Top 10 Audiobook Recommendations for Children

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I promised you a list of my top 10 picks for children’s literature on audiobook so here it is. Technically, Harry Potter should be on this list, but I put that series on my adult list because I listened and loved that series as an adult—possibly more than I would have if I’d read them as a child.

We’ve listened to so many great versions of children’s literature made even better by fantastic narration! Here’s my favorites:

10. Matilda by Roald Dahl narrated by Kate Winslet

I must admit I’m not much of a Roald Dahl fan. However, when I was introduced to the movie, Matilda, I fell in love with the smart, quirky girl who is so misunderstood and devalued by her family. So we picked up the audiobook version and immensely enjoyed it! How could we not with Kate Winslet’s excellent rendition of it?

9. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry narrated by Blair Brown

Within a few sentences I was hooked, totally invested in what would happen to Annemarie and her friend, Ellen. The writing was strong and vivid as it sought to answer the universal question: what does it mean to be brave? Number the Stars tells a fictionalized version of true events that led to the courageous citizens of Denmark successfully relocating most of their Jewish population to Sweden under cover of night in fishing vessels right under the Nazis’ noses.

8. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg narrated by Jill Clayburgh

This delightful story was one I missed as a kid and was so happy to enjoy with my kids. I mean, runaways in a museum!?! Claudia and Jamie run away from home, but practical Claudia wants comfort and culture—so they hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The story mixes humor, art, and timeless truths into a fantastic story that all my kids loved.

7. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley narrated by Jane Entwistle

I think this moving book is a modern-day classic. It deals with abuse and trauma so well, yet is a story that brims with hope. Ada and her brother, Jamie, escape from their abusive mother thanks to W. W. II and the evacuation of children from London, but Ada has a club foot and must learn to deal with the world outside of the four walls her mother kept her in.

6. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George read by Christina Moore

I just don’t think you can go wrong when you pick a Newberry Award winner to read. Every time, I’m never disappointed. And who knew Alaska and wolves could be so interesting? This is a type of survival story that also teaches you a whole lot about the complicated way wolves communicate with each other. There were times it sounded far fetched, but when I looked it up, what the author wrote was a true representation of how wolf packs interact. Miyax is a young woman who is struggling with finding her place and identity as an Eskimo. Does she reject the past? Or does her future include the rich ancestry of her Eskimo traditions? It’s a tear-jerker, for sure.

5. Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool read by multiple narrators

I LOVED this book. It has a lot of depth and can be read at so many different levels. It is a newer version of a quest story that mirrors so many great quests of old. I kept thinking of The Odyssey during this story. I thought that the multiple narrators helped “cue” when different parts of the storyline were beginning and helped separate them from each other. Highly recommend!

4. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munzo Ryan read by Trini Alvarado

This is an incredible story of an often overlooked area in children’s literature. The audio version was wonderful because it helped with the Spanish words that were included in the text. Also, the author’s notes at the end cannot be missed!

3. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor read by Jacqueline Woodson

This classic Newberry Award-winning novel should be read by every child and adult alike. Exciting, heart-warming, and heart-breaking, this story is compelling and worth discussing. At the end of our audio version there is a wonderful epilogue by the author explaining how she got the idea for the book and her thoughts on using the “N” word. Definitely a must-listen.

2. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White read by the author

I remember laughing my head off over the antics Louis the swan and his family. When it came to share it with my kids we listened to E. B. White himself read it on audio. His voice is warm with a delightful New England accent that adds so much to the story.

1. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection read by Stockard Channning

I will never get tired of Stockard Channing reading the Ramona Quimby series. The books are a delight in themselves and depict childhood in SUCH a real way. Everyone can relate to Ramona’s struggles with her older sister and spelling. But Channing’s voice adds so much.

What’s your favorite children’s audiobook selection?

