean. I always feel like I'm running two or three steps behind. Many times I feel frustrated because I JUST cleaned something only for it to get messed up or soiled again. When I ask myself how women of years gone by did it, I realized 5 things.

  1. Standards of cleanliness were different. You dusted, you swept, but disinfecting? sanitizing? Even if you knew about those things, the tools weren't available for home use. Unfortunately, this fact doesn't help us much.
  2. Bathrooms (if they existed) were generally outside. And were probably never cleaned. Double edged sword. I love my indoor bathroom, but cleaning it is seriously one of my least favorite chores.
  3. Meals were simpler. The need to be a gourmet-home chef didn't exist. You ate what was available ... and you probably didn't have a whole cabinet filled with herbs and spices from around the world to incorporate.
  4. Having help wasn't uncommon. Having a maid or family member who lived with you but helped take care of chores or the children was pretty common. 
  5. They had fewer things to care for. Their children didn't have a room or two with toys. They had a doll, a stuffed animal, maybe a top and some marbles, a baseball bat and glove, a few books if you were fortunate. We and our family and friends want our children to have the best of everything. This is good, but it can also be overwhelming. 

I've had to realize that I CAN'T do it all. I need help. Not everyone is blessed to have family they love and trust close by like I am. Sometimes I've just had to ask my mom if she can watch my kids so I can dedicate a day to really cleaning the house. Some things I just cannot do with the children around. She doesn't mind at all. And I bet you have friends who would love to help too - maybe take turns swapping children so you can both get a day to clean/shop/breathe! 

Day 11: Think about how you can incorporate nutrition and exercise.We eat fairly healthy at our house, so getting the right nutrition isn't of huge concern for me. Since we moved almost a year ago, though, having something already made for breakfast to simplify the mornings just hasn't happened. What spare time we have has been spent with family, or on renovating our house. We haven't come up with a good routine where I can have breakfast already ready to grab, like I used to do. Part of the problem is the layout of our kitchen - it just isn't conducive to bulk preparation. I'm hoping once we get our table and chairs painted and in the dining area this will provide the needed work space so I can get back into this really necessary habit. 

Exercise is harder for me. I mean, I have two kids who keep me on the move, but the one on the way means I can't start a new exercise program ... and it wouldn't even be good for my body at this point. We don't have a fence yet for our yard so we can't just go outside and run around. I do try and go on walks, but the process of loading and unloading the children from the double stroller is discouraging. Plus, I don't enjoy walking by myself (aka without another adult). When I'm visiting my parents we try and walk, or I try and go to friends' pools if I have an invitation, but I don't have something regular in place. The best I do is stretch, which is better than nothing, but not ideal. As I wrote about last week, I totally get the benefit of exercise, but this is a season where its hard to incorporate it.

Day 12: Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Even though I mentioned for Day 11 that I have issues with not having breakfast already prepared, this wasn't a decision fatigue issue. I was content with my saucer of cottage cheese and wheat germ. But, being pregnant, this isn't enough to kick start my day, and I haven't found a good, easy replacement yet that doesn't require bulk preparation. There's no way I'm going through the mess of making a batch of muffins without making a triple batch. If I have time to make one batch, it only adds marginal time to make two more. 

One of Crystal's suggestions is having a minimalist wardrobe. I don't embrace minimalism, but I have simplified my wardrobe over time. If it doesn't fit right, if I don't wear it, and if I don't really like the way it looks on me? I don't keep it (with some exceptions for transition pieces for pregnancy and postpartum). 

Chores, however, are something we really struggle with. We get the kitchen clean and sweep pretty much everyday, but we'll forget to vacuum. Or I'll suddenly realize that somehow cleaning our bathroom fell through the cracks. 

Before I was married, I had a system in place for doing my chores regularly, but with moving 3x in two years and adding 2 children with another on the way in the mix, and doing home renovations, it's been challenging, at best, to figure out something that really works for us. 

Day 13: Does Your Routine Need to be Tweaked?

Reality check: I haven't even created my routine yet. I know, I was supposed to do that several days ago, but with preparing to go out of town and being gone for several days, it just didn't happen. My goal is to finally sit down and talk with my husband before this weekend about what we can do. 

Day 14: Celebrate!

Crystal provides encouragement for sticking with the new routine and practical tips for reevaluation.

