Five Friday Faves

Five Friday Faves – Summer Reading List

Summer is comin’!

Or so they tell me. I’m still in denial. I love my kids, but I also love when they have the structure of their individual preschool classes.

We neeeeeeeed the structure of school.

So, I’m attempting to get my brain used to the idea that the kids will be home for three months.

Deep breaths.


One great thing about summer though is all the summer reading. My kids love to play outside in the yard, on our little playground, or in the water. This mama loves to sit in a chair and read a book while soaking up some rays.

In the summer, I seem to crave good stories (fiction or memoirs) and short reads. The kids are forever (you know, being kids) interrupting, so I cannot get into something too deep.

Maybe you’re feeling the same about needing some good reads for these warmer months, so today I’m sharing my five summer reading suggestions for you:

Remember, when you use my links it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I make pennies which eventually add up to a dollar and I can contribute to my family’s water bill as I mercilessly hose down my sweaty children from my comfy lawn chair. Not that I would do that…



I just finished this book a couple weeks ago. It is INTENSE, but the story is fascinating. Five-year-old Jack narrates the story; his innocence and naivete are endearing.

His mother was abducted seven years prior and has been held prisoner in an eleven-by-eleven-foot room. Jack was born in the room, and it is all he has ever known. His mother realizes it is time to find a way out…

This storyline will suck you in and hold your interest. Jack and his mother’s relationship really touched me as her love had to be displayed for him in such a unique way.


When Breath Becomes Air

Author, Paul Kalanithi, was 36 when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. This book is his grappling with the meaning of his life as a neurosurgeon facing imminent death.

Paul died while writing his memoir, but he would be ok with his readers knowing that ending. He wanted us to follow him along his journey of death and not be surprised by it.

This book was incredibly inspiring and heart-warming.


A Long Way From Chicago

I just love this author. His way of telling stories – sometimes the most ornery stories – is unparalleled. His wit and humor make the time pass and the pages turn!

Author Richard Peck is actually from the central IL area. This collection of stories revolves around a boy, Joey, and his sister, Mary Alice. They live in Chicago but spend their summers “a long way from Chicago” in downstate Illinois with their VERY peculiar grandmother. The stories are so entertaining!

The stories are so entertaining and easy to envision!


A Different Beautiful

So, I know this author. Like, we’re friends. I know their story and I see them living out their mission of celebrating differences as beautiful every day.

Courtney is a great writer with quite the story to tell. Her daughter Brenna was born with a skin disorder that has affected every fiber of their family. Through this diagnosis, their family could have fallen apart and grown bitter. Instead, Courtney shares her heart on how different truly can be beautiful.

Also, a certain family (mine, ahem) makes an appearance in one of the short chapters in this quick read.

The ebook is on sale right now for less than $2.00! Hurry and grab it because the sale ends really soon.

Love and Gelato

Someone tells Lina (the main character) that most people come to Italy for love and gelato. This teen (whose mother recently passed away) came for different reasons, however. She traveled to Italy to get to know her absent father. And of course, as all good novels go, she discovers much about herself along the way.

This perfect summertime read has an adorable and captivating plot. The whole book is squeaky clean. It will make you smile as you sit in the sun, for sure.


So, tell me – what’s on your summer reading list? Anything I need to add? (Although let’s be honest, my list is already more than can be conquered in just three months!)


Five Friday Faves – The Mother’s Day Edition

I am SO ready to share five things that I’m loving this week. In fact, I had to work hard to narrow my list down to just five things.

And this week, I am sharing five things that could all be acceptable as gifts for Mother’s Day.


If you are reading this and you are a man, let’s just stop for one moment.

Did your wife send you this link?

Lean in close. I have a secret for you.


Also, Mother’s Day is May 14. All day. FYI.

Get to shopping.


So here’s my Mother’s Day suggestions this year (remember, my links don’t cost you anything extra, but they help support me. I made a whopping $3.87 last month. I promise not to forget the little people):

Amope Foot File

Don’t be scared. Don’t run away. Our feet need loving too.

My husband bought me this right before he went on a missions trip to Africa this spring. He knew I would need some pampering, so he purchased this wet-dry foot file for me to use.

Oh, my heavens. My feet have never been more smooth.

It’s almost sandal weather. It’s time to love your feet again, ladies.


Along those same lines of pampering…

Surpahs Bath Pillow

I like to read in the bathtub, but seriously. Whoever designed tubs was thinking about dunking our filthy children, not leaning back with a novel.

This pillow though, it’s only $11.00 and it saves my back!


If you give a mouse a cookie… If you give a mama a bath pillow, she’s gonna need a new book to go with it!

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

I rarely read physical books, as I prefer ebooks. Friends told me I HAD to get the physical copy of this one though, and I’m so glad I did. The design and the layout are beautiful and inspiring.

Erin’s story was encouraging as well. She has traveled through many seasons that women can relate to. She is a great story-teller with an appropriate view of God’s involvement in her hard times. She has made it her message and platform to chase a slower pace of life – don’t we all need that?


After all the pampering, I suppose there might need to be something a bit more practical…

External Battery Charger

I have attended two different women’s conferences this month; one thing I shared with mamas at both conferences was my external battery charger.

We moms are on our phones quite a bit. We need to check in and keep up. But if we’re away from the house for too long, our phone batteries go dead.

I love having an external battery pack. I just plug into it and stick the charger and my phone into my purse. I still have my phone with me, but it’s not going dead!

This is a super practical gift for moms!


