Baby Elle 5 Months

Here we are on the tippy tail end of Aril and Elle is closer to 6 months than she is to 5, but I haven’t posted an update yet.

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At 5 months she weighed 17 pounds. She is in the top 25th percentile for weight. Maybe that’s why she isn’t very mobile yet.

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The day she turned 5 months (April 10th) it snowed, which is crazy, but as soon as the weather cleared up a little I took her outside. I wanted to get a picture of her in some winter clothes that she wouldn’t be able to fit in next year.

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Unfortunately Elle was captivated by all the sights, textures, and sounds of the outdoors and she didn’t give me and my camera the slightest glance. I eventually gave up. The perk of being a photographer is that when she woke up from her nap with a big smile on her face I grabbed the camera again and started shooting.

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She rolls over now. Mostly back to tummy and she can push herself up a lot more than what you see her doing in this photo.

She still has blue eyes although I can already see some pigment coming in. The jury is still out on whether they will be brown or green though.

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Elle continues to do well in occupational therapy and speech therapy. She is also still exclusively breast fed and obviously not missing any meals (I hear that comment a lot). So everything is going great with baby Elle. She could not be loved anymore than we all love her, that’s for sure. She is precious and I am beyond blessed to be her mom.

 

By | April 29th, 2016|My Life|1 Comment

Mail Organization Tips for Small Spaces

As someone who has a large family in a small space I know how challenging it is to find ways to have good mail organization without an office. However it’s even more imperative that we do keep papers and files under control because we don’t have any room for error.

I am currently reading The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds and it’s been such a game changer. While the book is not about small space living, I have adapted it and combined Leeds organizational style with methods that I’ve already had in place.

 

Tips for mail organization

 

Here are 5 mail organization tips that we use to keep incoming mail from overtaking our limited living quarters.

 

  1. Keep Your Mail in the Mail Box until you are ready to sort it

In the book The 8 Minute Organizer, Leeds recommends having a basket, but a basket of mail would take up too much valuable flat-space-real-estate (i.e. counter or table top). So in our case I consider the mail box the basket. This means keeping all the mail out of the home until you are ready to sort it. It’s one way to maximize exterior space as storage.

   2. Sort and toss 

Because we live in a tiny space sorting the mail immediately is pretty crucial. So we forgo the basket idea proposed in the book. I suggest immediately throwing away junk mail and shredding anything that may contain personal information (or in our case rip it up).

  1. File important mail

8 Minute organizer recommends action files labeled “Pending, to call, to do, to file, to pay, to read.” That’s sounds like a great idea. We are not that organized yet. For now we each have individual files. The kid’s don’t get much mail other than medical documents, but they do have homework.

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This system has been a tremendous help to us. Since the files are up on a shelf it saves floor space. We do have a filing cabinet where we keep critical documents, but for the pending everyday stuff we use these Ikea cardboard magazine files in the kitchen (they’re only 99 cents for a 4 pack!).

4. Stay on top of the old mail

It’s not about just sorting incoming mail. If you file something that needs to be paid, or a form that is supposed to be filled out you should schedule it on your calendar immediately so that you don’t forget about it. You should also go through your pending files regularly. For me I go through each family file monthly. I am not saying I have mastered all this, but I have come a long way!

5. Go paperless as much as possible

Direct deposit, ebills, and AutoPay are our best friend. For one, you are automatically more organized because the computer is paying things on time for you. Also, you are helping the environment by trying to be as paperless as possible and lastly you are saving space because all of those letters and envelopes  are no longer floating around your home.

Most of these mail organization tips can work for anyone that wants a better system for mail organization, not just those living in small spaces. Still, there is a lot of information out there about organizing mail and not all of it works when you don’t have a home office, or even an average size home.

I have to give credit to my husband because he is the one that gets the mail and pays the bills, but I did the filing system. And together we learned that keeping the mail in the box until you are ready to sort it, filing right away, going through old files regularly, and doing online bill pay has made all the difference.

Hopefully these 5 mail organization tips have been helpful for other small space families. For more tips, tricks, and advice about living in a small space check out Lots of Hope in a Little Home here on Messymom.com.

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Good luck with all that mail!

 

 

By | April 28th, 2016|Lifestyle, Simple Living|3 Comments

Messy Blog

Every once in a while I have to do some house keeping on the blog. If you know me, or even if you just note the name of my blog, I am not that great at house keeping. This is why my blog is a mess. It might not look like a mess to you, but if you could see behind the virtual walls you would find broken links, outdated articles, and probably some messed up code.

