Penny's Passion: May 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Let's Make Apple Crisp

Hello guys!  I took a little unplanned sabbatical last week.  I was knee deep in helping my friend Amanda get ready for her wedding and reception.  Her beautiful wedding was Saturday so now I'm back and ready to roll on the blog again.  A wedding summary will be coming later.

So today I'd like to share with you a recipe that came out of our last girls' weekend.  One of the things I love about having time with my friends is the conversations we have.  Lots of times our chats tend to gravitate to food and recipes.  Over breakfast we started chatting about family recipes and this apple crisp recipe surfaced from my friend Janet. 

Here's What You Need
Granny Smith and Honey Crisp Apples (I used 6 Honey Crisp and 3 Granny Smith)
1/2 a lemon
2 cups flour
4-1/2 cups oats (18 oz. canister)
3 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups butter

Here's What You Do
Cut up enough apples to fill a 9x13 pan.  Janet's trick was to mix one Granny Smith to each two Honey Crisp apples.  I found nine total apples to be the perfect amount.  The Pampered Chef Apple Wedger worked great to cut and core the apples. 

Side note -- I'm in love with this Pampered Chef apple wedger. It cuts the apple into perfect little shapes which are perfect for snacking.  Works great on pears also.  Need one?  Click HERE to purchase.

 I loosely peeled the wedges and cut into small chucks. 

After wedging, peeling and cutting the apples, sprinkle the juice of half a lemon over the apples.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Next is making the crisp.  I'm not going to lie, I'm all about the crisp.  I even added some ingredients to Janet's recipe so we'd have a bit more "crisp".  

Mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon until well blended.  Melt butter and pour over mixture.  Blend well.  Pile all the crisp on top of the apple.

You might have to press it down a bit on the apples, but just keep going until it all fits. 

Place the 9x13 pan on a cookie sheet to catch the juice if some bubbles over the edge of the dish.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  Get ready -- your house is going to smell wonderful while this is baking!  Your taste buds are going to be so ready to dip in to this yumminess as soon as it comes out of the oven!

Let's Be Friends Blog Hop with The Dwelling Tree
Talented Tuesday
Love From The Kitchen: Tuesday's Table
The Diary of a Real Housewife
My Own Home
While I'm Waiting
Tuesday Talk
Pennies into Pearls
Simply Sweet Home
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Five on Friday - May 20, 2016

Hey, hey guys!!  It's Friday.  This week zipped by and I'm not going to lie, I could really use an extra day this week.  But who doesn't love a weekend?!?  I'm looking forward to making the most of it!  

Here's my five for this week ~

1.  Lean In for Graduates
Did you see my blog post yesterday about the commencement speech Sheryl Sandberg delivered?  You can read it HERE.  Well, Sheryl wrote a book and I'm thinking it would make a wonderful graduation gift for all those seniors out there.  The best seller offers advice on finding and getting the most out of a first job, resume writing, best interviewing practices, negotiating your salary and listening to your inner voice.  What is buy a copy?  Click HERE to get yours.

2.  Wearable Nail Polish Holder
Where has this gadget been all my life?!?  Have you guys seen these before?  Called a tweexy, this baby hooks on your fingers and holds your nail polish bottle.  It makes it possible to do your nails ANYWHERE, even if you don't have a surface to set the bottle on.  It's going on my wish list.  Click HERE for more info.  I've even attached a little video so you can see it in action.

3.  Money Monster
Wednesday night Eric and I had a date night.  We headed to see Money Monster with George Clooney and Julia Roberts.  Even though the reviews I've seen are mixed, we both thought it was a good watch.  There was suspense, humor, intrigue.  I agree with the critics consensus, "Money Monster's strong cast and solidly written story ride a timely wave of socioeconomic anger that's powerful enough to overcome an occasionally muddled approach to its worthy themes.".  Funny side story -- Eric and I were the ONLY people in the entire theater.  Even though it was just the two of us, I still found myself whispering when I talked to Eric during the show.  


