Category Archives: hello monday

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hello, monday

On Friday, Jake texted to tell me that his friend Tony had a couple extra tickets to the Grand Rapids Symphony for Saturday for Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams. We saw a show like this once before over in Detroit and it was so much fun. I thought what a fun date night it would be. When I mentioned it to the kids on our drive home from school, Zach seemed genuinely bummed that he couldn’t go.

We went out to my parents’ that night and had a little pizza party/game night. Settlers of Catan, of course. My brother, Tim, kicked all our butts. It was a fun time together, as always.

On Saturday morning while doing some laundry, I kept thinking about how bummed Zach was about the symphony and the thought came to me that maybe he could go in my place. Not that I didn’t want to go, because I love the symphony, but I had been before, and it crossed my mind that this would be something really special for him to experience with his dad. And I was totally right!

My guys had a great night together and Zach LOVED the whole experience. It made this mama really happy to give this to him and let him enjoy the power and beauty of music. Plus … storm troopers and Darth Vader!

While the guys were away at the symphony, Chloe and I did a little shopping, then went to dinner together. Afterwards, we went to the park for a little photo shoot per her request. It’s been a while since I just took photos with my good camera for fun. And I LOVE these so much.

We spent maybe half an hour or so running around the park. Well, she ran around and I walked slowly to catch up with her. She’s got so much stinkin’ energy. The light was gorgeous since it was the last hour before sunset. It was perfect. Our evening concluded with a few episodes of Girl Meets World. ;)

It was a fun guys/girls night out!

We were all back together for Mother’s Day Sunday, which I spent working on some formatting issues on my books. Jake and the kids cleaned, mowed, and made dinner for me – chicken and veggies on the grill. We ate dinner in front of the television watching Fuller House. :)

It was a wonderful weekend! How was your weekend? Did you do anything special?

hello, monday

• Had a lovely visit at Mom and Dad O’s on the east side of the state a couple weekends ago. Lots of yummy food and I even spent some time in the mornings working on my NaNoWriMo novel. Morning writing is so unlike me (except for blog posts). I’ve always been an evening writer, but I made myself do it so I could keep up with my word count and the ideas flowed even though I’m so not a morning person. ;)

• It was sort of Friend Week for me last week. I got to visit Heidi and help her design her annual Christmas card. It’s our annual tradition now for me to take their family picture and help design the card. Always a fun time chatting and picking photos and laughing at all the ones where they’re making funny faces or their eyes are closed. I also had dinner with my friend, Jen, and lots of catching up time over coffee (tea for her) at Starbucks afterward. Time with friends always makes it a good week.

• The painting is done. For this year anyway. I finished all but a couple small sections on the way back of the house that need to be reached by climbing on the roof. They aren’t really visible from the ground anyway, so they will be finished in the spring. So our house is all one color finally, and we finished just in time …

• It’s our first Monday with snow. We had the first big snowfall over the weekend. Not sure how much snow there was. At least 6-8 inches piled on top of my car.

• Chloe’s first gymnastics meet of the season was early Sunday morning. We drove through mostly clear roads to get there and had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrel afterwards to celebrate her 3rd place medal on bars and also the completion of painting the house. :)

• I was happy to see The Truth About Drew had the #1 Best Seller banner again this week. I ran a Kindle Countdown Deal throughout the week and it did really well. It’s always fun to see that little orange banner pop up.

• It’s a short school/work week for Thanksgiving. Looking forward to family time and putting up the tree.

• My newsletter is going out later this week. If you haven’t signed up yet, click HERE. There will be a little Black Friday info inside. Stay tuned!

hello, monday

Happy Labor Day! The unofficial last weekend of summer before school starts around here. It’s actually been a quiet few days here for us as I’ve been sick since last week with the virus my kids recently had, so we stayed close to home, watched lots of reruns of Parks & Rec, quietly celebrated Zach’s 15th birthday together, and missed a family reunion. :(

It’s not exactly the end of summer I had in mind, but sometimes you have to rest when you don’t want to, slow down when you don’t feel like you have the time, and stay home when you’d rather go out. This sickness has had me in a bit of a fog, too, which I can’t stand. I started feeling a little “off” the last week of August, which I now know was the beginnings of this virus.

Here’s a little recap of the last couple weeks of our summer break.

On the 26th (our 20th anniversary), I took Zach to the high school to get his schedule, get his photos taken, and find his locker. We walked down my old hallway, where I showed him my locker from my four years there. :) That was fun for me. I walked straight to it, like my mind and body just remembered the path I had walked all those days and weeks and months so many years ago.