And finally, a gift that might not even cost you a dollar!

Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs

My friend Kathy McClelland is having a giveaway on her blog this week for a book called “Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs.” If you are the mama of a special needs kiddo, this book sounds so encouraging. It’s indexed and laid out as a reference guide, rather than a coherent story.

The book includes biblical promises for situations such as:

When you’re having trouble accepting your situation…

When you blame yourself for what has happened…

When you start to doubt that progress is possible…

When your heart breaks for your child…

Click here to enter to win one of the books Kathy is giving away (giveaway ends Sunday) or head over here to just purchase the book for five dollars!


Happy Shopping, men. I just gave you some stellar ideas for the mothers in your life. And ladies, there’s nothing saying you can’t just buy your own presents just in case… ahem.


Five Friday Faves

Women are Scary

I know I recommend a book every Friday now, but, well… I love books. Sorry. Not sorry.

This week I read my second Melanie Dale book. She’s well-known as a blogger and an adoptive mama. She’s recently started podcasting AND she’s hilarious.

Women Are Scary talks about making friends. There’s practical advice, life stories, and humor. It was fun. I really enjoyed it, especially as a bedtime read.

Sherman Public Library

I (obviously) love books, so it sort of makes sense that I would love the source of these favorite things. I love my local library, but this year while Louis is attending preschool in Sherman, I’ve made the Sherman Public Library my mobile office.

In just going two days a week, I’ve become friends with the librarians and met new mom friends!

Sherman recently added an entire kids’ wing complete with books, toys, a barn, and even riding toys. This library has been my sanctuary during school breaks when it’s bitterly cold, but we’re tired of being at home.

I’ve recently joined the Friends of the Library board in Athens, and I’d love to know if your library is one of your favorite things — and why? We need ideas!

Edward’s School Photo

Um, I never buy school pictures. I feel like they are outdated, and I’d rather spend the money on a family photo sessions once a year.

But this.

This is Edward’s school picture from the spring. I’ve kept the order form on my counter all week because I can’t stop smiling back at him.

Edward is one of my favorite things, and this adorable picture represents him well!


Again with the books… I’ve been listening to some really great audiobooks in the car lately. I love my Audible account. I pay $15/month and receive one credit every month. It is fun to research and find good books that I know will captivate me during the long drive to visit Nasko!

Sign up for a free month trial by clicking on the photo above.

My Dad

My dad had open-heart surgery this week. He had a valve that wasn’t working properly, so it received a repair. He’s doing very well with his recovery thus far. During his hospital stay, the nurses are commenting about his sense of humor frequently. While I regularly roll my eyes at him, I do love my dad’s sense of humor!

From my mom: “A couple of nurses have told Roger they like his sense of humor.  I’m just glad he feels good enough to entertain all of us.  He has dubbed a folded blanket (that he holds over his incision if he needs to cough) his teddy bear.  He really confused one of the nurses when he requested his teddy bear!”

I’m thankful his surgery went well this week because he’s one of my favorites!

Five Friday Faves

I started something new last week and decided to share some of my favorite things with you all on Fridays.

This week’s edition is a little heavy on relaxation though as my family is currently vacationing in Florida.

(Some of these links are affiliate links because, while I do love you all, it would also be nice to get paid once in a while. I only recommend things I TRULY love though. No worries.)


My family is having a blast visiting my parents in Naples, Florida. We’ve already eaten too much, swam too hard, and slept… well… can one ever sleep enough?

One of my favorite things right now is most certainly Florida with my family!

GAP shorts

I snagged these adorable shorts from my favorite shopping app: ThredUp. It’s a second-hand store, entirely online!

I had purchased a similar pair of shorts at GAP last year and decided I needed another pair for our vacation. I got these babies for $9.99!

Because ThredUp loves me, AND because they love you, they have a code for anything GAP on their site! It’s an amazing deal of 50% off anything GAP, up to $50. (The code only works for first-time ThredUp shoppers.)

Use code GAP50 and search all the GAP merchandise by clicking here.

I’m going to hurry up and go shop again…


This may be the weirdest product I ever recommend… The Tinkle.

This little gadget is marketed as an eyebrow shaper, but a friend turned me onto it as a facial hair trimmer a while back.

Thaaaaaat’s right.

Facial hair.

It’s amazing though. You just run this baby over your problem areas, put a little facial lotion on, and BOOM – baby-smooth face.

I gave one to my mom, and she ordered twelve more. If you know my mom, that’s a big deal. No one messes with her beauty routine…

Hillbilly Elegy

People have been telling me to read this book for a while, but when I requested the e-book from the library, I was number 36.

So, two years later (kidding) it was finally my turn. It has been a great read!

Over on my Goodreads page, I wrote the following:

“J.D.’s book is written as a memoir – a peek inside the hillbillies’ lives. I see it as covering much of the low-income problems throughout our whole country though. Excellent writing with an optimistic voice.”

The book taught me a lot about the lower socio-economic class and the struggles being faced daily. My husband has a similar story of overcoming and achieving, so the author’s words had extra meaning for me.

I loved it.


Since life has been a bit slower on vacation, I’ve had time to appreciate art and creativity. I stopped and took this photo of a cool mosaic today. Just because.

Also, while at the beach yesterday, I decided to create something in the sand. I knew my creation would wash away in a matter of hours, but I really enjoyed the process and the art of it.

I imagine my creation made at least one person smile; the work was worth it.


How about you? What are you loving this week?

Do you have anything you think I would love (especially items you sell or create yourself? Contact me!)