I love rom-com’s as much as anybody, whether it’s in a movie or a book. I mean, we are all pretty obsessed with Hallmark movies, right? I enjoy reading the same kind of books with the sappy love and happy endings. Sometimes though, it’s nice to read real love stories. The stories with all the troubles, problems, and prior marriages. Those are the best stories.
Well, I’ve got a whole book of real life romances. Twenty four stories, including the author’s and her children’s stories. Some start while they are teenagers, while others find each other after divorce. Each story is a chapter, so this is an easy one to read in little bits here and there, like the school pick up line. I also may have cried a little, so be prepared.
In a world of broken relationships and hurting people, it can seem like all we ever see is heartache-that marriages are doomed from the start and romance isn’t worth the risk.
But heart-fluttering, long-lasting love is all around us…we just have to look for it!
This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Page after page, you will find inspiration to
-rekindle the romance in your love story
-trust in God’s providence and timing
-faithfully hope for your own happily-ever-after
-celebrate true romance
-believe in life-long love
Whether you’re single and looking for a reason to believe in love or a parent watching your own child fall in love, Real-Life Romance by Rhonda Stoppe will inspire you to believe in life-long love. This collection of beautiful, real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears as you enjoy each story of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Don’t let the world define romance for you! See how God is at work in the hearts of His people-knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures.
Join Rhonda and other real-life romancers on March 6 for a Facebook Live party, plus enter to win the Make Your Own Real-Life Romance prize pack!
One grand prize winner will receive:
One copy of Real-Life Romance
A $50 restaurant gift card
A $25 movie gift card
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6. The winner will be announced at Rhonda’s Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rhonda and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!
RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!
I’ve always been big on exploring where you live, wherever that may be. We’ve lived here for almost three years and I am still finding new places to check out and explore. This past Sunday was gorgeous and the high was around 80, so we took the dog out to a new (to us) trail, the Cibolo Creek Nature Trails. I had heard great things about this one and I am all for getting us outside and sweaty.
If you are familiar with the area, we started at Veteran’s Park in Universal City (I thought it was Schertz, but Google tells me I’m wrong) and the trail continued north to the Universal City Park. The trail follows along Cibolo Creek, hence the name. The creek actually runs from Boerne, which is Northwest of San Antonio, for 98 miles, way down to Karnes County. The creek is usually no big deal. When we get the massive downpours though, it tends to flood. It has flooded a few times just in the few years we’ve been here.
Back to the trail. The easiest trailhead is at Veteran’s Park, right off Hwy 78 in Universal City. The path is paved and wide. I like the wide part, so I don’t have to stop with the dog every time we pass someone. Parts of the trail were shaded, which was nice. It is well marked and any side trails are marked as well. We walked the entire thing, ending up at the Universal City Park. Be advised there is a disc golf course in the area. I ran into more guys playing than I did people on the trail. I was thinking the trail went farther towards I-35. They were nice enough to have a map at the end. It didn’t have the trail to 35 on it, but it did have the cave trail marked. I had heard there were caves (thanks Facebook groups!), so we headed back that way. I wasn’t sure how we missed the marker for the caves, but it wasn’t marked on our way there, just on our way back.
The cave trail was short. The trails were all marked with the length in feet, weird, but it worked out to be about a fifth of a mile to the caves. Since the water was low, it was easy to see everything. I didn’t try to find out how to actually get up the caves, but there were people up there. There is graffiti on the cliff faces and from what I’ve heard, there used to be parties back there in the 90’s. I can so see that. I can recall going to a few parties in dry creek beds.
All in all though, it was a good find and we’ll be back. We walked a little over four miles in total, so it was a good trail. If you are up for it, the Cibolo Creek Primitive Trail is a thing, but by primitive, they mean you follow the dry creek bed. It does take you to 35.
The Olympics start this week! My son has already looked up the schedule to see when he can watch the hockey games. The little one isn’t too interested yet, but I’m sure there will be figure skating and other such things that we’ll watch. In talking about the games, my son and I got on the subject of bobsledding, which led to Cool Runnings references. I started thinking about what other movies we could watch that involved the Olympics and put a list together.
