Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult {Book Review}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 14, 2014

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult. Her books always seem to touch on the untouchable; the conversation no one wants to have, the situation in which no one wants to find themselves. She always sparks something in me to learn all I can about the underlying topic about that which she is writing. Or, at the very least, devour her latest novel. So, you can imagine that I was more than a little excited to receive an advanced copy of her newest book – Leaving Time – available TODAY.

"Leaving Time" by Jodi Picoult

About the book:

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

Leaving Time was so hard for me to get in to. The story began slow for me… I struggled through tons of detail about elephants, with not nearly enough character development for my taste. But boy, did that change. By Part Two, I couldn’t put the book down. Those “details” only added a layer to the story that wouldn’t have been possible any other way. And, since I won’t give away the ending, I will just say that the ending made the slow start totally worth it!

Get your own copy of Leaving Time at Walmart and Walmart.com for only $16.80 ($11.20 off the list price!)

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Capture Photos That #BringIt

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 4, 2014

With the back-to-school season upon us, don’t miss the opportunity to capture the perfect shot of the winning touchdown, the last second field goal or the fourth quarter huddle. Whether you are attending your child’s Pop Warner tournament or your teen’s Homecoming Football game, be sure to photograph and videotape every moment with high quality.

Capture the Perfect Shot #BringIt © bigandt / Dollar Photo Club

The seasons of blurry action shots and over-exposed kick-offs are in the past. Sports fans can #bringit by capturing higher quality images and video of every game this season. To help you make this happen, I’d like to share a few tips and tricks courtesy of Canon’s Digital Learning Center, to help #bringit for sporting events:

  • When you first arrive to the game, be sure to find the spot with the best lighting; stand in front of the light in order to capture the clearest shot.
  • Set your camera’s shooting mode to an automatic high shutter speed to ensure that you catch the perfect shot of your team.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot from a different angle. Try standing at the top of the bleachers, on the highest hill or from standing low on the sideline in order to capture a variety of shots.
  • Telephoto zoom lenses allow for optimal photo-documenting sport events and athletes at a distance.

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Back to School Firsts

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 1, 2014

At the end of the summer, Staples asked me if they could send us a Kindle Fire HD in exchange for a post on Back to School Firsts. The idea was to get the books on the Summer Reading List checked off, which the Kindle certainly would have helped my older kiddos do, but I had something additional in mind…

Last month, Ben began his first year in full day school outside of the home, and I wanted to document this first for him. He was nervous. I was nervous. But, we had a couple weeks with the Kindle Fire to help prepare him.

How did we do this?

Because he was not yet reading, we downloaded some beginner reading apps and Ben spent quite a bit of time playing with the ones that focused on phonics and sight words. The Monkey Preschool Toolbox is a favorite of Timmy’s, so I had Ben try Monkey Word School Adventure and he really enjoyed it. He seemed to breeze right through the first few games, but he played again and again. I can only believe that increased exposure to the sounds of the single  and double letters will be helpful as he begins to read them all together.

Hooked On Phonics is another one of his favorites. The entire Hooked on Phonics program for the Kindle was a bit pricey, but I bit the bullet, because I’ve heard of great results. Ben is not quite as interested in this as the other, but it seems to be a bit more of what he needs to begin reading.

Beginner Reading Apps for the Kindle Fire

Ben also really enjoyed reading the Level 1 books we downloaded on the free Kindle Reading App. The best part? With a little help, he read every single one we downloaded!

After the first 5 weeks of Ben’s new adventure, I am hopeful that he will continue using the Kindle throughout his entire first year of school.

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“Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.” {7 Lies Moms Believe}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on September 30, 2014

As moms, we tend to hold ourselves to a pretty high standard. If we are completely honest, we expect too much of ourselves as we constantly believe the lies that we are told about having to be perfect, make our kids our whole world, and forsake all other parts of life because you became a mom.

With seven kiddos under my wings, and 14 years under my belt, I can assure you that there are some lies we believe that prevent us from being the best mom we can be. I’d like to try to help you realize that these lies only hold us back; they prevent us from being all that we need to be to raise well-rounded and happy children, without driving ourself insane.

Don’t listen to these lies. Instead, embrace the truth.

7 Lies We Believe As Moms  From Dates to Diapers

Lie - My world has to revolve around my kids.

Truth - It doesn’t have to. It really is okay to let your little one skip a nap, so you can meet your sister and nephews at the park. It’s okay to have a few friends over after your babies are in bed, even if y’all aren’t quiet. (Yes, it really IS okay if you aren’t tiptoeing around when he’s sleeping.) Junior will get used to the noise or minor disruption in his schedule. I promise. You, sweet mama, can still have a life. A life that is only more full with your children in it.

