April Book Review

It’s book review day!

I’m a little bit behind on blogging because….life happens. But I’m finally bringing you my April book review! I have some AMAZING books to share with you this month!

First up…I’m throwing it back to a book I read in February that I completely forgot to review in that post!

Everything is Possible by Jen Brickner

Jen is an aerial artist who was born without legs. In this autobiography/memoir, she chronicles her life and how she has let nothing stop her from pursuing her dreams. She writes with so much energy and passion, I cannot imagine what it would be like to stand in front of her! I really enjoyed this memoir and especially loved the story of adoption and Christ’s redemption that she did not shy away from. It was a quick and inspiring read and I really enjoyed it!

I then read three books this month and I have good things to say about all three of them!

The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison

For those of you who don’t know, Chris Harrison is the host of the Bachelor/Bachlorette. I was kind of expecting this to be a terrible book because he’s an excellent TV host and I don’t know how I feel about him using his fame to become an author. Butttt….I did actually enjoy this book! There were some plot twists and genius writing that I actually enjoyed. The book does have a little more sexual detail than I would like. It was a surprisingly enjoyable read!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson

This book was SO GOOD! It is written from the perspective of a very logical man (possibly even on the autism spectrum, although it never specifies that) who is falling in love, but doesn’t believe that he has emotions. He manages to make a mess of things and then make things right once again. If you know any extremely logical people (cough cough Theo), then I highly recommend this book as it was like looking straight into his brain (except Theo is not as extreme!). I will say, however, that the ending was so confusing that I had to google what happened. Apparently I wasn’t the only one confused as there are entire forums discussing the ending of this book. Simpson leads you to a cliff and then pushes you over the edge only to find that it’s not a cliff after all and you are just standing on solid ground an inch below where you started.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I have seen previews for this movie, and it looks very dark and scary. Even the book cover looked really scary to me, and I wasn’t sure I would even pick this one up. But man am I glad I did! It was such a deep, mysterious read and I could not put it down! It was not scary at all, and that is coming from someone who absolutely cannot read or watch scary movies. Amy Dunne goes missing on Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, and as the story unfolds, it turns out she is framing her husband for her own murder. She has spent years fabricating a plan and every single clue points to him. The writing in this book is brilliant as the reader is taken from Nick’s perspective to Amy’s perspective and I never knew whose side I should be on. I will say, that I had my nose in this book all week long just dying to see how it ended and I was pretty disappointed. There has to be a second book coming out or something because the ending was disappointing!

I really enjoyed all the books that I read this month and I can’t wait to dive  into some more for May! What are you reading right now?

January//February//March 

2016

I Am Pro-Life and I Am Supporting the Miami Valley Women’s Center

I am SO excited to be joining in the Walk for Life this year!!!

The Walk for Life is a walk to raise awareness and money for the Miami Valley Women’s Center. 

Since 1982 the Miami Valley Women’s Center has been providing real answers for issues surrounding unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and many other life issues.

When I went into foster care, I was pretty convinced that I would be the Savior to these poor, unwanted and abused babies. I learned on DAY ONE that was not the case. In so many cases, the mothers and fathers of children in foster care just don’t have the resources. They don’t have the knowledge or the experience or the examples of people who are successfully parenting.

And that’s why I can 100% wholeheartedly support the Miami Valley Women’s Center. My heart is to keep families together and help provide the resources to women (and men) in need of them. Sometimes that resource requires fostering their precious babies, but sometimes that resource requires family classes, pregnancy tests and crisis pregnancy counseling.

I am pro-life. I support life from the moment it is conceived. Because of this belief, I am a foster Mom. Because of this belief, I am walking in the Miami Valley Walk for Life.

Will you support me?

$250 will provide a crib, a mattress and a carseat for a Mom in need.

$500 provides four cribs

$1000 can provide the center with advertising all across the Miami Valley, reaching thousands of women who may be in need of their services

$1300 can provide a pregnancy test, an ultrasound and crisis pregnancy counseling for a woman in need.

You can head to my FundEasy page and easily donate online, or if you see me in person I have a special envelope for a cash or check.

The Miami Valley Women’s Center is hoping to raise $175,000 by Saturday, May 13th. I would like to be a small part of this goal. We are currently at $43,00 raised and are hoping for much more! I will keep you updated on my progress as we near the date, and I’m sure I will have a special post on our experience at the Walk for Life!

