The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

guernsey book

I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed this book.  And now the bad news.  It took me a while to get into the book because it is written in letter format.  In the end, I liked the format because it allowed me to have access to the thoughts of every character in the book, but it took me extra long to get to know the characters and keep them separate.  This also weirdly convicted me that I should write some actual, snail mail letters to people.  I mean, how fun is it when you get a letter in the mail?

One of the things that I liked most about the book was the references about new readers.  The literary society was formed accidentally and not very many of the members were readers.  The book demonstrated that even non-readers can enjoy a good book.  It’s about finding the book that’s right for you.  And they didn’t push the members to read other books.  Most of them attached to a book they really liked and stuck with it.  Reading never came easy to me and was certainly not something I would do for enjoyment.  Until recently.  But it all started with a really good book that made me realize that it can be fun.  And that made me seek out other really good books.  And the trend just continued.  So it really just starts with one book.

I also enjoyed the historical references and learning more about the nazi invasion and life in England during World War II.  This surprised me because I don’t really like history, but I actually enjoyed that part.

I always enjoy a good love story, so that was another favorite part of the book for me.  I, not surprisingly, thought the author could have delved deeper into this side of the book.  Most of the “romantic” moments were not really romantic at all.  In fact the couple barely even acknowledged their love for each other.

You might find it interesting to know that the author, Mary Ann Shaffer, passed away while writing the book.  Her niece Annie Barrows was the one to finish it.  Everyone in my book club thought you could definitely tell that there were two separate authors.  Not that we were complaining about it, but just that you could tell that the beginning of the story was written by one author and the end by another.

It also felt like the first 3/4 of the book were somewhat slow.  Then all of a sudden, everything that you had been waiting on to happen the entire book, was squeezed in to the very end.  It would have been nice to be able to enjoy those last moments and have them written out in more detail.

I liked the book and I would recommend it to everyone.  I hope that every non-reader out there finds that one special book at some point in their lives, so they too can realize how enjoyable reading can be.


Mommy Moments

We had a staycation lake weekend with Jason’s side of the family this past weekend. We spent the night at Grammy and Grampy’s house. The girls were scared when it was bedtime so I told them to enjoy being able to sleep in the same bed and cuddle with each other. A little bit later we peaked in and found them like this. I guess they took my advice very literal. It was the sweetest thing! I couldn’t help but snap a quick picture on my phone. I love seeing the bond that they have! snuggles

Vacation Bible School Crafts

This was my first year to help with Vacation Bible School at our church. Sami has volunteered in the past, but it was her first year with crafts. She missed the first volunteer meeting where I signed up for Preschool crafts and suggested that she be in charge of Elementary crafts. I was completely unsure of what I had gotten us in to. I just knew we liked crafts, so it made sense to be the craft leaders. Without having the full curriculum to go by, we chose bits and pieces of some of the suggested projects while also trying to keep the cost down. Crafting is expensive! Last week was VBS week every evening and it went great for the most part. Sami had way more kids and a couple of crafts that were more difficult so I definitely got the better end of the deal, but she did great! Our VBS was the GoFish Guys Shine curriculum so the crafts correlated to it. However, each craft was something simple that you could do at home with your kids just for fun too, so I thought I would share.

Day 1: Paper Plate Fish

This is a craft that has been around forever, but young kids still enjoy it. We used 1 paper plate per child. They each cut a mouth out (which is stapled on to become the tail) and decorated it with foam stickers, markers, crayons, and a googly eye.


Day 2: Superhero Cuffs

The kids loved this! We used empty toilet paper rolls that had been cut length-wise. The kids decorated them with duct tape and foam stickers. They wore one on each arm like a cuff worn by superheros.


Day3: Superhero Pictures

These were my favorite! Sami and I met and drew the chalk background beforehand. We made it complete with a cape, clouds, birds, and a sun in the air flying over a bunch of buildings. Each kid laid down and pretended to be flying like a superhero. They even got to wear their cuffs they made for the picture. Of course Sami and I had to get our picture taken in the scene too. I made sure to hang mine on our fridge to remind the household of my super powers. Although that may come back to hurt me if it causes them to raise their expectations of me. The pictures were then taped onto a superhero coloring page.