It was a year ago that I launched The New Messy Mom Blog and basically I am ready to do that again. I won’t be doing a new site this time, but I will be taking the time to clean out ALL my old blog post.

Here is what this means. I am going to be going through over 1,500 blog entries! A lot of them I need to throw in the trash, but some I will update, and some I am basically rewriting and republishing. 

Last year I took a big step by changing to self hosting, having a custom design and incorporating some high quality videos like my welcome video and gender reveal video. I started having sponsored posts, and reviews, as well as some giveaways. It was a good year, but I have so much more that I want to do and I’ve got to take care of some maintenance stuff before I can really move forward.

 

So I’ll be sharing old stuff remixed, some new stuff that I am really excited about, and regular family updates. Thanks for following and supporting me. I am sorry the site has been down so much. I know I have announced that it was fixed in the past, but hopefully that really will happen soon.

I’ll sign off with a recent photo of baby Elle and my new haircut just because I don’t think I posted any here on the blog.

Happy Monday everyone.

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By | April 11th, 2016|My Life|6 Comments

Personality Tests

I have been reading H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick while we are out of town for spring break and it has been really enlightening.

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In the chapter “A Habit of Self- Discovery” Lomenick suggests several different personality tests and recommends reviewing the results side by side looking for echoes.

The first test I did was similar to a Strength Finders test and found that my main talent (according to this test) is “Believing”.

The results showed that

Individuals with the Believing talent can have a solid set of core values by which they choose to live. This talent can enhance ethical standards and integrity, and when presented with alternative paths will tend to choose the ‘right one’.

As I said at the beginning of the year my word for 2016 is “Next” as in just do the next right thing. So that’s was a cool confirmation.

The next test I took was the Myer’s Briggs. I have taken this before, but I always forget what the 4 letters are. It looks like I am an ENFP (extraverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving). Everything I have read about this personality seems to fit my own.

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The last one I did was DISC which was also neat. These are my results in a nutshell.

 

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Out of all of these results I realized that I am really high on the emotional strengths and lower on the structured ones. For example some of my highest strengths are being a positive, motivating, harmonious unifier. The things I am the most lacking in are being commanding, responsible, strategic, deliberate, and disciplined.

As I have mentioned before J and I are opposite. When we chose our core values for our family mine was compassion and his was self control. We are apart on love language too. Mine has always been words of affirmation by a landslide and  his is acts of service. Acts of service are almost pointless to me. I appreciate them, but they don’t make me feel more loved. I guess we balance each other out.

According to H3 Leadership personality tests are a way to “step outside of yourself and more clearly survey how you’re built.” It’s an emotionless snapshot of you identify, gifts, and passions.

Have you taken any of these tests? What areas do you thrive in the most?

By | March 30th, 2016|My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Create Your Own Speech Therapy Book

When SJ was first diagnosed with hearing loss I was encouraged to create an experience book. Books are a great resource for speech delays anyway, but a book that has pictures and experiences that your child can directly identify with is even better.

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I try to make a new one every year so that we can expand on what she has learned. Here is a look at how easy it is to create and implement.

First Words

The first book was the most basic both in it’s design and the words that were in it. For this one all you need is

  • 4×6 photo album
  • Pictures of your child or objects that are familiar
  • Index cards to spell out the words you are encouraging the child to say

I chose words like hurt along with a picture of SJ with a boo boo

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or sleep with a pic of her sleeping.

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Trash is a word you may not find in your typical “first words” book, but trash (or some people say garbage) is a word we use everyday. That’s the beauty of customizing your own language book. You get to choose what to put in it.

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When we first made this book we weren’t even ready to start with saying words we were mostly working on the ling sounds like “Shhhhhh” for sleeping or “mmmm” for eating. Eventually she learned all the words and it was time to make a new, more advanced book!

First Sentences

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At this point she was learning the names of everyone in the family

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Along with the places we visited frequently (like the grocery store, museum, or school).

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When we started the book we kept it very simple and I had her repeat the words “Breakfast” “Lunch” “Dinner”. Eventually she started saying sentences and so we could expand to say “I see my teacher”. You can show a picture of a friend or a teacher, but it’s more meaningful to the child when they see their friend or their teacher.

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Early Reading and Abstract concepts

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She got this book for her birthday and she absolutely LOVES it. For this book I wanted to put in some sentences that she could read on her own because she is learning to read now. So for example “I love my family” is not expanding her speech because that is a sentence she has been able to say for a while now, but it’s simple enough to read. SJ loves to point to and sound out all the words.

