"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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

What I'm loving lately (summer '19 edition)

It's been almost 7 months since I've shared what I'm loving lately, so here we go!

Marco Polo. This is my new favorite app, and I'm not sure why I didn't know of it before. It's basically where you can leave someone voicemails, except it's a video. Which is SUPER helpful when you need to show somebody something or explain something much quicker than a text...and on your own time. Plus it's fun seeing the faces of friends that live 1-2 hours away from me!

Poldark. I had already seen all 4 seasons, but when I saw the DVDs at the library, I decided to rewatch the series. But this time, I convinced Logan to watch it with me! (He did NOT want to, but I was like, "no, we're watching it.") And he ended up REALLY enjoying it. Plus it made for some really good conversation between us, because SO MUCH DRAMA. And a lot of it was marriage-related, which is totally up our alley. Now we just have to wait for season 5, which starts on PBS in September!

How God provides. In May, I was kind of stressing about our finances because we haven't had any extra video income this year from Logan's side business. It was not long after that I was offered the part-time job (mentioned in this post)! Unfortunately, my little income will basically be paying medical bills (ughhh), so I'm not going to lie when I say I'm still stressed.

BUT God still provides in little ways. I've been needing new tennis shoes for a long time, but they're just so dang expensive. Well. I was at Wal-Mart the other day and noticed a bunch of shoes on clearance. They had girls tennis shoes marked down to $6! I was looking at them and trying to find my nieces' sizes when an employee told me she had to take $2 off. So that made the shoes $4! I had recently learned that I can wear girls size (i.e. a girls 5 is similar to a women's 7, or something like that), so I ended up getting me 2 pairs too, because when the heck will I ever find $4 tennis shoes again? It's a small thing, but it really reinforced the idea that God really does provide.

Hurricane Barry memes. This so-called storm Barry was the most ridiculous thing ever. But it also produced the BEST memes.

Aaron talking like a big boy. It's like a switch turns on when our kids turn 3 - they start talking like a big boy. And I can tell Aaron loves that he can "keep up" with the rest of us now verbally. We were watching a movie last night when I started talking to Logan, and Aaron (who was between us) said, "Be quiet. I'm trying to watch the movie!" 😂
He's such a ham.

Google Docs. Why, yes, call me a nerd if you'd like. I've been using Google Docs since I got my Chromebook last year, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered the feature of letting people suggest edits. It's perfect for blogging stuff - since I've been editing other people's stuff and letting other people edit my stuff - AND for my new part-time job, which also includes editing.

Cow Appreciation Day. We went for the first time ever because it was Chase's birthday, and let's just say it will be a tradition from now on. You just can't beat a $4 meal for 5 people! (Plus entertainment for the kids.)

Monday, July 1, 2019

Summer fun craziness (this blog isn't dead yet)

It's funny how I thought I would have so much free time once all of our boys were potty-trained and more independent and all of that. But what actually happened is that I'm actually even busier. Whenever I'm pregnant or with a baby, I'm like NOPE to allllll the things. But now? I'm like, I could do that.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely say no to things. But I also feel God calling me to do a lot of things right now. We're still trucking along with the Surprised By Marriage stuff (can you say a prayer for our discernment regarding the financial part of that please?), I'm still involved with plenty at our church, and I recently got a part-time gig doing some writing, editing, and other stuff. I've never ever been paid to write until now so it's pretty exciting.

It never fails - whenever life gets crazy, I just want to write. Do I always make time for it? Sadly, no. (Although now I have to make time for it! Ha.) I've been keeping a journal for 16 years (gosh, that sounds insane when I put it in black and white), and even though I journal MUCH less than I used to, it's still what I go to when life is overwhelming. And for some reason, I always turn to blogging when there's a million other things I could be doing. I guess that explains why this here blog exists almost a decade later.

Life is actually pretty good, though, despite the craziness. Logan surprised me with the best anniversary date ever (check out our Instagram highlights under "10 year anniversary"), we're kind of in a sweet spot with the kids, and Jesus has been giving me some serious consolations in prayer. Life is not perfect, by any means, but when I think about some of the rough periods we've gone through in recent years....this is nothing.  There's been a lot of answered prayers, great family moments, and well, I can't complain.