4.  KidSmart
Last night I attended a fundraiser for KidSmart and I want to give this wonderful organization a shout out.  KidSmart's mission is to ensure that children and their classrooms in the Greater Metropolitan Saint Louis Area have the basic tools for learning by transferring, at no cost, the community's surplus supplies and merchandise into the hands of teachers for school children in need.  Since opening in 2002, KidSmart has distributed more than $27 million in school supplies to more than 102,100 economically disadvantaged children in the area. There are still more than 90,000 students in desperate need of KidSmart services. KidSmart is proud of its financial stewardship. 92% of all product and monetary donations go directly toward our free store program.  For more info on how you could help, please HERE.

5.  For some weird reason, I find this so darn funny.....


Have a great weekend!  I have a wedding work day tomorrow with the bride and some of her wedding party.  We have one week to get things in order and we can do it!  My friend TW is coming down from Wisconsin on Wednesday to help finish things up.  It's going to be one fun, full week!  Wish me luck!  

Linking up with:

High Five for Friday
5 on Friday 
The Triplet Farm
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - Commencement Speeches

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  So glad you popped in to visit me and Vanessa from X-tremely V!  Hope you link up below and tell all your blogger friends to link up too!

Last week our son, Ian, graduated.  If you missed it, you can read about it HERE and HERE.  Proud mom I am!  Well, that made me start thinking about graduations in general and how many of us will be attending them and have to sit through the dreaded commencement speeches.  I heard some good ones....and some not so good ones! 

A very good commencement speech surfaced last week and I would like to share it with you today in case you missed it.  It was delivered by Sheryl Sandberg, who is the chief operating officer of Facebook, to the Class of 2016 at the University of California at Berkeley.  She lost her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, suddenly and unexpectedly in May of 2015.  Her commencement address speaks to loss and resilience. 

Sheryl's speech, intended for the graduates, has so many points that all of us should ponder in our everyday lives.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did ~

Congratulations to all of you…and especially to the magnificent Berkeley graduating class of 2016!

It is a privilege to be here at Berkeley, which has produced so many Nobel Prize winners, Turing Award winners, astronauts, members of Congress, Olympic gold medalists…. and that’s just the women!

Berkeley has always been ahead of the times. In the 1960s, you led the Free Speech Movement. Back in those days, people used to say that with all the long hair, how do we even tell the boys from the girls? We now know the answer: manbuns.

Early on, Berkeley opened its doors to the entire population. When this campus opened in 1873, the class included 167 men and 222 women. It took my alma mater another ninety years to award a single degree to a single woman.

One of the women who came here in search of opportunity was Rosalind Nuss. Roz grew up scrubbing floors in the Brooklyn boardinghouse where she lived. She was pulled out of high school by her parents to help support their family. One of her teachers insisted that her parents put her back into school—and in 1937, she sat where you are sitting today and received a Berkeley degree. Roz was my grandmother. She was a huge inspiration to me and I’m so grateful that Berkeley recognized her potential. I want to take a moment to offer a special congratulations to the many here today who are the first generation in their families to graduate from college. What a remarkable achievement.

Today is a day of celebration. A day to celebrate all the hard work that got you to this moment.

Today is a day of thanks. A day to thank those who helped you get here—nurtured you, taught you, cheered you on, and dried your tears. Or at least the ones who didn’t draw on you with a Sharpie when you fell asleep at a party.

Today is a day of reflection. Because today marks the end of one era of your life and the beginning of something new.

A commencement address is meant to be a dance between youth and wisdom. You have the youth. Someone comes in to be the voice of wisdom—that’s supposed to be me. I stand up here and tell you all the things I have learned in life, you throw your cap in the air, you let your family take a million photos –don’t forget to post them on Instagram —and everyone goes home happy.

Today will be a bit different. We will still do the caps and you still have to do the photos. But I am not here to tell you all the things I’ve learned in life. Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.

I have never spoken publicly about this before. It’s hard. But I will do my very best not to blow my nose on this beautiful Berkeley robe.

One year and thirteen days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His death was sudden and unexpected. We were at a friend’s fiftieth birthday party in Mexico. I took a nap. Dave went to work out. What followed was the unthinkable—walking into a gym to find him lying on the floor. Flying home to tell my children that their father was gone. Watching his casket being lowered into the ground.

