Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Memories - Get Some Last Minute Costume Ideas

I was thinking about Halloween the other night and all the costumes we have gone through with our kids.  I didn't have time to dig out all the pre-digital era photos of the boys and scan them into the computer, but I  had one of the year they were Buzz and Woody in my computer.  Thanks for sharing in my memories of Halloween over the years. 

Halloween 2003

Reagan's first Halloween in 2005

With all the Gorkow cousins at Grandma's house

Halloween 2006

and with their cousins, Alissa and Zach 

Pat and I even dressed up one year! I loved Pat as Mr Clean! 

Halloween 2007.  Patrick wore the Dumbo costume when he was that age.  One of our favorite costumes. 

Halloween 2008 - Bennett was an adorable Mad Scientist!

Then, cousin Zach, showed up as a bunch of grapes and stole the show! 

Halloween 2009

Halloween 2010 - One of my favorite years.  I loved the cute clown, the homemade pirate and the serious Cubs baseball player!

Halloween 2011 - Bennett was the perfect Lumberjack, and Patrick was an hilarious 70's basketball player.  We made up our own Smurfette costume for Reagan.

Halloween 2012 - The first year Patrick didn't dress up.  Bennett's Target employee was a last minute idea and was hilarious.  My husband made the name tag and we laminated it.  Reagan loved being Wonder Woman!

This year it will just be Reagan out trick or treating.  She is going as an 80's girl, which wasn't too much of a stretch since most of her clothes seemed to be designed from that era anyway.  

Thanks for sharing in my memories of Halloween.  Stay tuned for pictures from this year!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Product Review and GIVEAWAY - Motivated Moms 2014 Planner


Are you looking to get more organized?  With the holiday season coming up, do you need to find a way to get your house and your life in order?

Click here to visit Motivated Moms. 
The best part is you don't have to wait until January!  You can get started right now.  When you purchase the 2014 MOTIVATED MOMS calendar, you get Oct-Dec 2013 FREE! Click here to visit Motivated Moms.

Last January, I reviewed MOTIVATED MOMS and her new app.  I loved having it right on my phone and could adapt it to my own needs.  See my review HERE.  Since then, I have found that I am more of a pen and paper gal.  I like having the planner in front of me and being able to add items to the list and then having the satisfaction of checking them off.

MOTIVATED MOMS is a chore planning system to help you get your house clean and your life organized including time for yourself!  You can download the calendar to your computer and print it out or purchase the app for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or your Android phone. The 2014 app for Apple products isn't quite ready yet, but will be soon.  Stay up to date on her website if you are wanting that one. Susan at MOTIVATED MOMS has also freshened up her look with a new logo and new colors.  Click here to visit Motivated Moms. 

You can choose several different printable layouts and with or without scheduled Bible readings.  There are half-page, full-page, black and white, or colored options as well. With the app version, you can add or delete jobs.  For example, if you don't have a pet, just remove that from the list. I like how she has even thought about those areas you forget about like cleaning the top of your refrigerator or deleting unused files in your computer hard drive.  

For $7.99 you can get the app for your Android devices.  For $8 you can get the eBook version of the 2014 planner with the rest of 2013 for Free.  It doesn't matter whether you choose the color or black and white version, half page-per-day, full-page version, or with scheduled Bible reading, each version is $8. For just about $.02/day and a little elbow grease, you can get your house and life back on track! Isn't that a great deal???? Click here to visit Motivated Moms.

Remember, if you purchase before the end of the year, you can get the rest of 2013 free so you can get started right away.  

You can also stay up-to-date on MOTIVATED MOMS by liking her Facebook page, HERE. You can also follow MOTIVATED MOMS on Twitter, HERE or Pinterest, Here

If you would like to WIN a FREE version of the MOTIVATED MOM eBook planner, all you have to do to win is fill in the information in the blocks below.  I will choose a winner on Friday, November 8, 2013.  I will email the winner and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.  You may only enter to win once.  

I received a free copy of the Motivated Moms planner for free in exchange for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  As an affiliate, I will receive a small fee if purchases are made through my link.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Looking Back and Forward - A Little Monday Inspiration

Each time of life has its own kind of love.
Leo Tolstoy

Just yesterday we were sitting next to a friend who has a toddler.  The little boy didn't want to sit still and the mom was getting tired of constantly pulling him back and telling him to sit down.  Oh, but he was cute!  He had such fun little conversations and he was certainly entertaining.  The mom at one point asked me, "Don't you miss this age?"