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

Skin cancer hits close to home as my brother in law was diagnosed with melanoma five years ago. Our whole family held our breath as he went through alternative treatment, surgery and a complete diet and lifestyle revamp. We know that his remission is only by the healing of God in his body, and through this we have all realized just how serious and terrible skin cancer can be.

Today I’ve partnered up with a company whose owner has also experienced skin cancer, and lived to do something about it. After facing her diagnosis, she dove headfirst into designing UPF sun protective clothing, and thus SwimZip was born.

I had the fabulous opportunity to pick out swimsuits for my kids and a swim coverup for myself.

  

There are so many things that I LOVE about SwimZip! First, how CUTE are these swimsuits????

Sometimes I think it’s hard to marry function and style. It seems like if we want sun protection for our kids, they can’t look cute at the same time. Or if they look cute, they certainly can’t have maximum sun protection. But SwimZip meets both criteria’s and I couldn’t be happier with these suits!

Tera got the 3 Piece Pool Party Set, which comes with a tankini top, shorts and a rash guard shirt. I ordered a 3T for her because it’s only the beginning of the summer and I love to maximize the use of our swimsuits. The tankini straps are adjustable and the drawstring shorts are also super helpful for my tiny little one to have space to grow!

Kiah got the Shark Feast swimsuit with the yellow rash guard shirt.

The best part of these SwimZip rash guards? No tugging wet swimsuits over my kiddos heads! Instead, I can just unzip and pull it off! Of course, with a zipper comes the annoying neck nagging when the zipper gets stuck in the sweet baby rolls…but not with SwimZip! All the rash guards have little zipper pockets so those pesky things don’t poke our sweet kiddos skin!

Tera’s hat was a Once Upon a Child find, but SwimZip also has sun hats and circle towels!

You all know that while I work with companies in exchange for product, I will not ever recommend a brand that I would not spend my own money on. I know exactly where I will be getting my swimsuits for my kiddos as they grow up!!!

I am SO excited to also be sharing later on the blog about another company that is working to protect our skin and prevent skin cancer.

My top in the below picture is from SheDo Lane and it is SO SOFT! I am not going to lie..I wore it to the park, and then to bed. And I didn’t want to take it off to get ready for church. They have men, women’s and Childrens sizes and I want to buy them all…not only are they soft and UPF protective, they are also fashionable! Make sure that you browse around the website for awhile to see if there is anything that you like!

Stay tuned on my Instagram over the next few weeks for two different giveaways- one to SwimZip and one to SheDo Lane!

 

Happy Monday and Happy May!!!

 

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!

I am sorry I have been so absent from the blog world this week! I will be back full force on Monday, but for now I just wanted to share five things on this beautiful Friday! If you are wanting to check out what’s going on in Dayton this weekend, scroll on down to #5!

  1. Visiting friends. On Monday, I drove to upstate New York to visit my lifelong friend that I haven’t seen in YEARS! We have four kids under the age of three and being together was so FUN and so INSANE! So many babies. I drove back yesterday and I think I need a week or two to recover! 
  2. Third Culture Kids and marriage. My (online) friend Esther interviewed me last week on TCKs and marriage. Let me tell you what, we could have gone on for HOURS, but she managed to put everything together in this amazing blog post. TCK married friends I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on these questions, too. Are you married to another TCK or someone from another culture or someone who is monocultural (only ever lived in one culture). This is fascinating to me! Here is the post! 

    Sand from Niger mixed with sand from Michigan

  3. Family Portrait. Look at this amazing piece of art that my friend Kimberly painted for us. Seriously…I LOVE it. I don’t have a single picture with all three of my kids in it…until now. I can’t wait to frame it and hang it up!!! She has an Etsy shop and can create a custom image for you, too! 
  4. Bravo Dessert! Have you headed out to Bravo to eat some dinner and get FREE dessert on me? Well, if you haven’t there is still time!!! From now until May 22, you can head to the Dayton Bravo and any entree ordered gets a FREE dessert. These desserts are AMAZING, let me tell you!!! Let me know if you head there! 
  5. Dayton this weekend! As always, there are a TON of thing to do around these parts this weekend! Its looking like it will probably rain, but at least its not snow or freezing rain, right? I plan on heading to my favorite Learning Tree Farm for Babies on the Farm!! Other fun things include the 2017 Superhero Donut Run,  and a Family Adventure Day ! What are you up to this weekend?

