"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, June 23, 2017

The summer of craziness (7QT)

Whew, June. You've done lost your mind. We've had so much good, so much bad, and I'm just ready for a vacation from our supposedly summer of fun. Ha.

How's about an update on ALL THE THINGS? Okay, just 7 things. All good. Let's do this. Linking up with Kelly!

1. Summer fun

(pics at the bottom of this post because I've turned ultimate lazy blogger and didn't feel like moving them here)
Even though it has been a summer of craziness (and rain! so much rain!), we've still been crossing things off our summer bucket list. Splash pad, the movies, aquarium, among other things...but mostly just a lot of playing in our very own transformed backyard. It's become quite the fun place to be! Hopefully I'll share the details in a future post soon. (Still putting on the finishing touches and haven't been able to take pictures thanks to this tropical depression/storm pounding on us right now)

2. Five years old

Well, it's official. We have a 5-year old! He's becoming such a big helper around the house and it's just lovely.

3. Happy Anniversary to us!

We celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary last week and I can hardly believe it's been that long...while at the same time it's felt like 50 years. If you had told me on that blissful day just how much Logan and I would endure together over the coming years, I don't think I would have believed you! But here we are, more in love than ever. Deo gratias! (Fun fact - we have those words engraved in our rings.) Logan surprised me by taking me to Painting with a Twist (painting + wine) which was so fun and relaxing.

4. Aaron is ONE

It's also official...this boy is a year old today! With his brothers, it felt like the first year FLEW by, but honestly, this time it felt like FOREVER. But of course, he is adorable and sweet and we are so thankful God gave him to us. (Insert other cliche things here, ha)

5. Middle child, last birthday...not fair

This dude is your typical toddler these days (whyyyy so many tantrums??) but has moments like these that make it all worth it. He said, "I luh you, Momma" and then blew me a kiss. So sweet. I feel bad though because I realized that not only is he our middle child, he has the last summer birthday among his brothers. But I guess he doesn't really know that right now...

6. Word of the year reminder

After such a crazy few weeks, God has gently been reminding me of my Word of the Year - PEACE. Seriously, I'm seeing it everywhere. We even had an awesome priest friend come over to hear our confessions and bless our house (highly recommend, by the way, especially when life is cray), and he talked so much about peace! So I've been trying to cultivate more peace in our home and in my heart and I'm just so thankful God knew exactly what I needed when he put the word "peace" in my heart way back in January.

7. Prom dress pic...you're welcome

Well, I guess I will end this with a picture of me in my senior prom dress...since I kind of said I would do it in this post. No shame! The boys thought I was a princess. Yep, it still fits, but I just have to say that I weighed more in high school than I did when I got married, since I was quite the athletic tomboy...so the true test would be if I still fit in my wedding dress! ;)

Summer fun pics I'm too lazy to move to the top of this post:

Backyard post coming soon I hope!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Pregnancy loss, the Rosary, and a book I wish I had years ago

I still vividly remember how hard it was to pray after we lost Levi. Every time I tried, I just ended up crying. For months, I had started my prayers thanking God for Logan and our baby, and once our baby was gone, it made it hard to say anything else after that.

It wasn't until almost 3 weeks after Levi died that I made myself pray the Rosary again. Logan and I had prayed it once together in those days between, but of course the day I was by myself happened to be a Monday. The Joyful Mysteries.

I remember it like it was yesterday - sitting on my bed in our little rental house, crying throughout all five decades. While meditating on the Annunciation, I kept thinking about how hard it had been to say "yes" to God's will with everything that happened, and that Mary seems to have done it so easily.

During the Visitation, when thinking about John kicking in Elizabeth's womb, I was reminded of how it felt when Levi kicked in my womb.
Apparently I took zero pictures of my baby bump with Levi except on our babymoon cruise to Cozumel...

Gosh, it made me miss that. It made me miss having him inside me, anticipating the day I would finally get to meet him. Seven and a half years later, I still remember him kicking me in utero - he was more active than his three brothers after him, keeping me up at night.

The next mystery was the Birth of Jesus, which reminded me of our [terrible] short stay in the hospital. The last two mysteries weren't much better. I just couldn't stop crying! Looking back, I feel guilty about all those crazy thoughts. Why couldn't I focus on the fact that Mary knew every single emotion I was feeling? She lost her first and only Son too! Why did I feel further from Jesus and Mary when I should have felt closer?

