Book Review #100: “Maritza: Lead with Your Heart” (World By Us)

The third book in the World By Us from American Girl was as equally compelling and thought-provoking as the other two.

As an American Girl collector, I wish I had the space for all of the community center items and accessories. It’s so colorful and fun!

I appreciated the fact that American Girl tackled immigration and deportation in this book. Like Evette’s and Makena’s books, it’s clear that this was well-researched and carefully crafted.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #280: May Goals

Image Credit: Success Magazine

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of May:

  1. Reach 100 Book Reviews!
  2. Have a successful 2022 Virginia State Convention of P.E.O. as one of the co-chair and hostess chapters.
  3. Host a fun family cookout.
  4. Continue progress on keeping my office clean and organized.
  5. Drink more water.
  6. Keep the potted plants alive!

What about you? Do you have any goals for this month?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #279: April Goals Recap

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of April:

  1. Donate blood. — Did not accomplish this time.
  2. Celebrate birthdays! — Accomplished!
  3. Celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary. — Accomplished!
  4. Enjoy some time away. — Did not accomplish this time.
  5. Get to 100 Book Reviews! — Did not accomplish yet.
  6. Continue decluttering, especially my huge mountain of clothing. — Accomplished!
  7. Make progress with cleaning and organizing the garage. — Semi-Achieved.
  8. Stay on top of filing paperwork right away. — Semi-Achieved.

My iron was too low to give blood during our April blood drive, but it wasn’t historically low. We are getting very close to another milestone – 8,000 total units since April 2000. I think we may actually hit that mark at our June drive. Fingers crossed!

We celebrated my dad’s birthday the same weekend as the blood drive, and it was awesome. My mom outdid herself with the food. We also had a surprise guest – One of my parents’ former neighbors flew into town to pick up their sports car that my parents had been car-sitting since the fall of 2021. It was really nice to see him and catch up. He’s a retired helicopter pilot who flew our region’s primary air ambulance for more than 30 years.

I’m so excited about getting to 99 Book Reviews! I’m hoping to reach 100 very soon. I have three books that I’m currently reading. I’ve enjoyed reading at night again. Not every night, but a couple of nights a week. I’ve also been trying to read a bit in the hammock on the porch if the weather is good.

I finally got sick and tired of constantly sorting through full laundry baskets of clean clothes, so on April 23rd I dedicated that Saturday to go to town and finally get decluttered and organized. I walked more than 12,000 steps by the time I was done. Coincidentally, the local Vietnam Veterans Association had a donation pick-up scheduled for Tuesday, April 26th, so I took that as a sign to get it done. I reorganized my under-bed drawers, vacuumed, took everything out of my closet, reorganized my dresser, tried a pile of things on, and finally got things the way I wanted it. I still have some more clothes to go through, but the Vietnam Veterans Association took no less than seven full bags/boxes of items (clothes, duplicate books, and household items). I also donated four pairs of shoes that didn’t fit, so the shoe rack is cleaner now as well. That same day, I ordered another clean-out kit from thredUP, so when that arrives, I’ll fill that bag and send it off. It’s much nicer going to my closet every morning and finding things that actually fit and feel comfortable.

I also tackled part of my office, so my desk is far less cluttered, and I have more floor space! I still have more work to do on my American Girl collection, but a lot of the boxes and things that were just collecting dust are either gone, recycled, or now in their proper place.

The garage is going to be an ongoing project that Al and I will be tackling together. There’s a lot of things in there that can probably go in the trash or be donated. Al also wants to revamp the shelving system.


What about you? What goals did you have for the month of April?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #99: “Makena: See Me, Hear Me, Know Me” (World By Us)

After reading Evette’s book, I quickly moved to Makena’s book in the World By Us collection from American Girl.

Makena loves fashion, and posts her #OOTD (outfit of the day). I love how expressive she is!

Similar to Evette’s story, racism is a major theme in Makena’s story. Despite Makena’s struggles to come to terms with not one, but two incidents in her young life, I applaud American Girl for addressing both incidents in a thoughtful way. It definitely educated me.

It also encourages open communication between family members, and how talking about your feelings with someone that you can trust is so important.

Reading Makena’s story was another eye-opener for me, as a white woman, to how one phone call or one remark could very easily put someone else’s life at risk in an instant.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #98: “Evette: The River and Me” (World By Us)

I’m always up for new books from American Girl. When they announced the new World By Us line with three books, I was excited. I was able to get the books practically brand-new from a seller in the big American Girl Obsessed BST group that I’m a member of on Facebook.

