life · present not perfect

January 22nd- mantra

This week in class we are learning about penguins. When I was in high school I dislocated my knee and wore an immobilizer for three months. During that time my nickname became penguin. While the nickname didn’t stick after the immobilizer was removed, my love of penguins was born.

When I was in college I actually had a pretty decent collection of penguins in my dorm room. My favorite hockey team was/is the Pittsburgh Penguins. There was just something about this flightless bird that endures the coldest lands around. They all look a bit different, but also the same. There are so many cool facts to learn and I’m having fun teaching my students about them and even learning some new facts myself.

Over the weekend I got a new watch. This is hybrid watch. It looks and functions like an analog watch, but also keeps track of steps and sleep cycles. I can set it to vibrate and move the hands to notify me if certain people contact me via text or phone call as well as set alarms. I have found myself watching my steps, being aware of my sleep habits and much more.

Ok what does this have to do with today’s post… the info about school… nothing. I just wanted to share that. But the watch does.

Today’s activity:

Take a minute to choose your own spirit-rousing mantra. Need help? Think of the words you wish someone would say to you each and every day.

Here are a few suggestions they provide:

  • I’ve got this
  • I am the sky. Everything else is the weather
  • I am invincible
  • Perfection is overrated

Now think of your own mantra. Post it somewhere you can read it every day.

My first thought when I read this was: Image result for one step at a time

One of my favorite MLK quotes:

Image result for take the first step

I think I often need a reminder that you don’t have to get to the finish line each time… but you have to start. You need to figure out what the next step is, not every step.

Some things I need to remember more:

Image result for mom of teen boys

Image result for everything is a choice








What is your mantra? What is something you need to think of but don’t right now? Do you think focusing on a mantra would help?

One last quote to share… my favorite line from a poem

Image result for two roads diverged in a yellow wood

book · reviews

Carnegie’s Maid– book review

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel by [Benedict, Marie]So on Monday, the boys and I went to the library. I went in with a list of three books I wanted to look for while I was there. But, I didn’t leave with any of them! I found one and it didn’t appeal once it was in my hand, the other two I didn’t find.

But, what I did find in the “Lucky Day” collection was Carnegie’s Maid, by Marie Benedict. Now that we live in Pittsburgh, this book held even more interest to me. So I checked it out and began reading it when we arrived home Monday afternoon.

Clara Kelly has grown up on her parents’ tenant farm in Ireland. Her father raised all three of his daughters to be educated, a rare thing for females at this time. In 1863, Clara’s family sent her to America in hopes she is able to find a job which will then send home funds to her family in Ireland. When she arrived in America, 42 days later, she needed to figure out what her next steps would be… She had distant relatives in Pittsburgh, but didn’t know how she would get to them. When she heard someone calling for “Clara Kelly” she saw it as a sign of change. Knowing that she was not the Clara Kelly they were searching for, she still got into the carriage that would take her to a new world.

Clara Kelly became the Lady’s maid for Mrs. Carnegie. This roll required skills she did not possess and working with a mistress who was dominating over her family. Clara determined to make herself invaluable to her employer takes on the identity of the other Clara Kelly. While working for Mrs. Carnegie, Clara become acquainted learns about the family’s history from Andrew Carnegie.

Can Clara keep up her new identity? What will happen as Clara and Mr Carnegie (the older) aka Andrew Carnegie get to know each other? Can a poor girl from Ireland stand on her own with the elite of America?

Read and learn about how Clara may have played a role of the change in Andrew Carnegie from a ruthless industrialist to one of the world’s first true philanthropists.

book · reviews

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe– book review

I haven’t done a book review in a while. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading or haven’t been reading good books, it just means I haven’t taken the time to stop and do a book review. I also have been reading a few books that are part of book series. I don’t like to review a book in the middle of a series.

Last Friday, we went to Costco. For some reason I stopped while walking past the books. I think I was looking to see if the new JD Robb book was there, it wasn’t so I just ordered it on Amazon! But, I did see a book that caught my attention, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe. I took a picture of the front cover and had planned to look and see if I could get it Kindle Unlimited.

The boys do not have any kind of camp this week, so we decided to take a trip to the library on Monday. I pulled up the picture on my phone and searched for the book on the computer… they had it! So, I picked it up. I was in the middle of another book, but decided to take a break and read this instead. I started it late Monday afternoon and finished it this morning. I would have finished it sooner if life didn’t get in the way of me reading.  Why must I be responsible?

