Five Ways I Make Time to Read

People, especially fellow moms, often ask me how I find time to read. In fact, I’ve been asked a few times this week.

That’s an interesting question. When do I read exactly? I have to stop and think about the question because, frankly, I feel my day isn’t complete if I don’t read for at least twenty minutes or more. It may seem silly that I don’t have a set routine I adhere to, or maybe crazier still that I am unaware of such a routine.

So, after some head scratching, here are five ways that I make time to read each day amidst meeting needs of home and family and homeeducating our children.

  1. Read in 10-20 minute spurts. I grab moments to read any chance I get. I know reading fills my emotional and mental tank, so I give myself permission to read here and there throughout the day: while the kids are playing or working on independent tasks, frequently for a few minutes just after dinner, and certainly after the kids go to bed for the evening.  Another wonderful way to do this is by listening to audiobooks. Two audio books I have listened to this year are Wonder and Pictures of Hollis Woods. I read these while exercising, folding laundry, and anytime I was driving solo.
  2. Read with a purpose. Once I started compiling the Orphan Adoption Book List, I was reading with a purpose. The list really focused my selections. Now I am working on a few more booklists and once again it helps me read with intention and drive. Additionally, once I discover an author that I enjoy, I read as many of his or her books as I can find. This year’s author is Wendell Berry. I fell in love with Jayber Crow of the Port William Membership and followed the book with Hannah Coulter, also set in Port William, Kentucky.
  3. Put down the cell phone. Perhaps the greatest distraction from daily reading for me is social media. Particularly Instagram and, less so, Facebook. I typically waste the first precious moments of reading time catching up on my IG feed. I find that putting the phone away affords me much more time for reading. I don’t mind my kids finding me with my nose in a book near as much as my face in a cell phone. Believe me, they see me doing both regularly.
  4. Give everyone a daily break. Ah naptime, you are my favorite! While two of our four children are too old for naptime, we continue to adhere to a quiet break each day. Typically for an hour or so all children will be in their rooms for either nap or an activity of their choice. Most of the time the kids use their quiet hour for listening to audiobooks or reading to themselves. While the kids are in their rooms I read for at least 20 minutes. It is my experience that housework will wait.
  5. Take a book and leave a book. I grab whatever book I am reading and throw it in my purse as we head out the door. This way if there is a snippet of time I am prepared to read instead of scroll (see number 3 above). Also, I leave a few books in my car, in so doing I am not caught without a book to read. That is how I came to read Miracles on Maple Hill (*highly recommended). I had left my current read at home before leaving for my daughter’s dance class. Luckily, I had this gem of a book in the car to read while waiting on her to finish.

With these five methods of increasing my reading time I have already read 11 books this year! I am listing what I have read so far. Maybe you will find one or two books to add to your night stand or keep in your car. (Click here if reading in a browser.)

It’s your turn, how do you make time for reading?

 

 

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Side Effects of Chasing Our Dreams

Chasing our dreams can be a thrilling, and frightening, experience. Months and years of preparation go into a product and then we put it on display for any and all who will partake. It’s a little misleading actually, because our daily lives aren’t finished products–only portions of our work are. So when people see or hear your product, they only see a portion of you; it is so easy for us all to fail to see people’s work as only a part of a whole and not a whole itself.

After launching Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale on Kickstarter and being a guest on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast (listen here), I can most certainly attest that finished products are one thing, daily life is another. The last two weeks have been thrilling and exhausting. As my husband and I seek to encourage others to add to their family through adoption and consider the orphan and children in foster care, it is a great time for spiritual warfare. For one example, without elaborating, the last two weeks have been extremely difficult in the parenting category for one of our children. Another example, we have had one case of the flu and one of strep throat the past week as well. You may also be pleased to know that laundry and home education didn’t take a vacation either.

However, one amazing side effect of launching a Kickstarter Campaign and putting myself out there so to speak, has been the effect on our two oldest children. When our children watch us attempt something that scares us, it encourages them to do the same. 

