Monday, March 25, 2013

3 Of My Reading Secrets


How do you read so much? I'm asked this question often, which is a lot like asking me, how do you breathe

If you met me in person, this is what you'd guess (correctly) right away: I don't go to the gym, and my house won't win awards for cleanliness. But I have a full life. Spending time with family and friends is my number one priority. Cheering on my children in sports and theater, working full time, volunteering in community clubs, and maintaining personal hobbies like crafting, photography, and birding keeps me busy. Oh, and I blog right here. Yet I still find time to read almost every day.


I started this great read Saturday and finished on Sunday. How? I'll tell you several of my secrets. 

(1) Early Birdies Get The Book. Saturday and Sunday mornings I wake up earlier than during the week. This reverse logic actually helps me - especially on Monday morning when I'm "sleeping in". I'm on chapter two by 5 am, and can read without interruption until almost 8 am. The rest of Saturday is spent catering to the needs of my family, but occasionally there will be an open window late in the afternoon when they're happily playing with friends. If it works out, I read.

(2) Spa Sunday. After dinner on Sunday evening, I declare spa time for mommy. I can read for 30 minutes in the bath, followed by an hour of free time reading the NY Times or finishing my book. Hubby and children are generous with giving me an hour or two to relax because I've focused on them throughout the weekend with sleepovers and movies and sports. Sheesh. If they ever give you a hard time about reading, just remind them that the baseball and soccer uniforms do not wash themselves, sleepovers do not chaperone themselves, and cooking and cleaning isn't performed by magic fairies.


(3) I Date Books Before I Marry Them. Buying books is a major commitment to me, especially if I haven't read them. Just because a book is popular or a classic doesn't mean I'm going to love it. And I need to read the book before I determine it shelf worthy. The library loves to share, so I take more risks and have discovered authors, hobbies, and music I might have completely passed over in a book store.

Not sure where to start? Your local librarian can introduce you to some great authors. But just like making friends or dating in real life, you ultimately have to choose what suits you.

What are some of your reading secrets?

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break


Do you have plans for spring break? My dear friend Cha Cha is dreaming of a spring or summer romantic holiday to Charleston with her husband. I love starting my getaway with a beautifully balanced collection from the library, and wanted to show her (and all of you) how the library shares more so we spend less.

The Notebook was filmed in and around Charleston. So what if you've seen it before - you'll see it with new eyes now that you're wanting to visit. While researching low country music, I discovered Need To Breathe. Raised in South Carolina, these dreamy brothers recorded their latest album in Charleston - it was love at first listen. The Boathouse is a popular Charleston restaurant, but did you know the library shares their swoony cookbook? Very Charleston is a beautiful guide book of what not to miss while visiting the Holy City. 

Are you a quilt lover? I highly recommend this book.

Where are you planning your next getaway? Let the library take you there before you even leave home.

xoxo Michele


Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Importance Of A Family Narrative


I was captivated by an article in last Sunday's New York Times: The Family Stories That Bind Us. The author, Bruce Feiler, contends that children who know a lot about their family history, both the good times and the bad, fair better emotionally than children who don't.  

Our relatives live hundreds, even thousands of miles away from where we are in the South, so this startling information had my neck hair dancing. Ever the drama queen, I insisted that my husband halt his current activity of playing ball with our youngest to read the article right now - we needed to form an action plan to save our children from a miserable adulthood.




I'd like to take a moment to confess I married a good man. He reminded me that we share family history with our children all the time. In fact, he said my reading with the kids opens up memories of past events and people - that it acts as a door for family dialogue. Isn't he dreamy? Okay, I may have romanticized his words a little, but that was the message.









The New York Times article describes three different types of family narratives: the ascending, the descending and the most healthy - the oscillating. The oscillating family narrative gives children a big picture view - the more they know about their family, sharing the failures and the successes, the wrecked dreams and the thrill of victory - the easier time they'll have when faced with tragedy as well as more joy during triumphant times.








Looking for some books that will unlock family treasures to share with your children? The list is endless, but here are four of my favorites. I chose them because I could readily think of examples of how they motivated family history sharing. I'm way too lazy to research all we have read.

 
Arielle relished The Hundred Dresses, but vividly remembers my own issue with bullies on a bus and how her grandmother (my mom) helped resolve the problem. 


Life of Pi created opportunities to talk about our faith while respecting and loving others that may not believe what we do. And so much more. I swoony heart this book.


 
The Summer My Father Was Ten was a perfect catalyst for sharing some of my own childhood failures and regrets, as well as successes.




Anything, and I mean anything, by Beverly Cleary. Sometimes we read them twice. She is a family sharing aficionado.



When we are with family, the children are blessed to be surrounded with relatives that enjoy talking about themselves with very few filters - I learn just as much as my kids. 

I rarely feel like I'm doing enough of the right things as a parent, and many times I wish our family narrative was different. Better. But I'm convinced this is why the Bible tells the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly - they really are the absolute best stories for sharing our own family history, because they deal with the heart.  

