Saturday, June 29, 2013

End of June Update

Where in the world did June go?

I know where it went. If you know a youth librarian, you'll know that summer is (most likely) their busiest time of the year. Summer Reading just consumes you. We have six full weeks of programming, and I've survived the first three weeks. It's all downhill from here. It has been such a full and fun month of sharing books during story times, having special guests present their talents, and encouraging children to read, read, read. One of the best things about my job is interacting with the kids. There's one young man (I believe he's going into 6th grade) who shares book recommendations with me and just talks and talks about books. Seriously, is there anything better?

Outside of work, life has been just as full. With R not working over the summer, he has committed himself to serving in our church over the summer. Our church participates in a government program to feed children over the summer, and he has been dedicated to taking on a leadership role in that work. God is also guiding us to some big changes that will be happening in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to sharing updates when we have more assurance that the direction we're headed in is the right one.

Tell me something good in your life right now.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father

I finally chose a book on my to-read list (because while I am reading, I'm not picking things up that are on that list!). Jessica Brody's 52 Reasons to Hate My Father has been on my list for almost a year. I read My Life Undecided earlier last year and really enjoyed the plot (I recommend it, too). 52 Reasons sounded just as fun.

Spoiled trust-funder Lexington Larrabee is thisclose to getting her trust fund check... until her father deems it necessary for his daughter to work for that money. His plan? To have Lexi work a different blue-collar job each week for a year. Along the way, Lexi learns more about herself, her family, and just how those on the other side of the lawn live. There's humor, sadness, and love all wrapped in one young adult novel that makes for a great weekend read. It's chick-lit for teen girls, but as a chick-lit fan, I thought the book was just plain fun.

I found my copy in the YA section of my local public library. I bet you can find your copy there, too.

Disclaimer: Yes, I've linked to where you can learn more about Jessica's book. No, I'm not making money off the links. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Psalm 145:5

A new day

An afternoon drive

Early evening rainbow and showers
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
- Psalm 145:5

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Poolside Reading


"That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest."
- Thoreau

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book: Operation Oleander

Can you tell by my recent blog posts that I am spending a lot of time reading? Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson hasn't been sitting on my to-read list for long, but it came across my desk at work and I figured I'd snatch it up before I miss my chance.

Three teenagers - Jess, Meriwether, and Sam - live on an Army base with their families. Jess creates an aid organization, Operation Oleander, to collect school supplies and other necessities for an orphanage in Afghanistan, where Jess's father and Meriwether's mother are serving. An IED goes off near the orphanage, wounding and killing American soldiers and Afghani children at the orphanage. The soldiers were delivering supplies from Operation Oleander... and one of the casualties was Meriwether's mother.

This is a short YA (young adult) read, but it's worth it. I'm familiar with military bases and life, thanks to my dad, so many details I could pass over. However, this book is an excellent introduction to the life of a teenager on a military base. It's also incredibly relevant to teens who have grown up during the Afghanistan conflicts. My only complaint? I felt the ending was incredibly abrupt. I really wanted more story.

If you're looking for this book at your public library, check out the YA section (if there is one).

Disclaimer: Yes, I've linked to where you can learn more about Valerie's book. No, I'm not making money off the links.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Participation, Not Passivity

Wednesday was my Grannie's birthday... and I completely forgot about it.

She would have been 88. She passed away in 2011 after a long struggle with dementia. Her death was the first passing I felt both sadness and relief. She really wasn't Grannie for the last two years of her life. I admit, I struggled to visit her in that time because she didn't know who I was. The last time I saw her before her passing, she didn't remember my mom (Grannie's first child). That was so incredibly painful for my mom, but she was so faithful in being with Grannie on a regular basis until she was called to heaven. I will always admire that about my mom.

But I forgot her birthday. I remembered her birthday last year. My mom and I reminisced about Grannie on that day. This year? My mom and I talked repeatedly that day without mentioning Grannie. Did my mom forget? Or was it just too painful for her to bring up?

My original intention for this blog was to highlight the good stuff in life that I let just pass me by. There is no one subject I stick with because my life is incredibly full with so many wonderful things. I'm ashamed that I forgot my Grannie's birthday (side note: My dad passed away in 2009, and I continue to celebrate his birthday every year.). However, I will never forget my Grannie and the amazing memories I have of her.

My first and middle names just happen to be Grannie's first and middle names. When I was younger, she would tell me I was her favorite grandchild. She was always slipping me little presents and dollar bills when she came over. She was the one grandparent who was consistently part of my life. She had style that, I believe, only women born in the 1920s and 1930s can pull off successfully. She was beautiful, funny, loving, and so passionate about everything she was involved with. Grannie was awesome.

Our family has lost many members in the past few years. My dad passed in 2009. Grannie passed in 2011. One of Richie's "grandmothers" (not blood) passed in 2011, too. My dad's sister lost her husband in 2012. One of my uncles passed this past December. Let's be honest: It sucks. But gosh, the beautiful memories we have are something to be treasured. While I will treasure those memories, I will continue to make an effort to treasure each day that is given to me. If you're reading this, look at the blessings that surround you and give thanks.

