Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Behind The Laughter Book Review

Behind the Laughter
A Comedian's Tale of Tragedy and Hope
By: Anthony Griffith and Dr. Brigitte Travis-Griffin with Mark Caro
“I was living every comic’s dream…with a nightmare attached.”

Anthony Griffith, a stand-up comic from Chicago’s South Side, has lived on the borderline of comedy and tragedy. At the very time his career as a stand-up comedian was taking off, and he had finally achieved his dream of appearing on The Tonight Show, he was also enduring an unimaginable personal nightmare: his two-year-old daughter, Brittany Nicole, was dying from cancer. While Anthony performed under bright lights, he struggled not to succumb to the darkness of losing a child.

Behind the Laughter asks, When your world is falling apart, how do you keep going? It’s the story of how Anthony and his wife, Brigitte, learned to endure the most painful of times and emerge on the other side of the “zombie years.”
Although, I have not had a child die from cancer, I could definitely relate to this book. Our son had emergency brain surgery and was in a Childrens hospital for five weeks with part of his left bone flap (skull) removed.

 We also had to learn to care for PIC lines, administrating antibodies, cleaning the port, etc. We had our hearts broken by other kids in our sons unit.... one little girl literally broke my heart. 

People would ask, dont you just cry all the time? But the reality was, yes, we were overwhelmed, we had tears, and we were completely exhausted, but at the same time, life still had to go on. We had two other daughters who needed us, a home and seven acres to take care of, my hubby had to go back to work, I still had my home business, and we had medical bill's rolling in.

 I stayed by my sons side, while my hubby went back to work, took care of the property, made meals, went shopping, took care of the girls, done the laundry, and drove the 2+ hours one way, to the hospital every other day to see us. He would stay at the hospital on Sat nights, so I could have a break and come home to have a night with the girls and get a good nights sleep, then the next week, it started all over again. Yes, we were worried and scared for our son, but in the midst of a tragedy, we had to keep going.

In our story, our son, after another few months of treatment, made a full recovery. There were still lots of testing over the next year or so, but we are so very thankful he is alive!

 We are not comedians, and we didn't have to plan a funeral or bury our child, but that was almost 2 years ago, and we still feel the effects that it had on our life.... like we are still catching up, like we missed a couple years of life, that we are just going through the motions.... life is still going on, but it's different.

I found this book a good read.... from Anthony's Big Momma shooting out the window, their daughter's death. Brigitte finding her life's work, him having MS, going blind, and ultimately to them keeping God/Faith in their life and putting their marriage first.... 

In the end, they made each other stronger... and that is my prayer for my own marriage!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, April 19, 2019

How Many Bottles Are In Your Shower?

How many bottles do you have in your shower? I'll wait, while you go count them....

I seen on Facebook the other day that a couple had twenty, yes twenty bottles in their shower for two people! There is never a reason to have that many, or even half that many bottles in the shower, ever!

Tonight, while I was complaining that our shower has no cubbies/shelves in it,  my husband reminded me that I really needed to use minimalism in our shower....

And while it would be really nice to have a couple built in shelves in the shower, he really does have a point....

The thing is, most of us are guilty of buying another shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, facial cleanser, or shower gel.... and sometimes, we often keep our old bottles that are half full along with our new ones.

Just pick out your favorite and toss the rest. You don't need so many bottles.... I mean If I was rich, I'd pay to have lazer hair removal, so I could get rid of my shaving cream, shaving gel and razor, -but until then....

Why not reduce and combine things. Can you use your shower gel as shave gel? Can your husband, kids and yourself all use the same brand of shampoo? Can you buy a shampoo that has conditioner added? I'm still a work in progress, but getting down to just a couple things in the shower is my ultimate goal!

The reality is this.... you (and I) need far less than we think we do..... go clean out your shower. I dare you!

How do you use minimalism in your shower?

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Theft of America's Soul Book Review

The Theft of America's Soul
Blowing the Lid Off the Lies That Are Destroying Our Country
By: Phil Robertson 

Our family has always loved the A&E show Dusk Dynasty and the whole Duck Commander Family (although Phil and Jase have always been my favorite!). So, when I when I had the chance to review this book, I thought -a little wisdom from Phil Robertson himself wouldn't hurt! And I was Right!

Phil is the real deal, I like how he is not ashamed of his past or the mistakes he made, but rather how he has learned from them and uses it to help others. I love the simple down to earth, easy to talk to way of Phil Robertson. At a ripe age and more money than he will ever spend, the question could be asked, "Why would he subject himself to persecution and ridicule?" The answer is simple, He truly knows and believes Jesus is the son of God. He knows that those who open their hearts can be changed.

