Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The ABCs of #GoShoutLove

There's a huge chance you know how to Go Shout Love already. And if you don't, there's an even  bigger chance that you shout love everyday without even realizing that you are changing someone's life.

Here's how three amazing moms are "shouting love" each month (and every day) for special children in need. They not only show love and support for the child, but their families as well. We're talking literally shouting here people- These moms start shouting and then magically, hundreds of people take the lead to encourage, pray, boost, love and provide support - on top of thousands and thousands of dollars to aid in medical bills- for these families.

So let's get to know them a bit more, shall we?

Here's the ABCs of GSL:

A: A group of amazing founders: These compassionate friends always put others first and want to make a huge difference in the lives of others. That's where GSL started: this foundation of love and support from 3 moms: Kristin, Brittan & Jessica. (I'm not biased or anything but Jessica (far right) is one amazing sister on top of everything else!) 

B: B stands for Buy- which is just one of the many, many, ways you can support GSL. First, you can go online and find one-of-a-kind t-shirts and apparel that are designed with the personality of each month's child in mind. A couple months ago, this little guy Jude was being showered with love by thousands, Reese and I included! (Reese is sporting the signature GSL knot headband, which I sometimes steal and wear for myself!)


For every shirt you buy, GSL is able to donate money back to the families. It's double the joy, double the support and double (triple, quadruple..you get the point!) the love!

B is also for "BUY" an Instagram Auction item, which you can do each month by following @goshoutloveauction on Instagram. Each month, TONS of amazing Etsy shops, designers, stores, artists and giving people donate items for the auction. We're talking the cutest kids' apparel, gourmet anything-you-can-dream-of and artsy things you won't find anywhere else. 

C: See stands for Creation- GSL is the creation of all things amazing. It's a place online that cultivates positive support for families who need it the most. They create love, they create a will to share in every heart that is touched by Go Shout Love's mission. It's contagious, it's momentous and it's priceless. 

If you want to know more, take a couple minutes to watch this video about how GSL got its wings. You can also follow along on their social media platforms: 


Now go out there and shout love, people! 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

What do I love about a great book? 

I love the simplicity of a story that passionately needs to be told. 
I think that happens anytime someone tackles a fictional novel about World War II. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is one of those stories. 

The Nightingale is a story about two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne, who are living in France in the late 1930s. Vianne, a mother and wife, quietly enjoys life in the French countryside with her husband and daughter. Her best friend Rachel is next door. They are charmed and happy. Isabelle is Vianne's spirited younger sister who has a history of getting expelled from various boarding schools. She's passionate, reckless and brave. With their mother gone and their father lost to alcoholism, the sisters have no family except for each other, but sadly, they are not close.

But that was before the war. 

Vianne finds herself alone after her husband leaves to fight for France. Soon, there's a German soldier living with her who has taken over her home and requiring her to cook for him. I learned a lot more about the war in this book. What I thought was interesting about Hannah's portrayal was that she created a German soldier that was a likable character. 

Captain Beck comes in Vianne's house but isn't cruel to her. And we've all heard the horror stories of the German soldiers. But there's a companionship that forms between Vianne and Captian Beck that I wasn't expecting. It was the only saving grace about the war for Vianne. For a little while, anyway. Vianne learns how to survive the war, following the rules and keeping her daughter safe. 

Isabelle, on the other hand, was a different story. She's too brave for her own good. She begins aiding American pilots escape the German soldiers and eventually becomes a force to be reckoned with. She was on the run constantly and was one of the most wanted people during the war on France. German soldiers knew there was someone instrumenting the escape of Americans but they couldn't find out who and they most certainly didn't suspect a 19 year old girl. 

The story of Isabelle's bravery and what her sister must do to survive the war makes this book a page turner that I didn't expect. Normally, historic fiction about World War II makes me wary. Let's face it, they are terribly sad. (The most moving books I've read: Sarah's Key, Unbroken) But there is so much fight in this book. Vianne and Isabelle evolve into survivors with every chapter. They change the course of their lives, choosing to fight, refusing to succumb to the tragedy that was befalling their country.  

I think the most amazing part of this story is the resilience of the characters. Despite the execution of their innocent neighbors, the seizing of their homes and the dangers ripping apart their villages, they still manage to protect their will to survive. Vianne has to make decisions that no woman should ever have to face. Isabelle takes risks that make no sense, until you come to understand her brave spirit and respect her drive to not let the war win. 

Both women are able to hold on to a certain part of their hearts that allows them to go on after the war ends. The story begins and ends with one of the woman telling her story, looking back on it from 1996. I pictured Rose from the Titanic, telling Bill Paxton that she dropped the necklace into the ocean in the end. 

It's the perfect way to begin such a saga and then end is beautiful tied together. It's increadible that two women could  go through so much. Tragedy, torture, loss, and yet they still find the capacity to not only love, but to continue to sacrifice for the people they love the most. 

