Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Monthly Archives: February 2014

So, yet another book review from me. I’m reading a lot these days! Unfortunately there’s not much to do with the freezing temps and snow. I really can’t wait for spring when I can get outside and enjoy some fresh air! But until the weather straightens up here, I will be inside reading.

The Lost Boys by Lilian Carmine

17 year-old Joe Grey has moved to a new town because of her mom’s new job. Her immediate attraction to Tristan has her returning daily to the  grave yard where they meet. Soon after arrival she finds out she’ll be going to a boarding school and dreads leaving him. One fateful night will affect their future. Will Tristan and Joe be together?

I was pretty excited to get this book. I felt like the premise was good and looked forward to discovering the secret. The author was detailed oriented. There were very few errors. I felt the beginning of the book was really pretty good but I found I lost interest in the highschool drama about 1/2 way through. By that point, I just wanted to finish it.

I did struggle with this book for several reasons. One, I’m not 100% the author knew who she wanted her audience to be. Over all the language and story telling style seemed junior high’ish. The book focused a lot on the going’s on at the highschool and highschool drama. But then she throws in minor sexual jokes and themes and alcohol use which, in my opinion, lends it to college age reader.

The other flaw with the book is the unrealistic and/or forced plot creations. For example, when she arrives to school she’s accidentally assigned a boy’s room. Not only doesn’t she or the boy mind but her mom signs a release form to allow her to continue to share a room with a boy. Although times are changed from when I was young, but there’s no way I’d been allowed to do that. Nor, despite being a tomboy, would I have been comfortable sharing a room with a boy I just met. That’s just one example.

Overall, the book wasn’t horrible. It just really needed to move along faster with less filler and have a more targeted audience. I wouldn’t either encourage or discourage someone to read the book. I did noticed this is intended to be a trilogy, I’m not sure I’d read either of the two books.

I would give this book a 3 out of 5 bookends.

I received this book from Random House UK, Ebury publishing via Netgallery for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this book!
Have you read this book? If so let me know what you think. Have you read anything good recently? I’d love to hear from you!

When we bought this house I remember several people told me to not worry about a formal dining room because people find this room to be a waste of space and don’t use them. I was surprised that of all the things on my house wish list, that was the one thing criticized the most. A few years ago, the Today Show was interviewing a woman who was encouraging what she called the “slow down” movement. This “slow down” movement was encouraging families to eat one meal at home a week. One meal? That’s it. At that point in my life we were eating at home practically every night. Now, I’m told that we are entering the stage in life when we’ll be eating less and less at home and more and more on the road. Really? My kids are only 3 and 5. Does it really happen this soon?


Currently, on average we eat as a family 6 out 7 evening meals together around our kitchen table. The only meal we don’t all eat together is Wednesday nights when I and my daughter spend it at church. And on the weekends we eat all of our meals at home minus a 1-2 times a month we eat lunch out following church. Oh, and our meals aren’t from a box. I cook, yes, actually cook every evening meal (minus Wednesday when my husband cooks).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work planning and preparing food for my family. I work all day and then once my day job is done; I cook dinner. I get it, it’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. It’s not appreciated work. I get it. I’ve felt the pressure of getting a meal on the table. I’ve heard the whining “is it done yet?” just to hear “I don’t like it” at the first glance of the meal. I get it. It’s simpler to run through the drive-through to not hear the groans and moans. It’s more relaxing to grab food to go and eat in front of the television.


But what I also get, is the benefits of eating dinner together as a family at our dining room table. My kids are gaining valuable experiences eating together at home. They are learning to cook and the feeling of achievement from making something delicious. From helping to cook they are learning numerous skills and their knowledge is growing. We, as a family, have time to learn from each other and actually have a conversation about how our days have gone. We get to say Grace and thank God for all he’s given us. We are bonding as a family.

If you’re a family that eats out or grabs fast food several nights a week, I’m not meaning to shake my finger at you while peering over my glasses. Rather, I want to encourage you to consider what you are missing out when you don’t eat as a family. Take some baby steps and start eating all together at the same table and see what you learn about each other.


This post was shared at the Reading list and Graced Simplicity

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Echoes of Mercy by: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Caroline Lang is sent undercover to investigate a suspicious murder at the Dinsmore Chocolate factory and the use of underage workers. She is an opinionated woman who feels strongly against child labor, no matter the work conditions. While investigating she meets Ollie Moore who is also undercover observing the operations of the factory. Ollie believes child labor is a benefit to the community. With both of them assuming false identities and on opposite sides of child labor, can they trust each other and build a friendship? Can that friendship lead to more?

I absolutely loved this book! It pulled me in right away with wonderfully written characters and intriguing story line. The characters seemed very real and I enjoyed getting to know them. The story is written from several points of view, mostly from the two main. This helped expand the depth of the story. I liked how each section was labeled with the character so I was never confused whose point of view I was viewing the story from. Even the minor characters had depth demonstrating the author’s obvious talent for story telling.

