Book Review: 365 Devotions for Peace by Cheri Cowell

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I have been trying to wake up before Jimmie for about a month now. Some days it is painful and I hit snooze, most days I know it is something I have to do and I drag myself to my coffee machine. Waking up on your own free will, instead of to a crying baby, is a game changer. You can get up, relax, pee alone, and make some coffee. And, of course, scan Facebook and check your email uninterrupted. It doesn’t hurt that Jimmie sleeps until 7 or 8 (on most days), which makes my wake-up time around 6:45.

Back in December, I chose to review 365 Devotions for Peace by Cheri Cowell. I thought it would be a great way to start the New Year. Unfortunately, the book was on back order and I just received it this week. Either way, I started reading it as soon as it came in the mail. The book is a beautiful pink color. It is small enough to fit in a large purse, but big enough to read without straining your eyes.

Each day includes a line of scripture, a story of sorts that relates to the scripture, and a prayer. I have started to include this daily devotion book into my morning routine. Each page takes less than five minutes to read, but the words sit within me for the rest of the day, reminding me that God is always there. The book came at the right time. Maybe I didn’t need it as much when the New Year started, but I sure have needed more prayers in my life lately.

Jimmie’s sleep schedule has been erratic. He fought naps for three weeks after finally giving up last week. His naps don’t last nearly as long now, no more than an hour, but it is better than him crying for an hour. He also started waking up during the night a few weeks ago on a regular basis; an issue we haven’t really had since he was a newborn. Of course, he had his nights where he was teething, sick, or couldn’t get his foot unstuck from the crib bars, but otherwise his sleep habits have always been great. I pray that this is only a season, I pray that peace is restored to Jimmie so he can rest and grow. I also pray that I don’t have to get up out of bed to soothe him because it is too cold. But most of all, I pray for patience, something I thought came with this whole parenting thing. I was wrong.

No matter what season of life you are going through, 365 Devotions for Peace by Cheri Cowell will help guide you through it, make you think, and fill your heart with joy. This devotions book is geared towards women, hence the pink cover. The only thing that caught me off guard was the fact that there isn’t a devotion for February 29; I guess I will have to make up my own.

About the Author:

Cheri Cowell, an author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian, is the author of several books including the Bible study Parables and Word Pictures. A graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, she shares her passion to help others apply biblical principles to the sidewalk issues of life. Through her nonprofit organization, Living Parables, she is able to put this faith into practice by offering micro-loans to faith organizations filling unmet charitable needs in their communities. Learn more about Cheri at www.CheriCowell.com.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

What I Wish Someone Told Me Before Becoming a Mom

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Disclaimer: I wrote this about a year ago when Jimmie was 8 months old. It was then when I realized I had postpartum depression. I was too embarrassed to tell more than a few people. Too embarrassed to go to a doctor right away. I have now accepted that it was/is nothing to be ashamed of. I have been debating about whether or not I should post these feelings since then. I never did because I thought people would judge me. Now I know that the only person who can judge me is God and he loves me no matter what. If anyone is going to judge me for being honest and open, then they’re in the wrong, not me.

No one ever tells you everything you need to know before you have a baby. There’s an unspoken rule about not speaking the truth to expecting moms. Everyone tells you how rewarding it is to be a mother. How amazing it is to see your child smile, hear them laugh, and watch them grow. But no one ever tells you how hard it really is. No one ever tells you that first couple months are the hardest months of your life.

I wish someone told me.

No one ever tells you that you may hate breastfeeding. No one ever tells you that by­­­­­­ hating it, you’ll hate yourself because you’ve read how breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural, beautiful feeling that bonds you with your baby. No one ever tells you how in the middle of the night, while breastfeeding your sweet chubby cheeks baby, that you may feel more alone than you have ever felt before. And it hurts. Not just from them latching on, but the pain of being tired and feeling so alone, and the pain of hating yourself for not enjoying breastfeeding, it all just hurts.

 I wish someone told me.

No one tells you that in those early moments of motherhood that you silently think about life before the baby and you wonder if you made the right choice. You think about if you waited another month to start trying, another year, another decade, if things would be easier. No one ever tells you that even though you may love your baby with all your heart the second they’re born, that it may take months until you actually like them.  No one ever tells you how you then think you are the worst mom in the entire world for having these thoughts. You think you are probably the only mom in existence that has these thoughts. No one ever tells you that you are not the only one.

I wish someone told me.

