Driving and “Reading”

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Friends – I have an apology to make.

To all those friends, co-workers, associates, bloggers, Instagram people, WHOEVER –

Who has ever said, “You should try Audible. It’s great for people who love to read!”

Or something like that…. I want to say I’m sorry I didn’t listen when I did. I claim ignorance and a money-saving philosophy at the time.

My commute is now 45-minutes in each direction. After two-months of commuting, I wanted to listen to something else other than the radio.

As most “look-what-I-got” stories start, I was feeling sorry for myself one-day that I couldn’t get through the books on my reading list. While perusing Amazon to make myself feel better ~because if I buy the books, I have to read them right?~ I was about to push purchase on two more paper books when I decided to take a look at my own wish list to see what I’ve saved to purchase in the future.

Sure enough, Amazon’s brilliant marketing said that if I signed up for one free month of Audible, I could get that book for free.

Well, that seemed like a no-brainer and a few clicks later, and the download of the app on my phone, I started listening to the latest book I completed, The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher.

I regret not getting this book sooner. It was a great book for this Star Wars fan.

Oh man.

I regret very few things in this life but I can honestly say that I regret not reading or picking this book up sooner. My Star Wars fanaticism was only increased by listening to Carrie Fisher read her own book.

I was able to listen to Ms. Fisher and her daughter, Billie Lourd, read the book over the course of four days, as I traveled back and forth from work.

Sure, there’s a pile of books I have that I haven’t read at home.

Yes. I know I’m not “reading” the book, I’m just “listening” to it. And I agree, it’s not the same as reading it myself.

But you know what?

I don’t care. Get over yourself.

I did. I’m going to soak up as much knowledge and work by artists while I can on this planet and this is my new way of doing just that.

So – A short review:

Carrie Fisher’s style of writing is unique. She writes as if she is talking to you so this book was perfect to hear her inflections and pauses as she reads her own words.

In some cases she speaks as if she is another person, as she is reading a dialogue that she recalls with a fan. Those pieces were hard to follow as the recollections weren’t readily announced as a ‘conversation’ but she sounded different as she read, which indicated she was pretending to be someone else.

Overall, (and keep in mind I’m a huge Star Wars fan) the information was both exciting and sad, as she recalls her affair with Harrison Ford forty years before and gives the listener tidbits of information of one of the greatest movies ever made. (In my humble opinion, of course.)

As none of us usually want to be judged for our sins, all I will say I’m impressed that she was able to keep that a secret for so long.

This is the ninth (9th) book I’ve read in #DsAugustToAugustReads for 2019.

I’ve already started on the next audio book, even though I’ve got two books sitting on my dresser ready for me to complete the one I carry around with me everywhere.

I will always love the smell of paper books and going to book stores but for now, at least I’ll save some space in my shelves.

Breaking Down My Goals – Intellectual

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Simply put, I am doing many of my goals for 2016 as realistically as possible.

If you read my first post of the year, about how I’m calling this My Year of Twelves, you might have thought to yourself that it’s impossible.

No one can do that many things.

Well, that just tells me that you don’t know me personally.

And that’s okay.

I thank you for finding and reading this blog.

Out of all the goals I set for myself, I really think the hardest will still be to read 12 books this year.

I read a total of eleven last year, and I’m barely imagining to exceed that number by one. Heh.

What I think might be the most interesting piece of this equation is how I find myself wanting to strive in this area, but not finding the time to do it.

Well ~ we’ll see what the new year brings.  This year I’ve declared that it will be “Intentional” and I’m not going to back down.

The question remains to be answered: Who, what, when, how, where and why is the goal to read 12 books this year going to be accomplished?

My Who, What, When & Where –

The following books are currently in my library and I hope to either start or finish them.  Maybe this list is a little short, but I intend on making the best of the things I’ve got this year, which includes not purchasing more books until I’ve read these listed! 2016 Books