Phil makes a compelling point: Without God, America has no hope for the future. Is it possible to turn back the tide in America from depravity to moral virtue? Is it possible to rebuild values into our culture? While the answer is “Yes,” it won’t come through government programs or education. It will only happen as Christians share the gospel and people are changed one heart at a time.

The book is easy to read and the message is unmistakable: Without God, each of us as individuals have no hope for the future. Only God can heal our hearts.

Buy the book get a blessing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

20 Things For A Clutter Free Home

Dishes in the sink, toys throughout the house, stuff covering every flat surface; this clutter not only makes our homes look bad, it makes us feel bad, too.

Walk into any middle-class home in the U.S. and you will come face to face with stuff—toys, trinkets, family photos, furniture, games, DVDs, TVs, digital devices of all kinds, souvenirs, nick-knacks, food, and more. We put our stuff anywhere in the house, every where there's room, or even if there's no room. We have Clutter-strewn garages, abandoned yards and families who are too busy to actually enjoy the possessions they work hard to acquire. 

George Carlin famously observed that "a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it."

Buy stuff. Keep it. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Store it. Display it. Spend time on it. Spend money on it. Worry about it. Stress over it. Repeat. We are a clutter culture, and that, my friends is sad.

When clutter takes over, the home, can become a large contributor to our overall stress levels. - At least that’s what researchers at UCLA’s Center discovered when they explored in real time the relationship between 32 California families and the objects in their homes. 

It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress women feel. 

Most women associate a tidy home with a happy and successful family. The more dishes that pile up in the sink, the more anxious women feel.


So here is a list of things you can do to keep your home clutter free.... 

1. Live Within Your Means 
This isn’t a new idea, but it’s a wonderful place to start if you’re aiming for a simpler, less cluttered life. What “live within your means” for your home is this: Let the size of your home dictate how much stuff you have, and not the other way around. If your closet is bursting at the seams, instead of dreaming of a bigger closet, reduce your clothes to fit the space you have. 

2. Purge Often 
Even if you get to a point where you have only as many things as will comfortably fit into your space, stuff has a way of accumulating. Go through your things often and get rid of the stuff you don’t use anymore. Instead of wasting time trying to keep things you don’t need under control, take a moment and purge some of these things you don’t need on a regular basis. You’ll feel so much lighter, and happier! 

3. Have A Place For Everything 
A place for everything, and everything in its place, is still some of the best organizing advice out there. While I agree with the quote "if your buying stuff to store your stuff, you have too much stuff" .... organization is a good thing. This is where clear plastic shoe boxes or a cabinet with lots of drawers can come in handy. 

4. Tidy Up As You Go 
When you take something out, put it away. When you walk in the door and take off your shoes, put them in the closet, not scattered in the hall! Hang that skirt you didn’t wear back in the closet! Clean it up and put it away before you move on. If you incorporate this into everything you do throughout your day, there will be a lot less lying around taunting you later. 

5. Go Paper Free or Condense Paper Clutter 
Scanning all the documents you’ve been hanging onto may seem like a daunting task, but once you’re done, they’ll be easily searchable and you’ll have that much less stuff to manage. That said, my husband and I are paper people.... we still keep paper receipts for our business, paper manuals, and other bills. However, we have drastically reduced the amount of paper we keep... 

6. Do Laundry On A Specific Day 
At my house, we don’t do laundry daily, - that is just one more thing to add clutter to everyday life. I do set a routine as to when the laundry gets done — and it gets washed, dried, folded, and put away all in the same day. 

7. Don’t Procrastinate 
Did a package get delivered today? Yay! Now take the contents out, pop the air-packets, break down the box and put it in the recycle bin. We live in the middle of nowhere, so we order a lot of products online for both personal use (can you say toilet paper?) and for our business

8. Clean The Kitchen As You Cook And After Dinner 
This may sounds pretty obvious, but while the food is cooking, clean the cutting board, and put away all the ingredients used to season your meal. When the oven timer goes off, you already have a head start on cleaning. Always clean up after cooking. If you quickly rinse your dishes and load the dishwasher right after you eat, the sink will be clear before you know it. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety. 

9. A Quick Sweep 
Keeping up with the clutter frequently makes it an easy, do-able task rather than an overwhelming chore. Fold the blanket on the couch, fluff up the pillows, tuck away any toys, shoes, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and make sure backpacks and bags are ready for the next day. Become a habitual putter-awayer. 