Top 10 Audiobook Recommendations

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All my friends know I love a good audiobook. I have one constantly at my beck-and-call for when I happen to be in the car alone, folding laundry, weeding, or making dinner. I am currently listening to The Odyssey read by Claire Danes as I prep for an autumn co-op class. I get through WAY more books by having at least one audiobook and a hard copy book going at all times. I was asked recently over on Instagram what my top 5 audiobook picks would be. It got me thinking, what audiobooks really stand out?

For me, it’s the ones that add something to the experience that would NOT be there if I just read the book. An audiobook can add or detract. Creative decisions to have music or multiple narrators definitely impacts the listening experience. So I decided to create a top 10 list of my favorite audiobooks with adult listeners in mind. Stay tuned, I think I’ll have to create a children’s edition for my next post! :)

10. Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce read by Anna Poppelwell

This story is a feel-good book and despite the fact that it deals with some W. W. II tragedies, the tone is spirited and upbeat. Emmeline Lake is a “Girl Friday” with a can-do attitude who wants to be a war correspondent. She is pragmatic and wants to do her bit for the war effort. Unfortunately, she ends up working for a tyrant of a woman who runs an advice column. Anne Poppelwell seems to embody Emmeline’s spirit and feisty nature and this story has an endearing depiction of what it means to be best friends.

9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan read by Ari Fliakos

Anne Bogel descirbed this book as “Harry Potter meets National Treasure” which captures it about right. So delightful and feel-good. Perfect for bibliophiles and museum lovers who want a dash of an adventurous quest. The narrator just seems to BE the main character who is quirky, nerdy, and lovable.

8. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard read by Paul Michael

I couldn’t listen to this book fast enough. I knew nothing of the very interesting James A. Garfield, who's presidency was cut short by an assassin's bullet. The story weaves together the lives of Garfield, the delusional Charles Guiteau who would become the assassin, Alexander Graham Bell who worked on an invention to try to save the president's life, and Dr. Bliss--Garfield's proud and attention-seeking doctor.

7. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly read by Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, Kathrin Kana

This book follows the stories of three women, an American, a German, and a Polish woman through their lives during World War II and beyond. Don't let the pretty cover deceive you, this book covers some grotesque atrocities. I can't imagine all the research that went into this story, especially considering two of the main characters were real women. But the writing was great--especially the attention to historic detail and creating a sense of place. This book was particularly good as an audiobook, as each main character was played by a different reader and since includes French, German, and Polish accents which helps bring this story to life.

6. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie read by Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens (also known as Matthew from Downton Abbey) reads Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery and brings Poirot to life. I also liked that there was lots of foreign phrases thrown in and it was nice to be able to hear someone pronounce them correctly, as it is beyond me.

5. The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan read by an ensemble cast

This books was my favorite novel last year. I simply ADORED it. The novel is written in letters so different narrators take on the various characters, which added to the experience wonderfully. Also, there was music throughout the recording when various musical pieces were sung by the choir.

4. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson read by Peter Altschuler

I loved this book. The endearing and dry-witted Major Pettigrew came alive when narrated by Peter Altschuler. It was such a unique story, about a retired major from a small English village who falls in love with a Pakistani shopkeeper and shocks all the neighbors—and maybe even himself just a little! So sweet but also pushes back against stereotypes.

3. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen read by Rosamund Pike

I loved revisiting these two classics via Rosamund Pike’s wonderfully soothing British accent. What’s there not to love?

2. The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley read by Jane Entwistle

Jane Entwistle has a unique voice that at first annoyed me slightly but now love. I’ve listened to multiple books from various authors read by her at this point. My favorite is how she seems to embody quirky little smarty-pants Flavia de Luce who is at once precocious and in need of a mother’s love. I’ve professed my love for Flavia more than once, but if you need to be talked into reading (or listening) to this series, read this!

1. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rolling read by Jim Dale

No other narrator, in my opinion, comes close to the brilliance of Jim Dale narrating Harry Potter. His voice transported me to Hogwarts. He made nuanced changes to his voice for each character which were not cheesy, but incredible. Jim Dale’s voice made Harry Potter even better than it already was, which is saying something.

