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Monday, September 12, 2016

Baby Refuge// GIVEAWAY

One of my favorite things is to find companies and businesses that I believe in. I love finding products that actually work and are successful. On top of that, I tend to be even more interested in businesses that work towards a good cause. 
My good friend, Callie, and her husband, started a company called Baby Refuge!  Baby Refuge's mission is to provide you with fashionable and durable leather pacifier clips for your baby, all while providing access to a better life for children refugees around the world.

Baby Refuge currently offers three different colored leather pacifier clips: pink, nude, and camo. When you buy a Baby Refuge pacifier clip, a portion of your proceeds go to the Refugees around the world. Now, I don't have a baby, but I have received these amazing products to give to dear family members and they have loved it. I, also, kept a couple of these for my own for the future baby Charlesworth :).  This product is not only fashionable and highly durable (made from real leather), but compared to other clips out there, the quality of Baby Refuge clips outranks them. 

It is your chance to win TWO Baby Refuge pacifier clips of your own! Enter the giveaway ON MY INSTAGRAM PAGE (@sierrasview). Good Luck! 

Giveaway Rules: You must live in the United States and be 15 or older to enter. 

Thank you and good luck! 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


So, hi.
School has started and we are two and a half weeks underway. Yikes. I still, somehow, feel like I am drowning and can't keep my head above water with my sixth graders. Maybe it's because I have 33 of them in my class. Yes, I do believe that should be illegal as well. Ugh. Any who, summer was fun. I miss it. A lot. In fact, I'm in a little bit of a funk because I miss it so much. Because of this stress, I am a little bit behind on my monthly reading. So, you get the books I read in July AND August combined. I did a lot of reading over this summer and I want to share these books with you!!! You just get them a little late. Hold on tight. There's a lot of them (BOOK NERD OVER HERE!). You're welcome?

The Invention of Wings // Sue Monk Kidd 

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

My thoughts: 
I liked this book. I did not love it as much as others, simply due to boredom at times. I was enthralled with Handful's story and I loved her thoughts. I found, however, whenever the story came around to Sarah, I wanted to skip over it. I wanted a little bit more from the ending. I wanted to know more and not have such an abrupt ending. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“You got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth.” 

Room // Emma Donaghue

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

My thoughts: 
We read this book for July's book club. I loved this book so so so so much. It was not near as heavy as I thought it would be. I enjoyed that the point of view was from Jack's five year old view of the world. I brought up in book club that I think it would be fascinating to read the same novel but from Ma's perspective. With that being said, I thought having the story told from Jack's point of view made it more innocent, not as heavy, and made it more lovable, if that makes sense. It was interesting to read this book AFTER I saw the movie. I thought that would affect my reading negatively, but that was not the case at all. I loved reading about all of the things that Ma does while in room and her ability to cope even through the challenges of life. I loved that they did Physical Education and she tried everything possible to make life normal for him. I could not stand the grandma--I felt like she was cold, indifferent, and impatient. Even though the second half of the book was a little slow, I liked it because I felt like it gave a little bit more of "Real life" of what happens after those events. Amazing book. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.” 

The Martian// Andy Weir

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

My thoughts: 
I read this book back in October of 2015, but I wanted to re-read it again for book club in August. This time I listened to the novel, instead of reading it. It was fascinating to get both sides of the token for this novel (AND seeing the movie back in December). Each time, the first part of the book took forever to get into. It was a little too scientific for me, but once I got past the nitty-gritty, I fell in love with the book (even for the second time). I loved the main character so much. He is so funny, quirky and intelligent. A great book! The author is a genius. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.” 

The Girl on the Train // Paula Hawkins

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery 

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)


Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My thoughts: 
Even though the writing in this novel was engaging, I guessed the ending. It was a little too predictable for me. I have to admit it, I was totally hooked to the end, though, so the writing was quite suspenseful and not terribly written. I could not stand any of the characters--I thought they were all whack jobs, but I guess that is the point of the novel. Ha! Suspenseful, engaging, but not amazing. It was okay. With that being said, I am excited to see the movie. I'm intrigued to see how they will do it.

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“Hollowness: that I understand. I'm starting to believe that there isn't anything you can do to fix it. That's what I've taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps."  