Read it. Read it because it's about the type of history we need to know about. Read it because it's about family and love and bravery. You won't be disappointed. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Playing Catch Up

Today is the first day in so long that I feel like I have time to sit down and write. 
Soccer, the beginning of summer, t-ball, family events and the end of Mad Men...I have had a lot on my plate lately. So this morning, I woke up and realized I have nothing to do. Unfortunately, the Rs are with their dad and whenever that happens, I feel like I'm missing a limb. I'm bored, it's too quiet and I just want them on my lap. 

Today, I'll busy myself some how. Lately, I've had the urge to bake. I thought about cleaning the house but then again, maybe not. I swept and did laundry on Saturday and just talking about it makes me tired. In another life, I'll come back and be in love with house work. Until then, I'll be married to a wonderful guy who weirdly likes to dust and vacuum and live happily ever after. 

Not only have I stopped blogging, I've even been too busy to read. I know. Adulting is hard. It gets in the way far too much. I used to think in terms of books and blogging. I used to remember to bring my book wherever I went and always take photos of my food before I ate it in restaurants. 

Now, my days are measured by the kids' activities and work. Work is huge right now. I love it so much. My creative mind is blown and I love it. But it also means I'm running here and there and when I get home, I feel like my mind/brain/get-up-and-go is deflated. 

Last week, R1 had a bug and had to miss the last 3 days of school. He was devastated because, as we all know, the last days of school are the best. But we tried to make the most of it. 

Life just doesn't get better than Bananagrams and a cuddly 7 year old.

This weekend, we were set to go camping but the rain just keeps coming. And coming. This time last year, we were camping somewhere in the deep wilderness and it was bliss. It was also the weekend CJ asked me to marry him, so I know that as long as mother nature allows, we will always celebrate this week. Today, however, we are stuck indoors. Thus, I finally have time to relax and write. I can't complain. 

Today, I hope to catch up on these. I'm a huge Joan Didion fan, so I've been slowly making my way through The Year of Magical Thinking for the second time. I read it pre-kids and now, as a mother and a wife, it holds a whole new meaning and level of despair. I love her so. I've also put One Step Too Far aside because Reese Witherspoon told me to read The Luckiest Girl Alive and when my girl Reese speaks, I listen. Follow her on Instagram to develop a serious girl crush find out what she's reading.

What else has been going on lately? A lot of a little bit of everything. 

If you live in the KC area and you've never been to Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead, I suggest you go. It was such a great day and there are a ton of different activities for kids to do. The baby goats were a huge hit, and I'm not kidding. (See what I did there?)  

That's all for now. I've got a giant cup of coffee and a house with all the windows open, calling my name.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Round Up: Barnes & Nobel Edition & Life Lately

The other weekend, Hubs and I found ourselves without the kiddos on a beautiful weekend and I said, "let's get the heck outta here!"

And so off we went for beers with this beautiful gal  named Brin and her teddy bear fiance: 

We laughed. We drank a few beers and we talked about her upcoming wedding. It was the bees knees and more. 

We also stopped by a couple of my favorite places. 

Trader Joe's and Barnes & Noble. Can I get an AMEN? I can't think of a better way to spend the day. 
Here's a couple books that caught my attention while in book heaven: 

I am currently reading My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh. It's pretty interesting so far. It's about a boy who knows about the rape of his neighbor and it's written almost documentary style, as if you're reading the script of 48 Hours. So far, so great. I also read the sample of The Children's Crusade and I will definitely keep going with it. 

Lately, our life has been pretty full. We're outside, we're spending time with family, we're cheering on our Royals. We're having fun with friends and there are smiles for days. 

Life is just better when it's 75 degrees and sunny, am I right?

This Mother's Day, I was blown away with the amount of love all around us in our life. The kids gave me beautiful flowers and wrote the sweetest notes to me. Hubs and I even got to take our own mothers to a winery and spend hours just sitting around the table telling stories and laughing with them. 

Seeing my mom enjoying my kids was the best Mother's Day gift I could think of and I know she enjoyed it too. I love this photo so much. Almost as much as I love those smiles.

The summer is quickly approaching. On the horizon? LOTS of t-ball. Playing outside, swimming and a quick trip over to Colorado. It's going to be a great one, that's for sure! 

What are your summer plans? 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day is Everyday

This is just one happy's mother day a year but there are many, many other happy days.

I love being a mom, but I love being their mom even more. They make me smile like nothing else in the world. 

I just don't want to be anything else. Just their mom. Their cheerleader, their rock, their happiness. 

I could ramble on for hours about how wonderful life is just because they call me mom. 

It's loud, it's hectic and I'm a grouch sometimes. But they always kiss me good night.

 I can always make them crack a smile. It's the coolest trick up my sleeve that I can think of...

I love the way they look at me. I love the way they look like me. Those freckles, those eyes. 