I recently read, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. One take away from this book was J.D.’s feeling of not having the inside information afforded to higher income families. Even after completing law school at an Ivy League School, he still felt like somewhat of a poser. He knew the hillbilly culture from which he hailed, but didn’t know what he didn’t know until embarrassment or experience taught him. For example, he didn’t know to wear nice shoes and a jacket to an interview instead of army boots and a tucked in shirt.

Sometimes, it can seem that way even if you don’t share J.D.’s cultural history nor broken family background. It may feel as if everyone else has an instruction manual that somehow you missed out on. Like there is a world-wide memo system that wasn’t afforded to you.

However, when our kids see us reaching for goals and dreams that make us uncomfortable, and for which we are on a significant learning curve, it’s like we are handing them that memo, that instruction manual—and they don’t even realize it. Our experiences while our children are in our homes becomes a continual testament to them about how life works. How trial and error, efforts and failures, all come together. Our pursuits, in ways we cannot see, inform them as to what is possible for them to attempt.

Last week, my two oldest children were working, by their own endeavors, to write books of their own. When my oldest son tells me, “I am going to publish my book. Remember how I was going to have you just type it out on the computer and print two copies off? Well now I want to publish it like your book mom.”  My oldest daughter turns to him and says, “How are you going to do that?” “Kickstarter!” he replies.

Kickstarter! That’s a word that I didn’t even know until January of this year. Now my 8-year-old son is plotting to publish his first book on Kickstarter.

Your dreams and current goals very likely look different from mine. That’s not important. The point is, that in reaching for your God-given dreams and goals, your are influencing and informing your children and your community. You are exemplifying what is possible when you push past comfort zones and fear, and that is a beautiful side effect.

 

 

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Welcome Read Aloud Revival Listeners!

 

Hello and welcome! My name is Brooke and I am so grateful that you are visiting This Temporary Home. I imagine that many of you may be new here from the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. If so, thanks for stopping by! It was an honor and a dream come true to chat with Sarah about books in general and those highlighting orphans and celebrating adoption specifically. In case you are a regular reader of the blog, but haven’t had the chance to listen to the podcast, head here to listen to Episode 87. You’ll love Sarah!

In order for you to become better acquainted, I am going to give you a few quick links that will hopefully take you where you want to go.

First, check out the Welcome Page. There you will find a brief introduction and a little more about the why behind this blog.

Next, visit the Community Page. There you will find links to my favorite posts by topic. A bit down the page will be all the posts I have written on foster care and adoption over the years.

Third, I am sure that if you listened to the podcast, you may want to get your hands on the orphan adoption book list. I am linking to all the booklist posts here, but you can also join the mailing list to receive your beautiful free pdf download designed by my friend Kasia.

Seven Books That Encouraged Me Along Our Journey (here)

Fifteen Picture Books To Celebrate Your Adopted Child (here)

Twenty Chapter Books that Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Finding Home(here)

Ten Books for Teens to Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Finding Home (here)

Over 50 Books To Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption (here)

Christmas Books that Highlight Orphans and Celebrate Adoption (here)

Finally, I mentioned on the podcast that you could download a free copy of my book, Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale. You can do that by popping your email in the text box below. It is a separate sign up from the booklist, so you will want to sign up for both.

Also, you can preorder a physical copy of the book from my Kickstarter Campaign here. We are already a fully funded campaign after just three and a half days! I am completely excited, encouraged, and grateful for such an overwhelming response. Glory to God and a great team!

Well, that should be it for now. I am so very glad you stopped by! Please take a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the site, the book posts, and anything else that interests you. Then feel free to introduce yourself or leave any questions you might have either in the comments or by emailing me at Brooke@ThisTemporaryHome.com. I can’t wait to get to know you!

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Kickstarter Update: We Did It!

The entire Cooney Family would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the overwhelming support and encouragement that we received on our Thirty Balloons Kickstarter Campaign. In less than four days you enabled us to meet our goal! Way to go!

We will share news with you later this week about our stretch goals, but, for today, we celebrate! If you haven’t had a chance to preorder your physical copy of the book there is still time left. Our campaign runs until March 3rd, so please keep spreading the word. We want to share the message of adoption, hope, family, and reading aloud to children with as many people as possible. You can do that by sharing this link.