Summer Fun for Everyone!

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Summer is awesome . . . until your kids start complaining that they are bored. But summer is a great time to let creativity and self-directed play take center stage. And have tons of FUN!

Today I’m sharing some of the fun resources and ideas we’ve used that have been a success. I hope they will spark ideas for your own summer fun!

For the Littles

Science Lab Kit

I bought this preschool-age lab kit and it has been a huge hit. For a while my daughter was asking to do an experiment everyday! And before you think that’s complicated . . . it wasn’t. First, I got my older kids to read the large laminated cards and help her. Also, all the ingredients are pretty simple things already found in the kitchen: vinegar, food coloring, water, baking soda, and the like. She loves to pretend she is making “potions.”

Do A Dot Art! Markers

This is a great alternative to regular markers. Not to mention you can google "dot marker coloring pages” and get a slew of free printables.

Kinetic Sand or Mad Mattr

Kinetic Sand and Mad Mattr are similar but each has it’s own special properties. We keep our Kinetic Sand in it’s own special larger tupperware box with molds and scoops inside. You can just grab it and play outside in the grass or if inside, I lay an old table cloth down on the floor for each clean up when the play is over.

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For the Olders

Lulu Jr. Illustory Book Making Kit

If you have a budding artist or writer a writing kit may keep them busy for hours! My oldest daughter had so much fun writing and illustrating her own book on the templates provided in this kit. Then we mailed them into the company and they “published” her book! What an exciting mail day that was when it arrived!

Mark-My-Time Bookmark and Timer

I bought these for all my readers to help everyone time themselves when they read. It’s very helpful for everyone to have their own and they now use them all the time.

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For Everyone

Thinking Putty

Thinking Putty is a huge hit at our house and everyone has their own special tin. It’s super fun to choose between sparkles, glow-in-the-dark, and other special features.

Butterfly Kit

We bought a butterfly kit this spring and enjoyed watching the caterpillars grow larger, make their crystalis, and emerge as Painted Lady Butterflies.

Bunch O Balloons

Tons of water fun without the awful business of trying to fill water balloons one-by-one with them breaking in the sink.

Ideas for Local Adventures

Outdoor Movie Night

Our town hosts monthly movie nights. We love to pack a picnic dinner and watch a movie under the stars with friends. Maybe check to see if any places in your area does this too?

Visit Nature Centers

We have tons of nature centers in our area. We’ve already visited two. Many have animals, play areas, hiking trails and other opportunities like classes and camps. Summer is a great time to check out what your local nature centers have to offer!

Library Reading Programs

Most libraries have reading programs to make summer reading a little more fun. We get coupons to local businesses in our packets (free ice cream, yay!) and each reader earns a free book if they read the required amount for their age! If your library does not host such a program, Barnes and Noble has a program you could join!

What fun plans do you have?

Favorite Family Read-Aloud Books (Fall 2018-Spring 2019)

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We are finishing up the school year. History is over and science fair projects have been completed. We are shifting gears for summer. One of our favorite parts of our day is “Circle Time” which is in the afternoon right after I put Ava to bed for her “Quiet Hour.” Then we often gather a few snacks and make our way to the living room. We spend the next hour or so reading various books. Over the year we’ve watched CNN 10 for current events, read our history text, The Story of the World, Vol 4, read tons of picture books, mapped our way around the world, took notes and wrote narrations. But our favorite book is whatever we’re reading as our family read aloud.

