Anticipating December

The final month of the year.  I know I said this last month, but what a year this has been.  Filled with anxiety, hope, celebration, mourning, remembering, and joy.  Before I get into the final anticipation of this month (and a small announcement), let’s look back at November.

I am still reading the book I started in November.  And I didn’t get much writing done either.  But I did get some done, and that’s really what I wanted to accomplish.  I wanted to flex my creative muscle and see if I could carve out some time to do that.  That, plus the big home projects this month in the library and family room took up a lot of my free time.

And I did finally get a lot of donations out of the house.  I went through my Christmas stuff, got rid of a few smaller trees and purchased one big tree for the family room.  I also consolidated other holiday decor and moved where I store them to the garage.  I’m still in this process, but over half of it is done and it feels great to free up some space in some closets.

Thanksgiving was great.  My mother-in-law came to visit.  We ate good food and had fun family time.  Anniversaries surrounding the holiday were a little rough, but I gave myself grace and space and remembered and appreciated the moments of family and faith.  God is good.  I’m so grateful.

Sam is 7 months old.  He’s officially mobile, army crawling pretty much wherever he wants.  He still does so well playing on his own but loves to laugh and cut up with both me and his dad.  Teething has been an adventure, but I think one has finally come through.  As my husband says all the time, “He’s such a grown-up baby.”

Now to December.

anticipation
  • Christmas.  There is so much I’m looking forward to this holiday.  It’s the first with Sam, and though he won’t remember this particular Christmas compared to the ones in the future, this one will have a special place in my heart.  I’ve been waiting five years to share this holiday with one of my children.  Of course, there will probably be some bittersweet moments as well as I remember our daughters, but overall, I suspect (and anticipate) a joyous time with friends and family.
  • Reflecting and Looking Ahead.  December is a time for me to look back over the year and start making plans into the new year (although let’s face it, I really probably start this process in November or October).  This is the month I really try to take time out to brainstorm and meditate on all the gifts that God has given this year, all the lessons I’ve learned, and how I can learn and grow in 2019.  I really want to hone the things I want to do in the new year, so I’m going to take the time this month to do just that.
  • A Bloggy Break.  And really because of the two above anticipations, I feel that I need to take a little break from blogging for the rest of the year.  I have never taken a break in December, and it almost seems counter-intuitive because there is SO much to blog about with the holidays and everything.  But I’m going to take the time I usually devote to blogging and spend it looking ahead.  Plus, we are going to be so busy this month with parties and family and all the holiday goodies to come.  I will be active on Instagram so you can follow me there if you wish (Katyslifestory)

Since this is my last blog of the year, I want to wish everyone a Happy December, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.  I hope you are able to spend time with people you love this month and make wonderful memories.  I hope you look into the new year with anticipation.  And I will talk to you again in 2019!

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Favorite Books of 2018

Reading has slowed down significantly as the holiday season arrived.  Plus, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time in November putting together furniture.  Still, I thought it would be fun to look back over the books that received five stars.  I definitely saw some trends that I thought I would share with you.  All of the links will send you to my reviews of each book.

Favorite New Author:  This year, I started following Victoria “V.E” Schwab on social media.  I had heard of her books, and that people really loved them.  So, I started with The Archived series, which I checked out of the library.  I absolutely loved both The Archived and The Unbound.  Which led me to pre-order her new middle-grade book, City of Ghosts, which I again, of course, loved.

Favorite YA Books: In addition to the above books, I also really loved a few newer authors, as well as a couple of authors I was already familiar with their writing.  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi introduced me to a new African mythology, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel about grief and racism.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series) by Neal Shusterman and Library of Souls (the third book in Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read Unwind by Shusterman many years ago, which I liked.  I’ve also been reading Riggs’ series for a couple of years now and plan to read this next book (which I already own) Map of Days that continues the story of his Peculiar series.

Favorite Adult Books: All of the adult authors I enjoyed this year were new to me.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an impulse buy that I really enjoyed and probably prompted more impulse buying this year than I have in a long time.  How to Stop Time by Matt Haig made me tear up at the end.  It actually answers the question of how to stop time through this fictional, magical story.  And What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was a surprise because it wasn’t the main story that made me love it so much, but the subplot of her sister and infertility that kept me turning the pages (and I think I cried at the end of this one, too).

Favorite Non-fiction/Memoir: Kathy Khang’s book Raise Your Voice is a perfect narrative of this moment in history.  It challenged the reader to face the excuses used to stay quiet when we need to speak up.  And on a completely different level, Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading, was a perfect collection of essays for any reader to relate to.

All of these authors have inspired me in so many different ways and prompted me to see life from new perspectives.  I think they have all taken a part in shaping me this year, and I look forward to seeing what new favorites will come into my life next year!

What are some of your favorites? 

Sustaining: Thankful for the Story

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.

Psalm 78:4

I don’t think it’s a secret that there is some contentious stuff going on in the Christian community, especially here in America.  To be fair, a lot of my resources come from Twitter and social media in general, which tends to be pretty divisive on a normal day.  But I also hear the heartbreak and frustration coming out of the mouths of friends and family, longing for a redemption for the brokenhearted and oppressed.  Feeling betrayed that the Church is silent or speaks out in half-truths.  Longing for truth, justice, and peace to prevail.

And I wonder how the next generation will view the church when they grow up, view Christianity as a whole, as they watch us from the sidelines today.  Will they see a place of rage or redemption?  Will they see peacemakers or persecutors?  Will it be a place that includes the lost, broken, and hurting, or will it be a place that excludes those who don’t understand the codes, rules, and expectations?