Thanks so much again,


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Building Strong Families

Shared experiences. This is perhaps the number one way to build strong families. These shared experiences can be over service opportunities, spiritual disciplines, sports, nature walks, hiking, hobbies, and, one of our favorite ways, that of sharing great books.

In making the list of over 50 books highlighting orphans and celebrating adoption, I may have mistakenly thought that I was building a list of books dealing with broken families. While that is true on the one hand, it is an inaccurate assumption on the other. Families involved in orphan and foster care are typically looking to share strong family values with the children they foster or adopt.

Many of the books I recommend indeed celebrate family. In championing adoption, we are ultimately championing family. Nearly all of the picture books celebrate finding home and a place of safety and acceptance. A few of the chapter books that immediately come to mind which celebrate strong families encountered within the story, even while beginning in brokenness are:

I recently read The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, and it is such a beautiful story, for one reason among many, in that it esteems a strong family relationship. Sometimes we read books and see ourselves in them, sometimes we read them and see relationships as we wish they were. For children in the foster system, this book would fall into the later category.

That is another reason why I am so excited about my new book, Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale. (Did you download your free copy yet?) It is a story about adoption, but it is simultaneously a story about a family wanting to add to their number, share the blessing of family that they have, and champion not only the cause of the orphan, but the power of family. How like God that he would join passions of my husband, to build strong families through counseling and biblical teaching, with our desire to adopt, and mine to write. This is the first time that I have looked at these three life goals and see them colliding as one.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Thirty Balloons is live! Click here to back our campaign and watch our video to learn more about the project. I can’t wait for you to preorder your copy, or copies, to share.

What are some of your favorite books that have strong families threaded within? I would love to read them too.

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A New Book to Carry With You

Sometimes I marvel which childhood bents will carry over to adulthood. For me, the love of a good book is probably foremost. So much so, that I remember on one occasion alphabetizing my home library. I must have been in third or fourth grade. Perhaps I also instituted a check-out operation, though for whom I cannot say.

The first book that clicked with me I checked out from my school library in the third grade. The name of the text has long eluded me. For years I looked in the same corner of the little school library for the book with the girl and the wagon wheel on the front only to be evaded. It is of little importance what the book was, or even its content. What matters is that the love of reading and learning was unlocked.

From that point on,  I was found digging through treasure troves of books. The hardcover, yellow-paged volumes were my favorite. Black Beauty (Dover Children’s Evergreen Classics), Little Women (Puffin in Bloom), The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1), and Old Yeller (Perennial Classics) soon became reading companions which still hold honored places on my shelves.

Then there are those books, purchased brand new especially for, or by, me. Books like Charlotte’s Web, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Little Princess (Puffin in Bloom), Matilda, and The Little House (9 Volumes Set). What memories I have of transforming new books into old friends! The sight, smell, and touch of them take me back to the age and place I was when I first read them and they became a forever part of me.

Today, our home library exceeds the shelf space allotted. Now, as then, I continue to find searching for classic and modern volumes therapeutic.

Many childish ways I left behind, but the books I carried with me.

The books we read to our children and the books they find as faithful friends, read and reread as yearly rhythms, they will carry with them long after they themselves can be carried.

Today, I want to encourage you to add a new volume to your shelf.  A new book to turn into worn pages, and its contents into an old friend.

I have written a children’s picture book, illustrated by my oldest daughter, Emily, about our adoption journey of our youngest son. From our first meeting, through the months and months of holding onto hope and seeking his adoption, this story will encourage and inspire you as you wait on the happy endings in your own life.

Many of you have read posts over the years concerning our adoption and foster care journey. Now, you can read our adoption tale to the children in your life that will leave them inspired, asking questions, and perhaps ready to slay a few dragons of their own that stand in the way of them attaining their God-given dream. I hope you will!

