When There Is No Finish Line

Hubby has been working out on a regular basis for a few months now . This decision pleased the cheap, ahem, I mean frugal side of me because it meant he’d finally be using the gym membership we’d been paying for on a monthly basis. I’d also be getting a more healthy, energetic and buff husband and who wouldn’t want that? 😉

Hubby’s efforts the first two months were jaw-dropping. He’d go to the gym before the sun woke up and go again before he came home from work. Two workouts in a day? Who does that kind of thing?! Apparently, according to hubby, a lot of people who go to the gym do. They must either really want to get their money’s worth or the happy hormones you get from exercising are a real thing. 😉 There’s likely a third reason though as to why people stick to a workout routine. Hubby explained it to me with a slogan he saw on a shirt at the gym. It read, There is no finish line. 

 

The thought is that in order to stay healthy, energetic and buff, you need to exercise, eat right, and sleep well on a consistent basis. That means every. single. day. Because once you stop, the laws of physics (specifically, the one related to gravity) take over and your body start drooping and sagging and not functioning as well as it could.

When I heard this slogan, I couldn’t help but cringe. Working out every single day? If only I had enough energy to do that. Well, the irony of it all is that when you start working out, you gain more energy which helps you continue the vicious, I mean, wonderful cycle. So once you get going, it’s easier to keep going. Exercising will still require effort, time and commitment, but as you continue to do it regularly, it will become a part of your routine. Which is a good thing because there is no finish line when it comes to staying healthy.

This slogan got me thinking about how so much of our lives requires daily maintenance. Our minds, hearts and souls need regular nourishment and “exercise” as well. I’ve been experiencing this need as I stay home with the munchkins during their summer vacation. Boy, whoever came up with that slogan must’ve understood what having kids is like because believe me, there is no finish line when it comes to parenting. This job requires you to get up, clothe, feed, and clean up after your kids every day. And that’s just the physical, “easy” part of being a parent. It’s the emotional and mental stuff—being patient, kind, forgiving and gracious—that really kicks you in the butt. Sigh. 😉 I’ve been reminding myself to work on listening well and keeping my expectations realistic. And making sure I get some me-time and good sleep so I can be on my best behavior for them.

We have one week of summer vacay under our belts now and ten more to go—whew! Fortunately, I find that the longer I’ve been a parent, the more I know how to keep going on a daily basis. Not that it gets easier, but it does get a lot more predictable and a little more manageable. And there are plenty of rewards—shared experiences, funny moments and silly stuff—to keep you going … and going … and going … 🙂

What things do you want to keep working at on a daily basis?

Raising Our Kids for Other People’s Benefit

One of the munchkins came home recently and told me their teacher joked that we (hubby and I) were having a hard time with them and offered to adopt them. My first reaction was, Ha, he doesn’t know what he’s asking for!; my second thought, After all the hard work we’ve done?! No way, buddy! 😉

This joke got me thinking though about our job as parents. We have kids for ourselves, to fulfill a desire within us that imagines how nice it would be to have our own mini-me’s. However, when we raise our kids, it’s not only for our benefit. We raise our kids for other people, too.

What do I mean? All the teaching, guiding, correcting, and nurturing we do with our kids eventually benefits the people our kids come into contact with. This includes their friends and teachers and their future employers, potential spouses, even society as a whole. Whoa. That’s a sobering thought. But isn’t this the goal of parenting? To love, influence, and bless our children so they can in turn love, influence, and bless others.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and also one of the most thankless jobs out there. Even though we don’t always directly reap the rewards of our labor, there are moments when we get a virtual pat on the back for the job we’ve done. Like when a teacher tells you what an inspiration your child is to him. And he offers to adopt said child. I think that’s a good sign you’ve done something right as a parent. 😛 And now that I’ve thought through this offer some more, I’ve changed my mind. I’m warming up to the idea … especially with summer break around the corner. 😉

Speaking of the break, I’ll be returning to a summer schedule for posting to this blog (aka. whenever my kids allow me to!). I’ll leave you now with this fun video from the musical episode of The Flash (my favorite superhero!), featuring the song “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”, which is a good reminder for me as I think about all the time I’ll be spending at home with the munchkins. 😉

In what ways are your children a blessing to others?