Fangirl // Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)


Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. She's too big of a Simon Snow fan. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

My thoughts: 
I didn't want to admit it, but after reading all of her books now, I can safely say her writing style just isn't for me. Although I can relate to her characters because they all deal with some type of struggle like anxiety or mental illness, I cannot, for the life of me, love the novels because they are so superficial and fake. It's a good story, but definitely not the kind of novels that I would say are "life changing" or "extremely well written." With that being said, this was my second favorite Rainbow Rowell novel (after Attachments), so that is good. If you like brainless reading, then this is for you. I won't lie, it was awesome reading for the beach because it required no thinking (which sometimes, I know that we all need!). 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“Just... isn't giving up allowed sometimes? Isn't it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”  

Still Alice // Lisa Genova 

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)


What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book,
or to recall information she heard just moments before. To Genova's great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels -- a slowly building terror.

My thoughts: 
I read this book for three reasons. 1) I have never read a book about Alzheimer's disease, 2) For personal reasons, I have an interest in Alzheimer's, and 3) It has an incredibly high average rating on goodreads. That being said, I have to confess that I didn't really go into this expecting to like it. I picked it up from the library so I wouldn't have to spend money on it and so I could return it quickly when I realised it was nothing more than the regular Nicholas Sparks-style melodramatic chick lit. I started it with a bored sigh, thinking I would soon be putting it aside to distract myself with the internet or any of the million TV shows I'm currently trying to keep up with. But something unexpected happened.

This is not chick lit, whatever you want to interpret that to mean. It isn't melodramatic or emotionally manipulative. It isn't the Alzheimer's equivalent of the standard - forgive me - "cancer book". Instead, this is a deeply moving psychological portrait of a woman's deteriorating mind and how this gradually affects her relationships with the people around her. It's about an intelligent woman suddenly finding that she can no longer rely on her mind, she tries every day to hold onto her memories, her sense of understanding, and we are taken on a terrifying journey into what it must be like to know you are slowly losing pieces of yourself day by day. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I'll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I'll forget it some tomorrow doesn't mean that I didn't live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn't mean that today didn't matter.” 

The Anatomy of Peace // The Arbinger Institute  

Genre: Self Help 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

The Anatomy of Peace helps us see how we actually cause the problems we think are caused by other people. Were trapped by preconceived ideas and self-justifying reactions that keep us from seeing the world clearly and dealing with it effectively. As a result, our efforts to make things better all too often make them worse.

My thoughts: 
Below, you will see my favorite novel from the book that talks about holding others to a different standard than I hold myself. I picked up this book because I am constantly enthralled with this idea of peace. I want to know more information regarding peace, how to find peace with myself and others, and learn to have patience with others. I loved the format of this novel because it follows a few different people and scenarios in their lives. It allows the reader to personally attach themselves to these stories and people and help delve into steps to find peace. I enjoyed this self help book a lot! 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
 “There is a question I have learned to ask myself when I am feeling bothered about others: am I holding myself to the same standard I am demanding of them?” 

The Rebel of the Sands // Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: Fantasy (Young adult---13+)

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
My thoughts: 
There is a fusion between Arabian mythology and Western life. It's this weird cross over of two worlds and in my mind, it was hard for me to picture the setting of this story. The first chapter is intense, then it gets quite slow and boring, and it doesn't pick up speed again towards the end. I found this taking me a long time to get through, mostly because I don't normally love fantasy, but, in the end I was pleasantly surprised. I am reading this to my sixth graders right now, I am just taking out language and other information. They absolutely love it. I would say this is a young adult novel for mature young adults. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn't let weakness live.”

What did you read in July and August?
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
I would love to know some of your thoughts!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why Everyone Needs a Dog.


It's come to my attention that a lot of people don't like dogs. And, really, this just breaks my heart. I honestly don't understand it.
So, I'm going to tell you five reasons why dogs (especially Saylor) are the best.

I got my puppy, at about 11 weeks, two summers ago. Saylor, is a mini australian shepherd-poodle (aussiedoodle). Come read all about her here. She seriously is the best dog in the world. She is currently 2 1/2 and she has about a 100 word vocabulary right now (understand about 100 words that I say). She loves to swim, hike, go on walks, cuddle, and play. She will do anything with all ages. She loves kids and adults and anyone who will love her. She is incredibly smart and listens pretty well. She's my little sidekick and follows me around everywhere like a shadow. It gets annoying at times, but because it has been such a lonely summer with T gone, it has been nice to have another presence in my home and a buddy to hang out with.

Disclaimer: Puppies are a lot of work. This is not a post to explain why everyone needs a puppy, but rather, why everyone needs a dog. Puppies are fun and cute and you can train them how you want, but they are a lot of work. You can always get a two year old doggie :)

Okay, let's get this party going.