I remember our boys being quite busy at that age, but also being absolutely adorable and fun.  I remember how fun Reagan was at that age.  She was always such a good little girl and adapting to any activity that we had to drag her to.  As I sat there watching the little boy and his mom, many memories of our children at that age came to mind.  Of course, I miss that age.  Do I want to go back to it?  No.  Every stage of parenting has its ups and its downs.  I'm sure there are things I would have done differently at each stage of their growing up.  But, no matter how much I miss their toddler years, I wouldn't miss these growing up years for anything. Each time of their life is full of its own joy and I want to live fully in each of those moments.

Enjoy all the moments no matter what stage of life you are in!

Our family in July 2005 at Garden of the Gods
Bennett (4) Reagan (6 mths) Patrick (5)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Memory Verse of the Week

This weeks memory verse for the week is one I have needed to hear.  The daily reminders have been such a blessing to me.  To see my verse and post from last week, click HERE.

Psalm 103:8 NIV
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He is compassionate and gracious with me after all I do wrong.  I need to do the same with others.  

Have you joined me in memorizing verses?  Let me know your verse in the comments.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars By John Green


By: John Green

Published:  January 10, 2012


This book is both tragic and funny.  John Green is able to blend the two into such a beautiful story of teenagers in love.  The story involves Hazel and Augustus who meet in a cancer survivor group.  The two of them are typical teenagers who are nervous around the opposite sex, text rather than talk on the phone, and think adults don't understand them.  But, they are also not typical teenagers.  Both are cancer survivors and Hazel has lungs that don't work right and force her to drag her oxygen tank with her everywhere.  Hazel is 16 and takes college courses after getting her GED.  Augustus is 19 and was once a star basketball player until he lost his leg to cancer.  The two of them speak in metaphors and quote books while making jokes about their cancer status.  You can't help but find their relationship absolutely adorable, charming, and yet, heartbreaking.

As I was reading the book, I was at first surprised that it was labeled as a YA novel.  There were plenty of words used in the book that I didn't know.  Also, the theme of the book was a bit adult at times.  It is written for ages 14 and up, but I would recommend it for maybe 16 or even 17 and up.  I know that our son who will be 14 in 6 months wouldn't "get" this novel at this point in his life. The story is told from Hazel's perspective and her vocabulary is abnormal from most 16 year-old girls.  She is quite intelligent and well-read.

Hazel won me over immediately with her witty banter and the way she was completely literal and straight forward regarding her cancer, how she felt, and what she was thinking.  Hazel said the things most of us thought and wanted to say and made me laugh numerous times. One of my favorite lines in the book is when Hazel is about to leave on a trip, she looks down her blouse and says to her lungs, "Keep your sh*t together."

The story of Hazel and Augustus will elicit varied emotions as you travel through the pages.  No, they aren't typical teenagers because they have already lived a life most of us will never live.  Keep that in mind as you turn the pages and struggle with their conversations.  Don't let that take away from the underlying message of the story and the relationship Hazel and Augustus have in a much too short story.  Keep a box of kleenex close by.  

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is currently be made into a movie which I am super excited about.  It's tentatively scheduled for June 2014 in the US.  See this video clip for more info about the movie.

John Green is an award-winning and best-selling author of many books.  He lives with his wife and son in Indianapolis, Indiana.  For more on John Green, check out his website,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Product Review: Viva Labs Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

I had the opportunity to try Viva Labs Organic Coconut Oil.  I was sent a 15 oz container for free in exchange for my honest review.

Viva Labs is a nutritional and supplements company that wants to help you get the optimal health benefits through their products.  Viva Labs stands behind their products 100% and are completely dedicated to your holistic health and personal well being.  Viva Labs sells a range of products both on their website and through Amazonand other sources.

I am new to the coconut oil craze, but the more I read about it the more intrigued I become.  When I purchased my first ever batch of coconut oil, I began by putting a spoonful of coconut oil in my smoothies. Then I started using it as a replacement to vegetable oil in some of my cooking.  But, when I was contacted to try this product, I was asked about using it on my skin.  I hadn't thought much about that before and was happy with my current skin care products, but I gave it a shot.

