"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

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!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The home stretch

Lent always comes at the perfect times, it seems. The high of the new year has come and gone, and we're all in need of some extra motivation. And then as Lent drags on and on and on, we slip back into our old ways. Or maybe it's just me?

Example: Logan and I started off Lent just watching one episode of something each week (The Walking Dead was our top choice until the season ended). Graaaadually we added a movie here, another episode of something there. And then I found myself this past Saturday, watching episode after episode of Designated Survivor (so good, by the way). I rarely - and I mean rarely - sit and watch TV for extended periods of time. I could blame it on the fact that I ran (and I mean ran! I didn't walk at all!) a 5K that morning and then Logan went to work for the rest of the night and there was no way I was going to do anything, um, productive. Except feed my kids and all.

So! Here comes Holy Week, kicking me in the butt once again. The TV has stayed off except for one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the big boys (which I agreed to on Monday before I remembered that we weren't watching TV this week, oops).

We've been spending a lot of time outside with the lovely weather and I've been purposely leaving my phone far away from my person - thanks to Jenny for that little nudge - and it's just been nice. I feel like I just really love my family right now and part of me wonders if it's because I'm less distracted. Less staring at screens and more staring at the cute faces of the people I love the most.

Super fancy photo [awkwardly] taken with my laptop because I'm too lazy to go upstairs to get my phone. 4 more days!! I think I've enjoyed the Jesus Tree more than my kids because of the Scripture readings - although they do love putting the "ornaments" on.

I've been really bad lately at reading way too many books at a time. The biography section at the library really got me last week because I'm just a sucker for people's real life stories. But since it's Holy Week and all, I'm trying to focus mostly on St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life that I've been slowly making my way through since January. Definitely recommend it.

My church had a one-night mission this week that I was fortunately able to go to allllll by myself. It was the first time I've had an entire evening to myself without Aaron attached to me and it was very much needed. There was Adoration at the mission and it just kind of hit me that although I've been praying as I should lately, I'm missing the deep and personal relationship with Jesus. Sometimes it's so easy to just go through the motions...

I suppose that's enough Lenten thoughts for one post. I hope everyone has a beautiful Holy Triduum and a very happy Easter!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rocking Motherhood

Heyyyy. There's this challenge going around blogs that is calling us mommas to think of allllll the ways (well, 10 ways) we are rocking motherhood. I love the idea, actually, because it is so easy these days to focus on all the ways we feel like we are failing miserably. Heck, I can easily list things that I could do better - less yelling, more reading aloud, less distractions (hi IG and FB), less losing my patience, and generally just more quality time with my kids.

Of course, it's good to be aware of all the ways you can be better, but it's equally as important to remember all of the things you're doing well! Thinking about those things, though, is a little more challenging. But I did it! Just took me a week and a half. Thanks to Alicia for tagging and challenging me!
Thanks to Deroche Photography for the lovely photos

So, let me assure you that I am far from the perfect mom. It's hard not to sound a little conceited with this type of challenge (or maybe it's just me?). But the following things are how I'm rocking motherhood:

I randomly sing and dance. Not very well, I admit, but that's not the point. Pretty sure my boys will hide when I do this in 10 years, but now they think it's the best thing ever. Mom is fun!

I teach my boys manners. Future wives, you're welcome. They already hold the door open for me (without me asking), and say please and thank you.

I bake yummy stuff from scratch. Bread, cookies, you name it. I'm not a fan of cooking so I don't cook 5-course meals by any means...but baking? It's my jam. And my kids love all of it.

I'm crafty. Man, I used to not consider myself crafty, but you know what? I totally am. I love making cute things, especially for their birthdays. Which reminds me...

I throw awesome parties. I know, I know...totally not necessary. And if they tell me they don't want a big birthday party anymore, I will totally listen. But for now, the boys LOVE their big joint summer birthday birthday bash and I just love planning it.

I have my own hobbies. I think it's important that my boys see me doing things I love - and not just chores. They see me read (a lot), crochet, and make cute crafty things.

I read parenting books. I want to be better, and I learn so much from others. I know I'm a much better mom because of all the insight I've gained from books. You can never learn too much!

I pray often (and my boys see me). Okay, so maybe I don't always purposely let them see me, but a lot of times it just happens. Landon wakes up early during my prayer time, or he interrupts my Rosary during nap time. My boys know that Morning Prayer and the Rosary are just part of my day, and I hope that sticks with them. We do pray together before meals, we say a prayer to our guardian angels every time we leave the house, and we pray before bed.

I apologize. I'm not always the best mom, but I make a point to say I'm sorry for yelling or not handling a certain situation in the best way.

I do certain things just because I know my boys will love it. Examples: making an impromptu visit to the zoo during nap time just because. Having a picnic outside for lunch because the weather was perfect. You know, the things that are more work...but are totally worth it.

So there you go. 10 ways I'm rocking motherhood. It was so tempting to throw in a negative thing for every positive thing, but I refrained! (So hard, though, not gonna lie.) Now I want to hear your list! No pressure at all, but I'm tagging the following ladies to make a list of 10 ways (or less, whatevs) they are rocking motherhood:

(I promise we will still be friends if you don't do it! ;))


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