June ended up being CRAZY but it was fun at least. And now for some pictures, because you know I love some old school blogging:
 Our annual birthday bash was fun, as usual. (It was the first time I didn't make cookie cake for their party because that's how crazy June was. #costcoforlife)

 It was Disney themed!

Logan made Toodles in the top left corner to put over the dart board because he is ridiculous 😂 and I always think a pinata (top right) is a good idea until the kids start swinging the bat around...

VBS was fun and exhausting! This was on crazy hair day.

We survived VBS! And my kids are so cute sometimes, I can't stand it.
We went to the zoo today because it was the first day all summer that all 5 of us were home with zero plans on the calendar. 

The women's World Cup has also been adding to the fun! I'm hoping July is our chill month before the school craziness of August starts, but you know how life goes.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The sweet spot (supposedly)

When Aaron was a baby, and we knew we wanted/needed a bigger break between our next baby, we mentioned how it would be REALLY nice if he were potty trained before we had another baby. But since NFP tends to make you open to a baby sooner rather than later (at least that's been our experience), we figured that wouldn't actually happen.

We didn't potty train the other boys until they were 3 and 3.5, but at some point we realized that Aaron would be probably be ready before that.

We were right. Because Aaron is completely potty trained (even at night!), and it took less than 2 weeks. We started a month before his 3rd birthday (which is in a couple weeks).

(Aaron actually tried to potty train himself back in February, but since we were going to Disney in March, we were like NOPE and just used pull-ups for the first time ever because we were not ready to go all the way.)

It's really weird. Gone are the days of diapers and baby things. And while we will jump back into that one day, God-willing, we're trying to enjoy this sweet spot while we're in it.

We keep having older parents tell us how hard the teenage years are, and while I know the phrase "bigger kid, bigger problems" has some truth to it, I think those parents also forget how exhausting and overwhelming little kids can be. You have to do literally everything for them - change their clothes, brush their teeth, buckle their seat belts, fix their food, etc.

I think parents also forget how hard it is to make your marriage a priority when there's always a baby or toddler waking up or screaming or needing something only you can give them. Logan and I talk often about how one day, we will be able to just leave the house! No babysitter or anything because our kids will be able to fend for themselves for a couple hours. Sure, teenagers can be hard (although honestly, my siblings and I were not...and that's coming from my parents), but there are a lot of perks too. Not only the independence, but being able to talk to them about mature things and realizing that you raised some pretty awesome human beings. (Well, here's hoping, anyways.)
A trip to the grocery store is still crazy but it's probably considerably less crazy than it was 2 years ago.

Our life has drastically changed in the last 18 months. We went from 2 in diapers to no diapers at all. Two of our kids can buckle themselves in the car and the third needs just a little assistance. They can all go to the bathroom by themselves (with the exception of Aaron when he poops) and change their clothes all by themselves.

Landon just turned 7 and has been voluntarily doing the dishes some days. Any 3 of our boys known how to feed the dog and let her outside. They can get their own snack, and the two oldest can fix a bowl of cereal and make their own sandwiches.

There are certainly still plenty of tantrums and fights (oh my gosh, seriously), but we can send the boys outside to play without having to hover around them.

They still sometimes take forever to fall asleep at night, and often wake up earlier than they should...but they do sleep through the night.

We know this is almost the little sweet spot between babies and teenagers, and we're grateful for being able to experience it. It's really got me thinking about the stage before this and the stage that comes after, and I'm not sure you can say one is harder than the other. It all depends on the temperaments of the kids AND parents, and a million other factors.

Because even though life is easier is many ways, I'm still tired. Being a mom is exhausting. I've almost forgotten how even more exhausting pregnancy and babies can be, and it wasn't that long ago! (So seriously, I think older moms forget big time.)

Instead of saying to moms of littles "the teen years are even harder," I think we need to start saying "enjoy the stage you're at!" Because every stage, from babies to teens and everything in between, has its own struggles and hard moments. Take it from a parent in that supposed sweet spot. It's called being a parent!

