Monday, January 10, 2022

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2021

 



Back in 2020, I shared a blog post called “Cultivating a Love for Reading” where I talked about my struggles with reading. You see, I’ve always loved books, but I have never been a good reader. To this day, I’m still a pretty, slow reader. In my previous post, I went on to share about how I’ve never been a good reader, but I decided to try to grow my love of reading through baby steps. It’s taken a lot of practice, but in an answer to my prayers, God is growing my love of reading each day!! I’m so thankful!!




All that to say, I was so surprised when I checked my GoodReads app, to discover how many books I read last year. A grand total of 377 books!! Just to clarify, my total is so high, because it includes adult fiction and non-fiction books, picture books, school books, and young adult fiction I pre-read for my girls. Most of the adult books, I listened to on audiobook which was helpful, because I could listen to my book while making dinner, walking, or working on a puzzle. As you can see, I used my wireless headphones so much, now they’re broken. Every year, I’ve grown into a more avid reader and I couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment last year!! 


Honestly, I had the privilege of reading a lot of incredible books last year!! I’ve done my best to narrow this list down to my top 10 favorite books I read in 2021. 

These aren’t in any particular order…




My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2021

1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by, Delia Owens

2. “The Nightingale” by, Kristin Hannah

3. “The Well Watered Woman” by Gretchen Saffles

4. “Risen Motherhood” by Emily Jensen

5. “The Call of the Wild and Free” by, Ainsley Arment 

6. “Dear Mr. Knightley” by, Katherine Reay

7. “Creativity, Inc” by, Ed Catmull

8. “Welcome Home” by, Myquillyn Smith

9. “The Librarian of Saint-Malo” by, Mario Escobar

10. “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by, Garrett M. Graff 


*Bonus Reread* 

“The Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

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Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing my favorite reread of last year, which was “The Harry Potter” series by, J.K. Rowling. I listened to the audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale and they were incredible. I had forgotten just how much I love these books. 


Now it’s your turn!! What are some of your favorite books you read last year? Have you read any of my favorites? If so, what did you think about them?



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

My 2022 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets


 

For the past 5 years, I’ve used the Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. In honor of their 10 year anniversary of Powersheets, the Cultivate What Matters team outdid themselves with some incredible Powersheets cover choices!! I went back an forth between green, teal, natural linen, and blooms. Seriously, it was hard for me to pick just one. As a result, I chose their anniversary green color, which is in honor of my upcoming 20 year high school reunion!! They’re just so beautiful!! 


MY WORD OF THE YEAR

This year, my word of the year is HOPE!! God has been teaching me so much about this word, I’ve decided to write it all out in more detail in an upcoming blog post coming. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.





MY 2022 GOALS

At this time, these are my goals for the New Year 2022!! Thankfully, Cultivate What Matters gives you the opportunity to work through a refresh every 90 days. As a result, if I find the Lord leading me toward new goals I can adjust accordingly. I’m so thankful these aren’t set in stone!!


1. Spend time with God

2. Love Jon well 

3. Delight in my girls

4. Renew my health

5. Cultivate my love of writing

6. Recapture the joy in my life 



OTHER RESOURCES

Lara Casey and her team at Cultivate What Matters have a lot of resources to help walk with you as you work to accomplish your goals each year. Lara has even written two books (which I will list below) and she also has a podcast called, “Cultivating Your Life with Lara Casey”. Finally, I have included a list of helpful, motivating books. I included Lara’s books and a few others that have really encouraged me this year.


“A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living” by, Emily Ley


“Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life” by, Lara Casey


“Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy” by Emily Ley


“Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.” by, Lara Casey



PREVIOUS POWERSHEETS BLOG POSTS

In the past, I’ve written blog posts about Powersheets. As a result, I included links to posts which have additional information about Powersheets and how I have used them over the years. Click links to see previous blog posts about my Powersheets!!



My 2021 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets 


My 2020 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets


Leaning into Jesus


My Mom’s Morning Basket


Cultivate What Matters: My 2019 Goals

 


Thursday, August 19, 2021

2021-22 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

  

On Monday, July 19, we kicked off our 2021-22 school year. We’ve gotten in the habit of starting school in July and this year wasn’t any different. My husband is training for his new job, so while he was in training we could work on school. As he has breaks, we will be able to take time off as well and enjoy some extra family time. Honestly, this is still one of the main reasons why we homeschool. Every family is different, but this is what is working best for us right now.

