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5 books to start the reading habit again

I read a lot of books.

It’s my sanity. It’s my way of decompressing. It’s my way of exploring the world, both past and present. (All those who can relate, say hey!)

It’s how I never stop learning. It’s how I want to model time management to my girls.

I’ve had several conversations with friends over the summer about what books to read and how to find the time to read again. To me, it’s a matter of having books on hand and having good books that you want to read.

We’ll talk about finding the time on another day, for now, let’s talk about the books!

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Here are five of my picks for starting the reading habit again.

For a page-turning novel, good beach read and one that may have you staying up a little later, start with Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

It’s a love story but not the kind you think and not the ending you expect. She had all the time in the world but no real passion for life. He had lost all desire to live and couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to travel and dream big, if they could.  Inspiring, hilarious and tear-jerking.

Other good reads by Jojo Moyes: The Girl You Left Behind and Honeymoon in Paris: A Novella 

For historical fiction, set in England and compelling word pictures, start with The Secret Keeper: A Novel by Kate Morton.

Her mother has dementia and she realizes that she has just a brief window to find the answers to the mysteries that have been part of their family history. The story goes back and forth between present-day and the 1940s in a fascinating tale of life and love and all things not as they seem.

Other good reads by Kate Morton:The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton: A Novel

For a great young adult read that is captivating for all ages (and has great cover art), read the The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection

This reminded me in part of a Roald Dahl story, part Harry Potter and mostly fantastic. I loved the quick witted story-telling, the engaging writing and the power of a story to captivate.

getting into the habit of reading again

the stack of books we acquired on a month’s visit to Alberta- we all love books and bookstores!

For an inspiring read to put wind back in your sails of being mom, start with The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart of Eternity by Sally Clarkson

I read this book this summer and it was just what I needed to give me inspiration and vision in this busy season of mothering. It’s easy to lose sight of the big goals when some days all I can do is wait for bedtime. This book is encouraging, practical and speaks to the heart of mothering in a gentle and realistic way.

For a book that will challenge your thinking and inspire you to live more, start with Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

review from Amazon (because I don’t know how to sum this book up either then to tell you to just.go.read it!)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.”

What books would you add to this list?

 

 

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37/52

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a portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

It’s a blustery Monday, just the sort to curl up with a big mug of tea and an engaging book. I’m fighting a head cold and allergies which means all I want to do is to grab that mug of tea and collapse on the couch but my little energetic girls weren’t too excited about that prospect.

I enlisted their help to pack some boxes of books which they were super happy to assist me and they couldn’t help but get engrossed in the stories.

I asked on my personal Facebook for read-aloud book recommendations for little people. So many good recommendations and so many favourites from my childhood. From Roald Dahl to the Betsy, Tacy, Tib books to Winnie the Pooh (the original) to the Little House on the Prairie series. We’ve started with Charlotte’s Web and I think we’ll go to The Little Princess next.

What books are you reading in your home this week?

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Ten on Ten (September 2014)

Joining in with Rebekah of A Bit of Sunshine to look for the beauty in the ordinary, day to day. Ten pictures over ten hours on the tenth of the month.

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And that’s it! A little glimpse into our day, hope it inspires you to look for the beauty in the ordinary. The textures, the flavours, the snuggles and all the important things that you did get done. 

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36/52

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a portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

We took a break from the decluttering and packing and headed out to the little park up the street. The girls rode their bikes and I followed behind, watching them. We’ve entered into a whole new phase of independence and I love it.

Sometimes we go to the park to play all together and sometimes we go to the park so they can play by themselves.

But I always watch them. 

We’ve been in this home two years and it’s an easy measure of time to see the changes in my girls from when we first moved in.

They play together more frequently, pushing each other on the swings or making rock cakes in the shade of the slide.

They play separately- my older daughter seeking to explore her surroundings. The long grass, the forest, the flowers. My younger daughter dresses herself- sometimes getting the shoes on the right feet. Sometimes I take a picture before switching them just so I can remember what she is like at three.

And I’m glad I remembered to stop and savour this day, a perfect autumn day.

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Embracing the Crazy (35/52)

35:52a portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

We’re home! Back in our cozy spot, reunited with all our favourites and settling into new routines.

New routines for just a month when we move into the City.

This year has been one unexpected experience after another. It’s been good and hard and beautiful and coloured with so many memories. I’m grateful. 

But I’m also exhausted and empty.

My girls spent the morning playing with art supplies and creating new outfits from all their clothes. They emptied their dresser promptly upon arrival home and it’s not a hill I’m going to die on. I’ve spent the morning decluttering and asking myself just how much I want to keep something?

