Sunday, October 15, 2017

Just Like Family by Tasha Blaine ~ Book Review

Just like family follows 3 very different nannies from 3 different areas in the U.S.A. The author got to know these nannies and wrote their stories over 5 years. First there was Claudia who was the inspiration for the book. She was a nanny who came from the Caribbean to New York City, leaving behind an infant son with family, so that she could make a better life for them by sending home money. Supporting herself and a daughter born in the States, she was a calm woman who handled things by not handling them, a nanny who didn't interfere with the decisions of the family she cared for, who knew how to disappear when there was tension or family fighting. Working long hours day after day, she had a secret dream of getting her GED and applying to nursing school.

 Then there was Vivian, a young, spirited nanny from Boston taking care of twin boys from birth, who was very driven, take charge and was not shy about telling her parents her opinion and what she felt was best for "her" boys. She was strict but also very loving. The boys were her world. Now they were growing up and she was struggling with her place within the family.

 Kim was a nanny from Texas who found her marriage on the rocks and was now finding work to survive. A live in nanny position was what she needed and being hired by a young couple about to expect seemed the perfect answer. But nothing was right about the job, nothing was turning out as expected or promised and Kim feels stuck having signed a year contract.

 I picked up this book because I was interested in the topic being a child care provider myself. While I am not a nanny looking after the children in just one family in their own home (I can have up to 6 different families at once and care is in my home) there are similarities and I could relate to lots of different parts and experiences of the nannies. I really liked how the author told the stories of 3 very different women in personality from 3 very different backgrounds working for 3 very different families. But the thing they had in common was their love for the children in their care. The book, though non-fiction, is written in a very easy storytelling style which made it so easy to read, not at all like slogging through a non-fiction book full of facts. It was real, relatable and had me tearing up in a few spots for the situations. Really enjoyed this read and would recommend it for anyone who is looking to understand the world of nannies, child care, and the hard to navigate relationships of nannies and the parents.

I gave this a 9.5/10

Quote that I totally connected with: 

"Like Claudia, Vivian, and Kim, this nanny in the park gave a part of herself that she would never get back.  For most nannies, the ability to love is part of the job.  And when her time is up with one family, a great nanny takes that love with her.  She keeps pictures of her old charges on her refrigerator or continues to tell stories about them to friends or just pauses once in a while and sighs, remembering a moment they shared or a funny thing a child might have said.  She puts her love in a box, shores it away, and labels it for that one specific child.  Then she opens herself up again for the next child, for the next family.  She starts the process of love and loss all over again."

Just Like Family
Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents they Work for,
and the Children They Love
by Tasha Blaine
pg. 19

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #451

Is it Friday already?  Holy smokes where did that week go?  Good thing I have Friday's Fave Five to slow down and notice my blessings and good things from the last week.  Join us as we share 5 of them.

Thanksgiving celebrations.  Last weekend was Canada's Thanksgiving celebrations.   I love that Canada does theirs early in the fall.  It totally helps focus us on being thankful and grateful for all the good things in our lives.  There is no shopping hoopla, Christmas rush, and the stress that the beginning of Christmas month brings.  


Family that made it home.  As the kids have grown up and gone off to live their lives, holidays are getting harder to have everyone home every single holiday.  This year we missed my oldest daughter and her husband, as they couldn't make the 6 1/2 drive due to work commitments. But my son made it home for the weekend which was awesome and of course, my youngest daughter who lives at home was here.  My mom came for dinner as did my sister and her family.  It was really nice and I was grateful for those who made it safe and sound.  

Turkey that turned out perfect.  Every year I stress about the turkey.  And this year was no exception.  I bought a huge one thinking I might have 3 extra coming but it turned out they couldn't make it.  So here I was with this huge turkey.  But I went on the Alberta turkey website and followed their cooking instruction times and it turned out absolutely perfect.  I have to say, it was the most relaxed holiday dinner cook I have ever had.  Everything was done right on time. And the huge turkey was a bonus because, hello, leftover turkey buns!  Yummy!

