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What I’ve Been Reading #189

Friday, December 14, 2018


Time for another update on the books I’ve recently finished reading!

41vBn8eCwvL._SL250_I received a copy of In The Company of Like-Minded Women by Elaine Russell from PR By The Book in exchange for my review. Normally I tend to shy away from historical fiction, but the description indicated that some of the issues experienced by the women in the story in 1901 are similar to the issues that women experience today. I found that this was true!

“In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the complexities of bonds between sisters and family at the start of the 20th century when women struggled to determine their future and the ‘New Woman’ demanded an equal voice. Three sisters are reunited in 1901 Denver following a family rift many years before. Each sister faces critical decisions regarding love, work, and the strength of her convictions. The success of Colorado women in gaining the right to vote in 1893--twenty-seven years before the passage of national suffrage--and their continued fight for women's rights, provides the background as the story unfolds.”

I loved that the sisters were active in the suffrage movement and were influential in inspiring others to the cause. The three sisters were all at different life stages and there was a 4th point of view – the daughter of one of them – which added the youngest viewpoint. Lida is a doctor who lost her husband and one child and is now raising a son and a daughter – Sara Jane, who is 14. Lida’s older sister is Mildred, who is married with no children and is the least open-minded of the group. Eva is the younger sister and is interested in a man who Mildred and the mother do not approve of. Through these characters the book gives a real snapshot of life in 1901 in Denver, which I found interesting and worth reading.

41qvnHHVuPL._SL250_The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir was recommended by the ladies in my book group and covers a very different topic than books I have read before – a TV evangelical family and the scandals that they hide off screen. The book begins by telling us that Essie is pregnant, but not who the father is.

“Esther Ann Hicks--Essie--is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie's mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage--and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media--through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell--Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?”

I loved the relationships that Essie formed for herself with Roarke and Liberty, who has been through her own difficult past with her family involved in a dangerous cult. In a sense, Essie uses both of these new friends, but she knows what she’s doing and she changes their lives too. I liked this book and will have to thank my book group for the recommendation!

51aWinO5YFL._SL250_Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was on my to be read list and I found it at the library. This young adult novel began with a series of emails that reminded me of Everything Everything, but the story is definitely its own.

“Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help? In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?”

I will say I figured out the mystery faster than Jessie did, but I think she was trying to convince herself that SN was not the person she may have hoped he was. I really liked the realistic relationships portrayed in this book – Jessie and her new step-mother, Jessie and her father, Jessie and her step-brother, and Jessie and her best friend from back home. Jessie experiences a bully at her new school and I thought the reactions of those witnessing the issue were genuine and well-described. Jessie herself is likeable and forms friendships with three guys who could possibly be SN. She is self-deprecating and doesn’t believe that at least one of these guys wants to ask her out! As far as this being a young adult book, if you like reading about young people, it is enjoyable for adults as well. I would say it is appropriate for upper high school students and it is a good read all around, addressing family, friendship, and love.

What have you been reading lately?


Travel Year In Review

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Travel Year In Review

This year, we were able to travel to a variety of places and since I won’t be posting any new travel posts until 2019, I thought I would create a list of the places we’ve been this year with links to my posts about each location.

Bentonville, Arkansas

We went to Bentonville over Martin Luther King Day and explored the many museums in town!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | The Walmart Museum | The Amazeum


Fort Scott, Kansas

We stopped in Fort Scott on our way back from Bentonville.

Fort Scott in the Snow

Atlanta, Georgia

We went to Atlanta to meet my new nephew. We spent time with the family and also explored a bit.

Urban Adventure Quest | Delta Flight Museum


Los Angeles, California

I met up with friends in L.A.

Trip to L.A. for the Scandal Finale

Tampa, Florida

Before Disney World, Dave worked in Tampa while I hung out with the kids.

Clearwater Beach | Florida Aquarium | Tampa Bay Rays Stadium Tour and MOSI


Orlando, Florida

We got to go to Disney World and see Gabbie dance as well as enjoy the parks.

Disney World Outside the Parks | Hollywood Studios Morning | Our Epcot Evening | Epcot and Dance Around The World | The Magic Kingdom Part 1 | The Magic Kingdom Part 2 | Animal Kingdom Morning | One More Afternoon In The Magic Kingdom


Cody, Wyoming

Cody was our first stop on the way to Yellowstone.