I believe that real books read on the laps of parents and with loved ones are the best tools to introduce and reaffirm the magic of story and strengthen family bonds. I hope that is the case with Thirty Balloons! But first, I need your help. Would you consider backing my Kickstarter campaign to publish 100 copies of Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale? I hope you will want a copy for you and a friend.

I am offering a free pdf download for those who pop their email into the box below! I pray it is a book you will want to carry with you. Go ahead and download your copy now! Then head over to Kickstarter to pre-order a copy to read with your family.

 

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Special Features Included in Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale

My family is greatly encouraged by all the comments and interest everyone has shown in Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale. I wanted to highlight a few features that you will notice in the pdf downloadable copy that will be available on Friday afternoon. Can’t wait to share that with you!

The first portion I would like to highlight, is a section of the book where you record your own adoption journey. When you preorder your copies of Thirty Balloons via our Kickstarter Campaign, you will be able to buy one to keep and one to share with a friend. This book makes a great gift for adoptive and foster families! What a neat way for someone to honor their child’s journey in their own words for them to revisit as often as they like.

The next is a glossary of terms. As a speech-language pathologist and a home educator, vocabulary is very important to me. The rich vocabulary in this book is great to discuss and begin to use in your family’s everyday conversations, as well as your child’s writing assignments! The reading level of this book makes it perfect for reading aloud and not simply passing it on to your child to read alone. I would say it is best suited for children ages 6 and up. Certainly younger children who already sit through more lengthy picture books will enjoy the bright colors and rich text as well. Reading Thirty Balloons aloud, as well as expanding on some of the vocabulary naturally in conversation after reading the book, can be an added bonus of this shared reading experience..

Lastly, the final page of the book is a thank you to our Kickstarter backers. If you want to support our campaign and have your name in the book, be sure and invest in the campaign starting February 1st at 11:00AM Eastern. We would love for your name, your family’s name, or that of a loved one to be honored in our book. You could even buy a kit to donate to your local elementary school and put their name, or your child’s teacher’s name!

I am so excited about this project and the excellent work of the team behind it. Please, if you haven’t already subscribed to the blog, take a moment and do that today at the link on the right of your screen.

Until Friday,


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Seven Books that Encouraged Me Along Our Adoption Journey

I’ve written a good deal about my booklist that highlights orphans and celebrates adoption. It all started long ago when as a young girl, I knew I wanted to adopt. My hands reach out for books daily, whether at home, the library, a used bookstore, or while looking at the bookshelves of every home I visit. It never fails to surprise me the number of books that pass my hands where the protagonist is an orphan or an adopted child.

I didn’t initially set out to make a list of books about orphans, but I recognized that over many years my pile of books with orphan and adoption themes grew. Then I considered it might be a wonderful way to encourage and inspire others who want to adopt, are adopted, or those who genuinely enjoy a good book in general. So the orphan/adoption booklist was born.

Today, I want to give you seven specific books that encouraged me along our adoption journeys: one completed and one yet to be completed. These are books which can be read aloud to your family or independently by you or your child. They are the books which encouraged us to start this journey, stay the course, and find our voice reflected articulately on a printed page. (*All links are affiliate links.)

The book that encouraged us to venture into foster waters when adoption was our end goal was Kisses from Katie. The author, Katie Davis Majors, was a recent high school graduate when she decided to move to Uganda for a year of mission work. Before the year was over, it was obvious to her that she would be staying much longer, indefinitely in fact, as she began the process of foster care and adoption of 13 Ugandan girls. Hers is a story of inspiration and hope.

Another book that prompted perserverance was Eric Metaxas’ book on William Wilberforce. Wilberforce labored over 20 years to bring about the abolition of the slave trade in the British Colonies. His is a testament of tenacity and a story that will keep you putting one foot in front of the other moving in the direction of your destiny. 

Next, Dr. Russell Moore’s book, Adopted for Life, was such an articulate read that really put into words many of the thoughts I hold on adoption and helped me to consider how we will talk about our blended family unit at present and in the future.