Pear Crisp.  Crisp is one of my favorite all time desserts.  I ran across this recipe earlier in the week and thought I'd give it a try for one of our Thanksgiving desserts.  It was an hit with everyone.  So delicious.  And bonus for me, crisps are easy and no fuss.  I never would have thought to use pears had I not seen this recipe.  It's a keeper dessert for sure.  

Day of rest.  In Canada, Thanksgiving day is actually the Monday.  But I hosted the dinner on the Saturday, we went to the other one on Sunday which gave us a wonderful day to sleep in, cozy up with blankets, coffee and books and not be rushed.  It was wonderful.

What were your favorite blessings from you week?

Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #450

Welcome to Fave Fives.  It's Friday so that means we take a pause and take note of some of the blessings from this last week.  It has been a very emotional week for most us so it is especially good to find some good things in our lives.  Please join on in.

Miracles and heroes rising to the surface.  In the midst of the tragedy of Los Vegas and the scary attack in Edmonton I have really been uplifted by the amazing stories of courage, love and selflessness that have come out of the ugliness.  I understand it needs to be reported on but I sure wish news programs would focus way more on the good stuff that comes out of people rather than the constant rehashing and speculation directed towards the evil act and the person who did it.  The true heroes of the tragedy deserve way more air time than the evil in my opinion.  

Grace and understanding when mistakes are made.  I misplaced something important this week, and by misplaced I really mean the darn item literally has pulled a Houdini and disappeared!  I have given myself a tension headache in trying to find it all day and was so nervous to admit it to the person involved.  They extended much understanding towards me which meant everything.  I still haven't found the thing, I can't imagine what on earth I could have done with it, but I am very thankful for the mercy.

Hard working hubby who was out while it was still dark shovelling the massive amount of wet snow off our huge driveway making it safe for the arrival of the dayhome families.  And then he went and shoveled my mom's huge driveway.  I so appreciate him getting out there and doing that.  He's a good man.

J.R.Watkins Medicated Ointment .  My knee has been aching for over a month.  It's been acting weird and I really need to go get it checked.  But meanwhile the owner at my gym gave me a good amount of this stuff to see if it would help.  And it does seem to be helping.  I have to use it a few times a day but it makes it so I can get to sleep and then to be able to do my work in the day.  It has helped my husband's sore and aching shoulder too.  So grateful she shared with me something that helps aches and pains.

Chatter of children learning to talk.  I love when kids start to talk.  The way they talk and form their words and sentences is so cute and when they say my name I just melt.  One of the great parts of my job.

What were some good things from your week this week?

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada.  I want to wish all my Canadian friends a Happy Thanksgiving filled with lots of love and friends and family.  

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck ~ Book Review

Writing is in Tenley Roth's blood.  At least that is what she is hoping.  Her great grandfather, grandfather and father were all writers.  And Tenley is now a runaway bestseller awarded with the very award that is named after her grandfather.  Under pressure from her publisher, Tenley now sits with writer's block.  No matter how hard she tries, she can't even begin a second novel.  The first was her heart poured out in grief over the death of her father, who raised Tenley alone since she was 5.  Who does she think she is trying to follow in his footsteps?

Then out of the blue, Tenley hears from her estranged mother who wants her to come care for her while she goes through chemo.  Tenley can't believe the gall of the woman who abandoned her so many years ago but under pressure from both her writing, or rather lack of it, and her "fiance" to go to Paris, Tenley takes a chance and goes to Florida in the hopes of restoring some kind of relationship with her mother and gaining some sort of inspiration to write.  There she finds an old antique desk in her mom's family home that she quickly hopes will become her spark.  But when a guy named Jonas Sullivan tries to take it claiming her mother sold it to him, Tenley literally falls all over it.

A century before a young woman named Birdie also had wrote at the desk.  She grew up in the Gilded age and was the daughter of very rich parents and a mother who arranged a marriage for Birdie so that she herself could climb the heirarchy of New York.  But Birdie has a dream to be a writer but does she have the courage to make those dreams come true?

