Book Review: Love Unending


In a book that reminded me of The Love Dare, Becky Thompson (popular blogger of Scissortail SILK) leads busy, tired mothers in a 21 day challenge to invest in their husbands and marriages. Each day the reader is asked to remember how it was when they first fell in love with their spouse, consider how things have changed, and then do something to bring back the “first love.” Each challenge ends with a prayer and space to journal what you plan to do, how it went, and how the challenge is going over all. Topics include speaking kindly, being grateful, listening well, serving joyfully, fighting well and forgiving quickly, honoring consistently, correcting sparingly, spending time together, connecting intimately, and more.

As a mom with three preschoolers, there was hardly a chapter in this book I couldn’t identify with in some way. By using her own experiences as her primary illustrations, the reader feels her sympathetic “me too” instead of a preachy “you should.” While I didn’t “do the challenge,” I came away convicted, encouraged and recommitted to making my husband and marriage a first priority.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.

About This Blog I Have…

According to the stats on my blog, nearly every post I’ve ever written here has been read by someone(s) in the past month. It has made me curious who in the world is interested in that old stuff and why. Partly because I’m curious and partly to help me get to know my readers, I’d be grateful if those of you who regularly or occasionally follow my blog would answer three questions.

You’re also welcome to leave a comment if you want to elaborate or say something else. I’m hoping your answers will help me think well about some ideas I’ve had for this blog, and ponderings about why and what I write. =)

Daybook: October 19

Outside my window…a gloriously beautiful fall day. The air is laden with the scent of dry brown. Love.

I am learning…to be flexible. My day just took a turn of events and instead of being home, I’m headed to town soon. That’s been the story of the last week or two around here–constantly changing plans.

I am thankful…for applesauce in the freezer and another canning season officially over. If I count right, I preserved about 225 quarts of fruits and veggies, and it amazes me how quickly the jars are already starting to empty. This was a two-day collection of empties.
When I carried that load to the basement, I was thinking maybe I should have put up 450 quarts. =)

In the kitchen…clean counters. Yay!

I am wearing…a Red Lake t-shirt and a denim skirt.

I am wishing…that a fairy would wave her wand over the pile of boy pants on my mending pile and they would be beautifully repaired in a twinkle and a flash.

I am going…to Bible Study Fellowship. I had signed up when the year started and was put on a waiting list. This week was our first week. The kids, especially the oldest, were dreading it and there were tears at parting, but I think it went okay. I am glad for the accountability to study the Word and glad for a safe environment to push A to be a little more independent before attempting school next year.

I am wondering…if I can pull off a tile grout repair job after watching one youtube instructional video. I’ll keep you posted. =)

I am reading…a big stack of books, for most of which you will eventually see reviews. One that I’m reading just because is “Just Show Up” by Kara Tippetts.

I am hoping…that next week goes well here on the home front while J is gone for his biannual re-certification classes (for work). He leaves early Sun. morning and gets home in the wee hours of Sat. morning. (Off subject, but biannual is an unhelpful word, since it can mean every other year or twice a year; in this case, the former.)

I am looking forward to…a ladies conference with speaker Jen Wilkin in Columbus OH the first weekend of November.

I am realizing…how easy is to want to create more margin in our schedule and how very hard it is to actually do it.

Around the house…Lego all over the bedroom floor, stacks of library books, laundry on the line.

I am enjoying…fall. Every year I think it must be my favourite season. The crisp nights and warm days, clear air, smells, colors, foods…I love it all. Then when spring comes, I wonder if maybe I like spring best, but then fall comes again and I decide I’m sure it is my favourite. Until spring… =) The only things I don’t enjoy about fall is the annual invasion of stink bugs, lady bugs and mice into my house. Thankfully most of the invaders stay in the attic.

A kid quote…Several nights ago M was telling me she needed me to sleep with her so she wouldn’t be all alone. I told her to remember that Jesus is here with her. She looked at me with one of those “I’m not going to fall for that one, Mom” expressions, giggled and said: “Jesus isn’t here because his car isn’t here!” “His car isn’t here?” I asked. “When people are here they always have a car here and Jesus’ car isn’t here!” =) We had a good chat about Jesus living in our hearts and God’s omnipresence and such, and I’ve heard her talk a number of times since about Jesus being here with us, so that’s really cool.

One of my favorite things…making lists and checking things off lists.

A few plans for the rest of the week…celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday with family.

