What I’m Into: February 2018

Happy February! Those Winter Olympics – amiright? We have LOVED watching all of the amazing athletes!

So, I’ve got some awesomely fun news to share this month…I am releasing a new ebook in two weeks!! I’ve been working quietly behind the scenes on this idea for nearly a year, and I’m beyond excited to let it out!

My new ebook combines some of my favorite topics – teaching kids about differences and kindness, and reading! It is a resource for ALL parents, with a few chapters about the importance of talking about and teaching about differences with our kids and how best to do so.

Since one of those best ways is READING, I compiled super comprehensive, high quality lists on all kinds of themes to help kids better understand and appreciate differences – both to celebrate their own differences and to appreciate others’! My book recommendations cover everything from different cultures to different appearances to different abilities, as well as kindness/respect and thinking of others.

Mark your calendars for March 13, so you can get the super amazing launch price, which will only be good for 4 days!! Check back here for all of the details… I’m also running an exciting launch week giveaway, which may or may not include a huge stack of children’s books. Just sayin’…

Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite reads, links and moments for the month!

I recently read Little Fires Everywhere and found it to be a quirky story but highly engaging. I read it in a weekend. I also finished All the Light We Cannot See on audiobook. I found it slow,but I’m glad I finished. I definitely was rooting for the main characters by the end.

Currently, I’m reading Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck and listening to the novel This Is How It Always Is on audio. So far this year, I’d have to say my favorite read has been A Year of Living Danishly. I loved reading the journalistic memoir about the Danish culture.

We’re also deep in Harry Potter with Connor right now. He got the first book for Christmas, and he’s on #4 now and thoroughly obsessed! We’re doing a mix of reading aloud and him reading to himself.

It light me up to see Gerber introduce their 2018 Gerber Baby, Lucas, who has Down syndrome! How sweet is he? 

Love this post from Ann Voskamp about feeling like “too much.”

Of course we had to celebrate National Pizza Day!! We got Casey’s pizza because not only is it delicious, but we love how Casey’s is such huge supporters of Children’s Miracle Network.

We’re just crawling out of our very first Girl Scout Cookie Sale season. Brenna was a rockstar salesperson! (Also, quite a few of the boxes we were selling accidentally found themselves open and in our pantry. Whoops.)Brenna and I had the honor of shooting a commercial for our local children’s hospital that aired regionally during the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics. It was a blast and such a privilege to share our story and how much the hospital has helped us.These Valentine lovebugs sure have our hearts!

Have a wonderful rest of the week and weekend!

What I’m Into (December 2017)

Christmas is approaching, and it’s been a really wonderful season so far. Our kids’ excitement grows exponentially each year as we continue traditions and make new memories.

This year, I was thrilled to discover The Giving Manger for our holiday season. To be honest, I find it exhausting to take on all of the responsibility of the season, and it seems to grow each year…which is why I love this new tradition. It’s completely a family endeavor.

The premise is for our family to create gifts for others the entire month of Christmas – by doing and saying kind and helpful things. Each time we do something nice, we put a piece of straw in the manger. The intent is to fill the manger with straw for Jesus by Christmas Day.

Already, Connor and Brenna are enamored with the idea and have been setting out to do acts of kindness each day. I love this activity and all that it encompasses, and in particular, how empowering it is for the kids. It shifts the season from what can become “entertain me! surprise me! give me!” to “what can I do for others?” Doesn’t get any better than that!

Here’s a round-up of some of my other favorite things going on this month…

I feel like I’m in the middle of a million and three books right now, and I guess I’ll see what sticks. (I no longer push myself to finish a book if I can’t get into it!) Some notable books that I just finished and recommend include Refugee (kid lit, so gripping!), Ordinary Grace (historical fiction that I flew through) and The Happiness of Pursuit.

I’m in the early stages of How to Raise an Adult and in the middle of the thriller The Break Down right now. I’m also listening to All the Light We Cannot See on audio in my car – a new habit now that the kids are in school and I’m driving by myself!

We also just started Ann Voskamp’s devotional Unwrapping the Greatest Gift as a family for the Christmas season, and it’s so beautiful. 

Wanting to be intentional about your holiday shopping for the kids in your life? My post about purposeful gifts has been hugely popular – here is a comprehensive list of gifts for kids that spark imagination, offer exciting experiences, help others and last beyond Christmas Day!

While we’re on the subject of holidays… we’re doing a lot of reading on holiday topics in our house right now. Here’s a great list of beautiful children’s books that focus on Jesus’ birth for Christmas.

Planning holiday menus? I’m a sucker for a good appetizer. If you’re looking for a new recipe, here are some of my go-to appetizers that get gobbled up immediately: cheesy crab points, pepperoni pizza dip, and buffalo chicken bites. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving. Family. This holiday is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

I got a very sweet date with this handsome kid for his school’s mother/son event! We made slime and participated in a karate lesson 🙂

Packing our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child! So proud of these two this year as they both used their own money to purchase items for their shoeboxes…

This was on the fall bucket list for a long time, and we finally got a solid leaf pile-jumping day!

Cutting down our family Christmas tree from my in-laws’ farm. We planted these trees when Connor was born, and now they’re big enough for our living room!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Enjoy this beautiful month of love and giving and celebration!