No one ever tells you that once your baby sleeps through the night, you suddenly have insomnia that keeps you up around the time that you used to wake up to feed them. No one ever tells you that during those times you’ll pray that your baby wakes up too, so at least being awake will have meaning. No one ever tells you that you may have nightmares about the most random things, not just your baby being trapped under your covers (even when you’re not co-sleeping), and you’ll wake up feeling like you never slept at all. No one ever tells you that you could have these nightmares for a really long time.

I wish someone told me.

No one ever tells you how there will be days that you are just tired for no reason, even after you you slept well the night before. No one ever tells you how not only will you be physically tired, but how you will be emotionally tired too: tired of crying, tired of not napping when the baby naps, and tired of worrying. No one ever tells you how you will count the minutes until you put your baby to bed but then spend hours looking at photos of them. No one ever tell you how you will then miss them as if you haven’t seen them for days.

I wish someone told me.

No one ever tells you it gets easier. No one ever tells you how one day your baby will smile at you and you will smile back. And just like that, you are best friends. No one ever tells you how hearing your baby laugh for the first time will bring you to tears because you’re laughing so hard too.  No one ever tells you it is okay to stop breastfeeding because you are absolutely miserable. No one ever tells you that sometimes the best decision you make for your child is to make yourself happy first.

I wish someone told me.

No one ever tells you how you will look back at those first few miserable months and only think of the good parts. No one ever tells you that you really don’t forget the bad parts, but they become less important. No one ever tells you that even though you miss life before your baby, you wouldn’t change your new life for anything.

I wish someone told me.

I’m telling you because maybe if someone told me that the first few months of raising a baby were going to be the hardest, most emotional, months in my life, then I wouldn’t have felt so alone. Maybe if someone told me it was okay to cry and maybe if someone told me that it was okay to think that I’d made a mistake, then maybe I wouldn’t have wondered if I was normal.

I’m telling you, you’re normal.

Seeing your baby smile, hearing them laugh, and watching them grow truly are the most rewarding moments in your life. Don’t let these moments pass you by. Because before you realize it, they’re crawling, walking, running. And before you know it, they’re going off to kindergarten with their backpack and lunchbox, waving goodbye.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing more than just “baby blues,” please contact a doctor. Postpartum depression is a real disease. Moms (and dads) can experience an extended period of sadness after their child is born. The sun will rise again and you will feel better, I promise.

Cookbook Review: Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard

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I’m in love with this cookbook. Not only do the pictures make me want to jump on a plane and fly direct to South Korea, but the recipes are as legit as they come. I have looked at several Korean cookbooks, as well as, own a few, and this one takes the cake, by far.

The photography hits you as soon as you open the book. After a few pages of fabulous photos, there are two introductions from the authors, Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard. Both of whom love to eat, and cook, Korean food. These guys seem really cool and down to earth. I think that is what makes this cookbook so special. The recipes are detailed and clear. They were written for everyone, not just Koreans. Even if you have never cooked Korean food, you will be able to follow this book with the help of ingredient descriptions, as well as, ingredient pictures.

I wish I had this book while I was in Korea, it really would have helped me with ordering at Korean restaurants and trying to figure out what was what when I went to five-day markets. The cookbook even tells you where you can order the ingredients online. Or if you are lucky, like me, you live close to a Koreatown and are able to go there to buy your ingredients.

You really will learn a lot about Korean culture and food by reading this cookbook. Yes, I said reading because there are a ton of Q & A sections, along with Korean restaurant descriptions that are located across the United States. There are also short stories at the start of  each chapter and each recipe.  Koreatown is more than a cookbook: It’s a Korean experience.

As I have already said, twice, the photos can’t be beat in Koreatown: A Cookbook. I will say it again because sometimes something has to be said three times. The photos are awesome. I love how most of the recipes have pictures that accompany them. Not only do the pictures make me hungry, but they also make me want to try the recipes because I know what the dish is supposed to look like when it is finished. I am a visual learner and having photos accompany foods that are semi-foreign to me help me in the cooking process. Speaking of photos, I did try out a recipe and took a photo of it for you to enjoy.

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Alright, so I didn’t make anything too crazy hard. I made “The Best Instant Ramyun on Earth.” (Raymun is also know as Ramen in America.) I know you’re laughing, but Koreans take their Ramyun very seriously. When I was in Korea, I ate Ramyun a lot at home, but I never ordered it at a restaurant. I would always say, “Why would I order Ramyun when that’s the one thing I can cook for myself at home?” Boy, was I wrong! I should have tried some of the crazy concoctions Koreans cooked up with Ramyun. The one above is made with cheese and egg: It was good until the last spoonful.

