Wednesday, January 28, 2015

{book report} My Latest Reads // January

When I was a little girl, I was a voracious reader.  My nose was always in a book and I remember thinking that it would be so cool if I could read every book in the children's section of the library.  (Clearly, this was the beginning of my love for goals, albeit a bit unattainable!)  

The January is for Learning Challenge has awakened that love for books again.  At the beginning, I had to "force" myself to sit down and read.  I had so many distractions: my phone, the computer, TV...they all seemed easier and more attractive.  But I fought through and the habit has remained.  I'm excited to see how many books I can get through in 2015.

Here are the four I read in January:    

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
I first heard about this book from Anna...I think she posted on Instagram?  She was a fan and I liked it a lot too.  The main advice is that you should work ON your business, not just IN it.  He makes the case that you cannot build a successful business around something you are skilled at.  If you only want to be a worker, you should continue working for someone else!  In order to be successful on your own, you need the bigger picture component as well.  Gerber lays out a clear road map for creating systems within your company and I will definitely be incorporating a few of the ideas into Big White Farmhouse soon.

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
This was an assigned family read aloud for M's school and we all enjoyed it!  It is about a boy who adopts two owls and each chapter describes an adventure.  The writing is funny, the chapters are just long enough for the reader (you won't go hoarse trying to finish!) and my boys wanted an owl for our house by the end.  

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
How do I even begin to describe this book?  It is about the friendship of two women, one a teenager and the other elderly, who have lived difficult lives.  I was sucked in from the first few pages, my heart breaking as their stories of the past unfolded.  I hesitate to call it "good" because how can foster care and child neglect be good?  It's definitely a moving story and I recommend it.  

Joy to the World by Scott Hahn
I received this book from Blogging for Books for review and could not wait to read it!  Scott Hahn can always be counted on to explain Catholic theology in a simple, understandable way and Joy to the World was no exception.  In this book, he encourages the readers to look closely at the different parts of the Christmas story (the town of Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph, the angels, etc.) and then weaves the story back together.  It was like looking at Christmas with brand new eyes!  This book would be a wonderful choice for Advent next year.

What books have you been reading?  Share in the comments!  I'm always looking for new recommendations!

{Related: My Booklist

Monday, January 26, 2015

{cookie project} No.002: Hot Cocoa Cookies

The Cookie Project is a year-long experiment to combine my love for baking and trying new things.

Yesterday was our second "official" Sunday family dinner. Instead of just throwing something onto plates and calling it good, Mark and I decided that we really wanted to embrace Sundays and make them special.  It's been so fun to create a menu together, work beside each other in the kitchen and create a memory that I hope will stick with my kids forever.  

If you know my husband, you already know that he is an amazing cook.  Sundays have become his day to shine.  I help with the menu and I'm good at following his directions, but I give the credit to him.  But dessert?  That's all me.

This week I thought I would try a cookie recipe that reminded me of my four-year-old, J.  Almost every morning, after watching me brew my morning coffee, he asks if I could make him a cup of hot cocoa.  I love sitting with him as he tells me random details about super heroes or the latest episode of Wild Kratts.  He chugs his cocoa and is done in minutes, but I treasure that time so much.  

Hot Cocoa Cookies were the perfect dessert for Sunday dinner.    

The recipe I used is from Holly at Life in the Lofthouse.  While there is a little bit of work involved, these cookies are definitely worth it.  So delicious with a glass of cold milk or a cup of coffee.  You can find the recipe here

{The Cookie Project Archives: No.001}

Friday, January 23, 2015

{around here} 03/52: Week of 1.19.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

like I'm behind and doing a lack-luster job at everything.  Every once in a while, I seem to have an off week where I am just trying to keep afloat and that definitely describes me right now.  I wrote Jon Acuff's quote "Some beats None" big on the chalkboard to remind myself that some progress is better than nothing: some exercise before TJ cries is better than none.  Some laundry, even though I still have yet to put it away, is better than none.  Some BWF work, even though my to-do list is still a mile long, is better than not starting at all.  Some beats none.  

making baked oatmeal for breakfast.  I thought I would be the only one who liked it, but the kids each had seconds!  

laughing about J's attempt to combine his love of compliments with new vocabulary: "Mamma, you are so....predictable!"

exercising with Shaun T and Insanity again.  I'm not following the plan, but adding the workouts in between runs.  It feels good to push myself to the max, but I have a long way to go!

reading Orphan Train and should hopefully finish by this weekend.  It's such a moving story.

homeschool notes:

  • It was K week in Kindergarten.  We made kites.
  • M has been flying through his math lessons.  He is catching onto multiplication quickly; he knows the rules for 0, 1, 10 and 5 so far.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

{100 beautiful things} No.001: Princess and the Pea Cross-Stitch

This cross-stitch project had been in my "to complete" pile for two years when I found it again last summer.  I have a bad habit of starting a craft with excitement, only to fizzle out and put it aside.  Am I the only one who does this?

Sophia provided the encouragement to see it to completion.  She loved to sit next to me as I worked and hold the different colored threads.  I couldn't wait to surprise her and frame it for her room.    

I purchased the pattern as a PDF from The Floss Box here.  She carries a ton of adorable cross-stitch and embroidery patterns, so be sure to check out her shop.  I think Sophie needs this one next! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

{currently} Mamma's Journal // January

a letter to my children, every month in 2015

M // I am just so proud of the little boy you are becoming.  You are kind, helpful, imaginative and funny.  One night we both were in tears, laughing about something silly.  I sure love your belly laughs.  You have been talking a lot about the future and that makes your Mamma so happy and yet so sad.  You want to be a Lego creator someday and have been asking me what colleges would have the best classes for that.  You have also said that when you grow up and have your own apartment, Mamma and Daddy can visit and you'll cook steaks for us.  You are so excited for your First Communion this spring.  We found and purchased your suit and I loved to see the pride in your eyes when you tried it on.    

D // You are my baby whisperer.  When I need help with TJ, you are the first one begging to take him.  You have perfected the "sh-sh-sh" and the bounce.  I am so thankful for you!  This month, you have been obsessed with all things Ninja Turtles.  Raphael (or, "the red guy" as you sometimes call him) is your favorite.  You love to draw and I find your artwork all over the house.  I am so impressed with your imagination and we always put my favorites right on the fridge, although it's hard to choose.  In school, you are trying hard and love your math book the most.  Mamma is so proud of you.  

J // Oh, J.  You are my biggest cheerleader.  Every single day, you pop over and out of the blue say, "You are so beautiful" or "Did you know that you're my favorite Mamma?"  Do you know how much that means to me?  You are my cuddle bug and my helper.  You are full of passion, which sometimes comes out in growls and frustration, but I'm getting better at helping you tell me what's on your mind.  You are so loved.   

S // You are so wholeheartedly two, torn between wanting to do everything yourself and being frustrated when you can't.  You have a flair for the dramatic, but I'm convinced your passion for life will be beneficial when you are older.  You are helpful, kind and tender to your brothers.  You shoot Nerf guns and then turn right around and love on your baby doll.  I think you are the coolest girl ever and I'm so glad you're mine.  

TJ // You, my sweet baby, are my joy.  I can hardly believe that you are four months old already.  You are so happy, with a big drooling grin on your face all the time!  We are two peas in a pod and rarely apart.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Love each of you to the moon and back again, Mamma
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