Monday, September 15, 2014

home again...and a bit of meal planning

we're home!!!
i'm pretty sure that the only thing better than going on vacation is getting home from vacation!

we covered eight states in ten days--beginning and ending in illinois, of course, and traveling through iowa, nebraska, south dakota, wyoming, montana, minnesota, and wisconsin. 
we traveled almost 2,700 miles...and i think we stopped for nearly that many potty breaks.

coming home after vacation always feels a bit like New Years to me.
i'm all filled up with ideas and bright hopes and plans and dreams and mental to-do lists.
and even though it's now the middle of september, it very much feels to me like it's the beginning of a new month and i'm full of fresh goals for the coming days.

i sat down today and wrote out a meal plan for the coming week.
though, in the interest of full disclosure, i should probably specify that it's more of a plan for the coming week's breakfast and lunch around here are rather simple affairs.
still, planning out the week's evening meals is such an easy task that adds an entirely new level of intention to my days.  i'm able to shop for groceries based on a specific list of needs, rather than haphazardly throwing common ingredients into my cart, sure that they'll magically meld together somehow once dinnertime arrives. 
it's such a simple step that makes life around here flow so much more smoothly--if i just do it.
i love the loosey-goosey meals of summer, the foundations being all of our fresh produce; but now that our {far too short} growing season is winding down, meal planning is such a valuable tool for me to implement to avoid the late-afternoon stress of "what are we going to eat tonight?"

my meal plans are very not "set in stone"...
i choose 5-8 dinners, buying ingredients for those, knowing that a few of them may trickle over into the beginning of the following week.
i love having options...hence the reason that i don't assign certain dinners to certain days, for the most part.
if a day dawns bright and sunny, i want the freedom of grilling...
conversely, if clouds loom and rain threatens, a slow-cooker meal or hearty soup will be on the menu. 

this week's fare...
the kale soup and paleo sausage skillet use almost identical ingredients, so it'll all depend on what i'm in the mood for that day.
the apple bbq pulled pork is for dinner tonight--i wanted to be sure to have a crock-pot meal for today...
{can anyone say "monday?!?!?"}

several of the recipes are screen shots that i took of meals my IG friends have shared {i save those photos in a separate album in my phone's camera roll}.  many of the others were found online.  i'll share the recipes and links...but only once i know if they're tasty or not☺

i'm also going to get back into the routine of regular exercise.  
my days start somewhat early with the arrival of a baby boy that i care for during the week {his parents are school teachers}.  i've already texted his mom, asking her to bring his stroller with him tomorrow.
popping in an exercise video isn't really feasible on these days, but a nice long walk pushing the stroller is better than the added benefit of quiet time outside is just what i need to decompress.

the meal planning and exercise are my two main goals for the remainder of this month.
in addition, i have some important business paperwork that needs to be buttoned up, along with one or two household projects {finally painting these oatmeal walls white!} and a few small craft ideas.

do you have any tried and true tricks for meal planning? 
 i'd especially love to hear about your favorite websites for recipes.
i let all my cooking magazine subscriptions expire because i just don't ever get around to reading them...but i enjoy finding recipes online.  please share your favorite sources...especially if they're blogs!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

random randomness 9/5/14

saturday--lifestyles are built on the little things.  
i'm taking note {and copying} the 10 practical things that this little family is doing to stay healthy.

sunday--no link.  i typed out my vacation diet/exercise mantra.  i'm not trying to lose weight on vacation...
but i'm definitely trying to not gain weight.  
if i'm successful, i'll share my tips.  
if not, well...we'll act like this conversation never happened.

monday--two {very brief} arguments in favor of stepping out of the comfort zone {here and here}

tuesday--we're getting hints of fall in the air around here...makes me hungry for soups and stews.  
i'm relishing the sound of this recipe...perfect for using up the copious amounts of squash we're given every fall.  
{also, if you want the best pot roast soup you've ever tasted in your life, check out this recipe from yours truly.  again, pardon the photos...a culinary photog i am not.}

wednesday--somehow, a lot of my favorites this week have to do with priorities and agendas and such.  
re-reading this and this {from one of my friends}.