How I wish I had had something to help spiritually after such a hard loss. I had read a couple books on pregnancy loss that helped, but they weren't focused on prayer - something I was struggling with big time. Prayer had always come fairly naturally to me (thanks to my melancholic temperament), but in those first few weeks after Levi's death, prayer felt like the hardest thing.

Recently I was given the opportunity to read Heidi Indahl's new book, Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss. I loved it. It's going on my list of gifts for women who experience loss, as I know it would have benefited me greatly in those early days of grief.

For each mystery, there are the Scripture verses followed by a brief reflection and prayer intention for the decade. That prayer intention at the end is perfect - reminding us that we're not the only ones who've experienced loss and that we can use our suffering to help others. I know I could have used gentle reminders like that.

There's also plenty of space for you to journal after each reflection. I had the digital copy and didn't print it out, so I didn't utilize the journal space, but I know it would have been so helpful for me to do so back then. Heck, it would still be good to do now, over seven years later! I feel very blessed to have been healed in many ways from losing Levi, but there are still some days I struggle.

Be sure to check out Amazon to get a copy for yourself or a friend in need, and if you want to connect with Heidi, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and her blog, Work and Play, Day by Day.

I received a free digital copy in exchange for this here blog post but all opinions are mine! I'm honest about what I think, you know me ;)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recent Reads (May '17 edition)

Welcome to another episode of Jen Reads Too Much!

GoodReads informs me I'm 8 books ahead of schedule in my Reading Challenge. Buuuut there's just so many books on my to-read list! I can't stop! And now it's summer and we FINALLY put up a fence (post forthcoming I hope!) and so we will be outside a lot while the boys play and I read. Anyways. About those books I've been reading....

Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend

I used to own this book because everyone raved about it when I worked at Family Christian Bookstore in college (random fact #1). I only read maybe half, just couldn't get into it, and got rid of it a couple years ago. But this time around, it was life-changing - I was kicking myself for getting rid of it, as I will refer back to it often. (I did end up buying it on Kindle for like $2.) So I guess it just depends on the relationships in your life as to whether or not you should read this!

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Rea Drummond

I came across this while browsing my library's biography section (my weakness, apparently). Some parts were funny, some were annoying. I'm a big fan of memoirs so I liked hearing her love story. It was drawn out, though, and she's got a particular writing style that's probably not for everyone.

33 Days to Merciful Love: A DIY Retreat in Preparation for Divine Mercy Consecration by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Well, this is one of those books that I might be reading every single year. Normally, I'm not good at reading daily devotions or anything like that, but I did not miss a day of this - I looked forward to reading it every day! So much good stuff in it.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

This wins the award for Most Unexpected 5-Star Read this year. A couple other bloggers (I think Hannah G. and Alicia?) recommended it and it was fascinating! A surgeon explains the history of aging, the birth of nursing homes and assisted living, and discusses what's really important at the end of life. It was totally up my alley because I'm a Registered Nurse (not currently working because of all these babies) and my dream job has always been hospice (random fact #2). But I think everyone should read it!

Little Women (Book One) by Louisa May Alcott

I confessed never having read this in its entirety before, and it was actually the book I chose for my reading challenge with friends - "a book I abandoned." It took me awhile to get into it (um, again), but I ended up loving it. Jo and Laurie's relationship = all the heart-eye emojis.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

I read this because I kept seeing it mentioned EVERYWHERE. It's my first book by Ann Patchett, and while I loved her writing style, the actual plot was just not my cup of tea. There were things I did like about it though...

Read any good books lately? I wanna know!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I've never seen the Pride & Prejudice miniseries with Colin Firth until this week, even though I read the book awhile ago - I've always been a big fan of the Kiera Knightley movie version. Which I own and have seen countless times. (But now I can TOTALLY see why so many people hate the movie because the miniseries is soooo good. Not quite done yet though.)

This week I got the random idea to wear my prom dress and go on a date one day. Sounds insane but I think it would be fun. (Logan and I were high school sweethearts and went to our Senior Prom together!) Sad thing is, I'm sure people will actually think we're still in high school!
Throwback to 2005. You're welcome.

I've gotten rid of 90% of Aaron's clothes as he outgrows them. I don't even feel bad about it.