SuperSami SuperJanaesuperheropic

Day4: Shrinky Dinks

This is always a kid favorite. We used the Shine shrinky dinks that came with the curriculum, but there are all kinds of shrinky dinks available. I am sure most of you have done these before, but if not, I highly suggest it. They are fun. The kids colored (with colored pencil only) on the shrinky dinks. Then we took them home to bake them. They were so surprised when they got them back in tiny form the next day. Ours came with a small ball chain to make it into a keychain for a backpack or something similar.


Day5: Crowns

We had planned on making these out of bulletin board border from school classrooms, but then we got a generous donation from Burger King and decided to go that route. This was the simplest activity. I am not sure it can be considered a “craft”, but the kids had fun with it. What kid doesn’t like a crown? They used foam stickers (again) and jewel stickers to decorate it however they wanted.

Crownscrown2The best thing about all the crafts was seeing how each kid’s individuality shined through. I love how there is no right or wrong, but just fun and creativity. That is what makes crafting so great! It was a long week being there every night and taking up the entire evening, but it was fun and well worth it. The kids loved it and that is what matters most.

The Perfect Marriage (sarcasm intended)

Jeremiah and I are celebrating 13 years of marriage today.  I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you our love story.

Our eyes met from across the room and I instantly knew that he was the one I would marry.  Just kidding.  That’s not at all how it happened.  Here’s the real story.

I had dated the same guy all through high school and he definitely wasn’t prince charming.  Let’s skip the details and just agree that I was now damaged.  Jeremiah had been through an engagement and bad breakup.  Also damaged although in a completely different way.

I did know that I really liked him right away, but he was MUCH older than me (five years, but let’s just go with MUCH).  He was handsome, charismatic, and most of all mature.  There’s no way he would be interested in me.  Remember, I was damaged goods.

Apparently he was never going to ask me out.  He thought that I would think he was too old.  I ended up telling his brother that I liked him and one thing led to another and we were going on a date.  He was taking me to see Armageddon (remember that movie?).  He had already seen it and totally ruined the ending for me, so he took me to somehow make up for that.  You guys, when he dropped me off, he did not even pull into my driveway.  We were both late to play sand volleyball at Sonic with a bunch of our friends, so he dropped me off at the curb and didn’t even get out of the car.  Like any girl would, I assumed he didn’t like me.  Until two days later, when he showed up on my doorstep with his brother’s motorcycle.  We road around town all evening and ended up talking for hours on his porch steps.  There are very few times that life parallels a fairy tale.  This was one of them.  He reached down and touched my face and kissed me.  Then I started to feel little rain drops.  It’s as if God was saying, “Yep.  He’s the one.”  And that was the beginning of our story.

We dated for three years while I went to college.  Then we married and started a new chapter in our lives.  We were going to have a perfect marriage.  I’m sure God got a good laugh at that thought, along with every other long-time married couple.

I thought that as time went by we would get to know each other better and better and there would come a time when I knew everything about my husband.  But the reality is that people continue to change.  I’m always changing.  He’s always changing and sometimes it takes all we have to keep that from tearing us apart.  We go from moments of feeling so close to moments where we aren’t sure that we have anything in common anymore.

From the beginning, we both agreed that divorce was not an option for us.  And I can honestly say that we have never, not even for a moment, entertained that idea.  There have been plenty of times where I thought, “How are we going to make this work?”  But we both knew that God would fill the gap when neither of us could.  And He has been faithful in that.

There have been some difficult times, but there have been some A-MAZ-ING times.  I will always cherish the many trips we made to the lake in the boat we purchased shortly after we got married.  I can’t imagine life without him making me laugh even when I don’t really want to.  Moving from place to place when all we really had was each other to lean on.  Bringing our three kids into this world.  So many I could never begin to list them all here.

Our marriage isn’t perfect.  No one’s is.  Maybe it is on Facebook for one day every year, but in real life, everyday life, no one’s marriage is perfect.

But I know God is perfect and sovereign and knew exactly what He was doing when He put Jeremiah and I together.  He knew that I had to be in a bad relationship and Jeremiah had to be broken before we could find each other.  He knew we would make each other better.  That Jeremiah would help me to be more confident and outgoing.  And that I would show him how to be compassionate and sensitive.  And we know that we can’t make our marriage work without God because it’s hard and there is no such thing as a perfect marriage.

