Books Help

Bookshelf  You may think you will never have time to read again, but I’m here to tell you, “Don’t give up!” When my boys started napping regularly (yes, it will eventually happen!), I would grab a book and try to read a little on most days – even if it was only 15 or 20 minutes! I might have even popped some popcorn for a “healthy” snack. Who am I kidding — nap time is chocolate time!  Sometimes it was a childcare book, but most often it was an entertaining or inspirational story – a little escape from reality and sometimes even more energizing than sleep.  Don’t be afraid to give yourself permission to curl up for a few minutes with a book or something else you like to do.  If you end up falling asleep, that’s ok — time for you to rest and relax is important, too!  Believe me, your babies will not notice if the dusting or vacuuming has been done.  My boys are almost 21 and they STILL don’t notice if the dusting or vacuuming has been done – just sayin’.

I believe continuous learning is a great thing!
Below are some of my favorites with links if you want to learn more:

Andy Andrews:
The Traveler’s Gift – Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success
The Noticer – Thought provoking and inspirational!

Vicki & Tom Dau:
The Marriage Alphabet –  Click HERE for your free e-book! OR purchase a copy HERE as a gift for an engaged or married couple. Contains basic truths that we need to be reminded of often to be successful in marriage and all relationships. 
Out of the River (by Vicki Dau) – A Parable of Empowerment, Freedom and Truth

Matthew Kelly:
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic – Click HERE to get your free copy.
Let God take your spiritual life to the next level or help reinvigorate your parish

Jan Karon:
The Mitford Series
 – Sweet, heart-warming, real-life stories about an unlikely family

Joyce Meyer:
Trusting God Day by Day – Short reflections are a perfect way to start your day

Erica Bauermeister:
The School of Essential Ingredients – A delicious slice of life that you will enjoy from beginning to end

Paul Coutinho, SJ:
How Big Is Your God?
Just as You Are
Will challenge you to grow stronger and deeper in your faith and in your relationship with God—a God whose love knows no bounds.

Connie and Alan Higley:  
Reference Guide for Essential Oils – Packed full of valuable information, this guide includes individual sections for the following: Science & Application, Single Oils, Oil Blends, Personal Care Products, Supplements, and a Personal Guide which is alphabetized by health condition.  I use this book almost every day! Click HERE to learn more.

Richard Paul Evans:
The Walk (Part 1)
Miles to Go – The Walk (Part 2)
The Road to Grace – The Walk (Part 3)
A Step of Faith – The Walk (Part 4)
The Walk (Part 5 – Coming Soon)
An unforgettable series about hope, healing, and the meaning of life.
The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me (for Women) – worth reading at least once for the financial health of your family.

Janet Evanovich:
Stephanie Plum Series
 – May make you laugh out loud – I don’t advise reading these in bed while hubby is sleeping.

Earlene Fowler– Great mysteries with a touch of quilting and ranch life

Mary Lou Quinlan:
The God Box – a new way to give your concerns to God

Dorothea Benton Frank:
Shem Creek
Isle of Palms
Porch Lights
The Land of Mango Sunsets
Stories about women from all walks of life and how their experiences make them stronger

Sara Gruen:
Water for Elephants – My favorite ending to a story ever!

Lorna Landvik:
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons – Do you know of ANY housewives that actually eat bon bons?

Anita Diamant:
The Red Tent – a biblical, fictional story of traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood, told in the voice of Dinah, daughter of Jacob.

Dr. Kevin Leman:
Have a New Kid by Friday
Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours
A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex
Adolescence Isn’t Terminal

Mike Linderman:
The Teen Whisperer (I know it’s hard to imagine, but, yes, your babies will be teenagers some day!)

Emilie Richards:
Wedding Ring
Endless Chain

J. K. Rowling:
Harry Potter series (I started reading these because my boys were and I was hooked – I would actually sneak their books while they were sleeping and of course I stayed up way too late!)

Kathryn Stockett:
The Help – I liked the movie, but the book was even better!

Ron Hall & Denver Moore w/Lynn Vincent:
Same Kind of Different As Me – An incredible and memorable story

Jeannette Walls:
The Glass Castle
Half-Broke Horses
The Silver Star
Inspirational stories about overcoming hardships and abuse and learning to thrive

Susan Wiggs:
Her women’s fiction is real and true – she captures stories of the heart.

Larry Winget:
Your Kids Are Your Own Fault – Parenting is a tough job, and it’s easy to get discouraged.  Be persistent and check out these guidelines to help you raise your children to become responsible, independent, successful, generous adults.

Jacqueline Winspear:
Maisie Dobbs, A Novel
If you like mysteries, check this series out!

Dr. James Dobson:
The Strong-Willed Child – Almost every family has at least one – hang in there!

My Love/Hate Relationship with Halloween

First Halloween 001

When my boys were born, I thought I would love Halloween.  Of course, their First Halloween they were only 5 months old, so we settled for cute pumpkin bootees and took a pass on the Trick-or-Treating.  The following year I started sewing costumes in early September – – I even looked for something that they could wear coats underneath if necessary.  So I happily sewed away and was ready for Halloween a month ahead of time!  (May I just add here that being ready for anything a month early has never happened again and probably never will!)