This was my first story by this author.  I must admit that it was the cover that totally drew me to this book.  It is beautiful.  I did enjoy this duel time line historical romance.  The stories of both women were engaging and drew me right in, though I must admit the whole nature of the attitudes of the gilded age made me want to throw the book at times(not because the author didn't write it well, she certainly did).  How could people have acted like that?  Yeesh.  But the author did a lovely job in describing the time.  You could tell it was well researched and I really felt for Birdie who was a young lady ahead of her time.  I also felt for Tenley and the pressure she was feeling and could totally relate to her way of handling it.  I kinda really loved the way Tenley and Jonas related to each other, in a bit of a sarcastic tone, and laughed aloud a few times with their dialogue.  I did, though have a couple of eye roll moments with some of the attraction thoughts wondering if that is really how young people think nowadays.  LOL.  But it was a really nice double time line story and I loved how the author connected the two women and their stories.

I gave this a great 8.5/10

Monday, October 02, 2017

My heart hurts today.  Prayers are with the victims and their families in the Edmonton, Alberta and Las Vegas attacks on the weekend.

Well, I guess I can pack away the shorts and tank tops now.   Yikes.

But seriously, it's just winter playing the whiplash game with us and teasing us.
Friday is supposed to be 19*C (66*F)

It is Southern Alberta, after all.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Orchard of Hope by Ann H. Gabhart ~ Book Review

Orchard of Hope is the 2nd book in the Holyhill Series.  It picks up and continues the story of young Jocie Brooks (started in Scent of Lilacs reviewed here).    Lots is changing in the lives of the Brooke family and in the town of Holyhill.  Jocie is starting high school, her sister Tabitha is about to have her baby, her father may just be falling in love with a wonderful lady, Wes has moved into their home while he recuperates from his shattered leg, which Jocie feels totally responsible for). On top of all this a new family has moved into town and bought the farm land from a loving older couple, hoping to turn it into an apple orchard.  But trouble starts when people realize the family is not only black but the Mom was heavily involved in protests in the big city they were from and is not about to back down from a civil rights confrontation.  In fact, she almost seems to invite it.   Not only is the town on pins and needles but so is the church as what is really in the hearts of the people starts to rise to the surface and the close knit town starts to see divides forming.

I loved this second book in the series.  Just like the first book, I loved all the characters.  The introduction of the Hearndon family made the story really take a whole other turn, a good one, as the town and it's individuals must face what is in their own hearts.  The orchard of hope, as the family calls the farm they are turning into an apple orchard, is their father's fresh start from everything happening in the bigger city where they are from.  Jocie's father hires the young boy from the family to help at the newspaper while Wes recovers but as he finds out, not everyone thinks he should have.  While the book takes on racial discrimination it also tackles the subject of guilt and forgiving oneself so that you can move on in life.  Like the first book, this is not abook that jumped from action packed chapter to action packed chapter, though it did have some,  but was beautiful story telling.  I gave it a 10/10

Friday's Fave Five #449

Welcome to a lovely fall Friday's Fave Five.  Join our group as we intentionally look for things to be thankful for in our lives from the past week.

Best plum ever!  I picked up these yummy sounding plums from Costco last week.  I mean how could I resist plums that were called Sierra Honey Plums.  Oh my goodness these are the best plums I have ever had.  So sweet and juicy with just the barest hint of tart in the peel.  So good I went back and bought two more boxes in case they don't get anymore.  And they're kind of a heart shape...what's not to love?  ;)

Beautiful warm week.  After a very cold week where we had frost watches a couple of times in the night, this week has been absolutely grand.  The very best of fall:  blue skies, warm weather with that lovely fall cool hint, the leaves are turning color and NO wind!  Just perfect!

Presentations that go well.  I was asked to do a short presentation at church representing Missions and Outreach at our church on Sunday.  It was a fun, informal kind of thing where 5 different areas in church that needed volunteers were represented and gave a short talk, then the pastor asked a few questions.  The idea was to let all the newcomers and those interested where  they could volunteer or help out.  I always get quite nervous whenever I'm asked to do stuff like this, though I have done it for years.  But all went well, I managed not to stick my foot in my mouth and I only forgot one small thing concerning my actual area which is Operation Christmas Child.  Which is ok because I'm up there again in a week to talk about the kick off to that anyway.   From comments received afterwards, people really enjoyed the more casual, chatty kind of format.