Other recipes your will find in this cookbook include: kimchi and banchan; rice, noodles, and dumplings; barbecue: grilled, smoked, and fried; drinking food; soups, stews, and braises; drinks; and desserts. Every Korean recipe you have been looking for is probably in this cookbook. Koreatown is the end all be all of Korean cookbooks, take my word for it.

If you have any interest in Korean cooking, or South Korea in general, you should buy Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard. It will be on sale on February 16, 2016.

Bio from Random House:

This is not your average soft-focus “journey to Asia” kind of cookbook. Koreatown is a spicy, funky, flavor-packed love affair with the grit and charm of Korean cooking in America. Koreatowns around the country are synonymous with mealtime feasts and late-night chef hangouts, and Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard show us why with stories, interviews, and over 100 delicious, super-approachable recipes.

Friday Five

  1. It has been a warm (ish), rainy week over here in Maryland. Most of the snow is gone. This will make house hunting easier this weekend. We saw four houses last weekend and we will be keeping an eye on one. Four more to see this weekend. So many houses, so little time. Hoping to find the perfect house soon.
  2. Jimmie’s naps are still sporadic, but I am seeing some improvement. His vegetable intake is also improving. The thing is, he will only eat one brand of broccoli. I kid you not. I kind of had a feeling he only liked one kind, but I was having trouble finding it/remembering to get it. Finally, I spotted some at the Harris Teeter near us. He has had more veggies in the past week than he had had in the past two months.
  3. The Bachelor ended on a cliff hanger this week. Olivia can’t be as bad as they are portraying her, but I don’t think she is the one for Ben. I don’t even see chemistry between them. At least this season is going way better than last season. Although the preview for next week looks a little controversial. Does anyone else think the twins look like Taylor Swift? Even their facial expressions are the same. Sometimes I read The Bachelor blog. This week was one of those weeks where I really wanted to read about how Ben reacted to the episode.
  4. I received a really awesome Korean cookbook, Koreatown: A Cookbook, to review, in the mail. I can’t wait to share my thoughts next week. Just looking at it made me salivate. The pictures are amazing. Oddly enough, Shin Ramyun was on sale this week at the commissary. I made a ramyun recipe yesterday and it was scrumptious! Waiting for it to cool was rather difficult because it smelled so good.
  5. Curvy Barbie was announced recently by mattel. The fact that people are calling it “curvy” Barbie is kind of offensive in my eyes. According to Megham Daum from the L.A. Times: Curvy, tall, and petite Barbies are not going to solve the issues everyone has with Barbie. And I agree. Are children going to write to Santa that they want a “regular/skinny Barbie” for Christmas or “a fat Barbie.” Because basically, now girls can just compare their “curvy” Barbies to regular Barbies, which will ultimately cause even more body insecurities. I personally wasn’t offended by Barbie and her small body. She’s a doll and a toy and I thought of her just as that. Maybe if we stop magnifying what Barbie means, and come back to reality, then maybe kids wouldn’t compare themselves to a doll.

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Reasons Why My Toddler Cried Yesterday

Having a toddler is more frustrating than not. I’m not going to lie, half the time I don’t know what Jimmie wants and when I do know, he still isn’t satisfied. I know there are a  ton of these “Why My Child is Crying” posts, but I figured I would do my own.  (Just for my own sanity, and yours.) I try to remind myself, daily, that toddlers can’t help their tantrums, and we can’t help but (sometimes) laugh, while their not looking.

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Reasons why my toddler cried on February 2, 2016:

  • Because he didn’t want me to take him out of his crib when he woke up.
  • Because I didn’t make breakfast fast enough.
  • Because I made an English muffin instead of a waffle for breakfast.
  • Because he threw his English muffin on the floor and I didn’t pick it up fast enough.
  • Because I wouldn’t hold him while he drank his milk.
  • Because I wouldn’t let him put his feet on the table.
  • Because I wouldn’t let him play with his high chair.
  • Because I looked at my tablet while he was independently reading.
  • Because I wanted to take a selfie with him.
  • Because he spilled his juice and he wanted me to clean it up.
  • Because he wanted the sock I cleaned his juice up with.
  • Because he wanted the lights turned back off at library time.
  • Because he wanted more of my snack and I had already finished it.
  • Because he didn’t want to nap.
  • Because he wanted a snack that I was throwing away because it was stale.
  • Because I wouldn’t let him eat dinner until it cooled in the freezer for a minute.
  • Because he wanted my spoon at dinner.
  • Because I wouldn’t let him stand on the couch.
  • Because I wouldn’t let him put Daddy’s cell phone charger in his mouth.
  • Because he didn’t want to take a bath.
  • Because he didn’t want to get out of the bath.

