Library Review – July Favorites

We only managed to get to the library once this month, and with August fast approaching I thought I’d round up a few of our favorites.

First off, we have a new coffee table! This is where our library books “live”, as my son says. Alongside legos, water bottles, snacks, and anything else being played with at the moment. With our new table also came two very cute Queen Anne chairs. My grandmother had them and fixed them up for our kids to use. They love the new set up! My two-year-old daughter loves to wander over and sit with a book at the table.

Also, this is my two-year-old’s favorite way to sit, in my lap, with her legs on top of mine. How cute!

The Books: What they were and Who liked them

These were the runaway winners in my kids’ eyes. I was really hesitant about the Llama book because it’s a Netflix series now. I’m not sure why, but if there is something that is popular (like when a book becomes a tv show or movie) I automatically dislike it. Maybe I’m a little hipster, maybe I’m just a snob. I’m not sure, but my kids picked it off the shelf, and I generally don’t say no to books they pick, until my bag is full!
Well, we loved it! I won’t ruin if for those of you who haven’t read it, but let’s just say, if you have kids it is humorously relatable! And just cute! It’s definitely on my book wish list now!

999 Frogs was another surprise. My kids picked it because, well, frogs! And it ended up being a very sweet story about friendship and teamwork.

This was the classic favorite. Both kids liked it (the baby doesn’t have strong enough opinions about books yet, she just likes to chew on them), and it is the first Tomie dePaola book that they sat through. I love Tomie dePaola books, but they haven’t liked any of the ones I have picked out. My son actually grabbed this one off the shelf! I was so excited. I think their favorite was the caveman sounds, and of course, the dinosaur.

This was the parents’ favorite. I read it aloud when my husband came home and he cracked up through the whole thing. The humor is definitely for a little bit older kids than mine, but anything read with a funny voice is funny! Pretty sure my husband read it later after the kids went to bed and laughed through it again. This is another one to go on the wish list, and if my brothers are reading this, act surprised if you get it for Christmas!

This is the honorable mention, because it recalls a very dear memory for me.

When I was born, my parents were living in Minnesota, but my grandparents still lived in California. My Nana wanted to make sure that her grandbabies knew the sound of her voice, so she wouldn’t be a stranger to us, so she recorded herself on tapes for us. We mailed home videos and cassettes back and forth across the country. On one of those cassette tapes, Nana told the story of the little seed. It was so long ago, I don’t remember it all, but I remember her voice talking about a little seed growing into a flower. This book reminded me of that tape. Later, I discovered why she had told that story, because she is passionate about things that grow. Her yard is full of growing things, she is always giving plants, and she knows the names and the care for almost any plant in southern California.
So, this one makes the list purely for her sake. Thank you, Nana (I know you will read this).

What are you reading?
Meet any new “friends” among your book stack?
Gotten to introduce an old “friend” to someone? That’s one of the most special things in the world.

Soli Deo Gloria

My story, God’s story

A lot happened this weekend.

Went away with my hubby Thursday night to celebrate our 5th anniversary, Dodger game Friday night (which they won!) with fireworks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, my niece’s 1st birthday party on Saturday, then I got baptized on Sunday.

Like I said, big weekend. Very fun and very full. Has made for a very sleepy Monday, which I am totally fine with.

Many people from my church came up to me after service saying how encouraged they were by my testimony. I always feel awkward when people thank me, but especially then because I didn’t really do anything. God did it all, I just showed up.

Here’s what I shared:

My Story – God’s Story

I was baptized once before, when I was 11, but I was not a believer at the time. It took a long time for me to admit that the testimony I thought I had wasn’t true. I believed my own lie.

The truth was, I was a really good Pharisee. I grew up in a Christian home, was taught about God, heard the gospel, and mentally assented to the truth about God. I told others about God, I behaved well, I sought to be “the good girl”, and prided myself in all these things. There was one problem, and that was me. I didn’t believe I needed Jesus. I didn’t believe I was that bad. I didn’t believe I was a sinner. 

It wasn’t until high school that this deadly belief in my own goodness, grew into something more serious: pride. I loved myself more than anyone. I wanted others to love me too. I sought favor from my peers, and affection from boys. I despised my church, my parents, and especially my siblings who knew the real me and all my flaws. I attacked or cut off anyone who confronted me, who tried to show me my sin, or who stood in my way of what I wanted.

