The Middle Matters. An Earnest Book Review.

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“Because grilled cheese without the middle is just toast.”

– Lisa-Jo Baker, The Middle Matters

Having been a fan of Lisa-Jo Baker since Surprised By Motherhood, I was thrilled to receive her recent book to review.  Lisa-Jo has an amazing way of storytelling that takes your life, intertwines it with hers and once you put one of her books down, you feel forever connected.  The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Good On You definitely delivers true to Lisa-Jo form.  It is honest, loving, filter-free and raw; when I read that last line of the final page, I closed the book and again, felt connected forever.

This book consists of truth-telling letters/essays to the middle parts of Lisa-Jo’s life; from the middle of her muffin top, to the middle of her failures.  She shares stories of motherhood and marriage that will leave you in tears; laughing tears, sad tears, happy tears and realizing you are not alone tears.   Lisa-Jo takes the hard parts of life and makes them bearable, especially when you know someone out there has experienced the same.  I love the idea of building villages by sharing our stories, this book was made to build villages; villages made up of all of us here in our middles.

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I remember as a teenager Chicken Soup for the Soul books were all the rage, they were the books I read at my beginning – I love food so this will be a food metaphor – Chicken Soup for the Soul was like my appetizer in life and The Middle Matters is the main course, right in the middle of appetizers and desserts.  It is a hearty helping of comfort food that is necessary in this middle life of ours.  A warm serving of exactly what we need to remember, the scale is not the boss of us and we are the boss of our own emotions.  It brings delicious satisfaction to read Lisa-Jo’s words and know that she has been there too sister, and together we can all get through it.  This middle part is not always easy, often quite busy but is so worth remembering.  She reminds us not to rush through the middle just to get to the end, we must finish our main course before the dessert.  Slowing down to try and see the days as they pass is totally worth it.  Worth every moment.  Lisa-Jo dedicates the book to her late mother whom she says taught her: the harder the moment, the greater the story.  I love this.  Let’s savor those hard moments so we can share great stories with our fellow and future middle mamas.

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This book is one I wish I could buy for every woman I know, whether in the beginning of the middle, the middle of the middle or the end – we all need a book like this.  The Middle Matters is everywhere you can buy books, get out there and grab one for yourself and a few girlfriends!

Stay tuned to my Instagram for an (extra)ordinary giveaway next week!!

x. earnest mom.

The Middle Matters is published by Waterbrook and Multnomah and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance reader copy for my honest opinion.

 

An Earnest Summer!

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This summer is FLYING by!  Sorry the posts have been sparse – we are enjoying the weather and this hot season.  We have been keeping busy with our local zoo, libraries, bowling and even took in a movie.  I have to admit, with a school-ager it is tough to keep the interest, allow some boredom, all without allowing the craziness to take the days over.

This summer, we decided on a different approach.   Instead of trying to do BIG things like travel or get out everyday, we made a weekly schedule.  A schedule easy enough to change if necessary but also help with the dreaded summer “brain drain” (we have a great article on these tips coming up next week by one of our moms in the Earnest Mom Squad).  We decided weekends would still be the break so we assigned regular activities for the weekdays.  Mondays we have a fun class on self regulation and practicing hand writing, Tuesdays our local library has a free special event that we attend, Wednesdays are backyard days, Thursdays are baking afternoons and par kour classes in the evenings, and Fridays are science experiments day.

Tuesdays, our local libraries have been great.  We have seen magic shows, balloon shows, local baseball teams, the traveling zoo and bouncing play times.  All free and it is fun to get out and let the kids play in a new space with new activities each week.  Wednesday’s backyard day is literally time playing in the yard – nothing too special and sometimes we fill up the kiddie pool.  We usually get out everyday, at least the kids do but this is a special time where we all go out together and I may garden or rest my swelling feet and the earnest littles get to run and play to their hearts content.  All before rest time of course to help the nap process along.

On Thursdays when Earnest Babe takes her two hour nap, Earnest Boy gets up from his 20 minute rest and him and I bake together.  The first week was GREAT, we baked this Starbucks Copy Cat Banana Bread recipe (from myfrugaladeventures.com) with the bananas that my children will not eat once they have freckled, we substituted chocolate chips for the walnuts and enjoyed it for four or five days.  It was delicious.  The second Thursday, we tried our hand at strawberry jam with the strawberries we picked earlier that morning.  We made this recipe from www.intimateweddings.com.  The whole process took a lot longer than we had thought but the result was yummy plus it did not use pectin, only sugar and lemon juice.  The last two weeks we had family in from out of town so we did not bake but today we are back in the swing of things with Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies.  We are using the classic Nestle Tollhouse Recipe (not my french aunt’s recipe for you Friends fans out there) and using all organic ingredients.  The baking day was created at the request of Earnest Boy, I was surprised he was interested in cooking but he is home with me all summer and I love baking and cooking.

