Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Running out of 2014

The past two nights, I have had some solid runs at our local gym.

I was pretty geeked when I ran for 45 minutes. I haven't ran in so long and I know mileage/ speed probably isn't where I want it, but I can honestly say i for sure got 3 miles in there if not more, i just stopped counting the laps around the track.

Last night, I decided to smash out some speed drolls, which almost took out me. I was feeling great, running hard in a brand new pair of shoes, just really wanting to break them in and I started to see a black spot. I could immediately tell if I didn't slow up my pace, I was going down so, i slowed up my pace, waited for it to pass snd then continued with my drills.

I geel like I am leaving 2014 with some good runs behind me and ready for 2015. I can't wait to take on some races!!! 

Q: What races are you running this upcoming year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! We spent time with family and also had some nice down time this year where we weren't running from house to house and thing to thing. It was nice to enjoy Christmas movies, cookies, ect! I can't believe another Christmas has come and gown. It's so sad. I'm not ready to put away the decorations, but it's rathering depressing to look at them. 

We had a great time with family, and this year some of our family was in different places which was harder.

This year, my husband's grandparents are in Arizonia for Christmas, which they usually don't leave till after Christmas, so that made the Holidays different. We saw them in October for Christmas and I'm not a fan of this arrangement. We won't see them till May!

We spent time with the inlaws on Christmas Eve. It was great to spend time with them before going to Christmas Eve service at church.

I love Christmas Eve Service! 

We then headed home and turned on some Christmas movies! We opened stocking too, which is our Christmas Eve tradition!

My favorite stocking item was my ornament! 

Drew and I hung out Christmas Morning together opening gifts and being goofballs! We did this at a more relaxed pace and it was so great! 
We watched the Disney Parade did you?? It's our long standing tradition of course! I do really miss Regis! I've been watching that parade as long as I can remember. 

We then went over to my parents house where it was chaos and fun! I was sl glad to see my brother. I don't see him very often because of his job, so it was great to see him!

Check out this sisterly love right here!!
Speaking of sisterly love, she has a new guy in her life.. These two made some pretty ugly sweaters if I do say so myself. These things even light up! C'mon those are pretty snazzy!

We had a great Christmas celebrating with my family. My brother probably got my husband his favorite gift. It's actually a "we" gift, but I know who will use it more. He bought us this awesome waffle maker and we made waffles the next morning!
It's like you're at Disney World for breakfast!!! They were pretty fantastic! Still working on the reciepe for the batter. It isn't quite my favorite yet. 

Overall, we had a great Christmas, despite that it was quite different than years passed with family being spread in diffferent places and our first Christmas that Grandma Storm was not here.

Q: How was your Christmas? Did any new traditions start as a result of this years Christmas?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quilts of Love- Masterpiece of Marriage Review

Masterpiece Marriage

New from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series | Masterpiece Marriage

He wants to save his business. She wants to be a professor. But are they asking for more than they can really have?

After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane’s Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs.

Eager to acquire his aunt’s quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him.

Though his aunt is determined to design a masterpiece marriage, both Zenus and Mary will have to overcome their stubborn ways. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn’t mean sacrificing her ambition?

Find out more and purchase a copy at the Quilts of Love website.

My Review:

Typically, I love the Quilt of Love series and really enjoy it. This book was not my personal favorite, but I enjoyed the main character Mary, who is an independent woman who does not need a man and struggles to find her own identity and being a woman. She would rather study the seedlings of tomato plants, then looking for a mate. I really admire this about her. I can personally relate to her character and I found this to be one of the most unique things about this particular book. I did not like how Zenus, chased after Mary and it almost seemed obsessive. One draws a fine line between chasing after a woman and then being so obsessively involved. He towed that line in my opinion. Overall, this is not my favorite book from the Quilt of Love Series, but don't take my word for it, read it yourself.

Thank you to Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with laughter, family and great memories!
The Storms

   “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Christmas…

Dear Christmas…
This year I have so many things to be thankful for. It has been a crazy year of many ups and downs, with lots of unexpected surprises.

This year I have just a few wishes...

1) Can you pay the remaining balance off on my car? It's not that much and we will that much closer to debt free living!

2) I really want to start running again and finish this 25k, so no more head injuries! I really want this medal in May! 

3) Finally, I wish to pass my state licensure exam. If any of these things could come true for Christmas, I would be so thankful! 

Q: What are you hoping comes true for Christmas?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Swept Away

Are you looking for a quick read? Something to sweep you off your feet? I've got the perfect read! Look no further!