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Then I included parts that are a little more difficult to read, but they are words and ideas that I hope she will start to have a better understanding of. For example, this page says “Sometimes I am sad, but I still obey mommy and daddy because that is a good choice. If I make a bad choice I say I am sorry. Mommy and daddy love me when I am happy or sad. They will always love me.”

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This can certainly apply to any child, not just special needs. My oldest son has recently requested that I make a book for him and I plan to do that next.

Now let’s look at the progression

If the first book says “School”

The next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices”

Then the next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices in Loveland Ohio”

It’s been so rewarding to watch SJ learn to communicate. I am really grateful that the idea for this was introduced to me and I hope it can be helpful to others.

Both of the hardback photo books shown here are from Shutterfly and I cannot recommend them enough. Right now there is a promotion going on for a free 8×8 photo book just like the one I’ve shown on here. The coupon code is ” SPRINGONIT “It expires tomorrow (March 22, 2016) so I know that’s not much time, but I will tell you that the Shutterfly website makes it so easy to throw these books together, so it doesn’t take much effort and they turn out beautifully. If you miss this offer you can catch the next one. Just Like Shutterfly on Facebook or sign up for their email to be in the know on the latest deals.

Your child will love seeing their pictures in print and you will love hearing them say all the new words. It’s a simple, but wonderful tool all the way around.

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Elle at 4 months

Elle has had a major growth spurt over the past month. It’s like someone pulled the cord on a self inflating raft and she just instantly filled out. She is currently sitting at 14 pounds of super cute chunkiness.

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Here she is doing some tummy time in her Dr. Seuss diaper. I held back on cloth diapers the first couple months because I was just trying to get back on my feet. IMG_9414

Now that I am back into my routine I’m starting to feel so much better, physically and emotionally.

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There aren’t too many developmental milestones to report other than that Elle is getting stronger and more curious.

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She appears to be my first thumb sucker of the bunch (just like her momma was) and she is also starting to explore by wanting to put things in her mouth.

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We just love having her around!

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By | March 11th, 2016|Babies, My Life|2 Comments

The Big Six

SJ turned 6 years old on Friday. If you have spent any time around MessyMom.com then you probably know I like to party. SJ has had a Cupcake Party, Green Eggs and Ham Party, Donut Party, and Tea Party. However as I said in my blog post “How to avoid overboard kid parties” I don’t do theme parties every year and this is an off year. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have fun though! SJ still had a fabulous birthday and I still got to cherish all those gigantic smiles with FOUR teeth missing.

I started the day by sneaking in her room to hang some streamers in the door and throw some pink balloons on her bed. This might sound fancy, but trust me it was nothing you are going to see on pinterest. She woke up late so all 5 of us snuck into her room to surprise her (not hard to do with a deaf girl). We sang happy birthday as a family and she was beaming!

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Her birthday outfit was a shirt I got from a yard sale that had a number 5 on it, but I covered it with a pin that said “I am 6” and she also wore her cupcake headband from last year which was from a conisgnment shop.

No slaving over the oven this year. The cupcakes I sent with her to school were store bought and the 13×9 cake that we ate that night was all from a box.

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My parents and nieces and nephew came over for her “party”. It worked out great because they were going to come over anyway because their mom just had a baby and needs to rest. It made for a really great surprise birthday slumber party though.

Decorations $2

Birthday accessories $6

Birthday desserts $10

Birthday joy- Priceless

So as you can see it was definitley a low budget simple year and I know SJ still loved it just as much as the years I go all out.

The fun continued on Saturday since the family was still around to hang out and ride scooters.

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Then Sunday she graduated to the big girl class at children’s church and yesterday she had her first daddy/daughter date.

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That’s the last of it though. The birthday festivities are officially over until next year, which may or may not be a theme party. I’ll warn you though, if an idea sparks, there is no stopping me!

 

By | March 8th, 2016|Frugal Living, Motherhood, Parties, Uncategorized|5 Comments

I’m Back… Hopefully

Things have been a little crazy at messymom.com. Mostly because of technical issues causing my website to crash repeatedly all day every day. So if you come to MessyMom.com and it looks like it no longer exists, just hang tight because it probably just means the website crashed again. I really hope that won’t be the case anymore. I think J’s troubleshooting is starting to bring some resolve. I hope so because I have some exciting blog essays, guest posts, tutorials, and even a giveaway planned for the near future so keep your eyes peeled for that stuff. In the mean time here are some photos of what has been happening in my messy life.

