What I Read in 2018

Happy New Year! My reading goal for 2018 was to read 12 books. One a month. I have been on a reading kick for the last few months and ending up reading 27 books last year. I use Goodreads to keep track of what I'm reading. You can check out my whole 2018 list here if you're interested but want to share my favorites from the year below.


Historical fiction will always be my favorite. I credit my deep love for the American Girl series as a kid for this. I also read quite a few psychological thrillers this year, and while they're entertaining, enjoyable, and quick to read, my heart belongs to historical fiction. I just love learning about history in this way and find myself searching the internet for more information about the time periods or characters I'm reading about.

1. America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Lauren Kamoie
This book is the story of Patsy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter. It takes you through her life, which was fascinating. In addition to have a front seat to the American revolution, she spent time in Paris and was very loyal to her father. The authors of this book spent a lot of time researching Patsy's life and it shows. This book was long but still I found myself wishing it wouldn't end.

2. All of the Fiona Davis Books
Fiona Davis writes in a style I enjoy, taking you from modern day to historic New York City by connecting contemporary characters to the stories of women who lived or worked in iconic historic buildings in the city. If you like this kind of fiction, I'd start with The Address or The Masterpiece. I liked The Dollhouse but I found the main character a bit annoying but if you enjoy the other two, you'll enjoy this as well.

3. The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Taking place on the fictional Winthrop Island in the 1950s and 1960s, this story dives into the culture of the island and the relationships between those who summer there and the people who live on the island year-round. I found it to be a really enjoyable read, with its vintage appeal and a storyline that didn't give itself away too soon. It makes for a really great summer or vacation read.

4. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Lauren Kamoie
I, like everyone else who has seen it, loved Hamilton. This book is written from Eliza Hamilton's perspective. Like America's First Daughter, this book takes place over the course of the protagonist's life so you get to know her as a young woman and then see what her life was like after Alexander Hamilton's death. It was well researched, includes lots of information based on Eliza's personal letters and was just fascinating. The book is long but worth sticking with.


I don't read a ton of non-fiction but have read some great non-fiction books this year. Many have been for a cohort I'm part of this year at church but not all of them.

1. Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper
Subtitled "Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World", this book points out how resistant we are as a culture to the possibility of the miracles and magic offered to us in the Christian faith. This book challenged my personal bias towards logic and rationalism and in turn helped me to think about the possibility of wonder. To remind myself that God is capable of  immeasurably more than my human brain can imagine. How refreshing and how freeing.

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
I think basically everyone has read this book since it came out so I won't spend too much time on this one. The best word I've come up with to describe Michelle Obama's autobiography is "relatable". Her story feels like it could be my story or anyone else's. Of course, a glimpse into the Obama's and White House life was a draw. I've heard that it's great on audiobook, too.

3. Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud
This book. If you are having trouble making a difficult decision, particularly professionally, read this book. I was in a situation where I was trying to discern if it was hard because it was hard or if it was hard because it wasn't the right thing and someone recommended this book to me and I found it so helpful. Even if you're not in a similar situation, you likely will be one day and this is a great addition to any professional or leader's toolkit.

I set my goal for 2019 at 20 books. I just finished a psychological thriller, The Other Woman by Sandie Jones and am working through two other books so the year is off to a good start! I love recommendations so please let me know what you're reading or have loved in the comments.

P.S. I "read" another book via audiobook, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I didn't count it in my 2018 count because I didn't actually read it but does it count? Does consuming a book count as reading it? What do you think?


Hello again!

Wow, it's been over a year since I last posted. I'd say I can't believe it but I really can. It's been an incredibly busy and full year. I'm hoping to pick up posting again with some regularity but before I jump into that, I thought I'd give a little recap of what our life has looked like over the last year.

  1. The kids are now five and three. Elia started kindergarten this week and Wells starts preschool after Labor Day. They are growing up so fast, which I'll say from now until forever.
  2. We moved into our house last May. A year in, we absolutely love our neighborhood and our house really feels like home to us. We are so happy we made the move.
  3. I have been traveling like crazy over the last year. Since posting last, between work and play, I've been to Honduras four times, Denver, Texas twice, Atlanta, Florida, and we also went on our annual trips to Mackinac Island and this year, Todd and I snuck in a few days alone in the Upper Peninsula. It's been bananas but thankfully, I love to travel and Todd has graciously taken my work travel in stride and the kids have done great when I've been gone. I hope to share more about some of those trips in future posts, particularly the Florida trip I surprised Elia with for her spring break in April. 
  4. We've enjoyed lots of fun with our extended families, in particular when we acquired a sister-in-law/aunt who we love when Todd's brother got married last October, when his brothers and their families came to visit for Fourth of July, over the holidays, and with my brother, his wife, and our nephew being here for an extended visit this summer. It's so great for our kids to be able to spend time with their cousins, who all live far away, and we love that time, too.
  5. This summer has gone so quickly! We are soaking up what's left of it but ready to get into new fall routines.
That's a quick glimpse of what's been most notable in our lives over the last year plus. I'm looking forward to sharing more soon!