The big day came with a sketchy forecast (the Halloween forecast is always iffy in the Midwest), but I was determined this was going to be a FUN day.  What I hadn’t fully learned yet was that toddlers like their routine.  So our 30 minute drive to visit Granny & Grampy after dinner was out of the ordinary, and their little eyes kept looking at us with the expression of “What’s going on here?”   “This is FUN!” I assured them.  Granny believed in only the best for her little angels, so their treat was Fannie May chocolates.  (Now, we all know who ate most of that chocolate!)  I wonder if my mother-in-law knew how much I would appreciate it, too.  I wish she were still here, so I could ask her. 

On our way home, it started to rain and we were going to scrap the Trick-or-Treating in the neighborhood.  But, WAIT!  I didn’t spend all that time making adorable matching costumes for no one to see!  We agreed to visit just a few neighbors, each of us holding a winter-coated, costumed, pumpkin-toting boy.  My husband also got to wrestle with a golf umbrella – bless his heart.  The temperature was dropping, but we assured ourselves this was what good parents should do.  After a few minutes wet snowflakes began to fall and the wind picked up – – it was so ridiculous it was funny!  Our last stop was the neighbors next door who invited us to come inside out of the cold, so they could see the kids’ costumes (finally, some recognition for my hard work!).  We took a few pictures with their kids, and as we stepped back outside we saw our umbrella blowing and bouncing down the street  – – it was time to go home!

I don’t know who was more exhausted that night – the boys or us.  Thank goodness Halloween is only one day.  Little did I realize how the pending holiday season would mess with our routine – – good thing I was oblivious — If I had thought too hard about it, I may have just eaten all that Fannie May chocolate in one sitting!!

“Accept”

I was noticing a very pregnant woman at church recently, and I had a flashback.  I was about 7 months pregnant and feeling very cumbersome – – it was difficult to get comfortable anywhere I went, especially if there were no pillows. (Pillows are a pregnant woman’s best friends!) I had actually made it through the mass without having to go to the bathroom, and we were standing for the final blessing.  Usually, the priest or deacon will say, “Bow your heads and receive God’s blessing.”  But for some reason on this particular Sunday the priest said, “Bow your heads and accept God’s blessing.”  When my head was bowed, I was looking at my very large belly and the word “ACCEPT” really resonated with me.  These babies were truly a blessing from God.  I had only planned on one child at a time, but God had other ideas for our family.  He certainly knew how to get my attention!  I was apprehensive about becoming a mother to two babies at once, and this was only the beginning of my journey of learning to trust God.  It’s something I’m still working on today and probably will be for the rest of my life.

accept

     This makes me wonder how many blessings God has given me that I have not accepted or even been aware of.   I’m the kind of person that tries to do things on my own first.  The tape that plays in my head says, “I can handle this!”  So asking for help does not come naturally to me (and I suspect it’s the same for many women and men, too).  But I have come to realize that asking God for help eases the burdens we moms sometimes carry.  Our blessings don’t always come neatly wrapped and are not always as obvious as a new baby (or two!).  In hindsight, I see many blessings in disguise throughout my life, and I am more watchful now than I used to be.  What are your blessings?

Shock and Awe

UltrasoundYou’ve heard the expression “shock and awe,” right?  Well, that is what I was feeling for several days after learning I was carrying twins.  Shock because I had never considered twins a possibility and awe that we were gifted with two babies.  This definitely changed our plan and I began to understand that I wasn’t in control after all.  Also, an unexpected feeling of guilt crept in – I had only been loving one baby, not two.  I know, it sounds silly, but I felt it just the same.  How quickly “mother’s guilt” reared its head! 

As we told more people our happy news, the reality of “two” set in.  It was exciting and terrifying at the same time!  Thankfully, we had made the decision for me to stay at home with children early in our marriage.  We were committed to that and had been working towards that.  I realize that to be home by choice is not a possibility for everyone, but it felt right to me.  Still, it was intimidating to think that I would be completely responsible for two babies right from the start!  It’s a good thing pregnancy takes nine months – I needed that time to mentally prepare for motherhood!  I had always wanted to be a mom, and I was fortunate to babysit for lots of great kids (and even a set of twins) growing up.  But this was the real deal – no going home after a few hours with cash in my pocket.  This would be my full-time job!

Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

Oh boy! Oh boy! 001It all started 21 years ago. We had been married for six years;  we owned a home and we were ready to start a family.  Little did we know that God had His own plan for us.

Looking back, it actually began on November 26, 1910.

My maternal grandmother, Evelyn, was born with her fraternal twin brother, Fred. (No, they were not identical – that would be impossible!)  Jump ahead to 1992 and my doctor asking if twins run in our family.  I started to say no because my mom had not had any twins when I remembered that my Grandmama was a twin.  Oh boy . . . hmmm . . . could it be possible?  Possible, the doctor said but not likely – – probably just a miscalculated due date.   Five days before Christmas, we received an early gift and learned that we would be first-time parents of twins!  We came to learn that fraternal twins are hereditary on the woman’s side of the family and often skip a generation – -nature was going to have her way with us.

Oh boy and Oh boy again!  Two boys would begin to fill up our lives the following spring.  They were already starting to fill up my heart.