You’re Never Too Young or Too Old to Become an Author

I’ve mentioned before that I would not be the author I am without my (virtual) village of fellow authors. I owe a lot of my growth to one Facebook group in particular: Clean Indie Reads. Recently, I polled the members of CIR to ask them an important question: At what age did you publish your first book? Below is a snapshot of the results, which really surprised me!

As I suspected, the majority of the members published for the first time in their 30s; I did as well when I was 38. But I was blown away to discover many people were in their 50s and 60s when they first published! Whoa baby. 😀 How cool is that?

The results of this poll prove it’s never too late to pursue your dream of becoming an author.

Hubby and I were just talking about this the other day. He remarked,” Writing is one job where your age doesn’t matter.” There are plenty of other professions where youth is a desired trait and what usually accompanies it—beauty, strength and energy—are requirements of the job. Being a writer, however, only requires that you have a mind to think and imagine and some way to get your thoughts down on paper. Readers don’t mind how old an author is, as long as their stories touch them.

One is also never too young to become an author. One of my munchkins’ teachers is an awesome out-of-the-box thinker and he calls his class the 4th Grade Dreamers. He assigns “dreamwork” to the kids every week, homework that encourages them to think about their dreams and find tangible ways to pursue them. The dream of one of my munchkins (the one who has requested to never be mentioned on social media again, ahem) is to become an author. The mom part of me hopes he’ll also find a day job, but the author part of me is pleased to see him follow in my footsteps. 😉 It was really neat to see him working on his dreamwork this week, creating a story to share with his classmates. He enjoyed the process so much, he even laughed out loud as he wrote … which made me laugh. It was such a joy for me to see him take pleasure in something that took me almost four decades to embrace. I wish I had someone who encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an author when I was ten. Fortunately, I was still able to start—and continue—dreaming as an adult. Because age doesn’t matter. You’re never too young or too old to become an author.

So, whether you’ve always wanted to write a book or you have a manuscript hidden away somewhere that you want to publish, here’s my tip for you: Just do it! 🙂

If you don’t know where to start and have a million questions, feel free to ask me! Or you can join Clean Indie Reads, the most awesome authors group on Facebook and learn from the best.

Clean Indie Reads’ Facebook group

Clean Indie Reads’ Website

What dreams do you want to pursue?

Embracing the “Lasts” of Childhood

I was driving the munchkins to school yesterday when we got stuck in a mile-long traffic jam, thanks to a broken-down train. The road we were on happened to be near a park we used to go to regularly when they were younger. C looked out her window at the empty swings, slide and spinning-thingy and remarked, “It looks so small.”

I laughed and replied, “That’s because you’re bigger now.”

This truth is something I’ve been chewing on lately as a mama. My kids are bigger now, so big that one of them is getting too tall to be my chin rest. They’re heavier now so that when I try to carry them—with one arm under their head and the other under their knees—I can only manage to stay upright for ten seconds. They’re also outgrowing a lot of the activities they enjoyed before: going to the park or playground, holding my hand when we cross the street or having me read them a book (or three!) at bedtime.

As parents, we always look forward to the firsts of childhood: a child’s first word, first step, first time pooping in the potty, first day of school, first performance … the list goes on and on. But what happens when some of these “firsts” start becoming their “lasts”?

I used to complain about reading to them before bed. I was tired, blurry-eyed and, quite honestly, looking forward to my alone time after the family fell asleep. The last thing I wanted to do was crack open a book and narrate it in my most dramatic voice. Just between you and me, I may or may not have only borrowed reeeaaalllly short books from the library to shorten the reading time. 😉

There came a day when the munchkins were in bed, waiting for me to take a shower, so I could read to them afterwards. Except that on this night by the time I was ready to read, they were already asleep! And the same thing happened the day after and the day after that. By the third night, other than realizing I could’ve taken longer showers (haha!), I started to wonder if my job as a bedtime book reader was coming to an end. Maybe the munchkins didn’t want me to read to them anymore?!?! :O Noooo!