As I shared in Day 13, I haven't created my morning routine yet. BUT we have started implementing our before bed routine, and waking up and having those things already taken care of an cleaned is really empowering. Here are some benefits I'm already reaping:

  • I feel I can actually get something accomplished during the day, instead of feeling like I can't catch up.
  •  Also, while I don't have a morning routine in place, I have started charting out a week at a time listing what's for supper, if anything is happening that day (Are we going somewhere? Do I need to run an errand? Do we have company?) so I can be in the right frame of mind.
  • I list one thing I want to accomplish that day (eg, vacuum the house, mop the living room, prep the vegetables). I know. Ambitious, right? But at this point in life being pregnant with two little ones, anything more than that is overwhelming. Crystal talked about setting realistic goals, accomplishing one thing a day is realistic, and slowly makes progress. 
  • While we were out of town this past weekend, our baby slept until 8:30 every day. At home he had been waking up between 6:30-7:30! I thought about what the difference was, and it was that he had gone to bed later! My husband and I try to get to bed by 10, but usually it's at least 11. I just hadn't been getting enough sleep. Since we got back home, we've been putting him down later at night, and he's been sleeping later in the mornings! This means I get more sleep - sometimes I even wake up on my own! That's a lovely feeling. It's amazing how a simple little change like adjusting a bedtime affects my mood first thing. 

So while I haven't perfectly followed the tasks for each day and haven't truly made over my mornings yet, I'm already seeing benefit from what I have been able to implement. And honestly, I'm thinking I'll probably go through this course a second time, starting next week. I've had time to really put some thought in to this, so hopefully it'll be easier for me to make things actionable this time around. Have you tried to make over your mornings yet? What benefits have you seen?

This post does contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive commission for referring business. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Make Over Your Mornings {Half-Time Report}

Sorry, I am posting this late - we lost power yesterday! Thankfully everything is all right. Our neighbor's tree fell across the street. It was not pretty, let me tell you. BUT had it fallen the other way, their house would be destroyed. As is, it didn't hit any cars or people when it fell ... just blocked the road and took out the power. All in all not so bad! 

I made it! I'm halfway through the Make Over Your Mornings ecourse from Crystal Paine (aka Money Saving Mom). Below are my thoughts immediately after completing the course material for the day. Course material ... that makes it sound really intensive. It isn't! There's a short (3-5 minute) video to watch and then a literal couple pages to read, and one or two tasks. Crystal designed the course so that each day's work could be completed in 15 minutes or less! When you're a mom of little ones like me, that is so helpful.

Note: You get an idea of what Crystal talks about each based off my reflections. What I say is by no means all that she communicates. Her job is to instruct, mine to reflect!

Day 1 - Task: choose a time every day that you're going to do this course.

This was easy, even though I didn't get to do Day 1 until right before bed, I have to pump first thing in the morning. That became my time for this ecourse.

Day 2: Establish a before bed routine, identifying stresser areas.

Before kids, years before marriage, I had a before-bed routine. When I was in college I had to leave the house no later than 6:30 to commute to school (seriously, leaving 5 minutes late meant I got stuck behind EVERY school bus on the way and would be seriously late. Leaving 5 minutes early meant I arrived a half hour early. Leaving on time or early was crucial). Let me tell you, when you have to wake up early the LAST thing you want to do is figure out what you're going to wear. So I established a routine where I prepped my breakfast for the car and laid out my clothes. This meant I could get up 10 minutes before I had to leave, and leave on time. Before my before bed routine was instituted, I'd wake up at 5:30 or 6 and *still* struggle to leave the house on time.

So I totally get why Crystal emphasizes the importance of this. When my life shifted to marriage and honeymoon baby this key part of my evenings disappeared. I guess because I had so much new I was adjusting to. If you asked me yesterday if we had a before-bed routine, I would've said yes. I mean, I pick up the playroom, we put the kiddos down, I pump, and usually husband works on cleaning the dishes.

But the kitchen doesn't usually get fully cleaned. There's usually something we don't get to, or we forget to wipe the counters. Or we left some pantry staple sitting on the counter. And we have a fairly small kitchen with a poor layout so ANYTHING out of place, or out at all, means its overcrowded.

And the whole "cleaning the playroom" thing is more of a if-I-get-to-it. Everything has a place, so it honestly doesn't take that long - 5-10 minutes when EVERYTHING is strewn out, but sometimes I just don't feel like picking it up (our oldest is just getting to the age where her helping clean up is a possibility). Then, in the mornings, I feel bad putting the children in the there to play...even though they messed it up! I don't want to encourage messiness. I want to instill the tidiness in them, and putting them in a disaster zone isn't the best way to accomplish that purpose.

We're in the middle of renovating right now, so our table is in the middle of our living room at present. Having a joint living/dining room is stressful in and of itself. But since it's not in sight when we're cleaning the kitchen, we usually forget to clean the table off and dishes or napkins just tend to pile up. This definitely needs to become a part of our routine. Starting the day walking in for breakfast and seeing a pile of stuff is not calming.