Lie - There is never any time for me.

TruthYou must MAKE time for you. Even when your babies are teeny. I know, new moms, you don’t believe me, but Junior really will be okay if you swaddle him and place him in the bassinet just outside of your bathroom door. Take that long, hot shower and shave your legs. Or, pour yourself a cup of coffee and spend some alone time with the Lord. Junior can’t go anywhere and it really is okay if he whimpers for a few minutes before you tend to him. You MUST take time for yourself each day, at the beginning, without guilt.

As baby gets older, have a trusted friend or family member tend to Junior for a few hours each week. Meet a friend for coffee, have a dinner date with your husband, get your nails done, read your Bible at a local coffee shop. And remember  - no guilt. You MUST take care of you.

Lie – I can’t have real friends.

TruthFriendships seem to change as you start a family, but just because you have babies doesn’t mean you need to give up on friendships. When I was pregnant with Ben, I felt isolated. After all, I had four kiddos, 4 years old and under, and I rarely left the house. I turned to the internet and saw an incredible opportunity to connect with the online mom community. My online friends became my “real” friends and are still some of my best friends to this day. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have friends; it just means your friendships change.

Lie – Imperfection is not an option.

TruthNo one is expected to be perfect, so stop expecting yourself to be. Moms get frustrated and yell. We forget to pick up our kids on time from soccer practice. We let crumbs stay on the floor and clean laundry in the washer for hours, sometimes days. We all have shortcomings and disappoint. What’s most important is how you deal with those shortcomings. Apologize, make plans to be better, move on, and try. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up.

Lie – Happiness is being a mom.

TruthBeing a mom is hard, y’all. You will have challenging days. You will have bad days. In fact, some days you may even wish that you didn’t have the responsibility that children bring. That certainly doesn’t make you a bad mom and it’s completely normal. If these “bad” days are more often than not, however, please talk to a friend or even your doctor. You may have symptoms of depression that need to be addressed.

Lie – I must make every day fun for my kids.

Truth – Life is meant to be lived. Life is not always fun. It is not our job, as parents, to make life fun or to entertain our children 24/7. It is our job to teach and train them to be responsible, respectful, and God-honoring individuals. The best way we teach is by example.

And, last but not least, my favorite lie to bring to truth… 

Lie – Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.

Truth - You can make your husband a priority without compromising your ability to be a good mom. In fact, making time for your spouse will, in fact, make you an even better mom. Trust me. You and your spouse will have a deeper connection and will be better able to parent. It’s only when the two of you are connected – emotionally, physically and spiritually – that you will have the energy and emotional capacity to be the best mom you can be.

What’s more, your husband will thank you for making him a priority. And, when all of your kiddos fly away, you will not have to get to know the one you devoted to love and cherish all over again. So, make plans to go out on a date once a month. If it truly is impossible to have a trusted friend or family member watch the kiddos, put them to bed early one night and have a candlelit dinner. Talk about life, without bringing up the kids. Or just enjoy each other’s company.

The simple act of making your husband number one in your life will make you a better mom. Trust me.

What would you add to the list of lies we believe?

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How the Women of India Inspire Me to Do More, Be More and Live a More Abundant Life {#5by20}

September 27, 2014

I had the great honor of being one of 8 professional bloggers to have been chosen by Coca-Cola to join them in India to witness, ask questions, and enjoy our time exploring their 5by20 initiative. It has been two weeks since we returned home from a trip of a lifetime where I saw how women’s lives are being impacted in India in […]

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Countdown to Confidence

September 26, 2014

“With Invisalign, the confidence of a great smile starts on the first day of treatment and lasts a lifetime.” Just a heads up, friends… You can enter to win an Invisalign Treatment for you or your teen AND $1000 in the Countdown to Confidence Daily Instant Win & Sweepstakes. You may enter daily, now through November 13th, for […]

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Smoothie King Comes to Cedar Park!!

