Firefly Island: Political Intrigue Meets Romance


I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book quite like this one. When I read the description I figured this was just another romance novel, perhaps a unique take on it, but still a romance.


Young lobbyist accidentally meets a young environmental researcher and they fall in love. Causing her to leave the rigors of politics behind, following him and his six year old son to a once in a lifetime opportunity to do research. But very quickly, the romance becomes nearly secondary to the story. While the book mostly focuses on political intrigue there is definitely a flavor of thriller to it as well.


Mallory Hale is a classic high powered career woman but with uncharacteristic domestic yearnings. Daniel Everson is every inch the quiet, brooding but tender scientist. Top it off with Daniel’s young son Nick who is adorable though perhaps not entirely realistic, you can’t help but love this trio. Mallory’s attempts to become a wife and mother practically overnight in a small rural town where she knows no one is compelling and accessible. The minor characters of the locals fill out the cast and make me want to leave it all behind too and start over in MosesLake.


Would I recommend it? Yes, it’s definitely an unusual piece of fiction that is worth a read.

I was not compensated for this review but I did receive a free copy of the book to review.

Interested in becoming a reviewer for Bethany House? Apply here.



Me and My Lunette

I’ll begin this post with a warning. This post will be massive TMI for most people. If you are male and/or know me in real life and think you would be at all disturbed by a post discussing women’s menstrual product alternatives that I personally use and details about my menstrual cycle, then I encourage you PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS.

Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to share my recent experience with the Lunette menstrual cup. I first heard about menstrual cups, or at least the concept of them, several years ago when a friend mentioned trying Instead. She said it was a strange experience and not one she would like to repeat. I thought nothing more about the idea until I started researching cloth diapers and I discovered that many cloth diaper sites carry natural menstrual products too, such as cloth pads and menstrual cups. Again, I categorized both as, I’ll never go there. But as my previous posts can attest, I did, in fact, go there. I now use almost exclusively cloth pads, even during the postpartum period of my last pregnancy.

cynthia-250x250Finally in 2011, I decided to take the plunge. I was recovering from a miscarriage and decided that perhaps I would try using a menstrual cup during the cycles between my recovery and trying to get pregnant again. I did a lot of research including a great website comparing practically every model out there. (I mean seriously, apparently there are as many, if not more, brands of menstrual cups as there are brands of pads and tampons).  What finally did it for me was that while I was poking around the Gladrags website one day they were having a sale on the Lunette cup, which is the one I was seriously considering, even though practically every cloth diaper website I order from carried Diva Cup almost exclusively. Plus Gladrags was offering free shipping and I liked the wine color, Cynthia. Lunette offers a range of colored cups as do many of the menstrual cup brands. Lunette also names all of their colors after various ancient goddesses. It does make the whole thing a little more fun (though hardly, “Have a Happy Period” fun, to quote a maxi pad manufacturer). Anyway, it seemed less gross than the possibility of staining a clear cup. So I ordered it. I chose a model two because I have had children and I tend to have heavier cycles.) This is only a guideline set in place by Lunette however. Each menstrual cup manufacturer sizes their products a bit differently and each woman’s body is unique. Unfortunately finding a good fit isn’t an exact science.

Then I got pregnant and never had a chance to try it. So it sat in my drawer until recently, when finally, after almost two years, (during most of which I was either pregnant or breastfeeding) I finally got my period. I was immediately excited to try my Lunette cup so I pulled it out of my back of my drawer (where I kept it handily hidden from my husband in the hopes that he would forget I had ever purchased it) and prepped it.

Insertion was surprisingly easy. I expected it to be awkward if not painful. But actually it was only a little more awkward than inserting a tampon. The Lunette cup is made of pretty stiff medical grade silicon so keeping it folded for insertion requires a pretty tight grip. But I didn’t have any trouble, and it opened right up, just like the directions said it would. But if you find you are having trouble the Lunette website offers a video with nine different folding methods you can try. Once it was in properly, I couldn’t even feel it. I used to find tampons uncomfortable unless my flow was really strong but this was fine. I see why some women say that they sometimes forget they even have their period.

selene2-500x500I did have a little bit of leakage on a heavy day when the cup was almost full and I had to change it more than I imagined I would (The size 2 Lunette holds approximately 1 oz when filled to capacity) on the heavy days. The whole process was a little messier than I would have liked, but manageable. In my case I seemed to be inserting the cup too high, so getting it out was a little more awkward, but then again I always found removing tampons messy and awkward too. (Plus I constantly lived in fear of getting a batch of faulty tampons where the strings would detach). I had a big leak when I got out of bed after the first night using it. After 12 hours in, the cup was overflowing, but this was also my first period in almost two years so I’m not surprised that it might have been unusually heavy.

Mostly, I kept forgetting I had it in unless it overflowed. (I say overflow rather than leak because I haven’t really had any major leaks except for when the cup has been filled to capacity. Some women find that they don’t have leaks even when the cup is full but that hasn’t been my experience) But again, none of these issues were new. I had all these problems when I used to use tampons also. I did however notice less cramping, I barely had to take ibuprofen at all, and I was someone that used to take four every four to six hours and still be in pain. (This could be a feature of my post child bearing cycles though. I did have similar experiences during my last periods between pregnancies, though I don’t think I used anything but cloth pads during those cycles. Some women feel that the lack of chemical exposure from disposable pads and tampons helps lessen the bloating and cramping).