By God’s grace, I was accepted to and received scholarships that enabled me to attend The Master’s College. In the first three months of being at college, I ignored all the warnings of my parents, and got in too deep with a boyfriend. I almost got myself kicked out of the school. I was then confronted with my sin, and I couldn’t escape it, or reason it away. I was confronted with the reality that God’s standard for my life is not Goodness, but Holiness. I can fake Goodness, but I cannot do Holiness. It broke me. 

I remember collapsing on the emergency stairwell of my dorm, where no one could find me, and just crying. Crying over my sin. I remember that being the very first time I prayed to God. I prayed, fully expecting to hear nothing, “God I can’t. I’m awful. I’m gross. I’m not holy.” In my heart an answer came, “And I love you anyway”.

That was the part about God that I didn’t understand for 18 years. That He is holy, and I am not. And He chose to love me anyways. This is where my faith in the Lord began, in repentance. Repenting of my pride, my selfishness, my self-righteousness, my godless goodness, all that mattered to me, because now none of it mattered to me without Christ. I was, and still am by God’s grace, like Paul in Philippians 3:7-9 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the flesh, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-” 

God tested my faith at that time too. I came back to school after the Christmas break with no friends, and in a new department because I had switched majors. I spent the next year in complete dependence on God. I had lost it all for His sake, and He slowly revealed to me that blessed truth that He is worth it. 

God faithfully showed me his love. By His grace the trust with my parents that I had broken was restored, and by restoring, and continually growing the relationship with my siblings, blessing me with deep friendships with my family members. Almost exactly a year after I repented and my faith became true and real, God brought Mike into my life. 

I became a born again Christian almost 10 years ago. I am now married to a man who strives to show me Christ daily. I have three kids, entrusted to me and my husband to teach the things of God and be faithful parents. I want them to know that there is a God, that He is holy, that they are sinners, and that they desperately need Jesus. That is why I want to get baptized: to be an example, and to obey my loving Father.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Education Opportunity – Limitless Learners Contest with Education.com

Ok friends, this is exciting!
Education.com is doing a contest for students Kindergarten through 5th grade (in the coming school year), where they can win $500 towards their future education, PLUS $1000 for their elementary school or library.
How awesome is that!?

Disclaimer: The pictures below are from the Education.com website and correspond to the links provided. They are not mine.

Click here to go to the contest page for ALL the details: https://www.education.com/contests/

Here are the basics of the contest rules

Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:

  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.
    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1–3 sentences about it.
    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5–8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.
    • 3rd grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.
    • 4th grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.
    • 5th grade students: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.
  • Submit the above to our judges (via one of the following two ways):
    • Via email to contest@education.com.
    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners

Ta Da! Such a great opportunity!

My kids are not old enough for this contest, but Education.com has some great (and fun) resources for Pre-schoolers, too!

I’m excited to try some of the worksheets with my son, like this one!

Education, to the glory of God!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Grab and Go Mini Purse

Big time Mom Hack coming your way!
The-purse-within-a-purse technique, or “mom essentials kit”. I started doing this when I was pregnant with my third because I didn’t want to carry a diaper bag and my purse all the time. I would take out my wallet, keys, chapstick, sunglasses, and maybe a pen or one other random item and stick it in the diaper bag. Great idea, right!

Problem became when I would switch back to my purse something would get left behind in the diaper bag. Hard to do a grocery run peacefully after the kids go to bed when you leave your wallet at home in the diaper bag! Introducing the Mini Purse! (I know, it’s typically called a clutch, but I like “Mini Purse”!)

Check this out! How convenient is that?

This little Brahmin clutch is just perfect! Yes, I really can fit all of that in there!

I searched all over Brahmin’s online store, but I COULD NOT find my exact clutch. But I did find a couple other options:

Disclaimer: None of the following pictures belong to me. All pictures below are from the corresponding links provided for each product.

This Mini is slightly larger than mine, and mine does not have any straps:

Or this Clutch, which is a little smaller than mine, but very close:

Since Brahmin is what I have, I thought I’d show you that first.
Although you can’t beat Brahmin for style and quality, it is a name brand, so it’s not always in the budget. Trust me, I get that.
So, I searched around online for some “budget friendly” options that will serve the same function, and get the similar style too.

Here’s what I found at good ol’ Targét!