Jake and I went to Olive Garden for lunch to celebrate 20 years of marriage. Love me some chicken parmigiana. After lunch, we browsed around Kohl’s, where I got some new running shoes and a pineapple corer. Random, yes? But I’ve been wanting to pick one up. We stopped by Barnes & Noble next. It’s been a while since we did that. I used to go there all the time when the kids were younger and I needed a break. I would browse, get coffee, sit and write in my journal. Every once in a while, I would buy a book just because I liked the cover and the blurb on the back. Now that I have published books of my own, I appreciate books even more. So much work to get them to their place on those shelves in Barnes & Noble. Maybe one day one of mine will find its way there, too.

That week, Goodbye, Magnolia was on sale for 99¢ and by Friday morning, I discovered that it had moved up the best seller charts to #9 in Christian Contemporary Romance in both the Books and eBooks lists. Such a blessing. And I was excited to see it right next to The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay, whose books I adore. Magnolia hung out there in the Top 100 all weekend. It was a lot of fun!

We spent the weekend with Jake’s Mom and our nieces, but I just didn’t feel like myself and ended up not being very energetic. The kids spent a lot of time outside, except when it rained, and Chloe and Scarlett baked brownies with MiMaw to celebrate Zach’s birthday.

We celebrated Zach’s birthday at my parents’ house this past Friday with a movie night (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2) and Jets Pizza. It’s hard to believe my little baby boy is 15 years old already. Soon he will be driving and I don’t even want to think about graduation and going off to college, but it’s inching closer with each passing day.

This week was also about Chloe’s middle school open house. She got her schedule, her school pictures taken, her locker found and opened (several times) and decorated. She ran into a bunch of her friends and had to take pictures with them, of course. The halls were a flurry of activity, and it gave me that excited and nervous feeling I used to get when it was almost time for a new year of school to begin. I’m excited for the year ahead for both the kids. I hope they will learn lots of new things and have great 7th and 10th grade years.

Chloe had an eye exam this week, too, and got new glasses. So cute. She also got contacts for the first time. She’s very excited about them and is getting much better at putting them in and taking them out of her eyes. It took her like 30-45 minutes to do it the first time she tried. She was so frustrated and in tears, but she had to do it before they would let her take the contacts home. Once she did it a couple times, it was no big deal.

As this new school year begins tomorrow, so does my writing schedule. It’s full steam ahead on edits and rewrites for the new book. And I plan to blog more, so stay tuned for that.

hello, monday

Summer is flying by and I thought since I haven’t really posted much lately, I would share some photos from the past month as a summary of what’s been going on. I’ll start with the weekend just before the kids left for camp. We went to the drive-in theater and watched Minions and Jurassic World. I love watching movies out under the stars. Always a fun experience. Loved Jurassic World, by the way. Jurassic Park is the movie Jake and I were watching when he first realized that he liked me as more than a friend, so it’s fun and fitting that Jurassic World came out this year to remind us of that and help us celebrate twenty years of marriage. :)

We celebrated my birthday that Sunday at my parents’ farm with burgers and chicken on the grill and a couple games of Sequence. Then on Monday, Jake and I took the kids to church to head out on their first church camp adventure. Chloe immediately loved it, but it took Zach a few days to really warm up to the experience. He’s very much a homebody, but in the end, he had a good time. The most important thing is that the kids were learning about God and spending time praying and singing to Him. One thing I am VERY grateful for is those who gave of their time and talents to photograph the kids week at camp. They weren’t allowed to bring cell phones/ipods/etc., which are the only cameras my kids have. So I’m so glad they had photographers there and that they shared all of the wonderful pictures with us parents. So many wonderful memories captured. What I wouldn’t give to have hundreds of pictures of my own years at church camp. :)

Chloe made some very special new friends in her cabin at camp. She became very close with one in particular, one who happens to live in Florida for the majority of the year with her mom and the summer months with her dad here in Michigan. The girls got to spend a fun couple days together before she flew back to Florida. Chloe was very sad to see her go, but is already looking forward to her visit in December around the holidays. It’s so sweet to see such a bond form based on their common belief in God.

As I mentioned before, while the kids were gone at camp, Jake and I had a little “reno-cation”. We replaced the old nasty bathtub and surround. This isn’t a great picture. Need to get my big camera out and snap a few, but this is after the caulk had dried and the fixtures were put back in and the pretty curtain and rug were put in place. I LOVE IT! There is still painting to do, but it’s done for the most part. Hard work, but so worth it.