For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief—what I think of as the void—an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even to breathe.

Dave’s death changed me in very profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.

I’m sharing this with you in the hopes that today, as you take the next step in your life, you can learn the lessons that I only learned in death. Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished.

Everyone who has made it through Cal has already experienced some disappointment. You wanted an A but you got a B. OK, let’s be honest—you got an A- but you’re still mad. You applied for an internship at Facebook, but you only got one from Google. She was the love of your life… but then she swiped left.

Game of Thrones the show has diverged way too much from the books—and you bothered to read all four thousand three hundred and fifty-two pages.

You will almost certainly face more and deeper adversity. There’s loss of opportunity: the job that doesn’t work out, the illness or accident that changes everything in an instant. There’s loss of dignity: the sharp sting of prejudice when it happens. There’s loss of love: the broken relationships that can’t be fixed. And sometimes there’s loss of life itself.

Some of you have already experienced the kind of tragedy and hardship that leave an indelible mark. Last year, Radhika, the winner of the University Medal, spoke so beautifully about the sudden loss of her mother.

The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will. Today I want to talk about what happens next. About the things you can do to overcome adversity, no matter what form it takes or when it hits you. The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days—the times that challenge you to your very core—that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

A few weeks after Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave.” Phil put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

We all at some point live some form of option B. The question is: What do we do then?

As a representative of Silicon Valley, I’m pleased to tell you there is data to learn from. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s—personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence—that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

The first P is personalization—the belief that we are at fault. This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

When Dave died, I had a very common reaction, which was to blame myself. He died in seconds from a cardiac arrhythmia. I poured over his medical records asking what I could have—or should have—done. It wasn’t until I learned about the three P’s that I accepted that I could not have prevented his death. His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?

Studies show that getting past personalization can actually make you stronger. Teachers who knew they could do better after students failed adjusted their methods and saw future classes go on to excel. College swimmers who underperformed but believed they were capable of swimming faster did. Not taking failures personally allows us to recover—and even to thrive.

The second P is pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. You know that song “Everything is awesome?” This is the flip: “Everything is awful.” There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.

The child psychologists I spoke to encouraged me to get my kids back to their routine as soon as possible. So ten days after Dave died, they went back to school and I went back to work. I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion and for a second—a brief split second—I forgot about death.

That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us—quite literally at times.

The loss of a partner often has severe negative financial consequences, especially for women. So many single mothers—and fathers—struggle to make ends meet or have jobs that don’t allow them the time they need to care for their children. I had financial security, the ability to take the time off I needed, and a job that I did not just believe in, but where it’s actually OK to spend all day on Facebook. Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night, crying less, playing more.

The third P is permanence—the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.

We often project our current feelings out indefinitely—and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious—and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad—and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings—but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”

None of you need me to explain the fourth P…which is, of course, pizza from Cheese Board.

But I wish I had known about the three P’s when I was your age. There were so many times these lessons would have helped.

Day one of my first job out of college, my boss found out that I didn’t know how to enter data into Lotus 1-2-3. That’s a spreadsheet—ask your parents. His mouth dropped open and he said, ‘I can’t believe you got this job without knowing that”—and then walked out of the room. I went home convinced that I was going to be fired. I thought I was terrible at everything… but it turns out I was only terrible at spreadsheets. Understanding pervasiveness would have saved me a lot of anxiety that week.

I wish I had known about permanence when I broke up with boyfriends. It would’ve been a comfort to know that feeling was not going to last forever, and if I was being honest with myself… neither were any of those relationships.

And I wish I had understood personalization when boyfriends broke up with me. Sometimes it’s not you—it really is them. I mean, that dude never showered.

And all three P’s ganged up on me in my twenties after my first marriage ended in divorce. I thought at the time that no matter what I accomplished, I was a massive failure.

The three P’s are common emotional reactions to so many things that happen to us—in our careers, our personal lives, and our relationships. You’re probably feeling one of them right now about something in your life. But if you can recognize you are falling into these traps, you can catch yourself. Just as our bodies have a physiological immune system, our brains have a psychological immune system—and there are steps you can take to help kick it into gear.