The 1980 winter Olympics, Lake Placid, and the surprise miracle win for the U.S. men’s hockey team over Russia. This movie is really about sticking it to the Communists, but there is nothing bad in it, it’s PG, so it’s a good one for kids.
This is a fairly new movie, but covers the story of an underdog ski jumper at the 1988 Olympics. He became the first British ski jumper to compete since 1928. The movie is all about his dream and his journey to see it happen. Rated PG-13.
If your kids like stupid funny movies, then here you go. Will Ferrell and Jon Heder were figure skaters who were banned and stripped of their medals. They found a loophole and plan to compete as a pair. It’s not called the Olympics, but there’s probably good reason for that. Rated PG-13.
I loved this movie when I was younger. It’s the story of an injured hockey player and a figure skater who need a partner. They don’t get along, but make a go of it, all the way to the Olympics. Any female will love this (my daughter did and I plan to force it on my son with talks of hockey) and the rom-comness of it. Toepick! Rated PG.
It’s the story of the Jamaican bobsled team and John Candy is there coach. Also a Disney movie. What could go wrong? We watched this one a few months ago and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t seen it in 25 years. It held up well though. It’s based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team that went to the 1988 Olympics in Alberta. Rated PG.
This one may not be on your radar, but it’s the story of Billy Mills, a Native American that came out of nowhere to win the 10,000 meter long distance race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Rated PG.
While not quite the Olympics, it’s like the kid Olympics and who didn’t love these movies back in the day? The Cold War is over, so in this one, they play the Icelandic team. I can’t say I remember the plot of this one as well as the first movie, but I know my kids liked it. I also like that it’s a co-ed team. My 13 year old self was a little envious of those girls. Rated PG.
January had a lot of cold days, the kids had a snow day for ice, and I had the flu. Our TV also broke. That led to lots of reading days.
Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson
Another WWII era book. I haven’t tired of the genre yet. Ruby is an American journalist who gets sent to London to work for a magazine. The book is more about her life and what happens to her during the war. She didn’t really have any friends or family back home, but she makes friends and has a romance in London. Her job takes her to different areas of London and she learns to live with the bombings. It was a good book, nothing overly exciting, but good.
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
This was a creepy thriller. Agatha is pregnant. She works part-time at a grocery store where she encounters Meghan, who is also pregnant. Meghan is glamorous and perfect with her handsome husband and gorgeous kids. Everything looks fine on the surface, but as the story goes on, we realize Meg’s life isn’t all that perfect. Then there’s Agatha. She’s a hot mess wrapped in childhood issues with a sprinkling of intelligent crazy. The story unravels as you go and you can therefore kinda figure it out as you go. It was super good though.
The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
Dirty books aside, this is more about friendships and being true to yourself. M.J. leaves her perfect job in NYC to live with her boyfriend on the beach in California. She’s bored and not sure what to do with herself, then she meets her neighbor Gloria. Gloria soon jets off to Paris to follow through with some pact with her girlfriends, right after the death of her husband. M.J. finds her self as her replacement in The Dirty Book Club. All the original members have been replaced. The women slowly become friends and turn to each other with their issues. This was more amusing than anything. I laughed out loud a couple times. It didn’t end how I expected, but I always like when the author doesn’t go that way.
Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford
I picked this up only because I have read all the previous Cavendon books. They are good, but the dialogue is so repetitive sometimes and unnecessary. It bothers me. The first Cavendon book took place at the beginning of WWI. We are now in the late 40’s, early 50’s. Basically, everyone is older, the main story lines revolve around the younger generation. Who is seeing who, all their relationships, and then a few of the issues with Cavendon itself. I wouldn’t bother if you aren’t already invested, but if you are, it’s long, but quick.
Best Day Ever by Kaira Sturdivant Rouda
Another thriller. Paul and his wife Mia are headed to their lake cottage for a weekend together. They have a great life. Paul has a great job, they have great kids, live in a great house in a great neighborhood. This is told from Paul’s point of view. As they drive up there, he starts to tell us things, but only things he wants us to know. We don’t get the whole story yet. As the day progresses, we see how Paul is a piece of shit and his wife isn’t as blind as he thinks. I was actually surprised by her, but in a good way. This one was good. I read it in one day.