It’s the perfect mindless activity as I make the transition from living with my inlaws for the last month and out of a suitcase to being manager of my own home again and surrounded by all our lovely stuff.

I’ve taken hardly any pictures lately, a pretty good indication to me that I need to stop, slow down and refuel. I’m making this one of my girls count for one of both of them.

I have posts I want to share with you about finding time to read (it’s my sanity right now!), a little kindergarten reading list and staying sane while life is crazy because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one adjusting to new routines.

What keeps you sane when life is crazy? 

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Keeping It Real in a Pinterest World: the Wedding Edition

Jenn from A Simple Haven and I are exploring what it means to live purposefully in a world that bombards us with a million good things.  Online, the message seems to be that we can do it all. The truth is we cannot do everything.

We’re two moms on a journey toward being ok with this and fully embracing the season of life that  we’re in–with all of its joys and limitations. 

Once a month,  we’ll share about our crafting fails, what we’re currently saying “yes”  and “no” to, and the beautiful reality of daily life. Will you grab a  warm cup of something and join us?


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We attended a family wedding earlier this month, which if you follow me on instagram you know this because I may have shared a few pictures of my girlies aka the adorable flower girls. They were also the feature of last week’s Project 52 post because it’s not everyday my girls wear purple tutus and cowboy boots.

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It was a beautiful day and clearly not out of my mind because I’m blogging about it again.

Today ‘s post is all about the reception. All I knew previously to attending it was that the gathering would be held in a potato barn and that the mother of the bride was an amazing decorator.

I am not. I like to feather my own nest and can give opinions on decor but to come up with the original idea is not my forte.

I stepped into the cool of the barn and just stopped. It was beautiful and perfect for the couple.

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There were twinkle lights (with which I am now obsessed with and want them everywhere) woven over the tables, creating a magical roof of sorts. The walls were made of  wooden potato bins and adorned with little mason jar candles, making the whole room twinkle.

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After I looked around at all the details and established my girls at the fabulous kids’ table, I found the bride’s mum and complimented her on a job done so beautifully.

She said what I had been thinking.

“It’s straight out of Pinterest.”

From the burlap to the lace to the twinkle lights to the mason jars to the cookies and milk bar to the galvanized tubs holding cold bottles of water- it’s all on Pinterest and it’s all trending.

But she also said something else that I found inspiring. She said they had the vision for what they wanted the barn to look like for the reception, they went to Pinterest to find the ideas and then they stopped browsing. They used it for the good and then infused it with their life.

They fit the decor to their unique style, including adorable farm animals featuring their initials in a brand. And it was all perfect.

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As magical as the barn looked before the guests arrived, I think I loved it more when we were gathering to go home.

The little painted animals had been used to entertain restless babies, the kids’ table was a mess of beads, pipe cleaners and army guys arranged for battle. The cookie stands were empty and most of the candles had burned out.

The conversations, the first dance, the laughter and the tears- these can never be pinned. Pinterest offers inspiration, ideas and a visual escape but then we still get to go out and infuse it with our own life and creative twists.

Have you been to any weddings inspired by Pinterest?

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It’s been an interesting summer. Not what I envisioned it’s been harder and more beautiful then I expected. We’re spending this month of August in Alberta and next month my husband makes the transition from full-time student to full-time work with school on the side. We’re also going to be moving. Moving within our beloved Nova Scotia but moving nonetheless.

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The dementors came in force the other day with their fear of the unknown and doubts and stress of all.the.things.

Sometimes I eat chocolate when they come or after I fight them but more often then not, I go outside.

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There was a baby calf to investigate in the barnyard and the girls were most happy to go outside with me. And then our visit to the barnyard turned into an expedition of sorts. 

There’s a hint of fall in the air, enough to give a delicious tang and just enough wildflowers left to make the ditches pretty and to be collected by the little people. 

The dog and the goat came with us and my big girl picked flowers for her Grandma and clover for the goat.

My littlest brought her doll along and kept lagging behind. When I stopped to watch her, she was helping her ‘daughter’ pick up rocks and showed me all the treasures she had collected. 

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I let my girls set the pace and found myself becoming more thoughtful and considerate of what they would like to do on this expedition. Their thoughtfulness and consideration made me want to do the same. 

We took a turn through the pasture and all collectively caught our breath when we saw the neighbour’s herd of at least fifty horses. They were half-wild, not used to human interaction and just as curious as the little girls on the other side of the fence. 

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We stayed until the horses all had names and the white horse came over to say hello.

When we were out there, nothing else mattered.

It was obvious I could nothing about the worries and I let them go.

