Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

More Than Just Making It (with giveaway!) August 31, 2017

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 6:30 am

As far as I can recall, I’ve been on government assistance twice in my life. The first time I was eighteen and got set up with all the available resources while in a residential half-way house following a stint in rehab. Sobriety didn’t stick for long and I slipped back into substance abuse and out of the aid system.

The second time I was nineteen and placed on emergency medicaid during a psychiatric hospitalization after yet another drug overdose. Looking back, I know it was a hand-up to a lost soul until the Lord built a new support system and life around me. But those are stories for another time…

I’ve not experienced any of those services as a mom and wife simply trying to make ends meet, but Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker has, and she has a powerful story of faith and truth to tell.


In her new book More Than Just Making It, Erin recounts her personal journey through financial crisis to a place of greater stability and shares much of what she has learned along the way. More than anything, Erin’s family’s story is one of heart and perspective change. She tenderly describes her reality of past pridefulness and privilege being wrecked then rebuilt into humility and gratitude.

This book is a worthwhile read for individuals in any financial situation. More Than Just Making It is partially a heart-felt memoir full of personal reflection. It’s also packed with practical money management and frugal living information. Above all though, true to its’ subtitle, the book offers HOPE to the financially frustrated. Both the reader struggling with their own financial difficulties, and the reader wanting to understand and help with the hardship around them, will find wisdom within its’ pages.

Erin is a strong writer with vivid stories, elegant sentences, and precise word choices. Throughout the book, her tone is that of an experienced, well-informed friend. Somehow she seems to be listening through the pages and always offering compassion and gentle suggestions.

More Than Just Making It also has insightful financial and cultural analysis of the last few years. The research included is highly relevant as the author discusses how the times and financial climate influence outlook and mindset of multiple generations.

Erin includes chapters on frugal living topics such as curbing spending, budgeting, grocery expenses, shopping and creating more income. My favorite chapter though, is titled “Changing Our Mindsets.” In it, the author imparts a vision of a more aware and practically helpful church culture. She challenges the reader to see individual situations as unique and to extend dignity to all.

I personally also appreciate that Erin presents being a full-time mother as a legitimate vocational choice even in difficult times and sometimes  (especially with the costs of childcare) as a more financially-wise decision for a family. While our family is not currently struggling to put food on the table and we’re thankful for college degrees that could allow for increased income generation if necessary, we still have some financial situations laden with anxiety.

After reading More Than Just Making It, I feel less overwhelmed and better equipped to tackle our financial goals. I’ve been encouraged to develop a working budget and practical plan to live more frugally so that we might:

  • gain traction on lingering student loan debt
  • save more aggressively and intentionally
  • give more generously and with less conflict

And now for some fun stuff I want to share:

mtjmi freebies

More Than Just Making releases on September 5th. It’s available for pre-order now and there are some awesome pre-order bonuses being offered with it! They’re super-easy to submit for here after you’ve ordered your book.

There’s also an amazingly huge “mega-giveaway” going on for pre-orders right too! See the details here.

And last but not least: I have a copy of the book to giveaway!! Leave me a comment telling me why you’d like to read More Than Just Making It and on September 4th I will randomly select a comment- maker to receive a copy! That still gives you time to pre-order and collect the bonuses if you don’t win;-)

A prayer for all of us:

gratitude mtjmi

*I’m honored to have been a part of the More Than Just Making It Launch Team and enjoyed reading my advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


Read the World Book club: A Tucson, AZ Family August 31, 2016

Filed under: desert,reads — dayna @ 3:15 pm


We’ve had a fantastic time this summer reading books from Jamie Martin’s Give Your Child the World  with this book club and are excited to participate in a global link up! We’ve loved learning about growing up in other parts of the world and are excited to share about life in the United States’ desert southwest.


– Tell us about your family.

We are the Hadden family. Dad- Kelly, mom- Dayna, and kids: Alladene- age 8, Joanna- age 6, & Jeremiah- age 3. Kelly is an administrator at a local high school and Dayna is a former pediatric intensive care RN, currently a full-time homeschooling mom.

– Tell us about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.

We live in Tucson, Arizona, USA. Kelly is originally from Ponca City, OK and has lived in Tucson for about 25 years. Dayna hails from Frederick, MD and has lived in Tucson for about 20 years. The kids are born and raised “desert rats”(a proud distinction around here!)

