adult books, recommendations, Uncategorized

Fish in a Tree- book review


One of the perks of working in a library is that I see a LOT of books that I would otherwise miss. When Fish in a Tree was turned in, the title caught my eye. I read the back cover and immediately placed a hold for it– since the copy that was turned in was going elsewhere.

Fish in a Tree is a YA (young adult) novel about a girl named Ally Nickerson. She doesn’t know how to read, and knows that she is different from other kids her age. She has always acted out and been able to hide her struggles from everyone- her teachers, mom, brother, etc.

Ally is a lonely kid without friends. She feels like she is dumb and will never be able to do anything like anyone else and really hates being different. She loves drawing and has a book called “The sketchbook of Impossible Things” that she draws in daily.

When Ally’s teacher goes on maternity leave, she ends up with a substitute teacher. Mr. Daniels changes her life. He observes all of the students in her class in a completely different way. He catches on to Ally and her struggles. He instructs everyone to write in a notebook daily. He says that he won’t grade it at all or correct their spelling errors. He will just write back.

Through his observations, he notices something important about Ally. He invites her to play chess after school. After a few after school meetings with Ally, he tells her that he thinks he knows why she can’t read. He tells her that he thinks she has dyslexia. He helps her learn to read by using many tricks that are helpful for those who have dyslexia.

Ally realizes how much SHE has changed. She has made friends with other kids who are different. She is happy. The whole class sees her through different eyes, and so does Ally. She realizes how smart and talented she is. She also realizes that all kids have their struggles and that she was never alone in them.Labels no longer matter, and for the first time ever Ally is truly happy. She also realizes that she can no longer draw many things in her sketchbook, because nothing is IMpossible.

This is such a great read. I wanted to read it so that I could see what life may be like through my daughter’s eyes. I was brought to tears on many occasions because I realized how hard things must be for her. It was eye opening and also incredibly inspiring. Just knowing how much harder my daughter has to work than most kids to read– and that she is willing to FIGHT to learn it– is incredible.

I can’t recommend this book enough; especially if you have a child with dyslexia or that is differently abled.


(Reading guides show in photo.)


5 Things I am Loving Right Now


Eat What You Love cookbook- This just released yesterday, and I have been anxiously awaiting it. I pre-ordered it back in August. It is full of clean versions of my favorite comfort foods. There is a clean version of Chicken Divan! Yessss!!! (It is only $16.92 at the time I am writing this, which means it’s almost $20 off!)

She Reads Truth Bible– I really love this Bible. The pages are thin, so when there is big artwork, you can see it through the page. It is still readable on those pages though. I love the devotions sprinkled throughout. I love the additional study guides and information about every book of the Bible. I love the reading plans. I love it all. It’s so good. They are also releasing a He Reads Truth version next year!

These boots– Pricey, yes. Worth it? YES! They are so comfortable and roomy enough to wear thick wool socks with them. I never bought myself warm boots in all my years in Michigan. I was missing out!! I love them.

My four slice toaster.  This is a luxury. My kids love toast and frozen waffles. I know. The health benefits, right?  I had been eyeing this one on Amazon. Hoping for a really good sale.. or to win a giveaway. Something. Anyway, I was walking through Kroger and saw the clearance table. This toaster was sitting on it. I kind of laughed to myself thinking it would still  be way expensive. It was only $24!!!! That’s the price of a cheap regular toaster. I was giddy and so excited when I told Scott about it. You’d think I was bringing home a gold nugget. I am able to make enough waffles and toast for all of my kids at once. It’s wonderful. (Also, did you know toaster tongs were a thing?) I would have continued surviving without it, but I am so grateful that I found one. (Our original toaster is over 10 years old and was going to poop out soon anyway.)

Days With Grey– Bridget from Tales of Me and the Husband shared this instagram feed last week. I started following and found her blog. I’m obsessed. These breakfast invitations? I am going to start using some of these. Mornings are rough around here. We never get started on a good foot, and I am praying that this will be a game changer. I used to be so good at things like this, and then fell off the wagon once we moved to Oklahoma and everything fell apart. I’m reclaiming our lives this month!

I hope you are having a fantastic December so far! We are growing more and more excited for Christmas by the day!



recommendations, Uncategorized

Small Shop Spotlight- Made by Mary

This is one of my favorite shops, and I’m so excited to share with you!!!