As you will see below, we made several changes to our curriculum. I spend a lot of time praying about our curriculum and I consider it a great responsibility to be my children’s educator. I want to honor the Lord and my children in this calling God has placed on my life. Thankfully, we were able to attend a homeschool conference in June and see a lot of these curriculums in person, before making our final decisions. Below you can find links to the different curriculum we’re using this year.

Without further ado, here are our curriculum choices for our brand new school year.

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2020-21 Homeschool Curriculum Choices 


EVERYONE TOGETHER
When it comes to teaching my large family, I try to have as many group subjects as possible. Currently, our family does Family Devotions, Memory Verses, Bible, History, Literature/Read-Alouds, and Science together. We’re not using Sonlight this year and instead God lead us to use Generations curriculum for a lot of our family subjects. Also, we’re using The Good and the Beautiful Geology for one science unit and switching to Generations science.

Family Devotions & Memory Verse: Generations The Book of Proverbs devotional and workbook and memorizing Proverbs 1
Bible: Generations God’s Big Story #2 with student workbook
History: Generations The Story of Jesus’s People, with student workbook
Literature/Read-Alouds: Generations Level 1 Read Alouds, additional read alouds from Sonlight, and picture books
Science: The Good and the Beautiful Geology and Generations God Made Everything with workbook

.....


4th GRADE: Olivia
How can she already be in 4th grade!? She’s a little bookworm and I can’t wait to see how she does this school year.   

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Level 4
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting T
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Book 1
Math: Math-U-See Epsilon and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication
Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 2
Readers: Sonlight Grade 4 Readers
Other: Victory Drill, Metronome Practice, and Piano Lessons


.....


3rd GRADE: Sophie
Sophie’s looking forward to starting 3rd grade. She loves building Legos and I’m excited to see her thrive in school this year.

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 2 
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting T
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Books B & C
Math: Math-U-See Epsilon and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication
Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 2
Readers: Sonlight Grade 3 Readers
Other: Victory Drill, Metronome Practice, and Piano Lessons


.....

1st GRADE: Matilda
Last school year, Matilda learned to how to read!! It’s been exciting to watch her take off and become an avid reader.r

Language Arts:The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 1
Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting Level 1
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Book A
Math: Mat-U-See Beta
Readers: Sonlight Grade 1 Readers 
Phonics: Explode the Code Level 4, 5, and 6


…..

TODDLER  TWINS: Evelyn & Zoey
Homeschooling with toddler twins is still challenging. I try my best to keep them occupied with a variety of fun activities like puzzles, books, coloring, a cardboard castle, shapes, and so much more! If we don’t complete all of our schoolwork, I wait until the twins nap time to play catch up and get everything else done. Honestly, I could probably do an entire blog post just about this, so let me know if you’re interested.


.....

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For more information, here are the links to the homeschool curriculum we are using this school year.
- Generations
- Sonlight
- The Good and the Beautiful 
- Rainbow Resource
- Read Aloud Revival

Please let me know if you have any other questions about homeschooling.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Our New Anniversary Journal

 



One of my 2021 goals is to “love Jon well” by investing in my marriage. Honestly, 2020 was one of the most challenging years of our marriage to date. We had to navigate lots of transitions as we moved back to the United States after being in Hong Kong. On top of that, was added stress of a global pandemic, which made for a very overwhelming year. By God’s grace and to His glory, on December 17, 2020 we celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary!! I’m so thankful, God continues to hold us together even on the hard days.


With February being the month of love, I thought it was the perfect time to make this goal a priority in my life. As a result, I’ve been reading some incredible books about marriage. I just finished, “A Love Letter Life: Pursue Creatively. Date Intentionally. Love Faithfully.” by, Jeremy and Audrey Roloff. This was such an incredible book with lots of ideas about how to cultivate a healthy marriage. 


As a result, I was really encouraged by their story and decided to follow Jeremy and Audrey Roloff on social media, for continued encouragement in my life. While catching up on Audrey’s most recent posts on Instagram I noticed she had just recently made an announcement about a new project they had been work on. 


To my delight, I read about their new “Memories of Us” anniversary journal which has just been released by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff. It’s an incredible tool for couples to use, each year as they reflect on the current year of marriage and look ahead to the future. There are 50 anniversary sections, so Lord willing on your 50th wedding anniversary you can share the journal with your family and friends!!





I was so excited!! Seriously, this is the marriage tool, I didn’t know I needed in my life!!


