22 reading challange // 2022

I’ve always been a very avid reader. I was the kid who got in trouble for reading long into the night. My poor eyesite is actually accredited to laying on one side while reading with my flashlight as a child. (That’s why one eye is doubly as bad as the other.)

I’ve done reading challenges (with Goodreads) since 2014, with anywhere from 150 to 35 books, depending on what stage of life I was in! All that to say, I love to read. This year I did pretty in number, around 45 books, and while I’m happy I read, and it was nice to keep my mind engaged, the quality and content was mostly “fluffy” type reads. Mindless stuff I could fit in while my kiddos napped.

In 2022, I’m looking for a challange, and I’d like learn some things. Focusing a little more on quality and content, over numbers for my list.

So this is my 2022 reading challange. I picked 22 because it is catchy, while also a nice number of challenging works, but leaving some wiggle room for recommendations and other books that catch my fancy.

A couple of these are rereads, but ones I thought were worth the extra time, and I’d like to spend more time getting into them.

2022 reading challange!

These are a mix of memoir, nonfiction, self help, and a couple fiction titles I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

1. The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

2. Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday, by Valerie Woerner

3. Share your Stuff, I’ll go First, by Laura Tremaine

4. Declutter like a mother, by Allie Casazza

5. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

6. When Breath becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

7. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

8. Lillian Boxfish takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney

9. Welcome Home, by Myquillyn Smith

10. Landslide, by Susan Conley

11. How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen, by Joanna Faber and Julie King

12. Mrs Mike by Benedict freedman and Nancy freedman

13. Hillbilly Elegy by J.d. Vance

14. Worthy by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher

15. Uninvited by Luda TerKeurst

16. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

17. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

18. The Flirtation Experiment by Phylicia Masonheimer

19. The Next Right Thing, by Emily p. Freeman

20. Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagasaki

21. Cozy Minimalist home, by Myquillyn Smith

22. The Lazy Genius Kitchen by Kendra Adachi

I’d love to hear about your reading life, lists and any challenges your considering in 2022!

Love,

Becca

Family traditions around Christmas

Liams traditional photo with the stocking he was given from the hospital when he was born on Christmas Eve. I love taking this picture every year! I am excited for when he’s grown, and we have 20 of these photos to look back on! 😍

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I am loving traditions more and more every year. Especially with kids that are growing older and more able to participate and create them with us! This year we are staying home for Christmas, and it’s ended up just being us. I’m a little sad about that, I love the family gathering aspect of Christmas, and have struggled this week with not having family close by. But we have so much to be grateful for this year, and we are making memories and traditions together, and I’m really thankful for that.

One of our favorite traditions is watching “Its a wonderful life” together on Christmas Eve. We love Jimmy Stewart’s performance, and the reminder of what is important in life!

We’ve also started driving around a couple nights in December to look at everyone’s beautiful Christmas lights, and it’s really fun! The kids enjoy it, and it’s amazing to see everyone’s displays.

We started reading a family advent book this year, it was very much too old for our kids, and we’ve missed days here and there, but it was nice to be a little more grounded in the reason for Christmas, and to help our kiddos start learning that.

I’d love to hear about your families favorite holiday traditions! ❤️🎄

Love,

Becca

Birthday Thoughts 2021

Here’s to 25! 😍

The past couple years have been long, and so very busy. But they have also been amazing, beautiful, and life changing in the best ways! (Kids. 😉) I am feeling settled in our routines, and loving the stage we are in right now!

I’ve loved the idea of picking a word for new year, and the past couple weeks I’ve been mulling over what a new year means and looks like for me and the word I keep coming back to is challenge.

I’m wanting a challange, and some goals to work towards. The drive to keep learning, to grow.

I have some fitness and health goals I’d like to work towards over the next months. I love to read, so I’m working on a list of books to learn new things, and expand some of my interests. I want to work on pursuing and strengthening friendships, and relationships. To keep working towards on my roles as a mama and wife. Birthdays are a little weird, but they’re also a good time to set some goals and intentions for the next year, and I like putting things out there, (i.e. on Instagram or here.) it kind of feels like accountability for me. That’s been a big help with learning to run this year. 😊❤️

With love,

Becca

It’s okay to Ask for Help

Yesterday last year Tori was having surgery on her eye.

