Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Monthly Archives: June 2017

It feels so great to be able to relax with a good book and to not have upcoming exams or assignments due. I can certainly get use to this! We took a road trip this weekend and I was able to read a whole book in less than two days. It was GLORIOUS!

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With you always by Jody Hedlund

Set in the 1850’s Hedlund tells the story of Elise Neuman and her sisters and Thorton Quincy. Elise Neuman and her sisters parents have died and are desperate for food and shelter. As a last resort Elise leaves her sisters in New York City and goes West to Illinois for work. Her goal is to send enough to New York to provide for her siblings and hopefully bring them to her. Thorton Quincy is a wealthy businessman’s son. He was given a challenge by his father in order to inherit the company. Desperate to gain his father’s approval and come out from under his brother’s shadow he begins the construction of an Illinois community.

This is a charming love story of two people from completely different worlds who find they have more in common than not. Hedlund provides just enough romance, heartache, and challenges to capture her audience. It is evident she researched this era and the backdrop of her story. I like the added information at the end of the book which provides additional information on the orphan trains. Her characters have depth and growth throughout the story. I enjoyed the depth she added to her secondary characters.

This book is a Christian novel. However, it is not filled with consistent Christian quotes or scriptures. There is mention of thanking God and general references to God. This is heavier toward the end, but not overwhelming. The book does clearly follow Christian themes such as kindness, charity, honesty, etc.

I look forward to additional Orphan Train stories.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical romances and/or novels and Christian novels. I would recommend it to a young adult. The book does reference prostitution but only as a backdrop to the story. There is one instance of post attack, but no actual details were provided.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I did receive this book from the publisher as part of the blogging for books program in exchange for an honest review.


Its been a while since I’ve written an Embrace entry. Its also been a while since I’ve blogged regularly. Life has a way to pull and push us along. The constant pulling and pushing and pulling and pushing can help us lose track of time. And before we know it, its 1 month, 2 months or a whole year later.

Part of my pulling and pushing the last two years has been my education. I’m a huge fan of higher education. Not just college level to get more credentials behind a name, but really life-long learning. After all, some of the smartest and most interesting people are not officially college educated. Rather, they are people who take the time to learn about the things that interest them. They spend a lot of time reading. And they spend time talking to people who share the same opinions as them. And more important, they spend time talking with (not at) people who share different opinions.

I have been to college 3 times now. First to earn my RN, then a MSN and now finally my APRN. Each time has been had its own struggles. As a newly graduated 18 year-old my main struggle was me. I struggled with becoming a responsible adult. I obtained my MSN on a whim. Now looking back I think it was a way to be distracted from the fact we were not getting pregnant. I struggled then with balancing work, life and school. I struggled with an obsession to only get A’s (which I did). Now, as an older student (almost 40), I’ve obtained my APRN. I struggled with managing kids, work, school and a social life. I also had to accept I wasn’t going to get all A’s and that’s OK.

You see, despite the struggles in the end its 100% worth. it I’ve come out with a degree and some added life skills. I’ve gained a sense of accomplishment knowing I after all that hard work and sacrifices, I did it. You see, I accomplished something I set out to do. This confidence is only gained from setting a high goal and achieving it.

Too often I hear people say, they want to get a degree or attend a seminar but they just can’t find a way to make it work. I get it, in some circumstances, it really is an almost impossibility (note ALMOST). I know the struggle. I know how daunting and exhausting it can be to think about it. I know the challenges of adding one more thing into an already jam packed schedule. I also know first-hand how it feels to be working full-time and running the kids everywhere. I know the struggle of attempting to string a few sentences together on a few hours a sleep that sound intelligent.

But what I want to say to you. The overworked, tired and stressed out in a going-nowhere (or at least nowhere you want to be) job, you can do it. Embrace a bit of exhaustion and stress. Embrace the chaos. Embrace the education and accept the responsibility of learning. You can do it. If you want it, you will do it. You see, its 100% manageable. Maybe not always pretty, but its manageable.

If the college route isn’t for you. Continue to learn about the world. Read and explore your library. Find something that interests you and learn about it. Life-learning can make the mundane seem less so. It can open up new doors and new friendships.

Explore what you want in life. Then take that first leap of faith. Know you can do it. I’m here to tell you, IF I can DO IT, YOU can too. Embrace education.


Wow, what a whirl-wind start to summer! We had vacation/APRN graduation which was followed by another quick trip for me and then one month of studying for my certification test. With much excitement this last week I passed my APRN certification test. So my time significantly opened up and I immediately started reading.

I started a book which I am going to review now. I don’t typically review prior to finishing a book. However, I am not planning to finish this book. I hardly ever start and NOT finish. I think there’s only a handful of books I’ve done this.

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Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

Still Here tells the tale of Russian immigrants and their attempt to “make it” in America. One of the characters is trying to create an App which allows people to feel connected to dead loved ones through the preservation of online footprints. The four friends grew-up together in Russia and then moved to America for different reasons. Each trying to find their own American success story.

First, I want to say, I really wanted to like this book. I thought the idea was interesting and not something I’d read hundreds of times over. Unfortunately, the story fell flat and kind-of quickly at that. I don’t usually not finish a story, but I got to page 59 of the 310 pages and decided to not continue.

The writing style wasn’t bad at all. I believe the author has talent. And maybe that was part of my struggle with the book. It really made me feel sad and depressed reading the story. Vica and Sergey are married and seem incredibly unhappy. Vica especially seems depressed, angry and hugely jealous. These emotions are completely pouring out of the book and didn’t leave me feeling “good”.

The other downfall, I really hard time getting into this book. It has a very slow start and very slow build. I understand the author is building the back story, introducing us to the characters and (I think) trying to make things seem more realistic (no overnight success). Unfortunately, on my part, it seemed to slow. I just wasn’t being pulled into it and there was nothing keeping me up at night to see what happens next.

Overall, I’m not a fan of the book. However, those who I imagine would like this book would be the adult who is looking for an immigrant story and doesn’t need it to be fast paced. A book club may like to pick to up to read as a group, because I cold see how it could draw good conversation assuming they can make it through the book

I give this book a generous 2 of 5 book-ends for being well-written but boring.

I did receive this book free from the publishers through the blogging for books program for an honest review.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Are you reading a good book now? If so, share it below with a quick description.