QOL Swept Away

New from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series | Swept Away

Sara doesn’t think she wants love. But her grandmother has other plans.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but his heart is as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between Drew and his new employer’s granddaughter.

Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts researching him online. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

My Review:

As always, The quilts of a love series does not disappoint! Another excellent book to add to my collection. A grandmother who has a secret plan to match make her granddaughter with a man named Drew, but his past is something Sara Jane discovers in a journal he wrote while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Will this teacher find love with Drew or will she find a relationship with God? I also loved Grandma Sari and her determination to finish her ballad quilt, despite battling a memory disease. This book is full of adventures, unexpected things and two people finding their way home again.

Thank you Litfuse for allowing me to review this book! I really enjoyed it! 5 stars!! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Addictions or maybe Traditions

When Christmas comes around, I have this tendency to buy certain things that revolve around Christmas, but I don't do this with other holidays. I'm wondering if you had the strange addiction too?

When it comes to magazines, I'm all in. I love looking at Christmas magazines! I just can't help myself! Seriously, my husband gets super annoyed because I literally scan the aisles at the grocery store looking at magazines that I have not seen yet, that I HAVE to purchase! Even the cashiers will try to check us out to speed the process up and I will have to tell them we are not ready.
Now if I'm honest, I really don't HAVE to purchase any of these, but I love them and they make the season a little brighter for me. Weird? Maybe!

I also have this thing about trying Christmas food. I am what the marketing department loves, especially when they're trying to sell a new product especially at Christmas!

Are you like this too?? Please tell me I'm not the only one! Or else, I'm a sucker for the marketing techniques and it gets me every time! 

I'm also a sucker for movies, especially Hallmark movies. C'mon don't tell me you don't curl up on Friday nights and watch these?? They are the best! When I find a movie I like, I must have it!!
These are just a few of my yearly traditions or possible addictions depending on how you look at it, either way, I love Christmas and I love these things about myself.

Q: What are your Christmas addictions or maybe traditions?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The 1 mile Success

They say you start where you start.. Well, I'm starting at rock bottom. Last week friday I ended up in ER with Costocondriris, which is inflammation of the rib cage / cartilage. It's so painful. 

You actually think you could be having a heart attack from the deep chest pains, but thankfully that was not the case. I was told no heavy breathing.. Like I'm going to listen?

Yesterday, I hit the gym and biked it for 40 mins and then jumped on the track for a mile run.

I was in my glory days! It was beautiful!! Although I was slow, I had a blast! I shouldn't have been huffing and puffing as much with my breathing, but a mile is done and I'm not even suppose to be running. Of course, my chest flared up and the inflammation kicked in, but well worth the mile run!

Q: When do you push yourself beyond physical limits ?

Monday, December 1, 2014

The ultimate guide to the Daniel fast

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast is written by Kristen Feola. This recipe book contains over 100 recipes +21 daily devotionals to kick off your way to a healthier lifestyle and to great healthier eating patterns! Some have even made the Daniel fast a part of their lifestyle!
This book will help you learn to get rid of sugar and any process ingredients out of your daily diet in order to embrace a healthier eating life style, plus allow you to discover greater awareness of God's presence.  Sugar really slows your metabolism down and ultimately makes me feel like garbage! 
The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast equips you to use practical tools during your fasting experience, which allow you to eat foods that are better for you, which lead to healthier and more longer life.

It also includes 21 devotionals that will help feed you on God's truth! Many of the recipes are so easy and can be swapped out of many of the great foods you love!
I like that this book had so many recipes to plan meals for each week. If you are someone who loves carbs, this diet can difficult because it focuses a lot of avoiding those things, but it does incorporating more whole foods. You can eat breads, rice and beans, just more healthier versions- whole grain options. Also, you want to focus on staying away from sugar and eating real foods like raw vegetables, fruits, legumes and things that grow from plants. This diet is perfect is start slowing incorporating, especially with the holiday season.. We are all trying to watch our calories.  Our church always starts this diet up in January, so I cannot wait to use many of these recipes.

Thank you Book Sneeze for providing me a copy of this book! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Running + Weight Loss

My husband has been begging me for us to get a YMCA membership. We used to have a membership, But it just got so expensive that we decided to get rid of it. Finally, last week I caved in and said, "yes we can get our membership back again!"
He was thrilled, beyond excited!

