Sunday, August 26, 2018

My Obsession {or Confession} over Culver's "Flavor of the Day"

photo of Culver's Crazy for Cookie Dough taken from Culver's website.
For those of you who enjoy a Culver's Concrete Mixer, with their wonderful vanilla (or chocolate) custard & your favorite two mix-ins, I'm here to share with you what I've known for several years:

You are totally doing it wrong.

Now, I can't exactly explain what made ME, the girl who won't tell the oil-change guy he forgot my 'next service date' sticker, or decides that she is willing to eat a chicken sandwich when she ordered burger because it's "not a big enough deal to ask for them to correct it" the following question at the Culver's Drive Thru, but I did and it was a game-changer:

Can I order the Flavor of the Day as a concrete mixer and still have the two additional mix-ins added?

The answer (while it may have held the slightest pause) was "Yes"; I knew I had landed onto something glorious. And while I have no recollection of the concoction I brought home that night, I know it was gooey, chunky, chewy, and simply wonderful. And while Mike held a bit of a "shock & awe" response as I would request these things for our "Culver's Dessert Night at Home Together" dates that take place once the kids go to bed, he finally asked a very hesitant, tentative, yet hopeful question:

They really let you do that? Each time you've ordered? And have no problem putting in whatever two additional things you request & the price stays the same?

Yes, my darling, I'm certain. Welcome to my Rabbit Hole.

Now, many things factor into our what and when plan for sitting on the couch right after the kids' 'lights out' and not too awfully long before my own bedtime, but since tonight is lining up as a perfect night, I'll share my current situation:
  • Sundays are long days--always longer for Mike, as all the pastors are present before during & after all 3 church services--but I put in a decent amount of time both as a mom juggling kids and trying to do the best I can as my own job as Nursery Coordinator (I don't work every evening service; hence time for the current blog post).
  • Culver's Flavor of the Day in my town? eh. But a town over? very good potential. PLUS...
  • I also have a bit of an obsession with Starbucks. This has drastically improved as Mike figured it was cheaper to get me a very nice Breville Express espresso machine for my birthday this past March. Of course, it quit working this week, so while we await the whole 'warranty thing that should lead to a fixed or new machine', tonight is also leaning to be a Latte Machiatto with a quad shot right before bed kind of night.
So, tonight, during the time I should be folding laundry & making sure we have items for the kids' lunchboxes on Monday, I'm scrolling through the world wide web and checking all the Culver's Flavor of the Day listings throughout the surrounding towns. And sending texts to my husband (while he's at work) that contain important information:

Pekin Culver's is 'Crazy for Cookie Dough' if you want that and Starbucks.

What Mike reads? "LeAnne wants custard and coffee tonight".

And, because he is such an awesome husband, Mike will leave one town, drive to another, and then head to our town with a white and blue cup in one hand & a white and green cup in the other.

Because that's how much he loves me. And, quite frankly, I'm a pretty cheap date.

In case you need help seeing how beautiful the best concrete mixer can be created, here you go: AKA: THIS IS MY NIGHT TONIGHT:

Crazy for Cookie Dough, as described on the Culver's website: Our creamy Vanilla and Chocolate Fresh Frozen Custard swirled together and mixed with thick fudge, ribbons of old fashioned salted caramel and cookie dough pieces.

  • vanilla custard
  • chocolate custard
  • fudge
  • caramel
  • cookie dough
Do you see where this is headed? I mean, take all those things and add 2 more?!

Tonight, at a time when I shouldn't be eating anything and indulging in only water, I will be eating the above things, swirled and chopped together, alongside Reece's Peanut Butter cups and Snickers. And in the morning, I'll regret it. But until then, I'll enjoy every last "packed full of absolutely everything" bite.

Because it's JUST THAT GOOD. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review of Dangerous to Know by Megan Whitson Lee

Dangerous to Know wasn't quite what I was expecting, so I feel it's important to write my review in a way that gives some insight on the book without giving away anything specific. Although the novel didn't meet my preconceived assumptions regarding the path I thought the storyline might take, I do believe the writing style and the way the narrative affects the reader is worthy of a 4-star rating.
While the cover led me to think it is a romance novel, the book jacket of the novel made me think it would also be a mystery novel (I've ready many books of with a blended-type genre, which is probably where I got my impression of the book); the book definitely leans more as a romance novel. And more specifically, I think a reader should know it's a book that does not lead to the typical "happily ever after" ending. It wasn't until I completely finished reading the book and read the author's notes at the back of the book that I discovered Whitson Lee's novel is based upon poet Lord Byron and his marriage to Annabella Milbanke--for me personally, as an English major and someone who enjoys history, I believe I would've appreciated the novel more to know that many of the details within the characters and key storyline held many accurate aspects when compared to the life of Lord Byron.