1. They empathize with humans.
Goldsmith College released a study that showed more dogs will approach someone who's crying or in distress than someone who is not. This shows that dogs are empathize and are eager to help comfort humans in pain. My dog always knows when I don't feel well or when I am sad. She comes and lays with me and is very attached. Dogs can sense pain or sadness. They empathize better than some humans! Ha!  

2. They are the best cuddle buddies. 
Dogs love to lay with their owners--even if it's just by them or on them, they are the best cuddlers in the world!

3. They have so much personality. 
Who says dogs are boring? Often times, my husband and I will just sit there and laugh at our dog. She is always doing something funny. We like to tease her and make her do tricks for us. She is such  a good source of entertainment. 

4. It bonds your family. Or gives you a companion. 
I know this may sound silly, but since having our puppy, I have noticed how much closer my husband and I are. We like to take her on walks or hikes together. We talk about how to take care of her. We aren't quite ready for kids, so this next step of getting a doggy, to have something to take care of together is awesome. If you are single, it is such a great companion. You leave for ten minutes and you come back and they are just as excited to see you as if you were gone for ten days. 

5. They reduce stress.
Some may argue this case because dogs do require a fair amount of work so one may think that it may cause more stress. However, there have been numerous studies that have shown that simply petting a dog for two minutes reduces heart problems, lowers anxiety, and helps with depression. There is just something so happy about petting a dog. 

Yes, there are some downsides to having a dog. For example, Saylor still jumps on people and is incredibly attached to me, but really, how could you not want an adorable face like that? And if you don't want to take care of your own dog, you can come walk and play with mine any time. She loves people so much.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ainge Reunion 2016: Crescent Lake, OR (The Cabin!)

My super small family ;). And this was one of the better pictures. Ugh.. Ha! 
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I LOVE our family cabin in Oregon. I have so many fond memories at this place as a child. I spent so many summers swimming, boating, sunbathing, and playing on the dock. Every year, my brothers and sisters gather together for our family reunion at the cabin. I am the youngest of five children and all of my siblings are married/have children, so our family of 21 (and growing!) means that evenings at the cabin are a little loud and hectic. It's chaos, but it sure is fun. Below are some awesome pictures of my beautiful nieces and nephews and family members.

How can you not be happy being in a cabin in the forest on a lake in beautiful Oregon with beautiful nieces and nephews?!

Those Ainge grandkids really lack personality ;) 

T Money surprised me at the cabin and driving up from the cabin! I was so excited to have him there! 

That water...sigh. 

Sea-doos are always a hit. 

Me with my sassy nieces (and nephew in the background!)

Dance party! (Nice, Nick...) 

The sunsets at the cabin are the best. I love my T Money and my Saylor. 

 Ride on Irv with Nona! 

All the girls! 

Wakeboarding and wake surfing, even with the babies! 

The kids were obsessed with Saylor. It was so cute to see. 

Some serious tubing... 

And, a movie!!! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dog Lake // Utah Hiking

Utah Hiking Series has returned for the summer. Yes, even though it is August 2nd, I know. In my defense, I have been hiking, I just spent a month hiking in Maui, so the "Utah Hiking Series" has been... a little absent, obviously. Ha. 

This hike was up Millcreek Canyon that leads to a lake called Dog Lake. I thought that this was going to be a little simple hike because it only said 1.8 miles. Uhhhh, I was wrong. It was HARD (and I'm really out of shape). That guy running up the trail obviously did not think it was that hard, but I hate him so never mind that. There are a few trails that lead up to Dog Lake, but the Millcreek Canyon, Little Water Trail. is one of the steeper ones (and I could take Saylor on this one). Side note: I hate that I can't take Saylor up Little or Big Cottonwood Canyon. Dang you, Utah! I decided to take the steeper route because well, apparently, I'm an idiot. But it was good for me!!!! You know it was a long, good day because Saylor fell asleep within 5 minutes of being in the car. Despite the challenge of this hike, it was absolutely gorgeous and one that I will be doing again. 

Other Utah Hikes: Summit Trailhead AF Canyon Hike //  Bells Canyon // Horsetail Falls // Battle Creek Falls // Y Hike // Stewart Falls // Bryce Canyon // Lame Horse/Salamander Flats Trail // 

Have you been to Dog Lake?
What is your favorite hike up Millcreek Canyon?