Friday, August 22, 2014

Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway -- Book Review

Book Description: "Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, is on the fast track to tenure--that is, until her new book is roasted by the famous historian Ransom Fielding in a national review. With her career stalled by a man she's never met, Shelby struggles to maintain her composure when she discovers that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her small Southern college. Ransom Fielding is still struggling with his role in his wife's accidental death six years ago and is hoping that a year at Shelby's small college near his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, will be a respite from the pressures of Ivy League academia. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman whose career--and pride--he injured, and who would do anything to make him leave. When these two hotheaded Southerners find themselves fighting over the centuries-old history of local battles and antebellum mansions, their small college is about to become a battlefield of Civil War proportions. With familiar and relatable characters and wit to spare, this book shows you that love can conquer all...especially when pride, prejudice, love and cheese grits are involved!"

This story is laugh-out-loud funny! Totally loved it. This is the second by this author that I've read and I just love how she has a way of making me want to jump to the last page. I very rarely feel the urge to prematurely find out how it all ends, but Hathaway is excellent at building anticipation. I regularly felt my breath caught in my chest. 

"Cheese Grits" is an excellent modern-day retelling of Austen's, Pride and Prejudice. It was so hard not to put Kiera Knightley's and Matthew MacFadyen's faces on the characters of Shelby and Ransom. Yes, I know, everyone thinks the BBC version is better---but MacFadyen completely makes the Hollywood version. Swoon! 

This is one of those rare books that is so fun to read that you don't want to put it down. I love how she makes some characters so hateable. She has a way with dialogue that really develop her characters' strong personalities and her humor is just awesome. The turkey plucking story on page 268 TOTALLY cracked me up!

I've been getting to know the author on Facebook as we found out we used to live just minutes from one another in Oregon. The more I get to know her, the more I can hear her voice in this story. It's so fun to read books by people you know. Can't wait for more!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Wellness Fun in Northwest Arkansas {Pea Ridge Battlefield Adventure} #BalanceRewards #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalanceRewards #CollectiveBias
All my life I have wanted to live in a place rich with history and full of beautiful walking trails and mysterious forests to explore. The idea of quietly slipping down paths that hundreds of thousands of people have walked on before me has always been intriguing. Now that we're living here in Northwest Arkansas, I'm finding my dream coming true as our family explores more and more of the beautiful area around us. It's easier to work toward our health goals when we've got such a gorgeous place in which to make healthy choices.

The Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices app is great for keeping track of my wellness goals. Once you've got the Walgreens app installed, you can find the healthy choices option at the bottom left of the screen. Click through to access lots of options for tracking your health goals. You'll earn Balance Rewards points by completing your goals, and be able to see how far you've come from where you started.

One of my health goals is to eat foods that will help me feel awake and positive throughout the day. Walgreens has a nice selection of filling and healthy foods that will energize me and help me feel great. I found these fun little cups of oatmeal and thought they'd be good for my breakfast. The older kids are in charge of making breakfast for everyone while I do my morning blog stuff, which means I often get so busy afterward that I skip the morning meal. These little oatmeal servings will be a quick and easy way to give me some good morning energy.

I also found this double-walled drink cup in the kitchen section at Walgreens. I find that I drink a lot more water when I'm drinking from a straw, and it's always fun to drink your water when you've got a pretty cup!

In addition to healthy eating, I also like to get out and move! I've spent a lot of years cooped up in the house and making excuses not to be active. There are so many fun things here to see and do and I don't want to miss out! The Walgreens app is designed to make that easier by keeping track of fitness, as well as several other wellness goals like, steps taken, weight loss, sleep, water intake, and more. My favorite parts of this app include the steps tracker and the water intake tracker.

 On Saturday, our family drove out to the Pea Ridge National Military Park. It's the most well-preserved Civil War battlefield in America, and it's just minutes from our front door. We had no idea what to expect, and were totally blown away by the beauty and history we found there. The park has walking, biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails, as well as a car path to get you to the most beautiful spots faster. It's only seven miles all the way around, but we spent five hours enjoying it.

At one point, I found a sign indicating that a portion of the Trail of Tears was preserved there in the park. Growing up, I was reminded, time and again, of our ancestors' trip down the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. It was an amazing experience to be walking it now, over 180 years later, with my children.