10. Focus On One Room At A Time 
Once a month, pick a room (or area, if your home is open-concept) to clean and vacuum everything like baseboards, doors and curtains, etc. Also clean windows, organize nick-knacks, etc. Tackling one room at a time and giving it a deeper scrub is less overwhelming, and more productive.

 And one other little secret: Clean doesn’t mean spotless. By incorporating these simple habits into your daily routine, they will help keep everything more tidy in less time. Your stress level will decrease, and your guests will definitely take notice at how awesome your place looks. It's funny... I rarely "clean" my house, but since we keep everything in it's place, most of my guests comment on how clean my home is!

11. Keep Surfaces Clean 
Don't Store Things On The Floor, Counters, or Tables.
Stacks of books, the box that should have been dropped off at the thrift store two weeks ago, your purse, the kids homework, and the laundry basket can all clutter up surfaces and make your home seem messier than it really is. Keep your floors, counters, tables, and flat surfaces clean.

12. Make the bed
If there’s one thing you can control in the day's chaos that lies ahead, it’s your bed. It doesn’t take but a few minutes, but this easy task sets your day up for success. Making your bed helps you start your day with a sense of productivity and order that’s likely to carry through to the next thing you do. My hubby and I keep our bedroom clean and free from stuff, as it is like our own little oasis in the middle of life!

13. Don't Over Decorate
One statement piece will make a much bigger impact than five small things. I'm all for making your home feel cozy, but too many decor items just become clutter and make your home appear messy. Choose your decor carefully and let it tell your story.

14. Donate And Get Rid Of What You Don't Need 
Stuff is reeking havoc in homes everywhere. Get rid of the ugly dish Aunt Sally gave you 5 Christmases ago. You don’t need 15 water bottles for a family of 4, and it’s likely time to get rid of that shirt your son grow out of months ago. And seriously, is your kid gonna want that macaroni craft project she made at school? Take a picture and let it go! It’s much easier to keep a home organized when there is less clutter in it. Treasure items with meaning, but don’t collect unnecessary stuff. 

15. Unburden Your Refrigerator Door
There is a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter in the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places. (I keep my fridge completely cleaned off and love it.) And while your at it, clean your give your refrigerator a weekly refresh. Not only will cleaning your fridge help you keep things spic-and-span, but it will also help you create an accurate list of what you need on your next run to the store. 

16. Keep Toys Put Away 
There is absolutely no reason to have toys scattered all throughout the house. Have the kids only get one toy out at a time. U.S. consumers only have 3% of the world’s children, but we buy 40% of the world’s toys. And these toys live in every room, fighting for display space with kids’ trophies, artwork, and snapshots of their last soccer game. Just say no! Reduce the number of kids toys and keep what's left in it's home in the kids room. See my kids toys here! 

17. Beautify Your Home
Keep a vase of flowers on the table! Flowers add a touch of class and elegance to your home. Get a candle warmer and candle melts, or essential oils and a diffuser to keep your home smelling fresh. Add a few throw pillows and a comfy throw to snuggle up with. Live plants add warmth and clean the air. Use green, safe, toxic-free cleaning products. And, finally - make it yours. (I keep a funky little Type 3 elephant on my dresser, because it makes me smile, and a chainsaw chain on my livingroom wall!) Customize your home to your likes... make it your own! After all, you're the one who has to live there everyday.

18. Life Is About Experiences, Not Things.
We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements that try to convince us that a happy life is all about having the latest stuff: a new car, an outdoor kitchen, an ice cream maker. But studies have shown that it isn’t the things in our lives that make us happy, it’s our experiences that we treasure most. So the next time you’re tempted to buy more stuff, ask yourself if the money wouldn’t be better spent on a vacation or a nice night out.

19. Forgive yourself and try again 
Remember that nobody is perfect, and nobody’s home is perfect. Even the homes you see in the magazines aren’t perfect — it took a whole team of stylists to make them that way. So if you have an off week, or month, and suddenly your house is a disaster, don’t panic. It’s never too late to forgive yourself and try again. 

20. Enjoy The Journey 
Life is lived in the everyday moments. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

To My Kids (and all the kids out there)....

A few days ago, I stopped by my kids elementary school. While waiting, I was seated beside a kid in my son's special needs class. When a staff member asked the kid a question, he simply screamed, then turned to me and smiled. I'm sorry - (not sorry), but what that kid needs is a good slap on the mouth.... I don't care if your kid is Autistic, has ADHD, has Aspergers, is slow, hyper, or any other thing. Kids need to learn how to act. They need to realize they really are not that great. The world DOES NOT revolve around them!