– What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?

Tucson is in the middle of the Sonoran desert, which is a very specific and relatively “lush” type of desert. The Sonoran desert is home to many unique creatures (such as roadrunners, Gila Monsters, bighorn sheep) and many different types of cactus, including the iconic Saguaro cactus.


Tucson is a geographically large city with each “side” of town having its’ own flavor. The city is bordered on all sides by beautiful mountain ranges- the Catalinas, Rincons, Tortlitas, & Santa Ritas to name a few.

Otherwise known as “the Old Pueblo,” Tucson is home to the University of Arizona (Go wildcats!), and Davis Monthan Air Force base.

– What languages are spoken there? If it’s different from English, can you help us learn a few common phrases?
Most people here speak English or Spanish and many people are bilingual. You also hear people speaking a variety of Native American languages such as Tohono O’odham (Papago & Pima).

– What are some traditional foods there?
Living this close to the border we have super-authentic and delicious Mexican food. Tucson has both an innovative contemporary restaurant scene and local traditional foods like Indian fry bread and raspados. You can grab a “Sonoran Dog” (bacon-wrapped hotdog smothered in toppings and served on a traditional roll) at many food trucks or local taco stands.

Tell us about the climate where you live.
The climate here is that of the desert with at least some sunshine nearly every day of the year. The temperature can drop 20+ degrees from day to night. We have mild winters and really hot reaching 110+ degrees) summers. July and August bring refreshing relief from the heat with a dramatic monsoon (rainy) season.
We love that we have the ability to experience different climates just a short drive away. It’s an hour or so to the mountains, a few hours to the beach, and a few hours to the Grand Canyon.


– What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?

The public school district in which we live follows a modified “year-round” schedule. Summer break is about 6 weeks long with quarterly 2 week long breaks in other parts of the year. It’s a great way to be inside during the extreme heat and take advantage of the gorgeous fall, winter, and spring for family vacations.

– What does school look like for your family?
Our family currently enjoys a homeschooling lifestyle. We love to read and learn together. We’re blessed by a flourishing homeschool community here in Tucson. We participate in extracurricular activities and go on field trips all around our great city and state. We roughly follow the school calendar of the district in which we live.

– Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?
Dia de Los Muertos is a big fall tradition around here with many families gathering to honor their heritage and the lives of their deceased loved ones. Some families picnic in the cemetery or participate in a big parade downtown.
Fiesta de Los Vaqueros in February is our big rodeo and all local kids are off school for a couple extra days.
We also boast the incredible 2 day Tucson Festival of Books each spring at the University. It’s HUGE with authors and bibliophiles from all over the world.

– If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?
We would miss the smell of the desert when it rains, the awe-inspiring sunsets, and the laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle.
We enjoy the mixture of wild outdoors (and lots of park land) and nearby thriving metropolis with museums, sports, and arts.

spring sunset

– Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?

Sadly, we don’t have a book we really love that takes place in our region. While there isn’t a “story” type book that has captured our imagination, there are lots of great informational books about the Sonoran desert. A few of these are: Way Out in the Desert by T.J. Marsh & Jennifer Ward, Cactus Hotel by Brenda Guiberson, Don’t Call Me Pig! A Javelina Story by Conrad J. Storad, The 100 Year Old Cactus by Anita Holmes.


If you can’t get enough of Tucson, check out my friend Stephanie’s post 45 Reasons to Move to Tucson.

It’s been a great education and a lot of fun this summer to explore the world as a part of this book club. What a wonderful way to learn about and pray for, other cultures and families!








before this book November 1, 2011

Filed under: Faith,reads — dayna @ 11:55 pm

So I’ve had this crush for about nine months now.

A crush on…

this book.

Now, if you aren’t a book-freak like me, feel free to come back another day. You won’t hurt my feelings one little old bit.

The rest of you, (and you know who you are),perhaps you’ll indulge me and read on.

I call it a crush because I haven’t actually read the book yet. Up until now, I’ve just been admiring it from afar.

It started one late one night when a friend linked up to this blogAnn’s words took my breath away from the start, as she seemed to peer into my very soul. She pointed me gently but constantly to our shared Lord and reminded me of the richest reality that “All is grace.”

When I caught a glimpse of the book on the sidebar, I was certain I had seen it before. Even the simple beauty of the cover art sang sweetly to me.