The christian themes in the story are well woven into the story. The father figure in the story pointed out many times a theme throughout the book, trust in the Lord and lay your worries at his feet through prayer. This is a story of self-growth, faith, love, and salvation. It is a wonderful example how God does answer prayers, maybe in unexpected ways, but he always answers. 

I highly recommend this historical romance laced with social and Christian themes.

On a scale of 1-5 bookends, I give this a 5.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to provide a positive review.

If you’d like to sample this book, read chapter 1 here.

What have you been reading? I’d love to get some suggestions.

Book Review: When Courage Calls by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

I’ve become quite fond of historical fiction. I do love how they provide us with insight to history and the human experience.


Beth grew-up privileged in Canada with all the modern amenities to life: electricity, indoor plumbing, fine dining, etc. She lived under the scrutiny of her mother who had plans for her. Mostly these plans included her not taxing herself and marrying a man who enjoyed mocking her as a child. She on the other hand, decided to get a teaching certificate and take on the role as a school teacher in very rural Canada. The trip started off with stolen luggage leaving Beth with no clothes or supplies and without her two prized possessions. Her time in Coal Valley challenged her physically and mentally as she took on the role of not only teacher to children who’d lost so much but also as Bible teacher, project manager, and many more roles. This story is one of growth, faith, and humility.

I quite enjoyed this story. I found it uplifting as the authors expertly inserted Bible verses and Christian themes. It never seemed forced or overbearing. The did a great job making things seem natural and the characters seem real. I did enjoy the wide variety of characters and I would imagine anyone could connect with at least one of them. My heart tore frequently in the book in regards to the children and the horrible lot in life. I did like how the author explained that giving a hand out isn’t always the best way to help those in need. Beth’s determination to go forth and conquer the world was quite inspiring!

There were a few things I found a bit irritating. The editing was a bit off-putting. There weren’t a lot of errors but I did find one that pulled me out of the story: Beth’s sister’s name was Julia and then Julie. I suspect the Julia was an editing error but it was a bit confusing at first. I also struggled with how Beth seemed to work until she was sick and then once healed immediately started tackling another major issue in the community. It just seemed that as a newcomer to a village and one she’d only planned on being in for a school year, would have changed things more slowly. For instance, she was doing a tea party with the kids and Bible Club but then added English classes to the miners. Instead she could have arranged the English classes after the tea parties were completed. It all seemed so unreal that one woman would do all of this at once. So, I guess, despite being inspirational of God’s providing strength, it just seemed a bit much.

This book had several wonderful themes weaved throughout. One, prayer- pray for everything. Two, God will provide even when it seems hopeless. Three, raise up a child in a way he should go. Wonderfully done!

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I found it very realistic to the stresses of life in a rural Canada. It was a touching tale spun with vivid characters and left you hoping for a sequel.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 bookends

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review.


My oldest is in kindergarten. I believe I’ve said it before, Kindergarten has been a BIG adjustment for all of us. One of these adjustments has been my daughter’s need for independence and decision-making. At first, as I write this, I think of course a parent would embrace this. However, her attempts at independence has been less than desirable.

The pull for independence continues throughout childhood. It starts with those first few precious steps, continues into toddlerhood and goes on to adulthood. Often times lack of maturity has children pulling for independence in challenging ways. For example, I’ll listen to you but will choose when I will follow through with your request. This causes some extra chaos and reminders from mom as the little one wants desperately to be in control of her decisions.

The example above is what we’re dealing with right now. She knows what she’s suppose to do, she just isn’t ready to do it. This has manifested itself with extreme slowness getting ready to go to school or at school picking up her toys only after playing for a few more minutes.


Independence will be very important life skill for her to learn and master. She must learn to think independently to not be pressured into unsafe situations. She must learn to assert her independence appropriately in her future career. It is my job to help develop her growth. My responses to her independence will either help or hinder that growth.

I say, embrace this independent streak and don’t be in too big of a hurry to squash it in hopes of a compliant child. Don’t get me wrong, discipline should follow when she’s being defiant. However, be kind. Give your child choices when she can have them. Let her make some decisions for herself. Be upfront. In our case, getting out the door and to school on time is not negotiable. So, I put consequences in place for her not listening and getting dressed on time. However, I don’t really care what shoes she wears. So, she can pick out her shoes every morning. And if she gets ready timely, she has an extra reward of watching some television before we leave. I expect her to listen to her teacher at school and come home with a good daily report. I do let her have some time in the evening where she decides what she will do.

Embrace the independence, set realistic expectations, and appropriate discipline and your house will be a happier one!

Do you have a child going through an independent growth? Please share your stories! I’d love to hear how you handle them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ASV