I have a special needs kid and I know that life is difficult for him, its hard for him to understand simple things, and to communicate, but we have taught him to use his words, to respond to people, and to simply be a good kid.

And you know what?!?!? We get compliments almost everywhere we go with him. Just this week, his Endo Doctor told him that out of all the kids she sees in her practice, no other kid has ever been so polite and well behaved. (And, yes, he was scared and nervous, but he worked through it!) The doctor actually gave him $40 in gift cards because she was so impressed with him - something her staff said she has never done before....

I firmly believe that all kids can learn to be polite and respectful, no matter their lot in life... they just need someone to teach them how. If we as a society continue to treat mediocrity as mighty, we will only continue to fail.

So, to my kids.... I love you each. You’re funny. And talented. But, here's the thing.... You really aren't that great!

Follow the rules. They apply to you. No mater how tough your plot in life is - you aren’t above the rules. The sooner you get this, the easier life will be.

I'm not sorry if you felt less than your peers because we did/do not do sports, buy name brand clothing, have big birthday parties, eat out regularly, go on big extravagant vacations, have an Xbox, spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas gifts, or give you an allowance.

I want you to feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken. Feel least. Because among the broken, you will find Jesus. My prayer for you is that you see Him everywhere. If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out, and upraised, how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate, how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?

I will continue to put pictures of you on social media and brag about you. I will still make your supper – and bring your favorite drink to you for no reason. It's my momma nature – but I hope I never make you feel you are more than those around you.  Life is not about you.

Faith, you are a great writer... you have a way with words, you are an amazing artist, and a gifted singer, and player of music! I could listen to you play all day long. I love that you care so deeply. You are one of my best friends!

Wyatt, my son, I love your sweet spirit. You have a great imagination and I love all the inventions you have made. I love that your all boy, and that you want to always please. Keep trying. You are smarter than you know.

Layia, you fill our house with your happy, go lucky self! I'm thankful that you are just you. That you don't have to fit in any mold, that life is a fun event for you! Never stop loving life! You, my baby girl are my sunshine!

Work hard, be willing to get dirty, give away your lunch, sit with the lonely, stand up for injustice, follow the rules, take chances, be respectful, walk through the fire… You really aren't that great, but you’re doing just fine.
 - Love, Mom  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Minimalist and Kids Toys - How Many Toys Do Kids Really Need?

One thing that you always read when it comes to kids toys and minimalism is how to get rid of them or why fewer toys benefit your kids. But you never hear about how many toys are too many? I asked myself the same thing a lot through the years, and while I know minimalism is different for every one, I thought I'd let you know what works for us and how we handle our kids toys.

Our two girls ages seventeen and nine, share a small room and closet. We have a set of bunk beds, and they each have their own desk, and folding chair. There are five (six cube) storage organizers in their room, along with a saucer chair, a clothes basket, and a guitar. The 17 yr old has outgrown toys obviously and now collects books! 

Below is a list of every toy my nine-year-old has. We have condensed all her toys to fit in either a shoe box, a fabric cube, or a small drawer, with the exception being the barbie toys in a tub.

There are 4 clear plastic shoe boxes that hold a little puppies play set, play food and dishes, hot pad maker and loops, and perlerbeads.

A small set of drawers that I picked up at a yard sale years ago.... (the drawers are easy to take in and out when she wants to play with something) holds a drawer of play dough/clay, a drawer of my little pony's, a drawer of misc. toys - dinosaurs, mini Nerf gun and bullets, spinner, walkie talkie, play make up, ball, etc., and a drawer that has Cd's, her watch, a flashlight, and spending money in.

She has 3 fabric 10" storage cubes. One holds 2 baby dolls, bottles, clothes and blankets. One has horses. And one has Lego's.

The barbies and barbie furniture are in a tub on the top shelf of the closet... they only come out 3-4 times a year. (The barbie stuff was a hand me down and if I was starting out fresh, I would not get any barbie furniture.)

She also has about 30 books, a Fur Real tiger, a zoomed pet, and a few larger horses that stand in a cubicle.

The hardest toys for her to part with is her stuffed animals... she has 15 (which in my opinion is too many, but she honestly loves and plays with them all!). The good thing is most of them are small, and we have the one in, one out rule with them. They all hang on a pet chain.

Our 9 yr old is a type one and gets bored easily, so I have found that it's better to keep a few different kinds of toys, but in smaller amounts. 