That’s when I decided reading to them at bedtime wasn’t such a bad thing. It’s something that takes time and effort, but it’s also a great privilege and—sniff, sniff!—a temporary one.

As much as we long for our kids to grow up, it’s hard when it actually happens. It’s hard to accept that your baby doesn’t need you the same way he did before, but trust me, it’s a good thing. Before you know it, your little one won’t need you to brush their teeth for them. They won’t need you to wipe their bottoms or their noses. There will come a morning when she will shake her hand free from yours when you reach the school gate. An evening when he won’t ask you for another bedtime story. And maybe even a day when your child will be the one showing you neat shortcuts on your phone that you had no idea existed. And it’ll be okay. Because their growth and their independence is our reward. It’s a sign of a job well done. 🙂

So, let’s celebrate the “firsts” of our children, embrace their “lasts”, but most of all, enjoy all the in-betweens.

Here’s a beautiful rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Voctave, from the movie Moana. Just think, one day we won’t be bombarded by Disney songs (unless of course you choose to be)!

What childhood “lasts” have you learned to embrace?

Life Lessons from a Wannabe Strawberry Plant

Remember my post a few weeks back (you can read it HERE) about how munchkin #2 waited 72 (I repeat, 72!) days for her strawberry plant to sprout? Here’s part 2 of this epic saga. Saga is the correct term because it means “a long story of heroic achievement”.

So thanks to a green-thumbed friend of mine who saw a photo of C’s plant on my Instagram, we learned the strawberry plant was in fact not a strawberry plant, but more likely a dandelion. When I broke the news to C, her whole body slumped as she wailed, “I’ve been growing a WEED?!”

Poor C. My disappointment was only a smidgeon of the shock and despair she was feeling. In that moment she wanted to give up. She was ready to hand over her bright green shoot of long, spiky leaves and have me take care of it. And quite honestly, I didn’t blame her.

I took a deep breath and racked my brain, trying hard to come up with something redeemable about the situation. I rubbed her back and said, “Sometimes things don’t work out the way we expect them to. You didn’t grow a strawberry plant, but you did grow something! You did a great job watering and taking care of it every day for so long. Now you know what it takes to grow a plant.”

Her answer? “I’m growing a weed!”

Yup. Such is life, my dear. 😛

I wish things were different. I wish one strawberry seed had made it so C could have something to show for her hard work and patience (because to an 8 year old, 72 days is like an eternity!). But in the midst of all our disappointment, I appreciated the life lesson this wannabe strawberry plant reminded me of: Things doesn’t always turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean these experiences were for naught. The disappointments we face, the unexpected detours and U-turns we make, the epic failures we go through—they are what make us strong and resilient and persistent. Nope, they’re not fun or pleasant, but they build something precious and desirable: they build character. And the hard times are what make success and victory sweet.

This experience taught C so much, and I can see how her perspective has changed. Just this past weekend we decided to start a small garden in the backyard. C jumped at the idea and we all went to the store to buy seeds to plant. While C was browsing, she turned to the back of the seed packets to look for the number of days it would take before the vegetable could be harvested. Several times she remarked, “52 days? 66 days? That’s so fast!” I had to keep myself from laughing at her reaction. This was the same girl who had moaned and groaned for 72 days while she waited for her strawberry/dandelion plant to grow. But now? She’s become a pro at waiting. 🙂

So, I want to say thank you to the random dandelion seed who flew into our house and found the perfect place to land. You may be a weed, but you’re a wonderful weed. Thanks for the life lessons you taught my munchkin. But whatever you do, please don’t spread your seeds into our backyard. 😉

Here’s a picture of C’s weed. Next to it is some lettuce she’s growing, too (which is super easy to do; go here for instructions)!

Here’s an oldie but goodie, Wilson Phillips’ song “Hold On”, that talks about holding on through the hard times.

How have disappointments and failures shaped you?

