Oh, look! An actual post!

Hello, long-lost blog friends!  In an effort to get myself somewhat back in the blogging habit, how about some quick takes for an update on our lives?
  • I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about this blog and what I want it to be.  I have debated whether or not I really want to continue writing.  I decided that I do want to keep it up, but I'm not sure in what capacity.  There are only so many "we're great; the girls are happy; life is good" posts I can write before I bore even myself.  I definitely want to continue writing about and reviewing books, but beyond that, I'm just not sure.  Still some thinking to do, obviously.
  • On that note, yes, we are all doing just fine these days.  We have mostly adjusted to J being home in the evenings.  The novelty has not worn off yet.  (I get to cook real, full meals to share with another adult, a fact that really does thrill me!)  We have been busy with summertime adventures, activities with church and friends, and just life in general.  
  • Since I wrote about starting Weight Watchers, I have lost almost 10 lbs.  Even more than that, I have managed to figure out and stick to an actual exercise plan, and I am truly enjoying it.  A couple of pairs of pants already don't fit, and a couple more are getting loose...good thing I wear mostly dresses in the summer.  I want to wait another month or two (and hopefully be closer to my goal weight) before splurging on new clothes.
  • As I said, we have been pretty busy with general summer fun, including a few short trips here and there, but we are all beginning to count the days until our beach vacation in early September.  (Less than six weeks away!)  We are staying a full week this time, and Addison is thrilled about that fact.  She keeps holding up seven fingers, telling anyone who will listen that we are staying at the beach "a whole seven days!"  Her enthusiasm is definitely contagious.  
  • We are considering adding a new member to our family (NOT A BABY!!)--a dog.  Our local animal shelter is being fantastic enough to let us bring a little guy home for a trial run of sorts this weekend.  We'll see if we are ready to handle this new addition...it should be an interesting weekend!  I will certainly report back on that matter.  : )
  • I have been reading SO many good things lately; I can't wait to share some of my favorites.  Inspiration to blog again soon, right? 
How are things with y'all?  I miss my blog friends!!


The Exiles, by Allison Lynn {Review & Giveaway}

Well, hello there!  I didn't intend to disappear from the old blog like I did, but I've been enjoying a pretty busy summer and writing moved to the backburner for awhile. 

One thing I haven't been skimping on lately?  Reading.  I have read lots of good books this summer (and at least one terrible one, but that's not what you want to hear about, right?).

While on vacation/Jeremy's work trip in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, I read Allison Lynn's new book The Exiles.  It was a great vacation read, weighty enough but not overly depressing. 

Set in the early- to mid-2000s, The Exiles is the story of a couple struggling to have it all.  Nate and Emily have come to terms with the fact that they can no longer keep up with the demands of their extravagant New York City lifestyle.  Nate is offered a respectable job in Rhode Island, and the couple, along with their ten-month-old son make the decision to relocate.  The book details their move-in weekend, which turns somewhat disastrous when the Jeep containing many of their belongings is stolen.  As Nate and Emily tough it out in their new situation, they face some hard truths about their lives and the secrets they've kept from one another.

While I basically did not like Nate or Emily very much, I did feel a bit of pity for them at times.  Yes, they are in desperate need of a kick in the pants, and someone should tell them to grow up and take responsibility for their lives and the family they created.  No, I cannot imagine the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" they felt among their NYC social group.  I guess I felt sorry for them because they don't seem know how very good the world can be beyond that group they struggle to fit into (and then feel a bit of shame over leaving).

Most of all, though?  While reading The Exiles, I felt really, really grateful that Jeremy and I have never really felt that we had anything to prove.  We don't feel pressure to have prestigious careers or to have the best of everything.  We are happy with our simple, comfortable lifestyle and we are content with what we have (for the most part--I'm not saying I wouldn't like to have a slightly bigger house or a pool in the backyard...but we all have a wishlist of some sort, right?).  Nate and Emily managed to redeem themselves a little by the end of the book, but their story really did make me appreciate my life, and the family I have, more than ever.

Thanks to the publisher, I am able to offer a copy of The Exiles to one reader!  To enter, just leave a comment on this post.  The giveaway will end at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, and is open to U.S./Canada residents only.

I received a copy of this book for review via TLC Book Tours and the publisher.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  For more reviews, check out the full tour post.