  • With my oldest son, I am currently reading the Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The three books are titled “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King.” (We read “The Hobbit” last year and it was phenomenal.)
  • Last year, I bought a book called “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” by Brian D. McLaren that our church pastor recommended.  I started it, but admit-tingly, the language is not easy to follow for me and I only got to chapter seven.  (Does everyone know what the word “ecumenical” means? Page 37….)  Anyway, I plan on finishing this book this year.
  • I inherited two books from my mother that I am now ready to read this year.  One is “Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee, and the other is “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops” by Laura Story.
  • A book that got recommended to me by a co-worker is by Gerald Durrell, called “My Family and Other Animals” to read with my children. The title is just intriguing and I hope it’s as good as she says it is.  Hopefully I’ll get to it after the Lord of the Rings series, or use it as a small reprieve between the Lord of the Rings books.
  • I’ve had a book on my shelf for a while that I literally had to wipe the dust off called “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Susie Omartian.  This is a book that will also cross-over into my personal Spiritual Goal Challenge as I intend on reading through all of it and doing the prayers in the book.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss was recommended by my personal trainer and I’m all over learning new ideas to get things done more efficiently.
  • The last book shown in the photo and on my list to read this year is “The Lando Calrissian Adventures” by L. Neil Smith.  I started this book many years ago and never finished it.  As a Star Wars fanatic, I love the world created between the time when there wasn’t any movies made after Return of the Jedi.  I’ve read several books and have two more lined up in my library if I get through this one this year.
  • The first book I might actually complete this year is by Roald Dahl, called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I purchased a Roald Dahl Collection Boxed Set last year, and this will be the second book we complete as I read it aloud to my family on a weekly basis.

If I’m able to get through the above books, I will have read a total of eleven.
I have a couple stand-by Star Wars books that I could delve into, but I also have a list a mile long of books I want to purchase and read when I can.

My How & Why –

I enjoy reading.

The hardest part for me is scheduling it “in-between” things.

One of the things that I recall from my childhood was my mother reading books aloud to my brother and I.  My mother read aloud to my brother well into the seventh and eighth grades, and I remember being “too cool” to listen to my mother reading as I was already a freshman or sophomore in high school.

As much as I regret not sitting by her as she read to my brother, she taught me the importance of reading and how valuable the time spent with my children will be to them after they grow up.

I use my children as an excuse now to read books that I didn’t get to read when I was younger.  This was the case with the Narnia series last year, and will be the case for the Lord of the Rings Series I hope to finish this year.

I also like to improve myself.  I like having control of things and it seems that while I realize the more I try to have control on things, the less control I actually have, there are areas of my life that can be controlled – such as diet, exercise, water consumption, and the knowledge I choose to incorporate into my life.  That last item is where reading really comes in.

Out of the eleven books I listed above, five of them are non-fiction.  I’m excited about that!  Three of them are listed as “devotional” but none-the-less, they are about self-improvement, and that’s the purpose of reading them in my case.

I’ll get those devotional books read, sometime, and somewhere.  It will be intentional, that’s for sure.

Do you have any books that are on your must-read list this year?  I’d love to know about it if you do!

Name for Blog Posts

August Goals

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Welcome to my first post about goals since January.

I re-read that post and am pretty happy with this update!

Here are the goals listed in the January post:

My one word is:


What I really want in 2015 is:

go to Hawaii.

What I really need in 2015 is:

to organize and simplify my stuff.

What I will share in 2015 is:

my talents and gifts.

In 2015 I will succeed at:

reading 12 books.

Here’s my update:

My gifts as a mother who loves her children and uses Pinterest to cook is still going strong.  I also started a garden after my mother passed and it’s feeding us and our friends plenty of tomatoes and a few carrots.

Carrots & August GoalsMy gift of compromising for the sake of others “feelings” is also going strong.

My gift of crocheting is being underutilized right now, but I sent one blanket to a charity and got rid of some yarn in the process.  That’s a solid win in my opinion.  I still want to get some U.F.O.’s done though.  That needs to finish up the rest of the year for sure.

I can report that I have organized my craft room!  Simplified?  Bah!  At least I can say that I don’t go to the craft store every week like I have in other years.  Another win!

Finally, my main concern in the January post was about reading twelve books.

With this blog post, I’m summing up the books I’ve read this year, and yes, I know I have some work to do for this goal.

With my nine year old child, we completed together the following books from The Chronicles of Narnia Series – “The Boy and the Horse,” “Prince Caspian,” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” and “The Silver Chair,” all written by C.S. Lewis.

My oldest and I read the first two books last year, starting with “The Magician’s Nephew” and then “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  (I’m not counting those for the year’s count, of course.)

The entire Narnia Series is amazing.  I have been not only engaged, but have cried with my son, been able to explain things that I as the parent need to explain, and have a new found appreciation for books that have been on my own list to read, but had no idea how beautifully well written they could have ever been.

My favorite out of the entire series has been Prince Caspian, as the book has a depth of love, trust, faith and hope that abounds through the pages.  We are currently reading the last of the seven books, titled The Last Battle.  The entire series has been magical, and I look forward to re-reading them to my two younger ones when they get older.