In a recent sermon at church, our pastor was brutally honest with us. He reminded us that we are only here on this earth for just a blip of time. Our time is incredibly limited. Do we want to spend it in a rush, or do we want to slow down and savor? I'm rambling here, but slowing down is something I regularly struggle with. I like to stay busy and productive. However, I miss so much of the good around me. And I missed my Grannie's birthday. I won't beat myself over that, but it was a clear reminder that I am not taking the time to absorb all the blessings around me.

Participation in life, not passivity, is what it's all about.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book: Sparkly Green Earrings

I read a review somewhere for Sparkly Green Earrings and decided to download it to my Kindle when it was available for free. It's not the typical memoir I'm attracted to. But the review I read had me cracking up, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Melanie Shankle writes about motherhood in about as honest of voice as you can get. I'm not a mother, but this book makes me look forward to the hilarity that comes along with having a child. She discusses dirty diapers, over-the-top birthday parties, and public school adventures. She also peppers her stories with Bible verses and small doses of faith. I wanted nothing more than to go have dinner with Melanie and her family when I finished reading.

When something made me laugh, I'd take the time to read the humor out loud to Richie. We want to have a child one day, and this book settled some of my fears about future motherhood. Even if you have no intentions of procreating, read this book for a good laugh. I guarantee you'll fall in love with Melanie's daughter, Caroline. Caroline seems like the kind of kid any parent would be proud of.

Melanie blogs at Big Mama. If you don't want to purchase the book and can't find it at your library, read her blog. It's an equally satisfying read.

Disclaimer: Yes, I've linked to where you can learn more about Melanie's book. No, I'm not making money off the links.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Back to Couponing!

When I kept a personal finance blog several years ago, I taught myself how to coupon. I am not an extreme couponer by any means. I can't see spending hours developing shopping lists and matching coupons, then spending a few more hours shopping, bringing items home, and finding space for all the items. (However, kudos to those extreme couponers who donate goodies!) I fell off the couponing bandwagon about a year ago because my source for coupons ran dry. We live in a pretty rural area that stopped receiving a major metropolitan newspaper - we can still get it, but the Sunday edition costs around $5. I'm not paying that, so I just stopped couponing.

I noticed that when I stopped couponing and being more aware of prices, our grocery bills each few weeks were getting higher and higher. Our steady income has increased since I stopped couponing, but now that it's summer, we're looking at two months of living on just one income. I figured it was time to get back into deal-seeking and coupon-cutting. I mentioned back in April how we saved gift cards from the holidays to make up for this slow period. We used one gift card last weekend on our anniversary for dinner and a movie. I've also signed up for various reward programs to area restaurants I hadn't signed up at before to offset our Sunday-lunch-after-church expenses.

And then I discovered something awesome: The Dollar Tree store near our church sells Sunday newspapers from another metropolitan area. Sunday newspapers for $1? Yes, please!

So after church this morning, we stopped by Dollar Tree and snagged two newspapers. Each newspaper had 3 coupon inserts. I was SO excited! Richie likes to huff at me while I make sure each paper has the correct amount of inserts, but I think he secretly likes tagging along with me to find deals.

Once we got home, I spent one hour perusing my favorite deal site (, gathering the coupons I wanted to use, and headed back out. In our little town, the three big drug stores are located at the same intersection - convenient, right? It took me 40 minutes to visit all three stores. My favorite find? Turkey bacon at Walgreens for 29 cents! I stocked up on hair products, mouthwash, eggs, sports drinks for Richie, and makeup (for me, of course).

At CVS, I saved $9.79.
(I also took home $10 in ECBs for a future purchase!)

At Rite Aid, I saved $20.94.

At Walgreens, I saved $9.80.
I spent around $30 for everything I purchased and saved over $80. It's not the greatest savings, but I'm pretty darn pleased with the savings after being out of touch with coupons for a year. And the most important part? I only purchased things we will use.

Thank you, Dollar Tree, for doing what you do.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book: The Pregnancy Project

I kept hearing good things about The Pregnancy Project on professional list-servs I belong to. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for my library system to get a copy. Finally, it popped up on our new release list and I was the first one to check it out. (Nerd? Yes!)

Gaby Rodriguez faked a pregnancy for her senior year project. That’s pretty intense. She discusses teen pregnancy and stereotypes from a very first-person perspective. Rodriguez’s memoir is a hard-hitting dose of reality for any teen, and she balances her personal experiences with statistics and research. She reveals the hurtful comments her classmates and friends uttered behind her back, and it's a sobering reality of what many teenagers go through on a regular basis. One quote at the end of her story stood out to me: "I hope we can change this society so that, instead of teens working hard to tear each other down and laughing about it in the school hallways, we can learn to support each other and help each other move forward when there are troubles along the way." 

Rodriguez's writing is from the heart and very easy to read. I flew through the book in two days. As an adult, it was a fascinating glimpse into the realities that some teenagers face. If this sounds like a read you’d be interested in picking up, it would be in the nonfiction area of your local public library (our copy was shelved in the Young Adult area).

Disclaimer: Yes, I've linked to where you can learn more about Gaby's book. No, I'm not making money off the links.