But I have way too many books! I’m a bit of a book buying addict attempting (questionable) recovery. So I resisted. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t want it to be just another book. And I didn’t check it out from the library because I was sure I would want to write all over it.

I waited.

I simply kept reading her always challenging, always encouraging, often heart-wrenching words so freely sent out into the world over at A Holy Experience. And I fell head over heels for her writing, her images, her heart.

I even dabbled in her list-making printables.

And then a month or so ago, in my search to find a good Bible study, I contacted someone I thought would know. Although I ended up finding just the right Bible study over here, Donita mentioned that her group would be reading One Thousand Gifts starting in November.

And I knew it was time to take Ann’s dare.

So now I have the book. And I have been gazing at it, almost afraid to get started. I’ve heard the buzz and the raves, and have seen the lives shining ever brighter with gratitude.

Well, here I go.

I’ll admit it is kind of weird to be randomly writing about a book I haven’t read yet, but something just makes me want to record the beginning. To get a “before” picture of sorts of my mind and spirit prior to turning a page.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date…with my book.

Have you read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts? Would you like to?

If you want, you can join in. Donita even has a reading schedule and thoughtful discussion questions over here.


the library grab October 10, 2011

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 11:55 pm

So it’s been about a year since the girls and I have fallen head over heels in serious library love. Over the course of these past few months, a system has emerged. Casually perusing the shelves with careful decision-making and mulling is simply not an option with kiddos of a certain age. If left to their own devices, these budding bibliophiles could completely unpack the entire children’s section in mere minutes flat!

My current strategy (especially with the little one no longer consistently stroller-bound) is as follows:

1. Do mommy homework of on-line reserving. I love using our library cards to “shop” from home and reserve books (and sometimes movies) based on recommendations of friends, or authors and illustrators we have previously enjoyed.

2. Attend pre-school storytime by the best librarian ever (!!)  to get the majority of squeals and wiggles out before setting foot in the main library facility. Bonus: We get to mingle with some favorite friends, dance, play, and craft too.

3. Proceed to main library. Loud whispers and hilarious “shushing” ensue.

4. Assist two little girls in standing on a chair to drop books down the ever popular book-return chute.

5. Swing by the reserve shelves letter “H” to swiftly snag my pre-planner mom strategic selections.

6. Ensure the full richness of library love by doing a quick tour of the children’s section to grab a couple of impulse books. This is fun and freeing because now they can pick whatever catches their fancy without needing to wade through or deliberate mid-aisle.

7. Proceed to self-checkout (another favorite use of library technology), where the big girl is already adept at the card-book scan all by herself;).

8. Go home and marvel at the way the “quick grab” library selections often put my well- researched ones to shame.

Nancy Gow’s Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose was one of those gems.

We enjoyed the fairy tale-with a message style of this story. The soft lush illustrations by Stephen Costanza were set to lovely rhythmic rhyme.

There was even a musical moral in a featured family song:

I am what I am and that’s all right with me.

I don’t have to be different, I just have to be.

I don’t want to be somebody else. No sir-ee.

I am what I am and that’s all right with me.

The short picture book highlights loving families and confident central characters. It is a sweet simple love story not muddled by pesky perfection.

Sorry gang! No giveaway on this one. But if you are looking for some bookish love, head over to my friend Jessica’s site. This Quirky Bookworm is blogging every day this month and currently hosting this giveaway. Hmm, did I just hear my odds dropping? Oh well,it’s just too much fun to keep to myself.


Domitila and javelinas (a giveaway!) September 24, 2011

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 10:00 am

I know I’ve mentioned my book giving therapy before.  Here comes a good one:

We’re always up for a Cinderella story around this house. And if it has a regional flavor… even better!

We found Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition at our library a while ago and some of the variances on the fairy tale pleased this mama to no end.  The tale adapted by Jewel Reinhart Coburn, although featuring a beautiful heroine, emphasizes a legacy of humility, service, and kindness.

The sweet story is based on folklore originating in Hidalgo, Mexico. Domitila is a young woman who, because of family hardship, is driven to seek employment in the home of the governor. Before being called home for her mother’s death, Domitila captivates the tastebuds of the governor’s family, particularly the self-absorbed son, with her delicious nopales (a traditional dish made with prickly pear pads). With only a piece of hand-tooled sandal to track her down, the deeply flawed Timeteo goes in search of the girl who does “every task with care, and always adds a generous dash of love.”