The Saturday after camp, Chloe woke with a high fever. She was achy and could barely move. We gave her medicine and lots of fluids. We hoped it was a 24 hour thing, but it was not. So she had to miss a family get-together in Ohio on Sunday with my mom’s side of the family. :( Jake stayed home with her so I could go. Zach and I rode down with my Mom and we enjoyed a nice afternoon with my aunts and uncle and cousins and friends. I love the top left photo below of my mom and aunts laughing. Such fun we all have together. :)

Chloe ended up being sick for several days, so I finally took her to the doctor to check for strep throat, which she did not have. It was just a nasty virus that held on for a week. Thankfully, by the weekend she was feeling much better and seemed back to her normal self. I always feel so helpless when the kids are sick.

Shortly after we woke on Saturday, our power suddenly went out. There had been storms the night before, but all that was long gone, so we weren’t sure what was happening. Turns out some nearby power lines were down so they had to cut power to work on them. We went out to the farm to help Mom with some things she needed done around the house and to stay cool on the very hot and muggy day. Zach got to run the weed whacker for the first time, only it ended up breaking shortly after he started. Oops! We enjoyed corn on the cob (my first this summer!) that the Amish kids from across the road brought over. It was SO good. I wanted to keep eating it all day. ;)

Jake’s sister, who lives a few blocks from us, texted to let us know the power was back on and we were home in the air conditioning by dinner time.

On Sunday afternoon, Chloe and I went to Holland State Park to the beach for the day. It was another very hot and muggy day, and the lake felt so cool and refreshing. It was actually our first time at the big lake this summer, which is sad really. But we spontaneously decided this would be the day. It was a nice few hours together, although Chloe can’t stand to sit still on the blanket for more than ten minutes. She was in the water most of the time. I spent ten or fifteen minutes laying in the sun at a time, but it was just too hot and I was in the water most of the time, too. The beach and water were packed with people enjoying Lake Michigan.

It’s been a good month so far (except for Chloe’s sickness). Looking forward to a couple fun things coming up, including an upcoming sale on Goodbye, Magnolia, which I will be sure to let you all know about, as well as a very special book announcement. :)

hello, monday

When we dropped our kids off at church last Monday morning for camp, I had a flashback to leaving them at school on their first day of kindergarten. I wasn’t expecting that. It was their first time away from home for a full week somewhere other than with grandparents or cousins. And I experienced those familiar momma feelings you get when your kids are out in the world for the first time and you just have to trust God to hold onto them.

The goal for our kid-free week was to renovate our bathroom. The bathtub and shower surround have been in horrible shape for a long time, and we knew we needed to gut that area and install a brand new one. So as soon as we dropped the kids off, we pretty much hit the ground running. Monday was spent purchasing the things we needed for the reno. Tuesday morning, we picked up a few more necessary items and spent the afternoon on demo. The rest of the week was installation.

We underestimated the amount of time it would take us to finish this project. We thought we’d have it all done by Friday and would go to dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate. Nope! A few hiccups along the way slowed our progress. Jake kept having to run out to Ace to get little things (tools, screws, caulk, etc.) that we needed or ran out of. And we didn’t take into account just how exhausting it would be for two forty year olds who are not very physically fit to complete this renovation. Our stairs were climbed dozens of times in the span of three days, and by Friday, we were big blobs of aching muscles. And that lovely celebration dinner at Olive Garden never happened. We did order Applebee’s take out, but it wasn’t the same.

The project still isn’t complete. The big stuff is done. We are just finishing up little things like installing the light switch plate, putting another coat of paint on the trim, waiting for caulk to cure, etc. I will share some photos once it’s finished.

Jake took the entire week off of work so we could do this and have a “vacation” week together. It was not what I would call a relaxing vacation, but one thing I realized throughout the week is that we worked well together (for the most part) and accomplished a lot when we put our minds to it. We don’t have the best history when it comes to working on projects together. I tend to micromanage, which drives him insane. But this time around, things went pretty smoothly. Maybe it’s the fact that the kids were away and I didn’t have to worry about coming up with meals or dividing my attention between them and the bathroom project. Whatever the case, I’m proud of what we accomplished together. It looks a thousand times better than before.