It was a really hard day for me. Handing my 7 week old baby off to a nurse, and walking out of the room was torture. I had a panic attack in the room, and the second nurse gave me a hug, even though she wasn’t supposed to.

It took a little over 3 hours. We sat 4 floors down, waiting for a phone call from the surgeon, and then for the nurses to let me come up. They won’t let you stay with your children as they wake up, and the nurse told me they waited too long to call me, so by the time I got up to her, she was hysterical, and it took over an hour to calm her down.

With her birthday last month, and coming up on the holidays, I’ve been thinking about where we where this time last year. It was such a joyful time, with a newborn, getting to watch Liam become and thrive as a big brother. We were so in love with our little family.

But it was also the hardest time. Looking back makes me so sad too. Between her eye surgery/appointments/care and the tongue tie issues/pumping/bottle feeding and just being postpartum in general, I feel like I completely missed her newborn stage. We were up every 2 hours every night for 4 months, trying to keep her weight and my supply up, and when you’re sleep deprived, everything melds together. It’s just a blur. There wasn’t enough time to just soak up the newborn snuggles, and it hurts that it is gone so fast and forever.

It’s strange that something can be both the most magical happy time, but also the hardest and darkest time too.

All this is to say 2 things:

1. Soak up the little moments with your kids. They grow and learn so fast. Slow down, when you’re able, hold them longer, they’re only little for a couple years, and then they’re independent little people.

2. The hard times don’t last forever. Things will get better. So if you’re struggling, it’s okay to slow down, and go into survival mode for a while. Ask for help, and then actually let them help!

Love,

Becca Weston

Toddler Activity Advent Calander

I have been thinking about Christmas for several months, and about different traditions surrounding that time of year. Now that Liam is a little older, able to be involved and understand a lot more, I was looking for some traditions to start. Something that would be both fun and meaningful. I decided an Advent calander sounded fun, but the more I looked, I just couldn’t find one to buy that fit what I was thinking. There are lots of candy Advent boxes, but I didn’t want him to come to expect candy every single day. And I didn’t love the toy Advent calander, as we live in a very small space, and we tend to be very minimal, and intentional about what we being into it. (Clutter builds up so fast! )

So after looking at a ton of ideas online, I decided to try to make my own, that fit my toddlers personality, and the mix of fun, and “the reason for the season” that I was wanting!

I found all of the components for this at The Dollar store, and all together, it cost about $7 to make. Most of the activities on ours are free, and the couple that cost money are less than $10 each, making it exciting, but won’t break the bank, which is important to us!

What you need:

-tiny clothes pins

-pretty marker

-copy paper

-yarn

-thumbtacks

-decorations (I made the trees out of yarn, and found the tiny ornaments there too.)

1. Write out your list of activity’s on slips of paper, and make tiny envelopes (you could probably buy some!).

2. Label the envelopes 1-24, stuff them with your activity’s.

3. Tack 4 or 5 strands of yarn to the wall, (you’ll do 4 strands of six envelops across, or 5 with 5 envelopes on 4 strands, and 4 on the last one, I ended up liking this look better.)

4. Attach envelopes using the tiny clothes pins.

5. Then add any decorations you want, and enjoy a fun, inexpensive advent calander! (Plus most of these activities are free, and feel free to add your own activities that work best for your family!

1. Read Christmas books

2. Watch Rudolph the red nose reindeer

3. Bake cookies to take to the neighbors

4. Make a Christmasy craft

5. Go look at Christmas Lights

6. Decorate a gingerbread house

7. Read the Christmas Story and talk about all the characters

8. Make Christmas cards for grandparents

9. Decorate a Christmas ornament

10. Go out for Hot Chocolate

11. Mail a Letter

12. Decorate sugar cookies

13. Color a Christmas picture

14. Go shopping for a gift for Sibling

15. Have lunch with Daddy at work!

16. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas

17. Watch The Snowy Day (Amazon)

18. Watch a Merry Pooh Year

19. Go to the Library and read Christmas books

20. Homemade hot chocolate night

21. Decorate the tree

22. Make a Christmas garland

23. Take pictures in Christmas pajamas

24. Go Look at Christmas displays in stores (Costco etc.)

Let me know if you end up making one! I can’t wait to start this with my son! His birthday is at the end of December, so it’s also a countdown to that, which makes it double fun!