So after one cycle, I’m definitely a fan of Lunette and menstrual cups in general. I’ve found it easy to use, or at least as easy as tampons. Discomfort was less and mess probably about the same. I would never wear one without some kind of back up on a heavy day, but I was always the same way with tampons too. I love that I don’t have to purchase vast quantities of disposable feminine products anymore, and I feel good about no longer putting those chemicals on or near my body. I wish I had discovered Lunette sooner.

I recommend that if you are interested in finding a more eco-friendly option to tampons and want the possible freedom from the bulk of pads, research menstrual cups.

Aine cup-500x500

This is My Story, This is My Song: Five Minute Friday

The sound of yummy noises fills my kitchen. The munching and mumbles of delight are so loud that my husband and I can’t hear each other across the table. The shrieks of happy childhood and the siren of a baby of few words echo off the other houses in our tiny city back yard. Then at night, I hear the sleepy song. The moans of settling, sometimes the refrains of Veggie Tales radio on Pandora. Glow Worm’s familiar classical tunes emanate from my son’s room while quiet conversations with her stuffed animal friends drift from my daughter’s. My house is a place of music. Mostly it is off key, ragged, uneven and interrupted. A medley of life with all of it’s high and low notes. But it is also continuous and unstoppable, eternal.

“This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.” Fanny J. Crosby

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

Comforted But Not Comfortable

My bones feel tired. From exercise meant to keep me young and spry. From too many late nights spent pursuing my passions and past times. From too many early mornings punctuated by a baby’s cry and a preschooler’s pounding footsteps. When the time finally comes to rest, it all lets go. My limbs go almost limp and I sink into the couch or bed, knowing that once I lay down, I’m unlikely to get up anytime soon. My racing mind, still thinking of tasks yet to accomplish and adding to my mental list, even as I try to focus on relaxation. Comfort is not about rest as much as it is about fulfillment. I will likely be tired most days for the next 18 or so years, but I feel safe, feel loved. I may not always be comfortable but I am comforted.

Shop Ebates First and Save

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I used to like shopping. Then I had children. Dragging two kids through the store is not my idea of fun and usually I leave wishing I’d never gotten out of bed, let alone left the house. For this reason, I shop online much more often than in stores. Since I’m only 5’2”, I typically try to shop for petite clothes, as they usually fit me better. But the selection in most stores is minimal; hence another reason to shop online. Then a friend introduced me to Ebates. This became reason #3 to shop online. I actually make money.

Ok, I don’t exactly get paid to shop, but Ebates offers rebates of various percentages when you shop your favorite retailers through their site. They usually have the latest deals and coupons listed as well.

It’s simple. Create an Ebates account. Or better yet, let a friend who already has an Ebates account refer you, and thus earn your friend money. (May I humbly draw your attention to my Ebates link which, if used will potentially earn me some referral credit as well). Then browse their list of over 1,600 stores! Shop to your heart’s content. My recommendation is not to open lots of new windows or tabs. This can sometimes confuse the system. (I tend to shop by creating new tabs for each item I want to look at. This creates a large number of tabs, slows down my computer and generally annoys my husband, the tech geek/snob).

Each purchase you make puts a small percentage of cash back into your Ebates account and four times a year, you get a check. Or you can opt to send the check to a friend or charity of your choice. The past few years I’ve gotten nice size checks after doing most if not all of my Christmas shopping online and whenever possible, through Ebates links.

Sometimes the cash doesn’t get credited to your account because of some kind of cookie error, in which case you fill out a form on Ebates customer service page and the issue is resolved. I had a lot of cash back missing from a particular retailer and it had been several months. So I contacted Ebates and within a couple days they had credited it all to my account.

While Ebates is a great little bonus for buying things you already need or want, it is certainly not an excuse to purchase things you don’t need or can’t afford. But if you can control yourself and aren’t tempted by every great deal out there, Ebates can be a great way to save money and time.

Faith Within the Storm: Five Minute Friday

kpgmd7nr_lg9bl9htn0vg7kzlsk3nrs9zmsjwy2ur9uShe wouldn’t call herself brave. She shares her painful frailties, the rawness of her experience without a filter. The depression, the nausea, the dizziness. Her beautiful little girl is the same age as my son. She could be me.

About a year ago I started following a blog by a young woman named Michaela Evanow. Her daughter, Florence Marigold, has spinal muscular atrophy. I hate to even write the words because that does not identify her, it merely classifies her struggle into terms we can file. As though where she fits in the medical database really matters. But she is a hero. A mama bear. A woman on a mission to survive, to love no matter the outcome.

Her daughter is a joy, a sweet fragrance that fills her life, and the lives of so many others with a special beauty. Michaela shares her dark moments and her hopes. She lays herself bare to whoever will engage. In emails and blog comments, I feel like I know her. Through her pain I am encouraged, inspired and challenged. She is braver than I. But I know where her courage comes from. The same God who carries her through the valley of the shadow will hold me fast as well. He holds us all. None of us are brave on our own. But all of us can be, because of Him.

We Are All, We All Aren’t: Bad Mommies

I sat at the park today with other moms. Some with one child; others with two or another on the way. We admitted to watching way too much TV or eating meals alone just for the privacy. We shared our worries about being judged for giving our kids white bread or watching old reruns of Dawson’s Creek. We each worry, almost daily that we are bad mommies. That we yell at our kids too much (or at all). How “other moms” always seem to have it all together. Except us. We each think we’re the only one. The bad one. The imperfect one. The one who feeds her kids boxed macaroni and cheese and then eats candy while they’re sleeping. The one who counts down the hours until bedtime. The one who loves her children desperately and still wants to sell them to a zoo. It was like group therapy except with babies hanging from our hips and toddlers clinging to our knees. We are all that mom. And none of us are bad moms.