We usually have a couple going at the same time. One that I’m actually reading and one we listen to on audiobook when we’re driving. We read in community this year as I put together a book club for our school year. We chose books that loosely coincided to our history studies to bring the era alive. And wow, did we ever read some great books! Here’s what we read:

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
A favorite from my own childhood this one was the most complicated in terms of language, but the kids ended up loving it even more than I thought they would. It’s just so compelling, sobbing our way through the end. The relationship between father and son in this book is just incredible.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Despite the fact that Laura is now a young woman these books still kept my kids spellbound, and I certainly enjoyed revisiting a favorite, once again, from my own childhood. Reading of the simple pleasures of pioneer life remind me to be thankful for our abundance today.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (audiobook)
I just love Caddie! And all the kids did too. This book is filled with adventure and is a great discussion starter to discuss the pioneer/Native American relationship, as many views are presented in this book.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)
The Penderwicks At Last by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)
My kids LOVED the Penderwicks and were so sad when this series was over. I, however, was not. I liked the first couple of books but as they went on they became less compelling. The final book didn’t even really have a plot.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munzo Ryan (audiobook)
This book had a bit of a slow start but it was so good! It is a story of Mexican immigration during the Depression and I discovered some things I did not know about history. Because of the Spanish this is a good choice for audio. The story is one of overcoming hardship and making a new life for yourself.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (audiobook)
This book captured our attention immediately and the writing was strong and vivid. Perfect middle grade historical fiction. I loved it and so did the kids! Somehow I missed this one as a kid, glad to get a chance to finally read it! Again, I was introduced to history I knew nothing about: how the people of Denmark worked together to remove a huge amount of its Jewish population by small fishing vessels overnight to Sweden after Nazi invasion!

I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 by Lauren Tarshis (audiobook)
I Survived the Battle of D-Day, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis (audiobook)
I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967 by Lauren Tarshis (audiobook)
Because we were studying W. W. II we listened to the battle of D-Day but then got interested in animal attacks. :) These are faced-paced historical fiction that are great to go along with history topics or introduce an era. Not classic literature but fascinating and based on true events.

George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet Benge
I realized this year we’ve not read any in-depth biographies of Christians. While we’ve read some picture books, I thought it was time to get a more detailed picture of some Christians who have made a lasting impact in the world. George Mueller was my first choice. The kids kept asking, “this guy becomes a missionary?” because his life was so marred by fast-living and outright theft. Hard to believe this man who loved money ended up being known for trusting the Lord for literally, the daily bread of hundreds of children. What an amazing man and ministry!

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (audiobook)
I was so excited to listen to this book, as it again was one I missed as a kid. This book was incredible! The characters were vivid and my kids couldn’t get enough. It was hard to listen to sometimes but it brought to life an era that was hard for them to imagine.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (audiobook)
The back-and-forth narrative style was fast-paced and brought home how other people live life around the world. When we were finished we watched videos about the real people depicted in this book and marveled at all Salva went through.

This year’s books were incredible! We were captivated and learned so much. We look forward to starting our new summer book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! I don’t know who’s more excited, me or the kids!

What I'm Into Right Now (April 2019)

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School feels like it’s winding down and I have the urge to be outside all the time in the garden. Spring is here in full force now. The lilacs are blooming, the dogwoods are pink, and we’ve planted all the veggies in the raised beds. With all the outside work and light lingering I’m finding I’m watching and reading a bit less, but here’s what I was into last month.

Watching:

My “laundry folding show” is currently The Durrells in Corfu. It’s quite different than my usual fare: British murder mysteries or historical dramas. While this is definitely historical, there’s far less drama than there is humor. It’s soooo wacky and funny. Keeley Hawes has been a favorite of mine for a long time (and we just watched Bodyguard in January) and here she plays a spirited widow with four children. Three are half grown and she takes them to Corfu on her widow’s pension. They live in a ramshackle house and have lots of hilarious adventures. Perfectly charming.

Listening:

I’m listening to Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame read Frankenstein. It is our final book for a high school literature class I’m teaching. I’m really enjoying it because I read it in high school myself and remember loving it! I hadn’t been excited about being made to read it, but it turned out so much better than my presumptions based on pop culture references I’d been exposed to. I’d often thought of rereading it, so I’m enjoying revisiting this classic very much.