After washing my face in the evening, I grabbed a dime size amount of coconut oil and smoothed it on my face.  Keep in mind, our bodies are a nice warm 98.6 degrees, so once the oil hit my fingers, it melted.  It also doesn't absorb right away into your skin so your face is a bit "greasy" for awhile.  I wouldn't be able to use this in the morning before applying makeup.  But, at night, I did enjoy how it moisturized my skin.  I didn't notice any visible changes, but definitely noticed my skin was softer and I didn't have any acne issues during my trial period.  I also liked the light, tropical scent that coconut oil offers.

While I was testing the coconut oil on my face, I ended up getting nasty burn on my hand from the oven.  It wasn't healing very well, so one night I decided to try putting coconut oil on the burn.  I think it made a huge difference in the healing and I ended up applying it frequently throughout the day to keep my skin around the burn moist.  My burn is almost unnoticeable now after less than two weeks.

Coconut oil can be taken daily as a dietary supplement, can be added to your cooking, or can be used as a skin care or hair care product.  Coconut oil has been found to help fight bacteria and viruses as well as help those with thyroid issues.  It can also help diabetics maintain their blood sugar levels.  Coconut oil has been found to help lower your cholesterol, increase your metabolism, and aid in digestion.

If you haven't tried adding Coconut oil to your daily diet and/or skin care routine, I highly recommend you give it a chance.  The health benefits are certainly worth you taking a look.

This review is my honest opinion.  I was sent a 15 oz container of Coconut Oil in exchange for my review.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration - Final Challenge Check In

Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.
Les Brown, author and TV personality

I am certainly the only person who can limit myself.  It is my fault if I don't make time to run on the treadmill. It is my fault if I don't push myself harder.  It is my fault if I give up.

This is my final post on my Living and Active 5 Week Challenge with  I have completed the challenge and done what needed to be done.  But, did I push myself as hard as I could have? A few times.  Did I take the easy way a few times?  Yes.  But, I did complete the challenge.  Do I feel or look different? Not really.  But, I can do more push-ups in a row.  I can run longer.  So, there was some improvement.  Do I need to keep pushing myself and go another 5 weeks?  YES!  Am I going to miss the accountability? Yes.  But, really, the only person I need to be accountable to is myself.  I know what I need to do. I just have to make the time and effort to get it done.

I'm thankful for the challenge to force myself to get active. Now I need to make sure my eating and my activity are in line with each other.  Some days I just feel like I break even.  With the holidays coming up, it will not be easy, but on those days where food, family and fellowship will win over...then I hope I at least break even!

Here is to finishing 2013 stronger! Still living with the motto:


Friday, October 18, 2013

My Memory Verse for the Week

Based on the book WOMEN LIVING WELL by Courtney Joseph I've started a new habit.  This is a habit I hope that I can keep for a very long time.  I reviewed WOMEN LIVING WELL earlier this week, (see review HERE) and I decided to incorporate Courtney's idea of memorizing a new verse each week. I will choose a verse related to something I am struggling with or something that is inspiring.  In case you are struggling with some of the same things I am, I thought I would share my verse with you.

I have the verse written out as a reminder on my phone.  Since I was going to be away from home most of this week, I decided that was the best place for it.  Every time I look at my phone, I see the reminder, It is then a good opportunity for me to practice reciting it from memory and then reading it on my phone.  Next week, when I am home more, I plan to write it on the top of my to-do list as well as on a sticky note placed on my bathroom mirror.

As Courtney suggests in her book, place your Bible open to that verse on your counter. Every time you walk by reread the verse.  The verse could also be incorporated as a family verse or a prayer at your meal time or bedtime.