It’s important for me to remember that though the Church is made up of a flawed humanity, it was created by a flawless God.  We won’t get it perfect, but we can trust in the perfection of God’s plan.  When I was in my darkest moments, I looked with desperation to find God’s presence.  And He revealed himself in small and big ways.  That is what I want to pass on to my son, to the next generation.  

You will see a lot of heartbreak if you live for any length of time on this earth.  You will get frustrated, lonely, broken, hurt, and sad.  But there is a God that is willing to walk you through it.  And as heavy as the bad feelings are, there will be moments of joy, wisdom, laughter, healing, and happiness coming.  I have hope in the next generation because God will work through their lives, revealing himself in special ways to them, just as he has done in my own generation.  And that’s a story I can pass on.

Continuing the Conversation

I want to continue sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet, so here are three new posts to share.

The reality of falling pregnant after a miscarriage

Article out of Australia that is very open and vulnerable about miscarriage and getting pregnant after a loss.  It also touches on her husband having prostate cancer which affected their ability to get pregnant as well.

New infertility support group plans first meeting in Joplin

An infertility support group called RESOLVE is beginning to meet in Joplin, MO in order to support those who are struggling and need support.  Even though I don’t live in Missouri, I want to spread the word about any groups that might be helpful to others.

Local families share their stories of struggles with infertility

 Another RESOLVE group out of Boston is sharing their stories publicly.  They share the feelings of isolation that so many of us can relate to.

If you have never experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, I can guarantee there is someone in your life who has.  While the above stories may not be the same experiences for everyone, they can definitely open that window to more understanding and empathy for what everyone goes through.  And for those of you who are in the midst of these unknowns or losses, you are not alone.  May these words uplift and encourage you today.

Do you have any posts or articles that have touched you or compelled you to share?

November Favorites

It’s almost the end of the year!  On to the November Favorites

Book of the Month

I had a few books I really enjoyed this month, but Truly Devious was really good.  And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series in January.  I wrote a review for this book here.

Baby

So, originally, I bought this outfit by ZOEREA because I thought his Halloween costume wasn’t going to come in on time.  It actually did serve as a warmer version of his costume, but we have actually just had him wear this on cooler days.  Plus, my husband loves the hat.  He basically wants him to wear this hat all the time.  It is pretty adorable.  You can check it out here.

Beauty and Fashion

Sephora at JC Penny had a face mask sample kit available this month, and I’ve been loving a nice face mask or serum at the end of the day lately.  It’s just a little bit of pampering that helps me relax before going to bed.  I tried this one, which was in the kit, and absolutely loved it.  It really does feel like you are putting dirt on your face, but my skin felt so soft and lovely afterward.  It’s definitely in the running as one of my all time favs.  You can get it for yourself here.

Entertainment

I waited until after Christmas to start indulging on all the sappy Christmas movies.  We don’t get the Lifetime channel, but Netflix seems to be bringing their own game this year.  I’ve seen this one, The Princess Switch, and the Holiday Calendar, and I was surprised that I liked this one better than the other.  Although both have their moments of cheese.

The premise of The Princess Switch is pretty straightforward.  One rich girl who longs to be normal convinces an average girl that happens to look exactly like her to switch places.  And there is a baking competition thrown in (with some very elaborate cakes showcased at the end).  Even though it is completely predictable (which is good with my anxiety), it was really well done.  It’s sweet and a nice hour and a half escape to a far-off village where royalty and sugar cookies are the highlights of the day.

What are some favorites you have been enjoying this month?

All disclaimers have now moved to my About Me page.

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse: A Review

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I chose to read this book based on a YouTube recommendation. Ultimately, the book wasn’t for me. I enjoy a good thriller from time to time. I enjoyed “Gone Girl”, but this is not “Gone Girl”. It’s not even the UK version of “Gone Girl” in my opinion.
Hannah is presented as this strong, independent woman, living in New York until she meets and marries Mark. Then, she becomes this paranoid, jealous, needy woman all of the sudden. She can’t get a job, she doesn’t think ahead, and she jumps to pretty outlandish conclusions. Chapter after chapter, I just got really annoyed with her character. Even if everything turns out worse than she thought (which I won’t spoil it for you, don’t worry), by the middle of the book, I just stopped carrying. She does go through some character transformation, uncovering things about herself and her husband’s family, but she whined and worried through all of it.
The writing, at times, was very repetitive. She comes across some information about another one of the characters and reads stories about what this character has done. This was two whole chapters of newspaper excerpts about this particular situation. I got the gist of the issue after the first story, and I didn’t feel like new things were being revealed in the following stories.
The plot, probably because of the writing, was slow and chaotic. The build is very slow, and the reveal is kind of abrupt. There are a few plot twists to the book, but by the time we uncover them, I stopped really caring. I found myself almost skimming the last few chapters.
I don’t think there was a lot of profanity if any. But there were violent and sexual themes in the book. There is a rape scene included, though it was done in the past. And there was a murder that is uncovered (a few actually) as well.
To me, the book wasn’t really all that creepy. It wasn’t the thriller I was hoping to read this year for October, and it took me so much longer to read it because I simply didn’t want to pick up the book. I think part of the problem was the advertised “it’s the Gone Girl UK version” that really wrecked my expectations. It’s not a book I think I’ll be keeping on my shelf.