A peek into my week recent past…
dsc03209 dsc03219
A small flock of monarchs must have been migrating and made a stop to enjoy my flowers.
dsc03237 dsc03243
Sometimes we work together…and sometimes we all do our own. My kids love puzzles.
dsc03233 dsc03250
A’s “baby” gets carried around like this a lot. After a visit with some friends who introduced tree climbing, we have a new interest around here. Unfortunately the only climbable trees anywhere near our house are pine trees. =(

This template comes from The Simple Woman’s Daybook, with my own modifications.

Book Review: The Cottage


The Cottage, book two in the “Secrets of the Shetlands” series, is classic Michael Phillips–anchored in dialogue, plenty of theology and introspection, and a full dose of Scottish brogue in a slow-moving yet suspenseful enough package to keep you reading. I definitely recommend starting with book one, since the story builds on itself significantly.

The main plot revolves around an American girl, Loni Ford, who was orphaned as a baby and raised by her Quaker grandparents, then left home and went to Washington DC to work in the finance and investment world. On the surface her life is put together, but inside she is searching for identity and roots. Completely out of the blue, Loni receives notice that she has inherited a property in Scotland. Two local men, distant cousins of Loni’s, were in a dispute over the inheritance, anticipating that one of them would inherit, and when the courts turned up an American inheritor, the entire community is shocked and in upheaval. Loni travels to Scotland to make arrangements for the estate, which turns out to be much larger and more complicated than she expected.

Phillips ties up enough loose threads in his plot in book 2 that I’m wondering what twist the third and final book (due out in summer 2017) will bring. I guess I will have to wait and see! =)

I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Bethany House) in exchange for my review.

Book Review: Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart


In this book, Jim and Lynne Jackson, founders of Connected Families, teach four principles for discipline that connects with the hearts of your children–you are safe with me, you are loved no matter what, you are capable of making wise choices, and you are responsible to make things right. Moving away from authoritarian discipline, these principles focus on empathy, gentle communication, and natural consequences. This is really a book about the parent–rather than a “how to change your child” focus, it deals primarily on how to change yourself in order to connect better with your children, particularly in times of discipline. The first four sections of the book teach each principle in several chapters each. A three-section Appendix applies the four principles to fifteen specific challenges–everything from messes, screen time, meals and bedtime to whining, defiance, tantrums and sibling conflict.

Here’s a brief quote from the book that shows the principles in action:

“Jordan, get your shoes on. It’s time to go!”
“No, Mommy! I’m making a truck. I don’t want to go.”
Lynette looks at her son with a hint of a smile and says, “It’s difficult to obey sometimes, isn’t it. God sure made you both creative and persistent.”
She pauses to pray silently, Lord, how will you use these gifts in him?
Then she makes this offer: “Hey, before we get your shoes, show me this cool thing you’re working on.”
Mommy feels safe to him; eager to please, Jordan proudly displays his truck.
“That’s impressive! I love the huge wheels and the extra light on top. Know what? You can set it up here on the table so you’ll remember to finish it later. Do you want to wear sneakers or sandals?”

[Then if Jordan would continue to be defiant, natural consequences would be given, such as practicing a better response, losing the privilege of playing with the toy, and/or doing an extra chore for his mother to “pay back” the time she lost in dealing with his defiance.]

One thing I appreciate about this book is the thoughtful, slow approach to discipline, and also the challenge to make sure I am being loving and considerate in my requests of my children. A simple example is my tendency to pluck my one-year old out of whatever he’s doing with no warning and then expect him to “talk nicely” to mommy instead of pitch a fit. Another area where I need improvement is increasing the proportion of affirmation and positive direction to correction and negative commands. Finally, an emphasis in this book was teaching our children that they are responsible for their choices and the consequences of those choices, a lost (but very important) reality for many kids these days.

I have three preschoolers and it did seem like this discipline method relies heavily on discussion, brainstorming, and other conversation-based skills that my kids are not able to process yet.There is only a brief half-page or so about spanking, which implies that it is not usually helpful. My opinion is that with the youngest children, an immediate consequence such as a snip on the fingers or a godly spanking is most effective. Then as children mature, methods like the one in this book become more and more useful and replace the “pain-oriented” discipline.

There is no end to books on parenting and discipline, but all in all, I think this is a good one, particularly for the parent who tends toward anger and harshness, or for parents with older children (ages 5 and up). It would also be a good resource for foster parents or people working with kids who have emotional and/or sensory challenges that require extra insight and care.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

Our People Week and September Pictures

I’m noticing I didn’t post much in September. Here is a brief overview in pictures (and a few words, since I always have plenty of those).