Our Science Fridays have been so much fun!!  Once again, we wait until Earnest Babe is napping so we can focus on the experiments at hand.  Now before you get to thinking this Earnest Mom has crazy organization skills and creativity to plan and execute educational science experiments, hold on.  We decided to purchase a monthly subscription for the summer to The Spangler Science Club.  They send you 1-10 experiments a month that are focused on STEM and growing the curiosities of 7-14 year-olds.  So far we have grown polymers, experimented with the grown polymers, grown crystals and currently we are on a polymer alligator growth watch.  This post is not sponsored, we just are loving the Spangler Science Subscription and feel that you get a lot of bang for your buck no matter the price level subscription that is chosen.

This summer, I feel as though I am not feeling pressure any day or week to keep kids entertained – they know what to expect each day and we get excited for every activity we do together.  All days, the activity is not a full day event so we are able to spend free time together and time that is scheduled.  I feel a lot less stressed!!! Any earnest followers have some fun activities planned for their little or big ones this summer to keep the boredom and/or summer crazies to a low?  Please share.

x. earnest mom.

Bookroo Shares Their Holidays Favorites!

Hello my earnest followers! I am SO excited to bring you this wonderful guest blog written by one of the co-founders of Bookroo. If you aren’t familiar with Bookroo, it is a parent based company who’s passion is to bring literacy to all children through their monthly (and very cost effective) subscription box. Enjoy and have an earnestly wonderful holiday weekend.  Be sure to check out my exclusive discount code for all your holiday book shopping needs!

x.

earnest mom.

Don’t you love this time of year? The weather is turning cooler, though we haven’t yet had to slog through three months of ice and sleet. Instead, we eagerly await the first snowfall that will blanket the world in white. Then it’s time to bundle up, grab the snowman accessories, and head outside for an afternoon playing in the snow. Once our snowman is crowned with his black top hat, we head back inside to warm up with a warm cup of hot chocolate, cozied up on the couch sharing some of our favorite holiday children’s books.
  
Which books are those, you ask? Well, we’re glad you did.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

While we love the illustrated movie with its wonderful, memorable songs, we also love the original storybook. With creative illustrations and rhymes that only Dr. Seuss can craft, we love seeing the grumpy old Grinch discover the true spirit of Christmas.

The Polar Express

Beautifully illustrated, this magical story by Chris Van Allsburg captures the nostalgia and warmth of the holiday season like few others. Train rides, falling snow, warm lights, and jolly people combine to make this a Christmas classic. (Following up our reading of the book with listening to Josh Groban’s “Believe” especially puts us in the holiday mood.)

The Wild Christmas Reindeer

A favorite from my own childhood, Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer provides us a lighthearted holiday favorite that teaches a lesson I’ve always appreciated: it’s better to be kind than bossy. Along with enjoying Brett’s distinctive illustrations, we like the Advent calendar provided on each page showing how the elves are busily preparing for Christmas.

Next to reading our favorite Christmas stories, holiday shopping is another favorite activity of ours. Not, as the Grinch so eloquently learns, so that we “get.” Instead, we look forward to the holidays as a time to share thoughtful, meaningful gifts with others.
  
We hope Bookroo has a place on your list of meaningful gifts this year. Few gifts, if any, are more impactful and long lasting than the gift of reading. At Bookroo, we celebrate the gift of reading all year round, but we especially like to share and celebrate it during the holidays.
And a Bookroo box makes a delightful addition to any pile of presents under the tree. Lovingly wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper, your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend will be thrilled to unwrap our hand-selected books this Christmas morning. And when you choose a three- or six-month subscription, your gift will continue to bring excitement and develop a love of reading in your little “roo” well into the new year.

  
We hope this holiday season brings you wonderful opportunities for giving meaningful gifts, playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying good books! If you’d like to gift a Bookroo box, follow this link to save $4 on your purchase. http://bit.ly/1VtadEe  

Happy holidays from all of us at Bookroo!