Why Mother’s Day Isn’t for Moms

I’ve been blessed to be a mama for a decade now and the one thing I’ve learned as a mom is that you need to go in to Mother’s Day with the right expectations. 😉 Why? Because I used to think that this one day of the year would be an actual day where I could get away with sleeping in, having breakfast in bed, and generally speaking, not having to lift a single finger the whole day. How did I ever get this crazy idea in my head? Because I was led to believe that Mother’s Day is a day designated to celebrating moms. And when you’re expecting to be treated like the VIP that you are (wink, wink), you look forward to this day the same way that you look forward to going on a tropical vacation: You say “bring it on!”.

Well, soon after I experienced my first Mother’s Day, reality set in. Nope, I did not get to sleep in (because babies don’t understand the concept of sleeping in), I still had to change diapers and wipe little behinds, I still had to feed people, I still had to do whatever request a munchkin asked me to do because as moms all know, you’re the only one special enough to do such a request. 🙂 Dishes still piled up in the sink, the laundry baskets were still full and the bathroom was still the one place I couldn’t go alone.

I got to the point where I decided the best way I could enjoy Mother’s Day was to prepare myself for it. By prepare I meant doing the laundry (washing, drying and ironing) a day early. Vacuuming and mopping the floors earlier in the week. Making sure the fridge was stocked and would last us through the weekend. Doing any other things that needed to be done before Mother’s Day, so I could do what I was supposed to do on Mother’s Day: enjoy Mother’s Day. Pretty silly, huh? 😉

I came to the realization that my expectations were all wrong. I had set the bar so high for this one particular day. I didn’t want to do any housework. I didn’t want my kids to ask me to do anything for them. I wanted to be wined and dined (even take-out would be fine!) I just wanted the whole day to be perfect (is that too much to ask?!) LOL. I was essentially asking to not be a mother on Mother’s Day.

I’ve finally come full circle on this whole Mother’s Day issue. I now accept that Mother’s Day is not for me. 😉 It’s for my kids. It’s a day for them to look forward to as they wake up excited in the morning to bring me breakfast in bed. It’s a day where they have the chance to present me with a gift they made with their own little hands or bought with their own money. It’s a day for them to give me hugs and words of appreciation because they honestly think I’m one of the most important people in the world. It’s a day to marvel at their unconditional love for me just for being their mom.

It doesn’t get better than this! 🙂

So I’m good with Mother’s Day. I may even be looking forward to it this year. 😉 I hope you are, too. And if you’re still hoping for that one day a year where you don’t have to lift a finger and everything is perfect? There’s always your birthday. 😉

Here’s wishing you and your family a very happy Mother’s Day! Thank God for moms!

Celebrating Our Sweet 16 (Years of Marriage)

Hubby and I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage tomorrow. Yup, we chose May 5th so it’d be an easy date for him to remember. 😉 (Fun fact: He has trouble remembering his own parents’ birthdays.) As we approach our sweet 16, the one emotion I feel is that of gratitude. I am so thankful because I know I married the right person.

Recently, hubby came back from work to have lunch with me. After our meal, we decided to go to Peet’s (coffee for him, tea for me), and on our way there we saw a man sitting outside on a bench. He held up a handwritten note on a piece of torn cardboard, asking for help. Hubby and I exchanged a quick glance as we passed him. Inside the cafe we placed our order and he went to the restroom. While I waited for him, I took my wallet out of my purse and checked if I had any cash. I rarely do, but that day I found a few bills and placed them in my pocket. I then picked up our order and met hubby as he came out of the restroom. I watched as he also pulled out his wallet to look for cash, and that’s when I knew … I had married the right guy.

“I already got some money—”

“You did?” he responded in surprise. He paused his search and took the cash I handed him. “Oh, good.”

We left Peet’s and handed the money to the man outside.