The verse I have been memorizing this week is:

Proverbs 14:29 NIV
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly

I just love Proverbs and have a feeling a lot of my memory verses will be coming from there.  Can you imagine having 52 verses memorized for the year?  How awesome would that be?  Join me in memorizing one verse each week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Women Living Well By Courtney Joseph

Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home

By: Courtney Joseph

Published: October 1, 2013

Non-Fiction, Christian

A couple weeks ago, I told you about WOMEN LIVING WELL and that I was still reading it.  This was not a book I wanted to rush through and so even though I should have posted my review earlier, I needed to take my time and really soak in the message of the book.  There were passages I needed to really stop and think/pray about.  There were notes I wanted to take and suggestions to remember.  Keep in mind, not everything in this book resonated with me or fit into our family and lifestyle, but their are definitely principles, tips, and Biblical teachings that can guide and support you through your home, marriage, and parenting life.

Courtney's journey in helping other women began by growing up in a loving and structured home that was guided by Biblical principles and strong values.  Her parents held strong to their beliefs in a world full of temptation and sin and Courtney runs her home with those same values.  Courtney began by leading women in Bible Studies in her community and then started her blog,  Her blog reaches women all over the world and allows Courtney to share wisdom, offer support, and encourage others to love Jesus.

In WOMEN LIVING WELL, Courtney is very careful not to preach or tell the reader "what she needs to do".  But, instead, she offers what she has done, her personal values, the Biblical teachings and lets the reader decide what will work best for her.  Each section of the book takes us through your personal walk with Jesus, your marriage, parenting, and managing your home.  This book is not just for those who are stay-at-home-moms or those who homeschool, but for any woman who feels like she needs some support, guidance and a basis for creating structure in the home.

In the past, I have attended a weekly Bible Study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) which required daily study in the Word and weekly group sessions that I really enjoyed.  But, due to time issues, I had to let that go.  I try to find time to read the Bible and really make time to pray.  But, Courtney gave me a great idea that I am incorporating this week.  Buy taking one verse a week, you can focus on memorizing that one verse and the meaning behind it each week.  I plan to write that verse as a reminder on my phone and at the top of my to-do list each day.  Just one small way I can stay focused on God's word and by choosing verses that will help me with patience, anger, and other struggles.

Courtney spends a great deal of time on social media and the dangers it can create both personally and within your family.  I loved the tip she gave that I plan to use with our kids as well....."If the pastor of my church put up on a large screen all the comments, status updates, and pictures I've posted for the entire congregation to see, is there anything that would embarrass me?" Pg.43

In the marriage section, there were several passages that got my attention, but when she asked if I was giving my husband the leftovers rather than the best of me, I stopped and realized I was guilty.  After the demands of work, home, children, outside family, and other obligations, it is easy to put your spouse last and this is truly how a marriage can go from warm and loving to difficult.  Something so simple and yet, can make such a huge difference in your home.

I also found Courtney's take on social media and parenting very convicting.  I noted that at times I am a distracted and distant parent making my children wait until a commercial, or until I finish typing an email or reading an online post on twitter.  I am guilty of this and am going to be sure that when my child is talking, I am looking at them and listening.  Everything else can wait.

Courtney's encouragement, teachings, and tips for women of any age and at any stage of life are rooted in her Biblical upbringing, but are truly ones that can bring peace and order to your life.  Her soothing way of writing makes you feel like you are sitting at the counter sharing a cup of coffee.  She seems to know your struggles and knows just what to say to make you feel like you can tackle anything.  The key is making sure you are walking through your day with Jesus at your side.  A lighted candle, some music and a cup of coffee may help too!

Courtney Joseph
Courtney Joseph is the creator of Women Living Well Ministries.  She is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute with degrees in Evangelism and Discipleship.  Courtney is married to her high school sweetheart and they are the parents of a son and a daughter.  Courtney’s desire is to see women living well through discipleship in God’s Word.   This led her to co-found the rapidly growing, on-line Bible study community at  There thousands of women globally, join together daily, to dig into their Bibles through on-line devotionals, videos, free Bible reading plans and tech-based accountability groups.  For more on Courtney, visit, or "Like" her on Facebook, HERE.  You can also find her on Twitter, HERE or Pinterest, HERE

I was given a copy of this book as an eBook for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration and Week Four Check In

No one is born a perfect runner.  And none of us will become one. But through incremental steps, we can become better runners. And that's the beauty of our sport: There are no shortcuts, nothing is given to us; we earn every mile, and we earn every result.
Peter Magill, 2010 USA Masters 5K champion

Last week I completed Week 4 in PEAK313's Living and Active Challenge.  I pushed through and spent most of the week sore and/or in pain.  I am using muscles that haven't been worked in awhile, but that is a good thing.  Friday morning, I really didn't want to get on the treadmill.  I had a lot on my plate for the day and it would have been easy to ignore it, but I got on and even did more than I "had" to in order to complete the challenge.  I am so thankful for the accountability of this challenge and will miss that after next week.  I'm hoping the accountability in my head and in my workout log will be enough to keep me moving.