We want a break before having another baby. Like, a long break. Mainly because pregnancy sucks so much for us. But of course we said that after Chase's pregnancy...

I stopped cloth diapering when Chase was about 9 months old and planned on cloth diapering Aaron when he was born. The diapers sat until a couple months ago, when I randomly decided to start using them again! It lasted like a week.

So many times I think about getting off the Internet completely other than email and online shopping. No blogging, no reading other blogs, no social media. Am I crazy? Sometimes it feels like things would be easier that way...

I just made Aaron's baby announcement. He's 10 months old. It's totally not fancy and took me like two minutes, but really I just made it to put in a shadow box like I did for the other boys. The only announcement I actually mailed out was for Landon...

I haven't been watching the news or anything lately (unless we're under a tornado warning or something, then I check the weather). It just causes me so much anxiety that I'd rather live in my little bubble. I know that's not good, really, but for now I rely on Logan to keep me updated.

I've been keeping a personal journal since 2003 and am on my 20th journal. It keeps me sane.

I had never read Little Women in its entirety until recently. Not sure how I, a book lover, managed to go so long without reading it. Okay, so I just read Volume 1, but I plan to read the rest eventually!

Okay, confess something silly/weird to me so I don't feel so crazy! ;)

And now Logan wants me to try on my prom dress to see if it fits...(picture in a future post? Hahaha)

Friday, May 5, 2017

What I'm loving lately

Hannah's post reminded me that I've been wanting to do one of these posts! It's a quick list of 7 so I'm linking up with Kelly for 7QT!

Crochet dish cloths. In case you didn't know, they're so much better than regular towel ones!! I found one that I crocheted a couple years ago and never used, and it quickly became my favorite dish cloth to wipe down the counters. So much so that I crocheted another one! (I realize this may sound so nerdy. Oh wells.)

Designated Survivor. Um, this show is so good. I've kind of gotten away from binge-watching shows over the last couple of years, but this one tempts me every time I watch an episode! Keifer Sutherland is da bomb.

Coloring. Why yes, I mean adult coloring. Sometimes if the kids are being too crazy for me to be able to focus on reading or something, I plop myself down and color. So relaxing, I swear. Try it! (Above sheet is from Bible Verse Coloring Through the Year, which came in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.) I've colored some Rescue Bots too which made the boys SO excited. "Good job, Momma!"

Outside time. The weather has been SO PERFECT. The back of our house is extremely shaded, which makes it even better. and our neighbor put up a fence so we have more privacy. Once Logan finally puts up a fence around the rest of our yard, it will be so magical. I cannot wait.

Stretchy shorts. I got a pair of these casual drawstring shorts (in the throwback pic above from August) at Old Navy when I was pregnant with Aaron in preparation for that fun postpartum time when nothing fits. I quickly regretted not buying another pair or two in different colors, and when I went back they were GONE. Sigh. But a few months later I had the genius idea to look on ThredUp! And they had some! So I bought two. I will be living in all three pairs this summer, thankyouverymuch.

The library. We go through phases where we're hitting up the library often, and now is one of them! Some of the books have been great, some not so much, but we've really been taking advantage of checking out new movies. Gotta love freeee.

Helpful big boys. Landon is turning 5 next month and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! He's been making his own PB&J lately, as well as feeding the dog and occupying Aaron when I need a few minutes to do something. He even started cleaning the table this week! Chase tries to do everything Landon does, which is cute but also annoying because sometimes he just makes things worse. But they're learning to be helpful! Yay!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The summer of FUN

It dawned on me this week that Landon, our oldest, has only a couple weeks left of preschool. Barring any drastic life changes, he will be attending kindergarten at a school in the fall. It wasn't an easy decision for me, since I still feel a pull towards homeschooling, and Logan's work schedule (working weekends) already makes it hard to have family time. But for a bunch of other reasons, it's what we've discerned is the best move for our family right now.

We've made family time a priority, as hard as it is, but this past year we've gotten to utilize afternoons once we pick up Landon from preschool around lunchtime. Next year we don't get to do that. *sob* So the thought of sending my kid off for 7-8 hours a day is kind of depressing.

ANYWAYS. We had quite the lovely time at the zoo for our family time this week, and I started to get really sad thinking about how we won't get to do that much next year. If Logan's job/work schedule stays the same, he will have off every other Sunday. Other than that, though, his off days are during the week - while Landon will be at school all day. I'm really not sure what we will do for our family time then, but I guess I have some time to figure it out.

