Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Nation Under Judgement by Richard Capriola


Genre: Nonfiction, Christian

     What does it mean to be "one nation under God"? Our Founding Fathers believed the words were more than a political slogan. Have we strayed from their vision? A Nation Under Judgment examines issues currently facing our country, such as hunger, homelessness, poverty, marriage, the environment, income inequality and the power of political campaign contributions in shaping policy. Each of these issues is examined from a social policy and Scriptural point of view, empowering readers to decide whether or not our nation is moving away from God and headed for judgment.   

My Review

     As a Christian and mother to young children, I often worry about the direction in which our nation is headed. As a parent, I am teaching my children to "love thy neighbor" and "Do not judge, lest ye be judged," among other important lessons. There are many other positive teachings in the Bible that everyone should adhere to, not just Christians. So why not our nation? After all, we are "One nation under God," right? 
     Capriola's book brings to light scriptures that apply to our nation and government today. He tells about examples in Biblical history in which nations strayed from God's word, and were punished as a result. Those examples are aligned with examples of modern issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and greed. He quotes many of our nation's leaders, who did in fact seek guidance from God in creating our country and its laws. 
     I would recommend taking your time in reading this particular book. There are a lot of quotes and references to digest. I stand firm in both my Christian and political beliefs, but I think that even non-Christians could gain something from this book. There are many historical quotes and examples which I had never heard before and found quite interesting. 

Author Bio

     Richard Capriola has been a hospital chaplain and completed four years of Clinical Pastoral Education in preparation for chaplaincy work. He has also led a church-based outreach ministry. In additions to his pastoral care experience, he has served as a mental health crisis counselor and has worked at both a regional mental health center and psychiatric hospital.

You can visit his website, or purchase A Nation Under Judgement on Amazon or Bookbaby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Motherhood Smotherhood by JJ Keith

Genre: Nonfiction, Parenting

     What's the first thing a woman does when she thinks she might be pregnant? She Googles. And it goes downhill from there. While the internet is full of calming and cheerily supportive articles, it's also littered with hyper-judgmental message boards and heaps of contradictory and scolding information. Motherhood Smotherhood takes parents through the trenches of new parenting, warning readers of the pleasures and perils of mommy blogs, new parent groups, self-described "lactivists," sleep fascists, incessant trend pieces on working versus non-working mothers, and the place where free time and self-esteem goes to die: Pinterest (back away from the hand-made flower headbands for baby!)
      JJ Keith interweaves discussions of what "it takes a village" really means (hint: a lot of unwanted advice from elderly strangers who may have grown up in actual villages) and a take-down of the rising "make your own baby food" movement (just mush a banana with a fork!) with laugh-out-loud observations about the many mistakes she made as a frantic new mother with too much access to high speed internet and a lot of questions. Keith cuts to the truth--whether it's about "perfect" births, parenting gurus, the growing tide of vaccine rejecters, the joy of blanketing Facebook with baby pics, or germophobia--to move conversations about parenting away from experts espousing blanket truths to amateurs relishing in what a big, messy pile of delight and trauma having a baby is.

My Review

     JJ Keith hits the parenting nail on the head. As a mother of four daughters, I have read just about every pregnancy and parenting book there is. Motherhood Smotherhood is a breath of fresh air. Instead of convincing the reader to parent a certain way, Keith encourages her audience to be confident in their parenting decisions. She touches on many key issues that are widely criticized, such as breastfeeding (in public!), vaccinations, food choices, and more. 
     After reading Motherhood Smotherhood, I feel as if JJ Keith and I could be great friends. Her book gives the best advice about parenting: Do it your way, and don't worry about the judgmental looks you may receive. It's a reminder that we can all be amazing parents without getting sucked into the latest silly trends or sanctimonious mom drama. 
     I definitely recommend this book to parents everywhere. Common sense needs to become, well....more common. This parenting book is a great place to start. 