thursday--recently, i keep happening upon random mentions of this magazine.  
wondering if i need to just break down and subscribe.  i've only heard wonderful things of it.

friday--i plan on making some of these {very} soon, once we return from our road trip.  
heaven knows, i've a large enough stash set aside for them.

because they're too good not to share...
need help getting your priorities straight?
like, whoa.  mind blown.
i could literally spend hours scrolling through every tiny bit of this blog.  if you've got an old copy 
of her book that you're just dying to get rid of, i'm your girl.  yup.  feel free to shoot it my way.
finally, one more post {that i just happened upon} about breaking out of your comfort zone.  
read it.  it's worth it.

we're officially on our road trip.  in fact, this is the very first blog post i've typed out while flying down the interstate.  i mean, i'm not the one doing the actual driving, but still...blogging on the road.  exciting!
our first stop {thursday evening} is a quick overnight at our former babysitter's house.  she started watching our littles for us when she was only grown and married. talk about nostalgia!
on friday, i get to meet up with an IG friend before we scoot out of iowa on our way to south dakota.  
friday and saturday nights will be spent in sioux falls.
these are all new places for us...more state magnets to add to our ever-growing collection.  
more memories...memories upon memories upon experiences.  
i am so treasuring these hours and days with our kiddos.
a catch in my throat, even as i write this.
this...this is the stuff dreams are made of.
for real.

happy friday, y'all!

{favorite IG post of the week...i'm @tweetpotatopie over there, too.}

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

finding balance {lesley's story}...

my artistic friend, lesley, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
lesley blogs at recipe for crazy and can be found on instagram at @lesleyzellers.
lesley and i crossed paths via instagram and it surprised me today when i realized 
that we've actually never met "in real life."
lesley's laid-back approach to life helps me see the possibilities for fun 
in everyday living, especially with my children.


When my girl, Erin, first asked me to write a post on how I balance my life it was probably the most balanced my life had ever been, which is why I said yes. In typical Lesley fashion, I waited until the last minute to get it written.

And then things started getting out of control. In one month's time I was supposed to be leaving for Ghana, then found out I was pregnant, which resulted in not being able to go to Ghana (you can read more about it here), then I lost the baby and later learned it was ectopic and had to have surgery. It was a month of complete unbalance and I questioned whether I should even be sharing my ways of balancing after all!

But she gave me grace and more time so instead of what I anticipated sharing about when she first asked, I'm going to tell you a little story on how God gave me grace in a time of unbalance.

First off, for those that don't know me. Hi, my name is Lesley. I am a believer, wife and mom in that order. After that in any particular order, given the time of year or time of day for that matter, I'm also a stay at home mom, small business owner, gardener, chicken tender (not the kind you eat, one that tends to chickens), pre-k teacher at home, doer of laundry, cooker of meals, lover of good food, daughter, sister, friend and house tidier among other things.

I'm more passionate about some of those roles than others and it's those roles I am most passionate about that cause me the biggest struggle with balance. When I'm not careful and intentional about protecting certain roles, I start giving too much weight some and not enough weight to others which is exactly how I lost my balance.

So here's a little back story. When I first became a mom, I left my job as a senior designer to stay home to raise my daughter. She slept a lot so I had a lot of free time. I opened an etsy shop so I could have a creative outlet. I love designing and it was a way to help a little financially since I no longer had a stable income. As the years went by my little hobby grew into a small business. I was doing custom orders, working on new ideas and making new friends through my shop. I really enjoyed it.

My daughter was getting older which meant I had less time to work since she wasn't napping as much. I still had time for all my responsibilities like laundry, cleaning, cooking while still having plenty of time to play with her and do other things I enjoyed.

Then we had our second girl. Basic math here, two is more than one. Two require more attention than one. Two are also more fun than one.