The vivid oil paintings by Connie McLeman tell the story with pictures of colorful desert living and patterned borders. Although they were slightly lost on the three year old, I was delighted by the proverbs about life and love featured on each page in both English and Spanish. The sayings are profoundly beautiful, even if something is a bit lost in the translation.

This summer we also checked out what seems to be a local favorite. Susan Lowell’s The Three Little Javelinas is a well-written rendition of the traditional tale. The pigs are replaced by our dear bristly javelinas, while scheming coyote takes the place of the wolf. Even the building materials assume a Sonoran desert flavor in tumbleweeds, saguaro ribs, and adobe.

The little girls really enjoyed this book. They both spent a lot of time examining Jim Harris’ detailed illustrations with expressive critters and elaborate desert scapes.

Do you have any recommendations for unusual takes on “traditional” tales? What is your favorite Cinderella story?

Take your pick! Leave me a topic- related comment before midnight Tuesday, October 5th. One randomly selected commentor will recieve the copy of their choice.

Want a bonus entry? Try your hand at translating a favorite proverb or two from Domitila.

El amor es como el ojo de la aguja, sin el no hay ni costura ni remiendo.

El amor esta’ presente en el trabajo diario.

* Update: Congratulations to Claudia! One of her two entry numbers was selected by the true random number generator I used @

P.S. You girls are good! The translations given in the book word for word are:

Love is like a needle’s eye, without it, there is no sewing or mending.

It is in one’s daily work that love can be discovered.


(A little bit) about a bear July 8, 2011

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 7:00 am

I know. I know. I was certain I would manage to crank out a bunch of those posts this week.

But it’s been bit of a struggle and not the one I am willing to have right now. Again, there were a few tough spots and some glorious moments.

The refreshing, awe-inspiring, washing-clean monsoons have started here in the desert. Heavy heat gives way to crackling electricity, gives way to quenching drenching. Aaah!

Change and growth are everywhere. In the sky, in the plants, in the people.

The taller pixie skips and asks important theological questions. And pushes boundaries with a sly smile.

The tiny pixie slow-twirls, flirts shamelessly, and “counts” softly to herself. And won’t let anyone else fasten any of her straps- never mind the finger pinching…

Can’t you just feel the volume of material available? Inspiring and overwhelming all at the same time.

So today, naturally, I’m just going to…

give away a book!

I think it must be a coping mechanism for me. And you get to reap the benefits. It’s win-win, right?

How about some Little Bear? We just love that fuzzy guy.

I have sweet summer memories of reading and re-reading Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear stories at my grandparents’ house on the Chesapeake Bay. Windows and doors thrown open. Faintly hearing the lapping surf. Snuggled under a blue fake velvet blanket.

I read of Little Bear’s wardroble dilemmas solved by his clever mama. I read about his delicate birthday soup shared with animal friends. And (my personal favorite), I read about his trips to the moon where he was treated to a “spare” lunch by a mother bear whose own little bear had, (lo and behold!) taken a trip to earth.

And now I get to delight in these books with girls of my own. We love these books for their simple innocence and fanciful ideas. Maurice Sendak’s legendary illustrations help to tell the stories of a close little family and community. Like Frances‘, the parents are tender, wise, and imaginative in helping little bear explore and learn.

So far we have only checked out the original Little Bear (renewed three times), and A Kiss For Little Bear. I’m sure we will get to the rest eventually…

Have you read any Little Bear or other books by Else Holmelund Minarik? Which would you like to read?

Leave me a comment by Sunday, July 17th and you can win a Little Bear book or a $5 Amazon gift card. Take your pick!

I’ve also got to mention that Nick Jr’s Little Bear cartoon is pretty true to the books with the same sweet lessons and enchantment.


Fairy tale Friday May 27, 2011

Filed under: reads — dayna @ 12:00 am

Once upon a time, I started a little blog and hoped to do at least a weekly bookish post and book freebie…

And then, I came back to reality.

I still have a lot to figure out about my life in the blogosphere. And I definitely haven’t smoothed out any sort of regular routine for posting or doing giveaways.

So, I’ll just do what I can, ok?

It makes me so happy to share our favorite books, and to get familiar with some of yours.