Author Bio

     JJ Keith has written about being a crappy attachment parent for Salon, explored the disturbing undertones of Thomas the Tank Engine for TheRumpus.net, come out as pro-vaccine for The Huffington Post, interviewed Samantha Irby for Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, differentiated being judgmental and having an opinion for Role/Reboot, admitted to a bare knuckled brawl with a dude for The Nervous Breakdown, examined the phenomenon of "don't touch the bump" t-shirts for Babble, and explained what new moms have in common with teenage boys for The Hairpin.
     Her writing has been syndicated in the Sydney Morning Herald, iVillage Australia, Mamamia, and Alternet, and she's taken her work to the stage with The Moth, Happy Hour Story Experiment, Write Club, and Expressing Motherhood and spoken about parenting issues with APM's Marketplace, HuffPost Live, and on a panel at the 2013 LA Times Festival of Books. Her micro-memoir won a $2,500 prize from Reader's Digest and was anthologized in The Best Life Stories: 150 Real-life Tales of Resilience, Joy, and Hope-All 150 Words or Less!
     She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her two children.

You can visit JJ Keith's Website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter

Add Motherhood Smotherhood to your GoodReads list, or purchase it on Amazon

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Why did you do that to yourself?"

A few days ago I was doing some Christmas shopping with my two youngest girls. 

We get to the checkout and the lady scanning my items starts talking to them. 

This is a common occurrence when you have kids. The talking wasn’t the issue. 

She asks my 2 year-old if she likes being a big sister, to which 2yo replies:

“I’m the little sister!”

So I explain to the cashier that I have two daughters older than these two. 

Her reply? 

A very surprised, 

"Why did you do that to yourself?!”

Wait. What? 

It was one of those moments in which I didn’t really know what to say, so I just laughed it off.
Since I have had time to think back on it....

What a ridiculous thing to say to someone!

Although I am absolutely 1000000% happy with the four beautiful blessings God gave me to take care of in this life, I didn’t choose their gender. I didn’t choose their personalities. I didn’t choose anything about them. Kids are a package deal. You get what you get. You can’t pick and choose traits. If you want to argue science with me, I’ll show you a family picture in which you will see three blue-eyed, light haired children, one brown eyed-brunette girl, a blue-eyed dad with brown hair, and a brown-eyed, brunette mom. 

Conception is like a box of chocolates. 

I am very aware that it is a blessing in and of itself that I can even have children. There was a brief moment in time when I wondered if I could, because I had miscarried our first pregnancy. That was a scary time for me. Not to mention the fact that I am friends with two amazing couples who have struggled for years to have a baby of their own. If I could have a baby for them, I would do it in a heartbeat!
I never forget how blessed I am. Ever.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not ever ask a parent, “Why did you do that to yourself?”  While all of my pregnancies were very welcome and somewhat planned, there are people out there who have unplanned pregnancies, or find out they’re expecting multiples, or have a myriad of any other possible situations going on. Or maybe there’s a hope-to-be parent standing nearby wishing they could ‘do that to him/herself.’  

Choose your words wisely
The next parent you’re talking to may not have the same sense of humor I do.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Testing, Testing....Is This Thing On!?

Does anyone else feel like a broken record sometimes? I think that if my girls’ vocabularies were limited to the words they heard from me, it would be limited to the following phrases: 

Are you listening?

Why did you do that? 


Are you serious right now?

I don’t speak whinese! 


On the flip side, I hope they hear me when I say things like: 

Your picture is beautiful!

You look gorgeous today! 

Thank you for using your manners.

You’re being so helpful! 

I love you! 


I have been making a conscious effort to say more positive things to my girls. I know how fragile a girl’s self esteem is, and I want them to be confident. I always want them to feel special and loved. 

What are some things you say to, or do with your kids to make sure they know you think they’re special? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wishful Wednesday

I wish that I could see my grandmother more. I miss her so much, and think about her often. She is a strong and amazing woman. She has taught me many lessons throughout my life. My siblings and I practically lived at her house when we were young, since our own house was only a few miles away. Our school bus route went by both of our houses, and we were allowed to get off the bus at whichever house we wanted. My grandfather passed away at the beginning of this year. I had told my husband that I wanted to spend some time visiting with my grandparents the next time we traveled to my hometown. My grandfather fell ill and that never happened. I find time to spend with Grandma every time we’re in town now. There’s no excuse for not finding time for your loved ones. 

These aren’t the greatest pictures, but I cherish them. I love the hundreds, no thousands of memories we’ve shared.