We are also also planning to go through the book Waiting for Jesus, from The Daily Grace Co, and do readings out the the Jesus Story Bible.

Love,

Becca Weston

5 ways to calm your mind

I struggle with being a very anxious person, Social situations can be hard. And occasionally the overwhelming awfulness going on in the world around us is incredibly anxiety inducing. Plus I have two toddlers, and I can get overwhelmed with the constant noise and craziness toddlers create! I’ve found a few things that help calm and recenter my anxiety and mind.

1. Listen to some music.

Often putting on some background music is super helpful, especially when I’m home alone with the kiddos. I love anything by Sleeping at Last for when I’m overwhelmed, or Alan Jackson’s Precious Memories album, that is just hymns.

2. Drink your favorite warm drink.

Start with 8 oz of water, and then make a warm beverage of choice. I love the calming ritual of coffee of tea. (I love a strong cup of coffee black or with a splash of cream, or a cup of Harney and Sons Paris tea.)

3. Listen to a podcast.

My favorites right now:

– , no The Lazy Genius, by Kendra Adachi. She’s amazing at helping you figure out how to calm the crazy in your day to day life. She has practical formulas and 13 magic questions to be a lazy genius about everything that matters.

-10 things to tell you, by Laura Tremaine. She is great at the more touchy feeling things, and asking questions that start conversations, whether you just write them out, or talk to people.

-what should I read next, by Ann Bogel. I just started listening to this one, and I love all the conversations about books, along with the book suggestions. I’m always looking for new book recommendations!

Sometimes just having something to occupy your mind helps when you’re struggling with anxious thoughts.

4. Read a actual book.

Reading is so relaxing for me! Some books I’ve enjoyed lately:

⁃ The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

⁃ The Missing Treasure of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray

⁃ There’s no Such Thing As Bad Weather by Linda McGurk

⁃ Broken by Jenny Lawson (major language and some content warning. Adult only.)

5. Get outside

Obviously out in the sun is the very best for anxiety or overwhelm, but even if it’s cold or rainy, get outside, walking, breathing fresh air. It’s so important for clearing your mind!

What are your favorite ways to help calm craziness in your life?

Love

Becca

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s a little more lately, and last week I picked up a package of the microwaveable butternut squash Mac and cheese, on a recommendation, and it did not disappoint! It was creamy and full of warm spices, just so delicious! So I decided to try to make a homemade version inspired by that. This was delicious, and bonus points for sneaking veggies in, and my kids gobbling it up!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

1 package of pasta, cooked.

1 cup cooked butternut squash. (I cooked mine, quartered, in my instant pot for 25 minutes high pressure, and the scraped off the skin.)

3 tbs of butter

1 tbs of flour

1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

A dash of thyme powder

And a dash of cayenne (up to a 1/4 tsp depending on how much heat you like it!)

-Boil pasta according to package instructions.

Sauce:

-Start by melting the butter, and adding flour to make a roux. Then add butternut squash and cheddar cheese, and let the cheese melt. Add the spices, and let simmer for about 3-4 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in the noodles and enjoy!

It’s super easy, but so delicious! Perfect for a fall lunch, or pair it with some chicken or steak for a hearty dinner!

Love,

Becca

Current Favorite Children’s Books

I love books. I’ve always been a avid reader, and continue to make time to read, even as a busy mom, (Once I’m done typing this post, I am going to read a bit while the kiddos nap! A book I’ve been waiting for on hold at the library finally came in!)

So it stands to reason that we also love children’s books, and have amassed a little library! I’m always looking for new books to add! These are some of our current favorites!

Lost and Found- by Oliver Jeffers

A boy finds a penguin, and sets off to take him home to the South Pole ! On the way they become fast friends. The story is really sweet, and the artwork is adorable!

Cuddle bug – by Nicola Edwards

This one is a very favorite! The rhyme is so sweet, and endearing, and my kids love the cute cutouts! A perfect bed time story!

Toot- by Leslie Patricelli

This little book explains certain bodily functions, and always makes my 2 year old and husband giggle. Okay fine, it make us all laugh! This isn’t my kind of humor at all, but I knew they would appreciate it, and it’s become a favorite as it always brings hilarity!