This week also reminded me of the pre-kid days when it was just the two of us and made me think ahead to the days when the kids will be grown and it will be just us again. I’m not in a hurry for that, but I know that when it happens, we will be OK. We still like each other after twenty years of marriage. We still want to spend time together. We still plan and hope and dream together. I’d say that’s a very good thing. :)

And as far as the kids, they had a great time at camp and came home with many wonderful stories and tender hearts full of love for God and all their new friends. It was a successful week for all.

hello, monday

This week, I started reading Goodbye, Magnolia again. It’s been weeks since I last touched it, and I find that each time I read through it, I’m further away from the editing mindset and more able to enjoy the story itself. As I’m about to get back into editing the new book, I felt I should read through Magnolia again to make sure that all of the things that happen in Maggie’s story fit with the timeline of the new book. So far so good. Just a couple small things so far that I want to incorporate into Michelle’s story. So excited about this one.

Last night, I was thinking about the young adult novel I want to write next. The story is in my mind and in a very large text file filled with notes about characters and story. I have finally settled on names for the two main characters and I LOVE them! Not sharing yet, but very excited to work on this one, too.

So many stories, so little time. ;)

If you have yet to read either of MY BOOKS, this week would be a great time to pick them up at $1.99 each. Available on Amazon, B&N and iTunes. Click HERE or the “books” tab above if you’re reading from my blog.

hello, monday

I’ve been a bit of a writing machine this past week and throughout the weekend. On Sunday, I hit the 25,000 word mark on the first draft of this novel. Just trying to get the basics of the story onto the page before I figure out how to fill it in and really get in there and make all the parts work together. This one has romance, of course, but it’s also about finding God and our purpose in this life.

I’m sure I sound a little crazy gushing about this story so much lately, and maybe only my fellow writers will understand this, but I am giddy about this one. And this is the reason I know that I have found my purpose for this particular time in my life. Because I can’t stop smiling when I think about it or talk about it. Because I’m so excited to sit down at my computer every evening and figure out who this girl is and why she does the things she does. I’m excited to tell stories and share them with all of you. I’m excited that I have a husband who believes in me and what I’m doing.

OK … that’s all my gushing for today. ;)

School’s out for summer. Zach went and worked at my parents’ farm on Friday evening. Great way to start break off, by putting him to work. He and my brother stacked hay bales.

Saturday, Chloe had gymnastics practice. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the video I shared of her getting her forward giant on the strap bar. If not, follow me and check it out. My Instagram username is kristajean.

In the afternoon, we got to see my dear friend, Kelle. We met at my parents’ farm and visited for a couple hours. It’s always so good to see her and catch up.

Jake and the kids went out to see Tomorrowland with our brother-in-law, Jeff. I was not in the mood for a movie, so I stayed home. I think I just heard a collective gasp from all of my friends reading this. In the mid-90’s, especially when Jake was deployed to Bosnia in the Army (twice!), I spent many nights at the movie theater with friends. Many nights.

Sunday afternoon was our niece Kaylea’s graduation open house. It was a fun time with family and all the little girl cousins running around like cute crazies.

Now we begin the first full week of summer break. Yikes! I feel completely unorganized about it this year. I usually have some kind of idea of things for us to do. This year, I got nothin’!

What kinds of things are you doing with your kids this summer?

hello, tuesday

It’s always nice having long weekends together. The kids always have Memorial Day off, of course, but they also had no school Friday due to some extra time that was added to the school day to make up for excess snow days. I guess we earned enough extra time to have that day off. Jake only had to work half a day on Friday, so we had a really nice long weekend together.

We did some gardening on Friday with my Mom. She brought over a whole lotta bags of mulch, and we weeded the garden and around one side of the house. Mom and Zach worked on replanting some things that needed to find new homes. Both the kids were pretty good helpers, except for the constant complaining that they were hungry. They are always hungry. ;)

On Friday evening, we went to our niece Kaylea’s graduation. Whenever I attend a graduation ceremony, it takes me back to my own. What I remember most about that day is this overwhelming feeling of importance, like I just accomplished something, this huge milestone in my life. It’s so funny how feelings like that can come back in an instant. I felt it again on Friday for Kaylea and her classmates. So much hope for the future.

It’s hard to believe our nieces and nephews are graduating. And we’ll be attending graduations for the next three years as our nephew, then our niece, then our baby boy Zach all reach this milestone. I don’t even want to think about it.

It was a morning for sleeping in. I needed it after a long, busy book launch week. The kids, especially Zach, will sleep until noon if you don’t wake them. And Zach pretty much did. It was a work day around here in the afternoon. Chloe reorganized and cleaned her room. Zach mowed the lawn. Jake and I worked on de-cluttering the front porch.