I started feeling the pull on time spent with my family, time for my responsibilities and time I wanted to work on a new idea I had for the shop. The girls were no longer taking naps which meant I no longer had that time during the day to work on my ideas as I wanted to be present with them. I had quit my job for a reason, I didn't and wasn't about to give up my time with them so I could do a custom order or package orders. So I started working late nights and early mornings.

My shop had grown and required more time than when my girls were nappers. And I was even taking on more work. Yes to this custom order. Yes to this opportunity. Yes. Yes. Yes. All those yeses resulted in getting less sleep, less time with my husband, less focus on my responsibilities, less time to rest. And when I don't get enough sleep I get cranky which meant I was giving my kids less of me. It was exhausting.

It was far from balanced.

Then I felt God gently whisper, take a break. He was asking me to rest in Him. Something I had lost track of. Just resting and loving on those around me and enjoying the everyday.

I started saying no so I could say yes.

No to a custom order meant yes to a little more sleep. No to every appealing opportunity meant yes to a less stressed wife and mom. No to feeling like my house had to be perfect to have people over meant yes to more messy play dates. I wasn't putting the pressure on myself to say yes to everyone or "do it all" - I was able to have fun again and enjoy life less exhausted. It felt good.

Resting felt good.

And you know. It was all in God's perfect timing.

I had no idea the summer I was about to endure. The pain of not going to Ghana. The emotional roller coaster of the pregnancy that didn't end with a new baby in our house. But He knew. And He knew I would need to rest. And He protected me.

God is so, so good.

Even though I get it all messed up, He's still loves me and has shown me what grace looks like.

And because I've experienced His grace, I can give myself grace when it comes to this idea of balance. Because right now my balance may look laundry laid out on the couch for a couple days because I would rather have a picnic in the yard with my girls, or it might be sandwiches for dinner because I wanted to work in the garden a little longer, or a notebook of ideas for my little business than can be put on the self until my girls are in school, or even a sink full of dishes left for the morning so I can work on that new design and even watch a movie on the couch with my husband.

My balance doesn't look perfect and I'm okay with that as long as I always find rest in it.

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Friday, August 29, 2014

random randomness 8/29/14

saturday--if you're slightly addicted to instagram {like i just maaaaayy be}, you must check out
this blog post from elise.  i've already posted a few IG's that i just love, thanks to her tips.  
theeeeee very best pointer she gave, in my opinion, is in the comments.  if you scroll through the comments section, you can't possibly miss it...because my comment immediately follows it, lauding its praises.
no.  i won't tell you.  you have to go see.

sunday--someone told me about this book.  and then, later at walmart, i came across this book.  
and even though i've never read any of these books, i'm considering reading those other two 
{they're all by the same author--the first two mentioned were written under a pen name}.

monday--ignore the bad photos {hey, this isn't a photography blog--and yes, they're pretty terrible}, 
and make this cake.  
it's been a long while, but i baked it again this week.  and  yes.  it's just.that.good.

tuesday--completely filled my devotion journal...and treated myself to this new one from target.

wednesday--are you in back-to-school season around your house?
i'm never on facebook.  like never, ever, ever.  but a friend texted me this link this week and i loved it.  
and then i saw that it was floating around facebook.  so...chances are you've probably already seen it.  
but just in case you haven'

thursday--typical of his dinner-time questions, paul posed this one to austyn tonight.  
did you really know the answer before you read it?

friday--whoa.  who even knew this was possible??

because it's just too good not to share...
this podcast...
this handbag (although i like this print much better)...
speaking of prints...
and lastly, take this recipe and this recipe, combine them to your tastes and come up with a perfect hybrid fresh peach salsa.  we omitted the honey, but loved the garlic.  be sure to add enough lime juice and red onion to off-set the sweetness of the peaches.  sooooooooo yummy.  we ate it over fish tacos.

my hubs had to work this past sunday; but as a trade-off they gave him friday off.
he, in his supreme kindness {no sarcasm, truly}, turned and gave me friday as a "day off" for myself.  
i love my children madly and deeply; but given our constant togetherness {as by-product of homeschooling}, i sometimes need a {long} bit of alone time.
i'm headed to the library for a {hefty} stack of books to take with me on our road trip {leaving late next week}.  our local library is closed {they're moving to a new location} so i'm exploring the library in a neighboring community {they extend their borrowing privileges to our library members}.  you'd probably laugh if you knew how excited i am for the quiet of a few hours in an unknown library.   it sounds absolutely delicious to me.

happy friday, y'all!