But those moments when it is perfect.  Those moments like the other night when we snuck away alone for a boat ride to watch fireworks and Jeremiah surprised me with wine.  Those moments make everything else worth while.  They’re so much better than anything in a fairytale or anything  I could have imagined.  They’re perfect.


photo (2)


The D word


Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 7.59.36 AM

Image from

Let me start by saying that I am in no way judging those who have been through a divorce. I have no idea what your individual circumstances may be. We all have our own life stories and none of them are perfect or always played out the way we may have thought they would be. If divorce is part of your story I am sorry for what you have gone through as I doubt it was something you planned on or would have wanted in the beginning. I know that sometimes there really is no other option and it ends up being what is best for all involved. With that said, we do not believe in divorce around here, unless in extreme circumstances of course. The sanctity of marriage is not only valued but engrained in us as part of our religious beliefs. In fact, for years my husband and I referred to it as “the D word”. We labeled it as such because in our minds divorce was equivalent to a curse word that we wouldn’t speak. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with divorce in a very real way the past year as someone in our immediate family has gone through it. This forced us to face it head on and figure out how to navigate through it and explain it to our children. This has not been easy. As parents we like to find the balance between sheltering our children from the ugliness of the world while still being real and helping them learn to live among it. Keeping in mind that our oldest is only 5, our children have had very little exposure to much of the hurt that goes on in our world and daily lives. In their sweet innocent little minds the world is still a beautiful place full of love. Sure they have dealt with the normal grumpiness and bickering between kids, as siblings, and at church, playgroups, and MOPS, but overall things are still rosey in their eyes. So imagine my dilemma when needing to explain to our oldest why a certain family member would no longer be around. I wanted to be real with her but also keep it mild and age appropriate. I explained that her aunt would no longer be a member of our family because she had “made bad choices”. I was stuck and didn’t know how else to explain it. She asked what bad choices she made and I told her that part didn’t matter. There was no way I was going to tell her the whole story! She also asked why she made bad choices. I explained to her that we all make bad choices sometimes. We are presented with all kinds of choices in life and sometimes, for reasons unknown other than our natural sinful tendency, we make the wrong choice. I also explained that bad choices have varying degree of consequences. Some turn out not to be a big deal and some can completely negatively change our lives. I reassured her that her mommy and daddy loved each other very much and would always be together. I talked about what the Bible says about marriage to really hit home that she didn’t need to worry about us. We were in it for a lifetime and would always uphold our promises to each other. I left the conversation not knowing if I did it right but at least feeling confident that she knew Jason and I’s marriage was solid. That was my biggest concern and what I thought she would worry about the most. I was wrong.

A few weeks later while putting her to bed and telling her how much I love her she said “yes as long as I don’t make bad choices”. My heart sank! She had internalized my explanation as love being contingent on the choices you make and that if you make bad ones you are ousted out of the family! Mommy fail! Back to the drawing board for me as I tried to explain the difference between romantic love and parental love. Try explaining that, especially at a (then) 4 year old level. I told her that the parental/child relationship is unconditional love; that she is a gift given to me by God. She is a part of me and always will be. There is a bond between parents and their children that cannot be broken. I explained that although I will be disappointed when she makes bad choices, nothing she could ever do would change my love for her. In contrast, romantic love is chosen. Aspects of it are unconditional in that you love your spouse despite their mistakes or shortcomings, but at some point there can be so much hurt done that there irreparable damage. As a side note, I didn’t attempt to explain too much to our middle daughter who was only 2 at the time and our youngest wasn’t even born yet. Anyway, I survived again and explained the best I could. I am not sure if she fully understood or not because it is such a hard concept to understand, but I reassured her of our unconditional love for her and that is what she needed.

That was a year ago. Now we are having to explain remarriage to our children as that will be happening soon in our family as well. Ellasyn clearly understands the end of the previous marriage so the fact that there is a remarriage is not as big of a challenge. She is still grappling with the idea of a “step” mom to her cousin though. They relate from the kid’s perspective  and how it affects their cousin, so it is confusing that he will have more than one mom figure in his life now. So, again, I did my best to try to explain the role of a step parent vs a biological parent and what that will mean for their cousin. I have no idea if I am doing any of this right, but I am doing the best I can and taking it as it comes. That is how parenting works right? We just do our best and roll with whatever comes our way. I would love any suggestions on how to explain and handle these types of situations. I know divorce is rampant in our society today and with Ellasyn starting school next year she will see it much more. I want to be sure I reassure her but also explain things delicately enough that she sympathizes with divorce and is not judgmental about it. I hate the hurt that it has caused in our family, but at least she will have a little bit of a foundation on what it all means before possibly seeing it amongst her friends’ families. If only the world could be full of happy endings!signature_janae