I think as long we accept that our kids will do stupid things, and we remember that God can redeem anything, we will be okay. Enjoy the stage you're in now, because the next one is going to be different!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Confessions (vol. 3)

My #1 reason why I'm glad it's summer: not having to wake up at 6am. (Sorry, Logan, I know you still have to wake up even earlier that that...)

As soon as I found out about all the free events happening at our library this summer, I wrote all of the ones that looked cool in my planner. Because I am a dork.

Sometimes I wish Logan and I could have our own reality show. (Yes, I know that's the most ridiculous thing ever, especially coming from an introvert.)

We currently don't have Prime or Netflix and it's been fine! Totally fine. We get movies from the library (freeeeee) and can watch current shows via our Fire stick. Plus Formed.org.

We do, however, plan on getting Netflix in July for season 3 of Stranger Things. Caaaaan't wait. (And to think Logan had to convince me to watch that show because I'm a wimp.)

I deleted my Facebook app as we take a break from Surprised By Marriage stuff and um, I wish I didn't need to be on it ever.

I've also been thinking a lot about the balance between social media and real life and I just really don't have any answers. While I'd love to cut it out completely, I also feel like we're supposed to be on it. Doing God's work and all. So I've been thinking about what I need to do to make that balance better. Share your ideas/tips with me!

Speaking of news....we're NOT pregnant. LOL. But my goodness, we've been getting a lot of questions about our when our next baby is coming. Answer: whenever God says! (And I assure you, you will know when that happens.)

That being said, I'm going to repeat something I said in my last confessions post: Pretty sure I'd be okay never being pregnant again. (And I will spare you all my crazy thoughts about that.)

Also from last confessions post: Buuuut I don't think our family is complete.

But I can't help but think...what if it IS complete? I know fully well that a baby - and carrying said baby to term - is not guaranteed. (Okay, end crazy fertility thoughts.)

Logan and I are going on a 2-night anniversary getaway and I can't even explain to you how excited we are about it. Seriously. You'd think we were going to Disney again but nope, just a little beach town because we get cheap hotel rates at a nice hotel.

I do wish we could do a bigger trip for our 10th anniversary but we didn't plan it very well with going to Disney a few months before. And actually the only way we're able to swing the getaway financially is because we won money at a fundraising event! #Godprovides

I've been having all kinds of crazy thoughts lately and feeling like some big suffering is headed our way soon which maybe it's just me being melancholic (or hormones? shrug) but if it's true, well...thanks God for the heads up. (Am I crazy? You can tell me I'm crazy.)

I feel God realllllly nudging me to get an hour at the Adoration chapel again (we haven't had one since Chase was born) and I keep resisting. But, like, I know I need to. And after thinking that for like a month, someone randomly asked me to take their chapel hour yesterday and it's like God is telling me, "Here's your reminder!" Because the hour was just what I needed.

I have Charles Dickens' David Copperfield on my list of books to read this year and when I looked at it the other day and considered starting it, I looked all one thousand pages and seriously reconsidered having it on my list. So please tell me it's an awesome book and that I'll be glad I read it!

Even though I haven't finished the entire Anne of Green Gables series, I watched the movie The Continuing Story (because I had a feeling it'd make me mad if I watched it AFTER the books) and oh my gosh...why? Why was I wishing Anne would end up with the crazy dude - the writer, I forget his name - instead of Gilbert?

Logan's birthday is next week and I keep forgetting.

We do plan on seeing the new Aladdin movie since that was our fave Disney movie when we were dating. We may sing A Whole New World together from time to time. No shame.

Maybe I should stop now before these confessions get too crazy.....but first, tell me something crazy about you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Recent Reads (vol.17)

2019 Reading Challenge: 20 out of 50 books read. 3 books ahead!

Books I'm reading in 2019 list: 8 read out out of 23 (and I'm in the middle of 3 others)

I've really been feeling that I haven't read as much as I would like lately. I guess I almost always feel like that but it's been bad lately. Guess it's just because spring is a crazy time?? Anyways. Maybe I'm just being dumb because I've finished 9 books since my last book post.