What do you wish for today? It can be something as small as a chocolate candy bar, or a treat. It could be something you’ve always wanted, like a ’69 Mustang (is that a good one? I have no clue). It could even be something spiritual, philosophical, or political. Share with me in the comments!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday

About a year ago, I came across a blog that has changed the way I look at food. It has changed my shopping habits, as well as my cooking habits. The blog is called 100 Days of Real Food.  As the title suggests, it’s all about a family’s challenge to eat only real food for 100 days. Having four daughters myself, I thought that a diet change was a great idea! I have not completely excluded every single thing that is processed, but I have made significant changes to our diets. We eat in at least 5-6 nights a week, and even still try to do so more often. I have stopped buying pre-made frozen foods, and started making more from scratch. This blog is full of excellent recipes and ideas for families looking to make a change toward healthier diets. I highly suggest you check it out!
One of my favorite recipes from her blog (which can also be found in her cookbook!) is  whole spelt pumpkin muffins. I made a couple of changes to them, but her recipe is the one I used.  I replaced the spelt with white whole wheat flour. I also added dark chocolate chips onto the tops of the muffins a few minutes before they were finished baking, then returned them to the oven for the remainder of the baking time. 

They are delicious! My girls love them, too! Click the link below for the recipe!

Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins


I’m looking for guest bloggers! 
Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with my readers? 
Tasty Tuesday will be a weekly post in which I share recipes that I love (along with the proper credits), as well as recipes submitted by readers, which I would love to try, too!

Click on the Contact Me tab at the top of the page to send me your info! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

To Everything There Is a Season

When I was in high school, I was an honor student working toward my goal of moving out and going to college, much like many of my classmates, and other teenagers my age. Then, something happened. During the middle of my Junior year, my father accepted a job four hours away from where I was born, and had grown up until this point in my life. We’re from a small town. The kids I was in high school with were the same ones from Kindergarten. There were just over 100 students in my graduating class. We were more than just classmates. We were family. The plan was for me to stay with my grandparents (who lived in the school district) for one semester of my Senior year, during which I could earn the credits to graduate early. However, after spending the summer with my family in our new home, I decided that I wanted to stay with them. 

I moved to a high school with over 2,400 students. My schedule went from a block to traditional. I felt like a cow being herded from stall to stall in between very short lessons, during which I learned very little, or close to nothing because of limited class time. Before the end of the first semester, I had researched homeschooling programs, enrolled, and payed the bill for myself to ‘attend’. I earned the rest of the credits needed for my diploma, and graduated on my own. 

A few months after I graduated, I met my (unknown to me at the time) husband. That fall, I had applied (and been accepted to) a state university. My financial aid, however, did not go through. I was unable to attend because I couldn’t afford it. Having always been that student who had pictured herself as the typical college student--living away from home, attending classes, just...being in college-- it was very frustrating. I was so wrapped up in what I wanted, and when I wanted it, that I didn’t realize God was whispering, “Be patient. I have a plan.”  

My husband and I started dating, and were engaged nine months later. Somewhere during that time I had begun the process to start earning credits at a local tech school to make school expenses cheaper. That didn’t work out either. God had a plan. 

After many long talks about family, and what we wanted, and the life we wanted for our family, we decided that having kids soon after we were married was the best thing for us. School never fit into the very small breaks between having three children in the last four years. 

So now, I’m finally starting school. I’m finding time in between snacks, and diapers, a nursing baby, and a potty training toddler, chores, errands, and ball games. I’m only on my first class and I’ve come to realize that I need to become more organized and on-point with ‘me time’ so I can get this done. It’s going to be a long, challenging road full of late nights and lots of caffeine, but I know I will get it done. I was always a good student in school, but learning everything myself, on my time and terms, well, that’s a whole different ball game that comes with a whole new set of challenges. I’m finally ready to start this journey, and hopefully my family will understand why mommy is so cranky, or tired, or stressed. On the flip side, I also hope that I can be patient and understanding when I have completely run out of both of those things. 

I know there are many parents out there who have also taken online classes with small children at home. Share with me in the comments below: What tips, tricks, or ideas have you used to manage your time while taking classes? 

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