{favorite IG post of the week--i'm @tweetpotatopie on there, too.}

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

on finding balance {terrica's story}...

my lovely friend, terrica, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
terrica is a "once-upon-a-time-and-will-be-again blogger" at terrica joy 
and can be found on instagram at @terricajoy.
terrica and i crossed paths via instagram and have exchanged long hand-written letters.
terrica's international travels seem to have given her a unique ability 
to live life more slowly than the average american.
i value her outlook and her capacity to see beyond the complications of the immediate
 to the peace and harmony of the future.


Lay it down, came the gentle whisper.  My whole body went stiff.  Standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth I scowled at myself in the mirror.  Lay it down?  Are You serious?  It’s the solitary thing I even do for myself anymore.  Lay it down!?  You told me to do it in the first place!

I knew an argument with the God of the universe was futile, but I also knew He was big enough to let me vent for my own sanity.  But just as I prepared to launch into my barrage, a sudden unexpected sense of peace came over me.  Besides, I was too exhausted to argue anyway.  I stared unmoving at myself in the mirror.  Fine.  Just… fine.  I know You can be trusted. 

As I climbed into the shower mulling it all over, my sense of peace and space grew.  The grip of obligation and expectation (even with something I so loved, my writing) began falling away and giving room to deep and nourishing breaths.  Maybe this is a good thing, I thought.  Maybe it’s a wonderful thing!  Moments later as I shut off the water I realized my initial frustration had literally been transformed into joy.  The joy of letting go.
As mothers and wives we hold ourselves to no small expectation.  When you consider the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual toll, simply being a wife is enough.  And mother, well, that’s a role of epic, unspeakable profoundness.  Add in chicken-keeper, garden-tender, bill-payer, dish do-er, laundry-folder, toddler-entertainer, grocery-getter, bottom-wiper, 3-meals-a-day-creator, bed-maker, errand-runner, annnnnnnd any other endless variety of tasks both large and small, and it’s enough to drive anyone downright mad.  Let’s be real.  But for me this creates double the dilemma.

I am, without question, a free-spirited beauty seeking dreamer.  I spend long moments of every day quite literally doing things like examining tiny flower petals.  Gazing at the rustle of leaves against the sky.  Staring at chickens pecking around.  Writing poetry and lyrics in my head.  I instinctively focus in deeply and quietly on one task, one moment, one thought at a time.  It’s its own kind of gift, being so very present in my everyday, never missing a single beautiful moment.  But it also causes problems.  One major problem: I don’t know how to multi-task. 

Unlike most women I know, juggling a million small tasks at once makes me want to crawl into the fetal position and cry.  I like things linear, symmetrical, each in their own space, tended to in an orderly and usually sequential order.  It’s nice, at times.  It’s also infuriating.

For ten years my husband and I managed just fine with all our OCD quirks.  Aside from work we spent our days at leisure, cooking long meals, staying up until the wee hours entertaining friends, traveling across the globe taking in several countries at a time.  But then after a decade of adventure and marriage, a daughter.  A beautiful, heart stopping, crazy kind of love that brings everything you know to a grinding halt.  If you’re a momma, you know precisely. 

Problem is, you can’t quietly accommodate all your OCD quirks with a little.  They don’t wait for you to pick up the house before you tend to their demands.  They don’t always sleep when you want or how you want or even where.  Quite frankly, it’s far less about anything you want and more about everything they want. They blow your nice, orderly world to smithereens in an instant.  But I knew this, right?  I was prepared!  I could rock this!   I was determined.