Made by Mary is the most beautiful and simple jewelry. I heard about her shop years and years ago, but never bought anything. I just kept drooling and dreaming.

One day, I decided that I was going to treat myself to a cute little necklace with an “s” on it when there was a discount code. My husband’s name is Scott, if you don’t know, and the S is for him, obvi. A few weeks later, I WON  a gift card and completely freaked out!! I had been wanting a very specific necklace, and couldn’t believe that it was finally going to be MINE!


Here she is. This is the zola necklace in shiny rose gold. There are four tiny dots on it. It is so simple, and yet it holds so much meaning. As you know, I have three little girls that mean the world to me. What may be less known is that I had a miscarriage in between when Addi and Harper were born. It wrecked me. I longed for my four children to be together in some way. These four dots symbolize my FOUR babies. Every life matters, and even though I only was able to carry that baby for 12 weeks, my life was greatly impacted. This necklace is a visual of those four babies. Four tiny dots that have a huge ripple effect and have touch every part of my life.


This is my tiny disc S necklace. When I won the gift card, I was also able to get an additional disc to go with my S. I had our anniversary stamped on it. (Friday the 13th!) These are both sterling silver, but I wish I had done rose gold.

When Mary released her “breathe” collection, I knew I wanted a piece.  Scott and I had just started doing yoga together. I would often end up with tears streaming down my face because I was forced to give myself permission to just breathe and do nothing else. I really struggle with this. I feel like I am not worth anything if I am resting. I must go-go-go I got the inhale exhale necklace one day on a whim. I love it so much as a visual reminder to just BE. This one is also rose gold and matte finish.

My necklaces are all different lengths so that I can layer them all at once, or just wear one or two at a time. You can buy extensions  if you ever want to make your necklace a little longer.

Mary sells so many beautiful necklaces that it’s hard to choose just one to love most! She also sells bracelets, birthstone rings, chokers, and stacking rings. There are endless possibilities, and everything is so well made. I wear my necklaces every day and they are still in perfect shape. Their customer service is TOP NOTCH. Truly the best. I am hoping to get some of the braided stacking rings because they are so darn cute!

I don’t have a discount code, but I know there are quite a few that float around instagram.  If I find one, I’ll be sure to add it to the post. This jewelry would make such a great gift idea!

Be sure to go check out the Made by Mary website and show your husbands your wish lists!


holiday, story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

Long (Exhausting) Weekend

Hello from the other side..

Last week was B-U-S-Y. I hosted our families for Thanksgiving. I cooked pies and cookies all day on Wednesday. I worked a couple of hours at the library and then came home and resumed chopping veggies. I cooked all day Thursday until everyone arrived.

It ended up being 15 people total; my mom ended up sick and I fought crying the whole darn time.

I literally took one picture on Thanksgiving.


ha! I had never made sweet potato casserole before, so I looked up a recipe. I sent this picture to my mom before putting them in the oven. And, that is all I got a picture of. No pictures of family. None of the crazy arrangement to fit everyone in a seat. Sweet potato casserole.. There are sweet potatoes in there, but I had specific instructions to load it with marshmallows. I made one with pecans and one without. It was so delicious.

Everyone left after they finished eating to go “Black Friday” shopping. My sister and mom-in-law did the dishes for me, and I was so grateful. I was so tired, but my heart was so full. We weren’t really sure what to do since everyone left so quickly. Scott and I wrapped up pajamas and a new Christmas book for the girls to open Thanksgiving night. My kitchen was still a disaster, as you can see in the picture, but we were done for the night.


These goobers. I love them.

Friday, I woke up at some terrible hour to go ACTUAL Black Friday shopping with my sister. We had a ton of fun and found matching Griswold hats. We tried to be good, we really did. But, we couldn’t resist the darn hats. Amy even played Christmas music from her phone because we are extra. This picture was after coffee. Bless.



We basically were running or driving every day of the long weekend. We struggled hard on Sunday morning and didn’t make it to church. I have been battling some stupid sinus junk for FOUR weeks, and by Sunday afternoon my throat felt like it was on fire. I should probably give in and drag myself to the doctor, but I am stubborn and hate antibiotics.. I need to face the truth though.