We had a family day at my parents’ farm. Mom grilled up so much food – burgers, dogs, brats, chicken. All very tasty. We hung out and played two very long games of Settlers of Catan. I do enjoy the game, but I suck at it. I always put my settlements on places I think have so much promise – with numbers that are rolled fairly often and locations that have the possibility to get me lots of resources I need. But it never fails that numbers that were rolled so often in one game just never get rolled in the next. ugh!

I put off all the household chores this weekend. By Monday, there was a huge pile of laundry and dishes stacked sky high. All afternoon, I ran loads of laundry and folded them. By 9 pm, I had no energy left for the dishes and I went to my desk to write this post. The dishes can wait.

Things at school are coming to an end over the next couple weeks. I knew once Spring Break was over the rest of the year would fly right by. It always does with all the end of school year events and such. Chloe’s new season of gymnastics training (three days a week now!) will begin soon, too.

I just wanted to start this week with another big THANK YOU to those of you who have ordered your paperback or downloaded the eBook of Goodbye, Magnolia. I’ve started to hear from some of you already with the sweetest compliments about the book. It makes me so happy. I hope you’ll tell your friends and family about it and leave a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You can pick up your own copy HERE.

What’s up next for me?
I’ve been asked this a few times lately and in one of the interviews I did last week regarding the book. I’ve started writing my next book. It has no title yet since I’m in the very early stages of this one, but it will be another book in the same world as Maggie and Simon, taking place along the same timeline as Goodbye, Magnolia, but from another character’s perspective. I’m not giving away any more than that right now, but I think it will be a good story and give even more insight into the characters you are all loving from Goodbye, Magnolia.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

hello, monday | It’s BOOK LAUNCH WEEK!

This weekend seemed long. Like it was really stretched out and time slowed down. I enjoyed that slow feeling when I was reading a book in bed on Friday night, when I was drinking my coffee and reading the local paper on Saturday morning, and when I was having some quiet time to just sit and think and pray. Not so much when I was doing laundry and dishes and other housework, though. I kind of wished I could fast forward through all of that.

I stepped away from my computer this weekend, after being planted in front of it far too much lately. It was the nicest break and much needed. My time was filled with wonderful things like reading (Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade was great!), catching up on some television shows (Grey’s Anatomy!), and starting the devotional Savor by Shauna Niequist (love her writing style!). It was also filled with household chores (as I mentioned above) and an upset stomach that I’ve had since last week. But overall, it was a very good weekend that ended with Jake grilling us some delicious chicken and salmon and veggie packs for dinner (leftovers for a few days of lunches! yay!) and watching some TV together after the kids went to bed.

And now we’re on to a new week. A very exciting week for me as Goodbye, Magnolia officially launches.

Also an exciting week for our niece, Kaylea, who is graduating from high school. And we’re heading into the last few weeks of school, which is both sad and wonderful. Love summer time with the kids, but sad that another year of school has passed and they are that much closer to leaving our little nest.

You might see more posts from me this week here on the blog as well as on Facebook (follow my author page), Instagram, Twitter, etc. as the book releases and I share where to get it as well as some special posts that will be going up this week around the internet.

Have a wonderful Monday!

hello, monday

What a glorious weekend!

We visited Heather & Jeff and the girls. Mom & Dad O were there, and we celebrated Mothers Day on Saturday with a cookout. It was so nice out, but it had rained a ton on Friday, so their yard was very wet. Chloe and I were outside all afternoon with Scarlett and Violet, both of which ended up falling down in the mud. But they just kept playing and having a ball. They blew bubbles, carried buckets of water around, splashed in the one mud puddle in the yard, and dragged their feet (legs in Chloe’s case) in the mud under the swingset. They were quite a sight.

On Sunday, we drove home and went to my parents’ farm for Mother’s Day lunch with my family.

My dad read a few of the verses from Proverbs 31 for us:

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Proverbs 31:25-31

After lunch, there was some playing of Settlers of Catan and some basketball watching, then we headed home. We weren’t there long before our power went out, which didn’t help with the pile of laundry I needed to get done. Ended up being something with the electric lines right on our street, so it was just our little part of the neighborhood that went out. But thankfully, we were back up in no time.

We’re down to a week until the official launch of Goodbye, Magnolia. But you might want to sign up for THE NEWSLETTER today, if you haven’t done so yet. Just sayin’! ;)

AJAXed with AWP