J took A on a date to a tractor pull. A loves going…and watching the videos they took on daddy’s phone over and over and over.

dsc03200 img_2392
img_2401 dsc03196
I ended up with an abundance of cute pictures of this guy. I’m enjoying him so much these days–his laugh, his newly-acquired skill of running, his hugs, his slowly-increasing vocabulary. He also gets clingy and fussy, and that can be very draining, but…I love him. =)

dsc03181 dsc03193

If I were choosing one word to describe the past week, it would be “people.” Last Friday, J’s employer took all of the employees to Cabelas for a fun day. J took A along. On Saturday, we hosted the annual Dwight Heatwole family reunion at our home.
Heatwole reunion.jpg
I didn’t take any pictures, so I stole this one from my aunt’s blog. There were about 50 people here, half of which were age 10 and under. I wish I had a picture of the sandbox and play structure, teeming with children like it was most of the day. On Sunday we had friends (they have five children) over for the evening. On Monday evening J and I went on a date while the kids went to Aunt C’s. Then I agreed to babysit two preschoolers for Tuesday and Wednesday, giving me two 4 year olds, and a 3, a 2, and a 1 year old. On Tuesday evening we hauled them all to the park for a birthday party. Other than that, I was home with my little day care. =)
It went mostly fine. The biggest problem was my kids’ possessiveness and refusal to share. I’d never seen them so bad with that before, and wonder if they were maybe on people overload–not an excuse, but possibly a contributing factor. The grand finale to our week was hosting our discipleship group here last evening. I had planned to get out and get our grocery shopping done today, but M had a fever during the night and this morning so we stayed home.
Our special activity today was picking up several bags of garbage that a bear stole off the back of our truck and dragged down to the stream and up the side of the mountain. A trip to the dump is on our after-nap agenda.

My kid quote for the day is one from M last night. She was sobbing in her bed, so I went to see what was wrong. “I just keep yawning and I don’t want to but I can’t stop!” Can we say….tired?! =)

Frustrated with Green

I’m disenchanted with my efforts at eco-friendly, green housekeeping. I can ferociously scrub our shower tile grout with baking soda and vinegar for half an hour, or I can use Soft Scrub and it takes five minutes and does a way better job. I can use vinegar and water on the floor, and then turn around and mop with Pine-Sol and the mop water gets dark and dirty. I tried chemical-free dishwasher fluid in my dishwasher and it made the thing overflow rivers of suds onto the floor every single time, which never happens with Cascade. We were infested with Japanese beetles that would not die “naturally” or organically and shredded our plants this summer. None of the “natural” tricks I’ve tried keep the dishcloth smelling fresh like Clorox does. I went back to Lysol for the toilet bowl long ago because it keeps it clean noticeably longer. And my laundry. I’ve made my own detergent for several years, but I’ve been increasingly disappointed in how our clothes don’t seem clean–dingy whites, spots that won’t come out, etc. Just one wash with Tide today made an amazing, noticeable difference.

I like the price savings on homemade products. I like knowing that I’m using products that are safer for our bodies and the environment. But I also feel like giving up.

That’s my confession for the day.


Book Review: Uninvited


Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely. There have been many times in my life where I have felt uninvited, left out and lonely, so the title of this book definitely caught my attention. About halfway through, I told my husband that I’ve been reading this book with my head, and I know there are things that I need to learn from it, but it is just way easier to not think about it too much. I was realizing how much memories and feelings from the past that I thought were over and buried still affect my self-perception and reactions. The very next page I read included this quote: “We can go to Bible study and amen every point made, but if we don’t apply it to our lives, we won’t be changed. And I’ll even take it a step further and say that if we’ve been exposed to a teaching that we know we need to implement and we don’t make any changes, that’s a clue that the hardening of that part of our heart is in process. Inspiration and information without personal application will never amount to transformation.” Well then. I hear you, Lord! =) There are definitely things from this book that I’ll be going back to and processing, and I’m trusting God will use to bring healing and warmth to cold places in my heart.