Hashtag blessed. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

This book I am going to tell you about is not just any book. It's Oprah's Book Club book, which whether you like it or not, you know you're going to appreciate the writing and quality at the very least. It's going to be beautiful and moving. It's Oprah. 

"The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her—this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction."

I think the only way for me to describe this book to you is to use the word haunting.

Like, you have to close the book because you're afraid to continue. Not haunting like there's ghosts. Haunting because the sadness seeps into your bones. 

This book contains the most beautiful prose I have ever read. 

The book is a little cryptic and some of the imagery is hard to follow. 
First, there is Ephram. He is a black man in his 40s with a past that causes him to hang his head. He lives with his sister, Celia, who he calls Mama because she has practically raised him. 

Because his real mama ran naked through their church picnic years ago and died in a mental hospital. Because his daddy was hung from a tree in the woods. 

Ephram is in love with Ruby, a woman he barely knows, one that he has known from afar except for a short encounter as children. I honestly couldn't tell in the beginning of the book where the story was going. It's very cryptic, but the gist of it is this: We all have demons, but how powerful those demons can become depends on our ability to overcome them. 

 People who think that because someone's skin is a different color or because a person is a woman, they are less. There is a lot of "adult" content in this book. There were times where I was cringing. Other times, I had to stop completely. But I had fallen in love with the characters so much that I felt protective over them so I had to keep going to make sure they were okay.

Ruby's character was the hardest. She was forced into prostitution at the age of 6.  In adulthood, the woman who Ephram sees walking the roads day in and day out is a shell. She's haunted by so many demons she's barely alive. The amazing author spares no details in Ruby. You get all the details on Ruby's experience in a brothel as a young girl, her struggles with the ghosts of her babies that never made it into her arms, the terror that follows after years of abuse and mistreatment, have turned into demons that haunt her where ever she turns. As the story unfolds, the answer to where and who those demons originate from shocked me, as I am sure they will you, as well. 

Throughout the entire story, I wanted Ephram and Ruby to connect just so that they could protect each other and help each other heal but stories from the past that kept coming up made me realized how utterly tragic their lives were, it seems impossible that they would ever overcome them.  

 I know Oprah chose this book because it is so big. The sadness is so big, the characters are so big

Read it if you don't mind reading about a little sadness. But thankfully, you'll also read about human resilience and love that reaches beyond tragedy to give hope. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Do Moms Do: A Post Inspired by a Wonderful Book

What Do Moms Do?

It's a question that will never be fully answered. Mostly, because us moms never actually stop doing. The minute one stage or task or tear is done, we are on to the next. We are a treadmill, an infinity sign, a constant stream of mothering. Of tssking. Of "what were you thinking?" of "please, just one more hug." 

We are a never ending cycle of trying to capture a moment on cameras one minute to not wanting to miss a minute in real time.

So what do moms do?

What do moms do when they are sad? They cry, they call their own mothers. They watch commercials that make them cry, like this one: 

What do moms do when they are happy? They marvel at the wonders they created. They take time to appreciate each freckle, eye crinkle and loose tooth. And they brag. 

Oh, how we love to brag. We earned those bragging rights. 

What do moms do they are frustrated? They yell. They eye roll. They consider writing a scathing review on Mr. Clean's Facebook page because the Magic Eraser failed to do its job. (That may be just me...) They let their kids quit soccer mid season. They throw around grandiose phrases like "I've never been this mad before" and "I'm leaving to go get a pop and never coming back!" (maybe that's just me again?) 

What do moms do when they forget things? They call their best friends and fellow moms. A village, it takes. Whether it's calling on them to go into my house and deliver the forgotten Valentine's box to the preschool or bringing extra snacks to soccer games, I don't know what I'd do without my little gang of fellow mother hens.

What do moms do when they are proud? They beam. They cry those kids of happy tears that come out of nowhere and just don't stop. They watch videos on their phones over and over again. They tell the same stories to as many people who will listen. They make art displays out of stick figure drawings that takes up the whole living room wall. 

I'm not the first mom to ask the question regarding what it is we actual do...we've all been answering that question since the beginning of time...but one amazing mother and daughter duo took it a step further and wrote a children's book about it... 

Amy Houts & Emily Bush wrote this sweet book and my kids and I love it. 

My favorite part was seeing myself in the pages. I was proud of myself because LOOK, I've done that for my kids, too! I've let them stay up past bedtime and I've scared away the scary things.  I'm apart of the biggest team: the mom team. The stay up passed your bedtime time, the tough love team, the that's-not-how-you-load-the-dishwasher team. 

Do the mothers on your team a huge favor and give What Do Moms Do as a Mother's Day gift this year. Passing on the love is just what moms do. 

You can buy What Do Moms Do Here on Amazon or from the author's website.

What are some of the mom things you do for your little ones that you hope they'll remember?  

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