Two picture books that captured my heart and provided encouragement and beauty for our whole family are:

Two chapter books which encouraged me and are great read alouds for the entire family are:

 

Perhaps, or most likely, certainly, because books have been such a huge influence on my life, I have chosen to share our youngest son’s adoption story in a picture book format. I cannot wait to share it with you! Next week you can access a pdf downloadable version with information on how to get your hands, and those of your children’s, on a physical copy of the book. Real books are better books, in my humble opinion, because they lend themselves to sharing, reading and retaining across multiple senses, and rereading. Stay tuned!

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Looking Back On Our Adoption Journey

John 1224

I know you will remember a time in your childhood when you wondered if you were adopted. Never mind that you look like your parents and laugh at your own jokes exactly like they both do; but, just the same, you will wonder if you were adopted and never told. You will naturally gravitate towards books about orphans.

This is the planting of a seed.

Next, you will have a desire to adopt. You will make this a topic of priority with your fiancé and subsequent husband. Being the Type A planner that you are, even a few months into trying to start a family, you will again give adoption consideration and state, “If we can’t conceive on our own we will adopt.”

This is the watering of a dream.

Two kids, and a few years later, you will read Kisses from Katie and determine that if a twenty-something woman from Tennessee can adopt and foster children on her own in a foreign country, then surely you can foster one child on the way to adoption.

This is sunlight upon fertile soil.

Next you will complete the nearly 10 months of work that it takes to train and paper-approve families to foster. It will be a never ending cycle to prove your family fit to parent a child not your own. You will complain and you will wonder why on earth it will take so much to do a good deed.

This is the breaking forth of a seed out of the dark soil into the sun. 

At last, when you thought the day would never come, you will get the call to pick up your foster son. You will go expectantly with his Thomas the Train backpack and snuggle animal from Target. Then you will meet a child who your heart will forever call son. He will be blonde and beautiful and wild and covered in spaghetti sauce and you will have many long days ahead of you.

This will be the stalk rising from the ground.

For 13 months you will labor, love, and advocate on this child’s behalf. You will sing to him, Jesus Loves Me, and do all the things a mother does. You will watch every single person around you love this little boy like he was your very own son—because in many ways he forever will be your son. You will train him in the way that he should go and pray on his behalf.

This will be the wheat ripe for harvest.  

Finally, at the end of 13 months, you will say good-bye to your little boy as he is reunited with his biological family. It will be one of the hardest and perhaps the most impactful goodbyes you will ever say.

This will be the kernel falling to the ground. 

Months will pass, tears will fall, a new normal will encompass your days, and you will wonder how you ever did it all. You will wonder: can I ever do that again? The answer will not come right away–it will take some years of dormancy and rest; followed by surprises of not one, but two more children through adoption. But in all the waiting, you will say: Loving another child changed my lifemaybe the world in some small way. Then you will tell his story…their stories…your story, so that other families may open their homes to make the difference in the life of a child.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:24

Stay tuned as our Kickstarter campaign commences on February 1st. Our goal is to print 100 copies for distribution of my first children’s book on adoption, Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale. You won’t want to miss a post! So go ahead and sign up to receive email updates. I’d love for you to join our community.

 

(post originally published 2014)

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Christmas Books to Round Out National Adoption Awareness Month

As we close the last day of National Adoption Awareness Month and turn our eyes towards Christmas, I propose a few more seasonal stories to warm your heart. Tales to remind us of great needs in the world and our abilities to make a change not for every child, but perhaps for just one.

My daughter and I have already listened to and are listening to again, The Christmas Doll. The older kids and I are nearly done with I Saw Three Ships, a new favorite from last year.  I can hardly wait to read aloud Holly and Ivy; a book that spurred me on two Christmases ago just after we met our youngest adopted son and were realizing this would be a long journey. Just how long, we had no idea! Finally, The Matchbox Girl is a beautifully illustrated, sorrowful tale that reminds me of our need to not pass people by. We must look to help in each situation as the Holy Spirit leads us and make a difference in the lives of children God puts in our path.

May you find these stories to be welcome addition to your holiday reading. If you like these, you might also like more of our Christmas favorites over here.

Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

 

 

*If you are reading this in your email head on over to the original post for the book links here.

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