I appreciated the author’s vulnerability in sharing from her own life. I was also blessed by the new perspective on some familiar bible stories, such as the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. I’m not a fan of formulaic approaches and the back cover promises that this book will show you “exactly what to pray for the next ten days,” and how to “overcome the  two core fears…by understanding the secret of belonging” and so on kind of put me off. The book didn’t come across to me the way I expected from the cover, for which I was glad. If you are struggling with feelings of hurt and rejection, I recommend this book as an approachable, encouraging resource.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Red Milk vs. Blue Milk


Our breakfast conversation today:

“I don’t really like red milk. I like blue milk.”
Me: “What’s the difference anyway?”
“Red milk tastes like salmon.”
Me: “Really? What is salmon?”
“The red milk says “daddy milk” on it. It tastes like salmon and it has yogurt in it.”
Me: “Oh. Salmon is fish.”
“I know. Red milk tastes like it has fish in it and it is for Daddy.”
Me: “You know what the real difference is? Red milk is milk like it comes from the cow. Blue milk has some of the cream taken out of it.”
“That’s what I was about to say. That’s why I don’t really like red milk as much as blue milk.”

So there. Four year old logic on why 2% is preferable to whole milk. =)

The Birthday Trip

In honor of Jim’s recent 40th birthday, I planned a little trip for the two of us. Remember how I ditched my original plan in favour of his bucket list (instead of my own)? Well, I had some new experiences and I survived to tell about them. =)

One of the most fun things for me was knowing that J was excited about and looking forward to the trip. We left here on Thursday morning and drove to New River Gorge, West Virginia. Ever since J was researching zip-lines in preparation to build our own, he’s been wanting to try the gravity zip-line at Adventures on the Gorge that he had read about. The course consists of a series of six zips–500 ft., 400 ft., three in the 1500-1800 ft. range, and then the final “AdrenaLine” that is 3150 ft. long and travels at speeds of 60-70 mph. I’m not much for heights (although knowing I’m securely fastened in and cannot fall makes them bearable), so I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy the ride or not. Jim loved it. I wasn’t completely relaxed and just flinging myself out there, but it wasn’t terrifying either. So that was score one. We spent the evening driving around looking at the scenery and enjoying good food. Score two.


This is the beginning of the AdrenaLine. The end is that grayish spot way across the way.


The next day we took a long, scenic route from the New River Gorge to Amherst, VA. There was nothing in particular that we had planned to do. Just sleeping in, spending time together, lazy travel, lots of beautiful country, and more good food. Score three.


On Saturday morning, after another slow, lazy morning, we puttered on down the road to my aunt and uncle’s house and took them out for a double-date lunch. That was fun. Then we made our way on into Richmond for the NASCAR race. I feel a little embarrassed just saying that, knowing how many derogatory comments I’ve made about NASCAR in the past, but…how was I supposed to know I’d marry a guy who enjoys it?! I just keep my mouth (mostly) shut now. So anyway. We went to the race. Several people advised me to take a book, but I did not. We arrived a little after 3:00 and the race didn’t start until 7:45. Come about 4:30ish, I was wishing I had brought that book, but finally it was race time. We had bought cheap tickets and our seats were really bad, but there were lots of open places, so we just moved and were able to sit in fairly decent seats, basically where J would’ve chosen to sit once he had scoped out the track, where his guy (#48) was on pit row, etc. I was glad about that. I mean, it’s not every day my guy gets to go to a race, so I wanted him to at least be able to see and enjoy.


I wasn’t bored out of my head, but honestly, everything was happening so fast that I couldn’t see half of it, much less keep up with any of it. I chose (for a variety of random reasons, none of which were educated–I didn’t even know who was driving) to root for #1, but I couldn’t even tell which car that was most of the time. He’d streak by and I’d be like, okay, I’m going to watch him the whole way around, and by the time he hit the backstretch, I had no idea which car was which anymore. With ear plugs, we could hardly hear the announcer, which I think would’ve helped a lot. As it was, I think the race was fairly eventful, as races go, but 99% of it went over my head and by the time it was over a little past midnight, I was very ready to go. But J enjoyed it (score four!), so I’m glad we did it. He says too that he thinks he’d rather watch on TV/online than live, since you get so much more inside information, so we probably won’t go back any time soon.


And did I mention we did this whole trip on a motorcycle that a friend so kindly loaned us? J also really enjoyed that. Score five! A very successful birthday trip. =)


This is me with my second pair of gas station sunglasses. I thought on Sat. afternoon as we were driving to the race and traveling fast on I-295 that its a wonder my glasses weren’t blowing off. And minutes later, whoosh! Away they went. And then I lost another pair puttering along a back road on our way home on Sunday.

So that was our little birthday adventure.

If you had a weekend to check one thing off your spouse’s bucket list, what would it be?