I did my first photo shoot since my “maternity leave”. It was of a ballet recital. The whole thing was so powerful I was moved to tears and if all goes as planned SJ will be starting lessons with this group in about a week! There is more to the story, but I’ll try to keep my mouth shut until it’s officially official.

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Z got to bring home a Guenia Pig from school last weekend. I have recommended the book Humphrey the Hamster before and they do the same thing in that book series (have a class pet that goes home with students on the weekend). Z’s teacher says it’s a great way to make learning fun and connect what they are doing at school to home. I LOVE that!

 

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Today all of the kids are out of school due to snow. It’s really pretty outside. The snowflakes are so huge you just absolutely have to lift your head up, open your mouth, and try to catch them with your tongue.

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Z had his 2nd pinewood derby recently. He got 2nd place for creativity! It was a father son effort, but Z came up with the idea and did most of the work on his own. We are so proud of this little guy.

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SJ celebrated the 100th day of school in style. They were supposed to dress like 100 year olds (if you follow me on Facebook you probably saw a lot of these pics already). I didn’t have much notice that she was supposed to dress up so we just went through the closet and chose anything that happen to look like it could fit the grandma stereotype.

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J and I got to go see two of our all time favorite artists at a local venue. John Mark McMillan and Josh Garrels, for those who are curious. The last time I was at a concert was at this same venue and I was pregnant with Elle (it was John Foreman). This time she was outside of the womb and protecting those little ears with noise cancellation headphones.
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She was so great at the show. She slept through the whole thing!

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Lastly, we watched the Super Bowl with just the two of us (the 6 of us until the kids went to bed). It was a great excuse to chow down on pizza, appetizers, brownies, and pie. We had a great time and were happy to see the Peyton Manning get another victory. I know we are only a month and a half into, but I’d say 2016 has been a pretty great year so far.

By | February 9th, 2016|My Life|4 Comments

Acknowledging the Self Control Crisis

I recently did a book review of Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson. I mentioned the idea presented in the book to choose two character traits that you would want to be the main focus in your home.

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J and I chose Self-Controlled and Compassionate as our two character traits. J was the one to choose self-control and I went along with it because we are in this together. I have to be honest though, I really struggled with the idea of self-control as one of our main family goals. That did not sound like fun to me. It didn’t even sound biblical. Yes I do realize self-control is a fruit of the spirit, but subconsciously I hear the word “self” and I think “selfish” then add the word control and I think “controlling”. There is nothing I dislike more than a selfish controlling person. All we need is love right?

You guys must think I am crazy. The rest of you are probably obsessed with self-control and have it mastered.

So to avoid resentment about the very thing I am supposed to be imparting to my children I did a little research.

Scripture and truth about self-control began to resonate with me. It’s not glamorous. You won’t hear of people being honored at their funerals for how much self-control they had.

It’s a big deal though. It’s in the Bible for a reason and I am 100% on board with making it a priority in our home.

Obviously self-control that is contrived by legalism will only leave you feeling like a failure. On our own there is no way we can have a healthy balanced sense of self-discipline. Biblical self-control however is critical. It means having a backbone in the face of temptation and denying one’s flesh. It’s doing the exact opposite of what our culture says to do (which would only leave us hopeless in the end). The lust of the flesh is an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure as C.S. Lewis puts it.

Proverbs 25:28 says a man without self-control is like a city broken and left without walls. I have seen the affects of this. I’ve watched powerful ministries ripped to shreds due to a lack of self-control. It can cost you everything. You can have so much success that you are standing among the stars, but without following God’s command for self control the enemy has the perfect opportunity to kick the ladder right out from under you. Having self-control actually amplifies and supports the other spiritual fruits. It allows you to have integrity as you serve and move in the gifts of the spirit. I definitely want that for my children.

So when it comes to self-control as a core value in our home I’m still not like Ohhh yay! I love self-control. I know my kid’s will too. Now let’s practice by setting a jar of forbidden candy on the coffee table. Woo hoo!

What I do know though is that the media is screaming indulgence! Our society reeks of entitlement. We are a nation of instant gratification who would rather point fingers than take responsibility for anything. We have a self-control deficiency!

Enough is enough. It’s going to take an intentional effort on my part to teach my children the truth. God has given us instructions, a path, and a plan. The Holy Spirit guides us and has given us the reins of self-control. I want myself and my family to grab ahold of those reins.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

-1 Corinthians 9:26

 

 

By | February 2nd, 2016|My Life, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Messy Mom 2015 Book Reviews

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Last year I did multiple posts reviewing and rating the books that I read in 2014. The next year I had the best of intentions to take notes as I read. I wanted to be prepared to deliver excerpts and thoughts from each book.