The final thing that came through very strongly in the novel is what it means to put God first in your life--and also what the possible consequences are when you choose to put self first. The distinction "Christian Fiction" often cues a reader that a book will be clean and appropriate--things I believe many readers especially like to seek out when choosing a Christian Fiction Romance novel. Whitson Lee does not shy away from keeping faith front and center of her characters and the storyline; this boldness sets her apart from many Christian authors, and is another reason I feel that readers who are seeking this genre of book will enjoy Dangerous to Know.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

About the book:

“Don’t look at him, dear. He’s dangerous.” 

Isabella Bankmill seeks a husband whose character matches her list of requirements. The man must share her faith, but he must also possess a certain je ne sais quoi. The enigmatical Lord Gregory Gordon Bromby—London’s newest literary sensation—certainly possesses the latter. Despite a deformed foot and alarming views on politics and religion, he attracts the ladies in droves.

Haunted by his past and overwhelmed by his newfound celebrity status, Lord Bromby’s obsession with his own doom leads to reckless behavior. When he is stalked by an obsessive aristocrat seeking an elopement, Bromby’s friends urge him to marry a suitable lady as soon as possible. Intrigued by Isabella’s convictions and hoping to avoid further scandal, Bromby proposes to Isabella.

Isabella also receives an offer of marriage from kind-hearted philanthropist, David Beringer—a man equally devoted to his faith—but she only has eyes for Lord Bromby. Blinded by his talent and good looks, Isabella convinces herself that he’s not as dangerous as everyone claims. But when Bromby’s world violently collides with hers, Isabella must decide once and for all who is lord of her life. God or Bromby?

About the author:

Megan Whitson Lee is an anglophile and a recovering runaway. Over the years, she escaped to England and Australia before finally settling down in the US. These days, she lives a relatively quiet life as a wife, a mom of two greyhounds, an editor for Pelican Book Group, and a high school English teacher. She now escapes by writing novels instead of jumping on planes to foreign countries. Her novel, Captives, won the 2016 Director's Choice Award and was a finalist for a Selah Award in the women's contemporary fiction category at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

Megan writes women's contemporary thrillers and historical fiction featuring characters standing at the crossroads of major life decisions.


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Success of Simply being a Mom {Goodbye, Jones's}

I always knew I’d be a mom—never pegged myself as one who’d grow up to have 6 kids, but that pretty much sums up my job title.

And I don’t mind at all. 

Don’t need no side hustle. No trajectory plan to build success. To prove success. No push to ‘have it all’. No reason to get my Masters because I’m not even utilizing my Bachelors degree. No declaration that I’m going to simplify or go ‘off the grid’. Everyday is ‘no-makeup day’. Also, I use bleach (There. I said it).

It’s ok to go after those things if you want. And they aren’t bad! But for those of you who feel you can’t “Keep up with the Joneses”?

Seriously—it’s ok to take a pass. Because then you have more time to look at your life. Your blessings. Your goals. And if that means your life is summed up with the words “Mom of 6”?

Then you’ve found your success.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Tribute to Orphan Sunday {November 12, 2017}

Here's the thing about adoption; once you've done it, you forget. You forget you didn't birth them until you are asked if it was a full-term pregnancy. You forget when you tuck them in at night & when they crawl into your bed in the morning. Your soul knows you would die for them just like you'll die for the children who carry your DNA. You even forget they don't look like you until someone asks you "where they are from". Every day you forget. And every day there is a reminder.
Someday, 1/2 my kids will understand they were birthed by someone else. I pray that never matters. And I pray this is the best example of God's timing and His perfect plan in the lives of ALL my children. Because my life would not be perfect without them. #orphansunday#nationaladoptionmonth #foster #adopt #serve #thankyouGod

The Blessings of an Authentically-Mundane Life {Love is Key}

Remember that Spring Break where we didn’t go to the lake house because Kait had clinicals & Connor had track, and the grandparents wouldn’t be there anyway? 