Another book I count as read this year, again with my oldest, is titled The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. 
A very simple, realistic type book, my oldest was probably a year too old to have this book read to him, but it was certainly a fun book to read because it was such a sweet, normal-child type of book.  The book reminded me that it’s in the daily life that we really have adventures.  We, as a people in general, don’t look at them that way though.  We think that getting a babysitter or going out to dinner couldn’t possibly an adventure, but in reality, it’s how we look at the experience as how exciting and fun it really can be.  My oldest was able to take an AR test (something our school system uses to get children to read more) and got 100% passing after we finished the book.  An awesome bonus.

My total of books read all the way through with my nine-year old is five (5).

FIVE BOOKS! YAY!  While that may not seem like much to others, I am truly excited to be able to report that.  We’ll be kicking out the last Narnia Series book probably within the month, and have to agree on what to read next.  I’m leaning toward the Roald Dahl Collection, but we MIGHT give the Lord of the Rings Series a try next.  I’ll talk about it with him as his next school year starts in late August and I think he’ll get more out of the Roald Dahl books than the Lord of the Rings in fourth grade.

I’ve been working on a book for over a year now as it takes space up in my crochet bag to read at swim lessons and other waiting rooms of the sort.  I have Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze’s Smart Money Smart Kids book that I’m just over three-quarters of the way read.  The book reads pretty quickly, but I’ve crammed other important books into it’s place over the past eight months of the year.  I looked back to when I reported first reading this book, and I’m slightly embarrassed to say it was the first week of this year.  Oh well, that just tells me that I have some more reading to do.

One of the books that has been crammed into my crochet bag was given to me by my trainer, titled Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally, by Dr. Kelly Starrett with T. J. Murphy. 
While looking at the book (when writing this blog post,) I gave witness to the fact that if I just put in about one more hour of reading on it, I’ll be done with it and can utilize the exercises in the book to help me run.

Goal No. 1 for August: Finish reading the book, Ready to Run.

Lastly, just this last Sunday prior to this post, our teaching minister challenged the congregation to read one or more books as a “book club” for the entire church body.  I picked up two books that day, one titled Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren.  I haven’t opened that book as of this blog post, but the title intrigues me and I certainly want to learn more about it’s tag line of “Christian identity in a multi-faith world.”

The second book I picked up was recommended by one of my friends, and reads more like a novel than a “church” book.  It’s titled Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, and this book is not for the new Christ follower.

I’ve been a believer in Christ my entire life.  The author of the book Pastrix has a surprisingly similar upbringing in the Church of Christ, as I did, but that’s where the similarities end.  She has a funny, explicit, and often sad way of looking at things, but then again, don’t we all….

As I write this post, I am almost done reading the book Pastrix.  I picked it up on and it’s Wednesday.  I will finish it by next Sunday.  It’s that good.  It’s that well written.  And then I’m going to read it again and highlight all the points I agree with and may bring up in a future book club discussion.

Goal No. 2 for August: Finish the book, Pastrix.

Goal No. 3 for August: Begin the book Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?

Goal No. 4 for August: Continue to pray for good weather and safe passage to and from Hawaii.

I won’t be sharing when we’re leaving, but this is the month to get the one “goal” I listed as “what I really wanted” this year crossed off the list.

And finally, Goal No. 5 for August: Post at least five blog posts this month.

I feel like I’m cheating on this one a little, because I’ve already written two, (that’s including this one!) but it’s still a mighty goal for a full-time working mommy who does this for fun!

As always, I know I’ll get many things accomplished along the way this month and keep trying to complete projects.  But at least I’ve spelled them out!  Keep learning friends.  I hope you can check out many of the books I’ve been enjoying this year!

My Book Review System

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One of the things I am grateful for as a mom is having children as an excuse.

I’m being very selfish (yet honest) with this but I can use my children as an excuse to not go out with people.

I use my children as excuses to make myself cookies, because you know, they want some too and it’s good to cook with mommy.

And one of the most wonderful things I am grateful for having children is getting to do things (even as an adult) that I couldn’t afford or I didn’t do when I was a child.

I try to tell myself that I am not living vicariously through them, but I will admit, it upsets me when they have no idea how amazing and blessed their little lives are.  But that’s another discussion for another day.

Today I’m going to tell you about my book review system.

DeAndrasCrafts Book Review System OverviewOne of the ways I use my children – as an excuse to read books I didn’t get to read when I was younger.