I'm going to be honest - my husband got sick the night of Day 2. This is a great way to ensure that whatever new routine you're doing together ISN'T going to happen! This has been followed by a half week of me feeling pretty awful (pregnancy related), but it's Sunday (so I should be on Day 6) and I'm on Day 3. Woohoo. BUT I'm going to see if it's at all feasible to play "catch up."

Day 3: Identify your big rocks (non negotiables).

This day is hard for me. What are my  big rocks, my non-negotiables that I should do first thing when I wake up to make sure they don't get lost during the day? As I said in Day 2, I used to get up early and exercise - I knew if I didn't then, it wouldn't happen. But my children are my alarm clock now. I'm not sleeping well at night, and the baby needs my attention first thing in the morning followed by my toddler. I want to exercise, but there's not much I can do while pregnant anyway. And, since I have to pump because of complications breastfeeding this time around, that takes up an hour of my time where I literally have to sit down and feel like I'm doing nothing. I try and eat breakfast during this time, write a little for the blog, work on earning swagbucks (since I'm immobile anyway).

On Mondays (laundry day) I know if I don't get that started right after I feed the baby, I'll probably continue to forget the rest of the day. But I don't have something like this for other days. This is an instance where I'm considering 2 things: 1. Talking with my husband - what does HE prioritize? What is something that would make him feel more relaxed when he arrives home if it was done? 2. Thinking about tweaking our daily schedule so I can make better use of my mornings.

Day 4: What's something you get pleasure out of?

This was an easy one. I love reading and I love scrapbooking/crafting. Because of the aforestated necessary pumping, during these times is usually when I'll read some. I read to my children all day long, but while board books are great for them, they aren't my cup of tea ;-) Crafting is harder. Right now my thing is trying to make scrapbooks for my children's first year (the one for my daughter would be finished, but I'm trying to get pictures from other people for several months of her life ... because my phone fritzed and I lost everything from that time! Back up your phones and computers often, people! This is heartbreaking) But this is a LOT harder to do with a toddler who wants in and is just going to mess things up. Usually, I make sporadic progress on this during a nap time here or after the kids are in bed there...but I usually feel guilty if the house isn't caught up first and I'm working on this. And since we're renovating parts of our house right now, nothing is ever entirely done.

Day 5: Goal setting.

This is really hard for me. My priorities are making sure my children are healthy, safe, and clean. I WANT to be a better housekeeper, but I'm just so tired! (Yes, I know Crystal talks about making sleep a priority, and I try - trust me, I'm actually one of those unfortunates who needs 8-9 hours of good sleep every night to fire on all cylinders, though I've managed to learn to function on much less. Pregnancy and young children aren't always kind to this, however.) Days I feel like I really got a lot accomplished with house stuff are usually the same days I feel bad because I didn't spend a lot of time playing with or reading to my children. I want to keep the house in order AND spend time with them! I'm sure this will be easier the older they get (my oldest is all of 2)

Day 6: Make it realistic.

Good, actionable tips to making goals manageable.

Day 7: Find an accountability partner.

This will be a harder one for me for a few reasons. 1) I've never had success with accountability partners before. Always a lot of oh sure I'll help! or I'd love for you to keep me accountable. But then they never follow through ... or get defensive when I follow through. This is obviously NOT the desired situation, but past experience makes me wary, even if my experience was in middle/high school! 2) My husband is an awesome accountability partner...for some things. Like this ecourse - he has been great, he'll text things like "have you been able to watch your video yet today?"  But what about the areas he and I both struggle in? Obviously, that's harder because its easy to both fall off the bandwagon at the same time and not even notice it, or to "take a break" and never start again.


I have watched the videos and read the material for this ecourse every day (or caught up when I missed) BUT if something isn't listed out here, it hasn't been done. For example - those goals I'm supposed to actually write down and then make manageable? Hasn't happened. The reason is, this is something that really my husband and I need to be in on together. Some of it is "merely" applicable to me. Some of it needs his support if not his active participation. Some of it is that if I'm going to be trying to make our household run smoother and be better, I want to do things that make him more relaxed and blessed...that means we need to actually sit down and spend some time discussing things. I'm planning on us talking about that some Thursday night. Yes, its late in the game, but better late than never!

Another confession? We have absolutely not accomplished the before bed routine. Husband was sick, I've been dealing with pregnancy sickness, and the baby is teething. Bad timing? Yep. But there will always be something going on. I've been trying not to get discouraged that things "haven't been going my way" but I have the tools, and even if I'm not making the big strides, at least I'm thinking about things. I'm aware of what we're doing. I'm aware of what's not working and what we are going to do to fix it. Sometimes you have to take those baby steps. Inching forward is better than standing still.