The Baker’s Secret by Stephan Kiernan
What? WWII era books are popular? Who knew? This one takes place in France though. Emmanuelle is just trying to survive the Nazi’s and the rules they’ve enforced on the town. Without really meaning to, she starts a network helping those who need it. Swapping eggs for gas and gas for fish. She has also been ordered by the Commandant to bake bread for the Germans daily. They provide the gloriously white flour, she bakes the bread. She started adding in straw though, to be able to make two extra loaves to help her neighbors. The books ends with the D-Day. The town is right on the coast, and while the town knows the Allies have come, they don’t quite realize the full extent of what’s going on. The book too a bit to get going, but once it got there, I liked it.
The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
There are books that while fiction, take place during real events. Kind of like all those WWII books. They tend to make me do a lot of Googling as I read to better learn the geography or details about a person. This one takes place in 2008, with the Ugandan LRA and Joseph Kony (remember the social media campaign about him in 2012?). The book is told from the point of Sabine, who travels to Uganda to find her missing niece Lily, and Rose, a Ugandan woman who had been kidnapped by the LRA as a child. Their paths cross in their quest to find Lily and Rose’s boyfriend Ocen. As they cross the border to the Republic of Congo, we learn more about what happened to Rose during her time with the LRA. This was good and sad that all the fighting that goes on over there doesn’t come across our radar like other things.
I tend to get a lot of emails with questions on a variety of aspects of military life, mostly on the subjects of Okinawa and PTSD. This makes complete sense, as there is a lot about each subject in the depths of this blog. Last month though, I got my first email from someone who had been scammed by a man claiming to be a Marine. Fortunately, this woman was smart enough to figure out what was going on when he started asking for money. A quick Google search and she figured out he wasn’t who he said he was.
She was understandably mad about this, but she was also curious as to who the real man behind the pictures was. Was he even aware his pictures were being used? Was he possibly not even alive? She reached out to see if I could help find him. His rank is visible in pictures, but his name tape was not. I enlisted the help of a friend and we weren’t able to find him, but I’m going to keep trying. I would want to know if someone was using my pictures for nefarious deeds.
So how do you know if you are really talking to a guy (or woman) in the military? There are a number of red flags to look for.
They Ask For Money
This is the biggest, boldest red flag there is. They don’t need money to go on leave. It could be that they have crappy money management skills and do need money to pay for a plane ticket or whatever to come see you (even then don’t give them money), but to actually get permission to go on leave, there is no money involved in that. They always have access to their money, even if deployed. If they can get on the internet to message you, they can access their money. No money is ever needed for their unit to release them or whatever. That’s not how it works. If they are deployed, depending on the length of the deployment, they will get to come home for R&R. The military covers the cost.
Need Money For Internet, Travel, Food, Etc.
Again, if they are deployed, the military provides all of this. All of it. There is no basic living expenses that aren’t covered. Sure, they may want something special from home that they can’t get over there, but by all means, send a care package. Don’t send money. Even if deployed, they have an address to receive mail. If they can’t provide an address, they are legit.
Claim To Be Special Forces
Or any other kind of super, secret, squirrel Delta Force Ranger SEAL (if you don’t know what I did there, Delta Force and Rangers are both Army, but completely different things, and SEAL’s are Navy. I’m sure Rangers can be Delta Force, but neither can be SEAL’s and I doubt any Delta Force would call themselves Rangers.). The liars always claim to be special forces because it sounds better and odds are they don’t know enough about the military to claim anything else. Also, they can claim to not be able to tell you about their ‘missions’ aka sitting in their mom’s basement.
On A 4 Year Deployment
There’s no such thing. During the height of the wars, the longest deployments were around 18 months. Most now are under a year. They can be sent somewhere unaccompanied (meaning they can’t take their family) for a year or two, but these are cushier and not in combat areas.