With a very busy week ahead and the final week in the five week challenge, I am a bit nervous about how I am going to work everything in, but I also know that I can't quit now.  It may not be a perfect week and some days I may want to just do enough to get by, but like the above quote says, there are no shortcuts and I have to earn my way to the finish line.  That's what I will keep focusing on this week!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Children's Book Review: Lucy the Dinosaur: Nice to Meet You by Joey Ahlbum

Nice to Meet You

By: Joey Ahlbum

Published: July 30, 2013



I'm taking part in the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK Virtual Book Tour.  For other host sites on the tour and their reviews of the LUCY THE DINOSAUR series, click HERE.

I had the opportunity to read several of the books from the LUCY THE DINOSAUR series.  The LUCY THE DINOSAUR series is only available as an eBook and can be downloaded to your device via Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iBooks.

Lucy is a delightfully happy dinosaur who likes to hang out with her other dinosaur friends playing and being active.  Lucy likes adventure and exploring and having fun.  In LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Nice to Meet You, you will be introduced to all of Lucy's dinosaur friends and what they like to do most.  For example, Billy Bronto likes to tell jokes and Suzy Stegosaurus likes to play at the playground.  Even though they all are different and like a variety of things, they are all still friends.  Lucy's message is that you can still be friends and enjoy each other's differences.

I read others in the series including LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Learns Opposites, LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Summer Games, LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Count with Me 123, LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Playtime Fun, and LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Day at the Beach.  All of them were fun stories written for toddlers through preschoolers to enjoy.  The pictures are bright and colorful and display the silly antics of the dinosaurs.  I know our kids would have loved these stories at this age.  They would be anxious to see what Lucy was going to do next.

If you are looking for a fun new series for your child that encourages friendship, being active and having fun, this would make a great addition to your eBook library!  For just $.99/book, you can easily purchase the whole series.

Check out the whole Lucy the Dinosaur Seriesavailable on Amazon.

Joey Ahlbum

Joey Ahlbum was born and raised in New York City and Brooklyn.  After graduating from the High School of Art and Design and The School of Visual Arts, his career found him working on projects for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and PBS, to name a few.  He is currently working on his ninth season of "Elmo's World" where he has completed over 50 episodes.  He currently lives with his wife and daughter on the Lower East Side.  For more on Joey Ahlbum, check out his website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of LUCY THE DINOSAUR: Nice to Meet You, click the photo below:

You can see all of Ahlbum's books HERE.

This post along with other Children's Book Reviews are hosted by BOOKING MAMA on Saturdays during her Kid Konnection Linky.  Click HERE to see other great Children's Book Reviews.  

I was given copies of the above eBooks in order to offer this review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Review: Grounded By Angela Correll


By: Angela Correll

Published:  October 1, 2013


Annie is a flight attendant who grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, but now lives in New York City.  Annie was raised by her grandparents after her single mother died much too soon.  After Annie's grandfather died, she focused more on her work and less on her grandmother back on the farm because the memories hurt too much.  Then Annie loses her job to a airline buyout and finds out her boyfriend isn't the man she thought he was.  With no where else to go, Annie decides it is time to go back to Kentucky and face her memories.  Once she is there, Annie isn't prepared for what she feels and what lies ahead.

This is the author's first novel and she has based it on her own personal background of farming and promoting local food and resources.  I found the story quite easy to follow and the characters appealing. Annie is a likable character and you genuinely feel sorry for her when events turn her life upside down.  The story really kicks in gear once she returns back to her grandmother's farm and you learn all the history behind Annie's childhood.