I have purchased books from Amazon that started off from a list I found on Pinterest, from an article called 67 Books Every Geek should read to their kids before the age of 10.

Since pinning that pin back in May 2013, my oldest son (7-years old last year, now 8-yrs old) and I have read over twelve books together. And we don’t include the ones he read for school in that total.  He’s only in second grade going into a summer of reading with momma so I’m excited what is to come.

I have two younger children, now ages 3 & 4.  I have been reading books with them since they were little, but it wasn’t until this year that my 4-year old got really intersted in chapter books and sitting down and listening to me read for good 15-minutes chunks of time.

The three-year old still gets bored of listening after about 10-minutes, and we are still in the board-book phase with him.

My plan right now is to review books with a three star system, also separated by category because I just can’t see comparing a life enriching book to a children’s book in the same way.

‘Highly Recommended’ books will have three stars and I plan on using that to describe the Life Enriching catagory as “You must read this to move forward in life.”   If a book in the Life Enriching catagory gets a ‘Good’ rating, then I can probably put my finger on why the book wasn’t a page turner and I didn’t finish it in a week.  The ‘Okay’ rating is to put the book on the bottom of the pile and it will be my suggestion to “get to it when you get to it.”

The Just for Fun catagory is going to be very random.  Usually I pick up a book because I don’t want to watch the movie and would rather read the book.  I did this with the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series – one that I cannot stress how well written and page turning it was, although I couldn’t imagine watching the movie after I read what it was about.  Eww.  I let those things be visuals in my own head, not see it on screen.

In the Read with Children catagory, I will observe my children when they hear the story and make note of which books kept their interest and which ones they asked me to stop reading because they were tired.

I am looking forward to recommending books and giving my reviews, as I love to read reviews myself, especially the honest ones.  I hope to do that for you and start soon.

Our Christmas Countdown – Part 2 (of 2)

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A book by Dean Lambert Smith

A book by Dean Lambert Smith

p1050968I was not raised with traditions.  The closest thing I can think of that came close to be a “tradition” for Christmas when I was growing up was going to my maternal Grandmas house on Christmas Day.  It wasn’t a tradition, more just something we did most years.

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t recall a Christmas where he DIDN’T go to his maternal Grandparents house on Christmas Day.  When we first got together, I went with him to his grand-parents’ house for Christmas, because again, I didn’t have any real traditions, and this was his way of showing me off to his family.  We have gone to his Grandparents, (now just called Grandma’s house) for Christmas Day ever since.

I get the concept of ‘tradition’ now.

I understand the importance of the being together as a family, and the idea of sitting around a table to talk.

Our list of traditions for Christmas is getting longer and longer as the years go by, but that’s another post.

Today, I will talk about what I THINK is the most important tradition, the Countdown to Christmas that we have with our kiddos.

We read a book nightly starting on December 1st called “The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Lambert Smith.

Each one page devotional describes a moment that foretells of Christ’s birth.  The coolest part of this book to me is the symbolism, with each passage and corresponding verse being represented by something.  It’s a way to get to know the bible and the coming of Jesus’ birth, while decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments, something that my children enjoy immensely.

Last years' prepared ornaments for the devotional.

Last years’ prepared ornaments for the devotional.

The prep work for this tradition for me personally begins the year before, while packing the Christmas items away, usually in January.  The first year preparing for this tradition (now over three years ago) was the hardest, as I searched for pre-made ornaments that were described in the daily devotions.

The book has an adult study for each day as well as a children’s study.  There are suggested songs to sing, which we don’t always do, but I have found that my youngest two children respond very well to the singing and learning new songs, especially our daughter.

My daughter opening the daily ornament for the Jesse Tree.

My daughter opening the daily ornament for the Jesse Tree.

The most fun thing for my children is the opening of the little gift during a part of the daily reading.

This is our home made Day 2 ornament, telling the story of the serpent and sin.

This is our home made Day 2 ornament, telling the story of the serpent and sin.

This year may be especially important to me to be around my kiddos, as my mother is in the hospital as I write this post.   I want to keep traditions up.  I want it to be memorable for them as they grow up.



You can buy this book on Amazon: The Advent Jesse Tree on Amazon.
My book review: Five Stars for ease of use, simplicity of the scriptures for both children and adults, and the content.  I enjoy how the author ties every single day with Christ and the meaning of Jesus in each story, even when referencing the old testament and stories that appear to not have Christ directly in them.