Dessert Is On Me: Bravo Restaurant Review

Starting today, the dessert is on me at Bravo! With the purchase of an entree, you get a free dessert! All you have to do is mention “THE GLORIOUS MUNDANE or SUZANNE HINES” to your waiter or the manager. 

*please read below to find the dates and details of the promotion*

*I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own*

Back in October, Theo and I had the chance to go on a little date night! My parents had come all the way from Africa for the birth of Kiah and since they were here, we decided to take advantage of the (rare) free babysitting and go out to dinner! As usual, we were unsure of where to go or what to do, so we eventually decided to try out a new restaurant in our area: Bravo Cucina Italiana!

We absolutely LOVED our experience there. In fact, I loved it so much that I contacted the manager to see if I could partner with them and get the word out to YOU about how fabulous this restaurant is!

Last week, we had a chance to head back to Bravo to enjoy the experience again!

Bravo at the Dayton Mall

One of the first things that sets the tone for a restaurant is what you see, feel, and hear when you walk in. When you walk into Bravo, the lights are dim, the atmosphere encourages quiet…the kind where you want to lean into your companions to hear what they are saying. The restaurant is open so that you can see all the way across the room, but the half-walls and dividers all throughout make it feel like you are the only ones there.

We were so pleased with both the wait staff and the hosts. The menu is kept simple, not bombarding you with too many things to choose from, but enough to want to come back and try a different entree! One of the things I wanted to point out is that there are over a dozen gluten free meal options on this menu! Bravo also provides any meal free of allergens if specified to the wait staff.

Our view of the restaurant.

Another thing that we loved about Bravo is that you can see the kitchen and all the food prep going on! It’s like having a front row seat to a cooking show.

First to arrive at our table were the complimentary breadsticks. These breadsticks, served with an olive oil dip, hit the spot!

Tera ate about 4 of them. Haha!

The next time we go to Bravo, I’m going to request a seat out on the patio. Isn’t this so cute?

Not only does Bravo have a bar, a restaurant and a patio, they also have banquet rooms! Doesn’t this look like the perfect place to hold a rehearsal dinner for a wedding party?

About 10 minutes after we put in our order, our food arrived at the table! YUM!!!!

I got the Pasta Bravo (Gluten Free!), Theo got the Grilled Salmon and Tera got chicken fingers.

The prices are very reasonable for a nice date night, around $12-$20 a plate.

The grilled Salmon was SO GOOD. SO, SO GOOD.

One thing that would have made OUR dining experience much more enjoyable at Bravo would have been if we went without the kids (as much as we adore them!). The restaurant is not catered towards children, and it has more of an adult, date-night vibe. There is a great kids menu, but all the items on it were more than we usually like to pay for a “kids picked-over” meal. There is also nowhere to change a diaper (and of course, we had to change a messy one). That is nothing against the restaurant, I just highly recommend finding a sitter and leaving the kids at home.

After dinner we ordered desserts, and they were HEAVENLY. Not only did they look amazing, they tasted even better. Have you ever been to a restaurant before where you order dessert and feel like you wasted $6 on a frozen brownie? Well, this was NOT what happened at Bravo. I am seriously considering going back just to get the dessert again.

I got the warm chocolate cake and Theo got the creme brûlée. Other temptations on the menu were the tiramisu, the cannoli crumble, and the warm berry white cake.

  

Although we didn’t get to try out everything, the things we did get to try were fabulous. Here are some of the other deals that Bravo offers:

  • 10% military discount on the order of any military personnel.
  • Mondays 1/2 off any bottles of wine
  • Wednesday $5 martini night
  • Thursday $5 wine night
  • M-F 3:30-6:30 Happy Hour. All bar appetizers and drinks are $5.
  • Bravo also offers a loyalty club with many discounts and benefits- signing up is free!

 

And now for the fun part:

Dessert is on me!

From now until May 22, if you head to the Bravo at the Dayton Mall and mention “THE GLORIOUS MUNDANE” or “SUZANNE HINES”, you will get one free dessert of your choice with each purchased entree.

So plan that date night or Mothers Day outing and enjoy free dessert on me! Let me know how much you LOVE Bravo!

**For my friends and readers across the US, this promotion only applies to the Dayton Bravo (2770 Miamisburg-Centerville Road Centerville, OH 45459), HOWEVER my review for the Bravo restaurant is still the same! You should check and see if you have a local Bravo and enjoy a night out!