I think this anniversary journal will be a great way to invest in our marriage and give us space to remember how God has been at work in our lives. We get to take time to write down how we met, our engagement story, our wedding story, and more!! This year, I ordered this anniversary journal as my Valentine’s Day gift to Jon. I’m excited to take time to fill this out and continue to work on this each year of our marriage!!


I’m boldly praying by God’s grace, Jon and I will be able to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary together on December 17, 2056 with our loved ones, taking time to recount all the Lord has done in our lives!! 


If you’re interested and want to check out this journal, I put the link below. This anniversary journal would be a great gift idea for yourself, young married couples, or you could give it as the perfect wedding gift for couples just beginning their marriage journey. 



Memories of Us Anniversary Journal



Monday, February 1, 2021

My Skincare Haul

 



At the beginning of January, I shared about, “My 2021 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets”. I outlined my goals, word of the year, and more. One of my 2021 goals is to care for myself!! I’m a stay-at-home Mom with 5 young girls, who often take priority over everything else...including myself. This is why I frequently have goals focused on my own self-care, because more often than not it falls to the wayside. I’ve learned, I must be very purposeful about caring for myself each and every day.


As a result, one of my “mini” goals in 2021, is to cultivate my skincare routine. Honestly, for a while, I’ve felt like it’s time for me to cultivate a good quality skincare routine for myself. I started searching Google, Pinterest, and Instagram for great skincare routine ideas. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by all the different choices out there and as a beginner I felt very confused and unsure which routine would be the best for myself.


Feeling too overwhelmed, I put it aside until I was ready to try again. 


In November 2020, to my delight, Angela Braniff released her “Ultimate Skincare Routine” on her Angela Braniff YouTube channel. I watched Angela’s video over and over again, taking notes about her skincare routine. Then I added up the prices for her inexpensive skincare recommendations and unfortunately it was out of my budget. I was so sad, because this is a great skincare routine and once I get into a good skincare routine myself I can work up to these products. However, it would be too much right now for this skincare novice!!


Just a few days later, I remembered Jamie B Golden (a co-host of The Popcast podcast) has her own skincare routine. How exciting!!





Right away, I went to Jamie’s website and read her, “10-Step Skincare Routine” blog post. Then, signed up for Jamie’s email so I could receive her free skincare routine printables!! Quickly, I printed off Jamie’ skincare routine and laminated it, so it wouldn’t get ruined anytime soon. Jamie offers “more expensive” and “less expensive” skincare products options too. As I wrote out a list and added up the less expensive options, I was surprised to discover it was right in my budget!! What an answer to my prayers!!

Thankfully, it didn’t take long before I was able to find everything on my list. Please look below, for a list of everything I bought!!





My Skincare Haul

1. Cerave Hydrating Cleanser 

2. Cosrx bha blackhead power liquid 

3. Witch Hazel alcohol free toner

4. Cosrx advanced snail 96 mucin power essence

5. Loreal Vitamin C Serum

6. RoC Retinol Eye Cream deep wrinkle

7. CerVe PM facial moisturizer 

8. Australian Gold botanical tinted

9. Palmer’s Cleansing Oil

10. Sheet masks

.....




HELPFUL LINKS

Are you looking to cultivate your own skincare routine? Here are some helpful links to allow you to decide which skincare routine will work best for you!!! Below, I’ve listed links to both of the incredible skincare routines I talked about today. Both of these skincare routines are amazing and filled with so much wisdom!! 


1. Angela’s Ultimate Skincare Routine on YouTube



2. Jamie B Golden’s 10-Step Skincare Routine



Monday, January 25, 2021

20 Valentine’s Day At Home Date Ideas



“I have found the one whom my soul loves.” 

- Song of Solomon 3:4



The truth is, as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, most of us are still in some form of lockdown and/or quarantine. However, it doesn’t mean we cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day with our significant other.


Depending on our season of life, our Valentine’s Day always looks a little different than it does in the movies!! As poor college students, we often worked on Valentine’s Day and would celebrate on a different day with our tight budget in mind. As our season changed, we could celebrate Valentine’s Day out together with dinner at our favorite restaurant and a movie in the theater. Kind of feels like a lifetime ago!! Then, when we had our beautiful girls, life changed again and our Valentine’s Day became a family date night with our littles enjoying delicious takeout with us at home. We’re still in the throes of young children, but I’m sure in time our Valentine’s Day traditions will change again. 