September 26, 2014

You’re invited to Smoothie King’s Cedar Park grand opening this Saturday from 9am-noon! Smoothie King, the premier smoothie bar and nutritional lifestyle center in the industry, will unveil its 700th new store on Saturday morning, with a grand opening event at its new (and very first) Cedar Park location. Kids, 12 years and younger, are encouraged to participate in […]

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Bake the Perfect Batch with New Reynolds Cookie Baking Sheets

September 25, 2014

Julia and I do a whole lot of baking and it’s not entirely unlikely that we have to wash our cookie sheets every day, more than once. Needless to say, both of us were excited to hear about new Reynolds Cookie Baking Sheets. They are pre-cut parchment sheets that provide an easy, convenient way to “Bake the Perfect Batch.” […]

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Fall Beauty :: Hair

September 23, 2014

Walmart was my one stop shop for changing things up as we move from Summer to Fall! Over the weekend, I shared with you my newest favorite outfit, just in time for Fall. But, I wanted to change my hair color (back to Auburn) and experiment a bit with styling accessories, too. I started off […]

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{DIY} Harvest Floral Wreath

September 22, 2014

Fall colors are one of my favorite things about the Autumn season. Oranges, reds, yellows, and deep greens all around me just seem to bring a sense of warmth and cozyness – a feeling of contentment, I suppose – in spite of the cooler outdoor temperatures. Whether I’m switching out my summer mantle to the deep […]

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My Go-To Fall Outfit

September 21, 2014

I am loving the bright colors that are available in fashion and apparel at Walmart this Fall! Of course, you can still find all of the goodies that make dressing for this season so great – boots, scarves, oversized sweaters, and all – but adding bright splashes of color to my outfit is easy to do […]

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Large Families Need to be Prepared for a Disaster: National Disaster Preparedness Month

September 18, 2014

Disaster, whether natural or man made, can strike at any time. September is dedicated as National Disaster Preparedness Month to get people thinking about what they would do should a disaster hit. Are you and your family prepared? Your first thoughts in a disaster scenario is about those closest to you, your family. You wonder […]

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Laniwai Spa: One of Many Reasons to Visit Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

September 16, 2014

Along the beaches of Ko Olina, nestled between mountains and ocean of Oahu, Hawaii sits the breath-taking and magical Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. There are many reasons to visit this beautiful oasis that is just outside of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, yet close enough to enjoy all the island has to offer. Laniwai Spa is […]

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A Bedtime Routine Sure to Calm and Promote Sleep Through the Entire Night

September 15, 2014

The end of the day is almost the most challenging, as a mom, it seems. Getting the kids ready for bed and all tucked in is sometimes the last thing I want to do when I am so tired myself. Especially when there are the after tuck in bedtime delays – I’m hungry. I need a […]

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Empowering Millions, One Woman at a Time #5by20

September 4, 2014

I have the great honor of being one of 8 professional bloggers to have been chosen by Coca-Cola to witness first-hand how they are investing in the lives of women in India through their 5by20 initiative. We leave this weekend on a whirlwind tour of communities in New Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Dasna and Bangalore, where […]

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September is Self-Improvement Month

September 4, 2014

We all like to make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year. Commitments to improve something about ourselves; perhaps to diet, work out, stop drinking, and the like. If you’re anything like me, you also make resolutions to improve your family relationships that may include not yelling at your kids, spending more quality time […]

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Miracle Gel {Review}

August 29, 2014

Y’all already know of my love for nail color, so telling you about a new line from Sally Hansen should come as no surprise… Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is a patented and exclusive gel color system. No base coat or UV/LED light is required, and with just two coats of Miracle Gel color and a […]

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Fifteen

August 28, 2014

It was fifteen years ago today. The hottest day of the year. I was to vow to love, honor, and cherish my best friend all the days of my life, and I was a bundle of nerves. As I walked down the aisle, on my father’s arm, I saw my best friend waiting for me […]

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First Day

August 26, 2014

Sending the kiddos off to school after what seems like a long summer is always bittersweet for me. This year, however, it was especially so. While they were all most certainly ready for the routine that the new school year brought with it, I was a bit nervous to drop them off today and yesterday […]

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Get The Amazing Spiderman 2 at Walmart and Enter the #BeAHeroContest

August 23, 2014

Some of my older kiddos saw The Amazing Spiderman 2 when it was playing in theaters. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get past the fact that someone other than Toby McGuire was playing Peter Parker. In fact, I don’t think I even saw the first of the new series. But, I have to say, […]

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AT&T GoPhone {Review}

August 22, 2014

Have I mentioned that I have three kiddos going in to middle school, 1 in to intermediate (I guess that’s a thing in large districts?), and 2 in to elementary this year? Yes, that’s six kiddos in three different schools. That’s a whole lot of kids in too many places at once for this mama’s […]

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{Back to School in Style} Spoof Up Your Binders & Notebooks

August 21, 2014

So, I’ve talked a lot this week about getting ready  for school to begin. Uniforms, backpacks, other school supplies…. So much to purchase. Why ot have a little fun and personalize these items to match your personality? I gave Julia a small budget and creative license, and asked her to decorate her 3-ring binder and […]

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