Glamping and Rodeo


Yellowstone National Park / Grand Teton National Park

We enjoyed exploring these beautiful places!

Yellowstone National Park Day 1 | Yellowstone Day 2 and Grand Teton National Park

Salt Lake City, Utah /Park City, Utah

On our way back from Yellowstone, we stopped in Utah.

Salt Lake City and Park City Utah

Dinosaur, Colorado

We also visited Dinosaur on the same trip.

Dinosaur National Monument

Hays, Kansas

Just some roadside stops on the way home!

Kansas – Largest Easel and Sternberg Museum

New Orleans, Louisiana

Dave and I took a trip to New Orleans in honor of our 40th birthdays.

Tips For Visiting New Orleans When You’re 40 | The Garden District | Laura Plantation Tour


Mansfield / Springfield, Missouri

Gabbie and I visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in MO.

A Visit To The Little House on Rocky Ridge | Fantastic Caverns

New York City, New York

While in NJ for Thanksgiving, we also visited New York City.

The High Line and 9/11 Museum


In total, I went on 8 trips this year, visited 13 states not including Kansas, went on 1 trip on my own, 1 with just Dave, and 1 with just Gabbie, visited family twice, and will end the year with a trip back to Florida to visit more family!


Hanukkah Recap

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


I shared a little about our Hanukkah celebrations in last week’s Currently post, but as it’s 8 days of fun, there is a lot more to share!

The kids take turns lighting the menorah each night.

Night 1:


Night 2:


Since Gabbie had dance and got home late on the 2nd night, she got to do her own lighting.


Night 3:

30 Things I Was Thankful For In November

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


In November, I pushed myself to make a list of things I was grateful for. My goal was to come up with one thing per day. Because I started writing this list in the middle of the month, the beginning of the list isn’t exactly in order by date, but I still succeeded in creating a list of 30 things I was thankful for in November. Here it is.

1. Chocolate and cake on my birthday.


2. Gabbie’s scoliosis appointment went well.

3. Dave did carpool for me when I was at that appointment.

4. I like my mascara.

5. We were invited to see School of Rock with our friends.

6. I received a generous birthday gift from a friend.

7. I got good feedback on this post.

8. I attended a women’s event in memory of my friend who passed away.

9. Women at the event shared about their experiences with infertility.

10. I received clothes from Gymboree and Crazy 8 in exchange for Instagram photos.


11. Election Day results.

12. I saw a deer while taking pictures.


13. Starbucks replaced my birthday reward which I was not able to use on my actual birthday.

14. Billy Joel on Sirius radio.

15. I bought a journal and erasable pens to use as a bullet / gratitude journal.

16. One of my pictures was featured by an Instagram account:


17. Dogs, doughnuts, and babies.

18. We went to a large party to celebrate a new baby in our community.

19. My father taught me to understand football when I was a kid.

20. I realized I was mistaken about the possibility I could not meet Tony Goldwyn after his show.

21. We had fun at the Museum of Illusions.

22. I met two of my great-nieces.


23. We saw our good friends.

24. We saw our other good friends.

25. I met Tony Goldwyn.

26. My brother-in-law’s bagel store.


27. We had a place to stay after our flight home was canceled.

28. We made it home.

29. My husband.

30. Gabbie and Zachary went on a youth group trip to Omaha.

I realized some of the things I was thankful for were things that we did or that happened on specific days, and some were more general things I’m thankful for! What are you thankful for today?


10 Favorite Pictures of 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018


This month’s topic for 10 on the 10th with Simple Purposeful Living is 10 Favorite Pictures From 2018. This was the same topic we did last December and I think this year it will be even harder to choose just 10 pictures because I really worked hard on my photography, plus had so many great experiences this year! But I have to try!


Arkansas – Crystal Bridges Art Museum


Picture taken for the 52 Frames theme “details”


Picture taken for the 52 Frames theme “golden hour”


Zachary at iFly


Picture taken for 52 Frames theme “guess what it is”




Sunset in Idaho


Picture taken for 52 Frames theme “portrait”


Picture taken for 52 Frames theme “wabi sabi”


Picture taken for 52 Frames theme “macro”

There are so many others I could have included here! Which is your favorite?