I knew this meant I had to get my booty into the gym and get this runner body into shape. I knew I couldn't go full throttle, like I used to be able to do, especially after suffering a concussion, but I figured 1 mile was doable. WRONG!
Upon hitting some sprint drills, the headache started pounding and I couldn't breath. I literally couldn't get deep breaths out. My airways felt constricted. I was pissed! #Rundisney gear makes everything better. I'll just keep going to the track and working on it!

So, I haven't posted weight loss in a long time because honestly I just hit the plateau of 133, but looks like my body is cooperating now and is ready to move out of the 130's! We are so close!!!! 

I would love to get rid of this small pouch on my stomach and be flat for a two piece this summer.

 I'm yoging it up too, so I'm excited to get more strong!

 I'm excited to go into Thanksgiving giving everything I have, to make decisions towards health and I'm thankful that despite every single set back this year, I've owned every second I lived. 

Q: As you enter the Thanksgiving festivies, what changes are you thankful you've made this year towards better health?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

National Children's Grief Awareness Day- My Yellow Balloon

 Today is National Children's Grief Awareness Day! The point of this post is to bring awareness to grief. Every year children face grief whether losing a loved one through loss, divorce, foster care, deployment, incarceration or deportation. Many of the children I work with, face loss on a daily basis. I am not far removed from loss. I had the opportunity to review a book called "My Yellow Balloon", which deals with loss.

My Yellow Balloon written by Tiffany Papageorge is about a six year old boy named Joey. 

Joey is at the carnival where he falls in love with this magical balloon and instantly the two are friends. They do every together.


The balloon slips off his wrist and floats away. As soon as the balloon leaves, Joey turns sad. 
He is going through the grieving process. Now to some you might say it's a balloon!!! Really, this story is about grief and loss. As Joey continues, the color eventually comes back in the illustrations, showing the seasons of grief. I love this book! 
Soon, all the color is back and Joey is happy when spring arrives because the sun reminds him of his balloon friend.

This book is perfect for helping children through loss, grief and letting go. This book can also be used for children who have parents who maybe incarcerated and the stages a child may feel going through the loss of a parent not being at home. I could also see this book being used for deployment or any other major loss.

I loved this book, it will be so useful with my students and I recommend to anyone who works with children or who has children. It's a beautiful story. 

Thank you to PR by the Book for allowing me to review this book. It receives 5 stars and I was not compensated for a positive review, but my opinion is expressed for review purposes only.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ugly Sweater 5k Run

Previous to my concussion, I had purchased a costume to run in the ugly sweater 5K coming to Grand Rapids.

My younger sister also purchased this lovely gem and is planning on being a Christmas tree with me as well. We were super excited and this is going to be my first race in a long time. I wasn't looking for a PR, but was just ready to get back out there and start running.

However, because of the concussion I don't think it's very smart to start running again, especially with the snow that we are getting pounded with and I need to be safe. I am super bummed. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to wear the costume for something else.

Q: Would you wear a tree costume?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The one who has a Concussion

So, I have a concussion. It's been quite a story, and it's not really one of those funny stories nor is it really a good story.

Last Tuesday, I woke up and went to shut off the alarm in our bedroom, I proceeded to what I thought was walking out the door of our bedroom, But instead walked right into our closet wall that has a metal panel strip where our closet door closes. Did I mention our walls are cement? Not my doing!! So, my head hit the cement wall! Perfect :)
Immediately, I fell upon impact and landed at the end of our bed. The noise was so loud, my husband woke up and asked if I was okay. Luckily, I did not lose consciousness, but was very dizzy.

Symptoms of headaches with pressure, neck pain, bruised eyelid, confusion and aggressive behaviors did not start ramping up until Wednesday, Thursday and then finally on Friday, I decided I need to go to the emergency room for a CT scan.
While in the hospital, I found out that there was no swelling on my brain, but that I needed to make sure not to re-injure my brain..

Um, we are getting like 1 million feet of snow right now... That could be tricky..

I was also told to stay away from my phone and anything that would take emotional, mental or physical energy. So, I have been sleeping a lot and and have been on type of medication to help with the pain. I appreciate all of your kinds words, concerns and emails!

Please pray and send me lovely thoughts! I've been told these things can take up to too weeks or several months to heal. UGH!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nurturing Great Kids

If your a mom or a dad, I'm sure you have days, weeks or evens months where raising children seems unbearable. Being A parent can be tricky, however this one today devotional book is designed to help bring God into your parenting by providing 365 days worth of devotions.