Wells is Two!

Wells turned 2 on June 3. Life has been so busy lately that I'm just getting around to posting it. I wrote the post below during his birthday week - some of his favorite things as a freshly minted two-year-old. It's amazing to me that some of things these have changed in such a short period of time.

We moved just 3 days before his birthday but decided that wouldn't keep us from partying it up. We hosted a small group of family and friends for his big day and I'll pepper those photos throughout.


Plow trucks
Doing "gigas" (Basically tackling mommy.)
Music class
Singing (So much that it warrants a list of his favorite songs. See below.)
Lucy Dog + Wilbur Dog ("I love Wibur dog." "I love Lucy dog." "Where Lucy dog go?")

Favorite songs:

Hello, Everybody
Goodbye, So Long, Farewell
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star


Funny Sayings:
"Eek! There's a mouse in Mr. Newhof's plow truck."
"Eek! There's a mouse in Mr. Newhof's car."

Rocket ship, rocket ship, to the moon - fly! On mommy's legs.
Driving his Fisher Price car with his bike helmet on.


Pack packs
Waffle toast

Wells continues to be such a source of joy. He is sensitive, sweet, joyful, and charming. We couldn't love him more if we tried. Happy belated, sweet boy, we love you oh so much!


The Big 0-4

Yesterday my first baby, Elia, turned four.

I normally say that I can't believe (enter offspring's name here) is (enter said offspring's age here) but four I saw coming.

Elia has grown so much in the last year. I think it's in large part to her starting preschool in the fall. She knows all of her letters, can read maybe a dozen familiar words, has picked up little phrases and mannerisms (for better or worse) from kids at school, and has become more confident since the fall. Honestly, it has felt like she was four for a while now.

Regardless, we were so excited to celebrate the big 0-4 this weekend. We hosted a painting party for her and some of her classmates at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Saturday. The party was great and included a tour, story, time to paint, and of course, we had time set aside for cake and gifts.

I was so impressed by how nice and well-behaved these kids were. It was so much fun to watch Elia play with kids she spends time with every day.

She was over the moon about the party and it seemed like all of our guests had a nice time too.

After the party, I took Elia to an Easter egg hunt while Todd took Wells home to nap.

We followed up her big party day with Easter Sunday. A combination birthday/Easter weekend is kind of loco guys. We had Easter baskets and bunny pancakes before church followed by Easter brunch with both sets of grandparents. Followed by cake and gifts.

It was SO MUCH FUN AND EXCITEMENT for the kids.

Seriously, so much celebration. How lucky are we? And we're not even to her actual birthday day yet.

Since her birthday fell on a Monday, it wasn't the most celebratory day of the multi-day celebration but we did presents before school and she got to wear her "It's My Birthday' t-shirt to school, which was a hit.

Yesterday was also the first day of a cooking class she and I are taking for the next few weeks so e grabbed a quick dinner at Donkey and then headed to class. We had a great time and are looking forward to the next class.

All in all, it was a fantastic birthday for Elia.

I cannot wait to see how she grows and changes this year. I wrote a sappy Facebook post about how wonderful this little peanut is and I'm going to conclude the longest birthday recap post of all time with a large portion of it:

"My girl is a thoughtful, careful, creative, inquisitive, gentle and caring child. She has the memory of ten elephants. She loves singing, playing school, drawing, practicing her letters, and cutting with scissors. She made me a mom and helps me learn how to be a better one every day. She asks the most amazing questions that make me think about things in new ways. She is growing more independent every day but still needs me (which is good for a mother's heart). I can hardly remember life without her. Elia Grey, my love for you is fierce and deep and I pray your year is one of both joy and growth. Happy birthday, my little love."


Spring Break - Kiawah Island

If you follow me on Instagram you know that we just spent the most wonderful week in South Carolina. This was Elia's very first spring break so we decided to take advantage of her time off from school and join friends and their families in renting a house on Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Island is about 35-40 minutes outside of Charleston. Todd and I have planned to visit Charleston multiple times over the last few years and just haven't actually made it for one reason or another. We were thrilled when friends proposed renting a house so close to Charleston so we could finally explore the area.