The characters that live around the farm are funny, lively, and well developed.  You could almost imagine each one of them in your mind.  Beulah, Annie's grandma, was by far my favorite.  Throughout the story, Beulah imparts wisdom and truth by sharing her values and her faith.  As a woman who grew up during the depression, her farming and gardening methods are very important to the story and give it the basis for Annie's future in the story.  A lot of the sayings in the story like "Hard work is hard on the body, but good for the soul" reminded me of my own parents and grandparents.

As a child who also grew up on a farm and yet doesn't currently live on one, this story reminded me of all the things I appreciate about going back home.  The gardening, the canning, the horses, the sights and the sounds in this story all reminded me of home. The importance of farming takes center stage in this novel and will make you question where and how you get your food to feed your family.

The author adds a mystery character to the story that gives it a twist and keeps you guessing along the way as to her identity and reason for her secrets.  Even though her story is minor, it offers a nice balance and intrigue to the rest of drama.

I think this is a great "weekend read" and a story that you could share with your grandmother!  It will leave you feeling happy and nostalgic for family and home.

Angela Correll

Angela Correll is a seventh generation Kentuckian.  She has written newspaper columns about farming, family, and life.  She is the co-owner of Bluebird, a farm-to-table restaurant.  Correll lives on a farm with her husband, Jess, and an assortment of cattle, horses, goats, and chickens.  For more, visit Angela Correll's website at  You can "like" her on Facebook, HERE or follow you on Twitter, HERE.

I was provided a copy of this book for review.  I was not compensated in any other way for providing this review.  This review is my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Spotlight: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber


By: Debbie Macomber

Published: October 8, 2013


Even though Christmas is over 2 months away, I always like having a Christmas novel ready to read over the holiday season. It helps put me in the spirit of the season and this year, Debbie Macomber's newest book, STARRY NIGHT will be on my list.

The following is the promotional information about STARRY NIGHT...available today at your favorite bookstore or through the link below:

Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.
Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.
Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

I was able to read the first two chapters of this novel and I've been anxiously waiting to read the rest of it.  I love Carrie's charm, wit, and spirit and have a feeling this novel will leave me laughing and my heart full of joy.  Just the kind of novel to read over the holidays.  Debbie Macomber's novels are predictable but I am never disappointed after reading them.  Stay tuned to a review soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Living and Active Week Three Check In

Running isn't about how far you go but how far you've come.  
Bart Yasso, author/marathon trainer/runner

My week 3 check in fits in perfectly with the above quote.  When I first got my treadmill and started running, I really could only run for 30 seconds at a time.  I can now run for for minutes at a time and at higher speeds. Each time it gets easier. I can get sucked into a program I am watching and literally forget I am running. Other times it is a struggle and I am watching the clock and distance until I can stop.  But, knowing how far I have come is what keeps me going.

With my birthday this past week, my eating wasn't so great.  Birthday cupcakes, homemade strawberry pie, my mom's lemon meringue pie, and cheesecake all made for me, so I had to eat them! But, this week, I can get back on track with my eating and push myself a bit more on my workouts.  As of now I don't have a very busy week and should be able to easily work the time into my schedule.

Week 4 is going to be awesome!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Children's Book Review: How the Octopus Got Eight Arms By Yvonne Arroyo

Two Arms are Never Enough

By: Yvonne Arroyo

Illustrated By:  Carl Wanzung

Published: April 12, 2013

HOW THE OCTOPUS GOT EIGHT ARMS tells the funny story of Oscar the Octopus.  When octopus, like Oscar, first came to sea, they only had two arms, like you and me.  The rest of the story is told in rhyme and shares how Oscar met and fell in love with Sharky McGhee, a shark.  Eventually Sharky and Oscar marry and are blessed with multiple versions of themselves and Oscar just doesn't seem to have enough arms to care for them. So, Sharky hatches a plan to get Oscar some help to handle all these babies.  You will just have to read the book to find out what it is.

I have had the book here for a few months, and in that time our daughter has read it several times.  She shared with me how she really liked the book and that she likes that it features the daddy taking care of the babies.  She IS a daddy's girl.

The illustrations in the book look like colored drawings and are quite enjoyable, depicting mother Sharky and father Oscar in their daily routines.

If you are looking for a children's book that depicts a happy marriage and a loving and devoted father as well as one that tells a cute story, this book is for you.