The only physical books I read - the rest were on Kindle.

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

I'm slowly making my way through the series, and I loved this one like all the rest. (And then I watched The Sequel with Megan Follows. Swoon. Gilbert is adorbs.)

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

This was Abby's story about leaving Planned Parenthood. It was really good and the movie was much better than I was expecting! Of course the book had a lot more details that I wish had been able to fit into the movie, but I still recommend both. (The movie was super intense though, so maybe not for highly sensitive folks.)

A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child by Connie Rossini

I first read this when I was pregnant with Aaron because Landon is choleric. But since Aaron is also choleric, I desperately needed a reread. Parenting choleric children is no joke! I'll be revisiting this every couple of years, I'm sure.

Amazing Grace for Married Couples by Jeff Cavins, Matthew Pinto, and Patti Armstrong

12 stories of couples who were on the brink of divorce. It would be encouraging for couples who may think their situation is beyond hope. Because seriously, some of these couples' situations seemed impossible! But God's grace transformed them.

The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva

This took me awhile to get through because you can't just read it nonstop. It's basically a bunch of quotes, which isn't what I was expecting. But it definitely has some gems.

33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley

This was my second time doing this and it was awesome all over again. I've always appreciated St. Therese but reading this again has made me realllllly love her.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

I only read this because of my reading challenge with friends. April's challenge was "a book written by an author with your initials." Someone suggested Jack London and then I found this at a book sale for like a quarter! It was pretty interesting and made me look up the Klondike Gold Rush. Considering it was published in 1903, I thought it was written really well.

Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoing Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Fr. Wilfried Stinissen

This will probably go on my fave books of the year list. So good.

The Appalling Strangeness of God: The Story of Ruth Pakaluk, Convert, Mother, and Pro-Life Activist

I listened to this for a book club and was a little conflicted. I was definitely inspired by her attitude as she dealt with breast cancer and the possibility of dying, and it was cool hearing from her husband. But I just was not a fan of the narrator! It was a struggle to get through at times. But Ruth's story was definitely inspiring so maybe try reading instead of listening. (Both ebook and audiobook are on Formed.org, FYI)

Alright, friends, what good books have you read lately?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thrifting ain't so bad

Alternatively titled: Thrift store and used book sale finds

I used to think that person that thought thrift stores were kind of gross, but in the last couple of years, Logan and I realized that we can get some goooood stuff there. Much of our wardrobe is from thrift stores now! 

We're grateful to get a lot of hand-me-downs too (both kid and adult), so it's not very often we pay for clothes other than thrift stores. And since thrift stores are pretty cheap - and even cheaper when you go on a sale day - we save a heck of a lot of money on clothing. Dresses are $6, shirts are usually $2, and jeans run around $3-5. And sometimes you get half off that! Winning.

So here is where I bomb you with a bunch of pictures and tell you what is from a thrift store. (All of these pictures are from Instagram, sorry not sorry.)
 My dress. Logan always finds the best things for me!

 Logan's jeans, my shirt. Most of the boys' jeans are actually from thrift stores too!

Logan's shirt

 My dress

My jean jacket. Another find by Logan.

 Landon and Chase's shirts (and I caught them on sale so only paid a dollar each!!), probably Landon's pants (I seriously get at least half of his school clothes at thrift stores and most of his clothes lately!)

My shirt. LSU and Saints stuff is ridiculously expensive so I was pumped.

There's a lot more but those are the just the pictures I found quickly. Cool, right? Often times, I'll check thrift stores before I buy something (i.e. school uniforms, jeans for a kid) because there's a chance I will find it there for muuuuuch cheaper. You do have to wade through a lot of lesser quality items, and a few times we've tried on something we love just to realize there's a hole in it, which is frustrating. But the pros to thrift store shopping still outweigh the cons.

And now for books!! 