I will resume my small shop spotlight tomorrow. Today, I am focusing on Cyber Monday deals over on my deals and steals page. (This is my favorite deal today!) I am truly so grateful to everyone who orders through one of my affiliate links. I have been able to make enough to pay for all of the kids’ birthday presents and a good chunk of Christmas gifts because of this blog! That is huge for us, so thank you thank you!!!! This is my small business, and I love it.


Small Shop Spotlight- If Dolls Could Dream

Hi, friends!

I am so excited to share this week’s small shop spotlight. Being a girl mom, we have a lot of dolls in our house. Part of the fun in dolls is having fun things to dress them up with. My older girls have the Wellie Wisher dolls from American Girl. It is incredibly difficult to find clothes that fit these dolls. While searching, I stumbled onto If Dolls Could Dream on Etsy. She makes sweet clothes for 18 inch and 14.5 inch dolls.

I bought a cute little skirt and top set for Addi’s birthday this year. She is obsessed with Paris, so this one was right up her alley.


I was honestly blown away by the quality. With Etsy, sometimes you don’t know what you are going to get. But, I felt confident with her 1,563 five star rating!


The sweet embroidered Eiffel Tower and heart are just too cute! I love that the top secures with velcro instead of stretching over the doll’s head.


Also, please forgive the lighting on these photos. It has been so dreary around here lately. I kept waiting for good lighting, but it never came. 

Maggie’s shop is full of leotards, skirts, tops, dresses, pajamas, duffel bags, and more for dolls. Browsing her shop makes me want to be a kid again. You better believe that there will be more outfits under our Christmas tree for Willa and Ashlyn.

Now for the best part! I reached out to Maggie, the shop owner, and asked her if she would be willing to create a discount code just for YOU! My eyes filled with tears when she responded with a “yes” and a code exclusive to my readers!! This is huge to me, because it is her taking a risk on ME.

Today through December 20th, use the code TAKE10 to get 10% off of your purchase of $15 or more through If Dolls Could Dream!

Please remember that by shopping small, you are doing so much good. There is a lot of time and love that goes into creating these products. It really shows with If Dolls Could Dream.


family life, holiday, home, kids, Uncategorized

The Great Conundrum


I am really struggling with a great conundrum. Are you ready for it?

I really want to decorate for Christmas, but it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

Don’t throw stones at me! I’m not sure what it is this year. I am so ready to put up the tree. However, I am also hosting our families for Thanksgiving. Our tree will go up in our basement, which is away from where everyone will be for our Thanksgiving meal.

That’s acceptable, right?


The kiddos are super excited for Christmas. Addi picked a Christmas movie when we were at the library this week. We have been watching a few Christmas movies here and there. Christmas music has been on since before Halloween.

There is currently 3 or so inches of snow blanketing the outdoors, which only adds to my strong desire to get festive inside. The snow looks so beautiful clinging to the tree branches and rooftops. It’s magical.

Pure magic.

If we find time, I think we will at least get our tree put up. Maybe.

Do you decorate before Thanksgiving, or are you a strictly after person?

family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Kids in the Kitchen

I love spending time in my kitchen. It is my happy place. I love baking bread from scratch and cooking up delicious meals for my family…and sometimes, the meals aren’t so delicious! I used to make homemade egg noodles pretty frequently, but haven’t made them in quite some time.

Harper has recently taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. She helped me make the cake for Addi’s birthday party. She’s so much fun.



Look at her sweet face!! She was so excited to use the rolling pin.


I loved watching her watch me and what I was doing. She asks so many questions in her sweet little voice. IMG_0103

Egg noodles don’t have to be perfect. Once I had finished cutting them one way, I let her have at it. She actually ended up not pushing hard enough to cut most of the noodles, so I had to go back over them. She had a blast.

I am a HUGE fan of getting the kids involved in the cooking. My mom always had my sisters and I in the kitchen with her. She never worried about perfection if we were making something. She wanted us to learn how to cook. I want the same for my kids. I want them to be confident in the kitchen. The older girls are at an age where we feel comfortable letting them stir things in pots or pans on the stove top while we watch. I’m wondering when the fear of injury will go away.

My favorite day was when they learned how to make their own toast. Addi especially loves to make toast for herself and her sisters. I love that I can go a little slower on those mornings. They love feeling a sense of independence, and I love seeing them grow.

Do you encourage your kids to join you in the kitchen? I really can’t recommend it enough! Cooking is such a valuable “life skill” for everyone to learn!

recommendations, Uncategorized

Small Business Spotlight- My Little Bend

Last week, I featured Rachel Allene for my Small Business Spotlight. This week, I am featuring My Little Bend. I have shared my love of MLB in the past, but want to share again as Christmas is approaching.