Later in the day, the kids and I took this path, the original Telegraph Road, that runs through the park and served as a main road even long before the war. I'm telling you---with something as awesome as this to venture down, I'm going to have legs of steel before long!

Just like the Pea Ridge park is carrying on the legacy of it's amazing history, I want to leave a legacy to my own family. I want them to have seen me enjoying myself outdoors and reaching goals that are important to me. What kinds of goals have you made for your own healthy lifestyle?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Having Children Early Saved My Marriage {A Shout Out to the Dillards---Congrats!}

Derick and Jill (Duggar) Dillard have just announced they're expecting their first baby. Fans of the show, 19 and Counting, couldn't be happier and critics couldn't be more vicious. I don't know why we're always compelled to read the comments in a "controversial" article. I guess there's something in us, deep down, that wants to know where our viewpoints lie in relation to the rest of society. I find I'm usually in the minority---shocker, right?

Many are saying it's too soon, after their wedding only two months ago, to be announcing a pregnancy. Many others are saying things I won't repeat. Lots of well-meaning Christian-folk are saying, "Well, I'm happy for them, but it's too bad they couldn't enjoy being married first."

Ah, yes. Because once the babies start coming, your marriage is never the same again. They change everything. No more freedom. No more sleeping in late or romantic dinner dates. No more "just the two of us".

Jamie and I heard these exact same sentiments when we discussed having a family right after our wedding. Thank God we didn't listen to the haters. If we had, there's no way we'd be married right now and what's more, we probably wouldn't have the slightest interest in serving the Lord, either.

Our society is so turned around from what God intended, that we're accusing the very things that were meant to keep us together of being the things that are tearing us apart. Children are meant to seal a man and woman together as a family. They're the one flesh that is created when the two become one. They bring a married couple hope. They solidify their future. They give us a reason to stay together when all we want to do is run. 

When I was 11 or 12 and my parents were talking about divorcing, I remember the topic of "staying together for the kids" was a big one. I used to think that was so pointless. If you can't work it out, then what's the point of staying together just for us, I'd think. Now I think differently. Sometimes we're so caught up in our own pride, selfishness, and frustration, that the kids are the only reason we're not walking out the door---and that's totally ok.

Jamie and I married young---even younger than the Dillards. He was barely 19 and I was still 18. We didn't know much about keeping a marriage together, we didn't know how to communicate, we didn't understand traditional roles, we didn't comprehend how big of a part God should play in a marriage. All we knew was that we desperately wanted to do things differently than our divorced parents had. We wanted this marriage thing to work.

Everything was peachy until Lynzie showed up four months after my twentieth birthday. Suddenly, I was faced with something massive that neither I, nor anyone close to me, understood: post-partum depression. After that, Jamie and I went through trial after trial. I'll save you the details, but I'm bringing it up to make this point:

  • The thing that saved me from cheating on Jamie with an old boyfriend? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that brought me home after drinking all night with friends? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that made me stop being physically abusive to my family? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that pulled me off the train tracks on a particularly bad night? Baby Michael.

  • The thing that caused me to quit working and focus my attention at home? Baby Elisha.

  • The thing that helped me realize it was ok to be a feminine lady? Baby Selah.

  • The thing that completely turned this whole mothering thing around? Baby Hope in Heaven.

  • The thing that is teaching me not to take this "baby a year" thing for granted? Baby Brenna.

As a large, homeschooling family living in Northwest Arkansas, we and the Duggars have several mutual friends and acquaintances. We were at a party earlier this summer and the Duggars and Dillards were also in attendance. Like most monthly-weds, Jill and Derrick were receiving lots of congratulatory hugs and smiles. Like most monthly-weds, they had that starry-eyed look that so many people think goes away after time. 

Critics, well-meaning or not, think the Dillards, and other families like them, are losing something by having children right away. Oh, how very wrong they are! Derick and Jill have everything to gain by solidifying their marriage with children. Children bring a Christian marriage stability, focus, and direction like nothing else can. 

Because, even one of America's supposedly "perfect" children is going to have days when all she wants to do is punch him.

Linking with:
Thursday Favorite Things @ Katherine's Corner
Thriving Thursday @ Serving Joyfully
Homeacre Hop   
Think Tank Thursday @ Saving4Six 
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home 
Create It Thursday
Open House @ Bernideen's Tea Time Blog 
Share Your Cup Thursday @ Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Inspiration Friday @ Dear Creatives
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Pintastic Party
Friendship Friday