Sunday, December 22, 2019

December Reads

It's the final reading month of 2019! I can't believe it! Look for an end of the year book post coming soon. But first....December books! I read 5 books this month. There's something so awesome about curling up under a blanket with a warm mug and a good book. One of my favorite things in life!! Here we go....

1. Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews: This was a super fun, festive quick read. I didn't realize until I got a few chapters into this book that it's a sequel to a book I read last Christmas, Blue Christmas. This one is about a young woman in the South and navigating the holiday season with her kooky friends and family. It was good, but pretty forgettable. It's a basically a Hallmark movie in book form. It wasn't amazing, but it was the perfect festive book "junk food."

2. Hamilton by Ron Chernow: My goal was to finish this book in time to include it in my December post and I did it! I wrote a whole post about this book. Check it out HERE.

3. Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey: I had heard wonderful things about this book and it did not disappoint. In fact, this is one of those books that I most definitely would like to read again. It's a little book but there's a LOT here. I wrote down 2 of my favorite quotes from this book:
"We have to be committed to unlearning the unhelpful, broken, unredemptive, false, or incomplete God if we want to have space to relearn the goodness, the wholeness, the joy of a loving God." 

" Jesus' tears meant something to me in those places. I had lived in a narrative that didn't recognize God in the grief, and so when sadness, or loneliness or suffering came to stay, I felt that God must have moved out of my life in order to make room for the suffering. Suffering can be a sacrament not because its refining on its own-suffering can also make us bitter and twisted and angry-but because it can become the sort of darkness that makes the light much more beautiful." 

I mean wow, right? This book follows Sarah on her journey from evangelical Christianity's "name it and claim it" prayer movement (Joel Osteen, anyone) to visiting the Pope, nearly dying in a horrific car accident, to rediscovering the God of love. This book is part travel memoir, part theology and, the forward to this book is written by one of my absolute faves, Shauna Niequist. That gives you an indicator of the type of book it is: beautiful writing with flourishes, and deep theology embedded into the stories of life. If you're looking for a faith-based book to wrestle with in the new year, try this one.

4. Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella: I have read and loved every book in the Shopaholic series and they always delight and entertain me. This one was so fun and I love reconnecting with Becky Brandon (Bloomwood) and her pals. This one features Becky getting herself into typical mischief (such as getting herself locked in a pet store, accidentally ordering a ridiculous amount of smoked salmon, getting herself admitted to an all-male billiards club to win a raffle). It's fun, it's cute, it's a beloved series. I liked it!

5. Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss by Georgie Fear: It took me nearly 33 years to know this truth deeply: Diets don't work and ingrained HABITS are the catalyst for lasting change. This theme is a huge part of the intuitive eating movement, and the podcast and program, Balance 365 Life, and this theme was also a major part of Secrets from the Food Lab and Mindless Eating, other nutrition books I have read. This book is an excellent little guide presenting research and data alongside easy to read lifestyle habits that are important for every eater to know and practice (not just those pursuing fat loss). Some of the key points revolve around eating frequency and time, the crucial components of rest and hydration, and the need for understanding hunger and satiety cues. I am so glad I purchased this book so I can continually refer to it. It's an excellent resource with a solid scientific backing.

Well, that's a wrap on my December reads! I'm posting this a little sooner than the end of the month before the holiday craziness begins. This was, like always, another month for the books.

Savor Your Sparkle,

PS) Leave a comment with your favorite book you've read recently. I'm growing my 2020 TBR pile!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Life Lately

Best Christmas song ever. I cannot stop listening to Nichole Nordeman's Christmas album. So good! 
There's been lots of life lately so I thought I'd do a good ol' caption post. Here we go! There's no particular order because apparently that's how I'm rolling these last 2 weeks of 2019.
Polar Express Day! Got my jammies and my train ticket! I love 1st Grade. 

Just chillin on Grandpa's legs watching 90 Day Fiancee. AJ and I feel strongly about only exposing Hank to wholesome quality entertainment content, clearly. 

Birthday Boy requested "dips" for his birthday dinner, so that means Chick-fil-A where sauce abounds 

The beautiful tree at Hank's Christmas show

I had no idea Hank would be a lamb in the school show until we saw him. coming down the aisle with his class. It was one of most precious moments I've ever seen. 

After the Nativity portion of the show, the kids sang Frosty but Hank was not feeling it, so he came to sit by mama and daddy. 

His new cheeseball face 

A few weeks ago we went with my parents to visit Santa at city hall. It was a coooold night but the big guy was worth it. 

This getting dark at 5:00 thing needs to stop (and it will, praise Jesus). I reallllly miss afternoon park/walk times. I was able to squeeze in a tiny one last week. 

We taught Hank all about the amazingness of Mickey cakes! 

AJ's friend is an assistant college girls basketball coach and his team was playing UVU so we went to the game a few weeks ago 

The Bohemian is probably our fave local restaurant and these 2 made lovely dates

Hank loves "Gamma" 

Trying to warm up as we wait in line for Santa

This shirt popped up on my Etsy ads and I immediately added it to my cart. One day he can pick his own clothes. Today is not that day. 