Yvonne Arroyo spent 32 years as a bilingual Spanish teacher for the Chicago and Trenton school systems. She has written several poems and chants for children and currently lives in Vacaville, CA.

Today I am linking up with Booking Mama in her Kid Konnection series.  Click HERE to find other links to great children's book reviews.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reflecting on Forty

A year ago I turned 40.  I struggled with the number.  I wasn't ready to be 4-0. Almost suddenly it seemed like I had a lot of changes related to turning 40.  My hormones went berserk! The grey hairs seemed to appear overnight. Additional rolls around my middle appeared and were harder to remove.  My sleep patterns turned wacky.  I got glasses that need to be worn daily. My joints are achy. I still haven't accomplished all the things I wanted to on my 40 Before 40 List (See HERE),

But, I also experienced many wonderful things in this my 40th year -

  • A trip to California wine country with some of my favorite gals
  • Treated to a Surprise party by my husband
  • Watching our vibrant, healthy children participate and excel in their numerous activities
  • Spending time with many loved ones near and far
  • Nearly daily chats with my cousin
  • Lazy weekends mixed in with hectic weekends experiencing life
  • Many hours spent reading and enjoying friends on our porch
  • Volunteering for groups that I care deeply about
  • Drinking lots of good wine
  • Reading lots of wonderful books
  • Deepening my relationship with Jesus
  • Spending a wonderful vacation with my toes in the sand
  • Having a job that is flexible and allows me freedom to do the things I love
  • Having a husband whose job is flexible, close by, and allows me to be flexible
  • The joys of eating delicious food
  • Laughter upon laughter with friends
  • Conversations with our children
As you can imagine, I could go on and on with all the joys from my 40th year.  I'm sure I've even forgotten something significant.  Reading through this list brings tears to my eyes over the memories from this year. My point is, all that stuff in the first paragraph that frustrated me about turning 40 doesn't even compare to the joys I've been blessed with.  No, I don't have the most in-shape body. No, my house isn't immaculate or professionally decorated.  Yes, my counter has dirty dishes and my floors have dirty laundry.  But, I do have an amazing husband who loves me dearly and three gorgeous kids that make me proud every single day. For that I am extremely grateful.  What more could I ask for?

So, today, as I turn 41, I am truly so thankful for my many blessings: my husband, children, and my parents, my extended family and friends, our home, our community, and our livelihoods that make these blessings possible.

Join me as I continue to work on letting go of the worry, getting my body in shape, reading all I have time for, and enjoying the moments! Here's to 4-1!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Spotlight: Women Living Well By Courtney Joseph

Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home

By:  Courtney Joseph

Published: October 1, 2013

I've been fortunate to be a reader of Courtney's blog WOMEN LIVING WELL for quite some time.  She has given me support, encouragement, and advice all without knowing me or my circumstances.  When she let us know about her new book, I knew I wanted to read it.  

Today is the day WOMEN LIVING WELL goes on sale and even though I haven't finished it, I wanted to tell you about it.  Life has been more hectic than I imagined and reading has had to take a back burner to other commitments.  Stay tuned to a review coming soon!

Courtney Joseph has written WOMEN LIVING WELL because she knows that women desire to live well. However, living well in this modern world is a challenge. The pace of life, along with the new front porch of social media, has changed the landscape of our lives.Women have been told for far too long that being on the go and accumulating more things will make their lives full. As a result, we grasp for the wrong things in life and come up empty.

God created us to walk with him; to know him and to be loved by him. He is our living well and when we drink from the water he continually provides, it will change us. Our marriages, our parenting, and our homemaking will be transformed. 

In WOMEN LIVING WELL, Courtney tackles the challenges of holding onto vintage values in a modern world, starting with the keys to protecting our walk with God. No subject is off-limits as she moves on to marriage, parenting, and household management.

Rooted in the Bible, her practical approach includes tons of tips that are perfect for busy moms of our generation.  WOMEN LIVING WELL will guide you in the process of fostering your faith, building your marriage, training your children (not matter what age) and creating a haven for your family. I have no doubt you will take away many truths and convictions after reading Courtney's words.

For more on Courtney Joseph and her website, visit, or "Like" her on FACEBOOK or follow her on TWITTER.

WOMEN LIVING WELL, is available today as a Kindle eBook or paperback.