And so I tried for months to keep up with it all.  The writing, the crafting, the small jobs on the side.  I hammered out book proposals and submitted guest posts to various publications.  I did give-aways and craft projects and photography gigs to the point of literal tears.  It was everything I wanted, right?  The creative, stimulating, stay-at-home-mom-does-all, perfect kind of world, right? 
Of course it wasn’t.  I was killing myself.  For no good reason.  And I wasn’t enjoying it. 

That was what I realized in the shower that evening.  I didn’t want to do it all.

What I wanted was long moments with my tiny girl, undistracted, uninterrupted.  I wanted to lay with her on a blanket in the sunshine among the tulips at the Arboretum and not even think of blogging about it.  I wanted long walks and handwritten letters to friends and baking cookies in my kitchen with wooden spoons to lick and giggles to share.  I wanted freedom from the expectations I alone had placed on myself.  I wanted to be the wife and mother and friend God called me to be without the trappings of obligation. 

So that very night, I laid it all down.  And I’ve not looked back since.

Because I knew I needed some kind of accountability, I wrote a declarative blog post titled ‘The Intention Project,’ clicked publish, and exhaled the weight of paralyzing, joy-robbing stress.  I set my heart to be present, to ‘be all here,’ to drink in each given moment without any concern for the next.  And let me tell you friends, it is bliss. 

These days I allow myself the freedom to blog when I feel like it, and I instead use Instagram like a teeny creative outlet on a daily basis.  It’s enough for now.  I peacefully put the book proposal in a folder out of sight, something to look forward to in another season.  And I started saying ‘no.’ A lot.  I’ve turned down offers of all kinds from speaking engagements to travel gigs to enticing job offers with women I so admire.  But my days have never been more full, filled to the brim with things I enjoy, things that matter.  Like watching my girl chase bubbles, mastering a new recipe to feed my family, delivering eggs to neighbors just because and writing life-giving letters to friends.  They are life-giving, soul-nourishing days in which I delight.  And I am a much, much happier wife and momma.  I couldn’t possibly be more grateful to drink in these sacred days.  Being present always has a way of causing gratitude to expand to the point of bliss.

My personal reality is simply that I cannot do it all, and more importantly, I don’t want to.  It’s so okay to say I don’t want to do it all.  The simple truth is God made me to savor one thing at a time.  One batch of cookies, one flower in the garden, one shifting cloud in the sky.  He delights in my being present with my daughter in the simplest of moments and discoveries, because isn’t that precisely what He’s modeled for us?

My prayer for you today is that you find that tender balance among the mundane, that beautiful space of awareness and joy amidst the errands and shrieks and laundry piles, and delight there.  Take in this moment for the gift that it is and breathe a silent prayer of gratitude, and you’ll find with amazement that all is worship, all is joy.
{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

on finding balance {danielle's story}...

my inspiring friend, danielle, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
danielle blogs at take heart and can be found on instagram at @danielleburkleo.
almost two years ago, when i was ready to "take the plunge" and finally start a blog, 
danielle {who does blog design} was recommended to me by a close friend.  
danielle's kindness and grace with her very tech-illiterate client {me!} were above and beyond 
anything i could have hoped or asked for.
i'm motivated on an almost-daily basis by danielle's "juggling act"...
balancing her growing family, her walk with Jesus, and her in-home business.


When Erin asked me to consider writing a post about finding balance, I said yes! and had plans of having it written, and sent to her, before I went on vacation in early July. Now, it's the day before my post will go live and I am just sitting down to write it. Oh, the irony.

I'll start with saying that I don't think anyone has it all together. To believe that there are flawless, perfectly balanced lives is just a lie that Satan will feed to us. Especially to us women craving a life  that looks like that. There aren't women I look at, online or in every day life, and ponder over their togetherness. It would be silly to think that just because someone has a beautiful home, or beautiful photos, or the perfect hair, and so on and so forth, that everything else in their life looks that way. We all have struggles, and we all share about those struggles in different ways. Instead of feeling discouraged when you see someone who has something you want - whatever it may be - feel inspired by them. That's one of my charges to you, sweet sisters.