Ellen Bradford’s life was lining up perfectly. She was a real estate attorney, engaged to Hayden Croft who has ambitions to become a politician. When her grandmother passes away, Ellen is drawn to fulfilling her grandmother’s last wish, delivering a letter to a boy she loved as a child.

Ellen, against the wishes of both Hayden and her mother, drops everything and travels from Manhattan to Beacon, Maine. Ellen expects this to be a day or two trip, but after almost drowning shortly after arriving…. everything else takes a weird and wild twist and turns. Ellen learns more about her Grandmother’s past and a bit about herself as well.


I did enjoy this easy summer read book. It was rather predictable, but that’s this type of book. Girl goes away, girl meets guy, girl falls in love, but shouldn’t, girl gets the new guy in the end…. shocked? Nope I don’t think so. But, its more than that. It about stopping and slowing down in life. It’s about seeing that there is more to life than linear lines and exceptions. That even when you know someone there is a whole other part of their lives that you may know nothing about.

I encourage you to check out this book. If you do, let me know what you think.


book · reviews

A Fire Sparkling– book review

I love Amazon First Reads, this is an opportunity to get a new e-book, from their 5/6 offered, each month for free on your kindle. I have read quite I few I’ve enjoyed… and this month I chose the book A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean. Let me tell you… I could not put this book down!

A Fire Sparkling by [MacLean, Julianne]Gillian just discovered that the man she was living with cheated on her at his 50th birthday party…. how did she find out? She caught him in the act. Yep. So she packed a bag and went home. Well, not quite home, but to her grandmother’s house. Her father now lived there too.

Gillian phoned her father before she arrived to let him know she was coming. At this point he said he was about to call her too…. this worried Gillian since her father never called. They didn’t have a close relationship.

Gillian learns that her dad discovered photos of her grandmother, Vivian. These photos were dated during WWII. But, what worried her father the most was his mother was photographed with a Nazi officer.

Gillian and her dad question Vivian. Then the stories begin to get good… the truth begins to come out and with every question that gets answered, a new one comes about. Vivian tells her story of her life in London during the war. It is a story of love, sadness and eventually hope.

What will Vivian tell Gillian to help clarify the story behind the photographs? How does one keep such deep secrets for so many decades of life? Can this new knowledge help fix the family bonds under the roof of a Connecticut farmhouse?

Ok, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I love a good historical fiction. You know I especially like the ones set in WWII. This story is one of those page turners that has you wondering what will be relieved next. There were so many times when I said… oh I didn’t see that coming. To me, it felt like a good combination of a romance/mystery/historical fiction. There is no smut and the romance is all in a very matter of fact statements, but it is that deep love between two people who are meant for each other. The mystery is more of the.. what’s going to happen next? What clue is there to tell me what twist and turn this story will take next. Well the historical fiction part is obvious.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. Now I’m off to figure out what my next long book will be. I’m reading a mystery series and will pick up the next book in that series to read until I find another long read.


food · life

It’s Tuesday, and toasty

This weekend we were busy, and did not get around to mowing the lawn. We are going to have rain coming in starting today and lasting until Monday… yes you read that right. We finally had a few days of sun, and it was nice! So, I decided to mow the lawn this morning. It is crazy how hot it got already today. It was 84 at 8am and is now 87 at 10am.

Yesterday we went to the library. The boys came home and dove right into their books, and I did too. I two books this time and that’s a good thing since I’ve already read more than half of my first book. I sat outside at the fire pit, not lit, and read for a while yesterday. (first book- Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer, second book- Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson)

Today we are heading to the grocery store. The boys are looking forward to watching the US Women play soccer today. Richard and I struggled to get up this morning so we either need to workout tonight or push our workout to tomorrow, we will see.

Here is our menu this week:

It is going to be in the high 80s/low 90s today, I guess summer has arrived!


family · food · life


The windows are open. The breezes are blowing. We have music playing and the boys finished their math workbook pages for today. I already cleaned the bathrooms, went to the grocery store, made pizza dough and cut up the watermelon I got at the store.