One day my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist, suggested that I think about how much worse things could be. This was completely counterintuitive; it seemed like the way to recover was to try to find positive thoughts. “Worse?” I said. “Are you kidding me? How could things be worse?” His answer cut straight through me: “Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia while he was driving your children.” Wow. The moment he said it, I was overwhelmingly grateful that the rest of my family was alive and healthy. That gratitude overtook some of the grief.

Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight when you have so many fun moments to list— although maybe do it before you hit Kip’s and can still remember what they are.

Last month, eleven days before the anniversary of Dave’s death, I broke down crying to a friend of mine. We were sitting—of all places—on a bathroom floor. I said: “Eleven days. One year ago, he had eleven days left. And we had no idea.” We looked at each other through tears, and asked how we would live if we knew we had eleven days left.

As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had eleven days left? I don’t mean blow everything off and party all the time— although tonight is an exception. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.

A few years ago, my mom had to have her hip replaced. When she was younger, she always walked without pain. But as her hip disintegrated, each step became painful. Now, even years after her operation, she is grateful for every step she takes without pain—something that never would have occurred to her before.

As I stand here today, a year after the worst day of my life, two things are true. I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always—right here where I can touch it. I never knew I could cry so often—or so much.

But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out—grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day—and trust me that list was often quite long. Now I try really hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy.

It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude—gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude—not just on the good days, like today, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.

There are so many moments of joy ahead of you. That trip you always wanted to take. A first kiss with someone you really like. The day you get a job doing something you truly believe in. Beating Stanford. (Go Bears!) All of these things will happen to you. Enjoy each and every one.

I hope that you live your life—each precious day of it—with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain—and that you are grateful for each step.

And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

Class of 2016, as you leave Berkeley, build resilience.

Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.

Build resilient organizations. If anyone can do it, you can, because Berkeley is filled with people who want to make the world a better place. Never stop working to do so—whether it’s a boardroom that is not representative or a campus that’s not safe. Speak up, especially at institutions like this one, which you hold so dear. My favorite poster at work reads, “Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.” When you see something that’s broken, go fix it.

Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.

Lift each other up, help each other kick the shit out of option B—and celebrate each and every moment of joy.

You have the whole world in front of you. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Congratulations, and Go Bears!


That's one great graduation speech!  Hope we all can use her words to enrich our lives!

Now it's your turn -- link up what you're linking out loud about today.  What's the best graduation message you have ever heard?  Join me and Vanessa at X-tremely V by linking up your favorite post(s) from the week.  We love hearing from you! 

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at:
Party at My Place
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekending - Ian Graduated!

This was one of those magical weekends you hate to see end and will remember always.  Our son, Ian, graduated from law school on Thursday night and it gave us the opportunity to gather our families together and celebrate his accomplishment.  Love when opportunities like this come around!

My parents arrived at our house on Thursday and we headed over to Ian's hooding ceremony.  I have to say, I was pretty much busting with pride that my baby boy had fulfilled his dream of graduating from law school.  The ceremony ran like a well oiled machine with not a single hiccup as Ian's wife (Kayla), my parents (Linda and Don), Ian's father-in-law (Mark), Eric and I watched him walk across the stage.  

After graduation we went to one of Ian's favorite restaurants, Coopers Hawk Winery for a late dinner.  The food was fabulous like always!  

Friday I got to spend the day with my parents and we had a blast.  We started the day at Eckert's picking strawberries.  The vines were LOADED!  It only took a few minutes for us to have three baskets full.

Then it was on to Hidden Lake Winery for a meeting I had with the wedding coordinator there.  The wedding I'm helping with is only two weeks away and we had some details to get finalized.  This location is beautiful and I can't wait to see how the wedding all comes together.  You know you will be seeing pictures here so stay tuned!

Our next stop of the day was Marcoot Jersey Creamery.  I had heard about this little farm that made cheeses and wanted to check it out.  On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays they offer a tour at 1:00 pm.  The tour guide, Laura, could not have been more delightful!  She did a magnificent job teaching us about making cheese and bottling milk.  Kind of made me want to move to a farm myself!  