I don’t tell this story to brag about our “good deed”, but I do want to brag about my hubby. 🙂 In the time I’ve known him, I’ve learned that he is a generous person with a soft spot for people who would be considered underdogs. He is generous with his money (guess who’s the saver in the family?), but it’s because he understands that money is a tool which can be used for good. Even though he can never wait to get the latest and greatest gadgets, he is patient where it counts the most: with people. He makes time for the munchkins and showers them with daily “I love you’s” and kisses (in private of course, never at school!) and also forgives quickly. I still remember the time munchkin #1 accidentally dropped his precious Nikon SLR camera on the floor. He winced for a split second, but his love for his kids soon replaced any other emotions he could have had in that moment. As a husband, he has been my biggest fan from day one. He walked by my side as I finished grad school, let me squeeze his arm during labor contractions, and supports me daily as a stay-at-home mom. Even though he has yet to read any of my books (he doesn’t like to read, haha!), he encourages me to write and proudly tells his coworkers that his wife is an author.

Hubby is the more generous, gracious and giving spouse in our marriage, and quite honestly, my better half. And because of who he is and his care for our family, I have learned to be more generous, gracious and giving. The reason I wanted to give money to that man outside of Peet’s was because I’ve seen hubby do the same time and time again. The fact that we both opened up our wallets that day showed me that the past 16 years of our marriage have molded and shaped us. We started out as two very different individuals, and while we still are opposites in many ways, we have also influenced one another for the better. Our viewpoints and interests are more aligned. We see eye-to-eye on the bigger issues in life and let the minor ones fall to the side. Rather than a state of coexistence, our relationship has become one of communication, cooperation and companionship. And would you believe it, our marriage has also become more fun. 🙂

If you’d asked me early on in our marriage whether or not I’d married the right person, I don’t think I would have been able to answer with a firm yes. But now? I’m certain I married the right man. Because this man makes me want to be a better woman.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the Lord and our family and friends for supporting us through our marriage! And our munchkins for bringing so much joy (and white hair) to our lives. Happy anniversary, Honey! I love you. 😀

The Silver Lining to Sibling Squabbles

Last week was spring break, which meant a LOT of munchkin and mama time and not much mama-alone time. :O It also meant more opportunities for sibling squabbles because what do siblings like to do the most? Drive each other CRAZY. It’s like an unwritten rule in the sibling by-laws, maybe even rule #1. But because my younger sister and I are a decade apart in age, we never had our share of fights and I never understood what all this rivalry nonsense was about. If you don’t know either, it’s basically like an intense love/hate relationship with your closest ally/enemy.

Case in point: One day we were all in the car and hubby and I heard lots of yelling coming from the backseat. When we turned around, the kids had their arms around one another’s shoulders in a tight side hug and huge grins on their faces! When we faced forward, they started squabbling again, but as soon as we looked back, they were all hugs and smiles! It was HI-LA-RI-OUS.

Despite all the craziness that comes with sibling squabbles, I’ve discovered its silver lining: The munchkins have lots of chances to practice getting along. And I have lots of chances to help them. (Insert scared face here!) I’ll admit though that I am the most ill-equipped person when it comes to repairing relationships. In my marriage, there’s one person who’s known to shut down at the first sign of conflict (*ducking my head*). 😛 So, I’ve been learning along with the kids on how to get along.

Recently, however, I had a major breakthrough. So major that I wanted to give myself a pat on the back and I couldn’t wait to tell hubby about it. After yet another sibling squabble, one of the munchkins had slammed their bedroom door, forcing the other one out. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew one of them had pushed the other one’s buttons. I also knew the button pushee would eventually get over it and make up with the button pusher because that’s how the dynamics of their relationship works. I was pretty fed up though with the whole situation and knew I had to address the issue—but how? I needed to give some better advice than, “Go make up NOW. And don’t do it again!” Then it came to me, “it” being my brilliant nugget of wisdom that I was about to impart. I said to the button pusher, “I know she’ll forgive you, but it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of her kindness.” And I followed it up with, “Be careful when you go to the bathroom; the floor’s wet.”

Boom! (That was the sound of me dropping my mic and exiting the room. Just kidding!)

What I liked about my response was that one, I kept my cool and delivered it in a calm but firm voice. Two, I attempted to address the heart (namely, the issues of gratitude, grace and forgiveness) and not just focus on the behavior. And three, I showed that I wasn’t necessarily taking sides and that I still cared about the button pusher because I didn’t want him to slip on the freshly mopped floor. It was the kind of “tough love” talk I’d always heard parents should give, but it was the first time the words had come out in a natural and sincere way.