These three fit the function and style best, and I love that Target price!
Left: Women’s Soft Pouch – Universal Thread™ for $9.99
Top Right: Classic Snakeskin Wristlet Pouch – A New Day Brown for $12.99
Bottom Right: Clutch – A New Day™ Cognac for $12.99

At the time I looked at this, all three were available online. You can also check online to see if the Target near you has them available. If it isn’t there, but at another close by, they can ship it to your store for free!

Enjoy friends! Shop, organize, style, and #momhustle for God’s glory!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Finding My Style – A New Beginning

This post needs a little intro.

The last time I really felt confident about my personal style was when I was in college, about 5 years ago.
Since then, I’ve gotten married and had three kids. A lot has changed for me in a relatively short time. I am in a very different phase of life, and my college-student-style no longer works for me now as a mom-of-three-littles.
So, yesterday, I took my sister shopping with me to figure out my sizes (I have never actually shopped in women’s and didn’t know what size I am!) and get a better idea of what my style is.

After our trip, we decided two things:

  1. My style has definitely changed to something more “grown up”
  2. It’s still a work in progress!

I have a better idea of what I like, what is out there, and what fits me, but I haven’t really nailed it down yet. Maybe I never will, but that’s fine with me, because that keeps me from settling and pushes me to keep being creative.

I am not a big shopper, but I love a great sale, and there are some really good ones going on right now, including the Nordstrom’s Annual Sale coming up next week!

Here’s what I found that I liked:

First up, Francesca’s (which is having an online only sale of 30% off full-priced items site wide, and is having their semi-annual sale. You can really get some good deals on clearance items with this sale.)
This is my sister’s go-to store, so this was her pick to start us off. She pick out this top and mini-skirt. She really wanted to see me in a jean skirt! I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The fact it’s a mini-skirt and I’m bending down to take care of my kids all the time is a big reason why this length is a no-no for me right now. The shirt, however, I loved! The style, the material, and the color were a yes for me.

Up next, Nordstrom! (Their Annual Sale is coming up next week!)
My aunt worked at Nordstrom for a long time, and I kind of grew up shopping here with my family, so it’s kind of a favorite of mine. I feel pretty comfortable browsing here, and I like a lot of what I see.
We found pants at Nordy’s. I’m a fan of cropped, green pants apparently! Love the style of both the cargo pants and the printed drawstring pants. They are a bit on the casual side, comfortable, and cute.
The shirt looks cute, but, for the record, it is partially see-through (which is why I was trying on the black) yet the material traps your body heat and within ten minutes I was uncomfortably hot!

Finally, was Loft. Whenever I pass this store, I love what I see. I’ve just never been brave enough to go in and really look around, like to was “too grown up” for me. Well, lesson learned, I’m grown up enough for it, and I loved what I found here! It was definitely motivating to see that they were having a huge sale, too. Extra 60% off sale items! Yes, please.

Clearly, red and polka dots were the winners at Loft. I liked the polka dot wrap skirt as soon as I saw it, and once I put it on, I was in love.
The shirt is also a wrap style, not too low cut, and the flared arms just won me over. Oh, and the polka dots and stripes together? Yes, yes, yes.

Okay, now for the shocker (well, shocker for me). The last time I wore flared pants I was a pre-teen, and I hated the style. It made me feel even more awkward and skinny, like a literal bell. Hated it.
So, when my sister picked out these bright red, cropped, wide legged pants for me to try on, I was super hesitant. I almost just said “no, forget it, not putting them on”, but I did it. You know what? I liked them!
They make me look taller (rather than skinnier), hug my form in a flattering way, and I even liked the bright red color on me. Now, go figure they are a best seller at Loft too.

Thanks sis for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

I learned a little about myself on this little sister shopping trip, too.
I learned:
I like to be creative with clothes.
I like to shop for myself.
I tend to like a more sophisticated style, but comfort is still of primary importance to me.
I like the way I look in red.
I am a size smaller than I thought.
I need to work on my mirror selfie game.

And I should even seek to dress for God’s glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Family Vacation – Big Bear Lake, CA

Mountains, forrest, lake, great weather, small town feel with (all the amenities), and family friendly to boot! I’m not even kidding. We just spent a week up in Big Bear Lake, California, and it was a blast.