The first book that I read is Evette’s book. She’s passionate about the environment. The book also addresses the pandemic, social media, and other real-life issues. Racism is one big topic that’s incorporated. I also love the community center that’s featured!

I read through the whole book in one night several months ago. Most American Girl books don’t take me long to read at all, but this one was also beautifully illustrated!

The interesting part about these books, and this line/collection, is that the characters are 13 years old, which is older than the typical target demographic for the company. I personally think this is a great thing, and it shows that American Girl is dedicated to diversity, inclusion, education, and other things.

Given that the target audience is quite a bit younger than myself, I had to put myself in the shoes of a 13-year-old while reading it.

I really appreciated how the author and the diversity team that is recognized in the book did their homework and tried to respectfully and carefully craft a story that was relevant and would potentially resonate with readers, families, and others.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #278: April Goals

Image Credit: Maria Estes Photography

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of April:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Celebrate birthdays!
  3. Celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary.
  4. Enjoy some time away.
  5. Get to 100 Book Reviews!
  6. Continue decluttering, especially my huge mountain of clothing.
  7. Make progress with cleaning and organizing the garage.
  8. Stay on top of filing paperwork right away.

What about you?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #277: March Goals Recap

Image Credit: Centre for Collaborative Health

Welcome back!


Here were my goals for the month of March:

  1. Start reading again before bed. — Accomplished!
  2. Clean off my desk and keep it clean. — Semi-Achieved.
  3. Continue drinking water as much as possible. Limit soda to once a week, much like alcohol. — Accomplished!
  4. Put away the clean clothes and linens. — Semi-Achieved.
  5. Commit to spending some time every Saturday and Sunday to making certain areas of the house more functional, keeping things in their proper places, reducing clutter, etc. — Accomplished!

I’m very happy with my progress so far. I have more work to do, but like Al said recently, taking it one box at a time, sometimes one podcast at a time, makes all the difference.


Come back soon to see my goals for the month of April!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #276: March Goals

Image Credit: East Willow Grove

Welcome back!

Publishing a new Goals at the end of the month in question? Sure, why not!


Here are my goals for the month of March:

  1. Start reading again before bed.
  2. Clean off my desk and keep it clean.
  3. Continue drinking water as much as possible. Limit soda to once a week, much like alcohol.
  4. Put away the clean clothes and linens.
  5. Commit to spending some time every Saturday and Sunday to making certain areas of the house more functional, keeping things in their proper places, reducing clutter, etc.

What about you? What goals do you have for this month?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #275: Stranger Things The Upside Down LEGO Set

Al got me the massive Stranger Things The Upside Down set for Christmas!

Part 1

Part 1 was building four things: Hopper, the mini-fig stand with the Stranger Things title card, Hopper’s Hawkins Police Department SUV, and the bike.

The wheels really move!


Part 2

The second part was building the base of the “real world” house and Mike.

The base took the better part of two hours! But you can start to see parts of the house and the yard.


Part 3

Part three began building the house and Joyce. She is holding Will’s drawing in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Plus, her mini-fig head has two different facial expressions.

The enclosed room is Will’s bedroom. It has his bed, desk, boom box, and shark poster.

The other room is the living room with the couch and coffee table. The yellow phone is on the wall. You can see the alphabet and Christmas lights on the wall next to the door.


Part 4

Part 4 saw the completion of the living room, with the green chair, and building Lucas. He’s holding his slingshot and a flashlight.

The siding was added to the house, along with the front porch furniture and accessories.


Part 5

Part 5 included the roof and building Dustin.

Dustin is holding a walkie-talkie and his compass.

Part of the ceiling is this cool light brick that lights up when you push the button!


Part 6

Part 6 included building Will and the base of the Upside Down house.

It’s definitely darker!


March 18th: This post was scheduled to publish before I finished the set, so I will update soon!


Part 7

Part 7 is building the Upside Down house bedroom and living room.

Getting Personal #274: February Goals Recap

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of February:

  1. Donate blood. — Accomplished!
  2. Finish the first pass of editing book #2. — Did not accomplish yet.
  3. Celebrate Valentine’s Day! — Accomplished!
  4. Write and publish at least two Book Reviews. — Did not accomplish yet.

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for the month of March!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