I soaked up the quiet, the fluffy heads of plants gone to seed and the calm that comes from an hour outside. 

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The Scarlet Thread through the Changes

a little tribute post to my Grandpa and Gramma from when I visited them earlier this month for their 60th anniversary. 

The last time I was there was a decade ago. Hardly anything has changed since that last visit to my grandparents but really everything has changed. 

 

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The woodshed was still full, stacked in my Grandpa’s meticulous style. The sunburst above his shop looked as it always has, I didn’t want to open the door as some memories are best left as they are. Not with the juxtaposition of the past and present with someone else’s tools where Grandpa’s bench once was.

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They cut down the birches, the ones that we had played under and imagined all sorts of lovely stories. I had an Anne moment over the birches. And that was when I realized that nothing would ever be the same. 

My sisters and I walked all over the property, not talking except for the occasional ‘do you remember this?’ or when we shared raspberries. The last growing plants from their once prolific garden.

I saw everything with new eyes, realizing just how much love and care my grandparents had poured into their property. Making it a haven for whoever visited and using the available space so very well. The greenhouses with overgrown plants and the occasional hollyhock still blooming, the ingenious carrot covers that protected the roots from bugs and produced big juicy carrots every year.

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I lingered by the second set of raspberry canes wishing yet again that my childhood fancy of taking over my grandparents house and property could be more then just a pipe dream.

But others owned it now. Grandpa and Gramma moved into a smaller place in town, one that would enable them to get the respite and care they both needed.

There would be no more shelling peas on the front steps, no more fresh mint tea with strawberry shortcake, no more fluffy hotcakes with maple syrup . 

We paused in the driveway, not quite ready to leave, by the address sign that Grandpa had made with the same care and precision that marked everything in his life. 

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Everything’s changed now. 

My sisters and I aren’t the same little girls we once were, posing in front of the sweet peas or taking tramps in the forest that seemed magical with it’s lacy ferns and cedar fronds everywhere. 

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My grandparents aren’t as invincible as I once thought they were. They’re getting older and my Gramma doesn’t remember my name or who I am anymore. But she does know this- she knows that she is loved.

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And I know that this is the scarlet thread running through all of our changes- we are loved and that we can love. 

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33/52

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It’s been the summer of the unexpected and the in-between.  There’s been some hard situations but there’s also been some really good situations. Like being able to take part in the my brother-in-law’s wedding this last weekend. Or rather the girls took part and we stood back like the proud and happy parents we were.

We didn’t think we’d be back in Alberta for a few years but circumstances dictated otherwise and that meant we could take in a wedding and I could travel to northern BC to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. These are good things and in a hard summer, I celebrate the good things. 

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I left my big camera packed away and just snapped away with my iPhone. It’s the moments I want to remember- like how adorable my girls looked in cowboy boots and purple tutus. Or the look of the groom when his bride came down the aisle. Or the tears I had remembering the journey these two have had and all the memories of a shared history.

I knew I could capture the details better if I had had my big camera along but this once, I didn’t mind. I snapped a few ( posted to instagram), put the phone away and enjoyed the moments.

The wedding was beautiful and I may write more about it later because it was totally a Pinterest in Real Life affair but for me, the takeaway is almost always the same. Relationships trump and people over perfection wins every time. Even if that means dealing with a grumpy  three year old who does want any more pictures taken. Or a four year old who shucks her tutu and spends half the reception playing in the corn field. Or minor meltdowns by all the girls (me included).

 

 

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I snuck in a few extra pictures to this week’s Project 52 because, well, wedding and we’re all looking fine. Here’s to seeing the silver lining in every cloud and capturing the memories with whatever camera works best for the moment.

What good things are you celebrating this week?

 

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32/52

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a portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014 

We had an early birthday celebration for my Khaira-girl with her grandparents and aunts and uncles at the farm. The weather flirted with us all day, sprinkled a little just as we were getting the fire going to roast hotdogs. But it cleared off for the most beautiful golden hour. We roasted hotdogs and ate watermelon with the little people snitching raspberries and green beans from Grandma’s garden. Kilmeny flitted from conversation to conversation, taking part and asking questions about everything, like who opens the flowers? And do moon flowers only grow on the moon?

We talked flowers and potatoes and upcoming Europe trip plans until it got too late and I realized that we still had presents to open and cake to eat before bedtime.

My mother in law made a beautiful cake for Khaira and she was absolutely in love with all her gifts. She was a little overwhelmed that they were all for her and wanted to share them with her sister, so sweet.

A beautiful August evening and one I”m glad we could share with part of our Alberta family.

What are your favourite parts of August evenings?

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