It was seriously one of my proudest parenting moments (which aren’t many)! To be honest, I don’t know how much my words made an impact that day, or if they did at all. But the experience showed me that I have a little more insight now into repairing relationships. And it gives me hope that I (and the munchkins) will continue to learn more about how to get along with each other. Because there will be plenty more munchkin and mama times coming … especially during summer vacation, which is like ten times longer than spring break. (Insert scared face here again!)

P.S. This experience also reminded me of our relationship with God and the truth behind Romans 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This could be a whole other blog post, one I’ll have to save for another day. 😉

I don’t really have a song that goes with this post, but I’ll leave you with Lindsey Sterling and The Piano Guys’ cover of the Mission Impossible theme song because parenting is all about getting the impossible done!

What have you learned about sibling squabbles? 

The Art of Waiting

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was met with some enthusiastic shouts of, “Sprout! Sprout! Sprout!” I turned to C with a curious look and repeated, “Sprout?” It took me a few seconds, but then I realized what she was referring to … her strawberry plant had FINALLY sprouted!!!

Here’s the sprout in all its glory!

Now, in case you don’t appreciate the magnitude of this news, let me tell you what it took for this little sprout to grow. According to the directions that came with the plant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for it to sprout. That equates to 60 to 90 days of watering, “sunning” and … waiting. That last part was definitely the hardest part of this journey for C. Every single morning she would wake up, go downstairs and check her plant. Then she’d record what day it was on her chalkboard. Day 1 turned into Day 15, then Day 33, then Day 58. When she reached Day 60, she exclaimed, “It’s been 2 months! Why isn’t it growing?” And I started to see the glimmer of hope in her brown eyes flicker. I continued to encourage and remind her that the instructions said 2 to 3 months (all the while, half-hoping and half-doubting that we’d see any results).

All hope was lost about two weeks ago when C was tossing a ball around the house and accidentally knocked the whole pot over! She called me for help—her voice low and flat—and showed me the damage. Most of the soil remained in a clump on the floor, but some of it had been scattered into pieces and had to be vacuumed up (RIP strawberry seeds!). I tried to keep my tone hopeful as I swept up the pieces and put them back into the pot. “Let’s wait and see!”

And wait we did. It got to the point where C decided to invest in a new succulent plant and transferred her ownership of the strawberry plant to hubby this week. She did still care about it though because she’d whisper to me, “Bob (short for Baba) didn’t water the plant today!” 😉 But all her hard work during the previous days and weeks and months had been worth something because after 72 days, it sprouted. 🙂

AT LAST!!

I told her, “Yay! I’m so proud of you! You persevered!” Her eyes lit up as she took the pot in her hands and gazed at the little green shoot. It was a defining moment in her life, folks. 🙂 And I mean that in a serious way.

Waiting has always been hard for C. She’s just wired differently from my other munckin (who shall not be mentioned on my blog anymore at his request, hehe), and it’s part of her nature to want results NOW. (Hmm, I wonder who she got that from—not me, cough cough!). So when she had first decided to grow this plant, I was very hesitant. All these thoughts ran through my mind: What if it never grows? What if she gives up after a few weeks? What if she’s terribly disappointed? Okay, so I was hesitant and doubtful. But as a parent, I’ve learned that you need to let kids experience struggle because it’s during the hard times that they learn the most. They learn about how the world works (you can’t always have immediate gratification) and they learn about how they themselves work and how they can change and adapt and grow to be more well-rounded people.