The Going to Bed Book- by Sandra Boynton

Her artwork is so cute! And the stories are nonsensical and perfect for bedtime! A group of animals gets ready for bed!

I Am a Big Brother- by Caroline Jayne Church

A new baby arrives, and big brother learns all about how to help out with everything Baby needs! We bought this before our daughter was born, and it’s been a fun book to read as our son learned about being a big brother himself!

Little Blue Truck – by Alice Schertle

We love little Blue! The artwork is so fun, and the stories are wonderful, and sweet! Usually there’s a good lesson woven in, and little blue truck is so kind! A great read with littles!

We also love the Block Books! (We have found them at Costco.) they are so informative and so fun! The Alphabet one is our favorite right now, it’s perfect as a tool to help learn the alphabet!

What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?

With love,

Becca

Being a Mama Right Now

Heavy. That’s what I have been feeling lately. Every time I open my phone, scan headlines, read about some new event, catastrophe, horrific suffering and evil people all over the world doing unspeakable things. It feels so heavy.

It’s been 18+ months of our world being turned upside down, mass panic, freedoms being stripped away so fast most people don’t even have time to notice. It feels so overwhelming. My heart is breaking for the nation of Afghanistan. For the people who are losing loved ones in hospitals across the country and can’t be by their sides right now as they slip away. For the families who have been separated for the past 2 years due to borders closing. For the hurting people across the globe. The children without families to love them.

Everyone refers to these “unprecedented” times. But I keep thinking, every generation has had their unprecedented time. When world events upset their lives and changed things, whether the betterment of mankind or the worsening, this isn’t unusual. In my great-grandparents day it was the world wars and Great Depression. I can garentee those were unprecedented times. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to cope with the heaviness of that time in history. Before that was the invented of cars, and airplanes, which must have been an exhilarating time to be a part in history! Those were unprecedented times. Suddenly travel was revolutionized and the whole world was available to everyone!

My point in all this is this: every generation has had their unprecedented time. This is ours. I’m not downplaying the hurt, fear and loss that people are dealing with every day.

But I have two wonderful children. One learned to talk in full sentences and paragraphs over the summer and doesn’t stop talkin for for a moment from the second he pops out of bed until we close the bedroom door after singing and tucking him in. The other learned to walk, and is toddling around everywhere, proud as can be of her new skills, and getting into everything.

I’ve had to limit my consumption the news lately for their sake as well as mine. I can’t let that heaviness take over our entire lives. I am praying for those hurting, and keeping aware of the current events, but I can’t let myself get sucked into whirlwind that is the media and big opinions that every single person has right now. We’re Christians and believe that God is in control, so we are trusting in that. My kids need a mom who is present. And that means turning off the news, limiting social media’s, and avoiding political talk with most people. My kiddos are too important to spend these precious years when they are babies and toddlers riddled with anxiety and fear. These may be “unprecedented” times, but my babes will only be little once, and I want to be here for every moment. ❤️

Becca’s Apple Pie

This pie is a classic dessert year round, but especially in the fall! It’s so comforting and awesome for holidays, or just to brighten gloomy rainy evenings! The addition of clove and vanilla give it extra flavor and compliment the tart apple flavor so well!

Pie crust:

2 1/2 cups of flour

1 cup of butter, cold and cubed

6-8 Tbs of cold water

1 tsp of sugar

1 tsp of salt.

Mix flour, sugar, salt and butter together until they are a coarse crumble. (Not completely mixed together, pea sized clumps. Add cold water, mix gently until dough comes together in a ball and can be handled without being super sticky. Use plenty of flour to roll it out into a round dough to fit your pie plate. Fold into 4ths, to transfer to plate easier. This recipe works awesome for both sweet and savory pies!

Apple Pie filling:

4-5 large Granny Smith apples

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Dash of clove

Peel, core and chop apples into thin wedges. Mix flour, sugar and spices (minus vanilla) together. Sprinkle over the apples, and mix. Add the vanilla and mix again. Spoon over the pie crust, add a top crust, crimp shut, and make sure to cut two ventilation slits on top, and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. (May need longer/shorter bake time depending on your oven. I set a timer for 45 minutes and check every 5 minutes after that until it is perfectly golden!) Enjoy with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream!

Happy baking!