Reading:

On my bedside is the book Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. I enjoyed her previous book, The Thirteenth Tale, and am also captivated by this one. I had tried a few other titles but none drew me in until I started this one. And the cover is just gorgeous! So far the mystery has me hooked and I’m curious how all the characters may collide. And actually, it’s the perfect pairing to Frankenstein, as both have a mysterious life out of death theme.

Eating:

One evening a few days ago I made Baked Chicken Gnocchi with Garlic Asiago Cream Sauce. Oh my goodness it was good! Make sure you have a glass of pinot grigio on hand when you make it (sadly we did not) because that would be perfect. We celebrated our first meal on the deck with this dish along with a side of green beans, and you can be sure I’ll be making it again.

What are YOU into right now?

Silky + Smooth

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Does anyone else dread brushing their daughter’s hair? My daughter’s hair is constantly tangled. I don’t know what it is about the texture of her hair but even after it is freshly washed it sometimes seems to have gotten more tangled! We have used detangling sprays but they only help to get the tangles out, not keep them out in the first place.

When Maple Holistics contacted me to try their Silk18 Conditioner I felt like it was a great opportunity. First of all, I had already used some of their other products and liked them. Secondly, I love that their products are free of parabens, have naturally derived ingredients, and are cruelty free at an affordable price point.

So I agreed to try their Silk18 Conditioner on my hard-to-untangled daughter’s hair. What I first noticed was how good it smelled! It had a delicious vanilla fragrance! Her hair felt silky and smooth. Even she noticed a difference and commented, “My hair hardly has any tangles!” Hopefully this will mean less tears when combing it out!

If you are looking for a smoothing conditioner our experience with Silk18 Conditioner has been great thus far. And not only can you buy direct, you can also purchase on Amazon, which is convenient when you want to purchase it with other items.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Maple Holistics. The opinions and text are all mine.

What I'm Into Right Now (Mar 2019)

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The end of the school year feels so close yet so far away. The weather has been warm and I’ve been itching to get into the garden, but the schedule has not allowed it much yet. But I’m cutting lots of daffodils, forsythia, and hyacinths to bring indoors. It is amazing what the sun and flowers can do for the spirit! Here’s my round up of what I was into last month. I hope you can find something to inspire or interest you.

Watching:

When I was on Facebook raving about my love for the novel, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir my friend Amanda said she also loved it and recommended Home Fires as being of a similar theme. I remember when it came out and thought the trailer didn’t look that interesting. When will I learn? I thought the same of Poldark and I was clearly wrong there! So, I’ve given it a try and I just love it. It’s all about the lives of women in a small English town as the men leave to enlist as W. W. II looms large. It is wonderful if you like historical drama and stories of female friendship.

Listening:

I have been listening to Becoming Mrs. Lewis on audiobook and am really interested in the life of Joy Davidman. She is famous for marrying C. S. Lewis, and I had a vague notion of her being a writer herself and that she died of cancer. Little did I know of her tumultuous first marriage, that she had at one point a blooming literary career, and of her conversion to Christianity. She didn’t fit the Christian “mold” during her time, nor even in our time, probably. She was a divorced single mother raising two boys while fighting to reignite her writing career and make ends meet. She and Lewis struck up an unlikely relationship where she fell in love with him first. It is a unique story that has me riveted.

Reading:

I just finished Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace by Christie Purifoy. It is a treasure of a book. Unique and hard to pin down, it's a beautiful mix of personal memoir, spiritual reflection, gardening journal, and thoughts on what it means to make a home and invite community.

Eating:

I made this amazingly flavorful Orecchiette with Bacon, Mushroom, + Kale pasta and we LOVED it. Definitely going to make it again. Also, I made our favorite no-bake cookies and I was reminded just how delicious they are. Not to mention easy and generally a healthier alternative to your regular cookie. It’s also a great option for those who may have gluten issues—there are only rolled oats in them:.

What are YOU into right now?