Did I do that? No. So each review will be short and sweet. The “Messy Mom Rating” is just a heads up about what kind of content is included because I like to know these things when I read a book. It’s easy to do when you are going to watch a movie, but books don’t include that kind of information. Anyway, feel free to skim through and be inspired. Also, please let me know what you have been reading. I am always looking for recommendations.

  1. American Sniper by Chris Kyle

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This book is such an unusual pick for me, but I have connections with the Kyle family. I have never met Christ Kyle, but we went to the same High School so I really enjoyed reading about his background. American Sniper definitely gives a close up look at war. I learned so many new things as I read and it challenged me to really assess my feelings about killing, guns, military etc. The book has a ton more details than the movie, but I thought the movie was good too and did an excellent job keeping the story accurate.

Messy Mom Rating: R This book is full of profanity and violence.

2. The Woman Who Can’t Forget by Jill Price

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This book is about a woman with an exceptional memory. She remembers everything she experienced in life since she was a toddler. You could give her any date and she could tell you exactly what happened int he news and everything. She is plagued by memories as they just pop up in hear mind constantly.  The average person has about 3 to 5 involentary memories a day, but it is about 10 times that for this woman.

For her not only is she forced to remember, but she sees it all vividly and her whole body responds with the exact same emotions. So even though she is an adult now and she is not longer devastated that she missed her field trip at school she would emotionally experience everything that felt when it happened at 8 years old! She said it’s exhausting and I can only imagine that it would be. That part of the story is kind of depressing, but it is one of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read. I highly recommend this book if the brain and psychology intrigue you.

Messy Mom Rating: PG

3. Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz

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Foxcatcher is a true story about two professional wrestlers that were brothers and how they were connected to John DuPont (one of the wealthiest men in America). Dupont was pretty much insane and he ends up being a murderer.  Some parts of this book were boring other parts were riveting. There is a lot of wrestling in it. I enjoy learning about a variety of topics and olympic wrestling is definitely out of the box for me. The book was decent, but it is pretty creepy.

Messy Mom Rating: I really don’t remember what kind of content was in the book, but the movie is rated R so that’s probably what I would rate the book.

4.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train is a murder mystery. I like how the plot twists and turns. The main character in the book is an alcoholic and I felt like the author did a really great job expressing what that would be like to struggle with that kind of addiction. Even though it’s sad I had a lot of appreciation for that aspect of the book. It’s like I have a better understanding of what some people are going through that deal with that.

Messy Mom Rating: R because this book had some sexual content and language. It may not be “rated R” but I can’t remember so I’ll just play it safe and give that warning.

5-7. The Kiss, Black, and Red by Ted Dekker

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I have written some of my thoughts already about Ted Dekker. I think he’s a great author. The Kiss is a thriller and I enjoyed it. Black and Red are the first two in a series of Fantasy novels. I don’t really get into stuff like that, but my husband has thoroughly enjoyed the books. He has read several others and he usually into novels at all so that is saying a lot.

Messy Mom Rating: G he’s a christian author and the books I have read of his all have a positive message

8. American Wife by Taya Kyle

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I have a ton of respect for Taya Kyle (The American Sniper’s wife) and all that she has been through. I didn’t love this book, but it wasn’t bad. It’s pretty much the Chris Kyle story from her perspective. There was some really touching and interesting parts, but I didn’t find myself that interested in the book. Maybe it was just bad timing, but that’s my honest opinion.

Messy Mom Rating: PG

9.  The Vow by Kim and Krickett Carpenter 

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I LOVED this book!!! It’s about a newlywed couple in a tragic car accident and the wife looses all of her memory of her husband. They have a really cute story of how they met. The book is a tear jerker but such a beautiful testimony of how they fall in love a second time. I watched the movie and it was NOTHING like the book. I recommend the book, but not the movie. That’s just me personally.

Messy Mom Rating: G It’s  a christian couple and they give glory to God through the whole book.

10. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

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I loved this book too. The author is the same woman who wrote and starred in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. If you are interested in adoption or even if you just want a candid look at what it is like for women who struggle with infertility then I recommend this book. It’s not that I loved every bit of it, but it was really good.

Messy Mom Rating: PG It’s clean, but it’s not a faith based book if that makes sense.

 

By | January 12th, 2016|My Life, Uncategorized|1 Comment