Names Don’t Add Up
If pictures are stolen, especially those in uniform, you can see their last name on the name tape across the chest. Rank is also either on the collar or breastbone (rank can be looked up online based on what branch they are). If these don’t match to what they told you, question it. Question everything. A legit person will explain it all to you.
If something is up, report it. The military encourages you to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center. You can also report fake profiles on Facebook and dating sites.
Basically, if he starts asking for money, stop. Just stop. Stop talking to him, as hard as that may be. You deserve better than any man asking for money, whether he claims to be in the military or not.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which help keep this blog running at no cost to you.
I have a hard enough time trying to find a Valentine’s Day gift. I don’t normally do the lovey dovey/mushy route, but instead go for something I know he’ll enjoy and use. So, I put together a few gifts for men, who also happen to be men, to get them for today’s V-Day.
Tactical Koozie – One can never have too many koozies and this one even comes with a name tape!
Iraq Campaign Medal Ring – An Iraq or Afghanistan ring for your combat vet made from the campaign medal. Not every man like jewelry, but these rings are gorgeous.
Grenade Soap – Soap from K Bar Soap Co. made with whiskey. Grenades and whiskey. Can you think of better combination?
Disgruntled Decks – Like Cards Without Humanity? Try this military version. There is a generic version or get one geared toward your branch.
Bullet Bottle Opener – You always need a bottle opener handy, so why not make it a fun one? Like a 50 caliber bullet.
I was wandering the dollar spot at Target the other day, trying to figure out what to do for Valentine’s this year. Nothing jumped out at me, so I continued on my way. My daughter isn’t super girly and has quite the obsession with guns. I get shot. A. Lot. Her Nerf gun collection is impressive and I’m forever picking bullets up. So, after thinking more on the Valentine issue, I decided to go with the obvious. Army men.
We all know the little, plastic, toy figures as Army men. They Army doesn’t always fly in a Marine house though, so I’ll just call them Military Men. These turned out to be super easy and she was thrilled with them.
All you need are: Army….umm, military men
Something to tie the cards to the men. I used ribbon I already had.
You can cut the hearts out yourself or use a heart hole punch like this one. I opted for the hole punch.
Regular hole punch
I took the time to get the sayings typed and spaced out to be printed. You can download mine or make your own.
Then using the hole punch, I punched the sayings out.
A small hole was then punched in each heart and tied to the men. Super easy. I’ll have my daughter write her name on them and I’m done with Valentine’s for this year.
A new year. Where did 2012 go? Or even 2015? I’m so confused as to where these years go. They really do start to fly by as you get older. Did you make resolutions? Have you managed to keep them yet? I have never been one to make resolutions. I don’t see having to wait for a new year to make changes. Make them when it comes up. So I obviously didn’t make any resolutions, but I do have goals for this year. This past year was personally hard on me. There was a lot going on in my personal life. Things I’m not quite ready to talk about. I finally went to the doctor for issues I was having, which led to appointment after appointment and test after test. I don’t know that we found the cause of my issues, but we did find out my liver doesn’t like me and never will. 2018 has started with a new house and a new attitude. Maybe it’s not a new attitude, but an improved attitude.
Who doesn’t have money goals? We all do, they just change over time. My goal this year is to pretty much spend as little money as possible, while still enjoying life and not being a recluse. This includes cutting back on the eating out. I can easily cook more, I just get lazy and don’t want to. I already budget and I’ve always been good with organizing my finances, but I want to cut it all back even more. This year started with a move to a smaller house, which means it costs less. That right there is a big saving each month.
I hate to say I want to lose weight, but I do. My doctor says I need to for health reasons. I lost 10 pounds towards the end of last year, but I want to lose a little more. I don’t have unrealistic expectations and don’t plan to get back to where I was a few years ago. That’d be nice and all, but I love food and hate exercising too much for that to ever happen. My work schedule is weird in that I don’t start working most days until 10 am. Since I’m at home, I tend to fall back in bed once the kids are out the door for school. I need to stop doing this. The first week back to school, I did great with this one. I ran errands in the morning, went grocery shopping, and some days just sat on the couch and watched tv. It’s good quiet time for and it will help me get back to a normal sleep schedule. I had been going to bed between midnight and one, then getting up to get the kids ready for school, then back to be for 3 hours.