For C, she needed (and still needs) to learn the art of waiting. To be honest, we can all benefit from this lesson. Nobody likes to wait. Whether it’s waiting in line at the store, or waiting for your child to outgrow his tantrums, or waiting for the next job promotion, or waiting to find your spouse … there’s a whole lot of waiting going on in life. To master the art of waiting, however, requires 2 parts: hoping and doing. To hope without doing anything, well, you might as well forget seeing any results. C could have hoped all she wanted that her plant would grow, but without watering it daily, it would never have had a chance. And to do without hoping would be a pointless effort as well because it’s the hoping that inspires you to keep going; as in C’s case, her hope in the plant’s growth kept her watering it every single day. So, Hoping + Doing = The Art of Waiting

I admit this world gets me down a lot (especially when I read the news), but I also have hope that something better will come, that this life is not the end. I think this hope must have been what Jesus’s followers were feeling and hanging onto thousands of years ago when all seemed lost on that dark day when He hung on the cross. They really had the ultimate test of waiting it out as they held on to the hope that something would happen, that change would come in three days. And boy, they were not disappointed! When they heard and saw that Jesus had come back to life, that He had defeated death, that must have been an amazing morning. A hopeful morning. An it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this morning. 🙂

I hope you and yours have that kind of a morning this Easter as we reflect and celebrate the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection in our lives. And may we also come to believe that good things—growth, change and results—do come to those who wait. 😉 Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

What have you gone through to help you master the art of waiting?

4 Book Recommendations 4 You!

As an indie author who has a lot of indie author friends, I often help beta read their stories (and vice versa). As a result, I get early access to a lot of great books, four of which I want to share with you today. (Click on the book titles to go to their respective Amazon pages.)

1) A Tapestry of Tears by Gita V. Reddy

Blurb: This is a collection of a novelette and twelve short stories. The title story, A Tapestry of Tears, is set in the nineteenth century. A young couple from an affluent background fights against the time honored tradition of female infanticide. In another story, Division into Two, a family is torn apart by the brutal partition of British-ruled India into India and Pakistan. Told through the voices of an estranged aunt and nephew, it reveals the human tragedy that is often a fallout of social strife.

My review: “I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from reading this author’s work. She has a magnificent way of storytelling, as if she had lived the events herself. Each story in this collection evoked so many emotions from deep within and left lasting impressions on my heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the culture and people of India and for those who value eloquent and intentional writing.”

Recommended for readers who enjoy non-fiction, women’s fiction, as well as stories that focus on cultural issues and human relationships. There are some tough issues addressed in the title story, so if you are sensitive you may want to skip over it (but it is a really eye-opening piece).

2) Masquerading Our Love by Audrey Rich

Blurb: Junior year has been tough on Thalía Reynari.
A new high school, trying to fit in with new friends, schoolwork, family commitments. With everything going on in her life, Thalía could use a break, an adventure.
So when Thalía meets Christopher Cooper, the most gorgeous guy in town, her life should change for the better, right?
Don’t bet on it.
Thalía and Christopher find themselves caught in the middle of a simmering feud that’s kept the two families apart for a decade. And no one is sure if young love will be enough to bridge this divide.
As they hide their relationship behind masks Thalía must decide if this new love is worth losing her parents’ approval.

My review: “An opposites attract story, this is the perfect book for the awkward teen in all of us. I can’t wait for the next books in the series to read about the cast of supporting characters.”

Recommended for teens and adults who are young at heart. This story is a clean book that realistically delves into the heart and mind of teenagers and supplies just the right amount of angst to keep you reading.

3) Love Among the Lilacs by Jenna Victoria

Blurb: Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk.

Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter.

Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking.

Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is where your heart is?

My review: “This is the first book I read by the author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is polished, the characters are believable and the supporting cast is a quirky, fun bunch. I enjoyed the alternating points of views and seeing how the characters grew to accept and care for each other.”

Recommended for romance readers who enjoy stories with well-rounded characters.

4) All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao

Blurb: When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Till blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.

Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to get her out of it.

My review: “I know I’m always in for a treat when I open up one of Ines Bautista-Yao’s books, and this one did not disappoint! The author has such a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of young characters. I love friends-to-lovers stories and could not get enough of Carlos and Billie’s relationship! There was just the right balance of “the feels”, as well as character growth to keep me reading. I highly recommend this book to romance lovers everywhere!”

Recommended for young adult and romance readers and for readers who are curious about life in the Philippines.

I hope you’ll check out these books and their amazing authors! What books have you read recently that you would recommend? 🙂