Telling Santa he wants "PawPaw" (something Paw Patrol) 

My sis and I got coffee and went to a winter craft market last weekend.

December has been a blur of festive fun! And now......I am officially on Christmas break!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Hank's 2nd Bouncing Birthday Bash

Today's post is all about Hank's 2nd Birthday party....we had a bouncy ball themed bash at The Little Gym. It was a ball! I love throwing birthday parties and gathering with friends and family. You can read about Hank's 1st Lumberjack Party HERE.

This year we wanted to do a party where the kiddos could actually play. A bunch of toddlers with nothing to do is a recipe for disaster so we decided to head back to The Little Gym! Hank started going to The Little Gym when he was just 6 months old and we stopped going last spring when the class schedule didn't work out, but we loved our time there. In fact, the best part of it was that we met 3 of our favorite toddler friends and their mamas there.

I ordered the invites, water bottle labels, and party favor tags from an Etsy stationary shop. I also ordered his t-shirt from Etsy. As far a decor went, it was super simple. Little Gym provided the birthday sign, table cloths, paper goods, etc. I picked up a felt ball garland at a craft fair this fall and added that to the table.

The cake was made by April's Cakery. April was recommended to me by a parent at my school and I was so glad we got in touch. I sent her some pics and she made an adorable cake for us. She even had colored dots baked right into the inside of the cake. It turned out so fun and was delicious. 

When everyone was singing Happy Birthday to Hank I was just so happy for our little guy. He is so loved by incredible friends and wonderful family. I know so deeply in my heart that birthdays are a blessing. Not every child gets to experience another year so getting to be Hank's mommy is so worth celebrating. I don't take it for granted. His birthday celebration was such a sweet reminder of that truth. 

Happy Birthday, Hank! It's a ball bouncing into the 2's!! 

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, December 16, 2019

Terrifically 2!

Tomorrow my sweet love bug Hank Grayson is 2 years old. I can hardly believe it! These past 2 years have been delightful. To say AJ and I love being parents is an understatement. Hank is the light of our lives and we are so thankful to those who love him well. He is one blessed and loved little man. I've been super nostalgic lately about those early days when he was born and when we got home from the hospital. Those were sweet and beautiful days that I think of so fondly. I decided to write a letter to Hank on his 2nd birthday. 

Dear Hank,
   You are 2. In fact, you are SO two. Daddy and I comment all the time that you are no longer a tiny baby---you are a big boy, a toddler, a kid! Sometimes mommy misses when you were itty bitty and fit just comfortably in my arms. But whenever I get nostalgic, you bring me right back to the current moment by asking me to come in close for a kiss, then "booping" my nose and you laugh your full laugh, head back, front teeth showing, and I think nope, this phase is so special and perfect. I love your laugh so much and in fact, you seem to like your laugh too. You often comment (even sometimes after doing something slightly naughty) that "I'm funny." Yeah, you are, buddy.

   One of the things that I love so much about you is how you love and appreciate nature. You take the time to go "snail hunting" (you love observing them after a big rain) and to study a flower. When mommy rushes to the mailbox, you walk slowly, looking at the clouds, the sky, the wreaths, the cracks in the sidewalk. Just as you marvel at the world around you, mommy marvels at YOU. You teach me how to, quite literally, stop and smell the roses.

   It's been so fun observing how your interests have developed. You light up when you see the Pixar logo and Paw Patrol is a major favorite around here. You have an affinity for music and ever since you were tiny, you've loved listening to daddy play the guitar at night. You've recently taken to banging silverware on the table and announcing "I'm making muuuzik." You love "mac," fries, applesauce, and milk. You've become such a big guy lately and you learned to drink from a real cup at school! Speaking of school, you delight in telling us all about your school friends and teachers. They adore you. I think the transition to child care was more challenging for me than you. Sometimes after I sign you in, I peek back into your classroom to see you and you're just happy as can be. It's hard to leave my heart (you!) but I rest easy knowing you are making friends and learning new things.

  It might seem strange to say to a 2 year old, but Hank, I love your heart. You are kind and caring. You say "sorry" and give hugs. You get sad when others are sad. You pay attention to others and are carefully observant to the world around you. I hope and pray that you never lose your fierce attentiveness to others. You get excited when you see police cars of fire trucks and point out to us that "they're helping." You love to help, too (even if it's sweeping when mommy is trying to sweep) and cleaning up. You are a love bug, through and through.

You know what you want, like, and think and will not allow anyone to let you think otherwise. In fact, just the other day, I pointed to a cat in a book and you insisted it was NOT a cat. When I finally gave up and asked you, "What is it then?" You responded calmly, "a kitty." Oh sweet Hank, I love that you are not timid and are comfortable telling mommy and daddy what you need. Even if mommy and daddy's opinion of "need" differs from yours (like playing outside without a coat or having a third serving of fruit snacks).

Hank, I loved you before I met you, but I also love you more each and every day. These 2 years have been incredible. But you know what? I'm so excited to see what's in store for you. I love having a front row seat to your life story.

Happy Birthday, Hankers.