First of all, I love spending time with my family. There is literally nothing I’d rather be doing. We are so blessed to have such a close family. My siblings and I are so close, both in age and in relationship. It’s really a blessing. This past week, it was so sweet to see my kids playing with their cousin, she’s not quite 1 yet, but she is walking and she followed them all around. They kept calling to her to “catch me!” and she’d laugh and toddle down the hall after them.
The range of properties available to rent out in Big Bear is amazing too. We were able to fit my entire side of family under one roof, and we weren’t on top of each other. From little cottages to three story cabins, they have it! We stayed in the lovely, Evergreen Manor and all four generations enjoyed the house. I asked around and our favorite thing about this home in particular was the space in the living rooms and kitchen. My son loved that everyone had their own room, and that he could go from room to room and spend time with each person every morning.

Gorgeous! And this is just what we saw on the drive up!

Second, this location is awesome. I love the mountains, and this lake is in the heart of a beautiful valley about 7000 feet above sea level, so it’s just perfect to me. While we were there, the hottest it got was maybe 76 degrees, and the low maybe around 38 at night. My husband and I were day dreaming about living up there! So beautiful.
But not just that, the town itself is so cute, and really has everything.

  • Coffee shops (nearly 10 of them, including 2 Starbucks, but I like to stick to the places were the locals go, like Moonridge Coffee Company)
  • Breakfast places (a place called Dank Donuts was a personal favorite)
  • Restaurants (we had some good Thai food, and followed the locals to a burger joint that always had a line out the door called Get the Burger)
  • Groceries (we stopped by the local Vons at least once a day)
  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities (skiing and such in the wintertime)
  • Ice cream parlor! (skip the Ben and Jerry’s and head for the local store “North Pole Fudge Co.” with their own ice cream and fudge! Yummy!)

You get the picture, there’s a ton to do for the whole family!

I think our favorite thing we did all week was the boat tour around the lake. Over at the Pine Knot Marina, the offer a tour of Big Bear Lake on a paddle wheel boat called Miss Liberty. During the ride around the entire lake, the skipper tells you all about the activities along the shoreline, the history of the lake and the valley, and even points out some lake front properties belonging to celebrities (don’t worry though, the boat if far enough away that everyone still has their privacy).
While on our tour, we passed by the home of Noel Blanc, son of Mel Blanc who was the original voice of many beloved cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Barney Rubble. Noel Blanc was home as we passed by and came out on his deck with a mega phone! His father trained him to do the voices of all the characters he created, so Noel spoke to us like Bugs Bunny! He was super friendly, and turned out to be family friends of our boat’s skipper. Very cool! Really showed us the small town feel of this often popular resort town.

A close second for our favorite thing we did was visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo I’m an animal lover, and my kids, being so little, are big animal fans too. The zoo is all rescued animals, some are in the process of rehabilitation, others are permanently injured as to need human assistance for survival, or were found at such a young age that they never learned the skills necessary to be successfully released. It’s super cool!

We did tons of other family activities, too! Like game night after the littles were asleep, playing at the park, a water balloon fight, scavenger hunt, and a talent show! Ever seen Dan in Real Life? They do a family talent show in that movie and my family does it now, it’s super fun!

We want to go back during the wintertime! Although, I’m a little nervous doing snow with our kids so little. I’ve never done it before! Any tips, I’d welcome it!

How are you spending your summer? Hopefully surrounded by family doing fun, unique, “summer-only” kind of things!
Like boat tours with Bugs Bunny!

Special thank you to my family who helped me with all these pictures! I was usually holding a child and wasn’t able to get many pictures at all!

Soli Deo Gloria!

My go-to outfit

It’s been a wonderful weather around here!
Cloudy mornings, daily high ranging from 75-80 degrees, so so nice, especially for June in Southern California. This is really my favorite weather, particularly because I get to wear my favorite things:
jeans, cardigan, and flip flops.

Comfy mom-style to the max, am I right?!

But my absolute favorite about this style: My purse and shoes.

I’ve had these Rainbows for at least 5yrs (probably longer) and I love them. They are the most comfortable sandal I’ve ever had, I’ve yet to find a sandal that comes even close to their simplicity and comfort.

My The Sak crossbody purse is an all day, everyday, can hold everything, but doesn’t weigh a ton kind of purse. What’s not to love?

I tried in vain to find the exact style of my purse, I believe it’s a discontinued style. They do have lots of size and style options on The Sak site that I found. I personally like their leather bags best.


My shoes are another story. I’m a pretty traditional gal, so the rainbow sandals I have are the classic Single Layer Premier Leather with Arch Support and a Narrow Strap. It even says on their site: “If any sandal says Rainbow, this is it!”