What I'm Into Right Now (Feb 2019)

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I’m shocked to discover Day Light Savings is this weekend! It’s starting to feel like Spring is coming, despite the snow we just got last week. Regardless, I’m seeing daffodil shoots start to push through the muddy earth. As I wait for spring, here’s what we are cuddling up to watch with the blankets piled on us.

Watching:

As a family we are enjoying The Road to Avonlea series. It is such a sweet old-fashioned show that we all enjoy. What Josh and I are watching is not sweet, instead, it is filled with Viking pillage and Saxon resistance. It is The Last Kingdom. It’s not for the faint of heart. However, as a history lover I am fascinated to see the Viking invasion come to life and watch England come together under Alfred the Great. It is fascinating stuff that I already was familiar with but not the details. Also, while watching this show I find myself incredibly grateful I did not live back then. I wouldn’t want to be a king, peasant, woman, or even an animal, for that matter.

Listening:

For my kids’ book club which goes along with our history studies we read Number the Stars. It was a fantastic middle grade novel that captured all our interest right from the beginning. We listened to this on audiobook and the reader was great. I had no idea about how the Danish people assisted in a mass escape of its Jewish population.

This story about how kids with dyslexia are not being helped in schools was good, but sad. It hit home because of my kids being dyslexic but also because a lot of the action takes place in my state. If you have a struggling reader this was also enlightening, especially in regards to the history of the “reading wars” which I was mostly unaware of. I’d heard the term, but didn’t really realize what was involved and its impact on the educational system.

Reading:

I just got my first issue of Common Place Quarterly and completely loved it. I enjoyed many of the articles and the photography was beautiful. I especially found the article about Charlotte Mason’s life at Ambleside interesting. For more check out the Instagram account.

Otherwise, I’m knee deep in Les Misérables for the literature class I’m teaching. Interestingly, Masterpiece Theater is releasing a new version of the novel on April 14th, however, I don’t know how it could compare to the musical version with Hugh Jackman.

Eating:

This Kale Apple Salad was delicious. We mostly eat Kale sauteed but this was a yummy way to get some fresh Kale into our diet. Also, we are trying to eat more fish. This Easy Lemon Butter Fish was a hit with everyone!

What are YOU into right now?

My Favorite At-Home Workouts

I’ve never had a gym membership. For one reason or another it’s never worked out. It’s either been too expensive, too far away, no childcare. I’ve always had to exercise at home, which honestly, is fine for me. While I like classes (kickboxing and yoga have been some of my favorites) I really do like working out in the convenience of my own home.

Once we redid our basement a few years ago I was especially excited to have a carpeted space with lots of room. We gave the basement an overhaul right after Christmas, so by January it was ready to go. That was the winter I did 21 Day Fix, which was a great success for me. I’ve always loved workout dvds. The key is to get ones that I won’t get bored with. I have often checked workout dvds from the library first to “preview” them before purchasing. That’s how I discovered one of my favorite workouts, Tracy Anderson’s Precision Toning.

Today I’m going to be sharing the dvds I always come back to and that are in constant rotation. It can be hard to squeeze working out into a busy life and it can be easy to get distracted when you are home. But I don’t think of it as “self-care” or “me time.” It’s as essential as eating three meals a day and drinking water. But it can still feel like I don’t have time. But by scheduling exercise on my calendar three times a week I can usually make it actually happen.

So here we go: these are my favorite workout dvds that I hope you will check out too if you are looking for something to do at from the comfort of you own home.

If You Have 15 Minutes

I love Tracy Anderson’s Precision Toning dvd! First of all, they are filmed in 15 minute sections. Yes, that’s right! All you need is 15 minutes to get a workout in! There are four sections total, 15 minutes each: arms, legs, glutes, and abs. And this workout is nothing to shrug your shoulders about. Her ab workout is incredible and her arm workout is very unique and mostly uses your own body weight. The glute workout is a killer. I highly recommend this dvd if you are new to working out at or or trying to workout more at home. Plus, you can always combine the segments to make a 30 minute or 45 minute workout too!