With that in mind, I scoured Pinterest for the best date ideas. I included a wide variety of date ideas such as, At Home, On a Budget, Family, and Romantic Date Ideas. I hope they will be helpful to you as you prepare for your own Valentine’s Day celebration!! 


For additional date night ideas, please check out my Love and Marriage Pinterest board.



20 Valentine’s Day At Home Date Ideas



[AT HOME]

Fabulous date ideas in the comfort of your own home!!


1. Indoor Romantic Picnic Date 


2. Spa Night Date 


3. Romantic Backyard Dinner Date


4. Write Love Letters Date


5. Indoor Camping Date


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[ON A BUDGET]

Here are some fun date ideas without breaking the bank!!


6. Ice Cream Tasting Date


7. Build Romantic Valentine’s Fort Date


8. Drive-In Date


9. Scavenger Hunt Date


10. Waffle Bar Date


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[FAMILY]

Date ideas which are fun for the entire family!!


11. “Chopped” Date 


12. Valentine’s Breakfast in Bed Date 


13. Dinner and a Movie Date (Lady & the Tramp)


14. Family Pizza Night Date 

 

15. Valentine’s Cookie Decorating Date


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[ROMANTIC]

Incredibly romantic date ideas spoil your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day!!


16. Fantasy Suite Date


17. Glow in the Dark Body Paint Bedroom Date


18. Sizzling Truth or Dare


19. Sensual Massage Date 


20. Romantic Bedroom Bingo Date


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Monday, January 18, 2021

Quarter 2 Update: Homeschool Year 2020-21



Guess what!? Right before our family took a two week Christmas break, my girls completed their second quarter of homeschool!! I can’t believe we’re already halfway through our entire 2020-21 homeschool year. Honestly, I’m so proud of my girls who have worked very hard this school year. Of course there have been struggles along the way, but I admire their hard work and determination to conquer any challenge which has come their way. I’m truly so blessed to be their Mom and their teacher!!



Curriculum:

As far as our curriculum goes, everything is going well!! Last year, I shared our 2020-21 Homeschool Curriculum Choices for our entire family. I’m thrilled to report, we haven’t needed to make any major, mid-year, curriculum changes. I’m very thankful for this, because I’ve been praying for wisdom regarding our curriculum. It’s amazing to see God answer my prayers and help me know what is best for each of my girls right now. I will continue to pray for my girls, so God can direct our homeschool and make curriculum changes as needed.





For those who are curious, here’s a quick recap regarding my current curriculum choices...



EVERYONE TOGETHER 

Bible time, Memory Verses, History, and Read-Alouds: Sonlight Core K 

Write the Word for Kids: Cultivate What Matters Write the Word for Kids: Plant Seeds of the Word

Science: The Good and the Beautiful Meteorology; Kingdoms and Classifications; Botany; and Energy

.....



3RD GRADE: Olivia

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 3

Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting Level 3

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Level 3000 Book 3

Creative Writing: The Good and the Beautiful Creative Writing Notebook #1

Math: Math-U-See Delta and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication

Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 1

Readers: Sonlight Grade 4 Readers

.....


2ND GRADE: Sophie

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 2 

Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting Level 2

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Level 3000 Book 2

Creative Writing: The Good and the Beautiful Creative Writing Notebook #1

Math: Math-U-See Gamma and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication

Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 1

Readers: Sonlight Grade 2 Readers

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KINDERGARTEN: Matilda

Language Arts: Sing Spell Read and Write “Off We Go” and “Raceway Book”

Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting K

Phonics: Explode the Code 1, 2, 3

Math: Math u See Alpha

Enrichment: Developing the Early Learner 1, 2, 3, 4

.....



SCIENCE

Currently, we’ve already completed our first two The Good and the Beautiful Science Unit Studies, such as Meteorology and Kingdoms and Classifications. We need to wait until spring to do the Botany study, in the meantime we’ve last week we started their Energy Unit Study. Once we’ve completed it, we will wrap up our school year with the Botany study. 





We’ve really enjoyed new Energy Unit Study!! Last week, my husband got home in time to work through some of the energy activities for our new The Good and The Beautiful Energy Unit Study. A few of them included, the exploding bags or bottle (chemical energy), shooting rubber bands (mechanical energy) and also baked Chocolate Chip Bundt Cakes (electrical energy, chemical energy, and heat energy). We all had such a fun time!! I can’t wait to see what other memories are in store for us as we continue to work through this curriculum.



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