What if you're more of a quiet, reserved parent? Carl and I are both talkers, but what if opening up is difficult for you? Make friends with a librarian. Books are a comforting way to discuss values with your children, and librarians will help you find great reads for your family.

Do you have favorite books that lead to family-story sharing? Any tips on cultivating a family narrative? I want to hear from you.


xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Borrowing The Beauty Of Spring (And The Library)

Unlike nature, our front porch doesn't effortlessly transform itself through the seasons without borrowed beauty from the library. I spent most of Saturday organizing 60 pairs of shoes (many belonging to neighbor children), a myriad of sports equipment, guinea pig cages and their twenty pounds of food, dead ferns (plus a ficus tree that's on life support), and a colorful sock collection that completely filled the washing machine.

 
Honestly, I love the before reading this and this Instagram photo up above. But after a tall glass of lemonade and thirty minutes of perusing the pages of pretty porches (and possibly a nap), I shopped the house, chopped branches from our backyard bush, and bought two throw pillows from Home Goods. Total cost of my front porch makeover: less than $30.00.


After reading through Garden Bouquets and Beyond, I was inspired to create a flower necklace for my Irish bunny, Prince Caspian. This was the easiest craft ever, and the photo doesn't begin to reveal how smoochie he looks with his floral collar. Total cost: less than $3.00 (Our local Aldi sells fresh flower bouquets for $2.99, so I was able to make him a necklace and place the remaining flowers in the kitchen.) You'll want to make a hundred of these with your daughter. Or mother. Or girlfriends.


Here is what I've learned: You really can borrow beauty. From Spring. And from the library.

I hope they have a few ideas for my feeble ficus tree.

Spend Less - Share More: Library.

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Springtime In Paris And Other Good Ideas


Arielle and I are dreaming of springtime in Paris. Even if our bodies have to stay put, our hearts fly there with borrowed beauty from the library.

(don't miss this book by the same author)

(Natalie, I thought of your embroidery magic - the illustrations are divine.)







(this book is another favorite of ours)



I agree with Audrey Hepburn, and would like to add: 

the library is always a good idea.

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A History of The Heart


I didn't think the children would want to watch hours of Old Testament stories. I envisioned bribing them them with popcorn and candy and few extra hours of Xbox on the weekend. Boy was I wrong. 

 John is smitten with Joshua

Despite our progress in science, arts, technology, and just about everything you can dream up, the heart of man remains the same. The importance of these truths are just as relevant today as when they happened. Maybe even more so.

   The Bible

We might have missed this series if it weren't for a heads up from my dear friend Lilly of Feel LOVD Everyday (she has a great giveaway you won't want to miss). And thanks to the library, we are borrowing beauty as a family, requesting specific books that the children are interested in. 


John is fascinated with Joshua. Nick wanted more information on Samson. Arielle was captivated with all things Moses. Carl and I were interested in understanding more about the first Kings.

Samuel as portrayed by The Bible

Our family bible study time has benefited as well. As in, we're having bible study time now.

Have you found a few great reads that compliment the stories told by The Bible? Please share, I'd love to hear from you.  Especially on swoony Samuel. 

I'm also loving, loving, this book for Lent.
xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring Fever

Join me on Instagram

I have cotton balls stuffed in my ears and tissues dangling from my nose as I type this. Added bonus: I smell like Target brand baby chest rub. Ironically, said sickness transpired right after displaying my spring hats and scarves in an attempt to hasten warm weather.

So I'm scrapping a post I was writing to share my latest obsession instead, thanks to a dear friend Katie. I ran into her at the library last week while she was crushing on this borrowed beauty:

 
Do you think Pioneer Woman has one of these?


You can find all this shared, succulent style in here:



Yep, two grown mothers perched on a bench outside the library, swooning like schoolgirls would over Harry from One Direction. For the record, I do not swoon over Harry, but my daughter does. And I can totally relate. Remember Shaun Cassidy? Leif Garrett? Who did you swoon over?


I know. Too smoochie for words. We were dreaming and drooling, dear friends.


These sweet reads are inspiring an entirely different spring fever than the one currently residing in my head {which has me stuck in bed}.

What borrowed beauty have you found lately at the library that has you longing for spring? And just as importantly, is it weird that I'm now passionately attached to having cotton balls in my ears, even referring to them as ear cozies?


xoxo Michele


Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sharing Justin Timberlake


Each week I get a gift of sharing in my email inbox. Arielle and I usually open the Wowbrary message together, and this week did not disappoint. We are 12th on the list for JT's new CD. 

What if you don't want to wait? You can still support your library by purchasing through Amazon - Wowbrary does all the work for you.

Sign up for Wowbrary today, share the borrowed beauty with your family.

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.

JT's performance on the Grammys, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Great And Powerful Oz


Before you see the movie, visit your library for the great reads. Here are some of our Oz favorites.

Follow our family fun on Instagram.

xoxo Michele

Why buy happiness when your library shares it. Free music downloads through Freegal E-books, audio-books, and digital downloads are at your local library, just visit here or your local library website for complete information.