Make Over Your Mornings has had a lot of good material. The issue so far has been what's going on in our family, not the course. As my experience so far has shown - there's never an *ideal* time to start making changes. It's certainly easier to stay stuck in your rut than to climb out - but if you don't make the effort, you won't improve and you'll continue to feel behind and frustrated.

I'm looking forward to finishing this course over the next week and being able to actually start implementing what I've been learning.

What about you?

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This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission for referring business. Thank you for your support!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Make Over Your Mornings {Pre-Game Session}

After almost two months since Crystal launched the Make Over Your Mornings course, I will finally be starting it tomorrow (possibly later today, depending on how the children nap)! I didn't bother before now because my brother was getting married last weekend, and everyone was pretty busy.

So, my pre-game post.

I don't know what to expect going in, except I've heard nothing but good things about the program. I already have a kind of routine for my mornings. It goes something like this:

-- wake up when I hear the baby on the monitor
-- dress baby and feed him, put him back in crib
-- if toddler isn't awake yet, eat breakfast and pump
-- if toddler still isn't awake, get dressed & ready for the day
-- if toddler is awake, get her dressed, put her in high chair with breakfast, eat breakfast myself, and pump
-- put toddler in play room, get dressed
-- depending on what is planned for supper, dump in crockpot

It's hardly glamorous, but it is a kind of routine. A very flexible routine. I'm sure it's not the most efficient and that I could do better, but I'm not sure how.

That's why I'm excited about this course

It takes only 15 minutes a day for two weeks to go through all the lessons.

And if you aren't sure if the course will really be beneficial to you, it comes risk free! If, after 30 days, you don't believe that this course really helped you - ask for a refund and you'll get it with no questions asked. How generous!

And the course only cost $17.

Here is what Crystal Paine has to say about the course
[This is] a 14-day online course that includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects. 
[It] is designed to help you revolutionize your productivity, streamline your routines, invest your time in things that truly matter, and find more joy and peace in the process. 
If you've ever wished that you could figure out how to get more done, have more organization in your life, and find time to spend on things you love, the Make Over Your Mornings Course is for you. 
It's not about following a one-size-fits-all system (because every woman and family is different!), but about creating a morning that is in line with your life, your strengths, your family's needs, and your unique situation.

I'll be posting next week about any benefits I've experienced from Making Over My Mornings - a half-time report, if you will. The following week I'll post my thoughts on the course as a whole - a game recap. Then, I'll do a followup post after 30 days to let you honestly know if it's been beneficial, the pros, if I've noticed any cons, etc.

What do you think? Are you ready to Make Over Your Mornings?

This post does contain affiliate links. This means that without any additional cost to you, I get a commission for referring business. I appreciate your support!

Monday, July 13, 2015

7 Favorite Board Books

These are tried and true board books at our house. AKA these are books that I'm asked to read every day, multiple times a day - kid & mommy approved!

1. Puppy Peekaboo illustrated by Lisa McCue
Adorable illustrations, a nice rhyme, and peekaboo fun! This is one I was given as a child (but past board book stage) that survived my siblings and is now enjoyed by my children!

2. Bright Baby Touch and Feels Animals (Box set) by Priddy Books
These four books have held up very well, considering all the abuse, er, love lavished upon them. Simple, primary colored backgrounds allow the photographed animal to shine. Children can pet each animal and learn about them in rhyme.

3. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
This book has a great cadence. Even though this is one of our more recent additions it fast became a favorite. Acting out the book with your kids is fun too, and may contribute to it's popularity 

4. Baby Farm Animals Illustrated by Garth WilliamsRealistic illustrations and an over-sized book. The text is too detailed for the youngest children, but it's also easy to improvise your own story based on the pictures. My kids love looking at these pictures and making the animals sounds.

5. Eating the Alphabet by Louis Ehlert
The colorful food depicted entices children, while I like it because it promotes healthy eating options! It also assists in teaching the alphabet, what not to love? (One complaint, "P" is featured twice, which is weird, but workable.)

6. Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra BoyntonAnother fun book by Boynton. This one teaches animal sounds, and I love it because it's the perfect book for children to fill in the blank. Educational, and my kids get real excited when they get to "read" the part of the story they know.

7. DK Peekaboo Touch & Feel books
We have Rainbow Colors and Peekaboo Sophie! (Sophie la girafe)
These are a lot of fun combining both peekaboo with various textures! Children love being able to participate in the story - I hope to add more of these to our collection.

What are your favorite board books?

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