Spontaneous lunch out with friends.  Sunday spur of the moment Hubby wanted to invite some friends of ours out for lunch.  Usually these people are very busy and you have to arrange these kinds of things ahead of time.  But this particular Sunday they were available and we enjoyed a really nice lunch out  with them.

Surprise takeout lunch.  Knowing I had an interview for a new family in dayhome at 5:30, my thoughtful Hubby brought  home takeout from the Indian Kitchen.  He knows the interviews are stressful for me and I'm busy prepping beforehand.  It makes for a long day and supper ends up being really late and thrown together or else unhealthy fast food because I don't like stuff cooking when the family is here.  So a good lunch from a restaurant I like was a real nice surprise and a gift.

What were you're favorites this week?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #448

Hello and welcome to the first FFF of fall.  So hard to believe another season has come and gone this year.  I don't know why but it seems like this year has flown by and yet in some aspects it seems like it's been barely chugging along.  But no matter which way it feels, it's always a good time to intentionally be grateful for blessings and good things in our lives.  Join us as we share the top 5 of the week.

In no particular order:

Trying new foods.  I love trying new foods as long as it's not too off the wall (she says as she's watching poor Vanessa Hudgens having to eat rattlesnake on the show Running Wild with Bear Grylls).  I love to try new recipes too and the last little while I've found a few that have been delicious and I will make again.

Zucchini Boats were a huge hit with everyone.  I think I sorta mashed a couple of recipes together to make a buffalo chicken zucchini boat and now I can't remember what I did.  But I don't think you can go wrong with these.  You can do chicken, beef, pork or vegetarian with basically unlimited flavor combinations.  It comes together quickly and looks pretty.  If you use yellow and green zucchini it's so colorful.  Just search zucchini boats on pinterest and you are on your way.

Another dish was this Slow Cooker Creamy Southwest Chicken .  This was definitely a keeper.  So delicious.  As usual I tweaked it a touch by using what I had:  ancho chili powder for the chili powder, and 1 tsp. regular paprika and 1 tsp smoked paprika for the 2 tsps of paprika the recipe called for.  Yum.  I served it with rice ( apparently a huge amount of rice according to the picture.  But my husband is a rice fiend and this was his plate of food.  Ha!).  We ate the leftovers a few days later over egg noodles and it was just as delicious if not better having sat marrying all those good flavors.

I also tried a batch of my homemade spaghetti sauce I've been making with that fantastic tomato harvest from this year over spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  Oh my goodness, who knew this would be so good.   Didn't miss the pasta at all!  And I forgot to get a picture of that though.

So thankful for all the delicious food that is so available to us here.

Lovely flowers on my porch.  My son and youngest daughter had bought me the cute little bike flower pot display for Christmas and I just love it.  The flowers have grown and filled in over the summer and it just makes me happy to drive up and see these on my porch.  Hopefully they will last a little longer now that our night's have cool off a lot.

Finale show of America's Got Talent.  My daughter and I have been watching this show together this year and the finale show where the top 10 competed was especially great.  Such great talent they had on the show this year.  It was so hard to guess who would win because they were all so good.  But the blessing was not only such a great finale but watching the season with my girl.

Fall duvets.  The nights have cooled off enough around here that last week I took off all the lighter summer bedding and put on the fall duvet.  It is so much more comfortable than the summer bedding I was quite excited to be able to put it on.

Church small group kickoff.  Wednesday was our church's night to kick off the start of small groups with a fun night where all the small groups attended together.  There was lots of good visiting, good laughs and good snacks.  It was nice to see some new faces and see all the different groups that are running this year.  It's good to be connected to a smaller group where one can feel supported, accountable and loved.

What were your favorite blessings this week?