These devotions are focused on parents seeking to build a stronger relationship with their kids, but putting God as their priority in their family. 

Each devotional includes scriptural text from the NIV translation, a devotional reading,  a reflection statement to ponder and finally a parenting principal, which offers parents wisdom and guidance.

This devotional book would make a great Christmas gift for any parent. I highly recommend it. Thank you Zondervan for allowing me to review this amazing tool for families!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten- Book Review

 Where Treetops Glisten
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.
Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?
In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.
The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

My Review:
I love Christmas books! All three of these books will get you into the Christmas spirit. Each book has their own unique flair to the Christmas season and you will become a part of each story as you read them. Sometimes I like to read nouvellas instead of full length books because it's more fun to read smaller stories. The authors did a fantastic job, while using their own sense of unique writing at centering each story on Christmas and family, while keeping the stories connecting to one after another. The main theme that was evident from all three stories was how after the World War II ended, each family had problems and how in the end, what was the most important thing to them? The Christmas season is about faith, family and love. The authors made this a very important point in each of these stories and this was the overall theme. I highly enjoyed all three of these stories and they give you the meaning of what is important about Christmas.

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including "Chasing Mona Lisa," and a speaker and blogger.

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including "Shadowed by Grace." She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Appreciating the Difficult Days


It's no secret they aren't my favorite day, especially when it involves the work week, but for some people Monday is a new beginning, a fresh start at life or another chapter.

I'm beginning to look at life with a fresh perspective. Drew and I know so many people walking through some deep stuff; job losses, miscarriages, losing children to early, loved ones battling addictions, family seperation, families holding on as their children fight through cancer, women being unable to concieve and loved ones with health problems. 

Although people are going through these difficult things and yet, we've experienced many of them ourselves, it gets very tricky as the holidays approach.

 As much as I love this to be a feel good blog, I love this to be a place where it's real too and in my real world, the holidays are tough for people experiencing any of these challenges. 

As you begin your holiday traditions in whatever form or fashion, reach out to someone and include them in your plans. You never know what that will do for them.

 Maybe it's simply purchasing the red cup behind you in line at Starbucks..
Maybe bake a batch of your favorite cookies for someone.
Or like my friend who leaves for Disney today... Send a pic saying you support #teamstorm in the fight and you're wearing purple nail polish down!

Appreciate the difficult days because when the days are easy, then you can look back on the difficult days and remember you can get through anything. You will also remember those who carried you through the difficult days and when they are going through something difficult, you will carry them.

Q: When has someone carried you through a difficult time ?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hope Crossing- 3 Novels

The Hope of Refuge
Two very different women are pulled by their strongest desires. Deborah Mast joined the Amish church and longs to marry her fiancĂ©, but he is changing. Cara Moore is forced to look into a life that was meant to be hers. Will Ada’s House help them realize their hearts’ desires or will it force them to accept what life has done to each of them?

     The Bridge of Peace
       Living out her passion for teaching, Lena Kauffman’s work is suddenly interrupted by a series of pranks and accidents targeted toward her and her students. When tragedy strikes her dear friend Grey Graber’s family on school property, the school board begins to blame her for the trouble. As grief and confusion take their toll on Grey and Lena’s friendship, they are both forced to face a new reality that may offer the peace and love they each long for.

The Harvest of Grace
Fleeing a terrible mistake, Sylvia Fisher dedicates herself to saving the failing Blank farm. When prodigal son Aaron returns, he is surprised by this unusual farmhand who opposes all his plans. Will Aaron and Sylvia’s unflinching efforts toward opposite futures mask the bigger picture—a path to forgiveness, grace, and the promise of love?

My Book Review:
This three- in one collection includes the best selling Ada's House Trilogy, which is now all wrapped up into one book. First I love that this book includes all three books in 1. Some Amish collections are so hard to wrap your brain around because you lose characters or you can't envision who is who, but this book is great. I love that you don't have to wait for what is next, you can just read the next book. Each book in this novel is heart warming and has a different message to the reader. One story gives the message or redemption, one is about working together despite issues and the other is about friendship in which two people find that beauty is beyond what the outside can see. Cindy Woodsmall did a great job with all three of these books. I also loved the glossary of Dutch terms in the back, which helps people like me who are not super great with understanding Amish novels, but enjoys reading them. I enjoyed this book. I recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian fiction, especially Amish Fiction.
Thank you Waterbrook for allowing me to review this book. I was not compensated for a positive review.