On a added note: she keeps paper, markers, stickers, coloring books, crayons, etc. In her desk.


Our twelve year old loves all things paper and little trinkets. His bedroom is tiny...  only about a 8×10.
He has his desk with a folding chair, a dresser, a twin bed and a small closet in his room.

He keeps his toys all in clear shoe boxes on his closet shelves and in 2 dresser drawers. He has 5 shoe boxes of Lego sets, his nerd guns and bullets, a remote control car, a latch hook set, a technic set, 3 stuffed animals, matchbox cars and car mat, 2 boxes of tractors, model cars, and one box of miscellaneous toys and trinkets like magnetic putty, & magnetic rocks, etc. 

He also loves flash lights, and pocket knives (which I don't limit), and his 2 BB guns. 

His books/magazines are on homemade wall shelves made out of vinyl rain gutters. He is at a kinda in between stage, as he doesn't play with toys alot, yet, he still really enjoys his toys and things.

He is a type 4 and likes every thing in order. He is special needs and has limited interests so he has more of each thing, but less variety.


We do keep a few toys in our hallway closet for the kids to share, which are: lincoln logs and farm/zoo animals,
a wooden train set (which will soon be given away as they are outgrowing it), Magformers, Squigz, board games, card games, and a few puzzles.

 I also keep an Abacus, Imagnets, and counting pigs, along with craft supplies in our school closet, as we use those for schooling. 

 We have a keyboard, lap harp, 2 guitars, and 2 ukulele's that are available for the kids to use. The kids all have their own bikes, and we have a small cupboard of outside toys such as basket balls, jump ropes, toss, etc. that are kept in the garage.  

 And there you have it... all the toys for our kids! 

Note: We do not have a Wii, video games, or xbox etc., for our kids!


The majority of the nine year olds toys are hand me downs from our oldest daughter, back before we heard about minimalist living! If I was starting out with minimalism before I had kids, I would have kept toys much more simple.... if you are just starting out with a baby or toddler, here is a great list of the only 10 toys your kids need!

We go through our house pretty often and purge... and the kids are on board with that. The 9 yr old especially goes through her toys regularly and often gets rid of a few every couple weeks. We always keep a donate box in the garage.

Also having a home for everything, helps your kids pick up and keep their rooms clean. Click on this link to see many more de-cluttering ideas!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Vertical Marriage Book Review

"He never saw it coming. It was the night of Dave and Ann’s tenth wedding anniversary and if asked how their marriage was doing, Dave would have said a 9.8 out of 10 and he even guaranteed Ann would say the same. But instead of giving a celebratory kiss, Ann whispered, “I’ve lost my feelings for you.” Divorce seemed inevitable. But starting that night, God began to reveal to Dave and Ann the most overlooked secret of getting the marriage we are looking for: the horizontal marriage relationship just doesn’t work until the vertical relationship with Christ is first."
This book was a fun and a good read in more ways than one... couples often think of marriage as husband and wife. But a great marriage only works if it's vertical - husband, wife and God!

The book was divided into four parts... Going Vertical, Conflict and Communication, Intimacy (which was my favorite), and Living Vertical. 

I have always found it odd that many Christians think that it's wrong to talk about sex. But here's the thing - "the Song of Solomon is literally an R-rated read". I love how Dave and Ann state: "Only God could create an act so pleasurable that when you do it, you sometimes yell his name out loud!" God designed sex to be a wonderful thing and we shouldn't be afraid to talk about it! A great marriage is full of great sex... it's what brings us together, what makes us vulnerable, and what lets us connect on a deeper, emotional, spiritual, and physical level! I don't have sex in front of my kids, but our kids know that mom and dad have sex, that it is fun, and that we can get a little loud... we don't keep it a 'dirty' little secret. We want them to grow up knowing that a great sex life is also a part of a great marriage.....

I also liked and could completely relate to Ann's approach to how husbands and wives approach things differently - like a bag of luggage. The husband only picks up one bag of luggage at a time. He is fully committed to that bag and when he is done with it, he moves on to pick up the next bag. But a wife.... a wife picks up and carries all the bags of luggage at the same time.... sometimes, we as woman, just need to set a few bags down..... and sometimes our hubby's need to pick up a few more bags.... but mostly we need to understand and appreciate our differences... and when we do that, we can have a great marriage!

I am blessed to have a great marriage... to have a husband that loves and respects me everyday. Someone who tries to make my life easier, someone who will hold me, and put my needs (and wants) above his own. 

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


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