Blake is making our dinner tonight. Each Friday one of the boys will be picking and making our dinner. This week we are having steak pizzaiola pasta. We will share a review of this dish later.

We are hoping that the weather is nice on Sunday. From 9-1 the streets in one section of Pittsburgh will be closed to street traffic. It is set up for people to walk, bike, stroll or however they want to meander down the street. They do this in May, June and July. This weekend it is on one of our favorite areas of downtown Pittsburgh. So we hope to load all four bikes onto the bike rack and go ride the streets of the “strip” and see the sights. Open Streets Pittsburgh is sponsered by UMPC Heath as a way to get people out and moving and see the streets as a place for people.

The rest of the weekend will be spent trying to figure out where to locate all the sprinklers so we can begin the process of growing grass in our yard. This will be a project since our WHOLE backyard was reconstructed to flatten it out and make it more usable. It will be really nice once we have grass instead of yards and yards of hay mats. Oh well… life doesn’t happen in an instant.

I finished my library book, Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah, and now am going back to a kindle book until we go back to the library next week. I often struggle to find books at the library. I either gravitate towards mystery series or to authors that I’ve read in the past. I know this is an opportunity to read new books, but nothing ever jumps at me in the “lucky day” or new book sections. Then to find something in the shelves you have to sort of know what you are looking for… oh well it gets more books in the hands of my sons and gives me a new book each week.

Hope you have some fun plans for the weekend. Chat with you soon


book · reviews

Beantown Girls— book review

Yes… I know I just did a book review the other day. But, I just finished up Beantown Girls, by Jean Healey this morning and I HAVEEEE to share it with you! I downloaded this book after I finished reading The Saturday Evening Girls Club, by the same author.

While I wanted to dive into this book right away, I wanted to read The Overdue Life of Amy Byler and I’m reading Masterminds and Wingmen. When I started reading Beantown Girls, I couldn’t put it down. I stopped reading Masterminds and focused solely on reading Beantown Girls. Yes it is that good!

The Beantown Girls by [Healey, Jane]In 1944 Fiona had her whole life planned out for her. She works for the Mayor, has two best friends and will marry her fiance as soon as he returns from the war. Those plans all go away when the telegram arrives. Her fiance’s plane was shot down over Germany.

Fiona’s two best friends Viv and Dottie are determined to help Fiona adjust to this news. One day while watching a movie the girls learn about the Red Cross Clubmobile Girls. The Red Cross was recruiting women ages 25-35 who were college educated and had some work experience.

Fiona decided this was her opportunity to honor Danny and maybe even find out what happened to him. After training stateside, the girls are put on their way to Europe. There they learn to drive a truck, make coffee and doughnuts. They are sent to bring the troops a slice of home. True US girls, fresh brewed coffee, and fresh baked doughnuts… but more important a friendly face and a kind smile. They played music, handed out cigarettes and candy.

Read to find out more about this little know piece of WWII. Will Fiona find Danny? Will Fiona, Viv and Dottie find a place in the world of war? Will the Doughnut Dollies really make an impact on the lives of the troops?

I had never heard about this piece of World War II. I loved the roll the ladies were able to play in helping the troops feel a bit of home. It is impressed how much history Jean Healey is able to twist into a fiction story. Shortly after I started reading I found myself googling the information in the story to see more about these fascinating women and the impact they had. I strongly encourage you to read this story! Now to figure out what book I want to read next.



book · reviews

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler- book review

I finished this book on Friday, but I’ve had so many other things I wanted to blog about it got pushed aside. (There are a few other posts that will be coming soon too that got pushed aside as well… seems like I’m either struggling to find things to post about or I have too many things)

I found the book The Overdue Life of Amy Byler as an Amazon First Read book. I love these books as they are new books, but you get them for free, which is rare in the Amazon world! They offer 6 or 7 titles each month and you can pick one (if you are a prime member). I do not always take advantage of it, I’m not the type of person to read a book just because. If it doesn’t speak to me, it is not worth my time. There are too many good books to waste my time on one I’m not interested in reading… just my two cents.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by [Harms, Kelly]Amy Byler’s life was turned upside down three years ago. Her husband went away on a business trip to Hong Kong and decided to not return! At this point, she was a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids. What was she going to do? Well, she managed to get a job as the librarian at the private school her children attended. This allowed them to stay at school and brought in the income needed to maintain her house and life.