Back to work though, I work from home. Some days it feels like I don’t get out of my chair. I need to make more of an effort to move. Getting outside and taking the dog for a walk will do me wonders. On multiple levels. I know this, I just seem to forget about it in the moment.
I’ve never really set blogging goals for myself, beyond more. More followers. More income. Because of everything I had going on last year, I lost my mojo. I slacked off, but I didn’t want to post just to post. I ran out of ideas and just didn’t try to force it. I want to dive right back in this year. I’ve already come up with ideas and had a few good opportunities come my way. I’ve always enjoyed the perks of blogging and I would continue to do it even if I didn’t make anything from it. It’s not like I can support myself on it. I’ve got ideas though, which is a great place to start.
Disclosure: Thanks to Warner Bros. for compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. In the past couple decades, the war in Iraq has taken precedence over the conflict in Afghanistan. The media and the public seem to forget we have been and still are rotating our military in and out of the country. When the military was pulled out of Iraq in 2011/2012, the media was so happy all our troops were coming home. They had forgotten about everyone in Afghanistan. The husband was deployed in Afghanistan at that time, so it hit a nerve with me. There have been very few movies made that portray the years we’ve spent in country, so I was so excited when I saw the trailer for 12 Strong. And I swear it’s not just because of Chris Hemsworth.
12 Strong is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghani horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.
12 STRONG - Official Trailer 2 - YouTube
A soldier is as strong as his word.
The movie is in theaters on January 19, but tickets on sale now for #12StrongMovie. Get them here!
Rated R for war violence and language throughout.
They also want to make sure you get to see the movie and are giving away a $50 Fandango gift card and a 12 Strong hoodie! Open to residents of the U.S. who are 18+.
The Heart Has It’s Reasons by Maria Deunas
I picked this one up in the clearance at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. In trying to clean my bookshelf off, I read it. It was okay. A Spanish woman recently split from her husband and takes a job at a University in California. She is to organize and catalogue the papers of a professor who has been deceased for 30 years. He was also Spanish. In doing so, she makes friends, one of which who is a man, and they end up working together to figure out what the professor was working on. This was one of those books that seemed to be going nowhere, then pulled an ending out of nowhere. It wasn’t horrible, it was just ok.
The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
I liked this one. While it wasn’t said, it is about military spouses who are living in Jordan, as there husbands are stationed at the embassy. It is the story of two women, one who understands the country, their culture, and customs, and one who refuses to listen and understand and tries to befriend every man she comes across. The story jumps from past to present (which is a four month difference), when the one woman goes missing. The other is watching her son for her, the husbands are in a different country, and she starts reading her journal, trying to piece together what’s going on. Super good.
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
I read Behind Closed Doors and really liked it. I figured this one out right away. I won’t give it away, but it was still a good book. A woman is murdered and Cass was the last to see her alive. She doesn’t tell anyone this though and then starts to think someone is stalking her. She is also starting to forget things. She’s starting to go crazy between the phone hangups and her forgetfulness. Still good, even though I totally called it from like the second chapter.
The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel
This is apparently a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Ruby and Ethan dated in their early 20’s and were perfect for each other. Then things happened and they broke up. Ethan went on to become a billionaire after inventing an app and Ruby is trying to love her life in NYC, but hates it and still googles him. Then her sister and his best friend are getting married and they see each other for the first time in a decade. You can kinda guess what is going to happen, but it was cute.
That Night by Chevy Stevens
I’ve read a couple of her books. Some are better than others. This one I did like. Toni and her boyfriend Ryan are convicted of murdering her sister and go to jail for it, even though they didn’t do it. She is murdered right after they graduate for high school, so Toni and Ryan are in jail until their mid 30’s. The story jumps between past and present, so we hear about Toni’s experience in jail and her and Ryan’s relationship. You can guess who does it, but I really didn’t see the ending coming.