I've had some great finds at used book sales lately which is obviously exciting for a book lover. I actually read a lot from the library, but unfortunately they don't always have good Catholic books and I'm often denied when I request they buy one. So used book sales are the next best place! (Although if it's a book I know I will read often, I prefer the kindle edition because I "highlight" the heck out of it!)
$15 for all these! And there are some gems: Interior Freedom by Fr. Philippe, The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, The Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen, and The Book of Virtues. BOV has been on my Amazon wish list for years but I just couldn't stomach paying $15. Well, I'm so glad I waited because I got that sucker for $2! And it's in great condition.

I also recently found Immaculee's Left to Tell at another sale even though I've already read it. I told Logan he needs to read it now! (I also bought The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours in the above photo even though I have the kindle version because I couldn't pass it up for 50 cents! So if you want it, it's all yours. :))

So, what's your best tips for thrifting and shopping book sales??

Friday, April 5, 2019

Your typical Jen rambling

Is this one of those posts where I talk about a bunch of random things going on? Yes. Yes, it is.

Whenever I have several different things I could be doing, I have a tendency to do something not as time-sensitive. It's so dumb, I know. Like, I know I should be planning my next CCD class or scheduling a doctor appointment or folding the laundry, but how about I shop for Easter basket stuff instead? Yeah. But hey, I'm still being productive! (Cue eye roll. I'm dumb sometimes.) (But hey, I'm blogging, at least.) (And I'm done with Easter baskets.)

But I did realize this week that having people sleepover at your house for a few days is a GREAT motivation for actually cleaning your house.

There are some periods of time where I can fit in a decent amount of reading and other times where I struggle fitting it in. There were a few weeks where I was realllllly struggling because life was nuts. But I know I need to fit in the time because my soul needs it....so I've gotten better again. The reading life is similar to life in general - sometimes you have slumps, and that's okay. (Slump is such a weird word, isn't it? SLUMP. Slump.) (Ok, I'm done.)

The same goes with date nights (or day dates, which works better for us right now). Sometimes we're SO good at going on regular dates....and other times we go a few months without making the time. We went like 3 months without any dates and then went on 3 within 10 days. And we only spent money on one of them! Holler. Gift cards are awesome.

Our church parish has grown so much over the last few years, which is great...but it also means we have a lot going on allll the time, it seems. And since I'm Mrs. Over-committed, I'm helping with the big spring fundraiser, VBS during the summer, and the big fall fundrasiser. Oh, and teaching CCD once a week. And helping plan some other events. It's all good and important things, of course, but whew. It's hard to keep up sometimes.

Logan and I unexpectedly got a large sum of money recently, and because it's been years since this has happened, we spent several days talking about how we could best use it. Like, we had about 20 things we've been wanting to do, like replace the kitchen blinds that are destroyed by the dog (seriously, it's bad) or get new living room furniture to replace our ridiculously old hand-me-down couch. But we eventually decided to do the grown-up thing and pay off our car loan. WOOOO. Which is especially awesome because we joked before our Disney trip that we could have paid off our car instead of going to Disney. But God provides for reals. And now hopefully we will be able to save money to do all of the things we've been meaning to do!

I didn't give up anything for Lent, which kind of makes me feel lame sometimes. BUT I am waking up at 5:30 during the week on the days that Logan goes to work, which is just really hard sometimes. And that kind of means I'm giving up sleep, right? ;) I am definitely seeing the fruit of it, though. It's a much better start to my day! I actually get through Morning Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) without a toddler screaming at me, Logan and I get to talk in the morning and sometimes pray together, and I get a few things done before the rest of the house wakes up. (That post about my liturgical binder? Definitely posted that early in the morn. Winning. I felt so productive that day.) 
Pic of toddler holding an umbrella and wearing a homemade beanie because that's much cuter than said toddler screaming his head off.

It always boggles my mind when people say they couldn't be a SAHM because they were so bored. Like, were your kids perfectly behaved? Was your house immaculate? Do you not read? Do you not have hobbies? Because I have never, ever been bored since Landon was born (almost 7 years ago!!) and even though I don't have an official job and I only have one kid at home during school hours, I still can't find time to do all the things I would like. YOLO.

Somehow I could write about a few more things but maybe I'll save those for another day.


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