Then bam! Three years go by and while shopping at a drug store, there he is her ex-husband is back! What?!?

Her husband, John, wants to reconnect with his children and asks to have the children stay with him for a week. Amy isn’t sure this is what she wants to do, but her best friend convinces her that is a good thing. Amy decided to use this as an opportunity to go to a librarian convention in NYC. She contacts her best friend from high school and hopes to stay with her in New York in order to reconnect and save some cash.

Amy  is conflicted between enjoying herself in New York and feeling guilty about being away from her children. Can Amy learn to relax? Will the children be ok with their Dad? What happens when Amy meets up with her friend in NYC, who happens to work for a beauty magazine?

I did enjoy this book. There were parts where it felt very unrealistic. There were parts where it dragged on longer than needed, but it was a good read. It did get me thinking about my life as a mom. I have never left my family to go away on my own. I joke about needing to travel whenever Richard travels for work, but I don’t need to do this. At the same time, I do not think that I’ve given up on being Lori to just be mom. When the boys were younger, I can see that I did it more, but once I went back to work, I felt that I found ways to be myself again. I know that I do not need a “#momspringa” anytime soon, but I am looking forward to my next vacation… !



book · reviews

The Saturday Evening Girls Club– book review

It’s summer… that means more book reviews from me! I just finished reading the historical fiction: The Saturday Evening Girls Club by Jane Healey.

The Saturday Evening Girls Club: A Novel by [Healey, Jane]Life in the early 1900s is hard for “girls” especially when you are an immigrant living in the North End of Boston. Your family expects you to accept the ways of the “old country”, but you want to seek adventurer and find your own way in the land of America.

This is especially true for four friends who find themselves trying to find their own way. They met when they were just 13 years old at the Saturday Evening Girls Club. They have grown together and now that they are in their early 20s they are feeling the pull. Should they follow the tradition and marry a “good man”, even one they’ve never met before, or should they search out their own form of happiness.

Read about the lives of Caprice, an Italian immigrant who wants to find her own path; Ada, a Russian Jewish immigrant who wants to go to college and become a teacher; Maria, who can’t figure out how to escape her alcoholic father without using her looks the wrong way; and Tesa who can’t figure out if following her Jewish traditions is giving in.  Each girl has her own story to tell… her own journey to follow, but he friendship that they share will help them overcome.

Will these courageous females be able to put aside the past traditions, or will they embrace them? Will they find love, happiness, a career?

This is a well written book that draws you in. I found myself trying to guess what would happen next. Can they each find their own way, their own identity? I also like that the author put in a piece at the end to explain what was historical and what was fiction. It was interesting to see and makes me want to find more written about this time in history.




book · reviews

the thing about jellyfish- book review

When the boys were on spring break, we headed into Barnes and Nobel. We don’t go there often, but we had multiple gift cards. The boys were having their state testing the next week and they were allowed to bring in books to read when they completed the testing. I know we have a ton of books, but we had not purchased any new books for a while. The boys do most of their reading now on their kindles or books they borrowed from the library.

I had each of the boys pick out 3 books that they have not read before. That worked for 5 out of the 6 books…. that I find a success. Blake decided to pick up books that were continuations of series  he was already familiar with, but Colby decided to pick new books.

When Colby finished reading the first book “the thing about jellyfish”, he put it on my computer and told you… you have to read this. So I did!


“the thing about jellyfish” is a young adult novel written by Ali Benjamin.

Suzy finds out that her former best friend Franny drown over summer vacation. Everyone kept telling Suzy that it was an accident, that somethings just happen, but Suzy could not accept this answer. Suzy stops talking. Her parents are worried. The kids in school think she is even stranger than they thought before. Everyone wonders how they can help Suzy, but all Suzy wonders is how she can prove that Franny’s death was not an accident.

This book deals with children and grief. The fact that this is hard enough to understand, but even harder to deal with when it is the accidental death of a friend. This deals with the changes that occur in friendships as children age and their likes and feelings travel in different directions. It deals with feeling that lack of closure. It also shows that you can move forward and that change isn’t always a bad thing.

This book will hit your heart. It will make you remember those hard times of 6th/7th grade. It will help young readers see that they are not alone. That change is hard, but in the end, change is good

Colby and I both recommend this book!