Currently, we are having a bit of a fairy tale situation. More of a “quest” really, if you want to use some fitting literary terminology.

I am a mom in search of the perfect fairy tale compilation.

I hope to find just the right book to satisfy both the boundless imagination of my three-year old and the protective heart of this contemporary mom.

We started with a library book or two. Some of the more traditional tellings of Perrault or Grimm were full of way too much gore and cruelty to be appropriate for my young reader. Even the illustrations in this checkout (above right) were somewhat startling.

Then, there was the Costco purchase at left. The leather-look binding complete with gold pages and satin ribbon proved to be thrilling for our budding bookworm. But the characters (particularly the princesses), were a bit flat and fragile for my taste, and the illustrations were thinly disguised Disney knock-offs.

Then there was a second Costco purchase (you would think I’d learn, right?). Actually, “Grandma’s Magical Storybook” is probably the best collection thus far. The illustrations are sweet and magical, and the stories include a mix of newer originals and some Hans Christian Anderson favorites.

But we still haven’t found “the one” to cherish, share, and recommend.

Allison at Barefoot Books recommended The Barefoot Book of Fairy Tales. We’ll probably give it a try. I really enjoy Nicoletta Ceccoli’s soft but vivid illustrations.

 In fact, our favorite fairytale library-find to date has been the Barefoot-published The Brave Little Princess. I’m not sure if the plot is based on a traditional tale, but the heroine is a girl who goes on adventures, helps others, and learns to appreciate her home.

Now that’s a princess story this mama can read in good conscience.

What’s your favorite fairy tale? I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and recommendations for reading fairy tales with kids.

Leave me a comment by 6/10/11 and your name may be drawn to receive a $10.00 Amazon gift card.

* Congratulations to Zoe who gave a great recommendation and will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.


Friday for Frances (a giveaway!) April 8, 2011

Filed under: reads,Stuff — dayna @ 4:35 am

Have you met Frances? I sure hope so.

I’m sort of a nut about kid’s books. Or “children’s literature” if you want to be really proper about things. Thanks to my somewhat sentimental, majorly bookish type parents, I still have many of the actual copies of my favorite childhood books.  This is slightly less weird now that I am a parent myself.I often find myself recommending a book that I adored as a child; only to pause, wondering if it will still hold up under the scrutiny of my “now-a-mom” filter.

I am pleased to announce that in 2011, Frances doesn’t disappoint. In fact, she delivers.

Frances is Russell Hoban’s precocious young badger. She captures hearts and entertains as she faces the challenges of early childhood with her clever, often pointed songs. Although most of these books were written in the 1960’s, Frances’ parents remain brilliant in their calm, affectionate, and logical dealings with their youngsters. Frances learns her lessons in her (humorous) own time.

Now for a little overview of some (chronological) Frances antics:

In Bedtime for Frances, Frances struggles with learning to “put herself to sleep” and pulls all the usual tricks to delay bedtime. The always perfect Garth Williams’  illustrations are especially sweet in this one.

In A Baby Sister for Frances, the new big sis decides that “things are not very good around here anymore” after little Gloria joins the family. She proceeds to run away (to under the dining-room table), and eventually learns of her own special place in the badger family.

Bread and Jam for Frances is probably our household’s favorite. When Frances decides she wants to eat nothing but bread and jam, her unflappable parents lovingly ensure that this happens. Meanwhile, Frances receives brilliant counsel from her ahead-of-his-time “foodie” friend Albert.

Frances tries to cope with her younger sister’s spotlight in A Birthday for Frances. Her songs, spelling, and dialog in this one are spot-on hilarious. You just have to read this book (and laugh) out loud.

In Best Friends for Frances, our heroine learns some bittersweet lessons about childhood friendships and family. Although the gentle messages in this book are well-taken, there is a little name-calling (which made for some important discussion with our three-year old).

There are a few Frances books that we have yet to read: Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs, and A Bargain for Frances. I would love to hear your comments if you have read those…


(No, she isn’t incarcerated, I’m giving her away!)

Leave me a topic related comment by Friday 4/15/11, (which book you would like perhaps:)).  I’ll contact the randomly selected winner by e-mail to get your mailing address and… voila! Free Frances of your choice delivered to your door.

P.S. Don’t books make the best gifts?

Congratulations to Becky and Amanda who are both getting some Frances! You never know what’s going to happen around here;)