It was good we stayed, or we would’ve missed discovering a leak under the upstairs bathroom sink Sunday night...which led to a broken faucet in the downstairs tub (fix one thing, might as well fix the other, right?), which led to keeping the water turned off for the day. But hey, at least we drove to Peoria twice for showers at Aunt Laurel’s! All on Monday, which made Mike’s “extra” day off of work a day full of mess and projects. #blesshisheart
And Tuesday was fun in that it’s STILL raining (#forthelove!), kid #5 has 4 cavities, so I’ve added that to my list of reasons I’m failing this #momgig. BUT thanks to our friend we forgot was a plumber, we now have a working shower (even if there’s a hole where the shower head is because improving it actually meant preferring demo over the previous setup) #oldhousefun
Kids #1 & #6 have just finished meds for walking pneumonia. Kid #2 might have a broken finger, but we are “keeping an eye on it”. Kid #3 can finally see, thanks to getting an updated eye exam & new glasses. In two weeks, kids #4 & #5 go to Chicago to see geneticist due to discoveries from recent testing. #physiciansarewonderful
It’s so easy for me to complain—to feel almost defeated. But I told Mike the best part of our “Money Pit” home and daily “What the What?” situations is this: I AM SO GLAD WE ARE IN LOVE. Because we’ve known too many couples over the years who seem to have it all, yet they can barely tolerate each other. All the outward appearance stuff masks the mess inside. And I’m pretty sure that can’t be an enjoyable way to spend your days. #fakeislonely
So, here’s to our boring, blah spring break, in our tiny old house that I absolutely adore even though it’s sometimes a kick in the teeth. Here’s to true love that lives within our messy home. Here’s to kids who find happiness in simple living, even if they are tired of eating Tombstone pizzas. And here’s to embracing authenticity, because somehow, life is easier when you embrace it honestly. #authenticliving #lovecomesfirst #gratefulhearts

Smack in the Middle of Motherhood {Raising & Releasing}

Today’s kids: Senior. Junior. Freshman. Five. Four. Three.
Tomorrow: Charlie turns 6. Kaitlin begins her job as a CNA; her first step on a path to further medical degrees.
Two weeks: Connor gets his license. The possibility of him going into the Air National Guard is a mere 10 months away.
Three months: Kylie turns 14 the 1st day of high school. Charlie goes back to the school & teachers we adore.
Four months: Brynlee turns 4. She and Kolbie will start preschool with the best teacher (who was taught by the best, and she was taught by the best) 35 minutes away because it’s exactly where I want them.
Five months: 21st wedding anniversary. A strong marriage that has never wavered.

It’s a strange season of life; I’m a young mom and an old mom all at the same time. It’s a mix of beginnings and endings. Chapters of life that seem to land smack in the middle right at this very moment in time. A time where I assumed we’d have more money & a bigger house, and yet we are richer than I ever dreamed. Because it’s a life of love. A life of kept promises—both by us, and always by God. It’s a life that continues to rack up faith & trust, and raising up & releasing kids.

Today, I am aware. And I’m very grateful. #everyperfectgiftisfromabove
(Photo by Aleshka Grusy).

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Grace Revealed: Finding God's Strength in Any Crisis(Broadstreet Publishing Group, January 2018)

Grace Revealed: Finding God's Strength in Any Crisis(Broadstreet Publishing Group, January 2018)
Trust in the unmerited gift of God's grace

You can't escape the inevitable crises that will face you throughout your lifetime. Whether it's health problems, emotional issues, career challenges, gut-wrenching losses, or other failures, these experiences can destroy your morale and lead you into despair. Some crises may be a result of your own choices, while others may be completely out of your control. Whatever the source, there is a lasting solution that comes to you free of charge from above: God's amazing grace.
In Grace Revealed, you will:
-Experience real-life stories of others who discover they are not alone and that relief is within their grasp.
-See how devastating afflictions can be overcome through faith in Jesus and His love, mercy, and grace.
-Learn how God's grace transforms lives and leads you into enduring and rewarding Christian service.
-Be inspired to encourage others who are suffering but cannot seek help on their own.
Read these undeniable, modern-day examples of God's loving grace and its transformative power, and discover that God is always present in your time of need.


Fred Sievert is a speaker, author, and former president of New York Life Insurance Company. Following his early retirement at age fifty-nine, Sievert attended Yale Divinity School and received a master's degree. Sievert remains actively engaged in his greatest passions, which include speaking and writing about his faith, mentoring young executives, and serving as a lay leader of his church and on the boards of several organizations with missions well-aligned with his beliefs and values. Fred and his wife have five grown children, three grandchildren, and reside in East Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Find out more about Fred at