Honestly, though, yesterday was a good day. Jimmie had a blast at library time. (The last two times we went he cried.) And even though he didn’t nap in his crib, he fell asleep in the Ergo so I was able to watch The Bachelor while he slept (little victories.) After his nap, we went for frozen yogurt for the first time. He enjoyed it even though he hates cold food/drinks. Since he napped, he wasn’t a grump at dinner and didn’t throw his plate on the floor.

At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves of these little blessings, our own small victories. This is a hard season, folks. But when Jimmie is snuggled up on me, I try to remind myself, that soon, he won’t need me as much. Plus, today is a new day.

Book Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

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Set in a rural town in Iowa, this murder mystery is a must read. Jack hasn’t been back to his hometown of Penny Gate for more than 20 years. After hearing about his aunt’s accident, him and his wife, Sarah leave their home in Montana to return to the place where Jack grew up. Jack’s past and family are mysteries to Sarah. She doesn’t know much and  she soon finds out that what little information she does know, isn’t even true. What happened to Jack’s parents all of those years ago? What kind of information could Jack possibly be hiding?

There’s nothing like a good thriller to warm you up on a chilly, winter day. Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf will keep you on the edge of your seat and make your blood boil. In this who-done-it novel, everyone is under suspicion. When Sarah flies to Penny Gate with her husband, she has no idea that she is about to learn about unsolved murder cases and ex-girlfriends, among other things. With so many characters, it really could be anyone.

I thoroughly enjoyed Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf.  This mystery is creepy, suspenseful, and creative. Unsolved mysteries are fun to read because you are engaged the entire time. The author really kept me questioning everyone in this novel. As clues are discovered, I kept changing my mind on who was guilty. Trying to put the pieces together in my mind was challenging and entertaining.

I think Missing Pieces did lack some character development. Since there are so many characters, it is hard to learn much about everyone, even the main character, Sarah. I wasn’t rooting for a particular person to be innocent or guilty. I just didn’t feel that connection with the characters.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fit Snack January 2016 Box Review

Happy February! It is time for my January Fit Snack Box Review. It wasn’t as jam packed with goodies as December, but still included some great stuff!

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Good Day Chocolates Energy: I always love a good piece of chocolate. I couldn’t eat these, but my husband said they tasted like the chocolate eggs with shells that you have around Easter. The chocolates are made from energy, sleep, and calming nutrients. Calming chocolate is pretty much the best invention ever. Right next to sleep chocolate. I’m in love with the idea! New moms NEED these!

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Fruit Bliss Apricot Minis: I didn’t want to stop eating these, but I decided to save them to see if my 21 month old would like them. He is not a big fruit eater, but he might just likes these dried apricots. They are non-GMO, gluten free, kosher, and vegan. They are even infused with water making the “dried fruit” not dry at all.

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Clif Bar Hot Chocolate: This is the first Clif Bar I have ever had. It kind of tasted like a brownie, as well as, having the taste of a regular power bar. Made with organic ingredients!

Nurtiblade Beverage: I haven’t tried this yet. It is a wheatgrass drink. It is non-GMO and gluten free.

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Morning Sunshine Cookie: Morning Sunshine makes great cookies! It is high in protein and high in fiber. Go on, give it to your kids! It’s a good-for-you cookie.

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Miracle Tree Tea: A perfect month to include tea in the box. I can’t wait to try these herbal teas that include nutritional ingredients.

Veggie Go’s: My 21 month old also isn’t big on veggies. I am going to try this snack with him. He will sometimes eat sweet potatoes, so I’m thinking it will be a win.

Genisis Today Drink Mix: There were two drink mixes in the box. They sound pretty good. The mix blends 75 super foods and include probiotics and enzymes for healthy digestion.

Green Guru Energizer: 100 % natural, vegan energy supplement. I probably won’t be using this.

I love, love, love trying new, healthy snacks from Fit Snack every month. I get so excited to see my box arrive right at my front door. As a busy mom, trying to eat healthy is easier said than done. I enjoy not having to worry about shopping for healthy snacks since I get a ton every single month in the mail. Not only can you have your Fit Snack box sent to your house, you could also send it to your work. You can stick the box right into the desk for easy snacking throughout the month. Nothing beats not having to go to a vending machine for a bag of chips. If you have been thinking about trying out Fit Snack, now is the time to do it. Even if you didn’t achieve you fitness goals in January, February is a brand new month to start eating healthy.

For your chance to WIN a free Fit Snack box, head on over to their contest page here. There is a chance to win every month. Enter today so that you can start snacking healthy tomorrow!

I was sent a Fit Snack box in exchange for an honest review. All of the options are my own. Thanks Fit Snack!