Amy creates beautiful things at such an affordable price. Lightweight leather statement earrings? You’ve got it.



Are you obsessed with graphic T-shirts? She’s your girl.




Amy is always taking custom orders for t-shirt designs, which is awesome if you are a sports mom!


She also does vinyl decals. My kitchen is labeled with the most beautiful decals, and it makes my organization-loving heart so happy.


I love everything that she does.

Be sure to head over to her page and browse through her pictures. Send her a message if you don’t see what you are looking for. There are so many great and affordable gifts for you to chose from!


Don’t Wait

I’ve had something nagging at me for nearly a week. A memory.


Do you remember in the movies how a character will do something and suddenly they have a flashback as though they are in a different moment? Then, just as fast as it came, they are back in present-day. That happened to me on Friday.

Friday, Addi woke up really sick. She had a high fever, wasn’t keeping things down, and was struggling to breathe. I felt pretty helpless, so I put a cool washcloth on her head to help make her comfortable. I put my hand on the washcloth to say something to her, and my mind snapped back to September of last year.

I felt like I was standing in my father-in-law’s hospital room. I was telling him goodbye. He had a wash cloth on his head because he was running a fever. I was crying and telling him how much he meant to me; how much he meant to our girls.. how much we were going to miss him. I was trying to squeeze in goodbyes from the girls since they didn’t get the chance to say it. It felt so real and raw. Then, lightning fast I was back in present-day standing over Addi.

Ever since this memory crept back in– or rudely barged in–  I haven’t been able to shake it. I’ve gone over it again and again any time I’m alone. The tears stream down my face all over again. I’m not sure why it won’t go away, other than I have felt a little nudging from God. “Tell them.”

What am I supposed to tell you?

Don’t wait!

Don’t wait until your loved one is slipping away to tell them what they mean to you. Make sure they KNOW without a doubt how much they mean to you long before it’s time to say goodbye. Maybe I have said it a thousand times before. Maybe you are afraid of feeling silly. I remember ALMOST not telling Jim all of those things because I wasn’t alone. I was afraid of feeling silly. But, in that moment, it felt like just Jim and me. He couldn’t respond. He may have told me to quit being so sappy if he could have, because he was just funny like that. The regret I would have carried for not ever telling him what he meant to me would be unbearable.

Don’t wait.

If you see good in someone, speak it. Speak it right then and there, even if it’s as simple as “I like your hair!” Don’t you remember how much it makes you smile to hear those things? Speak it!

Just don’t wait…


Small Business Spotlight– Rachel Allene

I decided that I waned to showcase a different small business on Mondays leading up to Christmas. It is just a way of encouraging you to shop small, and also help you discover some really wonderful shops.

First up is Rachel Allene. She does really beautiful hand lettering. She designs mugs, travel cups, beautiful prints, sweatshirts, calendars, gift tags, notepads, you name it..

I’ve always drooled over her mugs, and finally took the plunge a few weeks ago. Let’s just take a moment to admire this beauty.

Rachel Allene

It is so well made, and so beautiful. I love the heart in place of a period at the end. It’s so dainty and sweet. Not only does Rachel make beautiful designs, but she is just so down to earth and genuine. She is a mama who is hustling to make things happen in her home!

I also want to comment on the size.  I have a really hard time determining if a mug is going to be big enough. This mug is an 11 oz mug. I am able to use the largest size on my keurig and put creamer in my coffee with no problems at all.

Her packaging is just as beautiful as her products. I am kicking myself for not getting a picture; I was way too excited to see the mug. There was a sticker that matched the mug design that was holding the box closed. She also sends a seasonal recipe with each order. Rachel puts so much care and detail into every single order. It’s fun to see a behind the scenes of the process on her Instagram stories.

She is going to have a lot of fun things coming up in her shop, so I really encourage you to follow along with her on Instagram and keep an eye on the shop! When she does a new seasonal release, all of her e-mail subscribers have the opportunity to get a discount as high as 50% off!

I really want to encourage you to shop small this year where you can. You are supporting moms and dads– people in general– who are following their passion in creating. Many times, they are creating right in their own homes. Most of the time, you are getting a much better quality product that was designed with love and care.