My own, personal, short answer to how do I find balance? is that I don't. 

I am a mess. My plan of getting out of bed and running before all the kids wake up at 6 am rarely works out because a) I'M SO TIRED. b) they are all already awake c) do I really want to run? Pancakes sound so much better. I spend time working when I should be spending time with the Lord. I fall short in the areas of meal planning,  showering more than twice weekly, and having any desire in the world to put all that laundry away. My kids eat cereal for breakfast and dinner, and I'm cursing under my breath that soccer practice is four nights a week.

For me: This is the season of life that I'm in. It's hectic, and the floors are sticky as all get out, but I wouldn't change it for the world. We are in the thick of so many things. A young, growing family, navigating through the adventure of a new house we just finished remodeling, yet it still has so very much work to be done. My business is growing but I'm still unsure if I should actually consider having hired help a day or two a week. I'm swimming through laundry due to the lack of dressers in our home. I'm not preparing the meals I planned on preparing on Sunday, my DIY ombre has been looking orange since June, and I'm never 100% confident in the schooling choices I make for my kids.

I don't care if you're single, married, one kid, thirteen kids, working 9-5, a stay at home mom, New York, California, or Kansas, we are all trying to figure out how to have control of this crazy, messy, beautiful thing called life. But, here's the best part: We don't have to be in control! I am so happy to say that, today, I am not in control, praise the Lord. Christ brings me under his control, and through the blood of his cross I have a peace that passes all understanding. I can give all my plans that fell through and all my hopes of a well balanced life to Him. My identity is in Him and not how much I can get done in one day, how many miles I ran, or how I can perfect being a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom.

I don't have a magical plan on how to make it all work. If someone could give me one, I'll kiss them on the mouth. I do, however, have a short list of what I know I need. I need to put Christ first in my life, my husband second, and my precious kiddos third. If I don't do this, I need to check myself and get to doing it. I need community and I need worship. I need time for just me and my man. I need to pray over my kids and give them back to Jesus every morning. I need to rest and, most importantly, I need to take a girls trip every year, or maybe twice a year. I mean, seriously.

It's a simple list, really, and even though I lose my way more times than I can count, the Lord always floods me with His grace when I need it the most.

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

what we're reading {august edition}...

i read so many books this month...
one or two of them will remain on my favorites list forever and ever.

austyn and colton were both thoroughly caught up in the beauty of summer and didn't read nearly as much as they usually do.

here's what we're reading...

erin's pile--cold antler farm by jenna woginrich.  first of all, i haven't found anything written by jenna woginrich that isn't worth reading.  her blog is definitely worth checking out if you've never been over there.  i love her writing style.
i absolutely adored made from scratch, and felt almost as strongly about one-woman farm.  when we decided to raise laying hens, her chick days was the first resource i bought.  
all that said, this is my least favorite of her books.  it felt like a less-interesting re-hash of one-woman farm.  however, it still had enough goat stories and homesteading tales to keep my attention to the end.  i don't regret buying it.

the longest ride by nicholas sparks.  i was reading blog tips last night, and one of them said that if you find yourself in a writing rut, you should turn things completely upside down for a month.  do something 180° different.
i think nicholas sparks needs to write a novel that takes place in a foreign country.  characters with foreign names.  no horses.  no Carolinas {North or South}. no cowboys.  no mountains.
i'd buy it.  and i'd read it.
because, Lord knows, i'm a devoted reader of his.  i've read every single one of his books...and own all of them, too.
but it's time for a change.  it just is.
and i know that i am no one.  a big old nobody.  
and he's a NY Times bestselling author.
but i get to express my opinions here and i always try to do so honestly.  

a homemade life by molly wizenberg.  i read glowing reports about this author and this book.  it was...good.  i absolutely loved bread & wine by shauna niequist.  this felt like a snobbish step-sister to that book.  i had a hard time with the constant references to foreign breads and foreign cheeses and obscure foreign ingredients.  maybe that's just my down-home midwestern roots showing through, but it just felt a little pretentious.  that said, i read the entire thing...and liked the second half better than the first.