We got to sample their milk, cheese and ice cream -- all were delicious!  So glad we had the opportunity to visit this location.  

Friday night Kayla and Ian joined us for dinner and we finished up the some of the table decorations for Ian's graduation party on Saturday.  Kayla had found some really cute ideas and I was lucky enough to be able to help her put it all together.  

Our family gathering to celebrate Ian's graduation was being held at Maggiano's.  Their banquet room was the perfect size for our group and didn't require major decorations to be nice.  

We had three tables, one for each year of law school.  There is a common saying in law school that year one (1L) will scare you to death, year two (2L) will work you to death and year three (3L) will bore you to death.  We made signs for each table with those sayings, added painted year numbers and accented it all with a couple law books and baby's breath.  Simple, easy and adorable!  

Each guest received a candy "bar" with thoughts for Ian to do well taking his "bar" as a favor. 

Add the family and we had a perfect little party!  Great way to end Ian's law school experience and a great send off into his future.  We are so proud of you Ian!  Special thanks, too, to all the family that traveled in from out of town to help us celebrate.  

On Sunday, my friend Linda and I went to church together then headed to Eckert's for another round of strawberry picking.  While we were there, we couldn't resist their all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner.  I mean, it was Sunday and isn't that what you're supposed to have for dinner on Sundays?!?  It was so, so good!

Later in the afternoon my friend Tracy popped in and we whipped up her niece's graduation announcements.  Congratulations Kaitlyn on your bachelor's degree from University of Illinois!

In the evening I hunkered down on the couch for some serious hockey watching.  The St. Louis Blues had advanced to Round 3 of the NHL playoffs and their first game was Sunday night.  Win for us!!  Game 2 is tomorrow and we sure are hoping for another successful win!!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  We are experiencing some frigid temps for a few days, but it should warm up as the week goes on.  I'm headed to the baseball game on Tuesday night and have a fundraiser event on Thursday.  What a fun week!  Hope to see you back again soon!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
Bella and the City
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Over the Moon

Let's Be Friends Blog Hop with The Dwelling Tree
The Diary of a Real Housewife
My Own Home
While I'm Waiting
Tuesday Talk
Pennies into Pearls
Simply Sweet Home
Life is Lovely
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Five on Friday - May 13, 2016

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!  I have to be honest ~ I love Friday the Thirteenths.  They've been kind of lucky for me in the past so I'm always a little excited on the inside when I see one approaching on the calendar.  So here's hoping today will be lucky for you and for me!

Special shout out to our son, Ian.  Last night was his hooding ceremony for law school.  All his hard work has payed off and we couldn't be more proud of him!

Let's take a look at this week's five:

1.  Baby Girls Flower Headbands
We were blessed with a baby niece in February and I couldn't wait to fill her closet with dresses and bows.  I found these adorable flower headbands on Amazon and the price was so fantastic I wondered if that would be as cute in real life as they were on screen.  They were!  A pack of 10 different colors is only $3.99 (plus $3.69 for shipping).  How can you beat that?!?  Want some of your own?  Click HERE to check them out.

2.  New Jell-O Pudding Flavors
Look what Jell-O did -- they put two new flavors of pudding snacks on the shelves.  S'more and Strawberry Sundae.  These babies are made with real milk and have no artificial sweeteners.  I'm thinking these would be a great snack to have on hand when the kids come in from playing outside or to throw in the lunchbox.  Have you tried them?  They are in the refrigerated section of the store if you're on the hunt for them.

New Jello Pudding Snacks Flavors: S'more & Strawberry Sundae - Mommies ...

3.  Adjustable Tiered Tower
Check out this adorable tiered tower that's in the outlet section of Pampered Chef.  It's on sale for $13.35!  I'm so excited to add a couple of these to my dish collection.  These are great to pull out when you're entertaining.  Here's the description straight from Pampered Chef, "Mix and match the three white ceramic plates and columns four different ways. The columns feature a satin nickel finish and include a decorative cardholder to let guests know what you're serving. The tower fully disassembles for compact storage. Plates, 7", 9" and 10½" diameters; tower, 12½" fully assembled. Plates are dishwasher-safe."  Want one?  Click HERE to order.  While you're there, be sure to check out the other items in the clearance section!  Oh, and they are only there while supplies last don't delay getting yours.