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If You Have 20 Minutes

Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred is a great choice if you have more time and also want to mix in some cardio along with strength and abs. The great thing about this video is you get all three aspects in each workout, and there are three levels to work through. The videos are circuit based, so you are always cycling through cardio, weights, then abs, which means you never get bored or tired of doing just one thing. There are also beginner and advanced options for many of the exercises which is also nice.

If You Have 30 Minutes

Let me say first of all that I’m not a Beach Body coach, I am just a happy customer. I bought 21 Day Fix after having my fourth baby and wanted to get back in shape about a year after having her. I don’t know if you can just purchase the dvds, it looks like you have to get the portion control containers and Shakology shaker cup as well. But let me just say I LOVE these workouts. I did two rounds of a strict 21 Day Fix program and lost weight and inches. Now, I use them to maintain. I love the routine of working through all of these videos in order. I just did the Dirty 30 workout today! I love the pacing and the little “count down” timer in the corner helps me to know how much time I have left for each move and helps me not give up. The way the videos progress through Cardio, Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Cardio, Pilates, and Yoga is perfect as well. Autumn Calabrese also walks you through beginner and advanced moves to various versions of a workout. There are some moves I still can’t manage to do the advanced versions of.

21 Day Fix is expensive compared to other dvds but not nearly as much as a gym membership. If you are serious about getting healthy holistically through eating AND exercise it is a great investment that you can keep coming back to again and again as well as use it to maintain a lifestyle of movement.

So there you have it! These are my favorite ways to workout at home. How do you make working out part of your lifestyle? Is it something that you have as part of your routine or is it something you struggle with?

What I'm Into Right Now (Jan 2019)

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I took a break from this series for the months of November and December. I’ve learned to be gracious with myself during the busy holiday seasons. But I’m excited to share some of what I’ve been into lately and I hope you’ll share with me either in the comments, on Facebook, or Instagram!

Watching:
Josh and I binged Homecoming with Julia Roberts on Amazon Prime. Not only was the plot fascinating, it was stylish and reminded me at times as a mix of Alfred Hitchcock meets the X-Files. I feel like the trailer really doesn’t do it justice. Just try it and see if it’s for you after watching the first episode.

The kids and I finished the final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. It has so many levels of clever wit! And who can deny the utter adorable smartness of Sunny Baudelaire? We all loved it!

We are currently watching War & Peace and it is so well done. I read it in high school and quite honestly I don’t remember the plot at all and only recall being highly confused about who was who and what was going on. However, from what I have read this latest version seems very true to the book and it is beautifully shot and acted by Paul Dano, Lily James, and James Norton. I was glad to see that the film adaptation also touches on the classic Tolstoy themes of death, finding meaning in life, and the search for spiritual significance.

Listening:
Speaking of Tolstoy, I’m teaching a high school class of World Literature for our homeschool co-op and we are in the middle of Anna Karenina right now. I am reading it and listening to this version which I think is done quite nicely. This is my third time through the novel and always find more layers of meaning each time I read it.

The kids and I are listening to Esperanza Rising for book club too. At first they didn’t like it. I think they had a hard time following it with all the Spanish words thrown in. But now they don’t want to stop. We are not far from the end and really enjoying it. It has already brought up great discussion on immigration and what it means to strike.

After a long break I am also enjoying the Pray As You Go app again. It used to be really glitchy but it has been updated beautifully and has a new look and is better functioning. I listen to it almost every morning while drinking my coffee.

Reading:
I’m working my way through Beartown since so many of my friends recommended it. I have to put Anna Karenina first in my reading schedule to have what I need read each week to teach, so Beartown is a bit on the back burner. Having a hard time getting into it. So many recommended it (who’s reading tastes are similar to mine) I’m sticking with it. Also one friend said it was a bit slow in the beginning so I am pushing through.

Eating:
I’m pretty obsessed with sourdough bread right now. You can follow my board on Pinterest if you are interested in sourdough yourself. I have used this recipe most consistently and this website is full of tips and information.

What are YOU into right now?