In the meantime, though, I have decided to dub the next few months "the summer of fun." We've been brainstorming all kinds of fun things to do, and I wanted to share our list here! I doubt we will get to do all of these, mainly for budget reasons, but we have decided to spend all of our birthday money on these activities. Considering all 5 of us have summer birthdays, it's just a little too perfect.

Now for the list! For my sake, I've included travel time (if it's longer than 30 minutes), ticket costs, whether we have gift cards/tickets already, etc. If you're local, maybe this will give you some ideas! If you're not, maybe this will motivate you to do some research in your area. 🙂

Activities at home:

  • Kiddie pool outside
  • Sidewalk chalk on the driveway
  • Coloring
  • Water balloon fight
  • Rent a waterslide
  • Sleepover with cousins 

Activities close by:

  • Go for a walk
  • Visit a playground (we have a bunch to choose from!)
  • Visit the library
  • Play tennis
  • Get snowballs
  • Swimming at my brother's house (did I ever mention they moved closer to us?? And they have a pool now!)

Half-day activities:

  • Global Wildlife in Folsom, LA for Safari Wagon Tours ...1 hr 15 minutes away, already have 2 child tickets, additional adult tickets cost $19 each (Aaron will be free, 1 and under), feeding cups cost $2 each
  • Sector 6 Extreme Air Sports in Harahan, LA to jump on all the trampolines....already have 2 gift cards, 1 hour tickets cost $13 for adults and $10 for kids (6 and under).
  • Spray Park in Destrehan, LA...free! FYI hours are 1pm-6pm.
  • City Putt in New Orleans for mini-golf....already have 2 tickets, additional child tickets $6 but we will only have to pay for Landon (3 and under are free). FYI closed Mondays. 
  • Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans...free with our membership

Full-day activities:

  • Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA - beach, fishing pier, hiking trails, nature center, water playground...1 hour away, $3 entrance fee per person (3 and under is free). FYI water playground is closed on Mondays.
  • Wetland Watchers Park in Norco, LA - nature walk, marsh overlook, fishing and picnic areas...free!
  • Audubon Zoo in New Orleans...free with our membership

Longer trips:

  • Annual beach trip to Gulf Shores, MS....3.5 hours away, already paid for from our vacation fund! Still putting aside spending money each month.
  • Visit Mimi & Pops (my parents)...3 hours away, free!

Whew, I'm ready for summer now. How about you?? Got any other ideas for me?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recent Reads (April '17 edition)

Happy Easter Octave! I'm going to be super lame and celebrate by sharing some of the books I've read lately. If you missed last month's Recent Reads post, you can read it here. These are 7 books again so I'm linking up with Kelly!

1. The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Drs. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

I've been knowing about the love languages for years now but this was the first time I've read about them outside of the original The 5 Love Languages book. It was so enlightening and I'm sure I'll revisit this one over and over again. I listened to the audiobook, which I wasn't a fan of, but maybe I'm just weird. The content was invaluable though. Highly recommend!

2. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

I've been having this on my bookshelf for years and finally got around to reading it. I did not expect it to like it as much as I did. It inspired me to pray for Logan more and to be more specific in how I pray for him.

3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

This was a serious book, set in WWII England, but the characters have dry and witty senses of humor - which I loved. It's not as good as All the Light You Cannot See and The Nightingale, but it's still a good read.

4. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

I'm not sure why I picked this one up, because I'm not in a stage of grief or anything. It was honest and had insightful reflections, and I'll definitely read it again whenever the time comes. It's pretty short.

5. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza (with Steve Erwin)

I could not put this one down - I read it in 2 days! It's not the best written book I've read, but the story is amazing and Immaculee's faith is inspiring.

6. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected by Kayla Aimee

Kayla shares about her experience with a micropremie in the NICU, and it totally made me think of Levi. Granted, our stories ended differently, but I just love a good story about accepting God's will when it's completely different than what you had planned for yourself. (Hence the blog name.)

7. Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

A few of my friends read/are reading this 3-book series so of course I had to join them. I loved some of the characters (Eli!) and didn't love others. It was a bit long but kept my interest - and now I want to read alllll the Civil War books. That time era is so interesting!


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