Adjustable Tiered Tower

4.  Well-Read Woman - A Reader's Journal
Do you have a reader in you life?  Are you a reader? You might be wanting a reader's journal.  Here's the description from Amazon:  "Well-read women keep their books close to their heart. Here they can record what they've read, reflect on their favorite characters and notable quotations, and list books to devour next. With a satin ribbon bookmark and gorgeous watercolor portraits of literature's most beloved female characters—plus a comprehensive list of prize-winning fiction to inspire new selections—this go-to reading companion is as elegant as it is practical."  This would make a great gift for a couple people I know.

5.  This is so me...
Penny's Passion: Five on Friday - May 13, 2016:

Have a fantastic weekend!  We will be celebrating Ian's graduation with a family party tomorrow.  I've got a meeting with the wedding venue for the wedding I'm helping with in a few weeks and I'm taking my parents to visit a creamery.  Lots of fun stuff!  Hope you get in some fun stuff too!  See you next week!

Linking up with:
High Five for Friday
5 on Friday 
The Triplet Farm
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday -- Ian's Graduating!

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  So glad you popped in to visit me and Vanessa from X-tremely V!

Today I'm sitting here thinking about how immensely proud I am of my son, Ian.  My one-and-only child, my baby, my friend, is graduating from law school today.  I'm so overjoyed that Ian has conquered law school and reached this amazing milestone in his life!

When Ian was about four and you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would proudly tell you he wanted to be a juggler.  As a mom, I knew I would wholeheartedly support whatever he chose to be ~ but I was secretly hoping that juggling would become more of a hobby and less of a career.  Side note:  For Christmas that year I gave Ian a nice set of juggling balls.  He never was able to master keeping three balls in the air at one time.  Hence, juggler would have been a VERY tough career path for him.

By middle school if asked the same question, he would respond that he wanted to be a lawyer.  As a mom, I secretly hoped this career choice would stick.  And stick it did.  Tonight he will walk across the stage and receive his diploma as I sit in the audience trying not to let the tears of joy spill over onto my cheeks.

As you may have read on my blog before, I was a single mom from the time Ian was two until I married Eric when he was ten.  We definitely weren't rich in a financial way, but we made up for it by loving big and making the most out of what we had.  Ian has held a part-time job since turning 16, including all through college and law school.  He has gotten where he is through hard work and determination, not hand outs or free rides.  This makes me even more proud of his graduation accomplishment.

Everywhere you look you can see studies saying children of divorced families are less likely to achieve academic success, but I was determined that my child was not going to be one of those statistics.  Single moms - your children don't have to be a part of those statistics either.  Just be as active in your child's life as you can be.  Be the parent who reviews their homework with them, attends school functions, asks (and listens) to how their day went.  It's not easy, but the rewards are worth it.  Most of the world will give you reasons why kids of single parents are at a disadvantage, but don't listen!  You can do it!

Another person I'm extremely proud of today and who is also reaching a huge milestone is Ian's wife, Kayla.  She and Ian got married during his first year of law school.  She has been there listening to his trials and tribulations from the very beginning of this journey and has done an excellent job supporting him throughout.  I personally know what it's like to support a student.  Ian's biological father and I got married just before he started dental school and I worked while he went to school.  The spouse is the unsung hero in this type of situation.  Even though Ian will be the one having the diploma placed in his hand, Kayla certainly deserves one as well.

This summer Ian has much more studying to do to prepare for the bar, his academical life is coming to an end for now.  Which means life as we have become accustomed to for the last three years will be ending.  I'm looking forward to this next phase in which Ian and Kayla are both working and doing things young married couples do such as saving for a house and going on vacations.  Conversations will no longer be centered around when he has a paper due or which final will be the most challenging.  Change can be good -- and this one is certainly making me smile!

Now it's your turn.  What are you thinking out loud about today?  Do you have a graduate in your family this year?  Are you a graduate yourself?!?  Join me and Vanessa at X-tremely V by linking up your favorite post(s) from the week.  We love hearing from you! 

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at