recipes for a perfect marriage by morag prunty.  on a whim, i stole this book off my bestie's bookshelf, and am i ever glad i did!  what a hidden treasure.  this book is fabulous.  fiction that makes you think, that makes you see things in a different light, is my favorite. this is a definite re-read for me.

notes from a blue bike by tsh oxenreider.  okay.  i heard/read a lot of hype about this book.  i remember seeing photo after photo on instagram of bloggies reading it.  
so.  it wasn't what i thought it was going to be.
that doesn't mean it's bad, or dull, or boring.  it was just different than my preconception.  
i don't know exactly how to pinpoint it...all that comes to mind is that it seemed a bit more "lecture-ish" than "story-ish."
there were stories.  but everything was presented in a far more fact-over-fluff manner than i expected.
i feel bad.  i feel like i should be raving about it.  
and truthfully, i didn't hate it.  i didn't even dislike it.
i just wasn't nuts about it.
given that glowing recommendation, you'll laugh when i say it's definitely worth reading.  i just don't know that it's worth RE-reading.  
and that's the litmus test for me.

under the dome by stephen king.  oh my.  ohhhhhhh my.  this book.  it's well on its way to 1,100 pages long.  and i finished it in seven days.  i may have stayed up until 2am one night, and way past midnight a few other nights, but by golly, i finished it.
first let me say that i am not a stephen king fan.  meaning, this is only the second book of his that i've i'm no follower of his, by any stretch of the imagination.
i know he's written some wacky stuff, and i have no intentions of reading any of that.
i have heard that many who are stephen king fans are saying that this is his greatest work to date.
and i can understand why.
my only caution to you would be this: if you read the book for the love of the plot and the story and the book, you'll love the book.  if you read the book because you just want to know how it ends, you'll be disappointed.
that may not make sense...but if you read it, you'll understand.
and you should read it.  for sure.
it would be on my re-read list, but.......1,100 pages.  oooof-dah.

{if you need to refresh your memory on ages/reading levels of my children, 
feel free to refer back to July's post!} 
austyn's pile--austyn is still plugging through the ranger's apprentice series by john flanagan.  i went into a lot of detail about this series in last month's's a great YA series...every bit as suitable for boys as for girls.  if you have a YA reader, my bet is that they'd enjoy these books.  i, myself, read through the entire series in less than two weeks.

{not pictured}katie and the cupcake cure by coco simon {part of the cupcake diaries series}.  austyn sped through several of these, checked out from our library.  she especially liked the recipes at the back of each book.  although we didn't make any of those, all the kitchen-talk put austyn in the mood for cooking/baking.  she ended up making muffins one day and deviled eggs the next!  that's a win in my book!

colton's pile--colton is also still working on his series, the magic tree house books.  he even used some of his saved-up money to buy a couple of the special ones that he specifically wanted to own.  {more info on this series, also on last month's post.}

i told them both to get me the pile of books they've been reading recently.  that's it.  they each put their Bibles in the pile on their own.  warms my heart...but there's no coercion involved.  pinky-swear.

addison actually read a bit this month, too.  her current favorite for oral reading is the ultimate dick and jane storybook collection

also, we are currently reading by the shores of silver lake by laura ingalls wilder aloud together in preparation for our vacation to south dakota, where we will visit the ingalls homestead.

we leave for vacation in a little more than a week, so i am forcing myself to abstain from starting a new book until then.  i have so many things that i need to finish before we leave, loose ends i need to tie up, that i can't handle the pull that a good book has on me.
i know i have a few ken follett books that i've never read down on my shelf.  i'm sure one {or more} of those will come along with me.
i keep hoping that my interlibrary loan request for delancey {another by molly wizenberg} will come in, but i'm beginning to doubt it.
i'm also eager to read the fault in our stars by john green, though i've heard that it's a bit of a let-down.

do you have any must-read vacation book suggestions for me?
do share!

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